Saturday, 23 October 2021

 PRISM Exhibition at the Arts Pavilion, Mile End

 i am lucky enough to be part of this great group and yes, we are having an actual exhibition which is on until the 31st of October.

There is no need to book so come along! 

some of my work on display as part of the exhibition

'Left hand Right hand a blueprint for life' 
'Thumbs up' another piece was working with one of my favourite materials Ramie and mixed media, cutting out numerous baby thumbs from an eighteenth century mitten pattern.


binding together to form book shapes which have a wonderful tactile feel once removed from the binding frame

 they can be twisted into many shapes

and another made from adult thumb pattern

Sunday, 26 July 2020

For Sian and others

Firstly a general update from two exhibitions.
'Wasted' now well over a year ago!

i have decided and looking back at most of my recent work that I am a 'constructor' i like working mainly in 3D and sometimes need to learn new techniques, although this one is an old (to me) twinning technique using found lolly sticks and utensils.
i was also lucky enough to be part of the 50 Bees exhibition organised by Lydia Needle.

this was based on the large sharp tailed bee,a parasitic bee. the bottom end of the bee reminded me of a pen nib. the yellow was achieved using ragwort and the whole constructed with metal and paper.
now to current work which is emerging from my 'Clutching at straws' piece in the last post for Prism.
one of the 'Rumpelstiltskin' stories had the supernatural helper giving the girl a pair of gloves to spin the straw into gold. i was busily working on the piece when lockdown happened and i thought that gloves have a whole new meaning now. this led me to thinking about glove wearing in life from babies through to mourning gloves and what goes in the glove.
last year i had started working on some pointilist drawings, an extension of 'Stitched Textile Artists' residential at Ammerdown. these were based on a pair of 18th century babies mittens. i started looking at the thumb patterns on these and other gloves. thinking i had been giving the 'thumbs up' sign to people quite a bit recently.
i started making books using the actual pattern shape, i love the process of stitching the 'pages' together on a book frame. and the book structure links in with the original story.

during lockdown and still now our local walk is through a cemetery which has been absolutely beautiful during the spring with amazing flowers and now long grasses. i noticed how many of the gravestones were constructed with metal letters, some of which had dissapeared leaving holes where the metal prongs would have been, this reminded me of my pointilist drawings and i have started a smaller sketchbook of dots and circles.
i have been playing with the idea of birth, work and death. still using thumb patterns from gloves. the above is another small book structure made from a cyanotype of a skeleton hand we just happen to have in the house.
i intend to progress through the 3 areas of life with more books but where from there?!

Tuesday, 12 May 2020


hi all and long time no see! A lot has happened since Christmas which was my last post mainly working towards an exhibition due to open in the Art Pavilion in Mile End yesterday but obviously due to circumstances we opened online. My first ever attempt at a group meet up online. It worked a treat just wish i had a glass of wine as was advised!

anyway to back track i was accepted into PRISM textiles last year which i feel was a great achievement. the exhibition title 'In search of (im) possibilities' was at first a bit daunting but gave a lot of scope. i had been reading a lot of fairy stories at the time and went after a fair amount of research down the rabbit hole of the Brothers Grimm and others with spinning gold from straw. i hadn't realised that fairy stories are categorised by their content, spinning gold into straw comes under ATU 500/501 'The name of the supernatural helper'. there are a number of versions, even two by the Brothers Grimm who revised and expanded their earlier 1812 version in 1857. the other story i worked with was 'The girl who could spin gold from clay and long straw' by Benjamin Thorpe 1853. this latter version is interesting as the girl was given a pair of gloves to spin with.
the idea of spinning gold from straw is obviously impossible, you cannot make gold, it was made billions of years ago and is therefore finite!
the more i delve into these stories the more i realise they are hugely sexist but thats another project.. 

i had been playing around with the idea of books and bookbinding techniques and so my proposal above was to use straws and straw instead of pages. the following images are just a brief insight of the ideas and finished artwork.
detail of finished 'Clutching at straws' using plain card straws, real straw straws,twisted straw, gold etc.
the two on the left have been 'bound' with stitch whilst the straw on the right is twined with gold wire. the wording on the central piece says 'please use the gloves provided when spinning gold'. the idea of wearing gloves now has a whole new meaning, something i am now exploring for future work.
i am a sucker for punishment! this tape is a 1.5cm wide tape and my tiny cross stitches were worked using a magnifying glass.
straw bends and splits very easily. my son now wants me to start making corn dollies!!!

so please do go along and see the 'virtual' exhibition and festival at 
work will be appearing daily 


Monday, 23 December 2019

Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and creative positive 2020

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Paper Trail

last year i signed up with 'appletye' to be part of their 100 years of paper
i was sent a very small piece of paper approximately 5cm x 7cm and the year of 1965 to use for my inspiration. so long as i incorporated the piece of paper i could do anything!

after a lot of thought i came up with‘The hangman’s noose’ 1965

The noose used by the hangman was made from Manila (abaca) hemp rope, boiled to take out any likelihood of stretching during use. It was formed into coils and waxed, soaped or greased to assure that the knot slid easily. Britain used a simple noose consisting of a loop worked into one end of the rope with the other end passed through it.

My response to the 1965 Act was to utilise the small piece of W. S. Hodgkinson paper and refashion it into a long continuous piece reflecting the hangman’s rope.

I started by boiling the paper piece for 30 minutes in plain tap water. Then cut it into 2mm wide strips and joined them into one continuous length by overlapping and sandwiching between sheets of fine Abaca paper with PVA. While still damp it was wrapped around a cylinder to retain its shape. Approximately half was waxed with beeswax and the Abaca paper trimmed. This length was bound into a coil using a length of Abaca fibre tied with a hangman’s knot. The remainder coated in liquid graphite left loose.
 i loved working on this piece, using paper is one of my great loves. it is interesting to see what others have done too with their paper pieces. go and have a look.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Summer Schools

This year i was lucky enough to do 2 Summer Schools back to back and at the same place; even better.
The first was with the Textile Study Group and tutor Gwen Hedley. It as just perfect for me, wrapping and playing around with construction. After an initial evening of colouring cloth, paper and thread with acrylic paint (my kind of colouring, Gwen showed us some of her techniques for wrapping, creating 'textiles' and assembling items.
i loved this workshop as she then let us decide on what we wanted to do - so grown up and not prescriptive. As usual i came home with only a very few samples but i feel i have learnt such a lot.
i chose to construct some samples using soluble sandwiches.

i had brought with me some black card pieces, no idea where i got them from and i assume they might be waste product? anyway the plan was to create a complete linked 'piece' by placing items on a sticky water soluble surface and then covering with a thin transparent water soluble layer that you stitch into. i started by wrapping each piece with thread to create substance to link into. the dark running stitches are horse hairs and then i used transparent nylon thread to link with the black 'dots' making sure all was linked together and knots joined the threads where they crossed over.

after washing away the soluble papers what was left is a delicate, light mesh. i am soooo happy with this but it did take a time!
i can remember making samples of machine embroidery on this type of paper and hated it; this is much more ME.
i then created another with pine needles and pieces of umbrella metal.


the pencil is there for scale. this time i used cross linking.

my second Summer School was with Distant Stitch and tutor Alice Fox. not in my comfort zone but i enjoyed it thoroughly. collecting leaves for eco dyeing (botanical contact printing), printing and making inks/ dyes from what we had around us.
i produced a long thin book made from Alice's favoured silk noil and a combination of stitch and eco dyeing/printing with leaves.
i love the minimalistic piece i have achieved. definitely something to save for future reference.