Tyvek Leaf…..

Today’s workshop was for four lovely ladies from the Nottingham area.  Freda and her friends had seen my Tyvek Leaf on Pinterest and got in touch to say they fancied having a go at making one for themselves.

Trisha and Carol

Freda and Pat

Non of them had used Tyvek previously so we looked at the various colouring mediums that can be applied, discussed the difference between the paper and fabric versions and saw how each reacted to heat.

With lots of chatting and laughter (hearing us from the hallway my other half swears I put something illegal in the homemade soup!) the day was gone before we knew it!

Work in progress

Each of the ladies produced some wonderful work which they will mount on their chosen papers and put in a box frame once they get home.

Thanks to all for being such eager students….I’m already looking forward to hosting you again on your return visit for Feltmaking!


Forest Floor…..

I’m currently working on samples for a heat manipulative mixed media workshop with the theme  “Forest Floor”.  This is the first sample in the series in which I’ve used painted and heat distressed Tyvek and Lutradur, combined with natural tree bark, a leaf and hand embroidery.

The first of the workshops will be held at Simply Stitch, East Keswick on April 7th & 8th.  On day one we will be painting on, and experimenting with, various heat manipulative materials.  Using an iron, soldering iron and heat tool we will be working with Tyvek paper and fabric, various weights of Lutradur and polyester.  There will be the opportunity to include hand and machine stitching in your work.

On day two we will use the samples we have made, or create new ones, adding stitching and found objects to build up a layered, highly textured piece of work inspired by the “Forest Floor”.  For more info or to book a place contact Nicola on 07969 578289 or email nicola@simplystitch.co.uk

This is a photograph of two autumn leaves and a leaf skeleton I made from Lutradur.

Autumn Leaf skeleton made from Lutradur

On April 25th I will be running a one day “Forest Floor” workshop at All Sewn Up by Debs in Horncastle.  For this session we will be using the iron, soldering iron and heat tool to manipulate Tyvek paper and lightweight Lutradur.  Once they’ve been distressed these materials will be combined with natural tree bark and hand stitching to create our beautiful, layered Forest Floor.  This class is suitable for all abilities and is a great introduction to working with Lutradur and Tyvek.  For more information or to book a place call Debs on 01507 524566.


Wet Felted Pendants…..

During a (rare) tidy up in my studio last month I came across some sample pieces of coloured acrylic paper with wonderful textures.

Acrylic Papers

The reason I had hung on to them in the first place is because they are so beautiful, but I couldn’t see the point in putting them back in the drawer if I didn’t have a use for them……so I needed to find one!  The result is this collection of wet felted, hand embroidered pendants with acrylic inserts.

Wet Felted Pendants

I’ve also been making solid necklaces and chunky bangles, again incorporating the acrylic papers.

Necklace and Bangle with acrylic paper inclusions

I’m a big fan of recycling, rather than throwing, and I’m now on a mission to find more things I can use as inclusions in my felting.

Seeing their finished work…..

When I’m teaching workshops I get a lot of satisfaction from motivating students and from seeing their finished work, but not everyone gets to finish their project in class.  So I get particularly excited when someone takes the time to photograph their finished piece and email it to me.  This week I’ve recieved images of Jane and Pams Tyvek Leaves, beautifully executed and framed, which they created at the workshop in Billinghay last week.

Also Deborah sent me this photo of her wonderful Bergschaf wall hanging which was made at the workshop in East Keswick earlier this month.

Inspired by Sir Isaac Newton…..

LINQS (Lincolnshire Quilters) will be exhibiting their latest body of work, 22 art quilts inspired by Sir Isaac Newton, at the end of this month.  Our first venue will be the beautiful Alford Manor House.  Built in 1611 it is thought to be the largest thatched manor house in the country.

I’ve finally finished my Newton quilt.  It’s 30″ x 40″ and the design is based on the fact that Newton spent a lot of his time studying and practising alchemy.  It consists of appliqué commercial fabric, Tyvek and painted vilene applied to a background of tea stained cotton fabric.  Other materials used include oil pastels, Inktense, permanent marker pen and metallic foil.

Inspired by the life and works of Sir Isaac Newton

These are just a few of the other fantastic quilts that will be on show……

Gravitree by Jean Proud (30″ x 40″)

Gravitree detail

The Mind of a Genius by Mary Jackson (30″ x 40″)

Snapshots of Isaac by Joan Plummer (30cm x 40cm)

This next quilt Is called “Wordsearch” and there are thirty words to find, all relating to life of Isaac Newton.  An ingenious way of stopping visitors in their tracks and making them really scrutinise your work!


Sir Isaac Newton…..

The handover date for the latest LINQS challenge, to produce an art quilt inspired by any aspect of the life or works of Sir Isaac Newton, is fast approaching and I’ve still got a lot to do!  When I began my research I was surprised to learn that Newton had been an Alchemist (obvious really given the age he lived in) and spent a lot of his time and effort in pursuit of the Philosophers Stone.  I used this fact as my starting point and designed my quilt along the lines of an Alchemy illustration using a limited colour palette.  Materials used so far include oil pastels and transfer foils on cotton fabrics and pelmet vilene.  As I said, still a lot to do so back to the sewing machine!

My Sir Isaac Newton inspired art quilt is still work in progress

Spalding Embroiderers Tyvek Leaves…..

Yesterday I spent a very enjoyable day in the company of a lovely group of ladies, the Spalding Embroiderers, who meet at Pode Hole Village Hall in the Lincolnshire Fens.  The group had booked me to do a workshop for them, giving me free reign to decide what we would be doing.


I wanted to offer them something completely different and something I was pretty sure they wouldn’t have done before.  I settled on putting together a workshop to make my Tyvek Leaves.  Tyvek is a wonderful product to work with as it has so many possibilities when it comes to colouring, shaping and distressing.

My blue/green handmade leaf stitched with metallic thread and embellished with tiny coloured beads.

Tyvek leaf with metallic thread and beading.

It felt a bit of a risk as it would involve so many different stages and I wasn’t sure how the group would take to shaping wire frames using pliers.  I needn’t have worried, their enthusiasm and positivity was terrific and the hall was filled with conversation and laughter all through the day!  In fact, putting together this workshop has reminded me of how much fun I had designing my first leaves and it’s been great to get back to making more of them.





The leaves worked out beautifully.  As you can see, everyone got their leaf to the stage of it having been distressed with the heat gun but unfortunately we ran out of time to get the holes embroidered so they will continue with that at home.  I hope to receive photos of some of the finished leaves as and when they get done.




A big thank you to all the Spalding Embroidery ladies for making me feel so welcome and for being such wonderful, enthusiastic students! I shall look forward to seeing you all at our next workshop.




Wet Felting and Textural – The Fate of Constance

Wet felting and textural

Our latest challenge at the Cranwell contemporary textile group has been to produce a piece of work based on a poem.  We could use any poem, any style and any techniques, but the finished piece had to be 20″ x 15″, quilted, and it had to include lettering in some form or other.

With such a “loose” brief the first thing I decided on was that, whatever poem I chose, I would use wet felting and my finished piece would be very textural. I sat down with my sketch book and thought through some of the odd lines I knew from well known poems. Nothing lept out to inspire me until the words “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive” came into my head. I didn’t know who the poet was or which poem it came from but a quick search on Google told me it was from an epic written in 1808 by Sir Walter Scott entitled Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field.

I know very little about poetry but this surely has to be one of the longest poems ever written! It took me longer to read the poem than it did to make the quilt! You can read a potted version of the plot on Wiki, but basically it’s a story in which good triumphs over evil. One of the characters is a “fallen” nun called Constance who is condemned to death for her misdeeds and walled up alive on Lindisfarne. It was the fate of Constance which inspired my design.

Using Merino wool, the background colours were laid out and wet felted to prefelt stage, then cut into smaller pieces, relaid and felted thoroughly.  This technique is one I particularly like and the one I used in memories of a Greek holiday.

Carded Merino is wet felted for the background.

Constance’s head and torso were made from air dry clay and later painted with Inktense. The lettering was cut from Lutradur using a soldering iron and coloured with a permanent marker pen.  The first attempt at making a web was done with free machine embroidery on a soluable fabric and resulted in something that looked more like a fishermans net!   The second attempt was more successful using free machine stitching on Lutradur and burning it away with my heat gun. 

The finished quilt

The background has been free machine stitched and hand embroidered with Colonial Knots.

Detail from The Fate of Constance



Playing Catch-up…..

Once again I am back to playing catch up with projects and posts.  I’ve been feeling pretty down and lethargic over recent months, for reasons I won’t go into on here, but the year is fast coming to a close and it’s time to give myself a good shake up and get back to normal.

So the first project to feature is one I did as a result of being invited down to London to stay with my niece and her husband at the end of November.  They have recently moved house and I got a request to make a pair of Roman blinds for their new study…….what better excuse could there be for a week in London? Sophie chose a lightweight dress fabric for the blinds, which give me a little concern as I wasn’t sure how well they would hang.  It wasn’t the easiest fabric to work with but once they had been lined I needn’t have worried as they turned out fine and thankfully they are both delighted with them.

Roman blinds

The second project was this years “ugly” fabric challenge with Sitting Ducks.  Each year, just before Christmas, one of our members supplies us all with an A4 size piece of fabric (which we probably would never have chosen to use ourselves) and we have to make something with it.  After a couple of weeks of wondering what to do with my green and orange crocodiles, and knowing that I wanted to completely disguise the pattern, I finally hit on an idea and Griselda was born.  She stands 17″ tall, has a wire frame with a needle felted body and fabric wrapped legs & arms.  I added three colours of netting as “wings” to make her into an Autumnal fairy.  I had intended to make her face from fabric but realised, the night before we were due to hand in our pieces, that if I was going to get her finished in time I needed a quicker solution for her face, hence the air dry clay.


Although no-one said anything out loud, once we had all placed our work on the table it dawned on me that mine was the odd one out as Sitting Ducks is actually a “quilting” group.  Hey, ho………I had fun making her anyway!

Eco Dyeing at Artvango…..

Last Friday I spent a wonderful day at Artvango learning the basics of how to Eco Dye with Jenny Leslie.  Before the session we were sent a list of certain leaves which we were asked to bring with us as they are known to produce particularly good results with this type of technique.  That in itself was a learning curve for me.  Prior to this I had no idea what a Walnut tree looked like, and wouldn’t have known that there were so many in close proximity to our house.  I had never heard of “Dogwood”, although I did recognise the plant when it was pointed out to me by a member of staff in the garden of The Lincolnshire Wildlfe Trust.  Other leaves Jenny suggested included apple, blackberry and eucalyptus.

It was baking hot here last Thursday and by the time I had finished foraging some of the leaves were already beginning to wilt.  I did wonder if they would be shrivelled beyond recognition by the time I got to use them as I was travelling down by motorbike and staying overnight at a B&B before the class.  I needn’t have worried as it turns out the leaves don’t need to be freshly picked, in fact dried, pressed leaves also work well for Eco Printing.

Jenny, who has a background in gardening, began by showing us some of her wonderful work and explained how she got into Eco Dying.  Obviously there were references to India Flint, the pioneer of Eco Dyeing, and Jenny brought along her copy of India’s book “Eco Colour” for us to look at.

Jenny Leslie fabrics

A selection of Jenny’s work

There were twelve students in the class and I think I can speak for all when I say what a fabulous day we had.  I did a bit of research before travelling down and I have to admit I wasn’t expecting such good results from a first attempt!  We were like excited kids, selecting what we were going to use, dipping our leaves into the iron bath or the copper bath, and carefully wrapping our bundles around twigs, copper pipes or rusty old tins.  Once they had been tied securely with string they were dropped into the boiling water or placed in the steamer.  All the time we were busy Jenny was feeding us information regarding mordants and “baths” and the different ways we could alter the colours we had achieved, even once the bundles had been boiled.  My notes are a complete jumble as I only got back from my 550 mile journey last night (I came home via the Isle of Wight!) but I am looking forward to sorting them out and having a play this weekend, once I have been out and collected more greenary. 

Jenny explains how we will be using the murky looking liquids

Jenny recommended Soya Milk as a mordant for cotton while our silk fabrics were simply soaked in a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar.  Apparently there are lots of different approaches to Eco Dyeing with some folk recommending mordants while others don’t bother.  The final effects can also vary depending on the type of fabric you use, the hardness of your water, humidity, etc, etc.  I think the key message I took away was that we need to “experiment” and find what works for us.


Laying out the leaves

Tying the bundles

Tying the bundles


Fabric wrapped around rusty tin cans

Fabric wrapped around rusty tin cans

Another students work revealed

Another students work revealed

Clive got a colourful result using onion skins

Clive got a colourful result using onion skins

The following photos show how my dyed fabrics turned out.

Linen and viscose

Linen and viscose

My linen and viscose sample started life as a pair of pale grey trousers. After soaking it in soya milk and wringing it out I layed on a selection of leaves including eucalyptus, walnut, sumac and an unknown vine that grows in my neighbours garden. The fabric was doubled over and wrapped around a short length of copper pipe and boiled for an hour. The result is subtle but I love it!

Walnut, sumac,blackberry and unknown wild flower

Walnut, sumac,blackberry and unknown wild flower

Eucalyptus, walnut, blackberry and unknown vine

Eucalyptus, walnut, blackberry and unknown vine

The two silk pieces were soaked for about 30 minutes in vinegar water, leaves laid out, wrapped, tied and boiled for an hour and then iron was added to the water and the fabric remained submerged until the water cooled. Again, I love the results!

I did as Jenny suggested and left my bundles until the next day before I unravelled them. They didn’t look too exciting while they were still wet but once they had dried they looked great! Some of the leaves can be seen while others left an area of colour rather than a distinct shape. I am really happy with results and keen to do more. I bought various fabrics from Artvango including a cotton/silk blend, a spun rayon and cotton Rossglen, all of which I have been told will take colour really well so fingers crossed! It’s not advisable to use your cooking pans for Eco Dyeing so I am nipping out now to see if I can find some old pots and pans in our local junk shop…….