EYE’s Residential Weekend…..

It’s been a long time coming but last weekend I taught my first face to face workshop of 2021 at Cober Hill near Scarborough. Originally booked for summer 2020, this residential workshop for the East Yorkshire Embroiderers had to be carried over to this year due to the Covid lockdown restrictions.

I did wonder if it was too soon for some and if numbers would be depleted but it turned out the ladies were very keen to get back to normal! Nineteen of the twenty ladies booked for the weekend retreat turned up, sixteen came to do the workshop and three came simply to chill.

Cober Hill was built in 1890 and was purchased by Arnold Rowntree, former Liberal Member of Parliament for York, and nephew of the chocolate manufacturer Joseph Rowntree, in March 1920. Rowntree had a vision for it “to be a place of joy and beauty, …a centre of refreshment and inspiration for many of those engaged in difficult public services… I hope experiments in Weekend Schools, Winter and Summer Schools of various kinds and of longer or shorter duration may also be tried there…” The venue, with its gardens, tennis court, croquet lawn, theatre and numerous other communal spaces, offers an annual programme of craft workshops as well as hosting private groups, businesses and schools.

The theme for our weekend was “trees” and the aim was for the students to combine layers of fabric and paint with machine and hand stitching. The finished work could then either be backed as a quilt or mounted in a frame.

After dinner on the Friday evening the group were shown examples of my “tree themed” work and I talked through the techniques I had used to create them. The ladies then started to plan their designs based on images they had brought for inspiration. Not everyone wanted to do trees, one lady chose to use the techniques discussed to do a moon gazing hare while another went completely “off piste” with her abstract take on an owl!

Maggie went her own way with an Owl
Melanie painting her background layer.
Dorothy and Debra painting their backgrounds.
Ann laying down the background for her trees.
Rachel’s background is painted and now she’s working on her foreground layers.
Sandra adding detail to her foreground trees.

With the bulk of the painting completed and dried on Friday evening the ladies could concentrate on layering and stitching their fabrics on the Saturday.

Hilary’s background has been painted and now she is layering up her sheer fabrics to create depth to her forest.
The moon gazing Hare is starting to take shape.
Dorothy’s forest is pinned and ready for stitching.
Evelyn’s work in progress.

I think the surprise of the weekend was Melanie who only came to Cober Hill to keep Ann, her grandma, company. This young lady doesn’t have the use of a sewing machine and had never done any free motion stitching before…..she borrowed Ann’s machine and took to it like a duck to water!

Melanie’s lone tree is starting to take form.
Rachel adding her gate and railings.
Ruth is beginning to add hand stitched detail to her tree.
Debra used lots of free motion stitch on her version of a tree canopy.
Using the same image as Debra for inspiration, Carol created a tree canopy in autumn colours.
Judy took her inspiration from my Walk in the Forest.
Hilary made good use of zig zig free motion stitch for her background trees.
Margaret did her take on my Three Tall Trees.
Dorothy added hand embroidery for her foreground grasses and flowers.
Melanie’s finished work…..fantastic to think this was her first attempt at machine sewing and hand embroidery!
Rhona’s moon gazing Hare….what this image doesn’t show clearly is the addition of black beads which adds texture and sparkle when you see it close up.
Close up of Sandra’s finished trees.

What I hadn’t realised at the outset was that none of these lady’s had done anything like this before, so for some it had been a steep learning curve! It was great to see everyone throwing themselves into the task of painting, layering and stitching and the results speak for themselves! By the time we left Cober Hill on the Sunday there had been some terrific work created. I hope some of my students will continue to develop these techniques alongside their more traditional skills. At least one of them has since bought herself a soldering iron for doing more of this kind of work which was music to my ears!

I just want to say a huge thank you to the EYE’s group for inviting me back to teach their 2021 residential and for being such willing students and wonderful company. I shall look forward to working with you again at some point in the future.

The EYE’s class of 2021

Channelling the Grey…..

The past couple of weeks have been very grey, damp and overcast but, unlike a lot of folk I know, I love being outdoors when it’s like this and have even found myself volunteering for extra long dog walks!! Don’t get me wrong, I love the Summer but there’s something very atmospheric about a grey damp day and the smell of the soil and vegetation underfoot.

I think I’ve been subconsciously channelling the grey into my latest work because I hadn’t really thought about changing from a gold/rust palette to a grey scheme….it just seemed to happen.

Again, although I’ve not been dwelling on it, I also think that lockdown, and the resulting lack of opportunity for nights out and seasonal parties, has maybe left me pining for a bit of glamour.

The first grey collar was one of my mystery (unlabelled) fibre blends. It’s a little hairy but extremely soft. It’s the longest of the three which gives it scope for being worn in different ways.

The second is a blend of Superfine Merino with white Bamboo fibre which creates a fabulous sheen.

The third is Superfine Merino with white Bamboo and a dusky pink Viscose fibre. I love the silky effect that’s created by the Viscose and find I’m using this more and more.

I’m now working on shoulder bags to coordinate with the collars.

Nights out are on hold for the time being but we may as well be ready for when we can get that little black number on again!

Layer, Stitch & Burn…..

One of my favourite workshops has to the Layer, Stitch & Burn which I will be running again at the Alford Craft Market Centre on November 16th. This class teaches a technique made famous by the American mixed media textile artist Susan Lenz.

The title sums it up exactly, we begin by layering our fabrics, we use free motion machine stitching to hold them all together and then we set them fire! OK, so we don’t go quite that far but we do apply heat to manipulate and burn away sections of our work which results in a beautiful lacey effect.

This is an example of Susan’s work

I first discovered Susan’s work via a video on YouTube where she was teaching how she made her “In Box” series. I had only just discovered there was such a thing as textile art and had started experimenting with my own projects, so to see a Textile Artist with a heat tool and a soldering iron was pretty exciting stuff! It inspired me to research further which led me to Margaret Beal and her book New Ideas in Fusing Fabric…..needless to say I’ve had an interest in manipulating fabric by burning ever since!

Originally In this workshop we made a square piece of work to fit a small box frame but there is also the option of using this technique to make several smaller pieces which can be used as brooches. These leaf brooches were made using the same fabrics that are supplied for the workshop and the same method but students can apply it to any shape or subject matter.

Leaf Brooch made using the Layer, Stitch & Burn technique

It’s very strange times right now and, understandably, lots of ladies are not yet ready to come back to classes. I’m just hoping that we get enough interest to run this workshop on the 16th……fingers firmly crossed!

Autumn inspired…..

These scarves celebrate my favourite time of year, the Autumn. All around us the leaves are now turning beautiful shades of red, orange and gold, there’s the crunch of leaves underfoot and the earthy smell of damp soil. It’s time for wearing warm scarves and mittens and what better excuse for making some Autumn inspired pieces. I couldn’t resist adding a few falling leaves to a couple of them!

Superfine Merino with Silk
Superfine Merino with Viscose
Even grey sky’s and faded pink blooms on the hydrangea can provide some Autumn inspiration. Nuno felted Superfine Merino and silk.
To say this one is a “holey” scarf it’s actually incredibly snug and warm and it’s so lightweight you don’t know it’s there! Superfine Merino and Viscose.

Wearable Art…..

One of my favourite pastimes has to be creating wet felted jewellery. I love the sculptural aspect of felting and when this is combined with small wearable items like necklaces and bangles, each one becomes a miniature piece of sculptural, wearable art.

These pieces were created early on during the lockdown when I came to realise that I was never happier than when I was working with lots of texture and a very simple monotone colour palette. In truth I’ve always known this but somehow it’s been amplified with spending much more time in the studio and noticing that the more colourful work was jarring with me!

The Superfine Merino necklaces are embellished with stitch, beading and tiny pieces of Nuno and finished with metal chain fasteners. The great thing about this technique is that each piece is totally unique, you could never have two pieces alike.

Shadows…..

Although there were many negative sides to “lockdown”, for many of us, there were also lots of positives. On the one hand all of my classes, exhibitions and shows had to be cancelled which was very depressing. One the other hand, it meant I now had unlimited time for walking with Maddie, my staffy boxer cross, which was uplifting. I’m sure a lot of us started to notice things we would otherwise have simply passed by, like these wonderful shadows cast by the trees.

Shadows cast by the trees on my morning walk
The shadows which were the inspiration for the design

I decided to use these shadows as inspiration for an abstract wet felted Wallhanging. The fibres used are Merino and Viscose and it’s been embellished with free motion stitch, hand spun yarn (my first attempt at spinning!) and Colonial Knots. The finished piece is mounted on board and measures 42cm x 58cm. It will form part of my “Fabric & Fibre of Nature” exhibition at The Quilt & Stitch Show, Uttoxeter in April 2021.

Adding Free Motion Stitch
Adding hand stitched Colonial Knots
Shadows – Fabric & Fibre of Nature

Needle Felted Animals…..

Since I began running workshops I’ve frequently been asked if I do classes for making needle felted animals. Up until now my answer has always been “no, but I can point you in the direction of someone who does”. It’s not that I don’t like needle felting, or animals, it’s just something I have never done and never particularly fancied doing…..up until now!

When I received a request for animal needle felting just before Christmas I decided the time had come to include it in my workshop programme. These are my first needle felted animal workshop samples and I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed making them and feel I’ve really been bitten by the bug!

They were made using wire armatures, wrapped with core wool, and then “cladded” with blended and carded fibres. I can feel a few more hatching so watch this space!

Towards the Wolds…..

This is my latest commissioned piece entitled Towards the Wolds. It’s based on one of my favourite views looking east down Shearmans Wath, towards West Ashby and the rolling hills of the Lincolnshire Wolds.

Shearman’s Wath is the site of a late Neolithic Henge. According to Historic England…..”the buried remains are situated 330m north of Thimbleby Mill on the glacial sands and gravels of the flood plain edge, some 150m east of the River Bain. The monument, which has been reduced by ploughing, can no longer be seen on the ground. It is, however, clearly visible from the air, and has been recorded on aerial photographs since 1970.”

The Wallhanging is approximately 42cm x 64 cm, created from 23 micron Merino fibres, Wet Felted, and embellished with hand and machine stitch. I’ve enjoyed working on this piece and very much looking forward to seeing it hanging in it’s new home!

Quilters Guild AGM…..

I am thrilled to have been invited to appear as a guest speaker and tutor at this years Quilters Guild AGM in Nottingham. Just got the car loaded (I really must get a van….it’s rammed full!) and about to set off. If you reading this and attending I look forward to meeting you…..for everyone else I will post images from the weekend when I get back.

The Big Textile Show 2018…..

Nuno Necklets made with Superfine Merino and Silk fabrics

I’m looking forward to exhibiting again at The Big Textile Show at the end of this month.  It’s being held on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th October.  Last year was my first time as an exhibitor.  I just loved meeting the visitors and discussing my work as well as getting to see and hear about everyone else’s creations…….fingers crossed it’s as much fun this year!

I’ve been busy making a selection of Nuno Necklets for my stall.  These are extremely lightweight as they are made from Superfine Merino and silk fabrics.  I hope my visitors like them as much as I do!

For more information about the The Big Textile Show visit www.thebigtextileshow.co.uk