Thursday, 15 August 2019

Tiny treasures

Fabric collage workshop looking remarkably calm and under-control yesterday!  I had a fantastic day in the company of 7 lovely ladies making these pictures from scraps of hand-dyed material.  Everyone had brought a small treasure to incorporate in their work:  vintage linen buttons, sparkly beads, small charms.  Precious items with lots of memories attached to them.

After auditioning different pieces of fabric, a final choice was made and then the pieces stitched down to a calico background.  We tried a few new stitches, making small samples to include in the work whilst pieces of lace and ribbon added continuity to the final collage.

I felt really proud when newbie Janet said she was 'Feeling accomplished' at the end of the day.  Thank you everyone!

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

A little bit of homework

We all need to do it!  A little bit of homework is required before I take the next step with my project for Textilia 3.

I am usually very methodical with my dyeing and printing, making notes of what I have used to produce different colours and the conditions that I have applied them.  My note book is full of splodges of colour and scribbles detailing the quantities of dyes used.  It looks a bit messy because I do it as I'm working.  

For my latest piece of work I am using pieced fabrics constructed from cotton, wool and silk.  I need to make sure that I use the correct pH for each substrate and this will involve soaking the fabric with either soda ash or vinegar before I apply the dyes.  In this way I can use the same dye solution for both cellulosic and protein fibres.  Genius!

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Waiting (and walking) for inspiration

Waiting for inspiration to strike!  I know it won't happen if I just stare at a blank sheet of paper.  I'll clean the house/do the ironing/rearrange my cupboards/go for a walk.  Perhaps if I just take a very small sketchbook (like a concertina book) it won't look so scary and white.  I could use a simple drawing pen and take my phone for photos, no one will notice me.

20 or so drawings later and achy legs, I realise I have walked in the footsteps of the Butterfield family all the way from where I live to Keighley.  I might even have the start of a project......

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Party Party!

What a lovely way to spend a Saturday: helping Liz celebrate a big birthday with lots of her friends!

Silk ribbon embroidery was the order of the day, with two different designs on offer and lots of scope for individual interpretation.  We stitched, shared stories and marveled at our creations.  Silk ribbons can be used in lots of ways to form beautiful flowers.  Starting with simple woven roses, the group soon got adventurous and were willing to try more complex stitches.  Adding a bit of bling in the form of seed beads and Kreinik threads elevated the work to mini masterpieces. 

If you'd like to celebrate a special occasion or just get together with a group of friends I'd be happy to host your party at my studio.  Why not drop me a line at

Wednesday, 13 March 2019


Doodling - we all do it!  In meetings, my papers are always peppered with swirls and curlicues, stars and boxes.  Waiting on hold on the telephone, my pen wanders to any scrap of paper within easy reach and a mass of lines and shapes unfold.

It's not dissimilar in stitching.  A recent re-discovery of a book advocating just such practice and a chance donation of some new crewel wool has inspired me to take needle to linen and just see where these lovely threads take me!  A chance to relax and unwind, a little bit of inner peace.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Samples for the consideration of Lady Makins


Finished at last!  For the last two and a half months I have been wrestling with ideas for the new Gifted Exhibition that Textila 3 are showing at Gawthorpe Hall.

The inspiration part was easy, I was immediately drawn to a beautiful cream silk bodice with iris embellishment that belonged to Lady Makins and was donated by the Parish family.  Through conversations with the curatorial team at Gawthorpe Textile Collection, I learned that similar dresses would be worn only a few times before they were discarded or more probably, re-worked.  An early take on the concept of disposable fashion.

I used the iris motif to create my own stencils for devore printing.  I printed 3 different types of silk-viscose fabrics which could be offered to Lady Makins to make an alternative dress.

Presenting these as a mood board, allows the viewer to see my inspiration and design development from raised-work flower to printed fabric and contemporary interpretation of the iris embellishment using simple wire shapes.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019


Inspired?  Well maybe!  Having spent a few months in the creative doldrums, not to mention the distraction of Christmas, I needed to get my act together to make a sample for the forthcoming Textilia 3 exhibition at Gawthorpe Hall.  Taking inspiration from a collection of items that had been given to Miss Rachel B Kay-Shuttleworth, I have to produce a suitable response.

I chose a silk bodice which was described as 'worn by Lady Makins'.  It had raised-work irises running diagonally across the garment. The curators told me that the bodice would have been worn only a few times before it was discarded, but most likely re-modelled.  It struck me that this was the last word in disposable fashion.  I started to wonder what would Lady Makins choose as an alternative?  The devore printing technique had been recently invented and was very popular at the turn of the 20th Century.

After a series of disastrous experiments with devore paste and layers of different types of fabric, I had to revert to standard devore fabric.  This small 4x4" sample will be used to introduce each of the participating artists.  My sample is 3 layers of silk-viscose satin, velvet and georgette fabric, cut back to reveal each piece which I hope is reminiscent of a fabric sample book.