Wednesday, 14 December 2011


What do you do at the weekend? Walk the dog, play sport, catch up with friends and family? Well there is a whole bunch of people who like nothing better than to spend their weekend learning new skills and meeting new people. I've met quite a few of these lovely folks over the last few months when I have taught workshops at Texere Yarns.

Customise a Cardigan was a course brimming with ideas to turn a cheap, mass-produced, knitted garment into something that looked like it had come from a high end retailer. With machine applique, hand embellishment, felted buttons and Suffolk puffs, this basic cardigan was transformed into a unique item.

Spice and Sparkle was a workshop teaching a technique of fusing sheer fabrics with glittery fibres and other small objects trapped in between the layers. I went all-out with this and made a table runner with slices of dried fruit, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and cloves. It wasn't the easiest thing to make but it smells devine!

Design and photos copyright: Claire Ketteman

Setting Goals

At the start of 2011 I set myself a goal: to have some work exhibited at a gallery. I thought this would focus my attention, not only starting new projects, but actually finishing them for a deadline.

It worked! My wall hanging was exhibited at the Grassington Festival 17th June - 2nd July where it filled the entrance stairwell at the Town Hall. I received some lovely comments about my work but the most satisfying one was that "it looked like it had always been there".

Spurred on by my success, Wall to Wall was accepted for the Yorkshire and Lancashire Craft Open at the Platform Gallery which ran from 23rd July - 1st October.

Not content with this, I dusted off my embroidery skills and made a piece called "Opening Doors" for the Skipton Embroiderer's Guild exhibition "Celebrating the Victorians" 21-22nd October

This work was inspired by an item from the Rachel B Kay-Shuttleworth collection at Gawthorpe Hall. Opening Doors celebrates the work of great Victorian women reformers, Josephine Butler, Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon and Octavia Hill, who changed the status of women in society. These women had talent, energy and the courage to challenge the establishment. In an age when women of all social backgrounds had very limited life choices, their achievements improved women’s options and secured their legal right to be treated as individuals.

The work is a Victorian style neck piece made from silk organdie with machine-embroidered key motifs. It is reminiscent of a chaterlaine (a pendant with useful things such as keys, scissors, magnifying glass) which might be worn by the mistress of the household, one of the few suitable occupations for well-bred Victorian women. The keys represent the changes in society and their colours echo the “blood, sweat and tears” of women’s lives. The cord on which the keys are strung contains fragments of books, recognising the published work of these three remarkable women.

Design & photos copyright: Claire Ketteman

Monday, 13 June 2011

Out of the Doldrums

It is nearly a year since I last posted on this blog and I have been lost in the artistic equivalent of the Doldrums. Having designed my wall hanging by means of this paper collage, I was unable to make my vision happen. I wanted to use sumptuous fabrics and bold colours but everything looked clumsy and contrived; my head and my fingers were not in tune!

Thankfully I discovered print artist Dionne Swift and enrolled on her Workshop Wednesday courses which started last October. Not only does Dionne teach printing and devore (her personal passion) but she is also a fantastic business mentor. She quickly identified what was holding me back and with her support and encouragement I have finally created a wall hanging that I love.

Wall to Wall is a contemporary wall hanging inspired by the Pennine landscape and the dry-stone walls that define its character. Each stone is a small yet integral part of the landscape and its vista, providing both purpose and aesthete, connecting the near to the distant. A patchwork of layers is formed by the receding hills and escarpments which are brought into vivid relief by sunlight or cloud. The colour palette combines earthy moorland tones with the vibrant intensity produced by the flora and natural luminosity.

This piece is constructed from a number of fabrics, every one selected for its texture and surface qualities. The fabrics have been hand-dyed and each section of fabric has taken the dye in a slightly different way, giving natural pattern and interest. Finally a representation of a stone wall has been printed all over the hanging using discharge paste.

Design and photos copyright Claire Ketteman