Sunday, 18 November 2012

Sold out?

Its a bit of a guilty secret but I have taken time out from my artistic practice to jump on the whole cutesy owl band wagon.  I will plead mitigating circumstances and it was for a very good cause!

A few weeks ago, my friend Chrissie and I were asked to help at a Christmas Fayre to raise money for our local Sue Ryder hospice where we both volunteer.  Some generous soul gave us heaps of  fabric.  Now like most crafts people we are suckers for bits of fabric and embellishments so we set about making up little craft packs of lovely fabric, buttons, ribbons and bits.  As we were making them, we thought it we might sell a few more if we had some projects for people to make with the packs.  So I found myself, at 10 o'clock the night before the Fayre, still writing instructions for how to make my little friend.

Have I sold out to popular culture?  Maybe, but we did sell a lot of fabric and quite a few patterns!

P.S.  Let me know if you would like a pattern!

Photo and design:  Claire Ketteman

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Hidden Lives

Just in time!  I have finished my work for the Gawthorpe Lace Inspired 2012 campaign.

I made a pair of ladies cuffs: machine embroidered net decorated with hand-made paper couronnes.  Hand cuffs to bind Victorian women, financially to their husbands, intellectually to the expectations of society and physically by a well-defined sense of duty.  With limited means of expression, I imagined a Victorian woman stitching I dream of escape and set me free, unobtrusively working the words into the decoration.  The key motif is reminiscent of a chaterlaine worn by a house-keeper (the only suitable job for a woman).  The paper couronnes are fashioned from old books, alluding to the power of the written word to change the status quo.

Photos and design: copyright Claire Ketteman

Monday, 22 October 2012

Mixing it up!

Do art and science mix?  Why not - they always have done in my mind!

I'm doing just that at the moment as I juggle my new job, researching business opportunities in the chemical industry, whilst I making a very late start on a piece for "Inspired 2013", a competition run by Gawthorpe Hall.

The scientist in me is analysing different types of dissolvable fabric for machine embroidered lace (the current favourite is Romeo from Barnyarns) but my art head is thinking about what kind of statement I want to make and how to connect with my audience.

Why not come back in a couple of weeks and see what I have made!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Miniature Works of Art

I've always been fascinated by miniature things; tiny dolls and tea-sets as a child, tempting bite-size food as an adult!  Local literary heroines, the Bronte sisters also had their own miniature world and they wrote about their adventures in tiny books.  It is fitting that when asked to produce an artist trading card for a forthcoming Embroiderer's Guild meeting, that my thoughts returned to a previous work, Two Views of Withens.  

Working on a canvas 9x6 cm, I selected some scraps and samples of cotton organdie and silk viscose georgette that I had dyed and printed.  The pale, washed out blues and rust colours that I used reminded me of the moorland weather.  I copied the final verse of Sylvia Plath's poem (of the same name) onto calico and then laid down the other fabrics with an undulating running stitch.

My artist trading card will have my name and contact details on the back and will be swapped with other artists at the next Guild meeting.  Sharing our interests, showcasing our talents, loving our art!

copyright photo and design:  Claire Ketteman

Sunday, 2 September 2012


Last week I spent a fabulous day playing with large quantities of shaving foam, acrylic paints and silk dyes.  I was learning the technique of marbling and I was not alone!  My playtime partners are a group of highly intelligent and very well qualified women who have all left the rat race in pursuit of a more fulfilling life.  We meet once a month to share our skills and talents, to experiment and most importantly to have fun.

The fruits of our play might be incorporated into a new project or may just linger in our work baskets waiting for further inspiration.  Whatever happens, a day of playfulness is quite liberating and never wasted!

photo: copyright Claire Ketteman

Saturday, 25 August 2012


Fuschias are one of my favorite flowers so what better muse for my knitted ramblings than these lovely delicate blooms!

I designed these ear-rings for a my Knitted Wire Jewellery course at Gawthorpe Hall where I spent the day in the company of thirteen lovely ladies.  We shared stories, thoughts and a wealth of experience whilst we made a beaded bracelet and a rose brooch.   

If you'd like the pattern for these ear-rings or want to book a course for your group please drop me a line.

copyright design and photo: Claire Ketteman

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Summer schools

I'm getting very excited as I start to prepare for a summer of workshops!

In August, have been invited to Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire which houses the Rachel B Kay-Shuttleworth collection of textiles.  This nationally important collection includes needlework and embroidery from the 17th Century, patchwork and quilting, costumes, a collection of lace and other textile crafts.  Workshops are held in a converted stable block and I will be showing how to make stunning jewellery by mixing traditional knitting skills with contemporary materials.  The course is almost booked up but if you want to grab one of the two remaining places then please contact Gail Marsh who is the curator for the RBKS Collection of Textiles at Gawthorpe (

I've also started volunteering at Birdcage in Skipton, a vintage/charity shop which supports Behind Closed Doors for victims of domestic abuse.  It's so much more than a charity shop because it hosts workshops and drop-in sessions to teach sewing, rag-rug making, patchwork and many other crafts.  Over the summer  I will be running a free drop-in session at to decorate wooden coat-hangers.  Visitors are asked to bring some coat-hangers with them but Birdcage will provide the other materials and know-how to transform them into mini works of art!  In return we ask that some of the coat-hangers are donated to the shop to display our lovely clothes.

Photos and designs are copyright of Claire Ketteman

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Views of Withens

 Last month's challenge was to make an innovative quilt for the Quilt and Embroidery show at Uttoxeter. I wanted to develop my theme of dry stone walls and incorporate devore to create additional translucent areas.

I love using dyes and chemicals to transform fabrics, but most of all I love the way that the whole process is slightly out of control and the results are often a surprise. I started by dying the patchworked fabric in acid dye (to colour silk fibres) and then in procion dye (to colour cellulosic fibres).  Then I painted, bleached and applied devore paste.

For the purpose of the competition a quilt is defined as three layers of fabric stitched together.  I wanted to retain the transparency of my piece and traditional wadding would have ruined it so, in the spirit of innovation, I sandwiched a ribbon of fabric bearing a poem between the patchwork top and a cotton organdie base. Rather than the more obvious works of the Bronte's I chose "Two Views of Withens" by Silvia Plath.  Silvia was married to local poet Ted Hughes and her words really captured the fickle Pennine landscape.

The competition judges were complimentary noting an inspired use of devore velvet for the stone wall and a good contrast of textures. Thank you ladies!

Photos copyright Claire Ketteman

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A Nod to the Past

Roses from the Heart is a project started by artist Christina Henri to celebrate the lives of women transported from the UK to Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania).  When my friend Marjorie persuaded me to take part and make a bonnet, I found myself drawn into the lives of these women who were sentenced for an average of 10 years for insignificant felonies and ripped from all that was familiar.  I imagined them taking small tokens to remind them of their former lives and sewing them inside the lining of their clothes to keep them safe.

I "adopted" my convict who was just 15 when she was transported in 1838.  She shared the same name as my mother.  The bonnet is made from two layers of cotton muslin and trapped inside are fragments of lace from my wedding dress, a button from a favorite cardigan and rose petals to remind me of my garden.

I have used a traditional style of embroidery to embellish my bonnet.  It has not been my usual kind of work it has been very satisfying to dwell in the past for a while.

Photos and text copyright Claire Ketteman 2012

Friday, 27 April 2012

Getting ready to exhibit

I'm off to Clitheroe tomorrow to take three of my pictures to the Platform Gallery where they will be shown in the Open Craft Exhibition 5th May - 14th July.  I have signed my work and duly attached the appropriate labels.  I have plenty of bubble wrap and acid free tissue paper but I've just re-read the instructions and I need mirror plate fixings on my two framed works.  I need to catch the hardware store before they close......!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Linear Stitching 2

I am still fascinated by the dry-stone walls that define the Pennine landscape around me. I thought that once completed I would move on to some new subject but I can't quite let go.

I have been re-working previous samples with my new found love of linear stitches. I chose earthy browns and heather colours and added some seed stitch in the shape of a stone.

Using a palette of greens I have allowed my needle to wander over and around the fabrics like a footpath or the outlines of the walls seen from a distance. These stitches are gently guiding the viewer around my work, drawing attention to details that might otherwise be overlooked.

Copyright design & photos Claire Ketteman

Monday, 27 February 2012

Linear Stitching 1

I have recently discovered the joy of linear stitching. I find that I can loose myself in these simple repetitive stitches, giving myself time to think and to reflect on the shapes I am creating. This revelation came about thanks to an exhibition of Lyn Setterington's work at Gallery Oldham last year. Lyn has studied the Kantha quilting traditions of Bangladesh and has created her own stunning interpretations of the style. I loved the simplicity and clarity of her work.

My own felted book cover shows influences of the the lino cut prints of Angie Lewin. The simple running stitch gives a feeling of movement to the sky.

Getting bolder, my next piece of work was an
Olympic-themed postcard representing Mexico for Skipton Embroiderer's Guild. I chose some bright, red-hot chilies (my favourite cooking ingredient!) and stitched them in chain stitch. Working in sections I was able to create a 3-dimensional effect.

Design & photos copyright: Claire Ketteman