Tuesday, 29 October 2013


Last week I went to see Cloth and Memory 2 at Salt's Mill with my namesake and kindred spirit, Claire.  The exhibition is on a truly monumental scale and is staged in the old spinning shed at the mill.  The work was all meritorious but the pieces that were most eloquent were the ones that had been created in direct response to the Mill itself.

It got me thinking about how I could develop one of my recent themes, the work of women social reformers from the Victorian era.  I've already made two pieces inspired by lace from the Gawthorpe Hall collection and I've got an idea for at least one item if not more.  I want to continue to work with fine and translucent fabrics and inspiration came in the early hours of the morning - somewhere between waking and sleeping.  later that morning I started sampling with some cotton organdie sandwiched between two layers of fine net.  I stitched the fabrics together using silk yarn and a mixture of random patterns, text and drawing with thread.  Then I applied devore paste (rather too clumsily, I confess) and burnt out the cotton.  The resultant fabric was crude but had potential.  Using screens to print the devore paste will ensure a lighter touch and clear images.  The stitching needs to be denser to capture the fragments of cotton organdie.

Here are the seeds for a new projects.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Grey days

So much for the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness! The last few days have been characterised by thick fog which hardly any daylight can penetrate.

My morning walks often take me through beech woods.  The trees have not yet shed their leaves and the canopy is dense, few plants grow in their shadow. The thick fog had reduced the light and entering the darkness of the woods seemed foolhardy.  But my courage was rewarded, because as I started to emerge into open fields the silhouette of trees and walls was breathtaking.

Working with pigment ink pens in a Pointellist style seems to capture the ethereal nature of the day and the subject.  Although the Autumnal colours were present in the woods, the stark contrast of fog with the dark trees made me choose to work in a palette of greys. 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Working on the fly


It's been a crazy few weeks with little time for art and experimentation.  I took photos of some fly agaric mushrooms (Amanita muscaria) that I recently found in local woods and I've been mulling over what to do with them. I'm drawn to these brightly coloured fungi; there's something so exotic about their luscious, bright red-and-white spotted caps.  But they come with an air of danger too - they're hallucinogenic, and this made me think of some kind of manipulation technique.

The textile designer, Lucienne Day liked to cut up coloured pieces of paper to create abstract images so this seemed like a good place to start.  I have long admired her work, especially her ability to reduce a botanical drawing to its simplest form. 

I trimmed my photo to isolate the red cap of the fungus and then continued to cut it into 1cm strips.  I used the remaining trimmings to make similar strips that I wove in a warp direction.

Although simple, the weave pattern acts as a view-finder for different parts of the image. I noticed that the spots are not at all symmetrical; they have ragged edges and appear to be bursting through the bright red cap.  The whole effect is distorted and perhaps this would be a view of the world if you were to try eating one of these fairy toadstools.  I think I'll keep them safely on paper! 

Monday, 7 October 2013

New Media


This week has been all about exploring different media.  My first diversion was ceramics. I popped into a lovely local cafe Cobbles and Clay to paint a plate that will be given to the winner of a Bake Off style competition that I'm organising on Saturday 12th October.  The paints that I used behaved very differently to acrylics or watercolours - they are viscous, slightly dry and are absorbed very quickly by the plate.  On the up-side, if you make a mistake, it's easily removed with a damp cloth.  I have to own up to several revisions because I wasn't happy with the lettering.  

My other foray into the unknown was an upholstery taster course run by Pauline Keenoy at Damside Mill which was part of the South Pennines Making and Doing Festival.  I took along an old chair and discovered that it was rather beautiful underneath its layers of varnish and 1950s moquette.  I have got great plans for it!  I am starting a course in November to learn the skills necessary to complete its transformation.