Tag Archives: CCAD

“it’s in the trees…..it’s coming!…..”

It is  early November and I’ve already been snowed in once; snow in October is a strange thing, with trees still in leaf and flowers in the garden.Snow on roses is a beautiful thing, but not for the roses.The blanket of white didn’t last long though and it made me determined to see some Autumn colour before it was too late. I’ve always loved the trees at Thorpe Perrow Arboretum and it was fun to shuffle about in the leaves, plan how to free the owls, decide that I would like a reindeer and say hello to remembered statues and blazing maples.

Its a good job I like trees because two days later I was at the strangest party I’ve ever been to (not counting the Mutoid Waste Company‘s New Year Warehouse party in 1986…when I was 6 obviously!!). The Motor House had been transformed into an eerie woodland with birds nests,real trees and a floor of dried leaves, which I am still finding in my hair.All very bohemian and fabulous.

Back on Witchmountain  I am contemplating the end of my bohemian lifestyle and the quiet solitude of my stove-side existence, as I enter a new and much delayed,phase of my life. Yes, I have been offered a full time, payed job that doesn’t include serving tea or pulling pints.

I’m excited and apprehensive but I start next week at the Joe Cornish Gallery …wish me luck!

I’m not giving up on my own work though; I’m hoping that I will feel less desperate to make money from it and therefore more likely to start selling a few things. The past four years have taught me more than I ever learnt at college and most of the lessons were very hard. I know hardly anyone who can live by their artwork alone and even as a freelance designer with an agent the amount of work needed to maintain a reasonable level of sales was almost impossible. I do feel strongly that we left college unprepared and with unrealistic expectations.

Tomorrow night I’ll be in Osmotherley with all my wares, including this new purse and some new cards which I’ll also be listing on Etsy soon. If you live nearby the Christmas Fair is in the village hall, Osmotherley from 7.30pm.

Just time for me to say, Congratulations Mr Obama ( because obviously he always reads this blog). Until next time x


The Past is a Foreign Country

My resolution to write every Monday morning slipped a little today and I’m only just getting around to it now, armed with a mug of cold green tea, with the clock about to tip over in to tomorrow.It was a strange weekend;beginning with a nostalgia filled trip to Whitby and ending with a sudden snowfall that covered everything in a blanket of white again,then disappeared overnight like an unsettling dream. The highlight of the trip through my old stamping grounds was Botton Village, near Danby. Botton is run by the Camphill Trust and the whole village is centered around providing a supportive living and working environment for adults with various learning disabilities,based on the philosophies of Rudolf Steiner. It has one of the best book shops around, as well as a shop selling  Organic and Biodynamic produce, a craft shop, glass and pottery workshops,dairy,bakery and a cafe.The landscape is beautiful and  entering the village itself feels like crossing into a different country…with unusual wooden buildings, gardens and an atmosphere that thrives on creativity .

(Photo by Steve Hailey)

Anyway, after a weekend of dredging up old memories, saying things like “ooh, this used to be fields” and thinking “heck, I’m ACTUALLY middle aged!” I dredged these old images up from those heady days of Final Major Project at CCAD and pondered yet again the twisty- turny route my life  seems to follow as well as the ins and outs of design. I struggled as a freelance designer, partly because my work didn’t follow “trends” very well ( how infuriating to be told off for making zebra print bunnies only to find that Indigo – one of the biggest textile trade fairs- has a leopard print rabbit as its logo this year!) .

Originality and creativity have also been an issue lately with the much publicised Claire’s/Tatty Devine dispute, as well as various friends of mine having their designs and styles copied almost exactly by other designers. I feel very strongly about this,as inspiration is one thing but copying is lazy (and illegal), while slavishly following trends may make your stuff sell like hot cakes in the mass market but ultimately makes the world a duller place.

Ok, so this is why I’m poor as can be and why Mr Next hasn’t given me the top job! Its also why places like Botton are so important because they nurture creativity and independence.

Now I feel as though I’ve delivered a lecture that probably needed better editing and I must head up the apples and pears. The temperature in the kitchen has dropped and the clock is telling me it’s now Tuesday. Tomorrrow I will be busy making and planning , drawing and designing and hoping I’m heading in the right direction…

Bitter Orange

Embroidery sample and Photoshopped mood board

The rain continues and so do my battles with Orange who have today and for the past week,driven me insane with rage and frustration. I am eating red chillies to improve my natural serotonin but maybe chamomile tea would be better.

ANYWAY, the winner of the giveaway is Jayne, a recent graduate of CCAD’s, BA(hons) Degree in Textiles and Surface Design.You win a lovely orange purse, better than an Orange phone any day! I hope you all enjoyed fantasizing about trips to Africa, sorry I couldn’t giveaway a free ticket !

A cozy “tuffet” for eating curds and whey ( minus spider )

My stove is all mended now , just in time for a typical Yorkshire June. The wall has been put back together, the picture re-hung and I treated myself to this lovely cushion from Inspired Earth who were at the festival at the weekend. I can see me spending a lot of time huddled here with a mug of coffee and some embroidery …

Deep breath…..ok, I’m calmer now. Time to get on with things. Thank you so much for reading and taking part in the competition. x

PS . I’ve just been on Facebook and realised it’s Jayne’s birthday today!

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Well, on Friday I finally parted company with my Sketchbook Project and sent it on its way to the USA, where hopefully at least one or two people will  have a look as it tours the country.I feel as though I rushed the last few pages in order to  meet the posting deadline and then when I got back from the Post Office there was an e-mail saying that it had been extended! Oh well, never put off until tomorrow what you can do today, or however the saying goes.The worst thing is that my scanner has broken so I only have these few, over exposed photos taken on my phone. They are meant to be “digitizing” it though, so hopefully there will be good quality images on the Arthouse Co-Op website soon.I have just worked out how to search for other participants according to country, book title etc. so I will probably be getting sidetracked later as I spotch through everyone else’s offerings! So far I only know of one other person from CCAD who has taken part, Karen Syms, who told me about the project in the first place and is currently studying for her MA. Anyone else out there ?

Anyway, while I should have been doing something else at work today, I read my stars in the Sunday paper. Despite being a loads of codswallop I took comfort in the prediction that since the sun was entering my domestic zone in conjunction with my work zone ( or some such guff) I would soon be successfully working from home ( or perhaps just spending more time at home due to being sacked for reading the paper when meant to be serving beer!?…). I hope this comes true and if it does I may even consider switching to the Torygraph out of gratitude ( no I won’t don’t worry).

Reading : “The Plot” Madeleine Bunting   Listening To: The fire crackling


The Lark in the Morning

A bright and frosty morning here on Witchmountain.Jack Frost had left swirly fern patterns on the glass and the lawn was crunchy as my morning toast. Sometimes I get a burst of energy which takes me by surprize; normally sleepy as a sloth, I have been up since 7 this morning, making tiny boots and brooches. It must be the weather …I wish I could always feel this awake in the mornings , a lark instead of an owl.

These little bird brooches are one of my favorite designs at the moment.I’ve used the same design in some of my cards and notebooks and hope to make a laser cut version at some point. I’m slowly building up stock for the Designer’s Market on the 28th and a “Ladies Night”  in the village this Friday evening.

It was lovely to be featured as a guest blogger on Designers Marketplace last week and I’m really looking forward to the event; hoping to get some more Christmas shopping done ( So far, apart from books I am managing to stick to my pledge to only buy handmade so tough luck if you wanted an iPhone or a Nintendo thing kids!)

Finally I’m glad to say that the play, The Good Hope went well.It was pretty much a sell out and we even had a visit from the Mayor of Whitby and a representative of the RNLI. Jane Thorniley-Walker’s original drawing for the backdrop and poster was auctioned in aid of the Whitby Lifeboat which made  the nerves and weeks of rehearsals seem really worth while.

…Oh and Congratulations to all this years CCAD Textiles and Surface Design graduates who had their cap and gown ceremony yesterday.Well Done  X

Catching Up

Hello! Yes I’m still here, although it seems like ages since I last wrote a blog post, sorry. There is so much to tell you; I’ve been pretty busy, although maybe not very productive! Last week I took a small selection of my work to an event in Darlington where a friend had kindly offered to give me a corner of her stall (very kindly as these events are not cheap , even if you did get a lovely packed lunch delivered to your table!) Anyway, Jayne’s sales skills are amazing and she managed to sell quite a few of my brooches and purses while I embroidered a t-shirt, demurely, in the background!

It was interesting to visit what was essentially quite a “high end” gift fair and listen to the other stall holders comparing sales with previous years. Finding the right market, literally, is so difficult. It was lovely to see another friend from CCAD with her bright and cheerful stall, Lizzie & Peach selling kids accessories such as pencil and notebook cases, brooches and patchwork apples ( end of term “apple for teacher” gifts!). Both Jayne and Debbie have a business sense that I envy and almost makes me wish I’d done Business Studies instead of Textiles…

Last week I also had the good news that the Zillah Bell Gallery has agreed to show my work; so if you want to buy the original drawing of the Witchmountain Bear (as seen at the top of this page) get yourself to the Winter Exhibition which opens on November 27th. Meanwhile, as I sit waiting for the big break that will justify my years at college and the permanent clutter of my studio( kitchen table) I am sewing t-shirts for the Designer’s Marketplace, learning my lines for “The Good Hope” and day dreaming about autumn days in the mountains.

Jane Thorniley-Walker is busy painting scenery as well as having done this lovely drawing for the poster.She is an inspiration, her tireless energy when it comes to her artwork puts me to shame…enough computer stuff, its time to “make”!


“Powder Blue”

Well, I think last time I wrote I was recovering from altitude sickness after a scary day out in the mountains ( I know I’m a drama queen!)Now the fear of falling has been replaced by the fear that I’m not going to be able to finish this sketchbook by the deadline ( sometime in January) and that I will get complete and terminal creative block. So far I’ve completed one double page and yes its all very “pretty” but…well, I’ll keep you posted, I’m not massively inspired I have to admit.Some of the links on the Sketchbook Project blog are really interesting though, too easy to waste hours browsing and not “doing”.

My daughter started art college at CCAD last week so maybe I can steal some of her ideas!Today we met up for lunch at the lovely Cafe Bahia in the  Middlesbrough and quite by chance bumped into Bob from Tubbyphunk. Bob is a graphic designer and DJ who has done a lot of work with students at CCAD, in fact he designed our degree show catalogue which you can see on his website( and in earlier posts here, June 2008 I think). The cafe owner recognised us from an earlier visit and for a few moments Middlesbrough seemed to be a very friendly little place!

Anyway, back on Witchmountain I’m almost glad that Autumn is here, giving me an excuse to light the stove and prepare for hibernation! So while the night draws in and the wind batters the yellowing garden, I’m keeping cozy with a big mug of coffee and page two of the sketchbook.

Reading:“Here At the End of the World We Learn to Dance” by Lloyd Jones , Listening to: ” A History of the World in 100 Objects” Radio4 and “Cloudbusting” Kate Bush….oh, and the wind.