Tag Archives: Print

Embroidering Emotional Baggage

So, its August Bank Holiday and guess what…I’m sitting in the kitchen with the stove on and the bread baking in the oven and the rain battering the windows. Somebody foolishly left me alone with a slab of Wensleydale with ginger and a newly baked loaf …                                                                                                                 Today, after watching “Brideshead Revisited” last night ( should I read the book again?), we took a trip to Castle Howard and braved the Bank Holiday crowds to marvel at it all;the art, the opulence,the romance, the eternal inequalities…and the wonderful titles in the library; where we overheard a stroppy teenager remark, “I hate libraries” (Good grief, what bitter experience inspired that I wonder?)! Anyway, the only thing that spoiled it was that we weren’t dressed in gorgeous 1920s outfits instead of raincoats, and that it all smelt slightly of soup.

Apart from visiting stately homes I have been celebrating the return of the Bernina sewing machine with a mad burst of inspiration and messing about with dyes and prints. A friend of mine asked if I could make a bag with a fox on it, suitable for carrying books. So with a little help from this tutorial on the lovely Tiny Happy blog , I set about making my first shoulder bag.I’m so glad Melissa of Tiny Happy shared this pattern as I am a bit of a dunce when it comes to working out patterns and I’m mainly just looking for something simple that I can use as a blank canvas.

I hope its new owner likes it anyway. I can remember when I was a teenager at school, having the right sort of stuff…bag, shoes or whatever was vitally important to avoid unwanted attention from the sneery,”cool” kids,so I hope they’ve reached the “I’ve got something totally unique that you couldn’t buy even if you wanted to” stage. That was the last of my fox prints for a while as I dropped and smashed, the jar of dye all over the kitchen floor and have now run out of foxy orange.

Often having a go at something new sets me off on in all sorts of directions and I was so pleased with the Fox Bag that I spent an evening making this little one for myself. Made of a really old and threadbare blanket and lined with soft magenta cotton, I dip dyed it, over printed with disperse dyes and then hand embroidered.

Now I’ve learned some lessons from my experiments and then next ones I make will have more inside pockets and a different, more secure, closure I think.I’m going to call this department of my eclectic emporium “Emotional Baggage”.

Well, this is going to be a pretty short post from me tonight as all that cheese and the hot stove and the pretending to be Julia Flyte have made me sleepy. I’m going to have an early night and hope for a busy and productive day tomorrow…in fact, I hope it rains so that the garden can’t lure me out. Meanwhile, look at this lovely tumble down summer house I saw on Sunday ( it stands right next to the Lodge which is the Big House on the estate)…I would love to transplant it into my field and grow roses, jasmine and honeysuckle up the veranda. It would make the perfect studio …



Not waving but drowning

It suddenly became May and my birthday in the Lakes seems so long ago. May has been all about the important men in my life; with birthdays for my son, brother and lover all within a few days of each other, while my famous artist daddy had a new exhibition opening this last weekend (more on this later). Its  been a tough month so far, apart from these celebrations. The harsh reality of  a precarious financial situation has really started to hit home,along with a blanket of grim weather smothering most of England and a nasty attack by the “Black Dog” who refuses to become a nicely trained ,cute, curly puppy and will insist on whispering in my ear ( in a nasty dog-breathy kind of way) ” stop it, nobody wants your stuff, why bother, why not give up..”. Naughty dog!

It all came to a head when I discovered that the beautiful nest of tiny blue eggs I’d seen in the old clematis had been abandoned, probably before I’d even found it. And still it rained.And there seemed to be no break in the clouds.

But, I’m quite stubborn once roused and I decided to make the best of things,like Pollyanna. I  wrote to Mr Flint ,who runs HSBC bank, and sent him a little print along with a suggestion that he may like to buy one of my fabulous, unique cushions if he couldn’t give me an overdraft. He hasn’t replied yet but it made me feel better. Then I went to work one day and was shown a huge portfolio of these beautiful Japanese “Katagami” which reminded me how much I love textiles, design and amazing craftsmanship.

Each paper stencil is hand cut and these were collected in the late 1800s so there were no lasers or computers to make the job easy. The designs are all done in repeat, with pin hole registration marks so that long lengths can be printed to make kimonos. the detail is incredible and I was lucky enough to be loaned two katagami sheets to experiment with. The results on cyanotype fabric were wonderful but I was nervous of damaging them with any wet media ,or heat during heat transfer.

Since I last wrote I have also been to the “Print Club” at CCAD where I made silk screens and once again wished I had the luxury of another three years to re-do my degree with all that I now know! It would be wonderful to really experiment with print, colour and technique without the restrictions of time, money and the need to sell, sell, sell.

So, yes, I have been lying low and maybe you wondered where I’d gone…or maybe not, its a big world. I just thought I’d write and let you know that I’m still quietly “making stuff” and enjoying the process while trying to remove it from the need to make a living;in fact, I accidentally got a part time job as a pony treking leader last week which is hilarious (only don’t make me laugh because I’m still aching all over and in unmentionable places!).However, I’m working on this orange and dusty green cushion square tonight while eating violet cremes and watching the swallows against the egg blue sky.

Just a little final bit about the Inspired Landscape exhibition to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of the North York Moors National Park which opened on Friday. My dad had chosen to show a set of photographs from “The Furnished Landscape” which I can remember him taking in the 1970s, not knowing at the time that these would document a lost way of life … who can remember the days when milk came in churns not tankers? There were also screen prints and etchings from that time inspired ,variously,by my grandparent’s garden, the big skies of the moors and the miscellaneous structures that have become part of the landscape such as stiles, gates and garden trellises. The exhibition runs until July so if you’re in the North it really is not to be missed; the work, by the 6 artists involved is all so different and yet so evocative of this wonderful place. Oh, and if you would like a signed copy of the re-published book “The Furnished Landscape” I think they are about £13.50 + postage so let me know and I’ll see if I can get you one.

I hope May is full of sunshine and the scent of bluebells wherever you are. Here is a blog I’m really enjoying at the moment…a little sunshine from the rainy city!


Gardening at Night

Today it thundered like mad and sent hailstones the size of marbles ping-ing off the metal garden table.Its been a weird day because I woke up at about 5.30 am which is very out of character. I spent a pleasant hour or two sitting in bed with tea, toast, a review of Mervyn Peake’s “Gormenghast” and Farming Today on Radio 4 ,before falling asleep until lunchtime! Nevermind, I made up for it with a mad flurry of activity, baking, cleaning and sorting out a huge pile of old portfolios that used to live under the bed.

It was nice to find some forgotten pieces of work including this tiny print sample on jersey fabric and this drawing of feathers.A bonus was discovering a huge stash of paper, including thick watercolour paper, card and handmade khadi papers which should keep Sara stocked up when she starts her new course at DMU in August.There is something mentally cleansing about clearing out the rubbish from under the bed! I feel a little less chaotic and a bit more positive.

The garden is happy with the crazy soakings its been getting lately and it’s lovely to wander about picking sugar snap peas , raspberries and wild strawberries ; particularly in the evening when the nightscented stocks, honeysuckle and jasmin are almost overpowering. A baby hedgehog has been snuffling about noisily as well so the poor old chickens are on edge ( did you know that hedgehogs chase chickens?!)

Tonight I’ve listed some new things on Etsy  and have been wracking my brains for ways to promote the gallery at Golden Brown Coffee as well as raising some money for Shelterbox ( particularly in light of the crisis in East Africa) .I really want to support this charity as it seems like such a positive and practical way to help; so I’ve been sending out e-mails to local businesses asking for prize donations…fingers crossed some of them reply and then more fingers crossed that some people turn up to this event on the 23rd….

Right, I’m off to breathe in that heady scent and have a chat with that little hedge pig. x


Looking Back,Moving Forward

Goodbye crispy autumn leaves,Hello winter! Tonight I was meant to be going out on a hot date but plans were foiled by the snow which is still falling quite heavily as I write. It always seems too early but really it pretty much always snows this week or the first week in December ( I just looked at posts from the past two Novembers and have lost my train of thought in remembering and comparing)

One similarity with last year is that I am busy trying to make as much stuff as possible  for a market on Sunday. The event in the village last Friday was so successful that I have almost no kids t-shirts left and not enough time to re-stock. Instead I’ve been making more purses and brooches as well as some metal collage badges with some hand stitching which I’ve really enjoyed making; I’ve even bought another adapter for my badge press so I can make different sizes.

So, perhaps its a good thing that I am trapped in my kitchen with only the radio and the stove for company; I need to sew all night in the hope of making my fortune on Sunday at the Designer’s Market! Slight panic though… my hot date was also meant  to be bringing the shopping ,so coffee is on short rations just in case I can’t get any tomorrow!!

Lindsey Murray will be sharing a table with me and I must say I’m getting really excited about it; even if I don’t make a million I can’t wait to see everyone. I bet I spend more than I make!! I only hope the weather doesn’t cause problems .

Right, I really must get on with something.Oh, but before I go, here is a link to a website I read about in the Guardian at the weekend. YouThoughtWeWouldntNotice is a site dedicated to naming and shaming companies and individuals that have stolen others’ design and artwork.Its really very worrying to read some of the stories (designs stolen from Etsy shops and then mass produced on the cheap), especially after the Claire’s Accessories story I told you about, and almost puts me off publishing any images of my work on the net.

Goodbye for now. x

A Clean Sweep?

So I’m learning a lesson today about the futility of housework;tidying up one area of chaos has just meant that everywhere else is now knee deep in junk , including some dead mice I found in the cupboard under the stairs. Nice.

Now, don’t worry, all this cleaning isn’t just a distraction.The cupboard under the stairs is where all the bags of fabric live, waiting to “come in handy one day”. I’ve found a big stack of blank T-shirts and set myself the task of getting them all listed on Etsy before the summer’s out, instead of drifting from one half finished project to another.

Yesterday I finished two abandoned projects…a lavender bear brooch and the little T-shirt below, which is printed with heat transfer paint and hand embroidered.

Now I must return to my chores and the chaos in the cupboard.

Don’t forget that Designer’s Marketplace is holding one of its wonderful events in Middlesbrough this weekend, it sounds like its going to be a good one and yet again I’m regreating not taking a stall.Next time…

“England has more shades of green..”

I’m loving the woods at Blow Gil at the moment, despite the ants! Everything is so fresh and green,scented with sticky pine sap, bluebells and warm earth. Tiny details like the seed heads of the mosses,spirally ferns and velvet new beech leaves make me want to draw and walk “bear”foot and soak up the sun.

Still the only “work” images I have to share are these details from freelance design for childrens wear.The one above shows hand embroidery and digital print from a  drawing you may recognise as my avatar for this blog…

I must get my printer sorted out so I have no excuse not to start working again.

This design was a simple repeat done using Illustrator and printed on to cotton using the inkjet printer.( Hey if you happen to be from Oilily or somewhere its copyright but give me a call!!)

Anyway, last night we all went down to CCAD in Middlesbrough to see some of the summer shows, including Foundation where Sara starts in September. Tonight is the opening of the BA Textiles and Surface Design degree show in Hartlepool; I can’t go because I’m at work but hope to get there later in the week to see all the fantastic work. Good luck everyone!!

Listening to: “The Seldom Seen Kid” Elbow

“Paint it Black”

Yesterday I made this top for my friend Sarah’s 30th birthday. I’m madly proud of the fact that in a crazy burst of energy, fueled I think by listening to 6Music ( Faithless remix)instead of Radio4, I managed to paint several walls (white not black…), design and cut the stencil, print, embellish,wash and wrap this gift! The main picture is a bit odd because I was messing about with the contrast settings on my phone last night after the pub…you know how it is, I don’t think I was a very good judge of image quality at the time!

I think I like the fact that it was done so quickly but was so effective. I used some “Jaquard” discharge paste with a cardboard stencil and a blank screen. Steaming in an ordinary kitchen steamer ( or steam iron it says on the jar) bleaches out the colour. It’s one of the most exciting printing processes because you can’t tell what the result will be until you lift the lid.

Now, tomorrow is Mother’s Day and, I have to say I’m not looking forward to work as its going to be horribly busy and I’m a bear with a sore head at the moment. I’m wishing I was being brought breakfast in bed on this gorgeous vintage bed tray from Solstice Home instead of working as a waitress, but there you go, you can’t have everything and life is not a bowl of cherries.Anyway, Happy Mothers Day to my lovely mother who obviously is the best in the world.

Just to say also, my month at Poppytalk Handmade ended today…no sales but lots of new links to Witchmountain and visitors to my Etsy shop, so thank you to everyone who looked. x