Tuesday 31 January 2023

Another course

Yes I know!  I do too many.  But this one with Fibre Arts Take Two is a Masterclass and is called Essence of Identity.  It's about finding out more about yourself so you can put  more of yourself in your work.  I feel it builds on the mentoring sessions I had with Christine Chester in 2017.  Can't believe it's that long ago.

One of the modules has been to look at elements and principles of design - which ones appeal to us and which ones we use.

I went through some of my photos and put them together to demonstrate LINE (see above) and SHAPE (below).


 And DECAY which is another form of texture.

And you can probably see - if you didn't already know - that I'm attracted to neutral COLOURS and pale blues.  Also rust and orange!

I've also looked at my own work and where the elements and principles are in that but I'll share that another day.

Thanks for joining me today

Saturday 28 January 2023

More poetry. One photo

And the photo isn't mine!

I spent another very productive couple of hours on a Write Poetry zoom call run by Sara-Jane Arbury. You may remember me mentioning her last month.

(c) Element5digital

Again we did 3 exercises.For each exercise Sara-Jane introduced us to a poem, talked about its form, language and punctuation and set us off to write a poem of our own.

The first exercise was to write something about a first experience or step.

First Day 

Bag unpacked, reading books primed
ready to be heard.
Pencils sharpened, crayons
corralled in tins upon the desk.
Small tables, small chairs
for small people. 

The smell of disinfectant.
Why do school toilets smell the same
whatever the school? 

The bell tolls. The day begins
with registration. Each child
acknowledging their presence
to the teacher. A new term for them.
A new job for me. 

The second was about watching somebody who doesn't know you are watching them.  It was suggested we start with 'I see you'.

I see you growing

In your ballet dress I see you
Twirling and smiling
Lost in the wonder
of the dance. 

Sometimes dressed as Elsa
Being a princess. Frozen
on a screen as Mummy
takes a photo. 

I see you cutting up cucumber
And putting snacks in a box
ready for daycare.
Mummy’s little helper. 

I see you colouring in pictures
in a colouring book
whilst you wait for your brothers
to finish their martial art. 

I see you.
But I can’t touch you.
I see you in a photo. In a video
your mummy shares with me. 

I can’t reach through the screen
to touch you 12000 miles away.
But, my beautiful granddaughter
I see you growing. 


The last exercise was writing about a place that was deep inside you.  The example was Orkney/This Life by Andrew Greig.   Coincidentally I have been doing an online Masterclass called Essence of Identity with Donna Watson, where one of the modules was about sense of place.

A sense of place 

You have called me.
You have invited me.
Set a table before me
covered with life-giving food. 

You have called me.
You have invited me
to walk in the river,
A river set in the middle of the street
in the middle of the city. 

You have called me.
You have invited me to view
the trees on either side of the river.
Their life-giving leaves
bring healing for the nations. 

You have called me.
You have invited me
into your family.
Adopted me.
Called me your own. 

You have called me.
You have invited me.
You have set eternity
in this human heart. 

Thank you for joining me today

Tuesday 24 January 2023

Guess what! A book

However it's not a handmade one.

It is a photo book from Photobox.  I spotted a phenomenal offer for an A4 book with unlimited pages for only £20.   I trawled through my somewhat large collection of canal photos (I haven't actually counted how many there are but it will be at least in the upper hundreds), and uploaded them to the Photobox website.

I didn't write anything in the book.  The names of the places and the walks are not important, it was more about providing inspiration for my work.   I divided up the photos into themes.  You'll be pleased to know I'm not sharing every one of the 40 pages.



Boats & bridges



A bit of everything


I was really please with the quality of the book although some of the green is bit - well, too much green - but considering how little I paid for it I am delighted.

Do you make photobooks with your photos?

Thanks for joining me today

Saturday 21 January 2023

In conversation

In conversation with a friend about creativity, making a series of pieces of work and other related things, we began talking about how we move from one piece of work to another.  And I said that it was a good idea to reflect on a finished piece before moving onto the next as the first piece might inform the next.  Brilliant point!

However it's not what I do!  Do you?

So practising what I preach I'm going to reflect on all my map series at once.  Too late to do it after I finished each piece!  As several of the pieces are going to Eclectica exhibitions and need naming, I thought I could do that at the same time.

Hanging Book
Size: 114x10.5cms

I have made several of these before as books.  They usually fold up and have a button and a buttonhole.  This one has been made as a hanging with D rings at each end.  Making this was well within my comfort zone.

Map Collage #1-6
Size: 10cm square collages within a 20cm square box frame

Size: Box frame 27cms square.
6 small fabric collages 3x approx 7x5cms, 3x approx 5x5cms

I had started the small collages before I started the Shelley Rhodes online course.  However I've done a workshop with her and have done lots of collage.  These collages were in a series with them laid out on the the table and different bits of fabric auditioned on the different collages to see where the best fit was.

Map Abstraction
Size: 42x45.5cms

The five pieces of fabric were left over from setting up 'Bits and Pieces' and the hanging book.  They were lightly bonded to the calcio.  Acrylic felt wadding was bonded to the calico and also to a backing calico.  I handstitched through the layers and finished the piece with bought bias binding.  The running stitch followed the marks on the fabrics and extended to the edge of the piece.  This piece was different from other pieces I've made - more abstract - but still within my comfort zone.

Bits and Pieces

This was the first piece to be assembled and almost the last to be finished.  It has a mix of machine stiitching and handstitching.  I wasn't sure how much handstitching to put on. It fits with the other pieces in the series but I don't know to what extent this influenced the other pieces, and vice versa.

What Three Words
Size: Closed 19x15cms  Open 40x15cms

I had made the book using one piece of fabric, because I like making books.  It was made by folding into 16 and cutting along lines - the red lines in the diagram below.

The pages hade been bonded together and a cover added before I knew what I was going to do with it.  The blue fabric had been painted with dye whilst narrow masking tape had been stretched over it.  White paint had been stencilled on top.  The pages were too dark and patterned when I decided I want to stitch maps.  Stitching on organza was suggested.  It worked well but I don't think it's a technique I particularly want to repeat.

Maps & Grids
Size:  Closed 20x15cms   Open 40x15cms

Of all the series, this is my favourite.  It's more adventurous but still not particularly experimental. It contains both the running stitch element and the collage element with a few extra media - paper lamination, hessian strips, OS maps and machine-gridded paper.

On reflection

This has been a worthwhile activity although not necessarily informing a new piece from the previous piece in a series.  One reason for this is that I'm looking at the whole finished series.  The other is that when I work in a series like this I tend to have all of them on the go at once.  This enables me to work on which ever piece catches my attention on any particular day.  Or how much time I have to do something.

In actuality I suspect they all inform each other. But in looking back over the series in this way has been useful.  I think I will be looking to develop some of the ideas in the Maps & Grids book at a later date, possibly in another book or look at how I could make wall pieces.

But that's for the future.  For now, I'm going to have a rest from textiles and do some messy, painty stuff and also the Sally Tyrie workshop I signed up to and haven't done much with.

I started with a conversation with a friend which led to me having a conversation with my work.

Let me know in the comments below whether you reflect on finished pieces to see what you have learned about them and about yourself.

Thanks for joining me today

Tuesday 17 January 2023

Another finished book

You may remember I mentioned last year that I had chosen 3 words that reminded me of each place I had lived.   I made a zigzag sketchbook with little drawings of maps of the location of each place.  I decided I wanted to copy these maps into the fabric book I had made with one piece of the map printed fabric I had made at the Summer School last year.

It's a highly patterned fabric and I didn't think the map would show up.  In addition I had already bonded the pages together so each map would appear on both the front and the back of the page.

It was suggested that I sewed the maps onto organza and inserted them into the book.  This has worked really well and here's a short, wobbly video of the finished book.

Thank you for joining me today.

Saturday 14 January 2023

Eclectica Exhibition

It is well worth making a trip to the Museum of Cannock Chase.  As you know I am in a textile group called Eclectica and we have an outstanding exhibition at the Museum.

Kate Brierley took all these fabulous photos.

And if you're interested in local history, the history of mining and what life looked like in the 1940s there's lots of other things to see at the museum as well as our wonderful exhibition.  And there's a local nature reserve to walk around.  Close by is Cannock Chase and in the other direction Chasewater.

I took these photos of my work

Thanks for joining me today

Tuesday 10 January 2023

Orange is not just a fruit

Just to cheer us up during these dull, dark days here are some of the photos I took for the photography group.  Our theme was colour.  I chose Orange.

Thanks for joining me today

Saturday 7 January 2023


I've finished the stitching. Running stitch paths and X marks the spot.

The other pages are here.

This is the cover.  The book is about maps and grids so I sewed a piece of plastic garden trellis onto the fabric.

I sewed round each of the pages on the sewing machine.  I stitched through all the pages to make the book.

Thanks for joining me today