Saturday 30 March 2024

Chaos update

My Chaos to Calm piece is coming on slowly - mostly because I haven't really buckled down to it.

Since I last posted about it I have stamped some unreadable text on the dyed calcico using acrylic paint.  Because I wanted some of the cord to fall off the edge of the piece I put the partially dyed calico onto a piece of felt with black cotton poplin backing.  It's rare for me to think about how a piece will be finished before I even start!

Once the back was finished it had enough weight for me to be able to stitch down the thick cords.

I wrapped some of the thick cord with torn fabric and stitched that on over the top.

I placed the small fragments I had made.

I made some different thicknesses of cord using the zigzag stitch on my machine.

I stitched the fragments on using cross stitch.  I have now started adding the thinner dyed cord.

Once the thinner cord is attached, I shall be adding more fragments and then the thin machine cords.

I'm really pleased with how it's going.  I've set myself a deadline of April 11th to finish the piece.  I'll let you know how that goes!

Thanks for joining me today

Tuesday 26 March 2024

Maps & More new work

After several sessions at Littleheath Barn trying out techniques and processes for the Maps & More workshop, we are now looking at making final pieces.

One of the things I've wanted to do this year is challenge myself to make different work from my usual cut it up, sew it back together wall hangings.

So this week I tore up fabric I had dyed and printed and bonded the strips to a piece of calico - not really such a different process!

However this time I made a curved piece based on the shape of the Grand Canal on a map of Venice.

I had used breakdown printing to print this large piece of fabric.  Instead of putting thickened dye on the screen I had only used Manutex through a stencil of a map of Venice.  I used a coloured thickened dye to print the screen.

I cut a matching curve from the background fabric and machined the edges together.  (Sorry the photo is a bit blurry).

I had to hand stitch the small inner curve as I couldn't get it under the machine foot.

Then I cut the curve for the other side and machined the pieces together.

I put some felt and a backing fabric and machined down the 'canal'.

I haven't decided how to quilt the rest of the background so I've put it on one side for now and have returned to working on Chaos to Calm.

Thanks for joining me today

Saturday 23 March 2024

Authentic and Courageous

Courage and authenticity are two of the key values of the church I belong to.  Fortunately I count them as two of my own values.  In my planner as part of One Little Word project I have this:

Over the years I suppose I have been courageous.  I wrote about it in a blog post in 2017: RISK.

However looking back on the 3 months of anxiety I think God was talking to me about being courageous, but in the sense of being more vulnerable and letting people in.  Taking down the barriers that I have surrounded myself with.  Taking off the mask of 'fine'!  It's been a tough journey but I have to say it has been so worth it.  Being vulnerable is part of being authentic.  Showing the whole of you not just the bits that make you look good. 

During this time I have found real depth in friendships that I value more than anything.

So in light of this, I'm going to share a poem I wrote in January as part of the online zoom workshops I take part in. We were asked to write a poem from a child's point of view where something happened to change their perspective.  This was an incident when I was 10 and it severely influenced how I felt about childbirth which led to pre-natal depression when I was pregnant 27 years later.

Bordon Hill
The view from the top of the hill
went on forever. But turn around
and one small single-storey home
sat in the midst of an acre of
meadow flowers and orchard trees.
Chickens pecked at fallen plums.

The child, too young to have been kissed
romantically, wandered through the
fruit laden trees. Glad to be out
of the city as she recovered from
the kissing disease. Her grandparents’ home
a place of solace and recuperation.

And yet, there was still medicine to take.
Large pills for so small a throat.
Forced to swallow despite her cries.
'Ungrateful girl. Your mother almost died
in pain and labour. And you won’t ease
the worry of your health'.

On the same zoom poetry day we were asked to write about time passing.  This happened in August 2022.

The doors slid open
to welcome the man
to A&E.
And closed behind him
shutting out the world
shutting out his wife.

Her phone rang.
'Go home. Go home and wait
for me to contact you.
Go home and wait'. 

Lunchtime passed but no food
passed her lips. She was home
and waiting. Time slowed
and still she waited.
The phone rang.
A woman’s voice. A pause.

She waited.
'Your husband’s had
a heart attack and surgery'.

Another pause – lingered long.
'You may visit now'.

I sincerely hope you have people in your life who you value and who value you - 'warts and all'.

Thank you for joining me today

Tuesday 19 March 2024

Chaos to Calm

While I was struggling to complete the river piece I had announced to anyone who would listen, that I was going to give textiles a rest.  I was going to go back to art journaling and mixed media.

So much for that!

As I was finishing the river piece I got the inspiration for 4 new pieces.  I actually had pictures in my mind of what they would look like.  They are all very different but all represent freedom in some form.

Chaos to Calm

I have drawn them in a workbook to get them out of my head and only working on one piece at the moment.

I was also inspired by a lamp made by Donna the winner of the Great British Pottery Throwdown, called The Ascent, which represented her journey out of depression.

I have painted procion dye onto calico.  It was supposed to be really dark  at one end getting lighter using a dark black, a lighter black, a medium charcoal and a lighter charcoal.  However it didn't really work out but never mind.  There was supposed to bee a lighter grey where the black 'bled' into the cream!

Plus when I washed the dye out 24 hours later, I managed to get some staining on the part that was supposed to be undyed.  However it will work out okay as move on with the piece.

I decided to make the piece slightly smaller so ripped off some of the black on the left and a strip from the top.

I had dyed other fabrics to use with this piece plus some pieces dyed with rust coloured procion dye to make chains for two of the other pieces.

I have torn up some of the fabric to make fragments which I have currently just placed onto the background.  Each of them will be handstitched before being stitched onto the piece.

I am going to wrap the cords with the different torn black fabrics before couching them onto the piece.

My tasks for this week include wrapping the cords, making some thinner cords on the sewing machine and attaching the background to some wadding and a backing so that they will take the weight of the cords.

Not much then!!

I'll let you know my progress in a later blog post.

Thanks for joining me today

Saturday 16 March 2024

Catching Up!

Having not blogged regularly over the last few months I have some catching up to do.

Our photography theme for December/January was Glimmer Moments.  You can read more about what these are here.

The instructions for the photography group were: A glimmer moment is something that brings joy or a sense of safety. This isn’t about taking the perfect picture. It’s about snapping an image that probably only means something to you. It might be an image that represents a moment rather than the moment itself. After all we should be living in the moment. An example might be the dirty plates after a family meal.

I only took two photos during the 4 weeks - one at each end of the time - both of which were about meals out with the same friends.

Ceiling lamp at the restaurant

Painting on the restaurant wall

The next theme was to choose between 5 and 10 of our best or favourite photos from 2023. 


I hope you have enjoyed my photographs.

Thanks for joining me today

Tuesday 12 March 2024

Poetry thoughts

My lack of creativity wasn't total during January & February.  I did manage to attend some online poetry workshops.  The good thing about zoom is you can turn the camera off so the other participants don't know whether you're even there.  And certainly one of the sessions I was particularly vacant, even though I was actually in the room with computer!

For this first poem we were asked to make a list of words that go together.  For example, pencil and paper, cats & dogs, up & down, etc.

Let’s stay here. Here
where comfort lies.
Here, where my concerns
are contained and specified.
Here, where I feel safe. 

Let’s go there. There
where adventure waits.
There, where worries fade
amidst the new found space.
There, where I feel free. 

The second poem we were asked to write was about travelling solo.

What if I packed a bag
and ran away from home?
What if I leave no note or
explanation; no forwarding address
or plan of destination?
What if I turn off my phone
to enjoy the silence of a solo
retreat? Retreat to times past
when communication was simple.
What if I set out one sunny day
choosing a road to travel to
who knows where; then turning
East or West after half an hour?
What if? What if I don’t?

This third poem is an ode to make something unimportant become significant. 

Taking Out The Bins
Monday’s chore. To empty
inside bins into
a plastic sack and place it
in the grey bin. Outside
whatever the weather, ready
for Tuesday’s collection.
A simple task held lightly
by him, but seen as a love
language to her. 

Thanks for joining me today

Saturday 9 March 2024

The Story of the River

What a journey I have been on over the last three months.

Regular readers know that I usually blog twice a week.  This year I have managed one post: Lets Start a Conversation.  In that post I told you how I was stricken with anxiety attacks and unable to do much creatively.

In order to finish the textile piece I had started in mid-December I attend two studio days at Littleheath Barn, taking only this piece to work on.  The choice was to sit all day doing nothing or actually working on the piece.  I did the latter.

Towards the end of February I managed to do some handstitching at home without too much anxiety.  But there were days in between when I was paralysed by anxiety and unable to pick up the work.

Last Friday after another anxiety attack midweek, I finished the piece.  And miraculously, all anxiety left me completely and I have experienced the best week of 2024 so far.

But let me tell you about the background to the piece before I show it to you.  I have had this picture of a river in my head for around 55 years.  I know! A long time.

When I was at teacher training college in the late 1960s, one of our assessments was to write a cross-curriculum project introducing a piece of classical music to 7-11 year olds.   I have no idea how I came across this piece of music but it has appealed to me ever since.

Vltava is the second of six symphonic poems by Bedrich Smetana.  He described it: The composition describes the course of the Vltava, starting from the two small springs, the Studená and Teplá Vltava, to the unification of both streams into a single current, the course of the Vltava through woods and meadows, through landscapes where a farmer's wedding is celebrated, the round dance of the mermaids in the night's moonshine: on the nearby rocks loom proud castles, palaces and ruins aloft. The Vltava swirls into the St John's Rapids; then it widens and flows toward Prague, past the Vyšehrad, and then majestically vanishes into the distance, ending at the Elbe.

Inthe 1990s we were singing 'The River is Here' quite often and I had this picture in my head of making a textile piece about the journey of a river through rocky land, desert and into lush greenery.


I eventually made the piece as part of my City and Guilds course.  I dyed various types of fabics and cut them up into rectangles and sewed them onto a backing piece.  I really didn't know much about dyeing at that time.  Whilst I finished the piece I was never totally satisfied with it.  I felt the greens were all wrong but didn't have time to do anything about it.

It hung in my office when I was a church administrator but when we closed down the office I threw it away.

Both that piece and the new piece was inspired by Bible passages:  Ezekiel 47:1-12 and Revelation 22:1-2.

So drum roll please!  Here's the finished piece:

It is 20 inches wide and 56 inches long.  As a river it would perhaps read better in landscape format but that would need a really long batten and would present a difficult storage problem.  And although my husband thought it was about a waterfall, it isn't!

Thanks for joining me today.