Tuesday 28 May 2024

In progress

Lately I have been working on a new piece in my Dancing in Fetters series.  It is very different from my usual style.

It had been suggested to me that I use metal chain for this piece.  However I found that this would be too heavy to hang on a wall.  I bought this plastic chain which I thought would be easy to paint with acrylic paint.  How wrong I was!

However after several coats of paint - I lost count of how many - I was eventually satisfied that they looked suitably rusty.

I am using my Nonet poem again.  Each strand of chain has the number of links that matches the number of syllables in the line of poetry.

Much to my husband's bemusement - and that of the Evri delivery guy - I bought a piece of driftwood off Etsy.

The inspiration for having a piece of wood was this photo I took in Tasmania

It seemed to me that it was easier to buy the driftwood than try to distress a new piece of wood.

I wrote the lines of the poem on strips of fabric.

And wove the strips through the links.

I pinned the strip chains and then stitched them.

I heated some copper shim to discolour it and cut it into tags.  I printed the words of each line on the tags.

 I've yet to attach the tags to the chain.

The last thing will be to attach the finished piece to the driftwood.

Then on to the third piece in the series which will much less mixed-media and much more textile!

Thanks for being here today

Saturday 25 May 2024

What's in a name?

This week's Write Poetry with Sara-Jane Arbury had three poems where the link was that each poet had used people's names in the poem.

The first exercise was to think of a person I knew in my childhood. We were asked to write a poem describing a childhood memory involving them. And to include in the poem what happened to them later in life, if we knew!


Two cousins, each an only child;
The nearest thing to sisters.
Our annual foray into Wales
Each set of parents taking both. 

My parents took us to Borth
A seaside mobile home.
We slept in a double bed.
She turned over and I
Landed on the floor. 

Her parents took us to Cornwall
Not Wales! And stranger still
To my young mind she brought
A friend who seemed much older
Than the two years between us.
Two of us vying for the attention
Of the third. My cousin. Her friend.
Who patted a horse which bit me. 

The friend was replaced by a boy
And I was left behind.
No longer our annual shenanigans
As he became her life. 

Years passed. Her children.
My child born so much later.
Our paths diverged.
Distant friends but always cousins.
Weddings, funerals, Christmas sometimes. 

My memories are fresh as if
It happened yesterday.
But watched as her memories
Crept away until Hilary
no longer knew me.
And was no more

Artwork by Valerie Sjodin

The third exercise was to write a poem exploring the word music in your name or someone else’s.  I'm not sure I actually followed that brief.

Oh and I missed out exercise 2 altogether!

What’s in a name? 

rhymes with furnace
the heat of which burns
within me as those
who know me well and
those who don’t
pronounce it differently. 

Bneice (buh-kneesss)
Even my Aunt
used this version when
she should have known better. 

Then there are those who
when I say my name
speak it back to me
with a different pronunciation;
As if I hardly know
the sound
of my own name.
I’ve lived with it for over 70 years. 

Berenice (Bay-ren-each-ay)
I once was called Berenice
The Headteacher spoke it out
in a whole school assembly.
Imagine the giggles - not mine!
But I’m not a Queen of Egypt
or even from an opera.
The Act 2 minuet used as
the entrance music
at my first wedding. 

Bringer of Victory
Greek source of my name
And Nike too.
Ironic for a woman who
Barely walks, let alone runs. 

rhymes with furnace
the heat of which burns
fiercely as mispronunciations
assail my ears.
Am I not worthy of my own name? 

It’s too late to change
to something easier like Ann.
Or would there still be a problem?
With spelling rather than saying.
With or without the E.

Thanks for being here today
(rhymes with furnace!)

Tuesday 21 May 2024


The photography theme for the last month has been Nostalgia.

Old lampshades

1930s (or maybe 1950s) mirrors

Cowlips grew in my maternal grandparents garden

Primroses remind me of walks in Pembrokeshire.  There was one particular lane where the verge was awash with primroses.

Cherry blossom always reminds me of the first pair of glasses I ever had aged 9.  It was on the way home from the Opticians that I discovered how pink the blossom is.  I hadn't known it was that pink.

The poem Adlestrop has been a favourite of mine since I was a teenager.  It is very nostalgic.  The sign is the only thing left of the original station.

On the rare occasion we visited my paternal grandmother there was always a big pile of Woman's Weekly to read.

Thanks for being here today. See you next time. 

Saturday 18 May 2024

Biography or Statement

This week I have been struggling with writing an Artist's CV and an Artists Biography.  I've yet to tackle the 'summarise your art practice' part of a project application I want to make.  More about the project in months to come.

I have also been looking back through some of my textile pieces so thought I would share this one with you.

Florida Freedom

I borrowed the format for the CV from Susan Purney-Mark so I have managed to complete that.

But the artist's biography - oh my!

It's so hard to blow one's own trumpet or even talk about ourselves.  Or is that just a British thing!?!  Do people in other countries stuggle like we do?

I have written the biography but it still needs polishing before I unleash it on the world!

In the meantime I suggested to the writers group I facilitate that they might like to write a Writers Biography.  Not sure how popular I'll be with that suggestion!

But that led me to thinking about this blog.  Why do I write it and who for?

Which is probably describing my practice rather than my writer's biography!

Actually I write it for me.  I don't have a reader in mind - the equivalent of a 'client avatar'.  I also don't do it to build up numbers of readers. In fact lately I've had a few people unsubscribe - maybe they are reading this via a different route.

I write it as a sort of journal.  I can look back at my memories of travel and holidays.  I can look back at my textile and mixed media progress.  I can look at the various workshops I've done.

And I get to take a few of you along with me - which is great.

I love sharing my creative practice with whoever reads my blog - whether you have an email subscription orfollow me on Facebook.  

I believe everyone - ALL - are creative but not necessarily artists.  Creativity takes many forms - just feel encouraged to do what you do.

And if you get any inspiration here then that's great.

See you next time.  Thanks for being here today.

Tuesday 14 May 2024

There's still time

There's still time to visit the Making Connections exibition by members of Midlands Textile Forum at Forge Mill Needle Museum in Redditch.  It's on until 4pm on Sunday June 2nd.

Here's a glimpse of some of the pieces you can see there.

I have 4 pieces on display.  Venice related.  Of course!

Stones of Venice

Three of the pieces are in display cabinets and really difficult to photograph so here they are at home!

O Sole  Mio

Not a book

Vennice Sketchbook

Do let me know if you go to see the exhibition.

I will be there on June 2nd from 1pm as one of the artists at a Meet the Artist session.  Hope to see you there.

Thanks for joining me today

Saturday 11 May 2024

More creative writing

This week was Theme Poetry with Sara-Jane Arbury.  She always starts with a warm up exercise.

This week's idea was Litter-ature.  Sara-Jane suggested some ways we could approach this topic.  I was very taken with her comment that litter is something else before it becomes litter.  It's only litter once it leaves our hands and hits the floor and is left there.

Michael Walter on Unsplash

The Question

Why did it go wrong?
I was held upright
without thorns, bud ready.
Pinkish-red, tall, proud.
A token of love.
He held me, sniffed
my heady perfume
ready to fall to his knees
and ask his question. 

Where did it go wrong?
I was thrown to the ground.
She trod on me
twisting her foot.
No longer tall and proud
but torn apart
petals strewn across the path
As tears fell down his face. 

The theme for this online session was Sand and Peat.  Sara-Jane gave us a presentation about these and introduced us to three poems.  Then it was our turn.


Shape shifting
reality not CGI.
Shape shifters.
Dunes wind-blown
to angles of repose.
Miniscule crystals slide
transposed from height
to shore
meeting the encroaching tide.
Dragged back and forth
the grains grinding
against each other.
Eventually deposited
by the highest tide.
Dried out and wind-blown
reach the summit
to settle again in that
angle of repose.
for the next
unwilling glide

Thanks for joining me today

Tuesday 7 May 2024

Creative Writing

At my church I facilitate a group for those who enjoy creative writing.  I set up the group at the beginning of Lockdown 1 on Zoom.   We have remained meeting on zoom most months.

Recently we had our second in-person get-together.  I set us the task of writing on either the theme of River or Lost and/or Found.

In my recent posts on travelling around Wiltshire you might remember I mentioned the problems I had with the satnav.  This inspired my 15 minute piece of writing.


The satnav screen showed an arrow ploughing through farmers’ fields. Running parallel to the A road the car was actually travelling on. Sometimes there was just a grid. Totally lost. Not knowing where I was. No signs. Just following the ribbon of tarmac in the fond hope I was travelling north and would eventually arrive at my destination. 

‘Turn left onto Friday Street.
Do a U-turn and continue on Friday Street.
Go South East on Friday Street.
Turn right and continue on Friday Street.’ 

The satnav’s voice seemed to get more anxious as it blurted out a stream of nonsensical instructions. At any moment I thought it was going to self-destruct. 

And just as it seemed on the verge of giving up, the voice calmly said:
‘At the roundabout take the second exit and stay on the A342.’ 

At last, the satnav had found its way. 


Thanks for joining me today

Saturday 4 May 2024

The first of a series

You may remember the Nonet I wrote called Dancing in Fetters.  I also wrote recently about the zoom workshop I did with Julia Triston.

One of the exercises was to write words on a piece of paper and cut it up and reassemble it.

Instead of the textile I was going to make, I started a new piece by writing the whole of the Nonet on a piece of calico.  I used a thermofax screen I had made some years ago of chains that I had drawn.

I cut this fabric into squares and reassembled it using the sewing machine.  The letters show up more as letters than marks as in the original paper collage.

I printed out various sizes of a treble clef, stave and music notes to see whether this was what I wanted on my hanging.

I settled on a size and drew it out on Stitch 'n' Tear.

I straight stitched the stave on the machine and tore off the tissue.  I hand stitched the treble clef.  I then satin stitched on the machine over the top of the straight stitch.

I drew the music notes on bondaweb befor ironing it onto fabric.  I cut out the notes and ironed them onto the hanging.

I used calico to make the binding.

I had some fabric in my stash that was a perfect match for this piece as it looks like bass clefs.

So, Dancing in Fetters 1 is finished.   Now on to Dancing in Fetters 2.

Thanks for joining me today.