Thursday, 21 March 2019


My joint exhibition with Janice Cottier is called "Africa" and it opens on the 23rd March.
It is going to be very colourful. I have used African colours, patterns and designs sourced from my trip to Morocco a few years ago; from visits to the British Museum where I sketched and took pictures in the Africa section and also from the the studies I made of West African textiles during Part I City and Guilds and the Diploma in stitched textiles.
I decided that using the above sources as a starting point I would interpret the themes in a contemporary way using techniques such as slashing fabrics, nuno felting, painting and manipulating fabrics and fabric with photography.
I concentrated on the use of hand stitching with the above which I find very rewarding and relaxing to do. My favourite piece is a large picture of a Cape hunting dog which I made by needlefelting some of my plant dyed threads along with woollen threads made from rare breed sheep wools.
Below right is a small hanging of a South African flower made by couching threads on khadi paper and fine Indian cotton.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Africa exhibition

I have not been able to update my blog for 2 years due to organising the North Atlantic Native Sheep and wool conference which took place in October 2017. Some health issues since then have left me low on energy but I am pleased to say that I am recovering well now.
I have been working all of this year on my textile art leading to an exhibition near the end of March next year, the title being Africa. My partner for this exhibition is Janice Cottier a very talented quilter and embroiderer who lived in Lesotho for 10 years.
My new work is mostly hand stitched but as usual I have introduced mixed media with the textiles and I have enjoyed trying out experiments using African wax printed fabric which I have painted and manipulated.
Theinspiration for my part of the exhibition has been techniques used in African art, masks and the wildlife and flowers of the continent. I am making a number of small baskets made with faffia or African wax print fabric. These are very relaxing to make and can be picked up and worked on anywhere. A photo of one of the baskets is shown below.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Sheep and Wool Conference

I am helping to organise the 7th North Atlantic Native Sheep and Wool Conference on the Isle of Man from the 12th to the 15th October this year. Participating countries and areas are Norway, Shetland, the Orkneys, Faroe Islands, Iceland, the Hebrides, the Isle of Man and Greenland.
I have previously attended conferences in Iceland, The Faroes and the Lofoten Islands in Norway.
The aim of them is to stimulate interest in the endangered native breeds of these regions, to network with farmers, wool workers, craft workers and anyone else who has an interest in helping to make the production of wool more sustainable. The landscape that these sheep are reared in is also of importance and methods to preserve such places is also discussed. Some of the ideas explored in previous conferences are better branding of wool and its products, practical lessons in grading wool, high value fashion garments and diversity of products.
The Isle of Man is home to the iconic Loaghtan Sheep and we will have local speakers and one from England talking about the sheep, landscape and products produced locally from the wool. The rest of the speakers will be from the other participating countries, some of whom will discuss the great improvements that they have made since they hosted the conference. This gives us a chance to learn not only of their successes but also the pitfalls they have come across and how they have overcome them. I have made great friends since going to the conferences. there are delegates who travel from Germany, U.S.A., Canada, South Africa and all the Nordic countries. There will also be workshops, exhibitions, trips to heritage sites and a fashion show.
There is already great interest in the one to be held on the Isle of Man and anyone who would like more information can e-mail me at

Monday, 28 March 2016

Upcycling jumpers

I have done 2 pieces of work with old jumpers as the base, one was a brown merino woollen and the other was a blue woollen one. I had a lot of sample lengths of threads in various thicknesses, colours and textures. Some of these threads were used to create the shape of the flower and were then embellished onto a piece cut from the jumper.
The first layer was white poster paint which I brushed over the surface including the threads so that some areas had the colour of the jumper and some of the threads showing through. When this was dry layers of acrylic inks in various colours were painted on, allowing the colours to blend with the result that secondary and tertiary colours were also produced.
Finally the image was stitched into using both free machining and hand embroidery.
I really liked the final outcomes which were unlike any work I had done previously. The top left image is called Dahlia-Inspired by Picasso and the one below it is called Echinacea-Inspired by Picasso. The photo on the right is a close up of Dahlia

Monday, 25 January 2016

Dionne Swift Developing sketchbooks course

I have just finished an online Developing Sketchbooks course run by Dionne Swift. I would highly recommend her courses as they are so inspirational. I hadn't created a colourful sketchbook since my City and Guild's days but instead concentrated on lifelike pencil drawings of plants. birds and butterflies. This course made me open my mind to lots of new possibilities regarding colour, form and flow, all done in a relaxed, experimental manner. It will now encourage me , not necessarily looking at the whole of something, but to look at the world in a different way, exploring its constituent parts. I am very much looking forward to my next course with her which is Drawing for Textiles. Below are some of the images from my new sketchbook.

The lower part of the pink image is coloured by painting beetroot juice on it and then rubbing a cut piece of beetroot on top to give it those lovely smudges.
The image with the pink circles had as it's base inked hand made paper, stitched with free machining and the circles are various fluffy threads embellished on top.
I have experimented in my sketchbook with torn shapes, printing, punching holes, overlaying media and many other techniques. The use of negative spaces was also explored.
My next sketchbook is going to be based on winged creatures so I will be looking carefully at all their various parts to extract design elements.
One of the big bonuses of doing an online course has been interacting on Facebook with the other participants, being inspired by their ingenuity and different ways of seeing.

Monday, 18 January 2016

The Butterfly effect

The second of my pieces in the "Air" competition is called The Butterfly Effect. .For this work I again did a background of hand made felt using pre dyed merino and Nepalese wool. The tornado shape was added to the base level with white merino wool,
I decided to hand stitch a large butterfly using a small needle and single stranded cottons with the template being a Peacock butterfly which are frequent visitors to my garden. It was quite tricky getting the patterns to match as I did it by eye, not having drawn all the internal shapes out as I felt this gave a more natural finish. There is a line of merino wool going from one wing to the tornado to mimic the effect of the butterfly flapping its wing and thus having a direct influence on the formation of the storm.
I visited London 2 weeks before Christmas and went to the Museum of Food near Southwark which was very small and only open for a few months but they are hoping to get funding for a large permanent museum on that theme.
One of the areas was a butterfly house with many exotic butterflies, the idea being to make a link between food and some of the vital pollinators. See one of those butterflies below.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Birds of Paradise

I have 2 entries in the annual Hodgson Loom Competition. This year the theme is air. I have taken the quote from the Gospel of Matthew which starts-All the birds of the air.
I did research on different types of Birds of Paradise and other exotic birds and did sketches of them, see one of them below. I made a felted background using bought merino and Nepalese wool in varying shades of blue to represent different layers of the atmosphere. I then hand stitched each bird with tiny stitches using a beading needle and stranded cotton. Finally I did Kantha stich all over the background to give a sense of movement. A photo of the finished work is shown below along with a few individual birds.