Gallery of past work

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Colour Play

I've been having fun with some simple little ink pattern and colour exercises derived from my Thai textile samples.

As it was all so simple, I explored further in Photoshop, changing the hues and playing with layers.

First there was this, with reds and oranges predominant .....

.... and then there was this, with the hues changed to the blue spectrum ....

.... and then this, with the blue version layered over the red ....

Extraordinary how the way the eye is drawn in the piece is changed just by altering the colour. Of course, I know that from studying colour theory , but it's good to play and remind myself how it works occasionally.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Tidying Up

Today's work was very positive - lots done in the company of like minds.

I spent the day tidying up the back ground work from my geology piece - sorting and then sticking inspiration work, stitch samples and drawings into my sketchbook. It was a very therapeutic putting to bed of ideas, readying myself to explore from a different angle. I know I will come back and finish the other geology pieces, companions to the one exhibited in Malmesbury, but I feel I need a breather from it all now and to think about what I've done and develop new ideas. 

Into my sketchbook I put a pencil and crayon drawing of the fissures in a cliff in Devon - inspiration for stitch.....
Fissures in slate cliff, Morthoe, North Devon
..... a machine stitch sample of rock layers on painted silk ....
Stitch sample
...and a colour experiment in watercolour with wax resist, enhanced in Adobe Photoshop before printing ....
Koh-i-nor paints and wax resist
colour experiment cut into strips and some inverted
There is more of this sorting and cleansing to do before I start the new work, but I can feel the ideas beginning to free themselves.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Starting afresh

I am beginning to prepare for the next two exhibitions with Great Western Embroiderers - April 2014 at Lydiard House, Swindon, and November 2014 at Corinium Museum Gallery, Cirencester. The group has chosen to retain the theme Cotswolds - A Stitching Experience for these exhibitions.

Usually, at the start of a new focus for my work I am fired up by the novelty of the thing and this carries me along. In continuing a theme though, there is always the opportunity to develop ideas already half thought through. On the other hand, maybe there was a good reason why they were abandoned  in the first place.

Dionne Swift - Developing Sketchbooks
Advertising thumbnail for the workshop taken from her
I'm feeling that I'll have to find a fresh way to make the theme mine if I am to produce any interesting work.....An imposed group theme can be both a helpful focus for ideas and a restriction at the same time.

I love working in sketchbooks so, following advice from a friend (thanks, Maggie - this could be the inspiration I need), I have signed up for a short online sketchbook workshop with Dionne Swift.

I first came across Dionne's work at Art In Action at Waterperry, Oxford UK a couple of years ago. I really love her seemingly simple work, printed, stitched and often using felt.

Couching Dionne Swift
Another advertising thumbnail from Dionne's website
The workshop lasts a week and Dionne provides things to do each day, online follow-up, and comments on work for a further week. Judging by the lovely little sketchbook completed by my friend Maggie Harris when she did the workshop at the beginning of the year, lots of lateral thinking and new ideas should result. I am really looking forward to it.

Further details for Dionne's workshops can be found here.

Meanwhile, I am playing with basic pattern and colour inspired by my recent visit to Thailand. It's always good to go back to basics when the going gets tricky.

... and oh my gosh, it's snowing again - only a flurry this time, but very cold and so unseasonal for the end of March. My only option is to hunker down with those back-to-basics pattern exercises...!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

New look

As regular visitors will no doubt have noticed, I've revamped my blog!

Inspired by all those lovely, colourful blogs out there and needing something to do on a bitterly cold, miserably grey afternoon, I've been playing.

There are new colours and a new font. I'd be really interested to know what you think of it. Please do post a comment - in favour or not...!

I couldn't quite summon up the courage to go for a completely new template - thought I might lose all those previous posts. Maybe this was wise. I somehow lost a complete new post in the process of change... at least, it appeared for all to see in a strange format for about 5 minutes and my attempts to remedy the situation sent it to irretrievable oblivion. Apologies to those two visitors to my blog who may have logged on in that time! It will be rewritten and reposted in the next day or two.

Photograph taken by Telegraph reader James Shorter
and posted on the website
Talking of cold, grey, depressing weather, I guess we are lucky in this particular part of the UK. The huge snowfalls elsewhere have been dramatic and unseasonal. The month is winding itself up to be the coldest March for 50 years and farmers are worried.

One source of cheer is a lovely series of pictures - including the one shown here - to be found on the Daily Telegraph website for 24 March. Just heard snow drifts up to 18 feet high have been recorded in the North West and many parts of Northern Ireland and the Isle of Arran have been without electricity for days. We are indeed lucky here....

PS Funny now I look - the background to this new look blog is grey. It's obviously seeped into my psyche even more than I'd realised!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Orange too

Following yesterday's accidental twitch of the mouse which led to an early posting, I've found time after all to post again - on the right day - and here are a few more oranges from the archives, with special reference to tints and shades. The images come from a bit of paper fun, from inside Salisbury Cathedral, and from a shelf of long treasured books.

Looking at them had me pondering upon the point when orange becomes brown or yellow, or perhaps cream or red ....

Paper folding for Christmas
- bright orange or scarlet red?
Metal stacking chairs in the Cathedral
- deep orange or copper brown?
Inside the tower of Salisbury Cathedral
- soft, muted oranges
The joy of a good book, long treasured
(definitely orange)
Amazing what you can find when you look with the right colour in your eyes.

(PS If you're new to this whole orange thing, look at my blog post yesterday to find out what we're up to.)

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


This month's Roy G Biv II challenge (for explanation see below!) had me searching my archives.

The colour for photos is orange, in all its tints and shades. This is not a common colour choice in large quantities for me. Mostly, I just drop it in as a small accent to add spice to my work. Surprisingly, though, this has been a fruitful(!) search and has set me thinking.

An inviting jellyroll of fabric strips
Orange-handled scissors
on orange silk
Orange 'dropped in' to a sampler
stitched years ago

Rose Apples in the market, Chonburi, Thailand
(More rose-red than orange in reality but the light played tricks)
Pencil outlines on orange and yellow wash
inspired by printed shapes of tree bark

In case you haven't come across this Roy character before - and I must admit I hadn't met him until a random blog search found him just after Christmas - Julie B. Booth's blog will reveal all - with the latest photographs posted from tomorrow Thursday 21 March. I have enjoyed joining in and it has made me reconsider the colours I use and those I have around me. There was not much orange to be found easily at home. Next time, I will photograph - and look - more widely for colour inspiration.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Domestic gate art

Everywhere we went in Thailand we saw fascinating examples of domestic gate art - for such these lovely things appeared to my Western eye. 

Many were glimpsed as we sped past in a tuc-tuc or taxi and photographs were either impossible or the results very disappointingly blurred. I had more success on foot, although, as luck would have it, these were not quite so exciting. 

The references were sometimes obvious and many seemed to depict the lotus flower ....

... or to show the Buddhist Wheel of Dharma - the teaching of the path to enlightenment.

In many others, I was not sure of the symbolism - thought I'm sure there was some - but just enjoyed them for their exhuberence.

In yet others, I was fascinated by the modern, practical nature of their design. 

Sad to think that in this country such gates would be considered overblown and ostentatious.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


Thais have a wonderful sense of colour. Everywhere you look there are drifts of vivid golds, oranges, aquamarines and especially reds - in their traditional clothes, on boats, in markets and in the glorious temples.

A floating market, Ratchaburi
Embroidery on trouser bottoms from
the Akha tribes of North West Thailand
Among other things, I bought samples of traditional embroidery from the north of the country, around Chiang Rai. These are deliciously rich in colour and pattern and have a clever use of buttons for accent.

I know these will give me inspiration for design.

There was also a wonderful little girl's dress from the same area for sale in the weekend market in Bangkok. I didn't buy it - it was too expensive to justify - and my camera had run out of battery power so I couldn't even photograph it. I know it will haunt me. It was glorious and the trader told me it would have taken a year to complete - using weaving, dyeing and hand stitch.

And now I'm home, I'm reading a fascinating book by Angela Thompson. Page 170 has a photo of a very similar textile to the one I've shown here. The book is called Textiles of South-East Asia, and was published by Crowood Press. I recommend it to those who are interested.

Hopefully, I'll know more if I have the chance to return sometime.

Friday, 8 March 2013


While I was in Thailand visiting family friends, I saw a riot of wonderful, vividly coloured textiles. There were lengths of irresistible silk, lovely stitching on clothes, shoes and bags and beautifully printed sarongs. Everywhere I went, these were for sale on inviting market stalls and in small shops.

I bought a good haul but could have bought so much more, had I had the money and the space in my luggage allowance.

I especially loved this stall in Chiang Mai with its children's shoes....

and this little shop in Chiang Rai laden with bags and hats ....

And our friends' cushion in traditional colours and stitching from the north.

And these were the ones that got away - the ones I didn't buy. Next time I'll show you some of the things I did bring home.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013


In case you're wondering, the reason for my silence for almost three weeks has been a wonderful holiday in Thailand - an amazing time was had and so many beautiful things were seen. More of that in future posts.....

Meanwhile, Great Western Embroiderers' exhibition in Malmesbury Town Hall Gallery has been very successful, with a lot of interest and great footfall. Samples of the work are shown in this post. The choice of work photographed is entirely personal though some of the pieces will be familiar to regular readers of this blog from previous posts.

As you can see, we are a very varied group with a wide range of skills and interests - one of our strengths, I think. Our exhibitions offer something for everyone and are very popular in the area.

Our group piece ...

Cotswolds in Stitches
featuring 8 " squares contributed by GWE members
A favourite wall ....
Work showing a range of styles,
including appliqué, weaving, quilting and goldwork
.... and three of my own particular individual favourites which demonstrate the width and variety of the group's work.....

Ruth Hayman
Fossils - Handstitch on Procion dyed canvas

Caroline Goss
On Tenterhooks
Woven wall-hanging
Pam Debenham
The Wool Merchant's Mask
Counted Thread work

The last day of the exhibition is Friday 8 March - so there is just time to visit if you have not been able to come so far.