Tuesday, 8 August 2017

A Folk Art Swallow at the Festival of Quilts

In a couple of days the wonderful Festival of Quilts will open at the NEC in Birmingham.

It truly is a festival of creativity, not only for quilters but for visitors from around the world who love textiles of all kinds.

Next Sunday I will be teaching one of the 3 hour workshops using the most beautiful materials. A joy to stitch with.

We will be making an applique Folk Art inspired Swallow picture using Donegal Wool Tweed by Fabric Affair and embroidering it with WonderFil Ellana wool threads.

I'm so looking forward to the show and even more looking forward to teaching this lovely workshop. 
I hope to see you there

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Folk Art Sailor Pincushions

July's workshop is coming up very soon and I thought you might like to see what we will be making.

This is an antique Sailor's sweetheart pincushion from the V&A museum collection.

Sailors made them on the long journeys at sea for their sweethearts back home. Often they were made with beautiful embroidery, motifs which reminded them of the subjects closest to their hearts, patriotic or religious themes.

They featured pins which were pushed into the cushions in decorative patterns. They are heirlooms and social history and things of wonderous beauty!

We will be using these as our inspiration to make an heirloom of our own. We will use embroidery, needle felting, beading and found objects to make an exquisite picture. 

If you fancy joining us for the day on the 8th July 2017, in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, there are a couple of spaces still available. The cost is £65 and includes all materials. Leave a comment and contact me through my website: www.paulawatkins.co.uk

Birthday Shoes!

Sometimes when the big things are making us sad, the little things can make us so happy!

Like new Birthday shoes from people who love us! I think I will be happy every time I wear them.

Monday, 15 May 2017

A House of Secrets, waiting to be told...

There are some days in our lives that start in a very ordinary way and end with an experience which you know you will never forget.

Today was one of those days...

I was invited by my friend Jo to visit Di, her friend, and to see her house. She told me that Di has an amazing story to tell and a very unusual secret to show me.

Di is nearing her 70th birthday and lives alone in an ordinary council house in a part of town with lots of similar looking houses but as I stepped through the door, what I saw was certainly not like any other house I've seen! Every wall and every ceiling was decorated with paintings.

The paintings blend over the walls and ceilings seamlessly and are full of colour and detail.

These oil paintings have been many years in the making. The paint has mostly been applied with her fingers. Many of the scenes have been painted over and altered as the years have passed and will continue to be added to as time goes by.

Hardly anyone has seen them. They have remained her secret life's work and her solace. But now she would like to share them and to have her life story told.

The scenes are of subjects that give her comfort; Faith, Nature, Birds and Animals. All are done freehand and from memory. The more I looked, the more details I saw; the shadows on the horses bodies, the way the sun shines through the trees, the tiny animals and birds in the distance.

Di's life story is even more astonishing than her paintings. I only know very little. 

But she has a story to tell the world. Hopefully a world which is more enlightened than the one she has experienced almost since the day she was born. A story of tragedy but perhaps with its own kind of peace now.

And yet her spirit shines out through her lovely paintings. A peaceful world which she has created for herself at last, in her home, where she feels safe and can be her true self.

Jo is going to document Di's story and her artwork through photographs and try to make the world aware of this talented lady. I am going to help if I can.

Thank you for sharing a little bit with me. I know I will be thinking about it all for a very long time.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Calling All Superheroes!

Just recently I was asked to run a very special set of 2 workshops as one of the range of Family Learning courses that I often teach. This one was going to be especially for Dads and their children.


For many reasons, Dads can be very difficult to reach when we recruit for Family Learning.

They may find it difficult to take time off work, be less confident in taking part in this kind of activity or think they will be the only Dad present in a female dominated environment. There can also be more complex
social situations which make them hard to reach but for all of these reasons, Family Learning workshops for Dads are a bit of a special occasion.

The Dads arrived with their wonderful children, boys mostly but also one girl. The ages of the children ranged from 3 to 12. We could see their excitement at having their Dad to themselves for a whole day. It was evident how important Dads are to their children and how special this day was going to be.

One little boy had his 5th Birthday that day. Such a cool way to spend a special occasion.

Their task for the day was to make a Family Crest. I had large Shields cut from MDF and the Dads and Children had to design a Crest with their Superhero Family Values. We discussed what values were most important to us. LOVE being the centre of everything we do as a family and how it made us care for one another through good times and bad. I was so impressed and almost tearful at some of the responses from such young children, showing an understanding of bravery, support, courage, truth and love. 

There was no talk during the day about Superheroes fighting or killing their enemies. There was an extraordinary feeling about the strengths of humans to overcome!

It is summed up in this brilliant design by Martin and his little son Daniel. Martin's knowledge of Superheroes was supreme in that room. We all bowed to his superior knowledge of all things Super!

He knew that the HULK stood for strength, SUPERMAN for the Truth, SPIDERMAN for Responsibility and BATMAN for Bravery. I LOVED this! We all did. It made us look at those comic books stories in a different way altogether.

This is his Shield finished. Fabulous! isn't it!

Here are the others, close up, so you can see the details. 

Aren't they just amazing!

The workshop was 5 hours long. They all worked so hard and concentrated so well on fairly advanced mixed media techniques. They shared,encouraged and praised one another. A room full of Superheroes! Big and small. I'm so proud of them.

PS. The Birthday boy Alex had cake! His Mum, Tracey, had a day to herself. This is what she said when she got home:

'My 3 had a fantastic day and the birthday boy said he had the best day ever. Precious memories from my boys. Thank you so much for making the day so memorable.'

For myself and Tina, my fantastic assistant, the day will be memorable too for so many great reasons. We can't wait to have them all back again this week to make Superhero costumes and a Shoebox Cityscape Diorama. They are going to design a superhero to fly across the city to protect us all!

Day 2 Cityscape Dioramas and Costumes
We have had another wonderful day with the Superheroes today!

Here are a few of the amazing dioramas and costumes they made today. We cut and glued, stitched and shaped. We imagined and designed and had so much fun together. Such a great day!

Friday, 28 April 2017

May Workshop: Vintage Inspired Mini Quilts

The next workshop, coming up soon will be Vintage Inspired Mini Quilts on May 13th 2017. The venue is Workaid, Townsend Road, Chesham, Bucks.

We will be using lovely soft vintage fabrics, lace and cotton, layered together with hand embroidery and found objects to make tiny pieces of textile art that you can wear as a brooch, frame as a picture or use in a fabric or Altered book.

You can also choose to make a hand painted mini quilt for a brighter,  more contemporary artwork which would make a lovely little illustration to wear.

There are a couple of spaces left. The price is £65 for the day. 10-3.30 and includes all materials. Leave me a comment if you'd like to join us for a day of stitching and relaxation.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

A Steampunk Angel

Quite often, when I'm demonstrating or teaching at a workshop, my sample pieces stay partly made or just in the first stage of the process. This is good because they show the steps towards a finished piece or act as idea prompts. But it is so lovely to finish a project, and when I have a little time to myself that is so nice to do.

A couple of weeks ago I started a Fabric Book cover with a Steampunk Angel. We were going on holiday almost as soon as the workshop ended so I took it with me to stitch whilst I was away.

The fabric had been painted during the workshop but it still needed stitching. My favourite part!

I'm so happy I took it! I packed a little bag with a small needle and pre-cut pieces of thread so I could stitch on the plane. I also included some vintage metal washers for her hair.

I was prepared for someone to tell me 'No needles on a plane!' and I could have thrown the needle away but nobody seemed to mind just a tiny little embroidery needle. And I was so happy stitching away!

So after a lovely week of sewing here is how my Angel cover girl looks now. She has metal in her hair, embroidered wings and sewn details for the features on her face.

Now I need to make some page for her book. 

I loved sitting on the beach in the sunshine, lost in my thoughts, with my art to stitch. I feel all new now.

I will be repeating the Fabric Books workshop sometime soon if you'd like to come and make a book or pages with me. 

The next workshop, in May, is Vintage Mini Quilts. This workshop will include using the most lovely vintage and painted fabrics and found objects to make tiny quilted pictures which can be framed or used with other artwork such as handmade and Altered books. More details in the post below.

Contact me to book or leave a comment below.