Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Christmas Paper Patchwork

On the Mixed Media group I belong to we decided to do a Christmas patchwork panel swap.
We all got assigned different dimensions for our panel and as there were 10 people in the swap we each had to make 10 identical panels- one for each member of the swap.

At the end we each received one from each person and a diagram of how they would all fit together.

I thought I'd do a little tutorial of how I made mine because lots of people have been asking about how to make the paint effects, how to use the products and how to piece it all together.

This may take a while so get a cuppa  and lets get messy!

1. My panel is 4"wide by 5" high so I chose some black card and ran it through the Sizzix Bigshot in a Snowflake and a spotty Embossing Folder. It turned my cardboard into  deeply embossed  patterned cards and I painted them with Gold and Copper Jaquard Lumiere paints which is rich and metallic and perfect for using on fabric, card and anything you like. LOVE this paint!

I also cut some birds and reindeer in the black card with the Sizzix. I know they were all supposed to be the same but I got excited and can't make decisions when I'm excited!

  I wanted the panels to look vintage, so although the bright metallics look good I wanted more depth to the paint effects. When  you are making your own painted backgrounds you can choose your own colour scheme so I decided to make 3 different versions of vintage metallics.

The first one is Verdigris which is the look of copper when it has been aged by the weather. It gets lovely blues and greens mixed in with the copper and metallics.

The second is much brighter with more of the metallic colour showing through.

The third is more like an Aged Bronze.It is darker and has a white bloom on the surface.

2.You can do a mix and match of all the finishes and stop when you like the look of your backgrounds. There are no rules and it is fun to just play with the paints.

We start by putting a blob of lime green, turquoise and white on a plate. These look quite bright but we are going to be blending them and mixing them and between these 3 colours you can make all kinds of different tints, shades and depths of colour.

You can mix the colours on the brush and on the plate but it it really important to have a really dry brush before you paint so when you like the colour you have mixed rub most of it off on to a paper towel so that it looks like there is almost none left. Not like the brush above!

3. Now really lightly brush the colour onto the texture of your card. Try to brush over just the  top of the textured surface. Add some patches of the other colours and mix them together a bit but make sure your brush stays really dry.

4. Wipe some of the paint off with a paper towel to make it look old and worn and to buff up some of the metallic colours and make them shine.

Time to make the reindeer and birdy embellishments! I wanted a crackly vintage finish on these. Ranger make a lovely crackle paint called Rock Candy which produces  transparent glittery fine crackles with just one step of painting. I painted all my shapes with a fairly thick layer of the crackle and let them dry.

Because it is transparent it doesn't really show on the black so I needed to put something over the top to show off the lovely crackles! I used Copper glitter Stickles. I put a little bit on my finger and rubbed it over the crackles which picked up the texture really well. I also used some Treasure Gold on my finger to rub over the texture and give a bit of shine..

Before sticking my shapes on with PVA glue I rubbed the outer edges of the panels with black Treasure Gold to finish them and make them look aged. I then stuck on some gorgeous bronze metal snowflakes with Ranger Multi Medium in Matte finish which disappears when dry and holds really strongly, and some little berry wreaths which I made from a berry pick that I took apart.

Here is a closer look at 4 of the panels. Have a go at making one yourself but if Christmas is too near you can use this technique all year round to make lovely textured artwork for cards, journals and scrapbooks etc. Try using different colour combinations to make them look completely unique each time.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Boxmoor Craft Fair 2012

The Annual Boxmoor Craft Fair is happening this weekend!

This little fair is small but perfect. We have the happiest stallholders with the nicest crafts and a Kidzone where the children and adults can come and be arty, making Christmas decorations and Artist Trading Cards.

Some of the children come back year after year to add to their collection of cards and have made some beauties!

There are lovely refreshments, hot and cold, and some great stalls to visit.

This year I will be selling off some of my vintage ribbons by the roll for only £5.00. Some of the rolls have 20+ metres on them and would sell for £1.50 or more per metre usually.

I will also have pick and mix buttons and beads and fantastic leather festival jewellery. and I have found some amazing holographic cards with the solar system and planets which would make fab presents if you can part with them.

There will be felt bags and recycled silk purses and all kinds of yummy stuff so come along if you can.

Sunday 21st October, 10am 'till 4pm.
The Parish Centre, St Johns Road, Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead. HP1 1NR
Next to the 3 Blackbirds.

The famous Conker Festival is also on that day so come and make a whole day of it with me!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Ready to Fly!

One of my earliest blog posts on the 17th May had a doodle  from one of my sketchbooks that I had used as inspiration for a piece of handmade felt. 
I had a lovely time laying out the felt fibres using some of the colours in the sketch and then because I was so busy with my teaching schedule and because I had covered every available space  with art stuff I rolled up the fibres in their net and bubble wrap  and left them till the summer. I originally intended to add the details from the sketch into the final piece with stitching. I was going to 'doodle ' with the sewing machine to add the final touches.
I finally had time to finish felting it and here is the finished piece! at last!!
 I am so pleased with the way it has come together. Because it was made by wet felting, it has  a really dense rippley texture and the pattern on it has stayed in relief. Because I am an embroiderer and I am addicted to stitching I had to really make myself resist stitching this piece. I think it has enough detail now that it is finished and it is a good note to myself that I don't need to stitch on everything . 
You can see in this detail that it has a variety of different fibres on this panel Thin mohair, silk, curly hand dyed Wensleydale, hand dyed roving and lots of coloured merino. Just like painting with fibre! Hmmm What shall I do next???

Friday, 14 September 2012

Racing into a new teaching year!

Today I was in a meeting to schedule my teaching for the coming academic year. There are some very exciting new courses coming up!

We will be designing courses in Fabulous Felt part 1 and advanced felt which will include a seamless bag, a Cobweb felt stole  and a Nuno Felt scarf!

There will be Christmas Crafts which will include felt decorations and the White on White wall hanging that every one has been desperate to make. We will also include some fab pop up snowflake cards.

We have been planning some more Jewellery and Vintage Crafts courses too. These were really popular last year and we have lots of new techniques up our sleeves.

Artist Trading Cards are so very popular with everyone that we will be doing courses in these little beauties all over the county! I know lots of people have been waiting for the next round of these classes so they can learn new techniques to add to their collections.

This year I hope to be teaching many more Mixed Media techniques with Altered Books and Book Art of all kinds.

I will have some great things for sale too and some tutorials coming up to go with them so watch this space for all of those.

If you are interested in any of the coming courses, contact me as soon as you can. Last year so many people missed out because the classes filled quicker than we could publicise them.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Hertfordshire Open Studios

It is September!  It must be time for Herts Open Studios!

This is a wonderful event where artists from around the whole county open their studios to the public to promote their art and  teaching and demonstrate their techniques for visitors.
It is a great opportunity to talk to the artists about their work and to buy the work of emerging and established artists who may live just around the corner from us.

This is my 6th year of exhibiting with OS. Each year I try to have a different theme or I base my work around a technique that I have been exploring. It is a great opportunity to stretch myself to develop new techniques and to talk to people and see what they think of my work.

This year my artworks were based around my studies of Lace. 

I love vintage lace and marvel at the way it is constructed with open areas that give texture 
and play with the light. I love the way you can look through it to partly see what is beneath.

I have been making my own lace! A 21st Century version of an antique textile. Embroidered, layered, beaded and made from very contemporary materials!

I also have  some of my handmade books and altered books on display in cases. I can take them out and show them to people in quiet moments. There are a couple of book out of the cases for people to look through. There is a lot of interest in book art and last year when I showed the books, the exhibition  led to many classes because every one wanted one of their own!

Herts Open Studios is on until Saturday 15th September. From 11am till 4pm at the Paper Trail in Fourdrinier Way, Apsley, Hemel Hempstead. Hurry if you want a peek!

Monday, 10 September 2012

A Tiny Bridal Shop

My lovely friend Maureen had a special birthday this week.
There was a surprise party for her yesterday and part of her Birthday surprise was the present from her husband. A dolls house shop!

Maureen is a very creative lady she sews all kinds of things and makes beautiful quilts and she has some very crafty friends. Not just crafty because we managed to keep a good secret ha ha, but because we are all quite thrilled with the idea of helping her decorate her lovely tiny Bridal Shop.

She got some darling little presents for it, like a little scroll work wire  mannequin some little display cabinets and some cute furniture but we also thought we'd make some handmade things for it too. 

so I made some bunting...

Each piece is less than one centimetre high, made from painted watercolour paper, and is hand stitched  together with crochet cotton.

Then I made some little bouquets, about 1.5 cms in size, with some glass beads and very fine green beading wire. I made a little sign for the shop with a bridal sign on the front and a friend quote on a the back.

Hope she likes them! I had fun making them.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

My next page...

...is supposed to celebrate all the time I am going to have this summer whilst teaching has stopped for a few weeks. I was going to spend lovely hours doing some samples for next years workshops, tidying up, and lazing around watching the Olympics. Ha! The lazing around is mostly what I've been doing.

So, I have just realised that time is ticking by and I haven't really achieved anything much. I have planned some fabby days off though (days off from having days off?) and I will be going to the Festival of Quilts, The Autumn Fair Trade Show, and some days mooching around London and Brighton.

But of course all of these jolly days out are going to be very hard work (yep sure!) looking at new products and planning new mixed media and textile courses. So watch this space and see what's coming up!

Anyway...back to the time page...this is made with  tin foil and metallic card which has been embossed in the Sizzix Big Shot, coloured with inks and acrylic paints and then crackled with Viva Croco crackle. 

Friday, 27 July 2012

Olympics Hoorah!

On Thursday, the day before the Olympics started, Catherine and I went to the Polish Embassy as their guests and were taken to the Olympic Village to view the Flag Raising ceremony and present some Quilts 4 London pennants to the Polish Ambasssador who was going to pass them on to the Polish Athletes. 

It was such a thrill for us to be there on behalf of the Great British public to extend the hand of friendship and hospitality of the 17,000 people who made a pennant as a personal gift for the visiting athletes.

While we were there we were very proud to meet some of the athletes including some from our very own Team GB! 

Our thanks go to the Polish Ambassador and the Embassy for making us so welcome. It was so exciting to know that the very next day the whole wonderful event would be under way. 

Good Luck team GB!!

Also thanks to Irene from Woolsack for taking the photo. Woolsack are another fabulous textile project for the Olympics whose members have made 4,000 cushions using British Wool and filled with British Wool fibre.  You can read more about their project here:

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Fibre East and arty comfort blankets!

Fibre East! WOW, what a great place for felters!
This newish exhibition, held in Thurleigh in Bedfordshire is only in it's second year and bills itself as 'A celebration of British wool and fibres' Truly it was!

I have never been to Woolfest in Cumbria or Wonderwool in Wales but this was close to home for me and was a great chance to see and find wool fibre produced by British farmers in the most exciting and colourful products. It was also so good to support small makers who were so committed and enthusiastic about their breeds and products. 

I talked to lots of felt artists, spinners, weavers  and dyers. It is amazing to see what you can do with wool.

The display of balls of fibre above was HUGE! the pile was almost as tall as me! The colour blends are beautiful. there were lots of baskets of fibres and pick and mix selections of gorgeous Wensleydale and other scrummy curly fibres which I find so difficult to source. It was good to choose by feeling and looking at the colours which you cant do if you are buying online.

One of the things I absolutely loved were the recycled wool blankets which had been space dyed. I dye these sometimes but it was so nice to pick and mix colours that someone else had chosen because we all make colours in our own  way and sometimes it is nice to step into someone else's colour scheme.

Having said that I picked a lovely teal/lime green that is one of my favourites. I have bought a new sketch book (addicted! can you tell?) and it is short but very wide. It obviously needs a cover of its own!

The dyed blanket is thick, soft and colourful. A lovely arty comfort blanket! I also bought....
to decorate it all with! Isn't it all delicious? There are curly wool fibres, handspun wool rovings, space dyed cotton threads and some rough handspun and dyed yarn that has a great matte tweedy feel to it.

And here is what I did with it all.....My newest sketch book cover!

 I am so pleased with the textures on this front cover. I am going to do something completely different on the back cover but with the same colours and supplies. Of course I am going back to Fibre East next year!

Fibre East and Quilts 4 London

Last Saturday I went with Catherine to Fibre East in Bedfordshire. We were representing Quilts 4 London and we went to present some beautiful Pennants, made by members of the Great British public to some of the Mauritian Olympics team.

It was a grey and soggy day outside but the smiles from the team as they chose their pennants would have brightened the dullest of days. What lovely people! I wish that the makers of the pennants could see how thrilled they were with their gifts.

I managed to get no useful photos of Catherine Hill because I don't know what I'm doing with my new phone, but she and Irene Heathcote are joint project leaders of this wonderful project which inspired the talent of artists of every kind to make over 17,000 pennants to be presented as a personal gift to members of the Olympic and Paralympic teams. There is also a dedicated team of committee members, co ordinators and willing? partners who really have worked tirelessly to make this project succeed.

You can read more about the adventure here:  http://www.quilts4london.org.uk/

Many of the makers, aged 2-90+, had not made any kind of textile art before and we were stunned and  thrilled by the array of amazing work which came to us. We really believe from the many stories we have heard, that most of these makers will be textile enthusiasts for life and have discovered skills they never would have tried if it were not for this project.

For us, we have had quite an adventure! We have met some wonderful people and made some really firm friendships along the way. It has been an amazing journey but we will all need a celebration and a good long rest when it is all over.!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Another Page waiting for me to play.

I have decorated some more pages in my new journal and they are just waiting for me to have time to do something with them. I really enjoy making the pages though so I don't mind waiting. It will be nice to have a whole book of backgrounds to play with one day.

This one is stencilled through a Crafters Workshop Stencil and has had doodles added on top following the design of the stencil. This is one of the first stencils  that I bought from Crafters Workshop. It is a really useful pattern and I have used it so many times on so many surfaces.

This is a detail of the pattern. I often make a whole sheet of the backgrounds and then cut them up to make pieces for Handmade Cards, Artist Trading Cards, and pages for Altered Books.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Just chillin' with a Journal

I had time to make a new journal cover this week with a piece of felt that was left over from a demonstration. 

I love sketchbooks and journals and to have one with a lovely cover makes me feel inspired even before I start to do any art in there. Handmade Felt feels so nice as the cover for a 
book, like a kind of arty comfort blanket! Yes, I know I'm a little bit strange!

I embroidered this one with a seed head in space dyed silk thread in Straight Stitches, Whipped Running Stitch and French Knots. The sheen of the silk looks good against the matt texture of the felt.

I made the first page about new beginnings. It is so nice to start a new book but these new beginnings are also about the plan I have to tidy up my stuff and be more organised! Those of you who know me well will be laughing hysterically by now!

It is great to just chill with a sketchbook or journal. I'm pretty sure that doodling and collaging are good for the soul and it is impossible to be stressed when you are playing with new pens and paints and stuff.

On this page I have stencilled the background with Crafter's Workshop Stencils and then written on top with sketchy letters drawn with Sakura Moonlight pens. Those pens are so yummy! I think I'm in love with them!
As you can see they write on dark surfaces just as well as on light ones.

 I am going to start lots of the pages and leave them ready for when I have some time to chill with my new journal! I will put some of the decorated pages on my blog so pop by to see if you feel inspired to have a go too.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Vintage Crafts at Nine Lives

I have been teaching 'Vintage Crafts'  at a venue called Nine Lives in Rickmansworth. Isn't that a great name for a charitable organisation that takes old furniture and household objects and then trains people to transform them with re upholstering and painting to make great  saleable items? Giving them a new life!

The place is a treasure trove of ever changing, fab vintage items and I can't resist having a poke around when ever I am there!

Anyway... the course , for Community Learning Partnership, has been all about taking recycled and new materials and vintage techniques and learning to update them to  use textiles to make lovely gifts.

This week we having been learning applique techniques to make a mini quilt or fabric picture. I decided to make a bowl of cupcakes!  We then decorate them with stitch and buttons and beads. Good enough to eat! 

Almost! Ha ha.

Back to my Arty Roots

I recently heard my much loved and first  textiles and embroidery tutor talking about my work and heard her say that she didn't think I did much hand stitching these days. Well I do have a needle in my hand most days, but what she meant was that I used to do work that was so stitched that the work was all about the stitching and the layers of texture and colour that it gave to the pieces.

Well, it made me yearn a bit for some of that stuff that I seem to be too busy to do these days. It made me abandon all the housework once again and I spent every spare moment of a whole week working on this!

It is based on the study of Lichen in the landscape; on branches and old walls. The textures and colours of moss and lichen, when you look closely at them, are so surprising and beautiful that I have been known to stop in my tracks and stare. Trying to absorb and remember them for capturing in stitch or in some arty adventure.

Below are some closer details that show the stitchery a bit more clearly. You can also see the colours of the gorgeous space dyed silk and wool threads and the hand dyed silk laps that give it even more dimension.

You can also see the stitches. There are just about 5 different stitches in this piece but when they are used with a variety of different thickness of thread and in all kinds of scale they are enough to give amazing texture.

My learners seem to be craving hand stitching more and more these days. I have had to alter some of my lesson plans to include whole sessions that are devoted to just learning and playing with stitch. Yay! Welcome back stitchery! I have missed you and will be doing more soon!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Granny Squares: not just for Grannies!

Last Saturday my friend Elizabeth from the Community Learning Partnership treated me to a fab workshop in Intermediate Crochet with Nicki Trench who is the author of more scrummy books on crochet than we could count! We used Rooster and Debbie Bliss yarns which are just so beautiful they made what ever we crocheted look lovely.

I had wanted to learn to crochet for ages and a couple of years ago my fab stitch and bitch  buddy Camilla (of  Lovely&Lovely) who is brilliant at crochet taught us all how to begin. 

I wanted to learn how to make flowers and Granny Squares and with a bit of practice and guidance learned how to go round and round in all kinds of different ways to make flowers BUT the whole squarey thing of having corners totally eluded me and I decided I wasn't ever going to be able  to do it. 

Anyway, I was really happy doing flowers and always had a crochet hook and some yarn with me in my bag so I kind of forgot about being Granny Square challenged!

I made a LOT of flowers in all kinds of different threads and wools and cotton and silk....!

Well Nicki changed all that! With great patience and by showing me how to read a crochet pattern, I succeeded! Here is my first EVER square!! I am so happy.

She then taught me a different flower and a spiral rose! I can feel more flowers coming on but this time there will be some squares amongst them and I may even start a little cushion cover.