Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Happy Christmas!

This little Winter Hare is here to wish a Happy Christmas to all my family and friends who have brought sunshine into my life this year. Each of you have helped me to remember that even when times are sad, there are wonderful people there to make us smile and make the sun shine on the dullest of days. May each of you who reads this have a blessed and sparkly New year full of arty moments and the best surprises. Xx

Monday, 30 November 2015

Dreams and Doodles

Tomorrow the wonderful new Stampington  publication, The Coloring Studio will be launched. 




I am so happy to have one of my illustrations featured in this great new colouring book that is much more than just a colouring book. Everyone who knows Stampington will know how gorgeous their magazines are; full of the most inspiring art and innovative techniques.

Today I thought I'd show you some of my other illustrations. These are copyrighted so please don't copy them but I do hope they will inspire you to draw some in your own style. Next time I will do a step by step on how you can start to doodle some illustrations of your own.

So here are some of mine...
This first one is an illustration for a wedding invitation. It is hand drawn in black ink.




 This one is a diorama of the Owl and the Pussycat in a little mint tin. Again drawn in ink and layered.






And these next ones are textile designs. They are drawn in black ink onto painted backgrounds.



Tomorrow I will show you how to start an illustration of your own with step by step photos. I will also be teaching this very soon so let me know if you'd like to be added to my mailing list for illustration, journalling, gelli printing, handmade felt or altered books and tins. You know you'd like to have an ARTY new year! Perfect for your New Year resolution for 2016.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Alice Fox final day

On the last day of the course Alice left us to develop our own ideas from the techniques we had learned. I loved this because it gave us the chance to make the work our own and each person came up with such interesting ideas.

I loved the waxing of papers and fabrics. I'd wanted time to play with encaustic techniques for ages but could never find the time to cover a surface and find an iron to use with wax and to just play with a new technique so this was such a great chance to do just that.

I'd loved the way that the beeswax made the papers translucent and that we could make the layers bind together as one. This technique also enhances the textures and colours of the papers and fabrics and makes them glow!




I used some of my favourite papers and fabrics from the past few days to make a tiny book 3" tall. I love this range of fantastic marks that have been made on these surfaces. 

I waxed the pieces by laying them onto parchment paper on the ironing board, sprinkling them with beeswax pellets, placing another piece of parchment paper over the top and smoothing over the layers with the hot iron. 

Easy! Why didn't I try this before? Definitely doing it again!

In the photo above, the top piece is eco dyed cartridge paper on the left and rusted embroidered fabric on the right.

In the photo below you can see printed tissue paper which has been bonded with wax to some rust dyed habotai silk.



I used buttonhole hole stitch to edge some of the pages. 


You can see some of the reverse sides and other pages in the photo above. Look at the print that was made by a rusty old nail! and the rusty lace.

I added vintage bone and MOP buttons and a bone fish counter with needle woven details. I also stitched across some of the pages. The stitch really complimented the waxed pages and matched the binding stitches which bind the little book together. I'm going to make more of these little books!

Thank you Alice for such a fab course! I loved every minute.


Friday, 28 August 2015

Alice Fox Summer School part 2

I'm having such a lovely time at Alice's workshops. She has introduced us to the most wonderful techniques for Eco printing and mark making with natural materials. 

Alice makes the most beautiful little concertina books and bound books with delicate marks which Mother Nature supplies and Alice coaxes onto their pages. She has shown us how to make these little books. These are some of Alice's books.







We have used rust and plant materials to colour fabric and paper. We made little parcels of paper and fabric and wrapped them around metal and leaves and onion skins.
We then submerged them for a couple of days in one of Alice's cocktails to let the rust bring out the colours and marks. She kept us so busy doing other things but we really just couldn't wait to see how they were going to turn out!

It rained hard for two whole days! We happily stayed indoors and played with new techniques with plants and rust.
We printed with leaves onto fabric and paper. We did weaving and stitching with grass and lavender, we stitched around found objects. 

On this sample, the seed heads and feather were 'stitched' into the scrim using the object to make the stitch. I added a just few real stitches to hold them there. I have made a sketchbook to store all my samples. I love the shadows that are made on the paper.

This is a close up of the feather and the wood curl.

The seed heads were woven through the scrim and then over woven with stitch. Look at the shadows!



This is one of the leaf prints on silk organza. I decided to layer it onto rusted fabric and then stitched around the leaves with some seed stitches.

This is another leaf print with lavender. I have started stitching it to some rusted fabric and have collaged it with some other fabrics and some of my found objects.




These are some more of my objects that have been partly hidden beneath net and sheer fabrics and enhanced with stitch. The limpet shell has been stitched on and the threads have been needle woven.

Day 3! We finally opened the book parcels today! It was so lovely to sit in the sunshine after days of rain and open our little surprise parcels.
Look at how time has transformed them!



Tomorrow is the last day. I will show you the little books finished, waxed and stitched and some of the other pages in my sketch book in the next blog post. Bye for now! x

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Alice Fox Lost and Found

Today was the first day of the Summer School at Art Van Go.

This year Alice Fox will be leading 4 wonderful days of Eco Printing, Dyeing and Stitch and I am one of the lucky ones who managed to get a place on this great workshop.

I love dyeing with rust and natural materials and Alice's work in this field has a delicacy and depth of feeling that is breathtaking. When one of my bestest friends told me she had put my name on the list for 'Lost and Found' with Alice I was so thrilled.

We had to take along a collection of found objects to add to our work. I took some beautiful sea washed shells which have the most subtle variations of greys, blues, pinks and creamy white. They are so matte with little hints of pearly shell showing through. Others are really pitted and textured. So very beautiful.


We also had to take rusty things with us. These were for  making  prints and marks onto paper and fabric. There is a kind of magic that happens when time and chemistry combine to make Art! 

I took these huge rusty nails!


They are about 6 inches long and came from a proper old fashioned hardware shop. They were found in the back of the store room where they had been for 3 generations of the family owners. They were so amused that I wanted rusty nails and were quite happy to see them go I think. I was so happy to have them.

I will show you tomorrow what we did today. It was so lovely, so exciting and a little bit magic.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Something Fishy!

I hope you are having a lovely Summer? Did you go to the seaside?

For those of us that haven't seen the sea this year or felt the warmth of the sand on our toes this Summer, here is a picture of little silk painted fish swimming in a bluey green ocean. Don't you just love how silk shimmers!
This is painted with Deka silk paints on Habotai Silk.

I hope the sun shines for you for the rest of the summertime. 

Friday, 24 July 2015

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Gelli Arts Mono printing 2 coming soon!

Booking now!

The Gelli Arts printing workshops are always so popular! This method of mono printing is so easy and such fun. You just never can tell how the prints are going to look and there are some wonderful surprises.


They are also perfect for cutting up and collaging. Further decoration can be added with stitch and drawing. And if you love to play with colour and paint this will be right up your street.




For those who came to the first set of workshops this one can be a progression. You can bring some of your favourite previous prints but we will spend a little time making some more so if you haven't been before you can choose to just make prints all day.

We will be exploring pattern, cutting up our prints, learning some drawing to add further pattern and scanning and printing our favourite onto fabric to make repeatable fabric patterns that can be stitched onto.

Let me know if you'd like to join us. There are still some spaces. We are going to have a lovely time.




Thursday, 11 June 2015

Artist Sketchbooks on a Saturday

On Saturday 4th July, in Boxmoor we will be exploring Sketchbooks and Journals.

Whenever I show my sketchbooks at shows or talks so many people say that they would love to get into the habit of regularly working in a book. Certainly, they are so great for trying out new ideas, colour schemes or for making a new technique your own. But they can be scary! 




The idea of starting in a new book on a new blank page is so scary to most people that some never ever make a start in the lovely new book they've bought.

So my job on Saturday is to make you fall in love with your journal and make you want to work it in without FEAR!

We will be working with Circles as a theme. Making our own stencils and working with them to create masks and layers. We are going to look at adding colour and detail and think about how to add text in unusual ways.

The day will start at 1.30pm and finish at 6pm. The cost is £50.

Let me know if you'd like to join us. There are a few spaces left.




Thursday, 4 June 2015

When is is a tin no longer a tin?

Do you know about Altered Tins? 

I love a tin! Some of them are so cute or useful. I love putting buttons and beads in them  and I love to look in them and sort through the treasures within.


Well... there is now another use for tins of all sizes. You can take an ordinary tin and alter it to make it into something completely different.  The only limit is your own imagination.


They make the perfect little showcase for artwork. Because tins are so irresistible for peeking into, you can hide a little arty scene or frame a perfect little piece of vintage ephemera within an ordinary tin as a surprise for the viewer. Or you can make the entire box into something completely different.


I have been plying with tins this week to get ready for an Embroiderers Guild Summer School in July. We are spending 2 days making interactive Altered Books and Altered Tins.


Would you like a little look at my tins?


The first one is based on Bees: Those precious little creatures who pollinate our crops and keep our crops growing.


This is a little cigar box, about 3"x 3" in size. I have decoupaged the lid to disguise the raised writing on the front and painted it with metallic paints.




Then I used a new Sizzix Honeycomb die to cut out metal and metallic card for the background of the base and inner lid. This was layered onto paper and net.



I put a little wooden frame on top of the metal honeycomb to frame the little brass bee and glass flowers. I added a tiny brass tag with the word Believe. We must look after our Bees and protect them from harmful pesticides. Our crops and food supplies will be in grave danger if the bees die out.

Below is a close up of the frame with the flowers, the bee and the metal honeycomb.



The second tin is teeny tiny!
About 1.25 inches long.

It is small enough to be worn as a pendant. The outside of the lid is painted to resemble enameling. A little impressionist garden made of dots.


It has been wired and beaded into a pendant and has the same little brass Believe wired into the top.
The inside is handmade Merino and silk felt with hand stitching and glass flowers.  A little fairy lives in this tin. We all believe in Fairies don't we?





I'd love to know what you think.

I will show you more tins  in the next few days.

Bye for now xx


Monday, 18 May 2015

Monday Crazy Patchwork

Today we have been playing with the most lovely fabrics and trims. We have hand painted lace and bonded and cut up beautiful embroidered silks

We have been making Crazy Patchwork and just like the Victorian originals we have made ours using snippets of lovely precious fabrics and all kinds of little treasures: broken jewellery, beads, velvet flowers, lace. 


We will be embellishing them next month with hand stitching using silk and hand dyed threads.






I just wanted to show you Dawn's finished and framed piece from last Month's workshop.


And Stella's Work in progress from last month. This is painted tissue with applied silk papers.
She has started to hand embroider it.


Isn't that an amazing texture? And we were all drooling at the gorgeous colours.

I can't wait to see what they do next with all my stash. Sharing and inspiring each other is just the most fun you can have on a dreary old Monday!



Saturday, 9 May 2015

Altered Books in May

It is nearly time for this month's Saturday workshop! Altered Books.

On the 23rd May in Boxmoor we will be making, starting and learning new techniques to make unique little works of ART from old, unloved hardback books.


It is such a happy experience to see beautiful things  emerging from the pages and seeing how everybody interprets the techniques that I'm showing them into their own personal artwork.


This time we are going to be working with Acrylic mediums. Crackle paints, moulding paste,

iridescent mediums and paints, and resin.

We are also going to play with openings and put little doors with hinges into our books.


Each person can choose to work to a theme or just to play with the techniques.


Have a look through this blog for photos of Altered Books and there are lots on my website too. www.paulawatkins.co.uk if you'd like to see examples of this lovely art for.


Here are a few more  to show some of the techniques we will be playing with.




This first one shows some of the different mediums used with iridescent paint effects, It also shows a window cut between the pages to showcase a vintage optometrist lens which has been treated with resin and wired between the pages. 


This little heat treated copper door has brass hinges and a fastening. It  opens to reveal the vintage dresses hanging in the wardrobe by a chain and little wire hangers. The fairies on the other page a peeking in.





This is a stitched panel on a book page using some of my collection of buttons and lace.


As you can see, an Altered Book can be anything you want it to be.


Let me know if you'd like to join us on this workshop or one in the future. We have such fun!


Sunday, 12 April 2015

Rusty old stuff!

Brown is not one of my favourite colours. When I'm choosing paints or threads I usually rejoice in light and bright shades that make me itch to make art.

But the serendipity of nature and natural dyeing is amazing. Rust yields such rich and mellow shades of russet and ochre, orange, ginger and cinnamon that it is irresistible to dye with and to stitch on.


I recently dyed some cotton Guipure  lace, cotton threads, silk and muslin with rust. I just wrapped the materials around a piece of rusty metal. I dipped them first in a mixture of malt vinegar and water to get the rusting started.


Then I left them in the garden to do their magic. They got rained on of course and that helped and speeded  up the transformation.


Over Easter I had a bit of time to stitch with some of it. I loved seeing the colours of the materials naturally blend with each other and it was good to have time to do some slow stitching which always slows me down and makes me feel relaxed. 









I added some sewing with some of my favourite hand dyed stranded cotton from 21st Century Yarns. I also added some sequins made from coconut shell.  It isn't finished yet.

I'd love to know what you think. Do you think you'd give it a try too?







Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Songs of Innocence

I've come over all monochrome in  my newest Altered Book.

I'm usually so mesmerised by colour but sometimes the peacefulness of pale is just what I need on a crazy day.





Songs of Innocence is all about the beauty of simplicity and the cherishing of  memory, the moments of silence when we know the most important truths and taking time to breathe in the busyness of our hectic day.



I'm hoping that the painting of the pages and the gentle stitching of the linen will be a kind of meditation about the important things in my life. 

Try a little stitching and give yourself a moment of time to be still.  Have a happy peaceful day xx

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Monday Vintage Blanket Stitch Workshop

Tomorrow is the next sewing workshop and we are going to be working with Mixed Media and Paper as a way of adding a modern twist to our Folk Art inspired stitching.



We are then going to be stitching on these and adding elements of our own stories and memories to the collages.

Here are some more photos of the gorgeous Paper Patchwork pieces.  First Dawn's.




Judi's.


Stella's


We are also working with Tea bags which I have been saving  for ages.They are amazing to work with because they are made from really strong paper which doesn't fall apart when used with water. They are great to stitch on, they are already tea dyed, ha ha, and I'm especially in love with the round ones. 



I also just wanted to show you a finished blanket sampler made by the wonderfully talented Dawn Walsh. I need to get a bigger photo so that you can see the incredible detail. She has decided to frame this instead of using it as a blanket book cover and brought it to show to us. It looks totally amazing in a frame. I am so, so proud of my stitchers. This is amazing Dawn.



If you are free during the day once a month on a Monday, join us. Slow stitching with gorgeous materials is good for your soul  and it is so lovely to allow yourself a day just for you. We meet in Hemel Hempstead.