Sunday, 30 December 2018

Workshop works in progress 1 - Fabulous Nuno-Felting

It's that strange time in between Christmas and New Year, when I never really know what time it is, it takes a lot of concentration to even work out the day of the week and the fridge is full of food that needs eating up - tiramisu for breakfast, anyone? My thoughts wander towards tying up the old year's loose ends before moving on to the new. I've been meaning to blog about a couple of workshops I attended in the latter part of 2018 and was waiting until I had something approaching a finished piece to show but I know it will be a while now because exhibition work will have to come top of my list. So, workshop works in progress it is! Here's the first of two - the second will follow shortly (but probably not till next year!)

Recently, Bernice and I spent a great day with a couple of friends, exploring Clare Bullock's world of nuno-felting in her wonderful workshop in Sharnbrook. It was a bit like entering Aladdin's cave or the Tardis - seemingly quite small on the outside but full of textile treasures, stacked floor to ceiling inside. Thanks to Bernice (BH) for many of the following photos ...

Aladdin's cave (BH)
Clare's wonderful hats!

The table was set up before we arrived with everything we needed - we only had to bring our lunch  (now that's my kind of workshop!)

Wool tops
Sari silk chiffon strips
Bernice spotted these for me - oooh, purple! (BH)

After a quick introduction over coffee, Clare gave us a demo of her basic technique ...

Laying out a thin layer of fibres (BH)

A few accents of contrasting colours (BH)

Ready for the next stage (BH)

Laying out the sari silk chiffon strips (BH)

Adding water and soap to facilitate the felting process (BH)

Bernice's friend, Helena, gently felting the back of one of her samples (BH)

As she worked, Clare described her methods very clearly and also explained how she makes a collection of  small pieces, which she adds stitch to, individually, until eventually making a much larger piece by stitching them all together. These collages have great personal meaning for her, many being linked to significant people, times or places and the stitch tensions and patterns reflect her feelings at each particular time. With that in mind we all went on to to make several small pieces.

My friend Pat's fibres laid out

Adding the silk strips

Pat's first sample felted and rinsed but still wet

This shows one of my examples, at the stage where the wool fibres are beginning to show through the sari silk chiffon ...

A bit wet - more soap and more felting action needed!

... and the finished felt sample (still wet).

I told myself that the uneven felting adds to the charm!

Here are Bernice's beautiful pieces, which she managed to felt much more evenly.

The eagle-eyed of you will no doubt have spotted the odd one out of the four above. The final part of the workshop was to make another nuno felt, using white wool tops and white/undyed silk chiffon, scrim and butter muslin. After felting, we took them outside, pegged them on a line while still wet and dripped acrylic inks onto them, spraying with more water if desired. Great fun was had and we successfully coloured quite a bit of the pavement outside Clare's workshop, while just about avoiding our shoes.

Here's a close up of my painted sample - I particularly liked the texture created with the butter muslin at the bottom.

In fact, I was very taken with the idea of painting the nuno felt while still wet and will definitely be trying more of that.

However, it will be a while before I build up enough pieces to make something as big as this beautiful work which hung on Clare's wall.

Clare's large hanging (BH)

On closer examination, the use of stitch can be seen.

Selected areas

More stitching in the many wonderful examples of Clare's work dotted around the studio ...

More stitching examples

I've looked at these examples of my own several times and have been trying to decide on how and where to add stitch ...

... but remembering Clare's comments about the stitching reflecting her mood and feelings at the time and bearing in mind my earlier comments about not even being able to decide what day it is at the moment, maybe those creative decisions are better left for a while.

One thing I can be sure of is how much we enjoyed the workshop and I hope to be able to work with Clare again next year - maybe something like these inspiring 3D examples ...

... or this exquisite little vessel.

So much to look forward to in 2019. Hoping for happy times for you all as we move into the New Year.


Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Festive Greetings

Cath's stitched and burned metal lamp cover and Dia's beautiful thread-wrapped card, wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year! Looking forward to sharing more with you in 2019 - with love from all of us here at Traverse xx

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Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Painted Tiles

I was very privileged to be invited to a lovely group of ladies who meet together regularly to teach them my Painted Tiles workshop.  This is based on my Destinations exhibition piece: Venice Tiles.

 Each tile is 8" (20cms) square.  I made up kits for everyone.

We played with wet media in the morning using acrylic paint on cotton fabric - using stamps, stencils and thermofax screens.  Everyone produced some fabulous fabric.  Here are just a few examples:

They also stamped or stencilled on a variety of papers - teabag, Abaca, Deli, dictionary and map paper.  Some of the images were then glued onto a square taken from the printed fabric.

After lunch when everything was dry, we started assembling the tiles.  Each lady had brought with her a piece of plain background fabric to complement the colours of paint they had brought.  I had limited them to bringing 3 colours!

Then the stitching began.  By the end of the session everyone had the makings of their tile.  Some of the ladies wanted to continue stitching at home.  Here are the partly finished tiles.

Aren't they gorgeous?  I am hoping the ladies will send me photos of their finished pieces.

I had a lovely time.  I hope they did too.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Creative Craft Show

We were privileged to be allowed to exhibit at the Creative Craft Show at the NEC last weekend.  Although it's a much smaller show than the other shows we have exhibited at, the fact that it ran alongside others relating to Art, Cakes and Christmas meant that we still were able to talk to lots of people, some of whom were not familiar with textile art. Cath heard one surprised person say, "I've never seen anything like that - I could put it on the wall at home!"

Dia and Deb were stewarding on Thursday and Friday and were demonstrating how they use the Embellisher, which as always drew many people's attention. Here's a comment from our visitor's book:

Amazing crafts and lovely ladies. Lovely to see the embellisher being used! Thank you!

It was interesting to see the difference the black boards made to our work in comparison with the white ones elsewhere.


Cath & Bernice were stewarding on Saturday and Sunday.  Alongside her usual circles and spirals, Cath used her demonstration time to investigate something new for her -  embellishing onto felt with strips of fabric she'd previously printed and dyed. This was something gleaned from her chats with Jean Littlejohn at Ally Pally (see full post here) and was a limited success - more practice needed!

Here's another lovely comment from our book:

I've discovered another item I must have - a Janome embellisher! I've been inspired today. The skills and knowledge will come in handy once I've bought one. Thank you ladies for the inspiration and demo today.

Bernice showed her mixed media ideas including this book based on Venice.  It will probably be included in next year's exhibition as she is putting holes and windows in it to Reveal what's on the next page.

And so we say goodbye to our Destinations work and look forward to next year's theme: Revealed.  Our first exhibition is at the British Quilt & Stitch Village in April 2019.  We hope you will visit us there.

In a future post we will reveal some sneak peeks of our new work.  Here's a taster:


Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Ally Pally Inspirations

A bit late but this has been rewritten due to my having accidentally somehow deleted the first effort!

Last week, I made my first visit to the Alexandra Palace Knitting and Stitching Show. After a longer than expected journey with a rather stressed out coach driver who had never been to Ally Pally before and ended up relying on my phone to navigate the narrow side streets of London, we finally arrived and I headed straight for the Galleries, intending to investigate the 'shopping' side of the experience later, as it was very crowded. However, it wasn’t that fact, but rather the quality of the work and the artists I met, that meant I returned home with a nearly empty shopping bag but a head full of ideas and inspiration.

First was Alysn Midgelow-Marsden’s collaborative Fabricated Narratives project, which was top of my list. This huge hanging of stainless steel fabric looked wonderful, suspended in the corner; as well as the simple but very effective stitching, I love the patination that occurs when metal fabric is heated and Alysn is the ‘metal maestro’ for me. I had a little chat with her about a collaborative project of our own that Traverse are hoping to embark on next year – this piece was a great inspiration for that. Watch this space for more …

The Ripple Effect - stainless steel fabric and stitch
Heat patination

I spent quite some time looking in detail at this piece.


I must apologise to Alysn's collaborators because I have no good photos of everyone's work but I will post what I have here.

Artists Brushes - Marianda Twydell

Circles of Life - Marianda Twydell

Sadly, I don't even have a title for the following - an amazing indigo-dyed kimono.

Marianda Twydell

Next I moved on to Cas Holmes with her Tea Flora Tales and Textile Landscape – an inspiration to Bernice, who was honoured to have a piece of work included in her latest book, Textile Landscapes. Although the naturalistic forms in the foreground of this piece don’t usually feature in my own work, I loved the way the background is composed of such a beautiful variety of Indian fabrics …


… along with the intricate embroidery and the use of cut-out elements.


Of course, I loved the red madder colour, which was so me, but was also interested to see the complementary pop of yellow, which was so not me! Food for thought …

I really enjoyed chatting to Clare Bullock on the Artists in Action stand and watching her nuno felting technique, which has such beautiful results, enhanced by her wonderful stitching. I’ve had mixed results when I’ve tried nuno felting in the past but her explanation was so clear that I’ve come away inspired to give it another go. (Thanks to Art Van Go’s Kevin for this and some other photos of the artists in action.)

Clare in action

I also liked Clare’s method of working on small pieces, which she carries around, working on them as and when she can, before finally extending and assembling them into a whole; it reminded me of the Indian fabric background on Madder.

Adding and extending into a whole piece

Close-up of layers of silk and stitch - possibly my favourite section

It was very crowded but I managed to find a small space on a bench to eat my lunch while listening to a very interesting talk in the Creative Living Theatre by Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn entitled Capturing the Spirit. I have long admired their work but am always particularly drawn to Jean’s use of the embellisher, as I use it a lot in my own work (as well as demonstrating it at shows). Her part of the talk focused on her series based on the moon and the various design processes she goes through, emphasising the long process of building up layers of print and stitch. 

Cusp 1

Cusp 2

Strawberry Solstice

As luck would have it, Jan and Jean were also on the Artist in Action stand in the afternoon so I had the opportunity to look at several examples of Jean's work in progress up close. She was also very generous in answering my many questions about the effects she achieves with an embellisher and I definitely came away from there feeling very inspired.

Jean in action

Jean's work in progress

There were many other examples of beautiful textile work in the other galleries, although based on people’s comments and having read a few other reviews, it seems there were not as many as in previous years. As this was my first visit, I had nothing to compare it to so I did really enjoy it.

I dashed back to Alysn’s gallery as I wanted to take some photos of a few more pieces, which I hadn’t been able to get close to earlier because of the crowds. I’m on a workshop with Alysn next week and I’m really looking forward to working with a bit of metal and wire again – something even half as good as this would be fantastic! (I’ll try to post a few photos of work in progress.)


Finally, this beautiful wire mobile and its many reflections had an interesting title - Accreted Towards a Whole.



I have a bit of a reputation for being good with words but this was a new one on me and I had to look up the word accretion on my phone; I was very interested in the meaning – the process of growth and enlargement by the gradual accumulation of additional layers and here are just a few of the synonyms that I found - accumulation, gathering, growth, increase, extension.

As I sat on the coach on the way home, reflecting on the day and hoping for a better journey than the morning, I thought how well that word summed up my day – not only in the physical processes I had seen, Clare’s nuno felt, Cas’s Indian fabrics, Jean’s embellished, printed and stitched layers, but also the gathering together in the collaborative element of several of the galleried exhibitions and the growth and extension of my repertoire of techniques and the many inspirational ideas which came my way.

'Never mind about the journey', I thought and I was reminded of one of those inspirational quotes you sometimes get on greetings cards:

It’s not about the journey, it’s about the people you meet along the way