Deciding which tools to use

I’m putting together sixteen framed pieces for an exhibition at the Potting Shed, Insole Court, Cardiff.

I’ve done all my research on the couples I’m commemorating; they all lived or worked around ‘the big house.’

A selection of  some of the tools I may be using


A Victorian knitted lace design


One of the marriages

Francis Herbert Wride marriage cert Annie Louisa Streeter 10th April 1907


Eco Printing – what’s it all about?

I’ve been reading about and seeing many images of eco printed textiles and papers so I thought I’d give it a try. I’m not taken with the technique when used for clothing  but like the idea for paperwork.

Everything I’ve read says that fallen leaves and flowers should be used – I’m unsure if this is for ethical reasons or if the resultant colour is better but as it’s the start of summer I went with what I had from my garden. A selection of what I found along with a few rusty nails and keys.


I pressed the leaves under a pile of books overnight.


The only paper I had to hand was 200grms watercolour – torn into small test-sized squares


The paper was soaked in water for about an hour.


The leaves then layed between two pieces of paper.


Each sandwich was numbered and a note of which leaf  it contained.


I also soaked some paper in soya milk as I’d read it was a good mordant. I  repeated the layering then placed   cardboard at the top and bottom, bound them together tightly with rubber bands.


Not following H&S rules I used my steamer. I placed the bundle in it and weighed it down with a kilo weight from my kitchen scales.


It was left to simmer for about an hour and a half.


Oh yes, one leaf I dipped into rust water (a jar containing iron nails etc) and it was the first one I looked at.


The rest I left overnight.

The nails and keys were disappointing – I’ll keep to my tried method of rust printing – steaming does nothing for the process.


The next ones for the reveal were those on the soya paper. The plant material stuck to the paper, the card suck to the paper…….not a success. It looks as if the process has worked but the colouration is from the residue leaves,


The water soaked paper was easier to clean up but the thin geranium leaf still stuck.


Conclusion: Very disappointed with the results. The rose and bramble leaves worked the best. I’d hoped to be able to make pieces for greetings cards but none were clear enough – looked more like the results of a spilled cup of coffee over paper which had then been cut up. However I’ll keep the pieces ……..never know when they may come in useful!

Select Festival 2016

Time for my annual pilgrimage to Stroud for a day of visiting exhibitions and walk round artists’ studios at the SITselect Festival

My first stop was at the Lansdowne Gallery to see The Sewing Project – a selection of works by Studio 21 and this is an explanation taken from their website…

‘This well-researched exhibition explores all aspects of the sewing machine.Projects range from sewing machine mechanics, decoration and operation to personal and social histories. Each member of Studio 21 has produced a comprehensive body of work that reflects their personal interest in this transformational machine. You can see how they interpreted the challenge by clicking here.’

Little Boxes

Little boxes 2Little boses 5 Little boxes 1 Machine Noise
Machine noise 1 Machine noise 3 Machine noise 4 Machine noise 5 Machine noise 6 Machine noise 7 Machine noise

Strange Material – Leanne Prain – Chapter Ten

Community Storytelling Through Textiles.

“Our stories are reflections of ourselves. treat them with respect and honour those who are willing to share their experiences with you.”  – Jessica Vellenga

The largest community project is the NAMES project AIDS Memorial Quilt, which was started in June 1987. At the time of writing the book, 2014, over 48,000 panels (with the name of a person who has died of AIDS) have been stitched together. It would take 33 consecutive days to read the whole quilt.

Display in 1996.7_DCdisplay1996

Prain goes on to write about sewing and knitting circles along with yarn bombing. I’m ambivalent about yarn bombing. On one hand I enjoy the brightness and fun of the transformation of an area but I wonder if the yarn could not be put to a better use by making items of clothing and toys for those in need, What happens to the yarn after the yarn bombing event? Does it weather away or is ripped down to go to landfill?

I am a member of a small sewing circle. On pre-arranged Saturday afternoons we meet at Cardiff M.A.D.E. to kantha stitch a quilt. The community project was set up by a lady from Bangladesh.  Layers of fabric were placed together – an old bedsheet and sari and a design was created using symbols which are important to the individuals contributing to the needlework. I was taught how to stitch using an extra long needle threaded with embroidery yarn. The stitch is a basic running stitch.


But back to the book. Leigh Bowser uses the medium of textiles and stitch to raise awareness of DBA through the Bloodbag Project. People are invited to create their own bloodbag using the templates and forwarded to Leigh.


An interview with Leigh about the project is here.

Jessica Vellenga invited members of the public to send her diary entries which she then embroideres on vintage fabrics – that which is intended to be private becomes public – the banal, the silly, the sad……


“Tell me about your grandmother. Tell me, what was your favourite  piece of clothing when you were a child.” At the Broocklyn Museum Robyn Love set up a static  bicycle which powered her spinning wheel. She invited members of the public to contribute to her Spin Cycle by asking them to spin her a yarn as she spun her yarn.


And that concludes the book. I’ve come across many artists I may not have done had I not read it. At last I can feel ideas rising in my brain. I don’t wish to copy anyone’s work – I see it more as being fed food for thought.

Strange Material – Leanne Prain – Chapter Nine

Technology and New Methods of Storytelling.

“I really enjoy the way that the internet has enabled an interest in knitting to spread much further. I love the way that so many knitters embrace technology.” —artist Freddie Robins

This is the tail of the snake eating its own tale! I use the internet on a daily basis for research, this blog being a case in point. As yet I’ve not referenced digital technology directly in my work as some artists have but I use it to share my experiences. is one of my bookmarked sites – great for knitting patterns and ideas but is much more subversive.

I could never cover my Doc Marten boots but love the idea – maybe adapted for an old pair of baseball boots?


Phillip Stearns has taken corrupted data from a digital camera and used the images to machine knit wall hangings and blankets.

Glitch Textiles


Ruth Scheuing has tracked her movements via GPS then woven the results.


 Iviva Olenick terms herself as a narrative and sculptural embroiderer. She uses the restraints of Twitter (140 characters) to disseminate her stories around the world then embroiders them, along with other Tweets on scraps of fabric.drt

There is the dichotomy between the almost instant Tweet and the length of time it takes to hand embroider the words.

Kirsty Whitlock  uses materials not usually associated with embroidery to comment on contemporary issues. An interview with Kirsty by TextileArtist is here.

Losses 2009 newspaper& embroidery thread.Textile-Artist-Kirsty-Whitlock-Losses-2009

Carolyn Yandle moved from a career in journalism to that of textile artist but, like me, she has an abhorrence for art-speak.

QR Quilt: After Douglas Coupland 2013
Found business shirts, cotton fabrics, buttons
183 x 289 cms approx


This is taken from a painting by Douglas Coupland – when scanned it reads I wait and I wait and I wait for God to appear. And it works – I’ve scanned it! This has set some ideas off; now I need to learn how to create a QR code.