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

An ‘in’ with a stranger & flora residency

Another trip to Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre to see a couple of exhibitions.

As soon as I walked into the gallery I had a feeling of excitement. Aidan Moesby has curated  a selection of artists,  Catrin Andersson, Joanne Mitchell, Zoe Preece and Tim Shaw using the weather as a metaphor for the human condition.

On first glance there seems little to unite these four artists but the skill of the curator has found communality. The weather is a safe topic to spark conversation yet none of these works are safe – all are thought provoking leading onto deeper discourses.

Catrin Andersson is a Swedish artist working directly with the landscape.  She had captured such delicate markings on the paper but with such forcefulness of image.




Joanne Mitchell skilfully traps air bubbles into blocks of glass


Legion kiln formed glass air entrapment 2015

Zoe Preece is a Cardiff based ceramic artist and, although I admire her work (the condition of being in between states), it has left wondering how it fits in with the metaphor of weather, although that too is continually between states.


No Tangible Object I, porcelain, wood, 2015 (Detail)

Tim Shaw added the dimension of sound to the exhibition. A fan softly blows onto cups designed to measure wind speed, these in turn are wired to an electronic circuit causing three bells to be struck periodically.


Gust  2016

The catalogue for the exhibition.

After a delicious lunch in the Arts Centre Cafe it was time to visit Caroline Dear’s Flora exhibition which is the result for her time as artist in residence at Llantarnam Grange.

The catalogue is a series of bulletins documenting her time in Cwmbran, it is interesting reading. However I was disappointed with the exhibition as, although beautifully set out, it didn’t whet my curiosity. I felt it relied too much on the setting out of the materials, something I’d seen several times before. I wanted more connection with Cwbran, although a shopping trolley was included!

CDear-experimental-wall1-300x300 CDear-trolley-plants-300x300

Artist’s Talk, Exhibition, Artist’s Talk

After days of rain I was able to walk down to Craft in the Bay in the sunshine for a talk by maker Alys Wall of The Pocket Pirate.

Alys was very generous sharing her background, method of working, sketch books, samples of both made and unmade work with us. She uses materials that are often discarded; leather and fabrics from sample books, old belts and buttons and magics them into purses, bags and wallets. The matching of the pieces together may take days or even weeks and Alys carefully considers the placement of colours, textures and patterns together. It is this attention to detail that raises her work from recycled craft  into a high quality item, the stitching (done on a machine passed down from her mother) is perfect.

I particularly like her bags.


After the talk I went into the gallery to look at Ooze:  an exhibition by Brendan Stuart Burns. Brendan was one of my tutors on my degree course and I considered him to be a painter so it was with great interest I walked into the space to see his new body of work….in porcelain.

Brendan has continued to use the Pembrokeshire coast, in this work a walk between Solva and St David’s, ” to develop a personal visual language that often plays with the real and the illusionary, the figurative and the abstract.”

By taking moulds from the cliffs the clay has been manipulated and added to with mark making of various kinds. Some pieces have been laid flat but the one with the most impact for me was many pieces attached directly onto a wall. These images have been taken from Brendan’s facebook page.



With detailed images from Craft in the Bay website.


In the evening I attended another talk by the ceramist Ann Gibbs arranged by CASW. Ann took me on a wonderful journey starting at St Fagan’s Museum, onto Philadelphia (a report of her time can be read here), to the the wilds of Scotland ending up in Japan to investigate Ikebana before settling in Stoke on Trent for the Ceramic Biennial.

Household objects displayed at St Fagan’s Museum


Household Objects, Mercer Museum Philadelphia


Ikebana is a very precise form of flower arranging, with about ten different schools or styles. The influence of Ann’s study of the art is reflected in her work. every piece has an exact place for it to be displayed as can be seen in her most recent installation Crossing Boundaries shown at the British Ceramics Biennial.



Again I am so grateful that I able able to experience such rich and informative culture all for free.

Relaxed knitting for a serious cause.

It’s difficult for me just to sit and do nothing so when I came across twiddle muffs I knew I’d found the perfect reason to knit. Twiddle muffs are given to people with ‘restless hands’ – often caused by dementia  – and are similar to the sensory play mats babies have; items are attached to the muff to be stroked or twiddled with.

There is a basic pattern but any yarn and stitch can be used. This is the joy of making them as small oddments of yarn can be employed, different colours and thickness and any stitch you like. The emphasis is on the tactile nature of them so beads, buttons, ribbons or anything  that can be firmly attached is sewn on.

There are  many examples on the internet but here is my pattern.


Size 4 mm circular needle         If you don’t wish to use a circular needle  work the piece flat then join the long edges after decorating the knitting.
Oddments of double knit yarn
Beads, ribbons, buttons etc
Sewing needle to darn ends in and to sew on beads, buttons etc.


Cast on 60 sts. I use this number as I can knit patterns made up of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 stitches. Many different stitch patterns can be found on Knittingfool

P1010014 (800x600) I work in blocks of 8 rows. i.e. 8 rows in stocking stitch, 8 rows in pattern A, 8 rows in a different coloured yarn etc. I use a loop of different coloured yarn to mark the beginning of a new row – here I’m using a loop of cream wool.
Knit until the piece is approximately 12 inches or 30 cms – it does not need to be too precise. The outside of the muff is completed.
Knit for a further 12 inches or 30 cms. This is the inside of the muff so should be the same size as the outside. It does not need to be so fancy as the outside in terms of stitch pattern or colours.

P1010017 (800x426)
When the correct length has been achieved cast off loosely.

Darn in the loose ends of the yarn and decorate using the beads, buttons, ribbons etc. They must be sewn on securely. The pieces on the inside need not be so fancy as those on the outside as they won’t be seen, just felt.

When completed pull the outside over the inside and sewn round the edge so forming the muff.

P1010019 (800x600)
P1010022 (800x600)P1010023 (800x600)

The Times Newspaper 1851


January 30th 1851


I was itching to turn this newspaper over so I could read the classified adverts but left it on the table at Lacock Abbey. I had to wait to return home to discover the following.

As with the previous entry here the start of the front page advertised sea journeys. mainly to India and California.

Just one from person-to-person followed by a number of ‘Lost’ advertisements.

30 jan 1851