Saturday, 13 August 2016

Creativity on a roll

My Broughton Castle 'paper' cushion
It has been such a busy summer - not ended yet, of course - and I have been trialling many new techniques. Not always successfully! Making an illustrative cushion panel out of paper for the ‘Capability Brown’ project (exhibited at Broughton Castle amongst many others executed by skilled needlewomen) was not the most sensible idea. I wanted to hurl it into the moat! I will remove the paper panel and mount it in a frame. The background was created from four ‘dragonfly’ paper napkins, symbolic of those skimming over the waterlilies at the castle.

Have zig-zags had
their day?
Recently, have felt the urge to move on from the inevitable textile-and-paper zig-zag booklets I have been constructing for at least ten years. Exhibiting in my new studio/workroom at ‘Warwickshire Open Studios’ gave me the perfect opportunity to take stock. 

new freeform method

Between visitors - who were extremely complimentary about my display (thank you to anyone reading this who left such lovely written comments) - I and had time to experiment. A couple of new ways to use teabags pleased me and will be incorporated into new work. 

A totally new trial - flower
sketch needs attention
Using teabags is a complete thrill - the house is filled with bins of them. I love the way different brands of tea and ways of drying them affect the finished result, though I do get some strange looks when friends call and find wet bags laid out on radiators to dry.

A poor attempt: manageable with arthritic wrists and hands
Next in new experimental work was the excellent Bookbinding Course at Oxford Summer school. I will be forever grateful to tutor, Janina Maher, for her kindness, help and encouragement, for I was not at all well during the four days and would have been better staying at home in bed. I sadly also came to realise that my hands are now insufficiently strong for bookbinding. What I did complete was poor in execution and I am ashamed of it.

Very proud of this!
Fortunately, however, I had previously attended Janina’s ‘Vibrant Papers’ two days workshop in the Spring - a fascinating technique for producing papers that can be used in a number of ways. This I can manage, though I have to admit to ‘doing my own thing’ initially, though I did branch out on the second day and work on what I should have been doing! 

In progress: my 'tree of life'.

Acquiring new skills and techniques has been critical to me this year, moving me forward from the personal traumas of 2014 and 2015 which have necessitated a total lifestyle change. One-day classes tutored by Anne Kelley at The Fibreworks in Chipping Norton (only 5 miles away) have been a revelation and become a lifeline, soothing my soul. Most apposite was a day creating ‘A Tree of Life’ (work not yet completed).

If you love textiles - and the natural world - obtain a copy of this
remarkable book. (Click the link at the end of this post to buy a copy.)
This latest class, just a month ago, coincided with the publication by Batsford of Anne’s new book: ’TEXTILE NATURE’. A book to covet and drool over. Nature in so many forms, whetting your appetite for engaging nature. Those fortunate to actually experience Anne’s calm and gifted approach will already be aware of how her suggested approaches to creating new pieces in many formats are paramount, giving the student, or reader, freedom to adopt whatever approach best suits their chosen topic. 

Anne's 'Wildflower Book Box' - superb, and
different. (This took me back to 
childhood days collecting wild flowers, 
then teaching young pupils in the 
mid-60s to love natural history.)
‘Textile Nature’ provides the basis for creativity, using the natural world as a catalyst; bringing the outside into your indoor workspace. Copious examples are given, not only of Anne’s beautiful and very varied work, but also of many contributors, both professional and amateur. 

Anne's 'English Country Ducks' - a stitched textile 
that speaks so eloquently of the countryside. 
Click this link to purchase a copy. And as I have, read it cover to cover. You'll find it hard to put down.


  1. The paper cushion is beautiful and you have got me saving teabags - I am building up a collection.
    You shouldn't be ashamed of your bound book - it is a shame about your hands. Mine are the same and I have had to give up making ragrugs which I so enjoyed.
    I too have a copy of Textile Nature and find it so interesting. How wonderful to attend one of Anne Kelly's workshops - I do like your Tree of Life.

  2. I am another with problems with arthritic wrists. Anne Kelly is coming to Australia next year and I am doing her class, so exciting. I am waiting impatiently for her book. I love what you are doing.