White velvet beginnings

I have started to think about that piece of snowy white velvet and what to do with it…

As there’s nothing scarier than a blank piece of beautiful and expensive material, I have decided to use my photos of snow as a starting point.  It’s a very different inspiration to the ripples and erosion I have been working with recently, but still has the same elements of layers and destruction by time. It will be good to let my mind wander into new territory.

I’m not quite sure yet what I am aiming to make.  White velvet would not be my first choice for a wall hanging, and I personally think it is a shame to put a textured textile behind glass.  I prefer to make things that are vacuum cleaner friendly. I have previously made a dyed, quilted and beaded hanging in silk velvet, and I did actually buy this piece of velvet with a view to dyeing and making something similar. I do have just enough (100cm x 110 cm) to make a quilt to enter into the Festival of Quilts, particularly if I add a border. The advantage of this is that it gives me a deadline to work to and boundaries!

So working on my principle that you need a plan to have something to deviate from, I intend to start sketching and playing with some of the images I took of snow in Norway and Sweden, with a notion that I will create a contemporary hanging of some description to enter into the Festival of Quilts. It may be that my drawings and experiments will suggest something completely different, which, of course, is the joy of making something for yourself!

Next week I am going to start drawing from my photos taken outside the hotel in Kiruna of the overlapping footprints left behind in the snow by our group as they were leaving, and the pictures of grasses emerging from the snow taken from the train and see where that starts to take my imagination!

Committing to an ending

I have had a very introspective few days completing a piece of work I started 12 -13 years ago. Although technically finished – it was a City and Guilds piece – I never felt it was complete. Any more work on it at that time would have been impossible, and shock/horror the hanging mechanism consisted of 3 drawing pins hammered through the back!

My embroidered work in general takes hours and hours and is almost a form of meditation; I switch off, immerse myself in the original source of inspiration, resolve matters in my head, think about the people I love, plan the future and generally have a thoughtful meander around.  Because of this, the plan I start off with usually goes on a bit of a detour, and never quite gets back to its original destination. This makes planning how the end piece will be and especially how to hang it a flexible affair and a complex task.

Because each piece of work is a journey, they become very hard to finish.  Each piece is an amalgamation of my thoughts, inspirations and literally hours of my life.  I usually work on them from multiple directions, so there is no definite top or bottom. They are quite abstract and I have to wait until the end to decide which way up to hang them, which is why drawing pins are a useful hanging device as I can change my mind easily!

So committing to an ending is really difficult, almost emotional and I do my best to avoid it! I love it when someone takes a piece of my work and displays it how they think it should be, taking all the responsibility off me…  

I decided to enter the Quilts and Embroidery Show at Uttoxeter as an excuse to finish this piece of work based on a film image taken when my twin niece and nephew were born.  The camera stuck and all 36 images were printed on the same photo, creating an opaque mass with what looked like a bit of twig in it. I couldn’t stop staring at it, trying to pick out images that weren’t there anymore; hence its title “Searching for Clarity”.

By entering an exhibition I limited my choice of hanging methods to two, decided which way up to hang it and completed another 10cm of kantha work border in 3 solid days of hand stitching! I am so pleased with the finished piece, and like the twins who were 13 this week, my piece has grown up!

Cherished, Lost, Broken and Found

I am very much inspired by the textures created by erosion and the destruction of time, particularly on the manmade, in the landscape and on the personal objects we leave behind us. This has resulted in work inspired by Whitby Abbey and the Great Pyramid, and by the grave goods and fabrics in the Coptic Collections at the British Museum and the Museum of Textiles in Barcelona.

Although I love these early pieces, I have felt the need to add another dimension to my work by trying to evoke feeling and memory. This came about through my final college collection, “Cherished, Lost, Broken and Found”, where I made vessels to evoke cherished memories and to enfold and repair the objects we keep to remember people and events.

This project was inspired by the landscape and ripples at Crosby Beach, and particularly by the memories and feelings evoked by the Antony Gormley statues.  Although I never visited Crosby with my Dad, the statues created a powerful emotional response of sadness, yearning and happy childhood holiday memories. He loved harbours, beaches, cliffs and piers and was always at peace when he was staring out to sea, lost in thought.  The rows of statues staring out across the horizon reminded me so much of him, and I made my first vessel to evoke these memories.

My creative goal is to develop pieces based on my own cherished memories and objects and make commissions based on other people’s recollections. My collection of 2D textile pieces creating the effect of ripples and erosion is called “Waiting for Time and Tide”. I am developing these techniques into 3D to create vessels that evoke the feelings of time passing, of holding on to fading memories, celebrating the past and looking back with joy.



Snow,rock and sky

 I have just returned from the most fantastic holiday travelling through Norway by train.  The snow covered scenery, frozen fjords, and the most amazing skies were so inspirational that it seems the right subject to finally start this blog with.

I am not used to seeing snow at such depths and over such vast landscapes, the way it envelopes everything. House roofs under two foot of snow peep out from behind vast drifts. Trees lose their definition, and small branches and grasses peep out at strange angles.

Initially the landscape appears a bleak grey and white monotone, but as we slowly travelled through, subtle variations and tones began to show themselves. Rocks with rusts and copper pink, tree bark layered with rusts and bronzes, browns and silver. The fjords and skies were a myriad of greys with hints of pink and everything had the sparkle of sunlight, water and ice.

What I particularly enjoyed were the aspects of colour created in the landscape by man! All the houses are painted red, yellow ochre, blue or green and fit into the landscape well as these traditional colours originate from the local minerals and ores found within.

The more modern colours injected an element of fun such as the bright orange snow shovels and the plastic security fencing I spotted half way up a mountain.



I have a piece of pure silk velvet that I bought many years ago, and have been loath to touch it because I didn’t want to spoil its pristine loveliness.  Seeing all this snow has made me want to work on it, so I am setting myself a challenge.  I usually steer away from using subtle colour schemes as I find them extremely difficult to work with. So I am going to use this Norway colour pallet and come out of my comfort zone by designing an embroidery that uses this piece of velvet.  It may take a while as I am in the middle of working on my “Waiting for Time and Tide” series based on ripples and erosion, but it will be nice to have a diversion.