hello again

Hi Ruth and others…been single minded over summer and got no further with embroidery than planning the shadow piece and sorting out materials. Decided time to rebabalance life so hope to join in again. Hope I can figure out what to do.

Windows and shadows

This is a large (186cm x 174cm) piece inspired by photographs of the only significant building left standing after the Atom-bombing of Hiroshima.  I had been looking at the shadows left by people and objects after the bomb but found this rather to disturbing to pursue.

I spent a brilliant week at West Dean learning from our tutor Jo Budd how to dye with rust.  The fabrics used in this piece were all  dyed at this workshop.

This is a work-in-progress. I am still busy on the detailed stitching of this piece which is probably going to take a lot more time to finish particularly as I am hand stitching everything at the moment;  I may add some machine stitch later.

Old shadows

Hi folks. Sorry to say I have been ridiculously busy all summer as that’s our frantic time of year, (art holiday business). I then forgot entirely about the Shadows theme and woke up in a panic Saturday night. So I’m cheating and submitting an image of a piece of work I made a couple of years ago, but which is entirely bang on theme. The shapes were taken from photos of shadows in Inverness, and the final piece has three layers – perspex, muslin and waxed paper, each with solid, stitched  and printed motifs. The layers are fixed within a frame made of found timber, and it sits in front of my living room window – the idea being that as the sun moves round the house different motifs appear in focus. It’s about 70 cm wide by 90 cms high and 15 cm deep. Promise I’ll get back on track for next time!


When I read what our next theme was to be I was immediately reminded of this photo that I took as part of an assignment on the principles of design for my City and Guilds.
I wanted to make something more abstract so I thought about using different colours. This led me to thinking of the work of Andy Warhol and his use of colour. I experimented a bit in Photoshop Elements as I wrote about here. I also played using some different colours:

That was enough experimenting so I moved on to working in fabric. And this is the final result:

It’s 51 X 70 cm and made from my hand dyed fabric. It is mostly fused appliqué, which seemed the most sensible way to make the small colour areas, although it’s not my most favourite method of appliqué. I only machine quilted the areas that weren’t fused, because it is so stiff where it is fused.

Three Ages of Women



The theme immediately suggested the ages of man. I did my usual mind map to explore other ideas but in the end came back to my original thought. 

I researched the ages of man.  I was familiar with the Shakespearean speak from As You Like It

All the worlds a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts
His acts being seven ages…. 

I was surprised to find that the ages of man is a theme that runs through many cultures although these are mainly societal ages rather than focused on the individuals span on earth.  In his writings the Greeks poet Hesoid’s defined five ages (golden, silver, bronze, heroic, iron) and the roman poet Ovid four (golden, silver, bronze, Iron); Hindu and Vedic writings make reference to four ages termed: Satya (Golden), Treta (Silver), Dwapara (Bronze) and Kali (Iron). In Aztec culture they also have creation myths of five suns in which the present world was preceded by four other cycles of creation and destruction. 

I felt that the four metals of the ages provided an interesting palette but I wasn’t getting any ideas for images. I considered an abstract colour based piece but felt unsure about where to take that.  Its an idea to follow up some time!  I returned to the personal and started looking at how the ages of man had been portrayed in art.  I found many wonderful examples of the seven ages of men and women but also five and three (plus death). 

I’ve been doing a lot of work with silhouettes and outlines mainly using printing techniques. I also did a mosaic felting workshop with Heather Belcher last year which was great fun.  I used one of the technique learned to make a felt carpet which was one of the pieces for my diploma.  I haven’t done much felting since and was keen to find time to do some more. This influenced my decision to do a piece using cut pre-felted ‘sister-felts’. 

I decided to use silhouettes of women in the different stages of life.  Originally I started with five but found that in silhouette it was difficult to clearly distinguish different ages.  Klimt painting three ages of Women shows infancy, motherhood & old age.  Although slightly miffed by the implication it happily served my purpose! 

 I started out by making two pieced of pre-felt using two fine layers of fibres laid in a square.  I cut out the silhouettes from each pre felt and swapped the pieces around – volas two pieces of work. 


I approached completing the two pieces in different ways.  For one I stitched the cut out pieces into the background piece with thick thread, varying both thread and stitch length with each silhouette.  For the second piece I did not do any stitching before completing the work. 

3 aged of women-1 detail   

Both pieces were completed in the same way by laying two layers of fibre on the back of each piece of pre-felt and felting the work. 

I was amazed that despite using an even number of layers the pieces have both shrunk more in one direction that the other so the silhouettes are rather foreshortened.  In particular the crawling babe seems to be rather frog-like; in retrospect a standing toddler might have worked better.  I spent time working to get a nice edge but its still not as neat as I’d like it. 

I enjoyed doing this piece and would like to continue with more ideas around this theme when I find time.

Theme 3 – Shadows

The subject matter of our 3rd theme has fallen to me and I have been thinking about this long and hard.  As Carla has already said, this is not an easy decision to make.  I had thought about Identity or Water but both have been done before by other textile groups.   Instead I have chosen Shadows as our next theme and with summer on its way this is the time when shadows can be at their strongest.  Shadows can be taken to mean a reflected image, a faint representation, a region not reached by light because of an intervening object so perhaps this could be an opportunity to try some sun printing.  Here in the UK we are still waiting to see who will form our Shadow Cabinet following the election last week!!  I look forward to seeing your ideas and jumping off point as well as progress reports.  So that we can also enjoy a summer break I propose we display on Monday 30th August – the Summer Bank Holiday here in England.

Pangaea – Fault Lines #1

According to Wikipedia, Pangaea was a supercontinent which existed about 250 million years ago before the component continents were separated into the current configuration.  Geologists discovered that the geological structures of the rocks in South West Africa and South East Brazil were distinctively identical and the age of the rocks at these two areas was the same.  This distinctive rock strata shared by the two land masses suggests that these two areas were once joined together.

It was this aspect of AGE that I decided to explore and I used this image as my original design source.

With the inspiration decided – and with a desire to use what I already have – I found this piece of painted bondaweb which reminds me so much of rock strata – notice the blue “precious metals” in the rocks also.


However, this was not to be where I ended up although I will probably still develop this fabric into a finished piece.  I went on to explore fault lines in rock formations and these became the basis of my finished piece of work.  This exploration threw up many exciting ideas and I can see this become the start of a body of work entitled “Fault Lines”. 

However, returning to the theme of AGE I looked at recycling some old items of clothing  – starting with my son’s shirts (with his permission, of course).  These were dyed in a variety of yellows and blues, resulting in a variety of greens and initially used to make a quilt.  The remaining pieces were used for exploratory work for this project – and here it is …..

You will see that although we have a fault line, these rocks have not started to slip yet!  This set my mind racing – I think my next piece will use a zip as the fault line and, of course, it will be offset.


my first attempt at cross-stitch since I was about eight and we did it at school. I know this isn’t properly an Age piece, but this is all I did this month.


Sharing Nana’s dementia

Well isn’t it interesting how many of us have ended up doing something related to dementia? It’s obviously in the air. My piece was inspired from living with my Grandmother for the last years of her life and being part of the unraveling that took place in her head. It was a really difficult time for all the family. I’d wanted to make a piece about that experience for some time but to be honest I felt too angry until recently to make a start – I didn’t want the challenges of her last years to colour my entire relationship with her.

As it turned out, my friend brought me some beautiful eggs from her hens, (I’m still working around my bird theme), and using tiny pieces of shattered shells seemed to make sense. So the piece is about trying to find patterns and sense that is hidden, keeping precious memories safe, and connections. I’ve used egg shells, gold thread to the special pieces in place, wax to ‘fix’ the memories, handmade paper to reflect my Gran’s physicality. It’s difficult to photograph this piece – it is a lot more fragile in real life but you’ll just have to take my word for it!


Steinalt (as old as stone – by word translation) /as old as the hills. That’s the name of my piece and the way I’ am feeling right now. This week didn’t work out the way I planed. So I have to call in forfeit.

Even though I had the piece planed in my head, the transfer of the pictures to the fabric didn’t work as I had in mind. So I experimented with different technics and finally ended up with “Paper Lamination” as Jane Dunnewold and Leslie Morgen and Claire Benn call it. The pictures/papers got fragmented in the process as do the memories of some of my older patients (and sometimes of the not so old for many different reasons – not only dementia!).

I put in several hours of quilting so far, but there is some more time for quilting needed.

Therefore I keep on quilting this weekend, while it’s poring rain anyway. I’ ll keep you updated on my progress.

It's here, art's everywhere. It's how you use your eyes — Ken Done