May 3, 2018

I’ve been playing with a few ideas recently, both for my own work and for teaching in creativity for wellbeing classes. One of the things that I’ve been wanting to do is marbling with shaving foam. I tried it 2 nights ago using marbling inks with not very impressive results, then tried again last night with drawing ink and much more success.

The top image is of the papers (and 1 colour catcher) printed with marbling ink. I think that I used too many colours and not enough of each ink. The ink was also very waxy and greasy, which was unpleasant to use and even more unpleasant to clean up.

The lower image is the papers printed with 2 colours of drawing ink. I only had black and red ink but I think the results are pretty good. On the left is the proper marbling but the shaving foam that I scraped off had so much ink still in it that I had fun smearing it onto the paper and just seeing what happened.

If you are going to try this make sure you use shaving foam, not gel, and have plenty of clean up cloths because you do get shaving foam everywhere!


Journal Quilts 2018

March 29, 2018

After only getting as far as March last year (and half of April , if I remember rightly) I’ve decided to try doing the Quilters’ Guild Contemporary Quilt group’s journal quilts again. The idea is that you make a small quilt every month to a specified size and post it online for others to see. You can also volunteer for your work to go into a touring exhibition that visits a number of sewing shows throughout the year.

This year the required size is 7″ x 9″ and there is no specified theme. As I always seem to be giving myself a lot of work to do I have decided to use my journal quilts as sketches for larger pieces of work. I started off by doing an appliqué and free machine embroidery portrait of one of my dogs. But…after many, many hours of work it still isn’t finished! So much for a sketch!

To make sure that I didn’t drop out at the very first hurdle I quickly started a new set of sketches for a landscape piece that I felt I could create in less time. Some of them still took longer than expected because I do enjoy layering the FME, but here is my series on Rhossili Bay in Gower.

Each design uses some element of appliqué and FME as well as some piecing in 2 of them. My aim is to use these to decide which techniques I prefer and take them forward onto a larger artwork.

Maybe I can now get back to the picture of Elvie and it might be my April journal quilt.

What a busy few months!

December 22, 2017

The Autumn is always a busy time for me – the run up to Christmas with it’s re-stocking and craft fairs, as well as the teaching duties and other forms of work. It gets a little overwhelming at times but I’m now in that quiet period where the work stops but Christmas hasn’t yet started. It gives me a chance to look back at what has gone well and what has been less positive.

First the good:

For the past few months I have been working in 2 educational roles, which I have found both enjoyable and rewarding. As a Project Assistant for the Criw Celf Project I have been assisting artists in taking their work into schools to show children the range of types of art and the opportunities for using that art to create a career. As well as earning guaranteed money for work within my industry, I have found it really interesting to see different artists at work, from film makers to life drawers to sculptors. It’s great to step outside of my own world for a while and to learn something new.

I’ve also been pleased to teach art and craft sessions at a local charity for people with experience of mental ill health. I love working with these people and making sure that each workshop is gentle and chatty as well as productive.

Also going well has been the re-stocking of galleries and keeping up with my stock levels. This is the first year that I’ve felt really on top of things and have managed to adequately get everything done in time 🙂

Now the bad:

What has happened to craft fairs this year? They are everywhere, and I think unfortunately poorer for it. The attendances were down and the spending was low. Some fairs were even tacked on to other events so that potential customers had already paid a hefty price to get in and didn’t feel like putting their hands in their pockets again.

I need to have a serious think about what fairs I do next year as I just didn’t feel that they really worked for me this year.

And the…pretty:

Last week was my sewing groups Christmas meal. We had a lovely few hours in a beautiful garden centre restaurant near Brecon. At the end Ann showed off some of her recent work including some quilting that she had done on a massive scale for the other Ann in the group, who pieced this beautiful quilt.

August 29, 2017

The last few weeks have been extremely busy, in part due to 2 deadlines on the Bank Holiday weekend that has just passed. On Saturday I was due to deliver some work for a group exhibition to the Workers’ Gallery in Ynyshir, Porth. I only entered 1 newly created hanging quilt into the show but I was asked if I had anything else available that would fit the requirements. I managed to whip up a second hanging along the same theme, plus I took along a few framed embroideries that were in a similar colour and felt appropriate.

Called “Cut and Sew” each piece of work had to include textiles and/or wood or be related along that theme. I managed to do all 3 with a piece of driftwood to hang my textile art which is based around trees! I can’t wait to visit when the whole exhibition has been put up to see how other people have interpreted the theme.

The 2nd deadline was for another group exhibition, this time of work by twentyeleven, a sewing group that I am a member of who meet monthly near Brecon. Every 2 years we have an exhibition in the gorgeous Brecon Cathedral and Bank Holiday Monday was our day to organise, hang, and generally work hard to make the exhibition beautiful. We have 2 challenges that most of us took part in then our own areas for our individual work. As long as the majority of what we were doing was made from textiles then we were free to put up anything we liked.

I included a few framed collages that I made from mixed media and that include hand-stitching as well as my first Journal Quilt this year and a small quilt with a hidden seahorse in the quilting. In the group sections there is an intensively hand-stitched piece on the theme of Agincourt and my Round Robin challenge quilt.

We started to get visitors as we were finishing the hanging and it was lovely to be able to chat to people about our work.

This is a beautiful and varied exhibition that I hope will get plenty of attention from other people who love textiles and quilting. It’s only on until 8th September, though, so you don’t have long if you’d like to visit. It’s free to enter and you can also see the beautiful interior of Brecon Cathedral.

Festival Favourites

August 20, 2017

So, I’ve already admitted that I didn’t see everything but, out of what I did see, what were my favourites?

I thought that this was a really skilled rendition of the Angel of the North and the quilting really added to the piece. I love the gusts of wind and the little houses that are only created by the stitched shapes. It’s a group quilt by Berkshire Modern Quilters.

I also thought that this group quilt was a fantastic idea – it’s a plan of one of their cells by HMP Bullingdon Boys.

Next is a quilt by Olena Pugachova that I find both detailed and restful. I’ve been working in similar colours recently so that might be part of why it attracts me.

I loved the detail and atmosphere of this rainforest by Helga Mayr in the EQA gallery.

Bex Raven’s ‘Long Walk in the Woods’ appealed to me and my mind is running away with long, skinny things that I could do.

This quilt, by Lia , was attracting a lot of attention – and not just for the subject matter. In the close up image you can see the fantastic texture in the letters.

There was so much more talent on display but I don’t like to make my blog posts too long so I’ll just leave you with these beautiful images.

Festival of Quilts 2017

August 16, 2017

I’m mid-recovery after a weekend of fabulous quilts, wonderful workshops, plenty of talking, and lots of walking at my yearly pilgrimage to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham. It’s such a good show to go to if you’re interested in textiles in anyway as there is inspiration by the bucket-load and things to buy around every corner! This year I stayed for 2 nights so that I could take 2 workshops as well as do plenty of shopping and admiring. I still don’t think I got around everything, though!


The workshops I took were with Gilli Theokritoff and Dawn Cameron-Dick. On Saturday morning Gilli T showed us how to use the ‘quilt-as-you-go’ technique to make a twisted humbug bag. This was a fast and fun class in order to get the bag completed in 3 hours but it was so enjoyable and we all loved coming away with something that was actually finished. We were provided with all the materials so there was no pondering over colours and fiddling with little scraps for hours – we just got on and sewed as fast as we could! The bag is the perfect size for carrying my sewing kit, including a few bulky reels of cotton as that humbug shape gives it a lot of capacity. The end result is colourful and useful as well as teaching me some new skills along the way.


Twisted Humbug Bag Quilt As You Go


Sunday morning was a very informative workshop with Dawn Cameron-Dick where we learnt all about types of needles and thread, and how they can affect our sewing. There was a lot to talk about but Dawn is a good teacher and dropped in plenty of anecdotes to keep us laughing. After taking in as much as we could we got to try out some of the theory on a little landscape project. Dawn showed us her way of appliquéing pieces onto a background in order to create different edge effects. I came away with a small picture that I think I will quilt at home and turn into a small panel. I also have pages of notes to read over that will help me to improve my sewing and quilting skills.


Dawn Cameron-Dick workshop appliqued landscape


I’ve been very lucky with all the workshops that I’ve attended at the Festival of Quilts over the years. It’s been great to be exposed to teachers that I might not meet otherwise and I keep adding to my repertoire of skills.

I got the blues (of an indigo variety)

May 18, 2017

I’ve just spent a fantastic few days in beautiful West Wales, playing with lots of fabric and buckets of blue! The course was shibori techniques and indigo dyeing, which involved using lots of different ways of tying the fabric in order to create a resist. We used elastic bands, clamps, blocks of wood, marbles – all sorts of things that you might not associate with working with textiles.


The venue was beautiful (a working farm) and we got to make as much mess as we wanted in an old barn with swifts nesting above us. Unfortunately the weather was only like this for 1 day and it poured with rain for the rest of the time.


There was a little bit of maths and chemistry but we got to make jars of magical greeny-blue murk!


Very soon the barn was covered in glorious pieces of indigo fabric that gleamed in the sunlight.


And we created washing lines wherever we could.


We also used some plants and rust to create interesting backgrounds to our indigo dyeing. The results are now drying and I will soon be able to show you the wonders that I have made.

Crafters’ Clearout

April 3, 2017

We had another fantastic Crafters’ Clearout on Sunday. I love these events as it’s such a great community and we have a lovely time swapping things and chatting with each other – just as much as we do selling materials on to other crafters!

The weather was beautiful over the weekend so we were a bit worried how many customers we would have, but thankfully the footfall was reasonable so we all did well enough. A cloudy day tends to be the best for things like this but we can’t book the weather!

Of course, I managed to spend just as much as I made but that’s pretty usual for me! Here are some of the things that I bought:


There are some beautiful ribbons and some gorgeous scraps of leather as well as the fat quarters and felt. I haven’t got plans for everything yet but a few of the items are allocated to specific projects. I also bought some books and a few quilting magazines.

Towards the end Elvie came to give me a hand and very much enjoyed the busy atmosphere.

Dyeing Day

March 28, 2017

A sewing group that I belong to recently organised a day of fabric dyeing (something always better when done in groups). We decided to create a batch of neutrals using dilution dyeing. It’s like a production line with a series of bags or tubs into which you add all the relevant ingredients. The dye starts off very concentrated then slowly diluted as it’s added to each bag. The result is a range of greys from almost black to very pale. I chose not to agitate the bags so that the fabric ended up mottled and patterned.

As well as the egyptian cotton that I cut into equal pieces I also threw in some random pieces of cotton fabrics such as sheeting and broderie anglaise. The results look really useful, particularly for stormy skies or walls in my stitched and fabric pictures.

After we’d completed the neutral dyeing it was time to do some playing. Most people continued with the dilution dyeing using a different colour or did exchange dyeing (1 pure colour at 1 end, a 2nd pure colour at the other end and a gradation of shades in between). Of course, I didn’t stay so safe. After doing some blue pieces of fabric I went a bit wild. I splodged, dribbed and splashed multiple colours into the pots and ended up with some rather interesting results.

I have no idea what I will do with these but I certainly had fun creating them!

Banner unveiled!

March 5, 2017

The banner that I’ve been working on with a group of participants in Pontypridd Museum has been hung and unveiled this weekend.


It sits alongside some industrial banners and pieces made by local groups to celebrate specific occasions, hanging from the balcony of the ex-Welsh chapel. It’s funny how such a large piece can look so tiny when up so high!

Here’s zoomed image so that you can see a little more of the detail:


The shape of the banner is based on a miner’s lamp and all the detail is in the area that the flame would be in. These images include Pontypridd old bridge, St Catherine’s church steeple and the two rivers that combine in Pontypridd. It reflects what the group thought of when they were discussing their memories of the town.

Thankfully the banner will be displayed lower down for a while during a 2 month stint at Rhondda Heritage Park so I’ll be able to get a better photograph of it but I’m so pleased that it’s permanent place is alongside other banners that belong to the town and the museum.