Back to Work

The 5 days at Alexandra Palace rushed past in a whirl and I did not get to see half of what I intended. However given that I am going to Dublin and Harrogate which will hopefully be less frenzied I shall hopefully be able to post more about what I see there. I am particularly looking forward to Dublin since I have never been before. However there is no rest for the wicked and I am back at work again. In the New Year I am joining the two halves of my Common Thread work and exhibiting it all together and since the Gallery in question likes to sell off the wall on the spot I am going to need backups. More details about this later when the publicity comes out.

I have taken the opportunity to do a bit of experimentation and also to revisit something that I singularly failed with at the beginning of the year which in the previous year was very successful. This time I was sucessfulIMG_0063
This piece (still wet) is composed of mulberry tissue. When I tried this at the beginning of the year it was a singular failure and I wasted a huge amount of paper. It also has a radically different look to the paper I did last year. I cannot put a finger on why this should be so, there are so many different factors at play. I guess one has to go with the moment
I also have been experiment with some Japanese Printing paper. Again a completely different look
I like the precision this one gives me.
The last experiment is on very thick but very cheap lining paper. This has a lovely surface and gives extremely good results

Stripping the Willow

Its been a busy time,a lot is going on at present with interesting news coming in all the time. I have just been asked to make some journals for Hilliers which is very nice. I am also given to understand that there will be an extra day of the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. This set me off on a frenzy of dyeing and printing since I will still have a stand at the show ( reprising my partnership with Alison Hulme of last year) although I will be otherwise engaged as Embroiderers Guild Scholar.

The beauty of natural dyeing and printing is despite however many times you do it there are always surprises and something new to learn. This weekend I discovered the possibility of making beautiful prints with willow despite failing on many previous occasions.Image

I decided to seize the moment and had a bit of a willow fest.


I also discovered a red hazel in a friends garden


I love the navy blue from this one

Some old favourites printed particularly well also




Ornamental bramble

For those who might be concerned that I might be dawdling over my scholarship work,this is certainly not the case. I have printed a mountain of paper of various kinds,plus fabric all with material sourced from the common. I have several jars full of various dyestuffs and fabric sitting in my conservatory in the pursuit of colour ( more of this later) I have also begun to make work.




Now the weather is warm I am hoping to take my sketchbook and camera up to the common for an extended session probably without the dog since he will be into trouble as soon as I take my eyes off him.

Prints on Fabric

Along with the paper, I have been busy printing on fabric, since the first leaves of the season give quite distinct results to those gathered later on in the year. All the leaves were gathered from the Common.


The most interesting prints achieved so far are from the willow. The photo does not do it justice.




Paper Prints

I have been doing a lot of printing on paper. I am looking for new possibilities for collage on muslin. This selection is on cheap watercolour paper. I am always intrigued by the differing results gained by different papers. More results in another post








A couple of weeks ago I went to Oxford to see the Francis Bacon and Henry Moore exhibition at the Ashmolean and then to the Pitt Rivers where I hoped for some inspiration which might carry me a little away from what I have been concerned with of recent. I have never really liked Francis Bacon – I just find his work too disturbing. However the Moores were lovelyP1020279

The Pitt Rivers is the original cabinet of curiosity and it was here that I hoped to find something that might set me off on a different path the photography is inevitably not brilliant since they keep the museum atmosphrically darkP1020290

I will admit to a basket fetish and there were some fabulous examples here

I loved the palm leaf stencils

I also have a thing about string


Very drawn to the seal intestine coat – it was exquisitely made and beautifully decorated


And I loved the construction of this bag
There was a whole pile of other lovely stuff which I could have included – however in the end I became absorbed in the fossils which were stunning



Particularly the ones with pieces of leaf on them






Not quite sure where that leaves me – food for more thought!

Embroidered Leaves

I have been reminded of the work of Hillary Fayle whose exquisite work i came across earlier this year. Lots of obvious resonations for me since she is passionate about the environment.  She coats the leaves in a non toxic preservative to conserve and retain colour as well as rendering them more easy to stitch into. She then uses a mixture of traditional and ori ginal embroidery patterns to fill the spaces






In her own words; “I generally try to use renewable, sustainable and environmentally friendly materials for my art, so this was an obvious choice. I feel that the elaborate stitching reflects the intricate patterns and incredible detail found in the natural world”
Photos and more to be found at


IMG_0001As a little light relief from the stresses of last minute preparations for the Final exhibition, I decided to play around with mordanting with copper. I am always looking to find ways of dyeing with leaves that are distinct and different as I do not seek to replicate the work of others. This may be a way forward. These are the results – all on cotton sheeting.IMG_0002


Ornamental BrambleIMG_0004

Sweet Chestnut



Green at last!

P1010678 The Common is finally green at last and the trees all have their new sets of leaves. The vivid limes we have at present will gradually tone down. It is lovely to see how things change on a daily basis, particularly after such a long and protracted period of hibernationP1010683

A Bit of Printing

IMG_0852IMG_0851Had a free day with nothing much on so I decided to do some printing with a gelatin plate. All plant materials were gathered on my morning walk on the Common. I think I was in a bit of a hurry and did not make a very good plate because it began to break up quite quickly – however rather than give up I just carried on with very interesting results. The picture on the right shows the ‘negative printing which is equally interesting.

Nice Results

IMG_0831 This morning have been printing on iron mordanted linen with very young sycamore leaves. I am thrilled with the results. Every detail of each leaf is as clear as crystal, almost photographic. Amazing since they were unwrapped almost immediately from the pot. Am especially pleased since this fabric is reserved for a very special purpose, to be revealed later!IMG_0832