Notes from the Studio

It’s been a busy few weeks and my teaching has been the main focus of my energy. My Heydays class is in full swing and it’s great to be back at Leeds Playhouse. I’ve also been making some new samples for classes with Workshop in Headingley.

Last week we decided to get out of the city and enjoy the autumn sunshine in Dalby Forest, it’s such a beautiful spot and has so much to see. After a quick stop in the cafe for a vegan Cornish pasty we decided to take a walk around the lake. The forest floor was covered in an array of mushrooms and other fungi, each in their own little world.

I was drawn to this beautiful purple mushroom which I haven’t been able to identify yet. The shades of pink, purple and the frilled edge made me think about ruffled fabrics decorated with beads and straight stitches.

Back in the studio, I’ve started to experiment with dyes to create a selection of fabrics I can use to create hand stitched and beaded samples.

Fabric pleating is something that I’ve never tried before, I’ve gathered fabric using heading tape, a technique I experimented with on my degree. To make pleats with a piece of calico, I marked out 5mm gaps with a marking pen and stitched them with a strong thread. once gathered the pleats were beautifully crisp.

I’ll be continuing to explore these ideas when I get some time in the studio, to see work in progress and find out more about my workshops you can follow me on social media, just click the links in the sidebar.

New Classes at Workshop

I’ve been developing some new classes with Workshop, a cafe and creative space in Headingley, Leeds. As well as selling delicious coffee and cakes, Workshop offer a range of creative classes from printmaking to macrame, there’s something for everyone.

Visible Mending

There’s still time to book on to my visible mending class on Sunday 13 October, you can book tickets here.

In this two-hour workshop, I will guide you through the basics of hand embroidery and applique which can be used to repair a garment or accessory with holes or ripped seams. Inspired by the Japanese technique of Boro, the practice of reworking and repairing textiles through piecing, patching and stitching. All materials and equipment will be provided but you will need to bring an item of clothing or an accessory that you would like to mend.

Don’t worry if you can’t make it this weekend, the workshop will be happening next year too. Join me on Thursday 27 February 6pm to 8pm to find out more about this exciting and sustainable craft.

Festive Hexie Wreath

I know it’s October but I’m going to mention the C word! With Christmas just a couple of months away, join me on Sunday 24 November for a festive hexie wreath workshop.

In this three-hour workshop, you will learn the traditional craft of English Paper Piecing to create your own unique hand stitched festive wreath. I will guide you through the basics of patchwork, using cotton fabric to create your wreath design. You can then add a touch a festive sparkle with embellishments like buttons and beads. All materials and equipment are provided.

Hand Embroidery

If you’re new to the world of craft you can join me on Sunday 1 December for a hand embroidery workshop.

In this two-hour workshop, I will guide you through some hand embroidery stitches including blanket stitch, feather stitch and stem stitch. Using these decorative stitches, you will create a unique design. This workshop is suitable for beginners and all materials and equipment are provided.

Mixed Media Embroidery

Autumn is all about mixed media embroidery, I’m teaching a class at the newly reopened Leeds Playhouse and I had a wonderful time at Grassington Embroiderers Guild helping them to create unique pieces of work.

Mixed media is something that I’ve been working with for many years, I started to combine paper and plastic into my work during my textile crafts degree, incorporating found objects into my samples. In later years, I’ve used found objects like metal to rust dye fabrics and embroidered pieces. The objects themselves have also provided inspiration for textural embroideries.

Grassington are an experienced group of stitchers, from fabric dyeing to patchwork they have a wide range of skills. The workshop on Wednesday was a chance to use different materials, combining items like washers and plastic tubing with fabric and thread. Backgrounds were created with a range of fabrics and painted Bondaweb which gives a painterly touch to any fabric.

If you are interested in a mixed media workshop for your group, I offer half day, full day and short courses that offer a range of techniques like polyfusion, hand stitching and collage. For more details you can contact me here.

 

Flock North

2019 has been a year of collaborations, from community projects to private commissions, I’ve been working alongside performers, creative businesses and artists on a variety of exciting projects.

Flock North is a collaboration with visual artist Louise Atkinson, responding to the themes of textile production and migration in Leeds. As part of our research we have visited Leeds Industrial Museum, Leeds Discovery Centre and most recently, Sunny Bank Mills.

The Mill was open as part of Heritage Open Days which gave us the opportunity to take a tour of the buildings with John, one of the owners of the business. It was great to see the disused spaces and get more information about the current redevelopment of the site. We also heard anecdotes from a local resident who had worked at the Mill as a young girl.

There are so many different textures, colours and materials to take inspiration from at Sunny Bank Mills. Disused industrial machinery sits next to sewing machine tables and ephemera from the workplace.

For regular updates about my work you can follow me on social media, just click the links in the sidebar. You can also follow Flock North on Instagram.

 

 

Notes from the Studio

After taking a break from my teaching and studio practice, I’m back to my regular routine this week. I wanted to take the time to reflect on what I’ve been making, this is such an important stage of my latest project, helping me to see how I can move forward with new work and putting the finishing touches to any work in progress.

My studio has had a bit of a reorganise, an activity that gives me clarity when I’m feeling particularly  stressed. I moved my shelves and project board around to give me a large surface area to display 3D pieces.

I have a whole weekend in Leeds which I’m really looking forward to, it’s time to get some hand stitching done and put the finishing touches to my box of shirt collars. I also want to start burning my postcards secrets to put inside the Tupperware urn I bought a few months ago.

I’ve been working a collection of pin cushions throughout 2019, something that I started making for fun after turning my hobby into a business. I’ve built up a large collection which includes some really beautiful pieces but I feel more work needs to be done before I exhibit the collection. Time to get my thinking cap on!

For regular updates about my work you can follow me on social media, just click the links in the sidebar.

Upcoming Workshops

2019 is moving so quickly and I can’t believe autumn is here already! I have a range of workshops available over the next few months working with the inspiring Leeds Libraries and the lovely Workshop.

Classes at Workshop

Conductive Thread Embroidery 26 September 11am to 1pm 

Learn the traditional craft of hand embroidery, I will guide you through the basics of hand embroidery where you will learn how to create your own geometric stitched image using a variety of embroidery stitches including back stitch, chain stitch and blanket stitch. Once you have completed your embroidered design onto calico fabric, you will learn how to create your own soft circuit using conductive thread to light up an LED in your design.

This workshop is suitable for beginners to embroidery and all materials and equipment will be provided. Click here to book your tickets through the Workshop website.

Visible Mending 13 October 11am to 1pm

Learn the traditional crafts of hand embroidery and applique. I will guide you through the basics of some hand embroidery stitches and turned edge applique which can be used to repair a garment or accessory with holes or ripped seams. Inspired by the Japanese technique of Boro, the practice of reworking and repairing textiles through piecing, patching and stitching.

All materials and equipment will be provided but you will need to bring an item of clothing or an accessory that you would like to mend. Click here to book your tickets through the Workshop website.

This class will also run as part of the After Hours Craft Club on 27 September from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, a monthly workshop event where you can learn a new craft and bring your own drinks. Click here to book your tickets through the Workshop website.

Hand Embroidered Pendant 1 December 11am to 3pm 

Learn the traditional craft of hand embroidery, I will guide you through the basics of hand embroidery  stitches including blanket stitch, feather stitch and stem stitch. Using these decorative stitches, you will create a unique design inside a mini embroidery hoop pendant.

This workshop is suitable for beginners and all materials and equipment are provided. Click here to book your tickets through the Workshop website.

Classes at Leeds Central Library

Patchwork Wreath 16 November 1pm to 4pm

Learn the traditional craft of English Paper Piecing to create your own unique hand stitched Christmas wreath. I will guide you through the basics of English patchwork, using cotton fabric to create your wreath. You can then add a touch a festive sparkle with embellishments like buttons and bells.

This workshop is suitable for beginners and all materials and equipment are provided. Click here to book your tickets through the Ticketsource website.

Notes from the studio

After taking some time away from the studio to relax and regroup, I’ve spent a couple of days in the studio this week. Last week, I experimented with different layouts for the cigarette box piece. It was great to get a better idea of how the work will look for an exhibition.

I’ve been exploring ideas for work inspired by my grandad’s dress shirt for a few months now. I’ve made replica collars and looked at how the shirt was made but nothing really stood out to me. In a bit of a panic last week, I drew the outline of the shirt onto tracing paper and started stitching the lines with vintage grey thread. I needed a hand stitching project to work on at MCR Sew Social, a group I run with my friend Louisa and this seemed like an easy piece to work on.

It’s great when a piece of work sneaks up on you, something that was throw away can become a beautiful textile object or drawing. The tracing paper transfer method wasn’t right for this image so I went back to tissue paper. It’s harder to stick down but much easier to tear away after stitching.

The lid of a jewellery box has been sitting in my studio for a couple of months now, it’s one of the boxes I started taking apart at the start of this project. The shirt embroidery is a really great fit for the piece so I started lining the lid, wrapping the fabric around cardboard sections.

I’m really happy with the box lid, especially as the work was wholly improvised! Next week I’ll be working on the collars which will sit inside the box and creating a fabric lining for the base of the box.

For regular updates about my practice you can follow me on social media, just click the links in the sidebar.

Beyond the Studio

I’ve shared my studio practice with you for the last few weeks, it’s been great having time to focus on my new pieces of work but the studio is just a small part of my working week. Here are a few of the things I get up to each week.

Project Research

I’m always looking for new ideas and inspiration and Leeds has a wealth of exhibitions and resources. I’m currently developing some new ideas with visual art Louise Atkinson and we’ve been researching textile history and migration in Leeds.

Our research led us to Leeds City Museum’s current exhibition A City & Its Welcome. The exhibition was the subject of this month’s Sociable History Club, led by the curatorial team.

‘A city and its welcome’ tells the stories and experiences of those who have made a home in Leeds over the past three centuries, and how they have helped shape the city that we recognise today. Come on a journey with us  to see the differences between their hopes and expectations and the realities of life in a new place, plus treasured objects brought from afar.

Creative Workshops

Teaching is an integral part of my business and I work with a variety of ages and abilities who want to learn a new skill. I’m excited to be working with my good friend Leigh Bowser at the Stitch Up Summer School throughout August.

We’ve been working with children aged 8+ on a series of textile based workshops and this week they created some felt food. We used felt, hand stitch and fabric pens to create fun food and I love what the children have created.

Socially Engaged Practice

Storytelling forms a huge part of my own practice, using fabric and thread to share my own life with audiences. I’ve worked on several socially engaged projects in 2019 including It’s For You with Leeds Playhouse.

Working with Flamingos Coffee House and Richmond Hill Community Centre, I’m delivering a series of creative drop-in workshops celebrating Pride and beyond. We’ve been exploring Craftivism and how we can use stitch to share our stories and send a positive message. I love working on projects like this, meeting new people and sharing my skills to help people tell their story.

For regular updates about my practice you can follow me on social media, just click the links in the sidebar.

Festival of Quilts 2019

The Festival of Quilts is Europe’s leading patchwork and quilting show and this year was my fourth visit to this event. Quilts are something I’ve tackled as part of community projects but never for my own practice. This is partly due to space restrictions in my studio and partly because I’m not good at multiples and structured pieces.

I’ve always loved seeing how people work with different patterns, fabrics and colours and the festival is a great place to get inspired. With so many galleries and stalls it can be an overwhelming experience but I found some amazing pieces that I wanted to share with you.

Karina Thompson

I was first introduced to Karina’s work at Salts Mill as part of Cloth & Memory {2} in 2013. Her use of digital embroidery and woollen fabrics was a refreshing change to other machine embroidered pieces I had seen.

My work is often a response to medical data. This might be x-rays of archaeological bones, historical clinical archives or the biometrics of my own body. I use digital embroidery to make my work; sometimes it’s combined with digital print; sometimes I use free-motion quilting.

Alongside her piece from Cloth & Memory {2}, Karina exhibited her digitally stitched quilts. Her muted colour palette and use of anatomical imagery made this show a breath of fresh air.

India Flint

India’s work uses natural materials and found textiles to create beautiful hangings. I was drawn to her muted colour palette and fabric combinations. I haven’t come across her work before and it was really inspiring to walk around her gallery.

India Flint’s work conflates the visual and written poetics of place and memory, using walking, drawing, assemblage, mending, stitch, image-making and text as a means of mapping country, recoding and recording responses to landscape – working with cloth, paper, stone, windfall leaf matter, water, minerals, bones, the discarded artefacts and hard detritus of human habitation, the local weed burden. ‘incomplete journeys’ is a collection of pieced, layered and printed textiles that might be considered maps or soft paintings, pieces of place or a series of laments for places of peace; landscapes written into cloth using leaves, water and time.

Galina Krasnikova

I was drawn to the beautiful textures of Galina’s work, they are a riot of pattern and colour. Each piece includes a myriad of techniques that compliment each other and make the eye dance around the piece.

Galina’s quilts are art quilts, and she has mastered scores of textile techniques puffs, boutis, boro, lyapachikha, chenille, pizza, origami, various kinds of applique, felting, beading, embroidery, and many more. Everything Galina does, relates to her childhood. Before she was 13, the only kind of books she read were fairy tales. She especially loved wonder stories, where there were miracles and magic transformations.

Modern Quilts

For quilts that are minimalist with clean, modern design and a strong visual impact. They often use asymmetry, improvisational piecing, a reinterpretation of traditional blocks or the lack of a visible block structure. A feeling of space is often achieved by the use of negative space. They are machine or hand quilted in a way that is sympathetic to the design.

The modern quilt gallery is a Festival of Quilts staple but I find that some of the pieces aren’t particularly modern! It is a chance to see some beautifully made quilts that showcase colour and pattern. There’s always some amazing hexagons in display in the gallery.

Red

My friends often tease me about the lack of colour in my work but red is the one bright colour that features in my pieces. I’m instinctively drawn to red and I found a few pieces that use my favourite colour beautifully.

My red gallery features pieces from Quilt Art Traces and Aina Muse.

‘Traces’ is an exhibition of new work by Quilt Art on the broad themes of memory and the power of stitch. It was inspired by the life and textile art of Mary Fogg, a founder member of the group and influential quilt artist, who died in 2016 at the age of 95.
Quilt Art was founded in Britain in 1985 to develop the quilt as an artistic medium and promote its recognition as an art form. Its 19 members are all leading practitioners who exhibit nationally and internationally.

In honour of the celebrated textile artist and professor Aina Muze (1943-2017). Aina Muze developed her work to embrace quality and excellence. She broadened out her work to explore new materials and invention. The artist was interested in the potentialities of modern technologies and the ways how they could be applied together with traditional patchwork technique.