Leeds Discovery Centre

For the last few months I’ve been researching costume and textiles as part of a new collaborative project called Flock North. Working alongside visual artist Louise Atkinson, I’ve been exploring textile production at Leeds Industrial Museum and Sunny Bank Mills Archive.

Last week, we went on a store tour at Leeds Discovery Centre which houses 95% of the collections belonging to Leeds Museums & Galleries. Previously, I’ve only been to the Discovery Centre to deliver work so I was excited to see the store.

One of the best ways to access and see our collections is to enjoy our free store tours held every Thursday. These unique tours highlight fascinating objects and delve into the stories behind some of our most unusual items.

This unique centre helps us preserve and protect over one million intriguing objects and treasures from our dress and textile, social history, natural science, geology, archaeology and world cultures collections. From toucans to telephones, meteorites and masks, there is something for everyone to enjoy!

The store has a huge collection of costume and textile items, from social history to military uniforms, tailoring to trade union banners. The hour long tour was really interesting but we didn’t have time to get a closer look at the textile items. Our guide was really helpful and told us to contact them and make an appointment to view items with the costume and textiles curator.

I highly recommend a store tour, they are really fun and last for about an hour. They run throughout the summer at 11am on Thursdays.

Notes from the Studio

Unusually, my teaching hasn’t slowed down over summer this year. I’m working on a new project with Leeds Playhouse and teaching at a children’s summer school with Stitch Up. I’m used to much more free time in the studio between July and September so moments when I get to sit and embroider have been few and far between.

When I’m feeling uninspired or run down, I like to take time away from the studio to clear my head. Quiet time this week was a trip to the brilliant Bygone Times near Preston. I’m always inspired by the objects each stall has to offer, looking for pieces to use in my work or around the home. On this trip I was on the lookout for boxes to use in my work and I wasn’t disappointed!

I like to have a connection with any vintage pieces that I buy and I was drawn to the Tupperware, I have a large collection that I still use in the kitchen which came from my grandparents house. My grandma had a box for everything including different types of biscuits. I’ve always wanted a sewing box although I have an entire studio so this little gem was my favourite find. The clock case is really unusual compared to my other pieces and I have to admit, I have no idea what it will become!

I’ve been focusing on hand embroidery this year, working with vintage fabric and thread to create more illustrative pieces. I’m exploring work that talks about my struggle with OCD, a condition which is often portrayed in a comedic way in film and television. There are obvious triggers when exploring my struggles with intrusive thoughts so the work is challenging. I also want to make sure that the piece is about my experiences as each person with this condition experiences different things.

I’m using a vintage cotton sheet and grey thread to create the first part of the piece. It’s challenging to use a large embroidery frame where the fabric is stitched to a cotton tape before rotating the ends to tighten. I’ve been using tracing paper to stitch my design onto fabric, tearing away the paper when the design is finished. It’s tricky process but easier than using a magic pen which fades very quickly on vintage cotton.

If you would like further information about OCD you can visit the Mind website.

For regular updates about my work you can follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, just click the links in the sidebar.

Notes From the Studio

After a busy few days of teaching, it’s been great to spend some time in the studio working on some new pieces for my collection of boxes/vessels. I had underestimated how much I would struggle to create some more pieces about my childhood. Spending time with items that belonged to my grandparents was really difficult and brought my emotions to the surface.

This week I’ve been working on a new idea, inspired by a cigarette box belonging to my husband. The silver plated box was presented to Olly (a distant relative of my husband’s) in 1941 by the No. 26 (Northampton) Technical Training Group. We also have transcripts of his letters from the trenches in WW1 to his sister Bee. When I started reading the letters, there were lines that stood out and I started to highlight them.

It wasn’t until I started to create some hand embroidered text samples that I realised how much my writing didn’t suit the words. I was focusing so much on making my writing look the part (which I was failing miserably at) when the perfect solution popped into my head. Because of the family connection, my husband has written all the sentences for me in his fine handwritten style.

I’ve begun to stitch each line using tiny back stitches, transferring the letters on to fabric using the tissue paper method. An important part of my personal work is the use of vintage fabric and thread. Each line is stitched with a slate grey cotton thread onto a deconstructed bolster case.

I love working with these delicate fabrics and threads to create my work. Each piece has a story behind them which I’m not always aware of, my work is the next part of their story which I’m really proud of. Speaking of behind, the back of stitched lettering is always amazing, it looks like a mysterious language from another world.

The next stage for the pieces of embroidered fabric is to roll each piece by hand to represent a cigarette. I’m hoping to make twenty pieces to fill a replica of the box, I don’t want to loose somebody else’s family heirloom in an exhibition setting!

To find out more about my practice you can follow me on social media, just click the links in the sidebar.

 

 

 

Classes at Workshop

I’ve teamed up with the amazing Workshop in Headingley to offer a range of hand stitching classes in 2019. There are classes to suit beginners and more experienced stitchers who want to try something different.

Hand Embroidered Pendant 17 August 10am to 12pm and 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.

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.

Notes from the Studio

I’m a creature of habit, partly because of my mental health and partly because I’ve found ways of working that suit my practice and working methods. This week I’ve been looking at my previous pieces from the studio project board and discovering something I already knew, my research and sampling has links with the new pieces I want to create. If this is a formula for my practice, why do I forget this and try to start from zero each time? It will take more than a blog post to work that out so I thought I’d share what I’ve been working on instead.

Lines and maps have been a part of my work since 2013 when I collaborated with Matthew Bellwood and Alison Andrews on 365 Leeds Stories. I also have memories of travelling with my grandparents in a T reg Ford Granada L around the UK for holidays. I would sit in the back behind my grandma, looking through the pages of the atlas, tracing the route we were taking with my fingers and looking at fun place names.

I started to create a map using hand embroidery last week, focusing on the street where I grew up. All my routes are stitched in a vintage red thread purchased from Sue Ryder Vintage in Headingley. I’m not known for using bright colours so this thread really stands out. As I looked through my work from the last six months, I pulled out a pin cushion with the same map stitched onto vintage linen. The pins represent my grandparents and me, our little family living together on Low Street.

My practice has turned back towards hand embroidery this year, something which I have lost since buying my embroidery machine. I’m finding pleasure in using a needle and thread, sitting quietly in my studio with a crappy horror film or murder mystery. The embroidery machine has great qualities but it can be noisy and create a stressful working environment. The great thing about hand stitching is that it’s portable and a much more social activity. I’d forgotten how great it is to stitch with people at a crafty social, eating cake and chatting as we work.

For regular updates about my work you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Just click the links in the sidebar.

 

Notes from the Studio

After a busy six months of teaching, community projects and admin, I’m choosing to shake things up. I’ll be dedicating two days each week to my practice. Working in my studio or a local cafe, I’ll be researching, sampling and creating a series of work inside boxes, tins and cases.

This isn’t my first project working with cases, in 2017, I was commissioned by the Love Arts Festival to create a piece of work inside a suitcase. We exhibited at a pop up gallery event with First West Yorkshire. For one day, a double decker bus became an art gallery, showing the work of Yorkshire based artists inspired by journeys. My suitcase was filled with embroideries, each telling the story of my travels around the Yorkshire Coast.

The starting point for this new collection of work will be two wooden boxes that belonged to my grandma. The boxes have been stored in our loft for the past few years and I was surprised to see that they were filled with objects from my grandparents house. Aspirin bottles, jewellery boxes and wallpaper fragments greeted me as I opened up these beautiful boxes.

My work has always had a strong connection to objects and places so starting with my personal stories has allowed me to tackle some new pieces using research I have collected as part of other projects including Archive and Deconstruct/Reconstruct.

I’m a process led artist, so I love to start with fabric right away, planning and adjusting ideas and pieces as I go. My dedicated studio time allows me to work on hand embroideries that take a few hours, telling a story with each line of stitches. My first samples are centred on a jewellery box that belonged to my grandma.

The box has a very fragile paper lining which I’m planning to cover with hand embroidered fabric, starting with the lid. I’m looking to my maps of the village where I grew up, creating a stitched design inside the box. It wouldn’t be a collection of my work without a pin cushion or two. This piece is nestled inside a jewellery box from Cornwall.

For regular updates about my work you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Just click the links in the sidebar.

Conductive Thread Embroidery

Have you visited the amazing Workshop in Leeds? A cafe, haberdashery and all round creative space in Headingley. They offer a great programme of creative workshops and I’ve been working with them to offer a conductive thread embroidery class on Sunday 14 July from 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.

Conductive Thread Applique

I will be running a conductive thread applique workshop in the Drawing Room at Leeds Central Library. The class will be structured over two hours, on Saturday 6 July. During the class you will learn how to use fusible webbing to create an applique picture with cotton fabrics. Your picture will be illuminated by an LED, stitched into the piece with a soft circuit, using conductive thread and a 3V battery.

All materials and equipment will be provided along with Tea and Coffee. The class will run from 10.30am to 12.30pm. Click here to book your place through Ticketsource

Mixed Media Embroidery Course

I will be running a mixed media embroidery course in the Drawing Room at Leeds Central Library. The course will be structured over six sessions, starting on Saturday 1 June. During the course you will learn how to use techniques like applique, free-motion embroidery and collage. You will use a variety of materials like fabric, paper and found objects to create experimental textiles.

The course will show you how to research, using the beautiful using the Art Library collections as your inspiration. You will develop a series of samples and produce a journal which records the processes you have learnt and inspire your future projects.

All materials and equipment will be provided along with Tea and Coffee. The course will run over six consecutive weeks: 1 June, 8 June,  15 June, 22 June, 29 June and 6 July from 1.30pm to 4pm. Click here to book your place through Ticketsource

Coming Soon…

Conductive Thread Applique

Learn the traditional craft of applique using fusible webbing and a range of cotton fabrics. Your fabric picture will be brought to life by a stitched circuit using conductive thread. Tickets will be sold through the Drawing Room on Ticketsource.