Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Another year another quilt!

The first layer of tie dye

It's that time of year again when The Heathlands Project Textile group embark on another quilt making adventure. This will be the fourth year I've run a quilt making project with them and it's really great to see how their ideas and skills have developed over this time. I'm excited to see how this one turns out, some of the group have been involved in all the quilts so have built up quite a knowledge base whereas others are new to textiles.

Group designs for the quilt

Tie dye samples ready to be untied

Selected sample (stitched)

Selected sample (pleated)

This year the group have decided to do a whole-cloth quilt with a patchwork border and they wanted to try some different tie-dye techniques and some batik. So, over the past few weeks we have been tie-dyeing and practising our batik skills. We began by doing small individual samples which we then looked at together to decide which techniques we want to use on the quilt. We are going to do two lots of tie dye to the base cloth so that we can try a bit of colour mixing too.

Tie dye samples

Working together

Mixing the dye



Batik patches ready for the dye bath

The first tie dye colour we chose was red and the group decided to twist and pleat the main fabric, seeing everyone working on the same piece at once was quite entertaining! We also did some batik patches to go into the red dye, they've come out really well and I can't wait to do the second lot of dyeing later this week!

Tied and ready for dyeing

In the dye bath

Adding the batik patches
Dyed batik patch

Dip dyed threads

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Puppet Making Workshop

Circus Ring Master



I had a great day at Tullie House last Saturday running a puppet making workshop for Creative Futures. They have been running an animation project in five Carlisle primary schools and on Saturday they held screenings of the animations at Tullie House. I was asked to do a drop in workshop that would tie in with the project and with the Mechanical Circus exhibition. I thought that simple puppets would be good as they would be fun to animate and they could be based on characters from the exhibition.

Beautiful colours

Cutting and colouring

More colouring

I created some templates and examples and then enjoyed seeing what ideas the children came up with. They created everything from cats, to snow leopards, to kangaroo-monkeys, to button monsters to pop stars. Seeing people take my ideas and develop them into their own individual projects is one of the things I love about my work.

Fire breathing Dragon

Fluffy the super collaged cat

Sleepy Surfer

We used split pins to attach limbs so that the puppets would be pose-able and it was great seeing people playing with their finished puppets and making them interact with each other. The workshop was for the children involved in the animation project who were aged 9 and 10 but as a lot of them had younger siblings they joined in as well. With a bit of help with the cutting for the younger ones they all were able to make their own puppets.

Lovely lion

My examples

My examples

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Coats Crafts: Make it Coats Review

Granny Squares by me

The internet is a many splendoured thing, it is a treasure trove of knowledge, ideas and pictures of kittens. Through this blog and my website I sometimes get contacted about different things, some of which are related to my work and some not so much. Recently I was approached by Coats Crafts who asked if I would be interested in writing a review of their 'Make It Coats' site. It seemed like a reasonable request and as it is relevant to my area of work I felt happy to do so. I have not received anything from them and do not expect to so rest assured this review is my honest opinion and not endorsed or influenced by anyone or anything else.

Make it Coats Screenshot

The site is divided into different sections; discover, learn, share and product explorer and also has sections for different crafts (sewing and quilting, knitting, crochet and embroidery.) There are mood boards, projects and free patterns, articles and links to other sites-mainly crafty blogs. It has a nice, clean feel to the layout with lots of enticing pictures without being too cluttered.

Filter Menu

At the side of the screen is a menu which allows you to filter results to make them more relevant, for example, if you are only interested in crocheted fashion items you can activate those filters and so bypass all the other bits. This is a really useful feature if you are looking for something specific or have a specific interest and if you want to see everything the menu is easy to dismiss. There are also other ways to filter results, such as choosing to see only tutorials in the learn section.


If you're looking for a bit of inspiration then start with the discover section which has a selection of mood boards and articles and features a range of projects. In the learn section there are a range of tutorials, varying from practical techniques to finished items, and articles to help with technical issues such as irregular stitches on your sewing machine.The share section features lists of events and blog articles about different designers/artists/makers, including some high profile names such as Amy Butler and Kaffe Fassett.

An embroidered owl by me

Overall, the site is easy to navigate and has some nice projects and articles. As you would expect there are a lot of references and links to their products but the marketing is not too in your face and it is easy to filter out the bits you're not so bothered about. The free projects are nice but I haven't seen anything amazing or that you couldn't find elsewhere on the web, but this is a personal thing.

Where I think the site could be improved is in its interactivity; there are a lot of articles and projects but a user gallery in the share section, for example, would make me want to check the site a bit more often. As it is, I feel very much like I'm browsing a store and there are other places on the web I would go first for project ideas and inspiration. However, as I said at the start this is just my opinion and what I want out of a website and what other people want is likely to be quite different!

Life Drawing 27.3.14

Pen, continuous line

Pen, continuous line

Pen, continuous line

Despite having a very busy week and being a little bit shattered I really enjoyed this session, I got into my drawing quite quickly and was pleased with some of my sketches. Drawing is a very good form of relaxation for me, when I'm drawing (or knitting or crocheting) I'm not worrying; as I discussed with one of the other artists it is the best form of meditation as it allows the mind to focus on one thing and not be pulled off in all manner of odd directions.

Water-soluble graphite

Pen, continuous line

Pen, continuous line

As usual I mostly worked with pens this evening but I went back to the water soluble graphite, inspired by a conversation with another artist earlier in the week and seeing some of the amazing drawings he'd produced using this medium. It's not my best drawing but I enjoyed it and it was good to change from just working with pens.

Overlapping sketches

Pen, continuous line

3 pens together

Friday, 28 March 2014

No Borders Exhibition

Chicken Prints

Interiors Project

Last week the No Borders Art group that I and other artists have been working with had their exhibition '60 Days of No Borders' at the Prism Arts studios in Carlisle. The work looked fantastic and was beautifully presented, a number of projects that the group had undertaken were represented. I think the work really speaks for itself so I have decided not to write much about it but just to share some pictures with you.

Interiors Project

Solway Wetlands Project-Nigella the Natterjack Toad

'We're Too Fancy' Animation Project

Music and Print Project

Inside Out Library Project

Exhibition view

We're Too Fancy Animation Project