Friday, 20 October 2017

October Workshops

Most of this month so far I have been busy finishing samples for two workshops that I'm giving - one on Kantha and one on covering books.

I have finally finished the piece below which I had started a months or so ago - it was the bottom section that took sometime to do - the pattern is the eye border pattern or chok par.  However, this border pattern can also be used as a filler pattern.

Below shows a close up of the eye border pattern that is worked in running stitch - the yellow section has been worked in another border pattern, the amulet border or Ta' abiz par.

Earlier this month I gave a workshop on covering sketchbooks or note books or rescuing old or second hand hardback books.  Below shows a notebook that I covered - the  notebook was bought from a company called Shepherds - the pages were bound but there was no hard cover.  To give it a hard cover I added (glued) greyboard front and back to the outer pages.  The paper is very good quality and took the glue very well.  For the cover I used an old French linen sheet that had been dyed blue overlaid with a lovely block printed cotton fabric on top of which I have assembled some scraps of my own prints which I have held down with some old net which tears very easy giving random shapes.    

The stitching is running stitch which creates a lovely texture and I have added some stitched words using a combination of chain stitch and couching.

The final touches on the back cover are the circle (or is it the moon) which is text taken from an old book transferred onto silk organza using an acrylic matt medium and the net will be stitched into place using a discreet/invisible stitch.  A few vintage linen buttons finish off the spine. 

Monday, 18 September 2017

Brushing Up on Colour

I have been brushing up on dyeing techniques with Jo Budd - Jo is a trained artist but uses textiles and uses dyes likes paints.  I think you can learn a lot from an artists approach, especially when it comes to colour.

These are the two pieces of work I have laid out using my dyed fabrics - they are only pinned at the moment and there is still some adjustment to be made to the fabrics but in general I'm pleased with these beginnings.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Book Rescue Workshop Chelmsford

I will be giving a Book Rescue workshop in Chelmsford on Saturday 7th October so today I went to a second hand book shop to rescue some books.  I usually buy old hardback books of fiction, stories I have enjoyed or look forward to reading.  I look for something that has a ripped spine or a stained, fragile cover that can be strengthened by making a new cover to support it rather than remove it.  Some I have done in the past are below to give you an idea.


Sunday, 27 August 2017

Blue Teacup

This week I have been making progress with my latest Kantha sample getting ready for the workshop in Norfolk in October.  The part I have been working on is the teacup - still more to do to finish the whole piece and a few adjustments to make but its coming along.  The teacup is a collage of fabrics overlaid with organza held down with running stitch.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Fabric, Fields and French Knots

What a fabulous day out at the Museum of East Anglian Life today -  Carol, Lorna and ex EAST member June Carroll and myself went for a day out to see the exhibition Fabric Fields and French Knots.  This exhibition marks the 50th anniversary of the Museum of East Anglian Life. To celebrate they have teamed up with members of local Embroiderers' Guild groups in Suffolk and Essex to create new works inspired by the museum collections.

Among the artists exhibiting is our own Carol Dixon, along with such familiar names as Jan Lovell, Susan Cranwell, Malelaine Nightingale, Vendulka and Olivier Battais, Mary McIntosh to name just a few. 

The exhibits are housed in various buildings on the site as well as in the Abbot's Hall Gardens. You definitely need the little guide to find all 68 pieces and even after three hours we still did not get round it all, so make sure you allow plenty of time when you visit.  For more details go to

The photographs below show a selection of the exhibits which hopefully will give a taster and make you want to go along to have a look.

The first exhibit below is to be found in the conservatory in the main Abbot's Hall and is a joint effort.

Below is a detail from the tree above.

Gypsy Caravan by Vendulka and Olivier Battais

Country Faces by Madelaine Nightingale

Winter Hedges by Madelaine Nightingale

Winter Hedgerow by Carol Dixon

Steam Power by Jan Lovell

Footplate by Jan Lovell

Edges by Madelaine Nightingale

Allan - Suffolk Sheep Lamb by Susan Cranwell

Frieda - Suffolk Sheep by Susan Cranwell
Felted Lady

Cedric - Suffolk Sheep by Susan Cranwell

Celebration Stitch by Gay Macbeth

Monday, 14 August 2017

In a Blue Mood

Over the past few weeks I decided to start another still life kantha piece as I so enjoyed working the others I have done and also I thought it would be good to have one or two pieces partly worked as I am giving a workshop on this subject in October.  The pieces are based on the work of artist John F. Button and just seem to lend themselves to this method of stitching/collage.  One of the things that seems to tie them together is colour and in particular the colour blue.  Historically I have not worked with the colour blue very often, when I was a child I was dressed in blue - being a twin our parents made some odd assumptions about us, I suppose I was put in blue because I had blue eyes but also my parents thought that in order to identify us easily they would associate us with a colour.  The odd thing is we are not identical twins - we don't even look like sisters - I suppose it is a case of not seeing what you are really looking at.  In a way that is what I have tried to do by doing these pictures - looking at colour and what makes it work in relation to another colour and making it work.  In this way I feel more comfortable about using blue and my plan for my new landscape work is to take what I've learnt and put it into practice.

As before, I have built the layers using two base layers of muslin and a fine cotton calico and used a combination of cotton calico, scrim, habotai silk and silk organza to create the collage.

In the picture on the left I feel the intensive blue of the flower is very important.  The picture on the right shows the different patterns that can be created just using running stitch - it is all about placement of the stitch. 

The shadowing on the jug is created by placing a scrap of cotton scrim under a layer of organza to hold it down and to blend with the white muslin used for the base colour of the jug.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Sculpture Exhibition - Marks Hall Gardens Coggeshall

During the last week I have visited the sculpture exhibition at Marks Hall Gardens at least three times and I'm sure I haven't seen them all yet.  There are some wonderful pieces made from all sorts of materials and below are a few of my favourites.

I love these two - Ghost and Dream Weaver by Angela Farquharson - I think the sculptures blend in beautifully with the planting.

These two make me smile - the first one is Fork in Pollen by Mark Reed - my sister wondered if he suffers from hay fever!!  The second sculpture is a stained glass mosaic titled Florescence by Sue Smith - the peacock is one of two that strut around the grounds - I wonder whether he felt he was being outshone.

The photo on the left shows Portuguese Profiles made from Portuguese marble by Paul Vanstone - when visiting the exhibition the first time I was with my cousin's husband - I thought the heads looked very Picassoesk but John thought they were more reminiscent of Magritte.  The sculpture on the right is of Lancelot 'Capability' Brown by Laury Dizengremel - he looks like he is walking through the grounds - very appropriate and very topical as last year was his tercentenary. 

These two I thought were very textily - the one on the left is made from pleated aluminium mesh - these are by Carole Andrews - and the figure on the right looks like it has been wrapped in a loose woven gauze, in fact it is titled Wrapped, and is by Pam Foley.  There are three of these figures in the exhibition and I think these are my absolute favourites.  

This one I thought was absolutely beautiful  - The Family Group by Lilly Henry - it was set amongst wild flowers that had been planted like a maze and the sculpture was in the centre.

This is Allium Field by Paul Cox - I was surprised when I saw this as I have one of these Allium Heads in my garden - my friend Rene and I both bought one, we think, from Beth Chattos - obviously we should have bought more!! 

Oh I know how he feels - I've been sitting down too long doing this blog post and I must have a stretch.  There are over two hundred sculptures in the exhibition and I am definitely going back again.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Art in Norfolk in July

During July I went to see the Paul Nash exhibition at the Sainsbury Visual Art Centre in Norwich which is on until 20th August, 2017.  I knew Paul Nash was best known as a war artist, in particular I associated him with the First World War but he was also a war artist again during the Second World War.  

The exhibition starts with his brutal 1stWW landscapes and explains how he preferred to use symbolism to depict the devastation of war.  From these paintings the exhibition then moves into his earlier dream like works, still of landscapes, influenced by the poetry of William Blake and the pre-Raphaelites.  The exhibition also covers his work between the wars - during the 1920’s he suffered from depression and emotional shock as a results of his war experiences.  During these inter-war years he explored other art movements such as abstraction, surrealism and modernism. “He was a founding member of the British modernist group Unit One which included painters, sculptors and architects such as John Armstrong, Barbara Hepworth, Tristram Hillier, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore and Edward Wadsworth” and the exhibition includes works by some of these artists.  

Again at the start of the 2ndWW Paul Nash was appointed as a war artist and there are two large paintings in the exhibition, “Dead Sea” which depicts the vast wreckage of fighter planes at the Cowley Dump near Oxford as turbulent waves in an ocean and the second painting, which I believe is “Battle of Germany”, shows an aerial view of a town before being bombed on the lefthand side of the painting, the central section shows white spots representing parachutes coming down and then the devastation of an aerial attack on the righthand side of the painting.  The exhibition then moves to the landscape paintings that he was working on leading up to his death in 1946.

Definitely an exhibition worth going to see and made me reflect on the work I had done for the EAST “Between the Lines” exhibition - from looking at the work of artists such as Paul Nash and poets like Edmund Blunden I felt that using symbolism and landscape helped me deal with a very difficult subject.

When EAST hired the Zinc Art Centre in Ongar last year for a workshop I created this free standing, three dimensional landscape inspired by Paul Nash’s landscape, “Wood on the Downs” painted in 1929.  It’s not a finished piece but just part of a journey.  I also used his trees as a template to create this wood from layers of tracing paper - again it is not something I intend to take further.

My second visit to Norfolk in July was to Cley Next to Sea, as part of the Cley17 contemporary art exhibition, I saw this wonderful piece of work by Mike Dodd called “Stranded” constructed from tree branches and twine - I though perhaps it represented the bleached bones of a beached whale.  Again the exhibition is on till early August.