14 Apr 2017

Natural Dye Workshop - Colour in Cloth

I have had an amazing few days in Scotland at the Colour in Cloth conference. Day one I listened to some amazing research presentations. Day two was much more practical and I got the chance to attend two workshops. One of which was natural dyes which is something I have wanted to experiment with for a while. Science has never been my strong point but it is amazing how much more interesting it is when the intended outcome is as desirable as these were. The workshop introduced me natural adjective dye-baths and methods on producing aqueous extraction of colourants and experimental tests using colour modifiers. We explored the ph balance of dye-baths and how to change them with chemical reactions from bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar, vinegar and lemon juice.   

I used the cochineal dye-bath and experimented with various different natural fabrics. It was great to see how you could manipulate the colour by changing the ph balance with products from your kitchen cupboards. I had the opinion that natural dyeing would be much better for the environment which is not necessarily the case. You use mordants in natural dyeing, which you treat the fabric with so that the dye is colourfast as many natural dyes would wash out. Some of the mordants used in natural dyes can still be quite hazardous. Less toxic mordants can be used but them you are more limited with your colour pallet. 

Natural dyeing is whole new area where much experimentation can be done. At this stage I am not sure how much time I want to invest in this area but it has definitely been good to increase my knowledge and experiment; perhaps it will be something that I revisit with a specific result I want to achieve.  

27 Mar 2017

Decluttering -objects

With much of my university work focused on objects and consumer behaviour I have spent more and more time reflecting on my own items and trying to understand my connection to them. Why do I keep certain things and throw other things away more readily? I thought it would be a good time to go to a decluttering workshop and see how my organising skills could be improved and also learn more about the habits of others. At the workshop we went through the Marie Kondo method of decluttering which is famous for decluttering by category rather than location. At the workshop I was lucky enough to win a personal decluttering service for my clothes.  

The session involved gathering all of my clothes, shoes, handbags into a pile so that I could visually experience the volume of what I had. I then went through all of my clothes one by one and asked myself  whether they 'sparked joy' and were absolutely essential. When I got to an item of clothing I wasn't quite sure about, Jane would ask me what I was unsure about and why. It was things like the length, fitting or price. The idea is that you learn from those reasons and become more conscious of your purchases and make better decisions moving forwards. It was quite an experience to understand what made things valuable to me and what made something more difficult to get rid of, whether that be nostalgia or the price I paid.  

Putting the clothes back that I decided to keep involved some folding techniques. You even fold your socks! The folding techniques encourage you to touch your clothes, almost to that you value them more. Apparently, folding also takes up less space than hanging. My wardrobe is no longer the over crowding mess that it was. Every item is now visible and easily located. Each box is categorised and located based on its frequency of use. I can honestly say that when I opened my cupboard it 'sparks joy'. 

This session has encouraged me to think about display, use of space and how this can impact our emotions positively and negatively. How the display of something in all areas can completely change how it is viewed and how much it is appreciated. I also think that the experience has been educational and will influence my future consumer behaviour - I don't want to mess up my nice neat space now do I?

6 Mar 2017

Caroline Bartlett - Behind the Wall

Caroline uses swatches and samples from the Standfast and Barracks archive and then layers, folds, stitches and manipulates to create these amazing pieces.   Reference is made to the complex processes of manufacturing printed textiles and to innovation in dye chemistry. I especially admire the reference to design processes such as repeat systems and grids and the use of handwork.

The marriage of digital print and hand stitch is emphasises the use of traditonal techniques as well as celebrate modern ones. The disruption in pattern and the creases create faults challenge the perception of what pattern is, was and will be.  

For me, creases give the feeling of something being old and emphasise the aging process. The pieces are celebrated by being put into frames and hanging on a gallery wall, valuing what we have as well as what we had.    

3 Feb 2017

Natural History Museum - Vienna

Looking around the Natural History Museum in Vienna made me appreciate natures own colour palettes. We can look to trends for the latest seasons colours but the options are endless when we look to nature for complimentary colours. I notice myself being more aware of my own environment and what colour surrounds me on weather beaten walls or a sunset.


I do not usually follow a specific colour pallette.  I use many found materials which can restrict my colour pallette to a certain degree but I like the idea of using colour pallettes inspired by nature on manmade items. We really on nature for resources and I like the idea of this being apparent in my work.   

25 Jan 2017

Daniel Greer - Embroidered Packaging

I have recently come across the work of Daniel Greer who describes himself as 'unlearning and reshaping the way we experience mass culture'. The use of product packaging is something I find really interesting. Products say so much more than what is inside the pack. It is reflective of the day and age we live, of how advertising impacts our daily lives. Packaging is also interesting to me because of nature's inability to get rid of it. 

15 Dec 2016


I loved playing with the knitting machines as it is not something that I have ever tried before but I liked the idea of being able to use natural materials that I had not really worked with before. There is something quite therapeutic about using a knitting machine. Firstly the precise nature of setting them up and then the back and forth motion. I managed to create quite a few samples and experimented with stripes and different thicknesses of fibres. Although I really enjoyed knitting, I am not sure at this stage how I would move this forward. I think I would need to invest a lot of time in the knitting room in order to be more creative and be able to manipulate the fibres accordingly. Unlike embroidery, which is much more easier for me to develop and do so from my home - which is a bonus with a young family.  

Knitting may be something that I revisit in the future but for now, I will be concentrating on developing my embroidery skills!

2 Dec 2016

Marl Powell - Old Envelopes

I'm not sure why but I just love old envelopes. It's always great to receive a letter especially ones with stamps on - because it usually isn't a bill! There is something about the way the stamps are placed by the an individual that makes them unique. The actual stamp may indicate a particular moment in time as well as the handwriting on the envelope. I like the way Mark has used the envelopes, some opened out, some closed and unused. The creases of the paper become part of the work and they sort of blend in to the older creased faces he often features. The finished/unfinished work that flows off the page, enables you to imagine the rest of the image and fill in the blanks. The biro pen is an interesting medium as it doesn't allow for corrections and every mark made remain and becomes part of the finished piece. Biro is not often a medium I use, as I like to make corrections and find it hard to live with stray lines but I do like the idea of the full process being documented. 

Image result for mark powell envelopes

26 Nov 2016

Rust Dyeing

When a rust dyeing workshop became available I was quite pleased as I had never tried this before. My intrigue stems partly from the fact that rust is a naturally occurring chemical reaction and also because it is permanent. I was really pleased with how easy this process was and also how cheap it was! After a rummage in my garage, I found a handful of rusty things and experimented with a few pieces of fabric; old curtains and shirts that were lay dormant. The results, although intriguing, I wasn't quite sure where I could make use of them or how to develop the sample further. Maybe some embroidery?

I came across the work of Alice Fox which I love. I love the progressive nature of the work, how it changes with time and constantly looks different. Alice uses found objects in her work which add to the narrative and give an element of mystery and wonder when you try and imagine what they were once part of or who's hand had touched them. I also love how she has thought and purposefully placed the objects within the fabric to encourage a certain outcome.

Alice Fox 25 Beer Bootle Tops:
Beer Bottle Tops

Alice Fox rust diaries (detail):
Safety Pin

Alice Fox 76 Hair Grips1:
Hair grips

17 Nov 2016

Wabi Sabi

Having recently taken Andrew Juniper's book out of the library 'Wabi Sabi, The Japanese Art of Impermanence'. I am wondering why I haven't come across the term wabi sabi before. 'The term wabi sabi suggests such qualities as impermanence, humility, asymmetry and imperfection. These underlying principles are diametrically opposed to those of their Western counterparts, whose values are rooted in a Hellenic worldview that values permanence, grandeur, symmetry and perfection'. (Juniper, p.2). The idea that Western values are linked to that of perfection, which is unachievable, a goal that can never truly be fulfilled and is ultimately a cycle of frustration and deflation. 

These ideas make me think of my own practice and the materials I might use and what is used in wabi sabi art. Wabi sabi art is often made from natural materials. Natural materials change with time and react to their environments and are asymmetric, imperfect and impermanent. Some materials such as glass and plastic are built to withstand the tests of time. I am wondering if we expect less of natural materials in terms in terms of aging? If I had a glass table and a wooden one and I chipped them both, I think the wooden one would still be functional as you almost expect wood to chip and you could sand it and it might not look so bad. Whereas, the glass one would be sharp and potentially dangerous and need replacing. Making wood 'the less durable material' more sustainable in a number of ways.  Could this theory regarding natural materials be applied to designed objects and artefacts to make them more sustainable? Would we be less frustrated with our objects if we knew in which way they reacted over time and if it was expected of them? Rather than throwing something away everytime it shown signs of aging. 

Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House with alabama chanin:

9 Nov 2016

Textile Society Conference - Textiles Futures

Last weekend I attended the Textile Futures Conference in London. I was really in awe of all the speakers and can honestly say that I took something away from everyone of them in some form. The link to science with all of the speakers was significant in some way. I was looking forward to hear Carole Collet speak because of my interest in sustainability and was amazed to hear she did not come from a science background but had just experimented herself in her shed. She reminded us that in nature everything has a use and there is not one thing that goes to waste. There is no extreme temperatures or lengthy processes that waste gallons of water, it happens effortlessly and perfectly. The earth takes back all the waste, it breaks it down quickly and efficiently and the cycle continues. Carole takes this concept and uses nature as her inspiration as with some other speakers, using nature as a blueprint. How can we use nature to progress?

Suzanne Lee - Grow you own clothes

Material grown from green tea, sugar, microbes and time.


Tomáš Gabzdil Libertíny - Beeswax Sculpture

Using the power of nature, an expert beekeeper and his bees, designer Tomáš Gabzdil Libertíny created a metal structured before letting the bees take over to takeover and create this masterpiece.

3 Nov 2016

Lauren DiCioccio

I love the work of Lauren DiCioccio especially the collection "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)". For me, it represents all the objects that become obsolete and abandoned over time. By recreating them and embroidering them, Lauren gives them a new dimension, she makes invaluable objects valuable as well as bringing obsolete objects back into the forefront of our mind and reminds us of their existence. I love how these ordinary objects have become so enchanting.


The loose threads are appealing for a few reason. Firstly, the fact that they let you identify what the medium is. They look so good, I can imagine that they could be misidentified from a distance. Secondly, the shift away from perfection, knots tied and embroidery looking as good from the back as it does at the front. These pieces move away from tradition and have their own perfection.

28 Oct 2016

In a drawer that doesn't often see the light of day....

There is something about old things that I just love. What makes them so appealing? The fact that you stumble upon them by chance and cross paths incidentally makes them all the more appealing. These objects happen to belong to someone that I haven't ever met but who shares my surname, my married name, that is my grandfather in law. I have listened to so many stories over the years but these objects feel like evidence of his existence. They tell a tale of his life, of the places he went, of the things he chose to keep and numerous diaries. One of which includes what he was doing the day I was born.

Evidence of the marks the hands have left on them, the wear and tear, the rust, the smell, the dust. When I look at these objects I do not think of them as being mass produced. Although they certainly weren't unique they seem to have regained value in the hierarchy of objects for their They now feel like gems, like treasure. Someone was sentimental (or lazy) enough to not discard of these objects. Unlikely to have been used for a number of years they seem to have bypassed the bin thus regaining there status. As now they aren't one of many but one of few.

19 Oct 2016

A trip to London.....

After a day in London visiting the V&A, the Natural History Museum and Liberty it is safe to say I have visual overload. I started to read the book Emotionally Durable Design on the train journey there which definitely changed the way I responded to the the information I received.

"Over 90 per cent of the resources taken out of the ground today become waste within three months: waste consisting of plastics, metals and other synthetic compounds no longer recognisable to the microbial decomposers that degrade substances back to their basic nutritional building blocks."

Today consumer behaviour has been more apparent to me than ever before. Today I became aware of the bottled water I had in my bag and the plastic cutlery I used for lunch both of which will take hundreds of years to biodegrade for not much more than five minutes use. Now, waste has always been something that really bugs me. Even when I was young I hated to throw anything away because it seemed wasteful. So I would often revamp or reuse things, but this behaviour was not driven by any environmental factors. However, in adulthood environmental factors do impact my buying decisions. I recycle, I buy organic, I regularly buy and sell used items, and I walk short distances but only when it is convenient to me. All of the aesthetic things I am usually completely absorbed in and want to take home looked very different today. Today, I didn't buy anything that wasn't edible. Today I noticed all the things that were of little use but were highly aesthetical. I noticed the things that were a gimmick and that would soon be unloved and be chucked out. I noticed endless amounts of packaging and people revelling at the thought of their new purchases.

A trip to the V&A did not help rid me of my frantic consumer thoughts. Especially when I entered the glass and ceramic sections. All this stuff could so easily have ended up in landfill but instead made it into the museum. 

Craftspeople that specialised in repair - well you don't see that anymore. It's cheaper to buy a new one! But like my dad says 'you don't get owt for nowt'. The planet appears to be paying the price.

12 Oct 2016

GNCCF Manchester

Loved visiting the Great Northern Contemporary Craft fair this year. I  haven't been for a few years now so this was my first time seeing the show in Granada Studios. Some of my favourites this year were Julia Jowett, Mandy Cleveland and Sue Bibby.

I remember Julia and her work from when we both exhibited in the graduate showcase at the Harrogate K&S show. I love the use of materials within Julia's work, the metal combined with stitch and pattern. The embroidery gives them the feeling that they have been around longer than they have whilst the metal, for me, gives them a modern twist which makes them even more enchanting.

This was the first time I have seen any of Mandy's work. I loved the use of brown envelopes and the ripped edges that were unique in each piece. I hate waste and it was so nice to see a one use item worthy of a frame. The drawings were so detailed and the envelopes added to their appeal. It was a perfect marriage of materials and technique. Simple but so effective. Mandy said she liked knowing that the envelope had already been on a journey and served its purpose before it made its way to her. This adds another element of mystery and appeal.

Sue Bibby was such a lovely lady. Being a lover of embroidery myself, there is no way I could have walked past this stand without stopping. Her inspiration from flowers, gardens and plants was especially appealing to me because I love the outdoors. The detail in her work was immense which made them feel real and life like. They brought the outside in. The work that went into these pieces, the texture and individuality of each piece was obvious and made the work more desirable.

5 Oct 2016


I started my MA @ UCLan this year. Eeeek. Really excited to get back to doing some of my own work. I have put together this visual mind map to gather my thoughts and initial areas of interest to find a starting point.

I am increasingly interested in our relationship to the objects that surround us. Whether they are special because of who gave them to us, how much they cost, who they used to belong to, their visual appeal or because of the memories they old. Do the things we own say more about us than we think? Why is it difficult to let go of certain objects. We live in a time where consumerism is so much of a problem that it impacts our environment, yet accumulation is vast. This conveyer belt of belongings is never ending and the hierarchy is constantly changing. It becomes inevitable that some of our once prized possessions get relegated to the bin. Perhaps the item made it into a photograph and this jogs your memory and reminds you that it once belonged to you. But where do we think all this does stuff goes? It certainly doesn't drop off the edge of the earth after the bin lorry has been round. In fact many items will remain on the earth for much longer than we will. 


4 Aug 2016

MA Textiles

During my last year of university I started to think more and more about doing an MA in Textiles. I took part in the Research Conference at my university which was a challenge that I enjoyed. I recognised a personal and professional development at BA level which I would like to continue at MA level. I feel that completing an MA in Textiles would help me to expand my knowledge and allow me to progress in a new and innovative direction. I feel that I would benefit greatly from a higher level of education, conceptually and personally.

I would like to continue to explore old processes in a new way and make use of facilities such as the print room, library and archives as well as taking full advantage of the feedback and guidance from staff and students.

I am intrigued by the things that I hear and read as well as the things I see. The desire for my work to be meaningful influences the things that interest and astound me which in turn influence the way I work. I am interested in social issues and the way in which they are portrayed in the media. This has meant that my work has contained narrative and has made me think about the way in which people perceive things and think about the way I draw. Drawing more figuratively and carrying out market research on people’s perceptions has been invaluable to me and this is something that I would like to do more of.

By trying to manipulate stereotypical notions and changing a viewer’s perception of an object or the order in which their mind registers what their eyes see is something I am keen to develop in the future. At MA level I would like to investigate these ideas further and look into recycling other materials/objects. Perhaps by looking at things that are not currently recycled or are not efficiently recycled and continue to use and develop skills that I already have in an innovative way.

23 Nov 2014

Studio conversion!

When I started this conversion project, I didn't realise how much work was involved! So far, a velux window has been installed to let more light into the room, the walls have been pinned retrospectively to make it safe, all the electrics have been rewired and moved around, and most recently the plumbing has been done! There will be hot water - how exciting! Next on the agenda is insulating the roof. My dad and husband will be installing this.... so it may take some time!!

14 May 2014

I'm still alive and sewing!

The last two years of my life have been a bit of a whirlwind! I have been engaged, married, bought a house and had a baby - in that order. With all of this going on, my passion, embroidery took a bit of a back seat. 

My baby Samuel was born at the beginning of this year and now he is four months old I have a few hours back to myself in the evenings. I have not yet had a full night's sleep since he was born but my body has now adjusted (as much as it ever will anyway). You realise what a precious commodity time is when you have a baby and the speed at which you can get things done increases tenfold. It is almost like a little game every day to see how much you can actually do while the baby sleeps. I have found this is far more appealing than actually sleeping myself! 

Now we have decorated the baby's bedroom and our own bedroom the next step is to get a studio space for myself. I was originally planning on using the third bedroom - the box room, as this was already kitted out like an office. Having unpacked all of my arty farty stuff in there, I was just not feeling the love for this space. I have now decided that the second half of my garage would make a much more suitable space. However, the conversion is quite a big project! I am planning on having a velux window in the roof and I need a lot of the electrics moving around and a bigger sink fitted! Obviously this all costs money and so it won't be done over night but I am aiming for September. I am starting off by clearing it out! I wonder how many naps it will take for me to get this done? I will keep you updated with the progress!

4 Dec 2011

Knitting and Stitching Shows Graduate Showcase

The last of the Knitting and Stitching Shows is now over...... boo hoo. I had a great time in London, Dublin and Harrogate and is thankful to everybody that stopped to speak to me or bought something from me whether it be something big or small. I am extremely grateful to the Embroiderers' Guild for selecting me to be part of the Graduate Showcase. It was an amazing experience! Now that the shows are over I am looking forward to starting my next project and putting all of my effort into my MA in Textiles.



Some of the brooches I was selling

26 Aug 2011

Location, location, location.....

Last week I took my lampshades out and about with me so that I could get some different shots of them. I am interested in how they can be perceived differently depending on the location that they are set in. It was really good fun taking the pictures and chatting to the passers by that couldn't help but stop for a nosey.