Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Myths, Magic and Muddle

Another long gap between blogs, mostly due to bureaucracy - hence the word muddle in the title. We decided that we should change the base of the Workshop on the Web partnership to recognise the role that Fiona (and not forgetting Sam) play. Same business - just a new name added. It involved the restructuring of practically every aspect of the business, including re-applying and being approved all over again for everything from the bank account to the taking of credit cards. It all went through OK,  but they took a mighty long time to do it. It must be even harder for people with brand new businesses - at least we had a good track record. I shall spare you the unrelated saga about changing to a shopping cart system on our web page in order to offer kits. Thanks to the amazing Fiona Dix who hosts our site, we can now offer kits through WoW - our first accompanied my article on silk carrier rods (backed by metal shim). 

However, I think we have made it through the dense thickets of corporate clumsiness and it may even have been responsible for a whole new design theme I am exploring. In the middle of it all I had no time for stitch so I went back to drawing. 

While doodling, I drew a landscape with high cliffs, guarded by a barrier. Mysterious. Then I found, by chance, the Facebook page of Symphony of Shadows Masks - some great work there. She recommended a book, 'Mythago Wood' by Robert Holdfast and, guess what, it is all about a mysterious wood with barriers and cliffs. It is deeper than that on so many levels, working on the premise that we create our own mythical figures and settings based on old, folk memories. A tough but gripping read.

So I have started a design book, based on that book and plan a series of stitched textiles when I have finished working through the ideas I'm exploring in drawing and paint.

This page (right) represents the myth of the Green Man - a leafy creature that I am longing to stitch. If I thought about him within the confines of Mythago wood, he would become real and probably quite threatening - he looks a bit cross. The whole thing coincides rather wonderfully with some work I started in the 'Cut, Shape, Stitch' book - I invented a race of warriors and lion-like beings and they are very at home in this land of myth and magic.

I found a wonderful Pebeo paint called Prisme which gives the mottled, metallic effect in the warrior below, left.

You can also see the work in progress on some of the other pages. Many are coloured by laying stencils (some commercial, some of my own) on wet paper. Weights are placed on parts of the stencil to change the take-up of the paint. Val CH and I used to call them pressure stencils.

Blogger is refusing to let me place any of the pics where I want them - but you get the idea. 

I also tried some of the Spectrum Noir alcohol markers that Sam Packer reviewed in the last issue of WoW. They come with a fine point at one end and a chisel shape at the other - great for mark-making. You can see it on the warrior's face and the landscape below him.

I used the Brother Scan n Cut to cut out a tree and, in the pic below am filling the shapes with Prisme.

This is one of the characters from the book - she enters the wood to search for her brother. I might use her for an icon-type textile - she is very suitable.

Well, that is all for now - my mythical wood calls me but I hope to be back soon.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Later, that same year...

Well I think this is a record for the longest time between blogs. It has been a stupidly busy time. My Exhibition, '30 Tones of Grey', at the Craft4Crafters Show at Exeter in January went very well. Fiona, Sam and I had a lovely time and we received lots of lovely comments, met up with multiple WoWies (always a pleasure) and enjoyed the show, especially the West Country embroidery exhibition '30 Tones of Grey' will be shown again at Art Van Go studios in March 2016.

Since then, life has been a mad scramble getting the March issue of WoW out and setting up our members-only Facebook page - more on that later. 

I did have time to get to my stitching group Beyond Stitch (yes, we are usually so far beyond stitch that we don't get any done) where Jane Wild called us to order and gave us a great workshop on these little books. Lots of bonding, gilding and zapping and with a particularly interesting stitched spine. 

I haven't quite finished the pages of mine so will show you when I have completed it.

We did find time to play truant and see the snowdrops at Kingston Lacy - our nearest National Trust house. I am so enjoying the long walks that my new knee now allows. Almost worth having the gammy leg in the first place.

My granddaughters have really caught the crochet bug and they are now far better at it than me. Such a lovely way to keep up with them as we have regular crochet and knit mornings. We are trying to teach their mothers to knit and that is coming along quite well. In fact, Fiona has shown great innovation and I will never view a scarf in quite the same way again!

Sophie and I had a craft session on Saturday and experimented with a substance called polymorph. Kate Crossley introduced us to it in a brilliant WoW article and I am in the middle of making a video about it for the WoW members page (yes, yes, - a shameless plug). Sophie and I made goth stuff, using black Fimo and working with skulls and such-like moulds. I do seem to have had fun. I'm quite pleased with this pic as I usually look miserable in photos.

I made a shell and attached it to one of my small triangle books. Really pleased with the results.

Jill Taylor made a lovely book from my mini workshop - see below left. The one on the right is a work in progress and I plan to couch threads and stitch beads on somewhere.

Do visit the WoW Facebook page and, if you are a member, ask Fiona to enrol you on the members-only section. There will be  a members-only blog very soon for those who don't care for Facebook. It's all rather exciting.

Monday, 12 January 2015

A Tribute to Jane Lemon

Jane Lemon died last week and, in many ways, this feels like the end of an era. I am proud to have had Jane Lemon as a friend and colleague and am very sad at this great loss. 

Her contribution, not only to ecclesiastic embroidery but also in the secular field, has been huge. Her books on constructions such as boxes were immensely popular – not many people know that Jane once made a box for the Queen. 

The one below, which she called The Drip, not only shows her talent but also her sense of humour. She gave me an image to use in my ‘Putting on the Glitz’ talk and it always raises a laugh.

She led the Sarum Group of Embroiderers through the making of well over a hundred pieces of work, from alms bags to very high profile altar frontals.  St George’s Chapel, Windsor was one of their high profile clients.

My favourites will always be the Salisbury Cathedral frontals. The Festal frontal - see right - with its message of water flowing, like blessings, from the cross to the believer. 

Also the Energy Frontal, below, with colours that picked up the great Prisoners of Conscience window above it. 

She loved to talk about her days as wardrobe mistress for the Saddlers Wells Theatre Ballet Company and as a costume designer for television. This form of design gave her the ‘eye’ to work on the scale and tone which produced such outstanding designs for the altar frontals.

Upon her marriage in 1962, Jane resigned from the BBC and became involved in the Women’s Institute. Needless to say she soon began giving talks and leading workshops.  This brought her to the Embroiderers’ Guild, where she served on the Executive Committee for many years.

She was invited to join the Practical Study Group, (now the Textile Study Group). She became well-known for her books on embroidered boxes and metal thread embroidery. A lecture tour of Australia and New Zealand confirmed her front-line status.

In 1977, Jane met with Dr Sydney Evans who was looking for designers for Salisbury Cathedral and the die was cast. The Sarum Group, led by Jane, was formed in 1978 and the commissions kept coming. They included work for churches and cathedrals not only throughout the UK, but also in America. Their work is held by the cathedrals of St Albans (shown below), Exeter, Salisbury and Wells, plus Bath and Sherborne Abbeys. 

This talented group worked very well together and became close friends. Jane produced the designs and decided on the interpretation but members all provided their own special skills and these were much valued by Jane.

The frontal shown below, with detail on the right, was made for a church in Houghton, in memory of Mollie Collins - a Sarum Group member.


Jane had a strong faith and a vivid imagination but she also had a great sense of humour. She liked to make the work relevant to the church family and always made a point of reading the church notice-board before she began designing.

Jane and I had a wonderful time on Val Campbell-Harding’s Historical Heirlooms City and Gulids course at Urchfont Manor in 2006. I think we were the worst students ever and caused as much havoc as we could. However, we both admitted that we learned an awful lot.

Jane was the President of West Country Embroiderers for many years and took an active part in running this lively group. The fact that she talked me into taking over this role two years ago is testament to her gift of persuasion, although I admit that I enjoy the group and their fellowship just as much as she said I would. 

In 2011 Jane produced a series of panels for Amnesty International.  The theme was Prisoners of Conscience and celebrates the 50th anniversary of Amnesty. The series was displayed at Salisbury Cathedral and I reviewed this for Workshop on the Web. 

You can see the review by clicking the link below. 

For the last few years, I have caught up with Jane at a group that meets at the Kingcombe Centre in deepest Dorset. She has been a wonderful asset to this group (as she was to the other groups that she attended) and was always ready with ideas and suggestions. She was also inclined to give a prod if she thought you were slacking and neglecting your work!

Clive and I often went out for a pub lunch with Jane and were due to do so later this month - so sad to think that will not happen now. We shall all miss Jane immensely but I think it is safe to say that she was a tour de force who will not easily be forgotten.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas Greetings

Another year over - and the deeper in debt phrase that follows on from that will certainly apply once the credit card bill for Christmas arrives! Only one present left to buy and most of the food is in so it could be worse. Feeling quite festive, I thought I'd find these two images of Karen Woods' Madonna and Child - now in the Guild Collection. Amazing use of the third dimension and great stitching. I had Karen's permission to use them in a talk so I'm sure she won't mind me giving them an airing.

You have probably heard about the ridiculous VAT fiasco whereby anyone who sells online services has to register for VAT payable to European Union countries, even if they are way below the threshold here. Lots of people have stopped selling - not just textile folks but anyone who sells yoga classes, self-help or beauty stuff. You have to be able to establish three different sources to show where your sales are coming from and many people are unable to do this. Luckily Workshop on the Web can do this but it is still a lot of work. If you come across any of the many petitions against this, please do sign.

But enough of the VAT mess. Positive thinking is needed and, speaking of Workshop on the Web, we are planning to liven it up no end in the New Year with video content and a return of the kits that were a popular feature some time ago. I'd also like us to have a closed Facebook page for WoW members only - I know some people don't like FB but it is hard to see how to do it any other way. Let me know what you think. Oh, and we have an amazing Hilary Beattie article in March which looks as though it is going to be about twenty pages long - always a generous girl, our Hilary.

I'm not going to be too sorry when Christmas is over as I can begin to get ready for my retrospective exhibition. 30 Tones of Grey. This will be part of the Craft4Crafters show in Exeter - January 29th to 31st. More details of the show here: www.craft4crafters.co.uk 

The pic on the right is from my icon series and was the beginning of an exploration of metal.

Can't wait to get all my work out and I am aiming to have visiting artists to celebrate Workshop on the Web and d4daisy books. I think I might even show some of Val Campbell-Harding's work and also a piece by Julia Caprara - both much loved and missed artists.

At the show we shall have the impressive might of West Country Embroiderers on one side and the wonderful Adele Thomas on the other. We shall be doing loads of demos and hopefully passing samples between WCE and Adele for further decoration and stitching. 

Finally I would like to thank everyone who took part in our book auction for the Teenage Cancer Trust. We raised over £1400 and I am just about to send a cheque to the Trust to continue their wonderful work. Thank you all.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Charity Book Sale

The auction has now finished and we raised in excess of £1337.00. The remaining books will be sold at the Craft4Crafters show in Exeter. Thank you to everyone who bought the books and helped us to support The Teenage Cancer Trust.

I’m sure you will all have heard about our sale of hand-made books and sketch-books, hoping to raise money for The Teenage Cancer Trust – such a worthwhile cause.

Here are the ‘Buy Now’ books. You can secure the book of your choice straightaway by paying the suggested price, or you can make a bid and risk losing it. Bidding ends on Tuesday 9th at 12 noon GMT.  We do hope to raise a useful amount for the Teenage Cancer Trust, so please support us. Any questions to maggie@workshopontheweb.com

Email Maggie or leave a comment to buy or bid. Payment options are shown at the end of this blog post.

There are further books, including a sketch-book by Val Campbell-Harding, in the auction on the Workshop on the Web Facebook page. 
Remember that both auction and sale end at 12 noon GMT on Tuesday 9th December.

Stop Press: Two New Books

Book 22 - Elizabeth Saunders
A Lovely late entrant from this admired WoW tutor. This is a concertina book on the theme of travel, journeys and memories. Lovely little snippets of stitch, too.

3 x 3 in

Purchased at £20. Thank you, L.

Book 23 - Emma Siedle-Collins
A delicious book with a colourful stitched and embellished cover. Lots of colour inside, too, as you can see.

6 x 4 in

BUY NOW for £30.00 or make an offer by leaving a comment or emailing maggie@workshopontheweb.com

Current highest offer £

Book 3 - Cas Holmes 
This colourful book, by a much admired maker, takes as its theme the ecology of our world and our part in protecting it.

Dimensions: 4½ x 3½ in

Purchased at full price. Thank you, F.

Book 6 Paula Watkins
This is a work of art from Paula – another popular tutor and writer. This book is a tiny
piece of heaven. Small, but perfectly formed, with some lovely pages of drawings.

Title: A Little Sketchbook
Dimensions: 3 x 3½ in

Purchased at full price. Thank you, Pat.



Book 8 Zoe Ainsworth Grigg
This book takes shoes as its theme and includes some interesting design ideas and some lovely stitched samples.

Title: Shoes
Dimensions: 6 x 6½ in

Purchased at full price. Thank you, J.

Book 10 Maggie Grey
A fabric book with stitched shapes applied to a zapped and distressed background. The spine is formed from zapped pipe-cleaners. The interior of the book shows lots of pages of small icons on a metal ground. Some of the pages remain blank to make room for your own saints.

Title: For all the Saints
Dimensions: 5 x 3½ in

Purchased at full price. Thank you, J.

Book 11 Sue Gilchrist
A true sketch book with lots of room remaining for your own designs. The cover is beautifully stitched and embellished with particular attention paid to the decorative elements.

Title: The Purple Pink Button Book
Dimensions 6 x 4 in

Purchased at full price. Thank you, S.

Book 13 Sam Packer
Unbound book with a Decovil and fabric stencilled cover decorated with gold strands of
Flash. It has decorative, textured pages. The wrapped pipe-cleaner tie keeps it all up
together. Add more of your own pages.

Title: It’s a Wrap 
Dimensions 5½ x 4 in

BUY NOW for £30.00 or make an offer by leaving a comment or emailing maggie@workshopontheweb.com

Current highest offer £

Book 16 Paula Watkins
Another book by Paula on a fishy theme, this wonderfully shaped book has a folded fish
cover that encases painted and textured paper ready for you to decorate. 

Title: Folded Fish 
Dimensions 5½ x 6¼ in

BUY NOW for £40.00 or make an offer by leaving a comment or emailing maggie@workshopontheweb.com

Current highest offer £

Book 17: Origami travelmemory book Beverley Wood
A beautifully constructed origami book with pockets for keep-sakes, notes or photos. What a
lovely Christmas present this would make.

Dimensions  6 x 6 in

Purchased at full price. Thank you, PD.

Book 18: Origami butterflymemory book Beverley Wood
A beautifully constructed origami book with pockets for keep-sakes, notes or photos.

Dimensions  6 x 6 in

Purchased at full price. Thank you, PD. Sorry Aussie Jo.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Payment can be made by cheque if you are in the UK (our preferred method) or credit card over the phone. In all cases contact Maggie first,  by email maggie@workshopontheweb.com.

Friday, 24 October 2014

30 Tones of Grey

A great excitement - I have been offered a wonderfully large exhibition space at the Craft4Crafters show at the Westpoint Arena, Exeter, 29th to 31st January. 

Shapes of Grey (thanks to Deb Jackson for the title) will be a retrospective, covering thirty years of stitching. I have managed to find some of my City and Guilds work (omg, am I really brave enough to show it?). 

The pics right and below show work from the last ten years - they all came out of the box marked 3D. Perhaps it should be called Fifty Shapes of Grey.

The little bag on the right is heavily stitched gold thread on net. At this stage I was fascinated by the movement that dense stitching could create - the vessel below has outer 'leaves' of machine stitched felt. Buttonhole stitching around the edge makes the leaves curl.

I still like this mask (below) made from heat-manipulated Softsculpt. Lots of metallic wax and Pearlex powders used here. Plus a beaded fringe - influenced by Val Campbell-Harding, I think.

I am really looking forward to digging out my bigger pieces - a trip for Clive here, as the loft may be involved.

Together with Sam Packer and Fiona Edwards, I will be doing lots of demos and promoting Workshop on the Web, of course. We are right next to the West Country Embroiderers stand (I am very honoured to be their president) and they give wonderful demos. Hopefully we can co-ordinate our fabric decoration and stitch so we can pass samples back and forth. 

I think, if I have room, I might bring the Brother Scan N Cut. I have a project that will probably still be on the go in January - more on that later.

Yesterday my friend Jane Wild came round to play with the cutter. I wondered how she would use it as her art is very much centred on the figure. Here she is preparing her design - a wonderfully abstract lady .

Here is the first cut - and the sketch that produced it.

It turned out to be wonderfully Picasso-ish as the scanner omitted an eye and lost one of her boobs. We like her that way.

Jane left my house with a book to review - thus proving that there is no such thing as a free lunch. We had great fun and vowed to do it again, soon.

The fantastic sketchbook below is from Paula Watkins and is a response to Workshop on the Web's support of the Teenage Cancer Trust. We are asking for sketchbooks or hand-made books to be donated so we can sell them online in aid of the Charity. We have some great ones already, from artists such as Cas Holmes and Anne Kelly. Details on www.workshopontheweb.com. More on this blog, too.

Finally, if you purchased my latest book 'Cut, Shape, Stitch', you will find another free online class at www.d4daisy.com. Based on trees, as you can see below.

 Many thanks for all your good wishes to my new knee. It is doing well ans sends its love. All signed off from hospital and physio and I am able to go for wonderful walks. Still doing the exercises!