Saturday 29 December 2012

Mamma's Got a Brand New Blog

Here it is - I hope it all works!  Please let me know if it doesn't. You will find lots of information such as my CV, a gallery of work - which already needs updating, details of d4daisy books and Workshop on the Web which includes a free workshop on making metal flowers. This is for those who aren't members of WoW (why aren't you members?) .

Then there is a page containing two free workshops - one on oiled paper and a download on using Shrinking Plastic. Next week I will expand this into making the Shrinking Plastic books.


I am giving out sheets of Shrinking Plastic so leave acomment if you would like to be included.

Let me know what you think of the new look - I have to make a new header but it is lunchtime and I am hungry!

Friday 28 December 2012

Comment on Comments

I am so sorry.  I switched my comments to allow moderation because there was so much spam and then forgot to look for them. I was feeling neglected and then - wow- there you all are!  Lovely to read them all and thank you all for the kind wishes.

I hope I can find them again tomorrow when, I hope, the new blog will be launched. I'm experimenting with new looks - quite like this one. What do you think? I must have a new header, this is the original one.

Did you all have a lovely Christmas? Ours was quieter than expected as daughter Claire and her brood were either ill, contagious or pending. Thankfully they are all better now and we are having Christmas with them tomorrow. We did have a good time at other daughter Fiona’s, although Phil was on a cocktail kick and they were lethal. I was enticed by something called a woo-woo (tasted like lemonade) but I became over woo-wood and had to lie down in a darkened room when we got home!

Smudge had a new catnip mouse - you can see it dangling from his mouth in the pic, above. I think i will entitle it 'Manic Cat'. The photo is a bit blurred as he was moving very fast.

Hope to see you tomorrow.

Friday 21 December 2012

Happy Christmas Everyone

Isn't it hard to get anything done at this time of year? I seem to be going backwards - just when I think I've finished I remember something else to do. I have had a good day today but only due to the sad fact that my lunch date with the crones was cancelled, due to two crones being poorly. Hope they are better soon. We meet to celebrate the solstice and I was planning a huge pudding in case the end of the world was late.

This is one of my solstice cards - based on the oiled paper technique that I will show on my next blog. For now it is my Magstitch Christmas card.

So I am wishing you all a very Happy Christmas. It has been lovely chatting to everyone and I hope you will come and find my new look blog after Christmas (and hopefully before New Year).

Monday 17 December 2012

Christmas, Throats and Oiled Paper

This Christmas stuff takes up a lot of time, doesn't it?  I have made my presents more personalised this year - can't tell any more in case the recipients are reading this blog - I will show you after Chrimbo. I think it has cost me twice as much money ( I kept seeing 'just the right thing' after I thought I had finished) but it has been huge fun.

I have also been playing with oiled paper, a technique that I propose to show you in a step-by-step in the new blog, which launches just after Christmas - in case you are bored in the gap between Christmas and New Year. The piece below is an oiled paper version of a photo of a stand of birches, near our house. I took the tablet thingy for a walk and got good results from playing with Phototouch.

Here is a close up - I love the texture that this method produces. I will also include the little shrinky books on the blog so there will be lots to see. We will have a give-away, too.

I fear I have yet another throaty cough thing. I am so cross as this week there is lots of singing going on with the Local Vocals group. Yesterday we went to Stourhead, a lovely National Trust house and sang three sets. We had a captive audience in the resataurant. At one point the heavens opened and we broke into an impromptu version of Singing in the Rain.  I had an exciting moment when my throat pastille shot out in the middle of a particularly enthusiastic chorus of Fa-la-las! I quietly picked it off the coat of the person in front (luckily it was an old waterproof so didn't leave a mark). I had difficulty controlling the giggles, though.

In the meantime it is back to the Lemsip, which has to taken from a Beatrix Potter mug. It's a comfort thing. Off now to get some Manuka honey from the health food shop.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Working Up to a New Blog

What an amazing sunrise this morning, very cold but a wonderful sight, sorry about the clothes line, but I wasn't going out in my pjs to take it down.

I am busy (in between Christmas stuff) building a new blog, with a lot of help from Clive. It will have a gallery of work (I hope) and lots of tutorials and suchlike. Taking me much longer to do than expected.

What with that, Christmas and singing with Local Vocals, it's all go here.

I have made the usual cards for anyone who gives a gift subscription to Workshop on the Web. These have kept me busy, too. The cards go to the giver as a thank you from us.

This year I have attached tiny books made from Shrinkit and embossing powder. When the new blog happens I'll write up the technique as a tutorial.

I love these oil slick colours and they sit well on the stamped, torn paper backing.

For those who don't do Facebook, I am adding the latest pic of Mr Smudge (as Wabbit calls him). He is watching the birds, disguised as Buddha. Don't think it has worked, Smudge.

Keep a look out for the new blog - did I mention that there will be give-aways?

Friday 30 November 2012

It's all Happening Here

It looks like being an exciting weekend. I am waiting for a book delivery - Lynda Monk's new book,  Exploring Creative Surfaces, which I hope may be here this evening. It is such a great book and she is doing amazing things with such ordinary things as scrim and Tyvek, as you can see here.

I also love her easy screenprinting tips which result in wonderfully colourful surfaces like this one.

Taken to the other extreme she describes techniques for cut-outs that can be fragile and lacy or made to resemble metallic surfaces. Below is a shrine made using the metallic look, with a detail under it.

There is still time to go to and put your name on the let me know list. No obligation and you might win one of Lynda's special packs of 'stuff'.

We will also be giving away some of these packs with the first Exploring Creative Surfaces books that we send out. They will enable you to get on and try Lynda's great ideas straight away.

It is also Workshop on the Web time again, as if you didn't know, and it's an exciting edition.

The great thing about WoW is that we can give such detailed step by steps for techniqes and we have a real expert on printing (Laura Boswell), a lovely Bondaweb idea from Jessica Richardson, shown right, articles on using embossing powder, mixed media books and much more.

 The pic below is by Carol Wiebe, and looks at stitching digital printouts.

Tomorrow is the official start of Christmas in the Grey household as we are off to the Stanpit party, always the first Saturday in December. This is where we all took our City and Guilds exams in the long ago, dark ages. There has been a party ever since and usually my group organises it but we have handed on the baton to another group. The new group's first action was to ask me to do the talk, so I am delighted to still be involved. They can't get rid of me that easily! The subject is Faces and Places. I rely on Jane Wild for many of the Faces - I love this painting of hers - it reminds me of the Gaudi chimney pots in Barcelona.

And, while we are on the subject of drawing this is one of mine, called One Tree Hill.

As soon as this weekend is over I must get on with Christmas but I am also hoping to revamp my blog - so watch this space!

Sorry about these two pics - they were not invited and they won't go away - a bit like the telephone cold callers we are currnetly plagued with.

Friday 23 November 2012

Lovely work

Just had to show you this lovely piece by Gillian Boyle. She made it from techniques in my Dissolvable Delights book and the free lessons that went with it. I don't know if this shows samples laid over each other, Gilian. If it isn't, I think you should stitch it together straightaway as it is a super shape. Gillian's 2013 project is to create a panel for each season of the year. Hope she shows us the other ones as they come along.

I received the printer proofs for Lynda Monk's new book, Exploring Creative Surfaces,  yesterday and he is promising it for early December so have a quick look on and put your name down if you'd like us to tell us when it is here and have the chance of winning a giveaway. There will be free online classes from Lynda in the new year and I can promise that they will be wonderful.

Today Clive and I are going to John Lewis to buy a new laptop. The one we use for talks has served us well but is getting a bit creaky. I hate new computers - all that hassle transferring everything. We are going to John Lewis because they seem least likely to fold in the current downturn (also because they do good lunches.)

We are working on a new look for the blog, so watch this space.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Having a Kent Day

We've just had a lovely couple of days in Whitstable, Kent. I couldn't find an exhibition I fancied reviewing for December’s Workshop on the Web and then realised that Prism had a follow-on there from their Mall Gallery show. Are we mad, going all the way from Dorset to Kent to review an exhibition? Well we probably are, but we needed a break and were tempted by the idea of what we call a ‘Kent Day’.

These special days started when I used to teach a group up that way as a mentoring exercise – two or three times a year. They were a lovely gang and produced great work. I had to go up the day before and Clive often came with me so we would have a fun day. It went something like this:

1. Take packed lunch. Eat it at bird-watching lake at Oare (with binoculars). Good birding there.
2.   Then drive to Ashford for retail therapy at the outlet shopping centre. Good excuse for a little spend.
3.    Have coffee and cake to hold off hunger pangs.
4.    To the cinema complex for a snooze or a film – sometimes both.
5.    Back to hotel for a char-grilled steak.

We followed this time honoured pattern on Friday and it was lovely. Saw the latest James Bond and purchased some Chrissie pressies. Good meal and, joy of joys, Clive has discovered gin and tonic. Since he became diabetic he can’t drink wine for some reason and it’s miserable not being able to share. Someone suggested G & T and it was good. Not that we booze a lot, but the odd glass now and then is a lovely treat.

Reviewed the exhibition next day. Just to whet your appetite here is a general pic of the gallery. Small but intimate and the hanging was well considered.

I love this piece by Lisa Earley Seen but not Heard. Here’s a detail. Her layers all work together beautifully.

Another piece I liked was Moonlight on Water by Sheila Cahn. Such a lovely rippled effect.

You will find more about this exhibition in Workshop on the Web in December. The reviews are on the unrestricted area so everyone can see them. It is on until January in the Whitstable Museum and Art Gallery.

When we came home on Sunday, it was to an urgent need to finish Lynda Monk’s new book, due at the printers and freshly back from the copy editor. We made it and, although I hate working on Sundays, it was worth it to start the week so well. It is a lovely book and it Should be available in early December.

Monday 12 November 2012

More Work on the Diary

Thanks for the encouraging comments. I've been working on the images I showed you and the 'Still Life of a Cold' piece is almost done. The borders are rather large so I will adjust before applying them.

The little Lemsip packets also need finishing off - one needs his orange flash stitched.
They were made from the crumpled and oiled paper which was torn and placed on felt before stitching.

The felt around the edges was finished with a soldering iron which gives a firm edge. I prefer black felt as it adds definition to edges and makes them stand out more.

The second diary day was the photo of the woods, with some gorse, that I messed about with on my Galaxy tab. Quite excited about this as I printed on some calico with kozo fibre stuck on top. See right.

This was coated with inkAID and the resulting print was great. It can be difficult to get through the printer so I don't advise trying this at home.

It gave a most amazing texture, especially for the trees. Not sure if you can see it in the pic below.

I think it is much too stiff to stitch but I might be able to soften it if I manipulate it. It needs a bit of wiggling - technical term, that.

Other experiments were also encouraging. I transferred the piece below by ironing Fusible Webbing to felt and applying a print. Then rubbed the water away from the back until the print was revealed.

Finally I printed it out on silk, tore it into strips and will add masses of straight stitch to it, using my Mulberry silks. A good project for a winter's evening.

But not tonight, as I am going singing. Our Local Vocals choir is practising Christmas songs so it will be jolly. Apart from that one weird tune that I can't get the hang of.

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Daily Diary

Some of you may have been following this thread on Facebook but I thought that I'd reproduce it here so that I could go into more detail. It started on Saturday with a horrid streaming cold so I made a still life of it - box of tissues, Lemsip, Obus lozenges - you know the kind of thing. As I posted it on Facebook I thought about making a pic every day to turn into a stitched book - the diary of a week in the life, kind of thing.

So I printed it on ordinary printer paper,  crumpled it gently in my hands and then oiled it, using two teaspoons of olive oil. Then crumpled well again. Placed on felt and hand stitched. I used Transfoil on the felt underneath so was able to cut shapes from the paper to show this. need to stitch the edges of the shapes.

 I was quite pleased and made some little Lemsip packs to decorate the edge.

Then  I made a couple of borders for the top and bottom.

The original idea was to make these very quicky, as the photos were taken , but I decided that it would be more satisfying to take longer, as long as the images reflected each day.


The next day I staggered out for a walk and took a pic of some late (or possibly early) gorse flowesr with a stand of birch in the background. 

Played around on this with the Phototouch app on my galaxy Tab, mostly using the Layers function. Here's the result.

I plan to transfer this to fabric by ironing Bondaweb to felt, ironing on the image, print side down and rubbing away the paper to reveal the image.  This should give me a slightly faded, abstracted version over which I will apply the trees, printed on Jacquard's printable silk.

Monday was a solid work day so lunch was the bright spot for the diary.  Here is a still life with quiche.

Not terribly exciting but the colours were good, with the dark worktop giving a good balance of tones. I like the effect of my glass apples.

It was even better when I used a photo of my washing line as a displacement map. There is a tutorial on Displacement Maps somewhere on this blog if you are interested. Check out the labels at the side.

I'm not sure how I will use this one - I'd like to combine both the images, somehow. Experiments are called for and I want to get some yext into them to recall the context.

Yesterday I had a great excitement when a huge book appeared for me to review in Workshop on the Web. Textiles by Mary Schoeser is amazing. Very expensive but with a massive amount of inspiration within the covers. There are over 1000 pics of textile artist's work, together with lovely photos of historic pieces, and it was these that made me think of a drawing I made some time ago, based on a fresco.  I scanned this in, ready to print on water soluble paper. 

I want to transfer this fresco  to fabric in a way that makes it look old and worn. So far it consists of printed water soluble paper, pulped onto vanishing muslin with a resist in some areas to preserve the printing. I have tried some hand stitching and I am about to add machine stitch and then zap it. Back soon to show results.

I hope to show some results in the next blog. meanwhile I am off to find today's pic.

Monday 29 October 2012

Rerturn of the Wanderer

It's me - I'm back and I have missed you all. I have been on a retreat at the Dorset Wildlife Trust's Reserve at Kingcombe, near Dorchester. This was with our stitchy group that used to meet at Urchfont and we met with great misgivings that it would not be the same as our beloved Urchfont.

Of course it wasn't the same, but it was lovely and we had a wonderful time. The surroundings are fantastic with brilliant walking so, although the weather wasn't wonderful, we managed to explore a lot of it. It also enjoys poor reception for mobiles and my wi fi dongle wouldn't work, so it was something of a reteat as well. I had become so overloaded with work before I went that I felt quite poorly, but I could feel the stress dropping away.

You can see us in the pic above in the workroom. I'm afraid that I am the one with the laptop as I had to finish some editing on the Lynda Monk book which is coming around the end of November. That didn't take too long and then it was on with the stitching. The workroom had a huge log fire and, as I was sitting nearest, I was the log lady (anyone remember Twin Peaks?).

The centre was wonderfully welcoming and friendly and although we did miss the Urchfont puddings, most of us felt less bloated. The cakes were well up to Urchfont standard.

The place is very well designed with the modern additions complimenting the old agricultural buildings. We slept in the cowshed, seen here. No cows but en-suite bedrooms.

Lovely hidden gems in the grounds, too. I came across this metal-worked fawn and just loved the way it was made.

Note the detail of the spine, shown here.It has given me an idea for a piece I am working on which started as a tutorial for the third free lesson from my Dissolvable Delights book.

It will be  a large hanging, mostly metal, with inserts of water soluble stitching and solid free machining. Will show you that next time.

Clive came along for lunch on Friday and then we took Jane Lemon down to Totnes, Devon for the AGM of the West Country Embroiderers, a good sized group of stitchers in Dorset, Devon and Corwall with around 1000 members in total. 

I am rather scared and humbled by the fact that I have taken over from Jane as the President of the organisation. What a hard act to follow, she is such a towering figure in our embroidery world, having been awarded an MBE for her services in bringing ecclesiastical embroidery into the modern day.

West Country are a lovely group - I have been a member, on and off, for years and have always enjoyed my teaching sessions with them.

I gave a talk called Visible, Invisible, one of my favourites, which covers not only dissolving fabric (a natural for the title) but is also about making things appear from unlikely base materials and covers working through concepts to produce art.

The members are all really committed to their stitching and have great tutors on a (mostly) monthly basis.To celebrate the AGM they had all worked book marks and there were some stunning ones, as you can see, right and below.

It was a lovely afternoon and a sunny drive home through Devon and Dorset. I'm glad to be back at last.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Cloud Nine

I'm having a new hall carpet and I'm on cloud 9. No, I really am, as you can see from the pic below. That's what the underlay is called. It bodes well for peace and harmony.


Can't remember if I told you about our disastrous flood in the kitchen which resulted in new tiles in there as well. Actually, they look much better than the previous floor.

Seems to have taken over our lives as we thought it wasn't worth a new hall carpet if we were going to paint the walls later. So that turned into a full scale paint everything job. I am blaming all this for the fact that  I'm running late with the last free on-line class, linked to my Dissolvable Delights book (on the d4daisy site). I now have the requirements on the daisy chains blog and the class will be there next week, I hope. It's based on the wonderful contrast between metal shim and water soluble lacy stitching.

I have been interviewed by the Colour Queens for their on-line journal and used the piece below to illustrate one of my points. Do you remember her? I made her for an exhibition just before we moved into this house. One of you blogging mates left a comment calling her the Angel of Relocation and after that I really couldn't sell her, so had to make my buyer another one. Not the same though, as I can't bear making the same thing twice and that is why I rarely work to commission, unless I'm allowed a free hand. If it was you who christened her, do let me know as I'm so pleased that I kept her. I sold all of my Ancient Faces series so it's good to have one for me.

Thanks for comments about blogger v wordpress. I think I am with Robyn and Heather and will stick to the devil I know.

Smudge's poor paw has mended very slowly and today is the first time I have been able to let him out. He is helping Clive in the garden and I shan't let him stay out too long. I am more than ever convinced that it was a fox or a dog as it was a bite, but much deeper than a cat could inflict. He thanks all his friends for their concern and says that you should have seen the other guy. I think his self-esteem has suffered a knock as he has been quite subdued.