Monday 2 December 2013

Books , Freebies and Belated Comments

Following my last blog, there were some really interesting comments concerning the cutting machines. I had a little difficulty publishing them – sorry about that. I will put them on the end of this post and follow up on some of them.

It’s been a very exciting couple of days with the launch of the 'Approaches to Stitch' book and the December issue of Workshop on the Web. There have been so many book orders already and we’ve been helping to put books in envelopes while trying to keep up with Facebook and the phone.  Now we have handed the book over to Fiona and her gang of helpers so, if you’ve put in an order, it’s on the way.

 I think it is a wonderful book and Karen Platt gave it an excellent review in WoW. The printers have excelled themselves and, if you need any printing, I can recommend The Colour Factory in Sittingbourne, Kent.

Siân Martin has written a brilliant free workshop (whether you buy the book or not) about observing and recording information, which is something that we should all be doing.

 It’s on the d4daisy site – just go to and follow the link from the online classes button. Tell your friends.

I had a really good ‘doing’ week last week, playing with the die cutter. I wanted to make flowery poles, based very loosely on ‘folk art’ - flowery, brightly painted wooden or metal articles.

Mine are stiffened silk and I was going to add a lot of stich but preferred them without when I sampled some. There will be five poles (or possibly three if I run out of time).

Here are the ingredients. I left these lying about and they got ‘Smudged’ and were scattered all over the room. Are we the only daft sods who buy their cat an advent calendar? Smudge has a Dreamies one but he becoming addicted and has to have his treat in the kitchen as he dribbles so much.


I had such trouble getting these from my last blog post to publish that I’ve copied and pasted them all below in case they disappear again!

These run from wonky loos to cutting machines and cat nightmares. Thank you all for your thoughts.

Hi Maggie I saw that you had mentioned the Silhouette machine. I have been thinking about buying one and then discovered a new machine the Brother ScanNCut CM100DM which is a cutting machine with a built-in scanner. Looks interesting and easier to use especially with your own drawings. There is talk of it being available internationally in December. You can find  information about it on and videos on You Tube. Sheila.

Sheila, I have a contact at Brother and intend to give him a ring as soon as the book work dies down. I always loved the creative possibilities of the scan and stitch machines so this sounds like a must. I think Wabbit is up for this, too.

Congrats Amanda! Suztats

Prize should be with her soon!

It must be so exciting when you see the proofs of a new book for the first time. Your Christmas cards will be mini works of art. Love the loo planter and poor Smudge just needs a bit of homespun therapy. Heather

Yes, the proofs are hard to follow and I am always relieved when I get my hands on the book proper and find that the pages run in order. I think the printer’s software probably does this bit.

Maggie, yes the Silhouette works well with fabric..... just follow the instructions and it is worth using the fabric blade... if only to ensure that you aren't using a blunt one that has been used for paper and card... much the same as we do with scissors. We were just discussing this in the mixed media class today and decided that the Silhouette seems to be the best for fabric. Hope Mr Smudge has calmed down again by now.  Dorothy

Interesting, Dorothy. This machine can be computer linked, too. Good point about the blade for fabric.

I've just bought a Silhouette Portrait... as paper is my fabric of choice. Plus I have a Gelli Plate and want to cut my own stencils. So forthcoming book sounds interesting. Poor Smudge, think cats do dream, they sometimes wake with a start, and hiss. Beverley

My collaborators (Sam Packer and Paula Watkins) on the cutting book are doing things with stencils and gelli plates and I hope I have time to play that game too. I love using the cutters for collagraphs.

Very excited!!!! The things you do for your art, I hope the knees are behaving again now. And the loo looks lovely, I'm sure you're both flushed with success. I hope Smudge is over it all now. Amanda

Ho, Ho – very flushed. Just a joy to have a stable loo. Oh No! That’s an opportunity for a gag as well!

Yikes, poor Mr Smudge! I wonder if he saw a ghost? Or someone being mean to a cat? Poor baby! Please give him my sympathy. Wabbit

Smudge appreciates the sympathy  and says. ‘ Thanks Wabs but I just need more Dreamies.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Onward and Upward

I’m going to do comments first folks, as I don’t want to forget to thank you all for the good thoughts on Cutting book titles. Loved all the ideas and they will go into the melting pot. Got Clive to call a number and the lucky winner is Amanda. I’ll be sending you a copy of the new Approaches to Stitch book.Email your snail mail addy to maggie@workshopontheweb,com
Lynne – I do find that the Sizzix works well as a collagraph press. Not the same as a proper one of course but better than the pasta machine.
I agree with rose-coloured-world that it is difficult to avoid the hair salon sound. So it might have to be a little more literal. Also lots of books already have 'Cutting' Titles - mostly self-help books! 

Dorothy – do you find the Silhouette feeds fabric through OK? I m tempted by the computer linked one but have heard from several people that it can be difficult.

The Approaches book has gone to the printer. It was really hard work at the end as Michael, who works with on the books, is going away at the weekend so we had to get it through the print run before then.

One day I had been sitting at the desktop for so long that my knees set and I had great difficulty escaping from the chair.

Here I am checking the proofs.

They come from the printer in these big sheets and it is really hard to find where the next page follows on.
They have done a brilliant job and it's going to be such a colourful, vibrant book.
Our designer is very good and I love the way she has set the contents page and my introduction. There is a little pic from each of the artists sections.
It should be here by the middle of next week and we will be contacting everyone on the let me know list to tell you about it and how to find the free on-line workshop with Sian Martin. Also who has won one of the many prizes on offer - just for being on the list. If you're not go to - no obligation to buy.
We Met Michael at a service station on the M3 so we could hand over the proofs.
On the way home we diverted in order to look at the wonderful colour in the trees in the New Forest. This year all the trees are lovely but the forest is always special.
I am still working with the cutters and the gesso and ink techniques. Trying out some ideas for Christmas cards. This lot are very soggy - drying out on radiators all over the house.

You may have seen on Facebook that I was very cross because we had to pay to replace a loo that was only a couple of years old because nobody could make the seat fit.
We had three plumbers, four new seats and finally, the man from RAK (the makers). No one could fit one that lasted more than a month.
However, all is not lost and it makes an unusual planter - and so far, all is well with the new one.
I have a question - can cats have nightmares? We were woken at three in the morning by Smudge frantically rattling the kitchen door and hollering at the top of his voice. When we opened it he was shivering and shaking, but with no sign of injury. I had to let him sleep on the bed, he was so scared. He went on telling me about it for ages. I hate hearing about other peoples dreams.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Cuttings, Clippings and Prizes

Just grabbing the moment to update you on current preoccupations. Just back from four wonderful days at The Kingcombe Centre in deepest Dorset. Our group meets three times a year, just to stitch, chat, eat, chat, draw, chat and explore the lovely countryside. I can really recommend it - good accommodation and wonderful grub. The chef is a real foodie. They have a special offer for groups in Jan, Feb and March.

I got on really well with my piece based on metaphors. It was going to be an installation, a strip wound round poles, but the strip was a little too wide. I liked it just as it was, so will make two more for a hanging.  The pole will come later.

Not  a great pic but you get the idea.

I can't understand why I haven't played with my cutting machine thingie before. It has only been used as a collagraph press in the past. There are some great dies out there to use with it.

I had to ask the lady in Hobbycraft how to use them as I really couldn't remember - how lame is that?

There was a spectacular happening at one point  at Kingcombe when a large pot of gesso slid off the table, onto my lap and then down to the floor. I stood there dripping until rescued by my mates and by the time I had changed my trousers they had done most of the mopping up. Thank god it wasn't carpet.

I combined a leafy die with a rather naff looking flowery one - it is surprising what can be done with them. 

You can see some of the shapes here.

I hope to get back to working on the piece today as we have to get the material for the book on cutters ready for January - hoping for launch in March. 

I need a snappy title - anyone got any good ideas? It is based on a wide range of cutting techniques from scissors to die cutters (with a brief dalliance on laser cutters). Might find a prize for the best idea.

It is full steam ahead on our current d4daisy book on six great textile artists. It is back from the designer and we are just working on the final edits - see below. It is looking fantastic. 

Put your name down on our 'let me know' list (no obligation to buy) and you will have yet another chance for a prize. We can also give you details, when we launch, of a fabulous free on-iine workshop with a celebrity tutor - even if you don't buy the book.

Finally here is a record breaking cyclamen plant. It has been flowering like this since the beginning of August. It must love the conservatory as much as I do.                                      

Tuesday 15 October 2013

The Pictorial Diary

Popping in briefly to give you a quick update on how we are doing chez grey. It's going to have to be very quick as the results of the photo-shoot for the 'six artists' book are currently on their way over the ether and I want to get it off to the designer in the next couple of days. 

It takes quite a long time, first choosing and then dropping the photo numbers into their correct place in the text. When they are all in place, I make a list so that photographer Michael knows which ones to send. Then the text file and images wing their way to wonderful Liz Wiffen, our designer, in Australia. When it comes back, it looks like a book (in PDF form). Magic, but that's when the really hard work begins.

I am still reeling from going to London twice in three days. Driving up for the photos and then on the coach for the Knitting and Stitching Show. Lots of talk on Facebook about the calibre of the exhibitions - generally we thought they were rather sparse. You'll find it on my FB page - search on Maggie Grey. I thought the Graduate Showcase was very good this year. Did you see  Adeline Schwab, the French girl with the miniatures (not a good pic). She has promised us an article for Workshop on the Web.

I loved going with the daughter and the granddaughter. We had a great time - met so many people - but it was jam packed. Lots of knitting stuff this year, the GC was delighted.

Talking of Workshop on the Web, I have had to rush to get it all up together before starting the new d4daisy book work. Everyone raved about the quality of the workshops in the September issue but I think you are all going to love December too. Guess what? I've got Arlee Barr - been after her for a while and you are so going to love her workshop - this is a tiny taste.

I went to review the 62 Group exhibition in a wood in Somerset - the Pink Wood. Wasn't quite sure about it as I am not over keen on the Goldsworthy type stuff. However it was fantastic. The review section of WoW is free to everyone ( so I will remind you all to look when the issue comes out. Jan Miller's haunting figure can be seen below. 

It was a lovely sunny day and we met Sian Martin and husband Roy for lunch. Here she is in her new wellies and below is one of her Pink Frames. These were quite fascinating, especially the hanging ones, as the landscape view moved as you changed position.

Some of the exhibits are to be left in the wood so it will be interesting to see what happens to them. I plan a return visit.

I have just noticed that my pics have come. I knew they would some day. Oh. perhaps that was my Prince. As well as the pics I have the following tasks before I can stop for the day:

Sort out my winter clothes. It was freezing this morning. What a muddle on my bed.

Give Smudge a worm tablet - he has been bringing in a lot of livestock lately. Sleeping now as he is on night shift this week.

I am so longing to get some of my own work done. Next week, after the book sorting, it should be possible, but I will have to clear up this first.

Before I can get to this.

Or use some of this (purchases from the K and S). Wish me luck.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Grabbing the Moment

It is still all go here, with the book, Workshop on the Web and travelling for talks. The talks are a welcome relief as I do love getting out and about. We went to Croydon on Saturday for an Embroiderers' Guild Regional AGM but there was the most horrendous motorway accident and we spent a lot of time just sitting. As we never seem to learn our lesson, we decided to go home the same way, thinking it would all be clear, but it was even worse - think they had to re-tarmac the road. Luckily we noticed it from the roundabout over the top (you can always tell a really bad snarl up as people are out of their cars, walking about and chatting). So, at one point, we found ourselves heading up the motorway in the opposite direction! Got home in the end but it was awful.

A good thing about getting work out for talks is that you find all kind of things: these masks have a base of Softsculpt (Formafoam) and were made in the days when we used to work with schools.

We based the workshop on 'Your favourite artist' and one of the girls made this Picasso version (above left). I worked a lot with the thick heatable foam. The top of the hat below was moulded over the lid of a decorative jar.

The felt covering was cooked in the oven to tan it. It was wool so it burned nicely. Wouldn't you know that was one of Val Campbell-Harding's ideas.

We did manage to dash out to the local National Trust House, Kingston Lacy. They have a fabulous vegetable gardens and keep pigs (used to plough up areas they wish to cultivate) and chickens. I do love the way that standing pig, below,  is ploughing a straight furrow, regardless of his sleeping colleague - the one he is standing on. I have a new camera but so far I have only got as far as point and click on Auto. Very pleased with the pig pics, though.

They have some animals just for fun, like the kuna kuna piggies. They have babies but they were indoors the day we went.

I am likely to be missing for the next few weeks but might pop up on Facebook now and again. This book business is like giving birth. Afterwards, there is just the joy and you forget the pain.

Friday 13 September 2013

Out and About

The book give-away has happened and all winners have been notified and sent books. I feel it was a good way to pass on books so there will be another chance when I get to Billy bookcase in the garage. That is overdue a sort out.

With my 'President of West Country Embroiderers' hat on, I went to visit Swindon branch. I am going to try to drop in on as many branches as I can when I am 'Ite and abite', giving talks etc. 

Swindon is a very lively branch, led by Maggie Harris - a talented lady. They are a big branch with two groups - one which meets to do their own work and one has a monthly workshop. Very often it is Maggie and her talented second-in-command Margaret who lead these, although they do have some great tutors as well.

The day I visited they were mono-printing with acrylics. Here is Maggie, showing how it is done.

Maggie and Margaret made a great team. They had lots of samples to show and were awesomely well organised. Maggie and I used to run in-service training for teachers a few years ago (OK, quite a few years ago) so I know she is a great teacher. The end results were exciting and also gave good ideas for mark making.

If you live in England's West Country and you'd like to find a friendly local group, do check out to find a group near you.

On the way home we popped into a National Trust for a cuppa. 
The gardens were in very good shape for the straggle end of summer and there was some 
spectacular autumn stuff going on. How about this colour combination?

I am having such an interesting time with the next d4daisy book Approaches to Stitch:Six Artists. We have settled on that as the final name, having had Six of the Best as a working title. The work is coming in and it is exquisite. Don't panic if you are one of the artists - not deadline time yet. More on

At the same time I am working on my next book, with Sam Packer and Paula Watkins. It is all about cutting - from simple punches to the Sissix-type die cutters and the sewing machine knife attachments. Here is part of a book using mixed media with a punch. So it is all go on the d4daisy front.

Smudge has been the star of a Facebook video, doing a 'Strictly' style dance as he goes through his tunnel catflap. He does have a little trouble with it and it is good for his exercise regime. So far, it has also stopped him bringing in livestock. Until yesterday evening when Clive was out. He makes an odd noise - like a ventriloquist - when his mouth is full of mouse, so I knew what was going on. I managed to prise open the jaws of hell and rescue it but it didn't look well so, in desperation, I popped it in the compost caddy with a brick on top. We opened it next morning expecting an ex-mouse but it had eaten all the compost and was very lively. So Clive had to take the bin for a walk down to the fields. Ruddy cat.

Thanks for comments - I did enjoy Chloe's work, too. Definitely a class act.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

A Great Disappointment

We went to an exhibition at the Russell-Cotes museum in Bournemouth today. It was by mosaic artist, Cleo Mussi and textile artist, Matthew Harris – a very talented couple. The exhibition showed work inspired by their recent trip to Japan. More on that later.

We were delighted when we arrived to find another great exhibition, also running, with work by one of our favourite artists, Frances Hatch. We have one of her limited edition prints, based on snow studies.

All the work was lovely but one particular piece took our eye and Clive grabbed the catalogue and looked up the price. Affordable, he said and I wasn’t going to argue. It did seem very reasonable and we double checked the price with the girl on the desk.  So we said we would have it and we were delighted when the manager guy  (in charge of taking the money) asked if would like to take it now as they were selling ‘off the wall’. We went to have a cup of coffee and excitedly planned where it would hang.

Then manager guy appeared looking a little shame-faced. He was very sorry, he said but there had been a mistake and a zero had been left off the price, Did we still want it? As this placed it well into the thousands we sadly said no and walked off (in a deflated manner).

We can now see the funny side of it but that bit of wall looks very empty.

Anyway both the exhibitions were good and the Matthew Harris work was great. Here are a few of his pieces. I think the titles are correct but I had forgotten my camera so had to use the iphone. the piece below is called Narita Bloom Cloth.

 This piece is one of Cleo's mosaics - a wonderful depiction of sushi.

I also liked these two figures. Really lovely stuff. The notation on the wall pointed out that although textiles and mosaics appeared to have little in common, they were both built up from scratch. Good point, I thought.

Finally another piece from Matthew. A detail this time. Matthew and Cleo were marooned in Japan when the Icelandic volcano caused all the hassle and it was obviously a very inspirational time.

We had such a great time on Saturday sitting on Bournemouth seafront watching the air festival. The Red Arrows were amazing.

It was unexpectedly hot, with no sea breeze, so desperate measures were called for. Clive hasn’t lost the knack - see below. I resorted to a visor (tasteful) made from the Guardian magazine but I am not going to make a fool of myself by showing you.

All the book-winners were notified by email and the books went off today so should be with you soon. I shall have some more later, as I am still sorting.

Saturday 24 August 2013

The Book Give-away

Below you will find details of the books I have up for grabs and how to get your paws on one of them. As there is no such thing as a free lunch (or book) here is an advert for September's Workshop on the Web  You can go straight to the book bit at the end of this blog entry, of course, but the pic below is good.  

In the September issue of WoW we have eight great workshops and an interview with Cas Holmes and Anne Kelly. Below you can see pics (clockwise from left)  from Adele Thomas (great ideas for easy screen printing), Cas Holmes, Ruth Smith's paper folding technique and Linda Vincent's collage article. We also have an in-depth product review and a very newsy news section, thanks to our wonderful features editor, Sam Packer.

OK, advert over. Below is the list of books that I have over after a massive and, in some cases very regretful, shelf clearing operation - see last post. I am asking for a five pound contribution to cover post and packing.

 I am asking you to email me on with the words Book Giveaway as the subject. 

Please tell me the name of the book you would like and give your email address. If more than one person wants the book I will draw from the hat. Closing date Wednesday 28th. I'll contact the lucky winners.

UK only because of currency and postage but I will do a free draw of a special book for overseas folk. Please indicate in the email if this is you.

Here are the books.

Book Giveaway August 2013

An Elizabethan Inheritance
The Hardwick Hall Textiles
Santina M Levey
978 0707 802 497 (hardback)

Machine Embroidery
Ideas and Techniques
Pam Watts
978 0713 466 447 (hardback)

Embroidered Books
Isobel Hall
978 1906 388 133 (hardback)

Transparency in Textiles
Dawn Thorne
978 1906 388 485 (hardback)

Creative Bead Weaving
Carol Wilcox Wells
978 1887 374 057 (hardback)

The Creative Artist
Nita Leland
978 0891 344 650 (softback)

Machine Embroidery from Australian Artists
Kristen Dibbs
978 1863 433 303 (softback)

Creative Machine Embroidery
Linda Miller
978 1408 103 982 (softback)

Beautiful Bowls
Kath Danswan
978 0955 439 407 (softback)

The Art of Paper Collage
Susan Pickering Rothamel
978 0806 928 258 (softback)


Stitches – New Approaches
Jan Beaney
07134 42727 (hardback)
Cover slightly torn

The New Machine Embroidery
Joy Clucas
978 0715 389 997 (hardback)

Design Sources for Embroidery
Muriel Best and Vicky Lugg
978 0713 455 731 (hardback)

Best of luck.

Friday 23 August 2013

House Sorting and a Lot of Spare Books

The week has been filled with a lot of boring business stuff but I have managed to do some clearing and putting away in the workroom. Just a little bit more WoW for the September issue and then it is back to some serious stitching.

We have also been really sorting out our house. All those of you who said I would love a conservatory were so right. We have hardly been out of it and the light is wonderful for reading and stitching.

It turned out to be rather larger than expected. I said to Clive when we were at the planning stage, 'No-one ever says, after building,  I wish it was smaller, so let's go bigger'.  It is rather large - I asked my son-in-law, as were viewing from the bottom of the garden, if he thought it overwhelmed the scale of the bungalow and he pointed out that you couldn't see much of the bungalow, so it didn't matter! Go big, I always say.

I have just ordered a new rug made of recycled sari strips. As I have loads of these, I could probably have made one myself but I might rise to the occasion and produce a few cushions to match. You might notice that there are piles of books in the pic above. This is because,  the dining table has moved into the conservatory - see, Clive, I told you big is good. As it is off the kitchen I can now chat to people as I cook.

The space in the living room means that we can have another bookcase. I have lusted after one of these Conran ones for ages. An investment piece, of course(!). The same son-in-law observed that it looked like a Billy bookcase - badly assembled.

Another bookcase means that the last of the boxes of books in the garage have a chance of finding a home. They are nearly all my stitch books and I have hard choices to make, as they won't all fit. It has to be done as we want to get the car in if it is another bad winter. They have been there since we moved, nearly three years back.

I would like to give them away but the post would be expensive. If I put the titles up in the next blog post, would people (that means you lot) be willing to pay five pounds for post and packing, do you think? They are mostly hardbacks and some of them are still quite expensive on Amazon. I'd much rather they went to good homes, rather than the second hand book man. Let me know what you think.