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: 

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

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

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

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

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

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 More on this blog, too.

Finally, if you purchased my latest book 'Cut, Shape, Stitch', you will find another free online class at 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!

Saturday 6 September 2014

Pssst! Wanna See My Operation?

Well you can't - even though I have a magnificent knee scar. I am feeling much better now at two and a bit weeks on. The staples are out and the physio is pleased with me. Still get some pain at night but very little in the day and I am sure it will be well worth it. I can already walk further than I could before the op and with less pain.

Clive has been feeding me rather too well and I can see a major diet is in the offing when the excuse of comfort eating is over. Smudge is a pain, of course. As he can't lay on hands (or paws) he is trying to lay on fur with lots of rubbing round my legs. A stick does come in handy for a gentle prod.

I thought that I would get loads of drawing, stitching or crochet done - or at least some reading, but I'm finding it hard to concentrate. Magazines seem to be the only thing I can do and I was getting a little bored so we had an outing to Blashford Lakes - a quarry infill near our house. Saw lots of birds from the hide, including a colourful lapwing and loads of herons. 

I was fascinated by the layered look to the landscape and think I might be getting back into making stuff. When we got home, Clive moved all my cutting stuff to the dining table so I could sit and work. I made this little (unpainted, so far) sample using the Scan N Cut but I want to find a way to use some of the new dies I bought and make a bigger version on the Sizzix.

I hope it will be a cover for the book I am making for Workshop on the Web's book challenge, in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust. We are asking people to make us sketch books, filled or not, that we can sell to raise money for them. We already have lovely ones from Cas Holmes, Anne Kelly and other lovely, generous people. I have just received this super one from Diana Brown.

We will be selling them in December and I will give everyone a heads up. If you want to send a book, it can be posted to Fiona at 19 Merriefield Avenue, Broadstone, Dorset BH18 8DA.

I am also hoping that my folded landscape technique will become one of the free online lessons for those who have purchased the Cut, Shape, Stitch book. Watch this space.

Wednesday 30 July 2014

The Book Looks Very Bookish

Well, the 'Cut, Shape, Stitch' book is published and is selling very well. If you have purchased it, you will find a free class on the site.We're all delighted with the quality - our printers are just the best. If you ever want a really good printer go to the Colour Factory at Sittingbourne, Kent. They are a delight to deal with. It looks so different when it is a book - we proof from pdfs, so it doesn't give you the feel of a book. One of my favourite sections is where Sam and Paula produce work from the same shape - a circular die that comes in different sizes. 

Paula's concertina book with hand stitching, is wonderful and Sam's machine embroidered collar below shows real innovation. Actually, it is a mix of two collars - Michael got creative with the photo and we love the effect.

I managed to get to a wonderful exhibition at the gallery in Upton Park, Poole, Dorset, on Sunday. By four =friends who call themselves the 'Body of Work Textile Artists', it was a really jolly show. Very sunny and suitable for the sea-side were Jennie Pickering's beach hut designs, below. I have written a review for the September WoW.

We are running a sketch-a-thon in the next Workshop on the Web in aid of the Teenage Cancer |Trust where we are asking people to donate sketch books or decorated books for us to sell. I had a friend who lost a daughter a fourteen and I shall never forget how awful it was. So when I met one of the fundraisers for this charity, who do such great things, I thought  our Wowies would come up trumps for that. 

The pic above is from one of the late, great Val Campbell Harding's sketch books, based on a design source of painted fairground ponies. I love the way she includes the original - a detail of a photo, then draws it and finally produces wonderful samples.

I am still having the time of my life with the Brother Scan N Cut. I am working on concertina landscapes - see my free cut sample below.

I have drawn out the design, ready to cut - see below. If it works, I'll write it up as an online class for those who have purchased the book.

I will have to turn the design half way as it is quite big and will not all fit on the mat. That should be a challenge.

I think I told you that my knee replacement is happening in a few weeks' time. I hear that Kim Thittichai has to have the same op soon. I have suggested that we have it at the same time, in adjacent hospital beds and then Clive can look after both of us. Fiona says that we could also run a mean three-legged race!

Wednesday 23 July 2014

The Big Day Off

It has been a very hectic time lately, what with the book, the show and the knee. I have a date for the new knee - 19th August. I have already had operations on my hand, now my knee - hope my boomps-a-daisy doesn't go next.

I am having a whole day off because it is my birthday. In a minute, we are going to Walford Mill in Wimborne. It is a great gallery and they have an interesting-sounding exhibition. Later, various kids and friends are descending and this evening we are descending on Fiona for dinner. Well; that is the plan. Clive bought me a new Kindle and a box set of Trollope (Clive does love a good trollope) to watch when I am chair-bound. He also bought me a Calla lily as they are my current fave thing. It has replaced the elderly orchid in the bathroom.

Do you remember my wood warrior race? I was playing with them on the Scan N Cut. I was puzzled as to how to mount them and in the end they ran away and hid among the leaves of my birch bark piece.

The lion masks that the warriors wore have been terrific fun to work with. They have been vessels, been mounted on stencilled backgrounds and are about to be stitched as a background to a large hanging I am working on. I am having a retrospective exhibition at the next Craft for Crafters show in Devon so I'm working on new, big stuff for that. 

I have also used the lion drawing for a Brother tutorial on the Scan N Sew - will let you know when and where it appears.

I am really hooked on this Brother machine and am now pursuing the heads theme by looking at a series of carvings that we found in Scotland. Stirling castle was a very inspirational place and we spent a lovely day there last month.

The heads, which were carved, were once brightly painted and they had fantastic head dresses. Don't know if you can see them in the pic below. I'm also fired up by the Green Man legends. I think they sprung from my wood warriors - their antecedents. 

Thought I would cut them in a similar way to the lion but my first attempt looks like Rod Stewart on a bad day. Perhaps he will be better with his hat on.

The book on cutting  is coming this week so, if you are on the 'let me know' list, we will soon be in touch. If not, you can go to and join the list - no obligation to buy and you might win a prize. I can't wait to see it at last - it seems to have taken ages but really we did most of it in the last two months.

I am doing a talk on cutting at the Festival of Quilts. I am also giving a new talk on mixed media techniques, shown as videos as well as images. I foolishly called it 'Textiles, the Movie' but forgot they only put the title on the show booking forms so it wasn't clear what it was.  So it didn't get many pre-bookings. If you are coming to the show, you might like to come and join me - everything from metal to Tyvek will be considered. It is on at 11am on Thursday 7th.