Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Art in the Park

Art in the Park....that's the best way to spend an afternoon!  The park wasn't as busy as I expected but temperatures have been in the 90's this week so being outside is pretty exhausting.  Nevertheless, I had a fun time with those who did brave the heat and it was great to be working in the community again.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation!

Most of my time this last week has been spent preparing backgrounds for my upcoming community projects.  I use a medium weight canvas & then add a wash of acrylic paint, giving me a nice sturdy cloth which does not require hooping or further stabilisation before I add all my free machine stitching.  I add further details with stitch, paint & applique, slowly building up layers until I'm happy with the composition.  It's a slow process but I love working this way & I'm looking forward to adding the final elements - the public's own drawings.  The scenes look rather empty at the moment..
Look for me at Redmond Town Center Arts Festival July 12th - 14th where I'm featured artist and will be leading a creative community mapping activity. 
Saturday July 13th I'll be heading over to Derby Days where I've been invited by the Arts Commission to be their featured artist for the day.
Please come & see me if you are heading to either of these events!


Sunday, 16 June 2013

On the sewing machine this week....

Redmond Arts Commission have invited me to be their featured artist at this year's celebratory Derby Days in July - I'm thrilled, it's the biggest event run by the City & a huge opportunity for me.  I've designed a community arts activity which still draws upon the general 'mapping' theme I'm using this year, this time I'm asking participants to put themselves on the trail which runs alongside the Sammamish River.  I've painted two background canvases & will stitch a basic outline of the trail - trees, river, bridges etc - participants will draw themselves on a separate piece of cloth, pin to the canvas & after the event I'll stitch everything together.  With a little bit of my magic, a whole heap of the public's creativity & a dash of fairy dust we'll have a wonderful piece of community art to display!

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Image Transfer

For a while now I've wanted to experiment with a couple of ways of transfering image onto cloth - using acrylic matte medium & digital printing.  I've known & read alot about both but just never had the right project to use either technique.  I'm working on pieces inspired by the historical walk & sketch tour I organised a few weeks back & since I did more photography than sketching it seems apt that I integrate at least some of the photos into my work.
Using acrylic medium to transfer images is a well known technique amongst the mixed-media crowd.  I used the techniques as described in the book 'Paper & Metal Leaf Lamination' by Claire Benn, Jane Dunnewold & Leslie Morgan which is full of wonderful inspirational images.  However, I didn't enjoy the process at all, I found it laborious, messy & really just 'not my thing.'  This was the result...
The images are soft rather than crisp, which I don't mind but I'm just not sure what to do with it now.  Of course my husband spotted the piece on the ironing board and said 'Oh I like that, I'll have it in my office when it's finished' so I now have to complete it! 
The second method I tried was using Spoonflower to digitally print cloth - I have been longing to try this!  In my work I want to really highlight the contrast between all the new construction work & the lovely old brick buildings which are quickly being crowded out.  I manipulated one of my photos, uploaded it on Spoonflower & a week later - whoosh! - a wonderful, vibrant piece of cloth arrived on my doorstep.
I love this method!  BUT, again, I don't really know what to do with it!  If I didn't have a deadline coming up I would simply use it as cushion fabric.  I'm thinking of adding some very graphic stencilling with minimal, if any, stitching and then wrapping it around a large canvas.  Keep checking in to see how it looks!

Friday, 31 May 2013

Story Telling

It's been a long held ambition of mine to write a children's story book & since my work is becoming more and more illustrative perhaps now is the time!  The heron I think will be called Harriet, I just need a name for the little duck, any ideas?

Friday, 24 May 2013

On the sewing machine today.....

Part of the 'Mapping the River Trail' project - first of a series of works inspired by my walks along the Sammamish River Trail.  Still alot of stitching to do but the background has been painted and basic applique shapes applied.  I'm using my old Bernina, Betsy, for the free machining - she's old but fast!  Plus I find all the new machines have too many safe guards in place such as stitch regulators which I don't like. I want the irregularity, the skipped stitch, the odd 'mistake' - I don't want the maker's hand 'regulated' in any way thanks!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Mapping Redmond

A couple of weeks ago I organised an artists' tour around the landmark buildings of my local town of Redmond.  Led by our amazing local historian, Tom, nine artists were walked around the few historical buildings which have managed to survive fire, earthquake and the steady onslaught of new construction.  It was a wonderful tour & I gained so much knowledge about the pioneers who first settled here, it must have been so exciting.
This building in particular holds a wealth of stories:
Now a bar, originally it was Bill Brown's Building which had a dance hall upstairs, saloon downstairs and an undertakers next door!  You can imagine some cowboy having too much to drink, going upstairs to find a girl, breaking into a fight and ending up in the undertakers!  This is the only photograph of the inside of the saloon known to exist:
Bill Brown used to organise sight seeing tours of Redmond, I wonder what these folks would think of the place now?!
There is so much construction going on that the historical properties are really being overwhelmed...

...but these buildings do offer some interesting juxtapositions of old & new which is the angle I'm going to take with my work.  Apart from my normal illustrative treatment of the subject I'm trying a more digital approach too, manipulating my photographs & then having them printed on cloth to then work on.  I've just sent this design to Spoonflower, I'm looking forward to seeing how it comes out:

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Popping Up

My pop-up studio....

It won't be this neat for long.  I 'styled' it for the gallery opening so everything is carefully placed, it's a shame I have to work in it! 

Saturday, 27 April 2013


I'm doing a really interesting online course at the moment called 'A Crash Course on Creativity' taught by the amazing Tina Seelig from Stanford University.  For our first assignment we've had to design the cover of our autobiography and produce a 200 word synopsis - wow, that's hard!  Many of the other students seem to be whizz kids at using Photoshop but I'm so low tech despite my best efforts so I'm just going to embrace that rather than trying to change it.
Here's mine...
Born in a land of green pastures, rolling hills, frolicking sheep and mighty Oaks, a flowery dress wearing artist finds herself amongst firs, mountains, lakes, bears and leisure wear. An afternoon tea & biscuit girl in a coffee and donut culture. An old school, hands-on maker in a high tech, digital jungle.
The Way Home maps one woman's journey to find her own path through an alien world, her struggle to find meaningful connections and a sense of place in a country which is not her own. It is a story for all those who have ever felt out of place, on the outside, not part of the pack or just a long way from HOME. 
As the author slowly and painfully follows her private road she begins to question the notion of what or where is home? Is it where you are born? Where your family are? Is it really where you lay your hat as the song says? Can you have two homes? Or just maybe home has nothing to do with anything external in our lives, perhaps it's a feeling, a spirit that we can carry deep in our hearts wherever we wander in this life?
Quirky, funny, anguished, raw - this book will encourage readers to follow their own private road and hopefully to eventually find The Way Home.

It's a really interesting exercise to do and I'd actually quite like to write the book now!  What would your cover look like?  What would you write about?

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Redmond Historical Walk & Sketch Tour

CALL FOR ARTISTS – Redmond Historical Walk & Sketch Tour

Anyone interested in walking and sketching?  This will be an exciting venture linking local historians and artists, click on the link above for details...

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

New VALA Art Center

This is the wonderful new VALA art center space in Redmond town center.  I'm there every Friday stewarding the gallery & creating work in the cosy studio nook...
I have some exciting plans to deliver community projects with VALA this year so long as we can find funding!  It's great to be affiliated with such a vibrant and forward thinking organisation which is fast becoming a linchpin in the local community. 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


It's been another week of paperwork.....I've spent most of the last two weeks applying for grants, responding to call outs & writing project proposals.  If even a couple of them materialise then I'll be a happy girl!  One good thing about all these applications is I've really had to think hard about my practise & define exactly what it is I do.  It's made me think honestly about my strengths & weaknesses and what my true aspirations are.  To help me I've been following an online course by creativity coach Mark McGuinness called Creative Pathfinder which I've found incredibly powerful and it's free!  Definitely recommend it.
I've finished a couple more stitched paper collages based on the collographs I did a couple of weeks ago....
....yes it's me fishing in my kayak!
I'm using alot of glitter and sparkle, not sure why, I've resisted it for years thinking it was too 'crafty' but I'm in a kind of 'just go for it girl' mood at the moment and anyway if it's good enough for Fiona Rae....!  I'd like to do some much larger pieces like this, I really enjoy stitching on paper, but I free machine on top of the collaged pieces so I'm restricted by the arm size of my domestic machine.  Oh well, small is good!

Thursday, 7 March 2013


I'm working on a small series based upon collographs made from 'found' items from the shores of the lakes.  The prints although really textural are a little subdued in colour and some are just too dark for my taste so I'm playing with added collage and stitch.  They remind me of what might be glimpsed under the surface of a lake, the hazy shape of a fish or rock, or perhaps what might be reflected on the water. 
What joy this week to see birds returning to the garden, this little fellow and friends were dancing on the garden fence this morning ....

...a welcome sign of Spring!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Community mapping

I'm busy writing a grant proposal this weekend for a community creative mapping event.  I've had a few meetings recently with members of the City Hall, the local historical society & VALA arts organisation, all of whom have been really excited by my community work and keen to work with me.
There is however the small problem of funding!  I always believe that money follows passion so hopefully the lovely, generous people at 4Culture  will see that I have passion a plenty for bringing people together through the arts & I'll be able to run the event.
If successful, the project will centre around participants creating a large map of their town using drawing & stitch.  I've been playing around with possible outcomes, using drawings made by children visiting the gallery, collaging them against my own backgrounds and adding stitch and a little applique.
The stitching doesn't show up very well on the photo but it adds texture on the original.  This is a paper collage & starts to become a little fragile when heavily stitched, plus it's difficult to manipulate under my sewing machine so if funded I'm planning to use cloth during the event.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

High Fiber Diet

In search of inspiration I recently visited the High Fiber Diet exhibition at Bellevue Craft Museum.  This is a great space & it was a delight to see such a variety of textile work on display, from traditional quilting and basketry to free-form crochet - this was a wonderful large crochet piece by artist Jo Hamilton.
Interestingly and somewhat unusually, the curator had decided to put the artist's explanation of the work alongside it.  I'm not sure if this added or subtracted from the experience; I like to make my own interpretations of work & I felt that I was constantly evaluating the art work to see if it lived up to the concept.  As a consequence, the most powerful pieces in the exhibition for me were those in which the strong initial concept was effectively conveyed to the viewer through  artistry and skill.  This piece by Patricia Resseguie stood out as being both incredibly beautiful, displaying such a mastery of stitch & really conveying the fragility of human nature as described in her concept.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

New Beginnings?

New Year, New Beginnings! 

I was tempted to start a completely new blog for 2013 since it has been so long since I've written anything but I don't really believe in 'new starts', there is always a history, an accumulation of events, memories.  I'm hoping that 2013 is the year I start to find my way a little, especially when it comes to my work.  It has started well, I have been nominated as 'Featured Artist' for 2013 by a local gallery, VALA, and even better, I sold both pieces of work which were in their recent exhibition.
This was a quirky piece made to celebrate the Centennial of our local town, a little more frivolous than I normally work but America seems to enjoy a bit of British humour! 
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