Monday, 8 March 2021

Texnet2 International Exhibition

Introducing two pieces that I made for an international exhibition called Texnet2.
I am delighted to be part of this wonderful project which is a collaboration of 21 international textile artists.
We are artists from Europe, United States, Canada and Australia and have interacted, discussed, planned and inspired each other via a facebook group since 2018 under the guidance of Juliette Eckel.

The result of our project Texnet2, a collection of 377 textiles works.
It was a joy to work on as well as so wonderful to get to know fellow textile artists who I have never actually met !  
The pandemic canceled our chance to exhibit in EPM (Carrefour Européen du Patchwork) in September 2020, perhaps it will be kinder in 2021.

The first piece called ‘Say Rabbit for Luck’ is a very special lady.
Our family have always followed the tradition of saying ‘rabbit’ on the first of the month.
It was always the challenge to be the first to say it on the day and grab the luck.
When I was young I thought it was only our family until I realised this tradition is widespread with people saying  ‘rabbit’  ‘white rabbit’  or  ‘pinch punch’.

It was made with naturally dyed silk, lots of antique lace and hand stitching.
Layers of fabric I dyed with flowers and leaves and antique lace for texture.
Dandelions are embroidered to add to the luck and wishes.
I gave bunny a blush watercolour bath before hand stitching and adding a lace collar.
The piece is 32 cm square.

‘Wish Nest’ is the second textile piece I made for the Texnet2 exhibition.
It is a 15 x 32 cm piece and features a bluebird of happiness building a nest of words.

I dyed the background silk noil with flowers and leaves and then hand stitched the bluebird.
The nest is a mix of dyed silk ribbon and ripped fabric with an antique lace soft centre.
The words and wishes are printed on cotton and stitched and woven through the nest.

In all made 11 different medium size pieces for this exhibition and then one very large piece 
80cm x 150cm that I stitched throughout lockdown in Dublin. 

It is the largest embroidery I have made and hope to share images soon .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

‘I am my inner stitch . . . the needle dreams my journey’

August 2020
The Irish Guild of Embroiderers exhibition in the Lexicon called ‘2020’ celebrating 20 year Anniversary of the guild.

One little needle and lots and lots of thread and the journey begins.
I celebrate the magic of embroidery that creates worlds just by moving that needle in and out of cloth.
I have learnt to trust it and go where it takes me.
My flowers and creatures are not accurate species, they appear on fabric with their own personalities mixed with mine.
I love the wildness of free stitching that can be unpredictable, satisfying, therapeutic and totally addictive.
All of the elements I love are in this piece, naturally dyed fabric, antique lace, vintage textiles and very slow hand stitching. 

First I made the flowers, a little alien and imagined. Then some seed pods . . . even more dreamed up !

I always like to add a few mushrooms, they are part of fairy tales and magic and I love their stalks and textures.You can really have fun texturing a mushroom !

I prefer to stitch birds on a separate fabric and they cut out very close to the stitching and add to background. I find it is easier to position and also can give a slight three dimensional feel.

When the birds had taken their perches I added the needles they hold and linked them all together with a thread to form my stitch journey.

Antique lace is a big part of my textile embroidery and it is the texture and history I always add to my work. For me it brings the story together.

Sunday, 31 January 2021

One Little Needle


This small square of 20cm was part of the Irish Guild of Embroiderers exhibition at the 2019 Knitting and Stitching Fair in RDS Dublin.
The canvas squares were a forerunner to the full exhibition of the guild in the Lexicon called ‘2020’.
The theme for larger exhibition to be started , teased and introduced at RDS.

At the time of making this piece I was thinking about the tools of embroidery.
I have many packs of needles, bought at trade fairs and in craft shops and even online. 
Yet I realised that for over two years I had hand stitched with the one needle !!
It is a little bent and perhaps not as sharp as it was but I love the feel of it and it knows me.

So that was my starting point for this project and going forward into the main exhibition in 2020.
Like an old fashioned typewriter being part of the novel, or that special paint brush helping the portrait emerge,
my needle is very much part of my stitching progress and always influences my making.
Well that’s what it feels like to me !! It is my typewriter, my paintbrush . . . and the means by which I tell my stories.

Not wanting to actually put myself in the picture, I choose a bird to tell the tale.
But the central character in the story is the needle.
I started by drawing guidelines for my bird, which is a bluebird for happiness . .  why not !
Making the sketch on a separate fabric gave me the option to place it easily and change my mind a few times.

The background fabric was silk noil . .  so lovely to stitch into.
At bottom I added a flowerbed of silk that I had dyed with flowers and leaves and over that some lovely antique lace.
Once everything was tacked into place I could stitch.

I gave myself room in layout for the wording . .  ‘ I am my inner stitch in and out of cloth the needle dreams my journey’.

I gave the bird a flower to stand on and the needle to hold.

I write this post finally in January 2021 . .  still using the same needle !!  

Friday, 29 January 2021

'I'm Still Here'

Textile embroidery wrapped on canvas 50cm x 70cm


Exhibition theme
I was delighted to be part of the Irish Guild of Embroiderers exhibition at the Lexicon Library, Dun Laoghaire Co Dublin.
The theme was ‘Meetings’ and the selection of embroidery and textiles by members was fantastic.
The exhibition in August 2018  (took me awhile to finally write this blog post).
Here are some photos of parts of the process.

I always start a large textile textile piece for an exhibition with a mixture of excitement and buzz of ideas.
Then after the initial flurry of looking at materials and scribbling notes I get that uncertain stage . . . what exactly do I do ???
Eventually I decided that my slant on the theme of meetings would be . . . meeting time head on !

This ended up a very personal piece about awareness of ageing.
Contrasting the different seasons and physical changes in flowers / pods etc
My mother told me only ever admit to age of 37 - no more.
No matter what happened in her life she would say “I’m still here”
Now I find myself saying it.

I started off with a black felt background to give depth to my colours.
I dyed my silk background with flowers, leaves and some rusty bits and then did some water ripple effects with free machine embroidery. I added felt under the silk to form stones.
I always start with stitching my first elements individually, so that I can change my arrangement as I go along. Elements get added and eliminated as I go . .  like chopped up the fabrics to fit until I was eventually content !! (after lots of standing back and looking at it  !)
Starting to take shape.

On my lap
I enjoy seeing the beautiful work done in embroidery hoops. 
But I am not a ‘hoop girl’ . . . I am an ‘on my lap girl’ and apart from some small amount of free machine embroidery, I hand stitch every tiny or huge project on my lap and love the control I have.
However that might be cosy in winter months but can be a bit too warm on hot days.
Like having a constant heavy blanket on my knees !!

I wanted the top flowers to be the big bright full bloom ones, the vibrant young ones.
I used silks mixed with antique lace and a mix of texture stitching like french knots and bullion. I added lovely deep green scrim as a mossy base for them to grow on !

Seed pods
One of the things I love to stitch the most is the gorgeous seed pod.
I love the complex layers they have and most of all that although they are often the end cycle of the flower or plant they are still so beautiful.
I again used silk I eco dyed with dark flowers and rust and of course more yummy antique lace.
I often buy the antique and vintage lace other people reject - the damaged torn pieces.
I love the history and I will rip and intertwine it with my stitching.

Painting lace
Sometimes the lace, although very old, need to look darker so I paint it.
I use watercolour pencils and deepen the colour to suit my textile piece.
Love the way this is often call ‘to sadden’ !!

Another thing I love to stitch . . dandelions at the seed stage. The make a wish stage !
Antique lace at the centre and work around it.

Another addition to the older section of my textile art are mushrooms.
Who doesn’t like stitching mushrooms?
More of my dyed silk and antique lace.

Stems and roots
They were such fun to make !
I suppose partly due to the fact that at this stage I was well into the project and also finally feeling I was making progress and also because I just love making them.
Some I made by wet felt rolling out for roots and then I had to ‘dirty up’ with watercolour and coffee.
You can get lovely thin root ends by hand rubbing felt.
Others I made by ripping and twisting fabric to form stems and thicker roots.

Lace ending
Finally I gave the mixed garden a strong base and anchor by lots of dark antique lace at bottom.

Sign off
I added my wording ‘I’m still here’ just like my mother 
. . . and stitching keeps me that way . . still here 

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Salvage Textiles

Sometimes inspiration for a textile piece comes from found objects and materials.

I came across some beautiful antique nails in a market that were from church salvage in Malaga.
They were dated 1750 and I wanted to include them in some textile art.

I naturally dyed silk with flowers and leaves with some rust in dye mix to add depth and darken.
I also included vintage linen and some frayed scrim.

Bits of antique lace for further history, including some parts of French lace Edwardian wedding dress sleeves.

I made a few pieces each with added antique nail and the motifs I embroidered were of arches and doorways to echo where they were salvaged from.
I love that someone thought to keep the nails and hold onto a piece of historic craftsmanship.

I choose titles that reflected their history.
They are wrapped onto canvas and framed into box frames.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Making an Embroidered Purse

This is my first embroidered purse ( a gift for a friend ). She was looking for a glasses purse that she could wear around her neck. I’ve wanted to make a purse for ages so this was my Christmas project !
My biggest problem was sourcing the purse frame as I wanted one that had two links to attach the chain. The only size I could find to order was slight smaller than I would have liked and I was worried that glasses might not squeeze in !!

First I eco dyed some silk noil as a background. The silk noil has more ‘bite’ that slippery silk and is easier to embroider into, also a lot hardier for use as a purse.
There are less blooms to choose from in winter but I have a kind local florist who had some roses and eucalyptus that were about to be binned. I wrapped and steamed my silk noil and left for a few days to dry. When unwrapped I was pleased that the flowers had given soft shades and the eucalyptus had blended with the rose leaves and given defined green shapes.

I gave myself a basic shape to embroider into and tacked the dyed silk down.
The base under material I choose was cut from a discontinued upholstery fabric swatch book - my purse was starting to be very eco ! The grey fabric had a slight sheen was a nice neutral starting point to lay the dyed silk over.
It is so easy to be nervous and take too long to pick the ‘perfect’ section to cut and this part of a project is the hardest for me. Once I am committed I enjoy the process but the first choices of colour and layout selection are often painfully long for poor indecisive me !
Really .  .   .  you have no idea how long I debate and agonize !!!
To help with this I usually photograph my fabrics in position and then print a few A4 sheets where I can draw some ideas for embroidery before I start to stitch.

Choosing the antique lace is much easier. I have a large collection of Edwardian and Victorian lace and I have divided it into shades and style and size. Old lace is very beautiful and so any choice is a good one. You can’t go wrong with antique lace.
I took inspiration from the natural marks that the flowers and leaves had left on the silk noil to layout the lace and build a flowerbed.

On one side I stitched wild lavender and daisy and a fossil spiral. The shades of purple and pink give a very vintage style to the purse.
The other side I embroidered an open pod with small scraps of antique lace trapped inside. Also some cow parsley as I always love to include french knots.

For an extra bit of colour I stitched a blue moth - an exotic little creature to sit in my antique garden.  The moth was born out of reused work .   .   even more eco! 
Years ago I had some designer knitwear in a fashion awards show and had silk painted a dress for the model to wear with it. It had swirls of marine colours and fish and has been a fantastic source of scrap silk for some time now. I have never been afraid to cut up past work to reuse and relove !

Stitching the purse together and onto the frame was certainly a learning curve !!
It was not easy and there are things I will change next time . . . but all in all I did very much enjoy making my first fabric embroidered purse.
I put it in some tissue and Christmas wrap and it is now ready to give to my good friend Barbara
.  .  .  . just hope her glasses fit !