Jan 05

Do not waste your creativity


Another new year and another set of resolutions. But how do we keep it up? According to Leanne Regalla, in her list of 12 Most Powerful Ways To Keep Your Creative New Year’s Resolutions, rule no.1 is surprisingly… ‘get out of the once a year habit and into a continuous habit of positive improvement’. With this in mind, my ‘continuous habit of positive improvement’ is fueled by the above statement…DO NOT WASTE YOUR CREATIVITY!

I know only to well how daily life can create stumbling blocks that can hinder creativity. My mission is to stay motivated and focused on creating, therefore I found all 12 of Leanne’s tips very helpful, particularly no’s 2, 7, 8 and 10.

In 2014 and beyond, I resolve to;

  • Break down my year-long mission into several small, short-term goals and tackle them one at a time.
  • Stay focused and eliminate the feeling of being overwhelmed by stating my goals as filter questions. I’ll write, “Will (this activity) help me to reach my goal of finishing (your project) by (time-frame)? By making several copies of my filter questions and leave them in places I’ll see them, I will always have them in my mind.
  • Notice when my brain goes into dire prediction mode (imagining all kinds of crazy scenarios that could be outcomes of the actions we take today) and bring myself back to the present moment, where I can actually be effective.
  • Say “no” to activities if I’m not super excited about an upcoming engagement or commitment. If it’s not a ‘hell yeah!’ then it’s a ‘hell no!’

These tips, plus my mission statement ‘Do not waste your creativity’ (original image via The Lab Magazine), will mean that you will see a lot more of my creativity this year! Why not take a look at 12 Most Powerful Ways To Keep Your Creative New Year’s Resolutions and get inspired.

Jul 26

New portrait

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Here is the completed first portrait from my new series called ‘Cut From The Same Cloth’ (CFTSC). My starting point for this series is to creatively explore the relationship between our inner thoughts and personal dress-codes. My aim is to develop this idea through a series of portraits using some of the more successful techniques from ’50 stitch faces, combined with collage.

Portrait no: 1, is a mixed-media collage on water-colour paper, made from; hand and machine stitch, pieces of used garments, pattern-cutting paper and paint. I deliberately used pieces of the garments that show the making; the inside, padding, seams and hems. These garment pieces, combined with the commercial pattern paper and paint, elude to the complexity of physically presenting ourselves to the world.

Jul 22

New portrait – work in progress

new face-1

Since completing my series of’ ’50 stitch faces’, I’ve been contemplating the direction of my work. I’ve previously only concentrated on the process…now I feel it’s time to think more about concept. Over the past couple of months, some ideas have been swimming around in my head but only recently making sense.

I think something clicked when I visited the Block Party exhibition at Arts Depot, a couple of months ago. I was inspired by artists and designers who use pattern-cutting as inspiration for their artwork or designs. I’ve realised that rather than divorcing myself from my fashion and costume design background, I could embrace my past and use it as inspiration.

I’ve always been interested in our emotional connection to clothing, and fascinated by the notion that how we appear on the outside often has little correlation to how how we feel inside. The portrait above is a work in progress, exploring ideas on how to visually represent these interests. I’m making a mixed-media collage on water-colour paper using; hand and machine stitching, fabric from used garments, paper relating to clothes making and paint. I’m hoping to represent the complexity of our make-up and the many layers we portray.

Apr 30

Block Party at Arts Depot

I just managed to catch the Block Party touring exhibition on it’s final day at Arts Depot. As I used to spend much of my time constructing fashion and costume garments, an exhibition championing the craft of pattern cutting promised some interest.

The exhibition, curated by artist Lucy Orta for Crafts Council, focused on ‘ …sharing the wonderful creative potential of this somewhat invisible subject within the expanded field of art, architecture and design’ says Orta. Block Party brought together artist and designers that utilised pattern cutting in diverse practices such as; fashion design, ceramics, furniture design, textile design, sculpture and science.

I was curious to see how, the artists in particular, used pattern cutting in making work. My two favourite exhibits came from the ‘Pattern cutting as storytelling’ section, ‘Dress from Negative Collection’ by fashion designer Shelley Fox and ‘Les Funerailles de la Baleine’ by artist Claudia Losi. I’ve admired Fox’s work since discovering her designs over ten years ago but had not seen any of her work recently.  Like her, I often use layers in my work and allow serendipity to play it’s role during my process.

Claudia Losi shares my need to to use sewing to put things together to tell stories or generate ideas. I was intrigued by Losi’s soft-sculpted whale and a jacket placed on the back of a chair, I discovered the connection by watching the accompanying video.

Here’s what they have to say about their exhibits, click on their names for more info.

‘Pattern cutting has always been integral to the design process within my work, and although it is a highly technical procedure, it is the nature of serendipity within my design development that allows the pattern cutting boundaries to be pushed forward, and the clothing to develop with an original identity’

Shelly Fox

‘For me, sewing is about putting things together to create shapes that tell their own story and serve as a springboard for distant thoughts: doing things by hand and working with others; the passing of time; incredible stories that make up our reality’.

Claudia Losi


Apr 29

Printing stitches


I love the the hands-on process of collagraph printing and the unpredictability of the textures that can be achieved. I’ve been thinking of different ways to combine stitch and print in my work, so when a great opportunity to use a printing press for free came up, I jumped on it! Actually there’s still some confusion about whether the machine is a printing press or a clay press.  Anyway, with a little customisation I managed to make prints with it…so I’m happy!

I’ve previously used digital transfer printing and screen-printing in my stitched portraits. I’m now thinking of ways to print on paper, using a combination of stitching and paper. I found some samples of stitching on paper that I’d made a few years ago and decided to use them to see how well stitching would print.

I printed my sample plates using the intaglio technique, which is one way of printing collagraphs, the other is relief. For intaglio printing the ink is pushed into all the marks and cracks, then some of the surface ink is wiped away to reveal the texture of the plate. Damp paper is placed on top of the plate and run through the press, pushing the paper into the grooves and transferring the ink onto the paper.

The image above shows one of the collagraph print samples made from machine stitched paper. The image below shows the four stages of the collagraph plate. Top left – stitched paper sample glued to cardboard to make plate, top right – plate sealed with shellac, bottom left – print sample, bottom right – cleaned plate with ink residue.

This is clearly just a starting point, I need to experiment with the pressure on the press and inking and wiping. Although my intentions were to use the intaglio process, I think most of these look like they’ve been printed in relief. A way to go then before I can achieve anything near my desired outcomes!


Below are some of the other collagraph prints with the stitched samples before they became collagraph plates. Thanks to Lynn Bailey from Double Elephant for the tip of using paint to stick down delicate materials on to the collagraph plate…great tip!

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Apr 23

New stitch face…nearly!

drum gran stitch-550

I started this stitched portrait a few weeks ago and then became distracted. I’ll be back on it soon but I thought I’d document this stage before it changes. For my first portrait since completing my ’50 stitch faces’, I wanted to use some of the best ideas from the series.

I touched on incorporating knit in a previous portrait, so this time I used an abandoned sample to increase the scale. I’m using a muted grey-based colour palette to convey a theme I’ve been exploring…the invisibility of older people.

Apr 11

Art notebook

When I’m not making work I’m thinking of making work. My notebooks are where I hold these thoughts until I’m ready to process them. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how to move forward with my portraits, documenting like this really helps me to develop my ideas. Now it’s time to make!

art notebook 2

art notebook 3

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art notebook 1

Feb 25

New year…new start!

It’s been a while but it’s a new year and I’m ready for a new start!

There have been changes, some small, some gigantic and scary, but my biggest change has been in attitude. I’ve spent the last couple of months disconnecting from ways of thinking that hold me back and discovering those that will help to propel me forward.

I started this blog to ‘look with fresh eyes’ at things that have inspired me in the past and to document my ideas and creative process. I hoped that by sharing my scrapbooks and inspiration with you, I would revisit and expand on some of my better ideas. It seems that life has conspired to encourage and motivate this expansion. I hope you’ll stay with me on the next part of my journey!

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Sep 05

Stitch face no: 50

A stitched portrait of a young man by artist Shirley Nette Williams.

Well I’ve quietly made it to stitch face no: 50…no fanfare because I am 9 months behind schedule!

But  it’s the journey not the destination that’s important! I believe I’ve ended on the best one but I know I wouldn’t have arrived here without the journey. In a way it feels like I’ve come full-circle as stitch face no: 50 is quite similar to my very first stitched portrait. What is different is my attitude and motivation for doing it and the additional technical skills I’ve picked up along the way. I feel this portrait is a culmination of all the best bits so far which motivates me to continue exploring.

In making stitch face no: 50 I think I’ve achieved a good balance between hand and machine stitching. The juxtaposition of colours and textures work harmoniously together without being too safe. I’m looking forward to developing this way of working further.

Detail of a stitched portrait of a young man by artist Shirley Nette Williams.

Aug 20

Stitch face no: 49

A stitched portrait of a young man created by artist Shirley Nette Williams.

Here’s no: 49, the penultimate portrait in my 50 stitch faces challenge. This is my biggest so far, being almost A3 size. I was greatly influenced by no: 48 and decided to carry on with the layered urban wall theme.

I started by making a background of patched together layers of fabric remnants, textile samples and discarded clothing in a limited colour range. I ‘drew’ the face freestyle on top using a different machine stitches including couching. Again I combined thick and thin threads and deliberately encouraged stitching ‘mistakes’.

When I completed the portrait I realised that the piece was too busy so I cut it out and appliqued it onto a piece of cream wool blanket to give it definition and room to breathe.