Made By Hand 2017 has been my main project for this year. I was delighted to have been selected for the show and it gave me a real push in my normal day to day routine of being mummy to a lively three year old. It was my first major event for about 6 years and I was so nervous that I was having nightmares about arriving and not having anything to hang on the walls! But I pulled it off and had such a brilliant time. I met some wonderful artists and crafters who were displaying work and those who were visiting. I was also able to share my knowledge with people who love to stitch or would like to explore free machine embroidery a little more. Thanks to everyone who stopped by the stand and had a chat with me, you made the whole event really special for me and I appreciate your generous feedback and encouragement. Happy stitching! Ray x
Also thank you so much to Sian, Amy and Sara from USW for making this film :-)
I very much enjoyed this commission as I love seascapes, it's my thing that I do! I have started using scarves in my work that I have found in the fab charity shops in Harpenden. Below you can see silk and cotton scarves torn up and laid across the wool fibres. I felt these into the wool to create Nuno Felt, a Japanese method of felt making. It creates beautiful ripples and textures in the fabric.
I have been working on a private commission based on the Nickey Line, an old disused railway line in Hertfordshire. The client spends a lot of time running along the Nickey Line and also lives nearby so this place holds special memories and significance. As a family we also really enjoy walking, running and cycling along the line so I already knew the area and had a sense of what I wanted to make. Pathways are very much a recurring theme in my work, as are trees and I am currently working on improving on a sense of movement in my work. I love the shadows along the pathway in the photos below and that feeling of being drawn into the image whilst the trees rush by on either side.
I always begin my work with photos and sketches, it helps me to explore different options and run the colours and ideas by the client to check if I am working along the right lines.
Making the background: Even though I usually end up stitching all over the fabric I like to use different fabrics to create a collage for my background. I use scarves that I've bought from charity shops, felt, silk, lots of different fabrics. It helps me to relax into the work, so rather than working straight onto a plain piece of fabric I already have some idea of composition, colour and tone. I then use a Janome Embellisher to join all the fabrics together and soften the surface, almost as if I am blending pastels.
Then I begin stitching. I put in the main components first - the path, where the trees will go etc. Once stitching begins, I allow the work to evolve and periodically review where it needs to go next. This can mean roughly framing it, popping it on the mantel piece and keeping an eye it whilst pottering about the house or watching the TV. Thinking time and working out what needs to be done is important.
Am hoping to finish this piece by the end of this week - I ran out of the threads I am using so am reflecting on it whilst waiting for them to arrive. There is a lot to be done still, I've only really done the background so far - lots of detail and contrast to be added. Will post again once finished!
This weekend I have spent around 18 hours sat in the sunshine at our local artists annual event in Harpenden. It's been really good meeting people and chatting about textiles and teaching and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was so encouraged by the feedback and although I'm fairly tired after the weekend, I'm really excited to start making again as soon as I've tidied up the house from the past few weeks of neglect!
I recently signed up to take part in Susan Aldworth's installation of 1001 embroidered pillowcases which will be displayed in York in June. The subject for the exhibition is sleep and I've had this piece of work in mind since my little boy was born three years ago when the storms brought flooding and wind to the UK. I remember being up all night feeding baby and listening to the weather. In the bottom right of the piece is a mother and baby tucked up safely in the roots of the tree.
Here are a few images of my pillowcase and if you are in York, the installation will be worth a visit. I spent around 50 hours on this piece of work and really enjoyed the mix of hand stitch and machine embroidery. Using limited colours was good for me as I tend to use too many colours generally so this was a good challenge.
The Dark Self runs from 7 June – 3 September 2017 at York St Mary’s, Castlegate - a deconsecrated medieval church in the middle of York which is part of York Museum’s Trust. Opening times Wednesday - Sunday 11.00am - 4.00pm. The installation 1001 Nights will be hung from the ceiling of the church.
I want to set up some still life scenes so I ventured out on my bike to collect some autumn structures to work from. We bought a new laser printer a couple of weeks ago and I've been printing off and playing about with the photos that I took whilst out collecting. I love old tattered textures and embroideries or tapestries where the thread and colour has been worn away and you can see the warp and weft of a fabric so I quite enjoyed the way the printer added lines and texture to the photos.
I'm thinking large embroideries at the moment, all machine embroidered and then worked into with the embellisher to destroy the stitches and then hand embroidered into again to bring back definition. I've been watching videos on how to set up still life scenes. I found this video really interesting and want to join this guys class! I may even set myself the teacup homework!
Welcome to my new website and blog about my work and life as a textile artist. I've been creating textile pieces for many years and having recently moved from Southampton to Hertfordshire and had a baby (just about to turn 2), I am excited to be returning to my work and exploring my new landscape.
Having moved from Southampton I am now in the middle of the countryside, with no seaside, seagulls or seaweed around me. I must admit I am missing the landscape that I know so well and that gave me the colours and textures that inspired my work. I loved the crunch of wet gravel underfoot and the smell of green slushy seaweed that would roll out into the sand when the tide was out. The colours were good enough to eat, if there is such a thing as eating colour.
But onto pastures new and here I am in Harpenden, Hertfordshire surrounded by cricket to watch, fields to explore, starlings to listen to and the 23 minute train into London...which I still haven't been brave enough to attempt with a toddler in tow! I 'm really enjoying my new home, have joined the Harpenden Art Club, taken on an allotment, started bicycling (not cycling; this is slow, stopping to take photos of everything with a picnic in the basket sort of bicycling) and set up a workspace in the attic room. Little one is sleeping predictably and I have a little bit of time in my day to do something creative. Having had quite a break I am a little nervous about getting back into my work again but I think I am mostly excited. I am a stay at home mum so I will need to be disciplined with my free time, mainly working whilst little one is asleep.
I'm not quite sure where to start yet, so thought I would begin a new website to archive my previous work, start afresh and mark off one chapter from another.