Wednesday, 4 January 2017

High Jinks for the New Year . . and a catch up.

 I never tire of being amazed by nature . .

Happy New Year!!! 
Here we are in 2017, and we are still here. Let's make the most of it.

I am slowly getting used to my new rural life. Having so much space around the house is wonderful, I am able to see for miles. It makes a change from living in the middle of a housing estate in Brighton! 
The area where I live on the Lopphead peninsula is quite remote. It's 40 minutes to the nearest Aldi and Tesco, but boy, it's worth it. Moving to the West Coast of Ireland is the best thing I have ever done. It took a while to plan - but here I am. 

I am constantly looking at the sky and the land around me, when I am home! 
Just when I think I have found a new colour palette, I find another. Combinations of colours that I have never considered before.

 I was just settling into this colour combination . .

. . . And then this happens . .

  . . and this.

 These pavements are along the coast at Kilbaha.

 There are wonderful textures in the rocks and cliffs, I won't keep posting all my images or this blog will turn into an advert for the Wild Atlantic Way.


I meet a lot of fascinating people on my travels. I met Nicola Brown in Australia 2 or is it 3, years ago when I was I teaching for TAFTA in Geelong. Because these events are quite hectic, I didn't get to know much about Nicola till I listened to her lecture and discovered she was Irish and lived and worked in County Carlow.  Nicola is a feltmaker and eco dyer and printer. Her work is beautiful.

I love the random print on this silk. The colours Nicola achieves from all natural materials is wonderful

I visited Nicola the following month when I was over in Dublin for the Knitting and Stitching Show. I was blown away by her beautiful cottage and workshop. The area around Nicola is quite rural, not too many neighbours nearby. It was at this time that I started to think - I would like to live like this. But how to do it?

It's taken a bit of planning - but I did it. Now I need to wind down the traveling so I am actually here, in my house, to appreciate it.
Because we are so busy we haven't had a lot of opportunity to meet up. We got the chance over New Year when Nicola invited me over for a few days.

 Nicola holding and feeding a 5 day old Zwartbles lamb.

 We had great fun watching the lambs frolic about.

Nicola took me to see her Friend Suzanna who owns a wonderful farm and keeps Zwartbles sheep and a few Alpaca. Do have a look at the website. 
Nicola uses the fleece from these beautiful creatures in her work.

 A gorgeous rusty wheel at the farm.

After the visit to the farm it was all systems go to prepare the house and food for Nicola's New Year party.  
Nicola's dog - Freddy. Such a character.

We had a great time together, catching up and discussing our work and where we thought we may be going with it. Nicola is ahead of me with her online teaching, she has already run 3 very successful courses. We had a bit of time for Nicola to give me the low down on how her online teaching has gone so far. She is always so generous with her information.

Freddy and me posing in Nicola's garden.

It was good to have a break, it all helps with your perspective. Nicola will be visiting me in February. I am very much looking forward to showing her around this stunning part of the world.


I am now starting to get organised for a very busy 4 months - my feet aren't really going to touch the ground. I am teaching at the IDC studios in Redditch for the next 2 weekends. Then I will rush back home for a couple of days and then I fly to India for 10 days with Jamie from Colouricious.
We will be back in Jaipur for another block printing holiday. It is going to be a very exciting trip.
After that there is more to-ing and fro-ing to the UK and then I teach in New Zealand. 

Then - I start filming the videos for my online teaching which should launch in July at the latest. If you would like to be added to my database and be one of the first to hear about my online teaching, please email me -

Things will get less busy as the year goes on. Next year - I will be traveling MUCH less.


Hello Jill, 29 days to go - squeeeaallll!!!
Hello Diana, hope you are warm and snug and happy stitching.
Hello Tod - will definitely ring next week. Lynda has booked her flights to come over at the end of Feb. Yippee.


Saturday, 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas and a VERY Happy and a Creative New Year!

 We have all had our ups and downs this year
hopefully you have had more ups!
Most of us are blessed with friends and family that can help. I hope at this festive season you can relax and be with people you love and who love you in return.

I hope you have new and exciting things planned for 2017, though we all know that sometimes, it is all we can do to just to keep going . . . 

One thing we all learn as we get older, don't put it off - do it now!

Hang on in there. 
Here's hoping we all have a brilliant Christmas and a healthy and happy 
New Year.

My love to all of you.


Sunday, 18 December 2016

ExTex 5 session 6 - Transfer Printing with Disperse Dyes. December 3rd and 4th.

I just love the layers of colour you can get with disperse dyes/transfer paints.

This will be my last proper post this year. 
I am slowly getting my new house sorted on the west coast of County Clare, Ireland. It seems odd to write that sentence. 2 years ago I had only just started to think about the move - and now - here I am, gazing out to sea. It is so good when a plan comes together.

 At the beginning of each session we look at what the group have done for homework. This is always great fun, haivng a catch up is very important.
 I never cease to be amazed at the students creativity.

Right, back to the teaching. . .
I love transfer printing with disperse dyes. The dyes are made to colour synthetic fabric. In this session we used acetate satin, polyester satin and a suede like microfibre. I find it is a good idea to try a variety of fabrics including matt and and shiny.

The dyes are painted onto copy/computer printer paper. Once dry they are ironed onto the synthetic fabric - making sure to use baking parchment to protect your iron and your ironing surface. You need a whole roll of parchment, don't be stingy with it.

The painted papers can then be torn and cut up.

It can take a minute or so to get the dye to transfer onto the fabric when using an iron. You just have to be patient. Lay baking parchment onto your ironing surface, then place your fabric, right side up onto the baking parchment. The painted paper can then be ironed, painted side down onto the fabric. ALWAYS use a sheet of baking parchment between your work and the iron and NEVER use the same iron that you use to iron clothes. If you still do!!! One tiny mark of disperse dye will activate every time you heat it for a long time. Never take the chance.

Once the dye is ironed onto the synthetic fabric it is light fast and washable.
One of the things I love best about these dyes is that they are translucent, so you can over print several times to achieve beautiful shadowy effects.
You will find that you will get at least 3 prints from one piece of paper. Each time you iron it - the print will be paler.

The papers can be torn and cut and then layered.

If you are layering up torn or cut pieces of paper, don't overlap the paper, you will waste the dye on the back of the paper underneath.

The IDC studio where I teach this course has a heat press. This will give you fast and very bright prints.

Some of the prints using resists and layers.

Once the group had got a selection of printed fabrics each, we got out the soldering irons. Synthetic fabrics can be cut through with a soldering iron and heat distressed with a heat gun.

Each student chose a background fabric and a fabric to use as the applique pieces. Appliqué is the technique of applying one fabric on top of another. It can be attached with hand or machine stitch - or the cut shapes can be ironed on with Bondaweb 

The applique shapes were cut, with the soldering irons, from a fabric that had Bondaweb ironed onto the back. It is important to keep the backing paper on the Bondaweb, do not remove it. The paper on the back is a good guide to see how hard you pressing with the soldering iron. If you press too hard, you will cut through the paper. This amount of pressure is not necessary. If the fabric is not cutting and you have waited for the soldering to come to temperature, you need to slow down and wait for the fabric to melt as you cut. 
Once the shapes have been cut, they can be ironed into place on your backing fabric - not forgetting to use baking parchment!

Some great layered shapes.

Cutting out shapes with the soldering iron.

Cut and layered shapes ironed onto the background fabric.

You can also zap your prints with a heat gun as you have printed onto synthetic fabric.

The group did really well, I look forward to seeing what they get up to for homework.

I have no more teaching now until January with the 7th session of Experimental Textiles and the last session of ExTeXtra.


Me sitting on the wall in my garden. My house has a wonderful view of the Atlantic Ocean. I hate my photo being taken, this was the best one . . 
I needed a new shot for my website.

My good friend Jayne is staying with me for the weekend. Jayne sorts out my websites and any other technical things - she also helps me think!!
We are now planning my online teaching. We have a lot to learn about platforms and all that malarky. We hope to launch the first online workshop July 2017. 
If you are interested in being added to my database, please email me with 'database' in the subject. Don't worry - I won't hound you and I will never share your information.


For those of you in New Zealand, I do hope the earth has stopped moving.
Here are the dates and venues for my teaching on the North Island in April 2017.
There are still spaces on the Taranaki workshops. The others are full, but there are waiting lists.

April 1st  - 3rd
'A New Starting Point', my newspaper based workshop. 
Tulis Textiles at One Tree Point  
Contact - Kerry Glen


April 8th and 9th
'The Journey into Printing Blocks'.


April 11th - 13th 
'New Layered Surfaces for Stitch'.
Contact - Margherita Allen


April 18th and 19th
'Hot Textiles' 


April 20th and 21st
'On the Surface'
Contact - Wendy Sorrensen

 Any queries about the courses contact me -
Enquiries about venues - please contact the relevant organiser.


So that's it for the teaching - I hope all your festive preparation is going well.
Don't get too stressed . . .


Hello Jill - 46 days to go - Whooppee!!!
Hello Diana - glad all is well, will eventually reply, my love to you both. 
Hi Tod, hope you like the pic, will try to send some once Jayne has gone.


Friday, 2 December 2016

A New Starting Point at Art Van Go 8th - 10th November

A fabulous sample of newspaper faux chenille.

It is already December - I apologise for the delay in writing this up. Moving house has taken more out of me than I thought. 

I adore teaching at Art Van Go. The teaching area is great, the staff are wonderful, and it means I get to see Viv and Kevin. This was my last workshop for this year. A fabulous to end the year with lots of colour and texture.

Working with old newspaper, books and maps has become a passion of mine - layering, colouring and generally playing to see what will happen next.

Painting the Bondaweb.

On the first part of the workshop we painted up the Bondaweb and newspapers as these need to be dry before we use them.

Painted newspaper.

The students ironed painted Bondaweb onto a painted newspaper background, just an A5 size nothing too big. You learn just as much from working on a small size then anything larger and you use up your material stash too soon. The newspaper background with the painted Bondaweb on was then decorated with strips of paper and few sparkles. This was then put to one side. 

Another background was created. (newspaper background with painted Bondaweb on it). The students then tore the first decorated piece into strips and ironed them onto the second background. This was then decorated and put to one side . . 
A third background was created and the second decorated piece was torn up into strips and ironed onto the third back ground . .  and so on. This way you get a very interesting and textured piece of work.
Always use baking parchment when working with Bondaweb!!!

The group happily tearing up paper!

Playing with the torn and layered samples.

Once the group had got to grips with the technique, we moved onto to larger samples. More surface are to print and stitch onto - fabulous.

I call this technique 'Backgrounds and Pretties', and it can be found in my fourth book, Reclaimed Textiles.

These decorated papers have great possibilities. They can  be put onto canvases or can be used to decorate book covers.

Sketch book covers decorated with the torn paper samples.

The decorated newspaper makes fabulous jewellery.

If you iron your decorated newspaper onto the very heavy iron on interfacing S133, you can put your sample through a die cutting machine with great results.
The cut shapes can be varnished or coated with acrylic wax and made into brooches or earrings.

We then moved onto making newspaper faux chenille. I particularly love this process. Seven layers of un-painted newspaper were layered with polyester organza in between and laid onto a background of sew in interfacing S80. Channels of about 3/4" were stitched on stitch length 4 on the machine. The channels were cut with scissors, taking care not to cut the bottom layer of S0 sew in interfacing.

Once the channels have been cut - you then texture or rough up your sample.

The faux chenille samples were then painted with a colour wash of procion dye powder and water.

Doesn't it look fab?

The workshop was great fun. The show and tell at the end of the workshop was a joy to behold. . .

Viv getting a close up of the newspaper faux chenille.

Now where did these chocolates come from???

You are always very looked after at an Art Van Go workshop - they run workshops nearly every week pf the year, so there is always something fabulous to choose from.  Plus - there is the advantage of the very well equipped shop.
The new workshop list should be online early in the New Year. 

Art Van Go have a brilliant online website - have you seen it?  

I will be back at Art Van Go on the 17th and 18th August 2017 - workshop to be confirmed.


I have now moved to the West Coast of Ireland. My furniture arrived from the UK on Tuesday - I am now wading through boxes and boxes of  . . stuff!! It is going to take sometime to get organised here - but there is no rush.

I am off to Shannon airport now to fly to Birmingham as I am teaching my final session of ExTex this year. I will feel very odd not arriving with a car load of equipment and materials. I am hoping that when I planned all this that I left all the right books and tools at the IDC studios. We shall see - watch this space.

Have a great weekend.

Hello girls - sorry am dashing off to Shannon.
Love to you all. You know who you are.
x x x