It is four years since I decide to push visual arts to the top of my priority list.
Major knee injury meant I had to pass on the opportunity that I’d been hankering for years, to manage the PR for Meadowhall. Facing months on crutches and unable to drive, life was taken up by the countless rehab exercises and everything normal took three times as long. With a recovery period quoted in years rather than weeks time began to feel different. I had so little time spare that I had to get to the nub of spending time how my soul needed and what emerged from valuable sessions with my wonderful life coach Heidi-Mai, was art… making… creating, colour, I felt like there was a whole lot of colour and creations inside me that needed to be let out into the world. And so my visual art journey changed up a gear and I began to prioritise this work, moving it from the ‘indulgent, blissful hobby’ to the ‘if I don’t have much time available I’m going to spend it on what feels great’. And with a feeling of naughty delight I signed up for an Art Foundation course.
What an exploration it has been, and continues to be. I’ve always enjoyed a steep learning curve and staying on such a curve keeps me interested and motivated.
In the first four years I’ve had a solo exhibition, had work in four public exhibitions, have begun teaching fabric design techniques, have shared art skills in school, created commissioned artworks, designs, infographics, videos, animations and have made products from miniature pot plants to fabric birds.
I don’t know where the work is leading and when I’m in the creative moment I don’t think it really matters where or whether it leads. For me creating and making is calming, rejuvenating and present. It’s my antidote to the harrowing stories that the media try to intrude into my calm.
Here are my favourite pieces from the past four years. I look forward to seeing what will emerge from my work in the future.
I’m not stopping here. I’m busy preparing for my next workshop on Sunday 2nd June at Stitched Up and Fleeced, Sheffield.
I’m working on personal projects and strategic commercial communications. I’ve a plan for a book, watch this space, and have some exciting collaborations ahead.
Here are my favourite posts from the past four years:
Here are anniversary stories from the years you may have missed. I’ve always worked on the proviso that my work will improve, although I’ve a good way to go to be at the level I aspire to, when I reflect I can see the progression. Practice makes better…
This one day workshop gives the opportunity to bring stitch into the fabric design process. Stitching before and/or after transferring designs onto the fabric gives some beautiful effects and is fun to explore.
You can bring your own sewing machine or use one of the studio’s machines.
With an idea to create doll I drew sketches then began assembling pieces of fabric that I had created through exploration with free machine embroidery techniques and heat sensitive fabric paints.
I’ll be demonstrating how to design and colour fabric in this way at a workshop on Sunday 2nd June. More details here and to follow.
I arranged the fabric pieces I’d created and stitched them together on my beloved Bernina before free motion embroidering further details of my favourite things, swimming fish, tulips, spiral shapes, hearts and flowers.
Once I had the assembled and embroidered a length of fabric I drew pattern shapes and then cut them from the fabric thinking carefully about the placement of the different designs, details and colours, so as to create a striking bright design and balance where the colours popped against each other.
I stitched the legs and arms front to backs and she started to take shape.
My optician had asked me to capture my colourful Johann Von Goisern frames with my artwork so this seemed a good opportunity for a shot for this. The optician called it ‘frames and threads’ and shared it on their social media.
As the doll has two facial expressions one eyes open and one in calm restful bliss I needed only a little hair. I had a small piece of the bias binding leftover that I had pressed with magenta coloured heat sensitive paints, and wax relief of Passion flower tendrils, for the draught excluder project.
Turns out she’s a sun lover, I spotted her relaxing in the sunshine as I rethreaded my needle.
This work gave rise to the idea of placing supportive words and phrases on a doll to reassure and inspire the owner when life feels its most challenging, I’m going to develop that idea further.
Try it yourself:
All of these pieces of fabric were plain white when I began this project. Using heat sensitive paints I added colour and design to the fabrics to create something unique and original.
You can learn and explore these wonderful dye and stitch techniques, creating with colours and designs that you love to make something beyoutiful and uniquely you.
Join me on Sunday 2nd June at Stitched Up and Fleeced in Sheffield. 10 – 4 pm, £60. A wonderful day, no experience necessary.
You can book now by messaging your interest at this link.
Thanks for reading and I hope you’ve enjoyed this work.
I’m off to draw the doll now in different poses and develop a story around her.
If you’ve enjoyed this post these are other projects that you may enjoy seeing…
Now don’t get me wrong it’s not that I don’t like peppers. I find them deliciously tasty, but it took some years to pinpoint that being doubled over with severe stomach cramps, hot and cold sweats, three days when I couldn’t get out of bed, diahorrea until my system was empty, was due to eating bell peppers.
Give me a chilli and I’m happy and fine, but a fragment of bell pepper or a pinch of paprika and I loose the next few hours at least. Until my body has painfully fought the peppers and kicked them back out of my system.
It was suggested to me by a GP that it may be IBS, which is why I believe some people could be thinking and dealing with what they believe is IBS when they might just need to drop peppers from their diet.
Heatpressing hand painted peppers
Machine rendering after hand sewing
Now peppers are very nutritious for some people, but they can be anaphylaxic for some. However they are almost never listed on food menus and food packaging as allergens. Often they’re not written on food menus, despite them being part of the dish. Due to their colourfulness peppers are often used in ‘food on the go’ meals such as salads. Really helpfully they’re often finely chopped and written in minuscule font on the ingredients list on packaging.
So I just want to make people, you even, more aware of the possible reactions and physical responses to peppers. Maybe this work can take away someone’s pain or discomfort.
So I’m asking people to think before they eat and serve bell peppers and paprika, I’m asking food retailers to think before they add bell peppers and paprika and to make it as an allergen, and for restaurants to always state where bell peppers and paprika have been used in their dishes. And please use a different chopping board for peppers.
Thank you for reading to the end. Next time you eat peppers just observe in the time afterwards how you feel. If you have any of the symptoms listed in this article you might want to see if the symptoms clear up or cease.
Eat happy, be happy, consider pushing aside the peppers.
Free Download – I’ve created an illustrated download for those with Bell Pepper allergies and intolerances. This is for use in restaurants, hotels at home and abroad. Please feel free to print and/or share this with someone that it may help, and to raise awareness of this food allergy. Card size set to 9 x 13cm.
Related work: Work that relates to the techniques is at the following links. I often find that the work is stepping stones to the next creation, like a bright creative path where the next step is revealed upon completion of the present one. These creative projects led to this work.
White dog portrait created in silks, yarn and thread on dyed fabric.
After the success of the embroidered portrait earlier this year I decided to try to create an embroidered portrait of Sam, the white dog that has featured in a number of my paper artworks, and whom I painted previously in acrylic paints before, paintings which became an illustrated children’s book.
I chose a teal/ turquoise cotton fabric that I had dyed. I chose the colour as it was the colour of Sam’s favourite toy, and echoes the style of the portraits that I painted on bright bold coloured backgrounds.
I gradually built the design using hand sewing, deciding to add fluffy white yarn that was left after I knitted the jumper on jumbo needles.
I was struggling to get a likeness and lost momentum in the project so decided to inject some energy by continuing the piece on my sewing machine with a transparent foot, and also with a darning foot to use free motion embroidery techniques.
This worked and I was able to sew into the design, develop the likeness and then finished the final elements by hand. Here’s a 43 seconds short video of how the work developed.
I’m pleased with the final outcome and can now decide how best to display the work in my gallery.
Related posts which feature Sam or similar techniques are here…
April was a bright and creative month, here are the highlights from my Instagram feed. Enjoy!
Better late than never!
First up was a cupcake themed cushion that I made for a close relation.
Lush pink, grey and teal design. It was a huge pattern repeat so I made a booster cushion with different parts of the design front and back. As I know I’ll be asked the question, the fabric was from Direct Knit and Sew in Sheffield.
Ta da! Here’s the finished cushion. It really was a work of love as it was for someone I love and I love the outcome. The pink ribbon edging the cushion really makes the colours pop.
As a small sofa-friendly project over the easter weekend I decided to embark on a small embroidered portrait of the little dog that spends some days with me.
I found a high res picture that really showed the detail, and began first to represent the darkest areas gradually and carefully colour matching the different tones with embroidery silks, and representing the different textures. I took a drawing in silks approach, using drawing techniques that I use in life drawings.
I was pleased with how the embroidery began to take on his likeness and reflect some of his character. I added a paw print, from a picture I captured of it whilst walking during a snowfall.As I liked how the portrait looked in the embroidery hoop I decided to turn that into the frame, giving it a collar effect using a football boot lace (ssshh!)
The little dog is a lhasa apso with a lovely coat and sooo cute. He’s a great little guy who it is fun company.
The little dog’s owner was really pleased with the picture and how it captured the detail of his face and coat.
This is not the first cute dog that I have had the pleasure of capturing in art, I previously used acrylic paint to illustrate a children’s book about a white dog called Sam who wanted to fly.
Its been a pleasure to share this story and its fab to have you here, please share my site with friends who’ll enjoy it x
I write my blog as story by story I’m logging my creative journey and writing my book. If you’d like to read the chapters as they are created you can follow this blog. It’s presently a small and select group but it would’ve lovely to have you join us. 😊
Ta da: I’m delighted to share the Inspire by Kim bear. Made from fabrics that I have designed using techniques including batik, tie dye, dry point printing.
When flicking through a magazine that my friend brought two years ago after my knee injury I saw a bear pattern that I just had to make in my fabrics.
Now I’m not naturally a recipe/ pattern/ instruction follower by nature, but my keenness to make the bear helped me follow the steps in the Craft Seller article, which surprised both me and my loved ones.
There was a little magic happened when I started making in fabrics that I have created myself. I chose contrasting fabrics ext to each other for a colourful, as you’d expect from me no doubt, cheery bear.
I used free machine embroidery to add a colourful heart and make his nose.
Loving the fabric colours meant that I loved the process. The making was also a great boot camp for my sewing techniques as the size of the bear made for small seam allowances which were sometimes fiddly.
The bear is intended to delight. He carries the messages ‘Be’ and ‘Light’ as a reminder not to take things too seriously, easier said than done. His ear has the Inspire by Kim brand and he has ‘Kim’ on his foot, a little nod to the Tou Story films with Buzz Lightyear and Woody each having ‘Andy’ on their foot.
I’m wondering about adding eyes, but I’m going to sleep on that as I’m liking him just as he is right now.
I’m excited to see where this latest make will lead to next. Watch this space and follow my blog if you’ve enjoyed this post.
Related makes are: