I’m planning to make a supportive, comforting doll using fabric design techniques. My plan is that the design of the doll is made of positive affirmations and statements. The doll might be a companion to help during a really tough period in someone’s life.
I’ve been wondering what words and statement my followers would find most comforting to use when I make the doll.
Please take a moment to pop a suggestion in the comments for this post.
Please feel free to forward this post to someone you know who this idea might resonate with.
These images are my work that has led to this idea.
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.
Years in the making, and hundreds of tiny details in paper, but I’m pleased to have completed my Brighton inspired Seaside Arches.
In a big move forward for me I am, for the first time, offering three paperart originals for sale in my Folksy shop. (Act quick before I change my mind).
The British seaside inspired this piece. I tried to keep to a limited colour palette, which is tricky as I love colour so much. The steam train is arriving at the seaside where the arches are a tea and ice-cream cafe, a beach paraphernalia shop and a boutique with pretty dresses, hats and handbags. The picture captures a warm sunny day with brightly coloured bunting being tousled by the warm, salty sea breeze.
This time the small white dog Sam is joined by my new little four legged friend, thanks to www.BorrowMyDoggy.com, with both wearing neckerchiefs.
There’s a deckchair and beach towel available for anyone wanting to imagine themself into the pretty seaside scene. Hmmm memories of happy days by the sea.
This winter scene is influenced by gingerbread houses, ski trips to the Alps and Russia, my love of ice skating and a chocolatier selling from a street booth I spotted in Lisbon. There’s a shift in the scene from Autumn trees into winter and the cosyness of festive lights.
Going to the seaside is all about breaking away from the norms and city to race eagerly towards the seaside, the East coast of England in this picture, the shores of Lincolnshire and Norfolk. A pretty cottage awaits the family’s arrival with a fun big wheel and ice cream van to cool down after some sunny time on the beach.
People always ask how long the pictures take to make but I’m never counting the hours as I find a happy space in cutting and placing each piece of paper to build the picture. It can be almost meditative. I most like to do this work at the table in our garden but it’s rare for sunny days still enough to work with such tiny pieces of paper; they can so easily be carried by the wind, but those rare days are magical.
I’m going to be bringing my paper art skills together with the fabric design techniques I’ve been exploring to create some cut paper fabric designs. There, now I’ve said it here I’ll make it happen. Watch this space and see more at my Instagram feed.
It’s a year this week since my Heat Press machine arrived and made it possible for me to press my painted designs from paper onto fabric.
I’ve been reflecting on the work and continue to enjoy exploring the potentials of this colourful science of heat sensitive dyes.
Here are the highlights of the work using these fabric design techniques.
Most recently this colourful doll. All the fabric was white when I began the work. I added colour and stitch inspired by my favourite things.
One of the first things I made with my machine was this miniature bunting.
As I wanted flowers to always be at our Juliet balcony I created this tulip box draught excluder.
To help me relax and snooze whilst travelling I made this pretty eye mask, printing the fabric and the bias binding with my hand painted designs.
In a campaign to raise awareness of bell pepper allergies and intolerances I created this piece by painting then free motion embroidery.
I collaged pieces of painted paper to create this portrait.
My latest make was tennis themed bunting, joined with heat pressed ribbon, as part of promotion work for a tennis club.
In February I created samples to show different techniques and shared these at a half day workshop. Thanks so much to the workshop attendees, it was wonderful to see how you enjoyed putting your designs onto fabric. I can’t wait to see your creations with the fabrics you designed and made.
One of my favourite creations was the miniature cheese plant. Using hand painted leaves I pressed them onto satin, and using wire I stitched them and arranged them into this pretty home decor gem which doesn’t need watering or tending.
There’s the opportunity to play with these techniques and design your fabric for a craft, fashion or home decor project at my next workshop.
I’ll be demonstrating and teaching these techniques at a one day workshop in Sheffield on Sunday June 2nd. The workshop is at Stitched Up and Fleeced studio from 10 – 4pm, £60.
The one day workshop will bring stitch techniques into the process to explore how stitch can be used before and/or after pressing the designs onto fabric, to achieve some beautiful effects.
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 there will always be flowers 🌷 by my window. Started with plain white fabric and hand painted the design before printing it onto the white fabric.
From my initial marker drawing to being in use, my designer draught excluder, here’s the story in a less than 40 seconds video.
Painted designs ready for pressing into the fabric.
I reused filling from the previous draught excluder, which the fabric had worn through.
I’m delighted with the end result it’s practical and pretty at our juliet balcony.
I like the immediacy of these fabric design techniques. It takes just 30 seconds to transfer the painted design from paper to fabric. I only use the fabric I print, not having to buy patterned fabric by measurement and trying to match up the patterns, with lots left over. I can just work with white fabrics and print the panels to the size and scale for whatever I am making. This can be reusing and repurposing fabric, anything from clothing to pillowcases. The designs are entirely my own and are unique and unrepeatable. This uniqueness and bespoke nature of these techniques is the magic that I’ve found, and that I enjoy sharing through workshop sessions.
Follow my blog to see dates of upcoming workshops or email me if you’re interested in a one to one session email@example.com