…Saturday Wash Day…

Following yesterday’s mammoth dye session, this morning has seen me tied to the kitchen sink (ūüėāNOT my usual location!) all the dyed fabrics have been rinsed in cold water –

Dark Matter!

Rough tops and rough terrain

Wash day Blues


Spring Greens

So now it’s in the machine and I think it’s time for a cuppa whilst I wait ūüėä

Friday Dye Day

As I’m busy making new work for several shows at the moment, I’ve been very aware that my stash of hand dyed fabrics is diminishing. 

I dye natural  fibre fabrics with procion dyes so that I can have the same control over colour as a painter mixing their own colours might have. Presoaking the fabrics and then painting on the dyes allows me to layer up the dyes to create primary, secondary and tertiary colours. I can also create textures by using different brushes and sponges to apply the dye. 

Pots of dye mixed and ready to be applied

Greens are going to be important in new work I have planned; as I’ll be doing more landscapes I will need everything from acid yellow greens through to dark olive and bottle hues. 

Then I’ll also need blues; for the ocean- from slatey dark tones to almost Mediterranean turquoise.

There will also be buildings, rocks and cliffs to construct in fabric and thread. 

This is going to be my surprise selection- I didn’t want to waste the dyes left over after the painting session so I found more fabrics and added everything to a dye bath. I haven’t stirred the mixture so I’ll see what happens tomorrow when I wash everything off. 

All the fabrics are wrapped up in plastic so that the dye doesn’t dry out – this means the dye molecules have longer to soak into the fibres and there should produce stronger colours. 

All I have to do now is wait until tomorrow when I can unwrap the bundles, wash off the fabrics and see the results…..

Exhibition Season begins 

The last few days have been taken up with setting up and previewing the Fusion Textile Artists Network exhibition at Gallery45 in Felton. 

The first of almost monthly events I’m involved in this year, the Fusion show is called Connections.  Ten artists are exhibiting new textile artwork developed in response to that one word title. 

As with any exhibition, there are little hiccoughs…getting everyone and everything to the gallery on the right day and at the same time,  working out the hanging system, finding all the labels and stock sheets…if you’ve ever had to do it you’ll know what I mean! 

Unwrapping and sorting the work is always pleasing, seeing what my talented colleagues have created. Underneath the protective layers of cloth and bubble wrap lie examples of hand and machine stitch, beading, dyeing and more.

With only a few hours to get the job done, we clear the space and put the work out around the room. 

We try out groupings, thinking about how each work relates to the next and settle upon an order where more muted, tonal pieces gradually lead on to stronger colour palettes.

Then it’s time for the serious step work out – up and down the step ladders hanging and adjusting pieces, using the spirit level to check things are straight and grouping by ‘eye’. Up the ladder, adjust, down the ladder, step back and review…back up the ladder- no wonder my legs feel like they’ve climbed a mountain! 

I headed off to do school run duties and print out the labels on card, leaving the others to do final tweaks. I think, we were all pretty pleased with the end result.

The opening event was on Saturday, we got there early to put up the labels and sort out last minute bits and pieces. Then it was time to celebrate with tea and cake ūüėä. It was lovely to meet and greet people and share the ideas behind the work. 

The exhibition shows great variety, demonstrating the versatility of textile media. Fabric, thread and mixed media are used to create abstract, representational, 2D and 3D pieces. 

So, that’s the first show of the season up – now I’m back on to preparing for the trade fair at the start of next month. 

‘Connections’ is on until the 5th May. If you get to see it please leave a comment in the visitors book- we look forward to reading your views! 

Connections at Gallery 45

Gallery 45 is a gorgeous venue in Felton, Northumberland. From Saturday, the gallery will be holding the latest exhibition of Textile Art made by members of the Fusion Textile Artists Network. The exhibition is called ‘Connections’. The theme has been freely interpreted by the members of the network, so there will be a wide range of subject matter and textile processes to view.


Kathleen Thompson РSunset 

We spent a weekend working with Textile Artist Shelley Rhodes in the Long Room at the gallery last Autumn. Some of the pieces in this new exhibition have developed from that workshop.


Jill Paterson

The work will be exhibited in the main gallery and in the Long Room and will be on display from March 4th until May 5th. There will be an opening event where you will be able to meet some of the artists this Saturday, 4th March, from 11am – 1pm – refreshments will be available!


Deborah Cooper

The gallery itself is open from 10 – 5 Tuesday to Saturday and 11-4 on Sunday.

For my part, I’ve been exploring the connection one feels with the landscape; how that natural space can be healing and soothing. I love the feeling of being somewhere¬†that is so open, beautiful and powerful. The landscape precedes us and will continue long after we are gone. There is much research to show that connecting with nature is beneficial to our health and well being. I have been visiting and recording the landscapes of Northumberland and Scotland and it is this work that I will be including in the exhibition.


Donna Cheshire – Glen Rosa;Swirling thoughts, tumbling water, 2017.

All the pieces are created using hand coloured fabrics and free machine embroidery. It is quite a slow process but it encourages contemplation  and I like the painterly effect it achieves.


Donna Cheshire – Frozen in Time, 2017

As part of the exhibition programme, I will be running my Tin Can Metamorphis Workshop on Saturday 25th March. If you’d like to come along to this please contact the gallery direct!

A Gift Box

I work part time in hospital arts, with patients facing life limiting illness. Sometimes I work with patients and their loved ones helping and encouraging them to make art but sometimes I get asked to make pieces for the hospital.

I was asked to create a new donations box for St Bede’s, it took  a little while but it is now finished!

I wanted to create the mood of a beautiful garden and used needle felting, a process I often use with participants, embellished with hand and free machine embroidery. There’s a lot of French knots on there! 

Hope you like it! 

Grand Designs Workshop

One of the great things about being a textile artist is being able to share my passion for creativity with others, I offer a range of workshops and talks that can be tailored to meet the needs of all ages and abilities.

I’ve just spent a lovely couple of days in North Yorkshire. ¬†The fabulous Snape Textile Group invited me down to teach my workshop on making 3D beach huts and garden sheds.


The village itself is gorgeous  Рreached via an avenue of lime trees with a carpet of snowdrops and aconites.The village hall, right in the centre of the village, was a perfect venue.

Lots of room to spread out and the newly refurbished kitchen meant hot food and plenty¬†of cuppas were available – big thanks to Mary and Sarah! Having lunch together was a great way to find out more about the group’s interests – even if it did go a bit off topic sometimes (murder and mayhem with your apple sponge anyone!!)

So working with a group of 12 each day we got cracking on converting old tin cans into ‘des res’ on a miniature scale.

The main elements of these pieces are the building (obviously!) the side panel that wraps around the tin and the ‘ground’ that the building sits on. its important to have a good plan of what the finished piece will look like , so that each of the elements will harmonise and make a complimentary whole. Other than that, its up to the maker as to what the finished item will look like – a beach retreat? a gardener’s hide away? There’s lots of fun to be had working out how to make miniature features to perfect the scene – this time I shared top tips for making bunting…and cabbages!

It was lovely to see everyone get stuck in and really engage with the project. I’d sent down a materials list prior to the workshop and I always bring a lot of supplies to help people along, so the hall was soon a colourful hub full of beads, threads, fabrics and tins! (Frist job; check that the templates fit around your chosen tin – if not – adapt them!)

It is easiest to customise the building before it is constructed, so people added doors and windows, embroidered flowers and made bunting. Similarly, the roof can be one piece of fabric, or can be layered with tiles and finished with rick rack or ribbon. Decisions, decisions!!


The side panel wraps around the tin lets you ‘set the scene’ of the building, this weekend we had pebbles, flower gardens, fish and boats decorating the surfaces.

After a full day of stitching and constructing we had some very nearly¬†complete¬†Grand Designs, the plan is that the group will get their pieces completed for their annual show at the end of August…I can’t wait to see the final results!


Life as a Textile Artist

It’s been a busy few days! Workshops, talks, new work and hospital arts.

St Bede’s Hospice have asked for a new project that will help transform a small sitting room into a quiet and restful sanctuary for patients, family and staff. I have designed a wall feature of 5 or 6 long panels that will cover the back wall of the room. Together, the panels will create a tranquil, garden scene. The design will include flowers, foliage, insects, birds and bird houses. The bird houses will be pockets, into which people can tuck thoughts and messages for their loved ones.

My intention is that patients and visitors (and staff!) will help to make the flowers, birds and so on. These will be painted onto silk and then appliqued onto the painted background. We have also received a lovely donation of fabric scraps which will be used to create more of the garden details.

Meanwhile, in the Chemotherapy units, another donation has inspired the workshops; we were given a big tub full of all sorts of buttons. Its great fun just to sort through them all thinking about what garment they might have come from. However, its nice to have something to make, so for the last couple of weeks we’ve been making button jewellery. Another donation provided the means of stringing the buttons – old suture thread – waste not want not!

For the next few sessions, we will still be using the buttons but this time they are going to become flowers with felt and sequin additions!

On Saturday, I was being a ‘Crafty Hen‘, assisting at a workshop for a Bride-to-Be and her friends. It’s a lovely thing to do – each party chooses their craft workshop – it might be to make Fascinators to wear to the wedding, bunting for the reception or, as in this case, a patchwork quilt. The participants each make patchwork squares for the quilt, perhaps thinking about how their friendship with the Bride (and Groom) came about, or using wedding motifs like rings, hearts etcetera. This time we got a cat, Tinkerbell and views of mountain walks in amongst the wedding dresses and champagne glasses!

On Sunday, I met up with my fellow ‘Fusionistas’ (the textile network I belong to – Fusion Textile Network North East). We spent a happy afternoon going over plans for our next exhibition (at Gallery 45 in Felton, Northumberland) and also doing a bit of eco dyeing – any similarity to a coven of witches around a cauldron was, purely, coincidental! Now we just have the agonising wait whilst the bundles of fabric, thread and paper dry out naturally, before we can unwrap and see what colours and images have been transferred.

Monday involved a trip to Ponteland Embroiderers’ Guild. I was booked to give an illustrated talk about ‘Life as a Textile Artist’ – see what I did with the title of this blog post! I do find this a useful thing to, once I’ve got my head around the idea of talking to a group of people about what I do all day! I have to think about what has influenced and inspired me, how I developed the techniques I use and what other skills I have had to acquire to enable me to call myself a professional. This gives me an opportunity to reflect on how things are going, what I perhaps need to do to keep on track and what I should develop further. This time, after the talk, I discussed sketchbooks with a few people – we all appreciated their importance but recognised the need to use them more! Everyone uses them in a unique way, to record, file and develop ideas. I find that I have several sketchbooks on the go at once, as I work on several projects at the same time. this means that I sometimes lose track of what is where! So my learning point from Monday afternoon is to try and keep my sketchbooks in a more orderly fashion…well, I can try!

And today, after catching up with admin-I made a start… more developments for the ‘Connections’ exhibition linking into my connection with the Isle of Arran and with landscape generally. 

A work in progress …