Monthly Archives: October 2019

Tin Can Metamorphosis in Snape

Saturday was workshop day. This time I headed down the A1 to meet with Snape Textiles Group – a great bunch of women who meet regularly in their gorgeous village hall to share and extend the knowledge of textiles.

I first met the group a couple of years ago when they tackled my ‘Grand Designs’ workshop with enthusiasm- they must have enjoyed it because here I am again!

Grand Designs Beach Hut

The Grand Designs project uses a tuna or sweetie tin as the base for a 3D scene – for Tin Can Metamorphosis we were starting with mackerel tins of varying sizes, plus a few sturdy cardboard boxes.

The first task is to have an idea of the scene you want to capture and ‘treasure’ in this way – my piece shows a little bit of the North Yorkshire coast. It’s best to have an image to work from, drawing or photos. Then choose what details will make the composition- a little planning and a rough template makes it easier to complete the project!

Once the design work is sorted its time to collage the tin – I like to use old maps or reference books – cookery and gardening themes work well!

The collage can dry off whilst textile work commenced. Here’s one balanced precariously on a glue stick – well away from the fabric and delicious homemade tea loaf !

Because the pieces are small, scraps of fabric are all that’s needed to build up the image- so they are great for a bit of stash busting 😊

I bring materials and equipment to share but this group have lots of lovely fabric and samples from previous sessions to use

We have a break at lunchtime- special thanks to Mary for an excellent feast – Bread And Butter pudding!! (That’s her landscape above!)

It’s a nice opportunity to find out more about each other – the group are having an exhibition later in the year and I hope some of these pieces will feature in it.

June’s scene was inspired by a visit to ‘Leafy Buckinghamshire’. She’s used letter stamps and needle felting to create details in her scene.

Some participants like to use machine stitching and others prefer hand embroidery- either will work – just be aware that lots of hand stitching may mean it takes longer to finish the piece!

Barbara preferred not to stitch at all!

Karen was excited to find a way to repurpose a strong cardboard box with a hinged lid- it’s going to be a travel memories box – and has inspired ideas for a workshop with children at a school in India!

This one was inspired by a beautiful French stamp. There might be tiny letters flying over the top of the tin when it’s finished.

Kathryn’s will have laundry blowing over a windy North Berwick scene…when it’s finished!

img_5414Philippa is planning to add some poppies on the outside of her tin.


Allison covered her box with an image of the exterior of a cottage so she made the interior image in applique, Sarah appliqued a beautiful cottage with a garden full of Hollyhocks – she’ll be hand stitching those later…


We tried different methods of supporting the embroideries in the tins – using old felting blocks and actually needle felting recycled fibre fill to make more solid forms.

I hope that some participants will inspired to carry on and transform more tin cans into lovely stitched mementos.695952F6-2621-4327-BFEC-38898C0AE1C7.jpg

Thanks Snape Textile Group for being such lovely students- hope I’ll get to work with you again before too long!

Mondays are for Walking

Autumn is creeping in, with September gone after soaring temperatures followed by torrential rainfalls. The season change has caused us to pause and reflect on  changes in our lives here in Newcastle. Dealing with loss of loved ones leads to recallibration of priorities and needs, and so my partner has cut down his hours and I have altered mine leaving us both free to spend Mondays walking in the beautiful North East landscape. If you get the opportunity, I can recommend walking for wellbeing.

Each week we have picked a route of around 10km, in different locations; coastal, moorland, riversides and woodland. Incredibly, all the routes so far have also included remarkably good cafes! (More on that later!) I haven’t stopped to get out my sketchbook yet but have been busy with my camera and collecting bag.

The walks have provided thinking time to mull over project ideas and the landscape is certainly proving inspirational.

Week 1: From Craster to Low Newton and back, via Dunstanburgh Castle

We started this walk with tea and toast at the Shoreline Cafe in Craster, truly excellent toast!

We found this spider hanging outside one of the little cottages on the dunes near Low Newton- beautiful markings

On our return the temperature seemed to have warmed up enough to get these little frogs hopping- we had to be very careful where we put our feet!

Dunstanburgh Castle looking dramatic against the sky line,

Lunch at the Ship Inn, Low Newton. It had to be crab sandwiches and kipper fish cakes!

A mad dash back to Newcastle saw us reach Grey Street in time to catch the end of stage 3 of the Gour of Britain bike race – think we overtook them when the riders got stuck at the level crossing in Widdrington!

Week 2: Allendale  around Stobbs Cross

This walk started with a visit to an art gallery…and cafe- can you see a routine forming 🤣

We went to The Allendale Forge to see a beautiful textile art exhibition by the very talented Kate Slaughter and then got our energy levels up with a tasty vegetarian breakfast.

I found this walk quite hard, the landscape seemed bleak to me and the wind was fierce

Lower down the route, hedgerows were covered with rose hips, hawthorn berries and the last few blackberries.

We saw several beautiful brown butterflies whilst we were on the moor – I need to check if this caterpillar was related to them!

Week 3: Derwent Valley from Swalwell to Thornley Woods

We couldn’t go too far from home today- kid taxi duty later – but this gorgeous walk is only 9 miles away- so lucky to live where we do.

We walked a whole mile from the car park before ‘accidentally’ finding Land of Oak and Iron a heritage centre that just happens to have a lovely cafe attached 🤣 more toast and tea tested- 👍👍👍

We walked across the viaduct and then went down to follow the river.

Wasn’t quite so impressed to find this-almost as big as my foot!

Thornley Woods has an accessible sculpture trail- and another cafe! These walks are all easy to reach by bus from Newcastle too!

Week 4 Alnmouth to Lesbury,Bilton and Hipsburn and back

Heading up the A1 this week, calling at Swarland for…yes, tea and toast – you really need to try Nelsons in the Park 4 slices!!

I love Alnmouth, a village full of art and cafes right on the coast- this time though it was all about the river. So after a short walk along the beach we turned inland to find the Aln.

This little hut features in one of my miniature scenes

We walked through the golf course and across a field warning of bulls – luckily they seemed to be elsewhere.

This little robin was quite fierce- he flew right up to my face twice as we tried to pass him- surely it’s the wrong time of year for nesting?

Another viaduct- this trainspotter just missed the 1 o’clock to Edinburgh going overhead!

And after all those steps? A vegan spicy cauliflower pie fromScott’s of Alnmouth

I hope we can continue these walks as the weather turns, we’ve been lucky so far but if it does get grim, we might switch to urban walks with (more) cafes and cinemas!