Author Archives: donnacheshiretextiles

About donnacheshiretextiles

I am a professional textile artist specializing in Appliqué and free motion stitching. In order to create a unique colour palette, I print and dye my own fabrics and then use these to create the landscapes and coastal scenes recorded in my sketchbook. I often incorporate found objects and recycled or vintage fabrics in my work - they add meaning to the story the work is telling. I love being so close to the Northumbrian coast and countryside and I especially like taking time out for tea and cake!

Working from home …

Well, I do that anyway! so not much change there! I did do this at the weekend…

Civil Partners…after 31 years !

But after 31 years thats only a little change too!

I’m trying to keep up a work routine, although that little inner critic voice is saying “Why??? Everything is cancelled or postponed!” So, I’m shouting back – “Because being creative is good for your wellbeing you Numpty! And we have to believe that shows and exhibitions will return at some point – don’t we?”

So here’s this morning’s progress on my hare in the wild flowers. It took me a little while to identify all the flowers I was including but there’s yarrow, lady’s bedstraw and greater knapweed. I think there will be some low growing flowers and some grasses too. I like the idea of Yorkshire Fog- that’s Holcus Ianatus – it sounds like an incantation doesn’t it!

So this one will start to get appliquéd and stitched in the next couple of days.

Here is the second piece I finished recently, again it’s 40 x 40cm, unframed as yet. It shows part of a walk we took last Summer, along the Glen Rosa valley on the Isle of Arran. Looking at it, I know where I’d like to be today – but the sun is shining outside and I have some seeds to plant in my little garden later and Glen Rosa will still be there when we all get through this so, chins up everyone – get creative and take care of yourselves 😉

Following the water, Glen Rosa, Isle of Arran 2020

Stitching my way through

March is definitely turning into a month with lots of extra studio time! I’ve been trying to finish some work that’s been hanging around my ‘to do’ list for a little while. Here’s a detail of an embroidery ‘repair I’m doing for a friend . These poppies are going to cover a little tear in her favourite coat, I’ll get them stitched on securely and then she can have the coat back – although given the current situation maybe she’ll get it in time for next Autumn!

The flowers were stitched onto some silk with freemotiom embroidery, I worked the outline through a tissue paper tracing first, then ‘painted’ in the detail adding a few hand embroidered french knots. I’m going to fix them to the coat with some fabric glue and then hand stitch to secure around the edge. (Yes, I did test the glue and fabrics first to make sure theres no leak through or other damage!)

I got as far as getting my two most recent pieces stretched and scanned ready for printing cards and making embellished giclees, but I didn’t get them to the framers for their frames and now I’m not sure if I’ll be able to for a while but here is a picture of the piece inspired by the Pembrokeshire coast – I went there last Summer, the wild flowers on the cliff path were so beautiful and the sea really was that ridiculous blue.

Pembroke Cliff Path 40 x 40 cm unframed 2020

I’m still developing my Urban Efflorescence pieces and will share images of the piece I’m doing for the http://fusiontextileartists.com/donna-cheshire-textile-artist/ exhibition. The next few in the series will feature wildlife as well as wild flowers; last year I stitched a hare for the community project I did with the wonderful WhichCraft group in Northumberland and I’ve been wanting to incorporate animals in my own work ever since! As I said at the start – now’s the time! https://donnacheshiretextiles.com/2018/05/01/south-charlton/

That’s all for now as I’m off to do something quite important at the Civic Centre later on today – I’ll let you in on the secret later – but for now I’m just very grateful that it can go ahead – if on a slightly smaller scale than we originally planned !

Hoping everyone is keeping happy and creative out there!

Donna x

Wild flowers and strange times

It’s been a day of getting on with things – workshops to prepare and exhibition dates looming – but all with the threat of postponement or cancellation as the Corvid19 virus swirls around the globe.

I read a very lovely article by someone who has to stay home most of the time for health reasons, advisng on good practice for people new to self isolation or working from home. My big tip after a stressful weekend is to limit news and social media viewing – so I can get on with making rather than fretting! ( Bimblings by Josie George if you’re interested)

So today I have got all ready for a workshop with 60 children tomorrow (I know- right!) We’re going to be silk painting lovely, colourful scenes that the children have designed. So that’s 60 frames filled with silk, 30 pipettes filled with gutta, silk paints packed, palettes and fine brushes packed, samples made and some of my work packed because I’m also going to do a short presentation to the whole school about my work as an artist – they’re on a two week Arts focus – lovely to see!

This afternoon I’ve been hand stitching different elements of my next (Extended) Urban Efflorescence piece – this is one of the words I’m including

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and of course it took me right back to thinking about the crazy ongoing situation where people maybe aren’t thinking about sharing enough as they stockpile toilet paper and bread flour! Wouldn’t it be lovely if we came out of this crazy period as expert bakers! I like the idea of the nation spending their time in self isolation learning the magic of sour dough and plaited loaves! My street has set up a Whatsapp group so we can help each other out if necessary – I’m sure baking tips will soon be flying about but today’s chat was mainly about whether you cn buy a guillotine in Lidl and who in the street might be up for knitting by said guillotine! Needless to say – I’ve had to mute the conversation so I can get on with some work!

Here’s another word that seems relevant  – trying to be content with the shrinking focus of things, I have lots of books to read, sketchbooks to fill and threads to use so that will keep me content!

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We’ve had to postpone a pretty big event we’d planned for the weekend so we’re trying to remain content with the knowledge that it is just a postponement and not a cancellation – at least I’ve got more time to finish the bunting I’ve been making!

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The work I do in hospitals is being postponed too, understandably hospitals are trying to reduce footfall where possible. So, I’m going to post some project ideas on the Facebook page for the organisation I work for – why don’t you bob over and take a look? Its @RoomforYouArtsinHealth you never know, there might be something you’d like to share or have a go at making to keep you contented as we go through this strange time 🙂

 

Exhibition Time again

2020 Exhibitor Badge - JPEG

I’m very pleased and excited to say that I will be exhibiting my textile artwork at Art in The Pen in Thirsk this July! I’ve nearly finished the second in a series of four new appliqués for this and have lots more work to do – obviously! (Already been to the framer’s this afternoon!) I’ll update this post with images and details of other events I’ll be exhibiting at this year -ASAP! Scurries back to sewing machine and sketchbooks……

Wild Flower Workshop

I will be leading a workshop that has evolved from my work on wild flowers at the wonderful Land of Oak and Iron in May – it would be lovely to see you there!

WILDFLOWERS IN STITCHES

fullsizeoutput_fabMAP ROOM, LAND OF OAK & IRON HERITAGE CENTRE

Saturday 2 May 2020, 10am – 4pm

Wildflowers are a beautiful feature in the Land of Oak & Iron, they signify the changing seasons as they bloom and seed.

In this workshop you will create a piece of textile art inspired by native wildflowers, using materials such as hand dyed fabrics and lace, along with embroidery.

The workshop is led by award winning textile artist Donna Cheshire. Cost £45 including tea/coffee, booking essential.
To find out more: http://www.landofoakandiron.org.uk/whats-on

Hosted by Groundwork NE & Cumbria
FIND US: WWW.LANDOFOAKANDIRON.ORG.UK

Do Your Own Thing..

Tuesday was such a lovely day! My first public workshop of 2020 – held at the lovely Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead.

I started out early so I could squeeze in my regular Tuesday swim before the workshop and managed a kilometre even though I forgot my goggles 🥽- tried swimming with my eyes shut NOT a good idea when you’re swimming in lanes !

The workshop was designed to share methods to help develop unique and personal approaches to creating art – in textiles or other media. First, a talk about how looking at other artists work can help us to make progress with our own work. Then some practical drawing exercises.

Working with a lovely group,I talked about what is ‘Critical for Creativity’ using a methodology I learnt in my first teaching post  – last century!!  We explored how to follow up when a piece of art catches our attention, using a bit of detective work to find out more about artwork and artist – no stalking! I used an example from my own experience – talking about how my love of Vincent van Gogh’s work influenced the creation of  my piece ‘Shingle and Stars’

Shingle and Stars

Shingle and Stars, the influence of Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Having talked through how to analyse an artwork – and spend longer than 15 seconds looking  at it! We went through to the gallery and everyone chose a piece of work that appealed to then to try the methodology themselves. I then talked a little more about how I continue to use this methodology and how it helps me to develop as an artist – stressing the importance of continuing to ‘feed’ ones creativity and imagination by learning from other artists. I shared the impact that more recent art ‘crushes’ have had on my own work such as Joan Eardley . The power and scale of her work has encouraged me to work bigger, and her use of collage encourages me in my choice of processes.

Then it was time to tackle drawing – now I know from my experience with students and workshop participants that those who stitch often say they can not draw! But I want to encourage drawing as a way of developing ideas, experimenting and… enjoying the process! So, I put together a series of tasks that would encourage the group to engage with their chosen subject matter and think about what exactly they needed to get from a drawing.

We started by working very quickly, with a range of media and NO Rubbers! When there is only a minute to draw, what do you focus on? The form, the texture? Mark making? Working on sketches for a minute or two can be surprising – it’s amazing how much information you can capture and, as you’ve only spent 60 seconds you don’t feel that pressure for it to be ‘good’ or look ‘right’. I encourage participants to make notes about the drawing experience as we go on …. what works, how it feels, what ideas pop into their heads whilst doing the drawing, the process of drawing can help to clarify the ideas of the artwork to come.

We finished the afternoon with a more extended piece – but drawing using collage – a process that really helps me in my applique and free motion embroidery work.

As with any workshop – I wouldn’t ask participants to do anything I haven’t done myself! So here is one of my 5 minute sketches – and the developing textile work. Once again, the magic of drawing has helped me extend the ideas I have for a piece of work and set me off down another creative pathway…lets see where this one leads to!

Weeds

A continuous line drawing – 5 minutes

 

Weeds

Weeds transferred to soluble film and ready to stitch

Weeds - stitched

Free motion embroidery and applique ready to wash off

I think that I will do several fragments in this way to add further layers to my Urban Efflorescence pieces. I only hope the participants got as much out of the workshop as I did!

I will be running more workshops this year, at the Shipley and independantly, please get in touch if you’d be interested in booking a workshop for your group – and head over to my workshop page for upcoming events!

 

 

Upcoming Events

This Saturday sees my final selling event of 2019 – catch me and about a dozen other lovely artists at the Queens Hall in Hexham from 10 am – 4pm

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I’ll be doing more workshops for the public in 2020 check out the events list for The Shipley Art Gallery and also look out for me at the lovely Land of Oak and Iron

I’ll also be popping up at the Late Shows 2020 at Gateshead Library and exhibiting in the gallery there with my friends from Fusion Textiles

For now, I’m joining in with the fabulous Just A Card campaign and then I’ll be spending December making some new work – and maybe getting a little bit festive!

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A wild month of workshops

Work has been a whirlwind of workshops lately- added to my usual Wednesdays of hospital art I’ve worked in three different primary schools, had a return visit to a textile group and held my first workshop in the wonderful Shipley Art Gallery

Participants have transformed tin cans, stitched scenes of The Great War, used silk paints, made African inspired textiles, crocheted flowers hooked rugs and hand stitched beach hut scenes.

(Quite a lot of prep work has been involved 😅)

The workshop at the Shipley was a first experience for several reasons- working in the venue, adapting one of my workshops to be sewing machine free, and working with two different groups of 20 participants in the course of the day !

The Shipley staff planned a day where participants could work with two different artists in one day ( Hello, Marian Hernandez Villada a colourful painter and lovely human 😄). One group would do a watercolour painting whilst another would stitch, after a short lunch break they swapped over. So workshop projects had to be achievable in just a couple of hours!

I began making these little beach hut scenes right at the start of my career as a full time artist. I must have made dozens by now- but always using at least 2 sewing machines with a little bit of hand sewing! Adapting them for hand stitch took a little bit of experimentation. I decided that the CAD stitched huts were key, so I made several batches of these- I’ve got the stitch design worked out so that I can stitch six at a time – changing the colours as I go. So I prepared about 60 little huts in different colour ways for participants to choose from.

Each little hut sits in its own mini landscape, so I needed to work out how to convert this from my machine stitched appliqué to hand stitch – and to make sure I had enough of the recycled ‘matching game’ cards that each little scene is framed on.

Luckily, now that I run workshops regularly I have a ridiculous amount of embroidery hoops to access ( thank you Barnyarns for getting 40 hoops to me very quickly- and then another 20 🤣 I’m sure I could do a very ‘Anthropologie‘ style display with them all at some point!)

40 hoops were fitted with squares of my hand dyed fabric in shades of blue. A quick count up showed there were just enough card pieces in my ‘random stuff that will be useful one day store’ ! There were definitely enough fabric scraps, buttons, beads and trims available (have you SEEN my workroom 🤣)

I felt it was important, also, to have a worksheet for guidance – 20 participants for just over 2 hours equals not a lot of individual tutoring! Having a worksheet listing stages in development, plus a template helps keep people going with the task.

I definitely thought I’d done the ‘Belt and Braces’ approach to workshop planning- and I think the day did go well although next time I’ll make sure my other half leaves me a car KEY 🔑 as well as the car so I don’t have to book a last minute taxi with a big boot!

The day was great fun, participants jumped into the task. A lovely crowd of women of all ages, with a couple of familiar faces 😊. I hope I was doing my ‘swan’ impression – you know; looking serene on the surface whilst frantically ‘paddling’ to keep things on track. (Thank you Kerry for insisting I had 10 minutes off site to eat lunch 😊).

It was interesting to see that there was a difference in the way the morning and afternoon groups worked – the morning group took a little longer planning out their beach hut scenes, the afternoon group dived straight in – creative muscles warmed up by their morning of painting? Just about everyone completed their pieces- a few took away the driftwood and wires to make hangers but the scenes were stitched in the session 🧵😄

By 4.30 pm I was all packed up and ready for home – just a short wait for my very apologetic OH to show up – he made the supper that night 🤣

Thank you to everyone who came to the workshop, to the Shipley for providing such a lovely venue and to Kerry Cook of Tyne & Wear Museums and Archives for letting me loose in there ! (Hope we didn’t leave any pins behind!)

And… they’re letting me back in! So do check the Shipley Art Gallery website for their next series of workshops in the Spring!

Oh and in the meantime- come and see me here on November 30th!

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.

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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!