British Craft Trade Fair 2017

bubble wrap

Drowning in a sea of bubblewrap as I get everything wrapped up ready to take down to Harrogate on Saturday! I’ve spent an enjoyable day deciding on just how I want to display everything. Pleasantly surprised to discover that I do have enough work to fill my 2 x 1 m shell space. I know this because I mocked up the show in my, almost, 2 x 1 m bay window !!

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There’ll be some jiggling and adjusting but I’ve got an idea now, and in the shell space I’ll have a bit more height so things will have a bit of breathing space. I’m glad I didn’t go for the additional storage unit – there’s no room!!

I did spend/waste quite a lot of time finding the fishing line that I use to find work – why did it take so long to find? Because it was in my exhibition tool kit/vanity case – where it was meant to be but obviously the LAST place I looked for it!

The wholesale price lists, labels and bio are typed up, printed off and mounted on foam board. I’ve still got a whole day to finalise things so I’m feeling quite calm – which feels quite odd!

I’m very grateful to Heaton Baptist Church for the loan of one third of the ‘My Journey’ triptych, and to St Bede’s Palliative Care Unit for the loan of one third of their triptych. I wanted to show community projects alongside my fine art textiles work, and that Heaton Map is just too darn big! (All of these pieces can be found in earlier blog posts).

The rest of the show will be made of recent work and a few old favourites, as I want to give a flavour of everything that I do.

So now its time to pack the tool kit, the step ladders and my trusty flask, and some smart clothes!

I’ll try and do an update whilst I’m at the show..see you in a few days!

…Saturday Wash Day…

Following yesterday’s mammoth dye session, this morning has seen me tied to the kitchen sink (😂NOT my usual location!) all the dyed fabrics have been rinsed in cold water –

Dark Matter!

Rough tops and rough terrain

Wash day Blues

Moorlands

Spring Greens


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

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 😊. 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.

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Kathleen Thompson – Sunset 

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!