Tag Archives: artwork

Words and Meanings


A lot of the work I’m making at the moment involves text. I’ve done a series of pieces that I call the ‘Day Trippers’ series where text is used below an image to suggest a lovely outing.

Day - trippers series                    On the Beach


Now, the pieces are more about the words. The piece above is a work in progress – it’s going to be scanned and used as a cover for a note book which can be given to patients to write their thoughts in. It uses hand coloured fabric, applique and free machine embroidery.


(Sorry about the reflections on this image – tricky to photograph through glass on a dull January day!)

This piece is part of the triptych I’ve been working on for an ongoing project. It will be displayed in a corridor, so the hope is that the bright colours used will catch the eye and brighten up the space. My intent was to encapsulate the teamwork and support evident at the centre  by linking and overlapping fabrics with colour and stitch.

This second piece of the three (Below) is a quote that is important to the team at the centre, stitched as if handwritten to emphasize the caring intentions behind it. (Again, apologies for the reflections!)

I work on these pieces at the centre, so that all involved there can see the progress and get involved in the project. It’s the best kind of work; interesting, challenging and, I hope, engaging for others.

The final piece (awaiting completion) is composed of text stitch with cad embroider. For each word, the colour was chosen by someone at the centre; staff, patient or visitor. So immediately there is a sense of involvement and engagement. I’ll post it when it’s ready, hopefully with better images too – if the sun returns to the northern skies!


Needle Felting Workshops

You can vote for me in this years Craft & Design Selected Maker Awards!

Craft & Design Selected Maker 2016

Needle felting is a lovely craft to learn on a cold January evening!

Yesterday brought the first frost of the year to Newcastle but I was warm and cosy working with a lovely bunch of people, introducing them to the fabulous art of needle felting.

We were working with Merino wool fibres in a whole rainbow of colours to make needle felted brooches. It’s a quick project – easy to achieve a good result in a couple of hours. People learn the basic principles of needle felting and go home with a unique brooch!

It’s amazing to think that this craft is relatively new – the needles that we use, either individually or in sets of 3 or 5 in hand tools, were originally used in their hundreds on industrial machines to make sheets of felt. The felt might be for munition cases, piano keys or fuzzy felt!

Its important to learn how to handle the fibres we use as well as the felting needle. Merino is lovely to work with and comes in a whole array of colours. The long strong fibres felt quickly and easily, forming a firm base that can be further embellished with beads, stitches and chiffons.

Felting needles come in different gauges for different tasks, although on this introductory course I tend to stick with size 36s which are sturdy enough to quickly mesh the fibres together and also useful for adding some detail and definition.

For a short beginners’ workshop like this, I like to use cookie cutters, it’s a quick way to get a good shape, speeds up design decisions and saves fingers from (most) of the risk of stab wounds! So I have a good collection of metal cutters hearts, flowers, stars and animals in various sizes. Participants choose the cutter and their colours, so everyone ends up with a unique brooch.

The other essential piece of equipment is a foam block, to protect furniture and limbs from those sharp needles! I use upholstery foam of about 5cm depth cut to size at 15cm square. This makes a good size base for a cookie cutter and a foam block will last through several sessions before it gets too damaged. (I must find a good way of recycling the damaged ones…cut them up for stuffing/ moisture retainers in plant pots??)

So with all the essentials, bags of enthusiasm, hot drinks and delicious biscuits (Thanks Ben!) we had a great time and I think all participants are planning to experiment further with this craft…


George Weil is a good source of fibres and other felting equipment. I also use Heidi Feathers for needles. Pinterest is a great place to look for ideas and inspiration too!

If you’d like to have a go get in touch! I bring along all the equipment and materials.

Thanks to all who took part and to SW for organising!

Here’s some comments from the evening:

“I very much enjoyed the evening – learning something new in excellent company was lovely! I’m looking forward to doing some more.
Donna is a great teacher.” JD

“Had a super evening and learnt something new. Not often you can learn a new skill and produce something in 2 hours! ” AL

Summer Time Workshop

Just to show that it hasn’t ALL been about maps lately!

Back at the end of May I did a One day Workshop with a group of Y9 High School students. They had been given the opportunity to exhibit as part of the Alnmouth Arts Festival 2015 in the lovely Aln Gift Shop . So we had the task of making something appropriate in one day.

After discussion with their teacher, I took the group through my ‘Tin Can Metamorphosis’ workshop, where simple mackerel tins are upcycled to become beautiful miniature works of art. The Y9 group used the technique of needle felting to create seaside and holiday scenes that were then housed in the upcycled tins.

(I should point out that the tins were emptied of their fishy contents, washed and dried before they became artworks – and yes, I eat a lot of mackerel!)

As you will see below, the outcomes were stunning, all reflecting the individuality of their makers and showing great skill and creativity.

Big thanks to all the Y9 pupils and Mrs Brown, I really enjoyed working with you all and hope you had a great day as well!

Many thanks to the Aln Gift Shop for taking the time to display the work so beautifully, staging it with similarly themed gifts and artworks from their stock.

And thank you to the Alnmouth Arts Festival for giving me a name check in their programme:)

Aln 1 Aln 2 Aln 3

Here comes the sun…and the Map!

What an amazing day! Heaton Festival 2015, the sun shone and the people came, hundreds and hundreds of them!

It was an early start, I suddenly remembered I needed to print that chicken on Pets Corner! And there was a map to be packed..


Off we go in  – Those of you who’ve helped in the workshops will recognise the eco-friendly Dotty Art trolley. Very handy for transporting projects and equipment:)

Along with the 20 metre square sections of map, we had 70 large pennant flags, 100 small house pennant flags, 100 small blank pennants and a gazillion pom poms in varying shades of green. The idea being that people would make their mark on the map by planting a pom pom tree or placing a pennant in the part of Heaton that they love.


Here’s the map laid out in the sunshine at the start, with one pom pom tree on the Medics’  sports ground on Cartington Road. Look at our lovely Mini Marquee…and the bunting flags printed by all the wonderful workshop participants.


This gives you and idea of the scale of the piece!

As the festival opened more and more people came along to see the map. It was wonderful to hear all the positive comments about the project, and to hear peoples reminiscences of the area. everyone enjoyed finding their home, their school,their church, their favourite cafe or pub. And they made their mark on the map…




We used up all of the flags, I cut another 100 blanks and they all got used up too! people were writing their names, drawing their pets, making lovely designs…and the pom pom trees got more creative as the day wore on!



There was barely a minute without people around the map, it was such a joyful way to spend a day so thank you all for joining in with us:)

Thank you Heaton Festival for giving me the opportunity to make the biggest artwork I’ve ever tackled! ( let me know where you want the map now!)

Big thanks to everyone who helped make this happen…

All the workshop participants : Y9 students at Heaton Manor, everyone who ‘dropped in’ at Martha and Mary’s, the Y4 pupils at Chillingham Road Primary School (hope you win that vote Outdoor Learning at Chilli Road School) everyone at Skills for Life at Trewhitt Road, the lovely ladies and gents at Belle View residential home and the Brownies of St Gabriels.

Steph and Kath were superb on the day, explaining the idea of the map and encouraging people to make their mark (and big thanks to the lovely Rob who dashed off to get more kebab sticks – for the flags and pom poms!) Thanks so much!

Andrea and her Pom Pom army – there was enough for a forest!

Several lovely friends also helped with the final finishing touches so very special thanks to; Clare – for superb painting and printing skills in the ‘Last Push’, Ruth and Ingrid for tea making, pennant printing, inspiring conversation and tea making, other friends I haven’t been in touch with for a month and also a big thank you to my family, Nick, Tilly and Suzy for putting up with the hessian dust and lack of a front room for the last month!

(and for the folks that told me that there is a bit of Ouseburn Road missing and a little street off Jesmond Park West – I’ll add them in….after a bit of a sit down!)

Now its time for that deck chair, wellies, wine and Glastonbury on the telly;)

And if you’d like to pop along I’ll be at the Jesmond Dene Art Market First Birthday celebration on July 11th…come and see what I do when I’m not making crazy huge maps! 

Jesmond Dene Art and Craft Market

(and for my friend John, who thought London might be interested in a map project – Noooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)


Textile Workshops Coming Soon!

When I’m doing art markets and exhibitions, people are always asking me if I run workshops – well I am and here they are!

Eventbrite - Bespoke Brooches - an introduction to needle felting

We’ll be getting to grips with freestyle machine embroidery- learn how to unleash the potential of your machine;)


As we’re Cafe based for these workshops I thought this theme might go down well!

See you in April! 

Contemporary Textiles Fair 2015

So here I am in Teddington, at the Landmark Arts Centre, for the annual Contemporary Textiles Fair. It’s a fabulous show, full of beautiful textile art work, garments and accessories. the artists and makers are all on hand to talk about their work with visitors.

I’ve met so many lovely people here today. People have enjoyed looking at my work and discovering how I make it, it’s good to talk (even better to make some sales)!! People are surprised that I travel so far but it’s worth it😀

Most of these little Puffin badges have flown off to new homes now- so I’m glad I risked setting off the hotel fire alarm to finish them! ( I use an iron to melt the backs to flatten them☺️) tonight’s job, finishing off some silver lining cloud brooches is less risky😊

I hope I’ll get chance to chat to some more of the lovely stall holders tomorrow – there are so many gorgeous things to see!

Town Planning

I’ve started a new series this week, look at the shops and houses where I live and recreating them in appliqué & stitch…
The first one finished started out with a quick sketch like this


Then I’ve been gathering materials – some of my hand dyed fabrics and lovely Oliver Twist threads, pelmet vilene and wire.


The wire got wrapped in thread using that Bernina😄 it’s such a good machine to work with- though I did have to swap to a jeans needle for some of the thicker sections, such as the attic window. Might have been better to do that separately and then apply but you learn through doing;) I got it this far and decided it needed to be more animated, it looks a bit lonesome like this…


So that meant a pigeon had to be added- I hope you’ll agree it looks much livelier like this…


I used a sort of hacked French knot to fix the pigeon to the wire and, pleasingly, the finished effects look like the pigeons feet!
Now this ones complete (& in my Etsy shop😉) I think it needs a local cafe as a neighbour- there’s a few (!) to choose from around here – a great excuse to grab my sketchbook and go sample them!