From the woods…


I have just spent the most amazing day on a natural cordage course, beautifully delivered by the very talented Ruby Taylor . Ruby makes vessels amongst other things and the baskets and pots that she displayed for us to have a look at were so inspiring in the way that they had such a powerful presence. I wrote a word steam to try to express the emotive quality of her work. Seeing them in nature, surrounded by their ingredients was an important part of their aura, I wrote ; integrity, alive, connection, delicate, powerful honest.

My interest in natural cordage stems from a need to tread lightly, my magpie eyes are constantly alert for materials with a small footptint, I definetly came to the right place in this magical forest clearing.

Ruby has created an incredible space in the woodland of Sussex and respectfully requested keeping phone turned off and photos to a minimum.

After a beautiful welcoming meditation I was more than happy to immerse myself in nature and leave technology behind. So not many photos, this is what I wrote when I floated back and gives quite a good snapshot of the day…


By the end of the day I felt so strongly connected to our ancestors, the first cord discovered by archaeologists is 90000 years old and we have being using it varying ways ever since. It felt so natural to be working in nature,  I couldn’t help but reflect that our 21st century discoveries in technology – polluting and political aren’t perhaps advances at all.
During the workshop I focused on preparing materials so that I can make more, low impact natural cordage at a later date and perhaps experiment with it in different ways.

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Thank you Ruby for such an inspiring day.


ATV 4 – Yarn and linear exploration – Research point 1 -Yarns

Yarns  –  Properties, aesthetics, handle and performance

I will produce a physical file of yarns as handling a physical yarn will tell different information than looking at images. Having said that , likewise, the internet is an excellent source of information, as long as you remember to edit carefully.  Is a website that promotes cotton. It has some excellent information about cotton, uses, properties , composition etc. The section on environment does not explain the darker side of the cotton industry,  Huge amounts of dangerous chemicals can be produced in the cotton manufacturing, There is plenty of information on the soil association website. The politics of fibre production must also be considered, for example the harrowing number of cotton farmers in India committing suicide due to huge debts related to being tied into contracts with GM seed companies. The Fairtrade association supports  the people producing the raw material.

The wool lab is a great resource about all things wool, from properties and raw material, to the wide range of products that be manufactured from it

Pitti Immagine Filati  Have a great website. There are some fabulous descriptions of yarns in the style section of this site. Check out Mister Joe

Mister Joe


A journey into nature that blooms in this magnificent season is the inspiration for the new SS 2017 collection. Six themes alternate yarns with various counts, each one representing a different aspect of nature: ESSENTIAL yarns, fine, barely there, slightly textured with micro structures; light patterns in melange colours enhanced by NATURAL fibres like cotton and linen brightened by the insertion of viscose or polyamide for glassy, crystalline looks; yarns with bigger counts for Fashion knits where creativity explodes in a bouquets of structures such as flat cotton ribbons wrapped in shiny viscose or spiralled with polyamide, super-matt to create fluid, iridescent effects; towelling, ribbons, interwoven knots and chains in melange linen create 3D aspects. The palette of lively colours, rich in plains and melanges, is enriched by shiny and matt effects and many different kinds of prints, all vying to pay homage to the nature that surrounds us.

Without looking at the yarns,the words alone have given me a plethora of ideas to explore and I’m pretty sure they won’t resemble the finely developed and completed products that have reached production.



ATV3 – Colour studies – research point 1 – contemporary designs

Cole and son wall coverings don’t inspire me on the whole, the colour palate could be described as subtle or sophisticated, I find it very bland. I was quite excited by their range of Natural wall coverings though, using sisal ,jute and woven paper in beautiful natural tones. I realise this is a little contradictory, I like the natural colours when they are natural, but not when they are interpretations of the subtle natural tones.


This print is from the Fornasetti range, I’m not a fan of pinks at all but really like the clash with the red against the very neutral background.

The contemporary Restyled range also uses very safe neutral shades, but a couple of designs caught my eye, Wood and Pears uses some interesting simple marks to represent the bark.

Woods & Pears

Summer lily is quite surreal!Summer Lily


ATV3- colour studies – research point 2 – digital resources for colourwork

I have had a little inspect of the suggested programmes to support colour work. The one I found immediately useful was   Adobe  colour CC . This programme is brilliant in some ways. I like that you can choose a theme for the colour selection; colourful, bright,muted, deep, dark or custom. I can see that it is useful to get an overall idea of the colour palette of an image. I may use it to help with the yarn wrap and collage exercises.

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Colour halipixel

Colour hunter


All distracting to play with and hyperlinked so that I don’t forget them. I will revisit to update soon.


Critical thinking skills

My tutor suggested reading –  Cottrell, S. (2011) Critical thinking skills: Developing effective analysis and argument. 2nd edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. It seems quite a heavy read, it’s actually made me feel like a more academic student just looking at it.  I’m really excited. I don’t currently feel able to order my thoughts and express ideas effectively. I become whimsical and fly off at tangents or sometimes just time warp completely. I completely understand the skills that applying the content of this book will give me. ( a terrible sentence there for example! I know what I’m on about and someday you will too!!!)

Cottrell suggests that to gain maximum benefit from the book it is a good idea ” as you work through the book, pause to consider from time to time how that aspect of critical awareness would benefit your own study, writing or professional work.

Without making this a massive task, I intend to use this blog as a reflection space to embed the ideas in the book more deeply in my thinking. 

This could take some time…

A little book of compositions


I was looking for some-thing and found another.

A box of books I made on an evening course ages ago. They are delightful and so much more interesting than shop bought ones. So it will be a thing that I do, when appropriate , to make my own books.

Inspired by an exhibition at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen (a favourite place to visit on my Dartmoor adventures) Sketchbooks – Life Illustrated. I am going to use this book to explore composition.

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The exhibition by the way was liberating! Lots of artists allowed their sketchbooks to be on show, with white gloves to protect the pages, you could flick through and properly realise that shiney work on gallery walls started somewhere, and most sketch books are not works of art. Brilliant.

ATV assignment 2 Surface and Stitch research point 1 – Used materials

Textiles 1: A Textiles Vocabulary
Research point 1
Stitching to mend or darning could be another consideration in your translation from paper to textile. You may find that your drawings and stitched paper pieces suggest a feeling of mending or repairing and refining. Is this something you can introduce into your textile preparation and stitch work? As already suggested, you may decide to use imperfect textiles or found/recycled materials as your basetextiles rather than employing brand new unused
or virgin materials. Consider how you can work with the characteristics,imperfections or  patinas of the textiles you’re using as base materials. An element of repair may give another layer to your work.
Many textile designers and artists choose to work with found, recycled, worn or even discarded textiles and materials. Try to find an example of one such designer or artist and analyse how they select, apply and alter their chosen materials. Make some notes on this research in your learning log

Some thoughts on environmental concerns – just a few of many….

Used materials sounds so harsh! reuse, reduce, recycle,  is like a mantra in schools and society but there still seems to be a little stigma attatched, a late twentieth century mill stone around our planets neck. something that I feel very passionate about.

I would like to live in a world re-appropriating materials into something else was such a natural thing that no body would notice the difference.

Environmental expressions used as a marketing tool – a disgraceful hypocrisy.




little ghost butons

Tom of Holland


ATV assignment two – Observing and capturing – research point 2 – Fabric designs

Observing and capturing – research point 2 – Fabric designs

For this research point I have started a pintrest board of fabric images.

Of the suggested artists, designers, companies I was particularly drawn to the almost folkloric designs of Timorous Beasties. It is immediately obvious that their work is influenced by William morris designs so it was no surprise to find that they have a range dedicated to him. I have sent for a couple of samples.

NB after visiting the New designers exhibition in London it is clear just how currently popular Timerous Beasties are, their influence was evident everywhere. An excellent example of the wheel of fashion turning.

I plan to work more in a sketch book for this task to experiment with ease of communicating my thoughts. I feel that it needs illustrating  but am worried about image coptright.



ATV – Research references

I have started to look at the work of recommended artists and will continue to add to this post as I work through the course. Although it is overwhelming to discover the many many ways in which people produce drawings , clearly this is an excellent way of moving forward with finding ideas to experiment with new techniques and approaches. I will also use my general sense of inquisitiveness to develop my own ideas ( I wonder if I will find unique techniques? I suspect that I will “invent” new techniques only to discover that they have indeed been used before- ‘though never before with my eyes!)

Louise Bourgeois

I really like Bourgeois’ drawing style, I particularly liked looking at the themes section of the website, it is really interesting how she quite simply but effectively represents the form of trees with really quite few lines. The way some of her drawings are quite simple is really encouraging, to me this looks quite brave, I always want my drawings to be very representational, I realise this is not the only right way to draw but it seems a bit ingrained to try to make things look as realistic as possible. I will try to address this and experiment with capturing different more emotional aspects of objects. Looking at the techniques page I ws very attracted by the quality of line of the drypoint drawings/prints so will experiment with this process.

Alison Carlier

On Alison Carlier’s website I found a continuous line drawing of a plant in a pot called
An unknown word can be an object or a thing 2015 with the quote
“A while back I interpreted words I didn’t understand as drawings. But it occurred to me recently that unknown words could be objects or things in the world.”
How fabulous to be led to such profundity from a simple sketch! Is it the very different conection with your brain when drawing that can lead to such thoughts? I will draw aware.
Alex Chalmers
A drawing called ‘Flying and falling’ caught my eye. I found Chalmer’s style very simple, almost naive looking in the same way as the Dani Karavan drawings in the  post Musee d’art Moderne de Ceret
Clearly however the marks and composition in both cases are carefully considered and skilfully made. I do seem to appreciate this style of work.
Hilary Ellis
The website has photos of beautiful textural images, some are labelled simply mixed media and it is difficult to work out how they were made. I was particularly drawn to the 2010 set and noticed that my favourite images used drypoint, like Louise Bourgeois, also a technique called chine colle, I must find out what that is.

ATV Assignment two – Observing and capturing research point 1 – Wabi Sabi

Observing and capturing research point 1

What do I understand about the term Wabi Sabi?

I love the concept of wabi-sabi,  I first came across the term quite a few years ago and my understanding, is that, in short, it is appreciating the beauty of imperfection.

This sits well with my general philosophy of things, and permeates through my daily life. I appreciate the beauty of imperfection a lot! To me a run in the glaze and slight unevenness of a hand made earthenware mug is way way preferable to mass produced fine china with a transfer design for example. I like to see an element of humanity in products, to sense a connection with the maker and materials. I feel uncomfortable with perfection (excepting particularly well designed, functional gadgets, and the correct pitching of tents- there is nothing wabi-sabi about a badly placed guy peg!) things that are perfect and clinical give me the shivers generally, I have an element of non conformist about me that embraces wabi-sabi. to be on the safe side ( how conventional) I have looked up the definition.

I don’t feel like I am far of the mark here, I can now add acceptance of transience, asperity, modesty, ingenious integrity.

I found a lot of reference to Leonard Koren, he seems to be accepted as the person to

I also discovered some more Japanese philosophy about making that pleased me and some that didn’t – like the new fondness for super sickly cute things , is a trend, with the name of Kawaii