William Morris stitched portrait.


William Morris, ‘The Maker’, finished.

Since Easter, I have been working on a couple more portraits. My portrait of Isaac Rosenberg, the First World War poet has been started but put on hold until hopefully this weekend and whit week, when I might be able to get my teeth back into it. But, my portrait of William Morris has been a wonderful roller coaster ride and now it is finished. I do find I get obsessed by projects and therefore find it difficult to do other things which I am meant to be doing like feeding the children, working on ‘work’ projects, remembering to pick the children up from school…And this has been no exception!

William Morris, the beginning.

William Morris, the beginning.

I decided to make a portrait of William Morris for many reasons. The first being that I had so much fun with my ‘Green Man’ and his beard, I wanted to create another piece in which I worked in a similar manner. Secondly, because his body of work – poetry, writing, design, arts and crafts, hand-working, philosophy – inspire me constantly.

Acanthus leaves drawn onto the background of the finished sewn portrait.

Acanthus leaves drawn onto the background of the finished sewn portrait.

Unlike my war poet portraits, I wanted to ensure this portrait was full of colour, almost psychedelic but I like to keep the face of the portrait down to very simple expressive lines, which allows the viewer to create their own feelings about the character of the ‘sitter’.

Hand stitched acanthus leaves, painted with acrylic.

Hand stitched acanthus leaves, painted with acrylic.

I had a lovely time drawing out the acanthus leaves which were then hand stitched and finally painted with acrylic. The hand stitched is slow and methodical, but very meditative in nature.

Finished acanthus.

Finished acanthus.

Originally, I had intended to further embellish the acanthus leaves but I was so pleased with how they looked when I finished painting them, that I decided it would be rather ‘over egging the pudding’ if I did.

Waistcoat and shirt detail.

Waistcoat and shirt detail.

It was difficult to decide upon colours for his waistcoat and shirt, as obviously photographs of Morris were in black and white and in paintings he tended to be seen wearing dark, dull colours. So, I did some research on Victorian costume of the 1860s to try and get the right tones and colours.

'News from Nowhere' quote.

‘News from Nowhere’ quote.

Hand stitched around Morris’s collar is a quote from his ‘News from Nowhere’, a book which encapsulates his idea of utopian socialism.

Portrait stretched on a frame for painting and stitching.

Portrait stretched on a frame for painting and stitching.

Before choosing the colour of Morris coat, I painted his beard and hair in fabulous tones of orange and brown, only then could I decide upon his coat’s colour.

Hand stitched tweed.

Hand stitched tweed.

When I had finished painting his coat, I decided to hand over stitch a check, using colours I had already stitched into the acanthus leaves. You can see I also hand stitched oak leaves into his shirt – this is an ‘homage’ to his love of using the oak leaf also in his design and the William Morris designs often used in Liberty print shirts.

Detail of Morris's hair and beard.

Detail of Morris’s hair and beard.

The stitching on the shirt was the last piece of sewing to complete the portrait. The last two weeks, I have been busy getting the picture framed – I have chosen to use the same style frame I used for the ‘Green man’ – and to get my first set of Giclee prints done, which I am very excited about.

Giclee prints of my portraits.

Giclee prints of my portraits.

This weekend it’s The Late Shows in Newcastle and once again my studio is open, which encouraged me to promptly organise some prints of my work, as visitors had asked if I had any of my ‘War Poets’. I was absolutely delighted with the results and now just need to pick up the picture mounts and they will also be ready to then go onto my Etsy site, too.

'The Maker'.

‘The Maker’.


Low House Haven

Recently, I was delighted to be asked to create a series of C2C, Cycling and Northumberland inspired lino prints using some very old Bartholomew’s and Ordnance Survey maps for Low House Haven. Low House Haven is a very charming, former Youth Hostel on the ‘C2C’ (Sea to Sea) route which travels from the North East coast to the North West coast through beautiful areas of Northumberland. Originally built to be used as an inn in 1600, Low House Haven has had rather a colourful history!!

Northumberland inspired lino prints on display at Low House Haven.

Northumberland inspired lino prints on display at Low House Haven.

The maps I have produced to be sold as a souvenir of a lovely relaxing and refreshing stay, reflect the many different outdoor activities visitors enjoy such as cycling, walking, map reading etc, using beautiful vintage maps which illustrate the terrain visitors have travelled.

'Cycling' lino print on vintage Ordnance Survey Map.

‘Cycling’ lino print on vintage Ordnance Survey Map.

Working with beautiful old maps, always creates different images every time I print on them – they way the map has been folded, the type of paper or fabric it was printed on and even how detailed the contours of the land it follows are – makes each piece fun and exciting. Over the summer, there will be plenty of visitors to Low House Haven for either the homely hostel accommodation on the camping on the route. It will be lovely to see how they respond to these emotive pieces.

Exhibition at Gateshead Civic Centre

I should have blogged about this sooner, but I have only just been able to get images of the pieces up and the lighting was quite heavy, so the photos aren’t great. So, I do apologise.

I was asked if I could put together some pieces of work that reflected my love of the natural world. It was a pretty quick turnaround, so I was unable to make any new pieces. My work was to accompany the winners photos from a national Nature Photographers Exhibition, which has some fabulous close-up photos including amazing spiders and puffins flying!

Three of the pieces are made using hooky matting technique – which I love as it’s a great way of using up bits of fabric, has a lovely texture and has a great long tradition.

Red Poppy, Yellow Poppy. Made using hooky mat technique.

Red Poppy, Yellow Poppy. Made using hooky mat technique.

The two pieces above, I intend to be part of a seasonal set. They are inspired by the designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, which I have seen many times but absolutely fell in love with when we went to visit Hill House at Helensburgh.

I also included ‘Caretakers of the World, UNITE!’, which is inspired by the Lindisfarne Gospels carpet pages, introducing nature elements into the design.

'Caretakes of the World, UNITE!'

‘Caretakers of the World, UNITE!’

And of course, my ‘Portrait of a Green Man’.

'Portrait of a Green Man'.

‘Portrait of a Green Man’.

I also included some of my bird lino prints, which worked well with the photography exhibition. Copies of the lino prints are on sale at the Civic Centre reception desk.

It has been lovely have the opportunity to display my work at the Civic Centre in the Bewick’s Cafe, which is a busy café used by visitors, local families and the council office workers.

Lino prints of birds.

Lino prints of birds.

Whilst visiting Gateshead Civic Centre, I was also able to visit their printing department, as I am hoping to get some prints made of my now finished William Morris portrait – ‘The Maker’ – and of my War Poets. I am looking forward to seeing the samples next week! Exciting and ready for the ‘Late Shows’ which I shall be taking part in, in the middle of this month.

‘Mad Cat’ lino prints on Etsy!

Well, this week the cutting tools and printing roller have certainly been very busy! And so has the computer today, as I put this bad putty-tat up on Etsy!

Mad Cat in Fuchsia!

Mad Cat in Fuchsia!

(Hehe! I’ve also just noticed I’d spelt ‘fuchsia’ wrong on Etsy – that’ll get noticed!!)

A couple of weeks ago, I had been doodling some drawings for the girls and one of them was a ‘Mad Cat’. At the start of this week, when needing more printing paper for my ‘craft’ inspired prints, I also picked up some rather fabulous paper in vivid colours – this inspired me to create ‘Mad Cat’!

'Mad Cat' in vivid green.

‘Mad Cat’ in vivid green.

As you can see, I’ve been having lots of fun with colour!

'Mad Cat' in bright yellow!

‘Mad Cat’ in bright yellow!

'Mad Cat' in silver.

‘Mad Cat’ in silver.

'Mad Cat' in red.

‘Mad Cat’ in red.

Craft themed lino Prints

I really enjoy lino printing and the last two days I have been hand printing more copies of my existing craft prints and hand cutting some new ones. Each print, as they are hand processed, can work beautifully or be a complete disaster, so it can be time consuming. Plus, each letter is individually hand printed, so each print is quite unique in it’s design.

'Knit' Lino Print

‘Knit’ Lino Print

The series of ‘Craft’ lino prints are, as you can imagine, inspired by my love of making in so many senses of the word. The ‘Knit’ print above symbolises not just the preparation for knitting but also the tradition of ‘gansey‘ knitting. The letters of the word ‘Knit’ are set out like a compass around the spokes and steering wheel of a boat. I have knitted, just squares, symbols from ganseys in the past, as they were to form part of the Shipley Art Gallery’s handling collection. Working on such fine needles, with extremely dark blues, with such intricate designs is extremely hard work and many of the women and men who made them were often also trying to do other jobs at the time – I take my hat off to them!

'Hooker' lino print.

‘Hooker’ lino print.

I think I have discussed this before in one of my posts about ‘hooky’ and ‘proggy’ matting. ‘Hooky’ is the term used for ‘hooking’ the loops up to make a hooky mat. And, when I teach workshops on mat making, there’s always a joke made by someone that we are ‘hookers’ – which we are in the crafty sense of the word… It is a great, traditional technique which recycles old fabrics and often brings friends and family to work together on the mat.

'Patch' lino print.

‘Patch’ lino print.

The crochet inspired print below, I hand cut yesterday. Crochet is a very tricky technique to draw out and, like the other prints, the design is representational rather than a true illustration. But, as I find on many of the sites I follow, crochet – like many crafts- is addictive!

'I Am Hooked', crochet lino print.

‘I Am Hooked’, crochet lino print.

Tomorrow, my new prints will be up on my obsesivcreativ Etsy page and I am hoping to approach some of our local craft/gift shops to sell them… as I am very pleased with how my ‘Heart’ prints are now selling at the Sage Gateshead.

For Sale at Sage Gateshead!

I had a very exciting meeting at the Sage Gateshead this week. Sage Gateshead is a very prestigious concert venue and music education centre – apparently it’s concert hall is ranked in the top five concert halls in the World. And they have decided to sell my ‘heart’ music lino-prints in their shop, which I were already up on display in their shop today when I popped down with my eldest daughter who is also learning the bassoon there.

'Heart' Classical, linoprint

‘Heart’ Classical, linoprint

Classical linoprint, detail.

Classical linoprint, detail.

As they also have lots of different types of music being performed at the Sage, I am able to have fun with the different musical themes I choose to print. Shortly, there is to be a big Jazz Festival and in the Summer, Americana Music Festival and as I ensure that all of the sheet music lino prints, are printed on vintage music paper, which has been carefully selected to be appropriate to the instrument or genre of music, I’m going to have great fun sourcing the music scores!

'Love You', printed on Whitney Housten's song, written by Dolly Parton - 'I Will Always Love You'.

‘Love You’, printed on Whitney Housten’s song, written by Dolly Parton – ‘I Will Always Love You’.

Plus, for all the people – like myself – who go to the Sage to learn instruments:

'Ukulele' lino print.

‘Ukulele’ lino print.

Lino print 'I Love Guitar Music'

Lino print ‘I Love Guitar Music’

So, with Valentine’s Day and some large events being held at the Sage, I am looking forward to making lots of new prints to be on sale there!

Lino prints for sale at the Sage Gateshead.

Lino prints for sale at the Sage Gateshead.

REWIND: The Vanity of Small Differences

These photos are from a post I wrote back in 2013 and was posted on my then old ‘Blogger’ site ‘Diary of an Obsessive Creative’. It’s from a very exciting project I was involved in with Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens and was funded by the Arts Council. During 2013, Sunderland Museum hosted the fantastic exhibition by Grayson Perry called ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’. The exhibition was the result of a Channel 4 series in which Grayson meet people from different ‘classes’ and looked at what people felt was important to them, their friends and the way they lived their lives.

I worked with three different community groups to create their own hangings in response to Grayson’s work. Each hanging is over 2 metres by 1 metre. Over ten weeks, each group created beautiful and powerful hangings. During this time, many learnt new skills and gained confidence in what they could achieve. It was a wonderful experience for myself, Jennie and Morgan (from Sunderland Museum) as well and it was just great fun!!

This first hanging is by a group of women who had moved to Sunderland recently, from a number of different countries. Each brought to the project imagery from places of worship, cityscapes, their culture and a love of the city which had now become their home: Sunderland. In this hanging, if you know Sunderland, you would recognise the Wearmouth Bridge, the shipyard cranes, the Winter Gardens, the Stadium of Light but the skyline behind is reminiscent of Hong Kong and some of the places of worship represent other towns and cities.

The Arrival at the City of Light

The Arrival at the City of Light

The second hanging was made by a group of young women from Sunderland. I was extremely impressed with how they all became so involved in the project and were very supportive when they were all learning new skills such as beading, embroidery and fabric painting. They all really enjoyed the process of making the portraits and we had such a great time fabric painting then beading/embroidering the biscuits and cakes for the tea party! The theme came from the idea of the ‘Mad hatters tea party’ in Alice in Wonderland and Lewis Carroll actually spent sometime in Sunderland, which just gave more credence to a great idea!

The First Aspirational Tea Party

The First Aspirational Tea Party

The last hanging is by a group of young people who really enjoyed photography as a way of expressing themselves and who they are. The hanging is fabric painted and we drew out images they had photographed, turning their picture into a large set of negatives in the positive. This is such a great bold piece and it really stood out as you came up the stairs of the museum before you went into the gallery where the Grayson Perry tapestries were hanging.

Life Through a Lens: Turning Negatives into Positives.

Life Through a Lens: Turning Negatives into Positives.

The hangings were made using fabric paint, batik, embroidery, photographic transfer techniques and applique. All of the people involved in the projects learnt new skills ‘on the job’ and, as you can see, became very proficient at it!

During this exhibition, I also ran a week of school workshops, a teacher training day and master-classes, exploring the ideas of branding, ‘Tribes’ and identity which Grayson Perry reflects upon in his tapestries.

Handmade Christmas presents

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope 2015 brings health, happiness and plenty of creativity to sooth the soul!

I thought I would post photos of the many gifts that we sent and received at Christmas that had been handmade with plenty of love. Some of them you may have already seen, others will be new to you. I hope you enjoy looking at them all!

Lion applique drawstring bag.

Mini OC’s Lion applique drawstring bag.

This one I just love! My eldest daughter, who’s 11, made this at school as a Christmas present for her cousin (19), who she adores. She received a special merit for it at school, which I think she rightly deserves as it shows great creativity and design.

Mini OC's Francesca Fox and Molly Pup

Mini OC’s Francesca Fox and Molly Pup

I know you’ve seen this one before! But so cute!! My middle daughter, who was 9 when she made these fab creatures, made Francesca Fox and Molly Pup for both her sisters for Christmas. Her sister’s were both delighted with their new animal friends!

Mini OC's Kitten lino print

Mini OC’s Kitten lino print

My eldest daughter has enjoyed learning to lino print. She cut, printed and framed this lovely picture and gave it to a couple of her close friends, her Grandma and her little sister – who it was originally created for. She has chosen a lovely colour for the print, which she mixed herself.

Mini OC's stocking for her TedTed

Mini OC’s stocking for her TedTed

Mmmm! When a certain someone gets an idea into her head, she really can’t be stopped. My 9 year old decided that her teddy might get presents for Christmas if her also put a stocking out! So, she went ahead and knitted this stocking with no pattern, all by herself. She knows how to increase and decrease, so all I did was recommend some wool – another Poundland purchase!! Ribbon was found in the ribbon tin and she plaited the tie top.

When she realised there may be a chance TedTed may not receive Christmas presents, as Santa doesn’t normally give them to teddies, she made him a set of hat, scarf and gloves to go in the stocking! Again, no pattern or parental involvement!

Broomstick Crochet Snood

Broomstick Crochet Snood

I plan to blog a ‘How to:’ about Broomstick Crochet over the next few days, as it’s a beautiful technique and can make any wool/yarn look fabulous. I made this broomstick crochet snood for my niece as she’d seen a similar snood which she wanted me to make for her. Which, as a good Auntie, I did. She also received the lino print of a Crested Tit, which you can see below.

Lino Print Crested Tit

Crested Tit, lino print.

I also made some of my close friends some lovely applique cushions, like these I was selling in my studio.

Inside my studio - cushions, crocheted hats and chocolates!

Inside my studio – cushions, crocheted hats and chocolates!

Besides Christmas, it was also my middle daughter’s 10th birthday and I finally finished knitting her the Triceratops I’d started last year for her birthday!! (It feels good to finish a W.I.P!!) She absolutely loves all things to do with dinosaurs and so she absolutely loves her – she’s been called triSARAHtops!

Knitted Triceratops

Knitted Triceratops

I’m sure I’ve missed a couple of other handmade gifts out but he’s my husbands very important contribution to our handmade Christmas. He made our lino print Christmas cards, which are simply delicious!

Mince Pie, lino print, Christmas Cards.

Mince Pie, lino print, Christmas Cards.

Crocheted and hand made Christmas decorations

It makes such a difference to getting in the Christmas mood once the tree goes up, which we did this weekend. I’m afraid it is a fake tree, but seeing as we bought it over 10 years ago and still using it, I’m happy about that! Over the years, I have made lots of the Christmas decorations and it was nice to see them come out again.

Crocheted Christmas decorations

Crocheted Christmas decorations

Both of the wool decorations in the picture above have been crocheted using pure wool, then machine shrunk, beaded and stitched. You can also see in the foreground a crocheted chain, which I used to love making in paper when I was young.

Scrap leather tree decoration

Scrap leather tree decoration

This lovely heart decoration is made using leather offcuts and ribbons. This style has always proved popular when sold at the November Open Studios events at the Biscuit Factory.

This years OC's Christmas card!

This years OC’s Christmas card!

Mince Pies, mmmm, my favourite! It was decided that this years lino cut for our Christmas Card would be of the lovely mince pie – which I’m afraid, once the box is open, I can’t stop eating!!

Finally, I am beginning to feel festive and the clock is ticking. As I am sure so many of you have also put yourselves under the same pressure, it’s not a time for cleaning and tidying the house for visitors – it’s a time to finish off all those presents you had planned to make!!

Ouseburn Open Studios starts tomorrow

Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen

Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen

It was great today to finally get both my portraits of Rupert Brooke and Wilfred Owen, both poets who died during World War One, up on the outside wall of my studio, number 11 at the Biscuit Factory, Newcastle upon Tyne. It’s been a busy couple of weeks tidying, cleaning my space as well as getting everything finished off.

Inside my studio - cushions, crocheted hats and chocolates!

Inside my studio – cushions, crocheted hats and chocolates!

Opposite my studio, there also a number of rather fabulous jewellery makers whose studios I enjoy popping into when I get a chance.  inthesilverroom is contemporary silver jewellery by Michelle – check out her fabulous website for distinctive designs.

The Biscuit Factory Studio corridors.

The Biscuit Factory Studio corridors.

'Matriarchal Trefoil' and 'Caretakers of the World, UNITE!'

‘Matriarchal Trefoil’ and ‘Caretakers of the World, UNITE!’

Both of the pictures above have been made using ‘hooky’ mat technique. I finally framed up the ‘Matriarchal Trefoil’ yesterday, as it had been tricky to source someone to cut me an oval board to mount the heavy picture on. You can see a link to the stages of this picture here.

Embroidered Love Birds

Embroidered Love Birds

Really pleased with these two little fellows! So cute! I do enjoy embroidering, very relaxing and again, another job finished. A deadline is always good to have and the Ouseburn Open Studios, is a great one!! I am so looking forward to getting down there now as it’s a great opportunity to meet people, show what you’ve been working on, get feedback and maybe even sell some things!!

And just a reminder for anyone in the area: it’s on this Saturday and Sunday 10-5pm.