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.


Dachshund cushions commission

After the recent Open Studios, a lovely lady asked me to create some cushions for her daughter’s Christmas Present, as she loved the Schnauzer cushions but they were the wrong breed of dog!! I had a glorious time choosing the fabrics and patterns that would compliment each other best.

Dachshund applique cushions

Dachshund applique cushions

I have used woven silk fabrics which I buy from the silk mills in Sudbury and they are appliqued with floral cottons.

Red and white woven silk and black floral dachshund

Red and white woven silk and black floral dachshund

Blue/green floral woven silk and green leaf dachshund

Blue/green floral woven silk and green leaf dachshund

In the cushion above, the dachshund looks like he’s out smelling the flowers. He makes a lovely silhouette against the light background. This was the cushion the lady choose, so I will need to find a home for the two red cushions…

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.

More cushions!!

The rest of this week, I shall mostly be making…more cushions!! More items for Ouseburn Open Studios at the end of November.

Schnauzer cushions!

Schnauzer cushions!

Love the shape of a schnauzer! I have my own badly behaved schnauzer at home and thought it’s a great silhouette. As well as putting the image onto cushions, I have started using pretty fabrics appliqued and placed in picture frames, too.

It’s coming up to Christmas – so there should also be the odd reindeer here and there at my studio!

Reindeer cushion.

Reindeer cushion.

I love the way the velvet devore (I think that’s how you spell it!!), makes it look like the reindeer has a nose, eyes etc – worked out well.

Open Studios prep

In two weeks time on the 29th and 30th of November it will be the Ouseburn Open Studios event in Newcastle upon Tyne. My studio is based at the Biscuit Factory and we shall be open to the public both days 10-5pm. It’s a great event, always very busy and great fun. It’s lovely to get feedback on the work you’ve been doing over the year and I also like to make up small gifts which are available for sale – as Christmas is coming soon!!

This afternoon, I’ve had fun and started to make some cushions to sell for the event, using scraps of leather and decorative fabrics. The fabric I chose helped me decide which creatures I wished to decorate the cushions with!

Squirrel and fox cushions

Squirrel and fox cushions

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be busy tidying my studio and hopefully getting lots made!

Today, I popped into the picture framers to hand in my Wilfred Owen portrait and saw my portrait of Rupert Brooke framed for the first time! It looks lovely but I’m having to leave it there are the framers are going to paint the frame of Wilfred Owen’s the same as the vintage frame I’d originally bought for Rupert. Still, I can pick them both up in two weeks ready for Open Studios.

Rupert Brooke portrait, framed.

Rupert Brooke portrait, framed.

Mini ObsesivCreativ’s birthday present

Kitty's Fox cushionToday, my middle daughter, aged 9, decided that she needed to make a present for her friend whose party it was this afternoon. So, within and hour, she had chosen a pre-made cushion to decorate, a design silhouette she wished to cut out, I ironed on the Bondaweb which we had bought at 1st for Fabrics, in Newcastle, to the chosen fox fabric, cut out the stencil, then ironed it onto said cushion. She then finished her fox with a running stitch, which technically isn’t needed but does give her cushion a finished look. We did give it another good iron before it was then wrapped for the party. Hopefully her friend will love it!

We are beginning to realise that our middle daughter is even more obsessive than I am when she gets an idea into her head. So, I feel it is time that she and her sisters have their own section in this blog, which I shall call Mini ObsesivCreativ!


How to: Simply applique and ‘bling-up’ a cushion!

You will need:

1 plain cushion or pillow

Assorted fabric

Needle, thread and pins

Scissors, ideally pinking shears

Buttons, beads, sequins (I found these in Poundland!)

Paper and pencil


Step 1:

Autumn cushion 1

Draw out on paper a simple bold design of your chosen idea. If you do not feel confident doing this, search Google Images for a desired image, which you can enlarge if needed on your computer. I have chosen to create an Autumn tree as we are now reaching the last days of Summer and Autumn is my favourite time of year.

Cut out the picture, pin it onto the fabric you wish to use and cut it out.


Step 2:

Autumn Cushion 2 

Once you have cut out all of your design from the fabric using pinking shears, pin it to the front of the cushion. This may sound stupid, but do remember to place your hand inside (try not to stab it with the pins) to ensure it doesn’t get pinned through to the back. if it is a large image, try and position it centrally but if it’s a smaller one, sometimes placing it in the corner or at an angle may look much better.


Step 3:

Autumn cushion 3

Use a simple running stitch to sew the fabric to the cushion. This technique of layering fabric is called applique. Once you have done this, you can have fun and further decorate your cushion using beads, sequins, buttons and ribbons. Again, when sewing the beads and sequins on, I have stuck to a simple running stitch, sewing the beads or sequins into place in the ‘up/right-side’ position of the cushion.


Other cushions I have made like this in the past include fun gingham and floral reindeer as well as other woodland creatures, many of these using IKEA fabrics. The beautiful Floral Fox below was made by a crafter who visited one of the workshops I ran at IKEA Gateshead last Christmas.

Gingham reindeer          Floral reindeer  Floral fox