The Shipley Art Gallery Centenary Quilt, finished.

In 2016, I was asked to work on a lovely, large community project to help the Shipley Art Gallery celebrate their 100th Anniversary in 2017. The Shipley Art Gallery has a fabulous collection of the decorative arts and a very long, established link with the traditional technique of patchwork and quilting. Within their collection they have hundreds of hand quilted pieces, which have either been wholecloth designs or made using English Paper Piecing.

The project took over 9 months and was ready for the anniversary celebrations in November, 2017. We had over 100 patchworked squares made by members of the community, some local and few were posted from different part of the UK. The pieces which didn’t form part of the finished quilt (not because of quality as the standard of the finished, hand paper pieced squares was fantastic), have been made into pieces which can be used with schools, community groups and general visitors to help explain the process of hand paper piecing.

Quilt 5

Planning the final position of the patchwork squares for the centenary quilt.

Once all the squares were collected in and registered. A small group of people who had worked closely with the quilt over the last nine months, came together to help with the very tricky job of deciding where to place all the finished pieces. At this point, the paper templates were still in the back of the squares. Members of the group took a couple of rows away to join the individual squares together, then two rows together.

Quilt 6

Reverse of the centre panel for embroidering, with it’s paper templates still intact.

During this time, I worked on the centre panel, which was made up of cream and white self patterned ‘Grandmother’s garden’ hexagons, which would become the area to embroider the text upon. This section was then sewn into the middle of three rows of squares.

Quilt 3

Detail of the embroidery onto the central panel. The silk was hand dyed and hand spin by one of the members of the group.

Once all the rows and the central panel of the patchwork were sewn together, it was then placed, pinned and quilted to an organic cotton wadding centre and cotton backing. It took a long time to just pin the three layers together, accurately, as the quilt by this point was 200 cm by 220 cm.

Quilt 2

The finished patchwork ‘top’ being pinned to the organic cotton wadding and cotton backing, in preparation for hand quilting.

I decided to use a new tool, called a basting gun, which I bought from Cottonpatch to ‘pin/tack’ the three layers of the quilt together. A bit like the tools used in clothes shops to attach price labels to clothes, which can delicately keep the layers together but also quick and easy to remove. It made things much quicker and cut out the damage pins could do. It also allowed me to use a large hoop to quilt with, as it was too large for my frames.

Quilt 4

Binding the edge of the quilt.

The quilt needed to be finished a couple of weeks before the centenary celebrations, as it had to go in the large freezer at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle. This is something which the museum and gallery service will regularly do with new items to their collection to ensure that no new contaminates are brought into their collection.

Throughout November 2017, there were lots of different events at the Shipley Art Gallery to celebrate it’s centenary and the quilt was at the centre of this. People from the local community including the women of the Jewish community, women from the local Syrian community, plus local craft groups, the Shipley Quilters and all those who had individually made a square, were invited to a lovely afternoon of celebrations at the Shipley.

Local Syrian ladies community group

Some of the women from the local Syrian community who worked on the quilt.

Quilt in situ 22.11.17

Finished Shipley Art Gallery Centenary Quilt on display.

The Shipley Art Gallery Centenary Quilt, 2017.

The Shipley Art Gallery Centenary Quilt, 2017.


The Shipley Art Gallery Centenary Quilt update


100 finished hand patchworked squares positioned for sewing together.

Over the last five months I have worked with and meet with people from all over Gateshead, the North East and the UK to encourage people to be part of the Shipley Art Gallery Centenary Quilt. We have now received over 130 squares which have been made using traditional hand sewn,  hand paper piecing technique known as English Paper Piecing.


Designing and making individual squares.

As part of the programme to make the quilt, there has been a weekly class held at the Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead. Attending were a mixture of people who had patchworked before and people who hadn’t stitched.  This was a really vibrant and supportive group of people, who within a couple of weeks were advancing very quickly in their skill development and very confident in using the new technique they had learnt to create their own designs. There was also a great opportunity for skills sharing and even the embroidery silk which will be used to stitch the lettering was hand spun during a skills sharing moment by one of our very talented group.


The Shipley Art Gallery proved to be a great inspiration for our designs.

I have also worked with local craft groups, visitors the the Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival, members of the local Jewish Community and a Syrian Women’s support group. This has been a lovely opportunity to talk to people about how sewing,  making and craft has played an important part in their family, community and culture.


Just a few of the 130 squares made!

Members of the patchwork class have been helping me over the last couple of weeks to sew the 100 squares together into rows and then the rows together.  This has been a fantastic help, as I am working on the central panel which is white and cream hexagons sewn in the ‘Grandmother’s Garden’design. This will then be embroidered with hand spun silk to create the lettering. Next month, October, I will then start to quilt the piece ready to be hung in the Shipley Art Gallery for the 22nd November, 2017.



How to: English Paper Pieced Patchwork

Patchwork has a long tradition of using precisely cut, paper pieces to ensure that the complex geometric designs fit neatly into place, ensuring fewer mistakes and more economical use of fabric – which was and can be expensive.

Patchwork 7

Finished, hand stitched Pinwheel design.

Follow these simple instructions below to help you with your own English Paper Pieced patchwork.

Patchwork 1

Stage 1

  • Pin the backing paper to the ‘wrong’ side of every fabric patch.
  • Fold over the seam allowance and pin it so that the paper and fabric are the same size.
Patchwork 2

Stage 2

  • Tack around this edge – contrast cotton works well as it can be easily removed later.

TIP: When sewing the corners, use your nails to ensure you have folded the fabric neatly to the points, then create ‘wings’ in the excess fabric, which will remain on the underside of your patchwork piece – giving you a neat sewing edge on top.

Patchwork 3

Stage 3

  • Place two patches, ‘right’ sides together, line them up carefully so that each corner you are going to sew from matches.
  • Pin along this line.
Patchwork 4

Stage 4

  • Then sew a very small whipstitch/over stitch, sewing this edge together – try not to sew through the backing paper.
Patchwork 5

Stage 5

  • Continue placing new pieces together.
Patchwork 6

Right side of English paper Piecing.

  • Looking at the ‘right’ side of the fabric, you should be able to still see the hand sewn whipstitch you used to sew the two pieces together. This gives it it’s authenticity and adds beauty to the piece.
  • The tacking stitches you can see around the edge (and the paper inside) will eventually be take out, once all of the patchwork/quilt has been pieced together, before the backing fabric is placed on.
Patchwork 7

Finished, hand stitched Pinwheel design.


Get involved! The Shipley Centenary Quilt Project

The Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear will this year be celebrating its 100th Anniversary, after being founded following a bequest by local solicitor Joseph Shipley (1822-1909). The gallery holds a beautiful collection of European Old Masters, to Victorian and more modern paintings. It now is also extremely well know and highly considered for its collection of decorative art including ceramics, textiles, wood, metal and glass by local and national makers. The Shipley Art Gallery has an amazing collection of whole cloth and patchwork quilts, which the North East has a long and strong tradition in making, either for private use or as a way of making money.

As part of the celebrations, I have been asked to work with and encourage creative people to work together to make a new patchwork quilt. As traditionally, patchwork would have been made using English Paper Piecing, this quilt will also follow in the tradition. To make this quilt, we need 100, 20 cm square (plus seam allowance) hand pieced panels.


Patchwork 7

One finished 20 cm square patchwork panel for the Shipley Centenary Quilt.


If you would like to get involved, the individual patchwork panels need to be returned by the end of August, either to myself or the Shipley Art Gallery. The finished patchwork quilt will be on display for the centenary celebrations towards the end of November. So, this allows a couple of months to piece all of the panels together and to quilt it.

Moral Compass (Loving you, I need to make a difference)

Happy New Year!

Many apologies for the radio silence over the last couple of months but I have continued being busy, busy, busy…


Machine stitched World map and compass, painted with tea.

Today, I was working with a number of AWAS (All We Are Saying, Artists for Peace) colleagues hanging a new exhibition at Gateshead Civic Centre. The star attraction is the Peace Blanket but there are some fantastic pieces in the exhibition and photos will follow over the next week or so of the new hang. the exhibition is running from 15th January until 26th February 2016.


Hand beaded compass.

As I was unable to use my original AWAS pieces in this new exhibition (as my three war poets have been at the Customs House Drawing? inspired exhibition), I have created a new piece over Christmas called Moral Compass.


Compass painted with fabric inks and seed stitched.

My new piece is inspired by my children and the need to care for them, as any other parent and carer across this mad World. As you will all be aware of the terrible positions many desperate parents have been put in trying to keep their family safe and the measures they will take. We would all do the same to protect those we loved dearly.


Compass further seed stitched, including gold and silver threads.

Starting with a play on words, I was drawn to the idea of navigating the World geographically but also spiritually and emotionally.


Detail of the hand embroidered poem.

Once I had decided on the composition of the piece, it was a fun and relaxing piece to work on.


Moral Compass detail.

The text on the piece reads:

Loving you, I need to make a difference

Make a World for you to grow up

A place of joy and happiness

A World where people care.


Loving you, I need to make a difference

For a World as beautiful as ours

Where life is sacred and respected

A World for us to share.


Finished compass internal beading.

I look forward to showing you soon, the full exhibition shortly, once the last pieces are hung and the labels placed – it was looking fantastic when I left today and the many people walking through the exhibition seemed to really enjoy interacting with each of the pieces.


Moral Compass finished and on display at Gateshead Civic Centre as part of the new exhibition.





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.

Jewellery making inspired by the Shipley Art Gallery’s collection

I am currently working with a women’s group in Gateshead and over the last couple of months they have been learning how to make jewellery. Using these new skills, the women are making some pieces to go on display which are inspired by the jewellery designer Nora Fok, whose jewellery is on display at the Shipley Art Gallery. Her pieces are very delicate, often gentle shades of white and quite beautiful. Saying that – they are also very bold!

In our latest pieces, we are working with wire (even garden wire), beads and Beadalon’s monofilament illusion cord. These are some of the pieces I have made so far, in preparation for our last stages of the workshops.

Starburst ring, inspired by Nora Fok.

Starburst ring, inspired by Nora Fok.

The ‘Starburst’ bracelet below, was made using a French knitting bobbin, knocked up from an old wooden cotton reel and nails – as they would have been made traditionally. I do find most French knitting ‘dollies’ don’t work particularly well.

French Knitting bobbin.

French Knitting bobbin.

Starburst bracelet, inspired by Nora Fok.

Starburst bracelet, inspired by Nora Fok.

Using wire, I created this bracelet by wrapping the top section around a marble and the bottom section round a lid of a bead tin, then fastened them together.

'Up-do' ring, inspired by Nora Fok.

‘Up-do’ ring, inspired by Nora Fok.

The last piece I have made so far inspired by Nora Fok’s works, is this ‘illusion cord’, twisted ring decorated with beads.

'Illusion' beaded ring, inspired by Nora Fok.

‘Illusion’ beaded ring, inspired by Nora Fok.

My daughter’s have also been having fun creating some pieces, as they never like to be left out and I shall take their rings along to this weeks workshop as further ideas.

Middle Mini Obsesivcreativ's  ring inspired by Nora Fok.

Middle Mini Obsesivcreativ’s ring inspired by Nora Fok.

Little Mini Obsesivcreativ's ring inspired by Nora Fok.

Little Mini Obsesivcreativ’s ring inspired by Nora Fok.

Once the jewellery making equipment was out and my juices flowing, I have also made a few Steampunk inspired pieces to!

Butterfly sitting on vintage Czechoslovakian coin, with 'diamonds'. Ring.

Butterfly sitting on vintage Czechoslovakian coin, with ‘diamonds’. Ring.

Roses on vintage Maltese coin. Ring.

Roses on vintage Maltese coin. Ring.

Still work in progress. Layered necklace with found, recycled and broken jewellery.

Still work in progress. Layered necklace with found, recycled and broken jewellery.

Over the next week or so and particularly on Instagram, I’ll update you with the jewellery pieces we have made in our workshops for the Shipley Art Gallery.

Jewellery making workshop using leather

Teddy keyring Gateshead women's group Leaf earring GW community group

This afternoon I ran a workshop for a fantastic women’s community group in Gateshead, who I’ve worked with in the past. The brief from the women was that they would like to learn to create leather jewellery and accessories inspired by jewellery artist Nora Fok whose work is currently displayed at the Shipley Art Gallery. Learning new skills, the women designed, cut out, threaded, beaded, glued and pliered their earrings, rings and key-rings together. As you can see from the photos, they have made some lovely new pieces in just one workshop.

Heart keyring GWCG  Green earring GWCG Star keyring GWCG

Butterfly keyring GWCG      Ring GWCG

Heart keyring 2 GWCG      Leaf keyring GWCG