A Very Busy Summer

It is a long time since my last blog post due to an exceptionally busy summer. I planned to have a leisurely one but 2 large commissions put paid to that. I can’t really complain and certainly would not get any sympathy if I did! I can’t reveal one of them as the client hasn’t seen it yet but I can show you the larger one.

The biggest ever at 36 x 26 inches, a large area of the piece is silk painting and it was to be presented over a stretcher frame like a box canvas (not stretched in my usual manner and mounted and framed under glass. A first for me.

Before I could start I needed to buy a frame big enough to stretch the silk on and a size 30 paintbrush (as the largest I normally use is an 8). The image I had to work from was taken on a phone and when printed at A4 was pixelated but I had enough to go on. My client and I had lots of discussions about content and composition and then I was ready to start.


The image is a view over Hampstead Heath featuring a row of distinctive winter trees, a family group with their dog and a pushchair, all telling a story of a typical day on the Heath.

The silk painting proved to be even trickier than I anticipated and took me several attempts to get the sky just how I wanted it. I did achieve a painted sky I was pleased with but it wasn’t close enough to the brief so I started yet again! All the silk painting advice I give to my students was going through my mind and I thought how much better they would feel if they could witness my failures! I did succeed in the end ( it wasn’t going to beat me) and then I moved onto the embroidery stage.

With a beautiful soft light glowing through the trees I used a loose bobbin thread to create the blue greys and muted purples and browns amongst the branches. I worked across the image moving the hoop several times, emphasising the variations in each tree, carefully stitching the bench, figures and dog until eventually I got across to the other side!

Once it was finished stretching the piece was tricky too, as any new technique can be. I wrestled with a staple gun and a large frame for a day or 2 and finally had a flat, taut, square finished piece. I suggested to my client a floating frame was a necessity to protect the edges of the bare silk and sent this photograph to illustrate the idea. A £1 coin shows the scale.

Once framed I delivered it to London and had the pleasure of hanging it on the wall in its designated space!

It was a challenge, all commissions are a step out of the comfort zone because the clients wishes are always in the forefront of my mind and I don’t have the same freedom as when I create for myself. This one was a whole lot of firsts! The reward is a happy client.

Exhibition and Talk: The Making of the Sweater

The Willow Gallery in Oswestry have offered me the opportunity to exhibit the embroidered jumper I made last year. It was a collaboration with Steven Tai, a London based fashion designer and is quite a special piece of work. Also on display will be all the test samples I made for Steven, showing all the stitch and paint experiments before we settled on the final way to work the sweater.
To coincide with the exhibition I will give a talk in the Willow on Saturday 11th October at 11.30 am about the making of the sweater and my 30 year textile career, followed by a Q and A session

Another a Day in the Spotlight!

The sci-fi inspired sweater I embroidered is off to Paris. Steven Tai, the fashion designer that I collaborated with, is one of 10 ANDAM finalists and will be taking the sweater, with other selected pieces he has designed to take part in the final next week

The ANDAM Fashion Prize, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, offers designers a 250,000 Euro prize, a yearlong business mentorship courtesy of Kering’s François-Henri Pinault, and 10,000 Euros of Swarovski crystals.

“I am very honored to be a part of this years final. The ANDAM Award is the most globally recognised support for designers over the last 25 years. I am incredibly excited (and a bit nervous too!) to present my work to the jury,” offered Steven Tai.

I am excited for Steven and wish him every success. On its return to the UK it will be on display for the first time in Shropshire at the Willow Gallery in Oswestry. I will post more information nearer to the date

Sitting in a Chelsea Garden

This is me in the medal winning garden Un Garreg meaning one stone, designed and built by Harry and David Rich of Rich Landscapes, a family run business based in the Brecon Beacons. This is their first time at Chelsea and they have won a gold. They have commissioned me to embroider a picture of their show garden to celebrate their success

Steven Tai update

I have completed the embroidery for Steven and delivered it to his London studio. Safe to say he was delighted with the finished piece. It was made up into a jumper and taken to Paris with the rest of the collection for buyers and the press to see. Steven has now taken it to Toronto for a catwalk show, which is a great opportunity. This is the largest and most complex embroidery I have ever undertaken. It has been a brilliant opportunity to work with the fashion industry. Aurifil Threads in Italy sponsored the project with their cotton and wool threads in a range of weights in over 60 colours. A big thank you to them for their support

My collaboration with Steven Tai

I have recently been asked by fashion designer Steven Tai to collaborate with him on the signature piece for his AW 13 collection. Steven, a graduate from Central St Martins has worked with Stella McCartney and earlier this year was invited by Mercedes Benz and ELLE Germany to present a SS 13 collection at Berlin Fashion Week
The embroidered image we are working on together will be featured in the next Hyeres festival in April 2013. This is an exciting departure for me and a creative challenge, its really interesting to discuss threads, fabrics and stitch samples with someone as creative as Steven. I will post the final embroidery when we have completed it