Art and Eating

We’ve just been on a bit of an art safari in Devon and had a wonderful time. Started in our home county of Dorset, with a quick pop in to the Artwave Gallery in Morecombelake. They had a great mixed exhibition. We were very taken with the work of Rebecca Fontaine-Wolf and you can see an example below. The fantasy element was enriched by her use of colour and you felt that you needed to hear the story of this mysterious figure.


We were also taken with the lovely paintings of Donna Goold who uses oil bars on paper to wonderful effect in her dreamy landscapes. Her husband Martin had a way with pastels, working with  a geometric precision that brought to mind Kaffe Fassett’s needlepoint work.

Our art fix the next day was at the wonderful Devon Guild of Craftsmen’s gallery at Bovey Tracey. We were so lucky to find that the big exhibition space had been given over entirely to Anita Reynolds’ work and I have long been a fan of hers. The work was based on a year in Datmoor and her monoytpe prints portrayed this in a sensitive way that still managed to convey the massive and lovely tors and boulders. Here is a general view of the exhibition which was also a masterclass in hanging as it really made the most of the big space. The dynamic between large pieces and the smaller rectangles of her lovely concertina books worked very well.

Clive and I were unanimous in choosing the piece below, ‘Super Moon at Greator Rocks’, a monotype print (where the plate is cleared after printing, ensuring that only one copy is produced) as our ‘standout’ favourite. The technique used was monotype print with chine collé.

As I am very into concertina books at the moment having just produced one for the WOWclub members (coming next week, folk), I loved these books and there were quite a few in the exhibition.

There was a lot of extra information about the artist and her working methods and one idea that I loved was the ‘Bus Prints’ idea. These are made on her mobile press on location  – in the camper van on Dartmoor. Instant impressions – so immediate and satisfying. Must try that with the die cutter used as a press.


Finally, to show that it’s not all about colour, these monotone trees presented a powerful reminder that colour is not everything. Stark, yet flowing, they delighted the eye.


A final view of the gallery and then it was time for a lovely lunch in the gallery upstairs. Art watching makes you hungry and they do wonderful food!


Of course we did some silly holiday things, too. On the Golden Hind replica at Brixham, I made Clive walk the plank.


The ship was very interesting – much more than I expected. We had a lovely break.



WOW. What a week

We’ve had an amazing d4daisy week with the new book. We told ourselves that WOWbook 02 would be a quiet launch, as it’s summer-time and we didn’t think that we would match the Christmas launch of the first WOWbook. But it has overtaken it and it has been a frantic, yet wonderful week. Thank you everyone who has said such lovely things on our Facebook page. In addition to all the goodies in the book we have already got some offerings on the Members’ web site and one of them is this Kozo bark treescape that I made. I had such fun and Fiona is already responding to requests for a materials kit. Out very soon, folks.


While Fiona has been busy trundling her wheelbarrow to the post office, I have been slaving over my sewing machine making a concertina book. Some of you will recall that I had been moaning about the fact that my workroom has recently shrunk. This is, in fact, a well known phenomenon and several others have experienced shrinking workroom syndrome. Clive, in panic mode because he feared that his study (known as the growlery as he sits at his desk and growls at politicians on the radio) might be in danger, suggested that we get a new desk and set my machine up in the conservatory. It is lovely not to keep having to put the machine away and the light is so good in there – although it is a trifle warm, sometimes.

In fact, having finished the book, I got my embroidery unit out and found some designs on a USB stick. So that is tomorrow’s excitement. I’m not sure that any of our computers will run the old software so I might look out for an update. Watch this space.



Finally I just had to show you this piece by Lorraine Fitches. She made it from Angie Hughes’ instructions in the first WOWbook. Isn’t it wonderful? Our private Facebook Group is such fun and so inspiring.



Further along the art trail

A lovely day, so off on another Dorset Art Weeks trail. Our favourite art couple,  Irene Burgoyne and David Marl,  had moved to Sherborne – the other side of the county , but we didn’t let that stand in our way.

Their new house was lovely and David now has a much bigger studio (see below) while Irene has a suite of rooms for her patchwork. You may have followed my recent Facebook posts bemoaning the fact that my workroom has shrunk, so will understand my twinge of envy. However, they both produce such wonderful art that they can be forgiven anything.


David’s acrylics have a lyrical, mystical feeling, often based on biblical events or spiritual awakenings. Some new tryptychs allowed the stories to unfold.


The one below was my absolute favourite and, if my premium bonds are generous, I may be returning to purchase the one below.

Irene makes my kind of patchwork: colourful, beautifully stitched work but with less than precise patterning. She told me the story of one quilt that she tacked together, decided it was just too regular, threw the pieces up in the air and pieced them where they landed. The work shown below is comprised of perfect hexagons but the fabrics are chosen so that the shapes all but disappear into the overall design. Clever stuff.



It was good to see them settled in their lovely new house and we both felt moved by the experience. On to Sturminster Newton, where we had hoped to find lunch but nowhere was open. However we then had a somewhat unexpected experience as we walked past a park. It was packed with loads to do for children and adults. It was apparently part of a nationwide event called The Big Lunch – to encourage neighbours to meet and mingle. We were not neighbours but we bought sandwiches, duly mingled and had fun.


















We then moved on to see Rose Hatcher and Kate Osman in The Workhouse Chapel, Sturminster Newton. If you think this sounds grim, you couldn’t be more wrong – opening the door was like going through the back of the wardrobe into Narnia. It was a light-filled space with the vibrant colours of Rose’s felt and silk paper pieces providing a contrast to the ethereal glass of Kate. Impossible to believe that many of her pieces were recycled greenhouses.


The display was wonderful with glass mingling with wood and pebbles and the maximum use made of the wonderful space. Loved it.


Finally, on the recommendation of Irene, we went a little way down the road to visit Imogen Bittner. She works with printed and painted fabrics using wonderful old sewing machines and producing masterpieces. Her mixed media work is also flawless. I am not going to tell you any more than that as I am determined to get her in the next WOWbook and she will this be a lovely surprise for you all.

We arrived home worn out and with our minds full of wonderful art. Whoever invented artweeks needs to be toasted with fine wine, so I prop0se to do that right now.


On the Art Trail

What could be better than an art-week outing? Well, I think the answer is a series of art-week outings which Clive and I have planned for the next two weeks. We’ve made a good start with visits to Amo House and Karren Burkett in deepest Dorset – down among the Gussages in Gussage All Saints Church. These lovely Dorset villages always sound like something out of Midsomer Murders. Was it Amo House with a craft knife? Certainly not. Amo was exhibiting with Karren Burkett and it was inspiring but not at all scary.


I love seeing churches used for art exhibitions, although it has to said that the light is not always great. All Saints is quite good in this respect and the eye catching paintings of co-exhibitor Karren Burkett made for a colourful welcome. Her paintings are so textural, often with little lines that resemble Kantha stitching, which add shape as well as the aforementioned texture.


I loved her triptych, ‘Stormy Sky’ which caught the exact moment that a storm rolls in on a sunny afternoon and seems to heighten all the colour around it. Karren had caught that contrast between sunshine and threatening sky.



Amo’s wall pieces included her lovely quilts from the ‘Rolling Hills’ series. Such a lot of colour and movement and they were beautifully displayed here..


In contrast to that was the highly textured embroidery ‘Earth Treasures’ which combined canvas work with rich stitching and beading. The Snowdrop depicted below this piece won the ‘Peoples’ Choice’ award at a recent exhibition.

However, I think where Amo excels is with her decorative three-dimensional work. This casket, with its rich colours and textures, just makes me want to take it home – but she is not ready to part with it yet, she says.

Beaded brooches with convoluted wire work were reminiscent of Anglo-Saxon cloak clasps. Such beautiful work – we will have to get her to write a workshop on those, I think.



After the Gussages, we took in some paintings and lovely ceramics at the Garden Centre in Cranborne. Needless to say, it was not possible to leave without coffee and a scone for Clive.

Next on the list was a visit to Rosemary Jarvis in her delightful garden studio. Rosemary has been using the embellisher machine for recent work based on the Northern Lights and this has proved a rich creative seam for her with many of her pieces selling. They were all glazed so she has promised to send me a pic of an unglazed one and I’ll pop it on d4daisy’s Facebook page.



On one wall of her studio is an inspiration board for her work based on Indian themes. I think this would stand alone as a resolved artwork.


The exhibition continued in the house and Iwas taken with the floral embroideries here. I think we will be returning to Cranborne very soon as there is an Open Gardens event in a couple of weeks’ time and Rosemary certainly has the garden in peak condition. I was so envious of her cat-mint. Every time I try to grow it, Smudge destroys by eating, rolling or digging. I’ve now given up.

So, a lovely way to spend a day and there’s lots more to see. Dorset is so beautiful and next week we are off to the west of the county to do an ‘art and fossil’ crawl. I’ll take pics.



More Memories and a Great Artist

We had a great time at Brockenhurst Show. For a small village, in the heart of the New Forest in Hampshire,  Brock really draws the crowds. The village hall is enormous and having a train station helps to bring in the crowds. We had great artists this year – Adele Thomas, Margaret Beal and Anne Hellyer among them. Big names in traders too, with the likes of Art Van Go and Mulberry Silks. The WOWbook stand did very well and it was great to see so many members. There was an exhibition by the Gathering Memories team. They are raising money for the Alzheimers Society by asking people to produce small, stitched works which will be auctioned at the Willis Museum from 30th June to 4th August and Southampton Art Gallery, 12th to 30th September.  Or you can bid on the website  You can see some of the entries in this blog – the standard was very high.

My piece was called Memory Tree, Fractured – see below.  The finished piece  shows a figure trying to straighten the tree while all the memories fall down and collect as flotsam below it. I stamped some text on it and then reversed it as my mum had a friend with this horrible disease. Poor Daisy, previously an avid reader, was unable to make sense of the text as she said it was all going backwards. So this piece is for her.





















The exhibition had some lovely pieces so do please support them.


My Multicoloured WOWbook online course  has been going great guns and we are now on Texture – having had a whale of a time with colour. These little strips are some of my own texture experiments. Flotsam and Jetsam  were great fun to make and use up all kinds of bits and pieces. The lower one was used in my Alzheimers piece.




We are about to return the wonderful work of Diane Bates, who is featured in the next WOWbook. Diane is hoping to show her Painted Lady collection in her new house at some stage and I can tell you it is well worth seeing. The house itself is lovely and Fiona has insisted on coming with me to return the work to Diane. So we are off on a WOW jolly, leaving Clive in charge of the cat – or is it the other way round? You can see some of the collection below.



It is not just the stitching that is top class – Diane’s drawing skills are awesome.





This is her workroom – full of wonders. We’ll take more photos on our trip and it won’t be long before the book is out with a big interview and lots of lovely photos. Can’t wait.





New books and old cats

The first of the WOWbooks was a great success and now the second one is on its way. We have an all-star cast and are on target for June so here’s some news about the contributors. We are so thrilled that the amazing Diane Bates has agreed to be the star of our interview spot. I braved snow, ice and the M1 to visit her and was stunned by her wonderful new home, where she hopes to make a study/gallery space for her Painted Lady costume collections. When I took up the post with the Embroiderers’ Guild as editor of Embroidery Magazine, Diane was one of my first commissions. You can see the result below. I count this as a real scoop for the WOWbook.


Joining Diane we have the very popular Clare Bullock who has written the best ever workshop on Nuno felt, more from her in the next blog. We also have the stitch supremo Sue Dove, whose simple artwork techniques lead to such great stitched pieces. A real find, and new to me is Marion Jazmik, whose delicate and ethereal pieces belie their production tools – heat tool and soldering iron. In case our UK readers think they have lost Alysn Midgelow-Marsden to the antipodes, we are showing that she is as productive as ever and doing things with metal and wire in a big way. My, those recycled coffee pods are looking good.


As if all that was not exciting enough, we have Linda and Laura Kemshall with some simple ideas for producing sketchbooks with the WoW factor. I love the way these two work together and the article is entertaining as well as making you feel you must just have a go. I’m just off to do some ripping.






If you want to know when the book is available, just drop Fiona an email

There is more information about the book in our newsletter and you can sign up for this on our web site When you get there, scroll down to the bottom of the page.

I have had complaints about this blog. People are asking, where is Smudge? Well the bad guy is still very much in evidence, except when he does his new trick. Hiding on top of a high cupboard and then dropping on your head.


Short Distance Travel and Long Distance Learning

It seems impossible that time is moving so fast and I must hasten to finish my piece for the Alzheimer’s Society project, Gathering Memories. These will be exhibited at the Brockenhurst Show in April (21st and 22nd). I hope mine gets chosen – well actually I will be content just to finish it. I am using a trapping technique and layers of Lutradur with a ‘broken’ tree to symbolise the way that this cruel disease breaks and ruins minds.



Hopefully some of my little Fosshape tiles will fit in – ironing the fabric over a stamp is good fun and we have been playing with that idea on the free course that I’m giving to all who purchased the WOWbook. It was designed to take into stitch a design idea that we have been using with mountboard, ink and bleach. Everyone is having such fun with the design part that they haven’t really got to the stitch bit yet. Here is some of the work.



I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying running this course. We are all making and sharing  and the Facebook group is a very lively one, with lots of work being shown. I based the course very loosely on a City and Guilds course I used to teach locally and we are assimilating a little colour theory while having a great time experimenting. I am very surprised at how much it feels like a ‘real course’ and how distance learning makes us all feel closer! The work your see here is from a section of the course that examines the effects of tint and shade. Tint is achieved by the use of gesso – see below – and we are working with ink and bleach to demonstrate shade. I used my friend Jane Wild’s piece (below, right) as a great example of a Macintosh theme. We spent a lot of time, Jane and I, playing with this concept for a CD, called Paper and Beyond, that we produced some years ago.



Here is some course work (below) from Irene Gray – a Fosshape tile and Mara Webb used Decovil for a lovely folder, right.



Work on on shade from Lynn Collison, left, completes the picture.

Fiona and I were at the Craft4Crafters show in Devon on Saturday – I demonstrated some techniques to make a ‘feather pot’ which used Extra Heavy Pelmet Vilene and stamped Fosshape.



We took granddaughter Sophie and her friend Alex who is very into stitchy stuff. They had a good and productive time attending lots of the mini-workshops. Sophie made a lovely little origami box and Alex some really good cards. For once the weather was kind and we had a good journey both ways. Fiona and I had a good sing-along in the car to some Golden Oldies, much to the horror of the girls.

Hard to to believe but we are already receiving some wonderful work for WOWbook2. WOWbook1 has been very successful – beyond all that we could have hoped, so we will press on with the next issue, for publication in June. Watch out for the announcement of the artists – we think we’ve found a great bunch of talent.


A Lovely Bit of Alice

We had a bit of a day out last week – the first for ages as we’ve been hard at work on the WOWbook. It was great to be out in the world again, particularly as we went to see Alice Kettle’s ‘Thread Bearing Witness’ at the Winchester Discovery Centre. This is the first venue for the touring exhibition which will conclude in the Autumn at the Whitworth in Manchester.

The exhibition is quite breathtaking as many of the works are huge and you feel as though you are walking with giants when you enter the gallery. I love Alice’s work and many of these pieces were made especially for this show. Working around the space, I will try to describe some of the pieces.

The Dog Loukanikos and the Cat’s Cradle 

Here we have three girls playing cat’s cradle with a golden thread. Loukanikos was a real dog who was a symbol in the Greek anti-austerity riots of 2010. He is shown here defending the girls from the riot police who are also tied with a gold thread.  The glass ‘hedge’ in the foreground is made by Kirsteen Aubrey and acts as an intriguing barrier – perhaps another level of protection.


Sea 792 x 284 cms

This is a massive piece of work. Alice has often produced very large and monumental textiles and this must be one of the biggest. It is a reaction to the refugee crisis, tempered by the glare of publicity from the media, conversations with her daughter Tamsin and, later, first-hand meetings with refugees, especially women artists among them. This is the first of a series which, if I understand correctly, will have work added as the exhibition tours. Alice aims to give a voice to the refugees and to capture the feelings of a (once strong) community now reduced to helplessness.



Orphrey 200 x 245 cms

This piece was made, using a Schiffli commercial embroidery machine, for the exhibition Mechanical Drawing – The Schiffli Project. As we know from our domestic machines, the automatic patterns can look very ‘static’ and the aim of this project was to show how they could be used in a different way. By changing threads, varying the thickness and generally causing stitching havoc, Alice showed how this could be done. The large figures also work well in this respect. Although shown only in outline, they provide an intriguing contrast to the deconstructed patterns.  Alice herself feels that this was a turning point at which she realised that she no longer had to cover the base fabric with her trade-mark heavy stitching. She described it as ’letting the marks breathe and liberating the fabric’.


Odyssey detail

This piece provided a reminder of the contrast between the massively stitched works that have been ‘Alice trademarks’ and the new, more open, pieces. I have always loved the fact that this is based on the story of how Penelope, waiting for the return of Odysseus puts, off her suitors by weaving his shroud. Having vowed not to wed until it was finished, she unpicked it at dead of night. Good use of a textile technique, I say.

This is a lovely exhibition. If I am right in my assumption that it will grow before its final showing in October, I think I might be having a little trip to Manchester to see the final pieces.



Going from the sublime to the ridiculous, I popped into Marks and Spencer while we were in Winchester and found that there was a sale going on. As I said to the checkout lady while I filled four bags with sales purchases, ‘I only came in for some socks!’

Coming right back to earth I must remind you that we have free tickets for the Craft4Crafters show at Westpoint Arena, Exeter in February. Go to the d4daisy facebook page to enter.

Memory Gathering

First of all – Happy New Year everyone. A little late but well meant.  Had a great Christmas – best day was the family get-together on Boxing Day when we all gathered and played silly games, including a hilarious version of charades. Granddaughter Sophie put together some great quizzes, so the brain was given a bit of exercise, too. Sad to say we forgot all about the specially purchased game which involved Stuffing a Turkey using a ping pong ball resembling a sprout. This was propelled by a party blower. Where you had to aim for I leave to your imagination.

Clive gave me some QOR watercolours which I had long lusted after. They give very strong colour and are especially good when painted over a damp surface where they mingle beautifully.  I have been using them for the colour section of the ongoing course I will be running on the WoWbook site. We are beginning with a look at colour manipulation and I have some good fun ways of playing with this and turning it into resolved pieces. Keep an eye on the Facebook page, WOWies, as I will be letting you know about the requirements early next week.


I am currently working on a small piece for the Gathering Memories project. This is a community project which aims to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society. They sell small Project Kits allowing the purchaser to create their own interpretation of memories through the medium of textiles and mixed media. Kit contains a tea dyed silk strand taken from an original installation work, together with backing cloth, Bondaweb, iron-on Vilene, a selection of beads, threads and a needle.


There are sufficient materials for an A5 piece of textile art based on your own memories. You can just make one for yourself or you can donate it for an auction to be her later in the year. Lots of great artists have taken part and you can see work by Anne Kelly and Stephanie Redfern here. Much of the work will be exhibited at the Brockenhurst Needlework Fiesta this year (21st and 22nd April). We will have a stand too and it really is a super show with lots of demos and all the big traders (including Art Van Go). Well worth a visit. Find out more at




I am basing my offering on a larger piece I made using techniques from my Tall Tales and Long Diaries book ( My granddad was an officer in the Royal Navy and kept a diary all through the first world war. I scanned some of the pages and also made some ‘vintage’ pieces of stitching for the work. It’s a very personal piece and I plan to make copies for my cousins. I shall take a photo of it to print on A4 cotton and add more stitching. Come to think of it, that would make a great starting point for my piece for the auction.  This is such a great way to raise money for an excellent cause.



Christmas Scenes

Well – here we go again and, before we all disappear into a pile of wrapping paper, we‘d like to send good wishes for a very Happy Christmas from all at d4daisy. Here is our Christmas scene – it’s made with a similar technique to the gesso and ink video on the WOWbook members’ page. I laid a thin base layer of gesso on very heavy watercolour paper, sprayed it with very dilute Quink ink and let it dry. Then layers of gesso were applied with a palette knife to make mountains. A little salt was sprinkled here and there and more ink was sprayed on the lower half. The salt pulled the ink and made darker areas. No stitching but I was pleased with it.


I paid a visit to my old blog Someone remembered the mad time we had putting catalogues out to weather and then using them for art – such fun. While I was there, I happened upon this little design exercise for anyone using an image program with a layer function. It is quite easy. I use an old version of Paint Shop Pro but it worked well on my up to date Photoshop Elements, too. It’s another one that is good for Christmas images. In the pic below, I have printed it on ordinary printer paper, crumpled it up to soften it and then pinned it onto felt, ready to stitch.


















This started off as a simple quick photo of a birch tree.

We have been discussing stitching with birch bark on the members’ Facebook page so this seems very appropriate.

There need to be some good contrast in the pic for this to work.


















Find your Layers menu, usually at the top,  and click Duplicate twice.



On the Layers Palette select the middle layer. See below.


Then , in the image menu, click Negative. See below. This affects the middle layer, as you can see in the palette in the pic below. Your image won’t show it yet.


Click on the TOP LAYER. This is important.

Somewhere in your Layer Palette there will be an option called Modes, often next to the fade option. See below.











This brings up a menu with lots of things to try. When you have a spare year in your life, play with these but for now just choose the one marked Difference

The result can be seen at the bottom.