I recently spent 3 days at Bobby Britnell's studio on a workshop led by Jean Draper. The course description: The aim of this workshop will be to begin with the study of examples of small details from natural objects, leading to the development of ...


Jean Draper and more...

Jean Draper

I recently spent 3 days at Bobby Britnell's studio on a workshop led by Jean Draper.

The course description:
The aim of this workshop will be to begin with the study of examples of small details from natural objects, leading to the development of different personal ideas for work in stitched textiles. Structured experimental drawing and design exercises, investigating the scope offered by changes of scale, tone, texture and colour, together with demonstrations, will encourage students to choose ways to develop their own ideas both 2 and 3 dimensionally. Throughout the course, emphasis will be placed on making notes and sampling in fabric and thread in order for more resolved work to continue later if wished.

I signed up for this because I really wanted to know how to get from design to stitch.  Even though it meant drawing!

We were asked to take a collection of some natural things and I took some shells.

I chose to draw this one.

I eventually drew something that looked freer but sadly didn't photograph it on its own.  It will appear on my display board later.

Jean asked us to cover a sheet of paper with willow charcoal and then draw using a putty rubber.

The next day we photocopied parts of our various drawings enlarging them as much as we could.  I liked this day.  Lots of paper folding and mark making.

I eventually realised that I didn't have to copy my drawings but could be inspired by them.  I cut shapes out of the photocopy and added black paper.

 I photocopied the piece above and cut away the white on the right and folded it.  I love the shadows.

 I cut into this photocopy and folded the cuts.   The orange paper behind really lights up the holes.

On our last day I did some fabric manipulation and stitching.

Here's the final display board at the end of 3 days.

I'm not sure yet how much these 3 days will influence my textile practice.  I need to process it for a while.

Thanks for joining me today.



We don't often go to London despite the fact that it's less than 2 hours away by train.  However, for our wedding anniversary trip we took the train to London and met up with our lovely friends, Keith & Valerie.

The four of us took the boat from Tower Pier to Greenwich.  Going by boat is one of the best ways to see London.  The weather was fantastic and the Tower of London looked majestic.

After a pub lunch, we climbed the hill up to the Royal Observatory.  It has a permanent exhibition that explains how longitude and latitude are organised and how Greenwich Meantime came into being .

The view over London is spectacular too.

In the courtyard of the Observatory is the Greenwich Meridian.  Here I'm standing where East meets West.  Left foot in the east - right foot in the west.  Plus Keith's foot!  No comment!

The other three went to look round the inside of the Cutty Sark whilst I stayed outside and took rather a lot of photos of the masts. You'll be relieved to know I'm only going to share one with you.

Then back on the boat to return to Tower Pier.   The buildings at the front are the Old Royal Naval College with the Queen's House in the middle - further back.

We passed by The Grapes (the narrow building with the garden terrace and wooden railings) where Roger had booked a table for dinner.  This pub features in Dickens' 'Our Mutual Friend'.

And back to dry land by the Tower of London.

This was the inner courtyard garden of the hotel we were staying at: The Royal Foundation of St. Katharine.

Our second day was bittersweet as we said goodbye to Keith & Valerie.   Roger & I walked past Limehouse Basin.

And past The Grapes.

We were heading for the Museum of London Docklands which is in an old sugar warehouse alongside West India Docks.  It is dwarfed by the modern buildings of Canary Wharf.

It packs in an enormous amount of history.  It was really interesting and FREE!

West India Docks

A map of the area.  I had suggested to Roger that we walk from Limehouse to King's Cross but fortunately he ignored me and we took the underground instead.

We visited the London Canal Museum which was small but full of information before we started our walk along the Regent's Canal.  The museum combined information about the canals with the history of ice and ice cream.  Quite a combination!

As we started our walk we saw this second hand book shop on a barge.

How about these little cuties?

We walked past Gasholder Park.

We walked along through Camden - with a quick detour into the market.

Here's a pirate castle!

And after the hustle and bustle of Camden the canal glides past the London Zoo and Regent's Park.

A floating Chinese restaurant.

Getting nearer to Little Venice.

Little Venice itself.  I had wanted to see this for such a long time and was somewhat disappointed.  I thought it would be more like Gas Street Basin in Birmingham.

We ended our canal walk at Paddington Basin.  There was still more walking to be done - from Paddington Basin to a Malaysian restaurant and then on to Marylebone Station for the journey home.  Plus the walk from Solihull Station to our house.

We certainly packed a lot into 2 days.  And the next day my sore feet, painful calves and hips, thought so too!

Thanks for joining me today.


J is for Journey

In our Living Your Word of the Year group we are using a fortnightly (bi-weekly) A-Z challenge throughout the year to help us focus on our word and live it out.

Because of the way I have made my journal it's a case of going with the flow of what background the pages have when I turn to them.

Today I have chosen J is for Journey.

I was going to choose Joy as the word for J especially as today is our 36th Wedding Anniversary.  And an extra dose of joy is that today we get to spend the day with our friends Keith & Valerie who are visiting the UK from the US.
May 14th, 1983

This is when they visited us in the Midlands in 2014.  We had such fun.
Black Country Museum, September 2014

We saw them in 2017 when we went to stay with them during our grand trip around the US and Canada.

But back to my journal page and JOURNEY.  The point of this A-Z is to choose a word and look at the word of the year through the lens of the alphabetical word.  When I was looking for verses about journey, I found three that were about God's commitment to me.

I glued some tissue to the journal pages.

I printed out the verses and tried them out in various places.  I like making travel journals so I have lots of stickers about journeys and I went a bit mad with them.  In my defence I am trying to use them up - but possibly not all of them on the same page!

I stuck the verses down.

Here are the pages together.

Thanks for joining me today.

Join Our Inspirational Facebook Group: Living Your Word of the Year
Join Mary Brack, Valerie Sjodin and I in our Facebook group where we are giving participants the opportunity to live out an A-Z of their own word throughout 2019.  Mary explains what we are doing in her blog post.  We don't like a lot of rules, so we will have suggestions and options to spark creativity, and to help in recording and exploring our word’s meaning in visual and fun ways. We will each blog about our experiences and our art.

Hashtags on Instagram:  #livingyourword2019

Check out the other blogs:
Mary: www.foundonbrighton.com
Valerie: www.valeriesjodin.com/blog

To ensure you get updates from Valerie, Mary & I why not subscribe to our blogs.

Recording the black & white walk

Last time you will remember that I showed the photos from the walk I did from Kingswood Junction to Lowsonford.

The aim of this sketchbook exercise is to draw what you saw as you walked.  I didn't particularly want to draw things so I filled the pages with text and stencilling. I own a lot of stencils and I thought this would be a great way to use some of them.

The next activity was to isolate areas within the drawings to make 'tiles' which can then be made into stamps.  To be honest using the stencils made this part of the syllabus a bit difficult.

I was reading Jean Draper's book, Stitch and Pattern, where she suggested drawing a stylised leaf and making patterns using that.  I drew a stylised Hawthorn leaf as I had seen Hawthorn  hedges all along the side of the canal.
I made a sponge leaf, 2 funky foam leaves and 2 lino cut leaves.  These are the stamped images.

I made these into digital stamps and spent quite a lot of time producing pages of various versions of repeat patterns.

The spaces between the printed leaves interested me and I traced that and made another set of digital stamps and printed out repeat patterns for my sketchbook.

I also made yet another set of funky foam stamps using this shape.  I printed with a variety of the stamps on fabric.

The first set or prints are with Formusol - a discharge paste - which removes the colour from black fabric.

The formusol was spread on some plastic and then pressed onto the fabric.

White acrylic fabric paint on black fabric

Black acrylic fabric paint on white fabric

I have lots of ideas whirling around in my head but need to settle down to making 12 samples as a way of working to my final piece.

In the meantime I have a Jean Draper 3 day workshop to attend at Bobby Britnell's studio and a one day with Caroline Merrell.  This is on experimental inkjet printing learning how to transfer my favourite images that I have taken onto silk and then proceed to add fibres to nuno felt.  I will of course be using a photo from my canal walk, to use as one of my samples.

There will of course be blog posts to let you know how I get on.

Thanks for joining me today.


Walking in black & white

The theme for my photography group this month is black and white photos taken on a walk.  This fitted well with my Master Practitioner course where I had to use photos of a walk.  I'll show you my sketchbook next time.

I walked from Kingswood Junction to Lowsonford where I met Roger.  We had a pub lunch and then he walked back to Kingswood Junction and I picked him up.

The South Stratford canal is renowned for its barrel-roofed lock keeper's cottages.

It also has split bridges so that the rope from the horse could go through the middle and not interrupt the journey of the horse-drawn barges.


I really enjoyed the walk.  I took a great many photographs and it is interesting to compare these black & white ones to the numerous colour ones I have of the same walk.  We walk it quite often!

Thanks for joining me today.