"There is an Indian proverb that says that everyone is a house with four rooms. A physical, an emotional, a mental and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time, but unless we go into every room everyday, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person."

Rumer Godden 1907 - 1998

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Exploration, and exercise

I've been working on some explorations from "Mark- Making in Textile Art" by Helen Parrott to try and take my mark making in a new direction. She suggests looking at a selection of pictures that have marks that appeal to you. Mine are a mix of my own work and pictures from some inspiring books:

Having described the marks in these, I looked at an earlier exercise in which I described my own work to pick out any recurring words, I found: linear, thin, repeated, texture and all over. I need to get a friend to describe these marks and see what she identifies that matches my list.

My next activity was a series of 5 minute drawings to describe some of what I was looking at:

The might appear crude- they are however exactly what I described them as quick drawings to capture the essence of what I saw. I feel ready to start taking these forward in bigger drawings and in stitch, so the exploration has done it's work.

Monday, 24 August 2015


My major preoccupation over the weekend was the transformation of my study into my studio. It's been 7 years since my space in the house was dedicated to my stitched textile work. As I moved my things around and emptied boxes I found myself reconnecting with sketchbook and embroideries created more than 15 years ago, finding lots of paper and fabric samples that I don't ever remember creating. In one of my sketchbooks was some work based upon pictures taken at a railway station that had been redeveloped, attached to one page was a list that went a bit like this:
  • renewal
  • reclaimation
  • recycle
  • rejuvenate
  • redeveloped
  • renovation
Even if I can't recall the words exactly this morning they are part of how I feel about where I am creatively. My most recent reading has focused a bit on revisiting; I'm a huge fan of Twyla Tharp's book 'The Creative Habit' and she devotes space in that to returning to past works for inspiration for new. I've also been enjoying three books written by Cas Holmes, I love her art practise, there's lots of what she does that I find really appealing and attractive. Her work and the techniques she uses don't require the latest trendy materials and media, she uses what she has and what she finds often recycling pieces that haven't worked as she would have liked, whilst producing work that is appealing and has integrity. Cas blogs at Cas Holmes Textiles . I'm eagerly awaiting the publication of a book called 'Slow Stitch' by Claire Wellesley- Smith in early September, from the blurb on Amazon this book sounds like it'll be a good addition to my bookcase.

I have a heap of embroidery samples and unfinished embroideries on my desk, and a box full on the floor. As I haven't worked on any of these in the last 7 years it's unlikely I'll finish them. I feel that makes these fair game for some reworking. The same goes for a lot of large pieces of painted and collaged paper

I've used words staring with Re a lot in this post, as I drove into work this morning, I knew the name for my new sketchbook and textile work would be:  'Re...', as everything I feel about where I am at the moment is about the list above as well as other words like refocus, revise and regain.

Monday, 13 April 2015


Firstly, thank you to everyone who commented on my blog last week, I feel so encouraged by the things I've read about this challenge both here and on other blogs.

This week challenge prompt is "Beginnings". I started to think about how I begin a new project as that's quite important to me currently. I realised that for everything I do that's creative (except my art and textiles) there's already a lot of knowns in place before I start. I'll know what I want to do, I'll have some sort of a pattern, plan, or a recipe, I'll have the tools and materials and I'll follow whatever directions I have.

For my art and textile work, I won't have a clue! I'll just have this sense that I want to create something. So here in words and pictures is a very basic outline about what I do when beginning a new piece of work.

Take some inspiring source material:

Add a few good books:

Look around favourite blogs for inspiring information:

Daily Practice Collage on the Committed to Cloth website

Add a meaningful quote:

"If you draw the way you stitch and stitch the way you draw it will be easier to make the transition from sketchbook to fabric" - Jean Draper 

Pull another book off the bookcase:

Grab some pens and coloured pencils, a new sketchbook for recording ideas:

And away you go! I only wish it was this simple, it is however a beginning. Its more towards releasing my artistic voice than I managed two weeks ago. I'm going to spend time later this week playing about with the coloured pencils and sketchbook and see where it takes me.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015


Monday was a really thought provoking day. I've made some substantial decisions about what I want to do and what I need to do. High on my list is a substantial need to rediscover of my artistic voice, The positive comments on my previous post about art I created about 10 years ago has given me much needed encouragement to find my creative voice again. Long live the blog!

I've literally only just discovered and joined Instagram, and when I saw this picture loaded by the Pitt Rivers Museum  my heart lurched and I knew I needed to know more. I have a thing about amulets and talismen, a big thing, as is evident from a selection of books taken off my bookshelves.

I love the superstitions that are woven in as they are created, the simple naive constructions though to complex silversmithing. I'm fascinated by the power to protect, to bring good luck and to hold magical properties that's attributed to these small objects by their owners. I even have my own; a very small Turkish eye bead intended to deflect the evil eye attached to the small purse I keep my travelling knitting notions in:

In 2013 we embarked on a project to make a very steep garden a useable space. During the course of digging out terraces and shifting many tons of earth we discovered a treasure trove of small objects. Handling and setting out these small items in groups is inspiring, most are everyday things, quite often only small pieces of larger things, nonetheless these fragments inspire me:

All my work used to start with some form of inspiration, a bit of research, then some drawing. Fairly standard art practise, my next rediscovery has to be how to get from inspiration such as the Pitt Rivers amulet and my found objects to a piece of textile work.

A good place to start would actually be a knitting book,  a pad of squared paper, a pencil, fine-liner and a few coloured pencils.

Monday, 6 April 2015


Reading aplayfulday, one of the blogs I enjoy for it's energy and inspiration, reminded me that I used to blog much more frequently than I do now. aplayfulday has launched The Love Your Blog Challenge which will run during April. My hope is by joining in with this challenge, by responding to the themes for the weekly challenges that I'll start to love blogging again. 

Blogging is a two way process, it's sharing words and pictures with an unseen community and responding to that community too. Take a look at any blog and you'll see a set of links in the sidebar which represents the community the blogger has gathered around them. Watch anyone using a computer, laptop or mobile device and you soon notice they have favourite blogs and websites. I recently described myself as: Claire Textile maker, artist, knitter, journal-keeper, baker, cut flower grower and gardener, I omitted to say blogger. I feel sad about that, all the time I blogged and explored the work of other bloggers I felt full of artistic ideas, I was part of a huge mobile community. These days my creativity isn't original, I'm not designing anything myself, I'm bringing my own interpretation in the form of yarns/ beads to something someone else designed.

I did a City and Guilds in Creative Embroidery between 1996 and 2002, then an advanced textiles course to develop my art practise, I suddenly had a voice. I thrived in this sharing environment and created lots of original work that I shared, giving as much back to my community as I gained from them. I had the two things I find most conducive to work, a purpose and a community. The small picture is a sample from a sketchbook called Creative Connections that dates from about 2006. 

About 10 years ago I used to blog almost daily [that blog no longer exists :-( ], at that time I was part of a different community of artists who created altered art, who shared and posted online about it. Initially my work was very group driven, joining in with collaborative projects such as the page below in an old tattered copy of Alice in Wonderland. Through this I was a part of a huge art community spread across the world, I collaborated on lots of art projects and from these collaborations, I gained energy and inspiration. 

That community folded and suddenly I found something was lacking in my daily art practise. I was creating work like the picture below, I'd turned inwards, exploring myself through limited art practise. It wasn't same as the creative environments I'd been used to, I had nothing to feed from and no purpose. It wasn't long before I stopped blogging and creating any art.  When my husband and I started to plan a house move, I effectively lost my voice, 18 months of living in a rented property totally stopped my creativity.

These days (in a house of my own again) my artistic voice is very limited, I seem to struggle to find purpose and inspiration, I make a lot of promises to myself about new work that I don't keep. I have a world of inspiration outside my window what's missing is the wider artistic community I used to belong to.

Artists need inspiration, food for thought and most of all a community to explore which supports and validates their work. Introspective as this post has been it will serve as an opportunity to extend my community, finding new ways to connect and a way back into a more creative world. Who knows I may regain my creative voice!