Posts in Studio
Living the dream!
2 August 2018 1.jpg

This time next week Festival of Quilts will be in full swing and the halls at the NEC, Birmingham will be buzzing with 1000's of quilters, embroiderers and textile enthusiasts. There will even be a handful of long suffering husbands and partners ... And I will, hopefully, have lots of visitors to my stand H35. My life plan didn't have me doing this until I was in my early 60's but life is never a straight line and so here I am and I couldn't be happier. I will turn 55 next Thursday and have already given myself the best present ever by deciding to become a full time artist and teacher. 

Deciding to take a stand at Festival at such short notice has meant that I've been working long, long hours in the studio. Being me I marked out my stand full size, decided what size tables would work and spent a really lovely few hours figuring out how to display my hand dyed fabrics. I folded fabric, I printed labels, I wrote and printed wash care slips, I ordered black fabric to use as table cloths, I brought some paper bags, I created a blog subscription sign up sheet and, one that I hope gets used lots, I made a workshop sign up sheet. 

2 August 2018 2.jpg

I marked out the three walls of my stand on my design wall and went through my older quilts to see what might fit and look good. Most of my recent work is just too big but I did have a small Ruins piece that never got exhibited so, after fusing on 'urban studio north', this has become the centre piece of my display. I didn't have the right mix in my existing pieces so have had to make two quilts - Off The Grid which is a rather nice example of breakdown printing and Pass The Tequila which showcases a tray dyed piece of fabric. I've also made a funky little 'workshop' quilt. It has been a long time since I worked on anything that wasn't part of a series or destined for an exhibition and really enjoyed making them. It's been fun.

I've also decided to develop a couple of 5 day retreats for 2019. The first one will be called 'Breakdown Your Palette' and will focus on breakdown printing and the benefits of using a limited selection of colours to create a cohesive collection of fabrics that can be used as whole cloth, pieced or used as yardage for clothing. The second will be called 'Colour Your Palette' and will focus on the addition and removal of colour through various dyeing and discharging methods. Again the emphasis will be on creating fabrics that work together. Both will be launched at Festival. 

Oh yes and I also heard last week that I will have a solo gallery at Festival 2019! Super excited! Going to be super busy! The Art gods have been shining on me - I am living my dream!

2 August 2018 3.jpg
Ta da - presenting Urban Studio North
Urban Studio North 1blog.jpg

Last Monday was an important day. It was the day when everything that needed to find a home in the studio had a home, everything that needed removing was removed, everything that needed a label had a label and everything that needed cleaning had been cleaned. Yes, even the windows! It was the day that my beautiful studio was ready for it's first students! 

It will probably never look like this again; all those virgin drop cloths will soon be covered in random colourful marks for a start. But for now let me walk you through it. The studio is 8.5 metres wide by 5.5 metres deep. One long wall faces south and contains two bay windows and a set of french doors - so lots and lots of natural light which is supplemented by six large LED ceiling panels. The long back wall is mostly a design wall, useful for putting up teaching aids and looking at students work. One side wall is the 'wet' area with two sinks, two tea urns for hot water, a fridge, cupboards and counter top. I still need to install a washing machine. The other side wall is the 'dry' area. This is where my PC and laser printer sit. It is where I store all my finished work and work in progress behind a white curtain that can also double as a design wall. And the very important bit - it has the tea and coffee area! In between there is my large print bench with cupboards and shelves underneath. And six student 'work stations, each with height adjustable 180 x 80cm bench, stool and storage trolley. 

Urban Studio North 2 blog.jpg

I want to provide all the equipment and media needed for each of the workshops. Wherever possible the 'requirements' lists will be limited to fabric, the means to take work home, apron and notebook. Most of my workshops are suitable for beginners who might not want to buy a lot of stuff up front - although I'm going to work really hard at getting them / you all thoroughly hooked on dyeing and printing!

Have a look at my workshops at and I hope to welcome some of you soon in the Urban Studio North.

So nearly there

I am hot, I am sweaty and I am surrounded by chaos. But actually the studio is just a whisper (and a few hours work) away from being ready to welcome my first students. My Urban Studio North now contains 6 lovely, height adjustable print benches, each with their own stack of washed drop clothes. Each 'workstation' has a stool (albeit 4 still need putting together) and a wheeled trolley that contains / will contain cat litter trays, lots of pots with lids, tile grouters (the sensible persons cheap screen squeegee), lots of spoons, masking tape, pins and scissors. And lots of space for students to put their stuff. Each workstation will also have buckets. Partly I want to reduce the amount of time students spend fetching stuff the stuff that they are most likely to use but also because I don't have the cupboards or shelves to store everything I will need to teach surface design.

I still have a list of things to buy but all the 'big' stuff is now in the studio. Dyes, screen printing inks, fabric, screens are all in place. Over the next week I want to turn chaos into a calm, tidy oasis of potential creativity. But to get there I need to hang lots of my art, scour and varnish the new screens, clear out all the stuff that shouldn't be in the studio and clean. Boy, do I need to clean!

In amongst the chaos I have been developing a mini-workshop to give at the ICHF shows and stitching pieces ready for my stand that show various aspects of surface design. I have even found a few hours to try out some new breakdown printed ideas. This lovely hot spell is perfect breakdown weather with my screens drying in a few hours. Just need to find the time, and clear bench space to print that latest set ....