Wednesday 10 December 2008

Dresses of Glass

Glass Artist - Diana Dias-Leao

'The Danger of the Image' exhibition runs until the Spring at Broadfield House Museum, Kingswinford near Dudley. Look up website at

Sunday 9 November 2008

Remembering you

A message from Andrew Salmon, director of the Knitting and Stitching Shows -

"Julia Caprara died on the 24th October. She was a great friend, a consummate artist and teacher, as well as a massive inspiration for so many of us.

Alex Caprara has kindly given his permission for us to stage a retrospective to mark Julia’s contribution but we do not intend to mount that exhibition until 2010 in order to do full justice to her work. Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn have kindly agreed to curate this exhibition.

However, back in 2001 and inspired by the terrorist attacks in New York, Julia created a special piece for The Knitting and Stitching Show which comprised a ball of barbed wire – the idea being that visitors to our events could add their stitched thoughts as a gesture to the victims and their families.

Julia’s only regret about the piece at the time was that the barbed wire was fresh, bright and new. She wanted that ageing patina she associated with World War I sites!

Well, we have found that ball of barbed wire and, over the years, it has acquired that very patina that we know Julia would have loved.

We intend to place the ball in the entrance to Hall M at The Knitting and Stitching Show and, if you will be visiting and knew Julia, (or knew of her through her books, her art or teaching), we would love you to stitch or write a message for her and attach it as you come in. She loved colour – so please don’t be timid."

Below is my contribution, made up of embroidered fabric poppies stitched onto a length of ribbon - a friendship ribbon - to hang from that ball of barbed wire. I stitched it today after going to the War Memorial ceremony on our village green.

Look out for it if you're going to the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show and take a photo for me please.

Monday 27 October 2008

'Common Threads' 2008,a selected exhibition by the Midlands Textile Forum, opens in Leicester on November 17th until December 4th.
Selectors, Sian Martin and Michael Brennan-Wood will also be exhibiting.

Thursday 9 October 2008

Textiles by Susan Strachan Johnson

I thought you might like to take a look at two spectacular textile pieces created by Susan Strachan Johnson, a current Diploma student with Distant Stitch. Susan has had a piece selected for “Twenty Artists Stitch for Peace” a show at the ACA Gallery in Toronto recently. 'Forest Floor' by Susan Strachan Johnson. This textile piece includes non-textile pieces such as a torn wedding invitation, a beer cap, the wire from a champagne cork and a jacket button ["quite a wedding" quote Susan].

'Riverbed' by Susan Strachan Johnson. This textile piece is made from re-cycled samples with hand and machine stitching and uses non-textile items such as a pop can tab, a plastic bag and some plastic net. 26” x 25” framed.

Heraclitus, the ancient Greek philosopher, said “you cannot step into the same river twice.” Canada’s freshwaters are our most precious natural resource, and here present an allegory for the peaceful passage of time. While there is still much work to do to clean up our rivers, there is also hope. Our lakes and rivers are getting cleaner: not only do previous “acid” lakes now support fish and plant life, but the water is clearing. Now we can see our way to clearing up the detritus on the riverbed as well. In this quilt, the sun glints on an eddy of clean-looking river water, through which we see all kinds of evidence of neglect.

Monday 6 October 2008

Distant Stitch Summer School 2009

The dates for next year's Summer School are 5th to 8th July, starting with dinner after the Textile Open Day at Urchfont Manor. Our celebrity guest tutor this year will be Janet Edmonds and the theme will be Three Dimensional Design. You can see some of her work below and via this link -

All Distant Stitch students are eligible to book a place. Mandy Dixon at Urchfont will start to take your booking from 1st November 2008. or phone 01380 840495.

Thursday 4 September 2008

A Journey Through Portugal

My long, continuous sketchbook records my journey from Cannington to Lisbon to Porto using papers acquired during the trip. Tickets, boarding passes, camomile tea bags, paper napkins and the sick bag from the aeroplane were all useful materials to combine to make my pages with a limited kit of needle and thread, water soluble pencils, a pencil and a black pen. I venture from home to Bristol airport via a carpark in a mushroom farm and then on to Lisbon.

A train journey through the dismal suburbs of Lisbon, past Benfica football ground.
An oasis in Sintra, pure silk.

Wrought iron balconies, stone urns, hanging fushias.

Hydrangea, wiseria, sugar packets.
Decorative tiles in summer palaces in leafy, hilly Sintra.
Following the river through old towns: picked eucalypus leaves.
The hills that bordered the river Douro are covered with stripes of vines that produce a lovely port wine that enabled the journey to continue at home!

Thursday 31 July 2008

Summer Time at last

The first day of my hols and I've added stitching to this piece which I started at the PSG Summer School recently. I've used acrylic wax to build up layers of wire rubbings, stitched lines on tissue paper with trapped wire 'drawing'. The acrylic wax allowed for greater transparency of the layers. The stitching was done by machine to add shapes of vine leaves and grapes to this group of bottles. I then unpicked a lot of it to make broken lines as I thought the continuous red lines were a bit too dominant.

'Threads of Meaning' - PSG Summer School 2008

Resolved piece by Una Smith
Three workshops under this banner title were run by Jan Evans, Dorothy Tucker and myself. I optimistically called my workshop 'Seeing the Light'. Using transparent materials and basing ideas on drawings of glass shapes, students rose to the challenge of 'learning their lines' to create a series of experimental and very sensitive pieces in stitched, drawn, rubbed and wire lines.
I was fortunate to work with 16 extremely hard-working and imaginative students. The five days passed quickly and was full of fun, friendship and (I have to mention it) food. We were treated to three 'feasts' per day by the extremely helpful staff at Harper Adams. After such a lot of concentrated work, we almost fought to be first in the queue for the dessert trolley! I hope you enjoy the selection of photos below. If you have any you'd like to contribute, I'd love to include them if you would attach them to an email to me at .

Students - Valerie, Una, Jane and Julia hard at work.

Below - Valerie then Sandra

Lots of wonderful work was produced developed from drawing of continuous lines from the bottles still life. Transparent and translucent layers of papers and fabrics were built up, sometimes trapping wire shapes and sections of soluble stitching.

The three tutors, Jan, Dorothy and myself spent each evening in serious discussion of the day's work and planning the complexities of the rest of the programme.

Monday 14 July 2008

'Pfaffing' around in France

The Art Textiles exhibition sponsored by Pfaff is now showing during the summer at Chatelaudren in France after its appearance at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally. Two intrepid travellers, myself and fellow exhibitor Janice Myers set out on the over-night ferry from Roscoff last Wednesday evening to attend the opening ceremony on the Thursday evening. Two short train journeys took us to the nearest town, Guingamp, where we were met by a Tourist Bureau official and driven to the attractive little town of Chatelaudren. The exhibition had been set up by Jacqueline and Monsieur Govin in an extremely spacious and light gallery, which was used as the regions council chamber outside the holiday period.
The opening was attended by many people including press and Minister of Culture and Tourism dignitaries. During the many speeches (in French) Janice and myself were welcomed as 'exotic artistes' and presented with a couple of books as gifts. Janice and I discovered that we could speak a bit of French after the glass of champagne and exquisite 'nibbles'. The dinner afterwards in a local restaurant was a jolly affair as several of our company discovered they could speak a bit of English too!
These photos are just a few 'snaps' taken by ourselves. We've been promised the official photos that the press took so will add those later.

Saturday 12 July 2008

Summer School 2008; friendship ribbons

Julie's friendship ribbon forms a rosette marking her success at her first Distant Stitch Summer School.

Friendship ribbons hanging from the stairway at Urchfont Manor.

Summer School dessert!

The Urchfont Manor lunch buffet, especially the desserts, are known as the 'disappearing waistline'. Has Maggie's dessert disappeared as well?

Enjoyable evidence

Everyone produced the most amazing pieces which you can see here. I don't seem to have everyones. Please send me an image if your's isn't here or if you have continued to work into it.