Sunday, 5 April 2020


I found this card in my stash the other day when I was searching for intriguing images by other artists to include in my current sketchbook. As I'm not sure where I bought it and am not organised enough to anotate my cards when I buy them, it doesn't carry memories for me like some of my cards do, but it did fascinate.

It is called The Quilt, which seemed appropriate, and is an original wood engraving by Fiona Hope

It has a decidedly textile feel to it and I was attracted by the range of marks and set about recreating them with a black Uniball Signo roller ballpen on white paper (thereby inverting the image). I dotted, cross hatched and created thick and thin vertical and diagonal lines and arcs within a hand-drawn grid.

It was an excellent, if idle, occupation for a rather chilly afternoon in Coronavirus lockdown.

Margaret Robbie

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Family memories

Sorting through boxes that have been stored in my garage for several years, I came across some from my childhood home, a farm in the Mendips in the West of England.

In these boxes, amongst old linens and embroideries, was a farm smock. Several of the pieces of  embroidery were embroidered by my maternal grandmother but I don’t know about this smock.

I have no idea how long my family were tenant farmers there although I understand that my father, who had two older sisters, was born on the farm.

In the box, there were also the details of the sale of the Mells Estate in 1923, owned by the Horner Family, of the rhyme “Little Jack Horner sat in the corner”. Being a late child I never knew my grandparents but I know that at this time, my grandfather bought the farm where he had been the tenant farmer.

My family lived in the farm at Lot 13. I had 4 older brothers and I grew up there before leaving home to go to college.

There are other interesting documents and photograph albums for me to explore and looking into my family history is part of the research I want to do.  

Here I think lies the basics of my research for our next exhibition ‘Inhabit’.

Carolyn Sibbald

Monday, 30 March 2020

Ancient and modern

I'm working to combine images of modern high rise buildings with suggestions of what existed before for a larger piece of work.

Here, I've used very much enlarged and abstracted croppings from photos of high rise buildings in Sydney, Australia, taken on a trip a few years ago. I've made marks over and around these images with a fine black Uni marker pen to suggest circles and dots.

Explanation here and here.

Margaret Robbie

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Little book of Circles

Corinne has been doing stitching based around some tea and rust dyeing completed the other day. The stitching involves circles - some regular, some irregular. Circles seem to be a common theme for the group just now.

 She then stitched further pages to go in the little book.

Corinne Renow-Clarke

Spring flowers

This lovely weather finds Linda gardening when she should be wielding a needle but instead its a fork! It seems to be a good year for primroses, they're everywhere. Here are a few flowers from the garden.

Linda Babb

Friday, 27 March 2020

Now there are five

This is the latest of my hand stitching from sketchbook images. Called "Green Shoots" its 

about those signs of spring growth on winter fields.
On to number six

Liz Harding

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Repurposing a book

This is a book I’ve been making over the last 3 days. The idea came from a YouTube video by Caylee Grey.

It is a repurposed old book cover with text block removed. Filled with random papers cut to size - old paintings/drawings, cartridge, watercolour paper, squared, tracing, wrapping etc. Stitched using long stitch binding.

Corinne Renow-Clarke

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Ancient Circles

I've been stitching circles.

Circles (signifying meeting place, campsite or water hole) and dots (indicating sacred information not to be shared) are extremely common in the art of Australia's Aborigines. I've been experimenting with ways to represent these in stitch.

Before the arrival of Europeans, Australia's Aboriginal languages were purely spoken and there was no cultural history of writing. Instead, there was great reliance on complex oral histories and rich 'dreamtime' recountings. Simple symbols such as these dots and circles, were used for sand paintings and in caves or on tools. Now their modern artwork shows these symbols as they represent their  spiritual way of life and their beliefs, their surroundings and the animals and birds that live in their lands.

Margaret Robbie

Monday, 23 March 2020

Dendrites and Butterflies

Santiago Ramon y Cajal described dendrites in the brain (the short branched threadlike extensions of the nerve cells) as the ‘mysterious butterflies of the soul...... whose beating wings may one day reveal to us the secrets of the mind’.

Carla has interpreted this thought in stitch with thread, buttons and ... lace butterfiles. 

Carla Mines

Sunday, 22 March 2020

and working from them

For years I have kept sketchbooks as a resource with written information and thoughts as well as drawing, painting and collected cuttings and images. They range from A5 to A3 in size.They are not tidy or composed in any way.  I often return to older books where the pages are not filled and add to them.Over the past few weeks I have been working from the smallest ones. The sketchbooks I carry in my pocket while out walking. They are of everyday sights where I live with references to weather,.things noticed or my mood. Some of them are ten or more years old but still absolutely relevant to me

Having got out my basket of crewel wool I have been working on a small scale, referencing darning but looking at my drawings made locally.

I know exactly where each of these places is and put myself in that place in my imagination..
I have now added some other threads to the crewel wool to create variation of texture and give a sense of distance.

They are not being done with any purpose in mind other than enjoying the process. Each is about six inches square, just the size to fit into an embroidery ring

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Considering Sketchbooks

Recently I’ve been dipping into various books on textiles as well as going to a mixed media sketchbook course. A few things have resonated with me.

- Sketchbooks don’t have to be bound, they can just be a collection of ‘pages’.
- The pages don’t have to be presented in a 2D way, they can be in a 3D container.
- The pages can be worked on in a 3D way, any stitching doesn’t have to be flat.

In the mixed media class I’ve experimented with using stitches for printing, first making a printing block - stitches worked on card - and then using photocopies of stitch for printing plates using gum arabic. Lately some of my own looser sketches, worked quickly, are finding their way into the work too.

Corinne Renow-Clarke

Monday, 16 March 2020


Modern neuroscience can trace its roots directly to a series of pen and paper sketches rendered by Nobel laureate, Santiango Ramon y Cajal in the 19th and 20th century.
Photograph from Wikipedia

I interpreted the dendrites into fabric and stitch.

Carla Mines

Sunday, 15 March 2020

On women and thinking

Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist and psychoanalyst who created new approaches to the understanding of the human personality. At the same time that Rodin was making his ‘Thinker’, Sigmund Freud had theories about women thinking.

‘Dispositional hypnosis states grow out of the day-dreams to which needlework and similar occupations render women especially prone..., and intrude into waking life in the form of hysterical symptoms’

And lastly, some considered and (less controversial) thoughts on thinking by ancient Chinese philospher Lao Tzu.

Watch your thoughts, 
they become your words;
Watch your words, 
they become your actions;
Watch your actions, 
they become your habits;
Watch your habits, 
they become your character;
Watch your character, 
it becomes your destiny. 

Carla Mines

Saturday, 14 March 2020

The Thinker

I looked at an image of a man lost in thought. The Thinker by Rodin was initially made as the crowning element of ‘The Gates of Hell’, leaning forward to observe the circles of hell.

It is a being with a tortured body, almost a damned soul, and a free thinking man, determined to transcend his suffering through poetry.

So I thought...... why not a woman.

Carla Mines

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Thinking about stitch

Stitch is a means of embedding narrative into the surface of the cloth and articulating the maker's voice.It can refer to transitory moments of observation and reflection. Stitch can suggest calm, be 'haptic' in nature; but can also be vital, alive, raw,opinionated.
The calligraphic effect of the stitch mark suggests the narrative and the rhythm..
The sewing machine makes fine freely drawn lines which can be manipulated by change of stitch length and tension to alter the structure of the surface of the cloth.
Hand stitch might puncture the cloth surface, suggest movement. It takes the viewers eye across the surface of the cloth, involves them in the story the cloth is telling.
Rhythm is an important factor both in the putting together of pieces of cloth and the mark making whether with brush or stitch.
I see the movement of thread and cloth as analogous to moving through the landscape; to others a different story will be told.
 The Snow Storm Victor Pasmore 1950
The Snowstorm: Spiral Motif in Black and White Victor Pasmore wrote: "As the rhythmic divisions of time and sound in music find an echo in the deepest recesses of the mind, so do the spaces, the tones and the colours of painting." Is this also true of stitching?  

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Careful stitching

Here, a small piece of very careful stitching which involves counting threads and keeping to very straight lines along the weave of the cloth - all most unusual for me -

 - but perhaps a good way to explore the geometry of modern high rise buildings in stitch.

Margaret Robbie

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Thinking ...

I found a quote from Colette, ‘The Seamstress’.

‘I don’t much like my daughter sewing.... she is silent, and she - why not write down the word that frightens me.............she is thinking’.

I cut a Lino block with the words, ‘She is thinking’, while I think what am I going to do for ‘Inhabit’.

To Think: to consider, judge, or believe, to exercise the mind as in order to make a decision, ponder!

Ah to ponder........

Carla Mines

Monday, 2 March 2020

The sketchbook archive

I have always kept detailed sketchbooks of thoughts, information and ideas which I constantly refer to. They sometimes take some years to fill as I add to them when it's relevant to do so. At the moment I am using one begun in 2003 with "Darn".

Not used again until 2016 when I did a lot of chain stitch. 

In 2017 it refers to the "Unchained" series I made for an exhibition in Bath.
Now in 2020 I can add to it, try to inhabit it again..

Information is gathered from a number of sources. Looking at it last week I found this quotation by the American artist Kiki Smith which seems useful to think about at the moment. 
"I'm always taken care of by my work. You let go of your own idea and let the work go where it needs to go and that's sometimes very uncomfortable. One learns to linger in its discontent and not be judgemental, but to have faith."

Liz Harding

Friday, 28 February 2020

How to inhabit an idea?

It's Friday, it's wet again and my hip hurts. So how do you try to get some ideas developing?
For me, at the moment, it's darning and patching. Initially inspired by two books 'Darning, Repair, Make, Mend' by Hikaru Noguchi and 'Mend and Patch' by Kerstin Neumuller I have gathered together a basket of beautiful crewel wool and begun to stitch.
There is a profound pleasure in the simple act of hand stitch but for me the excitement of developing colour combinations, of harmonies and discords is paramount.

Seeking for ideas with a needle and thread, joining, amalgamating, mending are words in my head. I am thinking of colour and stitch that might inhabit a cloth surface.

So, for the moment I shall obsessively stitch, observe and enjoy!

Liz Harding

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Spring Bloom

With a second showing in Ilminster this autumn of our work under the title Bloom very much in mind, Linda has a cheering photo of purple crocuses taken in her garden.

This week, here in the south west following a very mild winter, spring flowers and green shoots of growth on hedges are appearing early - a real and encouraging pleasure in the rare sunshine!

Linda Babb

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Girl sewing

I am amazed at how many artists have portrayed ladies/girls sewing. This is by William Adolph Bougerea painted in 1898 and is called The Seamstress.

Others include Renoir, Van Gogh, Gwen John, Dali, Morisot, and Mary Cassatt.

Carla Mines

Friday, 21 February 2020

Stitch Challenge

This is a small piece I did for a monthly stitch challenge.

I was allowed 3 pieces of fabric, cut & arranged for background & then 20 minutes to stitch down using 3 different stitches. Some stencilling & dimensional paint were added along the way.

Corinne Renow-Clarke

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Agnes Richter

I love words and they feature strongly in my work, mostly in the form of handwriting from old letters, recent lectures and quotations. The words are hand stitched or machined. A slow thoughtful process that leaves a permanent mark that may have been insignificant or almost forgotten. There is something so personal about leaving your mark with needle and thread.

Here, I was looking at Agnes Richter, a German seamstress (1844-1918), a patient at Heidelberg Psychiatric Clinic. She wrote on her day jacket, mostly in black and white with the odd piece of coloured thread, red, blue and yellow.

Words and sentences were stitched intensely all over, many indecipherable. There are visible perspiration stains that map the contours of the body.

Agnes rejected language, predominantly a male prerogative, and returned to the feminine and utilised needle and thread as a means of communication. I wanted to make a small piece to mark her life.

I used a piece of found embroidery to commemorate her life. I stitched her name, her occupation and the dates that she lived. 

Carla Mines

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Towards Inhabit

The next exhibition of new work by Brunel Broderers is in the spring of 2021 at The Lansdown Gallery in Stroud, Gloucestershire, under the title Inhabit. 

This has set me off on an exploration of modern high rise buildings with their towering height, their reflections and their sense of eternal activity - and the dramatic change their sudden presence makes in the urban landscape.

Right now, I'm looking in detail at a building I photographed in Sydney, Australia, on a visit a few years ago. At the time I saw it, I was fascinated by its construction, its colours and the vertical shapes within it. A closer look has revealed much more. I have explored the image via cutting and enlarging to focus on areas of interest, and then drawing and stitching shapes and marks that catch my eye. These photos give a small sample of this early work.

This is just the beginning of exploration. Like so many beginnings, the images above may lead forward into work or may lead nowhere at all. Only time will tell. 

Margaret Robbie