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