My work uses a variety of textiles as I love to mix textures together for effect. I try to use mainly older fabrics, recycling from clothes, scrap bags of family and friends, and other places, and when I do buy I try to buy scrap/roll ends/offcuts that would otherwise be thrown away.
My main art line is handmade felt. This I make from carded wool, sometimes dying and/or blending colours myself and sometimes buying pre-dyed. I now only by British wool for my own use. It seems silly to increase air miles when we have so many wonderful breeds of sheep locally. For those interested, at the moment I am using Blue-Faced Leicester and Shetland wools.
I use a traditional wet-felting technique that involves soap, warm water and a lot of careful manipulation. Whilst this is both time consuming and physically hard work, it also gives me great control over the shrinkage of the felt as the fibres begin to bond together. There is something organic and slightly magical about seeing and feeling the fibres mesh together and the design taking hold.
I often include silk (both fibres and fabric) and cotton scrim in my felt for added effect. I include this in the design layer and it is worked in with the wool from the start to produce a single, unified piece of textile art.
I also make felt vessels, little pots inspired by seed pods and flowers. These are made as a single piece with a resist and then shaped gently around my and before being dried.
A more recent line is Cyanotypes. I describe this as photography on fabric. It uses techniques of early photography and produces a silhouette of a resist when exposed to UV Sunlight. This is an extension of my work with textiles, and one I am finding exciting as I explore the different possibilities. Watch out for more developments over the autumn and winter as I find more time to play. Currently, all these pieces are nature inspired and made using flowers and leaves from my garden and those of friends and relations.
As I have said, combining textures and colours is a bit of an obsession of mine, and one I put to good use with my line of Textile Collages. These are all inspired by text and titled for the text that is included in the piece. I find text in old books, tickets, magazines, crafty bits, and all over the place. I also include lots of surreptitious oddities in these pieces. There is nearly always something rusty, often collected from the beach or found in my dad’s garage; I’ve included used and empty teabags, dried leaves, zips, and packets from textile notions. I spend a long time looking for the right scraps of ribbons, fibres, fabrics, laces and other bits and bobs to fit my ideas for the text and moving them around until the arrangement is right. They will often sit on the table for a few days, with odd components being moved around until I am certain the design is finalised.
A small but fun part of what I make is mini inspirational art. These are small canvases with texture, paint – normally in mixed colours and a word or phrase alongside either felt or fabric embellishment, often using scraps from other projects. These are great fun to make as I often do the texture and paint in batches, meaning I can fill my paint palette with lots of different colours and play with it. I may start with sponges, brushes and wipes – but often end up using my fingers! I then choose words and phrases that seem inspired by the colours or the embellishment or that just seem as if they will be right for someone. I hope people will find them encouraging and cheerful.
I always have a few other things as well. I often make brooches and try to redesign them each year so that I am never making too many of the same design. I like everything I make to be unique and even when following the same design I will make little changes, add a different button or a change of ribbon. I like to make cards and again change designs every so often and also make each one slightly different, even if only in the choice of scraps of felt etc. More recently I have also ordered prints of my work for framing and on coasters as a new line.