The Alchemist

The Alchemist

Here we are then.

This piece was a complete indulgent confection. I wanted to make a flamingo for ages, but their non critically endangered status was preventing me. I realised this was silly, and also is anything truly non threatened in 2019? Something to think about. But here’s what I did anyway.

At this point I’m fully committed to portraiture again. Over the last few years I’ve developed a bit of a tool kit and felt a great pull to the sort of work I was making in 2015 with the Ugly Gods series.

I wanted to revel in glorious juicy colours and textures and sparkly bits. Maybe I was feeling a little burn out of the constant investigation into the harrowing stories of the war we’re all waging on the earth and her inhabitants. Still, like I say, I could achieve both.

I was using this gorgeous piece of space dyed cotton velvet as my base, and underpainted with felt. On this I started on the head with surface embroidery, defining the basic shapes.

Fun!

Quite honestly, pretty much my whole goal was to use all the most gorgeous pink beads and sequins that somehow don’t feature in crumbling brown spider tree habitats.

Interestingly I found this commitment to ‘just having fun with it’ very challenging. What kind of monster am I?

Head done, I moved on to the beak with a similar process.

Honestly the best colours.

The eye!

I think the most difficult thing for me was using these beads and sequins just *because I want to*, not because they actually describe a texture that’s really there.

Halo, because all nature is divine.

Finishing touch with these ridiculous translucent holographic feathers.

Framed, mounted, no glass.

Contact me for inquiries!

Learn from me for FREE!

Hello friends.

I have some exciting news to share! I’ve just uploaded my first online video class to Skillshare.com

I’ve been working on this project for a few months, and it’s been a lot of work, but I’m pretty happy with the results for my first go – seeing myself on film is not my favourite thing!

My class – Embellishment in Textile Design: A How-To Guide takes you through all the steps and techniques I use when creating my designs and in my fine art practice. It’s over 75 minutes of me sharing my favourite tools and materials to use, giving you a tour of my personal embellishment stash, and demonstrating all the essential techniques, from creating a padded shape, to six ways to use beads and sequins.

Plus there’s a blooper reel at the end. The whole thing is worth it to see my cat, judging my mistakes.

The class is also a perfect companion to my Textile Art Boxes. If you were thinking of buying one, but weren’t sure if you’d have the skills, this video will give you that extra support. Or, if you already have a lot of materials so didn’t want to buy a kit with things you already have, this video offers you a fun project where you can learn some tips and skills to use your own embellishments to their best effect.

Maybe you’re already making embroidery designs, and looking to add something extra – then this is for you too.

But for FREE, you say?

Ok, ok…I know this might be reading like a cheesy ad, I’m trying to avoid that but the truth is, I’ve been a student on Skillshare for a good long while now. Like any membership service I was really sceptical that if I joined, I’d have to jump through rings of fire to cancel if I didn’t like it. But it really is so easy, there are no commitments. I honestly hate hassle so I wouldn’t encourage you to try this if I hadn’t also myself, and really believed in it.

Skillshare is a site with thousands and thousands of premium video tutorials for creatively minded people. Everything from watercolour techniques to Photoshop for beginners. Everyone gets a one month free trial BUT if you sign up with my link, you get 2 months free! There’s a really good app too, and you can download classes to watch offline. I managed about 25 different classes in a month just by using my morning commute, and learnt about composition, creating narrative in drawing, character design and even productivity planning, amongst many others.

Convinced yet? Here’s my personal petition – if you sign up and/or watch my class, then you’ll be supporting me in a real way. I’ll get paid. The more people that just decide to check it out (for free, with no commitment remember), will be helping me get established as a trusted teacher, and helps to support my income. Meaning I can continue to be an artist! Making art! Spreading messages of conservation and wildlife love! And it won’t cost you a penny.

I can’t think of many other ways where your engagement with my work online alone actually puts food on my table. That’s pretty cool.

Let me know what you think! I look forward to seeing you in class.

NEW Textile Art Box Design – Presale!

NEW Textile Art Box Design – Presale!

Hello friends.

Followers on social media will probably know that I’ve been extremely busy over the last couple of weeks getting kits together for the launch of my latest Textile Art Box design – the Peacock Spider!

Keep reading to find out how blog readers can get their hands on a kit before anyone else!

If you aren’t familiar with this tiny arachnid, it’s worth a search on YouTube to see their incredible little mating dance! Although not an endangered species, I am still donating £2 from every kit to buglife.org, Europe’s only charity dedicated to invertebrates, who have a specific campaign for the UK’s rarest spider, the ladybird spider!

As with my other kit designs, this box is 100% plastic packaging free, and entirely vegan friendly. It’s also a kit for all levels of embroidery experience, and I believe that with a little patience and care, everyone can create this design. It does however present a greater challenge than my other kits: There is more intricacy involved, with lots of tiny sequins, and around 10 grams of lovely Miyuki Delica glass beads to work with!

As always everything you need to create your own peacock spider art is included in the box, except embroidery scissors, and you’ll also need strong PVA Craft glue or similar fabric/embellishment glue.
I also highly recommend a seat frame or barrel clamp to hold your provided frame, or to use instead. If you don’t have one, or can’t source one, working at a table where you can set your hoop down will work okay.

*similar contents to the Spider kit!

Pre-order now for first release!

I’ve just released 10 kits only to my shop for blog readers – I’m not telling my social media followers yet!

These Textile Art Boxes are available as a pre-sale only – the rest of the shop is temporarily closed whilst I take a little vacation for a week. When I return your pre-orders will be the first to be shipped out on the 29th and 30th July! After that the remaining boxes will be made available – only 50 in total! I’ll also be releasing another 35 Stag Beetle Boxes in August – currently sold out!

Oh yes – and worldwide shipping on all kits is now FREE!

Click here to shop now!

100,000,000

Finally, I’ve made it to this year’s work on the blog. Thanks for your patience.

As I completed the Hallowed Ground series, arguably the most ‘multi media’ of my projects to date, I craved a palette cleanser of clean, plain, surface embroidery.

I have had a fascinated love for all sharks since I was a child (I wanted to be a marine biologist for a bit), and the clean elegant curves and beautiful colours of the Blue shark was the perfect subject.

A meditation in single strand split stitch.

I like to remind myself that I can ‘just sew’ from time to time.

After I had completed the body I began the same technique of filling the disembodied fin.

It’s eye is an opalite bead.

Stage one complete. Now for her divinity.

If you look really closely at my brick stitch you’ll notice I haven’t done this for a while.

If you know, you know.

The pain, the anguish.

Sigh.

And this was my workstation for this project.

Now I’m going to share a blog-only exclusive:

The main reason for padding the fin was that my original intention was to include this glass bead fringe. However I decided in the end that it was shouting rather than telling, and I changed my mind. Sometimes things don’t go to plan and it’s good to interrogate your ideas at all stages.

I wanted to be freer with my practice this year, make more work organically with subjects that I was drawn to, not over thinking everything. I also wanted to explore making portraits again, like I was in my 2015 Ugly Gods works, because of the joy of surface embroidery really.

After making so many textured and multi-technique pieces, the process of just working in one stitch – split stitch with one strand of DMC – was very calming and rewarding. I wanted to see how ‘special’ I could make it feel, without all the bells and whistles of multiple surfaces, materials and techniques.

There’s also an intention to continue to refine my style as an artist, and so my subject is again the precious nature of threatened animals and the symbols of the divine. But again, simplicity. Just the silver passing halo achieves this.

Finally, I’m interested in composition this year, and decided to add the inverted triangle (water) described with what I call ‘distress lines’. Simple lines of iridescent filament that suggest behaviour displayed by sharks in distress.

The disembodied fin speaks for itself.

Gooty Tarantula

Gooty Tarantula

After the riot of colour that was the Geometric Tortoise, this was more 50 shades of brown. But it yielded some good things.

To create the dry bark environment of this spider, I started with piecing the patches of felt and velvet together.

Then I added detail with couched threads, surface stitching and french knots.

To describe the bark texture, I back-stitched rows across the whole piece.

Simplicity itself? OK here’s something cool:

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

No, it’s a tea bag. Obviously.

Brilliant tutorial on YouTube. I didn’t invent this witchcraft.

Finally, he needs a web. I was well into my pyro at this point, so I got the incense sticks out again.

Synthetic organza, melts pleasingly.

The critically endangered Gooty Tarantula (aka peacock parachute spider, metallic tarantula) only exists in a single, small area – the dry, deciduous forest of Andhra Pradesh, India. It’s habitat is rapidly degrading due to logging and firewood harvesting. Another threat is specimen collection of this stunning arachnid for the pet trade. Population size is unknown, but the combination of its small natural range and the habitat threats indicate a declining population trend. I urge you to google this species, even if you’re not a spider lover. It is otherworldy beautiful.

Animals – of any kind – are not possessions, not objects. It was shocking how many websites and YouTube videos belonging to ‘owners’ and collectors popped up in a simple Google search, when researching this species. Perhaps even more offensive is how I couldn’t find a single one of those sources that mentioned the fact that this is one of the most threatened and rare insects in the world, and should be in the care of conservation projects, not hobbyist’s garages.

I guess I always knew this, final piece on my Hallowed Ground series, would never be the crowd pleaser of, say, the riot of colour Geometric tortoise or the forest floor of the Rio Pescado toad.

It’s a bit of a Monet this one – looks a bit crude close up but takes on its charm at a distance. I wanted to describe the dry, peeling bark of the forest where it clings to existence. Imbuing aesthetic appeal was more challenging with such a limited range, both in colour and environmental variety.

I hope I’ve done these species some tribute. I hope you’ve learnt something and thought something and felt something.

Please contact me if you’re interested in purchasing any of these pieces.