A Benediction

A Benediction

This piece marks a shift in my work. When he started to appear, i had a visceral feeling of *something*, like art imitating life, Benedict, as I call him, blessed me.

My watercolour sketch was very important in bringing this portrait forth, and worked as a way to make colour decisions that I didn’t need to do over when I got my threads out.

In actual fact, DMC (my main brand of colours) are frustratingly short on good gradients of blues, so I battled with a stripey face for a bit.

I mean, a good long while.

Started to pull it back with some details once the main colours were in.

That’ll do.

I started to build the rest of the composition, with the face as an anchor point for scale. This would be my largest piece to date I think.

And for my next trick…

This was the moment, actually. I got excited. Something unlocked that I hadn’t felt before.

Now the real work begins.

I really questioned my choices many times over the following many, many hours.

Drowning in fluffs.

It looks like I might be getting close, but I really wasn’t. ugggggggh.

I was using pliers at this point to pull the needle through the density.

Finally, here he is, the sun king. The monkey in a lion costume.

Time for a trim.

But that’s just the head!

Compared to the face, the rest came together relatively quickly.

This process was one of trimming and shaking and adjusting and stitching and repeating.

Finally, his holy nimbus.

The golden snub-nosed monkey is a primate living high in the snowy forested mountains of China. They have experienced a 50% population decline in the last 40 years, mainly due to habitat degradation. Their preferred food is lichen, growing in abundance on dead trees, but these are being removed for logging and agriculture. If their habitat continues to be removed, it will face extinction.

I completed this piece back in May, and it’s useful for me to re-read the caption I wrote for the Instagram post accompanying it:

I believe this piece is my best work. I was in the zone with it. I had fun with it (ok maybe not so much near the end of all that had tufted face floof) and as it was coming together I had a feeling like I had made some sort of creative breakthrough and I’d never really felt quite that way before.

This year was the start of a new way of life for me, where I was finally able to say ‘i am a full time artist now’ (yes even though I still work a side job 3 days a week – I now call this my arts funding ;)) and for the first time I didn’t begin the year with a clear idea of what my new body of work would be. Instead I allowed myself to just respond to some personal creative goals – the shark and the flamingo pieces. However, this time spent following my creativity was so valuable because it allowed me to test out what I am most in love with now.

So this piece IS the first in a new series that I’m going to work on for a bit. If you’ve been following me for awhile you’ll know that story telling and meaning is very important to me. But you could argue that the last couple years my work has been darker, reflecting my response to the decline of our environments. I wanted to simplify my narrative with this new direction. I wanted to return to something in my 2015 series ‘Ugly Gods’ of colourful, magical portraits. I want these subjects to evoke emotion but most of all strong engagement. Yes they are all disappearing but I want to celebrate their beauty and wonder and magic and I want the work to be about that.

Today is Endangered Species Day and I will always be shining a light on these rare and special creatures, but I want their light to shine on you, too, and inspire personal loving and mindful relationships with all the creatures we share this home with.


I am happy to announce to you readers here first, that I have just 2 gorgeous signed archival giclee prints of this piece available in my shop now, worldwide shipping available.

The original will also be making his debut appearance at the Society For Embroidered Work’s inaugural exhibition in London this November.

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.