Pygmy Three-Toed Sloth

Pygmy Three-Toed Sloth

This next piece in the Hallowed Ground series was very strongly referenced on photos I’d seen of the sloth in it’s tropical mangrove habitat. I struggled a bit with feeling like this piece was ‘ok’ design wise. Compared to the preceding pieces it was quite simple and that felt a bit ‘less than’ for me. One of the challenges though was making sure the scale of the sloth was accurate for the size of the leaves, and I wanted to make sure there was depth by varying the leaf size.

This piece was to include many detached elements and so I began with this amazing emerald green velvet, and made several mangrove tree leaves of various sizes, with the rib in lime green purl S-ing.

I first took great pains to accurately cut the sloth silhouette, so that its hands made sense hanging over the tree branch. I was very pleased with the space dyed cotton background, to suggest the dark swamp depths.

Next the ‘skeleton’ of the mangrove was introduced, using household string for the smaller branches, and felt for the wider.

After couching down, every branch was then simply embroidered over with satin stitch in a variegated brown thread, with a few french knots here and there.

Once complete I began to add some simple applique leaves:

These were cotton and velvet with simple green purl ribs.

At this stage I added the holographic vinyl shapes I had patterned out to insert at the bottom for the vivid blue Panamanian sea.

This had to be stab stitched down very precisely and neatly as any mistakes would be highly visible.

Finally it was simply a case of making holes in the ground with a stiletto and inserting the detached slips.

I also added a few of these little faceted green flowers to add interest and contrast.

The pygmy three-toed sloth is only found in a tiny area of red mangrove forests on Isla Escudo de Veraguas, Panama.

Although the island is uninhabited, fishermen, farmers, lobster divers and local people are all seasonal visitors, and are thought to hunt the sloths illegally.

The growing tourism industry is also a potential threat to the species, by degrading its habitat. Despite having been designated as a protected landscape through a governmental resolution in 2009, a number of domestic and international efforts have been mounted to develop tourism on the island. This includes plans for an eco-lodge, a casino, a marina, and a banking centre.

Additionally, as pygmy sloths have become more widely recognised internationally, there is growing interest in collecting them for captivity.

Side note: The mangroves themselves are also significant for this piece. More than one in six mangrove species worldwide are in danger of extinction due to coastal development and other factors, including climate change, logging and agriculture.

Mangroves are vital to coastal communities as they protect them from damage caused by tsunami waves, erosion and storms, and serve as a nursery for fish and other species that support coastal ecosystems. In addition, they have a staggering ability to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, and serve as both a source and repository for nutrients and sediments for other inshore marine habitats, such as seagrass beds and coral reefs.
Source: IUCN Redlist.

Contact me to enquire about purchasing this piece.

Rio Pescado Stubfoot Toad

Rio Pescado Stubfoot Toad

This is the first of a series of posts about the making of 2018’s Hallowed Ground project, starting with the first completed piece, Rio Pescado Stubfoot Toad.

Being a whole new series, I begun with a few more challenges of how to resolve my vision of a realistic habitat, with a convincing negative space. I played around with scale, and drew reference from as close as I could find ‘Lowland Forest’ imagery.

This type of environment – forest floor – does not want for variety of texture, shape, colour etc so I had endless inspiration for describing all that in textiles.

With a piece like this – any piece really – the ‘rule’ is to start with your foundations, work low to high. So, the outline of the toad stitched down, some strange felt and card shapes.

I used cotton scrim for the first time, and it couldn’t have been more perfect to quickly start describing the forest floor. With minimal holding stitches, and some simple velvet scrap leaves, I was already achieving interesting dimension.

In fact this was a first for me to use fabric in any kind of sculptural way and it was hugely freeing and encouraging to be able to work so loosely yet achieve ‘realism’.

Here you can see I decided to describe roots or vines by playing with household string simply couched in variegated thread, as I continued to ground a sense of scale with the velvet leaves around the toad’s outline.

One of the real pleasures of this piece for me was the freedom to be able to work on a different section, and play around with different textures. Here I have used buttonhole stitch to attach jumprings, then surrounded them with french knots.

At this stage I began to work on the bottom section, a muddy stream or puddle, but using the orange toned fabric to reflect the red clay earth.

I covered some cardboard with linen scraps for rocks, and to hide the join line in the fabric, not having a big enough piece. I was also very pleased with the beaded french knot texture.

You can see the clear sequins at the bottom to suggest bubbly, moving water. I attached these with french knots.

The ‘log’ now covered in brown velvet, I began to add texture with beads, sequins, french knots and detached buttonhole bars, for moss and lichen and mold. These ferns were also created with detached woven picots.

At this stage I had pretty much completed the bottom half, and had moved on to the top portion, covering the larger log with cotton fabric, and using more scrim to continue the dark forest floor.

Keeping with the aerial view, I added lots of embellishments for the detritus of the forest floor, and made these little velvet fungi.

For the large log, I simply stitched the wood grain in back stitch and began to add more lush moss texture.

This is perhaps my favourite part of the whole piece. I used velvet scraps which I then embroidered french knots over, and created tufts and added buttonhole bars for the growing lichens.

I made detached wired slips for these scarlet elf cup fungi, and plunged them into the log.

You can see the high relief at this stage.

Finishing off this section, I was adding more ‘dead’ leaves, and using iridescent filament to create fungal strands around the mushrooms, continually adding texture and interest.

To be honest, when I’d got to the final section at the top, I struggled a bit to know what to do that I hadn’t already done.

Finally, I played around with more leaf shapes, and some couched silver passing – slime trails, or damp roots perhaps.

I absolutely loved making this piece. It just seemed to come together so easily and successfully, and was a real joy to bring to realisation.

Contact me to enquire about purchasing this piece.

Natural Fibres Solo Show Opens this Thursday


Hello friends and followers.

Please join me this Thursday for the Private View of my first solo show, Natural Fibres.

The show will feature my entire body of work since 2015 – the year I started working big! This is such an exciting event for me, to see all my work hanging together in one place.

Plus, I will be showing 5 brand new pieces from my current series Hallowed Ground.


But wait, there’s more!

In honour of this special occasion, I have had some amazing prints made of my three most popular pieces from the Extinct Icons series. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook (if you aren’t, you should, it’s great) then you’ll already have seen the little videos I’ve posted of each one available. So head on over there and have a look.

All sales of prints will be handled by the gallery, and can be shipped worldwide.

Here’s what you can expect:
Giclee art print on archival 330gsm Somerset velvet stock with hand torn edges.
My unique logo stamp on reverse.
Glow in the dark hand embroidered initials. Each hand embellished by me.

There’s 2 of The Witch of Saint Kilda (all posters of this piece are sold out), 2 of Saint Celia, and 1 of Saint Benjamin (1 has sold already!). I also have 1 of each print available framed, which can be shipped to UK locations. I know you’d expect me to say this, but I very very rarely make prints, and when I received these I was so impressed with the quality. They look like they’re 3-dimensional, the image is so crisp.

Hope to see you there!

Our Lady Of The Flowers

Our Lady Of The Flowers


This one started differently, and with a lot of stumpwork again.


After it was confirmed that I would have my work on display at Onca Gallery for their Remembrance Day for Lost Species I wanted to make an Extinct Icon that specifically related to their theme for this year – Pollinators.


I knew immediately that it had to be a fruit bat. The importance of bats as a species has been close to my heart since I took part in a conservation project in Malaysia in my early 20s.


Bats are the bees of the tropical world, is something I’m fond of saying.


Three of the most important crops they pollinate are cocoa, banana and agave, amongst over 500 others we in the west are used to enjoying.


Bats are massively threatened by habitat loss – rainforests cut down for palm oil plantations being a big one.


So I was inspired by religious iconography from the tropical world, usually the Virgin Mary surrounded by very colourful flora and fauna (think Our Lady of Guadalupe).


I’ve not made detached slips so heavily beaded before and they were obviously a lot heavier than just embroidered ones.


I knew this one would be smaller given the comparative scale of a bat’s skull so I switched to my hoop.





The moon is a nod to the nocturnal habits of this species.



As is the starry sky here.




To combat the heaviness of the slips they were both plunged to the reverse as well as sewn along the sides, creating sort of cups.



In the United States bats provide an estimated $3.7bn in insect control, but in much of the rest of the world they are woefully under researched.
Many pollinating species of bats have already become extinct, like the Dark Flying Fox of Mauritius and Reunion, or the Guam Flying Fox, due to hunting from settlers, or habitat loss from mono culture farming like oil palm. But we just don’t know how many species may be threatened.

*** 25th November Masterclass is SOLD OUT!
BUT the good news is, due to popular demand I’m running another one on 2nd December! Only 3 spots left so move fast if you wanna make your own homage to the pollinators – details here!***

Saint Celia

Saint Celia


This was my least enjoyable icon to make, only because I made decisions that involved a lot of tedium and repetition.


It’s humorous as I write that though to think that this is possibly the Icon that most people seem to find most impressive, so I smile inwardly that it is in the spirit of the martyr that I toiled over Saint Celia to create something people find quite enthralling.


As you can see, she started as they all have, the skull already taking many hours more with the lines of the horn. I then padded the 5 stars ready for the goldwork later.


I initially outlined the halo in black beads but removed it later. This is the start of one torture self inflicted – those are 2mm sequins, each one hand sewn.


I made it bearable for myself by alternating techniques: The sequins, the goldwork chipping on the stars, and those lovely inky oily bugle beads on the interior.




I did agonise over those bugles until the end, worrying that the rainbow effect was too garish. Here I have also replaced the black beads with a gold bead outline.


Bugle beads have their own torture using them like this. The better quality you buy, the more equal and regular there size. This is actually counter productive here as you reach the end of a line and realise you need an irregular length. Thank heaven for broken chips and poor quality control.



Did I mention I also chose one of the smallest sizes of bright gold check to complete the chipping? Truly she inspired some sort of pilgrimage.






We approached some sort of conclusion.





Finally, I crowned her in a little laurel wreath of alpine herbs, made variously of velvet and embroidered slips.


I also surprised myself with these little flower sequins, thinking them to be quite tacky but actually they worked beautifully here and I think sets the whole piece off nicely.


FINALLY finally, I added yet more gold, in a foil-lined bugle corona.


The whole thing took me about 49 hours, nearly 15 more hours than other work in this series. Basically 15 hours + doing all the tedious tiny gold sparkles. I was very unsure about some of my choices and thought I’d put a lot of time into something pretty monotone. But I’ve learnt it’s often the way, that not until the final bead or stitch is placed, do I really see the whole piece and can change my point of view. I wanted to crown him (with those horns, Celia is a male I’m afraid) with small foliage I imagined might be like the alpine herbs he liked to eat, these stumpwork details tie everything together. The crown of stars is also known as the crown of immortality in religious iconography, and I like the idea that this reflects the Ibex’s unique position as being ‘resurrected’:


/ / Saint Celia \ \

The Pyrenean Ibex was a type of Iberian wild mountain goat, most common in southern France and the northern Pyrenees. They were quite abundant until the 14th century, and by 1900 their numbers had dwindled to fewer than 100 due to hunting pressure, and competition with domestic farm animals.
The last individual, a female named Celia, was found dead in 2000, apparently killed by a fallen tree.
The Pyrenean ibex is the only species to become extinct twice. In 2003 scientists cloned a female, who survived for several minutes before dieing from lung defects.


19″ x 12″