Tuesday, 28 May 2019


Books have played such an important part in my life!

I worked in childrens publishing for many years, and wrote and illustrated a book called ’Making Books’. We took the ideas into schools and libraries holding practical workshops for children, showing them how to make their own books.

Now I’m a feltmaker and in my sketchbook workshops I show how to design felt covers specifically for notebooks and journals. The felt can be decorated with
threads and beads, and then attached to the book cover with hand stitching…

 Spiral bound notebooks make perfect workbooks, especially for textile samples. 
The pages have room to expand and accommodate the extra thickness of inserts, 
surplus pages can be removed easily and pages of different materials can be added. 

I’ve always made books, journals and anthologies for myself and friends,
 often themed around a particular subject .. 
It's impossible to throw beautiful cards away - greetings cards with personal 
messages, hand-written envelopes and postcards with foreign stamps 
are all very special. 
Some of my cards are over 50 years old, sent by friends and family that are 
no longer with me, making them even more precious.

Recently I put this little collection of bird cards together,
the A6 format is the exact size for postcards and 
the felt bird cover makes it complete... 

Putting cards into books makes them more accessible and gives them a new life... 
The Bird Book is too valuable to be tucked away and sits on my desk, 
it’s cut-out pages fanning open like wings.

The large A3 book with the embroidered ‘Honesty’ felt cover is a workbook 
containing felt projects in different stages of development

It’s a practical way of presenting ideas, sketches and reference pictures 
altogether during a workshop. It’s easy to transport & easy for students to look at...
(So much simpler than trying to show photos on a phone or ipad...)  

On a much smaller scale this tiny sketchbook is barely 4” square 
covered with a scrap of felt...

and sometimes you’re fortunate to be given an interesting item or 
piece of jewellery which makes the perfect clasp....

My library of hand-made books includes many notebooks and 
collections of reference materials, photos + cards … 
Like the ‘Rust & Indigo’ book — full of additional notes and findings from my 
rust dyeing experiments, documented on this blog in 2017

Some years ago I made a ‘Beach Book for my illustrator friend Wendy Bramall
 - we met at Art School and have been friends ever since… 
She provided me with the front cover painting and all the beach treasures.
I constructed the book, binding together a selection of water colour papers
which she has filled over time…

It's been a wonderful collaboration….

As I wrote at the start, 
making, writing and illustrating books have played a major part in my life 
and remain such an integral part of my thinking.

I aim to pass on some of my knowledge and enthusiasm
 in my sketchbook workshops. 

The next is planned for the autumn so watch out for dates and details...

(And don't forget you can enlarge any of the photos by clicking them!) 

Friday, 1 March 2019

A pair of BLACK BIRDS...

Over the past 10 years of teaching feltmaking 'Painting with Fibres' has become 
my most popular workshop... And I can understand why...
It is a marvellous introduction to making felt! 

Beginners feel they have achieved a great deal in a day, not only learning a new skill
 but coming away with a substantial piece of work.

Then in the hands of more experienced feltmakers the combinations of 
colour, fibre and texture are endless...

For this new season of workshops I wanted to felt a pair of pictures that illustrate
what can be achieved in just a few hours of "painting with fibres" 
using a simple design and lots of interesting fibre & texture.. 

Although it can be a broad, bold medium, felt pictures can also be 
planned and executed in a controlled way.
I suggest everyone brings along a small sketch or photo to the class as a 
starting point. You can see mine in the photo below,
click on the photos to enlarge...

The first panel demonstrates the felting process,
laying out wool fibres...

adding textures and a simple bird shape cut from prefelt.

The finished felted picture below has no further embellishment

The second panel shows the same laying out process,
with a different choice of coloured fibres + textured threads

 After felting, this picture is taken to the next stage with embellishment

using machine and hand stitch, with beading
 to create extra detail and interest

The contrasting colour schemes completely change the mood 
from a fresh cool early morning scene 
 to a warm glowing evening sunset, 

with the shape of the black bird identical in both!

When people handle the fibres for the first time they are drawn to
 the tactile softness and the colours... 

Those who would never dream of boldly mixing paint onto a canvas seem 
to have less inhibitions when it comes to using fibres. 
They discover the joys of using colour! 
It's not threatening, it's a very gentle process! 

Bright colours merge as in the second panel - orange/cerise/purples/magenta - 
blended together with your hands...  

This workshop demonstrates that you can create pictures in felt, 
using fibres and textures as if you were painting a landscape and
 'Painting with Fibres' describes the process perfectly.

The first 'Painting with Fibres' workshop in March is now fully booked 
so I've added an extra date on Sat 1st June 
and you can find all the Spring workshop details here...


Friday, 1 February 2019

FELT Open Day #2

It’s the beginning of February, and although the bulbs are trying to push through
as I write this the temperatures are sub-zero and we're snowed in... 
It’s bitter out there…

But what better way to create a warming glow than making FELT with friends...

 and following on from the success of the first FELT OPEN DAY last year 
another day has been arranged, taking place at Seely Hall Brook on 
Saturday 23rd February 10am - 4pm.
 A definite date for your diary if you are interested in FELT and 
would like to find out more about the activities & workshops
taking place at Seely Hall this Spring.

A wonderful creative day is planned! 
FREE admission - open to EVERYONE... 
Feltmakers and visitors are all welcome to come along and 
join in this informal get-together… 

Come and make felt, stitch, embellish, or just socialise, chat and
exchange ideas with fellow feltmakers, 
and hopefully get inspired… 

There will be a limited number of large work tables available on the day 
for wet felting, plus smaller tables for sewing activities.
If you would like to make use of these let me know and I can reserve you a place.

Although there will be no formal tuition on the day I will be on hand to give advice
and help with any new projects.


There will be feltwork on display from my workshops, plus students' work
and feltmaking in progress throughout the day, so if you are new to the craft 
or just curious to see what FELT is all about then
 this is a perfect opportunity!

All the felt featured in this post is students' work

I will have details of the NEW Spring programme of workshops 
coming up in March, April & May and will be taking bookings.

There’s NO charge for the day and everyone is welcome!

Hot drinks, tea, coffee + home-made cakes will be available. 
I suggest a small contribution for refreshments with donations 
going to the Seely Hall Fund.

This will be the second FELT DAY I've organised and if it's anything
 like last year it will be an amazing day 
and a perfect start to the feltmaking year!

I’m really looking forward to catching up with 
all my old felting friends and hopefully 
lots of new faces too… 

So please spread the word !

And if you want to contact me for further details
call Gill on 01983 752872

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