Wednesday, 9 November 2016

All that was left behind

   A new piece, finished yesterday, and the most challenging yet. I have been pondering how to tackle a fragmenting leaf structure for a long time and was now able to get on with it. I'd finally found the right coloured threads and so with my 3d head on I devised  a reverse cordonnet system to recreate this leaf. 

  What fascinates me is how leaves slowly break down and become something completely different. The title references the idea in archaeology of 'taphonomy' (all that is left behind) where we find artefacts with very little context and have to build a world around them.If someone had never seen a tree and you showed them a dead leaf like this what would they imagine and could they ever understand all that a tree is and does from this one fragment?  I find myself exploring more and more the idea of empathy with things unknown and how to find a language to speak to them.

some 'in progress' pictures...


   As you can see from the image above I started with a very unconventional cordonnet, in fact it was a drawing rather than the usual outline.I put in a wire vein structure onto the drawing and then went from there.Technically it is almost impossible to say how I made this but here is a list of techniques for those who are interested;
detached buttonhole stitch ,picot stitch, fanned corded brussels stitch, needle chains and scissor knots.

and finally......showing how I 'lay in' threads as 'ghost' cordonnets

17 hours !!!

Monday, 24 October 2016

Little morsels

  I've just added several rings and brooches to my french knot embroidered range.These join the other hand embroidered brooches and buttons now on my Etsy shop.
  For some of the brooches I have used a hand treated devore velvet and only embroidered into the gaps.This was an excuse to use some of the rayon threads from Stef  Francis that I have been hoarding as the sheen of the rayon went perfectly with the velvet.
 The rings use some of the beautiful Gloriana silks that I have a particular passion for.

There are also some of my newer range of buttons with raised work on them inspired by rocks and moss.

..and lastly a new colour way for the 1930's inspired flower border range.... a dark blue delphinium!

more here.........the glass pingle on Etsy

Saturday, 1 October 2016


Elsewhere in my blog universe......
The Museum for Objects of Vertu is beginning a five part online exhibition of its collection of shadows, mostly on film so they are, in fact, shadows of shadows.
Thread Management is now documenting my experience as an observer during surgery.

and then I too am elsewhere because I will not be exhibiting at the Knit and Stitch show this year.
I will be here in Cambridge at the CRASSH seminar on Wednesday the 5th,

and here at the Guild of Needlelaces on Saturday the 8th.

and if you miss me at Alexandra Palace don't forget you can buy on Etsy, or just email me if there was something that you remembered but isn't on the shop.

see you somewhere......

Friday, 26 August 2016


'just a gift for a friend who loves the 'squiggle' print by Vivienne Westwood'.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016


   My friend and I were big fans of Bowie.We mourned him and decided that we have to take up where he left off, so..... I have been developing a technique which I refer to as 'chaos lace'. It sprang from the diabetes lace that I did and the need for speed and no rules !
  A spiral background that latches onto the design cordonnet and some random brussels stitch. Then the finished edges over the top of all of it.
This one is for my friend as a wedding gift.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Sheela-na -gig

  Who is she ? No-one is quite sure but she appears on stone carvings in churches which pre-date the actual buildings they are in. The name was given by the Victorians but the general consensus is that she is pagan. 
  I was looking to do a piece of anamorphic lace, an image distorted so as to be revealed only in a curved reflective surface. After much thought of what subject matter to choose I decided that as I could not think of anything profound I would do something not profound instead !!! Sheela-na-gig is usually depicted bald but I wanted to rectify that and so here she is.

  The anamorphic drawing was created by first doing my sketch and them slashing it to fine ribbons. These I then splayed out , taped down and traced out again carefully joining up the gaps. You can make her out on the right of the photo in the silver tube. 
  I had been inspired years ago by the 'Eyes,Lies and Illusions' exhibition here in London and so,like many ideas,this one waited patiently to come into being. She had then been an demonstration piece for another two years and so could never be finished !

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Artist in Residence

 What I didn't know about vascular surgery was that the techniques were all learnt from Belgian lacemakers in the early 20th C.; before then limbs could not be saved. I have written about my involvement with surgeons from Imperial College London over the past couple of years and the interaction of craftspeople with science and medicine. That has now moved on a tad with me being made artist in residence at Imperial's vascular surgery department! I will be working with student and practising surgeons looking at what I do and vice versa to see if there can be some 'reciprocal illumination'.
 There is a seperate blog for this work now, (over on the side bar) Thread Management

Tuesday, 2 August 2016


 Being a bit quiet usually signifies that I'm in the middle of things........several things. One of these is another 'box' embroidery which is taking longer than I thought. 
  I have a collection of small boxes which I want to put small embroidered gardens into but this one is a whole landscape! I am trying to do a trompe l'oeil piece with rolling hills and a rocky dry river bed to fit into a drawer box. This is it so far.
  These are the threads,

and of course there is some work with the surgeons. ( see side blog 'Thread Management')

Friday, 29 April 2016

The Craft of Medicine

Another event ! I shall be demonstrating and talking with the public at an all day free event at the
Wellcome collection on Saturday May 14th

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

more thinking hands

...........a short film by J.P.Flintoff about the event on Saturday.( I appear towards the end)

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Thinking with your hands

image of my threads by Charles Saumarez Smith
  Yesterday I took part in an event at the Art Workers' Guild in London which focused on the 'reciprocal illumination' that can be had between skilled craftspeople and surgeons.It was a big event as all the invited guests were from major institutions or studios either from the arts ,science and education. We demonstrated our work and compared how it is that we work in such a similar way and yet on very different things.Discussions were held between ourselves and those we had invited  so that we could all share and get an understanding of how important hand skills are to humans and our society.
    If you are reading this you probably share our dismay at the decline of craft skills and the slow dismantling of our arts education. (petition link to stop this)We talked about how important the zen state of mind is when working and how making objects for ourselves connects us to the world around us.Some talked about 'intelligence of touch'and 'thinking with your fingers'  whilst others discussed the idea that  previous knowledge of sewing can enhance a surgeons initial learning.The mind was a common subject and although some are uncomfortable with talking about an inner self most would agree that the ability to concentrate and mental discipline were a form of 'mind yoga'.
   I'm sure that the discussions are still going on and this can only be a good thing.(the first review here) If you would like to join in too there is a public event coming up soon, please see my previous post.

Friday, 1 April 2016

The Craft of Medicine

The Craft of Medicine at The Art Workers’ Guild

What do magic and medicine have in common?
How can understanding puppetry skills change how doctors learn?
What skills do a lace-maker and a surgeon share?
( that would be me)

Come and find out as we explore the mastery of skill-learning
in medicine and the arts, and the overlaps between
different craft specialities and healthcare.

Join us for any, or all, of our series of discussion evenings:
Monday 29th of February: Magic & Medicine
Tuesday 22nd of March: Puppetry &Medicine
Tuesday 26th of April: Threads &Medicine

Registration and refreshments from 18.30
Discussion from 19.00 until 21.00 (including a short break)

All events will be at the Art Workers’ Guild, 6 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AT
Nearest tube stations Russell Square or Holborn

Places are free but limited, and must be reserved.
Please RSVP to

Monday, 21 March 2016

Moss garden

   I recently taught a stumpwork course at West Dean college aimed at producing very tiny gardens in raised embroidery. For the sample I made my own moss garden and pebbled stream in a perfume box.
This was all worked in french knots,bullion stitch,cup stitch and picots with a little mica. The box measures  7x2x15cm and is covered in linen. I see some possibilities here.......

Friday, 18 March 2016

Diabetic lace...done !

5.Normal ER

   As previously mentioned I've just exhibited a series of needlelace panels depicting cell change in diabetes. In total there are six circular pieces mounted in an old gramophone record album. Each is worked in a lovely crimson silk from Gloriana.
  It was clear from the start that I wouldn't be making a traditional piece of lace so I decided on anarchy as my main technique ! Loose tension in the backround,completely floating cordonnets,some things which don't have names and lots of picots. Each piece took about 7-8 hours from couching through to releasing from the pad. (photo of no.6 on its' way)

1.Normal mitochondria

2.Mitochondrial destruction

3.Normal insulin containing granules

4.Electron dense glycogen particles

Friday, 4 March 2016

Diabetic lace

you are cordially invited to the opening of an exhibition

Tales of Diabetes
Stories of Teeth
East London Textile Arts

Monday March 14
6 - 9 pm
The Art Workers Guild
6 Queen Square
London WC1N 3AT

Exhibition will be open to the public
Tuesday 15th, Friday 18th and Saturday 19th March
10 - 5 pm

I will be showing needlelace inspired by macrocellular photography of beta cell destruction during diabetes!!( it's still not finished!)


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