Saturday, 30 May 2020


I don't know about you, but I started off my lock down with a creative energy, starting new projects, finishing off existing pieces and getting more ideas than I knew what to do with? The Creative Sunday Prompts were an outlet for the teaching I could no longer do. But as the weeks went by my enthusiasm and energy changed.
For some of us that creative umph has left and guilt about doing just reading and eating my body weight in home made baking is beginning to feel all wrong. And yes I have cleaned behind my fridge what is left...?
So I decided to bother a couple of fellow creatives and workshop providers, Louise at Hope & Elvis , Nottingham and Liske at Littleheath Barn Studios, Bromsgrove to help me create a Printed/Stitched response to the Corona Crisis. The idea is to try and get that creative mojo moving a bit by making a small 10cm x 10cm image...nothing too complicated, something to contribute to a bigger project and a deadline, always motivating. So...

Same Sea, Different Boat - Our Isolation Story
the yard:ARTspace, Hope & Elvis and Littleheath Barn Studio are proud to present a collaborative project which celebrates our creativity in a time of unexpected crisis.
It has been hard to find our creativity during lock down; we are all in the same sea but not necessarily the same boat!  We have all experienced the Covid pandemic in very different ways and Sue, Louise and Liske want to invite you to take part in an exciting combined project.

The plan is to create a printed/stitched fabric quilt that explores your individual experiences, thoughts & emotions collectively about your time in lock down.
Become part of a bigger picture. 
Your contribution will be made into an amazing quilt, which will showcase beautifully your individual response to the global pandemic.
The final piece will be displayed in various locations (dates and locations TBA) 

The Project
·         Make a simple collagraph plate, 10cms x 10cms, using the instructions at found HERE on last weeks Creative Sunday Prompt. These instructions have been put together especially for those who have never made a collagraph plate before. Express your lock down experience, figuratively or as an abstract using the suggested techniques.
 ·         Put your name, address and email on the back of the completed collagraph plate and together with a SAE post it to:-
                                    Sue Brown.                      
                                    the yard:ARTspace,                       
                                    Upper Bath Street,                       
                                    Cheltenham, GL50 2BA
·         Your collagraph plate must be with Sue by 12 June.
·         It will be inked up and printed on fabric for you in Prussian blue.
·         Sent back to you for stitching and embellishing. If you have included an SAE.
·         Return finished square to Sue at the yard:ARTspace  by 3 July, where Louise, Liske and Sue will join everything together.

·         Create a stitched, collage using only natural fabrics, embroider hand or machine as much as you like, expressing your lock down experience, figuratively or as an abstract.
·         Please make the image size 10cm x 10cm on a piece of fabric 15cm x 15cm so it will fit the other squares to make the quilt.
·         Send your completed square to Sue at the yard:ARTspace, address above, by 3 July where Louise, Liske and Sue will join everything together. 

You may have noticed a lack of an example here, I am a printmaker after all and I have become very, very excited about prints on fabric!!

 If you would like to take part could you please 
e-mail me, as soon as possible so we know how many collagraph plates and stitched squares to expect?   Although this project is not in any way about profit, to help towards material costs we have set up a Just Giving page to enable (if you wish) to make a small donation i.e £3, this is by no means compulsory to take part in the project:
Just Giving Page.

Thank you and we look forward to receiving your collagraph plate or stitched square and being part of a bigger picture.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020


How to make a basic collagraph plate from materials you may have at home.
You will need a piece of mount board or grey board (the back of an old sketch book) or 2 pieces of cereal box card stuck together, just to make it thicker if you haven't got any of the other card. 
Start with a 10 x 10cm square. 
A selection of textured wall papers (samples can be gleaned from you local DIY store) 
PVA glue, for the best results use waterproof, but children's will do.
A sharp craft knife. 
A 10 x10cm square is a satisfying and less daunting size to experiment with. 
Of course your image can be figurative or abstract. Here I am starting with a bird from my sketch book. Trace the image using a soft B or 2B pencil. 
Lay the tracing, pencil side down onto your chosen card. With a harder pencil or biro draw over the lines. 
This will transfer your image onto the card and reverse it at the same time so that it prints the same way as your original. Please note, if you want to include text, reverse it so that it will print the right way round. 
I have put my image onto mount board so that I can peel the surface away to create dark areas. 
This process only works if you are using mount or grey board. I want my bird to be dark, so I am scoring quite deeply into the surface of the card around my bird. 
This means I can peel off the shape. 
The bird will print darker than the surrounding unpeeled card. 
This will not work with cereal box card. 
After peeling away the surface, I then draw in the details of the bird, 
carving out further lines will give me darker details.
They will not print if you do not cut into the card.
 Anything I want to be white I paint with the PVA glue, ie the back ground, the eye and beak of the bird have been glued too. While the glue is wet draw into it with a cocktail stick, this will give you dark lines in a white background.
Fancy doing something more abstract? 
Why not glue wall paper onto the surface of the card. 
Make sure the wall paper is glued right up to the edge so that there are no pockets for ink to get into when printing. WARNING: do not stick wall paper on top of wall paper, it creates pockets that bleed ink when printing. 
The grey board can be worked as for the mount card, cutting and peeling the surface. Of course you can stick wall paper onto the mount board! 
If you only have cereal card available stick 2 pieces together. You can not peel the surface in the same way as mount and grey board, but you could cut shapes out before gluing the 2 pieces together 
and add thin cut card shapes to the plate.  
Always give any wall paper you use a layer or 2 of PVA glue, it makes the texture print in a more interesting way.  
Not helpful Iris! 
Drawing into wet glue prints really well.
Here are the 3 different types of plate ready to ink up and print. 
All the plates are now printed onto thin cotton fabric using Hawthorn Stay Open Etching ink.
The printed side of Cereal Box card wipes clean the reverse side holds a small amount of ink. Close patterned wall papers with a layer of glue print beautifully. At the top of the plate you can see the glue that has been drawn into while wet, holds a very nice line.

Grey board printed onto thin cotton.
The body of the plate holds more ink than the reverse of cereal box, this makes the glue give more contrast as a white mark and the peeled line looks very dark.
Again printed onto white cotton, this is the mount board plate. 
The surface of the mount board holds ink, the glued background, drawn into has been very successful as have the glued details on the bird. The peeled area has a very dark strong contrast to the rest of the plate and the cut lines into the body show up nicely in the fabric.

Now to stitch into the prints when they are dry, I feel a patchwork quilt coming on??

Saturday, 16 May 2020


I am care taking the yard:ARTspace's Stitch a Month class, it meets once a month to enjoy a little bit of gentle stitching and has been taught by the very talented textile artist, Catherine Kingzett .
It was meant to meet up this week and of course we cannot. So this is a stitchy prompt for the lovely people who come and explore textiles with Cath and me.
Either go for a walk or wander around your garden and collect a handful of small leaves. Different sizes, colours and shapes.
We are going to do a stitch meditation and put into practice some of the stitches learnt with Cath in the last few glorious, out in the world months. Collect everything you need first, green threads, needle, biro or fabric pen that will not disappear over time or rub off. Choose a piece of fabric to work on, I am using some eco printed cotton...check out the first prompt. 
I know this is obvious, but I have rooted out lots of different green shades to stitch with. 
Here are my leaves ready to draw around. 
I have cut my fabric to a 5 inch square, you could make it smaller, but this is a meditation not the start of a project, a bigger piece will be daunting. 
Here come the rules: 
1. Lay your leaves onto the fabric
2. Make sure that part of a leaf or stem touches all 4 edges.
3.Try to get some of the leaves to touch each other, no leaf social distancing here.
4. Starting at the bottom, draw around each leaf, taking it off when you have done so. 
I used a biro because I could not find my fabric pen. Ensure that what you use will not rub off or disappear over time.
You don't need to be over accurate and only draw one side of the stalks, they become too bulky if you draw around both sides. 
I have stabilized my fabric with iron on stiffening because it is a thin cotton. Depending on what you use you may have to do the same.
Now get out your embroidery instructions from Cath's classes, or your favourite stitch book.
I am working my way through The right-handed embroiderer's companion.
Choose a stitch and a green and fill in a leaf. Pick another leaf, another green thread and another stitch until you have filled in all your leaves. You could sit down and work on this all in one go, but it is ideal to work on a leaf a day.
There are no real rules, it's just a sampler to help work out which stitches work and which I like, but I will fill this piece of fabric with stitches and hopefully finish it by next Sunday.
Stitch meditation rules apply, no unpicking. I have got leaves I don't really like, but once the piece is full they won't notice as much.

Good luck.
After a week of stitching a leaf a day here is my finished piece. 
There are several leaves that I do not like and given half a chance I would unpick them. You may have noticed I actually cut one off, but in the spirit of Stitch Meditations I did sew it back on in a different place.
I have learnt what stitches I like and it is a valuable sample to remind me when I do start a project what I might enjoy using. Now I fancy doing one about the flowers in my garden. Watch this space, but later...!

For those of you who do not sew, try this as a drawing, draw around collected leaves onto Eco Printed paper and fill them in with marks. OR... make a small collagraph plate with different wall papers as the leaf shapes. could be a series of interesting mixed media sketchbook pages.This little exercise makes a lovely record of your garden or a walk.

Have the best creative week you can.