Not very thrilling to look at…

quilt. batting with ruler and cutterThis may be the least-exciting photo I ever share. 

It’s plain cotton/wool quilt batting. The preferred foundation for my fabric strip collage works. 

Which is to say, I’m starting to compose new pieces based on my recent travels. My next progress shots can’t fail to be more interesting!


Mapping my mind

80 days of travel through 12 countries….

I saw a lot of beautiful or interesting places, objects, people. None of these will be recognisable in what I make next. Pictures are not my talent!

The mindmaps pictured above my desk are a start at describing some of the ideas or images that came to me in those beautiful places.  I had time to think, to be intrigued, to make connections. 

Mindmapping was a good method to move all of that internal value to the external, physical world. A big step toward making…

What next?

Immediately: the greeting phase

I’ll kiss the humans, walk on my beach, go to rehearsal. 

Short term: unpacking phase

  • I’ll find a basket or bowl for the Given Things/Found Objects and put them on my workbench. 
  • I’ll download all the photos off my phone.
  • I’ll get a big sheet of paper and mindmap all the ideas I can remember.

That should keep me busy for a couple of days.  Within a week I’ll be in the throes of making something!

I’m going to look for an opportunity to exhibit again within a year. And I have a Great Big Shiny Idea for action in about 15 months time. More about that later. 

Bring home the…

Enough about what I took, and what I took it in. The important thing, or one of them, is, What am I bringing back?

There are a few physical souvenirs, not many. More significantly, I’ve collected images, ideas and themes along the way. 

You know I don’t tend to explain my work, I prefer to let you look at it and see what you see. But here are some of the ideas you will see in my work over the next few months. Probably longer

  • The wall
  • The arch
  • The street as servant of the building. 
  • or the reverse 
  • The dove (or pigeon)
  • The sacrificial woman
  • Direction and “handedness”
  • The hand
  • Water in the dry land
  • Stairs. So many stairs
  • Charity and the fast

Keep a sharp lookout for these, they may be heavily disguised.

Packing for the journey, part 3

I tried and tried but I couldn’t get everything to fit into a carry-on. 12 weeks   spanning climates and dress codes from Berlin to southern Iran was too much. Here’s the luggage list:

For clothes, shoes, hygiene, health, art materials as previously described ; one small suitcase, purchased in New York when the previous one was wrecked in transit. 

For bulky stuff needed while out and about- plus occasional shopping; one daypack. I scored this one in an office give-away years ago. It doubles as the overnighter.

 For the essential do-not-get-pickpocketed items; a neck pouch.i bought this from its dyer/maker at a textile art symposium in Ohio. 
Unfortunately this has suffered on the journey and isn’t really functional now. I’m going to put it in the Art Materials stash and honour its good service.

Fortunately, I’m in Firenze, where finding a replacement bag is no problem at all

Packing for the journey, part 2

With the great encouragement of some talented friends, I have been making friends with the pencil. Drawing, or at least sketching, is slowly becoming part of my process.

It is helping me to remember things and ideas, and to slow down and pay attention to the moment. 

It’s also been useful when discussing ideas with clients. I’ve been surprised how a very crude scruffy sketch on the fly has helped us move forward together. 

A drawing kit for the journey, but not too much:

  • Visual diary in pretty cover by The Sewphist
  • Soft & hard mechanical pencils
  • Black fine marker
  • Gold & silver gel pens
  • Blue, red & yellow Acquarelle pencils
  • Square & pointed watercolour brushes (for blending pencils and washing with coffee etc)
  • A spoon for burnishing/rubbing

In Sevilla I added a green pencil. 

pencil case  lying open across notebookThis kit i have used quite often and with great pleasure. Whether or not it’s a “perfect picture” doesn’t matter a bit. 

sketch of a tower at Park Güell

Packing for the journey, part 1

Three months away from the studio!!! What to pack?
Never mind what shoes and how many changes of undies – art materials were high on the list.

 I love working with “found objects” so I decided to take a little bundle of somethings-to-stitch-onto: my favourite quilt batting and some pre-painted baby wipes 
Thread is handy too. A little kit of many colours and a few needles:


Some objects which places gave me:miscellaneous fibre-ish rubbishI’m especially pleased with the red tangle. It’s waste agave silk from the braid-makers in Fes. 

I couldn’t help myself and have bought a few items:

shiny floss on  skinny cardboard reelsReels of agave silk-which came in the most daunting array of colours-and some silk scraps from traditional weavers in Lyon. 
After all this preparation, I’m sorry to say that I haven’t done a thing with it except mending some clothes. Which was very handy!
I’m learning that I need a more settled space to do composition. Or maybe I haven’t yet established a routine that allows for stitching. That might happen in Paris…