Wednesday, 23 April 2014


A friend of mine's blog is called Grumpy and Mad. Of course she is neither, well, not grumpy anyway. The same can't be said of me, the moniker should be mine. I often wonder why people bother with diaries and blogs, why do I write one? Of course! - it's the perfect way to get things off your chest. I've just written a grumpy and mad post, vented my spleen and promptly deleted the draft. Of course it's the post you probably all want to read most, the one where I let rip, but no, I'm not going to inflict it on you, besides, I feel much better now.

I am very happy to be on the home straight with my latest quilt. I confess to falling in and out of love with it. At times it's all too much Chanel handbag, but then I spot it across the studio as the light is falling on it and it's a lovely, luxurious jewel. I'm just completing the binding so I'l post proper photos when that's done but for now here's a couple of details.

Having recently taped a video on one of my favourite techniques for DMTV I was really tempted to add a little paint over the whole surface to tame the gold down a bit. Having slept on it, I'm not going to and have stayed my paint roller armed hand. There's a sister piece to this one that is painted and I reckon if I do the same to this one there'd be no point in having two of them! 

"Frosting" - a technique for adding paint to stitched textiles. A recent video on DesignMattersTV. 
I'm really pleased with how the backings are working on these latest pieces. You might remember I created these handwritten digital print fabrics months ago and they've been patiently waiting in a pile for their moment. At least there won't be any confusion over the title!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Easter Egg

Bright eyes spotted this little beauty lying on the grass in the garden. It was in no man's land, but reasonably close to a bird box that's been fought over by nuthatches and great tits. The great tits have won and I'm pretty sure this is an evicted nuthatch egg. I daresay there are bird aficionados out there who'll know more than me. Before I Googled it I was fairly sure it was a Cadbury Mini Egg.

And just because I've got a new macro lens, here are a couple of extreme close-ups…

Monday, 14 April 2014

All change

The last couple of years have seen a lot of change for pretty obvious reasons, new baby, setting up our family business Fingerprint and a house and studio move. When I think of everything that's happened I realise why I've felt a bit pooped at times! As new things begin it's time to draw a line under others and move on. I'm always excited to start embark on a fresh project. When people from the outside world get  half an idea about what I do, I reckon they must think it's such an easy life. We all know that it's a juggling act of working about four full time jobs don't we! 

My friend Annabel and I have been developing the Through Our Hands project for a while now. At the moment we're finalising plans for the 2015 exhibitions, but alongside that we're working on the website too. If you've followed TOH at then you'll know Annabel (and me sometimes) posted daily with an interesting article often with useful links or information about art and textiles. This was such a popular feature of the site that we're going to develop it into more of a formal newsletter. It'll still be online, but you'll be able to flick through it like a mini magazine with lots of gorgeous images. We're hoping that the first one will be ready for May so I'll keep you posted on that and hopefully our free time will match our ambition!

I do think that as a creative person trying to make a living out of art or craft, one of the most important things to do is to plan ahead. I'm often starting new projects at what feels like the most inappropriate moment when there is so much else to do. It's vital though to get these things underway so that they can be bubbling under the surface and be ready to pop up. What I'm most excited about at the moment is that I'm going to be collaborating with my sister for the first time. You know Mom and I have worked together for years and we're often asked whether my sister does anything creative. Well yes she does! We're still in the plotting and scheming stages at the moment but I think it's going to be a lot of fun. News of what we're up to will be posted here when we've decided exactly what it is!


Saturday, 12 April 2014

20 years

Can it really be 20 years since the death of Kurt Cobain? Feel like I'm getting old. Some things just don't age…

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Hanging quilts

I've had this post sitting in Drafts for over a week now waiting to take photos to accompany the words. I've still not managed it so here it is as is. Next time I do a sleeve I'll record the moment and re-post!....

I should start by saying thank you to everyone who takes a moment to leave a comment. I'm sorry that I can't always reply, but please be assured that I do read everything! I recall that someone asked either here on on Facebook, about how Linda and I fix our quilts to the wall. Here's a quick guide:

Usually when we make a quilt we opt for an invisible sleeve on the reverse of the work. Basically this is just a tube of fabric. Ideally use the same fabric as you have done for the backing of the quilt and it'll look really neat.

Quilt shows often use really chunky battens to suspend quilts from, especially if they use quilt frames rather than hang against walls. To accommodate this you need to make sure the sleeve is plenty big enough. If it's not, then you'll get a bulge on the front of the quilt which is not particularly attractive! Even for small quilts I'm in the habit of making the sleeve very generous so I'll usually cut it 9" deep by the width of the quilt. (Finished depth of sleeve will then be in the region of 4.5").

I turn the side edges under and top stitch to hide the raw edges. This also serves to shorten the width of the sleeve so it'll be short by about an inch or so at each end which is a good thing!

Press the sleeve with the long edges aligned.

I add the sleeve before the binding. I pin it in place to the back of the quilt lining up the raw edges of the sleeve with the raw top edge of the quilt. Sew along taking a scant seam allowance to secure it in place. Then I add the binding taking the proper seam allowance. The sleeve will be stitched twice making sure it's not going anywhere!

The sleeve and binding are both hand finished and I blind hem stitch the binding down then the sleeve. The important bit is to roll up the sleeve slightly, make a new crease and then hem along that line. This'll make the sleeve D-shaped in profile which is going to accommodate the batten. I finish off by hemming the back of the two short sides of the sleeve to the quilt just to make sure that the batten always slides through the sleeve rather than slipping between the sleeve and the backing.

The battens we use when fixing to a wall are flat and you can get them in any diy store. We cut them to length, just short of the width of the quilt and then drill a hole at each end. The batten can then be slid into the sleeve, and because the sleeve is shorter than the quilt you can just bend the corner of the quilt back and screw through the hole into the wall. This is pretty secure and dead easy to do.

Hope this is useful.
Thanks for stopping by,
P.S. Got any questions? Just leave a comment and I'll help if I can!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Tulips and a Tea-Dress

My bargain of the day has to be these tulips from the local market. 500 stems for…….


I've shared them with Mom and G'ma and the house still looks like a florist must live here. Daresay left over from last Sunday, I don't suppose they'll last brilliantly but they look lovely for now.

I really had a fancy to make some clothes this week. I've not done any dressmaking for ages, but watching the Sewing Bee has given me the bug again. This little dress for Amelie went together easily in under an hour and a half on Friday night and she wore it on Saturday. Very satisfying!

I've made it using our Teacups fabric on cotton poplin which I love in the Indigo colourway. On the inside it's lined with some hand dyed indigo and I think with a little extra work it could be reversible. She seems to love it so next on my list is one in the cherry Cupcake fabric!

Thanks for stopping by,

Fingerprint Fabric

"We Print You Paint - Teacups" in Indigo, Black or Brick from £1.50-£36
Available to order online here.

"We Print You Paint - Cupcakes" in Blue, Black or Cherry from £1.50-£36
Available to order online here.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

I don't need to sell my soul...

The latest quilt that I've completed is a digital print wholecloth.

It's a design that I created in my sketchbook using traditional methods, mostly block print, a little bit of watercolour paint and some drawing.

I scanned the page gave it a little tweak in Photoshop et voila! a quilt design is born. So there is, if you like, a paper original and a quilt original. The design is one of a series that I really liked and they're available to purchase as fabric prints in the Fingerprint online store.

Why am I telling you this? Well it's not a sales pitch, it's more a thought on how this way of working opens up a whole world of possibilities:

If you like my quilt you can go to the store and order a piece of fabric that has the identical print on the identical fabric and you can make your own version. Is this me selling out? No! I really hope that someone out there will still want to buy the original one that I made because I made it. But if not, someone might still like the design enough to have it in their home and just buy the print. When it comes to the quilting you might make a faithful reproduction or you might do your own thing. Maybe you'll order one of the smaller sizes which are perfect for cushions or mini cushions, or for setting into some patchwork for a larger quilt or wallhanging. Perhaps you'll be the brave one who'll take rotary cutter to cloth and chop it up!

And the point I'm getting at? Well, I just think it's interesting that from that same starting piece of fabric we could all make a piece of work that was quite different, but that had a common core. Just imagine how this could work for collaborative of group projects. It puts a whole new slant on round robins!

A reader emailed a few days ago to ask what I thought about having digital prints (on paper) made of fibre artworks. Seems to me that this is a related idea. It's common practise for painters to have prints  made of their work that are then available for sale at a more affordable price. This has benefits both ways. Admirers of the work on a limited budget can own a limited edition print and the starving artist gets to sell the same work a number of times helping to claw back some revenue for all those hours spent on the original.

Could the same work for us textile artists? How does printing a textile or fibre piece onto a piece of paper to be framed affect the impact of the work? Does it become too distant, too separated in terms of technique, scale and presence? Maybe.

But! Prints of textile works printed onto fabric as limited runs. Hmm, seems to make perfect sense don't you think?

"I don't need to sell my soul/He's already in me". I Wanna be Adored, The Stone Roses.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Do you mind me asking?

The most often asked, eye-rolling, sigh-inducing question...

"how long did it take you to make that?"

I guarantee that at every exhibition preview, show, talk or demo event I'll get asked that same question. The answer of course is that it's impossible to quantify. I never set a stopwatch or timer. For heaven's sake, you're talking to a person who doesn't wear a watch! I can make a quilt in under two weeks, easily, even only working the night shift. Others are made over months. I always wonder why the person asks; why it matters. Does the work have more value if it takes longer? So invariably I'll make up a random answer. I wonder whether they are more impressed if I say it's a week or six months.

Anyway, this preamble is just to lead me to telling you that while this one's been in the works for far too long, it's finally done.

'Checkerboard Vase Blue', Laura Kemshall
Digital print wholecloth quilt, hand and machine stitch
£495 (Email me)

Friday, 28 March 2014

Spirit of Womanhood

My friend, Annabel Rainbow currently has a piece of work on display as part of the Spirit of Womanhood exhibition in the Oxo Tower Gallery, Southbank, London. The night before last it was the opening preview but of course she was far too excited to actually take a decent picture so you'll have to make do with this one...

Here's what they say about the exhibition:

‘Spirit of Womanhood’ Exhibition
20th – 30th March 2014 galleries@OXO, Oxo Tower Wharf London SE1 9PHThis Exhibition marks the double celebration of the 10 year anniversary of Women’s Interfaith Network and International Women’s Day. The artworks on display have been selected from nearly 1,500 submissions from women across the world, including Tracey Emin. This is a platform for female artists, both established and emerging, to engage in discussion of gender, faith and spirituality.

The exhibition has been extended to it now runs until 6th April. I think it's free to get in and well worth checking out if you're lucky enough to be in London.

There are more photos and info on Annabel's blog which is also worth a look if you're not already a fan.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Expecting Brilliance

In previous years I've been blown away by the paintings in the BP Portrait Award. I suppose because I fully expected brilliance that when we visited today there wasn't quite the same awe inspiring, hairs on the back of the neck, goosebump moment. Just goes to show how us humans get harder and harder to please! Seriously though, we are so lucky that this world class collection of work comes to our local art gallery. 

I love painting.

As last year's winner of the Travel Award it was the turn of Carl Randall to showcase a number of pieces made since. I think of all the works on display, this one might have been my favourite.

'Shinjuku, Tokyo', Carl Randall

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Finger Painting

 I confess, I loved this even more than she did.

Monday, 24 March 2014

I need you!

I've created a Pinterest board and I need your help to fill it with lovely stuff!

Have you created something inspired by DMTV videos? Or maybe you've made something using Fingerprint fabric? Email me a picture so I can add it to the board. I'll give full name credit, or just your first name if you prefer (let me know).

Please don't be shy, it'd be wonderful to create a place where we can all share what we've been up to.


Sunday, 23 March 2014

Day 5 - Sunday, Phew!

Amongst the exhibits on display were some of the costumes from the movie Les Miserables. Loved all the embroidered details on several of them, especially this one, which was worn by Helena Bonham Carter (I think!).

Knowing that Sundays are often the quietest show day I planned to crack on with the quilts I need to have ready to leave for Canada next month. Well that was the plan, ambitious as always I actually only managed to do one and even that isn't quite finished!

Working on the stand has been a great opportunity to road test the new Pfaff machine. I'll do a review blog about it later this week. 

It was lovely to be next door to our friends Bobby and Martin Britnell. If you follow our e-newsletter you might remember that recently we offered the last few stocks of the SiX catalogue with all the profits going to Martin and Bobby's charity Hands up for Uganda. It was with great pleasure that Edwina and I were able to present Bobby with the donation. It totalled well over £300 and she had no idea. Her face was a picture!

The funds will go to help the womens' projects in Kissaabwa which are reviving traditional crafts such as the beautiful basket making. 

So that's it, our first big event of the year done and dusted. We packed up in record time and celebrated a successful weekend with a curry feast for the whole gang, even Amelie stayed up for naan bread. Yum!

A big thank you to everyone who dropped by the stand and were so generous with kind compliments about the work. It's been great to catch up with you all.


Saturday, 22 March 2014

Day 4 - Saturday!

OK, You'll have noticed, no Day 3 report. Well because I was still feeling under the weather I was banned from the stand and under orders to stay home and rest. I hated missing a day, but I did feel much better for it. The added benefit was that I was around to supervise some tree surgeons that the electricity board had sent to trim the trees around overhead power lines. One tree had to come down completely so we have another nice pile of logs for next winter.

I'm always amazed at how quick and agile they are climbing the trees, especially considering they have a chainsaw swinging from their belts!

Today I was back on duty on the stand and making sure the sewing machines were both working flat out. On the Husqvarna Diamond I am part way through some digital quilting/embroidery on the gilded orchid quilt that you might have seen here on the blog ages ago.

I've created a text based design using TruE embroidery software (for Mac) and I'm now stitching it out keeping the colour simple so that it's all about the contrast in surface.

I have to say, I'm loving how it's looking so far. I'm using rayon thread in a slimy green gold colour that's working really nicely with the metal leaf. It's balancing the amount of sheen from the gilding but keeping the richness. I'll do better photos to show you when I've got it back in the studio.

Meanwhile we've had Linda in stereo - on the video player on the wall and live in action!

There's still one day left to visit. Show's open tomorrow (Sunday) 9.30am - 5pm, NEC, Birmingham. 


Thursday, 20 March 2014

Day 2 - Show's open!

Doped to the eyeballs I braved the first day of the show. I felt fine so long as I didn't have to talk - oh dear! I spent most of my time demonstrating on the machines switching between freehand quilting on the Powerquilter and supervising the Diamond doing some digital embroidery onto a small quilted piece. Meanwhile Linda did the talking!

Next door to us is Bobby and Janet with the Barkcloth to Artcloth shoe exhibit. I love the display not only of the shoes which of course are lovely, but Bobby's work and the beautiful baskets too. I already have two of these and am struggling to resist more. Don't forget, you can still get involved with the project. Head over to their Facebook page to find out more.

Here's Bobby with one of her sketchbooks on the table. We've printed some of Bobby's artwork and photos from Uganda to fabric as a trial run and I'm delighted to say we'll be producing a range of fabrics which will be added to the site very soon.

Here are just some of the shoes.

 Meanwhile, back on our stand the demonstrations were becoming increasingly advanced…

…a masterclass of 101 things to make with a single tub of green play dough. Daddy's impressed at least.

Thank goodness for iPhones. At the end of the day only Postman Pat on the iPlayer will do.

All in all, a good first day. I've lost my voice tonight so the jury's out on whether I'll be there tomorrow, but Linda will be holding the fort so make sure to drop by the stand and say hi to her if you can.