Monthly Archives: March 2014

Sweat and tears

Making felt is hard work! At a class this week I was creating rainbow felt from merino wool tops. I chose a blue purple for my background layer and then laid wisps of colour on top. Then the fibres were meshed and matted together by wetting, soaping and working them with pressure, rolling, rolling and more rolling. Then hitting and bashing and generally knocking them about. It seems an unsophisticated and almost violent way to create fabric, but it can produce beautiful results.IMG_1945

In legend St Christopher, patron saint of travellers, was fleeing persecution and wrapped sheep fleece caught on wayside bushes around his feet. At the end of the journey the sweat and repeated pounding of his feet had turned the fleece to felt. Another Persian story describes a shepherd’s son who, attempting to make fabric from fleece without a loom, ends up stamping the wool and crying tears of frustration, but then finds he has created felt. The history of felt is much older than these stories, but the process of the work, the sweat and the tears remains the same to this day.

There were no tears at the felting class, but plenty of exertion and we worked up a sweat. After the hard work I unrolled my fibres to see the results. The rainbow was certainly bright and I was pleased with the mossy effect of my second piece.IMG_1951

An enjoyable day and another illustration of how in life we sometimes have to trust the process, including the hard work and unpleasant bashing, before the beauty of the finished product can be revealed.



I am currently enjoying reading  Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit.

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Recommended recently by two people in totally different contexts, I thought I had better have a look at it.
As she says, Creativity (fresh, spontaneous) and Habit(routine, disciplined) are sometimes seen as a paradox, but even Mozart practised his scales, and Margot Fonteyn her pliés. This week my creative endeavours have been centred around generating ideas for two writing groups, and also coming up with designs for an online quilting class. I have found it hard work and nothing seemed to be coming.
But habits are useful when ideas seem scarce. In her chapter called “Scratchings” Twlya Tharp says ideas are everywhere, and the daily repeated routine of looking, paying attention, noticing and looking again can uncover the inspiration for creativity.

My “Scratchings” this week revealed an early flowering tulip in the garden, sketched over 2 or 3 or days. These, coupled with some searching among photos and books of other artist’s work, are generating some ideas for my sewing. See my Tulip Pinterest board here

Opening a drawer whilst washing up provided me with materials for a fun time at writing group, when we created characters for different kitchen utensils, and then scripted some playful encounters. Why not give it a go yourself….
“When Colin Corkscrew met Susie Spatula” or “When Gary Grater met Lucy Lemon Squeezer”…IMG_1944

So, if you want to be creative, keep scratching… 🙂


Steady drip of steaming water
Onto coffee grounds
Slowly filters, releasing odours.
Flavours will form
Emerging from the brew.
Patience required.IMG_1911

To brew – make, concoct, ferment, grow to ripeness. A few dictionary definitions. Brew, for me a word which contains future promise, but also a process which cannot be hurried.. Like the creative process – allow to brew, to stew, the ideas will grow, some filtered out, others rise to the surface.
I have been exploring “Pinterest” as a brewing tool. Click here to see what’s in the mix on my Tulip board. And then you (and I ) will have to wait to see what emerges from the brew.

20140314-102932.jpgRobert Kushner-Tulip Tarentella


Sunny Sunday

It was warm and sunny this morning so we strolled through nearby woodland and along local footpaths.
Reminders of the vast volumes of water which have fallen as rain over the last few weeks could be seen all around in the form of ponds and pools which I have never seen so full, reflecting blue sky and tangled branches.

The hedgerows were full of fluffy yellow catkins and bright celandine stars with green heart leaves. And we took our time to stop at the gate and enjoy the view.



Watch this space….

I have two spring clearing projects underway at the moment. Shifting some surplus furniture into a friend’s flat has created space in my sewing room. A day of clearing, throwing away, and reorganising has opened up the area and I now have the room to open cupboard doors and scope to rediscover the content of piled up boxes! With the chance to rearrange tables, I have uncovered a wider expanse of floor, and have a (relatively) clear zone for cutting out and drawing. It is lovely to have the space to stretch my mind and contemplate a range of possibilities.
The other clearing task is in my office, where I am am emptying files and shredding papers which are no longer needed. It feels quite sad to be getting rid of things which represent important events or past work. But I  feel an increasing sense of space and light as I empty each bin bag into the recycling…
Spring is on its way!