Following a lengthy discussion we decided that the theme for our second exhibition would be the word Fracture. At first there seemed to be a long list of different ways that this could be interpreted; political disagreement, economic division, the vulnerability of the  environment – but how to turn these abstract ideas into simple visual images?

We each developed our own ideas, which you can see in our individual galleries.

Group work

We often share the studio at Inkberrow Design Centre with Mary and Val from Out Of Line. Mary decided to join us on this project.

We had the idea of creating a single background which we could cut up and each take an equally sized piece to work on. To maximise the contrast we restricted ourselves to only use one colour each.

Nadine printed the background using the cardboard frames Mary had salvaged from her son’s role play games.

Heavy weight white cotton printed with black acrylic paint.

We figured out how best to share out the fabric based on the size of  A4 canvases we would use for hanging.

Splitting the fabric

We each went away to work on our pieces individually

Anna used Red

Anna Barrett

Nadine used Orange

Nadine Tabberer

Jackie used Yellow

Jackie Harley

Catherine used Green

Catherine Howard

Mary used Blue

Mary Smith

and Deb used Purple

Deb Day

The finished work was displayed at the ICHF Sewing for Pleasure / Fashion & Embroidery show in March 2018

Fracture – group work


Design springboard

Shared learning

As a group we manage to spend a weekend together in the studio at Inkberrow Design Centre about once a month. This time together is an invaluable opportunity to focus solely on being creative without being distracted by the flotsam and jetsam of everyday life. This is the time we make the most progress on the pieces we are planning to exhibit but we also try to teach each other new ideas and techniques. At our April session (sorry, I’m a bit behind here!) Judy took the lead and showed us a fun way of creating designs which can be used as starting point for further development.

Judy’s design tutorial

Judy came prepared with a slide projector and an array of interesting paraphernalia to work with. She showed us how to trim the materials to size,  trap them between pieces of plastic, and then fix the sandwiches into old slide cassettes.  At the end of the session we knocked off the lights and turned on the slide projector. Below are photographs of some of the images which were projected onto the wall.

I wonder whether you can identify what all of the bits and pieces are. Included are grains of sugar, strips of sweetie wrappers, popped bubbles from bubble wrap, netting used to package fruit, blobs of nail varnish and pieces of old film negatives.


We each took photographs of the projected images on our mobile phones now have a stash of pictures we can work from. The idea is to look for sections of shape and colour which are particularly interesting and then reproduce those focal points as part of a secondary design. The best thing about this technique is that it is quite difficult to predict what the finished image will look like. This removes the pressure of not knowing where to start and enables you to enjoy playing with the materials to hand.

Learning to love synthetic materials

Learning to love synthetic materials

13 & 14 May 2017 Nadine and I spent a very enjoyable weekend at Inkberrow Design Centre working with synthetic materials. We were taking part in a “Cutting, Fusing and Manipulating Fabrics” workshop run by Margaret Beal.

Keen to learn from an artist who has made her name Fusing Fabrics we armed ourselves with the key equipment:

  • soldering iron
  • samples of brightly coloured organza, polyester etc.
  • miniature Snickers bars (not on the materials list but essential)
  • Odd bits of metal scavenged from the garage (Nadine), and the drawer in the kitchen where old pizza menus go to die (me).

Day one

Margaret began by teaching her simple cutting and fusing technique which is the foundation to her method. We prepared a selection of base pieces for further embellishment. For me, the most exciting part of this technique is that layering the materials on top of each other in this way tones down vivid colours. A step away from a Christmas tree colour scheme and towards a Paul Klee palette.

Having created sufficient samples to work with we moved on to cutting out shapes by tracing around our metal templates. The soldering iron gave a degree of precision that surprised me.

Once we were shown how to use the soldering iron to fuse the pieces back together we were able to make more complex work.

Jackie’s fused fabric samples
Nadine’s fused fabric samples

We were taught how to use the tip of the soldering iron to create marks. These patterns can be used to add further interest and cohesion to the work. This is something we will need to practise a great deal to be able to make the marks uniform and to avoid slicing through the material by mistake.

We ended the first day planning to use free machine embroidery to stitch in cotton thread through the layers of fused organza and polyesters.

Day two

On the morning of the second day we set up our sewing machines. Nadine had planned to make a start on a piece for our Fracture exhibition. I randomly doodled flowers and lines. The aim of these experiments was to get to grips with cutting back one layer at a time. I am not going to post any photos of these pieces; Nadine will hopefully develop her sample into a finished piece, my doodling is really not interesting enough to show!

After lunch we moved on further, manipulating the cutting and fusing process to create 3d shapes.

Miniature 3d pieces

We were both inspired by the samples Margaret used to demonstrate the 3d techniques. We both love making vessels so I expect we will try to develop these ideas to create pieces on a larger scale.


I must admit that prior to the workshop I wasn’t very keen on working with synthetic materials because I found the colours too loud and shouty. I was also sceptical that I would be able to use a soldering iron for anything more than creating messy blobby marks, unwanted holes and  unintended fires. Margaret Beal is a very talented artist and patient teacher who very generously shared her knowledge, materials, and access to a vast collection of samples of her work. Nadine and I both thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and are now hooked on the technique.



Earth was the clear choice for Nadine Tabberer who took early inspiration from aerial photographs of a river gorge.   Nadine likes to work large and often includes natural found objects or unusually textured materials in her work.   We have come to see Nadine as the weaver in our group as she explores the potential of manipulating metals, cardboard and fibres.

One colour one stitch
Silk vessel


Catherine Howard was drawn to the element of water after a visit to Antarctica.     Colour and texture are important to her and she enjoyed producing detailed pieces which incorporated free machine embroidery and embellishment.

Catherine produced a series of felted pieces. Capturing the energy of water with the use of colour and repeated curved lines. Tiny seed beads caught the light to add the notion of foam. Each piece began, appropriately, as wet felt but detail was added with needle felting.

Water detail from felted piece

Catherine produced a number of vessels made from mulberry bark and silk fibres. Displaying these alongside the Antarctica photographs which had inspired the work further described the vivid blue tones found naturally in icebergs.

Water vessels displayed alongside the original inspiring photographs




Anna Barrett, with her adventurous love of colour, texture and new techniques, worked on the element of fire.   She took inspiration from midnight fires on the beach near her home and incorporated ideas from her extensive travels.   Appropriately Anna used ‘hot textiles’ techniques in her work, setting about various synthetics with a heat gun with unique results.

Anna created both three dimensional and two dimensional work; experimenting with the combination of textiles with other media including paper, driftwood and pebbles.

Fire Sticks Found driftwood painted and wrapped with wire and threads.
Fire Pebbles Wet felted around pebbles

Anna created an installation of her Fire Sticks and Fire Pebbles on the beach where she had originally found the materials

Installation of Fire Sticks and Fire Pebbles


Anna used rust dying techniques to create these delicate pieces of silk

Fire cloth rust dyed silk

This complex piece combined charred driftwood and paper with fabrics dyed naturally with tea and rust

Air 2, Textile art for Elements Exhibition – Jackie Harley

The Elements: Air

Images of a bird in flight created in stitch on hand dyed fabric
Textile art representing Air in The Elements exhibition

This is the second textile piece I have made to represent Air for our Elements exhibition and continues to use birds and flight as a theme. Again I wanted to create a ghost like image so there is minimal detail on the bird outline.

Techniques used to make the piece

This piece is essentially two layers. The base layer is a large piece of cotton which I dyed grey and then using printing blocks made by cutting Funky Foam into feather shapes, I used discharge paste to reveal the images.

Printing blocks made from Funky Foam cut into the shape of feathers
Two printing blocks made from Funky Foam

For the top layer I started with a sketch of a bird which I enlarged on a photocopier. I taped the photocopied sketch onto a think piece of cardboard and then taped a piece of Georgette material over the top. As the Georgette is a sheer fabric I was able to see the drawing underneath which enabled me to easily paint the image onto the fabric. I used white acrylic paint to do this but with hindsight I should have used a textile medium because I found that the paint showed the subsequent needle marks. Still we learn as go don’t we?

The two layers were basted together before finally stitching over the painted bird by hand. I chose to make long stitches with various heavy weight cotton perle threads, hoping to give the impression of feathers. Initially I thought I would use shades of grey: here’s the fellow with a beady eye:

But I decided I didn’t really like the effect so needed to do some de-stitching!

The final piece is stretched and framed (not shown) and measures 75cm x 75cm

Hummingbird in flight: textile art for Air in The Elements exhibition

Using flight as a source of inspiration

This is the first piece I have made for our Elements exhibition. Having decided that I would use flight as my interpretation of the Air theme I was inspired by Eadweard Muybridge’s photographs of animal locomotion. Muybridge was a pioneer of motion photography who used multiple cameras to take a series of stop motion photographs. He then copied the silhouettes onto a disc which was viewed through his zoopraxiscope device, and to the observer the images appeared to move. This is considered a precursor to cinematography. My aim was to show the movement of a bird in flight by using a series of images similar to individual frames of Muybridge stop motion photographs.

I think hummingbirds are in my subconscious as there is a small wooden one hanging up in our bathroom; a souvenir from a holiday in Cuba. To emphasise the Air theme I wanted the images to be ghost like and transparent.

Techniques used to make the piece

I began by drawing the 6 images. These were then photocopied onto sheets of organza and cotton which can be run through an inkjet printer. The base layer is large piece of plain white cotton. I layered the sheets of printed cotton in place and then hand stitched over all of the lines in the image. Once the image was defined the excess areas of the printed sheets were cut away. On top of this layer I added a large piece of Procion dyed silk. The printed organza sheets were placed on top of this, repeating the stitching and cutting back. The layers were stretched over a canvas and finally fragments of sheer fabric was stitched loosely in place with invisible thread.

The finished piece is framed (not shown) and measures 86cm x 61cm.