"There is an Indian proverb that says that everyone is a house with four rooms. A physical, an emotional, a mental and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time, but unless we go into every room everyday, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person."

Rumer Godden 1907 - 1998

Monday, 13 April 2015


Firstly, thank you to everyone who commented on my blog last week, I feel so encouraged by the things I've read about this challenge both here and on other blogs.

This week challenge prompt is "Beginnings". I started to think about how I begin a new project as that's quite important to me currently. I realised that for everything I do that's creative (except my art and textiles) there's already a lot of knowns in place before I start. I'll know what I want to do, I'll have some sort of a pattern, plan, or a recipe, I'll have the tools and materials and I'll follow whatever directions I have.

For my art and textile work, I won't have a clue! I'll just have this sense that I want to create something. So here in words and pictures is a very basic outline about what I do when beginning a new piece of work.

Take some inspiring source material:

Add a few good books:

Look around favourite blogs for inspiring information:

Daily Practice Collage on the Committed to Cloth website

Add a meaningful quote:

"If you draw the way you stitch and stitch the way you draw it will be easier to make the transition from sketchbook to fabric" - Jean Draper 

Pull another book off the bookcase:

Grab some pens and coloured pencils, a new sketchbook for recording ideas:

And away you go! I only wish it was this simple, it is however a beginning. Its more towards releasing my artistic voice than I managed two weeks ago. I'm going to spend time later this week playing about with the coloured pencils and sketchbook and see where it takes me.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015


Monday was a really thought provoking day. I've made some substantial decisions about what I want to do and what I need to do. High on my list is a substantial need to rediscover of my artistic voice, The positive comments on my previous post about art I created about 10 years ago has given me much needed encouragement to find my creative voice again. Long live the blog!

I've literally only just discovered and joined Instagram, and when I saw this picture loaded by the Pitt Rivers Museum  my heart lurched and I knew I needed to know more. I have a thing about amulets and talismen, a big thing, as is evident from a selection of books taken off my bookshelves.

I love the superstitions that are woven in as they are created, the simple naive constructions though to complex silversmithing. I'm fascinated by the power to protect, to bring good luck and to hold magical properties that's attributed to these small objects by their owners. I even have my own; a very small Turkish eye bead intended to deflect the evil eye attached to the small purse I keep my travelling knitting notions in:

In 2013 we embarked on a project to make a very steep garden a useable space. During the course of digging out terraces and shifting many tons of earth we discovered a treasure trove of small objects. Handling and setting out these small items in groups is inspiring, most are everyday things, quite often only small pieces of larger things, nonetheless these fragments inspire me:

All my work used to start with some form of inspiration, a bit of research, then some drawing. Fairly standard art practise, my next rediscovery has to be how to get from inspiration such as the Pitt Rivers amulet and my found objects to a piece of textile work.

A good place to start would actually be a knitting book,  a pad of squared paper, a pencil, fine-liner and a few coloured pencils.

Monday, 6 April 2015


Reading aplayfulday, one of the blogs I enjoy for it's energy and inspiration, reminded me that I used to blog much more frequently than I do now. aplayfulday has launched The Love Your Blog Challenge which will run during April. My hope is by joining in with this challenge, by responding to the themes for the weekly challenges that I'll start to love blogging again. 

Blogging is a two way process, it's sharing words and pictures with an unseen community and responding to that community too. Take a look at any blog and you'll see a set of links in the sidebar which represents the community the blogger has gathered around them. Watch anyone using a computer, laptop or mobile device and you soon notice they have favourite blogs and websites. I recently described myself as: Claire Textile maker, artist, knitter, journal-keeper, baker, cut flower grower and gardener, I omitted to say blogger. I feel sad about that, all the time I blogged and explored the work of other bloggers I felt full of artistic ideas, I was part of a huge mobile community. These days my creativity isn't original, I'm not designing anything myself, I'm bringing my own interpretation in the form of yarns/ beads to something someone else designed.

I did a City and Guilds in Creative Embroidery between 1996 and 2002, then an advanced textiles course to develop my art practise, I suddenly had a voice. I thrived in this sharing environment and created lots of original work that I shared, giving as much back to my community as I gained from them. I had the two things I find most conducive to work, a purpose and a community. The small picture is a sample from a sketchbook called Creative Connections that dates from about 2006. 

About 10 years ago I used to blog almost daily [that blog no longer exists :-( ], at that time I was part of a different community of artists who created altered art, who shared and posted online about it. Initially my work was very group driven, joining in with collaborative projects such as the page below in an old tattered copy of Alice in Wonderland. Through this I was a part of a huge art community spread across the world, I collaborated on lots of art projects and from these collaborations, I gained energy and inspiration. 

That community folded and suddenly I found something was lacking in my daily art practise. I was creating work like the picture below, I'd turned inwards, exploring myself through limited art practise. It wasn't same as the creative environments I'd been used to, I had nothing to feed from and no purpose. It wasn't long before I stopped blogging and creating any art.  When my husband and I started to plan a house move, I effectively lost my voice, 18 months of living in a rented property totally stopped my creativity.

These days (in a house of my own again) my artistic voice is very limited, I seem to struggle to find purpose and inspiration, I make a lot of promises to myself about new work that I don't keep. I have a world of inspiration outside my window what's missing is the wider artistic community I used to belong to.

Artists need inspiration, food for thought and most of all a community to explore which supports and validates their work. Introspective as this post has been it will serve as an opportunity to extend my community, finding new ways to connect and a way back into a more creative world. Who knows I may regain my creative voice!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Inspired to Blog Again

It's been a while since I could say I've been inspired to blog.
I received a beauty of a book in the post yesterday, originally intended as a gift for a friend and I'm so excited by the cover alone that I have to keep it!

I used to knit regularly with the author, so without even looking inside, or reading any reviews I know this is a book I will wear out from use and love! I just love the encouragement to "Hack the System"! I can see me doing just that as the possibilities are already provoking textile work alongside knitting. I can heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in designing in fabric or fibre. It's available in paper with a code for a PDF direct from the lovely Felix, or via Ravelry as a PDF.

The first thing to think about is inspiration. I live reasonably close to the Kennet and Avon Canal and love my rather infrequent walks along it, there's so much to see that commands attention and a closer look. From overgrown forgotten industrial heritage to pretty picture postcard houses and canal boats. I have some inspiring pictures to work with which I took locally about 18 months ago. Whilst the building I've selected as my inspiration is not near the canal, it's close to the Beam Engines at Crofton, which are part of the workings of the canal. It's a Grade II listed building, described as a waterworks pump house, built to provide water from an underground reservoir to the small hamlet Wexcombe, sometimes referred to locally as the Pineapple. It was built in 1899, gifted, I presume, to the village by William Corbin Finch. I'm going to go back to this little gem soon and copy down the details on the plaque over the door in full, so I can do some more research.

After some Photoshopping, I've gathered a few interesting images:

Coloured pencils are being sharpened and new shiny squared exercise books will arrive at work tomorrow. I don't want to wish my life away, but roll on the weekend!