I am a freelance designer-maker, applied artist, crafts-woman, whatever you want to call me – I stitch stuff by hand; fabric, metal, porcelain, leather, vitreous enamel.. . My work is various, it depends whether I am working for myself, to commission or collaborating with other artists. But whatever I do is slow to make; detailed hand stitching in any material whether in silk, linen, wool or wire takes time, consequently my work is also slow to evolve. I decided to show on this site what I do, who I am work with, how I work and also how I think.
I want to show the work behind HER WORK not just the finished things. The journey from the first idea, searching, researching, drawing, sampling and eventually making the finished piece. You will be able to watch my work progress, or not; maybe by seeing this record people will come to value making that is manufactured by hand, heart and eye.
In May 2010 I developed – Heart Space Studios ( from my yoga practice “Put your Hands in your Heart Space”) and for 5 years it was a space in Bristol England for all things textile. The activities at the studios can still be viewed – I closed the studio workshops in 2015 – the classes remain on this site as part of the blog, they contain many of my most popular posts…..
Heart Space Studios continues as a group of makers who develop projects primarily for publishing companies. Most notably we work with designer Kaffe Fassett in the production of his patchwork quilt books and other fabrics.
Ehrman Tapestry published a short video of me in 2013, talking about various projects with images of my work, studios, garden and home; look out for a quick glimpse of my old Fox Terrier, Daisy.
23 thoughts on “About”
Irene Bohan (who I work with) emailed me the link to your blog and I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy reading it and how inspiring your work is.
I too have “a thing” for hand made crafts and hearts so it is lovely to find another crafter with the same interests.
I love the look of your Make Do and Mend stitched porcelain and will watch/read with interest the progression of this work – especially the plate with the scissors – I’m excited by this piece just from the sketch you’ve shown!
Thank you for sharing your fantastic skills and I look forward to future developments.
HI Hannah, Thanks so much for this comment I really appreciate it as I am trying to get myself out there in between making exhibitions of work. I seem to be going through a very intensive thinking and development period and not sure where I will end up so the blog is a mechanism to let it be seen and I’m rather hoping it will somehow manifest a way for me go forward with all the work….when it is finally backed up with some of my enamelled work it will be a good reume of what i am getting up to at home alone…….
The mending stuff has been a good talking point as well and now whenever I meet people who have read it, they tell me great stories but never send a comment……. Anyway please keep watching the space am about to update the hearts section. Yours etc. Janet
I am doing an a-level in art textiles and as part of the project we have to include artists work that has inspired us and write a bit about the artist themselves. I would appreciate if you could answer some questions:
What inspired you to become an artist?
What inspires your work?
Thanks for your interest in my work and the questions.
For what inspires me I suggest you look and read the Make it Through the Night project in the Ongoing Work pages. Also within the blog itself there are many instances of how I have been inspired by pictures, stones, colleagues, exhibitions, symbols – I am particularly drawn to symbols – but I am always fascinated by fabrics…the most intimate material we use in our lives, we dress in it, lived surrounded by it, carry our children in it, wrap our dead in it; it carries colour, pattern, messages and history. We wear it out – so it is fragile but pliable and enduring.
As to being an artist – this is more difficult. What follows is a sort of theory of mine ……. I always called myself a designer- maker or simply an embroiderer. I feel that a designer makes work from an external stimulus even though the inspiration may be personal; to be successful the end result must contain the designer’s inspiration or idea embedded in something that is usually specified by someone or something else – this could be the materials or the customer. You can keep the personal YOU out of the final outcome, the design succeeds if it is “fit for purpose”. Some of the work I show is made like this- e.g. the current post “embroidered ceramics”
An artist is inspired internally, whatever is made or manifested- the maker is all – they decide what works and what doesn’t. I have worked with and for many artists. I have been asked to resolve problems with materials and making ideas (see Primate on the Commissions pages) sometimes I provide workshops for artists to develop their ideas through playing with new materials and working together – all these things have led me to review my own work. Make it Through the Night is very personal and I feel not so successful – yet, I am fairly uncomfortable with it….a thing that artists have to get used to I suspect. Designers do not want to make you uncomfortable
More and more my work is a reflection on the world I see around me, and the thoughts while making it I now share in the blog.
Hope that some of this is useful Janet
What an inspiring blog you have! I appreciate the well written posts… they really explain what happened along the way, without being self-indulgent.
I lecture jewellery design at 4th year level and am trying to use blogs as instruments for generating research reports. I feel that designers do research as part of the process of making and if we could capture the steps we would have the bare bones of a research report … just add references!
Anyway your posts seem to strike that balance. What I do wonder about though is how you go about writing those long posts. Do you keep a journal of sorts and then compile the post from there or do you blog elsewhere..? Your posts seem to capture the steps that you take very well…
thanks – it is a great way to start a Monday receiving a comment like this.
I write the long posts mainly because I have a lot to say about my work and I have a problem getting it shown in public and therefor sold- I mostly work to commission so need to keep it under wraps until either exhibited or published. Also my new work is hard to categorise as it is neither totally enamel nor textile and I can’t let my self think it just is not good enough to sell (but it is expensive).
However I have found that writing the blog has really made a difference to how I see my work. I have found all sorts of connections within it – in fact WordPress is set up to make any connections easily apparent – I realise now that my work revolves around a few ideas that overlap and integrate – I had thought what I made was in separate compartments depending on the techniques/ outcomes involved.
Obviously this will only be apparent in a mature maker; but your students should be able to integrate their studies with their own lives, their likes, dislikes and comments are vital- it this is what makes creative design work connect beyond function – when the maker shines through the discipline.
I photograph my own studies/pieces then go searching for ways to connect them to the original sources – see Ongoing Work for this – the first post Burkha eyes. I also work into the sketch book as an ongoing discipline – in fact maybe I will start a sketchbook page on the blog – I have kept them since I was a student in the late 1960’s!!!!!!
So I have always kept good records of my work, I work in a slow medium which requires endless samples, when I taught drawing and design at BA level, I found that students never sample enough, but it is this sampling process that results in my workbooks being so useful. After all if you are a successful maker you sell your work – all you have left is a picture of it and the samples – you can see very little process in the finished work
I keep every little thing I do when I work – in a large bag or basket – and at the end of the project I select the scraps to tell the story. I now use the work books as my own reference library and I use them when I am pitching for work – everyone is interested in process – it is a way of explaining how something comes together and makes it apparent how much does go into making anything – so basically I am showing them what they are buying into.
Since the blog started last May, I now photograph as I work after realising that people have actually NO idea of how things are made. Also I look on the blog as a part of my working life and at present my only means of exhibiting and so devote the best part of one day a week to it – your students will be quicker!
I am fascinated by making my work, not so much the finished thing – the thought processes and having to learn new techniques – and learning journeys are always so compelling – look at all the singing/ dancing shows on TV lately – all we are doing is joining in someone’s journey.
One last thing I have found a small but really fascinating set of people who write to me – off the blog mostly – they share my humour mostly and like what I like even though their work is different – and they are very supportive so blogs will attract support for your students – and we all need that.
i keep looking at your work and looking again i like your drawing
classes best at this stage.thank you so much for being able to
see all the samples.greeings
I came across your blog while looking for Teresa Searle images and I loved it. The stuffed hearts with the visible scars were so wonderful – and that it’s just a small part of what I loved. I plan to be in Bristol for most of August and would love to take a class or two if you are offering some. How does learn more about your studio?
Thanks for following! Watching your process is fascinating, I can’t wait for more 😀
Your blog is very inspiring to me because of your unapologetic passion for textiles. In one of the above comments you said ” I am particularly drawn to symbols – but I am always fascinated by fabrics…the most intimate material we use in our lives, we dress in it, lived surrounded by it, carry our children in it, wrap our dead in it; it carries colour, pattern, messages and history. We wear it out – so it is fragile but pliable and enduring.
I love this because it resonates many of my own reasoning for using Textiles as my primary medium in my art work.
I’m a Fine Art student in my 3rd year. I’m interested in fusing photo images into the textile compositions I create.
I would be greatful if you could share with me the most effective methods you have used or know of to achieve this. I am specifically interested in the photo transfer methods in regards to textiles.
I am an artist from India, West Bengal. We also do have different kinds of quilts practices here rural part of Bengal.
It is a fine experience to come up your works and its processes. The context of images making are very interesting. Since I also do or use stitches a lot in my works for sometime, like for the last 10-15 years, I can relate with your different kinds of image references.
I am very much eager to get in contact with you and if possible want to do a residency in your place.
Thanks a lot for all the images in your blog.
Sorry toother you but I see that Brian Pearse was a friend of yours. He was also my friend but over the years we lost contact. Another mutual friend seemed to think he might have died! If you know anything about Brian, I’d like to know. Many thanks, Chris Chedgey.
Well Brian is very much alive and thriving, over the last few years he and his wife Sarajane, have become some of our closest friends. I have contacted him and given him the message before relying to you and he is delighted that you have made contact…over to you both now,
thank you so much for these comments – it is so reassuring to hear that you think my work is inspiring and inventive. To me it sometimes seems to have a scatter gun approach – but much of the work shown here is developed from commissions or for exhibitions, I get lots of interesting requests that I can never refuse to try from sheer curiosity.
My own personal work is always on the ‘back burner’ – waiting until I have earned enough money to buy myself a period of time to really concentrate for a few days or if lucky weeks, my current stitched work is developed from kantha stitching, simple and slow but utterly compelling…but whether I work in metal or fabric it all takes a long time to achieve a finished piece.
At present I have many projects in hand but like most commercial commissions they have publishing/exhibiting deadlines months and some times years in ahead so a lot of new work cannot be shown – a major drawback for my blog…so its good to get such positive remarks thanks, Janet
I’m helping with programming with our local bead society. When I saw the beautiful fabric and stitched beads you had made I felt that would be a terrific topic. We are having all of our meetings on Zoom now, and the one benefit that comes to mind is that is doesn’t matter so much where the presenter lives. We are near Boston, MA in the U.S. Do you give presentations on your work or have tutorials? I’m inspired by your work! Thanks, Sylvia Fohlin
thanks for this comment and it has given me a pause for thought.. so far I have not done any teaching on line, zoom or otherwise – but in these strange days I am now considering my options. What is as perplexing and it is rewarding is that the beads I have designed are from the remnants of ribbons left after when designing projects for a book of Kaffe Fassett’s ribbons. all these beautiful scaps just couldn’t be chucked away – so I made a few up – and have taught the class several times but here’s the thing…these ribbon posts for years back are my most visited posts in the whole of my blog!!!!!
I have been contacted by the chair of your bead group and am considering after speaking with her getting some form of tutorial/class together…who knows what you have started?
Hi again! I’m so glad you’re considering it online workshops. All 3 of us on the program committee loved your work. The beads seemed the most applicable to our group, but many of us love fiber arts in general. I bet they are the most popular post as their size is diminutive and they seem more accessible than a larger undertaking. I took an online course with Curious Mondo when they had a week of fiber arts workshops. That renewed my passion for fiber work and in my search on line I saw a pin of your beads. I hope we’ll be seeing you via the internet sometime in the near future. Thanks for considering it. Sylvia P.S. It’s been my life’s work to stir up trouble, agitate for change, and so on. 🙂
Hi Janet – Hope all is well! I’m reaching out from Veranda magazine. I love your auricula theater, and I’m curious if you have any more of those sorts of pieces in the works. I would love to connect via email. Thank you!
Hi Janet – Hope all is well! I’m reaching out again from Veranda magazine. I love your auricula theater, and I’m curious if you have any more of those sorts of pieces in the works. I would love to connect via email again, as we may have a need upcoming. Thank you!
Hi Rachel – so good to hear from you again, thanks for this continued interest – I will answer you more thoroughly though email
In fact I am developing a series of Giclee Prints for a new addition to my business and the Auricula Theatre is one of the pieces in the pipe line – I am at the sampling print stage at present and in fact it was the embroidery used for a large poster for the original exhibition of the whole Flora series at the Holburne Museum in Bath.
will be in touch asap. janet