My 5 year long venture in design led workshops and classes for all things Textile comprised workshops, display and retail space in Redland Bristol England. Although it is now closed I have kept the posts of all the various classes, clubs and other activities as they are still really popular with readers and contain lots of interesting textile ideas, projects and techniques.
although I was not aware of it at the time I wrote this blog this is the very last post for Heart Space Studios…we conducted many more parties, clubs and classes , we have now ceased trading as a class based studio – however I continue to make my work and explain many different ways of constructing and thinking about the making of ‘Her Work‘ in my ongoing blog http://www.janethaighherwork.com.
Autumn is here and the new term started for Kantha Club – run by Susi Bancroft for Heart Space Studios. We all wanted to swap summer experiences and stories and show what we had been up to – or not!
Susi had embarked on a very large piece ( I meanwhile had put my first attempt at a large piece aside). She had dyed the fabric in Turmeric and Tea to get this very subtle yellow. She finds it easier to hold the needle at the eye end to keep the cloth steady – so each stitch requires 2 hands on the needle, standing to work on such a large-scale fabric she says ” I am surrounded by beautiful colour with the light behind you, like being cocooned in colour “
Explaining how she made decisions for spacing the stitching bands by using simple hand measurements she said “I used the fact that I couldn’t see the whole cloth working so close up so the hand spans were the measurement I adopted”
to enable her to keep stitching rhythmically while standing up, she threaded several needles at a time in different colours, using each as she felt that she wanted them – relying on her instinct for the colour striations, she enjoyed the feeling of the fabric being “just being out of my reach’ whilst she worked.
Kay Swancutt showed us some dying samples that she had stitched , she had exhibited these recently at Nature in Art and used many natural materials to make the different patterns and colours
Steph Wooster brought several examples of her earlier drawn textile work that she has now worked with a kantha stitched ground…these were also exhibited at Nature in Art and I feel that they could lead to even more intricate background stitched patterns – I am thinking animal skin patterns, leaves, grass..
I particularly like the combination of the stark elegant drawings and the tone on tone rippled grounds.
she also brought a new piece fabric that she wanted some feedback from us – it was a parachute silk sheet, very old and damaged,
she wanted to mend it – we suggested she start with the weakest area.
Meanwhile Naomi Clarke has been having fun just using Kantha technique to stitch the patterned cloth and also appliqueing it to the tie- dyed ground – as a technique this could really be developed to make lively fabrics
I had started another project in the break – a quilt based on a painting by Alfred Stockham, an old friend and ex colleague, it is a small painting that had always called to me to be made as a patchwork…
starting in the top right hand corner I ripped some pieces of shot cottons into squares and strips and stitched them down onto a red cotton ground…the coours of the threads made for the nuance of his dragged brush marks
during the last few hectic weeks of launching my book it has been a relief to get back to simply stitching these square transitions from paint to cloth
I am interested to see how each square is in itself a small complete composition
I am fascinated by this work but it may take some time to get finished
And so to Ally Pally for the annual Knitting & Stitching show, attentive readers of this blog will realise that this is where Heart Space Studios headed to advertise our new book at the invitation of The Cotton Patch, the home of all things patchwork and quilting in Birmingham. For a week I worked at this amazing show – and looking at textiles for so long, I now feel well able to select my personal ‘ Best in Show’ awards to several outstanding exhibitions and commercial stands.
In no particular order – ” Kate’s Plaice the Stitchmongers’ ” was by far the most amusing, the concept or rather – to use a literary term – “the conceit” was completely thought through, it was highly technically proficient and the most entertaining piece of textile work that I have ever seen at this event.
The installation was designed specially for the Knitting and Stitching show by Kate Jenkins, Everything on the stand was completely in keeping with the joke…from the dressed shop assistants that like all good fishmongers knew their subject inside out and wanted to share their delight and knowledge with you, to the stunning array of ‘ seafood’ on offer…
below are the details of the counter of fish, the use of material and the shapes and colour are perfectly chosen – you really did want to order and eat what was on offer…..
For those, like me, who prefer their fish cooked and served, rather than making the dish themselves, the fish platters definitely looked good enough to eat.
the hand written sign below, perfectly in keeping with the whole fish shop ethic, was written to deter a fellow exhibitor, an embroiderer, who pawed the little sequined morsels as they were being arranged, and was extremely rude when he was asked to stop! This is such an unusual occurance – stall holders being rude to anyone, let alone one another that I feel it deserves reporting.
Among the exhibition, chosen from recent graduates by the Embroiderer’s Guild, was this enigmatic large photographic hand embroidered panel by Susana Borobia, part of an small body of work called ” Awaken Threads…this spoke ro me on lots of levels – it reminds me of my own work developed through a fascination with White Work techniques and the difficult transition from cloth or fibre to other materials…here is it managed elegantly and artlessly.
Ihave to admit that I chose to ignore the notice not to take photographs; it was early in the morning, I couldn’t find the student to ask and thought that she may prefer it to appear on this blog than me to ignore her work. I have had this problem of no photography before …but it is a odd embargo now in the age of instant imagery and social media and who can possibly copy this ??????…that’s my excuse anyway.
It is difficult to show a range of different work in such a small space as a booth in the fair – but here Robert Ely has managed to do exactly that – he shows his woven ribbon design work, such as braces and book marks with his more art based weavings of sea and landscapes – the ribbon dimensions are shared but the colour depth and small scale pointilism is also evident in both sets of work – seen below are the 2 types of work on display
the seascapes exhibited made me think that he must live near me on the Severn Estuary, in fact these images are taken from much further down the estuary at Devon, Start Point.
what everyone goes to these fairs of is to stock up their stash! So 2 specialists who always show wonderful collection of the real things…first my old favourite importer of real Japanese fabrics, Euro Japan Links, a Japanese husband and English wife team who have been in business for years- long before their was a fashion in Japanese fabrics; their pieces of fabric neatly folded into colour co-ordinated ranges never fail to fascinate me.
My other favourite company exhibiting and selling mainly tribal Chinese fabrics and clothing is Slow Loris. I have written about this marvelous collection for sale before but do so again as Martin Conlon the owner is a fund of knowledge and is really enthusiastic to tell you the stories behind the garments. There always new things to see – well old new things.
The other exhibition I liked for its sense of space and calm and truly sumptuous colour was ‘The Other’ coloured work by Vivienne Prideaux paired with the white and neutral work of Amanda J Clayton. They made a handsome area of beautiful controlled textile hangings and panels. I thought that these these glowing panels by Vivienne Prideaux were just so desirable, the depth of texture and range of nuanced colour that this artist builds up with her various tie dyed and gilded grounds is so inspiring – makes me yearn to return to my own studio again.
the neutral and range of white fabrics shown by Amanda J Clayton were perfect partners
So enough of what I like – what about my exhibit…i was given a space on The Cotton Patch stand, to show and sell my new book, Little Ribbon Patchwork and Applique – comprising designs based on Kaffe Fassett’s ribbon collection for Renaissance Ribbons
several people helped me to set up and run the stand during the week …
several people helped to run the stand with me for the 5 days of the show….
The Ribbon beads have proved to be most popular things we show how to make in the book, see the next post down!
And so to Bath, to launch the Heart Space Studio book, ‘Little Ribbon Patchwork and Applique’ at the American Museum, with a workshop in the morning to show how to make ribbon beads. I made these originally as a way of using up all the small ends of Jaquard ribbons made by the American company Renaissance Ribbons left over from the other projects in the book – but also to show off the wonderful floating threads that form on the backs of the ribbons.
As the workshop was conducted for just the morning before the launch, we had only 3 hours to make beads, and knowing that choosing the ribbons and felts takes a long time, decision decisions….we had made packs of small pieces of ribbon and the felt strips – enough for 12 beads, added tiny glass beads for embellishing and some gold thread for wrapping and stitching, plus a small wooden skewer on which to assemble the beads. Each student was first asked to choose a package.
constructing the beads is easy peasy – if you can stitch neatly, I showed how to make 3 simple beads with variations.
everyone quickly got wrapping and sewing and inventing different colours and patterns, fascinating to watch so many variations happen at the first ever class I have given in this technique.
just simple plain coloured thread cross stitch when repeated looks lovely..
when all the ribbon beads are strung together with glass beads onto an elastic cord the effect is simply lovely.
After this came the launch party, so we all made our way to the Gallery.
Earlier in the week, we had designed and re-packaged the basic Renaissance Ribbon packs that the gallery had in stock to sell with the books,
we were really pleased with the effect….
lots of other people joined us for the launch…the heart Space tutors and friends all enjoyed a good time together
All in all it was a good day, and lots of other guests have blogged it as well, most notably, Rosemary Murphy on one of her blogs for September 2015 http://storiesinwood.blogspot.co.uk/–
So that’s the Launch sorted, what next?
I have been invited to the Knitting and Stitching show in London by Nik Sewell the owner of The Cotton Patch to demonstrate how to make several simple projects from the book on their stand, F27. And to sell the books as well as lots of Renaissance Ribbons and Kaffe Fassett’s lovely shot cottons that are used throughout the book. So I am now busy developing new combinations as shown above.
We are launching the new book, Little Ribbon Patchwork and Applique, on Tuesday 15th September at the American Museum, near Bath. Things are a tad hectic here, even my old dog Boysie is getting in on the act posing in the Heart Space Studio window for the Ribbon book display….and all of us who are working hard on this part of the publicity keep laughing and saying to one another – “it’s a tough job…….”
Meanwhile other people have been posing in this window – all in my efforts to publicise the book
But to start at the beginning, the books have finally arrived in the building, boxes and boxes of them.
We have a small UK edition and are selling copies at various book and craft shops and galleries and of course at Heart Space Studios. The first opportunity to advertise came in the form of a photo-shoot for local press featuring the neighbouring businesses in Coldharbour Road, organised by Sue Fyfe-Williams. To make the best use of the fashion models on offer, we made masses of ribbon beads – I mean masses….
and One Solitary Earring……
So when we saw our model Patricia, in a lovely tailored jacket by The House of Sheldon Hall, with her severe hair by SK109 – we just knew that the combination would make spectacular images
the most amazing thing about these beads is that they are made of all the left-overs of ribbon scraps from the other projects in the book – and they are the most popular item in it – we have sold out our launch Making Ribbon Beads workshop at The American Museum , but of course we are running them later this year at Heart Space.
But that’s not all – off we went this week to mount a display for the launch at the museum. Jane- Marie Mahy, Ilaria Padovani (2 of our amazing volunteers) and I arrived at the very cool and elegant Gallery Shop.
what would our hotch – potch of brilliantly coloured Kaffe Fassett inspired projects look like here?
We needn’t have worried – perfect colour co-ordination with Kaffe’s section of the shop…..was it Ruskin who said that only the noblest minds concerned themselves with colour?
eventually everything was in place
and then the gals took piccies….colour co-ordinated or what?
now all that is left to do is make the ribbon packs for the Museum to sell alongside the books; sort out the bead workshop materials and pack, get some workshop leaflets printed, organise guests to get into museum with the invitation, bring extra blue tack just in case…oh and turn up on the day in time for the launch itself……….
Here it is, my very first look at the proper printed books – Heart Space Studios’ Little Ribbon Patchwork and Applique, inspired by and featuring Kaffe Fassett’s wonderful ribbons. And this is the English edition, and it is published by Heart Space Studios…But oh the hopes and fears were in equal measure when I saw that neat white package of the first 10 advanced copies of the book…
Originally the book was commissioned by the American publishers, Taunton Press ( and uses American terms and measurement – bliss – I was educated using inches and yards) and then I was offered the opportunity of producing a small UK edition and this is it. And as a consequence I have spent a large proportion of the last 9 months working on this and other publications involving Kaffe Fassett’s ribbons and fabrics……
I was first asked, by Susan Berry, a book producer concentrating on textile crafts (whom I have worked with for many years) if I had any design ideas for using the beautiful Jacquard ribbons designed by of Kaffe Fassett and produced by Renaissance Ribbons. Susan advised me to see them at his exhibition at the American Museum in Britain, that took place in 2014. Then I was sent a few reels of ribbons to ‘play’ with and this is what I came up with in the first few days….
I have a vintage – quilt hanging on my studio door and I immediately thought that this system may translate to the ribbons; so I just cut some random lengths and using running stitch gathered them up to form these pretty circles…some worked and some didn’t – see above; but it is a designers task to make them all work beautifully – so lots of samples later I made this, below, which I intended to grow into a huge throw or curtain.
Then of course I thought of crazy patchwork, and this eventually became the heart-shaped cushion on the back of the UK edition cover
of ribbon with the loose yo yo’s, easy -peasy as these ribbons have been designed to work together – a rich mix but what else would you expect from Kaffe Fassett?
I just took lots of photographs as I researched, and sent them off with rough ideas for a book of small patchworks made of ribbon and plain fabrics – but the journey from playing with ideas to a finished book has been long and let’s say problematical – ideas are always easy for me to come up with, making them work for inclusion into a “how to do it” book is not easy at all.
The first thing I realised was that I needed to put some other ribbons and fabrics with these intensely patterned Jaquard ribbons. So I included the Grosgrains, or Petershams, fine ribbed ribbons that come in many sizes and colours, Renaissance Ribbons have many different versions – and they duly sent me some and more of the new ribbons from their Kaffe Fassett range; and then I needed a ribbon that could be used to tone with the 2 brights – I chose my old favourites – tartans. Tartan ribbons are universally available now on-line, and they conform to the clan colours so I felt sure that most buyers of the book could get hold of them easily. But then which fabrics to use for the patchworks particularly the crazies?
I am a fabric hoarder, like most textile designers, and I found some small pieces of ‘shot’ cottons – the warp and the weft of the fabrics are different shades or even different colours from one another so the woven fabrics are subtle colours and so more easily used with other materials; and by chance who were these shot cottons designed by? Kaffe Fassett. So that was an easy decision as well and I sent off to The Cotton Patch, (who have the best user – friendly, on-line ordering fabrics service) for more samples of these lovely fabrics. I started designing approximately 20 different samples of ribbon patchworks and appliques.
But I fist made myself some new fabrics – out of the ribbons themselves….
what I needed to realise is that when you are making your own ideas for a book, it is important to be able to demonstrate by using photographs, drawings, diagrams and words how someone else, who has not got your knowledge and may even be a complete beginner, can easily follow the instructions …a lot of lovely ideas and more complicated designs got thrown out in this process.
But here are some examples of 20 samples that made it, from first ideas, through to illustrations of the steps involved and finally the 20 projects that I made with the samples. There are 4 types of patchwork and applique techniques in the boon, strips – see below, crazy, squares and yo-yo’s.
from the work table to the finished book in one bound!
and eventually this design turns up on the contents page as well….
the yo yo designs quick and fun to make and design with, within the book they come single, embroidered….
halved and giant.
in fact I could have written another book about making and decorating with yo-yos
I could write for days about the book and all that it contains – but then why would anyone buy it? As I write I am waiting for the large consignment of books to arrive from the printers….it is a small edition but I have plans to advertise it, it is being launched on September 15th at the American Museum in Britain, well it is full of the American Kaffe Fassett’s ribbon designs… and for this I am giving a special bead – making workshop. ( more of which in a later post )Then the book is being sold with special packs of ribbons and fabrics on the Cotton Patch stand at the Knitting and Stitching Show in October; but meanwhile we have a lovely display in the shop window of Heart Space Studios, devised by our style guru, Jane- Marie Mahy, please see below and I have devised a whole set of classes to complement the book – go to http://www.heartspacestudios.co.uk/workshops/ribbon-patchwork-hearts-half-day-class/. for more information. And eventually we will be selling the new book on our website – watch this space
Shaun the Sheep – the popular cartoon character from Aardman Studios, Bristol’s world famous animation company is being celebrated with a series of decorated sheep statues being deposited in a trail throughout Bristol (and London). The local high street community, including Heart Space Studios, has sponsored a sheep sculpture and he arrives in the first week of July….meanwhile Heart Space have decided to welcome him with a knitted yarn bombed lamppost and bunting.
We recycled an old length of knitted bunting by giving it a really good wash and then Paula made lots of crocheted flowers which I stitched into place to liven it up; we are really pleased with our efforts and all our neighbours are delighted to see our new bunting, they keep photographing it…..the local children come and hug the lower area of the lamppost and we made this particular design as all proceeds for Shawn go to the Bristol Children’s Hospital
So to add to the funds we once again, by popular request, ran a children’s workshop this time to decorate bags….Paula also helped out with this – I kept well out of the way, just occasionally took the photographs….it looked very lively in the main studio..
we had provided sheep patterns for the sheep, prepared fabrics with bondaweb, found buttons beads, eyes and all kinds of stuff to play with.
as soon as the children – boys and girls – arrived they started to trace around our specially drawn templates, and using special fibre pens coloured,
stitched and appliqued….. Mothers helped as well – with the pressing,
we also had boys making their own characterful versions of sheep …..
choices, choices choices….the children’s imagination knew no bounds when it came to decorating the simple drawn outline.
after refreshments – provided by Ilaria and her mother, who was visiting from Italy,
the bags were finished
and everyone had to be photographed as they left the studios.
we had lots of happy people leaving with their own very personalised bags….
New to Heart Space Studios – Kantha Club; started as so many people who have been to our day classes, tutored by Susi Bancroft, have become fascinated by this simple method of hand quilting. We have 3 trial sessions being held once a month – each meeting is 3 hours long – enough to get re-acquainted with the technique and start something to take home to develop further.
Susi, had brought lots of different pieces from her own work, the most interesting for me are the tiny patches of patterned fabrics all held together with simple rows of running stitches and by allowing frayed and ripped fabrics to be caught in place, dense and rich cloths have been developed.
One of the things that I find interesting in Kantha is that each side of the cloth looks different depending on the choice of fabrics – so a simple ground will show up the stitches but a patterned ground is given another layer of pattern – the fabric below shows this very clearly.
Several people had brought in their own samples, some from earlier classes that they now wanted to develop….others already used the technique for their own practice and just wanted to meet up and develop and discuss the work with other people – we are hoping that the new textile clubs we are planning at Heart Space, will enable like-minded people to develop new work together….the 2 pieces below are by makers who has studied Kantha previously, Kay Swancutt, and Liz Hewitt ,
but some people although used to stitching, came along for a new experience – they brought other types of things – the different types of work were really interesting, I am looking forward to seeing how everyone develops in the coming months.
After the introductions we all started to work on our own projects
I have joined the club as well as I want to develop new work using this technique – I have played with this way of setting up rhythms across fine fabrics and I brought in several pieces of old work to demonstrate how I wanted the work to develop – I want to make a stitched sea/sky/land scape – very large using images from my photographs of the views of sunrise and sunsets from my windows at home.
I am layering transparent fabrics so that many subtle colours are made to represent the sky, then held held in place by rows of running stitches. As my home view includes a stretch of the Severn Estuary and the Welsh hills, the textures and rhythms of the water, mud flats and tidal salt marsh in front of the house, could successfully be rendered using this technique, we will see…
when everyone got to working Susi provided us with background fabrics and a wonderful array of her own threads, as well as books and a variety of other materials to help us help ourselves.
Several people started developing different motifs as samplers, using the books that Susi provided..
So we ended the first week with everyone having a piece of work to develop (or not!) for the next meeting…there were a few surprises in store.Some people had started new pieces and developed different techniques….
some really adventurous samplers have been started..
then there was this perfectly ordered piece of quilting on top of a traditional Indian fabric heart
Others continued to develop their own work – I do like the ancient next to the modern in the image below – traditional stork embroidery scissors, hand made pin cushion and mobile phone!
The motifs seem to be very popular but, like me Anne is trying some new colour background fabrics strips – really looking forward to seeing this develop
I hope she has more luck than I did! Eventually I want to make a large piece of work – at least 1 metre wide – so I had started off using wide strips – but found that the rhythms of the stitches started to develop a mind of their own, which I couldn’t get to grips with – so I chopped my original work into smaller segments and really let the running stitches go where they would – it is very exciting to work with…..but where do I go from here?
Well – where else but back to the third Kantha club meeting to see how everyone else has developed and if they all feel that they want to carry this experimental approach forward into a functioning club, with membership, regular meetings, guest speakers, exhibitions and all the other benefits joining a club entails….watch this space.
The second class in the mixed Media Sampler Course at Heart Space Studios began by looking and assessing the finished story boards; several people needed help to get everything organised but here are the results so far….Ceema (above) has refined her theme, she has kept the silvered wallpaper but added a lot of spirals an various forms as well as exquisite Chinese style florals.
It is interesting to see how they have developed from last session, Jo (above) gave herself just a tiny bit more information to work with – the Kaffe Fasset postcard on the left hand side, has added a whole set of new information to play with – patchworks, Japaneses style prints, roses, decorative leaves and diamond patterns- so just a small addition can add a whole new continent to a theme!
As I suspected, some people could just not make up their minds exactly which “story” to develop, often a real problem that stops the maker from progressing; every time they get stuck – they keep retuning to other ideas they have set aside! But the beauty of this discipline, and it is a basic design discipline, is that once you have embarked on this set of stimulus you just have to keep to it….I will make sure of it!
Marion brought in 2 boards, as she liked both so we put them up on the wall and had a group vote….the romantic mauve one won – but i said to keep hold of the vibrant red and gold version for other projects – nothing creative is ever rally wasted.
well Sophie’s work will have to be gilded, richly coloured and silky with very refined imagery in lots of stripes….
Shirley has made a really eclectic patched and spacious board with lot of white space around the images, but an evocative warm colour palette that is redolent of rich cultural heritages. I can see, Indian textiles,American rural, Islamic carvings, and dyed and distressed fabric and paper samples – should be interesting to see this colour emerge in the different materials.
Naomi, has made a collaged picture – more a “mood” board than a story board – but this is an alternative name for this dicipline..mood boards are more nuanced, lees graphic – but I will still expect her to develop samples in the different media that conform to this look…
and looking at the way she has started to develop the theme she certainly intends to work with stitching decoratively on the papers – which was the theme of the second session.
we prepared fabrics and papers by bonding them together in order to have the strength and resilience to take being stitched, either by hand or machine.
we got a lot of different materials ready to be stitched and collaged for the following sessions – everyone preferred the back of the silk ravells seen through the hand made paper.
but whatever we stitch with and whatever we apply in terms of materials and imagery – one thing has been established – the colours and quality of the inspiration….more to come.
New this term at Heart Space Studios is a course of 9 sessions – working with mixed media. Debby Bird and I are working together – we both started with Paper for the first session – later in the term we will add Leather and Suede, or felted materials for the vegans amongst us. Working over a prolonged time (18 weeks) means that we need to develop some overall colour scheme and theme.
So we started with a show and tell of our own mixed media work and I showed the group a series of colour stories or mood boards used in textile design companies to show the atmosphere and colour gamut of a collection. I use the same system for showing publishers to show how my books will look.
I brought in a pile of art postcards and other images for everyone to choose 1 or 2 or even 5 – from this they each had to develop their own story board, isolating colours, textures from their cards. At home they can inject their own imagery and details.
the selections were very different from one another….
we also offered a whole table full or wallpaper samples, Japanese papers, maps, books, tissue papers, paper-lace doilies, Chinese New Year Money – anything and everything to give inspiration
soon everyone was at the table – it was a veritable feeding frenzy
then the room went quiet as everyone tried to make some sense out of what they had chosen and the editing began…the first step of design.
slowly the selection became richer and more subtle.
lots of variations follow…subtle and softly coloured,
and even more variations….
some people just believe that more is more – as do I!
then when everyone was settling down Debby showed them how to dye papers using simple wax resists……
subtle and refined papers were prepared when attention was given to the original post card images.
now these could be added to the mix. and attention given to the type of cutting or ripping and alignment of the papers to reflect the atmosphere and colour of the original selected postcards – learn to trust you initial instincts when starting a new design
eventually everyone managed to resolve their ideas into a piece of collaged work to take home and add some more personal embellishments.
Story Boards are a visual statement of intent – so we will be drawing everyone’s attention back to their finished board each time we sample a new technique over the coming weeks ….watch this space