Inspiring batik workshop with Jenny O’Leary

Inspiring batik workshop with Jenny O’Leary

It was such a lovely summer’s day for Jenny’s batik workshop and so exciting for us all to be back together again without all the restraints of the last two years.

Jenny arrived with her car ladened with tissue papers, PVA, brushes, various mark making implements and large containers for melting the wax.

Our first project was to layer up tissue papers trapping other colours and shapes between and this was obviously a technique which could then be used in various ways using wax and drawing inks.  Then we went on to use stencils and a “secret spray” – it was fun to see the effect when you flipped it and created a positive and negative design.

We used stencils and various mark making tools and implements to create more samples. 

We all enjoyed a picnic lunch outside before returning to more challenges.

Jenny O lunch

When we had a number of samples to choose from, we were encouraged to create a collage and it was interesting to see what designs could be achieved.  Below is a selection of members work.

Thank you Jenny for a most enjoyable day and for being so generous with all your techniques.

Report by Ros

Photos by Vernice and Ros

Jenny’s website:

Jenny’s Facebook page:

Jenny can also be found on Instagram:

Exciting batik & textile artist – Jenny O’Leary

Exciting batik & textile artist - Jenny O'Leary

Exciting batik & textile artist, Jenny O’Leary

Jenny was our guest speaker for our June meeting.   She explained that she had studied ceramics at Wolverhampton and then gone on to teach.  In 2005 she stopped, went to France and started running courses for adults to learn batik using tissue paper.

The countryside around her has always been important to Jenny and she showed us two pieces which were inspired by the Shropshire Way.   The work of John Piper has also interested her and she showed us several architectural designs influenced by his paintings.

Jenny displayed a variety of her work and talked through the processes.  There were exciting sketchbooks to look through together with samples, workshop ideas and experiments.

Jenny was extremely generous with sharing her technique of using tissue papers, drawing inks, oil pastels with stencils and wax.  She layers up her work and repeats the processes until she is happy with the design and colours. 

Jenny has run a number of courses at Art Van Go and mentioned that a lot of her materials can be bought through their website. 

During the pandemic she also lead a number of online classes and has contributed to Maggie Grey’s WOW series of textile project books.

We thank Jenny for a most enjoyable talk.


Report and photos by Ros



Jenny’s website:

Jenny’s Facebook page:

Jenny can also be found on Instagram:

Art Van Go website:

Maggie Grey’s website for WOW books:



Another exciting print workshop with Alison Hulme!

Another exciting print workshop with Alison Hulme!

Alison’s workshop last November was so popular that a number of our members were not able to attend so she kindly agreed to return for a second session.

Below are some images from Alison’s demonstrations

Below is a selection of members’ work

To see images from the first workshop and to read more about it look on my previous post:  

Brilliant fun day printing with textile artist, Alison Hulme

Alison’s website:

Thanks to Lindsay who kindly sent me all the photos


Felt making & dyeing – Bailey Curtis

BC May 22Tree hanging

Felt making & dyeing – Bailey Curtis

Bailey Curtis, our May speaker, has studied many skills over the years but two stand out, felt making and dyeing.  She first saw felt at the Chelsea Craft Fair and in the 1980’s went on to teach art and technology at Gloucester College.  She has been making felt for over 20 years and is a member of the International Feltmakers Association and the South West Textile Group.

Bailey arrived with a wonderful collection of her felt hangings and her amazing sketchbooks.  It was fascinating to hear where she has got her inspiration from over the years.   Visits to Powis Castle, Bodnant Gardens, flooding near the River Seven and the Crosby Iron men on the beach have all been used in her designs.  In 2015 Bailey had a residency in Cornwall and created a hanging based on the sea and the port of Newlyn also gave her ideas.

Bailey explained she loves using fleece from local sheep and the breed, Ile de France is a particular favourite.  She creates her felt using the natural wool and backs it with white cotton and then dyes it using both acid and Omega hot dyes.  She scrunches it up and dips it in the dye so the results are totally serendipity. 

Poetry and text have become important  in Bailey’s recent work and she has used Dylan Thomas, Shakespeare and her own words to create hangings which are often displayed outside. 

During lockdown Bailey experimented with eco dyeing and she brought along some books for sale together with postcards of her work.

You will find out more about Bailey on the following websites:

Breeze Art & Makers Fair:

2015 Residency in Cornwall:

World textiles weekend:

Report by Ros

Photos thanks to Bailey and some taken at meeting by Ros

Exquisite Containers – Embroiderers Guild Challenge

Over a year ago, Lindsay suggested that I might be interested in entering the Embroiderers Guild Challenge for Exquisite Containers. I have never entered anything like this before but I do enjoy making boxes so I thought I would give it a go.

Exquisite Containers

I began by making a design for the lid. I contained a glass rivoli with seed beads and sewed this onto a firm Vilene base. The next step was to manipulate and sew strands of Soutache (Russian Braid) in a swirling pattern incorporating more beads. The biggest problem was keeping the work symmetrical.

The completed pattern was sewn to green cotton fabric, mounted onto an oval shape which was later attached to the lid.  Work on the sides had to be accurately sewn in place before being added to the base. Oh why do I make things difficult with more symmetry?

Judy Exqusite box 2

I was delighted to be awarded “Commended” for the Beryl Dean Award for Hand Stitching.

The box has only recently been returned to me as it was kept by the Guild for display purposes. I am glad I entered and would encourage everyone to enter a challenge too.

Judy Exqusite box 3

Congratulations on your award Judy J and thank you for telling us all about it.


Photos thanks to Vernice C.

Claire Edwards – A Defiant Approach to Hand Embroidery

Claire Edwards VC sketchbook result

We had a delightful hour listening to Claire explain why and how she takes a Defiant Approach to Hand Embroidery.  Claire explained that her Art teacher at school told her that she ‘didn’t have a creative bone in her body’.  She left school at 16 to join the Royal Air Force during which time she had lots of fun and many life experiences.  She met her husband (also in the RAF) had two children and spent some years in Germany in a ‘normal office job’.  On her return to the UK she worked for a well known children’s charity, eventually running a county- wide organisation in Wales but developed health problems which remained undiagnosed for some time.   During sick leave Claire taught herself to crochet as she found this very therapeutic.


After several unsuccessful attempts to return to work Claire decided that she had to do something else and applied for a place at University to study 3D Contemporary Jewellery.  I hope Claire won’t mind me saying so, but that decision appeared to me to be a real turning point in Claire’s life.  When attending Staffordshire University for interview, Claire noticed some embroideries hanging on the walls of the building she visited.  This prompted a change of mind on her subject of choice to study and she completed a three year degree course on Textile Surface Design making a feature of using alternative materials.  She graduated with a First Class Honours Degree.  During this period Claire was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia.  This didn’t stop Claire doing what she wanted to do and this is where the name Defiant Embroidery originated. 


Claire was the only student to use embroidery for her finals piece, a beautiful Phoenix, made using leather, beading, sequins and metal thread embroidery, the inspiration coming from a visit to the Alhambra in Spain together with the National Ironwork Museum in Oswestry.  At the end of her final year Claire entered the Hand & Lock embroidery competition with her Phoenix embroidery.  Claire hand made the Devore fabric, screen printing her own design, for the dress on which the Phoenix was stitched on the back, with a sequin border around the edge.  She also made use of laser cutting leather for the front of the dress.  Claire told us how she was still stitching on these sequins on her way to London to deliver the dress!

Claire Edwards Phoenix

Following the completion of her degree, Claire did some work on commission for the fashion industry but decided this wasn’t for her, so decided to study for an MA.  Staffordshire University allowed Claire to write her own MA programme based on experimental embroidery.  Having learnt to sub aqua dive in Mexico, Claire took her inspiration from the beautiful coral reefs she had seen.  Claire now reproduces these beautiful underwater scenes by means of beading, metal threads and hand embroidery, all in 3D and has also experimented with protecting her work by encasing it in resin – all part of her MA process of experimentation.  Claire has also experimented with tambour work on hard surfaces, for example wood and plastics.

Claire Edwards CH 1

Last year Claire and her husband decided on a different lifestyle – living full time in a very luxurious motor home!  Her ‘studio’ is a large cupboard underneath the motorhome in which she keeps all her boxes of beads, metal threads and other equipment.  Claire also teaches at Staffordshire University and so is able to access the University’s equipment for her resin work. 

Claire’s work is truly beautiful and inspiring – she has certainly proved her Art teacher wrong – she is very, very creative and I’m sure will go on, defiantly, to create ever more beautiful and experimental embroideries!

If you would like to find out more about Claire’s work look on her website:

Report by Ann K

Photos thanks to Christine H, Vernice C & Claire Edwards

Copyright on photos to Claire Edwards

Thank you Ann K, Christine H & Vernice C for your contributions this month.  Ros

Surprise find – The New Forest Embroidery

I have just returned from a long weekend in the New Forest with my walking group.  Currently I am only able to do short walks but it did give me the opportunity of exploring the area and to my delight on Saturday afternoon I visited the New Forest Heritage Centre in Lyndhurst.  I was wandering around their museum and suddenly saw a sign – up stairs to the New Forest Embroidery.  What a thrill as I had never heard of this embroidery and I want to share some photos.   

It is 25 ft long and was commissioned in 1979 to commemorate the 900th Anniversary of the founding of the New Forest.  It was designed by Belinda, Lady Montagu, and created with a team of more than 50 helpers, it highlights the most important events in the Forest’s history together with a wide range of local flora and fauna.  To find out more click on the links below.

New Forest Embroidery
New Forest 11
New Forest

New Forest Heritage Centre:

To read more about the New Forest Embroidery and to download a pdf file:

Writeup and photos by Ros


Congratulations to Lindsay and Nikki who entered the recent inspiring Madeira Embroidery Competition at the NEC.

Vernice kindly took them up in her car and it sounds like they all had a great day out.


After reading Alison Holt’s ‘Machine Embroidered Seascapes’ I was inspired to create something that included breaking waves and water movement. 
Alison suggests a background of varying tones of blue with lines of machine stitching in various shades of blue which, as they blend together, show the shadows in the breaking waves.
Longstone lighthouse is intriguing as, at high tide, it is barely 1 metre above sea-level. 
Incidentally, my embroidery depicts a relatively calm day! In a storm it would only be the lighthouse itself that would be visible!
Write up and photos by Lindsay Sherwood 
Alison’s website
Alison’s book – Machine Embroidered Seascapes
Lindsay lighthouse main

The Island of Maritius

After 2 years of waiting because of the pandemic the Madeira Stitch competition took place at the NEC in March. The theme was Islands.  My work was inspired by the Island of Mauritius. 

The jacket is on a mannequin which I hand painted the Island with sea and beach.  It is made from a recycled coffee bean sack.  There is a stitch stumped Dodo on the back as the last Dodo was killed on the Island by Spanish sailors in 1662.

On the front is the Spanish Galleon. Palm trees made from green lace, raffia and  green plastic strapping from a delivery parcel.  The bottom of the jacket the sea and sand is made from different strips of fabric free machined.

Nikki Island jacket 2 rotated

The hat has been made from scratch using sinamay, free machining with pipe cleaners for palm trees and free machined.   Stitched coloured tights for the red flower, machined stitched wool for the grasses and stitch raffia round a cotton reel for the hut. The sea is hand painted and stitched.

I titled the piece Greta Thumberg Island to reflect the fact that if we don’t look after the planet we will end up like the Dodo.

In 2018 I was fortunate to be the overall winner of this competition and this year was awarded Highly Commended and the piece will tour the country over the next year.  Although it took nearly a year to make it was fun and challenging to make!

Thank you Lindsay and Nikki for sharing your amazing work with us.


Stitch, Slash & Stitch workshop – Wendy Lloyd

The day after Wendy Lloyd’s inspiring talk she led a workshop entitled, Stitch, Slash & Stitch.

We were asked to bring a selection of fabrics together with our sewing machine.  This was the first time in two years I had taken my machine to a workshop so it was quite an exciting event.

Wendy started the day by explaining to the group of 16 members the principles of the technique and we then brainstormed the various considerations for the choice of fabric, colour, direction of fabric, layout of design and other possibilities.

Wendy WS 1

Everybody was asked to make a pile of 6 or 7 fabrics, stitch and then slash them creating a sample using a simple star like pattern.  Once slashed we used a hard brush to rough up the fabrics and create an interesting fringe like effect on the surface. Some of the wonderful examples are below.

Wendy had brought an exciting selection of sample designs with instructions and it was then up to us to decide which ones were of interest.

By the end of the day the hall was full of colour from the brilliant work which had been created but my goodness, what a lot of loose threads on the floor!!!

Wendy L WS 5

Thank you Wendy for a great day.  You were an extremely attentive and generous tutor sharing your creations with us and guiding us through the process.


Report & photos by Ros with Wendy’s permission

Copyright Wendy Lloyd

Wendy’s new website is under construction but do check it out:


“My inspiration” by textile artist & printmaker Wendy Lloyd

Wendy Lloyd

It was so exciting to get back together again after months of Zoom meetings and textile artist and printmaker, Wendy Lloyd from Newbury spoke to a group of 40 members about “My Inspiration”.   She also brought a wonderful selection of cards and prints for members to buy.

Wendy explained that her mother was a textile artist and she had done A Level art at school but had gone on to read English at University.  It was not until she went to Dubai that she went back to textiles. 

On her return to the UK, she was inspired to enrol on a City and Guilds Machine Embroidery course by an exhibition at her local college. One of her C&G projects focused on spiral-inspired felted accessories.

Landscapes have always influenced her work and Wendy showed us examples of patterns and colours which she had taken from an image of the desert in Oman and the golden dome of a mosque. Her aim is always to interpret rather than just reproduce an image. Wendy’s ‘Landscape Impressions’ class looks at aspects of this and she showed an example of how colours can be altered to change the mood of a landscape.

Wendy got involved with a hanging for Newbury Library where people were asked to imagine the town in 2099.  She also led workshops on the interpretation of children’s’ drawings.  We were shown examples of thermofax screen printing and mono printing using tissue and collage over print.

In 2015 Wendy created her ‘Journey’ series featuring contour lines.

WL Mar22 Transition

Wendy created two pictures as a result of lockdown.  One was entitled, “Bound” and showed someone tied down and it was dark and gloomy and the other was “Unbound” showing someone released looking towards open space.

Recently Wendy’s work has included abstract images as well as landscape and she is trying to create more crossover between her textile and print work. She is currently developing a collagraph class for textile artists.

Thank you Wendy for an absorbing talk about your inspiration for your textile and printmaking.



Report and some photos taken by Ros with Wendy’s permission

Remainder of photos thanks to Wendy.   

Copyright Wendy Lloyd

Wendy’s website is currently under development but do check it out: