CRAFTING AT THE COTTAGE
Daughter of graphic design parents, niece of a photographer, painter and printmaker, granddaughter of a wedding photographer and painter, my destiny was set very early on by the influences of my forebears; I was going to be arty; speciality unspecified and to be honest that’s how it has been throughout my life.
Growing up there was always creative stuff happening at home; Dad had his lashed up rostrum camera on the landing next to my bedroom where he created his animated films. Mum made clothes for me and my sister and we used the left over scraps to create matching outfits for our teddies and dolls.
Our birthday parties were famed for their crafting activities that Mum would dream up, I remember peg doll fairies were particularly successful.
And that’s how it started. TV was black and white and children’s programmes ran from four until six finishing with the ‘Magic Roundabout’, there was a lot of time to fill, and I drew and stitched, entered art and craft competitions, wrote to the BBC’s ‘Blue Peter’ with suggestions for projects they could make, (I was particularly proud of my finger puppet theatre made from an Easter egg box,) and I had a painting included in the gallery on ‘Vision On’. I dreamt of making pictures for television and on graduating from Kingston Polytechnic, my dream became a reality and I joined the BBC Graphic Design Department, I was in my element!
Thirteen years later I left, went freelance, had two children, took a PGCE course at Goldsmiths and after a few twists and turns I now teach crafting courses, regularly give talks and have my own range of merchandise featuring my typographic paper cuts, and several patterns for some of my favourite stitching projects so you can have a go.
I consider myself extremely lucky to do what I love and love what I do!
I look forward to helping you find your creative side!
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Living the dream
I started my BBC career as an assistant graphic designer and my first job was animating an extremely large amount of Lego. I went on to work on a wide range of programmes including ‘Our Friends in the North’, ‘Tracy Beaker’, ‘Children’s Hospital’ and the Queen’s Christmas speech and I loved it.
I even got the opportunity to direct programmes about art and design for the schools department.
I was living my dream at Television Centre, Wood Lane W12 8QT one of the most exciting and famous addresses in Britain.
Teaching and talking
My teaching career is as varied as my BBC career. I ran the Film and Animation School at Kingston University, for a couple of years, taught at the Oxford Photographers’ Workshop, ran workshops for BAFTA and have a PGCE from Goldsmiths College.
These days I run numerous courses, textiles, paper cutting, patch working, lettering and a bit of photography, to students of all ages at a variety of locations. It is enormously rewarding, passing on knowledge and sharing experiences and seeing students develop in to confident designers and makers.
I regularly give talks to interested groups including WI, U3A and patchworking groups. I offer three different talks all of which are well illustrated with lots of images and anecdotes.
Bust the Rules and Get Creative – my back to basics approach to patchwork and my influences.
Working For Auntie – life as a graphic designer at the BBC.
Playing with Knives – my take on this ancient craft, a bit of history, culture and how I do what I do.
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Patchwork & Stitching
I began stitching when I was very young, outfits for my teddy, stuffed creatures and very simple clothes.
These days it’s patchwork that excites me, I like the practical aspect of the finished item but also the designing and the recycling aspect. You could not describe me as a fat quarters quilter, I don’t stitch by the rules and rarely buy new fabric. I prefer delving in to my stashes and making do with what I have already, much of which has been donated, or bought at car boots and jumble sales. I mix and match velvets and linens, ticking and denim and am not too concerned about mitred corners. My approach is about going back to the origins of patch work, using whatever materials are to hand, improvising and above all enjoying playing with fabric.
Find about more about booking a Patchwork Course.
To see lots more of my own patchwork projects visit the patchwork gallery.
I was on a rather extended trip to Canada when I taught myself paper cutting. I needed to send birthday cards and gifts home and these hand cut panels were perfect. I had plenty of time on my hands, a ‘Dollar Store’ in the town, (great for paper and foam board) and a scalpel.
My designs feature quotes from sources as diverse as Shakespeare, Dickens and my dad and with my graphic design background, designing and cutting letters came naturally. And with my love of felines, cats feature in many of the designs.
I have refined my technique over the years and now teach many creative paper cutting courses with terrific results. It’s a low cost, visually pleasing craft which students find enjoyable and rewarding, and often take up.
Find about more about booking a Paper Cutting and other Courses.
I was asked to teach at Art in Action a few years ago and was given a stand to sell my stuff from – what stuff though? Most of my makes were for friends and I didn’t make things en masse, but my paper cuts were well-liked so I took the plunge and designed, cut and had printed five greetings cards, a tea towel and a limited edition of giclee prints. They sold well and I had a great response in my visitors’ book. Since then I have extended the card range, produced Christmas versions and have three tote bags.
Most recently I have developed a range of patterns so you can have a go at making some of my favourite projects. They are illustrated with full colour photographs, clear instructions and lots of top tips so you can personalise your version.
Never one to say no to creative challenge has resulted in me taking on some odd jobs including making eighty velvet scarves for the opening night of ‘Mary Poppins’ on Broadway NYC, filming a funeral for the Queen, and costume and set designing ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for our local primary school.
I have co-written a book ,‘Contemporary Needlepoint’, an inspirational collection of contemporary designs, updating this most traditional of crafts and designed a needlepoint kit for the National Trust.
I won Kodak’s Young Photographer of the Year and my work on ‘Cambridge Spies’ was nominated for a BAFTA.