Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

I was delighted to be tagged to take part in this by the very creative, talented and witty Iz, from Threadnoodle and it was lovely to welcome people who had popped over from her blog. So this week is my turn to talk in a bit more depth about myself and my creative process.

I live in North Lincolnshire in the UK although I’m originally, like Dickens’ David Copperfield, from the little village of Blundeston, in Suffolk. Among other things, I’m a writer, a jeweller and textile artist. But not necessarily in that order.

1. What am I working on?

Erm… everything? I have a second book of short stories and a novel both on the go as well as an article which has been back-burnered for various reasons. There’s a box of partly completed rings,

silver acorn ring

pendants and other odds and ends which need finishing.

Norwich stitch pendant

Journals, books and altered books,

York Minster altered book

kits, summer holiday diary fragments,

holiday diary fragment

the crazy patchwork cushion for my son,

James' cushion strip 1

felted and goldwork brooches,

Goldwork brooch


my hearts commission,

hearts commission

my rusted fragments art quilt…

rusted fragments art quilt

…you get the picture. I long to have a go at everything and greedily want 36 hours in each day to try, test and explore my latest passion to its full extent.

My latest obsession is upcycled jewellery, whether replacing broken/damaged elements with beads like this vintage necklace…


broken vintage wire necklace








upcycled m.o.p and haematite necklace









or adding textile elements – felting and beading…


Felted beads









Uncycled felted bead necklace









… embroidery or patchwork.

Bullion rose upcycled pendant








upcycled patchwork earrings









I love being able to make something from bits that someone else has discarded as worthless. Little things fascinate me too, and each of the projects is so small that I can be almost finished before I start to get bored. I really admire people with the stickability to work on large ongoing projects, but that’s not me. Whatever I do tends to be small, detailed, and precise, whether it’s stitched into fabric, wrought from metal, words on a page or even part of a show in theatre. For me, the devil (and the interest) is in the detail.

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

That’s a difficult one. As regards my jewellery, with its mix of metalworking and fine embroidery, I’ve certainly never seen anything quite like it. There are other artists who create  jewellery with textile components, but it seems to fall into two categories – fairly traditional jewellery shapes such as earring drops, pendant and rings set with pieces of textile work, or textile work with metal findings to make it into earrings, pendants, brooches etc. I do both…

Turquoise spiral brooch








Bullion rose upcycled pendant

…but prefer to do neither

Moss mixed media pendant













Indigo book charm














I suppose that everything we do is unique, but at the same time, everything we create is the result of our experiences. I’ve often thought that if we could break down the DNA of a piece, trace its bloodline of influences and inspirations, it would be fascinating to see precisely how it was born from the tiny fragments we draw from so many things we’ve seen, done and experienced.

3. Why do I create what I do?

Every project gives me pleasure to work and it also gives me pleasure to see how it is received by other people but essentially I create because I need to. Like so many creative people, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t create, from wobbly junk models and roughly stitched dolls’ clothes to furnishings for my doll’s house and stories set in imagined worlds.

It’s my way of responding to something of the beauty in the world I see around me, my way of revelling in the power of fashioning something that is mine alone. I bend the media to my will and I say how it turns out – mostly!

4. How does my creative process work?

The first thing to fire it off is usually a single item but it can be anything: a bead, a thread, some fabric, a fragment of something, an image or artefact. The alliums piece below was the response to the challenge, ‘A flower beginning with ‘A’ for an Embroiderer’s Guild competition.

Alliums sketchbook page












Alliums hanging










An idea from a curtain I saw on a course

kantha patches














and an image from a dream…

Dream kantha














It can be a very dangerous process to sort through my stuff – I get sidetracked onto new projects very easily!

In terms of how things then evolve, I let my creative subconscious do a lot of the work. Usually I have clear idea of the starting point and an image of roughly what the end point will look like (I write like this too). Then it’s a case of starting and seeing how and where things go. If I get stuck I just walk away for a while and its unusual for that break not to have straightened things out in my head.  If I’m lucky, things work out as well, or sometimes even better than I’d hoped. If not, then it’s good to learn from your mistakes and chances are, I can always turn it into something else one day…

Phew! I think that’s the wordiest post I’ve ever put up! If you’re still with me, then please go and visit my two nominated bloggers.

Firstly, Debbie at Debbidipity. I met Debbie at our Embroiderers’ Guild when I joined several years ago and we’ve been good friends ever since. In the last 5 years, as a mature student, she’s done ‘A’ levels in Art and Photography and then followed them up with a Fine Art degree at Hull. She likes to experiment with all sorts of media and her inspirations are rooted strongly in the natural world that she loves.

From the local to the other side of the pond and Penny at Art Journey. Penny creates wonderful textile artwork in areas that I don’t tend to dabble in but love to look at – punch-needle, doll-making and beading are some of her latest delights, and I consider myself very lucky to have Valentine, one of her wonderful unique dolls sitting on my shelf watching me as I type.

Penny's Valentine

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the next stage of the bloghop!

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Definitely a lack of it. The Cornish holiday journal needs finshing.

Turquoise Cornish journal 16

The gold sea glass commission has stalled.

Gold sea glass 9

I’ve been trying vainly to get round all the blogs I follow, with very minimal success. Where I have been, I’ve seen so many inspirational things that I would love to be able to explore. I want to get back into my sketchbooks and do more of this:

Smocking sample


Onion dyed silk flower


Mixed media collage


Roving and seeding


Embroidered Japanese paper

and this:

Kantha on hand painted calico


In fact, I want that time to sit and create so much it hurts. Not spend most of my waking hours serving a job (primary school teacher) which thanks to the government and OFSTED, increasingly demands more and more of my life, like a monstrous cuckoo with an insatiable appetite.  I ought to be planning next week’s literacy at this moment. And reorganising my guided reading groups. And annotating my maths planning for this week. And doing the 90 minute online Safeguarding course I’ve been told asked to do (in my own time) for tomorrow. Certainly not blogging about it.

I know I’m not the only person out there juggling the demands of work with a busy family and somehow, in all that, trying to fulfil that deep, instinctive urge to be creative. So how do other people do it?

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Before the steel making industry forged Scunthorpe into the town it is now, it consisted of a number of small villages which still exist within the town as areas of it. I live in Ashby and the next village/area is Brumby.

The grounds of Brumby Hall, a brick built 18th century house, have become a  sports ground, with lots of facilities and it was here that we were putting on ‘Cycle Song’ over the weekend of the 13th-15th of July. Also on during the same weekend was the first ever ‘Brumby Bash’

an Arts Festival which the organisers hope is going to become a regular yearly event.

On the Saturday Scunthorpe Little Theatre Club were showcasing a choreographed stage sword fight to a piece of stunning music called ‘Warriors’ by Ronan Hardiman from ‘The Lord of the Dance’ and they offered opportunities through the day for people to have a go with some of the practise swords.

My youngest couldn’t resist!

She was there to sing in the Scunthorpe Cooperative Junior Choir Training Choir (her big sister is in the award-winning main choir). The main choir are well known for their uniform of black waistcoats covered with brightly coloured spots and the little ones have red spotty waistcoats.

And eat sweets given to them by SLTC members who think they look cute!

On the Sunday afternoon I had been asked to take a slot in the small tent reading some of my short stories. As it was a family event I had to choose what I read quite carefully, but as it happened, there wasn’t really much point. I had an audience of three. A good friend and two people I knew through the theatre who stayed to the end out of politeness. I sold no books and on top of the disappointment of the craft fair, the stress of a very full few months both inside and outside of work, I became very demoralised.

Any sort of creativity, as Karen remarked in a reply to my craft fair post, is baring your soul in some way and takes some guts. I’ve crafted stories ever since I could string together a narrative but sharing my writing has always been far more difficult as it was belittled for so long that I still lack any confidence in what I write.  And seeing people wander over, listen for a few lines, or sometimes not even that and then walk off, fed all those distant whispering voices telling me that I really am no good.

I’d dared to bare my soul and the world, it felt, had mocked it.

But there is always hope left in the bottom of the box.

So I went into my cave, scrambled through the end of term, and emerged with a needle in my hand.

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