Archives for category: Textile Art



Beautiful clematis in Bodnant Garden

After spending so much time on the Bodnant Garden Commission, I thought it would be really good to start on some new, fresh work. I really wanted to make a new flower textile art picture being inspired by one of my photographs. The subject matter of the above photograph looked just right for a combination of thickened dye and stitch.

My starting point as usual was soaking a piece of cotton sheet in soda wash which would then aid the setting of the thickened dyes onto the fabric. Once this fabric had dried and been ironed, I then draw my design in HB Pencil using a couple of my photographs as inspiration to make a larger design.


HB Pencil drawing

Now to painting!! Using Procion MX dye mixed with differing amounts of dye thickener, I started painting the lightest colours first. The more thickener added to the dye makes the colour lighter and more transparent in appearance.



Image 1

Adding green dye and before adding the background


Finished wet dye work before setting

After setting the dye, the picture has to dry…usually on my washing line and will probably look a lot lighter, which means adding more dye!


That’s how far I have got for the time being…I will show more in the next blog.






Officially handing over my completed textile art to Charlotte Stretton at Bodnant Garden

After over six months work preparing my textile art impression of ‘Penjerrick Walk in thirty years time’, I am so pleased to say that my work is finally in National Trust Bodnant Garden’s hands!!

My picture represents an avenue of white Rhododendrons called ‘Penjerrick’ in Furnace Wood, Bodnant and how it will hopefully look in maturity in thirty years time. The original rhododendrons were planted by the garden’ owner Henry McLaren, the second Lord Aberconwy in the 1920’s, but sadly this area died back over the years and only slightly now remains. Furnace Wood is the most recent part of Bodnant Garden to be opened to the general public in Spring 2017 and already there is evidence of restoration of the walkway, with young plants growing that have been cloned from the existing rhododendrons still growing elsewhere in the garden.


I felt honoured to have the chance to make a piece of textile art that will be on show in the Garden for a number of years. An artist impression had already been produced, but this was felt to be unsuitable for exhibiting being too small. After showing Bodnant my drawing (see below), my textile started out from my usual method of painting on a cotton sheet using thickened dyes. I could have carried on adding extra areas of painted flowers to the sheet, but as one of the criterion of the Commission Brief was to have a 3d effect, I decided to add natural felt which I discovered could be dyed!


My pencil drawing of Penjerrick Walk. I wanted the viewer to feel like they could walk into the drawing, having less detail in the distance.



Sheet painted with thickened dyes


Experiment to see if natural felt could be dyed with thickened dyes

Felt also had the advantage of being able to be cut out without the fabric fraying, which would be particularly good for cutting detail on the ‘3d’ areas.


I then set about painting the natural felt shapes with the idea of applying them to the individual areas on my design..this did not turn out quite how I expected as when washing and drying the felt they stretched out of shape and I ended up applying them by cutting them up and moving bits around like a strange shaped jigsaw to get the right effects!! Talk about a learning curve!! After finally adding each piece, I also applied free machine and hand embroidery for extra details.


Cutting out and applying the painted felt to fit in the right shape!!

My plan for the overall finished piece of work was to have plenty of perspective and depth, like you were actually walking into the image, so the final piece of felt to be added needed to have more detailed larger and closer flowers.


I painted this area onto a single piece of natural felt hoping to apply this to the background, but like the other pieces, I ended up cutting it up to fit right stitching pieces on top of each other!


Close up of the creamy white Penjerrick Rhododendrons with added stitch to emphasise the shapes and depths of flowers.


The finished piece of work before being framed.

bodnant picture3

Textile art in frame.

As said before, it was an honour to do this piece of work and I feel my legacy to the Garden…it was also a very big learning curve for me too, which I hope will help me with future pieces of work!





hollyhock textile art picture

At the moment I am working on a my ‘Hollyhock Textile Art’ picture. This is just one of the many projects I have got on the go, hopefully all to be finished before my Open Studio to be held on 2nd and 9th September. My inspiration for this work came from two photographs I took of the beautiful hollyhocks we have growing either side of our front door. I drew my design onto a cotton sheet, then painted with thickened dyes directly onto the fabric. More work needs to be done, to get extra depth in the colours, and once this is achieved, I will add machine and hand embroidery to add little details.

You can read about Helfa Gelf Open Studios with this link that will bring you directly through to my page.



Above shows the Foxglove Wall Hanging that I proudly had on display during August and September this year (2016) in the Pin Mill at the National Trust Bodnant Gardens. Along with twenty other ladies from my local Embroiderers Guild Group (North Wales), we had our work displayed throughout the garden, mostly hanging from the trees in the wind and the rain that was quite prevalent during that period!! My wall hanging  was protected from the weather inside the Pin Mill, so I didn’t have to worry so much about the weather!


The Pin Mill in Bodnant Garden…


My textile wall hanging on show on the back wall of the Pin Mill

I had a lot of admiration for my work, where many people thought that it was just a painting, but in fact it was hand painted with thickened dyes and free machine embroidery, with the individual foxgloves attached with stitching onto the 8ft long cotton sheet.


Individual flower painted with dye and before cutting out and attaching on the main piece.


Close up of attaching individual foxgloves to the backing sheet.

The whole exhibition was made in relation to the one hundred year celebration of the garden designer Capability Brown. Although, Bodnant was not one of his creations, it was decided by our group that the garden would be an excellent and suitable location to showcase our work.

Here are some of the other beautiful exhibits shown in the Exhibition.


Moya McCarthy’s free machine embroidered flowers displayed in the Boat Hut


Beryl Trimby’s felt wild flower hanging also in the Pin Mill


Pamela Headon’s Four Seasons’ woven hangings displayed in the Alder trees


Katie Robinson’s ‘Magnolia’ displayed in the Alder Trees



A number of different exhibitors banners also in the Alder Trees

Hopefully, we will be exhibiting our work in other places in the future and also carry out further work with Bodnant Garden, as this was such a very interesting and enjoyable project to do.



Background details painted with dyes sewn and finished…now to the rest!

I have been progressing with my work for our local Embroiderer’s Guild Project that will be exhibited within the beautiful National Trust Bodnant Garden at the end of August and start of September. I am working on a massive 8 ft long sheet that will be hung inside the Pin mill, using my usual technique of painting with thickened Procion MX dyes and adding extra stitching for emphasis. I have found it easier to use smaller pieces of cotton sheet to actually paint on before cutting out the foxgloves and sewing them to the main sheet with the Pin Mill on.



Foxgloves painted with thickened dyes before being cut out and added to the main picture.

Watch this space for further development….only have 3 weeks to get it all done!!



Very pleased to say that our Embroiderer’s Guild / National Trust Bodnant Garden Project is going along well. It is early days, but all our design plans have been approved by the garden and have been given the go ahead to be made. The above image shows my design plan, with foxgloves in front of the Bodnant Garden’s Pin Mill. I hope to make this into a large textile banner made from a cotton sheet with a calico backing, hand painted with thickened dyes and free machine embroidery. More layers of flowers will be attached getting larger in scale, nearer to the front of the banner.

The final exhibition will be held throughout the garden the last week in August and first two weeks in September. Updates to come!

Start of a new year but as well as starting new work from scratch, I thought it would be a good idea to move some existing work along to reach its next stage, free machine and hand embroidery.


I had the inspiration for my Daisy Textile Art from my photographs that I’d taken in a beautiful garden we had visited during the ‘Open Gardens’ Event in Llangernyw, North Wales during the summer of 2014.


I lied the idea of combining both photographs together to be my starting point of my artwork. I firstly drew the design using pencil onto a ‘prepared’ vintage 100% cotton sheet. (fabric had been rinsed in a sodawash solution, so the dyes will develop). I then added my first layers of colour, by painting thickened ‘Procion MX’ dyes onto the sheet, similar to painting with watercolours or thin acrylics or fabric paint. I use dye, as I find it has beautiful translucent colour that when ‘layered’ with other colours where needed, make new shades or depth of colour. I also find that using dyes on fabric when set does not stiffen the fabric, unlike fabric paint (which sits on the top of the fabric), so they make the fabric much more suitable for further embellishment.


This final stage of painting has taken a long time to do, as I have been working on other pieces of work in between. I am now in the process of setting the dyes by heat. As I haven’t got a steamer to do this, I usually let the fabric dry after it has been standing for 24 hours or more between plastic sheets, then steam iron the work for 5 minutes. I then will rinse the fabric in cold water removing extra dye.

I’ll show you further progress once I’ve started the free machine and hand embroidery.




I arrived for the final day of the ‘Artisans in the Palm House Christmas Fair’ in Sefton Park, Liverpool with great trepidation after spending quite a few weeks working very hard, to finish off making a lot of cushions and pictures. We had managed to get there from North Wales in a gale force storm, but were just pleased to be a part of the event, inside this beautiful building full of tropical plants and trees.

I’d finished a number of items including my Christmas tree cushion, with thousands of free machine embroidered stitches and added beads and crocheted gold ‘tinsel’…IMGP5794 and a number of small pictures, including this little oystercatcher one made from navy and white free machine embroidered stitching….DSC07065

Glad to say that I had a very successful but unfortunately rather brief time, as in the afternoon, the gale force wind was causing havoc outside in the park surrounding the Palm House and could have caused great danger to the general public, including the many shoppers who had to be turned away at the door.

I’d like to say thanks to all the crowds, Organisers and artisans who made it a very happy …but rather short day!

Hope to be back selling there next year.

Close up of work so far

Close up of work

As you can see I have added a lot of new colour to my picture, making it very colourful compared to my other Blog!

I hope to add even more layers of colour using dye, to finally get the colours I want. This is relatively easy to do as I will add more dye thickener to the powdered dye, making the colour very pale. This affect would be the same as in water colour painting, using a wash, which covers up the layer of colour below, but changes the colour slightly to the shade added.

Easier said than done!!

Work in progress

Work in progress