Something Old-Something New

It’s been awhile since my last post but a lot has happened and is about to happen! Last month saw the past Graduates join together at the Eastleigh College Textile Exhibition. I have been continuing to work with my Kombucha with a piece entitled Inside: Outside. A felt and Kombucha 3D installation, based on Scandinavian sculptures.



Continuing the with the theme of cells my felt wallhangings take their design from the microscopic structure of the skin of the Kombucha


Now I’m looking forward to next weekend and the start of 10 days of Hampshire Open Studios. This will be at least my tenth one and it’s always a rush to get everything ready in time. Having three of us makes the days much more fun. We never seem to stop laughing….do we Sarah and Wendy?!


Come and see us at the Coach House Studio in Woodgreen, in the New Forest,  (Venue No 4). My daughter is doing yummy cakes, lunches and teas, all in aid of her trip to Malawi, as a Nursing Student with the charity Ameca. Well worth coming just for the food!

Straight off the back of that I am exhibiting at the Salisbury Craft and Heritage Festival in Salisbury’s Cathedral grounds. Hope I have enough stock left from the Open Studios. I can see some late nights coming up….


I have lots more exciting news and events that are coming up..but I will save that for another time. But for now I need to carry on and finish the felt and silk nuno scarves that I spent a couple of days dyeing with indigo. I think I’m getting very obsessed by garden is full of blossoming indigo plants..great fun!

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Moving On

It seems like an eternity since the Degree Show at Eastleigh College, in July. I’ve had time to clear, sort and enjoy the summer and even get to doing some felt making, ready for the open studios. Now September is just around the corner and I’ve recovered from the 10 days of the Hampshire Open Studios my mind is focused on the future.

My plans are to spend the next couple of months continuing to research the waterproofing of my growing fabric. it’s been very evident that it’s something I have to continue with. The potential for the future is endless- from science/art collaborations, medical uses to the next ‘new’ fabric.  I’ve come across several people who have been very helpful recently with suggestions and ways forward. I shall be following up these and finding out more.

In the meantime I have two daughters to sort ready for university and college. We are all moving to new beginings and hopefully there are exciting times ahead for all of us.


The Class of 14- Foundation Degree in Stitched Textiles

Private View

It’s actually happening tomorrow night. After 3 fabulous years our Degree Show in Stitched Textiles will be opening tomorrow night with the private view (6-8.30pm at Desborough College, Eastleigh). All calm, collected and ready to go…look forward to seeing some of you over the coming days…!

Lots to see- my growing fabric and a science lab!

And to wet your appetite here’s a sneak preview…


One week to go!

Very’s our last day at college tomorrow. I will miss everyone after 3 (long years). What will we do with no Wednesdays together?
Anyhow I’m sorting my last bits of work for the Degree Show, which starts next Thursday. Not sure how I’m transporting it all there…might be two trips I fear.
The last bit of sewing is about to commence. Trying to decide which order to place my 16 Kombucha pieces has been hard work. They will be displayed ontop of a lightbox to show their cell structure .

16 squares of Kombucha-dyed, printed and texture

16 squares of Kombucha-dyed, printed and texture

All five plinths are having their final coat of paint, as I write this. The fishtank is ready and waiting to be emptied and tranported. I’m pleased to say that it hasn’t got any fish in it…just sugar and green tea!  For those of you who know me well, next week’s display will be slightly different to everyone elses…watch this space.




A day to dye for!!



At last I’ve got to doing some long-awaited indigo dyeing, but this time with my Kombucha fabric.  It’s the last few weeks till our degree show and I am at full speed ahead with plans for the final show.
I have been seeing how my ‘growing fabric’ takes to being coloured. ..and it does..beautifully!  At the same time the sweet sickly smell disappears too, which is an added bonus for some.

Out of the indigo bath

Out of the indigo bath

Shirbori technique qorks well

Shirbori technique works well-just like normal fabric

Samples out to dry

Samples out to dry

Close up of the cellulose fabric

Close up of the cellulose fabric

Once dry I will start to do some stitching with it, although some pieces are too thin and will tear. Tomorrow I’m going to be trying cochineal…..

Printing onto my cellulose fabric

It’s been a very busy time. At college we are on the last six weeks till the Degree Show and finishing touches are now being put in place. At home I am at maximum capacity with the amount of trays that are growing Kombucha. The smell in this warm weather is very acidic and it hits you you when you first open the door into the studio. So my daily rouine is to check and tend to the growing fabric. .. a bit like when I was sheep farming and checking my flock on a daily basis. Very theraputic I find.
I have been doing several experiments with printing and colour and having found that the cellulose fabric takes the dye very fast. The rusty nails worked very well and have a very DNA look about them now that they are dry. Washers have produced very dark spots onto the cellulose.


Vegetable leather printed with rusty nails and washers

I have had fun photographing the pieces up close and they have produced some very ‘landscape’ like results. You would never think these had come from cellulose fibres.IMG_3319 IMG_3335IMG_3340

I have several challenges ahead over the coming weeks. One of them is to waterproof the growing fabric. It is not stable and can reabsorb moisture!  Last year frankincense and myrhh resin worked well but today I am making soy milk to try. I have also heard that persimmon (or commonly called Khaki fruit) is a Japanese method of tanning. Need to see if I can obtain some.

10 out of 6 – Degree Show

Leaflets have arrived

We have now taken delivery of the leaflets and posters for our Degree Show in Stitched Tetxiles, in July

So it’s actually happening in only 9 weeks! Our Degree Show in Stitched Textiles is officially being shown at Eastleigh College, nr Winchester. Until you see it actually in print it all seems a long way off!!

Our group, Fabricformation, is working hard on the final details of the preview evening whilst at the same time all working on their final pieces. We had a group crit this week and everyone’s work is looking so wonderful and varied. I seem to be the only one ‘growing fabric’. I wonder why?!!

Kombucha growing now on a large scale

With only weeks to go before the final degree show I am stepping up the growing of my new fabric, Kombucha. The kettle has been on all day again boiling up sugar and green tea ready for the vinegar and ‘scoby’ or mother culture. I’ve now enlisted space in a friend’s studio as my family won’t let it near the house, due to the smell! There are well over 40 trays stacked on top of each and brewing away. I’m even trying using guttering to make long lengths of Kombucha into thread. I now just need the weather to warm up to help the process, although some trays are sat on an electric blanket to encourage growth.

Kombucha growing in guttering

Then comes the creative work of stitching…….!

Here’s a piece of Kombucha that shows all the cellulose cells within the grown fabric.



Talk and Tea with Matthew Harris

Last month our final year group ‘Fabricformation’  had an event to raise funds for our degree show in July. ‘Tea with Matthew Harris’ took place on Sunday 16th March at Otterbourne Village Hall. Over 120 people packed into the hall,on a very hot afternoon, to listen to Matthew talk about his work. The afternoon was rounded off with scores of delicious cakes. With stalls and a raffle visitors had plenty to occupy their afternoon.


Matthew enjoying the afternoon!

Matthew enjoying the afternoon!


Cutting the cakes


Cakes and more cakes!


Matthew with our course tutor, Susan Chapman

Talk and Tea with Matthew

Talk and Tea with Matthew



Matthew Talking with guests