The Personal is Political Potion

As you can tell from these photographs, the garden has been utterly scorched recently. The past couple of days, however, have brought some very welcome rain. This hasn't aided my mood, though; the gloom has impacted on me whilst, like the grass, I'm feeling a little burnt out.

On a happier note, on Saturday I was invited to give a drop in workshop and talk on craftivism/making for change with Craftspace in Birmingham. And so the publicity materials diaristic element of this week's potion, and its title, "The Personal Is Political Potion" came from this event. Soon I will blog all about the day as well.

The words I stitched for the potion address those feelings of gloom, or, more appropriately, dread; they say, simply "It's almost never as bad as you think". I think I will be referring to this potion often; believing these words is something I struggle with daily. Only by starting with small acts of kindness towards myself, such as thoughts like these, can I make change for others.

Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

Stitch For Survival: My E17 Art Trail 2015 Exhibition

Once again the yearly E17 Art Trail has rolled around. I am going to do the grand tour next weekend; I set up my exhibition earlier today; well, my "installation technician" (my mother) did most of the hard graft.

For last year's Trail I showed work as part of the Zoology exhibition at E17 Art House, which has since moved to bigger premises on Hoe Street and has some very intriguing exhibitions and events on for the Trail this year.

This time around, applying was a bit of a last minute affair, so I decided to exhibit in the bay window of my parents' house as I did in 2011 and 2012.

This year we decided to ditch the slightly "primary school" blue baize display board we'd used previously, and used white frame boards to display the embroideries on instead.

A wide variety of embroideries are on display, from pages and pocket contents from my artist's books On Being SoftBig Teeth and Milk Thistle, to embroideries from the zine I recently sold at DIY Cultures, Treasures For Your Troubles. My favourite of the #secretsofselfpreservations stitched thus far are exhibited too.

The theme this year seems to be whimsy; the exhibition is less in your face provocative than it has been in the past; more gently subversive, gently parodying the Romantic movement and its romanticisation of mental illness (particularly the Milk Thistle pages and pocket contents). I have really amassed work since 2011, and I feel the exhibition is far more cohesive and well presented than it has been in the past.

If you're local/in the area, please do pop by - the exhibition can be viewed from the front garden from today, Sunday 31st May, until Sunday 14th June, from 10am - 8pm daily.

Next Saturday 6th June I will be holding a #secretsofselfpreservation workshop stitching self care potions from 4pm in the living room; the workshop is limited to ten places, so please email to book your place.

The details of my exhibition and workshop can be found here. I do hope you'll visit.

Yes Please Potion

 The stagnation in my creative career that I was feeling a couple of weeks ago and was trying to combat when I stitched my Pulled Out A Plum Potion has given way to a resolution to get my work out there, and talk to as many other creatives and likeminded people as possible about it, and about potential ways we could work together.

This is why this week's #secretsofselfpreservation stitching is entitled "Yes Please Potion"; I intend to say yes to suitable opportunities which come my way, and seek out even more.

I've stitched the words "Be bold. Be brazen. Be obnoxious." I'm slightly concerned that this reads like a parody of a Rimmel London mascara advert, but it's actually advice to my shy and retiring self to be more assertive. I believe in my work, and it's my job, if you like, to get others to believe in it too.

Lots of question marks accompany the embroidered velvet ribbon, reminding me that if you don't ask, you don't get.

Remember you can get involved too, via the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation, by writing about a simple way you plan to, or already do, take care of yourself. Alternatively, you can create your own embroidered (or written on paper) potion - just remember to include the hashtag #secretsofselfpreservation along with your snaps of it.

Commission Me

I am now accepting embroidery commissions! Please send your ideas for your commission to and I will get back to you with a quote and time frame. Above are examples of commissions, Royal School of Needlework assignments, and personal embroidery projects I have completed previously. I look forward to hearing from you!

The Soft Corner Shop

This month, my Instagram has been awash with images of a brilliant, seemingly simple idea; Lucy Sparrow's soft sculpture corner shop.

Deceptively simple though Lucy's concept may be - to fill a disused corner shop with hand stitched produce - don't be fooled. That hand stitching took eight months of fourteen hour shifts; as I well know, hand sewing is a very labour intensive process, particularly when, as in this case, one is attempting to faithfully replicate, in fabric, items which existed first in an entirely different medium.

When we arrived at the Corner Shop, in spite of today's dreadful wet weather, the place was buzzing. The other visitors had clearly made the same pilgrimage through the rain we had, and there were squeals of delight as they recognised much loved family favourites.

This nostalgia is partially engendered by the era that the Corner Shop is set in. Lucy has chosen to create products from the mid 90s, when she had her first job in, you guessed it, a corner shop. I barely remember Funny Feet, for example, though they were more familiar to Pip, who is a couple of years older.

Therefore this is a true labour of love on Lucy's part, and an affectionate look back at her coming of age. Over four thousand hand stitched items is no mean feat, and I take my hat off to Lucy for her sheer perseverance and vision. I can't wait for my stitched Chipsticks (how's that for 90s nostalgia?!) to arrive in the post.

Cover to Cover

I'm making good progress with Big Teeth, the new artist's book I'm working on. Yesterday I finished hand stitching the front cover, and today I've cut out all the pages and will start on the text of the book after this blog post.

That's not to say it hasn't been a difficult process so far; choosing to render the entire book in hand stitching meant lots of unpicking and re-stitching! But I'm sure the end result will be worth it. Hand stitching a piece just gives it so much more soul.

I chose blue and white faded striped fabric, and sewed the cover with the stripes going vertically, so that the pattern was akin to a tube of toothpaste (such big teeth need a lot of brushing, after all!)

I'm happy with the book thus far, even with its imperfections (which is quite something for me!) I think I'm going to very much enjoy this little project undertaken for the Book Marks exhibition.