Stitching #secretsofselfpreservation at home with perfect strangers

On Saturday I arranged all my brightly topped potion bottles, assorted ribbons, thread, scissors, pens and needles ready for a #secretsofselfpreservation stitching workshop as part of the E17 Art Trail. My accompanying exhibition is up in the front window of Venue 68 up to and including this Sunday 14th June. Details are here.

The ladies who joined me were perhaps tentative at first, but we soon shared some very personal stories and lots of self care tips.

One lady chose to embroider the phrase "Drop the filters" on her ribbon, alluding to avoiding both "rose tinted glasses" and "gloomy specs":

The lovely Erin (whose Instagram is well worth a look) named her creation Anti Peer Pressure Potion. In her own words, "Inside is scraps of a job description. On Tuesday I had an interview for a job that I knew I didn't want. The mantra says "Believe that you know what is for you"; my own take on "Trust your gut":

A lovely mother and daughter duo joined me and the three of us had a giggle while struggling with the mystifyingly tiny needles that came in the sewing kit I had bought for the workshop. Their potions read "CCC is good for the soul" (that's Coffee, Cake, and Cycling!) and "Stay Focused":

On Sunday, Sam Merkt came over for a mini workshop and to interview me about my practice as an artist who makes and works at home. Sam is studying at the London School of Economics and writing a dissertation on people who work in their home. A deceptively simple premise, but one with very rich seams; we spoke about everything from making the private public (both in terms of Tracey Emin's bed and hosting an exhibition and workshop in my parent's house), to house husbands, women's voices in the home as yet unheard becoming audible through the internet, the collapse of the welfare state to the rise of surveillance society. It was a fascinating conversation and a very enjoyable stitching session (even if I badly burnt my shoulders sitting in the sun!) and I am fascinated to hear what Sam does next and where her research takes her.

Hopefully I will soon be doing more #secretsofselfpreservation workshops and the project will snowball; Erin is already thinking about what to stitch for this week, so I may have one convert already!

Stitch your #secretsofselfpreservation with me this Saturday 6th June

This Saturday 6th June 2015 I will be leading a free workshop in the living room of Venue 68 in the E17 Art Trail from 4pm.

I invite you to uncork my #secretsofselfpreservation self care potions, and stitch one small way you already do (or perhaps could) take good care of yourself, to take home as a message in a bottle and a reminder to practice better TLC.

To book your free place, email

There are 8 places remaining for the workshop.

I hope to see you there!

Soft Words

A few snaps from my workshop at The Mill last night, for their Soft exhibition in which On Being Soft features.

My friends Ruth and Laura joined me, as did a couple of other local ladies.

In accordance with the "soft" theme, I encouraged participants to embroider "soft words" of kindness to themselves or a loved one on to delicate doilies and handkerchiefs. One lady stitched a wedding present.

"Is There A Cure For Love?" Embroidery Workshop @ The Mill

Tonight was mine and Tina's embroidery/love potion making workshop at The Mill community centre in Walthamstow. There wasn't a huge turn-out, but to be honest, considering it was an introductory session I was glad anyone turned up at all!

We took ingredients, negative and positive, from failed relationships, and stitched them on to ribbon, adding them to bottles to make "broken" potions. We then stitched ingredients to positively re-balance the potions, to find a "cure for love". The workshop was very therapeutic, both in its subject matter of taking something broken and making it beautiful again, and in that sewing itself is a therapeutic action (something Joetta Maue mentioned in my interview with her).

Post Post Post Post Post Post Modernism

I've just come in from the theatre to find that my Post Post Post Post Post Post Modernism cross stitch was featured on the British University Artists website. Also, Angeliki Goude of the blog domesticatedbee mentioned my interview with Joetta Maue in this blog post. Finally, the East London Craft Guerrilla gave me a little shout out for my blog post featuring an interview with their founder Debbie.

My embroidery/love potion making workshop is tomorrow. I'm excited but nervous!

Well, with that, and a scan of Post Post Post Post Post Post Modernism, I bid you good night.

Potion Book!

I've just unearthed this old chestnut; it's a book of potions that my best friend and I made when we were wee. Thought it was appropriate seeing I'm giving a workshop making love potions next Wednesday! Think I will bring it along with me for inspiration (or perhaps just a giggle!)

There's even a love potion recipe:

The recipe reads:

Love Potion


1 small red rose
3 petals of poppy
5 buttercup petals
The air on which a first kiss was carried
Sugar and spice and all things nice
2 extra tsps sugar
pinch of salt
200ml water


To start with boil the water. When boiled add sugar and spice and all things nice, extra sugar, salt, and rose. Leave to simmer for 5 mins then add air and crushed flower petals. Put in fridge to cool overnight - in morning you will have a love potion.

"Is There A Cure For Love?" - Embroidery Workshop @ The Mill

If you're in London on the 19th I'd really love to see you at The Mill in Walthamstow for a session of stitching love potions! Tina Bueno of The Pharmacy of Stories and myself will be hosting the night. 

The Mill is on the left hand side of Coppermill Lane, which is the road which leads on from the very bottom of Walthamstow Market. The nearest tube station is Walthamstow Central. Hope to see you there!