Tuesday, 11 December 2007

How lovely is this?

How lovely is this?

This is a detail of the canvas I received to-day from Mercedes Jiminez
via the art-e-zine 8 x 8 canvas swap. Unfortunately the light had gone when I tried to photograph it - but it is a lovely mixed media collage and I am delighted.

If you would like to see all the art made for this swap it can be found on the art-e-zine site here, but it is a big page - so is most suited to a broadband
Internet connection.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Listen to Your Muse

This is the canvas that I made for the 8 x 8 inch canvas swap on art-e-zine. Generously hosted by Christine (her blog is here)

It is the first swap I have taken part in - partly because I had the time available to do it. And because of the format - I love the 8 x 8 format - large enough to do some interesting work, and small enough to post to America. Also it was "a favourite technique" Obviously I used free machine embroidery, with hand stitching, done on layers of organza. So now I wait patiently for a canvas to be sent to me from America.

I am doing things in the studio - if somewhat slowly - without moving my head - or bending down - but it is not stuff that I can post about just yet.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

A Family Weekend

Two of my sons and one of my "soon to be" daughters in law came to visit this weekend.

It was so wonderful to be with them - I just wish I had felt slightly more lively!

However Adam did decide that he could not possibly visit the seaside without a dip in the water!

The sea in Wales in December - chilling!

We had a lovely time - lots of catching up with Adam and Caroline's wedding plans, and Daniels time in Denmark.

Good food, and happy company. Such Joy.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Vertigo is back

Vertigo is back ....... gutted

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Vertigo Has Gone!

The vertigo has gone and I feel so much better

Dyed some fabric for Christmas Things - but now I don't want to cut into it!

But I will

Friday, 23 November 2007

Gentle Day

A gentle day in the studio to-day making a batch of these petal shapes with free machine embroidery on organza.

Tomorrow I will burn around the edges

I can not tell you what they are for - because it is top secret!
(With Christmas happening in 31 days)

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Sketchbooks and Art Journals

Sketchbook page November 2006
I am sorry I cannot give a credit for the rubber stamp - I got it at a stamp fair - and I forget who from - it is however, not my design.

As I am not under high pressure for deadlines - but rather just having studio time, and this means working in sketchbooks - something that I am not very good at - or rather - not as disciplined as I would like.

I cannot believe that the page above is from nearly exactly a year ago. I start a new book - I do a few pages - then it all peters out - as I go straight into the "real" pieces. Then I spend the rest of the year making rough notes on scrappy pieces of paper.

How to "do" my sketchbooks is always something that consumes a large chunk of thought, (when I am not working to deadlines) and I have piles of half used books ranging in size from very small to large and if there is one thing I would like to do - it is to have a more organized approach and paradoxically a more spontaneous approach toward my sketchbooks.

I think I have definitely reached the point where I want to bind my own books - to include all the scrappy bits of paper and notes. I don't want to make beautiful hand stitched journals - although I admire those that do - and have done so myself to commemorate special events. I simply want to wire bind all my stuff up - once every few months - so that all my fabric experiments, figure drawings, notes etc are all in one place - together.

Ho Humm - The trouble with the vertigo - is because I am not working flat out - I have to much time to think! Back to the doctor tomorrow for a chat - and to see what is what.

PS Just found some beautiful handmade books here made by Kaija - sometimes I wish I was a bookbinder!

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Quiet Sunday

Quiet Sunday today - pottering in the studio - but not accomplishing much.

The vertigo is still with me - so I am pretty fed up about that.

The image here is a sketchbook page - probably for my "Travelling Sketchbook" which I share with Linda.

It is only a rough sketch - using painted bondaweb, and free machine embroidery. I was reflecting on the things we say like "keeping your feet on the ground" or "Being grounded" and how just now - the ground does not feel like a very safe place - in fact is seems rather squashy!! The colours probably reflect my dreary state of mind.

Thanks to
Lynn and
For joining in the PIF exchange. I am really looking forward to making something for you all - don't forget to e-mail me with your addresses if you have not all ready done so.

Denice will also be getting something from me - although she does not have a blog - I am sure she will join in the PIF ethos.

Thanks to all of you who left a comment on my "Friendship post" I am the one at the back left of the last photo! And I had a great time at our class reunion

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Pay it Forward

I am sure that many of you will have seen "pay it forward" on other blogs around and about.

I think it is such a nice idea and I was delighted when I saw that Vivian was participating. As I love her work, and I love the concept of "Pay it Forward" I left a comment on her blog - and I was one of the first three to do so!

This means that sometime in the next 365 days I will receive a piece of art from Vivian and I have to "Pay it Forward" here on my blog. Here is how it goes:-

"I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 artists who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this Pay It Forward exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog."

I don't know where this started. I tried to track the "pay it forwards" exchange back through various blogs - but I found myself so diverted with interesting reading and other links - that I did not get very far - so I don't know who the credit for this scheme goes too.

So the first three people who comment, will receive something in the post from me - not to sure when, and all I ask is that you continue with the PIF exchange on your own blogs.

Thursday, 8 November 2007


"The Gang" - in our teens

I am feeling so much better - went back to the doctor yesterday and got different pills for the vertigo.

I am mightily relieved about this, as tomorrow I am off to a school reunion! Our class tries to have a get together about once a decade!

It is at this point that I:-

1) Wished I looked in the mirror more often - perhaps I could of done something about those wrinkles in my face a while ago.

2) Was more disciplined about things like moisturizer - then maybe my skin would not be like rhino-hide

3) Remembered to say "no thank you" to chocolate, coffee cake, new potatoes with butter and so on

But I didn't do any of these things - so there we go!

In our nearly 40's

Friendship is an amazing thing and throughout my life I have been blessed with wonderful friendships.
Some are fleeting and transient - a soul connection of two people who for that brief moment in a life time know that they are friends, this kind of friendship sometimes leaves the bittersweet memory of "if only ..."

Some friendships have a natural time span - they are wonderful for many years but then things move on and so does the friendship. No regrets - no blame - just the warm comfortable memories of shared laughter and shared lives.

Some are blossoming friendships - new and interesting in their newness - like the ones that are growing here in Wales since I moved back.

Also;- "cyber-buddies" the friendships developing because of shared interests, and ease of communication over the web. Friends who I may never meet in person - but who become friends nonetheless

Some friendships - are more enduring and my friendship with the three woman in these photographs has lasted for 4 decades! I think it is amazing.

We met at school when we were about 10 years old - and as we were at a boarding school our lives were perhaps more interlinked with each other, than those children who go to a day school. We have seen each others worst and best. My life is richer for knowing them.

We probably only meet up every few years as a foursome - but the joy of this friendship is we carry on just where we left off, it can be 2 years, 2 months or two weeks since we last saw each other it really doesn't matter.

This Spring the 4 of us went to Paris - to celebrate 40 years of friendship - although there was perhaps a little apprehension as to whether we would get on together for 5 days of constant company .... it was great and we had a ball. (it took me a week to get my voice back - and two weeks to recover fully - but hey!)

In our well over 40's!
Oh - Ok our 50's

Now all you have to do is guess which one is me!

Monday, 5 November 2007

Jeans Finished Work

Jean popped in to see me to-day - to see how I was doing with the vertigo - and to show me her finished piece of work.

This is a close up - I particularly like what she has done at the bottom with the machine wrapped cord couched down to form the sea. Also overlaying the organza to trap the pearls and shells. It is lovely to see finished pieces of work and I was pleased she came to show me.

I managed a couple of hours in the studio to-day and I am quietly happy with the progress I made on my canvas for the canvas swap - but I probably wont post any pictures of it until it has been received by who ever gets it! - Well maybe tomorrow I will post a little corner for you to peep at!

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Last Class Photos

This is Denice's finished work - well almost finished - She was going to do some hand stitching at home - to blend the heavily textured area more into the background fabric.

The picture below is a close up - lovely texture - Denice was pleased with the finished result.

I spent some time in the studio to-day - with not much luck. I have the idea of a piece in my head - but trying to work out the "How To Do It" was frustrating me to-day. Sometimes I wish I could just to the same old thing over and over again - as I feel like I am trying to re-invent the wheel with every piece I do.

I know it is just the frustration talking - and probably not helped by the fact that I am still a bit wobbly on my pins - and my head is probably not as clear as it could be.

Never mind - it will all come together .... or something at some point next week.

Friday, 2 November 2007

More views

This is another view of Pats sampler - again apologies for the quality of the photography.

Pat is going to do a small amount of hand stitching onto the little square to catch down any loose fibres that have come adrift since she cut the squares from a bigger piece.

This is a close up of one of the squares showing the lovely textures Pat created.

Blogger is not being very responsive tonight and the photos are not quite going where I want them. Why does this happen sometimes?

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Last Class

Here is Jean with her (nearly) finished piece of embroidery. She will be so cross with me that the photo is of her holding her work up! She didn't want to be in it. I did take a close up of the work - but it was very out of focus - I blame the vertigo.

Jean had to leave early - so she was disappointed that her piece was not complete by the time she left. However she knew where it was going. She had also used all the machine embroidery techniques we covered in the three weeks and was
so delighted that she knew more about her machine than she did a month ago.

Here is Pat, with her piece. She probably had the most unsuitable machine for all the techniques we covered. (I need to find out more about this particular machine.) Pat made some lovely textures, which she cut up and her finished work was a "sampler".

I will post a detail tomorrow - still not really able to spend much time in the vertical position.

Thanks to ALL of you who have left such lovely comments over the past 10 days or so. I really enjoy hearing from you all - and I am sorry I haven't replied to you personally.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Vertigo Strikes!

Sorry no posting for a while. I have been feeling a bit under par with some kind of virus. I had a horrid ear-ache for a while - and now a chest infection, but the worst is vertigo.

So I have been struggling to stay up-right - let alone do anything in the studio. I did this little play around today with my new machine - on painted bondaweb layers - but I perhaps I should not have done it - as the dizzy spells are back with a vengeance!

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Water Soluble Fabric

Click on the photos for a bigger image

Another creatively fun day with the "Machine Embroidery for Beginners" group

Yesterday the class had a good day experimenting with water soluble fabric for the first time.
Next week is the final class - when the students are making a small (8ins x 8 ins) embroidery using all the skills they have learnt in the past three weeks.

Monday, 22 October 2007

A little Sample

Today I was preparing for next Wednesday Class - which is working with water soluble fabric and machine embroidery and I made this small sample.

I really rather like it - it is only small - maybe 5 inches or so. I simply laid fibres onto the water soluble fabric and machined it down - then dissolved away the water soluble.

Funny how sometimes just playing around works out well and leads on to other things!

Sunday, 21 October 2007

My New Baby! Pfaff 2058

I have a new sewing machine!

I have only played with it for a few hours to-day so I don't really know what it is capable of yet. It is taking a bit of getting used too!

So far so good.

Because it has more electronics; it is a bit strange; in that I can not sit down and just do "free machine embroidery".

There are a few start up screens to go through and a lot of "touch screen" - bit like trying to get money out of the hole in the wall at the bank!

It did however, stitch very nicely through layers of fabrics and wool with a nice even stitch and it purrs along - unlike my old machine which in the last year has started to sound very clunky indeed.

My last machine was also a Pfaff - and I am quite surprised that I bought another one - as all my stitching life I wanted to be the proud owner of a Bernina!

I also knew - that at this point, I did not want a machine that connects to my computer - (although I am tempted) but I have a Mac - and I think that all the current "embroidery" machines connect to PC's which would of meant buying a PC as well as a sewing machine. My views about PC's are not repeatable - I
love my Mac.

I got my machine through www.sewingmachines.co.uk
I spoke with Russell there who was brilliantly helpful. If you want to buy a brand of sewing machine they deal with - then I recommend them.

I will let you know how I get on with my new machine. I will keep my old machine for back up,
but I am now thinking of turning my very old machine (an elna) into an embelisher as I wont need it for back up.

If anyone has done this to one of their old machines - I would welcome your comments

Thursday, 18 October 2007


I have been Tagged!

This is a kind of double edged sword - as it is quite nice because it means someone, somewhere is following my blog - this someone happened to be Sharon

But it also means I have to tag 7 others and
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself: some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

I am not a huge blogger in that I don't know many others - I admire and read a lot of the doyennes of the fibre art world but would not be "brave" enough to tag them!

The majority to the people who read my blog sign themselves as anonymous, or admirer - so I don't know who they are!

Anyway - here goes.

7 facts about myself - some random some weired.

1) I have three wonderful sons who I am very proud of

2) I broke my collar bone 2 years ago and it never healed - so I have a strange gap instead of a collar bone

3) I am always amazed when people remember who I am

4) I have an terrific sense of smell

5) I don't like the colour yellow very much

6) I hate "keep fit" but enjoy swimming

7) I love the moon - I think it is so beautiful and magical and to live here - close to the sea. To
have the tides, the moon, the mountains - bliss!

Phew done - now the hard bit tagging 7 others.

Linda - She is my comrade in arms - and has been for a long time

Judy - who is my new cyber friend

Margaret (digitalgran) - who also lives in Wales

Vivien - I like her flower paintings - and she has wonderful pictures of the sea on her blog
(but I don't know her)

Penny - I don't know Penny but I enjoy her drawing and the title of her blog always makes me smile

Shirley - who I have just met in blogland and would like to get to know better

And for my last I will put ........

djpettit - I enjoy the way she paints faces - and from her blog - I imagine she must be an inspiring teacher. (This is my brave tag!)

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Day 2 of Machine Embroidery Class

Machine Cable Stitch

Today we covered altering the tension on both the top thread and the bobbin - whip stitch and feather stitch. We also tried machine cable stitch - this is where a thick thread is wound on the bobbin and the embroidery is worked on the reverse.

During the afternoon session we covered machine stitched cords, and Jean has stitched her cord onto the piece that she started last week.

Sheilaghs work shows a wonderful build up of texture using whip stitch variations.

Another good day was had by us all - I really enjoy seeing how different folk develop their work from the same starting point. I think all the students are in agreement that after 2 days of machine embroidery - they know their machines a lot better and are beginning to test their machines full capabilities!

Playing around with your machine and practising with different fabrics, threads and tension settings is time well spent if you wish to develop your free machine embroidery techniques.

Again I am having trouble posting the pictures tonight - and I have visitors arriving tomorrow for a few days so ..... I am not sure when I will be able to add more pics.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Good Day To-day

Beaded Silk / Velvet devoree with glass

Nice day to-day - not a high pressured creative day - but I spent the day assembling necklaces for the Beetroot Tree Christmas Show.

Silk / Velvet Devoree with Indian Glass Beads.

This is something that is rather time consuming - but gently enjoyable - I could actually listen to the radio while I was doing this - something I have not done in a while!

Silk / Velvet devoree with Labradorite

I make bangles and ear-rings to match the necklaces - the earrings I will do next week. As tomorrow I will be preparing for Day 2 of the "Machine Embroidery for Beginners" class which takes place on Wednesday.

I would like to reply to the comment about it being stressful teaching a course for beginners. Comments like this are always useful as it makes me stop and think about why.

Yes I find it stressful - and sometimes I would much prefer to stay in the studio and create rather than going out there and face the world. However there are several reasons for getting out there, here are just a few that apply to me.

The Bank Manager - the bottom line is that I find it difficult to support myself as a full time artist. If I am in my studio - I am creating pieces that might or might not sell at some point in the future.

Isolation - If I stayed in my studio creating - I believe I would not grow as an artist. In teaching I get the opportunity to re-visit techniques that I have not used in a while, and develop existing techniques. Students are interested and exciting - especially adult students as they are in your class because they REALLY want to be there.

Joy - it is a great joy when a student is totally excited by what she has produced in class - their joy and enthusiasm is infectious - if they continue with the work when class is over - then - Job done.

The amount of teaching that I do is minimal, however for me - it is worth the angst and stress.

PS The necklaces have not got their clasps on yet - and apologies for the quality of the pictures - we have had a very grey day here - and (again) I left the photography until to late in the day!

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Machine Embroidery Class

Today was the first session of Machine Embroidery for Beginners, and we were a very select group of 6;- plus me!

This was ideal as it meant we all had enough time.

For some reason - blogger wont let me post all my pictures tonight - so here are some of the samples done in class today. More tomorrow.

This are samples from the first exercise - simply using straight stitching over layers of threads and fabrics.

I enjoyed to-day. The group was humorous and hard working - a lovely combination!

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

More Beads

c Karen Hall 2007

Yummy devoree silk- velvet beads that I finished today.
Which I think will make a fabulous necklace for the winter parties!

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Time / No Time !

Textile Beads
Using Fabrics from Bumblebee Quilting

I feel that I am stomping around quite a lot just at the moment. Probably because I have not spent much time in the studio recently. Well I have - but not really making - more administration.

One of the things that I do struggle with from time to time - is TIME - or lack of it - where has this week gone?

Sometimes - the "office" bits of being an artist, takes time away from "making" Just small things - pricing up work. Sorting out work for prints, getting prices for giclee prints. Signing prints. Ordering stuff from suppliers etc.

Then - my day school starts on Wednesday - so getting all the stuff together, lesson plans, supplies for students to use. Packing everything up etc.

Then there is my morning job - which I do as I cannot fully support myself as a working artist - and, if you have not guessed - it is gardening!

Then there is "life" all that day to day stuff - which needs doing, but totally takes time away from art.

So just in this moment - I am feeling a bit stompy. As a result - I have decided to take the week of the 15th off from gardening work. This way I can spend more of the week in the studio - and get all my stuff together for the Beetroot Tree Christmas show "Desirables". 18 new pieces of jewellery which have to be delivered by the 1st November.

I also really want to take part in a canvas swap on art-e-zine

More Beads

I am sad that these pictures are so poor - but the light had gone and I was being hasty - The colour does not do justice to the lovely fabrics that I got from Bumblebeequilting.

After making beads - one of the nicest things is deciding what to put them with them;-


Or this!

I have all day in the studio tomorrow - but I will be testing out the samples I want my class to make on Wednesday - and thinking about the piece I want to make for the 8 x 8 art-e-zine swap!

Friday, 28 September 2007

Spirit of the Land - Amulet

The Amulet

Today I sold this amulet, which I created in 2001.

A lady saw this piece at the craft fair last weekend, and loved it. During the week, she phoned to ask me if she could buy it for her daughter. But when I delivered it to her today - she hung it on her wall - and it looked very happy - so I think that for now - Spirit of the land will stay with her.

Detail of the top section

Because the piece is framed and glazed in such a deep frame - I found it hard to take a picture without reflections - so I hope that the images can be made out clearly.

Middle Section

With all my amulets I do a piece of written work - and mostly people choose to read the words as well as view the picture. These pieces are enjoyed and/or bought by people who have a soulful connection with the art.

Spirit of the Land

This amulet draws on both male and female symbolism
It is a distillation of both energies
And encompasses the elements of
Fire, Earth, Water and Air.

On the copper panel is the face of the Guardian Spirit,
The “Green Man’
The embodiment of the vibrant energy of life.

On the second panel,
The copper wire
Depicts a journey.

Wherever your life’s journey may take you,
The Spirit of the land protects and watches over you.

copyright Karen Hall
May 2001