Tuesday, 7 August 2012



As always apologies for the delay, I am permanently trying to catch up with myself and be disciplined about blogging but it never happens!

Last time, you may recall I asked whether I should give my donkeys a colour wash - thanks for your suggestions.  I made a third donkey a couple of weeks ago and I decided to use a watercolour wash in a pale greyish colour so that it wasn't too coloured.
I made some paniers from a snippet of cloth, as usual from my Rag Rescue stash.  I couldn't for the
life of me decide what to put in the paniers, but, last week whilst I was in France at Les Soeurs Anglaises
for a bijou holiday with Becky, Jone and Oolie I had a sudden flush of inspiration.............. what better than French Lavender?  Mon Dieu! Why didnt i think of it before, I think its perfect, do let me know what you think ..................

I also said I would blog about my second Hens Teeth workshop makes.
On the first workshop made three brooches in total, the first two took most of the day

 Then in the last 10 minutes, I had a flush of inspiration - I love paper and decided to put together scraps of
haberdashery labels and card to make another brooch - it turned out to be my favourite of the day ........

When I went to the second Hens Teeth Haberdashery workshop I decided to continue to explore this theme and here are the results ...............
Again in the last 10 minutes I decided to try my hand at a donkey brooch, pinching Viv's glove fingers for ears idea I stitched up this little beauty ................
I finished him off in France last week, tidied up the back, put the pin on and added his eyes, originally he was going to have two press studs but I'd lost one, routing about in my sewing kit I came across the vintage red diamonte - all the girls agreed it was just the ticket!  It would seem that he was never intended to have matching eyes......................... Again it was my favourite of the day!  

I sent the 'saved' brooch to Julie Arkell before I left for France and gave the goldilocks haberdashery brooch to Katie Elliot Armitage and the darning thread one to Dean Spille who had admired Katie's when she took Becky, Jone and Oolie to see him and his lovely wife Billie Spille, I figured Billie could wear it and Dean could look at it, but he did wonder if he could get away with wearing it himself!

Do let me know what you think of my makes, I find your feedback very encouraging!

Oh Yes, here are my delightful Julie Arkell pieces;  'A gentle Stillness', I love Donkeys' and Little Donkey on my recently completed bedroom fireplace, you may also spot the Jennifer Collier lampshade and a couple of Viv, Hens Teeth brooches.  All of which inspire me each night when I go to bed and each morning when I get up.

Love to All
xx Di

Monday, 28 May 2012



Here after a long absence are my donkeys, made at West Dean whilst on the Julie Arkell Paper Mache course at the end of January 2012.

After my disastrous creature dressing panics last year I arrived at West Dean with a cunning plan: not to make anything that needed dressing!   Accordingly, making donkeys to take to my hut seemed the way forward!

This is my first donkey, I did crochet him some panniers so he carry his own stuff to the hut!

I loved him so much I decided to make him a companion with a cart to transport heavier stuff they may need ........

Here he is with a cart made from twigs and linen thread, which fastens to his granny square harness - a particularly inspired moment I thought!

I had also decided that it might be fun to make a paper mache pram - that way I could make some lovely bedding using some lovely bits and pieces of fabric which should be too taxing for an amateur sewist such as myself.

Here is the pram (which features large in stories from my childhood as anyone who knows me will confirm!)

I so wanted the pram to be a 'Silver Cross' type with suspension - which I think turned out OK - so as not
to make it too easy for myself it became increasingly important to me that the hood went up and down -
nothing like a technical challenge!  I worked well into the night (and the next morning) and eventually I 'made it have it' .......................
I have yet to make the aforesaid bedding - events rather took over at the end of my course but I fully intend to finish my little pram and will blog the finished item when done!
Now, I have been wondering if I should colour my donkeys?  Or leave them as they are? Just cant decide - suggestions would be much appreciated, I will ponder in the meantime.


Thursday, 22 March 2012

Julie Arkell - I've Dusted the Farmyard

This month I was lucky enough to be invited to the Private View of Julie Arkell's solo exhibition 'I've Dusted The Farmyard' at Liverpool's Blue Coat Gallery.

It was lovely to catch up with Julie again, and what a joy to see so much of her work - it filled half the gallery space - there must have been getting on for 100 pieces.  I urge all fans of Julie's work to visit if they can, the exhibition runs until 12 May.

For a very long time I've wanted to own one of Julie's paper mache pieces, the range and quality of this work is remarkable, and, having taken her paper mache workshop at West Dean twice, I begin to understand just how difficult it actually is to create the pieces and then dress them! 

Whilst at West Dean this year, and, in order to avoid 'dressing' my creations, I made a couple of donkeys - me being a beach hut person!  I will show you my makes in a future post.  Julie was telling me she'd just done some donkeys herself.  I was delighted to see the donkeys were in Julies exhibition - and needless to say, I now own not 1 but 3 pieces of Julie's paper mache!!! 

Here they are .................

Little Donkey

A Gentle Stillness

And, a little person to look after them .............

I Love Donkeys

I decided whilst I was at the exhibition that I would like to inhabit the world that Julie makes, a gentle whimsical world where life is full of simple pleasures and interesting fragments of fabric and phrases .... what a joy that would be.  

You can see more photos from the exhibition on pantryviolets.blogspot.com 

I have a backlog of blogging to do - future posts will include Ellie Evans Workshop, West Dean - Julie Arkell paper mache workshop and Hens Teeth - Viv's first workshop.

All comments welcome - thanks for coming by.


Thursday, 19 January 2012

First of all - Happy New Year!

The Genius of Jennifer Collier!

Towards the end of last year I attended two workshops at Jennifer's studio - Unit 12 in Stafford.

The first was with Jen making gloves and clothes - we learnt lots of methods and made examples to take home.  I still have to finish most of my work and will post it when done. It was a fabulous, action packed workshop and very inspiring.  

Whilst there I took a lot of pictures of Jen's work:

the shoes on the right are my all time favourite, the writing on the postcard is highlighted with stitching, loose threads left dangling - I think they have a poetic quality.

When I first saw a picture of Jen's more recent sculptural pieces I first thought she had covered actual objects as they look so realistic!   Its fascinating that with relatively humble materials she is able to make such amazingly realistic sculptures, all made from recycled paper and cardboard!  - I soooo want a camera! 

I believe I could almost shoot a film with this Super 8!

Also loved the typewriter .....................

and the telephone ................

and the sewing machine .................

 and the teaset .....................
I think what amazes me most about them is the way they are stitched together and even the most complex joints and the way she incorporates her papers - the sewing machine is a dress pattern and instruction leaflet, the phone is some sort of directory and the typewriter is a typing manual. Genius!

It was the first time I'd seen Jen's Lampshades, I was bewitched!  Luckily, my Mum offered to buy me one of Jennifer's large standard lampshades for Christmas!  Its similar to the one below and will hang in my studio at home (when I start work on my sitting room later this year).

Jennifer is not only talented but an enthusiastic and generous teacher who very happily shares her methods and gives advice.  The Studio and gallery space is beautiful.  The workshops are a real joy, the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly and the variety is great. And there's always a cake! Added to which for me it just an hour away from home and most of the workshops are on Saturdays so its a great way to try new things and a fabulous day out.  

Four other artists have also got a space at Unit Twelve which means its also a shopping opportunity and a chance to meet the makers!   Check out details of this years workshops on www.unittwelve.co.uk

More soon about the Ellie Evans workshop at Unit Twelve.

Comments always welcome!