That sums up yesterday.  Garden clearing, mowing lawn……

I quote from my Blip Journal;

Spent the day in the garden clearing up, but it was too cold to be out there! Surely one should not have to wear a fleece and gilet to work in a spring garden?

I’m reading my book from Barter Books (“Northumberland in the C16th” a 1921 reprint of a 1897 original) and I quote
“….described as “very cold, hard, and barren for the winter (1569)”
Nothing much changed since 1569 then.

Actually nothing much changed for the spring either yet…
….where’s my vest?


I haven’t had chance to iron and photo the logwood samples yet but here are some more photos and some info.

I dyed in two ways

1. In a large cookpot on the stove
2. In rusty roasting trays in the simmering oven.

I buy Logwood extract (an powder) from George Weil who say
”It comes from the Logwood Tree (Haematoxylum campechianum) from Central America and was much sought after in the 17th century.  Achieve shades of purple-grey/black with this powdered logwood“. 
Well I haven’t ever got black, but purples certainly!

More info here

First of all I make sure all the fabric is “prepared for dyeing”, either washed at home or purchased from Whaleys.

I soak the fabric in Alum (a mordant to make the colour “stick”) before dyeing.  In the large cookpot I dissolve about 4 tablespoons.  Don’t ask me how large the pot it.  Large. 

(Important note here – when I dye with Procion I measure everything, when I use natural dyes I like to play and just let it happen). 

So the fabric soaks in alum water for about 30 mins.  I have made sure the alum is completely dissolved and the water about boiling level then I switch off the gas.

Results from the pot below;


I drain the fabric from the alum water but don’t rinse it or let it dry. I make up the logwood dye in the cookpot I bring it to the boil and then turn it off.

Then I put the some fabric into the roasting tins – mainly the smaller pieces and I do think about how they are crumpled and laid out.  Then I pour the dissolved logwood over, cover with kitchen foil and bake in the oven (60 degrees C) for a few hours.  Switch off the oven and leave overnight.

(Note – the roasting tins are old and rusty.  I’ve had these two out all winter in all weathers.  The rust is important to deepen the colour).

Some fabric goes back into the cook pot plus the dye and is covered and boiled for about 30 mins then the heat turned off and left to cool. 

This is how one roasting tin looked – can you see the “gold”?  Never seen this before.  It washed off but I wonder what caused it.


After washing at 30 degrees (this is for wall pieces so I’m not bothered about removing every single dye molecule) I tumble dry and now have a pile to iron……watch this space.


Safety note – all utensils, pots and such only used for dyeing, wear a mask…. wash hands…. etc etc etc….

Heaven on Earth?

Barter Books, Coffee (with Soya Milk) and a good Natter with a Friend.

How perfect is that?



My Blip photo for the day


And a rare picture of moi.

Helen & Camera

And the purchase; the 1921 reprint of the 1897 book, one to savour, possibly after the exhibition is ready (and £20 cheaper than second hand on Amazon too).  Well I had to come home with one book!



Lots of sheep actually.

Watched over by the chickens (who never shut up!)


Just as I arrived I saw this mum and baby…. and another one due.

sheep 94Sheep 97

Sheep 301

In labour having a contraction

sheep 302Sheep 307

Eventually Sarah took a “look” and the second lamb was tail first (should be head first) so a bit of help was required.

Sheep 312Sheep 314Sheep 316Sheep 317Sheep 318Sheep 320Sheep 324

Sheep 326

Kiss, kissSheep 329Sheep 340Sheep 345Sheep 347Sheep 349Sheep 354

I’m the King of the Castle…

Sheep 359

Waiting room

Sheep 369

Busy mum
Sheep 376The OrphansSheep 378Sheep 383

Japan Aid

I have discovered this charity and wanted to tell others about it.  Obviously who ever you support is totally personal.


“ShelterBox is an international disaster relief charity that delivers emergency shelter, warmth and dignity to people affected by disaster worldwide”

They provide people with tents, blankets, stove, survival kit type stuff.  You can find out more at the web site


Spent most of the weekend watching the news (horrifying) and working on the computer.

New business cards …..

New brochures advertising my work (here’s the inside)

workshop Brochure_BACK PRINT

Advert for my exhibition – the colours do look a bit odd here – too late,
500 ordered!

Paxton exh FRONT PRINT

Sorry not to show you all the leaflet sides.  Not keen on having my address & phone number out there in blogland.

Fleece, colour inspirations and growing up

How’s that for a snappy title?  Journalism was never going to be the profession for me was it?
Firstly though, my thoughts go out to the Japanese people, yesterday DS and I watched the news and were horrified. 
Today, seeing the devastation is just awful to watch.
Yesterday I headed across to see these adorable creatures.  They are about 2 weeks into lambing atm and the cold weather –and snow yesterday and  today- will not be helping.
I could spend hours and hours watching sheep and lambs.
I took 91 pictures in total (in an hour), here are my four favourites.
This little orphan was my favourite shot of the day.  
Colour inspiration for you, caught as he ran past.
And a defining moment – one excited boy (and one tired dad) off on his first Rugby Tour.
“Ikea colours” for Alnwick! 
Ric rugby.Ian & Ric
And yes, snow….. snow and more ****** snow!

Energy required

Huge doses required please.  My ME has well and truly started again and only the other week I was telling people how much better I was.  Would seem I was on a knife edge of a balance and I tipped it over with Grasmere and then Half term.

I am dragging myself out of bed each morning to get DS to school, then crashing out for a while before heading into the studio.  I can see my deadline running towards me and I’m trying not to panic.

Its hard to work atm and compounded by the effects of finally stopping the painkillers I was taking for toothache.

But I AM working and here’s what’s been going on in Northumberland.

Spring seems to have arrived – we have bitterly cold days and nights but the sun is shining.

“March winds will blow and we shall have snow….”

Yep, the wind was howling last night and its snowing again this morning.  PLEASE can I have some warmth now?




Here is a snippet from a piece for the exhibition – I was playing with Photoshop to remove the colour and then add some back in.

Will try to give you more snippets as I go along, and will have the whole lot online on June 9th when the real exhibition opens.