Design Interpretation

Views from the kitchen today Valentines Day




Kimsooj,s Bottari

On October 21st, I visited the Vancouver Art Gallery to meet with fellow artist, Anni Hunt, to browse the new events coming to the gallery. This is a huge gallery located in the middle of Vancouver in a large heritage building. It comes complete with a superb coffee shop, gift shop and multiple concurrent shows. They were just setting up a huge show for Charles Edenshaw who was a premier native artist who lived and produced varied beautiful works in the 19th and 20th centuries. Unfortunately it opens on the same day that we return to England but will be well worth the effort to see as it runs until February 2nd, 2014. We had sneak peeks while they were setting it up.
What we did see was a show by Korean textile artist, Kimsooja. She has used old wearables including old silk pieces, for many of her displays along with many of her stitched works. We took a couple of photos of one of her display rooms along with an explanation of ‘bottari’ as shown below.



Materials Use in Surface Design

After spending so much of the summer travelling to teach and seeing so much of other cultures and learning about other artists it is nice to be back home.The final arrangements are in place for bringing the Dutch felting groups exhibition over to Farfield Mill the same place I have my studio so be nice to share coffee if any members make it up to Cumbria next Spring .

This artist I heard about and find her work fascinating and very candid see what you think

See what she does with grapefruit skins

Look hereScreen Shot 2013-10-04 at 16.14.07






Globe trotting

We have been so busy floating across the pacific to Hawaii on a lovely cruise which took us around the Hawaiian Islands followed by this last two week visit from our dear friend Tina Stiles from Britain where we showed her many beauty spots in the Vancouver area followed by a dative through BC to the Okanagan and Banff to Calgary.
Looking at familiar land through the eyes of some one else is a renewing experience. We indeed live in a stunningly beautiful world.
From the waving palms and Sandy beaches of a hot Hawaii evening to the fresh cold views of BC’s vineyards, forrest’s, and mountains has totally energised the artist within.







Snow in Spring and all that jazz



Spent 3 hours so far today giving each and every Uk member a page of their own on the SDA uk blog

I wonder what will happen to all these pristine blank pages will members fill them with news and imagery and all the exciting things that happen in the life of a Surface Design Artist or will the UK  have the largest blog devoid of any work,we will see.

I decided to challenge myself as I like to do every so often and take an online course slightly to the side of what I normally work on,embroidery is no stranger but it is a while since I learnt new things.

Karen Ruane is the best in the business and runs an awesome online classroom,so off I went.

I am in the middle of lots of work both for myself for my students inmy own  online Nunofelt  course at

getting ready for teaching in Fano and Italy and Belgium this summer,so lots to do without adding more in. In my opinion this is when we are k/at our most receptive to new things and it works for me

Working hard

Why would you turn down free links,publicity for your work etc
The SDAUK blog is looked at by a lot of people but they must think we only have 3 members!

PLEASE email details to add to YOUR page on the blog
Image,website,classes you deliver etc,bolg address

The blog is only as good as what you help it to be

My last commission came via this blog!!

Summer is here again

Hi well Summer is here again and I cannot believe it is nearly a year since I made a plea to SDA UKmembers to send work in to be uploaded or simply give permission for page to be opened in your name to have your links on to blogs websites etc

Our UK branch is proving very very hard to get off the ground and nobody seems to want to do anything or meet etc  what else can we do, what would you like to participate in,our American and Canadian cousins must think we are very apathetic  over here.

There are now 3 authors to the blog so hopefully we will see more articles coming forth.

Enjoy summer do use your blog please


I’d like to invite you all to join in my debate….

Studio ‘v’ Online learning

The internet is taking over all of our lives and bring us so much closer, it’s such an amazing resource of information and connections.  It recently took me 40 hours to get home to the UK from New Zealand, but at the touch of a button I can keep in touch with the other side of the world, relive the experience of the trip and share my adventures with the rest of the planet! [I was fortunate enough to be tutoring at Fibre Arts Australia/Ballarat and Fibre Arts New Zealand/Wanganui]
As a Textile Artist and Tutor I have been fascinated to see how the internet could be used as a teaching tool.  I never thought it possible to teach practical textile skills over the internet, but I’ve have taken several ONLINE classes to see how it feels and now run a collection of my own:  I’d like to open a discussion about your thoughts on these type of ‘distance’ learning scenarios.  I’ve set out a series of ‘pros and cons’ to get you thinking, but what are your experiences?
  • Online workshops are possibly cheaper that studio workshops – less travel & accommodation costs
  • If you can’t travel for what ever reason, you don’t need to miss out
  • You can access information at your convenience & fit it in around your schedule
  • There’s no need to feel intimidated by an experienced group when your learning a new skill
  • There’s time to repeat and go back over exercises to improve & refine [studio workshops can e be time limiting]
  • You can be part of an international online community of creative peers through the workshops groups and blogs
  • It’s the kick start you need to set up your own bit of workspace and identify some creative time
  • Using your own studio/space means you can entwine workshop ideas with your current work: I recently had a weaver on my online screen print course – she was able to print directly on to her warps!
  • Having just experienced the ‘energy’ created at the Textile Forums in Australia and New Zealand, can you really recreated that through a computer screen?
  • The power of Textiles and it’s processes can be ‘felt’ through a group sitting round stitching/knitting/printing and nattering…
  • You need to create your own workspace, have your own tools and bits of equipment
  • Insufficient explanation in the workshop information – maybe you’re left confused, you need a feedback mechanism; some online courses don’t offer this.
  • Some courses are downloadable PDF’s of text and step by step images, some audio over photographs, others are videos [and the quality does vary!]  We all learn in different ways: some of us are visual learners, some auditory, most of us are kinaesthetic which means we learn through watching/listening and trying it for ourselves.  Does the workshop input cater for all these modes of understanding? [it does vary considerably and you need to check whats best for you]
  • Anybody with some computer savvy could throw a workshop onto the web…but are they really a decent teacher?   Good tutors have taught their courses in a studio scenario first and understand student development
  • What about the stuff you don’t know you need to know or ask about??  The incidental conversations that happen over coffee breaks…
A recent online student gave feedback of her own experience:
The videos are brilliant – very clear and easy to follow. Just enough information to be able to get started without overwhelming my limited brainspace! I have to admit to feeling a bit pressured at first when the workshops came thick and fast, but once I started, I found it was good to have all the information at hand when I needed it, rather than having to wait for more to come, so I think getting it all upfront was great – I just needed to calm myself and do it at my own pace!
Although I would have liked to be able to do a workshop with other people around (always great to share ideas and experiences), this has been an invaluable alternative – I have certainly been able to take more time perhaps to consider what I have done before I make the next move, without knowing I have to complete it all by the end of the day, so I have probably spent more time on it than I would have done on a workshop. However, I have tried to treat it like one of your studio workshops and learn the techniques without getting bogged down in developing ideas at this stage. The course has been fantastic for this and I have been inspired by what I have learned – I had never done breakdown printing or used flour paste before, and I am wowed by them both – cant wait to develop them further.
It has been a great way to learn the techniques – I can’t think of any constructive criticism to give – it has been a well planned and structured programme and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. 
Great value, great education and great inspiration!!
Thank you very much for a wonderful time with stimulating ideas and a wealth of inspiration! 
Personally I don’t think online workshops will ever replace the joy of attending a studio situation, but I do believe they have a place and can sit along side the person to person scenario, enhancing and complimenting it to bring more information and creative enjoyment around the world.
If you have taken part in any form of distance/online learning I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences – click the link below, leave your comments  and join the debate!

Thank you! Dionne Swift, Textile Artist and Tutor