Seasonal greetings


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






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


well the light has gone out and it is all over but we have been left legacy and memory.

Kim one of our members visited the Heatherwick Studio in London and allowed me to repost her report here for all on SDA.

As Kim was dicovering this I was busy being excited by another UK artist just emerging who is doing fabulous work with metal

more to follow on this report and imagery as I managed to get to see a full exhibition of the artists work up in Sunderland .


Heatherwick Studio: Designing the Extraordinary at the V&A

 Go, go, go!

This is not another cry of support urging on our Olympic athletes, though Thomas Heatherwick’s breathtaking Olympic cauldron certainly helped set the tone for British achievements at London 2012 (and you can see one of the copper petals close-up at the exhibition).

What I found so stimulating about the exhibition is the Heatherwick approach of starting from the bottom up: experimenting with materials and engineering techniques to see how far they can be pushed, and then finding ways of scaling them up or recreating their forms, often in other materials.

So the Paternoster ventilation ducts were inspired by folding a sheet of A4 paper into isosceles triangles – and then scaling this up to 11 metres of steel (there’s a video of Heatherwick folding the paper in the exhibition).

Paternoster vents (image by antgirl/Flickr)

And a Shingon-hu Buddhist temple in Japan was based on the folds and creases of a rubberised material, while the facade of the Sheung Wan Hotel in Hong Kong resembles a pile of boxes stacked on top of each other.

The extraordinary Bleigiessen sculpture in the Wellcome Trust involved recreating the shape of a molten metal fragment cooled in water, using 150,000 individual glass beads suspended on nearly a million metres of stainless steel wire.

Bleigiessen sculpture (image by Matt from London/Flickr)

Expansion is another theme, from Longchamp’s zip bags, which can be unzipped to grow to twice their size, to furniture that is constructed using a similar pivot mechanism to a garden trellis. And of course there’s the famous Rolling Bridge in Paddington Basin, which curls up into a wheel when boats need to get past.

Rolling Bridge (image by Loz Flowers/Flickr)

In short, this is an exhibition fizzing with inventive ideas, pushed by curiosity about “What if?”.

And don’t miss the chance to have a go in a Spun chair before leaving!

Heatherwick Studio: Designing the Extraordinary runs at the Victoria & Albert Museum until 30 September.

Another WOW

We are so blessed here in the UK  and now a BRAND NEW STUDIO TO PLAY IN

I am going to just copy and paste all this because I cannot say it better and also to say a big Thank you to see this forward thinking duo

providing us with this venue to learn in —Brilliant —-Jealous –yes

Remember us?

Remember us? The people who promised to send you a bulletin ‘two or three times a year’ to keep you updated on our work, workshops, exhibitions and books? Now surfacing after 20 months of total silence.

Maybe you’ve seen us at one of the shows in this period, or been in touch with us some other way.  If so you’ll know what we’ve been up to.  But everyone else deserves an explanation, and it goes something like this…

  • We’ve made a world-class textile facility at Potter’s Farm Studios, which is open to all during Surrey Arts Week
  • Our last book is definitely Making its Mark
  • C2C students have launched two new businesses
  • And we’ve news of our workshop programme

Potter’s Farm Studio

In June 2010 we got planning permission to create a world-class craft studio for the teaching of textile arts.

The background story to this and pictures of the preparatory work will up on the website soon – but we can’t resist showing you this ‘before’ shot.

In August 2010, just after our last e-bulletin, Leon and his crew moved in and 12 months later we could finally shoot some ‘after’ pix of the completed studio.

It was a manic time getting that all ready which, when coupled with the effort that went into our last book (more about which below) left us all exhausted.  And that’s why we’ve been so quiet.

But now we have this fabulous space to work:

  • There are 9 work tables on the main floor, with 3 large sinks.
  • The half-mezzanine has another 2 work tables and a good lunch area
  • The main basement room has 2 more work tables and houses the thermofax machines, two washing machines, all of our stock (cloth, books, extra media etc.) and two even larger sinks.

The loo is beside the basement lobby and the outside courtyard offers a place to have lunch or sit and chat in fine weather.  The old dairy runs along the south side of the courtyard and provides an area for discharge work and covered drying lines.  There’s plenty of parking too, although we keep hoping someone will turn up on a bike.

And that’s because we’ve strived to make Potter’s Farm Studio a truly ‘low carbon’ operation. The barn is airtight, incredibly well insulated, with triple-glazed doors and windows.

The light levels and views are fantastic due as almost 40% of the wall space is glass. It has solar thermal for heating water, photo-voltaic to generate electricity, a ground-source heat pump driving the under floor heating and back-up hot water and a 6,500 litre rainwater collection tank which feeds the loo, washing machines and the wash-up sinks (although we also have mains water for back-up and drinking).  A mechanical ventilation heat recovery system ensures incoming fresh air is warmed by the stale air that is purged from the barn.

So, keep an eye on the website for the main story.  The barn is also available to rent, so if you’re a member of a group or a tutor who’s looking for a perfect working environment, close to main travel routes and with ample parking, do get in contact with Claire at

Open Studios

Potter’s Farm will be open for 5 days during Surrey Open Studios fortnight so if you’re within striking distance come and see a great range of textile art, turned wooden bowls and hand-woven baskets – with on-going demonstrations throughout each day.

Our opening dates and times are from Wednesday 13th to Sunday 17th June, 11am to 6pm, although we’ll be open until 8.30pm on Thursday 14th June. So, we look forward to seeing you for a refreshing glass of home made lemonade!

‘Making your Mark’

Making Your Mark

We also published our seventh book – ‘Making your Mark’ – in August of 2011.  A “smashing success” according to our top US distributor, it explores the magic of using ‘everyday’ tools such as scrapers, rollers, squeeze bottles etc. to create individual, personal marks on cloth or paper.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, there’s a teaser of the 2-hour accompanying DVD and some sample pages on our  website

Here’s what one reader has said…

“your approach is fun, inspirational and fearlessly creative – so very refreshing.  I’m really loving them… and am already stuck in to some experiments and explorations!”

The launch of two businesses by C2C students…

Hand-Dyed Fabric: Jo Lovelock launched her business in November 2011 and is supplying a range of fabric created in her studio in Epsom, Surrey (or at Potter’s Farm when a big mess needs to be made!), using Procion Mx dyes to create light and colour-fast vibrant colours.  The range consists of a variety of fabrics including cottons, silks and linens and a high quality cotton sateen, which is excellent for quilting.

Jo is also stocking cushion kits (in case you know someone who wants to get started with textiles!) and some of the harder-to-find fabrics available at the C2C studio, including cotton sateen, silk-cotton, drill cotton, linen, cotton-linen, pre-scoured calico/muslin, discharge fabrics and polyester ultra-sheer (as used for paper lamination). With the exception of the polyester, all fabrics are PFD, so they’re ready to rock and roll.

The online shop and website is now live, so do get in touch.
(+44) (0) 7890 812857

Thermofax Printing

Thermofax Printing:  Amelia Leigh has started a thermofax service.  You can order your own custom screens or select from a range of ready-made designs.  Amelia also stocks an excellent range of screen inks suitable for textile use, along with a range of acrylic shapes suitable for block printing or as resists for fold-and-clamp Shibori.  She can help you out with custom-made acrylic boxes or box frames – in fact, if there’s something you need in acrylic, then just email Amelia and she’ll bend over backwards to help.

Thank You

So, thanks for registering to hear from us and once again, sorry it’s taken us so long!  We hope 2012 sees you swimming in creativity and generating great results.


Claire, Leslie and James