Friday, 29 June 2012

Jack Cunningham

Hello everyone!

Another of my favourite jewellery designers is Mr Jack Cunningham (no relation to me :P).  His particular interest is to tell stories through his narrative jewellery.  I first became aware of his work when I was studying Higher Art.  I wasn't able to find out a lot about him so I wrote to him asking if he could give me anymore information.  He was lovely enough to write back and told me to go to the Glasgow School of Art, (where he was teaching at that time), where he had left me a collection of books and CD's about himself and his work.

He also left me a wee note, (at that time I was trying to decide whether to do textiles or jewellery), he suggested that I go do a short course in jewellery to see if I liked it.  So I booked myself in for a ten week course to learn basic silver-smithing.  I soon learned that it was not for me, as I managed to melt and scorch everything that I made.  I am ashamed to show you what I made, please don't laugh to hard - 

A wonky ring and a very wobbly tear shaped pendant, which did have little balls, but they ummmm kinda fell off after I had used the blow torch on it :s

I emailed Mr Cunningham and asked if he would like to do a small interview for my blog.  Unfortunately he was very busy with events at the moment, however he said the answers can be found at his website

Here is his Artist Statement - 

"I would describe narrative jewellery as a wearable object that contains a comment or message, which the maker strives to communicate to an audience through the use of visual representation....
For the person wearing the jewellery there is a need to interpret the work and through this personal interpretation, there is empathy, felling and human interaction.  The desire of the wearer to make his or her own personal statement is important, and this enables them to become part of this process of communication with a wider audience.
I work exclusively with the brooch form to explore personal narratives or stories.  Images which keep cropping up are the house shape, the sycamore seed and the "kit" form.  The sycamore seed is playful.  It evokes places or personal importance and is perfectly formed for its purpose.  It symbolises renewal and growth, flight and fecundity and has universal appeal.  The house acts as a metaphor  for our own personal world, our most private space.  The "kit" series explores our relationship with others."

I would just like to thank Mr Cunningham for giving me permission to write this post.  All pictures are from "On The Line" by Jack Cunningham. 

Dittery Dot

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Peek Into My Art Hole!


You know you find lots of long forgotten things in sewing boxes, ribbon bins and button boxes.  I was having a bit of a clear out, I had so much paper and odds and ends, spools of ribbon mixed up with knitting needles etc.  I always loved those shows that showed you the inside of people's houses, (I love a nosey around), so I thought I'd give all of you a peek at my stash! 

So this motivated me to get my art stuff in order once and for all! (or for at least a week :P).  

My sewing box is looking a bit neater? Don't you think so?  I even have flower pots in there because I don't know where else to store them :P

The bottom compartment is still a bit messy but at least all my threads are together and I have another tin for all my DMC floss and Anchor threads.  I am a very organised girl!

In another small sewing box I have all my beads, flowers, sequins etc.  And in an old butter tub that belonged to my gran I have my buttons and odds and ends. 

Ribbons are still a bit of a mess :S.  I have managed to squish them into a zipped bag but when it opens the ribbons spring out and kinda look like a burst couch :(  But it would be a very colourful couch :)

Hopefully I can keep it tidy for a while . . . . . perhaps not :P  

Dittery Dot

Monday, 18 June 2012

Be Sure To Wear A Flower In Your Hair

Anyone that know's me will know that I always have a flower in my hair.  I started wearing them in high school and now if I don't have one on I don't feel dressed.  After a while I got bored with shop bought hair clips because you would end up seeing at least one other girl wearing the same one.  So I decided that I would make my own.  It took me a while to find the bobby pins I needed.

I purchased these ones from Etsy, but I have seen them on Ebay too.  The wee disc on them makes it sooo easy to stick buttons, flowers etc to them.  These ones are just plain metal disc pins but you can buy copper, silver and gold ones too.  They come in all different sizes, so you can make your flower as big or as little as you like. 

So all you need to make your clips are some pretty flowers or buttons (or anything else you fancy) and a hot glue gun.  I've found that the glue gun is the best thing to use, superglue is really messy and leaves ugly white marks on the back of the pins if you're not careful.  On the right are my finished hair clips. 

Here are a few more that I created.  I got a set of wooden lady bugs at a wee craft store because I thought they were really cute and the butterflies were from a craft fair.  It's very easy to pick up bits and bobs cheaply.  I think they look very pretty and more importantly they are unique :)

Dittery Dot

Dittery Dot Strikes Again

I am such a dittery dot sometimes!  When I wrote my post about Rob Ryan I meant to mention that I had completed my Emily Peacock/Rob Ryan cushion.  So here it is.

Once I found out that Rob Ryan had designed a cross stitch with Emily Peacock I couldn't wait to get it for Christmas (Santa was very very good to me).  I was like a woman possessed once I started it, always had it out while watching tv, and doing a few stitches before I had to go to work.  It says "Give me work to last me all of my life" around the edge of the cushion.  The finished size of the cross stitch is approximately 19 inches in diameter, so it's pretty big.  You can purchase your own at - or on Rob Ryan's Etsy shop -

The wee birdies are my favorite part of the design and it makes me smile when I see them working away.  Once the cross stitch was all finished I decided to make it into a cushion.  I was really nervous about doing this because I have never turned a cross stitch into a cushion and I didn't want to ruin it after all the months of stitching.  So I emailed Ms Peacock and she was kind enough to give me a ring and talk me through it.

I purchased my fabric and trims from the haberdashery store Mandors, and my cushion pad was from The Feather Company.  This pad had to be specially made, it's a drum cushion.  So it's 19 inches in diameter and 4 inches deep.

Everyone keeps asking where I am going to display it because it's so big.  My boyfriend asked if he can put his feet or sit on it, and the answer was "Nooooooo!, it's just to look at!"  If I catch anyone tying to sit on it they will have a sore bottom :P  

Dittery Dot

Just A Quickie...

Hello peoples!  
Just a super quick update on my hug cushion.

I think it's coming along nicely, this cushion doesn't seem to be taking as long as I thought it would.  I have another cushion to do after this.  Really really looking forward to doing it :) But I will tell you all about it later.

I best go and get myself to work!

Dittery Dot

Friday, 15 June 2012

Child's Play

Child's Play was a project all about childhood.  My inspiration for this project was items that I would play with and collect as a child - Gran's sewing box, buttons, knick knacks, feathers, keys etc.  I have only put in a few pictures in this post but you can find the rest in the gallery page of my blog.  Please go and have a look :)

A lot of my drawings in this project were done using my right hand (I'm a lefty), which made  the lines more child like and free.  I had even gone to the local primary school and had the Primary One class do me lots of lovely pictures that I was able to incorporate into my project.  It was a good experience to watch them draw as they don't care if they have made a mistake.  

As the project continued my work became more and more bold and graphic.  I really wanted to use the buttons and flowers as these really stood out.

After I had experimented with lots of different designs, I decided that I was going to use the flower motif as my final design (shown on left).  I took this design and put it onto screens so I could use it to do screen printing.  Below are the two final printed material samples, I have about a metre of each.


I still haven't made these fabrics into anything.  They may look good as cushions or maybe sewn up into a bag.

Dittery Dot

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Tweet Tweet, It's Abigail Brown

I love to watch wee birdies, the way they fly around with careful grace and hop around the garden.  Just as long as they don't fly too near me am totally fine, but have been known to flail my arms around and squeal if one gets to close.

I came across Abigail Brown's work while searching for birds on Etsy, and immediately fell in love with her stunning creations.

I got in touch with Ms Brown and she was delighted to be included in my blog, however she is extremely busy at the moment and was unable to answer my questions.  But she said I could find the answers on her website.  So that is what I've done :)  I have just set it out in Q&A format so it is easier to read.

- Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

Abigail spent large amounts of time as a child in the company of her Grandma, an incredibly talented , hardworking seamstress, in a house strewn with loose threads and scraps of fabric.  "My Grandma had a beautiful patchwork bag she kept all her fabric scraps in, "the raggy bag", and when I was old enough to display my feelings of desire for this magical object full of wondrous bits of colour, pattern and texture, she made me my very own, much littler version." 

- What made you decide to pursue a career in textiles?

Abigail studied a BA in Surface Decoration and Printed Textiles, graduating in 2003.  During and since that time she has worked as a designer and illustrator of children's books, children's wear, stationery, and greeting cards and produced work for the advertising industry - all whilst continually exploring ideas in fabrics for herself.

- Where do you get your inspiration from?

Abigail is a continuous collector of fabrics, either bought new or used items.  Her work centres around animals because they fascinate and inspire her.

-Do you have any new projects/exhibitions coming up?

Cockpit Arts Open Studios

Holborn: 15th - 17th June
Deptford: 22nd - 24th June


All Abigail's  work is created and hand sewn by herself in her studio.  Each piece is lovingly crafted with care and attention and each piece is unique.

I would just like to thank Ms Brown for giving me permission to use photographs from her website and letting me write a post on her :)  You can find out more at her website and/or at her Etsy Shop

Dittery Dot

Tilleke Schwarz

Hello everyone!

I first came across Tilleke Schwarz's work when we took a University trip to the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show.  I remember being amazed at the sheer detail that had gone into each piece of work.    I ended up visiting her stand several times and noticed more and more details each time.  I had to buy her book and spent the bus ride home drinking in the wonderful images.

I contacted Ms Schwarz to ask if I could write this blog post about her, she said yes! :)  I got most of the answers to my questions from her website -  She has a very extensive Q&A section, you must go and read some of the daft questions she has been asked over the years, some are pretty amusing :P  There are also loads more beautiful photographs of her work and you can even purchase some pieces from her shop.

 - Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

My work is a mixture of graphic quality, content and fooling around.  The humor in my work is typical for my Jewish background:a mixture of a laugh and a tear.  Folk art and daily life are great sources for inspiration.  I use mixed media with a focus on embroidery on linen and on drawings and paintings.
My work can be understood as a kind of visual poetry.  It is a mixture of contemporary influences, graffiti, icons, texts and traditional images from samplers.  The embroidery contains narrative elements.  Not really complete stories, with a beginning, a storyline, and an end.  On the contrary, the narrative structures are used as a form of communication with the viewer.
The viewer is invited to decipher connections or create them.  The viewer may assemble the stories and to produce chronological and casual structures.  Actually the viewer might step into the role of the "author."  It can become a kind of play between the viewer and me .  The work also relates to the history of humanity that is determined through stories.

-Where do you get your inspiration from?

I collect images and texts that intrigue, move or amaze me. Anything can inspire me. Most important are: folk art (especially samplers), daily news, cats and scraps of textiles.  I am influenced mostly by my parents and the way I was brought up.  I love folk art (especially Dutch samplers), pop art, graffiti and contemporary art (after 1980).

-Do you have any new projects/exhibitions coming up?

In 2012 I will only show one piece of work, at Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show,  but in 2013 (Autumn) there will be more!
  • Textiel triennial Without Borders.  Travelling group exhibition in 2012 en 2013 in Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary.  For details see -
  • Galery Noord, "Texflex" Groningen (NL) group exhibition, July 2012, see
  • Holden Gallery, Manchester (UK), 50 years 62 group, July 2012
  • Waterland Museum, Purmerend (NL) 10+10 =100 August 28 till September 3rd, group show.
  • Yellow Fellow Collection, Leidschendam (NL) from September 1st 2012, group show, see:
  • Knitting and Stitching Shows in London, Dublin and Harrogate (UK) Autumn 2012.  To support the sales of the book Push Stitchery.
  • Galery Handwerk Munchen (D) "Nadelweke/ Needleworks" October 16th - November 17th.  It is a group show of about 25 international artists.  For details see:
Ms Schwarz has a lovely new book out, "New Potatoes" .  It contains new work, (2007- 2012), and a lot of background information.  You can send an email to if you would like to see a preview of the book or be informed about the price.  If you would like to know more about this book then please go to

I hope that I will be able to go to the Knitting and Stitching Show this year to see all her wonderful new work! 

I would just like to thank Ms Schwarz for letting me write this post :).  All photographs came from her website and are copyright of Tilleke Schwarz. 

Dittery Dot

Sunday, 10 June 2012

The Quirky Rachael Howard

Hello everyone!

I have been a great admirer of Rachael Howard's work for many years.  She heavily influenced my stitch work at College and University.  She likes to capture people, observing their postures, funny expressions and activities they are doing in spontaneous sketches.  She then translates this into fabric, using stitch.  Her graphic textile images are quirky and beautifully presented.


I contacted Ms Howard to ask permission to write a post about her and she agreed to a little interview and gave me some images to use :) 

- Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? (This is her Artist profile 2012 that she sent me)

Rachael has been a successful practising textile artist and designer since leaving the Royal College of Art in 1992 as one of the first post graduate students of Embroidery.
Since then, she has become one it's most respected practitioners.  Her graphic, lively sketches  of everyday life typify her powers of observation and knack for catching the moment.  She has pioneered a lively mix of embroidery and screen printing techniques, using image, text and object to tell - often autobiographical - stories of the everyday.

Rachael regularly exhibits her work nationally and internationally.  She is a committee member of the highly regarded 62 Group of Textile Artists; they have an active exhibiting program, with a forthcoming 2013 show in Tokyo, Japan.

Rachael has been involved in many public art commissions from cushion for benches in Newbury Library to a wall-hanging for the Museum of Science and Industry in Berlin.  She has also worked as a freelance designer and illustrator for many companies including Paul Smith, Habitat, Liberty and magazines such as Selvedge.  She has her own collections of ties and interior accessories which she sells at events such as the Crafts Council' Origin Fair.

Rachael has been visiting lecturer at many universities and colleges in the UK and abroad including MMU, Goldsmiths and Central St Martins.  She has received a number of awards for her work and teaching , in 1997 she was shortlisted for the prestigious Jerwood Prize for Applied Arts and won the Artworks Award for Art in Education in 2003 and 2004, whilst artist in residence at Lauriston Primary School in her then home town of Hackney.

Rachael recently relocated to Wirral, after living nearly 20 years in the creative hub of Hackney, East London.  Since arriving, Rachael has lead workshops for The Big Draw and outreach art workshops in the local community.

Starting this Autumn, Rachael will be running Sketching Workshops from her Wirral Studio, if you would like further information please email:

- What made you decide to pursue a career in textiles?

I love sketching and I love fabrics.  I like to use colour in my sketches with all the different fabric colours and patterns and then use machine stitch for details and textures.

-Where do you get your inspiration from?

I like to draw whatever is going on around me, people jogging in the park, dogs, ducks, window cleaners...

-Do you have any new projects/exhibitions coming up?

I have a solo exhibition "Lost and Found" currently showing at the National Trust's Quarry Bank Mill, Styal, Cheshire.  On from 30th March - 24th June 2012.

I really love looking at her work it just makes me want to start sewing.  I just want to thank Ms Howard for taking the time to answer my questions and share her work.  All images are copyright of Rachael Howard.  You can find more of her work on her website -

Dittery Dot

Monday, 4 June 2012

Tweet Tweet

Tweet Tweet!

Well today I have been brought kicking and screaming into the world of Twitter :S  You can follow my dittery tweets by following me on Twitter @ditterydots 

Dittery Dot

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Claire Corstorphine

Hello lovely people!

I recently went to my sister's final degree show exhibition in Dundee.  All the work produced was really beautiful and to a very high standard.  A few people's spaces really stood out for me and I collected business cards so I could get in touch and look at their websites.

One girl's work that inspired me, and made me say "ooooh I love that one and that one, nooo that one!" was Claire Corstorphine.  She had designed a collection of gorgeous scarves, all in lovely pastel colours, which is right up my street :)


So I got in touch and she agreed to tell me all about her work :D

-  Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I am a 27 year old digital print designer and recent graduate of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, based in Cellardyke, Fife.  For my final year project I took the theme of evolution as inspiration for a selection of silk twill scarves, developed for women's wear.  With the progression of technology in the 21st century, digital printing has enabled the production of photographic quality designs, capturing details and effects that may not otherwise be achievable thorough traditional methods of screen printing, which I find really exciting.  I have used a mixture of digital collage and illustration; exploring darwinian imagery from the natural world like flowers and insects, along side images of bones and fossils, in order to create a quirky aesthetic.  Images of cells and microbes act as reference to the creation of life, also echoed in the development of spiral shapes; a reoccurring sequence found in nature. Further development of drawing proceeds to strange mutant beings, influenced by the progression of natural selection towards modern day artificial creation.

- What made you decide to study textiles?

From a young age I've always had an interest in art and design and amongst the many wild notions of what I wanted to be when I grew up (professional gladiator being one!) I remember wanting to be an 'inventor'. After leaving high school I still didn't know exactly what I wanted to do although I knew it was of a creative nature, so I embarked on various college courses in order to build my portfolio and apply to art school to find out what it was that I wanted to do. During this time it was the textile related modules that got me particulary excited and I feel taking the time to discover this was definitely benefitial and gave me various skills and different ways of looking at things that I could later apply in my design practice; a grown-up version of 'inventing' I suppose!


- Where do you get your inspiration from?

I like sillyness and absurdity; life's little oddities that just have a quirkyness about them or a story to tell, so narrative would be a big inspiration. I like to collect things that are considered 'kitsch' or 'retro', again relating to the idea of nostalgia and memory.Charity shops are an exciting and dangerous place, I think I'm on first name terms with most of the volunteers now! They're always full of wonderful things to draw, or extract detail from and even use as physical material.

- What is next for you?

Next on the agenda is New Designers at the end of June, an exhibition and platform for design graduates from all across the UK which is held in London. Hopefully this will help generate some positive interest in my work. After New Designers, I will continue to further develop my collection and get a professional website up and running to fully showcase my work, as well as the odd visit to the charity shops of course!

I love love love the butterfly print in the picture above and the pink flower scarf, they would go perfectly with my blazer and jackets :P

I just want to thank Claire for letting me write about her.  All the photos in this blog are copyright of Claire Corstorphine. You can follow Claire at 

Dittery Dot