Monday 24 April 2017


"It's kissing season when the gorse is in bloom...."
a page in my sketchbook

The Cornish landscape is full of inspiration, and there is something special about going to a place where you feel that you have it all to yourself, either by visiting early in the morning or choosing a place that not many people think about going to - or sometimes it's just luck!

I live only three miles from St Ives here in West Cornwall, and whilst I love all that the town offers in its own unique way, I will often travel away from its cobbled streets to strike out along a coastpath or across the moors to a more secluded and peaceful setting.

Recently I had to visit Penzance and drove home along the coastal route, parked up by mine ruins at Carn Galver and took the little path down to the cliffs.  For a while I was the only person there, and I felt my head clear almost instantly.  

All I could hear was birdsong and the thrum of the sea and with every intake of breath, the smell of the gorse was almost intoxicating.  I sat for a little while down on the edge of the cliffs just taking it all in - it was a moment of solitary bliss; a moment when nothing else mattered.

The place to myself at Bosigran

Sitting on the cliffs at Bosigran with a view towards Pendeen Lighthouse

The colours of the landscape are constantly changing - gorse, bracken, granite, heather, blackthorn, the sea and cliffs - it all looks different dependent on the weather, the light and the season.

The gorse along the coast is looking stunning at the moment, and the hedgerows are adorned with a blanket of blackthorn blossom. 

Glorious gorse and blue skies

Gorse and blackthorn

Big wide open landscapes can be quite breathtaking, and can sometimes make us feel small and insignificant as a result, perhaps putting everything about being human in today's society into perspective. We can get so caught up in everyday 'stuff'  that we forget the wonders that are out there to enjoy for free that allow us to just 'be', to breathe and to feel the ground beneath our feet.

On the way back up to the main road from the cliffs at Bosigran

At the weekend, I took an early morning walk from home to the top of Trencrom Hill - it was a little misty and damp but that made it feel a little more lonely, quiet, eerie and even magical. Again, not another soul to be seen - a moment of peace on top of the world.

On Trencrom Hill
 Losing yourself in sewing, felting, painting or anything, can give a similar feeling of peace, when time just skips by and you become totally absorbed.  I think that's perhaps why I feel a bit 'itchy' when I haven't managed to factor in some creative time to my day - it's that need to switch off, have 'me time' or practice something 'mindfully', however you want to describe it!

Using my own photos and sketches, I'm hoping to make a variety of pieces that capture the essence of our ever changing landscape - the sights, sounds, colours and textures that inspire me. It may be a streak of acid green of a field of grass, or a golden cluster of the gorse - looking at nature for the most amazing colour combinations!

To start the ball rolling, I took this painting by Kurt Jackson, which is a favourite of mine, and used it as inspiration for a felted piece.

I laid out the fibres, using those pinks, greens and golds in a loose way.

It always looks rather dreamy in its fluffy state, but looks so different once it's been wet felted and it's easy to lose some of the colours during the process.

I wanted it to be really well felted so that it could be displayed without having to be behind glass, so I did lose a little of the brightness of some of the colours, however it gave me a piece of fabric sturdy enough to stitch into to add more texture and surface interest.

Adding hand stitch to the handmade felt

I am pleased with the final outcome - I've backed it in some fabric and attached a 'hanger' but it could equally be popped in a frame.

I also made a couple of abstract landscape brooches which were fun to do - I used a little bit of cotton doily dyed with Payne's Grey acrylic paint (thinking of the big granite rocks on Trencom)which I stitched onto some handmade felt and cotton scrim, and of course added the usual french knots! I really must expand my stitching knowledge!
One of the landscape brooches

Well, I'll stop rambling now, but just grabbing a few moments of 'solitary bliss' over the last couple of weeks has inspired some new work.  It's not always easy to get those times away from the everyday, but I think I can conclude that it's important to try!  

I'd love to hear your comments or thoughts.

Have a lovely week!

xx Tanya xx


Sunday 9 April 2017


“It's not enough to have the feathers.
You must dare to fly!”

Well, it's been a busy week of work on the farm, but I've managed to grab some time to play around with some of my feathers(see my previous post).

Does anyone else have a stash of art and craft materials just sitting there in a drawer or on a shelf, all neglected?  I know I do - I'm guilty of impulse buying items when they're on offer - you know; BOGOF, buy one get one half price, reduced to clear - I'm a sucker for them all!  I tell myself 'that'll come in day'.

Well I read a lot of books on textile art, mixed media etc and they often list items that you might 'need'.  So when I saw some reasonably priced Gesso and Matt Medium, I snapped them up, not really having a clue what I was going to use them for.

Well they'd gathered a bit of dust...until last week when I broke the seals and dipped in my brush - time to get experimenting!

mono prints on different papers using a Gelli plate

Firstly, I had a bit of printing fun, using my Gelli plate to make monoprints on tissue paper, teabag paper, interfacing and drawing paper. I just kept it simple, making prints with bubble wrap, string and textured papers (I'm new at the Gelli plate, but the potential with that is endless).

I'd read somewhere about photocopying onto tissue paper by first lightly ironing it onto freezer paper, and then feeding it through the printer.  Thankfully, it worked without jamming (I did shut my eyes and grimace as I did it!)  and the resulting photocopy of a feather was quite pleasing which I just peeled back off the freezer paper before using.
The photocopy of a feather onto tissue paper

So with some things to work with, I used the matt medium as a 'glue' to fix down the papers onto a 7 x 5 inch canvas board, and brushed the medium over the top as well.

I liked the way the tissue paper stayed transparent and the print details remained visible.

I then wondered if I could incorporate some of my pressed flowers, so took a couple of hydrangea flowers and put them down carefully - again I brushed medium gently over the top to 'seal' them in.  I did the same with some thread.

I decided I wasn't keen on it, so just turned it 90 degrees to portrait and I found it much more pleasing. I must remember that tip and not write something off before simply turning it and looking at it from a different viewpoint.

So, what about this Gesso?  Well, rightly or wrongly, I just applied a thin layer of it all over the board so that you could still see the prints and details but it toned down the strong colours to a very muted palette.

After leaving it to dry out, I added a bit more interest with bubble wrap print, a bit of glittery embossing powder (wondered why I bought that!!) and dabbed some iridescent medium around a stencil of a feather that I'd cut out of freezer paper.

I also used some oil pastels to add little highlights here and there which worked really well. 

I called it a day at that point - I think the end result isn't too bad considering I didn't really have any firm plan before I started. 

So I conclude that mixed media and collage is a whole lot of fun - I'm lacking finesse and knowledge, and I've probably broken a few 'rules' (they're made for breaking though, right?) but even if I don't create something that's good enough to display or sell, it's definitely good for the soul and a wonderful creative outlet; something you can drop and come back to - also, if you're not happy with it, you can always paint over it and start again!

Sticking with the feather theme, I also did a bit of simple solar printing.  I dampened some old cotton sheeting, and put a wash of watered down acrylics over it. I pinned some feathers down as best I could and also laid down a couple of stencils.  I put this out in the sun to dry out before removing the feathers etc.  The stencils worked well, but it was difficult to get full contact between the sheeting and the feathers, so they were quite subtle prints.

I also had chance to do a  bit of needlefelting over a couple of evenings - a wool sketch of one my feathers.  

I like the idea of doing a feather brooch, but I'll have to shelve that idea for another day.


As I was using Gesso for the first time, it seemed apt that the latest blog to drop into my inbox was one from Carolyn Saxby - you can find her blog here .  Her blog detailed the using of Gesso in different ways in surface treatment - who knew it could be so versatile!

So there are definitely more 'play days' ahead for using my 'special offer bargains' in creative brainstorming!

Have a lovely week ahead

xxx Tanya xxx

Monday 3 April 2017


“Hope is the thing with feathers 
That perches in the soul 
And sings the tune without the words 
And never stops at all.” 

To collect, to gather, to accumulate... 

I like having my little collections - feathers, pebbles, dried flowers - picked up on walks and visits to different places. I like how some items bring back a memory of a certain time and place - the dotty feathers above were picked up during a visit to Trengwainton Gardens with an elderly relative. We'd had a lovely day, and there were guinea fowl on the big lawn in front of the main house - lucky for me there were some shed feathers on the grass which I swiftly pocketed!

Pebbles and shells collected from local beaches, and also from further afield - I have a lovely jug full of beach 'memories' from our visit to the Isle of Skye - but best not start me on that as I think I could probably write one or two blogs on our wonderful visit to Scotland!

Pottery pieces picked up in our farm fields, particularly after they've been ploughed. Who knows how old they are, or who used them!

Driftwood picked up from Porthkidney Beach, which is a local beach to us here in Lelant, just outside St Ives in Cornwall. Beautifully smooth and bleached by the sea and sun.

Vintage doilies and linens - I was lucky enough to inherit a small suitcase full of old linens and doilies - some of them can be incorporated into the felting process which can give some really interesting results.

Nature's pickings - cones, dried, pressed flowers and acorns. I recently tried using the pressed flowers for printing which was quite successful, so definitely something to explore further.

Teabag paper - used, dried, emptied and ironed. Some have been rust stained as well. These are great for collaging or drawing and painting onto.


I have used mussel shells to inspire recent work which turned out really well, so I'm going to delve into my 'collections' to get new ideas and inspiration. The whole using a sketchbook, exploring shapes and patterns seemed to lead to good things, so I think I need to slow down, take time to look and 'play' with ideas rather than just diving straight into what I hope will become a finished piece of work!! (so impatient!) 

Sketching and playing with shapes and patterns

Some finished pieces of work inspired by my sketchbook


I grabbed some time at the weekend to do a bit of felting. I gathered together a little bit of inspiration by way of driftwood, curly locks, rust stained chiffon and coarse wool roving. I had a light shade in mind, and laid out fibres around a resist to get a seamless shape. It was successful, though I haven't completed the 'mechanics' of hanging it as a shade I'm thinking that if it doesn't work out it would make a pretty good bowl!

laying out dry fibres and locks 

The fibres wetted out 

Drying after been rubbed, rolled, thrown, rinsed and reshaped! 

Nice textures! 

Those curly locks felted in well! 

Dry - and letting in the light! 

I laid the fibres out as thinly as I could, so that it would let the light through - I love the organic look and feel of it.

I could go into the felting process in much more detail, but there are so many resources out there which will probably do a better job than me! One of the sites I used to visit was Rosiepink which has a few tutorials on there. Books, Youtube, local classes - all just to learn the basics, and then just play at it! Anyone can do it - honestly! It's like a little bit of woolly magic!


I think I'm going to revisit my collection of feathers, and dig out my sketchbook and see if I can get inspired to produce some new art this week - I'll let you know how I get on in my next blog!


Well I hope you've enjoyed this instalment - do hope I haven't waffled too much! It would be great to hear from you - please leave a comment to say 'Hi!' or let me know what sort of things you just can't help collecting.

Better still, follow this blog by email - that way you'll never miss one and it will just pop into your inbox for you to read at your own leisure. The 'follow by email' box is at the top of the blog.

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XXX Have a great week! XX