26 September 2013

Autumn Light

We have a beautiful Autumn morning here, cold, sunny, damp and misty.

I was off out of the door with DS at 7.35am and headed up the hill for an hours walk.
I'm just enjoying a cup of coffee and then I'm back to painting cupboards in the studio.
The redecoration / clean up is going well and should be completed soon.

Thought you would like to see some pictures from this mornings walk. 

Morning Glory

Haugh Head

Haugh Head 2

SUnlight through gate





21 September 2013

Another book pile

To keep the tidying up energy flowing I put peppermint oil in the diffuser and started on the sketchbook / notebook pile.



Or rather, piles of books.

The After Shot;

Books2 001

Took me all afternoon as I couldn't resist flicking through pages.
A really early book from 2000, Motherhood has turned out wonderfully, though maybe not quite as I expected it to as you can see from this cartoon. 
I'll have to redraw with one very special, floppy eared, suffolk lamb. 


Pugin, from 2004/5.  
To be resurrected as inspiration soon.



Roses from a C&G sketchbook.  Back in the day when you had to photocopy and paste, I hadn't found Photoshop then.
We have an old rose that grows by the Victorian Level Crossing gate posts.  Its beauty is brief, but stunning.



This sketchbook was created for part one, the designs were used for  a Mediaeval styled bodice.

Still one of my favourite pieces of work.

Bodice Front

Bodice close

Bodice Side

Stonewall studies, also from C&G days but later - Diploma in 2003/4.


19 September 2013

Chaos in the book department

The "Great Tidy Up before Repainting" is still underway.  Yesterday was the book department.

It all descended into chaos at one point...

Chaos 001

Some things can be thrown out!


The right hand side "bookcase" (an old singer treadle machine) was sorted fairly quickly with quilting and general sewing books.

Books tidy

On the left hand side, I thought about putting hand threads and beads on the bookshelf….. but soon realised that didn't work and felt wrong.

Threads shelf

So they went onto the trolley, I wanted them off the shelves - and all those sketchbooks in the background will get a sort out tomorrow.


So what to put on the shelf?

Start at the beginning with the most important book.  "Stitch Magic" so aptly named.  THE book that started all of this many years ago.

Side by side with Indian and ethnic embroidery books. 

Stitch magic

It was a gloriously sunny day yesterday in complete contrast to today.  I took advantage to deadhead the flowers - which seem to be having a second flourish  
This garden has amazed me this year.
I've got so much to learn about plants, I've just been making it up this year.

My white garden is looking fabulously serene.  The tiny Cosmos seedlings have really blossomed.  
Not bad for a free packet of seeds! 




In complete contrast the house border, very much under construction, is a riot of clashing colours.

My new dahlia has been named Floozie and she's settling in well.

DSC 0396 


Orange  purple

Can anyone tell me the name of the purple flowers?  They have a really unusual structure.

Orange flower




17 September 2013

Back to the studio / day 1

A report for my friends Dorothy and Sue :)
To prove that I DID make my way across the garden to the blue shed for the start of a new working year.

I started by sketching and dissecting some poppies, but soon realised that I have forgotten how to draw.
Something to work on! 

Studio 1

Whilst the water-colour paint was drying I pulled out all my old C&G notes and samples.
When the studio collapsed in 2009 they were all thrown into a box…. and now, at last, I've got around to sorting them out.

Samples in folders are pointless, so I've decided to take them out of the plastic and mount them onto thick khadhi paper. 

Studio 2

Still a long way to go, but by the end of the day I had a growing pile on the sofa.

Studio 3

As for sorting out the paper notes….. argh!  Nightmare time ahead.

12 September 2013


 Poppies have long been a favourite flower of mine.

I think its the floozie red colours, delicate nature of the petals, their movement in the wind and the fleeting appearance.

This year these flowers have been growing for months and months in the studio border.  
I'm not quite sure how I managed that, but they are spectacular.

The Twyne Textile Group has recently secured an exhibition opportunity at Wallington House (National Trust), with the concept of capturing the "Spirit of Wallington".
I've decided to take my poppies (a feature of the house) and combine with a quote from the greenhouse and run with that.   

I am hoping to be able to expand on the WW1 theme if a grant application is successful, the waiting to find out is stressful!!!
It would be such a fantastic opportunity and I am trying not to get TOO excited until its all signed and date stamped. 

It's a happy start to the new working year which begins, officially, on the 16th September as I need this week to tie up some loose ends.




9 September 2013


Today marks the 500th Anniversary of the Battle of Flodden, around 14,000 men died in these fields 500yrs ago today.  
It was the last great medieval battle and disastrous for the Scottish - who lost their King.

More information here.

This view points towards our house around 14 miles away, situated where the Earl of Surrey camped his army.  
Our neighbours house is called "Surrey House" as a memory link to this.

It's an eerie place, the land holds lots of memories.




4 September 2013

Four Months of Journal Quilts

JQ May 2013 Helen Cowans


Naturally dyed fabrics and silk thread with Shisha mirrors


JQ July 2013 Helen Cowans


Using some tissuetex (thanks Caroline!) and brusho inks to form the background.  
Then printed using a lino cut I made for C&G and the new mangle.  
Stitched in red and black silks.  Great fun!


JQ June 2013 Helen Cowans

 Acrylic paint on calico and more printing, same silks.

JQ August 2013 Helen Cowans

This is my favourite piece, acrylic paint on artists canvas, several lino prints and more stitching in silk.

Drum Roll News……..
I have a Facebook Page up and running and aim to get some additional information up on there over the next few weeks, so please go and "like" me!



3 September 2013

Its September!

Well school started back again today and DS is now at High School.
I've spent the day being a stressed out mother not because of the school starting but because of school transport.
Anyway, lets leave that behind for the day. 


I did mean to spend the whole day in the studio, but things conspired against me (see above).

Over the whole school holidays the only thing to happening in the studio has been the arrival of some kit;
A golden find in the local auction house.  

I've been looking out on Ebay but they go for a LOT more than I paid for this one
(complete with washboard, tongs, nappy bucket, metal bowl - all good for natural dyeing- and a china bowl).



There has been some stitching and tomorrow I'll have the latest four Journal Quilts ready for you to see.

Meanwhile, this is what I've been doing with my time.  

Before in May…. and After taken today.


If you want to follow my progress through the year take a look at my gardening record.

Photos were taken on the iPad, so they aren't the usual quality, but they do show a real progression.

Start in March;




Studio border


Studio and flowers

Studio flowers