Angie Hughes Workshop

A handful of spaces left on Angie Hughes Workshop.. sign up quick! 

We will be using fabric, stitch and mixed media techniques to make a mini book and a beautiful book cover/wrap. Looks to be a fantastic day with a fantastic teacher so don’t miss out!

Details under the workshop tab or use the contact form if you’d like more details and/or to book.

Becca x 

Ears

As part of my ‘invisible’ theme, I’d really like some (lots!) of photos of ears – all ears! BUT especially ears with hearing aids or cochlear implants and any other form of hearing aid!

Would you mind taking a selfie (or as I have just discovered that taking a selfie of your own ear is rather awkward.. ask someone else to take a photo!) or a family/friend’s ear – in fact as many ears as you can and email the photos to me at beccabirtles@gmail.com. Could you also give me permission to use the photo(s) in any artwork I do.

I have put an old photo of me below showing the sort of photo that I am after (it is old.. I had my CI in 2008 so this is pre-then!!)

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Thank you in advance!

Becca xx

Holidays and thinking time…

We’ve just had the May/June half term and the 4 of us took a much needed break chugging along the Worcester and Avon canal and River Severn aboard narrowboat Fosse. It’s a peaceful way to while away a few days, just you and the canal/river and some locks – thankfully I have strong boys to do the lock gates!  

On the River Severn

This time we decided to go to Gloucester for a look round the Waterways Museum before turning round an heading back to our mooring, it’s a gentle route as the river is the majority of the journey so way fewer locks than if we went the other way and have to work through the Tardebigge flight – a staircase of 30 locks! (Done many times, we needed a break this time 😉 ).


We timed our journey onto the river just right and met the high spring tide. Normally the weirs and locks hold back the daily tide but at high spring tide, the water goes over the weirs and make the river tidal as far as the River Severn’s Upper Lode lock, near Tewksbury. Because of the force of the water and the amount of debris (I’m talking massive tree trunks!), it’s recommended that boats are moored up so we moored for lunch near Haw Bridge and watched the tide turn and turn again.  The river raised by a good 10 inches – the pontoon was above the deck when we moored up but the tidal water rose the boat up so the deck was much higher than the pontoon – fascinating to see the tides in action as its something that most of us don’t normally think about!

Heading into Gloucester

I did take my daily stitch project with me (not that I looked at it once!) plus a few non-fiction books (I won’t include the mountain of fiction I read last week!): ‘The Creative Habit’ – Twyla Tharp, ‘Imagine: How Creativity Works’ – Jonah Lehrer and Gwen Hedley’s ‘Drawn to Stitch’ along with the information for my new course summer project. So a lot of reading and a lot of thinking..

My workbook is looking a bit like this:

Full of jottings of dictionary meanings and thesaurus alternatives as I figure out how the project can fit with my ‘invisible’ theme.

Words such as facade, complex, shadow, narrative, decay, imperfect perfect, fragment, delicate, and conversations were on the list. All words with meanings I can work with. 

While thinking about these words, I’ve been thinking about my limitations – the limitations I’m choosing to put on myself, that is, the techniques and stitches that I’ve decided I want try and focus on. I don’t wish to be too restrictive but I need to get rid of the “child in a sweet shop” feeling when it comes trying to choose what technique to use. I cannot be the only one that feels that way.. can I?!

Funnily enough, I’m guessing not as I arrived home to watch the first of TextileArtist.org‘s free video training about developing a clear system for experimenting with textiles and building a confident personal visual vocabulary. And one of the first key points was “limitations turn problems into possibilities”! If you haven’t watched the series yet, do. Well worth a watch and a think about.

So lots of thinking going on, lots of scribbling in my notebook and lots of ideas pinging while I figure out which way next for my course work and which way next for my own work – oh and do the two meet? I can’t think for too long as I need to do some sketchbook work, hopefully I can show you some soon.

But…first day back off holiday and last day before schools went back and my youngest went “oh I’ve got art homework due in tomorrow! I need to make a model of a sea urchin”  WHAT?!!  We looked quickly at pictures of sea urchins and I realised one of my favourite techniques would be easy and quick enough for a 12 year old to do. So I set him up with water-soluble fabric, threads, fruit net and some toy stuffing then the sewing machine and left him to get on with making his sea urchin – before you panic, he’s an expert on using a sewing machine 😉

Look at what he made!

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Isn’t that cool! 

New Website!

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Well as you have probably gathered, I have a new website!  Wix was good in that it was easy to set up but… iPhone browsers did not like Wix and that was causing so many issues. So the decision was made to change to a new website and here we are!

I have only moved the most recent blog posts over (so much cut and pasting :-S ) but the others are still on the old website for and I will try and move them over at a later date.

Please have a good ‘nosy’ around my new site – remember there are spaces on workshops available if you’d like to come and join us!

Invisible – ribs

As I  mentioned in my last post, I’ve spent time over the last couple of months obsessed with ribs and the rest of the human skeleton. I’ve been sketching, playing with shapes, patterns, looking at materials and generally just trying to figure out how to take my first idea of ribs with red lines of pain coming between the bones to show how my Fibromyalgia is causing costochondritis pain and a feeling that someone is trying to pull my ribs away from my spine and breast bone.  I ended up working a sample of a germ of an idea to see if it would work.

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I layered up stretched out fruit net between 2 layers of water-soluble fabric. Drew my design on and then started to stitch. It was at this point that I realised my original idea wouldn’t work, the depth would be flat and I wanted to try and show that it wasn’t a flat shape. So I ordered some dark grey thread and kept stitching. It was only a sample, I just needed to see if my rough idea would work.

Can  you see the ribs now? The dark grey thread for the spine and the curve of the ribs at the back did help show depth.

Dissolving the water-soluble fabric away:

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Drying the stitched design over the side of a mug to get a slight curved shape. It worked! The stitching has all held! Can’t see any depth as the threads are soaked and barely any colour difference can be seen:

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Finished sample:

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I am so pleased! It’s not perfect but it is a sample and samples are about figuring out the design, the techniques etc   I know where I am taking this idea next but for now, I’m basking in the joyfulness of knowing my sample worked!!!

I’m now working on the next sample idea and figuring out if the idea for my finished piece will work. And helping me with that is my new friend.

Meet Stan:

 Stan

One of my thoughts about the sample was that I’d really like to work bigger but trying to draw correct sizes when using a tiny drawing in an artists anatomy book was proving difficult. I tried to find a skeleton in a local museum with no success and the Royal College of Surgeons Museum in London is closed for refurbishment till 2020. So onto google I got and up popped an link for Stan on a well know auction site and lo and behold Stan came to live with us!  Stan is a full sized anatomical skeleton (and he does have the 2 missing teeth, they are loose so I’ve kept them safe until I can fix them!) and he’s perfect as a model. He’s also proving a great source of amusement for my boys and the rest of the family!

Becca x