Monday 4 September 2023


 In his book 'Underland' Robert Macfarlane says

'sometimes, in fact, all that is left behind by loss is trace - and sometimes empty volume can be easier to hold in the heart than presence itself'

This piece from Evidence consists of a ribbon winder card, the tattered remains of lace shelf edging, two old snail shells and a web of single stitch needlelace.

   I have collected a lot of antique and vintage haberdashery over the past thirty five years. A lot was not really valued by the world until recently. I saw not just the quality of the material in the trimmings but also in the simple packaging; the winders and reels that ribbons were wound onto, the card mounts for buttons and even the thread that attached them...all good quality and yet discarded. I picked up my treasures for 10p or 50p, the prices often crudely written straight onto the paper in felt tip pen. 

  At my great grandmothers' home I found many more treasures and among them were packets of shelf edging which have paper lace borders to make decorate the shelves of larders and dressers. Many were untouched with pretty bands of paper to secure them but the packets that were opened I allowed myself to use on my shelves. Over time they wore away and like the old lace they emulate started to yellow and disintegrate.

  Old empty snail shells do not last forever, I collect them from around the garden and use them on top of garden canes but was surprised to see that they fade. Always a collector of organic packaging, shells, seed pods and galls, to me they are just like the ribbon reels.

  The web is a single Brussels stitch needlelace mesh made in the finest lacemaker thread I could find. I would have put a spiders web across them if I could but instead I made my own.

Thursday 31 August 2023

The Embroiderer's Crown


All those needles I get through.... I save up all the ones that have gone rusty and found many of my great aunts' too and from them made a crown! An old ribbon reel which had a metre of paper wound onto it was pressed into service as the holder of the needles. When tools have done their job we should say thankyou.


This joins the other pieces made from discarded objects in the 'Evidence' series.

Monday 28 August 2023

Grey Moth


A little grey moth for a special occasion, commissioned to sit in a place of honour.

 A complex cordonnet, wired for resilience and covered in a hand dyed grey cotton. The wings are what I think of as skeletal needlelace in that there is no infill between the veins of this creature's wings. The design was taken though from a peacock butterfly as the structure of the veining is very suitable for this technique.

  The body was a tufty one, more hand dyed silk in Turkey stitch or Ghiordes knots with a secret design of gold initials amongst the grey.

initials on the reverse

  After the body and wings were joined he was mounted onto a simple nettle shaped silk leaf and the stitches hidden by beading. The leaf was chosen for its appropriate shape under the wings giving just enough contrast to lift it out. It was nature's genius really though as the peacock butterfly lays its eggs on the underside of nettle leaves.

He fastened to a special dress by the simple ruse of a hair slide and there he stayed all day.

(I know he's supposed to be a butterfly but he was always a moth to me)


Friday 25 August 2023

Leave us not Little, nor yet Dark


 The second piece from 'Evidence' using the crewel work embroidery needles that I found in a 1930s pin cushion. I was aware that there were a few in there as I could feel the resistance when I put my own needle into the velvet top. As I massaged them all out there were more than a few and they were all the same type.

  The previous owner had also been an embroiderer but of crewel work. I decided to honour her needles by mounting them onto paper as they would have been when new. I then used their eyes as a cordonnet and made a simple piece of needlelace or stumpwork. My needle was then left on the end of the last strand of heavy silk buttonhole thread. 


  The mounting is a glassine envelope, so often used by stamp collectors, and inside is a collection of empty used envelopes. They are all addressed to the same man and date from WW2 up until the 1960s, some being sent to him whilst on active duty.

The title is a quote from the BBC production of John Masefield's 'The Box of Delights'.

Monday 21 August 2023

Thus in the Winter


  A new series of work called 'Evidence' using antique discarded ephemera, this piece is an embroidered antique silk hairnet. The net itself is a work of art as it appears to be handmade, the silk filaments being split to create the mesh. It came to me wrapped in faded tissue paper and so I have embroidered over the net and through the paper.

the split silk strands

After a drift of french knots I inserted some 'mudlarked' pins to stabilise the tissue. The pins are at least C19th and very probably much much older.


I have a passion for such fragile and transient items; the hairnet, pins and paper are all disposable in their way and yet they are such personal items. Anything that is handled as much as these things carries memory and I like to catch that last gleam of energy from the previous owner.

The title is a quote from the Edna St.Vincent Millay poem 'What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why' (1923)

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

Wednesday 16 August 2023

Angel of Eternal Life

  At some point in the early C20th Edmond Bordeaux Szekely  claimed to have discovered and translated lost gospels from the Bible called the Gospels of the Essenes. In the second gospel Christ describes fourteen angels and their tasks and I was very taken with the beauty of the descriptions. 

  Many years and several version later I have started a series of needlelace pieces reflecting on the angels and here is the first, the Angel Of Eternal Life.

 My inspiration is often from nature and this time it is the lace lichen found in California, Ramalina Menziesii. A hanging lichen which grows in the most extraordinary shapes, no two are alike, their looping web shapes are intricate and full of wonder.

  This piece is about 20x20cm and is made in hand dyed silks. From start to finish about fifty hours work, it took an hour just to unmount the lace from the backing. It has a pleasing 3D effect as it was designed in the round and so hangs from any point in a curl.

  The design started life several years ago as part of another piece, still in progress, and it was an epiphany when I realised that it should be entirely separate. It quickly came into being after that which goes to show that some ideas take a long time to brew before you get the right one.


 Angel of Eternal Life,

Here and now

Is the mystery revealed.

Here and now

Is the curtain lifted.

link for the angels here

link for information on the lichen here

Friday 11 August 2023

Half Sick of Shadows


   It seems so long ago now but the impact of lockdown on people who live alone was intense. I began a project called "Forget-me Not" and some of that has already been documented on this blog. Somehow though this piece got left out!

   In essence it is a medieval style hanging book containing photographs of friends, selfies that either show them in a mirror or holding an object that we have in common. Inspired by the story of the Lady of Shalott, doomed to always see the world via a mirror as she embroidered, I asked for a modern version for my almanac of touch.

Hanging from a handmade lucet cord it is covered in linen embroidered with linen thread. The cover has two stumpwork mirrors facing each other, eternally reflecting each other over a single virus.

On the back, worked in Bayeux stitch, is the ancient image of the pelican pecking her own breast. As a symbol of sacrifice it usually has a nest underneath but here she is alone.


Once all the embroidery was done I printed and bound all the photos into it. Each page was folded in on itself in the style of these old books.

hand stitched eyelet holes for the cord.

the wired frame and satin stitched mirror glass.

below, details of the end papers and covers being worked before mounting.

virus pattern in space dyed thread

The image that began it, taken a week into the lockdown here in the UK; the endless reflection of self through lens and mirror surface.

Thursday 3 August 2023



 I have a new shop!!!

For all your embroidered objects and mossy thynges....

chained teaspoon

mossy shell

embroidered suspender

darned needle

embroidered thimble

Monday 31 July 2023

Deathtrap Staircase


The Tears of Thynges

 I am no musician but nevertheless I decided about ten years ago that I was in a band, a conceptual band that made conceptual sounds. Named after the access to my studio 'we' spent over a decade collecting noises, some of them tangible and some of them that can't be heard by everyone. 

 Finally I have released them all on 78, with embroidered labels, and in the process realised that even a supposed hard format is in itself conceptual because without the means to play the disc we can only trust that there is sound. Luckily these 'recordings' are already in your head, some literally, and are therefore free to listen to and it is only the artwork that is lacking...

So hear I present my first album 'L'Aiguilles Verres'

Tensor Tympani



Internal Screaming


Bloodstain Soundwave


The Tears of Thynges remix

L'Aiguilles Verres

Eustacian Clicks (extra track)


 1.The Tears of Thynges

2.Tensor Tympani



5.Internal Screaming


7.Bloodstain Soundwave


9.The Tears of Thynges remix

10. Eustacian Clicks (extra track)



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