Monday, 30 November 2015

Open Studios 2015

...that would be me !! (click on the image for a larger view)

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Bees in the trees

.. a little set of bees amongst the flowers now on Etsy.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Alpine rocks

 A new set of buttons now on the shop.... I wanted to do some raised embroidery on the buttons which was not too expensive so I looked at various raised stitches and have started this new range of stumpwork buttons. These come in two colourways and sizes.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Ruskin rings

  Whilst away last year in Cumbria I was lucky enough to see some Ruskin pottery .This Arts and Crafts pottery has lovely blended colours but my favourites were the little brooches made from the same ceramic simply known as 'Ruskins'. These turn up in expensive antique jewellers now so I thought I'd see how they might be in embroidery ! My Etsy shop has five in various colours.......

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Faery on the inside

   This little brooch is now available on my Etsy shop (see sidebar for link). It is joined by some new rings and plenty of new buttons.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Knit and Stitch and done!


  This show is a bit like Christmas, you spend so long getting ready and then it's all over again before you know it...Thankyou to everyone for shopping and being supportive!
  I went shopping too, of course, and found two new lovely yarn/thread dyers to recommend.
 Bizi Bee Embroidery have the most lovely dyed silks I have used yet. The test for me is always the bullion knot stitch as it is invariably my nemesis especially when teaching ! This stuff was like a dream, no snagging, no knotting back just smooth and effortless. I sat and made a button with it , trying out various raised stitches ,all worked perfectly and under bad lighting with people watching!!(They are a new company so if you have difficulty ordering the details on the business card are The other company was Renaissance Dyeing who I found on the last day.Their fine wools are natural dyed with Elizabethan methods and are so soft !! A lovely colour range too so I got a few to try out.
   Mab had quite a lot to say for herself over the week and raised some money for my local hospice too.She is the second of four that I have planned so maybe next year they will all be there !
   I have a few small projects planned now plus a Christmas open studio day which I will write about soon. There will be also be one day course at West Dean college for needlelace Christmas decorations on the 2nd of December, booking here.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Moss jewellery

Alongside the moss growing in the book I have found some growing on a brooch and a ring...

...both of these will be at the Knit and Stitch Show from 7-11th October on stand TGi7 Fleur Oakes (as that is my name when not being 'epingle' !) Remember if you book online to add code EX15 to get a discount on the ticket price.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Lachrimae Rerum

   This piece is ready to go to the show, finally. It has a leaf missing but after two years making all the different parts I think it needs to get out ! Obviously it didn't literally take two years to make but there have been other things to do and the moths took so long..... It has a lovely dome  to live under now so you can get very close to it and will be at the front of the stand.
 Like most of my work it has its' roots in ideas about transience and fragility. The moths are in a state of evolution from flat lace to full bodied flight whilst the book grows moss along its' spine. One of the pages in another book has embroidered clover with dew and a sycamore key sits with a real but rusting key and escutcheon. Eventually there will be some ivy too....
 Lachrimae rerum translates as 'the tears of things'. I have always been drawn to things in a state of passing or decay be it old books or textiles or autumn leaves and so it seemed appropriate to show my work like this now. It is difficult to give modern textile work context outside of either domestic use or just being in a frame  so I decided to stage my tiny little pieces to give them meaning.I must admit to being secretly pleased when people ask me why I'm just showing some dead leaves!

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Knit and Stitch 2015

I'm getting ready for the Knit and Stitch show at Alexandra Palace  but Mab is ahead of me. She has her rather blunt fortunes/advice prepared and now just requires your silver when you visit !!!! She will be located at the back of the stand with a little assortment of beeswax and thread winders. I'm hoping that she won't overshadow Beryl and Charlotte the hydrangea moths....

They are quite small and unassuming compare to Mab and hide under small glass domes when not being worn as brooches ( I've found some mini glass cloches for them which are included with purchase..£75)

There will be some moss creeping in too plus lots of new colourways in some of my best selling buttons.
  The show is now a five day show from 7-11th October and you can get a discount on the ticket price if you add the code EX15 when you book your ticket.
  This show will be my seventh so as a small thankyou to my customers if you say the password........ 'aule'(say 'owley')...... when buying buttons you will get 10% off the stand price.

next post....preview of the finished piece to be on display..'Lachcrimae Rerum' ( the tears of things)

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Sycamore key

Some people aren't happy to have these in their garden but I love them. I used some lovely subtle shades from Weeks Dye Works for this piece, the small changes in shade are perfect for something that was always going to be tricky !! I am still trying to work out how to put veining into stumpwork without it looking heavy so I tried to suggest it with colour and technique. The wings of this seedpod I made in single strand corded brussels stitch so that it was very fine. To give a hint of veining I freestyled a bit with the rows as I went, sometimes starting mid row and then again in mid row so to fan the rows out.

This technique meant that I avoided stripes in the colour of the thread as it moved from one shade to the next and instead gave it natural patches of colour. 
   For the seed pod section I tried hanging the stitches off a pre-buttonholed strand so as to retain a ridge for the vein. It sort of worked!!!

I had to take the work off the cordonnet pad to flip it over and make the pod cases . I used the same stitch but built 'up' and around to make a small cavity for a real seed to fit into ! (this is to scale )

Before I sewed the last row I put the seed in ...

For the second pod I wanted it to look as if the seed had already fired out. I did some tiny ghiordes knots inside and then furred them out with a pin...

and then built up the open pod case as before.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Moth assembly kit

How to make a moth.......

 You will need: 1 undercarriage with wings in needlelace,
                          1 small wing in needlelace,
                          1 furry body in ghiordes knot stitch
                                      ( with feather antennae)
                          6 furry legs.

 Make the furry body with very dense stitches and learn how to tie flies.......

 Spend weeks making a wired segmented undercarriage with patterned wings,

                       Attach everything together and teach him to walk.....

One tame moth.

Release him to join his friends...

'feel pleased with yourself !

This is the last moth (and the largest at 6cm long) for this piece entitled 'Lachrimae Rerum ' ( The Tears of Things) . I'm nearly finished, only  a couple more things to make and add. Every time I think it's done I realise there is some more I can do.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Reeds, beeswax and steel

My next course at West Dean is about the different construction techniques used in making corsets. It will cover hand stitched boning channels for 17th C. corsets, how to wax and insert reeds for stiffening plus steel boning, making eyelets and lacing all the way to 1890!
The stitching will begin on the 17th of July and booking will close soon as there are limited places on this course.

p.s. website all sorted out !

Thursday, 11 June 2015


  This post may seem a little out of context from my usual...... I wrote a little while back about some boots that I had designed for my degree graduation catwalk show, hooves in fact. Well since that post I received an email from the V&A no less to say that not only had they got a pair in their new show, they were also pleased to say that they had accepted them into the permanent collection !!!!!! A huge honour for me, especially as I have always considered it to be my second home and temple of inspiration.
   The fashion collection that they were designed for was made to celebrate the power of feminine beauty without objectifying it. The height of the boots also gave the wearer superhero proportions (1:9 instead of 1:8) and did they look good when you walked in them! It is with some irony that I noticed that those that the museum have are one of the few mens' pairs that were made.
  The exhibition is on for six months.

(photo from Drapers Record 1991)

Sunday, 31 May 2015


'having an attack of the gremlins on my website at the moment but it appears you can still visit   'good old Dad !

update 1.6.15...gremlins being moved on and site getting an update in time for some big news !!!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015


  My desk has been full of equipment just so that I can see to embroider these clover leaves! I had some lovely embroidery silks which are no longer in production so I wanted them used on something special. I worked on a type of silk fabric called 'paper silk' which is very fine but robust because I wanted to make an embroidered page to slip into one of the books on this piece. After the embroidery I wanted dew on the leaves but it can be a bit tricky with something like this as the scale and shape of the beads can ruin it if they are wrong...I hope I got it right! I used tiny miyuki seed beads and a few of the smallest magatama beads that I could get.

 Here they are off the hoop and ironed (carefully),then trimmed down, a little edge stitching and then pinned into place with black entomology pins. As I put them in place I found that the page I had chosen gave a lovely description by Herman Melville of an elaborate tattoo of leaves.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Art Workers Guild

 This is a picture of the hall at the Art Workers Guild of which I am a member, or brother as we are known to each other !!! Under the busts at the top of the picture runs a name board with everyone's name from the start over one hundred years ago, my name is up there too! (William Morris is the man in the middle). This Friday we are opening our doors to the public as part of London Craft Week and I will be demonstrating...probably part of a big piece that I'm working on at the moment...

Thursday, 23 April 2015


I was working on a few things over winter but it's always the things you aren't supposed to be doing that end up the most making fortune teller dolls. I made Lilith a while ago and planned three sisters for her ; Mab is the one that appeared this year. She receives her messages via a bonnet-like wig of pins (I've always admired people that wear tin foil hats to keep the aliens out).

Her clothes are styled on the court dress of the 18thC. with a pin theme throughout. The overdress is of fine taffeta brocade scraps all pinned together with old brass lace pins and embroidered with a crossed-pin motif. The panniered skirt has a line from Yeats' 'stolen child' (Mab is queen of the faeries) pricked out across the front inspired by the old waxed paper prickings for bobbin lace.( I'm thinking of putting a light inside) .The hem is tabbed like those adds you find on notice boards but the 'takeaway' is more profound !!!

In her purse( she wants money for her work) is an odd assortment of objects, I found a wasps nest, pearl necklace and some beeswax when I looked. There is a note book on the front which continues the Yeats poem.

A sneeky look whilst dressing revealed her underpinnings, she's made from an old kid leather evening glove and her fortune ruff fans out from the button opening of the glove.

A little detail of her bodice, held together with pins....all period correct .

She will be available for telling your fortune soon.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Seven years ????

          Can it be true ? Is it my seventh birthday already ? and you all still come 'round, you're great !!!
Thankyou to all of you for listening and commenting and shopping, I am truly grateful.xxxxxxxxxx

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

is winter over yet ?

     I saw some snowdrops, I think it's safe to come out.... in my pockets I've got a new doll, moths, a sheila-na-gig and an embroidered page . I've been busy.
     Firstly, I will be teaching at West Dean college 13th-15th March, basic embroidery and needlelace, just click on the link to see the details. Then I'll show what I have in my pocket......

Details are from the 'In my garden I am Queene' embroidered corset and 'Goblin Market' corset, see 'labels' for more posts.


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