Surface Tension by Smiler

Just another day waiting to be enjoyed ...... study, studio, garden, allotment, kitchen ........

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Well, there was lots of digging to do, some in heavy clay - yuk, there was lots of muck to be added and then the planting - great fun. It took some time for things to grow, but now the borders are overflowing and we love the results - we spend a lot of time drinking tea and praising our hard work!! I have to say well done to Tony, because he did all the back breaking digging - thank you.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Armchair gardening...
This week I have been busy planning out our ideas for widening the borders and generally making a few changes to reduce the amount of lawn and increase the areas for planting.

This summer I shall be looking forward to strolling through the garden full of colour and scent from my beautiful planting.

I see myself gathering great bunches of blooms to take into the house and arrange in jugs in each room.

Having battled against the slugs and snails in our moist garden for some years, I have slimmed down the variety of seeds I plant, but still manage a good range of colour, shape and form.

Hardy and half-hardy annuals will include, Scabious, Calendula, Helianthus, Cornflower, Aster, Sunflower, Nasturtium, Nigella, Godetia, Clarkia, Candytuft, Woodruff, Mesembryanthemum, Nicotiana and Cosmos. I shall also be sowing Salvias, Sweet Rocket, Sweet Williams Physalis, Verbena, Monarda, Aquilegia, Lupin, Foxgloves, Wallflowers and Hollyhock.

I was particularly pleased with some Penstomon and Salvias sown last year, which will be put into the borders this spring, provided they have survived the cold in the greenhouse. The mice and I are having a battle with the tulips and sweetpeas - I have a feeling they will win at least by half.

I have enjoyed getting wrapped up and taking a cuppa into the greenhouse on Sunday morning with the Archers to pot up a few more bulbs to bring into the house, decorated with small twigs of contorted willow and raffia, they just hit the spot. I also have some nice long thin candles I bought, I think the box of twenty were only a couple of pounds, I wish I had bought more. They look super pushed into a pot of bulbs before the flowers appear. The candles only burn for a couple of hours, but long enough for you to eat a meal with friends.
I've seen onion sets and packets of seeds in a pile and potatoes set in their egg boxes to 'sprit' so plans are definitely afoot for the allotment this year. At this moment in time we have potatoes, onions, shallots and garlic in store, sprouts, red and green cabbage, leeks and parsnips in the ground, so as this is the leanest time of the year, I reckon that is a good crop. I think a clump of rhubarb are going to be covered to provide a little taste of early forced stems - yum, yum, can't wait for that....
What flowers are you planting, do you have a cutting garden? Do tell, I love to hear what others are growing, especially if, like me, you never seem to have as much time as you hoped. How about your veg plot too, what's growing now, what are you planning to grow and the varieties, recipes always welcome ?

As a Textile Artist and Gallery Owner I create my own work and run Workshops under the banner of Surface Tension. In my charming 16th Century Gallery in Newport Shropshire (, I showcase lovely work from some of the British Designer/Makers whose work I enjoy. I share my working week between the Gallery in Shropshire and my cosy workshop in the garden of our lovely Victorian Estate Worker's Cottage in North Staffordshire. I also spend time visiting Makers, seeking out work we would like to have in the Gallery and running my workshops in other parts of the country. On my blog pages I hope to share some of my pleasures with you....

Monday, 1 February 2010

My love of fabrics goes back to childhood and over the years I have developed a passion for textiles. Much of my inspiration comes from the natural world, both wild and cultivated as well as organic forms. However, I am also inspired by historic buildings, both grand houses and places of work. I enjoy reusing fabrics, especially natural fibres, silks, linens, wools and cotton. I find that space-dying many of the fabrics and threads I use give wonderfully subtle changes of colour and shade which make them a joy to use. I also enjoy incorporating found objects, which add a sense of history to a finished piece.

I have worked on a number of private commissions and exhibition pieces, but more recently I have enjoyed creating pieces for my own pleasure.
My Workshops are aimed at inspiring beginners and those wishing to experiment with new ideas in textiles and stitch.

These Workshops can be for a limited group of four at my Studio or the Gallery or for a larger group at an alternative venue - please contact me for more details.

Current Day Workshops include -

Learning to Look
Using source material to provide exciting design ideas in stitch.

Recording your inspiration and creating a personal resource.

Limited to One Stitch
Using textures and colour to explore one stitch and create surprising results

Stitch a Memory
Not a sampler and not a collage, something in between. Be inspired to create a lasting memory using your own found objects and images.

Tiaras - All that Glitters
Be a princess for the day. We shall be creating a simple tiara just for fun or for your special occasion - this is a great idea for a Hen Party!


By it's very nature a Day Workshop can only be a taster session. If you would like to do more then my Inspired to Stitch Course may be just the thing. A series of Workshops developing skills, aimed at those who enjoy creative work, who would like to be more experimental, but unsure where to begin....

A series of 'one day a week' Workshops over five weeks creating a course where we work through a variety of methods from inspiration and source material to commencing a piece of creative textile work.

Aimed at those unsure of how to progress without the security of a 'kit' or those not wishing to commit to a longer term course. We shall explore ways of recording thoughts and ideas in sketchbooks, expanding ideas into design using a variety of media, translating those designs to textile and stitch ideas and working samples, finally interpreting the design and working on a finished piece.

Course notes and a reading list will be supplied, together with material requirements.

Please contact me for further details
Prior to taking over the Coachman's House Gallery, I entered work in numerous Exhibitions in and around my local area, these are some of the venues where my work was exhibited .....

Coachman’s House Gallery – Newport – Solo exhibition (Prior to my ownership)
Herbert Art Gallery, Coventry – ‘ Expressions in Stitch’ Central and Wales Embroiderer’s Guild Exhibition – selected
Shire Hall Gallery, Stafford – Stafford Open Exhibition 2002 – selected
Brewhouse Arts Centre, Burton-upon-Trent – Autumn – selected
Weeping Cross Health Centre, Stafford – mixed exhibition
Moorlands Art and Antiques Centre, Leek – Moorlands Open Exhibition – selected
Coachman’s House Gallery, Newport – mixed exhibition (prior to my ownership)
Moorlands Art and Antiques Centre, Leek – Seascapes Exhibition – selected
Shire Hall Library, Stafford – Display Cabinets
Brewhouse Arts Centre, Burton-upon-Trent – Foyer Cabinets
Perton Library. Wolverhampton – mixed exhibition
Handmade 2 – regional showcase – selected
Ancient High House – Solo Exhibition – Main Exhibition Room
Brewhouse Arts Centre, Burton-upon-Trent – Summer Exhibition
Leek Gallery, Broad Street, Leek – Spring Exhibition – selected
Uttoxeter Heritage Centre – solo exhibition
Ancient High House, Stafford – mixed exhibition
I enjoy visiting Groups/Schools and Galleries to run Workshops, if you would like further information, please contact me. Here are some of the venues where I have run Workshops in the past .....

2008 - Bilston Craft Gallery – West Midlands
Pods and Cases (Inspired by organic forms)
2007 - Shire Hall Gallery – Stafford
Pods and Cases (Inspired by organic forms)
2007 - Shire Hall Gallery – Stafford
Parasols (inspired by costume exhibition)
2007 - Shire Hall Gallery – Stafford
Breathe-in (inspired by corsetry)
2006 = Shire Hall Gallery – Stafford
Who’s been sitting in my chair (Inspired by Furniture Exhibition)
2006 - Gatehouse Theatre – Stafford
(Midsummer Nights Dream – Hats and Wands)
2006 - Shire Hall Gallery – Stafford
Unexpected Textiles (using recycled materials)
2005 - Dunston Ladies Group- Textile Day
2005 - Shire Hall Gallery – Notice Boards
2005 - Shire Hall Gallery – Christmas Napkin Rings
2004 - Newport Ladies Circle – Tiara Making
If you belong to a group who might be interested in inviting me to talk, please contact me for more details. These are some of the groups I have visited in the past ......

2007 - Embroiderers’ Guild – Marches Branch, Bishops Castle
2007 - Embroiderers’ Guild – Stoke-on-Trent Branch
2006 - Female 77 – Newport
2006 - Embroiderers’ Guild – Stafford Branch
2005 - Welsh Borders’ Weaving Group