Thursday, 5 December 2013

Fabulous Fabric : Handmade bags (1)

I have always been inspired by the amazing designs and textures of fabric. As a matter of fact, when I was a teenager I made my own clothes on an old sewing machine I got from my mum. It took about 25 years but one day earlier this year it just happened; my love for sewing came back and I was eager to pick it up again! The old sewing machine was taken down from the attic where it was stored for such a long time. After reading the manual, I started to remember again how the machine worked (it really is like driving a car) and tested some stitching on some cloth. But suddenly, smoke came out of the motor!!! I thought that was the end, but couldn't give up yet. I thoroughly cleaned and oiled the mechanical parts worked!!!

Vintage sewing machine

My first project was making a purse. I bought an instruction book about making handbags "Sew Serendipity Bags" by Kay Whitt, funky fabric from an American supplier via Other haberdasheries like closures and interfacing I purchased online too.

Instruction book I used to make my bags

Although the machine was able to sew fine through thin layers of fabric, it was unfortunately not coping well with multiple layers of fabric and interfacing together (e.g. handles). I finished some parts off by hand and this is the result!


Realising I wanted to sew more and that my birthday was coming up soon, I asked for a new sewing machine: Janome Excell 5024. Oh, what a difference with my old one. It was just a breeze to sew through many layers now!

My new sewing machine

My second project was born quickly; another handbag but this time bigger and a special one for my mum who is a musical talent (oratorium and piano). I had already found some gorgeous fabric of music on Ebay and with some scrap fabric I found at Aberdeen Forward, golden coloured fabric at my local craft shop Meg's Attic and grommets from donated curtains at the local Red Cross shop, I just had to assemble it with the clear instructions in the book.

I'm really pleased with the result and had raving reviews on my personal Facebook page. The biggest compliment however was when I gave it to my mum; she was very emotional and touched when she saw it! She didn't expect something like this at all and could hardly believe I made it myself.

Shoulder handbag

Curtain grommtes have been used for the handles

Interior of scrap upholstery fabric

Magnetic closure inside

Side view of bag

The bag has been enforced with interfacing on the side and bottom

Stitched handles with golden thread

Quilted stitches on top of wadded fabric

I have already started two new projects again; aprons (for myself and as Christmas present) and my evening dress. As soon as I have finished these (bare with me because the evening dress has already proved to be a challenge!) I will post it here again.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Art Studio

It took about 5 months all together but my art studio is now finished! With thanks to my lovely supporting husband who stripped the bothy, made frames for the walls and insulated them, put in new plasterboard, made the shelves and hung the lights and roller blinds. I painted the walls, ceiling and furniture. We only used a taper for finishing off the walls, a plumber to connect our old kitchen unit and an electricien for the wiring.

Front of bothy/art studio with new door and window

Hubby working hard for me!

Insulation is in place

Walls have been professionally taped

Pimping my old yellow bookcase

I used special crackle glaze to create this effect on my furniture

What a transformation! With the new electric heating it's also very cosy inside, just in time before the winter comes.

Lots of storage and plenty of space to create art

More storage for my mixed media materials

New vinyl floor

View towards house

The office chair will soon be reupholstered by myself

Shortened and pimped old kitchen unit

Leftover tiles from sunlounge as splashboard

Nice light even when the rollerblinds are down

Right after the studio was finished I had my first visitor; my father who wanted to learn more about how to use mixed media in paintings during a two day one-to-one workshop I organised!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Art workshops (2)

During my NEOS exhibition I received a lot of interest in my upcoming art workshops. The mixed media art workshop "Text & Texture" took place last week and was fully booked. In the morning I set up the big room in The Creamery with working tables for the participants and to display the various art materials we would be using. Just before 10 am I welcomed the six ladies with a cup of coffee or tea. The age varied from 35 to 75 years old. Some were complete beginners, others had already some painting experience. Some were relaxed, others a bit nervous. With my introduction talk in which I told them it was all about experimenting, enjoying the creative journey, keeping an open mind and not having a picture in the mind they were all relaxed and keen to start. Showing them the creative quote I'm inspired by and which I used in one of my own art pieces really got through them;

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun.”
(Mary Lou Cook) 

Then I explained all about the various materials; acrylic paint, ink, stamps, stencils, embossing machine, handmade paper, tissue paper, scrapbook paper, vintage music sheets, fabric remnants and leftovers from material packaging.

Display of various papers

It was as if they were kids in a sweetshop, they were sooo excited! One of the participants was even in her own world and "diving" in all the baskets while I was explaining. Just wonderful to so much enthusiasm.

After choosing a quote they are inspired by (a handout was given with a selection of quotes but they could also use their own or just even words) and various collage materials, they set off their creative journey. With a short lunch break everyone worked very hard, in their own speed and very focussed on their project.

Artists at work

Artists at work

Finished art piece by one of the participants

After 4 hours most had (almost) finished their piece and it was time to take some photos of the proud artists with their creation. The feedback I receivedafterwards was overwhelming, thank you so much ladies!! The next workshop planned on the 2nd of December is now already fully booked with other participants and the weekly course I'm starting in January has almost three full groups!

Proud artists with their art piece

Sunday, 29 September 2013

North East Open Studios (5)

Our exhibition during North East Open Studios at The Creamery was a great success!

Thank you to all who came along. It was lovely to catch up with friends and meet new people from the local area and further afield. I'm still overwhelmed by your wonderful and positive feedback. Thank you also to those who took part in my drop-in workshop and who have signed up for my upcoming mixed media art and Ipad workshops ( The 7th of October is now fully booked, there are just a few places left for the 16-week course so I will be very busy this winter!

Here are some photos I took just before we opened our exhibition to give you an impression:

Sculptor Sarah Gordon creating a sign in wood

Homemade cakes and biscuits

Paintings, digital art and notecards by Fenfolio

Paintings, digital art and notecards by Fenfolio

Sculptures by Sarah

Fish made from driftwood by Sarah

Paintings (Fenfolio), installation (Sarah) and photography (Leonie)

Objects and table wrapped in wool by Sarah

Handmade Book Thongs" by Iain Gordon

Participants during one of my drop-in workshops

Participants showing their art piece made with kitchen foil

Friday, 30 August 2013

North East Open Studios (4)

Most of you who follow my blog already know that I take part in North East Open Studios every year. This time I've found a different venue, The Creamery, where I will also run my art workshops from October this year (more info on my website

The poster I designed is now being distributed. There is still lots to do, even finishing some new work, but I'm really excited about the event and I think it will be as successful as previous years! I know some of you won't be able to make it along but I will post some photos afterwards to give you an idea how it was.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Artistic Explorations: Colour & Texture (1)

Every year I look forward to the Fabric of the Land exhibition which takes place in the Geology Faculty of Aberdeen University. It explores the link between art and science and gives artists the opportunity to create pieces inspired by characteristics of the physical landscape. This year I submitted a painting which was derived from the colours and textures of minerals. Before I started though, I did some research and found some excellent pictures that would be the perfect reference during the creation process.

Iridescent Hematite/Goethite
Copyright: Mark Streeter

Petrified Rocks
Copyright: Frank Townsley

Copyright by DansPhotoArt

Copyright: Unknown
Source: Pinterest

Iridescent Goethite
Copyright © C.R. Carnein

Iridescent Hematite
Copyright: Unknown
Source: Pinterest

For each MDF panel I used metallic acrylics from Old Holland and different acrylic mediums from Golden to represent a particular texture. Unfortunately the beautiful iridescence of the paint can't be seen from a monitor.

Mineral Series, Top Left
Acrylics and soft gel gloss

Mineral Series, Top Right
Acrylics, molding paste and crackle paste

Mineral Series, Bottom Left
Acrylics, molding paste and clear granular gel

Mineral Series, Bottom Right
Acrylics, molding paste and extra coarse pumice gel

This is my final piece "Mineral Series". It hasn't been selected for the exhibition unfortunately, but it will be shown during my own exhibition at North East Open Studios which will start 14 September.