Friday, 26 April 2013

Brains, fine motor and tea!

This week has been one of learning new skills, using either practical hands on skills or using the old grey matter and on some occasions a bit of both. Especially when some of the instructions given are not always very clear or decipherable! 

The main grey matter skill has involved trying to work out with somewhat more precision how to do a repeat in Photoshop. I have managed in the past with Beans and Radiolarian, but I want to get better, more confident in my skills and most definitely quicker at it! I do love creating patterns by hand, but realise that sometimes you have to let technology in. So I will keep practising until I'm totally sure and if you have any tips that you think may help that would be great.

Radiolarian copyright Ballistic Owl/Tracy Bidwell 2013

The other activities have involved my fine motor skills and some grey matter. I ordered some lampshade kits and have thoroughly enjoyed putting my own fabrics onto them. Here are two using my Beans (or Pods as I've renamed it) and Radiolarians. I must say they look rather fabulous and I'm keen to make more and soon they will be up on the website and on Etsy, so look out for them.

Pods copyright Ballistic Owl/Tracy Bidwell 2013

Then today I've spent time on the sewing machine, learning how to put zips into things and how to make small purses. I must say it was rather a lengthy process first time around, partly due to the fact I chose a pattern with a patchwork type section in the centre as well as learning the zip bit and lining too. It feels a little strange and almost like I should have known how to do it, but I'm more of an hand embroiderer and so a lot of machine skills don't come easily. Aided by plenty of tea, I'm glad to say though that I mastered today's project and made a second purse in much less time and the zip looks better too.

So now I'm armed with my new found and developing skills, I'm going to keep creating and making and soon you'll find more gorgeous things on the website or Etsy. 

Now what shall I make next..............................

First attempt: purse with a zip.

Thank you for popping by and don't forget to check out my Etsy shop the link is at the top of my blog :-)

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Wall art - Secret Garden

If you've been keeping an eye on my Facebook pages you will have seen little snippets of this embroidery over the past few weeks. I've really enjoyed doing it and building the layers within stitch and beading work. Well I can now say it's FINISHED yay!

I decided to semi quilt it and have some areas that were just embroidered through the cotton layer and other sections through both the quilting and cotton. It adds a variety of textures and depth and it kept my knee lovely and warm on those cold days we had a week or so ago.

It's called Secret Garden as it tells the story of a wonder around a beautiful garden and highlights all the lovely things you may spot or find there. I love visiting gardens and finding inspiration in the borders and meadows.

Part quilted section with images of feather finds. 
Copyright Tracy Bidwell 2013
 My favourite bit of the piece, love the combination of colours, layers and textures.
Copyright Tracy Bidwell 2013
 The peacock feather.
Copyright Tracy Bidwell 2013
 The whole piece complete with ribbon for hanging.
Copyright Tracy Bidwell 2013

Secret Garden may find it's way onto my website or my Etsy shop, I've not quite decided yet, but it makes a beautiful wall hanging.

Thank you popping by and I'll look forward to seeing you again soon :-)

Monday, 15 April 2013

Tracy A Franklin - an inspiration to get the needles and threads out!

A dear friend of mine bought my attention to the very talented Tracy Franklin the other day and looking through her website and blog I was amazed and inspired by her beautiful embroidery. Tracy is a local artist based in Durham and creates beautiful pieces with a traditional feel. Often looking to Celtic patterns and historical references, she gives them a contemporary look by using unconventional materials and acquired threads.

Tracy Franklin- Specialist embroiderer.

Tracy uses various techniques in her pieces including crewel work, white work, gold work and applique all used to build up beautiful textures and patterns. Tracy also teaches on the techniques she uses and often has courses available and her studio is stuffed full of fabric and threads.

So next time I'm in Durham I will pop down to Fowler's Yard and take a peek at Tracy's studio and her gorgeous work.

If you would like more information on Tracy and her work please follow this link and be prepared to be amazed! Tracy A Franklin - specialist embroiderer:

Oh and she also has a list of published books on the techniques she uses, these are listed on her website which is also gorgeous.

Thank you for dropping by, I'm now going to get my needles and threads out and do some inspired embroidery :-)
'via Blog this'

Monday, 8 April 2013

A magical house and a fairytale garden...

Over the Easter week we've been travelling about visiting friends and exploring new places. One of the gorgeous properties we visited was Blackwell The Arts and Crafts House in Bowness-on-Windermere designed by Baillie Scott as a holiday home for the wealthy Holt family who came from Manchester, it was a visual feast. Photographs are not permitted inside the property, but if you click the link above it will take you to the website where you will be able to see what they have in store for you if you visit. 

Baillie Scott designed every element of the house from floor to ceiling. Although the walls are mainly clad with wood, there are carved and beautiful stained glass sections to break up the spaces. There were lots of window seats to sit in and take in the lake view and also for the evening snug little seating areas by the inglenook fireplaces. The loveliest spot I found was by the fireplace in the white drawing room where I sat  and admired the white plaster work ceiling and the Art Nouveau book covers on the shelf next to me.

I left with a handful of gorgeous postcards, a new book and lots of lovely inspiration and a renewed love of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Below are a couple of Google images of the house and my favourite window.

Window in the entrance porch (
 Blackwell The Arts and Crafts House (

Our next new place was Wentworth Castle near Barnsley almost on the opposite side of the country to Blackwell!(we get about a bit). This was once the home of Thomas Wentworth and his family, although the house itself is more of a mansion than a castle. Thomas had a folly or mock castle built for his children on the highest point of land and called it Stainborough Castle, to give the idea that it had always been there. He then renamed the whole of the estate, mansion house and gardens Wentworth Castle. The gardens have an interesting layout and include a union jack garden and a very old gnarled tree. All the gardens wrap around the deer park, where on the day we visited the deer basked in the sun.  

The gardens are lovely and full of interest, inspiration and birds. I did hear an owl hooting but did not manage to spot it to take a photograph as proof. The pictures below were taken as we made our way round the fairytale like garden in the sun. 
 I loved this avenue of trees.
 Hellebore's lined the tree walk.
 To prove the sky really was blue!
 The castle folly.
The deer park.

If you ever find your self in the South Lakes or in Yorkshire and fancy somewhere new to visit I would highly recommend these two places and be ready to be inspired and surprised.

Thank you for dropping by, see you next time :-)