Bits and Bobs

Smaller tasks with less investment of time and complexity have seemed appropriate this week. The future of some of the big events I’m due to do in the next few weeks are in doubt. But no matter what happens I have still nearly run out of the littler things so ….. greeting cards, small pieces for book covers or pot/vase sleeves and for some reason, a great big bit of hand stitched abstract have been the focus this week. How this ghost of a landscape pattern on muslin, over a metre long, managed to get on the agenda I have no idea.

The greeting cards are fun – working up samples and experiments into 3″ or 4″ squares is often quick and very productive. It lets me try out new threads, play with techniques , sequences and combinations, and to get ideas out of the head and on to fabric with minimal fuss. Very much like doing thumbnail sketches to test omposition when painting. There are limitations of course, because of the scale, but it tends to be time well spent.

And as for the larger bits… so good to working with a different colour palatte and to be playing. Don’t know how to use these yet, should they beome book covers, sleeves or the easiest option would be to leave them as they are for the buyer to make up as they wish. Answers on a postcard please.

Excitement builds, but…..

remember, this is a VERY long project so no breath holding please.

At the last post the initial idea of the tree trunks were on, pinned and temporary. Since then the fields behind have had a layer or two added, the rough ground at their base is begun and some of the trunks have been made more solid. Of course each task meant more to do on the next one, so it is easier to say than do, and certainly quicker.

I have other tasks that are taking priority at the moment which means time spent on this is like a holiday – rare and to be enjoyed. Having the studio space is such a good idea- by the time I have cycled there and climbed the stairs all the pressures have been left behind (or I am too puffed out to care). It is a bit of a haven, very basic, minimal equipment, and no need to tidy up, just open the door and walk in then walk out and shut the door. Bliss.

Those other prioities –

Urban Decay – a mixed exhibition at Blossom Street Gallery, York. Me and 4 other artists – Jill Tattersall, Sharon McDonagh, Simon Sugden and Linda Harvey. Opened on the 18th and running until the end of February.

Film and Fabric – an informal York Textile Artists ‘show’ through February and into March, at The City Screen in York . This is not a gallery but an independent cinema which has artists showing through out their public spaces including a rather nice cafe.

There is of course the Company of Merchant Taylors banner to make. Samples have been done, plans and sequences ignored and I am started on the big curly foliate flourishes ( acanthus leaf (?) moustaches), the helmet and lion mask – all at the same time…. well, what did you expect? Logic? Self discipline? Rigid scheduling? Where’s the fun in that?

Can’t wait to do the cameleopards!

And a talk and workshop for the Durham Embroiderers Guild, and teaching and tutoring at home and at the Viking Loom shop, and… it sounds busy, but I am constantly amazed by my powers of distraction and inertia.

I think my goddess name would be “She Who Says ‘Nah, Do It Tomorrow'”.

Invitations for the Textile minded.

This weekend – in fact tomorrow- is—-( drum roll, small fanfare….)

York Textile Artists Winter Show.

Angela Anning, Fran Brammer, Carol Coleman, Linda Harvey, Sarah Jackson, Bridget Bernadette Karn, Julie McCready, Cathy Needham, Alison Spaven, Galina Titova.

Cemetery Chapel, Cemetery Road, York YO10 5AJ.

 Saturday and  Sunday – 10 -4pm   Parking on site, refreshments by O’ Crumbs.


Then when you have your breath back –

West Side Artists York – Winter Studio Open Days

– on the weekend of 30th November/ 1st December.

Michelle Hughes with Richard Rhodes, Elaine Hughes, Jill Tattersall, Simon Palmour, Fran Brammer(Sunday only)

Contact individual artists for details/ times etc.

My  invitation is below – 81, Jute Road, York.    YO26 5ES.



New Gallery Opening -New venture by Alison Spaven.

“The new Wytchwood Gallery & Studio in Naburn will be opening the doors for the first time to invited guests Friday 29th November at 7pm

This special champagne preview evening will launch the inaugural Christmas exhibition featuring works to buy from owner Alison Spaven and other carefully selected local artists, and will then be open to the general public every Saturday until Christmas between 10am and 4pm, with other times available by appointment.

To get your invitation for the preview evening, email

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Who knows, you might even fit inthe Knitting and Stitching Show, Space Invaders’ Souks, River Art Market Sundays at Spark, and a few other things as well!  York is  an interesting place to be!

York Textile Artists’ Winter Show

It is here!! The annual textiles show! (well, second one). Nearly all of the tribe are showing, one or two have been over committed in all sorts of directions and so won’t be joining us, but the rest……

There are lots of us… Angela Anning, me, Carol Coleman, Linda Harvey, Sarah Jackson, Bridget Bernadette Karn, Julie McCready, Cathy Needham, Alison Spaven and Galina Titova. Plus don’t forget the cakes from O’Crumbs.

It is only on for the weekend so don’t get distracted or delay!

Or if you can’t make it there, perhaps you can get to my winter open studio day on 1st of December, 10 – 5pm. Several local artists are opening that weekend so come along for a chat, find unique gifts, handmade artist cards, original artworks-

Westside Artists York
The following artists will be showing their work
Michelle Hughes – Lino prints
30 Nov 10 -5pm, 1st Dec by appointment
Also showing Richard Rhodes, ceramics, and an example of garden sculpture by Simon Bull.
67 St Swithins Walk. YO26 4UG
Elaine Hughes – Paper Artist
Elaine Hughes exhibits her work at her studio/gallery ‘Written’ every Saturday 10am to 4pm and now also Friday evenings 4 to 6pm until Xmas.
Scarcroft Lane, York YO231AD
Fran Brammer – Textile Art (me)
1 Dec 10am to 5pm 81 Jute Rd. Yo26 5ES
Contact Fran for details on
Jill Tattersall – Mixed media
30 Nov & 1 Dec 10am to 6pm
9 Mount Parade, YO24 4AP
Simon Palmour – Photographer
30 Nov & 1 Dec, 10am to 6pm
60 Hob Moor Drive, York YO24 4JZ
Just turn up or contact Simon on 07772 896 629.


Last time of writing I was looking forward to a busy October. Looking forward may be too strong.  October seems to be state of mind.

The little taster show  at Helmsley Walled Gardens is done and the work is at home , waiting to be sorted.   The next event is the group Biggie, so there is a flurry of finishing, preening, labelling and everything else waiting,  November 16th and 17th  did seem such a safe distance away

I took the opportunity of a pop up studio in town organised by Uthink PDP, just need the keys so I can secure a machine in there- waiting. Said machine needs a PAT test – my local electricians  open at 10 so I am waiting.

One day I will finish everything, promise, and then probably look around for the next thing to not finish.

Thought the new stuff would probably the most interesting to follow so let me introduce my new space.

It is in a redundant office block waiting for redevelopment. Taken one month at a time the tenancy is going to be short term but…. It is a “mess room”. Half a kitchen area and half carpetted, right at the top of the whole building. Great light but no heat, and yes it will be very cold! Trust me, very cold.

But the space!!  I have laid out about 5 metres of calico and drill to colour up and  it looks dinky. The best bit is being able to splash paint around and not worry, and then to leave  it  flat to dry  while I go home and get on  finishing and sewing and doing other tasks! Joy.

These are the pieces so far  – 2 large single pieces – the largest 2m x 1.5m. And then a small piece to be divided up into 4 landscapes.  These are now waiting. The colour I used is a mish mash – very dilute emulsions,  ready made fabric paint and acrylic with medium in.  I shall go in today after delivering the machines for testing, and try pinning blocks of fabric on and sort out the moods and atmosheres I want. And then it will be waiting to get the machine in and running.

Added benefit  should be a fitter me – cycling into the studio and then going up and down the 8 flights of stairs.  Fly in the ointment – very bad at waiting – tend to snack/eat, ( liquorice allsorts and Pringles so far) or start something new to go into the “pending” pile, and then of course wait for the right time to finish it!

Wooo! Gone 10 o’clock! Now I can take the machines round!!!! Then wait for them to be tested and certificated. Ah well.

Self – Distraction

Oh what to do….. so much happening but sat in the middle of it all. So rather than risk the nearly completed pieces for the Garden Series, it has been going back to an abandoned piece and doing some creative bullying.  It is now 2 pieces.  One done as planned, the other has been a victim of a good idea.

This is the start – the basics were already down so it was lots of quite intensive building up of colour, volume and textures.  As usual nothing special used,


just a range of motley threads, fished out of all sorts of corners and all sorts of finish and vintage. Yes the older threads can throw the tension off but they give a different character to the surface so I don’t mind the frustration.

The slide show is the evolution over the last few days- asnormal I forgot to take a pic before I started – the brighter colour fabrics in the foreground  are new as is the green stitching on the far hedge.   can you see the changes?

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And as for part two – the tree is a remnant of an earlier piece and a new addition. All kinds of subtle things have changed but the tree is the boldest!

Currently they are both placed into frames for me to decide whether they look right or not.  Already have a list of things to change but whether I do or not they will  both benefit from pressing out and stabilising!

Don’t forget I have workshops for freehand machining  on at the moment – the next one is the 25th and is getting to grips with working with colour.  I also will have some work at Helmsley Walled Garden  and then at the York Textile Artists Winter Exhibition  16/17th November.

Yes? No? Yes. Waiting.

Exciting times!  Group ( York Textile Artists) evnts both large and small are looming ever nearer, we are putting work up in Helmsley Walled Gardens in a couple of weeks and the big group exhibition in in November. Work is still up in a local hotel and 2 pieces are now awaiting selection for an Open Art Exhibition in a neighbouring town. Today is deadline for another big Open Art Exhibition ( online submission thank goodness!) in the other direction and I still have a contribition to do for an exhibition celebrating Anne Bronte.  And don’t forget the workshops to do. One is for the Hornsea Art Festival,  it was booked months ago when I thought October looked empty!

While it is exciting, trying to remember what is going where and for how long is a juggling act of the highest order. Every event wants things done in their way, from information on forms, the file size and resolution of images, labelling work , even down to hanging hardware.  Get it wrong and it will cost you. This is a competitive place,  refusals are commonplace and detailed critiques of why you aren’t selected are rare. It can be  whether you fit their idea of a theme, whether there are other similar pieces offered, if  textiles is “serious” enough, or perhaps they just don’t like it, or it is the wrong size, style or colour it fit in.

dappled2019well, we shall just have to see how this one gets on. After an age of pondering I have finally finished it – adding paint to the ground, adding some sharper contrasts and colouring in the “sky”.