Sunday, 30 June 2013

Embroiderer's Delight: Bias Binding

It's only been in the past few years that I've got into bias binding. When I was younger my style was a lot more tomboy-ish so bias binding was always a bit too pretty for my tastes. However, I began to really like it when I realised how easy it is to use some binding to change the style of an old top or skirt that's been lying in the wardrobe for a while or to add a fresh twist to a second-hand find.

Here's my pick of some of the prettiest bias binding available online. Just click the link underneath the image to have a closer look and buy.

Do you use bias binding a lot? Any tips on where to buy some unusual designs? Let me know in the comments section below....

Buy it here
Buy it here
Buy it here
Buy it here
Buy it here
Buy it here

Friday, 28 June 2013

Paperfolk meets... Nicola Mascall

Nicola Mascall is a British artist who specialises in miniature needlework. The skill and patience required to produce such detailed work on a very small scale (a cushion is 3cm x 3cm!) is absolutely incredible. Nicola has been kind enough to answer some questions about her practice and give us a hint of the process behind her works and business.

Nicola working in her studio

How did you get into needlecraft?

I have always had a passion for arts and crafts and spent my early working years in art, design and illustration having gained a higher diploma at art school. My love of needlework came from my mother who was an exceptional needlewoman. She encouraged me to sew and knit from a really early age.

My love for 'petit point' grew steadily after discovering the wonderful world of dolls house miniatures back in 1992. I found it a joy to create designs inspired by historic needlework. I particularly enjoyed the challenge of producing items to scale. I work on a marvellous fabric called 'silk gauze'. This is a fine mesh with varying degrees of hole size. Many of my designs are stitched on 40 count gauze (40 stitches per inch) with one strand of cotton. I also work on finer counts with pure silk thread. My finest designs are worked on 72 count. This is very challenging and a good magnifier is very important.

Parrot Cushion

What inspires you in your artworks?

In the past two years my interest has mainly been in miniature rugs and carpets. I adore the intricate designs of Oriental rugs which lend themselves so well to the medium in which I work. I am currently working on a 'William Morris' carpet which I saw at Tate Britain last year.

When I have time, I love to visit Historic houses, Museums and Galleries. The sumptuous upholstery, wallhangings, cushions, carpets etc found in such places are always inspirational to me. The V&A Museum in London has been a constant source of inspiration. I am also an avid viewer of historical dramas and documentaries.

Juliette Rug

Can you give us an insight into your process of creating your products from start to finish?

Some of my designs come purely from my imagination. As in painting, I just start from a blank canvas with maybe a vague idea in my mind. I have a wonderful cross stitch design programme on my PC which enables me to play around with ideas from a wide pallete of colours. Many of my designs are scaled down imitations of actual designs. Here I often begin by scanning a photo into my PC to give me a vague idea of the scaled down pattern. This then has to be modified and simplified over and over until I am happy with the general pattern (or chart). This can sometimes take a week or more. I begin stitching but inevitably have to make alterations as I go.  For this, the cross stitch program is invaluable to me.

Scallop Footstool

How do you keep yourself organised?

I rarely run out of ideas as one design usually leads to another. I try to organize my time so that I don't spend all day (and I mean ALL day) sewing. I have to keep on top of my stock of kits as these are my bread and butter.  I sell finished items regularly to collectors but it is very hard to charge a realistic hourly rate. I often receive commissions and usually rise to the challenge. If I am not inspired by the request I will not accept the commission.

Floral/Ribbon Rug

I am not a particularly organised person and once every so often I have to take a step back and assess what I am currently doing. I get so immersed in a project (particularly a carpet or a rug) that its easy to get blinkered. The only time I really manage to organise myself is when a dolls house  fair is looming. Each year I attend 5 or 6 fairs. About 4 weeks prior to the fair I set up my stand in my studio to see what needs doing. I prioritise and make numerous lists. It's always essential that I have kits available for all the items I display unless they are 'one-offs'.

Strawberry Thief Cushion

More info about Nicola can be found on her website by clicking on the link above or going to

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Beyond Banksy...

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

While I was browsing the internet I came across a project/exhibition that I've been meaning to write about but just haven't got round to it.
Last year I was down in London, staying in Shoreditch and I noticed a few pieces of street art that were really interesting. Not thinking anything of it I put it down to a happy encounter if nothing else. When I came back home after Christmas I found out about the 'Beyond Banksy: Not another gift shop' exhibition curated by the Street Museum of Art.
This reminded me of when I was in Barcelona around 13 years ago and I was amazed at the street art that seemed to go beyond just 'writing your name on a wall'. The work was so political and the artists had amazing skills in drawing and use of colour, not to mention working on a huge scale. I'm so glad to see this type of work being showcased in Britain because I think street art still has negative connotations in this country which is a shame because its one of the most accessible art forms and very non-elitist.

The curators invited a group of artists who use the urban environment as a medium in their work. Each of the artists is so different in their style and how they use the medium. I've loved the work of Brooklyn based artists, Faile, for a long time and i'm pleased to see their work among the artists. I hadn't come across the work of Phlegm before but I enjoyed the links to folk art in their work merged with the urban environment.

Some of the works in the exhibition...

Work by Phlegm
Work by Faile
Work by Skewville

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Paperfolk loves... Lauren DiCioccio

First of all let me apologise for my absence on the blogging front recently- we've had a lot going on and before I knew a couple of weeks went by!

I thought I would make it up to you all by showing some beautiful work by artist Lauren DiCioccio. Lauren uses objects and fibers to create sculptures and installations that look at the relationship we have with objects which are quickly becoming obsolete. The world we live in is so fast paced that technology is quickly replacing items that we at one time would have held in our hands (books, vinyl. slides etc).
Her use of colour and variety of stitch is beautiful. I also love how she doesn't completely stitch the whole image in the newspaper works but selectively applies stitches and colour to create well know celebrities.
I was just discussing with a friend the other day how the onslaught of constantly upgraded technology has also been a factor in the continued interest in craft.


1FEB10 Lady Gaga

13MAR10 Richard Fuld (detail)

13MAR10 Richard Fuld

14MAR10 Marcus Morris

Green Parked Car 2010

Him and Her 2010

Cross Stitched Books

Cross Stitched Books

Looking through the windows 2008

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Inspiring Reads: Hi-Fructose Collected 3

Anyone who has read this blog before will know how much I love a beautifully presented book. I decided to splash out on the Hi-Fructose Collected 3 boxed volume and I wasn't disappointed! The package arrived via courier service and was well packed to avoid damage. There is nothing worse than spending a lot on a book for it then to arrive with bashed corners because of poor packaging.

If you haven't heard of Hi-Fructose before, it's a magazine that offers a platform for contemporary artists of varying disciplines. The type of art falls into the 'Lowbrow' art movement category so if you like work by Junko Mizuno, Mark Ryden and Camilla d'errico then you'll probably like this too.

The ribbon tied box features:

300 page book filled with interviews and full colour images of a variety of contemporary artists
A large fold out poster by artist McBess
A snow yak face mask by Mark Ryden
A fold out sticker book with paintings made into stickers
3 velvet prints by Junko Mizuno, Skinner and Martin, Ontiveros

Another bonus is that the edition is limited to 2500.

Aesthetically the volume is very impressive but the content also lives up to the exterior. Featured artists are interviewed about their practice and also how they decided to become an artist. The conversational style of the interviews makes for interesting reading and each interview is accompanied by several large full colour images showing the range of each artists work. The great thing I found was that the book turned me onto artists that I hadn't heard of before and there was a good range styles to suit different tastes.
I have to admit there were a few artists whose work I didn't like at all but to be honest it was a minority and it was also interesting to read about their work anyway.

Overall I found the book really inspiring and the way it's presented is a bonus. It is a little on the expensive side but completely worth it. Pickup your copy from Last Gasp and Amazon

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Designer Picks: Embroidered Shoes

I was rooting around online and came across the Caroline Issa collection for LK Bennett. The collection of classic heeled shoes and clutch bags is given a twist with bright embroidery and pom poms. The designs are heavily influenced by Thai embroidery in both motifs and colour palette. I thought it was quite an interesting collection for LK Bennett especially since they are normally quite a traditional brand.

Anyway, the collection got me thinking about embroidered shoes and how they have come a long way from the heavily embroidered silk shoes of Marie Antoinette's time. So many designers and artists have now come to realise the versatility of embroidery and have created some amazing pieces as a result. Here are a few i found to be very inspiring...
Raf Simons
Charlotte Olympia
Dolce and Gabanna
Richard Saja
I would love to own a pair of embroidered shoes but living in Scotland with our rain levels it just isn't practical!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Paperfolk loves... Max Colby

I love illustration and embroidery, so when the two merge I love it even more. I found the work of artist, Max Colby while I was scouring the internet looking for inspiration (this is what I usually do when i'm avoiding a piece of work or hitting a creative block).

Colby uses a combination of printmaking (often collagraph to be specific) which he then embellishes with embroidery.The figures in his works appear to be from another world with an air of mystery. Only graduating from Boston and Tufts University in 2012 and already being reasonably well known online means that hopefully we'll be seeing a lot more of Max Colby's works in the future.

If you would like to see/read about more works you can check out for more info.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Embroiderer's Delight: Lovely Sewing Needles

Okay so I know sewing needles aren't always the most exciting of embroidery paraphernalia but you maybe haven't seen these embroidery needles yet...

I picked up these pretty little packets from John James Needles online. Aside from the extremely cute packaging they are also very reasonably priced and have a selection for most different types of embroidery. As you can see from the picture I decided to go for some general embroidery needles along with more specialist needles for crewel work and cross stitch. Each pack is different but comes with anything between 10 - 18 needles of various sizes suitable for that particular style of embroidery technique.

The inside of the packet also explains that the needles have a large eye that can take up to six strands of thread. I don't know how many times I have purchased embroidery needles only to find that half of the packet don't have large enough eyes to hold any more than 3 or 4 strands of thread at a time.

The needles also come in their own little envelope which can be used afterwards to store them in if decide to get rid of the lovely packet. I haven't had them for very long so I can't quite decide if this is a good or bad thing. The packs that have the perforated holes always seemed to be easy to pop the needles back in and hold them in place but hey we'll just have to wait and see.

Most importantly I have used the needles so far on cotton which has been a nice experience. The needles don't drag through the fabric and are comfortable to work with.

Give them a try yourself and let me know what you think....

Crafty Exploits: More Embroidery Experimentations

Over the past few weeks I've been designing the new Paperfolk embroidery collection. I'm always in my element when i'm working on a few different things at once so I've been enjoying researching and experimenting with different ideas.

My sketchbook was bursting with illustrations and patterns so I decided to mock up a few different pieces. The images below are for a brooch and a collar necklace. I mostly wanted to practice satin stitch on the collar necklace because it's been a while and its always a stitch that I need to get into the flow of doing.

I'm moving onto a few other pieces tonight- hopefully I don't get sucked into producing lots of experiments and forget to actually produce some products for the shop!

As always any comments or feedback is much appreciated.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Embroiderer's Delight: Sewing Labels

Remember when you were a kid and your mum used to sew your name inside your school clothes? I used to love it when she would order them in and you could choose the font, colour and even have a little picture on them. I know this was basically my mum's way of making sure that no-one else went home with my coat but it was also kinda nice laying claim to your stuff!

The same goes now for anything that I make. I used to not bother about putting labels on anything but now its become a definite part of my process. An artist signs a painting so why not effectively sign your embroidery?

Here are some nice choices of labels that I found to buy online...

(Just click on 'Buy me Here' link underneath each image)

Buy Me Here
Buy Me Here
Buy Me Here
Buy Me Here

Buy Me Here