Tools of the trade…

A few weeks back, when the Discover Original Art group was discussing our upcoming exhibition in November, it was suggested that we each share online, details about the tools and materials we use to make our art.

I loved this idea, because there’s nothing I like better than having a nose about other artists’ studios, seeing what they use to create their work: imagine the fascinating tools used by printers, glass makers, stone carvers, oil painters, mixed-media artists, eco-printers!

I was just happily nodding away, when it dawned on me, that my own tools of the trade were somewhat less exciting – in fact I did spend a few minutes wondering if it was possible to write a whole post about needles…

But then, there is surely beauty of a kind, in the simple, the mundane?

So although I can’t offer you the oooh factor of printing-presses or kilns – here are my particular tools of the trade…

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Big and thick, short and thin, but all with a large hole and a blunt tip…tapestry needles

It took me a long time to realise just how much difference using the right size for the job would make – duh!

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I would like to hug the person who invented the R & R Craft Frames – for me, the number one choice every time… which is not to say I don’t occasionally use others, but well, the flexibility of the R & R suits my stitching style.

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The floor-stand gets a lot of use, but so do my knees, the steering-wheel (followers on Twitter will know what I mean) and the edge of tables – all depends on my mood and where I’m stitching at the time…

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Loose-weave canvas: linen scrim, cotton crash – you name it, if it’s loose-weave, small holes, and reasonably robust, I’ll give it a go…

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Don’t think of them as yarns or threads, think of them as a paints – that you can stroke…

And last, but not least…

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Without which, nothing would be possible ❤


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Floor frame to the rescue

This post is by way of a ‘thank-you’ to several people and companies who’ve helped me out over the last few weeks.

If you’ve been following my stitchy ramblings, you’ll know that I’ve recently started needlepointing on a piece of linen scrim (scrim supplied by MacCulloch & Wallis – thank you).

 It was a bit of a shock to the system after all the hessian I’ve used over the early part of this year, but with a lovely texture that quickly had me hooked.

But… those tiny holes…

It’s not the number of them that’s the issue, it’s seeing them – they are sooooo small! In anything less than brilliant daylight, I’ve been struggling to stick the needle anywhere near its proper destination.

The problem is so much more difficult in the outer corners of the design, where not only am I trying to find the holes, but it’s impossible to keep the frame steady without growing an additional arm or two.


Then came the lovely Janet Granger to the rescue. You know how sometimes in Webland, there’s a sort of synchronicity – well, just as I was struggling in the dratted corner, I read this post from Janet ‘My trusty needlepoint floor stand...’

I’m not a natural with frames, but the last 12 months or so has seen me experimenting with a variety of different ones, but the idea of having a floor stand – well, that was revolutionary. It also brought on a touch of image consciousness. Am I the only needlepointaholic who has to deflect jokes about it being something medieval ladies did in the solar… a floor stand would surely do nothing to bring needlepoint into the 21st century.

But faced with the alternative of a twisted shoulder and impending blindness, what was I to do? I took Janet’s advice and bought a floor stand.

IT’S BRILLIANT! (thank-you Janet, – and a huge thank-you to Theresa at Stitchaholicswho somehow contrived to have the frame with me less than 24 hours after I ordered it – wow.)

Stitchmaster wooden floor stand – oh joy!

I didn’t order the light or magnifier – I thought I’d try the frame out for a few days first, to see if we’d be friends.

Having both hands free is liberating – who cares if I look as if I should wear a wimple.

But I still needed to shine light into those dark corners.

We had an old clip on lamp from IKEA that I thought would do the trick and it probably would have, if we hadn’t managed somewhere along the way, to lose the transformer it plugs into. The husband thought it would be quicker and cheaper to go and buy a new lamp, so off I went to IKEA…(I don’t normally need asking twice if there’s the prospect of a trip to IKEA)

And so, here it is – a little JANSJO lamp (thank-you IKEA – £10) – just the job. Bright, flexible and lightweight. They come in some fabulous colours, but I played safe with white. Beats candles I suppose.

Have you ever visited ruined castles or very old manor houses, with window seats set into the walls? Well, I know exactly who sat in them and what they were doing.

So far, I don’t think I need the magnifier – the light is good enough, but we’ll see.

And finally, this is what the scrim piece looks like at the beginning of this week. Happy stitching.