Creativity old and new

Creativity old and new

Imagine if you will Inspector Clouseau with a huge magnifying glass….that’s me looking everywhere for my felting mojo! Nada. But I did find some ‘energy’ – woohoo! So with the recent good weather and this found bit of energy I have been in the garden….but still as Inspector Clouseau!

In my defence I have sewn a batch of 18 then a batch of 15 masks for our village (whoah, the folded version is fiddly, you just get going and then have to keep stopping the sewing machine, and particularly as at one point I’ve been sewing through 13 layers of fabric – in hindsight I wish I’d chosen the shaped masks!). I’ve also finally made lining covers for two large upholstered sofa cushions. A three year out-standing project now ticked off my to do list. The stuffing had expanded and was taking up so much room. Also, in my defence I’m mulling over how best to create the cushions I mentioned in my previous post (, to make use of the waste yarn, (which I have rolled into hundreds of circles and now crocheted together). Sometimes my thought process has to filter through many layers!!! Although, even with my magnifying glass, I haven’t found my mojo, I haven’t really been idle.

So, I will briefly show you my recent endeavours – to find what once was….my former creative garden – hence Inspector Clouseau. Due to illness 4 years ago my ‘arty’ garden became lost and is only just emerging. Some plants that should only have been a metre high have been 4 metres high. Mother nature has had a field day, with green thugs smothering and killing so many beautiful ‘specialist’ plants. But I am determined to stay positive and see the bare soil as an opportunity for me to source new plants when we finally emerge from our lockdown.


Somewhere in here is a path, you can just see a watering can in the middle of the picture below. I’m about halfway into this corner of the garden (we have 7 corners!), having already macheted my through to this point several weeks ago.

Tadaa. A path, complete with the watering can! The rain we had weeks ago was welcomed by the weed seeds and the part area I had previously weeded is covered in weeds….again, shin high (by the watering can). It is true what they say about one years seeding = seven years weeding, because if you look closely these weeds are giving way to a fine carpet of yet more, over the very bare surface!



This corner is still a work in progress but the last two days of my heavy manual labour (good for removing bat-wings!) has seen the chest-high nettlesagainst the far wall and other thugs dug out and some creativity brought back.  Before anyone inquires of the brown plant in the pot – it is dead!


This has all been current activity and not of the fibre kind, so I thought I would go back to some old creativity.

Many years ago I had a function to attend and I wanted to ‘jazz’ up a black dress. At that time burning through layers of organza/voile was popular.

I’m an avid collector of interesting images, whether from a magazine or my own photos and often reference and use these images to inform various pieces of work. The process is simple – trace the dominant lines. If the image is too small, or the colour confusing, enlarge it to a black and white copy. This can then be flipped, rotated, mirror imaged, cut and random pieced etc etc.



Thankyou Tesco – part of your magazine lives on as your photos will become more design inspiration!

For my dress embellishment I recorded inspiration from various places and finally traced the lines from 2 landscape pictures.



Using leaves and autumn leaf colour as further inspiration I selected appropriate pieces of organza/voile and cut some into snippets.

The above tracing for my sleeve embellisments is a portion of the Chinese terraced rice field picture.

A base layer of organza was laid down (there are no photos as this was done long before I ever thought to take ‘stage’ shots), the various coloured snippets were scattered over in sufficient number to build up about 3 or 4 layers, then another continuous piece of organza was laid over to ‘trap’ the loose pieces. On top of this sandwich a piece of clear, water dissolvable fabric was laid, onto which I had drawn the design. If any snippets were extremely out of place they were adjusted before everything was pinned in place.


Following the design, I machine stitched over the lines using a simple running stitch, ensuring that I also stitched the edges. The collar and sleeve leaves were all undertaken as one piece.

At this point I have to tell you I was creating this piece in my talented sewing buddy’s (SB) house who was also using the same method to create her own piece.

After completing all the running stitching, the dissolvable fabric was washed away and the piece was dried – easy with a hair dryer.

Then it was onto the fun element….using a soldering iron to burn away successive layers of the organza. On my traced design you can see the shaded areas that I used as a guide for the full cut-outs (the tracing is handed to the finished piece). This is delicate work, requiring concentration and a delicate hand….SB was not quite so delicate handed and gradually she ended up with a smaller and smaller main body of work until all that she was left with was a piece the size of a small mobile phone and lots of pieces. She kept burning through all the layers! We have recounted this memory many times and each time it produces fits of giggles.09b

Having decided I’d burned enough away I then reinforced the edges of the cut-outs and added decorative satin stitching over the running stitches.

The final flourish was to add beads to the collar and sleeve leaves.

The collar is still intact (some of the photos here were taken today), in fact I actually wore it this last festive season. I mention this because the model is sooooo much younger. It wasn’t until I checked the properties of the old photos that I realised I was 14 years younger!!!

I’m sure many of you tackled this technique – oh so many years ago – what did you produce?

15 thoughts on “Creativity old and new

  1. That dress really looks good.
    I really love this technique, but never really known what to do with it. I’ve only made a sort of small stained glass window piece which was too rigid to do more than hang it in the window as a sun (and dust) catcher.
    Add it to the list!
    I keep finding and loosing my mojo. More loosing than finding. If only I could get on with something when I do find it, but housework keeps getting in the way; and then I loose it again. So many part finished projects!

    1. Thank you Ann. When this technique was at its height there were many pictures/stained glass creations made. Consider re-vamping it with a different edge & use it else where than your window – I bet you would would get lots of comments for your new creation!

      Maybe forget your mojo temporarily & list your projects with the aim of completing one each week….well that was my advice to myself. I haven’t managed one/week but I am Slowly tackling them.
      Good luck

  2. Absolutely love your stone wall in your garden! This year’s been a great time for the gardens to grow and grow ……but the overgrown look is kinda magical.

    It’s interesting to see your development of design and the finished collar is f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s. It’s also a timeless piece – it will always be beautiful.

    1. Living in North Yorkshire we are blessed (& cursed if you try to drill into them) with cobbles. A few years ago I completely re-pointed the wall as I could see into next door’s garden in places & a few cobbles Also decided to venture to pastures horizontal! I was concerned that more Might join the exodus. It took a while to do because I wore rubber gloves and ‘pushed’ the cement into each nook & cranny. A builder friend laughed at my technique but did give me his approval at the end.

      I’m glad I got a ‘Craig’ from you! I think the design process is part of the fun in creating artefacts – as you well know with your work.

  3. You garden is lovely, dead plant and all. We are in a drought here, even the weeds look droopy. We got a little rain yesterday and we are hoping for more today. My felting mojo has been well hidden. It/s enough to make you crazy. We finally have lots of time and the enthusiasm leaves. The blog keeps me going.

    1. Drought? We went through a spell of that here (They were threatening hose pipe bans with us) then it all flipped & it’s official – June is the wettest in the UK since records began! We’ve also flipped temperature wise too – from 29deg C (hot) to 12deg C brrrrrrr cold in 2 days!!! Hope things change for you but not in the extreme.

      Ann, these times are strange for us all. Maybe we should all forget the word ‘mojo’ as we can’t find it, & come up with a new alternative word! Keep up your good work.

  4. OOOOH! i like your garden!! Wow look at the stone work! and all the weeding you got done! you have put in a lot of work but what a calm result. if you have a small table and chair you may find your inspiration to felt outside in your garden. maybe with a cup of tea and a box of cookies?

    i don’t remember seeing anything like your collar. it would be scary trying to burn away only one layer!! its vary intreeging. i wonder if you could do fall leaves in wool burning instead of cutting layers or maybe cutting instead of burning? maybe a cloak or capelet instead of a collar?

    i hope you will enjoy your garden and that it will bring inspiration!

    1. Jan I like your thinking, but in my case as I enjoyed the tea & cookies (and not just one or two) the felting would Probably Fall by the wayside.

      Burning wool….now there’s an idea. Definitely an outside job with the smell….I see those cookies already!

  5. Congrats on the weeding and clearing of your garden. It’s looking really good. I hate to hear the one year seeding and seven years weeding. I think I now have eternal years of weeding 😉

    Your collar is gorgeous even if it was made years ago. The photo of you is lovely, you look ready to meet the queen 🙂 Thanks for showing the design process. I have done a little burning but certainly not to this effect. My piece sounds more like your sewing buddy’s results.

  6. My cousin reckons if we have many things to do that it gives us a reason to live longer! Whether creaky bones at a 1000 years of age will let me tackle my eternal weeds is a different question.

    The design process is interesting – just seems to take a bit longer these days! Have you found the same?
    I’m glad you like the collar. I find it fascinating looking back on Different techniques we’ve used & how they can inform current work, in your case (as with my SB) it would be to ensure they stay a good size! 😂

  7. Great post, Antje. I wonder where all that mojo is hiding? There must be a huge well of it somewhere waiting for us to find it.

    Your garden project is looking very promising. Such beautiful walls and paths. But you’re right, those weeds are prolific.

    Your dress embellishments are absolutely beautiful. And I really love to see how you developed the designs. It’s not a technique I know anything about so it was really interesting to see how you worked it.

  8. Having seen your photos I too have garden wall envy Antje! I hadn’t yet discovered textile art at the time when you were stitching and burning your beautiful collar but that technique is one I really enjoy working with now. I like the idea of using it as embellishment for clothing the way you’ve done… far mine has tended to be used as wall art.

  9. Hi Karen, can I assume you are burning your stitched lutrador to make your gorgeous leaves etc? You actually say ‘wall art’ so what are you creating & have we seen it?
    I’m glad you like my collar & my wall!

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