A New Website.

Its been quite a journey since last November….

I know have a new website at  http://www.carymade.co.uk/


If you have been following my story, you will know its taken me quite some time to find my style and gain enough confidence in my work to start trying to sell.

My husband read a while ago a book called ‘The One Thing’  by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan – he would constantly quote it and nag me about reading it for myself.


Its an great book that I cannot recommend highly enough.  In Chapter two ‘The Domino Effect’ they say –

‘Getting extraordinary results is all about creating a domino effect in your life.  Toppling dominos is pretty straightforward.  You line them up and tip over the first one.  In the real world, though, it’s a bit more complicated.  The challenge is that life doesn’t line everything up for us and say, “Heres where you should start”.  Highly successful people know this.  So every day they line up their priorities anew, find the lead domino, and whack away at it until it falls.  Why does this approach work?  Because extraordinary success is sequential, not simultaneous.  What starts out as linear becomes geometric.  You do the right thing and then you do the next right thing.  Over time it adds up, and the geometric potential of success is unleashed.  The domino effect applies to the big picture, like your work or your business, and it applies to the smallest moment in each day when you’re trying to decide what to do next.  Success builds on success, and this happens, over and over, you move toward the highest success possible.  When you see someone who has a lot of knowledge, they learned it over time.  When you see someone who has a lot of skills, they developed them over time.  When you see someone who has done a lot, they accomplished it over time.’

‘The key is over time.  Success is built sequentially.  Its one thing at a time’

What I took from this book was that if the small decisions I made each day were well chosen then slowly but surely I would start moving in the right direction.  Pieces of the jigsaw would start to fit together and these small dominos would start knocking over larger, previously impossible dominos.

Starting with a 12×12 ‘Music’ challenge at Midsomer Quilting back in November I found an outlet for my love of nature and particularly Birds.


The Blackbird was the first small domino.  From this starting point I started to experiment and discover new skills using new threads and fabrics.  Suddenly, through playing and learning I find myself with 9 pieces of work, all of which were in their own way challenging.

By taking the journey a piece (or bird) at a time but and setting myself small but manageable goals each week, I started to see the dominos fall, each slightly bigger than the previous.

This book and the time put into social media, particularly Twitter has paid off in so many ways.  I would have thought it impossible 6-7 months ago that I would be a member of two textile groups (where I meet amazingly inspiring textile artists), have an exhibition ahead, a workshop to teach in the new year and a feature in Be Creative with Workbox magazine –  All of these things have been built slowly thanks to the list of ‘things to achieve’ each week.  My youngest daughter bought me a lovely sewing notebook for Christmas in the hope of inspiring me.  At the top of each page I write the date and  what I would like to achieve that week.  Some weeks they are all crossed out, others they get carried over to the next.  I don’t worry if this happens because I’m not in any huge rush, it just keeps me focused and un-clutters all the information that is otherwise stored in my head

So, I am now finally at a point this week of having my own website.  Its been very exciting to see it build.  I shall continue to blog on this WordPress site.

I really hope you will continue to follow my story and that it helps you start or continue yours.  You could even read the book!


Sweetness & Light – Hummingbird

In my opinion there are few birds as beautiful and delicate as the Humming bird.  Their brilliant throat colour is not caused by feather pigmentation but rather by iridescence in the arrangement of the feathers and the influence of light level, moisture and other factors.

There are 325 hummingbird species in the world.  They cannot walk or hop, but their feet can be used to scoot along a perch.  They have evolved smaller feet to be lighter making them more efficient flyers.


Despite their small size they are one of the most aggressive and territorial of birds and will attack crows, jays and hawks that enter their territory.

They have no sense of smell but have very good eyesight.  They do not suck sector from flowers through their long bills but lick it with fringed, forked tongues.  They are able to lick 10-15 times/second.

They have wings that can flap between 50 and 200 times a second depending on direction of flight and air conditions.  Their heart beats around 1,200/minute and at rest they take an average of 250 breaths/minute.

I selected 12 fabrics for this piece, it was really difficult to chose from the great selection I had in my fabric collection.


I selected this subtle flower patterned fabric for the background.  It would be easy to quilt and not be too dominant against the brightness of the bird.


I was nervous about starting to stitch this piece as it looked really vibrant and strong even at this stage.


I used a selection of Oliver twist and Maderia threads



Hummingbirds have an unusual feather pattern, they are almost fish-scale like.  I spent quite a lot of time practicing before starting to stitch the bird.


Close up of the head showing the stitched feather pattern.


A view of the reverse

IMG_2636 (1)

Stitching the background.


A limited edition Giclee print of ‘Sweetness and Light’ is available from my Website shop , please click here to view.

The finished piece.

AK008 Sweetness and Light


The Power of the Peregrine

It was only a matter of time before I was going to have to tackle one of the British Birds of Prey.  There features are so strong and following on from the success of my Barn Owl I wanted to stretch myself.


Rummaging through my large fabric stash there were  a lot of brown batiks, their patterns and colours seemed to lend themselves to the colours and textures of the feathers of a large bird.


Flicking through my numerous Bird books and magazines, the juvenile Peregrine seemed to meet the brief.  I drew a basic outline and started selecting fabrics and threads.


Although I had a great selection, sometimes you just do not have the exact fabric for an area.  This is when you have to improvise!  Reaching into an old pile of fabric paints that the girls had used to design T-Shirts I found a black that was going to have to be the solution.

Using a heat removable pen I drew where the marks needed to be and started painting small areas of chest feathers with a reasonably fine brush.


There were moments that I thought I had done the wrong thing but, using a dry brush and very little paint I achieved the result I had hoped for.


This was the stage where I realised I would have to go shopping…..

I have a large assortment of threads but I had seen at Midsomer Quilting a large selection of Hand-Dyed machine threads, with subtle colour changes running through them.  These Oliver Twist threads were perfect.

Feathers are not flat and dull, they have texture and almost reflect light.  This fabrics helped bring the bird to life.  I am slowly buying all the colour combinations on sale.  Money very well spent….


This piece has been challenging but so enjoyable.  I think my love affair with the British Bird of Prey may be blossoming.

A limited edition Giclee print of ‘Young Pretender’ is available from my Website shop , please click here to view.

AK006 Young Pretender.jpg




The Power of Social Media

People talk about the power of Social Media…..

When I started using Twitter I never imagined the doors it could open and the opportunities it could present me…

This week, thanks to Twitter I finally met some of the fantastically supportive Textile Artists that I have been chatting to over the past 6-8 months.  We met in The Old Prison Northleach in the Cotswolds and chatted from the first moment like old friends.

In the picture below, from the left is Barbara Shaw, Rachel Wright, Michelle Cook and myself.  We are standing beneath one of the fabulous pieces of textile art on display in the Cotswold Lion Cafe created by Barbara.


We each brought along some examples of our work and chatted for hours about how we started, what inspires us and the journey..

Everyone was incredibly supportive and shared thoughts and advice freely.  Before Social Media, how would a ‘newbie’  like me have been able to meet a group of such established and successful Artists?  You could have visited their Exhibitions in the hope of grabbing a little of their time or joined a workshop but, Twitter has introduced me to Artists on a different level.  We came from around the country to meet, chat, eat cake and drink coffee.  It was our time and not a grabbed few moments in a busy environment.

Now a little about each of these amazing artists in their own words reproduced with kind permission from their respective websites.

Barbara Shaw 

I ‘paint’ with textiles, creating collage pictures by hand-stitching or bonding small pieces of fabric together in layers to create the effect I want. I use patterned and tactile materials in vibrant or subtle colours: chiffon ribbons for shading, sparkly fabric for light and tweed for texture all help to bring my artwork alive. As I am a self-taught textile artist, I am constantly experimenting to stretch the range of subjects which I tackle. I am inspired by natural forms as well as my surroundings and hope to engage the viewer in looking afresh at familiar images.

You can find Barbara on Twitter https://twitter.com/art_in_textiles 



Rachel Wright

My main focus is my embroidery. I take my inspiration from landscapes and cityscapes and have a particular love of the sea, harbour towns, boats and lighthouses. The shapes, colours and details of these subject matter are then borrowed and echoed in delicately hand or machine embroidered fabric collages, using vibrant threads, worked onto papers and fabrics. The signature skies in my landscapes are often dramatic and expressive.

The embroideries enable me to draw and paint through the medium of fabric and stitch. My embroideries stand out because of the striking use of rich colour, which captivates and draws the viewer in. My aim is simply to delight the eye.

You can find Rachel on Twitter https://twitter.com/RSetford



Michelle Cook

I am an Artist who works in mixed media. My primary mediums are acrylic paint, textiles and ceramics, but I will incorporate any medium that I feel is right for the piece I am working on.

I enjoy finding objects while out and about, taking them home, storing them away only to rediscover them when looking for something to include in my work.

My main goals are to produce work that creates a feeling of satisfaction in myself while enabling others to gain a sense of pleasure when viewing them.

 You can find Michelle on Twitter https://twitter.com/MichMixedMedia



These are really inspiring artists and I thoroughly recommend checking out their websites and seeing more of their Textile Art.

We are going to try and meet about every 3 months and even chatted about potentially doing an exhibition together!

A few months ago, thanks again to Twitter I was contacted by the fabulous magazine ‘Be Creative with Workbox’.  They asked if I would like to write an article for their Creative Bloggers feature.  I was over the moon as I love the magazine and have seen Barbara, Rachel and Michelle all featured over the months.

The article will be in their 150th issue available from June the 12th.

Who knows where our tweeting will take us…… I would never have believed the difference it could make.


Preparing a Textile Piece for Framing

I have struggled for a long time deciding whether my Textiles should be hung framed or unframed; the quilting world seems to have very strong feelings about the subject.

My decision has been based on appearance, I personally feel that my work looks more like a piece of art when placed in a box frame with glass than hung unframed.

In a fabulous piece on the SAQA website this issue is discussed really well and some of the major points are included below.

Reasons for not framing

The piece may be so large it is cost-probitive to frame with glass.

Not ideal if a piece needs to be posted.

Some people feel that the texture and non-reflective qualities of the fabric are lost when put behind glass.

Many in the quilting world just do not feel a piece should be framed.

You can touch and appreciate the textures of the piece.

Arguments for framing

By using Art glass the piece is kept clean and protected from UV light.  Many people say that Textile Art will not get dirty unframed and that a gentle hoover will remove dust build up very successfully.  The main problem I have found is small black marks from flies.  I live in an old house and fight a loosing battle with spiders and flies.

Art glass is the best glass to use for textiles as it has very low levels of reflection/mirror-like effects and has an excellent level of light transmission making it almost invisible – see below.  It also has a high UV protection reducing over time colour fading.


British Artist Margaret Cooter says ” Having the textile Artwork ‘framed’ means that people used to paintings immediately know what to do about hanging it…. Also the framing makes the show organisers less wary of a ‘strange’ art form.”

Buyers seem unsure how to hang an unframed piece and in my experience are very concerned about how easily it will get dirty, putting them off purchasing.

A framed piece seems to have a greater physical presence and people immediately understand it as a piece of art.

Another important point raised in the SAQA article is that “An excellent tangible benefit of framing is that the same piece in a frame can command a significantly higher price, well beyond the value of the frame itself.  This is mostly because of the projection of the artists own respect and care for the piece, and the buyers perception of it being finished, hangable art worthy of notice”

Box frames are the best way of framing textiles as the glass should never touch the fabrics, this can lead to mildew etc.

How to mount ready for framing

Mounting – If you do decide to go down the framed route, the first problem is mounting your piece on card ready for framing.  A skilled picture framer will obviously do this for you but as this is time consuming this will be a significant cost in addition to framing costs.  I have an amazingly supportive Framing/printing company who have helped me to understand this technique and can highly recommend a book by Susan Brubaker Knapp called ‘Fabulous Finishes’.  This book or Download covers all the techniques for finishing Art Quilts


You will need –

A piece of Acid-Free mount board,

A pencil,

Small nail,

A small hammer,

A needle,

Hand quilting thread (stronger than normal thread), preferably colour matched to the piece.

Artists tape


Mounting Technique

1).  Place a piece of board onto a firm table, cover this with a piece of clean fabric or wadding.

Place your acid -free mounting board (cut to size) right face down onto the fabric.


2).   Place your finished piece right side down onto the back of the board.  Measure and centre the piece carefully (noting which side is top).  Using your pencil draw a line around the piece.


3).  Start tapping holes through the mounting board approximately 1.5cm apart.  Be sure to make these holes slightly within the pencil line to avoid them showing below the piece when finished.


4).    Thread the needle and make a double knot at the end of the thread.

 Tape this down with the artists tape to secure.


5).  Place the textile piece face-down so that the top is furthest away from you on the wadding/fabric.

Then place the front of the board ontop.

The pencil drawn outline should be facing you (also with the pencil marked ‘top’ away from you to ensure the piece is in the same orientation as when you made the pencil mark).

Taking the needle to the front catch a small piece of the wadding and re-insert the needle through the same hole.  With the needle to the back again move to the next hole and repeat all around the piece checking reularly that the holes are not showing and that the piece is still central.



6).  Cover all the stitching with artists tape for added security.


7).  The piece mounted and ready for framing.


Framing – There are two options to framing; ready made box frames or custom made frames from a picture framer.

Shops such as Ikea have very good box-frames that are cheap and attractive, but you are obviously limited to the size and styles they have. It is important however to replace the mount within these frames with Acid-Free mount as the cheaper mount can damage the textiles over time.

I would also highly recommend replacing the cheap glass with Art Glass.

Many galleries however may not accept work framed in such frames, it would be wise to check before framing.

It is vital to use a box frame as the glass must not touch the textile as moisture can collect causing mildew.

The other option is to have a frame made, this is a more costly option but it gives you far more creative choice in frame style, size and colour.

The final decision is obviously down to personal taste and how you wish to view the piece.

Hope thats been helpful.