Blue Too

So my attempt to blog weekly has failed but my excuse is that I have been trying desperately to finish my latest tapestry and here she is:

blue too

I have to admit she isn’t quite finished as I still need to knot off the top semi circle but I am trying to clear up the studio (for studio read spare bedroom but studio sounds so much better). All the wool is slowly going back into it’s boxes in the loft and then I will get out the blue warp to finish her. She has no title as yet, just ‘blue too’ at the moment. She is 70(ish) centimetres in diameter so just the right size to put in for the Cordis in October, fingers crossed. Although someone said to me recently that they are looking for more sculptural pieces with lots of knotting but I haven’t found any evidence of that requirement.

It is interesting how she has turned out, not like the original image partly because there would have been lots of curves going up the tapestry. Curves over 45 degrees tend to loose their elegance so I adjusted the image and I didn’t want too much black in there as it would have looked odd and heavy. Also there are areas of darkness which travel across the blue areas into the green, not quite anticipated but they work well. It is nice that even a fairly comprehensively planned tapestry can still produce surprises.

I haven’t quite decided how to mount her yet. I think I am going to try strips of aluminium flat across the back so she can still be rolled but will maintain a certain ‘flatness’ when hung. I am also not sure whether to block her out. It will depend on exactly how round and lumpy she is when I cut her off. She is looking very ‘unlumpy’ at the moment so maybe I won’t have to do too much to her.

What next?

I am not sure. There are some 3D pods I want to explore and another round one in similar colours to ‘blue too’ I wondered about doing it the same size so they could be a diptych, I will have to dye some more 3% turquoise yarn if that is the case, the 3% turquoise goes right through the piece with the exception of a few small pale areas. And of course there is the diptych I was originally going to do for the Cordis and thought there might be a chance of getting it done for the Artapestry5 deadline in January. Hmm! I also have to prepare the stuff for the course I am teaching at West Dean in September and a talk in October. So what are you doing sitting writing a blog Jones – go and get on with it.

And people keep asking me if I am going to submit something for the West Dean National Tapestry Commission Open call

I had assumed it is not really for tapestry weavers but then thought why not? Maybe the second circular one REALLY big. I will see Philip Sanderson next week so will ask him for more details about it. It has to be something big that I can’t weave myself.




Here is an image of the postcard I have just sent off to Mexico. The exhibition is called ‘Travelling Tapestry: Textile Mail Art’ and will be held at The Museo Textil de Oaxaca (MTO – Textile Museum of Oaxaca) and the Museo de la Filatelia de Oaxaca (MUFI – Philately Museum of Oaxaca). I was in a bit of a quandry what to weave, it had to be postcard sized and that isn’t very big for tapestry, I thought of various things like a very British red postbox but everything was too detailed so I just went for the edge of the stamp and the franking mark. I love franked stamps, there is something wonderful about the way the circle is nearly there but tends to be interrupted by the thickness of the stamp itself and it goes a bit blobby.  It is best if it is still on the envelope but regretably these days the chance of seeing a franked stamp in your post is very slim. Technology eh? I always think the unfranked envelopes look sad, sort of unfinished or unused. Why the red background, lots of little reasons I guess, one is that although you can buy birthday cards with red envelopes many years ago when I worked in a sub postoffice technically you could not send anything in a red envelope, bright colours like that were against the rules. I found out recently that you can no longer send a parcel tied up with string, presumably because the string can get caught in the machinery. PJ thought it might be touch and go whether I could send the tapestry, it has to go just as it is sewn onto a piece of very thick card, not in an envelope or anything. I tied all the ends in to make sure there was no ‘string’ hanging out so fingers crossed it gets there okay.

I called this piece ‘Postcards Home’ which was also the name of the very first folk music album I bought by a singer called Bob Davenport. Brilliant LP, I think I’ve still got it somewhere.


I also spent today taking some photographs. I really must get to grips with the camera and I was going to do a photography/photoshop day at the beginning of July but it has been cancelled but I thought well, you bought some Calla lilies yesterday to photograph so get on with it. My favourites are these two, especially the first long thin one:

Back again

So, having promised to blog more often here I am.

The larger round blue piece is coming along nicely:IMG_0748

The blends are proving a little tricky, it is quite difficult to decide what blend I am using when I get to the end of a length of yarn so I have colour coded them with beads – I suppose a bit like lace bobbins. Not that I have ever done bobbin lace but I believe the beads on the end of the bobbins mean something to the lacemaker. I think most weavers put the number of the colour blend on the cartoon but my cartoons are always a loose in that respect.

The background turns very green in the top left hand corner and the yarn I thought was going to be the perfect green turns out not to be so there was a small amount of urgent dyeing some over the weekend, you can see the green just emerging around the top black spot on the left hand side. The highest part is about 2 inches from the middle so it is growing well.

It would be nice to know what it is ‘about’ as art seems to have to be about something. I am not quite sure what my work is about at the moment so any suggestions would be gratefully received.

I have recently heard that the second Heallreaf exhibition is almost definitely certainly (!) going to happen. It looks like the PV will be on the 5th May next year with the exhibition on from the 6th to the 13th. When I have absolutely definitely got agreement I will contact the jurers I am going to ask and then put out the call for entries. I am also hoping to get some Arts Council funding and take it to another gallery but I cannot do anything on that score until I get the West Dean end of it confirmed.

So no rant after all

In the last blog I promised another rant but it was so long ago I seem to have got over it. The rant was following the exhibition we saw at the Natural History Museum called ‘Otherworlds. Visions of our Solar system’ which was a photographic exhibition by Michael Benson, featuring original music by Brian Eno. The music was excellent but I cannot get it as a CD. The whole exhibition was really good but the rant was that it seems to be the thing to do to go to an exhibition with your ipad and simply take photo’s of each exhibit and the writing on the wall telling you about it. Consequently you do not stop to look at the work at all, you take it home and maybe look at it again on your ipod. Sigh!

Since then I have been to two other exhibitions, one of Rebecca Salter’s work and the second at the Barbican by Imran Qureshi. The one at the Barbican is on til 10th July and I recommend it, well, they were both well worth visiting but Rebecca’s has finished now but please do look at her website to see her lovely work. They were very different exhibitions and certainly the one at the Barbican you could not have taken your ipad in to photograph, it was very dark except for the spotlights on the individual works. The work made me want to rush off and use gold again, so beautiful yet so dark. If I am up in town before 10th July I will go again, one look wasn’t enough. The Georgia O’Keefe at the Tate Modern starts on the 6th July so maybe I can see them both on the same day. If it is as good I hope I may have to go to the Georgia O’Keefe more than once which would probably make it worth joining the Tate.

So, what are you up to now I hear you ask. Well, I’ve gone circular, which isn’t surprising really. Firstly I wove bubbles, then I wove 3d spheres and now I am weaving circular tapestries. The first two are only about 25 centimetres in diameter, the third is about 70 centimetres.

This was the first:

Blue 2


And this was the second:

BLue - Forties

Ooh – that’s a bit blurred but you get the idea.

And this is the current one.

Blue three


The black bits are chenille – as well as gold I have started a love affair with chenille. This is because when you put it into a tapestry the light doesn’t reflect off it so it looks like a hole. Well, it does to me anyway. I am about a third of the way up this one at the moment and would like to finish it by the end of the month but we will see, I started it on the 20th May so when people ask me how long it took I can tell them. Don’t they always ask? And is it really important? I am not so sure but you will have heard me witter about that already.

I have definitely gone back to bubbles and spheres and started looking at the work of the scientist Helen Czerski who researches bubbles especially in foam as the connection between the sea and the air. I have also gone back to reading a book by Peter Sloterdijk which I got whilst at college. It is interesting that it has taken me nearly a year since finishing college to pick up a book and I seem to understand what I am reading, unlike when I was at college. There was just no headspace at all and I don’t know why. I have only just started doing the sort of work I should have done at college.

Sorry this blog has turned out a long one. I must try to blog more often but smaller. Apparently as an artist you should spend 50% of your time producing work and 50% of your time marketing, blogging and trying to sell your work generally. That just isn’t enough studio time as far as I am concerned.




So there I was…

all ready to start a big tapestry to enter for the Cordis prize next year. It was all planned, a diptych each piece being 1.5 metres high and 80cm wide. Not huge in tapestry standards but it was going to be the biggest thing I had undertaken.

Then, by chance I mentioned this to a friend she said ‘oh they’ve changed the criteria this year, it’s going to be a maximum of 75cm and a minimum of 25cm. I think’.

Yes, she was right so what do I do now? I have spent ages dyeing the yarns and have woven about 12 centimetres, this was mainly selvedge so that’s not so bad and as you can see below the image so far is not complicated. It was the warping up that nearly killed me. Because I wanted to weave right from the bottom of the frame to the top I did it without a shed so I had to wrap the warps round 500 times. The old leggies complained a lot the next day.IMG_0705

So now what do I do? The good news is that I have to weave something much smaller, the area of a tapestry 75cm square is almost a quarter of what I was going to try to weave and I knew I was looking at a summer of slaving over a weaving frame and not sitting in the garden drinking Pimms, so that’s good, Pimms here I come. The bad news is that I now have to weave something else as I refuse to weave the same thing but smaller, if anything it needs to be bigger, like 2 metres high so I shall save that for next year, hopefully when there is less pressure.

I have just emailed the Cordis Prize people to ask if a circle 75cm in diameter would fit. Hopefully it will, I have just gone a bit circular lately.

Last weekend we went to London and saw some photographic exhibitions. The Pink Lady Food Photographer of the year, which has some stunning images in it and the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year which didn’t. Now don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t have taken any of the photo’s but my main whinges were two. Firstly why were only one or two of them taken in the UK. It is so easy to be wowed by a photo of an exotic animal in an exotic place, surely the skill of a photographer is shown when you put them into a boring old field in Kent on a rainy September day and then they come back with a work of art. Well, maybe not exactly but you get my drift. Secondly many of the photos were taken in hides and the photographer was not present because the shot was triggered by a motion sensor. Surely that is just luck? And I now have a thirdly, underwater cameras? That’s an expensive hobby but I do always love photo’s of jelly fish and octopi (octopusses?).

The one that won was of a Red Fox ripping an Arctic Fox to pieces. The implication was that the Artcic Fox was already dead and it was a very good photo , but….

I like hares and the image below was taken in the cairngorms (by Rosamund Macfarlane) so I thought I would like it but there is something about it that I find disconcerting, the scale looks wrong, the hare could be six feet high and it looks a bit mean. It did make the front of the calender so I must be in a minority, although maybe not there were still alot of 2016 calenders waiting to be sold in the shop.

... / Bestsellers / Wildlife Photographer of the Year wall calendar 2016

This was my favourite one:

It is a Temminck’s ground pangolin which is an endangered species living in South Africa and was taken by Tristan Dicks. You only have to look at my brief forays into photography to know why I liked this.

And surprise surprise this was my favourite from the Pink Lady Food Photography Awards.

We also went to another exhibition at the Natural History Museum with photo’s of planets and things in it. There is another rant there so I will save that for next time.



The exhibition at The Mill in Angmering went well and it has just opened in Hastings at The Hastings Art Forum. PV is Thursday night. Here are some images from Angmering:

Unfortunately it was night time and the lovely red blinds did nothing for the exhibition, it all looked better in the daylight.

Demonstrating at Sutton Hoo was okay. The Saturday was pouring with rain and cold and the Sunday was lovely weather, everyone kept saying on Saturday it would be busier on Sunday but it wasn’t, in fact I think it was a bit quieter because the weather was so nice everyone stayed outside and didn’t come into the house. Those I did talk to were very interested. One man asked about dyeing the yarn and when I explained all the ins and outs of dyeing protein yarns and cellulose yarns he called me a witch. You’d never have got Granny Weatherwax (may she rest in peace) faffing around with dyeing yarn and tapestry weaving.

It being quiet at Sutton Hoo I did manage to get a bit of weaving done and now back home I am warping up for a diptych I am hoping to complete in time to put it into the Cordis Prize next year. Unless they change their minds this is the third and final year of the Cordis Prize so I would really like to get something in for it but the standard is high and of course it does depend on whether they like your work. Ideally it will be two pieces each 1.4 x 0.8 metres but I am reconciled that I might not finish the two so may have to make do with just the one, although I will still do the two to exhibit together in the future.

The warping up is trying, I am warping the 6 foot high frame at 8 ends to the inch (it was easier than ‘almost 3 to the centimetre’) and it is double warped and without a shed, so that is 8 x 30 inches x 2 which means I have had to wind the warp round the frame 480 times if my arithmetic is correct. I am only able to do an inch or so at a time because the bending right down to the floor and then stretching up over the top of the frame is doing my constitution no good what so ever. I have just send the images off to the printers to get the right size for the cartoon and then tomorrow I am using the dye room at West Dean to dye some of the yarn. I don’t expect to get it all done but I have been sampling at home and so hope to go in with all the dyes and chemicals in little pots and the yarn wet and all ready to go the minute I get in there, although it will take a while for the baths to warm up so maybe I won’t bother being quite so prepared. I might have to take my knitting or some weaving to do whilst the yarn boils, it can take up to an hour for each batch.

The good news is that the allergy I experienced has now gone. I don’t think it was sheeps wool but I am thinking it was the alpaca. They say it is one of the most hypoallergenic yarns you can get, although since I have mentioned it several people have said ‘ooh alpaca, it’s got a reputation you know’ and there has been much sucking of teeth. What sort of reputation alpaca has I don’t know, does it wear short skirts and stay out late at night drinking? Sorry my mind went there for a minute.

So I have a cardigan with one front and two thirds of the other front knitted and am not quite sure what to do next with it. In the old days I would have given it to Mum to finish but she isn’t up to it now and anyway it is modular knitting which I am not sure she would ever have taken to being somewhat a traditionalist when it comes to knitting (and many other things too). I think I will wait until things calm down and then just knit the odd module every now and then. Once it is finished it might be less of an irritant if it is washed or I will have to find someone to give it to which might be tricky as it is in heathery purple and greens, not everyones favourite colour scheme.



Isn’t tapestry slow?

Yes, like very other tapestry weaver I get a bit fed up with people saying such things but and here is the rub, it is slow, hence there is not much to go on the blog now I am at the coalface and just weaving away and not doing anything exciting (!) at college. Also the last few weeks have been taken up by decorating the bedroom and making curtains. Interestingly I notice my approach to such things as curtain making has changed somewhat, whereas pre weaving I would have just rushed through it and said ‘oh that’ll do’ I am now much more focussed about these things. For instance I was not sure how square the fabric was so I sat and pulled a thread across the length of the fabric so I knew I had a straight line to cut along. That was done across 4 lengths of curtain fabric and 4 lengths of lining fabric. Scary. Although I have always done the hems by hand, there is something wonderful about a hem stitched by hand.

I should have blogged a few weeks ago as I had some work in an exhibition at The Brick Lane Gallery Annexe. We went along to the PV but it was mainly lots of people going and ‘being seen’. A group insisted on ‘being seen’ right in front of my big tapestry so no-one else could get to it. Apart from that it was a good experience, unfortunately nothing sold but often things turn up months later and it was all down to what someone saw at that exhibition, so here’s hoping. I didn’t blog about it but I did tweet and facebook so my social media skills are improving.

The next exhibition is at The Mill Gallery at Angmering, starting the 26th March and then goes onto Hastings Arts Forum in April. The theme is ‘Symbiosis’ and the piece I have just finished for it is this one:

Jones - Margaret - Living Together - Small FileIt is called ‘Living Together’ and is about the symbiotic relationship between man and machine. This relationship is also called ‘intelligence amplification (IA)’, ‘cognitive augmentation’ or ‘machine augmented intelligence’. It sounds a bit wacky these days but was around in the late 50’s and early 60’s. A psychologist and computer scientist called J.C.R. Licklider produced a paper called ‘Man-Computer Symbiosis’ and the whole thing just fascinated me. If you look it up on the internet there are articles suggesting that they can get rats to communicate ‘telepathically’ because there are computer chips implanted in their brains which can send messages via bluetooth type communications. Well, it must be true it is on the internet!

Strangely I have just been listening to an audio book called ‘Interface’ by Neal Stephenson and someone else (I think the guy that wrote Game of Thrones) and it is all about implanting and connecting computer chips into the brains of people who have had strokes. Well, it is SciFi but maybe not so much Fi as Sci? Obviously the book has far more plot than that and I found it when looking for some science fiction to listen to as I was brought up on Asimov and realised I hadn’t come across very much classic science fiction lately.

Up and coming news is:

In April I am demonstrating at Sutton Hoo for the weekend (9-10th April).

30th September – 2nd October I am teaching an ‘Introduction to Tapestry Weaving’ course at West Dean college.

I am about to buy a scaffold frame and start weaving a large piece to enter for next years Cordis Prize. It has to be done by October so it will be nose to the warp for a good few months. Shame I seem to have become allergic to wool. I am pretty sure it is wool that is making my eyes swell, blister and other really horrid things you do not wish to hear about here. So. Weaving whilst wearing swimming goggles, the latest fashion trend.

I will try to remember to post some images of the ‘Symbiosis’ private view.

Stop Press: West Dean have suggested I put on the exhibition ‘heallreaf 2’ in 2017 which is what I wanted to do but getting the space might not be as easy as last time so watch this space.

That’s definitely the end, see I just can’t stop once I start.







I am like a dog with two tails!

Just to let you know I won the Cordis Tapestry Showcase Prize. Unfortunately I can’t get up to Edinburgh to collect it on the 1st February but they said they quite understand.

And the tapestry sold at the private view. I don’t know who bought it but I hope they enjoy it. Having only recently finished the piece I am quite sad I won’t see her again.

Here’s another photo of her just to remind you.

Jones - Margaret - Red Shift Two - Complete

Back again – so soon.

Good news, the latest piece has been accepted for the Cordis Tapestry Showcase. Here it is, it is the piece that was almost finished on the last blog. As you can see the decision was to hang it blob down. It is one of the few tapestries I have done that PJ has had real trouble photographing, the red is a mix of tencel and rayon floss so it is a bit shiny with some strands looking very shiny and the green is in rayon yarn so that’s a bit shiny too, oh dear it’s starting to sound a bit bling!

Jones - Margaret - Red Shift Two - Complete

I think I must be having a bling month or two as for the next piece I have just ordered more rayon floss in all sorts of colours from Handweavers. They seem to be only place I can find who does bling!

For more details of the Cordis Showcase see:

He’s Home!

Number one got back today from his trip around Europe. In case you can’t remember what he looks like this is him:

MFJ Textiles_0003aHe has been trundling around Europe in the Artapestry4 exhibition starting in Finland at the Rovaniemi Art Museum, going onto Textil Museum in Lüneburg, Germany, then Austria at Textile Kultur, Haslach and finishing in Denmark at ArtCenter Silkeborg Bad. Isn’t he well travelled? Probably better travelled than me, I know I should have gone to the private views but it wasn’t really on, next time maybe if I get some work into Artapestry5.

I am still quite stunned that the work got in as I was the only English artist included out of 31 artists chosen and I have to say I do not think he is my most beautiful creation.

Talking of beautiful creations, this is my latest:

redshift two

The straight black bit across the top is where I am putting the selvedge, so the red circle will disappear off the edge of the work. It is being woven on the side so I cannot decide whether it will hang red blob down or red blob upwards that is a decision for when it is cut off. The background is woven at 4 epc and the red and green bits are at 8epc, which is ridiculously fine. It is about the fineness of the medieval tapestries and it certainly makes you appreciate their skill or their eyesight at the very least bearing in mind they had no electric light.