Photo. Kit Miller

Monday, 26 December 2011


For the first time in it's history of more than 200 years, our home has mains electricity. In the 40 years that we have lived here we have managed without it, but it seems that the time has come to be connected to the mains. This does not mean that we cannot also use alternative energy, fortunately there are ways that the two can be combined. In the 1960s everyone without electricity was connected to the national grid for nothing, but the people who lived here declined the offer as they were afraid of it.
We now have a freezer which is quite a novelty and I am hoping that a reliable continuous source of power will mean that we can have an electric kiln.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


Small books which I made for the winter show 'Ornament' at Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre. They vary in size and content, but they mostly consist of acetate snowflake designs in books made from tea stained paper or painted fabric. The covers are made from the end papers of old, broken books. 
Lots of artists were invited to make something small and appropriate for the season and the work has been hung on Christmas trees in the gallery, which looks really gorgeous.
In the main gallery they have a lovely exhibition called Running Stitch, which features the work of three artists, Becky Adams, Claire Cawte and Ruth Harries.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Vintage Rally

Last week some of us went to a vintage rally at Newton House in Dinefwr Park, Llandeilo.
                                           It rained quite a lot.

One of the grandsons came with us who is 5 and has a passion for tractors.

We went inside the house, which is large, and looked around. The atmosphere is really nice, you are free to wander about unattended, to sit on the chairs and to play the piano.

This is a second hand bookshop in one of the smaller rooms. It was cosy and relaxing. The screen over the fireplace was showing a film of the local wildlife.

No one serves in the shop, there is just a box to leave the money in. I bought Thomas Hardy's The Trumpet Major for £1.


Portal 2011 is an exhibition of the work of 13 graduates from the applied arts. It takes place in Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre in Cwmbran until the 12th November.
The show was opened by Rhys and Eggsie from the fantastic Goldie Looking Chain.

Unfortunately I did not get photographs of all of the work, which is beautiful and diverse, but Llantarnam Grange have some lovely images on their site and on facebook.
The artists taking part are Hollie Anderson, Anna Backman, Roisin Daly, Carly Dugdale, Sheila Madder, Elle Plummer, Lucy Slade, Gwennan Thomas, Anna Watson, Sara Jane Williams, Masazumi Yamazaki, Suet Yi and me.

Monday, 12 September 2011


The grandchildren and I have picked damsons from the hedgerows and the garden. Most of them will be made into jam, but I am making ink from some of them. It is not something which I have done before, so I am following instructions from books and web sites. So far I have extracted clear juice and added vinegar and salt. I must admit that my measurements for the salt and vinegar are guess work, so I might end up with an odd concoction. The other berries such as elder, blackberries and sloes should also produce some kind of pigment. How effective they are as inks depends of course on how light fast and durable they are, so lots of tests will follow.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

This is such an inspiring time of year, especially when there is such an abundance of fruit. I have never seen so many apples on our trees before. Weather conditions must have been ideal, although there are very few rose hips so far. Three of our apple trees were grown from the pips of eating apples, planted by the children about fifteen years ago. Two of them are like crab apples but the one pictured above is absolutely delicious, they are about 5cm in diameter and quite sweet. 
The blackberries, damsons and sloes are also doing really well. Hopefully I shall have time to make some jam this year.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Iris Pseudacorus.
A screen print which I made using the photograph of an Iris plant grown from seed. Germinating Iris seeds is notoriously difficult and I had tried several different methods, including scarification and freezing. The deadline for my final major project was approaching and I had just about given up on the seeds when my sister found a jar with about eight tiny Iris plants inside. They had been put to one side and forgotten. Not scarified or frozen and thoroughly neglected, they were the only ones to actually germinate.

Friday, 19 August 2011

          I made photograms of the varying stages of peas that I had germinated. I copied this one into an old accounts ledger which I am using as a sketch book.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Skeins of wool dyed using onion skins. The dark brown colours are from red onions and the yellows, oranges and pale browns are from white onion. Red onions sometimes produce a lovely green khaki colour.

I have a love hate relationship with wool. As a vegan I do not like the way that it is produced, but I love the way that it takes the natural dye. I like working with it but it irritates my skin and it itches. Up until now I have been getting all of my wool from charity shops and so on, however I have recently been given five fleeces from my mothers pet (rescued) sheep. It is the first time that they have been sheared and I am told that it is lambs wool.
I must admit that I have been lazy and left the really shitty bits of the fleeces to wash later. My method of washing is fairly haphazard, I use eco friendly liquid detergent, warm or hot water with a couple of washes and a few rinses.  It all takes place outside using dustbins which I fill with a hose pipe. When the wool is dry I stitch it into old pillow cases. Before dyeing it will need another rinse as the detergent might affect the colour.
We have carding combs and two spinning wheels but my knowledge of spinning consists of a one day work shop. It was very interesting and I enjoyed the process so I am looking forward to doing something with all that wool. 

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

A page from a tea stained exercise book which contains pressed daisies from different locations.

                                                                                            Photo.Kit Miller
     Dye extracts displayed with their corresponding dyed wool samples.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

The images which I have chosen to begin this blog are of the installation which formed the final work for my BA (Hons) in Contemporary Textiles at Coleg Sir Gar (Carmarthenshire Colege) in June 2011.

                                                                                                   Photo. Kit Miller

The alchemic process of dyeing yarn with plant materials is something that has fascinated and engaged me for many years, but until now has not been part of my creative practice.
As part of an ongoing investigation into the area immediately surrounding my home, I looked at indigenous plants that produce a black dye.
The focus of this work is the investigation and experimentation that led to the dyeing process. I looked closely at the plants that I used, particularly their germination. Following the progress of the developing seeds and capturing the stages of their growth forms the main body of the work. 

I became increasingly interested in the environment specific to each plant, which encompassed insects and arachnids.  This is not a serious botanical or entomological study, but rather a creative interpretation of my findings.
Unfortunately I did not manage to produce a black dye, but I shall continue in my efforts to do so and expand this body of work as I go.