Monday, 1 December 2014

Give me a T, give me an R!!!

Melamine Trays using original stitch design by Tina Francis

So my final large show of the year happened a couple of weeks ago at Harrogate, it's a great place and as ever the Knitting and Stitching Show delivered the people and the smiles.  I was lucky to be exhibiting next to Margaret Glackin Ceramics who I first met back at BCTF in April this year. Her Yarn Bowls have gone from strength to strength this year and what is really great about her work is the uniqueness of the glazes (each one has it's own history, much the same as my kit designs), it's always a pleasure to exhibit next to people dedicated to their practice.

Whilst at Knitting and Stitching Show I quietly launched the first two of my melamine tray designs, it has taken 2 years for me to get to this stage.  I stitched the work using recycled wool and then got them scanned by Martin Christie and then used them on cards and mugs for a while before being sure that they would work on trays and tableware.  I am really pleased with the results and will be adding more shapes and designs in the coming year, you can find them here Trays and Tableware. Most importantly for me they are a UK product from start to finish, from design, stitch, to imaging and finally to the production of the trays which is completed in Coventry. Even though they use stitch the designs fit into any type of home so whether you live the urban dream (like me)or have roses around your door I am sure they will be at home. It's really interesting to see where stitch designs can go.

Since coming back from the show I have been working on some bespoke Brooch designs for Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery which will hopefully be stocked by them in the new year sometime I am also working on a large tapestry kit for which again I hope will be stocked there in the future.  It's been a great excuse to visit the museum every day, there is so much to see there and also so much to remember!

I am also working on some new designs to be launched at Craft Hobby and Stitch International in February, this will be my second time at this trade only show and my final time in the Bright Sparks Pavilion.

Even though I take part in a trade show which sounds quite grand(!)I am still a really small business and so I am looking forward to supporting other small businesses on Small Business Saturday on 6th December. At this time of year when we are thinking of what to buy people it's always good to try and buy from independent businesses if you can because it really helps keep the high street alive. Earlier in the year I exhibited next to Sarah Hamilton a print maker from South East London who has recently started her Just a Card Campaign, the idea behind it came from a gallery owner who had had to close who said "If everyone who had complimented our beautiful gallery had bought just a card then we would still be open".  So even if you buy a card this Saturday from a small business you really will be making a difference.

So happy shopping, making and baking and of course stitching!


Monday, 20 October 2014

Christmas is a coming!

Tina Francis Tapestry Copyright 2014

So this year has gone super fast!  I've moved house, moved studio and have been really enjoying myself.  But tapestry waits for no one and so whilst living the life of Riley I have been working hard on my first seasonal design, Gingerbread House.   

I was introduced to ginger bread house decorating by a good American friend of mine, each year she would bake and assemble ginger bread houses for a group of friends and we would arrive sweets in hand to decorate them whilst we caught up on each others festive plans.  I since held my own parties and it's a great way to have a calm evening catching up at the busiest time of the year.

My gingerbread design is printed here in the UK and is available as a full kit, printed canvas only or a block chart.  It makes a great cross stitch too!

There are some fantastic tapestry needlepoint kits for the festive season around that once stitched will become beloved heirlooms. I love the new kit from One Off Needlework of a Poinsettia a favourite plant of mine.  The great thing about this design is that it can be used as a glasses case or a cushion insert, just lovely.  Also at One Off Needlework is a beautiful range of Christmas Stockings my favourite is Black Garland but that might be because it has my brothers name on it! 
Also great on the Christmas Stocking front is the range from Jolly Red, real fun designs here with my fave being Christmas Alphabet which is just so jolly!  I love the way that both Jolly Red and One Off Needleworks stockings have space to add your own name.
Finally in this kit round up (!) take a look at the Winter Sampler by Elizabeth Bradley, a fantastic use of winter berries and a dream of a house make this a really special kit to stitch, every time I look at it I see something else.
So it seems that my new kit is in great company and who knows maybe I will have another to add to the list next year.

The Autumn shows are in full swing now, I am just back from Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally.  This years event was bigger than ever lasting 5 days and having a late night opening event on the Thursday evening. I was in the same spot as last year and so it was great to meet up with people again.  My workshops were popular and everyone left with a smart needlepoint brooch attached to their lapel.  I am already chomping at the bit with workshop ideas for next year!

I am getting ready for Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate but in the meantime have two events that I am really looking forward to. The first is this coming Thursday and is a Christmas Fair being held at the Copthorne Hotel in Birmingham for Edwards Trust. Edwards Trust supports children and families in times of serious illness and bereavement, it is a great charity and I am really pleased to have s mall stand there selling my wares.  Secondly I will be doing a talk and workshop at Birmingham Embroiderers Guild all about using your stash and making a beautiful brooch with scraps of wool, I am really fortunate to have been asked to do this and hope it lives up to the quality of speakers they have all year round.

Until next time, Happy Stitching!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Hazy shades of Autumn!

A Distant Shore - Tina Francis

So the Autumn shows are upon us, not sure where this year has gone but tapestry waits for no one!

I will be at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace from 8th until 12th October - that's right 5 whole days this year! As well as being on my stand I will also be running two workshops at 1pm on Wednesday and Friday so if you come by my stand and it is not me there then I will be back within the hour!  There are some fantastic exhibitors on the same aisle as me this year, I am a relative new comer to this aisle with this only being my second time many of the exhibitors have been stalwarts of this row for many a year!

My stand is TGC5 (TG stands for Textile Gallery) and to my left is the blaze of colour that is The Thread Studio, what an amazing mix of colour and texture.  All the way from Australia each year they bring so many silks and yarns that it is hard to know where to start.  My favourite are their hand dyed threads which are based around different themes currently I love "Cottage Garden".  

To my right are the fabulous Thermofax Screens, printing is a real love of mine that I continue to be part of with my printed canvas designs.  Thermofax have hundreds of designs for printing on to fabric but can also make you your own screen from your own design!! Think of the possibilities! Along with the screen the range of inks is just delicious.

So so far on our row you have drooled over the fantastic threads and silks, said hi to me and ordered your bespoke screen what you need now is some fabric to put them on!  Committed to Cloth have been running courses and educating people for a long time in the art of fabric manipulation and design.  They run some fantastic courses and alwys have interesting books to inspire and delight you.  Make sure you spend a while there.

As you turn away from the Committed to Cloth stand look behind you and see the fantastic knits of Sophies Wild Woollens a real trail blazer of the woollen world, what I particuarly like about Sophies business is that she uses local people to create and finish the clothes.  It's the finishing for me that makes these garments stand apart, just look at the buttons!

The warmth of wool turns to the warmth of the sun as next to Sophies Wild Woollens is The African Fabric Shop but it's not just fabric that makes a colourful explosion their range of baskets  is a joy to see.  There's no manufacture here, handmade and hand picked they really have a place in every home and oh yes they are fairly traded too! Really knowledgeable about their products its great to learn from this stand.

There's more knowledge to be had on the next stand belonging to Kate Haxell who has no less than 14 books under her belt! I am hoping that there will be some lavender hearts on her stand to make us all feel happy and relaxed! With a wide range of yarn ideas from Kate where better to stop next than her next door neighbour Habu Textiles who stock Japanese yarns and textiles.  At the start of the fair it is amazing to see just how many people make a bee line for this stand having waited for their chance to re-stock from this supplier who resides in New York!

So phew!  There you have it the people I will be sharing the days with at Ally Pally, I hope that you will be amongst them too!

Happy Stitching!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Weaving along the queue

Tina Francis Tapestry copyright 2014

Over the past few blogs I have been looking at the blogs and work of other makers that will be either exhibiting alongside me at The Handmade Fair or whose blogs I go to time and again for an inspirational tea break.  I will be writing a blog soon regarding all the fantastic exhibitors who will be in the Textile Gallery at the Knitting and Stitching Show Alexandra Palace rows c and d! But this time I want to tell you about a little adventure that I had at the weekend.

Saturday 30th August was Liberty Call 2014, where Libertys flings open their doors to makers and designers and gives them the opportunity to meet the head buyers for their particular products.  It is a long old day with queues of designers and makers snaking around Libertys from the early morning.  In order to take part you have to apply and register and then turn up on the day, this is meant to keep numbers to a manageable amount but I met quite a few people who had just turned up on the day.  Not really cricket because it just makes more work for everyone involved.

When you are a small business and working closely with your designs it is always good to come up for air and really review the products and designs you have been working so hard on.  I took a range of tapestry kits for printed canvases and also for counted canvases. You have 3 minutes to discuss your work and listen to the advice, so it is pretty intense!  I received some great advice and feedback about my designs and a lot of food for thought about the direction my work could take. I would really recommend it.

As you know I really want people to "Use their Stash" and my weave pattern for this is very popular with many of you having stitched unique designs with your stash of wools. The weave kits are popular at shows and can be tailored for your own homes, I love creating a bespoke weave design probably best of all!

You'll see an example at the top of the page of my Rainbow Weave kit which looks even brighter in "the flesh" and which will be coming along with me to The Handmade Fair and returning to The Knitting and Stitching Shows later in the year where it always brightens up the dark Autumn days!

I met some great people in the queue at the Liberty call and will be following them on their next ventures. It really is fantastic to see so many people following their hearts and making beautiful products, there is so much talent out there.  The whole event was filmed and so maybe you will see a clip of me on the next Libertys TV series, if I only make it to the cutting room floor then do please come and visit me in the Autumn at the retail shows.

Oh yes and if you are in Cumbria please do go and visit Farfield Mill in Sedbergh where my work is being exhibited next to some fantastic makers who all use good old wool! (More next time about this exhibition)

Happy Stitching!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Handmade legacy!

All images copyright the artist (listed below)
Montage created by Tina Francis from Web images

Those of you who read this blog on regular basis (thanks pals!) will know that my bespoke stitching only uses second hand wool, I am as much interested in the story behind who owned the wool as I am in the new piece I create.  Some of my second hand stitching has been used to create the tapestry needlepoint kits that I sell but of course these kits contain new wool! Taking a look at my stand neighbours at The Handmade Fair there seems to be a common theme of tradition and memory woven into our practices, lets take a look at the people that will surround me at the end of September.

Firstly The Littlecote Soap Co. founded by Elaine Stavert 12 years ago after a life-changing move from a London television career to a farm in the heart of the Buckinghamshire countryside. Inspired by the surrounding countryside and her favourite things in life, each ethical range is made from traditional recipes with exclusively designed perfumes that are quintessentially English with contemporary twists. This all sounds a bit like the good-life and yes it seems that it is because one of the ranges is based on gin and tonic!

Bobo Stitch has a very special piece of history in the making as the company is named after their daughter Olive, see their site for the full story. Whilst the kits used traditional cross stitch the patterns created are really something quite special and heirlooms in the making.

Speaking of tradition the work by Chachoulie concentrates on recycling the rich embroidery of Palestine, a country that has a rich heritage in cross stitch. The national dress of the region is defined by its embroidery and each dress tells a story with its colours, patterns and shapes, revealing not only which village the wearer is from but also her marital status.
Rima set up her company to showcase her creativity through the cultural identity of Palestine and to keep the folk craft of the region at the front end of fashion. 

Onward! How will you have the time to visit us all! The powerhouse that is Puntobelle design all their own fabrics and then use them to create really useful products, I am particuarly looking forward to the Travel Wallet which will set anyone,s holiday off to a great start. Some of these patterns are already design classics and so will be around for a long time!

Whilst Puntobelle use their own fabrics for their designs Creative Quilting bring you fantastic fabrics for all your quilting needs. Set up with just 5 bolts of fabric in 1989 the shop now boasts 2000 bolts! Hopefully a good selection of them will be making their way to the fair. A huge amount of quilting knowledge will be there for the taking on this stand, don't miss out on asking for advice if you want to start working with fabric.

There is a Norwegian saying about if you want to sing you will always find your song which I was reminded of when I read how printer Sarah Hamilton describes her work which revolves around colour for her the colours must sing which I can appreciate being a tapestry artist! Sarahs prints have a Scandinavian feel but are also based on her love of 1950's fabrics and among others Eric Ravilious and Georges Braque (a Tina Francis favourite). Sharing a stand with Sarah will be another print maker called Gabriela Szulman whose work is inspired by the nature of memories, over the years she has saved family photographs and printed ephemera from the 1940s and 1950s to create beautiful collages which are now being used for a new range of scarves that will be launched at the fair.

Using family memorabilia is taken to the next level by The Hutton Emporium who will be exhibiting work from members of the Hutton Family. This exciting mix of styles and practices will be great to see, I will be trying to find a link in the styles! Emma Hutton is a jeweller who adds history to her pieces by giving them a worn and cherished look with different pattination techniques.

After a long day at a show I like to sit down and look at something really beautiful for a while before I start to pack away and this time I will be looking at the fantastic hand painted and naturally dyed wools of Watercolours and Lace. I am very interested in the way that a naturally dyed wool can bring immediate texture to any piece especially as some of the dyes are from right here in the UK.


So there we go just a few of the stands in the West Tent that I will be sharing my time with from 19th to 21st September. I will be blogging more soon about other stand holders that I know whose work is nothing less than fantastic.

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Learning as we go

Tina Francis Tapestry 2014

Being a lover of a well designed brochure it is a joy for me at this time of year to sit back and look at all the night school classes that are available, it reminds me of my night school days in London making a stained glass window for a chip shop and completing my City and Guilds in technical drawing amongst other things! Living in the Jewellery Quarter I am thinking that a jewellery class of some description really must be on the cards this Autumn. 

I wouldn't really be here without the night classes I attended in Brighton where Cath Bristow taught me how to print and Kim Thittichai taught me how to develop an idea. So now it's my turn to run some workshops which I am very excited about, I hope to have more in the future so watch this space!

Firstly I am running a workshop at Farfield Mill in Sedburgh on 5th October.  It's a day long class as we will be creating two samples using my old favourite second hand wool! The morning will see us stitching a small sample using all the random wool's in my stash and in the afternoon we will print onto tapestry canvas and use stitch to highlight, take a look at the image at the top of this blog. 

Secondly at Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace I will be running a short one hour session yet again using the wool from my ever growing stash to create tapestry stitched brooches.
Tina Francis 2014

I love how second hand wool is always a bit knobbly creating it's own texture!

I have other workshops closer to home in the Autumn which I will put up on the blog and my website soon.

Finally if you have caught the learning bug then why not come along to The Handmade Fair where a full price ticket includes a choice of workshops, talks and makes.  There are some great names running workshops and seminars, if anyone goes to Kaffe Fassets can they please come along to my stand in the Marquee afterwards and tell me all about it it would be fantastic to learn from him.

Off now to look at the courses available here in Birmingham!

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Having a good look around!

Tina Francis Tapestry 2014

I've been concentrating on my Autumn designs over the last week and it seems crazy how fast this year is going, i seem to have almost kept to my blog schedule and have been thinking about the artists and makers who's blogs and sites I really look forward to reading and thought I would share them with you.

First off Kim Thittichai her blog can reached via her website and is a delightful mix of fantastic inspirational images and tales of her teaching travels.  There is a lot of inspiration here with colour and cake featuring in equal measure!  if you are thinking of taking one of Kims courses read through some of the blog posts to get a flavour of what they entail.

Carrying on with colourful inspiration Colouricious is a fantastic site to see what is new in the textile world and a great site for instructional "videos".  Whenever you have a wet Sunday afternoon take a trip to this site and watch quality artists showing you the latest techniques. Actually you don't really need a wet Sunday but I was just helping you out there!

The blog of my tapestry mentor Wendy Hope-Falkner of One Off Needlework always provides me with a sniff of country air and makes me smile.  Her kits are great especially if you want to start your kids young as she has a great range of small kits.

Staying with the Wendy theme, Wendy Ward of MIY Workshop writes about the classes she teaches at her workshop in Brighton and also fantastic sewing tips.  If you are just getting into sewing then a look at this site will leave you ready to buy the equipment needed and still have enough to buy the fabric to make a garment with.

I love a splash of colour on a Monday and so Bright Bazaar is a must visit for me. Always colourful, always inspirational and for me as a nosey parker always very interesting to see what people get up o at the weekend!

Finally a new site that has caught my eye this month is GD UK Style who pioneer eco interiors, I love the mix of style and artisan on this site its a great place to find something unusual and new.

I will write more about my fave shops in a few weeks which you may be able to go to now the summer is here.

Happy Stitching!   

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Loving all your work

Tina Francis Tapestry - Images courtesy "Purple Heather"

I love to meet up with fellow textile artists and se what they have been doing so it was with a happy heart that I set off to meet Birmingham Embroiderers Guild on Saturday 5th July at the Birmingham Library where they hold a regular stitching session on the first Saturday of each month for anyone interested in coming along and stitching.

The wealth of experience and expertise around that one table was fantastic from new comers to genuine experts in their field.  The atmosphere was one of sharing and I loved being able to watch people stitch and get some tips!

In March I was invited by Kim Thittichai to run a daily workshop on the Freudenburg Vilene education stand at Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch at the NEC.  The class took bubble wrap, waste tapestry canvas, Pelmet Vilene S80/239 and Bondaweb 902 to create a printed background that could be stitched into or further embellished at a later date. It was only a one hour workshop and the work produced in that time was rather stunning see here for the full round up.  

I always wonder what people will do with their workshop pieces and so I was really happy to meet Heather at the embroiderers group as she had brought along her finished pieces which were fantastic, there are some sections of her work at the top of this blog.  I really liked how Heather had used line so sympathetically which had given the pieces a pleasing rhythm, take a bit of time to look at the before and after shots of her work, just smashing.

Tina Francis Tapestry, copyright Purple Heather

Tina Francis Tapestry, copyright Purple Heather

As you can probably tell I was so very happy to see this work and am looking forward to meeting up with Birmingham Embroiderers Guild again at their Summer Party on 14th July. 

Now back to the tapestry stitching ready for The Handmade Fair all too soon on the horizon!

Happy Stitching!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

More Connections - Flax Triangle!

Tina Francis Tapestry copyright 2014

So last time I was talking about the craft leyline that seems to be forming in London over the weekend 19th - 22nd September in London and this time more connections!!

I am a member of The Slow Textiles Group and last Friday we launched a pop up shop focussing on geometrics, the shop is part of the current programme which ends with the launch of the latest geometrics book.  It was a great way to meet other members of the group and also to speak to people who love textiles and especially geometrics. I use only second hand wool in my art work and wherever possible all kits components are sourced here in the UK, I am trying to do my bit but after meeting Zoe Mill Burt or Seeds of Fashion I think I need to try harder!

Seeds of Fashion aims to plant the seed, grow the seed, harvest the seed, process the crop and finally use the resulting fabric to create garments.  All well and good I hear you cry but this process is not happening far away it is happening here in the UK more precisley in and around the allotments and spare spaces of London town!  We no longer grow Flax here in the UK on a commercial level but it used to be everywhere now I am not sure of the history but its production seems to have petered out when we needed land for food in 1950s but hey read the blog and find out the facts.  It is a fantastic idea lets cut out the airmiles and grow the clothes we need here in the UK!  The crazy connection here is that the seeds used for the project came from Wild Fibres whose studio is right opposite mine in the Custard Factory Birmingham.  I am hoping to work with Wild Fibres in the future to create a tapestry from UK grown fibres more soon!

So with my head filled with Flax and its uses I struck up a conversation with Vicky Putler from Thorody.  Thorody make the most fantastic screen printed linen homewares and accessories, their linen is woven in the UK.  We talked about provenance of the fabric and Vicky explained that she had wanted to try and grow her own flax to make the linen they print on, hold on a minute grow your own flax (?) you can see where I am going here with connection number two!  A smaller link is that Thorody live where I used to in London!

So I travelled from Birmingham to London, met someone who lived where I used to live she prints onto linen but hankers after producing her own fabric from the seed she met someone who does just that in London who got the ball rolling with seeds and advice from a woman in Birmingham - that is a full triangle of connections!

Happy Stitching!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Looking ahead and the here and now!

copyright Tina Francis Tapestry

Well things are really hotting up with almost 4 days of continual sunshine here in Birmingham!  I love seeing how the city changes in the sunshine with all the open spaces being used for lunch and meeting up.

I have been enjoying the sunshine whilst working on future projects, it's always the way for me experiencing now but irons in the future fire!

If you are visiting the Lakes during the summer do not miss the fantastic Farfield Mill in Sedburgh. This place is home to really thoughtful textile exhibitions and is a place you really can spend all day at.  Heritage weaving looms, national and international artists and a marvelous cafe! From the end of August I will have some work exhibited there alongside some really world class fibre artists it is amazing how we all use wool so very differently.  More on this soon! 

It seems that there is some sort of craft leyline happening in London over the weekend 19th - 22nd September and I am preparing hard to be part of the magic! The Handmade Fair runs from 19th to 21st and is a new and exciting show, there are different entry price levels with the £29 ticket including a workshop, a seminar and a make session great value!  You can also buy an entry only ticket £12.50 which will enable you to visit the show without the workshops and with so many great stands full of some of the best makers around it will be a fun day out.
On 20th September do not miss The Great London Yarn Crawl  this event looks set to be a winner!  You enter in teams and visit different yarn shops on specific routes using public transport to get to them.  It is a bit like a pub crawl but with the only regret being spending all your money on essential wool for your next project! There will be lots of other crafts in the shops featured on the crawl and maybe even some tapestry by me!
Finally Craft, Hobby and Stitch International have a new trade show at Excel 21st to 22nd it's the first time they have staged two trade shows in a year and it looks set to be another great event, they really looked after me at my first trade show earlier in the year.

So that is a look into the future whilst I return to the here and now and stitch in the sunshine!

Happy stitching!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Geometrically yours!

Tina Francis Tapestry copyright

So it's been a while, I have been settling in to life here in Birmingham and have been loving every minute.  There is a lot going on here which can easily distract a tapestry stitcher!

It's all been a little geometric for me lately, some of my work will be included in the latest edition of Geometrics - A book of contemporary British Textiles produced by The Slow Textiles Group.  There is an exhibition that runs from 28th June to 19th July showcasing some of the best geometrics around and I will be there on 27th with examples of my work and kits for sale.  The above stitchwork will be available as kit alongside other geometric work in the pop-up shop.

Living in a large city has also been having more and more influence on my work and this is the latest kit I am working on - it is a real stash buster and does not need a huge stash to complete it.  People familiar with Birmingham will know where I got the inspiration for this one!  Check here

Tina Francis Tapestry copyright

This kit will be launched at The Handmade Fair in September with the pattern being available by the end of this week!

Living in the Jewellery Quarter means I discover more and more every day there are so many little streets and alley ways, it was on a little jaunt that I discovered The Pen Museum.  During the Museums Night event Transient-Art exhibited there and it was a great success bringing many people to the Museum that may not have visited before.  The Pen Museum are having their first Summer Fair on 27th July and I have designed a small pen related tapestry kit which will be for sale at the vent with all profits going to the Pen Museum.  It will be a great event so maybe I will see you there!
Tina Francis Tapestry copyright

Finally I have been featured in Craft Focus this month, you can find me on the back page going on as usual about all things stitch! The people at Craft Focus have really helped me with my move to selling to retail so thanks gang!

Until next time, happy stitching!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Concrete Jungle!!

As you may know I have moved back to Birmingham recently after being away for over 28 years!  Being back is fantastic and has renewed my love of concrete all the more!  I have to walk through a lot of concrete to get to my new studio which is in The Custard Factory in Birmingham and as ever I have been fascinated by the different textures and colours and so have used my daily photographs as the basis of a new collection of small tapestrys.

I use photos as the starting point for a lot of my designs, from the photo I draw what I see and then experiment with the shapes often cutting them out and rearranging them.  I will often paint or colour the designs before using software to create the tapestry chart.  Take a look below at how some basic drawings have started to become fully fledged designs!  

There's still a way for these designs to go especially on the colour front, the final designs will be more muted but I like to work with brighter colours to start with.

These small designs will be launched at The Hand Made Fair which takes place from 19th to 21st September at Hampton Court.  This is a brand new fair and it seems set to be a highlight of the crafting year for both visitors and participants alike.  I am very excited to be exhibiting at a Fair where Kaffe Fassett is involved.

I will continue to post updates on all of my designs for the Fair over the next few months and will also be highlighting some of the exhibitors too!

So I am off to stitch now and look at more urban textures!

Happy Stitching

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Great Yorkshire Showground!

So it feels longer than a week ago that I left Harrogate after attending my first British Craft Trade Fair.  I was in the newcomers gallery and had great company over the weekend from my fellow exhibitors.  My next door neighbour was Maragret Glackin a fantastic ceramicist, her original glazes all have names that reflect her memories and future ambitions.  The whole stand was put together really well with the bespoke furniture from a local artisan enhancing but never detracting from the work.  I am looking forward to seeing Margaret at Yarndale and hope to have a stand there too.

My other neighbours all had great work and the good thing about being in the newcomers area was that we could all help each other and share the experience.  Alanna Scobie from Buzby Brown was showing quirky architectural prints on cushions and scarves with a few cheek badges thrown in.  Justine Nettletons love of nature and line can be seen in all her illustrated products, simple seed heads dance with colour her company Art You Wear is worth a browse if you want a gift for a nature loving pal.  I for one am very excited to see what comes out her studio next as she has just bought a new sewing machine and intends to use stitch in her work in the future. Nature is also key to the work of Liz Samways of Inkly Linkly her copper and silver pieces enhanced with etched line are like hanging a work of art around your neck, beautiful sympathetic work where craft and material combine.  As with any fair days seem to stretch and so we were all ready for a relaxing drink by the end of the evening and what better way to celebrate our success than with dressed up glasses! My final neighbour Helen of Made with Felt produces a really cute line of felt wine glass slippers just the thing for a celebration!

The fair was a good one for me to attend as it showed just how many talented artisans we have in this country and it made me feel a little less alone! The Great Yorkshire Show Ground is a great venue even if it is a little bit like the countryside for this urban gal!  Special thanks to my dear friend Suraya Hossain of Mahliqa Knitted Wire Jewellery who was my partner in crime and shoulder to cry on in many of the eateries around the town. Also to Nettie Birch of Ng Jewellery who was a comical voice of reason and a pleasure to be around. 

I am moving studios over Easter and so will be reporting from The Custard Factory when next we meet!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Didn't we have a lovely time!

There's not that many things you get for free nowadays but at Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch over the weekend 40 people got to have a workshop with little old me for just that.  I was one of the tutors on the Freudenberg Vilene Education Stand and between us we ran workshops for 200 people!!

Running a workshop is very new to me - like brand new so i was lucky to be able to watch and learn from Kim Thitticai, Kathleen Laurel Sage, Angie Hughes and Jayne Routley (Felting doyenne) taking tips and using them as my own!!  Thanks ladies!

My workshop used painted bondaweb, pelmet weight interfacing, part of my lifetimes collection of bubble wrap, waste tapestry canvas and acrylic paint. Take a look at the pictures above and see just how many different designs can come from this random list of stuff!! The title was "The Start of Something" and encouraged people to stitch into their masterpieces once they got home, I can not wait to share the stitched versions as they come through (no pressure everyone!).

So a weekend when I did not pick up a tapestry needle? Oh no hold on, the sample I made for the show is going to become a tapestry needlepoint and I will be sharing my progress on this over the next few months.

I'd like to say a great big thank you to the people that came to the workshop it was fantastic to see so many designs created in just 45 minutes (probably only 30 minutes after I had go on and on!!), all of the work was delicious and I wanted to take it all back with me and claim it as my own!  I hope you can spot your masterpiece above and thanks for letting me use them for this blog. If any of you need a reminder then the definitive instructions on painting Bondaweb can be found here from Kim Thittichai.

I really enjoyed myself and would especially like to thank Kim Thitticahi who, as you will know from previous posts, was the person who first got me into textiles which then became this crazy tapestry thing! 

On to the British Craft Trade Fair next, I am finalising my stand display tomorrow because I need a bit of a relax after a fun weekend.

Happy Stitching!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Moving House does NOT mean a Holiday Tina!!!!

Well the rounds of Spring Craft and Stitch shows are drawing to a close but not before one last hoorah at the NEC.  Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch is on from Thursday 20th until Sunday 23rd March - yep that's right this week!  Stands to look out for are Juko Designs who are weavers after my own heart as they like to use as much waste wool as possible in their designs, take a look at their craft bags which are functional as well as beautiful. Another stand which always provides me with inspiration is The Nutmeg Company I love how they use cross stitch in a 3-d way and their kits are really easy to follow, I am no cross stitcher but I was very proud of my Ginger Bread House I stitched for a friend a few years back.  Whilst I do not have a stand at the show I am going to be there as a demonstrator - yes get me!  I will be running a daily workshop using products from Freudenberg Vilene called "The Start of Something" which will use that bubble wrap you cannot ever bear to throw away and tapestry canvas scraps (ditto on the throwing away front!)to create a layered surface which can be stitched into or be the start of a piece where you add your own fabric and more layers. The above piece uses bondaweb and not much else and I am using it as the start of a new tapestry design.  I am very pleased to be doing this workshop and would like to thank Kim Thittichai for giving me the chance to run it at the show! 

So enough of the future I need to mention how great the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show was at Olympia, this show is close to my heart as it was the first large show I had ever done.  Getting ready for BCTF 2014  has meant that I could not commit to stand this time but it was great to visit the show as a regular punter! I was so pleased to see Gilda Baron, she is a fantastic person and this time she had an exhibition space so it was possible to see a lot more of her large scale work. Check out her website, she has so many happy students that if you ever get the chance then do try and enrol in a class or two. My good friend Suraya of Mahliqa was there with her knitted wire jewellery and kits, she has some great new work and I am looking forward to spending some relaxing time with her at BCTF. I watched a great quilt demonstration by Elizabeth Betts of Quilty Pleasures I now know how to finish off a quilt correctly rather than just using my own "method".  Finally Silk Felts, what can I say - a great exhibition based on the mermaids tale.  Provocative, thoughful and downright fun in turns this exhibtion showed just how versatile felt can be - you will be able to catch this exhibition again at Ally Pally and Harrogate later in the year, oh yes and at Dublin too!

I am off now to buy paint and bits for the NEC on Thursday, maybe I will see you there!

Happy Stitching!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Moving on up!!

So I have completed my very first trade fair! After a few wobbles (thanks Wendy Hope-Falkner of One Off Needlework for helping calm me down!) I was ready to meet the buyers.  I was on the Bright Sparks Pavilion which showcases new to trade companies, it was great to meet so many people in the same boat. The organisers ICHF really took the time to make sure all of us newbies were okay and gave helpful advice during the event.

I was pleased with my stand and also with the responses to my designs, I took some orders and am following up on leads this week.  I met some great people who work in the tapestry world who gave me some great advice and also gave me the confidence to really go for it.  

Well that was two weeks ago now and I suppose you are wondering why I am only posting about it now, well in the meantime I have moved from Brighton to Birmingham. Having been in the same house for 14 years the task of packing up seemed to take an age and the unpacking still has not been completed.  It's amazing how much room wool can take up!  I left Birmingham as a snarling nineteen year old know it all and am returning as a middle aged woman who stitches for a living, I think I will see some changes!!!  It is very exciting re-discovering a place you think you know and I will be blogging about it (hilariously) soon on another site. There is so much going on here I have hardly had time to send out orders, but all that will change now that I am back to the tapestry grindstone.

Until next time happy stitching!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Trade Show - through the wind and snow!

All images copyright Tina Francis. Photography Martin Christie

So lots going on in the world of weather, it must be just awful to have your house flooded and for so long.  I hope that the end is in sight for those affected by this crazy world of weather we find ourselves in this year.

Lots going on in the world of Tina Francis Tapestry too but all a touch more enjoyable!  I will be setting up at my first trade fair this coming weekend at Craft Hobby and Stitch International, this is a big step for me and I am looking forward to meeting and learning from the people at the show.  I am especially looking forward to meeting my neighbours in the Bright Sparks Pavilion, Crafty Stamps and Anna Marie Designs and across the way watching and learning from Creative Beadcraft who have been in the game for 90 years and Crafts Too who seem to wholesale everything Craft! 
Its a big step for Tina Francis Tapestry but at least I will have friends from retail shows to smile at me from afar, looking forward to catching up with Historical Sampler who's progress has been an inspiration to me and also talking of inspiration will be seeking out Kim Thittichai on the Vilene stand who's ideas and confidence made me believe I could start my own textiles business in the first place! Finally it will be great to meet the Crafts Focus team who are really quite lovely.

I hope the weather is kinder to us all and that we can all start to think about what we want to stitch rather than watching the rain.

Happy Stitching!