Embroidered Tea Bags Now for Sale

I have been playing about with unusual Up- Cycling.  I did not know if it was possible to stitch into a tea bag, heck I didn’t think you could even draw on one let alone stitch into it.  As delicate as it is, it is possible.

Embroidered Tea Bag
Round Used Tea bag with a stitched Pansy.

This was my second attempt as the first one did not work out to well.  I just drawing basic lines as guide to where to start stitching.  You can’t create to many hole as the bag does just fall apart so you tend to use the same hole a few times, the more you stitch the more stable the bag becomes.

Blue berry cup cake
Hand stitched blue berry cup cake into a used tea bag.

And now I have been playing about with cup cakes because who doesn’t like a cup of tea and a cup cake.

I have some of these for sale in my shop, all hand stitched, flowers and cup cakes available all are displayed in up-cycled display frames.  From £30.


poppy side
Hand stitched Poppy on a used tea bag, set on a flower background. £30.

Obfuscation, Curiosity and Up Cycled art

cross stitched metal
  1. the action of making something obscure, unclear, or unintelligible.
  2. “when confronted with sharp questions they resort to obfuscation

So why on earth would I want to make art that is unclear or unintelligible………..well I do and I don’t.  I do because I want to get people talking about an art piece, well that is the point isn’t it?  But I aim more for the obscure part of that word …….Obfuscation.

koi cross fish
  Currently work in progress, Koi fish cross stitched into a cymbal

I have always had a fascination with weird and wonderful items.  When I was a kid, you know pre computers and pre internet and with the dinosaurs still wondering around, when the whole world was just outside your door and you only knew what was going on else where when you looked at the news or went to the library, I found it very hard to find things that grabbed my attention but when I did find a little curio or strange little wonderment I would grab it with both hands and never let go, but now with all the technology we have I can find all these weird and wonderful items to see right in your hand.  But I now find that kind of removes the wonderment for me.  Don’t get me wrong I would not have it any other way now, I want that access, but I am kind of starting to see the same curios, weird things that I have seen before and nothing seems new.  This aspect makes me sad but does drives my art work as well.  A few years ago when I went back to college I begin to play about with these kinds of idea, creating new obscurities from ideas that people would not think of and since discovering that I have Aphnatasia It has made me realise this influences my art work even more.

IMG_2241 (1)

I love the concept of smashing two juxtaposing items together.  I had already been playing about with book sculptures / carvings   but it was time to start progressing. This was one of my first attempts  Musical Blooms

Mr x stitch featured it on his Instagram page last year and it blew me away how many likes I got for it. https://www.instagram.com/mrxstitch/?hl=en

So this one got me wondering what else I could do and I began looking into to other artists to see if other people were doing the kinds of art I love doing. But the other question is would people buy this kind of art from me.  See every one in a normal two up two down do not have much space so will aim for art works that do not take up too much space. You know sits flat against the wall.  But then I found artists like:

severija incirauskaite-kriauneviciene

Dustin Yellin

Joseph Cornell

So then it made me think well sod it, obfuscation, curiosities, weird item, strange, wonderful and unusual art works are what get my creative juices flowing.  But it brings me back to the unclear and unintelligible bit.  Its been a debate that has gone on between me and a few of my tutors.  Does art have to mean anything, does it have to be clear, does it need to be intelligible? ……..Well that’s a can of worms right there.  Personally I don’t think it does.  For me art is something that makes you wonder, makes you look, makes you think and talk about it, the art piece is what ever the view thinks it is. But the establishment also says that art is for those purposes as well, but there must be a meaning behind the pieces created.  If I want to get to the heights of  the greats then my art needs to have a meaning of why it was created.  Which I understand if you have a chicken with two shoes tied to a frying pan.

cog and sequine skull  Cog and sequine skull which now lives with Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
sam portrait Tennis Racket Wool Portrait

But I want my art to just be, is there a right or wrong, to be a successful artist do you have to follow those ridged rule to get to the heights that we all dream of sometimes.  Can’t art just be about you look at it you loved it so you wanted to own it.    Well I will leave that conversation for another blog maybe.

In the mean time I will take my lack of visual imagination and carry on smashing ideas together and enjoy myself making weird and wonderful things.

To see more of the kinds of art I produce please visit me at http://www.shalmines.com

Unusual Cross Stitch and the Plastic Tattoo.

So I went back to college quite late in life, well there is late and then very late, lets just say before 50.  I never did well at school and I am not academically minded at all so I really hated artist research.  Over the years I have began to enjoy it and I have been inspired by an artist called  Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene who cross stitches into solid object, car bonnets, frying pan, helmets you name it she seems to do it.  She seems to use mostly metal items to create her work.  This process fascinated me.  Now as a working artist and working with obsolete items that damaged or stuff just thrown away I wanted to see if I could apply this idea to something that isn’t metal, something fragile, something that seemed impossible to do.

Now also as an artist I am very aware of coming across as copying someone else’s idea or work.  Me personally,  if someone asks me how I did something I will tell them and even encourage them to have a go.   I mean why not.  I have contacted various artist, become friends with some of them and asked how they produce their work, how did they get over hurdles, work out problems and 99% of the time I will always check to see if they mind me asking.  So far no problem till the other day when I posted a comment on a known book artists Instagram ( they shall remain nameless) asking how they managed to  stop there pages going floppy;  it was a very innocent question, but with the wonders of text and no emotions being shown because that’s how cold text is, dam you text, they decided to answer me after two weeks by telling me to go be original find your own media and stop copying their work!!!!!!!

2014-06-26 13.46.05
This was my second every book sculpture.  I love to be able to leave the pages behind the image so it still looks like the book and not a diorama.

What the……….well if he had bothered to look at my work he would have seen that my book sculptures are nothing like his work.  One of my tutors once said ” Everything has been done before it all comes down to what version you can create”  and he is right, could you think what would happen if the person who invented books told this artist” You can’t use book’s stop copying my work and do something original.” Or if the first person who painted a picture in oil paint went ” Oi mine, you can’t use that, invent your own paint”  there would be a very exclusive club for all art works.

Rant and tangent over :/.  I can though understand where he is coming from and he may well get copied a lot and worked very hard on perfecting their method, so I do sympathise.  But that then set me thinking about inspiration and how you use it when you have seen something that does inspire you and  you don’t want to  inadvertently copy someone else.  Which takes me back to   Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene and her cross stitching into solid objects.  What could I cross stitch into that would be different………..

First attempt………

rose disc 1
Picked an impossible pattern, well it is when you haven’t done cross stitch since infant school.


Cross Stitched into a 12 inch 78 Vinyl disc, I was blown away with the reaction I got from this, and I plan to do more when I have a bit more time.  This project took me over 30 hrs to complete and I hit my usual ” my God why did I start this for, why did I think this was such a dam good  idea”…………… Well it was and then went and did it again but this time it took over 60 hrs.

plastic tattoo

You know when they say an artist suffers for their art………..yeah I did that alright with this one but it was worth it.  This is my most time expensive piece ever.

Art from previous years
Penny for stitch size reference.

I didn’t count at the time but it was approx 400 to 500 holes drilled, I think my eyes went a little squiffy half way through so I am not sure; as you can see there are quite a few colour variations as well.  Because the mannequin is quite big I also had to staple it to a block of wood to keep it upright to help with stitching and had to use a pair of pliers to pull the needle through the holes as once you get the thread going through the hole more than 3 times it’s begins to get tough.

It made me wonder what else I could do with thread but was not going to be quite so tough to do.  Do a portrait maybe.

sam portrait
Portrait of my daughter when she had green hair. Made with wool.

This was a fun one to do, still took quite some time but not as much as the previous too.  But it brings me to this question, is it copying or is it inspiration.  Is painting something in front of you copying or being inspired by what you see enough to paint it as well as you can?  As an artist I don’t tend to stick to one media or style as a lot of artist do, I love to mix it up, but I am sure if I googled all the processes and media I have used I am sure I will find someone who has done it all before me.  So I will still look up artist for research, I will still scour Pinterest for inspiration and I will tell someone else how they can do the same kinds of art if they want to give it a try.

Time to find something else to stitch into 😉

visit me and see my work on http://www.shalmines.com