At the grand old age of 48 I started Uni

Its been a funny few years for me, I have chronic illness, I had lost my voice for over 2 1/2 years, Got discriminated against in the place I worked because of it, left work, went to college, still couldn’t get my voice back and then took the decision January this year to try to go to Uni at the age of 48.  Age isn’t a barrier and I certainly don’t let it stop me but there is something that strikes a fear of God into to you when your going back to education when your older than some of your tutors.   But while I was waiting the 8 months before I started I set myself up as self employed,  started my website and tried to earn a living.  That is not as easy as you think or hope either, but I just could not wait to start my degree in Art and Design. So with the self employed closed down,its November, I am 7 weeks in and after getting past the initial horror of attending Freshers Week I am thoroughly enjoying it.

When I say horror it was not that bad, just annoying when someone thought I was one of the tutors.  You do feel massively out of place when there is no other students your age and you don’t have the ability to chat  because you have no vocals at all.  I admit for the first two weeks I did stress and wondered what the hell have I signed myself up for, for the next few years and was it going to be worth the heap of debt I was putting myself into to do it.  But I have made new friend and started learning new things.

I am or like to think I am quite diverse as and artist anyway but I chose this course to improve my design aspect and skills.   So this week I have been playing with Photoshop.  I only really know the basics………..very very basics.  But I have been playing about trying to create something for subject Distopia.  I found two images on the internet, the background to Max Headroom and someones beautiful Mona Lisa doing the Scream.   The image is on Pintrest but I cant find the artist, so I anyone does know please let me know so I can credit them.

Any how here are my first trying to create and play with Photoshop.  Enjoy and please feel free to leave me some feedback if you wish.

The Cross Stitched Koi Cymbal and Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

This one project has been a bit of a funny one for me.  I am continuously looking for object that are old, broken, obsolete etc to do something different with and give the object a new use in life.  So earlier this year when I was in my final month of college and pondering what I was going to do next while gazing out of the window; the music dept were chucking old broken equipment into a skip and I noticed they were throwing cymbals like Frisbee’s in there too; to then see my tutor running out to salvage some of it to be used in art classes, she grabbed me one of the said cymbals.


Now this cymbal has been rocking around the house for approx 8 months and I still did not really have any bright ideas for it  but eventually decided to try doing a Koi, thought it might be cool, so when you look at a cymbal in its normal position, set on it’s stand, it would be like looking down into the water to see the fish with the lines of the cymbal looking as if they were water ripples.   Now with the joys of Aphantasia  I never really know how things will turn out, blessing and a curse when it comes to anything art related, I began to figure it out. First of all I found a photo of a Koi fish and went about using a online application for turning photos into cross stitch pattern.


I am sure other artist are the same but I do have moments of doubt when I have finished something, stand there and analyse it, drive myself up the wall and end up walking away and then looking at it later and thinking…. well………..

So then came along good old Ripley’s.  Approx 3 yrs ago Ripley’s Believe it or not hosted a Rip-cycle for up cycled art.  I had a such piece of art that would fit the criteria it was also another piece I had um….& arhhhh….and well may be’s.  It’s this one…..

cog and sequine skull
Cog and sequin skull which now lives with Ripley’s Believe it or Not!

I finally came 4th.  Now I am a huge fan of Ripley’s and its always been a pipe dream for them to own one of my art pieces and now they do.

A few years later they are doing a new one called the Unconventional Art Competition,  So time to try again.  So I entered again with the Koi.   This time a came in the top 25, won a Ripley’s Odd Art Book and free tickets for any Ripley’s around the world.

To see the semi finalist click the link below.

Ripley’s Unconventional Art Comp in Conjunction with Deviant Art

To see the final winners click here.


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.

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 😉

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