Summer School 2023

Salvage: Transform

I’m thrilled to announce I will be one of the tutors at the Textile Study Group Summer School 2023.

The focus of the Summer School will be on salvaging and repurposing a wide range of materials. You may choose to work with a personal collection, finding inspiration in found objects, you could find new life in old materials or you might be drawn to work with discarded materials and the principles of fan making to explore ideas.

Your enthusiastic and experienced tutors will encourage and support you in finding new stories to tell through your work.

Dates – Monday 17 – Thursday 20 July 2023.  ( 4 days)

Tutors – Lois Blackburn, Julia Triston and Shelley Rhodes

Further course information and Booking Opens on the Textile Study Group website from – 27th September

Design Wall, Lois Blackburn

The pungent smell of Hawthorn

Day 2. Hawthorn also known as Maythorn or Whitethorn.

I set off on my morning forage full of expectation, the joys of spring, Ron tangling me up in his lead. I was after Hawthorn, not difficult to identify. You can eat the young leaves, berries and flowers- but personally I wouldn’t bother, its flowers are slightly almondy, slightly marzipan flavour- but not in a pleasant way. The leaves, very slightly nutty, but rather unpleasant. However they look really pretty!

And I’m not giving up, the Hawthorn is a circulatory tonic, and useful remedy for anxiety, stress and panic- and hurrah the traditional chosen alcohol for tincturing is Brandy- that’s worth a try!

As for the drawing- I enjoyed doing it, but next week will try with a different paper- this one is strangely spongy, the ink/paint does weird things. It’s very early days, so I won’t be to critical about the quality of my drawing. The subject matter is completely out of my comfort zone, so practice, experiment and play is what’s needed.

I’m off to the Co-op to buy a cheap bottle of brandy, tinctured hawthorn.… more on that in a few weeks.


My drawing skills are very rusty, it’s been a long time since I sat and drew just for myself. I’ve been focusing on the doing rather than the outcomes, and enjoying every minute of it. Being able to loose myself in the paint, pencil, line, texture. Todays painting is just a tiny starting point, on what I hope will be a year long project. And writing about it, going public, I hope will help keep me committed, as I know it will be a bumpy ride ahead.

I’m aiming for a collection of 50 foraged plants. So that’s roughly 1 a week, a whole year of foraging for edibles and botanicals. My inspiration? Spending so long working on illuminated manuscripts for A Book of Ours, falling in love with medieval botanical drawings, such as the Tractatus de Herbis (ca.1440 my love of Elizabethan textiles, I planning to bring them all together in one big art piece, a follow on piece of my quilt Blood, Sweat and Tears.

So here I am, day one.

Walking to dog the other day I started chatting to a man gathering leaves to add to tea. He introduced me to ‘Jack by the Hedge’. I tried it, it’s delicious- with a flavour of mustard and garlic, with a bitter edge.

Both the illuminated manuscripts that have been so much part of my life recently, and the Elizabethan embroidery, mix foliage with imagery of animals, beasts, insects. For the first page of my sketch book, a dead goose. Near where I foraged the Jack by the Hedge, sadly lies a shot dead Canada Goose. Life in the country…

Next week, maybe dandelions? nettles? hopefully not more dead birds.