Nest making workshop

On Saturday we delivered a workshop on how to make your own woven nest, this was to complement Julie’s work in the exhibition. Here are the photos of  Julie showing what to do and then the development of participant’s work. If you would like to make your own nest please see Jane’s previous post. If you would like to book any of us for workshops or talks then please leave a comment below with contact details. (Your details or message will not be published). Thank you to all the participants who attended we all had a wonderful time.

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A Tisket A Tasket – Festive Basket Making by Jane Pugh

We three are all running a workshop at Bankfield Museum on Saturday 2nd December, although Julie is the expert and Karen and I are supporting. The course is now full but you could make a basket at home – I have tried to describe the steps for success.

I have not tried this method of basket making before but am having great fun getting a few samples ready. You can use a flan tray or cut circles of card (use two pieces with the corrugations running in different directions to give it strength).

If you use a flan tray you may have to manage with an even number of warp threads, which will mean that each time round you will have to miss a thread to keep to the under and over pattern. If you are using card, mark out an odd number of evenly spaced sections (like the segments of a chocolate orange.) Then you could indent the marks with a pair of sturdy scissors or a blunt knife.

Next you wrap the warp thread around the card or flan tray; the last one will have to be double – you will find out why as you do this, but fasten the loose ends off at the back, securely.

Start weaving your chosen weft (thread, wool or fancy ribbon) in and out, around and around. If you are making a very small basket, you might need to use a bodkin to thread and pull the yarn under and over. You can change the yarn when you have more confidence, just weave the new yarn in and continue.

Work loosely to begin with then when you are about half way through, gradually pull the yarn tighter until the last few round are quite tight. This will pull the weaving towards the centre, but will also act to give the basket shape when you have finished.

When you have finished weaving, cut the warp from the card or flan tray – I suggest cutting at the back to leave long threads which will give you options! You can gently encourage the basket shape by easing the sides up.


To finish your basket you can tie the pairs of threads off (you will have one set of 3 threads due to the odd number), or you can sew them in, or use another thread to sew them securely, leaving shorter ends loose.

I am going to use mine to put tiny presents in – perhaps in boxes!

Workshop success!

As part of the exhibition we were contracted to provide two workshops that took something in the exhibition as its theme.  I offered to run a family friendly drop in imaginary mapmaking workshop on Saturday 18 November, Julie is running a Christmas nest weaving workshop on 2 December, if you are interested you are not alone as it is already fully booked, however, please leave a message in the comments and we can advise you where Julie is running other workshops.

All of us are available for talks and workshops. Just ask us to contact you and leave an email in the comments, or, you can email

In the imaginary map making workshop I was, naturally, a pirate who had lost my treasure map and thankfully the children (and parents) who attended had amazing imaginations so that we all created an stunning 3D map with a monster prison, islands, dragons, shipwrecks, treasure chests, a volcano and much much more.

If you want to do this at home you’ll need to collect recycled card, e.g. biscuit and tea packets, coloured paper, masking tape, glue stick, lolly sticks, scissors and colouring pens e.g. felt tips or crayons, wallpaper lining paper and any other interesting things. I like old cotton reels, thread and wool.

Clear a space, tape some wallpaper lining paper down and draw and add the features you want to go on your map.  Ask friends to help, make things up, anything can go on your map.

Once you have finished tidy up!

If you take photographs send them to the email above and we will add them to the blog. Happy creating!

Exhibition Opens

The work was up, the refreshments bought, the nibbles at the ready, eighteen months of work and this was the day! Family and friends all arrived and then the mayor of Halifax read his script and after a tense moment whilst he struggled to cut the ribbon officially opened the exhibition.. We are all very proud of ourselves, it had been a success and all the hard work was worth it. Thank you to all who came, we had interesting conversations and good feedback.

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Installation Complete!

It has been a while since I wrote a blog post as I completed my work in August, this was to reduce stress and to manage anxiety. It worked although the day before I was worried that I had not produced enough pieces but in the end there was only room for six out of the fourteen I had made!  The Calderdale Open Exhibition is taking place at the same time which is good for footfall but not for space, added to this the gallery has unforeseen repair work in the main hall so space is even more at a premium. None of my 3D pieces can be shown nor the film so you can view it here:

As soon as the work was installed I felt a transition, like it no longer belonged to me. My relationship with it changed, like realising your child has a life outside you. I had forgotten about this process as it has been a long time since I exhibited in a gallery.  The prior year I had participated in open studios and even though my work had been put up in my studio, it had not left it.

Once a piece of work is in a gallery it becomes a cultural object, it no longer exists in your mind or in the studio. I’m curious to discover how people interact with it. It’s not about whether they think it is “good”, more a desire to understand how the work “speaks” to viewers. I have been reading a blog by Jason Horejs  who talks about how artists define “success” or what motivates them and for me it is fascination of the making process and how a piece takes on a life of its own with the audience.

It has given me the hunger for more exhibitions and to expand where my work is seen.

The museum has done a brilliant job at printing out our biographies, artist statements and putting up a banner on the wall. To see it all come together makes it all worth it.

We are already planning to approach other galleries to show the work or start a new brief. I prefer the latter and have started another blog, I have found the discipline of making work then reflecting to be valuable. Check it out here, it is only in the beginning stages so please send feedback and ideas for future posts.

Plarn, tarn, metal and embroidery by Julie Turner

This nest is made from crocheting some fine coloured jewellery wire. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy this fine wire was to crochet. I found that after each round of stitches I needed to manipulate the crochet by gently pulling on it to open out the stitches and give it the lacy look it has.


By increasing the stitches on each round a conical shape was created. I decided to include a delicate hanging loop to this nest.


This nest is knitted using plastic bags often called PLARN PL(astic) + y(ARN) =PLARN.


I found a method online to cut a continuous strip from the bags. By folding the bag and leaving a small area to one side you cut through the folded section then open out the bag and cut diagonally from the end of one cut to the next. This was surprisingly easy to knit I do think it was because the bags I chose were thin soft ones.


The resulting fabric is very soft too. The bag with the green writing on it was slightly stiffer and it holds its shape better. This nest will need to be stuffed to hold its shape whilst part of the display.


This nest is crocheted. The yarn for this nest is made out of tshirt fabric and is often called TARN, (T)shirt + y(ARN) = TARN. To begin with I chose some old tshirts to use. I have many saved as I sometimes make rugs from them. Once again you are not surprised!


I used the same method as above to create a continues length of yarn. I only used one Tshirt in the end and chose the one with the pops of bright colours in it. This crocheted up easily and will be something I try again. A sturdy, functional nest was produced.


The next nests incorporate hand embroidery but on very different materials. The first is an old bra whose shape lends itself perfectly to a nest or two! I recently attended an introduction to Indian embroidery workshop which was very interesting, colourful and sparkly. I used some of the techniques demonstrated there to complete these nests. Using brightly coloured stranded cottons, beads, bells and mirror pieces I was able to create two bright and cheerfully welcoming nests.


Another object which lends itself to a perfect nest is a household sieve. This sieve was rescued from a carboot sale. I doubt anyone would have bought it to use as it was rusty and had pieces missing in the mesh.


Using a thin darning needle and rainbow coloured acrylic yarn I hand embroidered tiny stitches to create a series of shapes on the mesh.


I like the look of this but I am not sure whether I will leave it as it is or cover more of the mesh with stitches.



Labels, leaves and love by Julie Turner


The materials for this nest were brought back half made from my recent holiday abroad. I used the individual leaves from a fallen palm tree. After taking the individual leaves from the plant I first split them down the centre of the leaf but left them joined at the bottom. Two of these split leaves were interlinked and then folded over each other to create a more solid base for the nest.


This technique reminded me of some recent shibori work I had done. Shibori is a Japanese technique for folding fabric using resists, folds and wrapping and then dyeing the fabric. In the western world we have tie dyeing which is similar. I brought back several of these folded leaves and have waited until recently to finish the nest as I was unsure how to complete it.

In the end I used sewing cotton to wrap tightly around the ends once they had been gathered together. This made them firm but flexible. Threading more cotton back and forth between the gathered strands enabled me to form the nest shape and created a hanging loop.


I have been gathering the plastic nets from wrapped fruit and vegetables from supermarkets purchases. These are usually red, orange and yellow tones and come in a variety of textures.


Firstly I cut off the labels. I cut slits in the wide parts and wove the long thinner parts through them to create a base. I left the ends long and tied them to create a hanging nest.


By cutting the plastic mesh parts into smaller pieces and layering them, I was able to intermingle the fibres which formed a compact sturdy nest shape. I was able to do this by using my embellishing machine.


By ensuring the more fabric-like mesh was on the top and bottom the 12 needles of the embellishing machine were able to interlink the fibres in the same way needle felting does with wool.


When both my son and daughter got married recently 2015 and 2016 I had asked for any spare fabric from their outfits and commissioned a local artisan friend to craft them each a memory bear from the fabric which included the names of the couple and wedding date sewn on the feet. I retained the small remaining pieces. I know you’re not surprised. I had no idea what I would do with it but this project gave me a reason to use some of it.


Using the small pieces I sewed them together to create a nest from each of the materials. Ivory coloured wedding gown fabric from my daughter and 100% wool from my son’s wedding suit.
I decided to cover them in ‘kisses’. I used a cross stitch to sew the pieces together. On the wool suiting I used a complimentary cotton thread in a different colour which allowed the ‘kisses’ to be seen. On the bridal gown fabric I chose a thread in the same colour so the ‘kisses’ can only be seen close up onto which I also included a lace detail from the dress.


On the wool nest I decided to leave the edges raw as I felt this rugged appearance complimented the tweedy style of the fabric. Whereas on the wedding dress nest I turned over the edge and sewed it on the inside so the edge has a smooth finished appearance which suits the elegance of the wedding dress more.