new work….

I don’t know if you remember, but awhile back I posted on this blog that I was looking for a creative kick-start and going through a creative “shift”.  Well I have new work on the wall and the ideas are swirling again, which is a really good feeling, but I will admit to finding these changes of direction a bit exhausting!

I have been printing up a storm- “eco-printing” or at least a version of eco-printing- my definition of what I’m doing is using plant material to create pattern and colour of fabric. I really feel the need to find a new “name” there are so many versions and variations of printing using plant materials.   Textile artist Anni Hunt and I have a show coming up in April next year called Whisperings. The title is taken from a poem written in 1929 by Emily Carr, a staunch proponent of the forests and all the wonders found in them. 

It’s a wonderful topic to explore for me and has me really excited and bursting with ideas. We spent a day at Anni’s prepping some bundles for the pot.


It’s all very experimental at this point! we are using materials from the garden, the forest  and a few from the florist as well.


I’m being as patient as I can and letting the bundles sit for awhile…..but it’s like waiting to unwrap a present, you really don’t know what’s inside.



I love the colours in this one and have a few ideas of what to do with it- maybe. It’s printed on a silk Charmeuse with a gorgeous sheen, but the shimmer of the fabric only shows a little in the lower portion of the image, sorry about that.


I am pleased with the piece below for its subtle colour and texture (which you can’t see well in this image either). It’s a wool Challis and has the most amazing drape. I found it in a jam-packed shop in Birmingham, UK – on one of the 4 floors!! of fabric.


I’m always on the hunt for more ideas and since the forest is one of Ned and my favourite places to be, it’s a very enjoyable hunt for both of us. We’ve been stomping around camera in hand, well my hands.  I’m quite taken with these… it is Chamerion angustifolium or “fireweed” around these parts. (I understand it’s commonly called rosebay willow-herb in the UK)  I love all phases of this plants life and have strong memories of it from my time in the Yukon, so watch this space – there’s some  ideas brewing,




It finally rained! and boy did it rain….but really, I’m not complaining, honest I’m not.




I’m off to Sorrento Centre in early October, we are going to be Exploring the Natural World…I couldn’t think of a better fit for me right now!

Bye for now, Catherine

catching up again….

I’ve been half way round the world and back home again and haven’t posted here for a while …I did think of all the things I wanted to share but, true confessions, I never quite got round to it. So here’s a quick round-up of where I’ve been and a little bit of what I’ve been doing since my last post.

First up was Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, UK. This year we went all out on the Mettler stand! I made a banner to go all around the very top of the stand which is  28.5 meters or 93.5 feet for those of you who have feet! These are the pieces all laid out on the carper at Edwina’s, we were planning the colour sequence, or trying to!

IMG_2130 We had one hour workshops going on the stand all day and everyone who participated got a goodie bag of threads and other treats, not to mention an hour with one of us. If you look carefully you can see the Lutrador banners Edwina made at the corners and a few extra “Mettler” banner pieces.


Edwina and I had a gallery of our work around the outside of the stand and we showed our pieces from our “unravelled” show. The show is based on our shared experiences and using those experiences as a source if inspiration. It’s so interesting to see how differently we interpret things. Below is “misty matera” my piece inspired by time we enjoyed in Italy and the corner of Edwina’s- not a good photo I know!

IMG_2153 Festival is an amazing event, if you haven’t been it’s worth the trip. There is so much to see….

IMG_2181…some very large quilts…

IMG_2187…and some very small!

IMG_2188…and everything in-between. This year that included TV camera’s! yikes. We were both filmed/interviewed over the 4 days of the event. I can’t say I ever got used to it …as you can see it’s a rather intimidating thing. Here’s Edwina holding her own behind a wall of camera’s, recording devices and the men that operate them. I hope I managed as well as she did.

IMG_2197 When all that was over we took a day off and went to the Worcester Flower Show, it was a lovely afternoon! I really enjoyed seeing the plates of “matching” vegetables. I’m quite sure that not how they are judged but it was so interesting to see how the growers had arranged and presented their harvest and which ones had taken the medals.

IMG_2229 We did manage a little personal creative time and headed out to almost Wales to spend 4 days with Bobby Britnell at Moor Hall. Moor Hall is a 400 year old farmhouse and is an amazing place to spend some time. The area is stunningly beautiful, this is the view from the bathroom window where I was staying just down the road ( Ok, it wasn’t much of a road by North American standards, more of a lane)

IMG_2241And below is my ideas board at the end of day 2, it changed a lot over the course of the 4 days but this is the only image I have. There is a lot of new work in my sketchbook (and buzzing round in my brain) just waiting to come out.

IMG_2237 I arrived home just ahead of an amazing storm that caused power outages all over and blew down trees everywhere including our favourite walking trail. The dogs loved the weather, there were all sorts of new smells and a few “changes” on the path that required a little clambering.

IMG_2268I’ve even managed to get a little stitching done! this is the very beginnings of one of my pieces for an upcoming show in April 2016! It’s a really early start for me but there’s going to be lots of hand work and it’s a largish piece…I must be turning over a new leaf, possibly blown in from the storm.

Bye for now, Catherine

leaves in bundles ….

….in other words eco-printing, though I’m not sure if I really am eco-printing. I am using plant materials and following some of the “suggestions” made by some better known eco-dyers but after that it’s really just a bit of trail and error! OK a lot of trail and error and a load of experimenting!

My experiments so far have included eucalyptus, but also some local plants as well…this is “honesty” or Lunaria annua for those who like proper names. I loved the colour of these immature  seed-heads as they were about to be rolled.



I did lots of rolling and wrapping to create the bundles – no two the same! and then got things cooking.


I love the look of the bundles steaming away. I have always liked packages , things wrapped up and things with lids …I was sorely tempted to leave the steamed and cooled bundles just as they were.

(Sorry about the slightly fuzzy next few images, I was juggling the camera and wet bundles of fabric while wearing rubber gloves- never a good combination)



But eventually my curiosity got the better of me…


The seed-heads didn’t impart any colour to the fabric but it did make an amazing resist with lots of detail.



The fabric is a lovely semi sheer silk and the print is really pretty and quite transient on it. And yes! I do have some plans for it…. I’ll show you as soon as I can!

Bye for now, Catherine

PS- It rained here for a couple of days this weekend past and things are much better on the forest fire front.  Many thanks to all of you who did a rain dance with Vancouver in mind!

Were not out of the woods yet, the drought is now a stage 3 (there are only 4 stages and I don’t know what happens after that!) but the few cool days we had were lovely.

smoke on the water…

and with a nod to Deep Purple- there really is fire in the sky! and smoke and cinders and something called “particulate” as well.

I don’t know if the news has reached wherever you are but Vancouver and most of Western Canada are in the grips of what has turned into a nerve-racking heat wave. Temperature records are being broken all over and huge chunks of the western provinces are going up in flames. Thankfully there are firefighters coming in from all around the world to lend a hand.

Vancouver B.C.  July 6, 2015 A thick layer of smoke and haze from local forest fires continues to hang over  the lower mainland, here covering the waters off of Kits beach in Vancouver  on July 6, 2015. Here a detail frame of the sun just before it disappears early from the evening sky.       Mark van Manen /PNG Staff  Photographer   see Vancouver Sun/ Province/ News  Features and Web. stories    00037775A    [PNG Merlin Archive]

Vancouver B.C. July 6, 2015 A thick layer of smoke and haze from local forest fires continues to hang over the lower mainland, here covering the waters off of Kits beach in Vancouver on July 6, 2015. Here a detail frame of the sun just before it disappears early from the evening sky. Mark van Manen /PNG Staff Photographer see Vancouver Sun/ Province/ News Features and Web. stories 00037775A [PNG Merlin Archive]

Smoke from wildfires in the interior of British Columbia blanket the Lions Gate Bridge Vancouver, B.C. Sunday, July 5 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Smoke from wildfires in the interior of British Columbia blanket the Lions Gate Bridge Vancouver, B.C. Sunday, July 5 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

I borrowed the above images from the Vancouver Sun newspaper  site, this link will take you to a gallery of images if you want to see more.


Now this not mean much to you but this is near where I live and at the bottom of the hill you can’t see, is where the harbour is and the water, which you also can’t see.

It’s been tough breathing this past week and I find myself checking the air quality daily, which is not something I usually do! Today has brought some rain, not much but enough to “wash” the smoke from the sky. On a quick trip to the shops this morning everyone I saw was smiling through the raindrops!

The heat wave has sent the garden into overdrive and I am knee-deep in cucumbers, ankle-deep in green beans and just dipping into the first of the tomatoes. I can’t ever remember them being ready this early in the season.


Despite our favourite river getting lower and lower we have managed to find some pools deep enough for Ned to have a float….


….and he’s discovered the place to be between walks is in the hosta bed….


….which probably isn’t great for the plants but oh well, it’s been too hot to argue!

Things are happening in the studio, mostly in the morning before the heat is just too much to take! I have been dyeing, planning and preparing for a new body of work and experimenting with a bit of eco-dyeing as well. Good friend Anni Hunt and I spent a day playing and we got some lovely results….



Hopefully there are going to be some treasures inside these bundles, I’ll let you know when they get unwrapped.

In the process of re-organising and setting up some new work, I have been playing with some very small bits of mixed media, I found this image of the harbour, which originally had a perfectly normal grey and rainy sky.  A little sand paper and some paint and it has become the perfect place for me to record a few thoughts (and fears!) about the “end-of-days” skies hovering over Vancouver.


If you know a good rain dance, rain song, rain poem or any other rain inducing thoughts, I would be happy to hear from you!

Bye for now, Catherine

in need of a kick start…

Oh it’s been a long time since I posted on this blog, but as I mentioned I’ve been in need of a kick-start.

Not because there hasn’t been much going on but maybe because too much has been going on. I’ve been traveling and teaching and going on about the “regular” things that make up my life. I’ve been to the UK,  Holland and Calgary, all exciting opportunities full of interesting people and events. It’s been fun and certainly there has been lots to blog about but I have been keeping myself to myself the last couple of months- not physically mind you! Just mentally.

I’m at a point in my creative journey where things are shifting. These “shifts” come along every now and then, when all the deadlines have been met and there is a bit of breathing room in the schedule. The best shifts in my thinking come when something (or someone!) gives me a little nudge.

Yesterday I met a “new” quilter- she describes herself as just beginning her creative quilting journey, but I think she is being too modest! It was wonderful to meet her and feel her enthusiasm for our shared passion. It reminded me just how much I love what I do.

And last week I painted a horse. No, not on canvas, I actually painted a horse!



This is the magnificent Astron allowing me to paint him with children’s face paint (non-toxic of course) . It was an amazing experience,  I didn’t know this was something I really needed to do! To feel the warmth and muscle structure of this gentle giant under the crayons was really profound.


I just hope his friends didn’t laugh at him when he rejoined the herd!

A group of pals and I were at Jandana Ranch on the banks of Pinantan Lake  just outside Kamloops in the interior of BC and it is beautiful.


The weather was so good we set up our dye tables outside with the most amazing view…


and a few looky loo’s as well!

So it’s with a refreshed sense of purpose I am back in the studio. I have written a list of goals and objectives, hung some new “stuff” up on the walls and am in the middle of a really good clean-up, my favourite way to re-boot!

And just in case I start to think too much, I will ask my new pal Johnny Cashmere give me a little nudge, but I’ll be sure to watch out for his horns!



Bye for now, Catherine


….what a week that was! It’s half-way through marvellous manic March and so far, so good- well actually it’s been fabulous so far.  It’s exciting to have so much going on, its keeping me on my toes for sure.


This beautiful place is the North Vancouver City Hall, on the left is the Atrium gallery where my Spring Blossom installation is hanging.





It’s a really interesting building, built to be environmentally efficient, with lots of open space and lovely views. I’ll be giving an artists talk at the City Hall on Tuesday the 24th of March at 12:15. I won’t talk long I promise, so drop by if you’re around.

E-Vite_CityAtriumGallery_Catherine Nichollsv_Final



The real blossoms are full on right now, despite the rain there is a wonderful show all over. This tree is one Ned and I pass often, the blossoms are so fluffy they look blurry. I love the edge of this tree, it hangs over the walk way and there was a shower of petals with the rain this morning.



And….mended opened! It was a terrific evening…lots of guests and artists made it out, Il Museo load out he treats and wine and we had a wonderful time. Here’s a few shots from the evening but you can’t see the actual show- there were too many people! I’ll go back and take some pictures when it’s a bit quieter.












Somehow in the crush of people this visitor managed to find an opening to enjoy these pieces undisturbed.


To top off the week we had a demo-day on Saturday at the gallery. We invited visitors to try their hand at a little mending. We’re going to do it again on April 11th from 11 till 2 so drop by if you would  like to meet a few of the artists and try your hand.

2015SDABC_mended_gallerydemo 130


Mended is on until May 15th at Il Museo in the Italian Cultural Center, I do hope you will get a chance to see it! and Spring Blossoms are at the North Vancouver City Hall until the 11th of May.

Just because I can’t resist…here’s one more blossom that’s survived the rain…


Bye for now, Catherine


marvellous March

…or maybe I should say manic March?

It is going to be a marvellous month but there is a touch of “mania”  as well! but it’s the very best kind of mania.

mended opens  Tuesday evening  (7 pm) at Il Museo in the Italian Cultural Center and it’s all hands on deck planning and hanging, promoting and even a bit of last-minute mending! It’s going to be a terrific show and if you are in the area I would love to see you at the opening.

Mended E-Vite-2


On the morning of the same day as the opening I will be hanging a show at the North Vancouver City Hall Atrium. It is the most amazing space in our brand new city hall, it’s an honour to be showing there in my own community.

I’m giving an artists talk on Tuesday March 24th from 12:15 to 12:45 , hope you can make it!

E-Vite_CityAtriumGallery_Catherine Nichollsv_Final

And….just this morning I received an email saying my work had been accepted into this years Cherry Blossoms: A Textile Translation exhibition! The show will be at the Silk Purse Gallery in West Vancouver and opens on March 31st. The last day of marvellous manic March.

Here’s a few detail shots of my entries….with the stitching in.




Ned and I are getting out and enjoying the wonderful weather this spring, it has been really lovely here. Even Ned is impressed with the magnolias blooming all over our neighbourhood.







I had the big magnolia in the front yard pruned professionally this year- I’ve never been good at heights and it’s getting way too tall for me. I brought a few of the pruned branches inside in hopes the blossoms would open up and they did! I love the shape of these flowers, they always feel a little exotic to me.



Hope you are enjoying signs of spring wherever you are,

Bye for now, Catherine

signs of spring…

It’s been raining here, raining a lot, last week it felt like it would never end. But of course it did eventually and now there are signs of spring everywhere. Apologies to those in the east struggling though freezing temperatures and mountains of snow, but we have daffodils poking their heads out!

There are umbrella’s up in this image but it wasn’t too bad!


The wet weather and warm temperatures have brought out the most amazing fungi. I really don’t know much about mushrooms but I have always been attracted to the shapes and colours. These are about eye-level on the side of a tree.


But these ones were a little lower… at ground level, which had me bum up, camera in hand. I think the other “regulars” in the park are getting used to me, they don’t stare quite as much as they used to.




I love the colour gradation and the texture on these.

Rainy days are perfect for hiding out in the studio and I have got quite a bit done in the past week. The Great Blue Heron quilt is finally done and named, I’m calling it Heron’s Long Legs. I quilted the legend that originally inspired the design that tells how heron got his long legs into the background, so the name seemed a good fit.


and here’s a close up…


I’ll be teaching Heron’s Long Legs in the UK a bit later this year, April 15th and 16th at the Bramble Patch in Weedon and on the 20th at Coles Sewing Center in Nottingham.

I’ve been making fish! as part of the Shake Hand Project. The project originates with The Textile Design Association of Japan and 25 decorated fish were contributed by the North Shore Needle Arts Guild. The TDA of Japan came together to create activities for the people of the little fishing village of Tohoku which was hard hit in the 2011 Earthquake and tsunami. The goal is to create items that would allow the people of the village to make things as group projects, aiding in their healing so they can return to their homes.

The name ‘Shake Hand’ is from the Japanese word for salmon which is “shake” and “hand” is for hand-made. As the salmon return to their rivers, here’s hoping the villagers will be able to return home.



Here’s one of my little guys all decorated and ready to go and the rest of the school he joined up with before heading to Japan.

Tohoku fish 2

I’ve also got my Cherry Blossom entry underway…here’s a sneak peek, which looks really (really!!) bright. It’s not quite that bright in reality honest, but the photo was taken late at night with a flash and oh well….


Hope there are signs of spring where you are,




where did January go!?

Wow! that went fast, January I mean, I feel like I missed it completely.

There’s been lots going on, lots and lots but its ‘ll sorts of stuff rather than one big thing and that is making me feel a bit scattered, even more than usual.

Here’s a quick roundup of what’s been happening… The highlight of the month was a flying visit (she only stayed a week!) by Edwina Mackinnon. The middle of January isn’t the usual time for visitors to choose to come to Vancouver, but thankfully the weather co-operated.  We had a few walks in the forest, a trip to the Squamish to visit Elizabeth Harris at her studio and another to the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Here’s Edwina and the amazing Ai Wei Wei installation “Bang” it is a stunning 886 antique stools and replicas.


There is a long history around these 3 legged stools in China, they were a part of everyday life and handed down through the generations until the 1960’s when the wood stools were sadly replaced with plastic versions.





One of the best things about January are the Seville oranges! this year I managed to find some and get the marmalade made, not bad eh?


A few hours of chopping and squeezing and boiling, gets you this, hopefully enough to last till next year.



I’ve been holed up in the studio a lot this month which is good because the rain just isn’t stopping . My river retreat is full to overflowing and moving too quickly to let Ned anywhere near it, which he really doesn’t like. If you stand quietly you can actually hear the muffled thuds of the boulders shifting underneath the water, it’s an amazing thing.



I’ve been working on several projects this past month, all of them still under wraps for a while yet!  I’ve been finishing up quilting and all the details on my new heron design, getting my cherry blossom entires ready for jurying and preparing for the opening of mended!

Mended E-Vite-2


Bye for now, Catherine