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



thanks for coming!

We had a wonderful time at the open studio despite the rotten rainy weather. Thanks to all of you who braved the down pour to join us- gosh, it was a week ago now! Time seems to go even faster at this time of the year.

There were lots of treats in the studio last  Saturday…treats for the eyes as well as the taste buds.


I did a little late baking the night before (ginger snaps and oatmeal surprise cookies!) It just doesn’t feel like Christmas to me unless I’m up till the wee hours baking something.

Elizabeth had some of her new pieces available for the first time- these wonderful little owls made their debut!


As did her Pawm Bears…lovely little fellows that nestle right into the palm of your hand. They come in several glazes all lovely but I can never resist raku. This fellow managed to snooze under the poinsettia for most of the day.


There was a horse themed selection…


and of course, Elizabeth’s wonderful word-ware bowls!


We had a great time with lots of  friends dropping by for a cup of mulled cider and a cookie. It was a long “inside” day for the three wise dogs though, and as a reward for almost-good behaviour we went for a long hike the next day…



….and found this little seasonal token tucked into the trees.


Hope all your holiday preparations are going to plan.

Bye for now, Catherine