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Jane’s Journal

How to draw a holly wreath

How to draw a holly wreath

This pretty holly wreath is very simple to draw

I set up my phone and filmed how I did it so that you can follow along.

Once you get into the flow it is relatively quick to draw the wreaths and you can set up a production line for the painting.

Use a jam jar lid as a template for a Christmas card sized wreath or a small bowl for a gift bag.  You could even make place cards and place mats for a gorgeous table setting.

The herbarium project

botanical eco prints on studio wall, snapdragon life

I grew up in vintage shops and auction houses.  My Mum had first a market stall and then an antique shop in Gullane in East Lothian (my brother owns it now).  I love nothing better than a good rummage, sifting out treasure.  

I mourn the demise of the guddle that was the country house sale in the 1980s, poking round garden sheds and kitchen cabinets, the tension of the bidding, the blackened hands through wrapping everything we bought in newspaper.


Earlier this year, in a little vintage book shop I came across a pile of herbariums - each a black covered folio, ribbon ties revealing ironing pages of pressed plants, all carefully labelled.


I fell in love.  They dated from the 1930s and 40s and you can see the techniques change.  I had a little birthday money so I chose one and brought it back to the Studio where it has been inspiring me ever since.


Here is a short video which shows how I've taken the spirit of the herbariums and translated them into my botanical printmaking.




Making an embroidered pincushion.

embroidered velvet handmade pincushion craft supplies

These squishy handmade pincushions with their freehand embroidered meadow are one of my favourite things to make.

They are a good size, small enough to be transportable, large enough to take a lot of pins.  The upright shape stops them from getting lost on your sewing table.

This one is made from a headstock cotton velvet that I then dyed with tansy flowers from my garden.  The meadowy flowers are embroidered freehand on my sewing machine (if you want to learn how to do that, I have a very good course here).

The pincushion is filled with crushed walnut shells which give it weight, stop it falling over and take the pins really well.

buy here

You can watch me making the pincushion from start to finish here.

Dyeing a silk camisole with fresh indigo leaves

Last month, heading clockwise around Killearn's Open Gardens I met a friend who was going anti-clockwise.  

We stood and chatted on the pavement, about gardens and textiles and how she had grown indigo last year but hadn't done anything with it.  It seemed complicated to build a vat and, by the time she had done the reading and got all the bits together, the frost had come and her indigo plants were mushed and spoiled.  

She had decided to give it a miss this year.

I have a lot of indigo growing in the garden and poly tunnel - it was much easier than I had anticipated and all the seedlings germinated and grew happily.

I know that if I decide to process them into a vat I will dither and lose time and then head off on holiday knowing that there is a high chance of frost while we are away.

So instead I have been buying up pre-loved silk camisoles, scarves and blouses and using the salt rub method to turn them into clothes fit for a mermaid.

vintage silk camisole drying

I'm sharing a step by step tutorial here on how to dye a silk camisole with fresh leaf indigo.  

I took a lot of what I do here from this video of a Japanese woman dyeing a silk scarf with indigo.

Other excellent online resources are produced by Liz Spencer The Dogwood Dyer.


Harvesting dyer's chamomile from the dye garden

butterfly on dyer's chamomile flowers

As I walk down to the Studio in the morning the grass is wet, the sweet scent of damp earth hovers between the hedges, small orange brackets fungi sprout from the sides of the raised beds.

The apples on the feral apple trees that surround The Studio are red and ripening. 

These trees, carefully chosen heritage varieties, were  planted the month we moved in and immediately eaten to the ground by the deer who live by the river. Then, a decade later, they rose out of the sprawling brambles, mature trees nursemaided back to health by prickly stems that kept the deer away. 

Yet another example of how the natural world works so much better without my interference.

The flowers in the dye garden catch the tune of harvest time and all open at once - dyer's chamomile, french marigolds, sulphur cosmos, dahlias, tansy - every day there are new flowers to pick and preserve.