Snapdragon Life helps you rekindle your creativity, reconnect to the natural world & create a slower, more intentional, more joyful way of life.

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"Birch leaves in a bottle" embroidery part one

applique embroidery mindful stitching

Earlier this year I went to the Louise Bourgeois exhibition at the Hayward Gallery with my friend Rebecca . It was an amazing exhibition, one of those exhibitions that change the way you think and I came away with my head buzzing.

Buzzing loudest was the desire to embroider a set of pictures and hang them as a grid to fill a wall.

This is inspired totally by the amazing Ode a l'Oubli (Ode to Forgetting), a fabric book of appliqués and embroideries which Bourgeois made in 2004 from fabrics that she had either worn or been carrying about in her stash for decades.

In the Hayward, the 35 pages were deconstructed, unbuttoned from their book form, mounted floating gently in white frames and hung floor to ceiling.

louise bourgeois ode a l'oubli

And so the idea was planted and I have been prowling around the house for a blank wall. We live in a 1980s bungalow so there are no exhibition like soaring spaces, but the wall behind the kitchen table is currently blank. Perfect for eight or nine white frames hung in a grid.

For the past 15 years I have been hoarding a raggedy quilt - it was made from wool suiting scraps over a century ago it is in too sorry a state to save as a quilt. It has been washed harshly at some point in its past, colours bleeding into each other, some patched reduced to their warps, others burned.

I have been saving this sad quilt for deconstructing into a project. A few weeks ago I began to unpick it bit by bit into pieces - the patchwork shapes, the binding and the batting.

The batting is like a steam rollered kapok, stained blue in parts - only holding together as a fabric. I decided that as this is far too fragile to use as anything that will get wear (even embroidering on top of it ruffles holes as it shifts) it would be the perfect base to tie together all my embroideries.

I cut a rectangle of batting - A4 sized - and began cutting out shapes from fabric and placing them onto it like fuzzy felts. Plant dyed linens, pieces of the striped flannel lining, shreds of brighter colours salvaged from the seams where the light had not faded them. I prefer to work directly with the fabrics rather than drawing and cutting a pattern.

My theme for this piece is birch leaves in a bottle - twigs picked from the tree outside my bedroom and placed in a stoneware bottle. Down the side is s strip of banded pebbles from the windowsill.

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Snapdragon social

Pulmonaria “Blue ensign” was one of the first plants I bought for my garden. 

The perfect Bristol blue colour. Bright in the border, beloved of bees. 
Back then - over 25 years ago - it was a rarity, now you can get plug plants of it. 
Does that make it any less precious? 
Not to me.
Were you someone who read blogs ‘back in the day’? Back when they were ugly but with soul?  I’ve been thinking about them - and more particularly the blog rolls that connected them. Curated lists of recommendations, no algorithm, no payments, no angst ridden strategy. 

It occurred to me that I could create something similar by using a playlist on my tube channel - a vlogroll if you like. 

That’s what I’m chatting about this week in my Friday film - about how so many of the people my age making videos are talking about “what you shouldn’t wear after 50” or “how to avoid the appalling fate of looking frumpy” 😂😂😂 And how, as an antidote to all that depressing nonsense, I’m collecting suggestions for an alternative playlist!

Pop over and let me know your favourites. 

I’m also talking about why I’m not sowing any seeds until the end of March this year.
Stained glass colours on the studio windowsill
Another Friday . . . . another sitooterie selfie.
Today's Friday film is about which seeds I am planting in my new dye garden . . .
I dyed my beret to fit with some things I'm taking on holiday. It is an overdye with some onion skins that I had left over from a zoom workshop that I did in The Studio Club. I do love the sense of play that being able to cook up colours gives you.
If you fancy growing your own colour there is a free download of the varieties and suppliers over on the tube . . . .

#fridayfilm #botanicaldyes #dyegarden #snapdragonlife
The second spike is always the best.
Another Friday, another daft selfie. This week Teasel gets into the frame- there is a matching photo of Dixie but she looks frankly terrified. 
This week’s Friday film is about going ‘out out’ - there is a tour of @bettysbeautifullife wonderful exhibition of botanical printing that is on in Kirkintilloch at the moment, and a visit to my parents garden in East Lothian where they have a mimosa tree flowering . We went on a dog walk on Gullane beach and then I attempt to find signs of spring in my own garden (very few but lots of shots of snuffling dogs).

I also address the issue of the tank top I’m knitting being clearly much too small for me. 

All this in just over ten minutes- you can find the film via my links page and I’ll put a link in stories too.
In the spirit of copying to find out how to do something ….. this is the photo I took when I got home from last week’s workshop with @eva_nemeth 

The last photo of snowdrops for this year - laying them roots and all on an old flagstone and trying to work how to get the whites to pop without becoming brash.

And then I cut off the flowers to press for a project and planted the bulbs and leaves out under the hazel tree to bring cheer next spring.
It has been sunny all weekend. 
I weeded and hoed and cleared and felt myself opening up just like these bulbs that I photographed at @cambo_gardens last week.
The absolute joy of the first sunny weekend of the year.

About Snapdragon Life

At Snapdragon Life I help bring the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

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