An agreeable feature

Agnes-Ashe-hand-painted-silk-scarf-Portia-apple-clup copyEarlier this week I had a pleasant surprise to find that one of my scarves (Portia apple) had been selected and featured in an Etsy festive ‘Editors’ Picks’. Apparently, there are over 30 million items listed on Etsy so I’m genuinely surprised and very grateful to have something selected for the ‘Under £100’ gifts category.

One of my scarves featured by the Etsy Editors in the ‘Gifts under £100’.

I must be a bit thick as I only found out my work had been featured when I kept seeing referrals for this scarf on my stats page coming from ‘Editors’ Picks’. Well, anyway, thank you to the Editors!

The Make It British Christmas newsletter.

And, also thanks to the folks at Make It British who also included one of my scarves (Hilda ruby) in their Christmas newsletter.

Oh yes, and whilst I’m spreading the love, today (3 Dec 2015) sees the arrival in UK bookshops of ‘I Belong to No One’ written by fellow blogger Gwen Wilson. Congratulations to Gwen and hopefully lots of sales!

Agnes-Ashe-hand-painted-silk-scarf-Hilda-ruby-box copy


Less than a month to Christmas

Christmas-decsMy daughter’s birthday is in November and I’ve often thought how close it is to Christmas giving rise to the possibility of giving her one, extra large, special present to cover both occasions. In truth that’s never happened and like most families, especially those with birthdays on the 25th December, we’ve always kept birthday and Christmas separate.

Of course today it’s Thanksgiving in the United States and rather belatedly it has occurred to me that here we have another special celebration day only a month before Christmas.


It’s all a bit like London buses, you wait for hours then they all come at once!


Colour inspiration from suburban classics – spray chrysanths, hyrbid teas and hydrangeas

hybrid tea rose spray chrysanthemums hydrangeasSuburbia gets a mixed press, and ‘suburban’ (at least in the UK) is frequently thrown around as an insult. It can mean average, boring, pedestrian to restrained, uptight and limited. In gardening terms the heyday of the suburban garden was surely the fifties and sixties where neat rectangular lawns were edged with three flower-filled boundary borders. Hybrid tea and floribunda roses were popular for the summer along with bright vivid dahlias and then in the autumn chrysanthemums took over to bring some uplifting colour.

Of course, plants are plants and not in themselves suburban, and who cannot fail to love a classic pink rose or a blue mophead hydrangea. And, I’ve even found a style of flower arrangement that I like which works with the standard supermarket/garage forecourt spray chrysanthemums.

. . . so much so that I’ve used the palette for some scarves.

Oh yes, and finally, through the ether I’m informed by email and adverts that a festival called Christmas is on the horizon – UKHandmade has just published their Christmas Showcase featuring all kinds of handmade work including a stunning Christmas stocking embroidered by a lady who used to work at Buckingham Palace!

Sheer – diaphanous yet elegant

Hand painted and steam fixed chiffon scarf Valeria lilac.
Hand painted and steam fixed chiffon scarf Valeria lilac.

Valeria lilac

Silk chiffon is a beautiful fabric to work with and a luxurious fabric to wear. The sheer, diaphanous quality allows a scarf to appear fluid subtly changing colour as it passes over your skin, your shirt or your dress.

Valeria black

A bright, eye-catching chiffon scarf can add an elegant, stylish accent too.

Soft lime and grey silk chiffon scarf Valeria lime.
Soft lime and grey silk chiffon scarf Valeria lime.

Valeria lime

My colourful and somewhat quirky Lorina Words chiffon scarf has just been uploaded to my shop. It was inspired by the long, long needlework pieces patiently embroidered by Lorina Bulwer see previous posts ‘Words, words, words’ Part 1 and Part 2 for further details about her life and work.

Lorina Words chiffon scarf inspired by the Victorian needleworker, Lorina Bulwer (1838-1912).
Lorina Words chiffon scarf inspired by the Victorian needleworker, Lorina Bulwer (1838-1912).

Lorina Words scarf

And, finally, I’d just like to thank the fashion blogger, Catherine Summers, from Not dressed as lamb and her Instagram link up which prompted me to revisit ‘Sheer’.

Not Dressed As Lamb

Unusually it’s been rain, rain, rain

In-the-rain-Agapanthus-NorfolkRegular readers will know that as I’ve mentioned before I live in the driest region of the UK. Summer in East Anglia is renowned for open, sunny skies above a patchwork of golden fields of wheat and barley blanketing the gently undulating landscape.


Not this July, it’s been leaden skies and rain, rain, rain. Last Saturday in the Norwich area more rain fell in a 24 hour period than would normally fall during the whole month of July. Low lying areas are flooding, the fields are sodden and all the delicate flowers in my garden have been bashed to death.

I shouldn’t moan too much as earlier in the month there were a couple of bright days ideal for some scarf photography.

And, early yesterday morning before the showers swept up the country from the south west, I managed to photograph those resilient summer flowers that can withstand a summer downpour.


Reds of July – colour inspiration from summer flowers

Hemerocallis-daylilyWhen creative folk talk about their sources of inspiration they often cite ‘nature’ or their local ‘natural’ environment. Observing the fading of some strong pink roses and the addition of July reds to my garden I thought I’d try out one of nature’s mid-summer colour combinations.

rosa Karlsruhe
Bright strong pink but . . .
fading to rich, muted mulberry tones.
fading to rich, muted mulberry tones.

I’ve been reworking my Tudor Bows designs and adding smaller pattern details from the painted fabric worn by the Saints and Old Testament figures so beautifully represented in the stained glass windows of St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

St Edmundsbury, Bury St Edmunds
One view of the heritage of East Anglia.
St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

With the form and motifs worked out I’ve taken the opportunity to work with those inspirational garden reds.

Beside the seaside – sunny, but still surprisingly chilly


A quick drive over to a quiet place on the east coast of Norfolk for a little product photography didn’t go according to plan. Quite often the final week of May feels like summer, but last weekend we had a surprisingly chilly east wind. Growing up on this side of England you’d think I’d be used to it. Actually one year in my teens I remember being on the Suffolk coast when it snowed on the 3rd of June! So I should have known better,
but we were caught out.

Disappointingly, only got one useful image.

hand painted silk
Modelling hand painted silk scarf – Thistil Gold.
Waxham, Norfolk.

Double exposure, another Tudor bows design

Scarf-Tudor-bows-after-first-steamingRecently I’ve been working on a slightly different way of painting silk. Taking a leaf out of my approach to gardening which categorically states ‘patience is a virtue’ I have applied this to my silk work.

This means doubling the time and work. Each design is drawn out, painted with mostly paler colours and then steamed. With the first layer fixed another design and more colour is applied over the first and then steamed again. The finished pieces have a deeper more complex and subtle appearance and look as if they have been made of layers.

The initial design is based on my Tudor bows series and then I’ve added some favourite motifs from my Ranworth scarves.

hand painted silk scarf
Finished scarf from the Tudor Bows series.

Blue Mildred goes pink

Pots-of-dyeJust thought I’d share my recent re-working of a design littered with medieval rood screen motifs. This time  the new colour combination is – pink!


I had originally painted a pale turquoise, mushroom and sage version (below left) and after a few sketches decided that a mostly pink with a few old gold highlights would make an attractive combination.


This scarf has now been steamed and is listed in my shop – Mildred Pink.


The ‘bleached’ filter aesthetic

The advert for Coach - photographer Steven Meisel, stylist Karl Templer and art director Fabien Baron.  Spring 2015 from Vogue Italia.
The advert for Coach – photographer Steven Meisel, stylist Karl Templer and art director Fabien Baron.
Spring 2015 from Vogue Italia.

Last week a couple of photo shoots caught my eye. One was this advert for ‘Coach’ which shows a professional shoot where the images have been treated to a post-production working in a very similar manner to filters on a camera app on your smart phone or the filters on Instagram.

Fashion feature for the Sunday Times 'Style' magazine. Photography and set design by Elena Rendina.
Fashion feature for the Sunday Times ‘Style’ magazine. Photography and set design by Elena Rendina.

And, the second was a shoot for a magazine which also produced images with a bleached out effect. Now using filters in photography is nothing new, but I was just wondering whether this recent shift in the look and feel of these fashion pictures, is an attempt to close the gap between the immediacy and youth of mobile social media uploads, and the more sedate rendering of a formal fashion magazine spread.

Below is my series of three images using Instagram. It shows the original (left) and a couple of standard filters – not exactly subtle when viewed on my phone let alone on a bigger screen.

And then, I thought I’d take the same image and try a little Photoshop manipulation to see if I could achieve a ‘bleached’ kind of look but not as harsh as the Instagram filters.

And finally, this is what I settled for. I like it as a picture, but it doesn’t give the most accurate representation of the scarf!

Added a warm filter layer.
Added a warm filter layer.

Tudor bows, but art nouveau colours

Dye-pots-bramleyAt the moment I am painting another scarf inspired by the Tudor bows seen in the stained glass from St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds. However, this time I’ve taken the bow motif and, with spring in the air, used some lighter spring pinks and greens.

Strangely, it was seeing this art nouveau ceramic tile that was the final push to make me mix up these seedtime colours.