Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Christmas Decoration Workshop - Hand felted baubles

Christmas decoration workshop

With Michele English

Saturday 3rd December 2011,
10:00 – 14:30

Get in the festive spirit! During this fun one day workshop you will design and create your own hand felted and embroidered Christmas decorations.

In this hands-on workshop, starting with beautiful merino wool fibres (straight from the sheep!) you will learn the ancient and traditional method of felt making.

You will then use your newly acquired skills to make a hand felted Christmas bauble and a Christmas Robin to adorn your tree or give as a beautiful handmade gift.

There will be a selection of buttons, beads, ribbons and machine embroidered fabric for you to use to embellish your decorations. If you have any special buttons of bits of fabric/lace etc which you would like to incorporate then bring them along and Michele will help you to use them in your design.

The only limit is your imagination! 

Christmas felted bauble kits will be available to purchase on the day so you can carry on your Christmas creativity at home or as a gift for a loved one.

Tea, Coffee and mince pies will be provided for breaks or after the workshop if you don't want to stop!
Lunch not included: Bring a packed lunch (lunch 12 - 12.30)
Location: Benham Gallery, Cuckoo Farm Studios, Boxted Road, Colchester. CO4 5HH

£20.00 per perso        (BOOKING ESSENTIAL)
(Discounts available for booking more than one place)
To book please send a cheque made payable to 'Michele English' to the following address:

Michele English
 Studio 29
 Cuckoo Farm Studios
 Boxted Road
 CO4 5HH

To pay via PayPal please visit
Or e-mail call 07595 999643 to request an invoice

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Huge Consequences


Papiér mche over wood and wire structure, decoupage, gouache.

This piece was created for the 2011 “Big Draw” event held at 15 Queen Street for which the theme was “Fantastic Creatures”.

It consists of a pre-built structure painted all over in white by the artist which was then given over to attendees of the event to paint and embellish freely.

The inspiration and title for the piece comes from the well known parlour game “consequences” (as the structure was still being finished on the morning of the event we were calling it “There may be consequences” up until the last minute!).

The project was designed to mimic the form of the consequences game in that the parts of the piece were presented in three separate rooms at 15 Queen Street and only when assembled at the end of the evening could the whole be seen.

Although the project was primarily envisaged as an easy access group project the form of the piece includes quite a lot of symbolism tied in with the theme of the event and the organisers have asked me to provide some information on this.

The piece is totem like in form and construction. Totems were often undertaken as group projects by a tribe(as is the case here) and were usually surmounted by the eagle or raven. Here the bird is the owl, the symbol of Athena (patroness of arts and crafts) who is often depicted taking this form or with an owl companion. The tribal feel was carried through much of the piece evidenced by the long neck and limbs and the full belly and breast reminiscent of the Earth Mother common to many belief systems from tribes in Africa, the near and middle East, Europe and the Americas.

The bottom section of the piece is roughly based on the legs of a fawn with ideas of Pan and Dionysus but also hint at the “Bal des Ardents” a fascinating event from the court of the French king Charles VI (hence the 15th Century codpiece on the sculpture). Said to be the first masquerade, the Bal started as a prank and ended in disaster and intrigue. Continuing the masquerade theme a Venetian style Zanni mask was made to fit the head of the piece but was not decorated by the attendees of the event and so has not been included in the final assembly.

Russell Clement

Monday, 17 October 2011

The big draw - Colchester

Russell & Michele will be hosting an activity at the following event...

Friday, 12 August 2011

End of show party at Layer Marney tower

Russell cooked up some delicious canapes and exciting non-alcoholic drinks for the Embroiderers' Guild 'End of show' celebration.
Russell is the Colne & Colchester branch's secret weapon in adding an extra bit of taste to an already extremely skilled and fascinating exhibition! The members of the Embroiderers' Guild have a diverse range of skills with years and years of practise making them an invaluable bank of knowledge to anyone wishing to develop or diverse in their textile skills. I am a 'new girl' in the group having joined just last yea. Everyone is happy to teach and share skills and I have benefited from this already!

Russell setting up the canapes

Bloody Mary with basil oil (non-alcoholic)

It's ready and caters for vegetarians and vegans
It was enjoyed by all!

Thanks Russell!
From Michele. x

Monday, 1 August 2011

Embroiderers' Guild Exhibition at Layer Marney Tower OPEN

Yesterday we spent the day helping to put up the Colne & Colchester Embroiderers' Guild exhibition at Layer Marney tower. The exhibition is on from 1st to 10th August 2011. For more info please visit:

Example of the work on display including Michele's Tudor influenced corset

Layer Marney Tower

The knot garden at Layer Marney Tower that inspired Michele's corset

Tea break!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Race for Life 2011

Today was the Colchester Race for life. Russell has been helping me train over the last couple of months and today managed my goal which was under 30 mins.

I ran the 5K race in 27 minutes and 7 seconds! Hooray.

It was a wonderful atmosphere - I was so nervous as I have never taken part in a race before but am so glad I did!

A Massive THANK YOU to all those who sponsored me and have helped towards the fight to beat cancer!

The celebratory Pizza & Salad feast with Pimm's to follow!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Easter weekend in Lyme Regis, Dorset

We spent the weekend in Lyme Regis at Easter and it was beautiful. We had heard about the fossils and that it is called the 'Jurassic coast' but we were not prepared to see the amazing sights we did! You literally walk over hundreds of fossils as you walk along the beach.


These are easy to find in the rocks but will not last.
We tried breaking some rocks open to find fossils but were unsuccessful, all we found were fossils like the one above but they crumble away. We decided to go on a fossil tour. On the tour we learnt that we were looking in wrong kind of rock. We were looking in 'soft' rock or 'mud stone'. The fossils in this rock are crushed and leave only an imprint. The entire rock will eventually turn to dust if you try to take it home and put it on the shelf! We heard stories about fossils that had been found at Lyme Regis, including some very exciting and recent finds.
Fossil tour - learning how to look for the right rocks!

Fossils found on the tour.
 The next day after the fossil tour we went fossil hunting again with our new knowledge and this time we were successful! The first stone Russell broke open had a lovely fossil that we found out, when we took it to be cleaned up, that is was a rare type called 'Caenisites'. I also found some small ones called ' Cymbites' and a larger one called 'Arnioceras'. It was great fun and amazing how much we learnt on the tour about the rocks.

Russell with the first fossil he found (first rock he hit after the tour).
 The next day Russell when Mackerel fishing on a local boat while I spent the day laying on the beach with my crochet and a book! It is an unusual beach to lay on as in the background you hear the noise of hammers on stone and everyone that comes to the beach brings a hammer and gloves instead of a bucket and spade!
Russell when Mackerel fishing
On the boat

In the evening we had a BBQ on the beach and Russell cooked up his Mackerel.
Fossil hunting in Lyme Regis.
This is what I had my eye on all weekend!
 There was a lovely candy stripe cafe along the seafront with pretty teapots, Cath Kidstone and Poppy Treffry cups and cupcake shape sugar bowls. I fell in love with it, the staff were friendly and the food was as good as it looked. I couldn't wait to try one of their Ice cream sundaes.
It was even better that it sounded on the poster!
Finally got my 'Easter Sundae' on the last day
It was DELICIOUS! The sauce was made from melted 'cream eggs'!

We absolutely loved Lyme Regis and can't wait to go back!
by Michele.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Bug Hotel Colchester

Messy gardens with piles of junk are great for wildlife but we keep clearing them up! As we have been tidying up our garden and replanting the beds we thought we had better keep the wildlife happy too, as we want them to hang around! We want the ladybirds to eat the aphids and the bees to pollinate the plants.

So we built a 'bug hotel' from recycled materials (the junk we cleared up from the garden!). The main structure was a shelving unit we didn't need any more. We added dividers to make the compartments small (it was just two big shelves originally)
Read more about bug hotels and see the wildlife trust bug hotel at ulsterwildlifetrust - BUG HOTEL

The start of the Bug Hotel

We added wire to the back to hold in the snugly bedding

The junk we found in the garden to use in the bug hotel

We made a panel with lots of little holes that an insect just can't resist going through to a snugly bed.
To create a grid to make out holes
Drilling the holes

Stuff the section with straw, paper etc
We painted it black and screwed the panel on

We stuffed cans with moss but actually this wasn't very good as the birds pinched it for their nests, so if you use moss tuck it away where the birds can't get it.
The Bug Hotel, Colchester.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Warhorse weekend in London

Nelsons ship in a bottle is the current display on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar square. Read more:
Ship in a Bottle at Trafalgar square


Warhorse cast and goose



It is worth going to see Warhorse just to see the horses. The way they move is so natural - it really is captivating. The horses really convey emotions thanks to the actors controlling them.

Michele and Russell at The Warhorse show

The theater is really small and intimate which is very nice. You are really not far from the stage where ever you sit and the cast come in to the audience.
We also visited the British Museum while we were in London - it is not far from the Warhorse theater. The museum is vast and you really can't see much of in one visit!

The Rosetta Stone

This is fascinating - the carving alone is worth a look (so tiny and so neat) but the story to go with it makes it even more worth the trip...

Russell at The British Museum