Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Totem masks

I am now finally in a position to take orders for animal totem masks. I have been experimenting with some different techniques with craft felt, felted woollen cloth, needle felting and hand embroidery. These current patterns are from Oxeye Daisy but I am working on some new corvid/bird designs, a badger, a hare ooooh where to start!
Masks have long been the tools of transformation and storytelling..although it was often real animal parts that were use.
These are the current designs.
this particular fox is my own personal mask, he's well loved and well used!

You can see here in the detail picture all the different techniques applied. I find that needle felting helps sculpt the shape. Every inch is hand done in order to retain the lovely dense quality. Whiskers are made from silver or gold wire and occasionally other items such as beads are added. A plainer mask can take 4 hrs to make but on average it takes 5 hrs per mask!

if you are interested in ordering a mask please contact me via my website Atelier Bee

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Introducing the Yamana Jacket.

I am very excited to be able to add a new design to my website 'Atelier Bee'.  It is called the Yamana Jacket, a simple shape and lovely cut to create an elegant draped jacket.

 It's made from the most beautiful wool that has the feel of silk or smooth linen. Embroidered with gold bees and features a single red 'earth' bee.

The earth bee enables the energy, spirit and ideas to exit the cloth, so that nothing can get trapped and the magic can flow in and around the wearer.

My lovely model was Suzi Crockford of Dartmoor Drums and Rattles, you can find her here  and check out her blog: suzi-crockford.blogspot.co.uk.
She is wearing two of my Melissae skirts that I will be making soon. Flowing quantities of washed silk, embroidered with gold and silver bees.

Many thanks to Chagfood for the loan of their wagon and their flowers….still to come in another shoot!

hand stitched labels!
For more details of this product and to check out other go to Atelier Bee……..www.atelierbee.com/jackets_coats
I am going to be making these jacket by commission and individual one-off's that I will put on the site. they will range in fabric and can be embroidered with almost any design…. :)

Monday, 30 June 2014

Sneaky peek at the reason for silence…….

So the reason it has been so quiet here in blog land is that I have been working on my new website! It's not quite finished yet and there are still lots of holes, garments that I am working on etc etc etc but I thought it time that I let you all have a sneak preview………..

Welcome to Atelier Bee! click on this link to take you there www.atelierbee.com. This is in equal measures exciting and terrifying. I am making, photographing and posting new works and info almost on a daily basis and certainly on a weekly one. It's hard to have it immediately filled as these are bespoke garments that take many hours of work and are often made to order.

Here you will find crazy and magical garments to well suited to the circus of life. I am making jackets and coats and even robes. I am currently working on an embroidered bee skirt design as well as a shamanic apron. You will find already some hand embroidered and needle felted animal masks. the current designs are very kindly based on a pattern by Oxe Eye Daisy but I am working on a new corvid design currently and am doodling a badger, oh and there's a wolf pic still to go up!

I am currently making these masks to order, Take a look at the site for further details.

The wolf, assorted felts, needle felting and hand embroidery with silver wire whiskers.
and watch this space for all sort of clothing and some jewellery! :)

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Life and death abounds

It's been a busy month so far, as my Grandmother used to say "May is the best month of the year!" I think she is probably right…..although it was birthday month too, Almost all of the oldest generation of my family where born in May!

Life is in abundance, my garden is springing forth into life, but sadly there seems to be dead baby birds, cold and lifeless, everywhere we go. I have also noticed a drop in the amount of birds in my garden this year :(

I celebrated Beltane with origami felt prayer swans! I was testing out a kit for a felt make friend of mine Yuli Somme. Check out her beautiful works here www.bellacouche.com

The idea is that you make them, write your prayers or wishes in them and send them off down the river.
Hindsights a wonderful thing. A result of this trip was a fall, concussion and near death sickness! I should have wished for health and protection me thinks!

The upside of the trip was all these beautiful things! My son has taken these photos, the urge takes him from time to time and I encourage it. Suddenly he sees the world with new eyes and enjoys the beauty.

Bloody nose beetle


Blue Sky

Blossom…I think perhaps I should call this blog 'all the b's'

May merriment took place with an opportunity to dress up and hang out at a Game of Thrones party!
ok, so people aren't my son's forte..this was the best of a bad bunch…but he is 9!

Beautiful sculptural barnacle's as part of our seashore forage with the River Cottage gang at Charmouth beach. It was a beautiful day of seaweeds, shore plants, crabs, cockle's winkle's and sunshine.Culminating in a delicious feast, although I absolutely could not do the crab killing. Winkling out the curly little snail creatures was a task and a half and perhaps only made nice by the garlic butter dressing they where in?
Check them out here: www.rivercottage.net
Big sky's and rock pool foraging….It made a delicious meal, all the better for being cooked by a chef!
Most of May though, has been taken up with recovering from concussion and organising a spectacular fundraising art auction for Proper Job our stalwart recycling and sustainability centre…….That is going to have to be a separate blog post, there is just too much excitement to put into here.
Gosh, I have been busy and we're only halfway through :)

Monday, 14 April 2014

Visions of loveliness.

It has been a busy and spring like time with some open studio time and table top sale. I am clearing the last of the children's jackets that I have spent years making under the Blow-pipe label. I have 10 more cut out which I will sew and then that is the very last of them. You will be able to find them here on friday!

This month is always a special one, we are usually guaranteed some warmth on our bones and this year it feels a long time in coming. I haven't had a Dartmoor winter get to me so much since I was a teenager here. Although it is one of my favourite times for light and colour, at times the heaviness become cloying and I find it hard to breathe. I yearn for the lightness of the sea.
 The bees are tired and hungry and also need the sun to warm their bodies, nourish their hives and relax the little muscles worn with the task of keeping warm.

Sunshine comes in many forms and especially my birthday. I was showered with visions of loveliness and warm golden love. My friends and family…..they know me well and are a superbly talented bunch! let me share with you some of it.
Golden gifts

I think this candle may be just too nice to burn!

A beautiful egg cup from my son and earrings made by my niece!
 A beautiful bouquet cake from my mother……and a portion of marzipan french fries, unfortunately I had already eaten most of them before I had got to the camera. I LOVE marzipan!

This amazing and very special drawing was done for me by the wonderfully talent Virginia Lee
you can see more of her work here www.virginialee.co.uk

soooooooo beeautiful. I shall treasure it forever. x

Closely followed by this beautiful glass stag and birthday slug art on the window. I often wonder what they were thinking/doing? I shall have to ask!

Monday, 17 February 2014

Goddess journeys Part 2. Oneself As Another.

Ok, so this is a little more personal and in-depth than my usual posts, but I am writing this because I work with bodies, models and imagery and also because I consider myself in the business of creating skins. But what is most important and easily forgotten is our very own skin. So I am sharing a story of mine.

During my Goddess journey's I am exploring the archetypes of the Crone, the Maiden and the Mother. My current phase is exploring 'Mother' aspects. The warrior, the nurturer and the lover.

As part of my journey I participated in a body of work by an artist friend Ione Rucquoi. 'Sanctae' presents the female form in it's unmasked state. It is an installation of 21 larger than life haloed female nudes exploring the realities of childbirth, ageing, illness and all the ravages life throws our way.
Little did I know that taking part would instigate such changes in my life.

I took part in this for several reasons. As an artist I am always getting people to model for me clothed or not and I felt that it was time I returned the favour, giving something back.
Secondly the artist wanted someone who was able to represent the conflicts of being a mother and an artist. Both of these are driving forces that shape your very soul and plague your conscience.

But most of all it was for my own selfish purposes. Part of a process of coming to terms with my own body. Trying to learn to accept or even love the changes that have happened over the last 10 years. Surgical procedures arising from fertility issues, dis-ease and childbirth (not to mention the weight gain!) resulted in a section of my body being carved, chopped and re-shaped for ever.
There has been discomfort, trauma and disconnection from my pelvic region throughout my whole life.
So when I first modelled for these pictures a year or two ago (I can't quite remember!) it was much easier than I thought. Somehow everythings alright in the name of art! It was comfortable, slightly liberating and surprisingly normal!

Finally the images were ready to take centre stage in a new exhibition called 'Oneself As Another' at the RWA in Bristol. I hadn't really given any thought to my own feelings on the matter apart from slight nerves at being 8ft high and naked in a room full of people…but hey it's ok because it will be full of artists.
But it turned out to be quite simply one of the most enlightening, and possibly life changing processes I have ever been through. (I haven't decided yet, I'll let you know when it's over!)

Being a bit of an analyser, I am fascinated with observing my behaviour and responses, but nothing could have prepared me for the surprise my own responses.  I was shocked at my own level of conditioning.
My reaction in the first second to the exhibit was "WOAH". There was a moment of shock when my senses didn't recognise what I was seeing and scrambled to make sense of it, combined with, dare I say it, a hint of discomfort/distate. An intake of breath. Followed quickly by the out breath which had already altered the perception to 'WOW".

In that split second it became apparent to me that even as an artist who is pretty happy with nudity, there is still a deep rooted level of conditioning within me and within us all. Regardless of who I am, where I live etc etc I am still subconsciously effected by societal standards and the blanket perception of acceptable beauty and how deeply it saturates our culture.
It was like a veil had been lifted. It was clear to see that even though we think we are beyond/too old/too alternative/ too open minded, too accepting etc etc  to be affected deeply by the misrepresentation of women, it simply wasn't true. I would challenge anyone to stand in front of this exhibit and say otherwise.
Whether we admit it or not, even to ourselves, none of us are out of reach of this phenomenon.
Artist or not.
What swiftly followed were nerves. Suddenly I felt my self protection mechanisms kick in as I slightly disassociated myself with my own image. It was hard to look, own up to that being me and feel the atmosphere as I came under scrutiny, judgement and evaluation under the critical eyes of others. Even my own mother as she stood beside me.

I was witnessing myself as my own critic, as the elephant in the room. In a moment of silence my psyche stood beside me and I judged the lumps, the bumps, the sag of my boobs, the stretch of my skin and that my first response was to start measuring my physical worth against others.
The second response was to let it all go and turn myself to others. They were beautiful and interesting. So very beautiful.
Despite some of the more shocking details, the overall effect was of calm, strength and beauty.

Every single one of those women looked so beautiful to me, yet it was fascinating to observe that I couldn't apply it to me. My own physicality on that enormous scale, I struggled to connect to. Even though I was one of the few women who are actually anonymous in the picture.
Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't hate my body and I am not even uncomfortable enough with it to change anything. But I don't love it the way I should, considering it has supported me all my life and provided me with a son and given me untold adventures.

I moved to watching other guest looking at the images, longing to hear what was in their heads and seeing how often a face would initially pucker slightly and then watch it soften. That in itself would make a wonderful installation.

It was busy and sociable and as the evening progressed I felt my spine lengthening and myself standing taller as I slowly settled more and more into myself. A hint of pride crept in and a chink of acceptance.
Hearing other women discuss how liberating it was for them to see these images felt really good.

As I left that evening the overwhelming feeling I had was of a deep seated longing to see more. I realised as a woman this is what I want to see. It's like craving normality and acceptance for all of us. It was so glaringly obvious that we are culturally starved of femininity, the beauty of womanhood and lets face it, nudity. Real nakedness.

Our damaged British attitude towards the naked form has left us starved of a sense of reality, lacking an earthly connectedness and our souls slightly shrivelled. But worst it has opened the door to a form of depravity.
The insatiable urge for human connection and creation in a society that bans nudity has formed the taboo. It drives a culture of pornography, sex industries, surgery, inequality etc etc hungry for connection, however misplaced.
I can't help but compare it to my time working in Berlin, where office workers sunned themselves next to their neatly folded suits, in open parks. To my time working in London……where you would have been commenting a criminal offence.

So I left this exhibition feeling sad, feeling liberated, feeling stronger, feeling awed and feeling a little bit angry. But certainly more keen to face the world head on.

This was offered to me on plate the following morning! Although photography was banned some pictures of the exhibition appeared on Facebook first thing. It was just a small snippet of me but there were other women in all their glory. I found myself furious, mortified and feeling totally violated, like a trust had been broken. Somehow having it 'out there' in a different context was a whole other ball game! Suddenly I was vulnerable, exposed and quite literally stripped bare!
I think much of this reaction was shock because it did pass quite quickly but I couldn't help but note how strongly I reacted.

Time to put my liberation to the test! This was definitely felt not ok and yet the small printed image of me available for sale in the foyer at the RWA was fine, in fact, I even liked it! hmmmmm.
I was also asked by the artist if I would permit my image to be used in publicity for the exhibition. This in itself is fine with but my reservation came from the fact that once the images where out in the public domain there is no control. Nothing to stop them ending up on Facebook or any other social media. Judging by how extreme my earlier reaction had been I wasn't sure I would handle it very well.

And so I find myself in a quandary.
I want to support the artist, for all the reasons mentioned earlier, but hesitate because of my reaction to Facebook.
I want to be able to say yes without hesitation, but I have a son and is potentially making yourself available to comment/abuse sensible?
I strongly believe in the desperate need to educate the world into what real women look like and strip away the taboos, especially because I have a son.
I admire the women that said yes, even to Facebook.
Given the opportunity I wouldn't change anything, no money or surgery or anything would actually make me change my body. Consequently not loving it makes no sense!
But most of all I want to say yes because I am so damn comfortable in my own skin that I just don't give a shit. I love me, every last inch of it.

But, are all of those feelings stronger than my current one of self consciousness? I'm not sure.
One day soon I hope to be able to say yes and I have a feeling I will. Very soon.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Goddess journeys Part 1.

I have occasionally mentioned my Goddess project on this blog. It is a long standing project that I have been working on for many, many years. It is my own journey exploring the essence of womanhood and the divine feminine through the triple aspect of the Goddess.

where it began, when I was a teenager!
It has been a slow journey. Starting creatively in my teens but only really fleshing out into a full body of work in more recent years. I haven't put much of it out in the public eye because I am waiting until the whole piece is finished.

exploring power and conflict as part of my A levels.
It is an intensely personal journey and is proving to be an amazing framework for personal development.
I have been working on the 'Mother' aspect for last few years and my ability to create the images is intimately bound up with where I am 'at'.

The majority of last year was spent focusing on a piece of embroidery that is central to the 'Mother' robes. For the first time in years I have been spending time slowly beading and stitching by hand and loving every minute of it.

It is exact and meticulous and meditative, a total therapy in itself. It has felt like slowly drawing together a solid identity, a crest that is a reflection of this point in my life, step by step.
Then suddenly I was stuck! I didn't want to do anymore and I couldn't work out how to finish it, so it was left languishing whilst life became intense, stressful and winter set in.

Then the New Year broke and as quickly as the process stopped, it started again……. As I walked into the room one day the piece cried out "now you can finish me". My fingers flew and it felt like a really momentous occasion, a breakthrough, finally it was finished. Oh how I celebrated!
And then I realised there was a leg missing! Oh no, a three legged unicorn! and oh how I laughed.

What a lesson! A parody of where I was 'at'!  A reminder that the journey is never over and that there is always yet another step to take.

Four legs!