Friday, 26 August 2011

For the Love of Tweed

As much as we are trying to hold on to summer here in Scotland, there is no denying that Autumn is just around the corner. I usually try not to mention the next season before it starts but I just had to make something with all the glorious Harris Tweed I brought back from our recent trip to the Outer Hebrides and the stash includes lots of lovely Autumn shades.

I have been making leaf shaped brooches for a while now but not usually in leafy colours.
Here are some beech leaves I picked this morning so I can share with you where the inspiration comes from.

I used to love keeping sketch books and making samples as a form of inspiration gathering but time just does not allow for that any more. The ideas go straight from my mind to the finished piece these days then off out to stockists and craft fairs or into my online shops.

My petunias have been a great asset to my photography this summer and now it's time for my little nasturtiums to shine.

The brooches below are a combination of tweed and handmade felt. The felt is embellished with little foil sprinkles which catch the light without being over 'blingy'.

These earthy tweeds are so full of colour when you see them up close. They reflect the landscape of where they are made perfectly.

This bright orange is incredible! I only have a little bit of it, probably enough for two brooches so once they're gone, they're gone.

This rusty brown felt matches the hawthorn berries that are now hanging in abundance from the bushes up and down our farm track.

Talking of tweed matching the landscape I must share a link to this wonderful exhibition.

The exhibition is a display of photographs by Ian Lawson that are to be published as a book next Spring. The exhibition is on at An Lanntair in Stornoway until September the 4th 2011. 
You can enjoy a virtual look around it here.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Hebridean Inspiration.

Where does a girl inspired by the Highlands and Islands of Scotland go on holiday?
The Highlands and Islands of course!
Well actually we usually go to the west of Ireland but this year we went to the Isle of Harris via Arisaig and Skye.

We pitched our tent here at Horgabost on the stunning west side of Harris. 

A few steps over the dunes from the door of the tent brought me to this spot where I loved to sit and drink my coffee first thing.

 You know you have come to the right place on holiday when the sea is your favourite shade of turquoise.....

... and the flowers and shells are your favourite shade of mauvey purple!

I read one guide book describe this place as paradise refrigerated .... they were not wrong! I still went in the sea though. It wasn't as cold as it looked and wasn't the coldest water I've ever swum in either. I loved it. So clear and fresh.

As you can imagine I was very excited about the prospect of buying some Harris Tweed to include in my work. 

These are cones of Harris wool in the weavers shed at Carloway on Lewis.
Norman Mackenzie weaves his tweed in the traditional manner on a Hattersley single width loom. There are only a handful of these particular looms still working on the Island producing this famous cloth.

I bought a metre of this glorious purple from Norman's sister Margaret who was holding the fort the day we visited. She kindly gave me a few labels to use on any bigger finished pieces. Not sure what I'll do with this piece but it will have to be something special!

There are SO many different colours and patterns of tweed to choose from and I nearly passed out with excitement when we walked into an enormous shed full of tweed next to The Tweed Shop at Tarbert.

I managed to get my hands on various bits and pieces on our travels around the Island and have already started playing around with it.

These bird brooches are a mixture of tweed and felt. The felt areas are hand dyed merino with hand dyed silk fibres and I feel that they compliment the tweeds well.

The pendants are again a combination of tweed and felt with a little bit of stitch for added detail.

I added some beads to this heart as I felt it needed just that little bit extra silver across the middle. This magenta tweed is extra thick and fuzzy and looks a bit like felt already.

On one of our days out we visited this brand new Gallery and Shop at Seilebost.

 I happened to be wearing one of my square textile and resin pendants which caught the eye of Artist owner Lesley Wiseman. Although all the paintings in the gallery are by Artists living on the Islands, the crafts and gifts are by artists from further afield, inspired by the area. My textile sea pendants are certainly inspired by the beautiful turquoise hebridean sea and so Lesley bought some from me there and then to sell in this fabulous new venue! Lesley bought some sheep pendants too and I hope to send some cards soon as well.

Just look at the location!
That's the gallery, the bigger of the two white buildings on the left.

Harris Huts and Houses.

The east side of Harris is a total contrast to the machair and endless beaches on the west. It is a coastline of little coves and a landscape that puts you in mind of the what the moon must be like. All rugged and barren. This side of the island is well populated though with lots of interesting artists and makers to visit. We took a drive up what is locally known as The Golden Road (because it cost so much to build) and I was enthralled by all the cute little huts and houses dotted about.

If you thought those red roofed cottages so prevalent in my work only existed in my imagination think again!

I'll be getting on with lots of new work now that our children are back to school and I am so enthused with new inspiration.

Don't forget that if you are local to Fife you can find me and my work at Muddy Boots Farm Shop and Cafe, Balmalcolm this Saturday 20th August.
As well as all my usual textile art and craft I will have these new cards for sale.

They are all prints of some of my favourite felt pieces. There are nine designs to choose from and cost £2.50 each or 5 for £10. They have been selling so well already that I am out of one or two designs already. I have ordered more which should be here by next Wednesday. If you  would like to order some just drop me a line at
All contributed content © Aileen Clarke