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


  1. Such a beautiful part of the world. Super photo's too.
    I'm not surprised your pendants and card were so well liked, they are lovely.

    Jan x

  2. What super photos Aileen.
    Ewan & I went to Lewis & Harris for our first ever holiday together (1993) and it rained the entire time we were there. Bucketed down actually!
    Your photos make me want to go back though :)
    Love the tweedy bird brooches.

    Kate x

  3. Nothing like the West Coast in warm Summer sunshine is there?! The sun seems to have shone over Arisaig most of the Summer....Lovely piccies Aileen...

  4. Fabulous photos! My very favourite beach is on Harris. So stunning - but don't tell everyone!!!!

    Your work is also sooooo lovely!

  5. I am so envious and yearning to go back to Skye right now, after seeing your beautiful photos. Harris looks like heaven to me! I love all those deep purples. Well done on the sales

  6. Your photos are amazing - such a gorgeous part of the world! It's very clear where your inspiration comes from, Aileen :)
    I'm about to head off for a camping trip to Scotland - north of Ullapool...if it's anywhere near as beautiful as Harris then I'll be very happy x

  7. Thanks for all your lovely comments : ) We did get some wet weather and high winds too and took most of our photos over the two days that were bright. Our new tent stood up to it all though and was very spacious and comfortable. I wish we'd got a nice sunset, just one! but hey ho, we'll just have to go back another time : )

  8. Aileen, I am so envious of your holiday. I've never managed off the mainland and am dying to have an island holiday. The harris tweed brooches and necklaces are gorgeous, as always! Congrats on the new shop too - shows the benefit of wearing your own stuff. I never do so I'm going to learn my lesson here and now! xxx

  9. Oooh! ah! What utter gorgeousness, to brighten up a cold and dull August day!

    Thanks for sharing, have a great weekend,

    Sandie xx

  10. It´s looks like a very beautiful place for vacation. And I can see at your photos that you got inspiration for your artwork!

  11. So delighted you had such a fab time Aileen - your pics are gorgeous! Really pleased you managed to get some tweed too - lovely choice! :D
    Till the next time :)

  12. Super shots and your works are REALLY beautiful. Love the bird pins, the shape and purple-blue are my favour.

  13. Your blog is like eye candy.....I just savor each picture and every piece of your work.....Beautiful spot you visited....

    Living in the US, I have never seen any of the beautiful places you talk about on your blog. I would love to go someday....And your work is stunning and awesome.
    I plan to order some for Christmas presents...I guess I need to go ahead before you sell out....

    Have a great weekend.

  14. Wow, it's like the Caribbean! I would love to visit there. My favourite colours.

  15. Oh how this blog brightened my dull Sunday morning. Fabulous photographs and wonderful work as always. Those Harris tweed and felt bird brooches are a delight and all my favourite colours. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspired art!

  16. Fantastic! Did you visit Katie Campbell at Plocropool on the golden road? She bought a lot of my stuff last year.
    I went to Carloway Mill last year but I didn't buy anything there, I bought tons from the shed at Tarbert..its so exciting isn't it?
    Congratulations on your sales.

  17. Lewis looks like paradise aileen. We had a great time with you in skye and loved to see you draw inspiration from everything around you. You're an earth mother :-)

  18. Hi Aileen
    How lucky I was to meet you and your familly on that beach in Horgabost.
    There I also admired the beautiful work you had with you and some of it I see on your blog now.
    You succeeded very well in 'translating' the Hebridian scenery and atmosphere into your textile/paper art.
    Well done and... so nice to have met you!!
    Let's keep in touch,
    Carla, from the Netherlands

  19. What an amazing holiday destination - and what gorgeous photographs - how beautiful. Am hugely envious of that tweed - I would love to make some gorgeous tweedy pouches for the winter. Your pendants are lovely as ever. :-)

  20. You really made me want to visit there! Gorgeous photos, and I love those shells! I always loved finding those at the beach when I was a kid!


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