Show and Tell June 2017

This project began at a Guild workshop in March 2016 that was run by Libby Smith entitled ‘Using hand embroidery to create a book jacket for a pre-made altered book based on allotments. There were two elements one to create the book and the second to create the cover.  To make the book we removed pages from a book (a second-hand hardback novel), glued pages together, covered them in tissue paper and painted them with an acrylic paint wash to add texture. The book jacket is made in two pieces, front and back and then joined together.

I need time to develop an idea so after the workshop I continued with the project. As I have a small veg plot in my garden rather than an allotment, I took this as the theme and considered what I would be capturing in the book and realised that the entries would change with the seasons and so decided to call the book ‘A year in the life of my garden’.


The idea of seasons drew me to the work of Paul Catherall ( He is a London based printmaker who uses lino techniques to create geometric prints of iconic landmarks. He uses simplified versions of these landmarks with 2 or 3 tones set against a bold colour background. I first saw his work at an exhibition in the Oxo Tower gallery on the Southbank and bought postcards of some of the images. Paul was commissioned by Transport for London to create a set of four posters depicting views of the city reflecting the four seasons. The background colours of these posters were the inspiration for my book and cover.



The cover demonstrates a number of techniques that I have learnt from being a member of this friendly and helpful branch of the Guild. The background material for SPRING is a piece of cleaning cloth dyed that was given to me by a member when I showed interest in the colours. The hand embroidered lettering on the back of the cover is split stitch, a stitch that was demonstrated at one of our monthly ‘learn a stitch’ sessions. For the SUMMER beach scene, I using smocking to create the waves, a technique that I learnt on a Guild trip to The Royal Opera House at Purfleet last summer, and the words on the back cover are stitched in the style of handwriting that Libby Smith showed us at the workshop. AUTUMN’s design is done in cross-stitch, a favourite of mine. The background material for WINTER is felt that I made following a demonstration of wet felting at one of our monthly Guild meetings. I painted the spine of the book (something that I saw another member do at another Guild workshop which was run by Ruth Barton) before backstitching the name of the book.

Now that the book and cover are finally finished, I am going to start using it to capture the events and views of the garden as the year progresses.

Diane McCarthy