Tag Archives: Selvedge Magazine

Being Creative With The Lovely Julie Arkell

My Workshop Brooch,Rocking Dog

My Workshop Brooch

Almost a week has whizzed by and I haven’t talked about the wonderful workshop I attended last weekend. I headed to Highgate, London on Saturday morning to meet a textile (papier mache and mosaic) hero of mine. Julie Arkell was in residence for the last workshop at Selvedge’s old premises.

Twelve or so of us sat around a huge square work bench whilst Julie demonstrated in little chunks how to make a woolly brooch. The inspiration for the brooch had come to Julie from a wartime picture of a child wearing a pretty simple little piece of jewellery. We cut card (never ever use scissors destined for cutting fabric), we chose a fabric scrap and complementary wools. We delighted in tales of Julie’s career path, the angst of American customs, Julie’s heroes and making craft pay. It was all very gentle, chatting as we sewed, cut and deliberated. Very soon we had sweet brooches that had been embellished with felt flowers and french knots. My brooch was very much a homage to wartime, with a striped blue, white and red fabric together with simple poppies. I want to eventually complete it with a transfer print of my dad in his WW11 naval uniform.

A delicious lunch broke the morning and afternoon’s sewing. There was more textile talk and it was interesting to hear how Julie’s work had changed over the years. I became aware of her work in the 1990’s when I was given some money to choose a piece of jewellery in Bristol’s now defunct Ginger Gallery. I selected a paper mache and mosaic heart which I still adore wearing. Over the years I have been fortunate to have been gifted other pieces.

Julie’s jewellery now is much more textile based. She told us how her mother’s death six years ago had definitely influenced her recent work. Without consciously thinking about it her creations had become darker and included much more black, a colour she’d not gravitated to before. Julie also told us about her fascination with crows and a number of her brooches indeed had references to these birds. She also mentioned that inadvertently her wardrobe had gained more dark pieces and she wondered whether this was a subconscious form of mourning. It wasn’t all dark, there were the lovely floppy multi-petal’d flowers which she’d made as something she could fiddle whilst waiting in the queue at the Post Office! It really was so lovely to hear her talk so warmly of what made her tick.

We went on to make another brooch, this time using fabric scraps, lots of stitches and lots of imagination! My rabbit like creature is still very much work in progress, needing a mouth, limbs and embellishment. It was wonderful to see the wide variety of creations made by the group. More than anything it was lovely to fall back in love with hand stitching again.

Julie was so very generous with sharing her techniques, fabrics and textile know how. Thank you so much Julie.

It really was a wonderful day and it was my own form of a Spa Day, my own indulgent textile spa!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and that you are able to indulge in something lovely.

Love Rocking Dog x

Textile Hero,Rocking Dog

Textile Hero

Woolly Suitcase,Rocking Dog

Woolly Suitcase

Charming Badge,Rocking Dog

Charming Badge

....& Another!,Rocking Dog

….& Another!

And There's More,Rocking Dog

And There’s More

P.O. Floral Fiddling!,Rocking Dog

P.O. Floral Fiddling!

Julie's Woolly Blueprint!,Rocking Dog

Julie’s Woolly Blueprint!

My Kitsch Beastie!,Rocking Dog

My Kitsch Beastie!

My Julie Arkell Baubles,Rocking Dog

My Julie Arkell Baubles

Gifts For The Three Graces!

Jazzing Up Vouchers

Jazzing Up Vouchers

Rocking Dog hopes you have had a wonderful Christmas and with not too many “left-over”meals to endure! Our house is now empty and eerily quiet, and with the realisation that there are Christmas cards that never got posted and presents still awaiting their final destination. Winging their way to London as we speak are presents for The Three Graces a.k.a my lovely nieces. Sorry girls it’s another voucher year.. thought you’d appreciate a trip to murderously busy Oxford Street! Your cruel relatives.

Now for pimping boring plain envelopes. Use fairy cake cases of varying patterns and sizes to create a simple rosette. Use Pritt to glue the layers together. Finally add a pretty rosette centrepiece. I cut these Austen age fashionista’s from an old Selvedge magazine. Voila! A simple frou in literally seconds. (P.S Thank you to my girls for my luxurious Selvedge subcription…..Love it!)

In between eating we have managed some muddy dog walks. Real Live Rocking Dog truly recommends the Bath Skyline Walk. It has commanding views of the city and takes you through a variety of terrains. It certainly blew away the cobwebs on Boxing Day.

I want to make a start on cutting squares for a quilt for Sorrel and Pete. It’s going to be very Arts and Crafts, and I hope it will grace a home of their own, sometime very soon. The Rocking Dog material mountain has been revolutionised by a deep book case, thank you to Leon in Clifton Arcade. Materials are much more easy to select and organise… Hallelujah! The other bonus is that there is floor space freed up to pattern lay and dance!

Whatever the dying embers of 2015 brings, I hope you have an enjoyable time.

Beauty, Rocking Dog


Charm..., Rocking Dog


And Joy! Rocking Dog

And Joy!

Raindrops And Roses And Whiskers….

My favourite things, Rocking Dog

My favourite things

…..on kittens, you get the drift these are a few of my favourite things! Whilst on my trawl down Gloucester Road I found a stash of Selvedge magazines in CLIC. A truly yummy magazine for anyone who loves textiles, fashion and fabric history. Love it that I do, unfortunately it is expensive, so a very occasional treat. Selvedge also has a lovely online shop and there are details of delicious Selvedge events.

Back to Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens… browsing through one of my bargainous magazine stash I chanced upon an article about the talented Julie Arkell. How I love her work and I am lucky enough to have some of her jewellery pieces. Over the years they have been very gratefully received and very cherished presents. Alas I fear that her prices have risen, so my collection may have come to a rather sad conclusion.

The first piece came from a gallery in Bristol and is a heart shaped brooch which is a real favourite. However the little message “Looking at the sea drinking tea” is rather ironic because I hate tea! Like most of Julie’s work it is made of papier mache. This particular piece is studded with shards of broken china and embellished with a tartan ribbon.

Another heart brooch was a Valentines day gift. Andyman and I had travelled to New Zealand to meet long lost relatives and we were staying on North Island. I remember waking up after our 24 hour travels, opening the shutters and thinking “we’ve flown all this way and this looks like Dartmouth!” incidentally I love Dartmouth, honest. So this mosaic heart was given to me during our jet-lagged fug!

Other pieces have been sporadically added, all totally unique and uniquely loved. How I love a watch whose time stays completely still and which has such a pretty Liberty print strap. Meanwhile the little brooch with the ring of pearly beads has unfortunately been through the wars. It withstood a 50 degree wash and spin and i’ve tried my best to rejuvenate her.

I know folk art jewellery isn’t everybody’s cup of tea or coffee in my case, but give me mashed up paper and broken china over a diamond any day! ……Brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favourite things!

Have a lovely weekend. I still have the sledge on standby, and have my fingers crossed!

Yummy mag', Rocking Dog

Yummy mag’

First love, Rocking Dog

First love

Valentine, Rocking Dog


Timeless, Rocking Dog


50 degree wash, Rocking Dog

50 degree wash