Using origami in art journaling

I have found making origami in a group setting helps with bonding of participants. People chat about how to do the folding and each other with tricky bits.

I have used Chinese fortune tellers and butterflies in this way. Lisa and I used the Chinese fortune tellers to explore ideas and feelings about the theme of ‘change’ in an existing group that was well established, but was about to experience change in participants and workers.

I used butterflies working with Monika and a group which was coming to an end. We used the metaphor of metamorphosis and endings to help the group come to terms with the group finishing

Art journaling for self cares

I am running some art journaling classes in Edinburgh and I have produced a blog post that will be available on the Eyre Place Osteopathic practices’s blog soon – I thought I would share here too.

‘I have been visiting Eyre Place Osteopathic Practice for a few years and have enjoyed Osteopathic treatment from a variety of staff. Glynis asked me to produce some art for her 18th year anniversary celebrations. So when Monika and I decided to set up a business for art journaling for self- care I immediately thought of 23 Eyre Place as a venue to host a course. ( Monika and I don’t at present have our own premises) We are

you can book appointments and visit Glynis And her team at they also blog at

Some of Tess’ art journalling pages for an international letter swap

I am an artist teacher and Monika is a counsellor, we met running art journaling sessions for Safe Space Dunfermline and enjoyed working with each other so much we decided to see if we could run some classes in Edinburgh.

The course is run along therapeutic guidelines with lots of emphasis on mindfulness and group support. An art activity for example found images and text from magazines used as a starting point to explore feelings around a topic e.g shame. The work is discussed in pairs with an emphasis on the process involved. For example – what did it feel like when you were looking for images, tearing paper, drawing with crayons? What were you thinking of? What came up for you?

Art journaling pages by Tess produced using found images/ text and pen and ink whilst on a visit to a London

It is not art therapy because I am a teacher and the experience is directed, but it can have a therapeutic result. An important part of the session is whole group work. Where members explore their experiences verbally and are listened to by the group.

Using origami as a journal – making a piece to reflect on ‘change’ a well established group is experiencing changes to workers and participants and it was important to work through that

You can find the Healing Therapy Centre on Instagram : healingtherapycentreedinburgh

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Stitching, a reflection of my mood

I have been art journaling for self care for about 5 years now. I have become used to how intuitive art can express my unconscious and my emotions. Until a few days ago I didn’t realise how much this would also be reflected in my stitching.

I made a really calming piece last night whilst watching Tom Ford’s film ‘Nocturnal Animals’.

If you haven’t seen it it’s quite dark and violent. When I am drawing mandalas in front of a thriller my shapes get very small and tight.

Looking at the above piece now makes me feel calm- I made four with the same pattern of stitches. Normally I get bored doing the same pattern over 4 patches and need to mix the texture and colour up.

I can’t remember what I was watching when I made this one

But I remember being engaged with the plot and finding it stress full. I think I detached from the Ford film because I had to make my self feel remote and mindful to stay with the film. There was a lot of time spent lingering on Amy Adams face…….

I am working on my 5th quilt at the moment and am making small patches and then attaching them individually in a search for ways not to prick my fingers so regularly. I like working like this, the contained space and with my sense of design being restricted. However, I am also having to have another piece on had when it makes me feel too constricted. At the moment this is an apron with big loose circles.

Quilt number 5 – it taxing my design skills. In the last few quilts I have had an overal idea in mind and I just needed to step back from those every so often to check how my ‘vision’ was coming along.

Number 5 is different. I keep having to think about the balance of colour and texture- I can’t just do 5 patches without placing them next to those already attached and thinking about how I need to do the next 5. I am quite pleased with the results. Though some patches have had to have extra bits attached because they were too plain or I didn’t like one patch next to its neighbor.

This was just blue crosses but it was tooo plain and just jumped out at me……

Number 5 so far

I am laughing at my self – I just did some reading around Fords film – I recognised how beautiful it was and that some of the scenes were amazingly framed – with stunning art in – I hadn’t realised that they were originals …..

Step by step Boroindpired bag

I seem to have collected a lot of small irregular pieces of fabric and noticed that my quilting contacts on line do ‘scrappy’ quits.

A new pair of boots came in a black polypropylene bag and I wondered how it would stand up to being stitched so I used that as a base. it had a printed design on both sides – which is quite thick to stitch through – but it wouldn’t deter me from using another bag like it – unless the design was printed all over in a flat panel.

I decided to have a go at fixing my design to the bag using safety pins – because I am fed up of jabbing my self with straight pins

In this picture I have the bag inside a tray to make it easier to pin the bottom pieces to the fabric. Since I did this I decided I had to have quilting safety pins ….. they are fab – sometimes it is not worth trying to improvise.

After pinning I have different methods of tacking the denim shapes to the substrate. In this case because the bits of fabric were so small and oddly shaped I loose tacked all around the edges.

I like to work intuitively with my stitches – I started off making a few rainbow coloured circles – when I started adding white stitches as a background the circles started to loose impact – so I stitched around the circumference with a couple of layers of running stitch.

I was going to just add running stitch all over – but I got bored as is usually the case – so I started adding different patterns of stitches – All based on running stitch

The coloured circles were still getting lost – the white is a slightly thicker thread. So I went back over the centre of the circle- because the white outline was already in place I could see that the less dense stitching towards the edges was making nice tonal contrast – I left a couple of cm with a layer of stitches in a band as they were

But I did add another layer of green to the outside edge.

I used this technique on the other large circle too

I decided to add two more smaller coloured circles and am still filling in the bottom section of the bag. Next job is an apron …….

Baby sized quilt

I am enjoying using the coloured threads in my Boro-inspired work. I am struggling to get my tension correct on all my circles. The more tense the TV show in the evenings the tighter my stitches get!

My daughter in law sent me some fab rainbow variegated cotton from the USA for a Christmas present. I am enjoying playing with the different colours

This is Aunt Lydia’s crotchet thread – size 10 in Mexicana colour way

I decided to use bigger pieces of fabric in my new quilt

I am not stitching my patterns within the confines of each piece of material so I thought why tack together so many little pieces?

I also changed my construction method. I usually tack around each piece of material. This time I did the tacking in stripes about 1.5cm apart. This is stopping the centres of the squares from moving as I stitch. It’s quite labour intensive but worth it in the long run.

I will definitely do it like this again.

I started off my design thinking that I would decorate a corner with coloured circles of different sizes – with a section of flowing stitches to break up the density of the pattern

The corner went well- but I hadn’t factored in the boredom of sewing in straight lines …. I had to stop and add more circles- I think I will add a few more up the centre section – I will keep you up dated …

Sample of my boring blue lines – I quite like the effect ……

Adding colour to my boroinspired stitching

I found some variegated coloured crotchet thread in a second hand shop the other week. I had been searching online for a big ball of rainbow coloured thread but it was going to cost far to much to shop it. The box of cotton balls had many more colours than the rainbow I required but I restrained my self to one of each colour and a couple that went in between below is my stash and my first experiment.

I finished my second quilt with some of the coloured threads- it is a present for someone – I will add a pic when they have revived it.

I bought some plain calico shopping bags sometime ago and decided to add a panel of boroinspired stitching to one side.

These have been great fun to do

I found a Great British Sewing Bee note book kit – I have a few of these – they were produced in 2012 to accompany a TV programme – the consist of a nice quality journal – fabric and instructions to make a loose cover for the book.

It had to be done …..

Art journalling weekend near Witney Oxfordshire

I had a fab weekend art journaling with my friend Debbie – she has a small conservatory set up to work in – I do like working in the light after my lower ground kitchen.

Debbie is a certified Brave Girl instructor and we worked with two of Melody Ross’s short courses. These are such fun to do – the workbooks are full of great ideas, images and text- check out for more info

I Worked in a journal that I had previously decorated with lots of watery mandalas. I am having some respite from drawing these with all my hand quilting. I found that if I add a layers of white acrylic with a credit card they make great backgrounds that I can add text and images to.

The first work book gets you to look at concepts around being true to yourself

I had fun layering up paint and collage (the tree was in a Psychologies magazine) and adding text using various stencils and found letters

We were quite prolific – having the backgrounds started already makes a big difference.

Saturday night we went out to Blenheim Palace and walked the Christmas light trail.

On the way home I thought I dropped my phone and left it on a park and ride bus. My calm thoughtful journal pages were disrupted by a bad nights sleep and the need to let out a lot of frustration.

However – after getting my daughter to hack into my iPhone account the phone was discovered in Debs car!

So my pages based on ‘flying free’ resumed at a calmer level

Lots of swallows, cages and let it go stuff for this one.