This blog is published by Janet Haigh & Rachel Kelly for the Stroud International Textiles Festival 2012

A Very Private View

by janethaigh

Haigh ad Kelly Pairing 2012

Hi Rachel

Well here we are standing in front of Daphne just after she went on the gallery wall on Thursday afternoon, I like that you are wearing a matching printed top. I know we felt a bit out of kilter when we saw the rest of the work that was already on the walls…black and grey, large and fragmented, rusted and un-ravelled; and here we were with multi – coloured chintzy Daphne Tree, she certainly looked to be in the wrong room. Hey Ho!

But first we had to get her onto the wall before we could properly assess the situation, and that took quite a bit of preparation.

Rachel on hands and knees pressing and starching the back of the canopy

The first job was to starch and press the back of the whole canopy , we were given floor space in the Museum’s school room next door to the gallery, perfect! Then it was fixed to the extended cardboard roll used to wrap the fabric around which, in turn, would be fixed to the wall; luckily the carpet had a square gridded pattern which we used as a set square. Then we had to haul it into the gallery where a sort of controlled chaos reigned…..

Jane Webb sits stitching before her collaborative piece with Alice Kettle and David Gates

Some of the work was being made in-situ;  makers sat on the floor stitching letters and attaching printed bags with sand to un-ravelled thread hanging from wall mounted embroideries, while the curators made careful adjustments to nylon thread suspending stuffs from the ceiling. However some of the work was on the walls looking pristine and this is what freaked you out – the scale of the stuff…how would our refined vellum and printed  damask tree, who sways in the slightest breeze, stand up to the adjacent wall of large and basically geometrical  black blocks of work?

Rachel taking a breather after starching the canopy, Alice Kettle can be seen adjusting some hanging threads in front of Nigel Hurlstone's large scale installation. Jilly Morris and Jane McKeating's drawn and stitched instalation is on the small plinth

But Help was at hand, your parents and my husband stepped in to lift the piece into position for us to gauge the height – above or below the picture rail, to the right or the left of the radiator, do we cover the plugs or just deal with them later? What was amazing was that Lizzi Walton, the co-curator with Alice, said we could drill anywhere at all to get the effect we needed…this is unusual, especially in museums.

family to the aid of the hanging

Once up we could take a proper look, we had been allotted a good space but both of us felt we were swamped by the prevailing aesthetic in the room. To the other side of us was a much more fragmented and delicate piece of work, which like ours would be rewarding by giving it close attention to detail, but our work looked even more out of kilter with this given it’s sparse and business like presentation – specially when the bags of belongings had been cleared away.

paired work by Annie Shaw and Shelly Goldsmith,

But too late now. We both feel strongly that we have worked to the brief and used our own individual language underpinned by a sound philosophical idea; metamorphosis, as in the Greek Myth of Daphne and Apollo, is about a profound change in materiality – from animal to vegetable, so deerskin vellum through to paper then cotton damask; the myth is thought to be a parable of the sun and the dew. But I use this myth because it perfectly tells a basic truth about human nature in a wonderful visual metaphor.  I know from experience that when you wish for something strongly enough you will be given it – but not exactly how you had imagined it; and one of my personal mantras is “only rely on change” because nothing ever remains the same – while it is alive

But it isn’t just about a material consideration; we were both prepared to change our practice to develop this work and you remarked that we were very fair with one another, we listened and gave way when the other really was sure of the way forward. We were also changed by this work, our perceptions of what we had to offer each other made a difference to how we navigated the process. You immediately saw that observational drawing was one of the strengths of my practice, I suddenly felt empowered to just draw, and I now am thinking I need to draw straight onto receptive surfaces – the vellum was so beautiful to draw onto, even an HB pencil is suddenly a subtle and engaging mark maker.

drawn and laser-etched head and body of Daphne casting swaying shadows on the wall

You are a spontaneous maker and I am deliberate, this is not just about confidence it is a sate of being – I immediately loved your idea that we could have extended the flowers all over the wall above and behind the canopy, how lovely would that be and how apt a happening for developing the piece further, let’s hope we can show her again somewhere else and we can extend her flowerings.

I will leave you with an image or my original model for Daphne, Sophie Bristol (and her mother) standing in front of Daphne at the PV….I have other images of this but will keep them for another post, I have been reading the catalogue and have other things to say about this  fascinating pairings experiment, and having read my colleague Dawn Mason’s essay contained within it, I will return to the museum and try to get another view of the whole show.

with love – Janet.

Sophie Bristol the original model for the well lit Daphne figure at the PV with her mother.

PS what about sorting out your flower transfer designs for enamel decals?


In Stroud, installing and evaluating.

by haighandkellypairings2012

Hi Janet,

What a couple of days! Finishing Daphne and then transporting her to Stroud. It was nice to see her put together and to add the finishing touches to the chintz. I know you were a bit shocked by the colour, but it was a mixture of using a different printer and the other colours looking so muddy. I hope you liked in the end?

Chintz Flowers 'Bright'

Looking at this image now I really hope that the gallery light our piece well. It should look as clean as it does in this pic!

I was very happy adding extra flowers to finish the tree top and it was interesting to hear your response to sticking them on. As I often have people interact with my work via choosing the composition it was interesting to hear how tricky you found it. I think in a way I am so used to just doing what feels right in situ or on the day, to a certain extent we could have continued adding bits within the gallery or onto the walls, but I think our nerves could only cope with so much!

That said we were both full of confidence for the install and it was great to see the complete Daphne. I was very pleased with the detail on the body/trunk and again I hope they light it well for us as some of the textures are very subtle.

Finished Daphne April 25 2012

But on arriving at the gallery yesterday I think we both had a bit of a shock!

Nigel's exhibit

I think we were firstly in awe at the scale, but just really impressed with Nigel Hurlstone’s piece of work (above). It was simply stunning! In addition the other exhibits which had monochrome sophisticated uses of colour so we felt a touch self conscious.

I can only liken it to turning up to an event in a very stand out outfit when everyone else has dressed down! I have to say I never discuss what I’m going to wear and always please myself with regard to colour and pattern so the feeling was familiar but just a little unsettling.

But we installed in the end and had a nice time meeting the other exhibitors and speaking with Lizzie and Alice. I will hand over to you now as I had to retreat with my big baby bump for a big rest. I never saw Daphne in illumination and I can’t wait to hear the response from the opening. I hope you have a fab time and I certainly hope you are wearing something colourful and fabulous

love rachel

Getting There

by janethaigh

package of decals ready to open

HI Rachel,

well this has been a bit of a roller coaster for me since I last posted our progress, hence the long delay. I have been working flat out getting your new decals organised – they were certainly a surprise when I opened them. I had been expecting more subtle and richly coloured bouquets of pansies and tulips, and had started to apply a few of your first designs…but this is what I found……

contents of package with startled bird!

I must admit I absolutely loved the colours, much more chintz like and fresher…but how do I get from my sad little English bluebird to tropical jungle prints in about 70 cms  of fabric…and how will pale and interesting Daphne look against the riot of colour she eventually becomes?

laser etched Daphne waiting for her make-over

I had already dip-dyed the shoji papers for the material first transition from vellum to paper, carefully colour matching the strips to each of the hands to be applied as the first leaves to develop – what a piece of work that was to organise  – the hands becoming leaves – the crux of the whole piece. It has to look convincing on a material level, and at the basic level of making stuff we are sharing our own delight in material processes aren’t we? We are constantly challenging each other to  raise her game by dealing with our own ideas and creativity in response to the theme of metamorphosis  – while also keeping to the philosophy of the Pairings collaborations.

dyed shoji paper drying at Heart Space Studios

The shoji paper was amazingly strong and didn’t buckle even thought I didn’t stretch it to dye…

dyed shoji papers ready to be cut and applied as leaves for the vellum hand

it is a good transition material bonding onto paper and the vintage damask tablecloth that I have used instead of the printed cotton sateen we had initially decided upon….we will forget the whole saga of the Easter break and out-of-stock sateen and the late printing deadline – this way is much more interesting has resulted in refining our imagery. Also I like the fact that it is a total update on the Broderie Perse idea – iron-on not sew-on.

starting the metamorphosis with English spring colours

full-on colour development

Learning to make, cut and press the decals into position was a liberation, I initially envisaged that I would have to applique the entire top of the canopy using hand stitching – now I just ironed them on. Just as well as stitching the vellum entailed drilling each hole with my trusty tiny Combo drill.

drilling the vellum for stitching head and body together

But first I had to hand colour Daphne for her new flowery tree top, using a mixture of dyes and inks….the vellum is beautiful if capricious to work on – sometimes it accepts the colour easily and in other places rejects it…I suppose it depends on the part of the hide you are working on, some parts are thick and creamy in colour – other areas are thin and translucent.

hand colouring the head

I know that you wanted to back light the vellum to show  this beautiful translucence but the way I am having to attach it to several different thicknesses of materials makes it a precarious joining system and I am using stitch as a joining method – not as my usual decorative or drawing stitch….but it works simply and beautifully as a foil to your techno work.

drilling and stitching

So that brings us to the point where you come into Heart Space Studios, the only studio big enough for me to work to this scale even though I have to periodically clear everything away to make room for a workshop held by one of the other tutors. I am too busy to take any classes and had cleared my timetable for the whole of April to complete this work on time…we just made it, but I never doubted we would, well only at 3 o’clock one morning about a month ago – my working motto is “Panic Early”.

Daphne, Steve and Sue waiting for Rachel to arrive

so it is over to you now to come and work together to finish the piece ready for hanging in the gallery..but on my way home last night I saw this tree with the red new growth….I may just add a few touches of colour to the undersides of the hair………

red leaves would make wonderful hair

see you later today, Janet


by haighandkellypairings2012

Hi Janet,

I have a great time producing the final elements for our Daphne Tree. The first part of production was the laser engraving of the vellum…

After testing the vellum I had some confidence in the process working, but it was still nerve wracking! Luckily the vellum cut really well. The texture and colour of the marks are beautiful and I think it works really well when illuminated. I think we might have hit on something here!

I have then been producing lots of cut and printed flower appliques for our tree-top.

Flower Appliques

Flower Appliques 2

I am much more confident with this process as it is similar to how I make my stickers. I am really pleased with the colours and I think when cut out it makes them much easier to visualise and position.

I am really looking forward to coming down to your studio next week to add the finishing touches and to hang our piece! Let me know how thigs are going with you? I know that the vellum stitching will be a bit tricky…

Love Rachel


Onwards and Upwards!

by haighandkellypairings2012

Hi Janet,

Thank you for the comprehensive update. I can really see how it will come together. I’m having a techie day getting ready for laser work tomorrow so no images to show yet but I will update you on progress tomorrow. I have been thinking about the wreath idea and the laurel roof of the Vienna Secession Building comes to mind…

Chintz Design

by janethaigh

Rachel's Chintz designs

Hi Rachel,

Thanks for sending these lovely bouquet designs for the chintz section of The Daphne Tree, they are so exquisite that I am going to have quite a task embroidering them onto the fabric as appliques, to keep their integrity. I have meanwhile copied several versions and now feel have the final design sorted out for the canopy….well with a few areas left open for tweaking.

design drawing with optional wreath

It looks a bit scrappy but makes sense to me when seen against the full sized collaged paper and cloth pattern which I can bring to you if we can meet later this week at MMU – when you are laser printing the vellum – fingers crossed.

When I read that the leaves of the Daphne tree, more commonly known as the Laurel, was used for the victors’ wreaths at ancient Greek and Roman festivals – I thought of the Olympic wreaths and wondered if we should make a reference to it – mainly because in the tradition of Broderie Perse, the name given to the particular type of applique I am using to sew into postition, was used to perfection in Baltimore Quilts, and wreaths are a common motif in them.  You had also seen the connection and are researching it – but whether we want to go ahead with this idea is up to you really?

detail of traditional Baltimore quilt

But what I did last week was get to grips with designing the whole canopy of the tree –  to scale. I used your printed papers, some seemed a tad too big, the bird on the right looks a bit monsterous – but I like him.

first attempt at the design using the paper prints.

On second attempt at the layout I put the wreaths at the top, bird still appears as I sort of like the oddness of him and he is the only piece I have stitched together

stitched motif from paper prints

the paper is a bit of a swine to work with – looking forward to testing out the fabric versions that I can make here at home by using the commercial T shirt printing paper system you recommended, tracked down 2 versions of it in our local high street – amazing!

the final lay out of the design in paper

you can clearly see from this that the laser etch of the arms needs to be darker – the darker the better – I can colour the green lines in or stitch them – depending on time available. but the petal paper gives way to shoji paper – which was really well behaved when I dip-dyed it and bonded it to a piece of calico.

dip dyed green shoji paper applique

The lines in the dyed area appear because I was too impatient to wait for it to dry naturally and I put it on the studio radiator – and it went yellowy pink – nice effect but not for this! I am starting to see that i can use a multi- coloured cotton or linen thread to stitch round the motifs, this will stop the whole thing looking static.

linen stitched paper leaves

I still have a bit more stitched sampling to do – like getting the vellum stitched to the paper and a printed fabric version of the motifs, these I can do this week; then I am stuck for work as I need to have the printed pieces to work on. If the computer prints are successful I can start to develop some of those ready to go on the canopy fabric when it is printed.

Hope that all this makes some sense to you and that we can meet up together this week resulting in something for me to take home to work with….but it is slowly resolving itself and the Easter holiday is just about over, so everyone else can be back to work.


PS have you checked out my blog version of events? I talk more about our different ways of working but how we are still keeping to the consequences formula while accommodating the vagaries of the academic calendar…….

Chintz Transitions

by janethaigh

Thornton's Temple of Flora

Hi Rachel,

I suddenly remembered what your new Chintz design reminded me of, those old botanical illustrations from Thornton’s ” Temple of Flora” your striped dark and moody colours are just like these old prints.

vitreous enamel chintz bouquet

Anyway I really need to have several sizes of paper prints of different designs asap, so that I can start to sort out the tree design. If I can get it organised on paper  then you can print it onto fabrics and send them to me to applique to the ground fabric using Broderie Perse. I think that this wedding bouquet that I patterned in vitreous enamel is also useful as Chintz design and if at all possible I would love some birds or insects…

cobbled together design for transition from etched paper to tree

Meanwhile I have been trying to design the transition ( using the designs and cuts you sent ) from the paper etched design for the hands that become branches that become leaves and flowers. One thing has emerged, we have lost the definition when the stencil is removed, so you need to laser the next piece much deeper – in fact the all the laser drawing needs to be very strong in colour as this large work needs to be seen from a distance when it is hung in the gallery of the Museum in the Park, but you have a bit of time now to sample that!

stencil laser drawing for hands/branches

I have made a few other attempts to get this sorted, using the lovely samples you sent but they are too small for the design and we will need more lasered paper of the shoji pattern. I have introduced some green “sap” into the lasered design, I may be able to stitch this in place – not sure yet.

balancing cut papers to try to make the transition from paper to fabric collage/applique

Here is yet another attempt at integration using your fresh colours

cut paper sample leaves

This seems such a frustrating way to work at the moment, but no doubt we will invent our way through it – below is a scribbled drawing of my first idea when I saw your cut papers, the scale needs to be re-organised so I will try to establish this from your cut paper design.

very quick drawing to show idea for transition the scale is really big.

Anyway what I really really like is the idea that we go to a half drop repeat at the top of the chintz. AND  having thought this through a bit further over most of last night….. I think that you should actually design and print the top section with your darkly glamorous chintz bouquet in a half drop repeat – as large as you like…I know you think it may look a bit flat compared to all the rest of the piece but I think that it will make sense as a design metaphor/metamorphosis – it traces where we get our ideas from and how we research at primary source to end up with an actual finished fabric design.

So what do you think?



by haighandkellypairings2012

Unrefined Chintz first attempt

Chintz with colour underlay

Chintz with my Shoji Drawing as background

Hi Janet!

I can’t believe this last time last week we were struggling away at MMU with our large sheets of material and an undersized laser bed. I have recovered, but it is very frustrating when things don’t go to plan. However I think the time bought before next session with be fruitful and maybe a blessing too.

Following on from the point you left on your last post and our final conversation as to the piece metamorphing into fabric at the top and our shared love of chintz I have been attempting to sketch some ideas (above). I have used a heavy black overlay to maintain the outline of the chintz pattern, but I have filled with various items such as the shoji drawing.

I hope that you can continue the chintz pattern with your side of the conversation. The images above could be the start for a digital design, but in working with the black outline I could screen print the design which could look lovely. I have ordered some screen supplies in anticipation. Re the chintz, have you ordered from John Lewis? I think a sateen cotton might provide similar finish and they have some nice fabrics at MMU?

Let me know what you think?…

Manchester Meeting

by janethaigh

Old School of Art

Hi Rachel,

Well I have finally found some time and energy to sift through the images we took to post up our first meeting at Manchester Met last week; I did enjoy the walk through the city each morning and in particular this old facade of the original art school. I arrived with lots of different materials to play with, you had received my drawings of the Daphne figure made as a consequence to your drawn flowered shoji papers – so I just made a quick couple of sketches on the train to give you some idea how we may go ahead.

drawing done on train journey

The consequences game we are playing seems to have worked so far and we more or less agreed on the idea of the tree developing into leaves, flowers and anything else we could imagine, make to put into the tree branches. But first we had to sample and organise the laser etching of the vellum I had brought with me, this was quite a struggle for us as we could not etch it on the large scale laser machine as planned, but only on a smaller one – meaning we either started drawing again or breathed into the pain of cutting the sheet of vellum to fit the laser……

Rachel programming the drawings for laser etching

So you started lasering your hand made papers embedded with petals while I started to trace and redraw the Daphne image for you to convert to the computer files – and that is as technical as I get. We had to determine the size of the whole piece, if it would fit on the vellum and if eventually it would fit on the wall of the gallery.

first samples of lasered papers side by side with the our combined drawing

With the first samples it was immediately apparent that the vellum would not stand up the the heat of the large bed machine even with the power turned down to the minimum..we liked the effects but not for this project.

burned out lasered samples of vellum

I meanwhile got on with drawing the master plan on some spot and cross pattern papers – very useful for squaring things up.

master drawing on pattern drafting paper

With the sampling and drafting and stencil cutting underway we decided to attend to the rest of the work: what sort of tree would the figure become and what did we want to put in the branches, what fabric did we want for the crown of the tree as this would have to take the hanging system and how are we going to hang it?

American Quilt made from appliqued pieces of Indian Chintz - Broderie Perse

One of us somewhere along the line mentioned Chintz, it may have been me as I was thinking of Broderie Perse, I thought I would have to applique the papers and printed fabrics to a backing and as your work is floral it is reminiscent of the glamorous flowering trees found in the early Indian Chintzes. So then next day you brought in your Chintz book with your own train drawing and we were off down another research journey…

Rachel's train drawing of the next step using appliqued chintz to develop the crown of the tree.

Now we have agreed to send samples, offcuts and small pieces of one – another’s work to develop ideas for the tree itself, starting with some old work I have in my Enamel Garden research book – paintings of chintz, that you are going to manipulate on the computer and then print off in a mixture of your unusual materials and send to me.

So I am now waiting for all your samples to arrive to develop the large applique that will make the crown of the tree, this decision has made the choice of the hanging system apparent as well – we will roll the fabric round a giant cardboard tube and let it drop to the floor as if the chintz has descended to a woman.

We will need to be very exact as to the measurements of the whole thing and now I need to find some off- white/cream chintz to order for the background, but I am waiting for the lasered samples  of paper and vellum to make that choice…which reminds me that I haven’t shown the lovely hand made paper being lasered with you floral  design – I will leave that for a later post. Oh and I read in one of my books on Wallpaper that the exotic flowering tree designs were first brought to this country in the 17th century, as fine paintings on paper that had been pasted to fabric backings for strength and flexibility.

So my last train drawing is below, made on the way home.

my last train drawing done on the way home.

Getting ready for Manchester

by haighandkellypairings2012

Daphne with laser leaves


Hi Janet,

I agree we can work on the configuration of leaves when we are together, but I have prepared some cut files based on what we have already (see below). The key is to have lots of materials to experiment with as we won’t know what will work best until we try. I’m fingers crossed the vellum will fit and etch, but if it doesn’t then we might need to get going with your hole punch wheel and I will start threading up my needles now!

I have attached an image of my flax paper which looks similar to the vellum and might be a nice crossover material. I’ll keep it short as need to get everything together to bring to Manchester tomorrow ready for Wednesday.

See you soon!

Rachel… images below…

Laser Cut Flax Paper


Janet's Oak Leaves Cut Plan


Laurel Leaf Cut Plan