Category Archives: Inspiration

new year, new me?

New year new me Marna Lunt blog

Do I really need to make a better version of myself because it’s January? Well I think in an ideal world we could all be better people in some way or other, couldn’t we?  

Let’s just take it as a given that we are all the kindest and most respectful people we can be, because we try to be that all year, every year, hopefully. In the last year the world has gone through a large change, one of uncertainty, of fear, of lose. I think we’re all feeling that a bit. In the face of that I am going to continue being kind, honest, tolerant, patient, open minded, thoughtful. That’s how I can affect others on a day to day basis and that’s not going to change.

New years resolutions

Every year I find myself thinking the new year must bring a fresh start for me, a new beginning with the longest list possible of things I MUST do or I’ve failed. Not this year. This year I’m just going to be a bit kinder to myself, stop setting unrealistic goals for myself. I spend most of my time winging it. I have absolutely no idea how I’ve accomplished as much as I have so far in business, pure luck mainly and a lot of pain and stress that really wasn’t clever or necessary. I never plan anything, I’m very spur of the moment, I hate planning, I just want to make stuff and as lovely as that seems it really does have a big knock on effect. Especially to my health, and after pretty much completely breaking myself last year that all seems a bit silly now.

So is this year going to be a fresh start? No. I can’t completely change myself and my nature just because it’s January. A complete change would need to be made slowly, over time, and surely you essentially are what you are? Thats the point of individuality and personality. I’m never going to suddenly start going to the gym every day, to have more confidence, to behave in a way I have never done before. To decide to do that because of a date is the most rubbish reason of all to me. I know I wouldn’t see it through and then fail and then feel crap. So lets be realistic. What can I actually do, in my work, to make myself happier? Not changes exactly but maybe add a few processes.

Stop writing bloody daft lists!!

Like I’m going to stop writing lists?! NO!!  I LOVE lists, but I need to write the right sort of lists. Lets not write a list of what I feel I ought to be doing whilst comparing myself to others on the internet. Realistic lists that I can actually affect and that are in my control.

Stop trying to do too much!

It’s highly unlikely I’m going to stop doing too much, that’s too big a step to do instantly. That’s quite a lifestyle choice.  My general outlook each month is to let my brain try and do a million things at once, never finishing anything quite how I want to before starting on the next project, so loads of projects end up whirling around my head all at once and I freak out. Feels a bit pants being like that. I’d like not to do that quite as much. Stick to the blooming realistic list Lunt!! Stop going off on one you numpty! I’m going to do all the stuff I need to (the clue is in the word NEED to) but I will use a process that makes things more manageable instead of terrifyingly chaotic.

Keep in mind who I am and accept it instead of fighting it.

I have discovered over this last year of therapy that I am an introvert. Yes, to those that know me and have met me that probably seems mad. But I am. I find social situations really really hard. Exhausting actually. I simply can’t change this, no matter how much I want to be the life and soul of a party, the most fun person in the room, the popular one in the cool gang. I need a huge amount of solitary time. I need quiet. I need space. If I don’t have those things I quite literally lose my mind. I MUST make sure I make time for head space. I’ve accepted that and embrace it. I used to think of it as selfish, but no it’s not, it’s sensible self preservation. The people that need me can’t access me unless I do this, that’s not selfish.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like the company of others. For instant I love teaching. That means travelling a lot and meeting new people and giving everything I have to those people, at that time. Not a normal habitat for an introvert BUT one which in small doses I LOVE LOVE LOVE. And you know why? Because I actually really like attention. I am most definitely an attention seeker. And I can be really good fun, honest. Love and attention from others gives me life affirmation. It makes me feel I have a purpose, and who doesn’t want that! I always saw that as a negative too, something that should be hidden. But admitting that feels rather nice.

Still finding my place in the world.

Last year I turned 40 and you would think that at this stage in my life I’d have pretty much figured out what I’m doing…..

Oh no no no.

Couldn’t be further away from the truth. I am a muddle, I’m still very childlike and insecure. I lock away my feelings and rarely deal with emotions. I just ‘get on with things’. “Must remain positive under all circumstances.” Thats got me pretty far in life but there comes a time when your bucket just gets too full and overflows. The only way to resolve this is to actually feel those emotions that have been hidden for all those 40 years and go through the pain barrier. Thats what I’m doing now.

I am raw, I am experiencing things mentally and emotionally that I really don’t want to but in order to move on I have taken the decision to be better at my life. To explore and feel life in a healthier way and that takes more time than I thought, years in fact. I am beginning to figure out my worth and my place in this world and it’s quite confusing. But that’s okay, because that is normal.

I have lived in the spotlight of social media for a good few years now and so everyone has seen my creative journey, how I have experimented with my own style and found what I liked, what works and doesn’t work for me. Some will like it, some will be disappointed, I would have preferred to have figured all this sort of stuff out before I launched a business but it didn’t work out that way and thus the constant changes. Experience has taught me a lot, I know loads of stuff now, technically, but still am unsure whether I have found my ‘thing’. I am open to change, not too much, but a little, one step at a time. I’m pretty much sure I have my own style artistically, but accepting that has been harder than I thought. Being good enough, for me, is a challenge. Because of my lack of confidence and lack of a sense of self, I am easily distracted and this is where I try far too many things. Accepting I am good enough will always be a struggle but at least I am now aware of this.

And back to the planning thing. A lack of planning and time spent considering myself and my work ends in a mush of I wanna do everything. Lesson learnt. Take a breath, step back, take some time and think. Put the processes in first, write them down instead of keep them in my head.

So new me? No.

Enhance what I have already accomplished in a clearer, healthier way.

Embrace the me that I already am instead of trying to change me? Yes.

Blimey that was deep. I’m off for a lie down.

launching illuminating embroidery luxury retreats

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This year has been as you know an interesting one, to say the least! From nervous break downs to tv shows, it’s been a roller coaster and made me make all sorts of work life balance choices. My main things to readdress was the amount of pressure I was putting myself under with work when also trying to balance the needs of my physical and mental health and the complex needs of my children. You may know by now that I started back into the world of art because of a need to find a calming therapy and a sense of self worth, stitching and creating were central to this and I feel passionately about being able to help others in the same way.

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So this year was all about going back to the beginning. Remembering why I started out and what I and my family needed from this. Well obviously I needed to make a living, got to pay those bills somehow, but how could I do that without the need to make countless time sensitive commissions, exhausting fairs and so much travelling. If I’m in bed ill for weeks how can I still continue to pay those bills, well teaching was the answer. It brings me such joy seeing people beam with pride after they accomplish something they thought they couldn’t. But teaching involves a huge amount of travelling so I have now limited my meet and make workshops to only two or three exclusive venues. I have launched the online workshops which are going very well and people all over the world can now enjoy them and experience some me time. But the newest and most exciting project has been the launch of my brand new Luxury Illuminating Embroidery Retreats.

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These retreats give you a whole huge and wonderful escape and experience a package of complete creative relaxation. They are based in the village where I was born and my parents still live in the heart of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. Lealholm is a very special village, it is where I first knew that I would be an artist, it’s where all my works stems from, it’s my inspiration and the reason why I have a deep need to make things. I went to school there, I bought my penny sweets from the shop, I played in the river, my dad played dominoes in the pub and white we could play on the green, I went to brownies in the old village hall. It’s full of stunning views, a few tea shops, a little garden centre in someones garden, now even has a few craft shops, its a hive of activity whilst still being a small peaceful little community. Basically is’s a bloody dreamland. So what better place to host these creative art holidays.

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Accommodation is provided by the local pub, The Board Inn, over looking the village green and Esk River, surrounded by decking and fairy lights and in the winter a roaring open fire. The retreat itself is held in the church hall, now this isn’t any usual village hall, this is a bit special. Newly renovated with a large lottery grant it is now and incredible building full of light whilst still holding all the character of the old building set within the grounds go the local church yard. It has it’s own beautiful gardens which we can sit in whist the sun is shinning and enjoy the views over the valley. I have decorated the hall to bring my studio to you, full of overflowing baskets of fabric, thread, and all the materials you could need for creating your masterpieces. Lunch is served here too, a scrumptious selection of treats, as well as all the cake you can eat, to keep those brain cells working to pamper you a little more.

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This retreat is just that. A retreat away from the world and your everyday routine to take time out to rejuvenate your soul so you can go back to your lives with a new sense of hope and excitement, and even a new skill. Everything is taken care of for you, you just need to get there. Three days of nothing to worry about other than getting new creative souls that you can forge new friendships from, gain confidence from. A massage is also included (but of course if it’s not your thing you don’t have to have one, but it is pretty mega so I would recommend it!) Amanda from Be You Holistic Beauty, will be on hand to give you an Indian Head massage, hand massage or even a taster of Reiki, the choice is yours, and you can discuss it with Amanda at length while you’re there. She has such a talent!

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A few weeks ago now I invited some good friends to enjoy a weekend away with me to test out how these retreats would work and get their feed back to see if it was worth pursuing. These are the photos from that wonderful weekend…..

So what are we actually going to make on these retreats?

Well, the main theme is lampshade making. We will have enough time to make our very own 20cm drum embroidered lampshade, I can teach you all the stitches so you really don’t have to have any experience at all, all levels are so welcome! We can look at how I make shades and have lots of clever tips and a huge range of lining choices, as well as help with compositions and all the techniques you will need. But if that’s not something you want to concentrate on you are more than welcome to make a handgun picture, or embellish clothing you might have at home, this is YOUR weekend so although I have lots of projects you can do you might have something in mind that you want my help and input on. Thats okay, there are no rules and I want to remain as flexible as possible.

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Each retreat will have have a small limited amount of places, I want to groups to remain intimate and more personal. I find between 8-10 people a perfect size to chat comfortably and get all the help you need when you need it. I will also only run a few of these retreats a year so they remain special and exclusive, like all treats should be. If you want further details on these creative spa weekends then do click over to the courses website where there are more details.

But in the meantime, I hope you love the photos (taken by Sarah Mason Photography) and this beautiful little film and lose yourself in the calm, peace and birdsong. xxx

Make! Craft Britain coming soon….

 

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Thought you might be interested to know that very soon there is a fab new programme coming to BBC4. I think it’s going to be very exciting (and yes I’m biased because I’m in it a little bit) but why don’t you be the judge and watch it and let me know what you think!

Here’s a little description of what the programme is about:

A joyful celebration of the power of craft, MAKE! Craft Britain follows ordinary people across the country having a go at a new craft skill instructed by inspirational teachers.  It’s presented by Martha Kearney, herself a would-be crafter.

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Britain is a nation of crafters, and now more than ever we are seeing an explosion in the number of evening classes and craft workshops up and down the country.  People are discovering the simple pleasure of learning a new skill and the enormous sense of pride and well-being as hidden talent and latent creativity is unleashed.

On a quest to understand the power of craft, presenter Martha Kearney begins by asking why her mother’s dexterity with a quilting needle passed her by; ‘Your head was always in a book …’ explains Martha’s mum, but she reassures her daughter that it’s never too late to start making things with your hands.

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This film is a tale of two workshops.  On the edge of the Yorkshire moors Embroiderer, Marna Lunt, welcomes a mixed group of students to her 2-day course making embroidered lampshades.  Ex-copper Tony is a complete beginner while textiles student Catherine has been sewing all her life.  Under Marna’s instruction, they quickly master the basic stitches and learn how to draw inspiration from the colours and sounds of the moors.

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Meanwhile, on a Sunday morning in London six students take up their scalpels for a crash course in Paper-Cutting.  Teacher/practitioner Christine Green, explains the long heritage of this new craft craze, teaches them the basics of designing, cutting and finishing, and gets them going on their 3-D cards.  They are all complete beginners.  Richard and Mark draw inspiration from their local park, Crystal Palace, while newly weds, Eri and Jamie, make cards that celebrate their 1 year ‘Paper’ anniversary.

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In both workshops, the students get completely absorbed by the process and the room falls almost silent in quiet concentration and creative ‘flow’. And both teachers give How To demonstrations that are easy to follow so that viewers at home can try their hand at these crafts too.

Harnessing the breadth of the craft community through social media, and especially BBC’s getcreative page, MAKE! Also features jaw-dropping images of beautiful handmade crafts sent in by viewers.

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I’m immensely proud of taking part of this programme, and was very lucky to have made life long friends in the students I taught. And who I have spent time with since the making of the programme, they have been incredibly supportive and are such lovely genuine people. This is the beauty of teaching, making and taking chances, glorious things can arise.

I have to thank RDF television who were so kind, thoughtful, patient and generous to me. I have had the most wonderul experience working with them. I was very lucky indeed that they stumbled across me and saw that my vision mirrored theirs. I can’t wait to see what the end result is like.

The art of making blog post by marna lunt

the art of making

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This year has been quite a corker, it’s my 40th birthday in August and it has spurred me on to really take stock and enjoy life more so you will have seen I’m a little quieter on the old posting thing. I’ve been branching out on a few new projects (one of which you will see on on the tele box in the coming months) mainly around teaching and inspiring people to get involved with using their hands to make things to bring wellbeing and calm into their lives, I’m very passionate about this subject, and you’ll know why from my last post.

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ARTISTS
The way I see it is that you (and me) buy professional beautiful works of art from us makers/crafters/artists what ever you want to call us. It not only helps small businesses and the economy but it keeps true traditional artistry alive when done at it’s best. It creates jobs, keeps individuality and personality and independence on the high street alive so we’re not taken over by discount stores and the mass produced often unethically sourced crap.

I want to spread my love of making to everyone, that doesn’t mean copying others by the way, undercutting them and then just selling stuff themselves. That’s not really what this whole craft revolution should be about.

Artists aren’t doing it to make a quick buck, they very rarely live in big houses and go on fancy holidays and shop at Harvey Nicks, they get by usually on a lower than minimum wage and work all hours because they LOVE with a deep passion what they do. They train for years, they learn business skills, legal skills, marketing strategies on top of the the artistic skills, techniques and raw talent they have. We need to create and we’re more than happy to do that and suffer the consequences of riches and fancy cars. We make it look easy because we’re THAT good, because we are trained professionals. Our soul, personality and essence is contained in each little piece of joy that we produce.  The creative process is about making something truly yours, (not a copy or an imitation) that’s the whole point, making something that shows the world who YOU are, not showing together yet another knock off, we have enough cheap imported tat to do that, we don’t need more devaluing our skills and expertise.

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COPYING?

I’m often asked ‘Aren’t you worried doing workshops that you’ll just be showing everyone how to steal your work?’
Well you know what, there will always be people in this world that are selfish and after an easy buck I can’t stop that, I can’t change their inner thinking as nice as it would be. What I teach in my workshops and retreats are the skill to make something that brings you joy. I have a definite style, it comes from deep within me, I can’t teach that. I can tell you how I see things, the colours, textures and processes I use to achieve my work but I don’t know what I’m going to produce from one moment to the next so I can’t see someone else doing that, being able to preempt my next move or read my mind. I will always move forward and have new ideas because I am a creative and an artist and me, just me. I teach you how amazing it is to make something that came out of your very own brain and out through your hands and into something that is ALL YOURS.


So create for yourself? yes yes yes. Create as a business? yes yes yes but do your research first.
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MAKING A BUSINESS WORK

I am saddened when I see people try to obviously emulate my style especially when they under charge and make me look like I’m ripping people off, which by the way I would never do!! But I do value my experience, my talent and my time. I charge based on costs and time and experience, I am happy to be transparent about my costs if anyone has a problem with it. People rarely have a problem with it though because they do value creativity and the importance of it.
I have tailored my business to work in this new way because when I started out as Little A Designs (now trading under my own name) I was copied to such a huge extent I was personally and creatively broken. My logo was taken, imitated and my brand devalued, my website design was stolen, even the words I’d written from the heart were copied and pasted into other peoples websites, my designs were ripped off and undercut, everything I cared about and showed the world was taken. So I had to rethink. I had to make something even more me. To separate myself in some way from what others could emulate.
I guess in hindsight this was the best thing for me because I am now in a very happy, a lot prouder and calm work wise. I know what works for me and my family life, what I can give to people mentally and still have the energy to live and have fun. My style has evolved and now is a better representation of me than it ever has been.
Lucky me for learning all this so soon into my career. But sadly it’s not the case for everyone.
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A NEW OUTLOOK

Two dear friends have been copied extensively in recently months and I’ll tell you what it feels like, firstly, pretty shitty.  You feel isolated, you feel violated and sick and frightened that people will not realise how hard you have worked and how precious those original ideas you created are to you. You can feel paranoid and angry but more than anything you feel really hurt. I felt personally invaded. And I wanted to give up. But then I reminded myself why I was doing this whole thing in the first place. I picked myself up after a little cry and got busy being better.
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INSPIRATION

All ideas are inspired from somewhere, there is always a source for all our ideas whether it be a past master artist, the landscape, a sculpture or everyday object but what makes artists really great is the way in which their own mind interprets that inspiration and makes these evolved ideas solidly their own. I don’t just mean altering it a little, I mean finding a new take on it, problem solving, experimentation and enjoying the simple art of making something new. If you want to set up a business to sell your art it’s not just the piece of work you need to be able to make,  you need a business plan, you need to know how to cost your work competitively but realistically, you need to know the legalities of copyright infringement, tax, accounting, this makes you a business and a valid artist and not a just a hobbyist.

These are important facts that many don’t consider when they see something on Facebook, Etsy, Instagram or at a craft fair when they see some work and think ‘well I can do that’. But if you have already thought of all those considerations then FANTASTIC! Research that someones not already doing it (because even if you haven’t copied them, there may be someone out there doing the same thing as you, in which case if they got there first it’s their Intellectual Property and as much as you may not like it you’re just going to have to come up with a way of doing it differently).

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THE JOY OF MAKING

All that being said ( I got a bit carried away there, it’s not quite what I intended to go on about but it’s out there now, haha) making things with your hands is the best feeling in the world and anyone can do it. And I want everyone to do it!! Go to workshops, learn from true artisans, have a go, let go of your insecurities and experience a new skill.

In todays society we are always on the go. I know I am rarely without my precious phone in my hand. We never stop working, we never stop comparing, we just never stop and we become exhausted and lost in the cyber world. So now, more than ever, is the time we are all looking for something else to do with our hands, something constructive, a new skill that takes us back to a quieter time where we can relax with simple repetitive movements. There has been a resurgence in the creative arts recently and it is now a scientific fact that sewing, knitting, crochet are great stress relievers and act as a form of therapy.

Embroidery was used to help treat shell shock in soldiers that fought in the Great War. This is exactly one of the reasons I transferred my skills from painting to embroidery. To provide myself with an outlet that would sooth my heart. I had only ever tried the odd piece of cross stitch as a child and so have completely retrained my self and learnt embroidery from nothing. Yes I have a basic knowledge of  perspective, proportion etc but these are not things I concentrate on or impact my stitched work at all. So what I’m saying is that you can do it too! Regardless of any previous artistic capabilities.

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THERAPY

The reason I feel so passionately about this is that, art and embroidery saved me from severe mental health issues, it continues to save me as I go through issues with chronic pain, it has given me a sense of self, independence and belief as a mother and carer of a child with complex needs, I don’t want to be defined by my disabilities. Being creative is an essential therapy for me every single day. It is quite often not important what the finished piece looks like, it is the journey it takes me on that is rewarding. But obviously if it happens to look great then thats even better. My creativity and personality is what defines me.

I believe that embroidery can be as all consuming as you want, you can use a pattern you’ve bought in a book or magazine, and turn off your mind from the business of the outside world or you can immerse yourself in a complex design that makes you problem solve and challenge yourself.

Its so easy to get started now too, you’ve got nothing to lose, creativity can be shown in so many ways, through music, writing, embroidery, paper cutting, card making, the list is endless. There are no rules to follow. You can make it up as you go along. Don’t expect immediate perfection, an artist trains every day, like an athlete. You wouldn’t run a marathon without training, so be kind to  yourself & celebrate each step. The secret is never compare yourself to others, make what makes you feel good.

‘To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it’

Kurt Vonnegut

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Photo credit: Eve Photography
Venue: Hope & Elvis
Flowers: Kirsty from Darling & Green
Tutor: Marna Lunt “Spring florals in stitch’ one day workshop

To book onto one of my courses if this has got your creative juices bubbling pop over to my website and have a look whats on offer.

 

A weekend in copenhagen

a dreamy weekend in Copenhagen

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I’m 40 this year! Expect me to bang on about this in many posts ALL year, as a little reminder to friends and family of all the presents and cake I’ll be expecting, heheh.


Well lovely Simon asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate this occassion, and I basically advised him I wanted to spend the whole year celebrating with various trips and outings with friends and family. But the biggest thing I wanted, and quite frankly needed desperately, was a whole weekend away somewhere abroad with just him. Like many parents out there we haven’t spent much time as an actual couple for some time. It’s not exactly easy to get away when Arthur has such particular needs anyway and finding someone that isn’t scared of being left alone with him for more than a few hours is almost impossible. In fact my mum is the only one that will. He’s not in the least bit scary by the way, he just has lots of medication and has very specific needs and ways of helping him which most don’t feel comfortable with.


So while I was ill Simon took control. He knew we both needed this badly, a long weekend away together to get some respite. He organised everything with my mum and she would have them for FOUR WHOLE DAYS! I’m the sort of girl who likes city breaks. I’m not very good with lots of heat and lying on a beach, I just don’t know what to do with myself. I want to see things, experience different cultures, and explore. I’m not a big traveller, I’m great around Europe but haven’t really ventured further afield. So I’m sort of a lazy explorer.

I considered the options and felt that I needed to see Copenhagen. I’d never been but just knew it had everything that I needed at this point in my life. So the gorgeous man booked it, we packed and then….well you know what follows.


My birthday is actually in August but April was the only time we could fit it in everyones diaries so a few weeks ago I was walking down beautiful, peaceful, and colourful streets of the most incredible Danish city.

After looking through many travel guides, one of my favourite things about trips abroad, I knew that Tivoli Gardens was a must on my list. It looked so magical and fairy tale like. Like living in a snow globe, my ultimate life long goal. Snow globes are just too cool, fact.


We emerged out of the Central Station to the first sights of the city, a stunning wooden vaulted building with stained glass windows, now come on – why don’t they make all train stations like this!?! I knew this was going to be very ‘me’. Our lovely little boutique hotel was a very short walk away in Vestebro. A great part of the city stuffed full of independent shops, concept stores, cafes and craft breweries. And best of all about a five minute walk from Tivoli.

We arrived as afternoon was merging into evening and Tivoli was our first port of call to enjoy an evening concert, get some food, enjoy some people watching and relax into our stay together. We entered the gates and were immediately hit with twinkly lights, magical music and a buzz of excitement that Friday nights in the city bring. We found our spot outside a lovely restaurant right next to the main stage and got our selves comfy under the blankets that all cafes seem to have out there folded over the chairs. In typical Lunt fashion we were unseasonably dressed so a good snuggle blanket and hot chocolate with lots of whipped cream kept us warm while watching the sun go down and seeing the magic that Tivoli has to offer – water fountains, elaborate architecture, smiling faces and the hum of gossip and laughter. We experienced Danish pop at it’s best, apparently, not for us, but we still just loved seeing tourists and locals altogether enjoying a wonderful night of dancing and noise.


Day one was about the shopping, exploring and drinking lots of coffee while seeing some of the main sights to get that touristy thing out of the way before we started adventuring around our particular area where we were staying. So first stop was heading up towards the lovely harbour of Hyhavn. I managed to stop off on the way to find myself a snow globe (you may know of my snow globe obsession by this point, I have to collect one from every place I go, I even have many lovely friends and customers hunting them down for me now).

The weather was crazy, again we followed our Lunt tradition of not having appropriate clothing on for first, snow! then bright sunshine, and then rain. Hahah but it didn’t dampen our spirits, we’re British you know!! (And Northern so are very used to the bitter winds up here)

I enjoyed a spot of drawing and photo taking whilst Simon thoroughly sampled the local beverages by the harbour and learning about ace historical stuff like, you see that boat in the photo below? That was a refugee boat used to evacuate people out of East Germany. And Hans Christian Anderson lived in three different houses down this street at various times. We hopped ourselves on a boat trip to save ourselves a walk and learnt more cool stuff about the naval bases, secret hideouts and new ‘illegal’ communities around the city, a few palaces and then the obligatory Little Mermaid sculpture gifted to the city in honour of the beautiful fairy tale written by Hans Christian Anderson.

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Then back to Tivoli to find yet another concert or two bookending our dinner. One a ballet on the Peacock stage, then a fab Big Band with everyone swing dancing around the stage. I managed a small wiggle before needing more hot chocolate and then bed, ready for new adventures in the morning.

Day Two. This was about finding a record shop for Mr Marna. Nothing brings him more glee than to find a small local record shop with knowledgable owners that just want to talk music and get excited about vinyl. We found an ace one, I enjoyed a latte in the bright sunshine whilst he had an ‘indie geek off’ the owner of Kaffe Vinyl buying some Danish vinyl that is certainly an aquired taste.

Then we walked, walked and walked a bit more, stopping by cafes, in parks, discovering gorgeous shops with owners that just wanted to tell you all about what they wanted to make, do, sell and why they loved their methods and style so much.

It was inspirational discovering these people with true passion for their subjects and infectious excitement about plans and inspiration and a thirst for knowledge about you and your reasons for visiting. Such a wonderful culture. I found myself falling in love with Copenhagen in a different way from any other stunning European city I have been too. Maybe it’s my age, I’ve slowed down more now and have time to listen and experience places on a level that I couldn’t when I was young and too eager to rush to the next place, seeing the next gallery, ticking the next sight off the list.

Copenhagen has so much to offer on so many levels and I was inspired not just creatively but I found myself healing somehow. The anxiety was still deep with in me but my soul was lifted.

It is so often forgotten by both of us that we need these moments in time to remember ourselves as a couple, not just parents, employees, or carers. To stop, breathe in the ozone and look at each other through new brighter fresher eyes. To forget just for a few days about medications, stopping every few steps for someone to go for a wee, look in an actual grown up shop without dragging around a very, very bored little one. ‘Not another shop mummy, please!’

But even during these times our children are never out of our minds, rightfully and thankfully so, we imagined them enjoying the parks, running in the streets, playing in the fountains and enjoying a new culture. The city is alive with all ages and is a wonderful place to take kids (now that we have managed to enjoyed it’s pleasures too without them!) Phoebe would have loved the pop concert, Arthur would have devoured the home of Lego, it’s so pram and wheelchair friendly too.

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A few of my favourite finds were an incredible flower shop (I still weep thinking I can’t go there every day), a cafe with the nicest owner in the world that cooked stunning healthy and fun organic food with reclaimed and hand built furniture all by themselves. A record shop that had fun and humour (and hot chocolate), Tivoli, I went three times and still could have gone back more!! An ace palace of Fonts with exciting stationery for me to stroke, as well as the beautiful Hay shop that I may have slightly remortgaged the house on with the amount of notebooks and pens I just NEEDED. The colourful houses of the harbour side. There was so much more to see but there really is never time to see everything, you find a new list of places to see, down each street you turn. (I have popped links to my favourite places at the bottom)

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But what we needed from this break was found in spades.

We found ourselves, a spark was relit in our souls. I wanted to draw and paint again. A weight was lifted and left behind me and I felt like I could be happy again, like I could break free of the cycle I was trapped in. The every day burdens that I was beginning to feel were destroying me, suddenly become pleasures again. And a joy returned to the little crackly bit in the back of my brain. I didn’t want to let go of that feeling but instead of dreading the return to my home and those responsibilities I found myself excited about the new journey I was going to travel when I returned home. So thank you Copenhagen, thank you for a flipping mega jaunt with my scummy Simon.

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Links to my favourite places:

Cafe Holger (gorgeous cafe with delicious food and the nicest owners ever!)
Detsortetrae (incredible florist with stunning diplays and beautiful containers to buy)
Playtype (fantastic, tiny independant letterpress foundary creating their own fonts and selling to-die-for stationery)
Hay House(Danish designer brand, you’ll know it whenyou see it)
Kaffe Vinyl (ultra cool record shop/cafe)
Tivoli Gardens

Www.marnalunt.co.uk/blog

illuminating embroidery 2016

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The New Year is upon us, and I’m not sure about you but I have eaten far too much chocolate…. more than I care to mention. This is the time for us to reflect on the past year and look forward to bringing in the New Year, but instead of setting unrealistic resolutions, which are quite simply going to give us all the post-Christmas blues, why not start on exciting new adventure? Don’t ban the chocolate, take up a new challenge and discover a hobby you knew you had!

Now this isn’t a blog filled with a hard sell, quite frankly Marna’s gorgeous work speaks for itself – her passion and contagious creativity is enough to make anyone want to get stitching, but before Marna’s head gets too big, why not set yourself task for 2016 learn something new, meet new people and get creative! SO LET’S GET STITCHING!

 

Sewing for some screams back memories of strict embroidery lessons, perhaps sewing means stitching endless name tags into school uniforms or maybe you have no idea where to even start! But never fear Marna is here to give you tip top advice and give you a wonderful head start so you can release your inner artist.

Illumintaing Embroidery consists of four fabulous online embroidery workshops, each consisting of easy to follow videos hosted by the one and only Marna Lunt (because everyone should have a little bit of Marna to brighten their day!)

Marna works hard to bring you fun and informative video tutorials, where you can learn from the master, discover the tricks of the trade and grow to be an expert embroiderer. The Gentle Art of Slow Stitch 1, 2 & 3 are designed to be watched around your spare moments, you’ll also receive course PDF’s with all the important bits on which are yours to keep forever!

What’s more there’s a fantastic community on the Illuminating Embroidery Facebook group, where you can meet your fellow course mates and showcase your work! They really are a friendly, accommodating bunch that are every welcoming and always supportive!

Whether you’ve been stuck at home all day with the kids, or you’ve had the day from hell in the office, sewing is absolute escapism where you can indulge in gentle and rewarding stitching. Take your embroidery with you on the bus, sit and relax in your lunch hour or get serious in your studio Marna will be your friendly mentor and helpful guide, so you can unleash your creativity for 2016.

Speaking as your average Joe Blogs (no pun intended honest!) I work your boring 9-5 job and stitching (and blogging of course!) is my happy place, a wonderful way to unwind after a stressful day and escape from life! Whether you fancy turning your hand to lampshade making or embroidering your very own wall hanging, there’s no better feeling than sitting back and admiring your hard work where you can think to yourself …. ‘I made that!’

Take a look at embroiderycourses.co.uk and explore the world of Illuminating Embroidery Workshops, set yourself a wonderful resolution for 2016!

NEW COURSES HAVE BEEN ADDED AND THERE IS EVEN A FREE COURSE FOR SUBSCRIBERS.

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Www.marnalunt.co.uk/blog

what did i actually do in 2015?

Front cover of Uk Handmade Spring 2015
Front cover of Uk Handmade Spring 2015

So here it is, the obligatory summing up of the year gone by and looking at a fresh new year. I’m not sure what I think of these “what I did” posts…. I often worry about writing them because it seems to be a big ego trip often, showing off how amazing you are and what perfect things you do and did and often people end up reading them and thinking, bloody hell I’m rubbish I didn’t do that much this year, look how clever they are and how perfect their life is. Well I do anyway. I find myself thinking I am never as good as anyone else and that somehow I’ve failed instead of just celebrating me and my family and the simple achievements that make all the difference in mine and my families life.

All that said I am going to sort of list my achievements and celebrations for the year gone by and the reason I am doing it is that for the last few months I have been living under that dark and gloomy umbrella of depression and feeling like a failure at everything. My fibro pain has increased this winter season even though it’s been mild and really rather lovely. And with the pain comes the gloom and the feeling of pointlessness. BUT I am going to blooming well pull me head into the fresh air for at least a day and celebrate the good stuff I’ve done.

YEAH FOR ME THINGS
I’ve been in the press a lot, a few years ago that was one of my dreams. I must not forget the way the year began and that was with a five page spread feature in Period Living Magazine. Fist pump. Followed closely by Comic Relief and Mollie Makes bringing out a book called the Red Nose Day Crafternoon Bookazine, I had my hoop project in that. The bookazine raised about £70k for the charity, the bookazine being the brain child of Emma Mitchell and co edited by Jane Toft. I also held my own auction for places on a hoop workshop in my own home for a lucky few.

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Then UK Handmade, an exception online magazine championing the British craft industry only went and did an amazing interview with me, and then used my self portrait as their front cover!!! So over whelming and still can’t quite believe that. I then wrote for their next issue (summer) about workshops and the fabulous Hope and Elvis and my online workshops. So I was in two out of their four yearly editions! Mega.Mollie Makes issue 61 marna lunt and snow globesThen Mollie Makes magazine, and the quite frankly awesome creative team they have, went and asked me to contribute to the Craftavist Heart on Your Sleeve campaign by making a heart to publish with a few others in the magazine. My floral sash cover project that I made for them was picked to be in the top ten editors choice projects special edition. And finally they interviewed my for their collectors section in the current edition of there magazine (which is very special to me because it is the last edited by the wonderful Lara Watson who was the first journalist to listen to me and give me a chance). Thank you Mollie Makes for supporting me for another year.

Marna lunt in little things magazine

Little Things magazine from China was the next up to be kind enough to interview me based on my portraits and the beginnings of my fairy tales series (which are a VERY slow burner). So now I’m international don’t you know, haha. Love Sewing and SEW magazine have also been kind enough to also include me in their magazines at the end of the year with page spreads about my work and my studio space. Just one of those things happening would have been enough to tick off the dream list so thank you to everyone involved that supported me.

SLIGHTLY MORE RUBBISH THINGS FOR ME
The beginning of the year started in basic insanity, far too much work to do by myself and a lot of running around like a headless chicken. I enlisted two fab friends on a part time, self employed basis to help me get my head together and they were wonderful and splendid but sadly not the answer in the long run to the work load that was becoming clear that needed to be done if I wanted to keep expanding and making the Marna Lunt brand reach the starry heights that was expected. What actually happened if that I had a complete and total breakdown in July, I was burnt out and broken. It turns out I really didn’t want to be this big business woman with all sorts of ranges and merchandise. I basically find the whole lots of followers thing absolutely terrifying. I also rather love it though, how annoying am I?! The fact that people like me gives me self worth (that may be wrong but it’s the way it is, if someone likes me it makes me feel great)  but the fact that people like me and I can’t always walk around with greasy hair and looking really really bad or be the grumpiest cow on earth one day because I have crazy pmt, makes me feel weird and uncomfortable (but maybe that’s a higher powers way of telling me to stop being such a grumpy cow once a month). I also felt like I needed to give give give and I was finding it hard to even think about what tea to make let alone what I thought people wanted from me, to be constantly original, creative and fun. So I hid for a while. Still doing that a bit actually. Kind of like it. This is where I hide……

(all from my adventures on my Instagram feed)

Anyway yeah so I sort of didn’t cope so well in the second part of the year because of the first part of the year being what dreams are made of. Yeah, I know, that’s a bit stupid isn’t it. It doesn’t make sense, but it happened. In that first six months I also launched a new website and four online learning to stitch courses and taught myself how to make and edit video, understand the back room of a website, I also launched a new ceramics range (harder than you’d think it would be to make high quality bone china with tiny weeny stitch details of my work on it, and bloody expensive). I also did a few large contemporary craft fairs and made stock for all that, oh yes and then I made lot of work for new and amazing galleries that I now supply, big happy face, another dream list tick. Oh yeah and in December I launched a new blog and website and logo/branding.

Last thing on the list now honest because I’m sick of myself too. The best thing I think I’ve done this year is teach. This year was the first year I properly taught workshops at exclusive fancy venues around the country and I only BLOOMING LOVED it. I found that although it’s hard work and painful with the fibro, the benefits and happiness it gives me is second to nothing. So a massive thank you to Hope and Elvis, So Sew Pretty, Cowslip Workshops, Crochet Retreat, Preston Hall Museum and the Stitch Retreats. You’ll see me at all those venus again this coming year plus a few more extras that can be found on my www.illuminatingembriodery.co.uk website under Meet and Make.

marna sketching in Amsterdam, taken by charlotte eve

BUT THEN YEAH FOR ME AGAIN
So it’s safe to say I did more than I realised this year and I now see why I became so ill and quite frankly I absolutely deserved it, what an idiot! I am emailed by you lovely lot so much telling me I’m inspiration and I help you all so much, and I am incredibly proud and touched by that. BUT what kind of an inspiration am I if I teach you to do unrealistic things that you can’t live up to, because I can’t live up to them myself clearly. I have an invisible disability and a disabled child as well as a perfectly healthy and very active five year old and a husband, that is enough for anyone to look after, and that is so much more than adequate to be honest. 2015 has taught me to keep things simple. Make a realistic plan and stick to it, stop trying to make everyone happy, you can’t. But if I can make me happy then maybe then I can start making others happy again. You can’t do it all, you might want to, I want to, I hate not being able to do everything I want, it’s frustrating and quite frankly I’m a control freak so I simply can’t have other people doing things for me. BUT I HAVE to.  And this year, it’s ME year. Time for focus, calm, health and getting back to basics.

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This years buzz words are INSPIRE and TEACH. I have my SMART GOALS and I’m not afraid to use them. I will continue to be ‘around’, I’m not like giving this whole thing up or anything. If you like painting, stitching and drawing and creating and being inspired with work developing and experimenting and me as a person developing and finding and trying out new things, seeing new places, and maybe even learning some stuff and and and, then stick around. It would be great to share it with you all here on my blog and over on my Instagram feed, please say hello.

Thank you to each and everyone of you wonderful people who have sent kind words of love and support to me, you never knew how much they meant, how they stopped the lights going out. And this year the lights may dim sporadically, because thats just they way life works, but the twinkle will always return because of you.

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Www.marnalunt.co.uk/blog

how to make your own DIY snow globe

For anyone who knows Marna; knows she is an absolute snow globe fanatic, with an impressive, extensive collection sat alongside her signed poster of the Chuckle Brothers!  So what better theme for a DIY Christmas project than a snow globe tutorial?? This is a great child friendly craft tutorial, perfect to get you and your little ones in the festive spirit, great for creating your own Christmas decorations or a little stocking filler for someone special.

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What you will need…

  • Jar and lid
  • Water- resistant glue
  • Water
  • Glitter – any colour of your choice!
  • Small Figure or toy, cake toppers are the perfect size!
  • A splash or baby oil

Let’s get started!

Christmas Snow Globe Project

Line the bottom of the figure with some water resistant glue, stick to the bottom of the jar. -this can be a tricky operation, so watch out for little fingers getting stuck! It can be a little fiddly to get everything stuck inside at once, so I would recommend adding each figure at a time and allowing the glue to dry.

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Now it’s time to get messy with the glitter, you can use as little or as much glitter as you would like, you can mix up the glitter with sequins too! As a good measurement, cover the bottom of the jar with glitter.

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Then fill the jar with water, and add a splash of baby oil, this will help the ‘snow’ to fall nicely through the water. A non-scented cheap and cheerful oil works the best! Then squeeze out some glue around the seal of the jam jar lid, and close the jar as tight as you can, leave to dry.

Snow Globe Tutorial

And there you have it!

This is a great way to use up old toys, or ornaments thrifted from a charity shop your world is your oyster when it comes to making your own snow globes, why not add mini Christmas trees for a full festive effect? This would make a wonderful personalised touch for around the table on Christmas day!

I hope you enjoyed the snow globe tutorial, feel free to tweet Marna your festive crafty makes. I just wanted to point out how fab Marna’s snazzy new website looks, just wonderful! Wishing you a very happy Christmas and a marvelous new year.

Anna x

Www.marnalunt.co.uk/blog

DIY autumn crafts project – pumpkin pin cushion

The school holidays are fast approaching and the cold weather is unfortunately setting in but don’t fear, here is a sweet little craft project to keep you and your little munchkins entertained! A perfect sewing project suitable for adults and children with an autumnal twist, the fabric pumpkins are a great decoration idea for Halloween, or you can double this up as a pincushion for all your future sewing projects.

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This is a simple, child friendly sewing project that’s great for not only teaching kids how to sew but gives them a good understanding of simple pattern cutting, creating seams and most importantly it’s great fun. Perfect for using up those pesky fabric scraps you have lying about, but also great if you want to break into those delicious fat quarters that you’ve not been sure what to do with. You can use a sewing machine or stitch the pumpkin by hand too!

What you will need…

  • Pen, paper, scissors and a round template – a saucer is the perfect size to start with.
  • Coordinating fabric scraps (OR if you’re feeling adventurous mismatch!)  around 8” square
  • Dressmaking pins
  • A sewing machine OR good old needle and thread!
  • Thick embroidery thread or crotchet yarn
  • A large needle (be careful of little fingers!)
  • Polyfil or toy stuffing
  • Buttons & ribbons

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Let’s get started!

Start by drawing around a plate (or a compass if you’re feeling fancy) to create a your template, cut out and pin to your fabric. Because you need two perfect fabric circles, you can save time by pinning and cutting your two fabrics at once.

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Now cut your fabric into quarters, if you’re finding this a little tricky use a coloured pencil or tailors chalk to mark it out before you cut, or fold your fabric and cut long the fold.

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Take your first two quarters of fabric, make sure that your fabric pieces don’t match. The patchwork pieces should alternate so that the same patterns won’t meet each other.

Place the quarters on top of each other so that right side of both fabric pieces are touching. Pin & stitch along the straight edge. **HINT** Allow around half a centimetre of seam allowance for all the seams that you sew, mark this out on the wrong side of the fabric for little ones!

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Repeat this step so that you have 4 half circles. Now stitch your halves together,  so you have two patchwork circles.

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Now, place your pieced circles on top of each other so the patterned sides are touching, keep in mind your alternating pattern (think Battenberg cake!) Stitch together your two circles along the round edge, you can tack them together to save little fingers from sharp pins! Make sure that you leave a small opening so that you can turn your pincushion inside out.

Make small little snips along the edge of your sewing, being careful not to snip through your stitches!! This will give your pumpkin a rounder shape, so the more snips the more shapely your pincushion will be!

Turn your sewing inside out and get stuffing, make sure that you add as much polyfil as possible so your pumpkin is lovely and plump! Use small hand stitches to sew the seam shut.

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Now, thread your big needle with a good strong thread, starting from the bottom of the pumpkin push the needle straight through the middle to the top, and pull back round to the bottom once again. Using your four seams as a guide, repeat this step so the cushion is broken up into ‘8ths’.

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Now your pincushion is looking pumpkin like its time to add the finishing touches using buttons and folded ribbons for stalks and leaves!

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Because the stitched pincushion tutorial teaches sewing basics, they are hugely versatile, why not cut larger pieces of fabric and make a cushion? Get your kids making Christmas decorations for the festive seasons! The world is your lobster! Just remember that practice makes perfect, so keep going.

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I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial, and you have great fun bonding with your little ones with this sewing project. Do feel free to post pictures of your pumpkin pincushions, it’ll be great to hear from you! Share them on Instagram and take me Marna in them (@marnalunt)and then use the hashtag pumpkinpincushion, then I can find them and say hi!!

Www.marnalunt.co.uk/blog

a brief history of embroidery

This little blog explores the traditional craft of embroidery through the centuries and establishes the embroidery evolution from primitive stitching to contemporary textiles. Delving into the origins of embroidery and how it has shaped the world of textiles that we know today …

So what is Embroidery? ‘Embroidery is the handicraft of decorating fabric or other materials with needle and thread. Embroidery may also incorporate other materials such as beads, pearls, quills and sequins.’ I know, a rather generic definition taken straight from the dictionary, but stay with me!

Although the art of stitch is considered a simple process of passing thread through fabric with a sewing needle, embroidery is a historic craft which joins together hundreds of cultures and countries, with traditions spanning across thousands of years, it’s a diverse handicraft that holds many concepts and connotations.

I could start by making reference to maybe the Bayeux Tapestry or delving into the history of oriental embroidery, although a truly fascinating subject in its own right, I’ve decided to touch on a history of embroidery that we can all relate to. This is a blog that looks at the role of embroidery in the lives of women & communities and how this has established our perception of embroidery in the modern day.

A History of Samplers

The embroidered sampler could be considered a favourite pastime for textile traditions and holds a very rich history in British textile heritage. With examples spanning back to the 14th century and still created in modern day, a history of samplers deserves its very own blog post! Dating back to years gone by the sampler was in fact a rite of passage for young girls, a means for educating young women with vital skills to be used during married life. Consider it a stitch dictionary, a means of recording embroidery stitches, a practice of pattern and decoration. Embroidery was traditionally a craft for women, during years within the Tudor and Stuart periods it was considered inappropriate for girls and women to be educated, reading was prohibited leaving a woman restricted to more domesticated tasks.

Linen Sampler Embroidered with Silk, Unknown Maker, Germany 1500-50Photo: V&A Archives, Linen Sampler Embroidered with Silk, Unknown Maker, Germany 1500-50

The V&A Museum has around 700 samplers in its collection; a visit I couldn’t recommend enough, exploring embroidered samplers from hundreds years past is quite simply mind blowing. Studying a sampler gives us such a great insight into the life of the embroidress’, it paints a story that official documents never could. You’ll be surprised to see such young ages exquisitely embroidered into the sampler.

Embroidery is something which typically is passed down from one generation to the next; I have very fond, happy memories of both my Grandmothers and my mum teaching me to sew. Think back to who first taught you to sew on a button? Who sat with you as you threaded your first needle? Who helped you to knot the end of your thread? More often than not it will be someone very close to you. Not only did you learn vital skill, but an experience of bonding and creating with a loved one, a traditional skill that has been passed down from generations before you and something you can pass on to younger generations too!

Sewing Circles, ‘Stitch n Bitch’ and Community Quilts

Sewing in groups, in workshops or within a community is somewhat of a tradition, think of the WI, or maybe you’ve attended Marna’s embroidery courses? The term ‘Stitch & Bitch’ was coined just after WWII, where communities and groups would form to share knitting, crotchet and embroidery skills, but groups like this extend further than establishing a new hobby or skill, it’s an opportunity to bond with others, perhaps share news and worries with friends, stitching topics of the group into the textiles. Sewing could be considered as a form of therapy, a means of focusing life’s tensions and issues into a creative and constructive project.

dalston-darlings-quiltPhoto: Liberty, Dalston Darlings Quilt

With the Women’s Institute celebrating their centenary year, I couldn’t miss this group of inspirational ladies out! The wonderfully British institute is still going strong, still steeped in tradition but propelling into the modern era. Working alongside Liberty of London two WI groups; the Dalston Darlings and the Shoreditch Sisters, created two inspiring community quilts, which have taken pride of place in the Liberty window displays. Constructed with Tana Lawn Liberty fabrics and decorated with endless applique and hand embroidery, the quilts evoke themes of community, feminism with the history of Liberty and the Arts & Crafts movement sewn into the seams.

Male Embroiderers

A history of embroidery tends to be somewhat stereotypical, a very sexist notion in this day and age, enough to make Germaine Greer squirm! Yes some areas of embroidery were considered women’s work, a domesticated craft for the female species. But there are very interesting, quiet elements within history where fellas embraced embroidery! Hooray!

To be an experienced sailor back in the 19th Century meant that you had to be competent with a needle and thread, if you were at sea for months at a time, repairing boats sails, sailing kits and uniforms were a necessity. However, sewing at sea propelled into complex needlework, known as ‘woolies’, sailors would embroider images of the ships that they served on.

During WWI, men who were severely injured were given embroidery projects as a form of rehabilitation, often considered as a solution to shellshock. Last year, St Paul’s Cathedral displayed an exquisite altar cloth; hand stitched during the war, by over 133 First World War servicemen – an early example of art therapy, which the British Army still uses to this day.

www.lacdao.comPhoto: St Paul’s, WWI Altar Frontal

Military quilts are an amazing example of sewing for rehabilitation; the V&A’s exhibition ‘Quilts 1700-2010’ revealed a phenomenal array of quilts created by servicemen recuperating from their war wounds.

military_quilt_brayleyPhoto: V&A Museum, Military Quilt, Francis Brayley, 1864-1877

The Subversive Stitch and Contemporary Embroidery

Contemporary craft is an ever evolving world which pushes boundaries past twee cushion covers and tea towels. Embroidery has taken on a new revolution, pushing past immaculate embroidery stitches and challenging our perceptions of a once domesticated task.

A fantastic example of subversive stitchers are infact the Suffragettes (my heroes!) although maybe not an obvious choice it demonstrates the power of the gentle art of sewing!

Hand embroidered flags, banners, rosettes and sashes were worn, paraded and displayed each presenting the uniform Suffragette colours, phrases such as ‘Votes for Women’ ‘Deeds not Words’ and possibly the most powerful ‘Democracy Begins at Home’. The banners were exquisitely crafted, carefully appliqued and decorated. A homely, quiet and domestic task of embroidery and sewing played a role in producing an effective propaganda tool, broadcasting their right for the vote, the right for freedom of speech and the absolute right for equality.

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Photo: Wikipedia, Suffragette Banner – Musuem of London

This aspect of the Suffragette movement inspired Tracey Emin to get stitching with her collection of quilts and appliqued bags, adorned with angry statements and often sad stories contradict with the painstaking, quiet action of sewing.

Tracey Emin

Photo: Tracey Emin, ‘I do not expect to be a mother’ 2002

Creating a message and portraying a concept is a difficult task. Contemporary embroidery pushes boundaries, banishing domesticity, it’s more than executing uniform stitches. It challenges our perceptions and our opinions. The art of stitch is a hugely subjective, it envelops our heritage, embroidery is a craft which we call all relate to in some way. With the help of Marna and textile artists across the globe, the quiet craft of embroidery is reaching a revolution within the art world.

Contemporary Craft Festival 2015

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Last month held one of my very favourite fairs of the year. The Contemporary Craft Festival in Bovey Tracey in Devon. If you haven’t been before you need to get it in your diary for next year because it is flaming ace. It’s an incredible weekend perfect to take the family to and you get to see some of the best craftsmanship this country has to offer.

This is the second year I have been lucky enough to be selected, and I always feel that with this fair the bar is raised and I have to pinch myself that I’m exhibiting amongst these incredible makers. There is such a wonderful atmosphere amongst the exhibitors too, the support and kindness of my fellow makers always overwhelms me and each year I meet new friends and cement friendships. This year was no exception.

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I was in a marque surrounded by some corkers. My friend Andy from [vinegar & brown paper] won best stand which I was thrilled about because his stand was without doubt the most enticing. He was also my pub partner in crime and made the evenings fly by with copious wine, I have no idea what we talked about now (how much we liked drinking wine probably) but it stopped me from getting too homesick which is always the drawback of travelling so far away from home. The incredible talent that is Julia Jowett was an angel a few stars away and I adore her more than I did before, and that was a lot. It was a huge social event for me and meeting the customers was so much fun too. I had a very emotional meeting with an incredible lady who has done all my online courses. When I’m sat at home typing and looking at my studio walls I really don’t have any idea of how what I do might affect other people but meeting this lovely lady was quite incredible. I still feel quite teary at how lovely she was.

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I must say that this fair would never have happened if I didn’t have such a good friend in Helen Botrill of Kindred Rose. She’s one of the most inspiring ladies to have walked the earth and she gave up her time to help me set up, beak the stand down and even sat at my stand helping me when my pain levels got too much. I don’t know what I do to deserve these ladies in my life but Helen is a bit special. I you don’t know of her then you need to. She runs mentoring, business development and meet ups for creatives. I wish you could clone her, I wish I lived closer to her. I miss her terribly when I’m up here because she’s just a ray of light. Long live Helen.

I also got to play with Katie Honour of Madebyhandonline who owns and runs a very very high standard website selling makers work. She’s also become a friend and someone who is a fierce supporter of good craft. Plus she’s hilarious and makes my day better at the thought of talking to her.

Here's how my stand turned out this year.
Here’s how my stand turned out this year.

We were lucky to have a scorcher of a weekend and like always the organisation was impeccable from Sarah James. I’m sorry if I’m gushing a bit but honestly it’s hard not to do with this fair. It’s just a joy to be involved with. I found it very inspiring. Here are some of my photos from the weekend and some of the work of other makers who were there so please go and see their work too and say hi from me.

On location in Amsterdam

Amsterdam by eve photograpghy

Illuminating Embroidery whats that then?

As you may all be aware now I’ve started up a new string to my creative business bow. I am now offering online courses to compliment my face to face workshops. They are definitely not a replacement to the ‘meet the maker’ courses because they offer such different things, but these online courses are developing and being tested this year in preparation for a big new launch in January 2016. I have had a huge number of gorgeous students who have tried it and many have become rather addicted to it, and I have to say I am too. I love the interaction I get with the students in our private group and the incredible work that people are producing.

marna Lunt sketching in amsterdam

And Amsterdam?

But what does that have to do with Amsterdam I hear you ask, well the third level of the Gentle Art of Slow Stitch has been filmed in Amsterdam and draws a lot of inspiration from the city. I went with two of my very dearest friends, Kirsty Johnson (of Darling & Green Floral Stylists) and Charlotte Grahame (of Eve Photography) in April this year. We spent three glorious days away being inspired by everything the city had to offer, the colours, the houses, the laid back atmosphere, the amazing kindest of the people and the art galleries. It was quite frankly heaven to me. I had never been away on holiday with friends before, certainly not in the last 15 years, and not when it didn’t involve clubbing, thank the lord, I’m just too old for the loudness. I had a commission to do for a lampshade based on Amsterdam and I had a new course to write for Illuminating Embroidery and I had the amazing skills of my favourite photographer on hand. I’m a bit jammy, I definitely did something right in another life to get so lucky with the whole friend thing.

marna charlotte and kirsty

So we off we went on our travels, I was worried because my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia were in full force and I was struggling with pain meds but Kirsty and Charlotte really helped me and I got wheeled around the airport by a nice man with a wheel chair, and we paced ourselves. I’m still learning now to listen to my body and do as it tells me. But shopping was waiting for us and I wanted to see the galleries and draw everything I could. And not only did I do my fair share of saving the whole of Europe’s recession with the amount of shopping I did but I saw exhibitions, drew and filmed quite a few videos for the course. I was over joyed.

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Charlotte took some incredible photos for me to use in the course too and Kirsty was a top notch director. So here are some of the stunning photos that will not only give you an idea of the brilliant trip we had but also of what to expect on the Level three course at www.illuminatingembroidery.co.uk.

The lampshade online course has just started so sign up while you can.

Candle Holders coming at yah!

amsterdam candle holder by marna lun

Hellooooo.

Just a quicky to show you a new product I’m making especially for The Contemporary Craft Festival in Bovey Tracy, Devon this year. It’s very exciting to be chosen again to exhibit with some of the best in the industry. I’m over the moon about it actually and I’m trying to bring some new things and a slightly new approach to the festival this year. I’m planning my stand design, I love doing this bit, it’s like I have a good reason to shop and redecorate. I’ve been searching for some lovely shoe lasts and whilst in Amsterdam last week I got the most fabulous coloured flexes for my lampshades to hang from. I can’t wait to show you. But for now you will have to wait I’m afraid.

amsterdam candle holder by marna lunt

Just wanted to show you a new product that will be appearing at the festival and then on the website soon after. It is a candle holder. Hand stitched as always, houses surrounding from my travels in Amsterdam (those canal houses are too perfect not to influence lots of future work), Liberty fabric inside, little cut out windows with red fabric lining them and they glow when the light is on, with little battery powered tea lights to power them. They are not to be used with actual candles with fire and hot stuff.

So what do you think? Likey likey? Hope so.

amsterdam candle holder by marna lunt

amsterdam candle holder by marna lunt candleholder3.marnalunt

The Big Comic Relief Crafternoon – Red Nose Day 2015

I have some very exciting news to share with you all, I’m thrilled and really very overwhelmed to have been asked to have one of my projects included in this years amazing Comic Relief fund raising efforts.

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Every year here in the UK amazing people, not just from the comedic industry but based around that, try and raise money form amazingly important charities both here and abroad for more information please look here. There is also a wonderful blog post by Emma who’s brain child this is which you can read here.

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Here’s a lowdown on the new Crafternoon, so us artists can get on board and help in our own special way.

    • It’s called The Big Comic Relief Crafternoon
    • It’s the brainchild of jewellery designer Emma Mitchell (@silverpebble on Twitter) who approached Jane Toft (@JaneToft on Twitter), former editor of Mollie Makes, to help her make it happen! They are joint editors and Jane also did the design and production of the mag. They both gave our time for free to raise as much money as possible for this brilliant charity. After all neither of them is ever going to run a marathon or climb a mountain Davina McCall style!
    • On sale in Sainsbury’s and iTunes or Google Play on Thursday 29th Jan OUT NOW!!!! I  bought my copy for my iPad. Print editions are not available over seas.
    • A special edition of Mollie Makes sponsored by Create & Craft.
    • £7.99 and 5 whole quid of this goes to Comic Relief to support their wonderful projects in the UK and Africa. I have bought five copies (as well as the digital copy)!! That’s £30 to a wonderful cause.
    • OODLES of exclusive new tutorials from crafters such as Deadly Knitshade, Tif Fussell, Attic24, Jodie Carleton, Lynda Lewis from the Great British Sewing Bee, Mr X Stitch, PLUS favourite Mollie Makes designs from the likes of Gretel Parker, Twinkie Chan, Manda McGrory and ME!

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  • As the theme this year is ‘Make Your Face Funny for Money’ there are stupendous patterns and tutorials including knitted beards, crochet red noses and a Liberty print moustache!
  • A guide to running your own craft fair so readers can make an entire troupe of felt guinea pigs/nursery full of Spring posy brooches/forest of moustaches and sell them to make more crafty cash for Comic Relief
  • And you can keep up to date by following them on social media fb: The Big Comic Relief Crafternoon and Twitter: @CRCrafts

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To be included in this is pretty monumental and I want us all to really get behind this amazing concept and organise our own crafternoons. It tells you how in the bookazine but also if you check out the Mollie Makes blog they will give you lots of information to. And if you raise lots of lovely cash which I really hope we can all do we can deposit it to the donations page here. Lets get to that £1000.00 target surely we can.

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I myself am planning to do something special for this fab cause. The details will be confirmed soon and I’ll let you all know here. The vague details so far is that I will be auctioning off five places to come to my home, in the north east of England, and have an afternoon workshop with me. Tea, cake and supplies will all be supplied and we will have the hoops project that I have given for the bookazine. You will have me to ask any questions of and teach you all the stitches and see my workshop and all the behind the scenes things that go on in MarnaLand. I’m really looking forward to it and hope you are all willing to spend tonnes of money to gain a place so we can give 100% of it to the donations page.

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99 Problems and a Stitch Aint One.

I’m the husband of an artist.

I’m not particularly “arty” myself.  Part of my job as a Director of Sales and Marketing requires some creative flair but this is usually in the form of a brief given to someone much better qualified to implement as part of a campaign.

I, like many “blokes” am not a fan of shopping.  My shopping filter works like this:-

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(By the way – this artwork is purely my own work)

I don’t find much pleasure in many material things – unless they are practical or necessary.  I’m not miserly or cheap but “nick-nacks”, ornaments or soft furnishings just don’t feature on my radar.

Most of us have our the daily crap to deal with e.g.

04:05 Up with kid 1 – nightmare management

05:07 Kid 2 – early rising syndrome

06:01 Sod it I might aswell get up now

06:23 Realisation I’ve got into the shower and there is no towel in the bathroom

06:47   Kid 2 – suspected diarrhoea (“can we get away with sending her into school anyway? – everyone else does it…..”)

07:01 Mouldy bread and no cereal – improvised breakfast with googly eyes from the craft drawer and a carrot

07:40 Teeth cleaning tantrum (children not adults)

07:55 Missing shoe – damn it why aren’t they ever both in the shoe rack at the same time!

I could go on and easily get to 99 problems, then I could address the after lunch issues….

I’m the one missing out though – my wife not only creates beautiful pieces of art, she also adores them herself.  They bring her pleasure (much more so than the 83 year old bloke over the road who is essentially an intermediate courier for all of the “nick nacks” etc she buys online but is never in to receive from the courier).

And you – reading this blog, you are enlightened.  You enjoy beautiful things surrounding you.  They enrich your life.  For every missing plimsoll or unexpected car part invoice you seek solace in a bespoke cushion, unique landscape lampshade or embellished print – I salute you.

If it wasn’t for you many of us would live in soulless houses with 1 in 10 of the barren walls defaced with an IKEA print and sofas without a cushion in sight.  We’d never have candles to light for ambiance or receive “ooh where did you get that amazing x?” comments from guests.

And we’d miss it.

For all the problems we all have, I for one have realised that I need to embrace “the stitch” as it not only enables my wife to channel her artistry but the things she creates are nullifying school head lice warning letters, chipped windscreens and broken nights sleep around the world – in the form of beautiful pieces of unique artwork.

Mr Marna Lunt – Textile Artist Husband