Welcome in to the woods!
The Into The Woods project is several things: It’s a personal fabric sketchbook I created over a 12 month period, in snatched time between other projects and jobs. It’s a video of this book which went viral on Facebook racking up over 700,000 views. It’s a 4 month mission to recreate the original pages suitable for photographing. And now it’s the release of a printed book featuring 14 textile illustrations, along with this website which I hope will promote a love of woodland walks and forest adventures.
I hope you will enjoy the book and try out some of the activities on the website.
For more information about the project click the tabs above, or check out these links:
- Pictures from the book
- The creative process
- Shop the book
It all started with a new job. At the beginning of January 2017 I was about to begin a new non-creative day job and needing something interesting to focus on in the cold winter evenings. I knew it should be a fabric sketchbook, I’d already made 4 of these and had fallen in love with the feel of the pages and the freedom to push myself creatively. It didn’t take long to come up with the idea of basing it on the woods- I’ve always loved the feeling of being in the trees and I spent several summers working in the forest at a Summer Camp in the US. This meant I had lots of images in my head and with a little bit of research was ready to start.
So I set to work designing and creating the pages. Almost completely hand-sewn, I could take it with me wherever I was going. I worked on it at the pub with friends, in two different studios. I even took it with me to Jury service when I was called up in the summer – to help pass the many boring hours of waiting to be called to a case!
A year later, almost to the day it was finished! I’d had a great deal of fun creating it. I wasn’t used to working with natural colours, so I enjoyed being restricted in my choices. I also tried to push myself to learn and experiment with some new techniques – machine embroidery and fabric origami and working with fabric paint.
I finished the book in January 2018, showed my friends and family, then put it away with all the others – already thinking about what my next project should be.
Luckily I didn’t start anything new – as in April I posted a quick video of the book that quickly went viral, gaining thousands of views and comments a day. Soon my 38 second video, shot on my iPhone one rainy afternoon, had had over half a million views and people all over the world were asking me about it.
I answered everyone’s questions as best I could -no, the book wasn’t available for sale. Sorry, I didn’t sell any versions of the artwork. No, I didn’t have any plans for producing any. I simply wasn’t prepared for the demand, I didn’t even have any photographs of the pages.
As the wonderful comments kept coming in, and messages from grandparents wanting a version to look at with their grandchildren, forest schools wanting a copy to use in lessons and textile enthusiasts wanting the artwork, I decided I needed to think about how I could reproduce a book that took me a year to make.
I decided that I would try and self-publish a printed version, using photographs of the pages to try and show the textures and colours of the fabrics. Unfortunately, the book wasn’t suitable for photography, there was no bleed around the images for printing, and the pages wouldn’t lie flat enough to photograph – so I had to commit to re-making the whole thing.
I set to work – luckily by this time I was working full-time as an artist, so creating 14 hand-stitched illustrations plus front and inside covers, only took 4 months rather than 12, and I was able to create additional pages (turning 14 pages into 24) to create a more substantial book.
As I was creating the images specifically for print, I could make sure they could be photographed well, and I started working with my friend Kate Smith to work out how this would work. She took some gorgeous photographs that show the grain of the fabric, the textures of the velvets and silks, and the lovely colours of the woodland I’d been inspired by, and although not quite as satisfying to touch, you can almost feel the fabric under your fingers as you turn the paper pages. Kate’s husband Matt, works at a print company and agreed to print the book, walking me through the process of turning my artwork into printed pages.
And then… It was printed!
23 months after I cut out the pieces for the first page, I have been able to release it into the world to be shared with grandchildren, used in forest schools and enjoyed as artwork.
Thanks to all of the people who have given their support to this project – the thousands of strangers for their kind words of encouragement, and friends who have helped me through the process. It wouldn’t have been possible without all of you. I am so proud of this project, at the reaction it has received and the possibilities it has opened for me.
Thanks to everyone who has been a part of the journey!
But this isn’t the end – Stay tuned to see what else happens….
The original video that went viral on Facebook and started the idea of reproducing this personal fabric sketchbook in paper.