Spring Fling


‘Spring Fling’ is the title of an Open Studio and Arts festival event in Kirkcudbright, in Dumfries and Galloway in the South-West of Scotland. We first visited this area 20 years ago and have returned many times since, to enjoy the lovely countryside and beautiful coastline. I blogged about a summer stay here.

It has been a particular pleasure to come at the end of May, which for us includes a Bank Holiday Monday, so we could participate in the Spring Fling.  This year is the 15th time the event has been held. It’s like a cross between a treasure hunt and an art gallery visit. Armed with the excellent free brochure (you can see it here) and a good road map, you find your way from one artist/crafts-person to another, across the whole of Dumfries and Galloway. There are painters, potters, jewellery-makers, printers, photographers, weavers, embroiderers, furniture-makers and installation artists.  All the studios are numbered and signposted, so you can spot them as you make your way along country roads.

Some of the studios are in spectacular locations, like number 12 belonging to photographer Alistair Hamilton.


This is the view from in front of the studio.


Alistair Hamilton is particularly interested in texture and has taken photographs which feature details of a textural surface that make them look almost like abstract paintings. We loved his work and bought a piece to give as a birthday present.  You can see more of his work here.

This is the studio of Julie Dumbarton:


Inside it was this fabulous couch, and the crocheted blanket on it was as colourful as Julie’s paintings.


You can see more about this artist here.

A particular highlight this year was a public art project commissioned by Upland for Spring Fling 2017, an installation called ‘Edge’ on the beach at Carrick by Robbie Coleman and Jo Hodges. Various pieces were assembled in a line, as if they were along the tide-line. (Please note: the photos below appear with the artists’ permission.)


When you looked closer, all manner of items were ‘washed up’ on the beach, including many boxes, suitcases and other containers (even a handbag) all filled with intriguing items.


A special favourite of mine, as a lover of miniatures, was this small dining room of dolls’house furniture:


Each visitor was given a booklet of strange tales, of lost loves, sea journeys, shipwrecks and the like which had inspired the art-works. It was a wonderfully intriguing, imaginative and original work which clearly appealed to visitors of all ages who were opening the various containers and exclaiming about the contents. And this was the view from the beach:


Welcome to my studio

There’s a bit of a trend on the internet to share a glimpse into artists’ and designers’ studio space and to explain how everything is organised. I have enjoyed these glimpses, so here is my contribution, featuring the Amanda Jane Textiles studio. You can see a corner of my studio in my video which gives some idea of the steeply slanting roof at each end of the studio. (Click below to see it.)

I work on the mezzanine in our home, which is a converted chapel. You can see quilts hanging off the rail at the front of the mezzanine here. So I look out over the rail onto the space up to the full height of the roof, past the metal roof-struts that are part of the original building. (You will see more of them later.)

Studio photo 1.JPG

My studio is a fine example of a quart in a pint pot: the overall length is 18′ 9″ long, which might sound a lot but some of that is eaves space and it’s only 6′ across at the centre. There’s a fair bit of recycling/re-purposing here, as you will see.

My cutting table is in fact a door (found in a skip), held up at each end by a desk. These two pine desks have travelled with us through several house moves around the country and were once used for children’s homework, back in the day. The right-hand desk has paperwork on it and this is the hardest part of the area to keep tidy! The left-hand desk has space to store my over-locker and has a small ironing board and full-size iron. The cutting table is heavy and sturdy. I keep it covered with a white PVC cloth. I did on one occasion use some paint dyes which left their mark, so I try to cover this up when I am taking step-by-step photos for my patterns! (click here to see the patterns).  I sit on a chair that was also a ‘find’ and next to it is a large bin which came with the house.

Studio photo 2.JPG

Under the table and the desks are a filing cabinet and four bedside cupboards bought second-hand, which probably came from a hotel. On top of the cabinets are cutting mats on one side and quilters’ rulers on the other.  In the gaps in the cabinets and under the desks are a series of plastic boxes, containing art materials: I draw and paint freehand before turning my art-work into fabric designs (click here to see the designs). The boxes are labelled and the drawers numbered to help me keep track of the contents.

Studio photo 3.JPG

There’s a desk extension to the left of this run of desks which holds my workbasket. I find this old-fashioned storage solution excellent. Everything I need is in it, so if I am working elsewhere (e.g. on a quilting retreat or teaching a class) I have what I require. There is also the extension for my sewing-machine (which doubles as a light-box, using the mini light-box pictured) and the holders which keep my scissors: shears, paper scissors, embroidery scissors with curved ends, pinking shears, large rotary cutter, small rotary cutter.  Also in this area are my pincushions (if you work above an open-plan space, you need to be very careful not to let things drop off the edge of the table!).

Studio photo 4.JPG

Round to the left again is an area above the stairs where my A3 printer sits. You can see one of the coat hooks above the stairs in the picture – that’s how close the stairs are.  Also here, is the A4 printer paper and rough paper, the A3 printer paper and A3 drawing paper. There’s also a space for all my large portfolios of art-work (always a problem storing those.)

Studio photo 5.JPG

Behind the desk where I sit are some long bookshelves built specifically for a house we lived in three moves ago, but which thankfully fit in here. Immediately behind me on the shelves are baskets of fabric. I find this a useful way of storing fabric from fat quarter size downwards. When any one basket is full, I stop buying. (Yes, really!)

Studio photo 6.JPG

Further down these shelves are boxes of embroidery threads, arranged by colour and I also have boxes for: elastic, ribbons, hooks & eyes plus poppers, bias binding, tape, cord.  I love buttons and keep my large collection in a small hamper, each colour in its own bag.

Studio photo 7.JPG

Some sewing threads are stored in a vintage wooden workbox (which can be glimpsed in photo four above) , but my machine threads are kept in these cutlery trays which have useful non-slip linings.

Studio photo 8.JPG

On top of the shelves are, left to right:

  • magazine and brochure holders
  • a box with all my current sketchbooks/notebooks; I refer to these constantly
  • pots for receipts for my two businesses: Amanda Jane Textiles and my AirBnB holiday house (click here for more information on that)
  • pots for: drawing pencils, regular pencils, black pens, coloured pens, rubbers and sharpeners, highlighters

Behind these, out of sight, on a narrow ledge, are: a stapler, four-hole punch, laminator, small guillotine.

Studio photo 9.JPG

At the far end is a cupboard which was rescued from the roadside (I did ask permission, it was being thrown out). It may look a little rough, but it has a very nice shape and a pretty handle. This is a perfect size for containing pieces of fabric larger than a fat quarter (for a definition of a fat quarter see here). Above the cupboard and the shelves are trays with projects in them. Just now, there are more ideas than there is time to do them, hence a lot of trays!

Studio photo 10.JPG


Next comes a very wobbly set of two pine shelves that are tied to the roof supports, which seems to secure them sufficiently! On them are stored boxes of Textiles and Art and resources for teaching, a box of canvases, boxes of printing materials and a crate in which I keep paper of every hue.

Studio photo 11.JPG

Then over to the right is a bookshelf with my quilting books on (and a few business ones). Above the bookshelf are some narrow shelves which contain items like pressing equipment, booklets and paintbrushes (on the small shelf above the one in the photo). Wadding (again a problem to store) is kept in two large cardboard boxes and the wrapped rolls are kept in a small space beyond the pine shelves, which they share with my easels and my embroidery frame.

Studio photo 12.JPG

There’s a display area above the stairs which offers space to some sewing-related items.


That’s it! I get a lot done in a very small space. Thank you for visiting.

I am currently sending out a calendar page for May (which will come to you as a PDF featuring an Amanda Jane Textiles fabric design). Just fill in the contact form below if you would like one for May, and for all the months following, during 2017.