Meet the Busy Bodies!

I’m very pleased to introduce you to a few little folk I created during the last three months. All over the world, there has been a greater sense of wanting to record, to capture and to remember. I thought about how I would I like to contain my memories. Was there something other than a sketchbook that I could use to record walks from home, remember days out?

And so the notion of a stitched Busy Body as a memory keeper came into being.  

As I’ve been stitching them, they have become little embodiments of place that feel as personal as a sketchbook, if not more so. I have been experimenting with different ways to stitch from very simple to more elaborate and most recently, creating one to remember a family member rather than a place. I welcomed these small projects that kept me gently busy, working towards something that evolved over a week or two. No pressure, just stitching what came to mind – what felt right.

I’m really drawn to the suggestion of a figure, the simple, abstracted or primitive form. Busy Bodies have been designed to suggest the simplest one possible, however, if you fancy making one there is nothing to stop you being as elaborate or realistic as you care to be!

Loop Head, Ireland, and Hall Bower Busy Bodies
Remembering my childhood garden – the clouds, apple tree, and washing line, this one was coloured with Koh-i-noor before making up.

I envisage them

• Being taken on holiday or on a trip

• Capturing a walk or time of year

• Celebrating the different seasons

• Remembering an event or a special person

• Becoming a personal gift – such as celebrating a birthday

Remembering my Grandma and the tea-set we always had peaches and cream in. I still love Aquilegia because of this.

The textiles of the Busy Bodies are made from also have their own history and it feels comforting or familiar working with them. Repurposed fabric already has memory.

For those who would like, I have produced a Busy Body kit using hand-dyed fabrics which can be found using the tab at the top.

The kit has everything in it to make one for yourself or to give as a gift. There are a lot of suggestions and ideas in the kit and ways to create one simply or more elaborately. All the material for the bodies is natural and re-purposed, both it and a couple of blending threads are hand-dyed with natural processes such as using oak galls or tea and rust, and the stuffing is natural Kapok. There is also a small swatch of fabrics for patches or pockets, other threads that are pre-wound onto floss holders so that you can paint or dye yourself and a spectrum of coloured embroidery threads to use. If you have any problems, please use the contact page so I can see your email and get back to you.

Just the act of making simple marks and patterns will be enough to remember through association. You might recall the colour of the sea or a grandparent’s tea-set and simply decide to stich a small patch of that particular colour – it doesn’t have to look like waves, or a cup to remember. You won’t forget why that little blue patch is there! Equally, you could choose to stitch a feeling, a sensory memory or impression of a place. For example, marks could represent peace, or excitement. Simple running stitch can denote a path, a journey, or show the outline of the landscape or an object.

Often when memories are further back in time, it allows you find the most important ones more easily. I find I work with a lot of reference material in my workbooks and to stitch with either none at all or very little is liberating and helps abstract things more.

I’d genuinely be thrilled to see any Busy Bodies and their different personalities if you fancy making one, with your own materials and ideas or via a kit. Please use #stitchabusybody on social media so I can find them.

Hope you do!…