Monday, July 31, 2017

Tea Flora Tales: Making Your Mark by Cas Holmes

Tea Flora Tales: Making Your Mark
by Cas Holmes

Watch Cas Holmes' video here.

I am a trained painter who works in textiles and mixed media using found materials. My process of working is not exact and compositions are created ‘on the go’ as cloth and paper surfaces are layered together in loose collages. Often, mid flow, I may pick up a stencil or create a print with a found object. This mixed-media working strategy creates multi layered disparate surfaces which ‘disrupt’ and inform the process of mark-making and equally, the marks created inform the process of piecing and layering. Cloth can be painted, printed or stained with a range of painting mediums which can include household paints, natural dyes and fabric paints.

Tea Flora Tales is an ongoing collaboration which started its life at the Knitting and Stitching Show in the UK The project evolved from small beginnings to raise awareness of the need to preserve our wildflowers and related habitat and to support the work of the UK charity Plantlife. Ongoing contributions from textile and plant enthusiasts everywhere are still being received which are then added to this 'daisy chain' installation.

This project shows you how you can use stencils to create your own Tea-Flora Tales to reflect the precious natural places and wildflowers close to you.

The stencils I used for the project Tea Flora Tales are Fairy Tale Tree MaskQueen Anne’s Lace and Herbs:
firm paper watercolour paper is good for this or canvas
your stencils and found materials to print with
selection of brushes, paints you like to use
paint trays, water pots
Glue/glue stick
Sewing threads/sewing machine
Collection of found materials
dried teabag or a wrapper from a herbal or fruit teabag
floral piece of textile
additional elements of your choice which reflect your interest
piece of lace or ribbon
Creating overlaid stencils on sheets of paper and cloth (these will be cut up)
In this example I used an old watercolour painting sample as a base to start working the stencils onto.
1) The stencil was laid in position and sprayed with shimmer spray a type of acrylic ink.
2) I then overlaid this with black acrylic paint sponged through my own paper cut stencil. Do not worry about being neat and tidy…..I don’t.
3) Using the Herbs stencil I sprayed blue ink through the stencil onto another piece of paper as well as stenciling with a brush and a sponge. 
4) Not wanting to waste the colour, I cannot abide waste. I used a piece of fabric to mop up the top surface of the stencil pulling an interesting print in the process.
5) I then laid out several of my found papers and fabrics at the same time with the intention of continuing to repeat the process of stenciling across the layers.
6) The images as they layer become more complex. These will be cut up for the next stage.
7) The dry stencil bases were cut up into pieces approximately half the size of small postcard and on top of this I collaged textiles and paper applying them with a glue stick.
8) On top of this I applied machine stitch. If you do not want to stitch, use a stronger pva (Elmer’s glue).
9) You can make an individual pieces which work well as tags or work with a group attach to a piece of ribbon or lace to make your Tea Flora Tale chain. Wildflowers come in all shapes and sizes so it does not matter if your pieces vary. 
You can vary these simple instructions to create a range of work based on other references such as simple household objects, birds, insects or geometric patterns, or make your chain colour themed.

Photo of Cas Holmes in her studio by Richard Torble
Cas Holmes trained in fine arts and produces multimedia, predominately textiles and paper, artworks in colour, paint and stitch. Her meticulous process of collage from salvaged remnants creates pieces without defined borders and reflect her interest in the urban and natural environment. She exhibits internationally and is represented in major collections. She is author of three publications for Batsford, The Found Object in Textile Art, (2010), Connected Cloth (2013) and most recent Stitch Stories (Featured 2015). She is currently writing her fourth book due out in 2018.


  1. thankyou for the feature

  2. I love the work of Cas Holmes. I have her books and she's always an inspiration. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Wow! I'm a newbie to Cas and her work. I am fascinated and very impressed. Great work. Glad I read this.

  4. So wonderful! I have poured through both "The Found Object in Textile Art" and "Stitched Stories," which I own in hard cover copies, many times. Both books are beautiful and inspiring.

    1. I also want to add that I love the playfulness of the Tea Floral Tales environment you have created, Cas. Perhaps those who have run out of wall space for art in their homes could do a modified version, and hang pieces from the ceiling!


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