Unusual presents

On a visit to ESP’s parents yesterday I received two unusual presents.

June and Ray used to have an antiques stall in Covent Garden, and spent their time visiting auctions, fairs and car boot sales picking up items to sell on to dealers as well as retail customers. They’re retired now, but their house is filled with interesting and unusual bits and pieces.

And old habits die hard – now that most professional auctions now have online bidding, Ray can sit at the computer and put in a bid at the press of a button, without having to drive miles!

Anyway, on learning about my turtle project, they presented me with a complete tortoise shell that they just happened to have lying round the house! It’s pretty much intact and will let me study the texture, shape and form much more closely.

tortoise shell

They also gave me a handmade roll full of embroidery floss, which they picked up at another sale. It includes many colours I don’t have, as well as lots of needles.

embroidery rollembroidery silks

Many thanks to both for both!


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Flextiles uses shibori, ecoprinting and felting to create original, one-off upcycled pieces. Extending the life of a garment by an extra nine months reduces its environmental impact by 20-30%.

8 thoughts on “Unusual presents”

  1. Oh lucky girl
    followed your trials with the tortoise with interest as this was my subject matter many years ago for my exams.May I suggest putting a paper cut out negative or positive on blank silk screen before going to the effort of burning the screen,then you can quickly see what works and what doesn’t .Also you could send your imagery ideas to one of the many thermofax companies who will make you a little screen for not an enormous outlay.
    This imagery works well on the diagonal and overlaying pos to neg –look forward to seeing what happens next.

  2. Chrissie – thanks very much for your advice on screen printing! Using Paper cut-outs is a good idea, though some of the patterns could be a bit time-consuming to cut out.

    I also want to try some printing using an open screen and paper templates, though with only two weeks of term left, I may not get round to that this year!

    I’m intrigued that you used tortoises as subjects as well – was this for printing or something else?

  3. Kim – I definitely recommend thermofax screens. they are very easy to use and are inexpensive. That shell is incredible. I know you are doing screen printing but another very simple technique (and I have found it very effective) is to carve print blocks out of polystyrene pizza bases (with a biro!) I can imagine doing that with a pattern inspired by the tortoiseshell. (which, by the way, is a bit macabre, don’t you think?) Hilary

  4. Hi Kim
    …..dont worry, I am sure this tortoise had a good live and died a natural death, leaving behind a wonderful ,,house,, ….. and so will never be forgotten !!

    I will try to carve print blocks out of polystyrene ….still have to make Christmas-cards !!
    Silvia from sunny TR

    1. I like the idea of carving print blocks out of polystyrene/pizza bases – easier than lino!

      In our printing class we were also shown how to make monoprints and carve blocks out of rubbers (erasers).

  5. 25 years ago I bought a silk screen print cushion with a moon, raibow and clouds in in paste colour which my daughter had for 25 years and is now in shreds. She called it her Mr Moon and I have never been able to find another. A complete stab in the dark but was this your stall and can your help

    1. Hello Mandy,

      I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my stall as I haven’t been going that long and I don’t do much silk screen printing. If you have a photo of the cushion you could try using a reverse image search such as TinEye (https://www.tineye.com/) to try to track down the seller or maker. Good luck!


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