Mark Making workshop – images & feedback


It was the first in the series of two day sessions I’m running at the studio in Darlington for both the fearful and the intrepid. Time to play, ask questions, explore, discover, have your hand held if need be and unveil the potential artist in you. Already looking forward to the two day Print sessions in November!

Colourful Mark Making

Emulsion paints, watercolour, acrylic, oil and graphite mark making.

“This was one of the most interesting and inspirational workshops I have ever completed. Taking mark making to a new level, Maggie’s superb tuition guided me through a series of techniques that made sense of the basics completed in the City & Guilds Level 2 design for craft course.

Mark Making Monotones

Indian ink, poster paint and white acrylic mark making.

Encouraging me to explore and further develop my creativity, the possibilities of two colours, rubbing templates, papers and threads have opened up many new avenues. I came away with a finished piece of work I am proud of and the starting point for many more creative projects.

Maggie was thoroughly prepared for the workshop, providing all the materials required and always ready to answer questions. The workshop was excellent value for money.” P.W. Mark Making 1.

Mark Making Workshop, no.1. October 2014

Print, Mark Making & Mixed Media workshops, Autumn 2014


During Autumn 2014 I will be running a series of workshops from my studio in Darlington DL1, County Durham. In a pleasant, calm environment you will have individual attention, clear and supportive instruction and be encouraged to learn or to extend skills using a chosen source of inspiration.

The two day workshops allow you to have extended development time to discuss and evaluate outcomes and to explore areas in response to unexpected discoveries! Considered outcomes from each workshop will provide lots of ideas for future projects in any medium.

Getting Plastered. A workshop with Maggie Smith

A Get Plastered workshop in progress at my studio in Darlington.

One day Mixed Media workshop:

There has been so much interest in the ‘Get Plastered’ workshop that I am offering another date this autumn, so if you missed out last time please book early to avoid disappointment.

Tuesday 30th September, 10am – 3.30pm

“Get Plastered”

A fun mixed media approach using a plaster and paint mixture to create texture and line through mark making, on both paper and fabric. Hand stitching may be experimented with before and after exploring processes using shape and texture. No previous experience necessary. £50 plus £2.50 materials.

Two day Drawing and Design workshop series:

I find in my travels that there is a fear of drawing out there and I’m often told by students that they “can’t draw”. I am also frequently asked where I get my ideas from and how I get started.

Bearing all this in mind I have put together a series of two day workshops working with simple mark making techniques and easily available materials, looking at a range of creative answers to some of these unanswered questions.

Tuesday 7th & Wednesday 8th October,10am – 3.30pm

“Mark Making 1”

Discover and explore the potential of a wide variety of dry and wet media from an
apparently simple starting point. Learn an interpretation of traditional mark
making, using line, shape and texture, emphasising the individual quality of each
medium to generate new paths of inquiry. £90 plus £5 materials.

Tuesday 11th & Wednesday 12th November, 10am – 3.30pm


Explore a variety of printing techniques on different surfaces with accessible tools
and make informed, guided decisions about colour and mark to create a collection
of unique design references. £90 plus £5 materials.

Tuesday 9th & Wednesday 10th December, 10am – 3.30pm

“Mark Making 2”

Develop mark making through altering surfaces in many different
ways working with a wide range of hand processes. This is an opportunity to
discover a personal approach to mark making using alternative techniques and
materials. £90 plus £5 materials.

I’m an enthusiastic tutor with over twenty years of experience and welcome beginners, or those who would like to revisit and refresh, to develop new ideas and working processes.

So if your interest has been piqued you can book your place by downloading and filling in this Booking Form – Autumn 2014 then posting it, along with your payment, to me at the address provided on the form. You can also email me the completed form and I will invoice you through Paypal.

“Stitch” embroidered, stuffed Dandy birds from sumptuous silks


If you (like me) have bags of delicious fabric remnants stashed away in anticipation of that “special project”, but aren’t sure what that may be, then this month’s Stitch magazine may have the answer. I explain in the article entitled “Dandy Birds” how to make use of these fabric remnants by constructing your own lovely stuffed bird for a gift, or simply as a keepsake that will make you smile.

Stuffed fabric "Dandy Bird" by Maggie Smith for "Stitch" Magazine issue 81, with Tete-de-boeuf stitch detail on wing.

Stuffed fabric “Dandy Bird” by Maggie Smith for “Stitch” Magazine issue 81, with Tete-de-boeuf stitch detail on wing.

When I discussed an article for “Stitch” magazine with Kathy Troup (Stitch’s Editor) she was adamant she wanted “birds with attitude”, from my book Get Stuffed: shape, stuff and stitch, and after seeing Kathy’s plea to readers for articles showing unusual stitches or using stitches in an unusual way, I decided I wanted these birds to be colourful with more decorative stitching. And so the “Dandy Birds (all dressed up and nowhere to go)” were born.

I spent some time furtling for fabrics in bags and boxes, as one does, and decided here at last was the opportunity to use some of those treasured scraps of silk I had been saving.

The Dandy Bird’s wings are hand embroidered with five of my favourite stitches: Tête-de-Beouf stitch (chosen because the name tickled me, and it’s such a pretty stitch), Straight stitch (for its simplicity), Pistil stitch (for its resemblance to feathers), Fly stitch (for its trellis effect), and Oyster stitch (another pretty stitch), all with French knot embellishments. The eyelashes are embroidered with Fly stitch, and all hand stitching was done with space dyed silk threads.

I think they will make delightful Easter presents and I hope you enjoy making them. Happy stuffing!

Lineage of the Dandy Bird

These stuffed birds are in a direct line of descent from the “birds with attitude”, with inspirations from the “decorative bird”, both designed for my latest book Get Stuffed, shape, stuff and stitch.

The lineage of Maggie Smith's Dandy bird

Also part of this flock are: the “Bovver Birds with Big Feet” (made from hand painted and stuffed calico), the Dot Spot Forget-me-Not Birds and kits which appeared last March 2012 at the NEC Fashion Embroidery & Stitch, the Floral Belle Birds made from Liberty lawn fabric bought at the show, and the Christmas Bell Birds made for the festive season.

Copyright and Fair Use

I’ve had several queries regarding Fair Use of the patterns and instructions. So to clear things up: please feel free to make as many birds as you want for yourself, or as gifts for friends and family, but please do not sell or reproduce the patterns, instructions, or the birds (whether as kits, or as finished products) as the copyright resides with myself.

Belated New Year update: curtains, cushions & chick(en)

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A bit like Sandra Bullock (in Miss Congeniality) my wish for 2014 would be for world peace, but the news has been almost as dire as the weather. However, my new sunshine alarm clock wakes me up to increasing light, bird song and the sound of flowing water. I am wondering whether it’s the light or the water which ejects me from my bed to the bathroom!

There has been a steady flow of book orders for both Get Plastered and Get Stuffed since Christmas through in to the New Year, perhaps from folk spending present money which is lovely. As I delved into the last box of Get Plastered books to fulfil a postal order, I realised that there are only 25 left! So if you would like a copy of Get Plastered from the last 25 books remaining, order now and if you would like it signed – just mention that as you order.

This has prompted me to think about the possibility of a third book. Gestation is usually about two years especially as at the moment I have several ideas to explore and can’t say which path I’ll tread. I will let you all know as soon as there is news to report.

An Easter Chick with DaffodilsFor a number of weeks I have been mostly making cushions (and curtains) which has encouraged a creative emergence from dark, dull days. This has been followed by happy hand stitching with members of the Durham Embroiderers’ Guild at The World Heritage Visitor Centre in Durham City and the hatching of an Easter chick!

After hibernating and dusting off my domestic goddess (ha!) over Christmas, I am getting back into thinking and planning what comes next. Meanwhile, I have decided to concentrate on sorting out more items to go in the shop and am in the process of getting the various stuffed birds online, the first of which, the Dot Spot Forget-me-Nots are busily ‘chirping’ there already.

If you join the Maggie Smith Contemporary Textiles Facebook group you’ll be kept up-to-date with my goings on, and you can also follow me on Pinterest to see what has interested me or is currently inspiring me.

Buy Get Stuffed & Get Plastered in Canada and Australia

I’m very pleased to announce that would-be shape, stuff and stitchers in Canada and Australia can now purchase both my Get Stuffed and Get Plastered books directly from local outlets.

Books For You (Canada) and Canberra Needlework (Australia) both now hold stock of my books, which should mean improved delivery times as orders no longer have to traverse earth and sea to reach their destination. Of course, should you want to order from us then that will still be possible too.

Both outlets also carry a hand-picked range of other creative textile and needlework books for your delectation, and can be contacted using the following details:

Books For YouCarole Van Die
Tel. +1 (613) 821-2661 or
Toll Free at +1 (800) 282-4502 (Canada only)
Canberra NeedleworkRobyn A Duncan
E-mail :
Tel: +61 (0) 427 625 145

Paying by Paypal, without a Paypal account


We’ve had a couple of queries about payment, and whether when paying for an item you must have, or sign up for, a PayPal account first. PayPal don’t make it as obvious as it should be, but you do not need to do this.

When you’re transferred from our website to the PayPal payment page you will be presented with a screen similar to the one below:

GetStuffedBook paying by PayPal, without a Paypal account

If you click the option called “Don’t have a PayPal account?…pay as guest” (circled in red in the image above), you will then be shown your shipping details etc and be able to pay using your credit or debit card, without having to log in or sign up to PayPal.

Hope that helps! M.

Studio open for workshops

Having extended my studio in Darlington over the last few months, I am delighted to be able to offer a number of workshops there covering a range of topics. Spaces are limited so please get in touch and book early.

Wednesday 13th February 2013, 10am – 3.30pm This is now Full, more dates to follow

“Get Plastered”

A fun mixed media approach using a plaster and paint mixture to create texture and line through mark making, on both paper and fabric. Hand stitching is experimented with before and after exploring processes using shape and texture. No previous experience necessary.

Wednesday 13th March 2013, 10am – 3.30pm

“Sketching with Stitch”

Expressing shape and form through drawing directly with stitch – a course to develop observation skills and confidence with your needle and thread.
May be approached and enjoyed on all levels.

Wednesday 17th April 2013, 10am – 3.30pm

“Inspired to Stitch”

Developing and exploring simple stitches inspired by a well known artists’ work to create your own stitch dictionary as a resource when making new work. For all levels of expertise.

Wednesday 15th May 2013, 10am – 3.30pm This is now Full, more dates to follow

“All Dolled Up”

Making dolls from simple shapes to decorate and embellish with scraps of precious materials, beads and found objects creating unique characters. Basic machine and hand sewing skills are required.

Groups will be small with plenty of support and encouragement. Workshops will be from 10am – 3.30pm on week days and will cost £35. Tea, coffee and biscuits will be provided. Please bring your own lunch. Students need to be aware the studio is up a flight of stairs.

Studio Location
54 North Road,
(Visits by arrangement only)

If you would like to know more or have any queries please email or ring me with your details.

Contemporary textiles exhibition at Spennymoor Leisure Centre’s Art Space

My latest exhibition of contemporary textiles, entitled “Marking the Ordinary”, launched on November the 2nd at Spennymoor Leisure Centre’s Art Space and will run until November the 30th 2012.

What’s on display & the origins of the title

A flyer for my contemporary textiles exhibition

“Marking the Ordinary” runs from 2nd to 30th of November 2012, at Spennymoor Leisure Centre’s Art Space

On display will be a collection of my 2D art and mixed media work which I’ve created over the last 6 years, including some contemporary still life artwork that uses the plaster, paint and stitch techniques found in my Get Plastered book. For the first time both the original front cover pieces from my books Get Plastered and Get Stuffed will be on show, as well as several of the example pieces that were used to illustrate pages and ideas in Get Plastered.

I find inspiration in ordinary objects and, through photography and drawing, these form a starting point for my work. Observation of the marks these objects acquire as they are handled and age lead to an exploratory process of wearing away, mark making and layering, through stamping, colour washes and stitching. For me, “Marking the Ordinary” connected the process to the result.


The location

The Art and Exhibition space is located inside Spennymoor Leisure Centre, and shares the same space as the lovely “Kilnrooms” on-site Cafe.

Spennymoor Leisure Centre
High Street
County Durham
DL16 6DB

Dot Spot Forget-me-Not Birds have landed in the shop

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“Dot Spot” birds, as they were affectionately named by my husband, Mike, were launched at Fashion, Embroidery & Stitch at the NEC, Birmingham and the kits with instructions are now available in our online shop. Based on the ‘Birds with Attitude’ from the ‘Get Stuffed’ book, these stuffed fabric birds were designed to be simple to stitch using materials that are easy to access.

Ready made “Dot Spot” birds, boxed and gift wrapped, will be online soon for those that would like to purchase one handmade by myself. However if you can’t wait, then birds can be purchased from Crushed Chilli in Durham, and also the Porta Dextra gallery in York has just received their first shipment of “Dot Spots”.

African fabric Stump Dolls, from Get Stuffed: shape, stuff and stitchThe African Stump dolls from the same book and shown in the image on the left, can also be viewed online at The African Fabric shop and in their newsletter. The African Fabric shop stocks the fabric which was used to make the dolls, plus African beads and other delights.

In other news, unfortunately I won’t be at the Alexandra Palace for the Knitting & Stitching Show this week  (11th – 14th October), but you will find my books “Get Stuffed” and “Get Plastered” there on sale at Art Van Go and the Embroiderers’ Guild Bookshop.