Helen has been working for a year on 23 pictures to
illustrate her story about five dinosaurs and the book has
now been published. (November 2016) and copies are for sale
in the gallery.
original pictures have been sewn into book form and it is in
the gallery. You'll be amazed when you see it.
One dinosaur swims away to find gold at the end of a rainbow
but when he doesn't return his four friends set off to
find him. To see what happens, you need to buy a copy of the
Or call into the gallery or contact Helen
On 18th February Helen held a book launch at
the gallery and it was a lot of fun for everyone especially
the children who did a number of activities including a
pretend dinosaur dig in the gallery garden. Here they are:
Here is what Peter Taylor says (
Five Friendly Dinosaurs
will be a book much loved by children. Helen is an
accomplished and well-practiced storyteller who knows the
tastes of her audience well - and what a treat theyíll find.
The vibrant illustrations bringing the story to life have
been created from a multitude of perfectly chosen fabrics.
Each reading will give a fresh appreciation of the
appropriateness of the textures and patterns, and of the
stitched details. In the story, five dinosaur friends choose
different pathways and opportunities to explore their world.
While children will discover the consequences for one
dinosaur, the story fosters imaginative discussion and
speculation as to the fate of the others. Who will find
their remains, and where and when will they do so? The story
is likely to encourage fossil fascination and the
illustrations will stimulate childrenís creativity, making
the book a very rewarding addition to family and library
was born and educated in Armidale. She completed her B.A.
with Dip. Ed. in 1959 and later did a Diploma in Early
Childhood. For many years she was the director at the Save
the Children Pre-School in Armidale (now known as Minimbah),
and then moved to teaching at TAFE. Helen began making textile art accidentally when she wanted to
illustrate some unpublished stories she had written.
Although she didnít think herself very accomplished at
sewing, she had made most of her childrenís clothes
including tutus for her daughterís ballet concerts, so she
decided to accept the challenge of making pictures with
Her first textile
experiments were tactile books for babies. These books were
Here are some
examples of the pictures she made.
need colourful, simple pictures with a variety of textures
to feel. These pictures include fur, vinyl and felt.
Next Helen made
interactive pictures so that children could help to make or
change the pictures. Here is an example from her
Baby possum can come off her
caterpillar can come out of the cocoon or be zipped
her confidence grew, Helen began sewing the illustrations
for whole picture books that she had written.
a book, Helen writes the story first and then plans the
number of pictures, and jots down an idea for each picture.
Creating the pictures is quite complicated. She uses calico
as the backing, and it has to be washed and ironed first.
Sometimes she uses paint as well as fabric to create the
pictures and the painting
must be done before any sewing is started.
She draws paper
patterns and uses those when cutting out the fabric.
Helen has a big
supply of fabric scraps but sometimes buys something
special. While she mainly uses soft dressmaking fabric, she
includes leather, raffia, paper, artificial leaves and
flowers when needed.
Here are some
pictures from books that she was commissioned to make.
In this story, Jonah finds a magic Ball.
A tiger is lurking and wants to play ball too.
Some pictures take
more than a week to make. The last picture
book she made took seven months to complete and had 18
pictures, but a book for a baby only takes a week.
Most of Helenís
pictures are created through machine embroidery which
occupies her while she is on duty in the Chaucer on Bridge
Street Gallery. However, she doesn't like to sit at the
machine for more than two hours at a time.
She is now
concentrating on making individual pictures which can be
made in several days.
Some of her latest
pictures are abstract fantasy, as well as landscape ones.
Although the pictures are very tactile, the latest ones have
been framed for sale and hang in the gallery where many
people admire them.
Here is what some
visitors have said:
Helen, I love
your work. Itís just stunning. Kids would absolutely love
pictures below, are some that Helen made for children
in 2011. They are based on nursery
rhymes and games. Each one took several days to complete. They are all framed
and waiting for someone to take them home for special
children in their lives.
Click here for more of Helen's pictures
is also a writer and storyteller. Go to