This is Flame. Flame, with her superhero-sized name, is a tiny, ball of fur, technically known as a hamster. I know this, because it is written in my sketch book.

Here is the photo, and here is the sketch:

This page makes me laugh every time I see it. It’s the label, you see. I’m sure there must be lesson in the first week of Art School that says if you have to label the picture, it’s probably not working. I’ll ask my brothers. But it really was necessary, because two pages later, there’s a picture of a gravity-defying kiwi, that seems oddly familiar. I might go back and label that one too now: “Kiwi in space (ceci nest pas un hamster)”. But I guess Magritte got there already.

Anyhow, it was time for Flame’s portrait, and this one will go quickly, because there are no in the making shots. This has happened before. Sometimes, you just have to set off and keep going, hoping that the dumpy potato before you will, suddenly transmute into a hamster or a kiwi. And luckily, at the very end, I think it plumped for the hamster. See what you think.img_7928

The background’s rather magical, isn’t it (chosen, perhaps, because it had clearly identifiable animals on it, if all else failed!).

img_7930And when I put in the little highlight in her eye, something tugged in the corner of my mind. I went and pulled out my old sewing box, the one my mother made me when I was a child.

Now, before I show you the picture, I have to explain something about the box. It’s a bit like a hamster that looks like a potato, and a kiwi that looks like a hamster. Because, although my old sewing box may look like an old, saggy cloth-covered box, baggy, and a bit loose at the seams:img_8008really, it is the most important, most beautiful, most magical, saggy old cloth box in the whole wide world. And if you don’t know what I’m quoting, and are British, then there’s no health in you. And if you were not brought up in this country in the 1970s, then DVDs are available, and should be bought and studied. Meantime, you can read about it and hear it hereYep, I’m talking Bagpuss.

Anyhow – this box is most definitely important and magical and saggy. Like Bagpuss, it has been around as long as any memories I have, and inside, there is this:

Beautiful, too, you see. And the tiniest of pearl beads sits in the eye.

What a clever mother I had.


If you are inspired to commission a portrait of your pet, do hop on over to the Commissions Page.

5 thoughts on “Flame

  1. Good morning, I have been following your blog for awhile and I am in love with all of your work. It’s amazing. I’m a huge animal lover. Does your work include all free motion stitching or does it include some hand embroidery work as well? I’m a huge fan.


    1. Hi Kimberley,
      Sorry to have been such an age working out how to reply – to such a lovely comment too! Thank you. Well, it is almost all machine embroidery, apart from the eyes. The highlights and sometimes some flecks of colour go in by hand, mainly because there is so much stitching by that point, that I’m forever breaking needles. I’m still looking out for a decent thimble for that part of the job! thanks again, E

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