Cas Holmes: Themes & Techniques

By The Arty Teacher - August 7, 2019

Cas Holmes is a textile artist loved by many art and textile teachers.  Using mostly low-tech techniques that can be replicated in the classroom, she is an ideal artist to use with students.  Found materials, layering collaged fabrics, building up compositions and adding detail in stitch are all part of Holmes’s process. Her work captures fleeting moments in time and creates narratives that reflect a variety of themes.  This blog post explores those themes:  travel, natural forms and landscape. It then looks more closely at her process.  There is a link to a free presentation about the artists at the bottom of the post.


After obtaining her degree in fine art, Holmes received awards to travel to Japan and India.  She has also travelled in Europe and Australia.  As she travels she often collects, not just the imagery but the materials that she uses in her work.  Found, gifted or thrifted, Holmes’s work definitely has a recycled feel.

Below the hot colours and intricate patterns of India are clearly visible.

“My Romany Grandmother always said I had ‘itchy feet’ and inherited her love of the road. Ever since I started to work, the travelling life began also.”

Cas Holmes and Natural Forms

Natural forms often feature in Holmes’ work.  She states:

“My work reflects my interest in place and people and seeks to identify the relationship of our flora and related habitat to both the urban and ‘wild’ landscape which make up our country.”

’40 Yards’ was a significant piece of work that explored the environment within 40 yards of her home.  It started with the accidental finding of a piece of cloth outside her front door which had the words ’40 Yards’ printed on it.  This piece became an ongoing diary of her immediate location.  Taking inspiration from the way the urban and natural world can meet,  Holmes noticed the little things – the beauty of a weed, the fragility of a dandelion clock, a neighbours lace curtains.


Some of Holmes work is less abstract and more clearly landscape which might appeal to a student who prefers something more representational.  They also strongly employ foreground, middleground and background and that would be great to bring into students work.

“I have always looked at the landscape and our fragile relationship with the local and global environment.”

Cas Holmes and Process

“I gather cloth, paste, colours, papers and other found materials together and build up layers as I would a painting. I then cut and tear into the layers to see what’s underneath. This is then worked with further paint and machine stitching. There is a lot of intuition, a response to materials and the given environment or landscape in the pieces.”

Garden of Remembrance

Holmes is always drawing and collecting things.  She describes herself as having a ‘magpie tendency’.

Drawing in her studio

Cas Holmes describes her process as having three key areas.  Mark making with a variety of media, layering with cloth, paper and found materials and then stitch.  She uses her drawings for reference but doesn’t feel compelled to copy them exactly.  You can read more about her process in the article ‘Cas Holmes: ‘From conception to creation‘ from TextileArtist.org

“The process of layering with pins or paste is never exact and I constantly make changes and often leave the work overnight so I can look at it fresh before making further compositional decisions.”

Cas Holmes Tutorials & In School

She has exhibited internationally and also teaches short courses regularly at West Dean College which is near Chichester in West Sussex.  Some courses are also online. Click here to see if she has any courses coming up.

Cas Holmes also works with schools. Contact her through her website to find out more.

Cas Holmes Books

Holmes has a collection of books which explore her themes and process further.  They would be a welcome addition to any art room library.

Find this book on Amazon Uk and Amazon USA.

Cas Holmes

Find this book on Amazon Uk and Amazon USA.

Find this book on Amazon Uk and Amazon USA.

Cas holmes

Find this book on Amazon Uk and Amazon USA

Find this book on Amazon Uk and Amazon USA

Click the image below to go to a free presentation for art teacher on artists Cas Holmes.

Enjoy this article, Drop it a like


Or Share it

The Arty Teacher

Sarah Crowther is The Arty Teacher. She is a high school art teacher in the North West of England. She strives to share her enthusiasm for art by providing art teachers around the globe with high-quality resources and by sharing her expertise through this blog.

More Posts

12 responses to “Cas Holmes: Themes & Techniques”

  1. Patty Hawkins says:

    Hi Cas.
    Patty Hawkins, colorado.
    Loved you taught me technique of twisting fabric to hint of trees.
    Do you draw the tree on composition, then stitch the “ cord”
    Or should I sew it to paper to create tree first/ don’t want to go untwist
    While sewing?
    OR straight stitch the twisted cord first? Most grateful thanks!💕

    • Carol Holmes says:

      Hello Patty
      Lovely to hear from you. I assume you are talking about paper cord? I kind of improvise as I go….as you may expect. Normally I twist the paper as I go holding the strip diwn with a zig zag stitch when working on your substrate, whether cloth or paper, you can hold in place with dressmaking pins or masking tape as appropriate

      Find memories of the rainbow over the valley

      Best. Casx

  2. gina says:

    moi aussi j adore le travail de cas holmes, je me regale a chaque fois merci

  3. Rita Summers says:

    The article is great; love Cas Holmes work! Could you please fix the link to the free presentation? It doesn’t seem to be a live link 🌸😊

  4. Stitch lady says:

    I have all of Cas Homes’ books. They are all invaluable for students and teachers – so much inspiration and ideas for ways into your own art making.
    Would love to do a course one day.

  5. Kelly Horton says:

    Cas taught me at Middlesex uni in ’99..she was very inspiring and remains so. Had pleasure to meet her once more, at knitting and stitching show, last year. She’s a good woman. Bless 🌺

  6. Cas Holmes says:

    Thank you for a thought provoking insight into my work and process. It sits well as an educational resource for the next generation of up and coming artists.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More Resources you might like...

Subscribe & save in any currency!

Basic Subscription

Register and you can download 3 of the Free Resources Every Month!

3 Free Resources

Premium Subscription
$9.99 Per month $99 Per year


Save money and get 10 resources of your choice every month. The yearly subscription is the best value.

Save over 66%

School Subscription
Free Per year Free Per year Free Per year Free Per year Free Per year Free Per year Free Per year Free Per year Free Per year


For departments with 2 or more members. Subscribe for a total of 2 teachers to download 10 resources each month.

save over 5% save over 5% save over 5% save over 7% save over 7% save over 7% save over 10% save over 10% save over 10%