Wednesday, 8 November 2017

In the studio and on a mission

Back in the studio with gusto. I have lampshades to make.  I have two sales coming up. 

First off a little block print made a few years ago comes out for another outing.  

In October 2013 I went for a walk and was struck by these horse chestnut leaves.

So inspired was I that I indulged in a bit of snipping and glueing with that foam sheet stuff you can get from Hobby Craft.

Look at that! And who would have guessed that four years later it is still going strong. And it has been used several times. (note to self, must do some more!)

So, one evening I printed this image onto some old book pages. I love using old book pages. Just a hint of writing underneath. A bit of mystery. 

Snipped out and stuck down onto some lovely textured handmade paper.

Ready for stitching.

And I was on a roll so I did another one, but this time using a print block made from  pre-cut shapes.

Again, old book pages. This was an engineering book, so relevant for circles and eclipses I thought.

Again, stuck onto handmade, textured paper (well, I say handmade but I got it in a studio sale so I am not sure it is, but it ideal for lampshade and takes stitching with the machine very well).

Again, ready for stitching. 

And finally, being inspired by an old London A-Z. Now this must hold some opportunities for re-using.  Let me ponder. 

Sunday, 5 November 2017

A little road trip

Hello dear reader

I am pleased to report that after a pretty grim summer on the personal front (I referred to it here and here) yet very full on with two Open Studios, I think I may have got my mojo back.

Now, there's a reason to Wikipedia in itself. First of all, so many meanings. Second of all, voodoo talisman!

Well, whatever, mine seems to be back.

And not before time, let me tell you, as I committed to not one but two pre-Christmas sales.

Why the fuss, I hear you cry. That's fantastic news. Get a grip woman!

Well, I know - but let me just remind you about 'the day job'.

I love the day job. It is so rewarding. But it does somewhat restrict my time in my workroom. As a consequence I am being very disciplined. In from work, out with the hound, quick supper and then back to that sewing machine (which desperately needs a service, by the way. Stitching through paper and glue is taking its toll).

But while we are on the day job, I should just mention that this October I had to go on a little road trip.  And what a joy it was.

First stop, Durham. I had to do a presentation a Tuesday morning so travelled up the night before. I found this fabulous little hotel. I did not take photos when I was there, principally because the daylight was so bad and I am not geared up, but have a look at the picture gallery here to get the gist.

But when I finished my little gig I took the opportunity to stroll around Durham. And wow! What a gem! How come I had never been before?

That door knocker, higher up on this post, is on the door of the cathedral. Apparently if you were on the run you could seek sanctuary at the cathedral if you knocked on this door. I am not sure if this is the original knocker (in fact it can't be) but it is a thing of wonder on the main entrance.

Now, if you know your medieval architecture you will also see why Durham cathedral is so amazing.

It's Norman!

I was gobsmacked. Most cathedrals here in Blighty are later - Perpendicular, Decorated or Early English or frankly a bit of everything.  But we don't have so much Norman (also known as Romanesque). But the scale of Durham took my breath away. It reminded me so much of Caen Cathedral in Normandy, France.

There wasn't much time to explore the town. It was grey and grim but I did note the river and I had a fabulous short but wooded walk up to the cathedral from the river.  (Oh, and i did a bit of shopping. New winter coat. Bright blue!)

And I decided this was definitely somewhere to come back to. Just look at those houses with their view across to the cathedral (which is where I took this photo).


And then it was back in the car and a drive up to Scotland. To Stirling to be precise. 

Now I used to know Stirling very well. I lived there as a teenager, so this was a trip down memory lane. 

Stirling is a wonderful, historic town. There is Stirling Castle, The Wallace Monument, and the site of the battle of Bannockburn.  In fact, Stirling is a historian's dream town. But no time to do all of that - you need a week - and anyway years ago I did the tourist thing. 

Another gig and then time to explore my old haunts. 

We lived just outside Stirling in Bridge of Allan. And I walked up to our old house. 

It perches on a very steep plot on the last row of houses as you go up the hill from Bridge of Allan's main street, Henderson Street. Next to and behind the house are woods and then it is the Ochills.  We used to get deer in the garden.  I rather naughtily went up the back steps to our old kitchen door. They had not changed. The house though, is now flats. 

When I lived in the area in the mid to late 1970s Stirling and Bridge of Allan were very different places. Stirling in particular seems a much smarter town than it was then. It feels much more affluent. 

And the landscape south of the town has changed. It used to be on the edge of the Scottish coal mine area but, of course, that has all gone. The pit wheel at Fallin - a mining village in my day - has long gone. In fact Fallin looks rather desirable now. 

 Even my old school has changed. Well, it was a dump. A shockingly bad building in my day and I don't think it was much more than 10 years old when I was there.  I suspect by the end it had a bucket in every room to catch the drips!

It has been knocked down - and moved! New location and just look at that lovely building. It is a sports academy now and looks very inviting.

I was away for three days. It was tiring - a long drive ( 6 hours back from Stirling - but I guess nothing to you folk in the USA or Australia with some of your road trips).

But it felt a bit like a mini break. I loved it. 

And now, back to the studio. 

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Hampshire Open Studios - the second installment

In my last post I promised you a bit more about Hampshire Open Studios - so here you go.

Four artists shared the space - Rob Turner China was hosting, so my first post focussed on his wonderful and joyful china.

But lets take a closer look at what else was going on.

Basically we used three linked spaces - and the garden deck in between.

Rob and Andy have a wonderful garden studio - I wrote about it here when I had a dog sitting session and took the opportunity to borrow the studio.

The garden studio featured large in my last post, the first one about Hants Open Studios. One end is the decorating station and the other end is more display etc.

But the kiln is in the former garage linked to the house - the kiln room. Now this is really semi industrial space - that Kiln is a beast - but its amazing what you can do with a bit of flair and imagination and we were able to turn that kiln room into a lovely long gallery.

Here is my end - the original garage door is gone and replaced with patio doors for deliveries etc. 

And the top of the kiln was turned into a big display area - more of my lamps and some hand made cards, plus you can just about make out my artists book in the bottom of the picture.

And pictures hanging behind the kiln.

 I shared the top of the kiln with some smaller works by Jane Willingale of Loudware. Some of her cards made from Lino prints.

And on the wall of the garage hung simply on a sheet of coloured card some of her perspex necklaces.

At the other end of the garage, as you come in from the garden and the studio, is a working sink. Rob had rigged up an ingenious side panel to hid the sink and all the nasty sink stuff. Here are more of Janes necklaces gracing the side panel and below is Jane during set up.

We used all the space - hanging some of my smaller lampshades from the beam in the middle of the room.  (See what I mean about that kiln? Its a beast!)

Below, another shot of the kiln room from the Vestibule (I will come onto that next!)

And so, onto the final display area - The Vestibule.

This is the official gallery space and since it is probably not much more than 6 ft square we reckon it might be the smallest gallery in England! (Give me a shout if you know of a smaller gallery. )

First up, stunning Poole Pottery transformed by Rob and Andy. This made it's original outing at the Transformation show in Milton Keynes in 2016.  This was on the wall immediately on the right as you came in from the kiln room.

I loved those little tea and coffee pots. I should have snaffled one up earlier because during the course of the show they all found a new home.

Next up, let me introduce you to Malisa Sledmere

Yes, those lampshades are by yours truly but look at what is going on on the walls. The most amazing 3D pieces.  It is difficult to quite describe them. There are stitch techniques in there. And fabric but I guess they are best categorised as sculpture.

I loved this 'doll' - it found a loving new home!

 I am going to let the pieces speak for themselves here.

Some of Jane's jewellery dotted about.

The display looked absolutely stunning. 

Wall space in the vestibule filled with stitched mono prints by yours truly and more jewellery.

If nothing else, this was a lesson on how to turn fairly unpromising space into the most amazing display area. It was hard work. I was there for 2 days and infact Rob and Andy had started much earlier redecorating etc.

It was a very successful event. I made the best sales ever, Jane sold a lot of jewellery and Malisa sold work too.

We are planning a November sale. Which means I have to get my act into gear. I am running low on stock!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Hampshire Open Studios - the first instalment.

It seems ages ago now, but I owe you a report on Hampshire Open Studios.

As you may know if you pop by from time to time, I have been showing regularly at Bucks Open Studios.  

It all started here, a little explanation as to how I got into Open Studios. Andy my first outing in 2015 was a great success. 

And then we went on to have a bigger show in central Milton Keynes in 2016 which you can read about here.  

But, why stick to just one Open Studio when you can do two? 

As you may know, if you pop back here from time to time, I am split between two counties - Hampshire, where I live, and Buckinghamshire, where I work (doing the day job). 

And my lovely friends Rob and Andy (they crop up here often - I should perhaps introduce you properly one day) decided that they would throw open the doors of their lovely home for Hampshire Open Studios. Would I like to join in?  Well, of course I would! 

So a sunny Thursday in August found me and Jane Willingale of Loudware doing a transformation of  the kiln room. 

Jane is a lovely and very well established artist. You can read about her varied art career here.  I was honoured to be be hanging my work alongside hers.

And here is an example of her very distinctive style, though I should say that she is no longer doing pottery (I think her kiln room is now a bathroom!) but still does prints and makes fabulous jewellery.

As well as Rob and Andy's wonderful bone china, we also had the most amazing wall hangings by Malisa Sledmere. You can read about her recent outing at Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth here.

So, for your delectation, here are a few pictures from the wonderful, wonderful Hampshire Open Studios.

There is too much for just one post, so I think I am going to spread this report out over two.

Let's start with some of the wonderful bone china designs by our lovely hosts.

The shelves in the studio are packed with delicious goodies. Honestly, I could easily have filled the boot of my car with more.  Just look at some of these colours.

The mugs hang in ordered rows, and they are very tempting. Rob had to fire the kiln up a couple of times during Open Studios as the mugs rather flew out!

And glorious handmade cards.

As well as their glorious china, Rob and Andy also do garden terracotta pots. 

If you are tempted by any of this, then you can buy the china from their web site here.  They are also regular visitors to the Winchester Art and Design Market.  You will find them near Russell and Bromley.

We were blessed with wonderful summer weather so we were able to offer tea and cake on the verandah and it also gave some of us a fabulous sun bathing opportunity!

And just look at the stunning display. 

It is a glorious garden - and if you are in the Gosport area they welcome visitors who would like to browse the china. Best give them a ring first in case they are out walking the dog!

I will leave you here. But there is more so pop back for the next instalment soon.