Category Archives: meandering thoughts

Taking on new challenges- teaching arts and crafts

Taking on new challenges . I know that it can be scary but its always worth doing .
A while ago I was asked to run several 6 week courses for a local art center, this would involved lots pf paperwork , student assessing etc. not really my way of working as I like to adapt as I go along but I decided that it was worth the challenge to see if i could work this way, after all I did get the teaching adult certificates a few years ago so I might as well have a go.

Anyway the first week or two definitely challenged me , the classes were aimed at beginners so I had planned accordingly, where as the reality was that several of the students were quite experienced but didnt know how to read patterns and wanted to check that what they were doing was the right way.
I also discovered that I was dyslexic an odd thing to discover and strange that It hasnt been identified before now, but anyway it made sense of why so many things were tricky for me and why I approach things in unconventional all be it creative ways

Remembering names has always been a tricky one and the need to write up detailed notes straight after the session just wasnt going to work for me. Its very odd how you find so many of the things that you take for granted because there normal to you but are deemed as being different rather than just an alternative approach.

Anyway after some more thoughts and more adapting ive now just completed including finding different ways to help me to deal with the course paperwork Ive now just completed the fourth week.
I can happily say that everyone has achieved what they set out to do, and have gained lots of new skills and confidence , two more weeks to go now.
I am going to miss the class , mind you Im already planning for the next 6 week crafts course starting at the beginning of November , another new challenge.

Getting ready for the lantern parade workshops, moving into our unit at the Brooks Winchester

Ive just spent the day moving all of our materials and equipment into our pop up shop at the Brooks Center in Winchester. The center has been great allowing us to use the space for a peppercorn rate we couldn’t do it without their support, I have put up three examples that I have made to show my new volunteers I  cant wait for the ceiling to start filling with examples that they make on Saturday.

I also introduced myself to my local shop staff and Costa Coffee came up trumps when they popped in and offered to donate us free hot drink vouchers for the lantern workshop participants to have when they finish their session a lovely thought.



The joys and tribulations of providing workshops in new areas .

I am often contacted by people interested in attending one of my workshops ….. one of the problems is that trying to find a venue that is both affordable and flexible ….especially when you are trying to get something going ……. In an area where there is a good history of providing activities this is much easier as potential attendees are often checking out local publicity for new activities to join…

The next difficulty is as with anything  location and just as importantly marketing. we all have so many different ways of finding out about things, the top one being venue newsletters and word of mouth followed by web searches and local posters. …. its amazing any people still look out for venues in local shops however that is becoming more of a problem now as many shops who are part of a chain will not promote activities and there are more and more areas where very few independent shops exist…. making it much more difficult on the whole to promote new activities. So with this in mind I have decided to start up  a mailing list of people interested in specific activities. So if you have any requests and ideas please do get in touch and ill let you know when there is enough interest to get something going.

Starting the new year as we mean to carry on, a potential embrionic arts collective/ venue

Hi Ive just been to a really exiting meeting in Southampton with other creative  people from the area,facilitated by the Art House in Southampton we are hoping to create a creative work space for individuals / groups who want to have flexibility in their work, meet other interested people and are at all different levels in their journey.

Very much in its early stages and likely to be a very organic process with ideas and possibilities developing as time moves on ,  there were be many barriers to overcome including funds and skill levels, this for me is one of the greatest ways for an idea to work a place ,where new ideas  and possibilities spring from.

Planning for the autumn term (already)

I always find it strange that I have to plan ahead so far, I have just decided on my autumn term workshops that i will be offering in Winchester as well as starting to thing about Christmas activities and workshops I will be offering in other areas, ah well its better to be busy than not at least its easier to plan for cold weather crafts whilst it is is raining. hopefully the sun will be out soon

Kind words and thoughts go along way to making the world a better place

Hello again I just wanted to share with you how lovely it has been to received such kind comments and interesting thoughts from  people who have read my blogg, as  have only recently combined my blogg and website I have been overwhelmed by  the fantastic feedback and responses that I have received… My purpose was  to be more than just a factual blog about my work which although important to  me doesn’t really tell you much about my the things that interest and inspire me.

I have never really been one for the pretentious and often elitist unobtainable  view of  creativity which depicts art and crafts  as being  inaccessible and difficult to do  thereby  putting many   people of even trying in the first place..  all artist and creatives had to start somewhere and after all buying art is as much about what someone is prepared to pay as the skill of the person  creating it anyway enough if that as I am likely to go of on a full blown rant    …..It  is so good to know that others share similar ideas and ways of thinking….and that its not just me.

Growing/collecting your own food

I have always been a big fan of growing your own food and keeping traditional skills alive I particularly love making all things from food that I have either gathered or grown myself and am a big fan of making hedgerow jam and herb flavored oils and I made a pretty good batch of sloe gin last autumn which I  happily shared with friends over the new year.

I tend to do a lot of what I call store cupboard cooking as  I hate throwing anything away, in fact when we were off traveling around Europe a couple of years ago in our old camper van this approach was most useful and a great way of eeking out and revitalizing the basic staples that we had with us. An interesting website that I have recently discovered for anyone who is interested in gathering their own fayre is a man after my own heart and he has a great recipe for blackberry brandy.

Christmas and planning for the new year

Its been busy time over the Christmas period as I have been busy providing Christmas related workshops ranging from textile creating handmade decorations and planning for next year. As well as this I needed to take some personal time out to spend time with our son Ashly before he emigrated to Australia on Christmas Day a time of happiness with a sprinkling of sadness mixed in.
So now looking forward to the year ahead I have been planning a program of activities that will be starting at the end of January , which and running through to the summer which I am really exited about I will be adding these to the current activities page very soon .I am also I am also planning in time to create my own work and carry on with private commissions and bookings and on top of this I had a great Christmas present a couple of weeks ago when I was offered a part time job role starting mid January.
Why might you ask is this a good thing ? well I have always to work for someone else part time usually as a community development worker as this role is I find complements my work as a artist.The other benefits is that it offers a regular income which in turn allows me to pay the bills on a regular basis and enabled me to provide workshops that are assessable and affordable to most of my students.

Experimental Mono Printing what fun and getting ready for the lino printing

As previously mentioned a few weeks ago I was busily getting ready for a mono printing workshop session, Well I can report that as usual great fun was had by all.
I love meeting new people as well as a few students I have met before as always this kind of workshop allows all concerned to try out different things and just play. It always amazes me how many adults love playing and experimenting and always say that they wish that they could do it more often.
I am now busy preparing for my lino block printing card making session in a couple of weeks as well as my final introductory jewelery workshops this year ( this time its recycled plastics) as well as trying to be prepared in advance for the rest of my workshops this year
If your interested most of the rest of my workshops that are open to individuals to book onto are  happening at the  Winchester Discovery Centre a favorite of mine as its a great space to work in.T he only exception is a Christmas family crafts session at the Gill Nethercott Centre, Whitchurch on the third of November.

My goose ready for the the Robert Davies animal sculpture workshop

Robert Davies Goose

The Robert Davies drawing exhibition depicts a range of animals who are considered to best of breed contrasted with animals who have been intensely  reared who have now been rescued. Robert captures the character of each of the animals in his drawings.

Winchester Discovery Centre asked me  to provide animal sculpture workshops for families responding to his work.
We created chickens, geese, pigs, cows, sheep and horses.

 Because the sculptures needed to be  ready to take away within a three hour time frame I use papier mache principles with mud rock using mud rock as the outer layers.
My goose after the workshop
I created templates for each of the animals that Robert had drawn allowing participants to choose the one that they liked the best.
I also created this goose sculpture as an example and a pig which I worked on during the sessions.
 To make the goose I  cut a body, head and neck, two wings and feet from thick cardboard. I taped the head neck and body together treating this as one piece and then padded  it and the wings with  scrunched newspaper and covered with masking tape.

The feet were made large to ensure stability these wire fastened to wire legs.

All of the pieces were covered with two layers of mud rock and joined together, further  detail was added with smaller pieces.
The families took more mud rock home with them so that they could do another layer and repair any damage that might occur on the way home.I have advised the students to leave it to dry ( 2- 3 days)  before they decorate it .

Now that the workshops have run I intend to finish my goose ( when I find he time and  use a mix of plaster and pva glue as a final coat. once this is dry I will sand it down and paint it with acrylics.
I will share post a photograph of the piece when it is completed.