Archive | August 2012

A day Trip to Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire

Fountains Abbey

A few weeks ago I went with my family to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal water Garden in North Yorkshire which is looked after by the National Trust and is also a World Heritage Site. It is a really beautiful pace not far from the town of Ripon. It was a lovely sunny day and when we got there the car park was packed and we ended up in the over flow. I started to think that it wouldn’t be that nice walking around with such a large crowd.

My family have always been National Trust members since my sister and I were very little and I have great memories of visiting a variety of South West properties when I was little. There was though, always a shadow that lingered over our family days out as we would always end up at a garden centre on our way home which me and my sister both hated, unless there was a good playground!

Back at Fountains we went through the entrance and walked down a grassy hill towards a line of trees and as we came down out of the trees the ruined abbey came into sight and it is breath taking. It is such a beautiful place in an amazing location. It incorporates 800 acres of land so my worries about being over crowed dissipated.

We went to a little information centre (the Porters Lodge) where there was a scale model of the Abbey and detailed history of its life. It started in 1132 with 13 monks who came to live a simpler life and ended 400 years later when Henry VIII demanded its closure.

I was pretty excited when I found there was a chance to dress up. I defiantly don’t need to be asked twice to don a costume so I was straight in with dressing up as a monk and even roped in a rather embarrassed sister as well!

A Little Dressing Up

We then walked around the ruins which are huge, the largest in the country. As you walk through the ruined arches and doorways it is hard to imagine just how it looked in its prime but if it is that amazing as a ruin then it must have been a truly fantastic sight at its height.

As you walk away from the Abbey you start walking beside the River Skell and into the Studley Royal Water Garden. It was designed in the early 18th century by John Aislabie. He wanted to impress visitors to his Yorkshire estate and so began to turn the wooded valley of the river Skell into one of England’s most spectacular Georgian water gardens.

Studley Water Gardens

We walked all the way to the tea rooms where we had a lovely cream tea with clotted cream! Coming from Devon, I always took it for granted that all cream teas came with clotted cream but since living in the North I have found this is not the case with many being served with whipped cream. It is definitely not the same.

It is such a beautiful place to take your family or just to come for a peaceful walk. Next time I think it would be lovely to bring a picnic or maybe come when it is a lot colder and frosty, I am sure that it looks stunning in all seasons.

http://www.fountainsabbey.org.uk
http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/fountains-abbey

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Who Has any Unfinished Projects?

I know I can’t be the only one that starts an art or craft project and then doesn’t finish it.  Mine is a painting that I started maybe 4 years ago.

That is a long time.  I went with my boyfriend (now husband!) to Rome and had a great idea for a painting of the Colosseum.  I took varoius black and white and colour photos of the building at different angles and when I got home, put them together to create a collage effect.

The Photo Collage

 I then numbered each photo so I could remember where they went and sketched onto a 76cm x 60cm canvas.  I think that it stayed as a pencil drawing for at least a year.

The Pencil Beginnings

I then started to paint it which ended up taking another 2 years.  I put it away as I wasn’t happy with it and then last year I found it and started thinking about it again.

The Drawing Becomes a Painting

I decided it needed some embroidery and so the slow process of hand embroidering poppies, wheat and seed heads started and I still haven’t finished it.

Embroidered Poppy

 I am hoping that by sharing it with you, it will give me the motivation to finish it once and for all.

The Current Stage of the painting

My Lovely Weekend

This weekend has been really wonderful.  I drove on Saturday morning to visit my sister Emma and a friend Gems, in the lovely village of Mobberley in Cheshire.  After a refreshing cup of tea we decided to head over to Alderley Edge for a walk in the sunshine. http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/alderley-edge.

Image It was lovely walking through all the trees and we sat down on the stone peak which has the most beautiful views over the Cheshire Plain to the Peak District.

Image

It was so peaceful just sat in the sunshine and there were quite a few like minded people scattered around, I could have sat there for hours.  After, we went for a another cup of tea at the Wizard tea Rooms where I had a very tasty apple and plum pie.

Yesterday (Sunday)  I went over to Stockport Handmade and Producers Market which was being held in the Old Indoor Market Hall on the 3rd Sunday of every month.

My Stall at the Stockport Handmade and Producers Market

Although I didn’t do brilliantly, I still had a great day and I met some lovely people.  My stall was next to Jeanette Archers beautiful collection of handmade baby and children’s clothing, Flossie’s Garden, made with both designer and her own printed fabrics. Visit her facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Flossies-Garden

Opposite was Sara Robinson of The Purple Robin who makes really great colourful and fun camera straps and bags http://www.etsy.com/shop/ThePurpleRobin

Also Wick and Wax who makes great crayons based on the nations favourite toys (the Lego shapes were my favorite) and cult classic movies as well as lovely candles of which I got 3 different fragrances.  http://folksy.com/shops/SubLimeCrayons

Even if you don’t always get the profit you are aiming for it is the people you meet that can make the difference.  And now it is back to reality and the working week!

Samplers

If you are like me you will love experimenting with embroidery and what better way than to create a sampler? The word ‘sampler’ comes from the Latin ‘exemplar’ and in relation to needlework simply means an example of stitches.

Samplers have been used for centuries as a type of pattern book that you create to learn new stitches and can then refer back to them for future work like an embroidered notebook.  In the 16th and 17th centuries rare and expensive pattern books were being published and so women collected and recorded these stitches.  The patterns were sewn randomly onto the fabric and the woman would add to them throughout her lifetime so we are left with fascinating works of art.

Linen Sampler Early 18th Century

By the 19th century, samplers were an important part of a girls education and were seen as examples of their proficiency as a needlewoman but their style became much more uniform.  The main stitches used were cross and tent stitch.  The designs were typically made up of the alphabet, the makers name, age and date.

Sampler by Elizabeth Laidman, 1760

I first started to sew under the guidance of my gran but learned proper embroidery at school when I was 8.  Once a week on a Tuesday we would have an hour of needlework.  We started our own small samplers with basic cross stitch and each week learned a new stitch to add to it.  I remember being so proud of my work and I still have it 20 years later!

My First Sampler

I still love to learn new stitches and so still create small samplers so that I can practice and then go back and see what works and what doesn’t.  I experiment with colour and thread types.  Sometimes it can surprise you and give amazing results and sometimes its a reference you can look at for what not to do.  Recently a friend Lynn Holland http://www.doodlybird.co.uk loaned me a wonderful book, The Left-Handed Embroiderer’s Companion by Yvette Stanton.  Being left handed, I have always had to reverse patterns and stitches and suddenly I could see all the little mistakes I had been making, it is a brilliant book for us lefties.

I experiment with embroidery and sometimes my work can be random.

A More Random Approach

Sometimes I like to make up a square with sections for different stitches and slowly build it up.

Structured Sampler

Different stitches also make great finished patterns such as on one of my needle cases.

Embroidered Needle Case

Have a go and play around with different stitches, you never know what you might create.

Resources:

Mary Thomas: Embroidery Book (1948 edition)

Mary Schoeser: World Textiles, A Concise History (2003)

Golden Hands Magazine Volume 1 p72-73 (Marshall Cavendish publication from the 1970’s)

The V&A Museum website: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/h/history-of-samplers-18th-century/

Basic overview: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sampler_(needlework)

 

Lino Printing Workshop

Teacher For the Day

On Friday 3rd August I took my first lino printing workshop in Rochdale, Lancashire. All week I have been preparing and working out a time table for the day and getting all my ideas together so that everyone gets the most out of the day which was running 10am – 4pm. I got some printing books from the library and some of my own books and magazines for inspiration and a little collection of my own printed work.

A few Books for Inspiration

I decided to collect a few leaves for some design ideas as they give a great simple shape for your first lino cut. On Thursday I could be seen scouring the streets of Manchester City Centre looking for interesting leaves and shapes and definitely got a few strange looks as I emerged from the bushes clutching a bunch of leaves!

On Friday I loaded everything into my car and drove over to Rochdale where the workshop was taking place. I had two wonderful students, Lynn of Doodly Bird fame http://www.doodlybird.co.uk and Karen.  After and lovely cup of tea and a chat I started to set up all the equipment and got prepared.

Leaves and Equipment

The aim of the day was to start with a little introduction to lino printing, a look at all the different equipment and then get them to have a go and mess about and get to grips with all the cutters and what effects they give on prints and eventually have a go at printing their own design onto a tea towel.

I did a quick demonstration of how to use the cutters by showing them a simple leaf pattern and then they had a go. They were both really good straight away and needed very little help. I love lino because it is such a simple method of printing and has such satisfying results, you can just let your imagination take over. Something as simple as a leaf can spark something amazing.

Simple Leaf Prints

They both started with leaves but Lynn then decided to have a go at one of her Doodly Bird designs which worked so well.

Lynn’s Doodly Bird Design

I got them to start with prints on paper to get used to the inks and the pressure to use to get the desired effect.  We were printing everything by hand with no press which is how I do my own prints and means you don’t need any expensive equipment to start.

Lynn Hard at Work

Lynn used a paint brush to apply specific areas with colour on her newest Doodly Bird.

A Pyramid of Doodly Birds

Karen used a simple sponge which gives great texture to a print and mixes colours really well. Some of her prints had a great ethnic look to them. They used plain white paper and also some lovely handmade paper sheets both giving different effects and textures to the prints.

Karen Starting on her Tea Towel

After a lovely lunch and quick browse through the books it was back to work. I brought along some plain white tea towels for them to print, so the afternoon was dedicated to creating a design for the tea towels. Karen had created quite a few leaf and flower lino cuts so had to decide which ones she was going to choose. Her final design was really striking and the colours looked fantastic.

Karen’s Final Design

Lynn used her Doodly Bird and created a friend and printed them both so they were talking to each other. Up the side she designed a pretty stylised flower. Unable to resist she finished the tea towel off with the help of a black fabric pen, giving it her trademark look which definitely made it look amazing.

The Star Students and their Tea Towels

I had such a fantastic day and two brilliant students and am looking forward to more workshops in the future.  I loved being a teacher and passing on skills and techniques that I love and I hope that they both carry on with lino printing.  Lynn has done a little review of the workshop on her wonderful blog ‘One I Made Earlier’ so take a look: http://www.oneimadeearliertoday.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/another-string-to-our-bow.html

If anybody is interested in lino printing I am happy to do a workshop for you either in your own home or in a rented space close by.  I am based in the Manchester area and am happy to take groups of up to 5 people.  Please feel free to contact me to find out more.