Question: When do I ever go to a workshop that isn't run by yours truly?
Answer: Very rarely.
On Saturday 11th October I booked myself on a button making workshop which included all sorts of buttons; Dorset, Death's Head, Shirt Wing with Gina Barrett, star of Create and Craft.
It was a few months ago whilst researching the technique of Dorset buttons that I came across her book, Buttons, A Passmenterie Workshop Manual and subsequently bought it. I absolutely adore technical books and exploring new techniques.
When I taught myself how to do lace tatting a couple of years ago, I could find no-one to show me despite getting in touch with the Ring of Tatters organisation. So teaching myself was literally all trials and tribulations, starting off, then realising that I had been working back to front, getting the tensions right, understanding patterns, basically the whole kit and caboodle.
Before I bought the book I had researched a little on the subject and come up with what I thought were successful attempts at Dorset buttons but kept wishing that there was a workshop available to attend as some of the button structures were quite complicated. I had seen that Gina had received plenty of requests to do a workshop. I signed up to her mailing list, as you do, to keep up to date, hoping upon hoping that I wouldn't be inundated with email after email asking to buy this and buy that, offer this and opportunity that. I really hate that don't you. I like to think that occasionally an artist will let me know what's going on in their world then I can attend exhibitions, workshops or talks if they are close enough. I just like to be informed not nagged.
Anyhow, digressing slightly, when I did receive the newsletter I had been waiting there happened to
be the long awaited workshop opportunity, as you can imagine, I was right on the button (excuse the pun) in making sure I secured a place for the day.
The workshop was held at the Whipper Inn at Oakham in Rutland. Lovely location very rural town, lots of interesting shops and a few galleries to explore. The workshop was held in the conference room so was a great space with plenty of room. Perhaps my only criticism was the lighting was a little poor in the afternoon but then conference rooms aren't designed with stitchers in mind.
I arrived ever so slightly late due to my SATNAV's insistence that I wanted to go the market square which is where the front of the hotel is situated. I hadn't missed too much fortunately and very quietly and quickly got out my scissors, notebook and pin cushion. All eyes were then on Gina.
The first button we explored was a Death Head button (green button) which immediately made me think of the moth's with a similar name. I don't think there was one person, apart from Gina, in the room that didn't worry about overlapping their threads as they wrapped their way to the first completed button. Along the way we discovered how to keep our tension in check and how there are different ways to achieve this by using pointed wooden dowels of various thickness or a mental pokey tool similar to my bookbinding awl.
Everyone worked at their own pace, which is how I like it in my workshops. I managed to squeeze in a second Death Head button. (black and white). Lunch came around to quickly. Some of the group had brought lunch with them, others like me ordered from the bar. As a veggie there normally isn't a great deal to choose from and the same was said for this venue., unless I wanted a large sit down meal. I opted for a cheese salad roll (very special roll) and some onion marmalade. Sounds lovely? All I can say was it was a bit strange to have marmalade and red onion mixed together as a condiment and not onion made into marmalade as one usually expects.
In the afternoon we moved onto other buttons including the shirt wing (blue button) and passementerie button (small round button). By this time the group had become very loose and a little more confident about trying new techniques and different styles of buttons which Gina moving attentively around the group to ensure we all were happy with our attempts.
I thoroughly enjoyed my day and would highly recommend the workshop with Gina. The fabric buttons are very versatile and could be used in a myriad of ways.