Thursday 3 October 2019

A batch production of modules for the Kusudamas

We're on week three and the group now understand how the structure works.

Finding a paper that is 12 x 12 inches and not too thick was quite a feat.  I had been recommended by one of the group last week to visit The Works, however when I got there the paper was 240 gsm which was way too heavy, in fact more like a thin card.

I decided my next port of call would be The Range. It seems that if you buy a 6 x 6 inch paper it is 90gsm weight but as soon as they enlarge the design to 12 x 12 the paper goes heavier.  Eventually, after rifling through there fantastic collection I found two packs of suitable paper.

It's lovely paper but I was a bit disappointed that I would have to make the decision on what colour ways we would use without consulting the group but that was how it had to be.  Fortunately, the group loved it and we had some beautiful medallions folded.

Next week we will be looking at a slightly different structure from the medallion, which will include how to fold a windmill plus have a little taster at book folding.

Thursday 26 September 2019

Completed Medallion Kusudamas

So last week I had 15 people turn up to the session on two levels.  At the end of the session 5 people shared that they wouldn't be able to make it this week.  However, 5 more people turned up which brought my numbers back up to 15.

This was fine by me but the library were struggling with chairs to accommodate the group.

This week I brought along pictorial instructions for the group to work through which I split up into sections as people were at different stages of making. This I hoped would make like easier and serve as a memory jog for people.  Whilst people from last week were finishing off their final modules I worked with the new people of the group and got them started. I was fortunate to have a couple of helpers which took the pressure off me a little.

Everyone worked quite happily with the aide of the instructions I had provided and they were all happy when their first structure was complete (especially when they knew they could take it home).

To round the session off I did a "Show and Tell" of the various alternatives we could come up with using what they had learnt so far.

Thursday 19 September 2019

Older People's Project - Paper Sculptures Week One

Over the next 8 weeks I will be in Corby Library sharing my folding knowledge with a 65+ group for the Older People's project hosted by Made in Corby and funded by Scottish Power.

I'm generally a positive type of person but I did worry that as this session had been advertised as a drop-in I may end up with a small group.  How wrong I was.

Initially, I had about 5 people at 11am and that was the time advertised to start, then a couple more came and another 4 until I was asking the Library Assistant for more chairs until I suddenly had 15 people in 2 sections.

After repeating my introductions a few times we got started. I assured the group, initially, that we would fold and complete one kusudama each.  Unfortunately, when the group grew to 15 and situated in two locations this became a hopeless task, you would think.  Actually, everyone got to almost the same stage where each module was finished and we can attach them together to form our first kusudama next week.

Well done group, I'm so proud of you.

Monday 16 September 2019

Artists Retreat

Design Factory seem to be no more or to be precise, have joined up with, merged and become Design Nation. Thankfully they still offer the satellite groups a £200 bursary to spend on CPD (Creative Professional Development).

The Northampton group decided to put their pot towards an artists retreat and 12 artists responded.  Our group was going to be the benchmark for the possibility of future retreats being offered.

With Ruth Lynne at the helm we were in good hands.  She sourced a lovely venue, Sedgeford Hall a few miles from Hunstanton.  Being close the the beach was definitely a plus, set in the countryside was another and the final plus was having a private heated indoor swimming pool to use.

Leading up to the retreat there didn't seem the opportunity to meet up to plan our days. This meeting sort of happened virtually with an onward going conversation on WhatsApp. Although the retreat was for 4 days, each person had booked for a different amount of days.  I wanted to go for the full experience and that worked really well for me.  

Last year I had put in for some funding with the arts council to allow myself a year to step back from my practice to re-evaluate where I was and look at my next steps.  I had factored in a retreat in my proposal and so far I have managed to do most of what I said I would do in my step away year on a shoestring budget.

Loads of ideas were put forward as possible activities and only a very few actually happened. These included:-

Mono printmaking
Pot throwing
How to use a Cricut machine
Jewellery making

In the build up I started to get a bit overwhelmed with all the suggestions. My plan was to take a few reading books, a couple of art journals and the rest would happen organically.

And indeed it did.

The venue was just perfect.  Very quiet with 8 bedrooms, either twin or double rooms. A large kitchen with a long table so we could all eat together, a very light and airy lounge plus a smaller darker TV space with comfortable chairs.  Suffice to say none of us switched the darn thing on although phones and laptops were still activated.

I didn't sleep well the first night but after that I was fine.

We all utilised the swimming pool and there were many trips down to the beach.  Everyone used the retreat in their own way, there was even two who spent the time putting an arts council proposal together and one person who just came for the day; she brought new work and received a group crit.

Everyone was sensitive to each others needs and it became a mini community.  During every evening meal there was plenty of conversations, mainly around our art practices but also where we felt the Design Nation was heading and how it was evolving from where we were with the Design Factory.

Other activities that took place were Puy, where you swing items around, it's usually fire but we used weighted balls on strings.


There was a pot throwing session, unfortunately the wheel was right on the floor so that counted me out. 

A drawing session using natural materials for inspiration.

One person brought along their Cricut machine. I'd heard about these for a while but wasn't sure how they quite worked.  I was amazed at how you could use your phone remotely to set the machine off to cut things, in my case is was a flurry of butterflies.  It's an ingenious bit of kit and something I will consider for the community projects I'm involved with.

This is the first retreat I have been on and I would definitely do it again, whether with a group or solo.  This week has given me the opportunity to totally disconnect from everything.  Having that time to be away from the norm has been refreshing. Living with other creatives has been educational and it still re-affirms how generous people can be with their time; to listen and to put forward ideas.

Lastly, most of the group brought along materials they no longer needed to swap or donate to charity,

Thursday 2 August 2018

Activate, a fun day for all the family

Following up on an urgent shout out by Transported Art, I managed to secure a days work over at Carter's Park in Holbeach.

It was a hot day and I managed to find a parking spot on the road nestled under some trees.  Fingers crossed that I wouldn't come back to a blazing car.

The stand was set up by the time I got to the park by two members of the Transported team.  All I needed to do was unpack my trolley bag and then the day would begin.

Almost from the start we were busy, with parents and children arriving at the table to create a butterfly, seemingly en masse.  I Looked around the park the same could be said for the other stands. I was so thankful to have the support of the staff from Transported, it made for a smoother experience for the children.

It always amazes me that the most simplest of activities can be the most engaging. The other thing of note is the level of skills children present when given a task.  I was extremely impressed by a four year old girl who joined the table who positively radiated  independence and sat there quietly cutting out her butterfly practically unaided. I have always found through personal experience it is always best to allowed people to blossom whatever age they are. Encouraging people to try before you do a task for them is always key, that way they gain confidence and increase their own self worth.

We continues supplying butterfly templates to be coloured in and acetate for the top wings for the next two hours, then ran out.  I had been booked for 4 hours.

However, I am a girl that thinks on her feet and I had brought along plenty more clear sticky book cover.  This enabled us to stay open and continue to provide more creativity to even more children. The only other problem was a little breeze which came and went which caused all sorts of fun with the tissue paper but that didn't deter the fun that the children had.  At the end of 4 hours 85+ children had come to the stand.

I have to say I was fortunate to be under the cover of a gazebo otherwise I would have frazzled in the sun.  The same could not be said for my car which was blazingly hot when I returned to it to drive home.

Tuesday 12 June 2018

Procession - thousands of women converge in London

I am so proud to have been part of the Procession project from start to finish.

On Sunday 10th June the group that Carole and I  (as The Eloquent Fold) helped facilitate to produce a banner which acknowledged 100 years of women getting the vote; walked through the centre of London displaying the final piece
In 1918, the Representation of the People Act gave the first British women the right to vote and stand for public office. And now 100 years on, women and girls from across the United Kingdom came together to make this historic moment into a huge artwork produced by Artichoke, commissioned by 14-18 Now (the United Kingdom's arts programme for the centenary of the First World War.  The artwork was based on an original idea by the creative director, Darrell Vydelingum.  It was displayed in the four major cities of each country; Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London where each woman or girl with wear the colours of the suffragette movement; green, violet or white.
One hundred organisations were invited from all over the country to partner with artists to work with local women to help share their voices using textiles.  Made in Corby were one of the organisations commissioned and they selected myself and Carole Miles working as The Eloquent Fold to produce the Corby banner.
Our Procession group were made up of women and daughters, the elderly, choir members, retired, artists, an MP and representatives from Made in Corby. Some just came to London to help us celebrate whilst the majority worked on the banner to make it happen.

Eight sessions were held at Swan Gardens and through a process of exploring the history of suffragettes and the suffrage movement, consultation with the group about their thoughts and developing ideas into designs we eventually came up with something that everyone could contribute a small part. We agreed we would use the violets of the suffragette movement as our main feature, and make each one personal.  We encouraged the group to use embroidery and silk painting; each person made at least two.  Our main slogan came from our youngest member of the group - Women together will change the world, along with  ‘Deeds Not Words’, which is the motto of Corby, but also comes from the Suffragette movement. We were proud that we could show the diversity of our group and which became apparent when they made their individual rosettes featuring short strong, sometimes humorous comments in English, German and Polish, reflecting the diversity of the group.

The Procession, was exciting and there was a real sense of camaraderie amongst the women who walked through the streets of London.  Amongst our group we had members from a local choir.  They had brought copies of original words from protest songs which were sung out at full burst through the underground and through the streets.

The banners were many and colourful.  Many groups had decided to make their own, also individuals had made sometimes very basic flags and pennants.  It didn't really matter we were all there for one purpose, to celebrate Women's right to vote.

Wednesday 9 May 2018

Processions Project - Week 8

The group have worked really well together and as I have said previously, there has been an ebb and flow of people.

Since the last session I have machined all the flowers on and started to attach the backing fabric which has to be black.  I used a sheet as it was the cheaper option.  It was hard work battling with such a large piece of fabric under a domestic sewing machine but I made it more manageable by only doing about an hour and a half  in one sitting.  I think it took me about 5 hours in total. Phew, but I was so relieved that we were a stage further on and that the group would have something to do.

There were a few things that needed finishing off. Firstly we had to allow time for one unfinished handstitched flower to be completed.  Whilst we waited the group naturally and organically split into two.

One group started to stitch buttons onto the Suffolk puffs to hold the two layers together and the second group finished off the last of the rosettes.  In-between time, I had to nab the banner to finish off overlocking around the edge once the last flower had been stitched on.  Then Lillian and I discussed the tab situation, once the size was decided upon I left her to it.

Moving around the round there was a nice level of chatter, discussing various topics, one of which was our plans for the march in London on the 10th June.  Who was taking what, backpack, hats, rain macs etc.  When you get a group of women in one room with single minded purpose that's what happens. They were thinking of the less able, where we would be meeting. My suggestion was about taking something with you to do on the journey there, in my case it was tatting.  I think the journey back might be a gentle snooze.

The actual march or procession will be two and half miles, which for some people will be quite a distance.

Once everything was stitched in place and only fifteen minutes to go. the lovely Lillian, who has kept Carole and I in check and been a fabulous support during the later sessions (along with Kate and Mary) started pinning on the lilac and silver border, placing the tabs at the top.  This enabled us to have a well deserved photo together for prosperity (which I will have to add into this post when I receive it, but after the march has taken place as requested by Made in Corby).  I had asked Kate from Corby Community Arts if she minded bring her tripod for her camera (put it on self timer) so she could be I'm the photo as well.