Saturday, 25 September 2010

To attend or not to attend that is the question!

Its the eternal question for every stall holder- do you attend an event or not? Does the cost of a pitch mean the event is up for the taking or ruled out straight away? Will people going to that event be up for buying crafts or are they there for a different reason entirely? Sometimes you make a good choice and at other times its not quite so successful.

2 weeks ago I went to Woodfest in Hatfield Forest. As I arrived in Takeley the heavens opened, I couldn't see a single sign and I began to wonder what I'd signed up for. Last week I went to a Handmade and Vintage Fair on a lovely sunny day and had seen lots of advertising in the run up to the day so had high hopes. Now which one do you think turned into the best day and my perfect kind of event? If you read my blog a few wks ago you'll know the answer, it was WoodFest by far or perhaps 'Takeley's best kept secret' as it could also be known.  I loved the atmosphere, the other crafts there, the friendly stall holders and then sold well too. 

One thing that really made the event special was the live music all weekend just a short distance from my stall. It was a mix of folk/ blues and of a very high standard. The music went on long into the evening on Saturday and on Sunday the added sunshine helped too ;o)

Now don't get me wrong the Handmade and Vintage event wasn't badly orgainised or lacking visitors its just that people were there for the vintage side of things much more than the handmade side. I was amazed at just how many people dressed up in vintage clothing/vintage hairstyles to go to the event and the vintage stock seemed to by flying off the stalls around me. I had lots of chats with people about workshops or larger pieces of glass as potential commissions but generally found myself a bit....can I say this?! er yes, bored. I am used to demonstrating at events which helps the time pass and if I'm not doing this its usually because I am so busy, but without this I felt at a loose end. The highlight of my afternoon was the live music by 2 fantastic singers.

Now this brings me back to my original question about what events to chose to do and which ones to leave out. Perhaps if I'd have thought about it a little more I'd have realised that the Vintage and Handmade Fair wouldn't be craft specific enough but I didn't so I've lived and learnt, so to speak. Its also make me think ahead to next year and which events I'd like to try and find more of. I'm beginning to think that festivals with live music are the way forward for me so it's time I bought my own waterproof gazebo and got those wellies at the ready....festivals here I come!

What are your favourite events? Where do you think you'll be going over the coming months/next year?

Don't you love it when other people love your designs

At the start of the summer holidays I made a lampwork bead bracelet as a commission to match an outift. Helen emailed me a picture to use as colour inspiration and then I got to work on it. Today she left this rather lovely message for all her friends to read on facebook.

Helen Gillespie: "*****" Helen made me a wonderful bespoke necklace and bracelet set for the Vegas Wedding/Harry's Christening.

It was really easy, all I had to do was contact Helen, email my picture and then she made a set that compliments the dress and shoes (most important) beautifully. I will post a picture soon.

You can either have it sent... or visit helen for a fitting, ensuring it is (as goldilocks says) just right.

Thanks Helen!"
Here's the finished design with the emailed picture of the fuschia pink bag and turquoise dress I was matching the design to. Thank you back Helen for the comment :o)

These bracelets are hot designs at the moment, as fast as I make one I am selling it. I only have 1 left in stock which is red/plum colours but I am off to the studio tomorrow to make more beads and fulfil a 40th birthday commission.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Glass Studio Supplies

Today I discovered glass heaven!!!

It came in the form of in Wickford, Essex. I've been hearing how lovely this new shop is at my evening class and as I needed a few bits n pieces for my workshop this weekend I thought I'd pop in and see what all the fuss was I know! They had an amazing array of glass in every colour, frit, stringer, confetti, glass tech books, display items and its was all displayed in a very enticing way....and yes I spend a small fortune, but thats what glass shops are all about. As its en route between school and home I know this won't be my first and last visit and its great to have such a good supplier round the corner (the next closest is a 90min drive away in Bedfordshire!)

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Bead making workshop

Bead making workshop

There are still spaces on a friend of mines bead making workshop in October, here are the details.
Handmade Beads

Saturday 23rd October 10am - 4pm. Belstead House, Ipswich.

Telephone: 01473 686321. Email:

Love Beads? This bead making workshop will give you the opportunity to design and make your own. Using various materials: formers, polymer clay, felt and friendly plastic; you'll create your own unique beads, which will enable you to create your very own personalised jewellery.

Cost circa £38 which includes a fabulous hot buffet lunch and dessert plus coffee and cakes! A course contribution cost is also requested from the tutor directly (circa £6).

Friday, 10 September 2010

WoodFest 2010

This weekend is WoodFest at Hatfield Forest, nr Bishops Stortford, Herts. Its the 1st time I've been to this event and felt quite honoured to be asked if I wanted a stall. Whilst I was at Cressing Temple craft fair over the bank holiday a friend and her daughter (Suzie) came to see me. Suzie then found my facebook page and sent me a lovely message saying how much she loved her white glass heart necklace. The following day she sent me another message saying a friend of hers wondered if I'd like to come to WoodFest so here I am with a day to go about to load up the car.

It sounds lovely. Here's how they describe the event online:
Small intimate weekend Festival set in the heart of the Forest adjacent to the Lake. Sale of timber and woodland produce with craft and forest machinery demonstrations and stalls. Live music on Saturday and Sunday on the green in our open air arena.

I'm keeping my fingers firmly crossed for a rain-free weekend with a chilled out atmosphere.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Glass festival 'People's Award' winner announced

’Contained Freedom’ by Fiaz Elson.1

Kiln-cast optical and purple glass with internal lens, polished curved surfaces. Photo by: Simon Bruntnell.
So this was the winning piece of glass from the biennale exhibition. I'm sorry to see that it wasn't the one I chose but its a pretty amazing piece of glass none the less.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Nearly ready

Today I've been working on my 'How to...' blog entries. I've written one about monoprinting and another about adding oil pastel and chalk pastels to a monoprint. All I need to do now is take photos over the new few days while I'm at school and then I will post them on here.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Coming soon...How to's

I've decided to post a series of 'How to do/make/create.....' on my blog over the coming months to help those creative vibes get going among my loyal readers. Sometime we all get stuck for ideas of what to make or just wonder how on earth something is done so my aim is to show you how. There are 100's of things I'd like to know how to do and I'm always looking for the next workshop to sign up to so I can keep learning(I've just found a silver art clay workshop to go to in October and will be signing up for that).

As an art teacher I probably take for granted how many art techniques I know how to do and teach the kids every day I'm at school. Each time I teach them something new I'm going to try and take photos to show you how its done too, although you'll have to forgive me when term gets hectic and I hardly find time to breathe let alone take photos or write a blog about it! Right now though its the start of term and I have good intentions so like every new years resolution we'll see how long I can keep it going.

What art technique would you like to learn to do 1st?
I'll try and respond to any requests 1st (although please note that I don't know everything about everything because as lovely as that would be I'm afraid I'm only human!) so let me know your suggestions

Friday, 3 September 2010

Red House Cone

So this is my final post about the International Festival of Glass and actually my favourite of all the venues. It wasn't just the exhibitions here that I found fascinating but the history of the venue itself too.

In the building behind the post box I came across a small glass studio with a lovely lady called Sarah Jones working in there. She is a lampworker and shares the studio with a friend who fuses glass. They had only moved in the week before but already seemed pretty established there. Sarah was saying that she'd only been beading for 2yrs but had spent around 4 hrs a day cooped up in her shed making beads at home, around her day job in a special school. This academic year she was able to cut down her hours to be able to focus more on her glass. Now there's someone living my dream!

Red House Cone is one of only 4 cone buildings left in the UK today but at one point many areas had cone buildings to produce glass and pottery. Producing glass in yrs gone by was labour intensive and 100's of people would have worked in this building creating wares needed by the local people. These were made at the cone and then distributed via the canals. There had previously been an inlet for the canal within the cone but this has long since been closed off.
The glass was made in sheets along a woodend conveyor belt (above) or blown in the middle of the cone part of the building (below). It was then left to cool slowlyt in the curved tunnels that joined these 2 parts of the building together. The tunnels were also right next to the canal inlet so perfect for packing straight onto the barges.
A glass collaboration still on exhibit in the Red House Cone.
I was a craftsman at work blowing this glass vase. At this stage he is nearly finished and is just sawing the glass off the rod he's blown it through.

I'd seen these glass curtains on the front of 'Craftsman' magazine 2 years ago after the last glass bienniale exhibition (was how I 1st heard of the exhibition and made me want to come to this one) and was really please to be able to see them in real life. The lace patterning in the glass is much more vivid in real life and the fact it seems to defy gravity is what makes this piece stunning.

I hope you've enjoyed my little write ups about the glass festival and might even be inspired to go yourself in 2012...if your not at the Olympics that is!!!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Plowden and Thompson Glassworks

Plowden and Thompson are one of a dying breed of glass manufacturers and still manage to create bespoke glass for glass artists, hospital equipment, window manufacturers, the local butchers! (yes they really do!!!) and pretty much anyone who wants glass made for them. Their glassworks is just along the river from the main festival venue, The Ruskin Glass Centre, and is a pandoras box of glass. I managed to sneak onto a tour of the glassworks (I needed a paid ticket but by the time I realised we were already inside having the tour, oops!) and then had a look at more amazing glass in the exhibition alongside the works (this bit was free to everyone so I was too cheeky really, honest!).

The glass gets gathered in the kiln and poured into a mold, the press above it then comes down to flatten the glass and creates a round window.

They manufacture glass rods of just about any glass COE (co-efficiency, when you work with glass it needs to be the same COE so that it melts together at the same rate, if not it will crack). This was just half of the room. In the VERY long space below this room (so long you couldn't see the end as it was too dark) they are able to pull glass lengths by hand or machine to create these. Their preferred method is by hand as the machine tend to leave a slight curl in the rod which isn't perfect enough and they like to be the best they can be. Plowden and Thompson are know for having the best red coloured glass in the world and are definitely determined to keep it that way!

I absolutely loved this piece in their exhibition, probably my favourite of all the glass I saw. Its by Gill Hobson and called 'Celeste Amethyst' but with a price tag of £2200 I'm afraid to say its not yet in my house. Each individual piece of glass was a mini work of art in its own right and woven together with the wire in this way looked gorgeous.

This piece was going to be auctioned for 'Help For Heroes', its by Diana Dias-Leao and called 'Glass Corset'. Although it looked kind of spikey and uncomfortable the poppies softened the work and it was certainly drawing a lot of attention. I hope it raised a lot of money for the charity.

The lampworker who made this piece was at The Bead Fair at the Bonded Warehouse (which was also a venue for the festival) on Saturday. On her stall I noticed similar beads and spoke to her about this piece. She was clearly quite proud that someone had recognised her work from this exhibition. If only I could create something like this with my own lampworking I'd also be very proud. I'll keep practicing and see how I get on.

Next venue- Red House Cone tomorrow

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Glass Bienniale 2010

The International Festival of Glass is an event that happens every 2 yrs in the Glass Quarter of Stourbridge in the Midlands. The best way I can describe it really is that its like a huge arts trail but one all about glass. You get given a map and a list of whats on at each venue, along with a timetable of events at the Ruskin Centre (which is the main venue for demo's, talks, workshops etc) and then its down to you to find your way around and have a good look at everything. I managed to get to most venues in the 1 and a half days I was there and had a great time wandering around all the exhibitions.....and yes I did make a few purchases along the way too!

The Glass Bienniale is a huge part of the International Festival of Glass and really shows of the best of the best in the world of glass. The work on display includes just about any warm or hot glass technique you can imagine (warm glass is fusing in a kiln where as hot glass is more about working with molten glass like glass blowing). I don't think I was the only visitor to be walking around the displays thinking "wow, how on earth have they done that?!" The quality really was amazing. I took a few piccys of my favourite pieces for you to see. Which one would you have voted for as an entry into The People's Award?

Lattice work with noodles of glass that were then slumped to create 3 free form shapes as a sculptural piece.
This was sooooo delicate. Its been created with fine powders and print onto glass. How on eath she managed to keep it all in one piece I have no idea. It was simply stunning and actually looked like real a result this was my vote for The Peoples Award.

I loved this dynamic lighting installation, quirky and fun!

I liked the sculptural form of this piece and also how fresh it looked, almost like ice.

These flowers had been created on a hot lampwork torch to form part of a glass headdress. Not sure I'd be brave enough to wear it though for fear of breaking it!

Copper foil inclusions in glass with printed imagery. Several pieces like this were joined together to create a dress shape on a wire frame.

So having seen a small snippet of the exhibition who would your vote go to?

Coming soon: Next festival venue - Plowden and Thompson Glass works....the only glass makers left in the UK today