Merry Christmas

Phew. That was a busy day. Today BorderlineStraggler and I helped close down the pop-up shop. We sold, wrapped, packed, tidied, swept and generally dismantled the whole place. It has been an amazing experience being part of this shop. I learnt so much, met some wonderful artists, and made some new friends. AND I sold things, to real life people. As it turns out quite a lot of things. Today my bag at the end of the day contains only two bookmarks and a reindeer, this is all that is left of my stock. I am so proud of myself and the things I made. So now I am going to kick back with a table heaving with munchies, curl up under a quilt with BS and watch some festive telly.

Merry Christmas blog world xxxxxx


In defence of Kirstie

***EDIT: please read the bottom of the post, I am taking it all back!****

Yes, you read that right and you know who I am talking about.

Ok, now before you either a) snort and delete me from your feed, b) call some sort of mental health professional, or c) text me to make sure my blog hasn't been hacked let me explain. I like many of my crafty friends find Kirstie's handmade series a patronising, unrealistic representation of the work it takes to create hand-crafted good of a high standard, and the recent foray into competitive craft has left me feeling sad that something so central to my life could leave me feeling so angry. 

But that is the rant that I am not having today. Today I am sat on my sofa knitting socks watching Kirstie's Handmade Christmas remembering a time in my life when I would watch this show again and again having recorded it on the digi box. This was back when I was in a job I disliked, filled with a barrel load of late-twenties-life-crisis, wondering what I should do with my life. I would watch the Kirstie shows, and the Mastercrafts shows incessantly, loving to rewatch bits of the weaving episode, or glassblowing and imagine a different life where I wasn't a frustrated administrator by day and crafter by night. And do you know what, that is exactly what I have now. I am training to become a designer/maker, I have grand plans on what BorderlineStraggler, SilverLining and I are going to do when I am done at school, I have products in an actual shop and a lot of that was inspired by the early Kirstie shows. By putting professional craftspeople on primetime television this show made me realise that there were thousands of designer/makers our there who did exactly what I longed to do and it inspired me. Some did intense, amazing processes I had never dreamed of like blacksmithing, others made their living making things using techniques that I used like knitting and baking. They were real people with lives I was jealous of. Sitting here, this repeat is bringing back a whole range of different memories and emotions, not all of them good, but mainly I am remembering the wonder I felt the possibilities out there. 

Now I am certainly not saying that Kirtie's handmade home was the only thing which made me jack in my job and change our lives, that would make my decision seem shallow and impetuous and easy, when in reality it was hard, and scary and took years of lots of little things building up to help me come to college.  But it was one of those little things. So I am happy that this show helped me and even thought the current incarnation makes me shout at the TV like a woman possessed, I hope that there are other people out there who saw this show and were inspired to do something creative.

Even if it was make god awful, ugly PMC jewellery, and hideous cushions with hares on them.


I am very sad to say that I just watched the Christmas edition of the new Kirstie show and it made me so angry and sad. I think the whole thing was summed up when Kirstie admitted to the camera that she didn't want to make things to compete anymore, she just wanted to go to the fair and buy a quilt, not make one but buy one. And that is the problem. The past two series have taken all the gentle joy of crafting out of the show. There is no longer any happiness in Kirstie when she is making things there is fear of being too original, instead it is all about conforming to a 'traditional' aesthetic which is acceptable to the Judges. There shouldn't be judging in craft. People craft to escape the mundane strictures and rules of proper life, if you make even your that a race, what is left to do for fun? Very saddened by the whole thing.


Festive table fun

This is by far the fastest turn around from idea, to product, to sales I've ever had, about 72 hours in total!

Whilst at work on Wednesday night I came up with this design. I wanted to make something new for our Christmas table for our first festive season in Hereford. I love setting the table for Christmas, it reminds me of getting out the poinsetta tablecloth with my parents and special star shape platters in time for our grandparents to descend for the day. When I got married I wanted to start creating my own holiday traditions and our table is slowly being added to each year, refining its seasonal wonder as our taste change. I have some thoroughly cute placemats, I embroidered some napkins a few years ago, there is the occasional piece of Christmas-y crockery but till now our napkins were allowed to roam free, unravelling from my inexpert attempts at folding willy nilly.

I thought some lovely metal rings were in order. In all honesty I couldn't face soldering even 4 napkin rings, the solution was to make a little plate that I could then thread a ribbon through to tie around the napkins. If they were little plates they needed to say something. I have been listening to Christmas music pretty much non-stop since 30th November at work so festive lyrics became my inspiration:
I was so taken with these, I thought I'd see if they would fit in at the pop-up shop. Steve approved, so my last day at college was spent making more to sell - I made 22 in total, stamping, cutting and polishing the day away. And sell they did. I dropped them off in the shop at 2pm on Saturday and by 5.30 they had all sold. All of them. Including the ones I needed for our table. So once again are napkins are naked, but I am unbelievably happy that they were so popular. 
A final gratuitous shot of them all heaped together in their box for delivery. 


Artsite 3 Christmas Shop

Welcome to:

I have been doing a couple of shifts a week at the shop and it has become a very lovely way to while away a cold afternoon. The shop sells 

A yarn addicts dream tree

There is a corner for prints and original paintings and drawings
Jewellery, aprons and gorgeous mirrors
Beautiful glass, ceramic and textile tree ornaments
A box of cushions I just want to sit in!

And then here are all of my things: notebooks, diaries & bookmarks

These are some reindeer I had been making in the shop. Lots of people asked me about them and wanted to know how much they were so after I had finished the gift ones I made a few more for the shop. I'm told I've sold a few!

One even made it into the window. Very, very exciting.


Yes, I've been a bad blogger, but I have had assessments galore this week and several shifts at the artsite3 shop (otherwise known as the most beautiful little shop in hereford), so sadly very little Blogger time. Tonight I have a late meeting but tomorrow there will be time for posting beautiful pics of this lovely shop and some of my things in-situ.
Till then here is a sneak preview of something I've been working on.


Opening night!

Tonight is the opening of the Hereford Christmas popup shop where I have a few of things for sale. At the moment I am so excited to see what the shop looks like, it is an amazing space in a great location and Karen and Steve of Tea with Bea have such a great aesthetic I am sure it will be beautifully styled. 

However I am sure over the next few hours I will run the full gamete of emotions from self doubt about the quality of what I am selling, to jumping up and down with excitement, to teenage strop, finally ending up in a tizz about what to wear (is a red striped dress far to festive?). I know this is coming and I know it is all just nerves but I apologise in advance to anyone who bumps into me today, please be kind it has taken pretty much all the confidence I have to enter things for this shop and by tomorrow I promise I'll try and be normal again. AND I'll post plenty of beautiful pictures to encourage you all to drop by!

p.s I have just had a terrifying thought, if I am this nervous about the opening of a group shop what state will I be in the for the opening of our degree show in 2013?!?


Sample pics

I was going to post a few more pictures of my quilty samples but Kate has done it for me! Rock over to the Hereford College of Arts Crafts Cluster blog to check out some pictures of my samples, and also to see work from other people on the crafts cluster courses at HCA.


Finishing touches

I do love the finishing touches in life, a beautifully wrapped present, a pretty cosy for my tools, a fabric folder cover, all of these things make me happy. Having gathered all my samples together yesterday I realised that I needed to get them organised and ready to present for my group crit on Tuesday. As a big part of making these samples in the way I have, is so that you can touch them, feel the difference that each quilting technique makes to the cosy factor of the quilt. It is also important that you can see both sides of them so sticking them in my technical journal was not an option. Inspired by my collection of furniture covering sample books I thought a post-bound book would be the best way to go this is what I came up with:
There is a post that the mounted samples are threaded onto, which is then held secure by the rectangular washer/bar and a nut. This was intended to be a temporary solution that I would then revisit once I had all my samples and I could bind them properly. However as I was putting it together this morning I couldn't help but add a few finishing touches, like rounding corners of the metal plates, and as I am never one to pass up some letter stamping, I thought I'd label them while I was at it. I have really fallen for this and I think it has just become my 'proper' solution and not just my temporary solution. 

On one side there will be my quilting samples, and on the flip side there will be my patchwork or quilt block samples. The samples have been stitched onto a folded piece of cardboard at the top so they are 90% free to allow people to touch and feel them. My plan is to write my analysis of each sample on labels which will go on the cardboard mount so all the information is all together. 

A good mornings work, now I'm off to make some more samples to fill this bad boy up!


Stitchy specialist processes

One of the modules I am doing this term is called 3D Specialist Processes. In this module we have to investigate a technique or process or material to develop our knowledge of it and begin to develop the specialist knowledge that we will need as makers. As each person on the course has different interests and materials they work in we have had to write our own proposals on what form this investigation will take. There is a massive spectrum of things people are looking at from enamelling to ceramic slab building to wood carving. I had decided to look at mechanisms, but due to the universe conspiring against me for the last month I had made little or no progress on this project. Last week, following a series of tutorials, I decided to give myself a break and rather than doing two, very different and demanding projects for my practical modules this semester I would combine the two and focus on the technical skills that are needed in my design development project, as the subject for specialist processes. So for the past week or so I have been quilting.

I was taught to sew by Silver Lining who is a wonderful quilter with a home is full of piles of quilts and blankets, where you are never more than a couple of feet away from something to get snuggled in. One of the (many) things she inspired in me a love of quilts, I read a lot of modern quilt blogs, I have made a few quilts of my own and been on a weekend course but I have never really studied in depth the technical side of quilting, so this module is going to be a brilliant opportunity to do just that. As a starting point I am working my way through this book: 

I've been making 6.5" x 8" sample sizes, some are mini quilts to explore different kinds of patchwork blocks;

 The rest are quite boring looking, quilting samples. It might not seem like a rock'n'roll art school time to many out there but having the time to explore exactly what the difference are between a 1" and a 2" interval between quilting lines and what that does to the look and feel of the quilt, but it is a complete luxury and delight to me. You can hopefully expect a lot more stitchy samples here in the next few weeks.


London trip: tea time

Phew. It's been a busy first day in London. We are on an overnight trip to the big city for a whole bunch of culture. Last year trip to London meant 8 hours on a coach and 3 actually seeing things, so far this has been so much better - I feel like there is plenty of time to enjoy the things I want to see while squeezing in a little light shopping!
Today I've been to the power of making at the v & a which was fantastic, 20 years of dazed and confused at Somerset house, followed by a quick British museum browse. Tomorrow is Grayson Perry, Tate modern and possibly the design museum.
Yes. Exhausting, so I am enjoying my tea while kirsten, esther and I crack on with our learning journals before heading out to forage for cheap London fun!


I have stock!

Check it out! Here is my finished, labelled, first batch of stock ready to take down to the pop-up shop tomorrow. After the litany of disasters that seem to have plagued me in this mission you have no idea how happy this stack of books is making me. There are still books to be finished but I am waiting for some supplies to be delivered so I'll have to take those in at a later date.

BorderlineStraggler designed my logo many years ago, back when I first set up an etsy shop, and this week he has been tweaking it to fit all my new products (you have no idea how big the grin on my face is to be able to write 'new products' I made things! multiple things!). 

I'm going to be relaunching my etsy shop with my new range of things in the next few weeks, so if you haven't got a chance to get to the Hereford pop-up shop you can still get your hands on these handmade books. Once I have had chance to take some decent pictures I'll post some info about each of the books


In case of emergency do not collect personal belongings

Yesterday was spent drying things, and hitting things.

Once it became apparent the leaking had stopped and there was little I could do till the landlord got here I needed to get into the workshop and work out some frustration. At college you can always tell when the forge is shut, the blacksmiths roam about the halls looking frustrated and a little bit like caged animals. They love the physicality of steel and the ways they work the metal to create beautiful objects. I've always found stillness in hand embroidery and knitting, the feeling of the yarn or silks as they pass over my fingers and the concentration which blocks out all other niggling conscious thoughts. I've never really understood the cathartic nature of bashing hot metal with a hammer. To me it is hot and noisy and you can't listen to radio 4 or drink a cup of tea while you do it. But yesterday I released my inner blacksmith and beat out my frustration at the farcical litany of disasters which my life has become. And boy was it good. Turns out the clanging, ear trembling noise of the anvil being hit by a hammer was much more distracting than Jenny Murray's dulcet Woman's Hour tones. By the end of my day I had made five copper bookmarks to add to my depleted stock for the pop-up shop:

I'm really pleased with the way they turned out. Each one has a different phrase on it and I love the texture I got on the metal. I'm hoping to make a few more of these and add them to the shop in the next week or so. 

In the evening the repair man finally turned up and after much investigation he can find no reason why we had a leak. The only thing we can do is carry on as normal, keep an eye on the ceiling and hope for the best. Just in case I decided I better move the things that I care most about losing from that side of the studio. We don't have room in the house for me to pack everything up and I need my space to work in, so I spent some time last night deciding what I would 'save'. I've often had idle conversations about what it would be terrible to lose - usually when we are renewing insurance - but when it came down to it I was a little surprised what my boxes were filled with, and what was left on the shelf. There were the obvious things like camera's, laptop, sewing machines (yes, machines I have four including an over-locker) stuff that would be expensive to replace.
 There were books but not as many as I thought. These are mostly vintage craft books that we have found at car boot sales, charity shops or inherited from family members who no longer care how to make macramé; imported american Craft magazines; my small collection of art books mainly given to me by BS; and one novel - a water damaged book called 'Soon I will be Invincible' which I got at a book swap several years ago and I love it. But there are still a couple of shelves of books left that I thought were important enough to take up precious shelf space, but when it comes down to it, I certainly wont lose any sleep over them if they get trashed in another leak. 

The rest of the 'saved' pile is made up of my collection of prints and original pieces of art that I have collected over the last few years. It is a collection which moves with me everywhere I live, and they are the things which make a place mine. And that is what I realised, if it had come down to it and the ceiling had been falling in and I had only time to save a few things it wouldn't have been the practical things, the expensive things, it would have been the little things - the framed beer mat on which BS first designed my Rats logo; the Black Apple prints, the wire lamp drawing and all the other things which hang on my wall. 

Do you ever think about this? What would be in your saved pile?


It wasn't meant to go like this

My post today was meant to be one of triumph. I have very Exciting News that I was looking forward to sharing. After 15 years of harbouring a desire to have my things sell in an actual bricks and mortar shop I was actually getting to do it. With the support of friends, family and a dreamteam combination of my favourite staff at college I had plucked up the courage to send an email to a pop-up shop looking for local artists work. Even better I got a response very quickly that yes, they loved my work and would love to have it in the shop. I began making in earnest. Last night my studio was a shrine to a handmade book production line. I was all ready for tonight's glueing session to finish off all my books, covers all neatly sewn and cut out, grey board in stacks of organised joy. I was not ready to be woken up by BS with the words "Penny, you need to get up there's been a disaster in your studio".


My studio. My lovely place, with all my most precious things (of the non human variety).

Yes. Big bastard leak. The kind of water-pouring-from-the-ceiling-for-hours-soaking-the-carpet-and everything-in-its-path kind of leak. Soaking half the studio. The half where all of my stock was. My boxes of folded pages. My piles of fabric covers waiting to be glued. My stacks of grey board. So now everything looks like this: 

I'm trying to dry what I can to see if anything is salvageable and waiting for the landlord to call me back. Having survived last week which included stomach bugs, hospital appointments, and ended with a car crash which wrote off the car, I was hoping for a quiet week this week. It certainly wasn't meant to go like this.


Musings on being mature

just because a picture-less post is sad
I am a mature student. I'm knocking on 30 (and no I don't have a thing about it. No really. Well maybe a little bit), which makes me about 10 years older than the majority of the people on my course. I am really lucky that there are 4 other mature students in my class which means that there are people I can turn to when I need to raise my eyebrows about my friends teen antics, or if I need someone who will understand just how expensive white goods are. More seriously they are also the people who have given up jobs, or relationships, or made other sacrifices to take the leap and change their lives by Going Back to School, people who understand. In our first year we treated college like a job. For most of us this was what we had come from, we were used to starting at 9, finishing at 5 and working hard in-between. I would come home from college and do my own crafty projects but very rarely would these form part of my 'work'. Textile crafts had always been my hobby and because I approached college as my job I kept knitting and quilting as my after-school hobby.  Now there are obvious differences between college and work, for a start we want to be here, we pay to be here and there is no boss who is telling us what to do.

And that was where the problems start. I was used to having a boss, a job, responsibilities, tasks. A lot of my role was problem solving and convincing other people that my solutions were better than theirs, and I was good at it. I loved it, (well until I didn't, but for those of you who know me in the real world I have ranted about that enough, and for those of you I don't know bitching about evil bosses you don't know in a place you don't work is just boring) I thought I had a lot of transferable skills for this degree - which in theory I do. But I didn't have a boss. There wasn't anyone who would give me a task to do which I could then exceed at, there were no boundaries. Like all people who have had jobs there have been times where I've had to face the consequences of doing something wrong, or more usually not really understanding what the task was, rushing off doing a whole bunch of work just to have to do it again. I had learnt it is very important to spend time requirements gathering; talking with the 'clients' and figuring out what there really wanted, whether that was what they needed, and how much room there was between the two. At Art College there is no client. I spent a long time slavishly trying to interpret the project briefs, talking with tutors and other classmates trying to figure out the 'requirements' so I could make the right things. Have the right sort of sketchbook. Do the right research. Please my 'boss' (assessors). And it sucked. I felt lost and confused. I didn't want guidance and nurturing, I wanted to be told what to do.

It has taken 14 months and more tears, confusion and frustration than I'd like to recall to realise something.  *I* am the client. The project briefs I get are not requirements in the way that I am used to, my tutors are not going to tell me what to make because that isn't the point. They are here to help me make what I want to make. And I am bloody relieved. It finally fits in my head. All the things I make are part of my 'work', I don't have to have an after-school hobby I should use all the skills and knowledge I have from those hobbies and feed it all into the big melting pot that is me.

So this is my advice to any mature students out there coming to college from the world of work, college isn't work. The tutors are not your boss. They are not going to tell you what to do (no matter how many times or how many different ways you ask), but they are going to support you. They are not going to tell you off if you take a risk* and it doesn't work out, in fact they'll be really proud you took the risk. Stop looking for the loopholes or the things that will catch you out, there aren't any. Focus on all the good things work taught you:

  • sometimes you have to do very boring things, again and again and you know this is just part of life, get on with it
  • be committed, just because you don't have classes all day everyday don't use it as an excuse to not come in. Treat each day like a you would work, come in at a certain time and stay till a set time and while you're there work.
  • manage your time. You will have lots of competing tasks and deadlines, just remember how you used to deal with this at work and apply the same strategies - for me this is lists, google calender reminders and a little smidge of manic fear the week before 
  • don't be jealous that everyone under 20 is still in bed with a hangover you've most probably been there and done that, this is a different time in your life embrace that fact and never drink jugs of £5 cocktails through a straw at Gilbie's. It wont end well.

So that's it. Having spent an hour writing this post I better adhere to my own advice and get on with some work!

*taking risks is my tutors favourite phrase, from what I can figure out it means making things you're not sure about just to see what happens. It also seems to be making fuck ugly things that you then never look at again but at least you recognise why they are ugly


Rats thoughts

I opened my online shop two years ago. I think I last listed an item about 18 months ago. I felt like a very little fish in such a big pond and didn't feel like anything I could make to sell would stand out enough to sell. So I closed up the shop and disappeared having only gotten the tiniest of toes wet in the world of selling crafts. The crazy thing is that I am desperate to sell crafts, I long to get the email telling me that someone wants to buy something from me, I want to spent time thoughtfully wrapping products, then lovingly taking them to the post office - setting them free into the world, hopefully to be loved and enjoyed.

I just don't know what to make.

I've read so many articles and books about creating a consistent brand, ensuring that your products make sense as a collection and are not just examples of all the things you like to make. I couldn't really find a theme except that this was stuff I liked to make, mainly textiles based, that I thought was cute or cool, or things that friends and family would say "that is so lovely, you should sell that". So I didn't even bother listing things. I have a sad box stuffed with sock monkeys that might have been loved by someone. Another full of tape measure brooches that I really like, but there are already a million on Etsy and Folksy and mine aren't that different. There are zip purses and pencil cases and coiled bowls and hamma coasters and probably more things that I don't remember now. But there was no story, no consistency of brand or product. So I stopped.

Then today something happened.

I had an idea.

All of last year, and this year I have been making things for college. Not for assessment but actually for college - brush rolls; file rolls; bookbinding tool cases; sketchbooks; a waterproof tote bag for my A3 sketchbook; diaries with built in sketchbooks; camera cases and the list goes on. And that's my plan. I am going to sell cute, useful things for art students or students in general. Hopefully just in time for all of those friends and families of the impossible-to-buy-for art student to stumble across for Christmas present joy.

I'm going to be posting some WIP's here, and brainstorming new ideas so if you are on the look out for  gifts for the crafter in your life please stay tuned!


Books to make me smile

Like most people I know, I love reading. However my tastes generally run to easier reads than BorderlineStraggler. While he is in bed reading the Marquis de Sade, or a little light Kafka, I am more likely to be buried in a trashy detective novel or a Margaret Atwood. Though some might say my fondness for vampire teen fiction is a secret which shouldn't be shared it is my love of books written about knitting shops which I blush most furiously at.

Yes you read that right, fiction books set in yarn shops. I know, who knew that was even a genre. Now I'm not completely narrow-minded, I will also enjoy a book set in a vintage clothes shop, or even a record shop, but my most favourite are craft shop centred books. I harbour a not-so-secret desire to run a craft shop/cafe/workshop space, and these books draw me in to the trials and joys of running a shop, and used to be the perfect escape when I worked in university admin ad my dreams of a crafty life seemed very far away. Here are my favourites of the genre which you will find me buried in whenever real life is getting all a bit much.

'Diva's Don't Knit' and the sequel 'Needles and Pearls' are set in a seaside town, where Jo Mackenzie runs McKnits the local yarn shop. Gil McNeil's style is easy and charming. As I read I imagine myself running my hands over the wooden shelves ad trying to stop enthusiastic but misguided staff from mixing up the acrylic with beautiful silks and merino yarns.

I was given this book by a woman in a knitting group I used to attend, it was hidden in the box of  'teaching yarn', and I was intrigued. 'The Friday Night Knitting Club' is set in New York and is a big brick of a book, perfect for getting lost in on a particularly grim weekend. There are many main characters and initially we follow their stories through the Friday night club, though later in the novel we follow then outside the store and into their diverse and complicated lives.

I have to admit to having been disappointed by the sequel 'Knit Two', having loved this twists and turns of this book so much I think my expectations were just a little too high.

So if you are crafty inclined and in need of some trashy escapism, give one of these a go and before you know it you'll be jacking in your job to open a yarn store.


Llantarnam Grange

Last Thursday we went on a college trip to Wales. Despite having lived 8 miles from the border for the last year, our trips to Wales have been very few and far between. Until about a month ago all of my spare time was taken up with college work or travelling to see BorderlineStraggler. Well it is time to change all that, and yesterday was my first cultural trip over the border.

There were two galleries on the itinerary: Craft in the Bay in Cardiff and Llantarnam Grange. I knew a bit about Craft in the Bay and I was looking forward to the Momentum show, which focused on the use of new technologies in craft. I am very passionate about the debates surrounding the use of technology in craft, and I was looking forward to discussing the ideas that the pieces would provoke. As we are doing a project on a National Trust property I had it in my mind that Llanatarnam would be another NT property that we would be visiting for supporting research.

How wrong I was. Llantarnam Grange is a regional hub for applied arts in Wales. It is in a converted 19th century Victorian manor house and the original features that have been retained in the space lend a lot of charm to the bright modern gallery spaces.
The current exhibition being shown is 'Portal 2011 - featuring the work of this years top UK graduates in the applied arts'. Several of the exhibitors are graduates from my course and it was inspiring to see work that I had seen created in the studios at college in a professional gallery.

The exhibition space is divided into two rooms each showing work in a range of materials. Some of the pieces were really pushing the boundaries of applied arts, while others were what could be considered more 'traditional'. Lynette Miller created an installation, showing her pieces, and a recreation of the space in which the work was created. She had a botanical focus and she had used the plants she was drawing to create the inks she drew them with. This integration of her subject matter into the drawings was thought provoking, and offered an interesting idea in terms of representing the process of making as being as key as the created object.  
Anna Watson made a series of simple, tiny houses in metal and wood. I was very taken with these little houses and the places they led my imagination. I particularly liked this piece which was displayed away from the rest, almost begging to be picked up and explored (don't worry - I didn't).

In the second room I was completely charmed by Elle Plummer's  presentation of her work. Now I am a sucker for file card drawers, wooden filling cabinets, plan chests as those who visit my house will attest so to see them used in the display of this literary themed jewellery was wonderful. Again this unusual presentation encouraged the viewer to peer in at the work and interact with it in a different way.

Not only was the work at Portal 2011 excellent, we were given a tour of the gallery by David, a member of the exhibition's team, who was able to offer all sorts of interesting and useful advice for working with galleries as artists. 

And finally the tea room deserves a special mention. Vintage china, gorgeous (reasonably priced!) cake, tea cosies. Perfect. 

illustration wars commence

I am an art student, but because I have never done any formal art training before starting my degree there are a lot of things that I don't know about, not how to use watercolours, or that if you colour wash your sketchbook pages they are instantly less scary and much more interesting, and a million other things everyone else in my class takes for granted. I spent a lot of last year bemoaning my lack of knowledge and feeling very out of my depth, this year I am embracing it.

Inspired by Kim of art equals happy post BordelineStraggler and I sat down on Sunday night to illustrate a film. We picked a film, got a pile of art supplies, our kitchen timer and began.

The rules were simple, at any point in the film either of us could pause the film and we would have two minutes to draw the image on the screen. As you can see there had been a glass of wine before which meant we started of very giggly and I think this lack of seriousness really helped me relax enough to get into this task.

And by the end of it I was in heaven! This was so much fun. And a great exercise for drawing things I would never get to in real life - how often am I going to sit down and draw a car flying into a helicopter? well before last night never, since last night the chances have certainly improved.

Here are a selection of our drawings - we ended up doing 11 each before it got too late to carry on:


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