Posts Tagged ‘craft’

Brockholes and Clitheroe Castle

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

On Sunday Sir Pubert Gladstone and I went on an adventure driving north of Manchester to a nature reserve near Preston. A friend working in my office mentioned Brockholes as a place to visit so Pubert and I took a risk and ventured out in potentially rainy weather. Located on a junction just off one of England’s busiest roads (the M6), Brockholes is a newish development featuring some fantastic wood-panelled huts floating on a lake. Last weekend there was a vintage and craft fair with stalls selling handmade products and pre-loved items. Like most craft fairs, most of the stalls were a bit naff. But the buildings were fantastic with some very interesting roof angles, sun lights and paper-machê ceilings. 

Brockholes

Brockholes

Brockholes

Brockholes

We went for a wander around the nature reserve checking out the River Ribble and some small forested areas. Sadly the weather turned on us and we headed back to the car to escape the rain. We had contemplated eating lunch at a wood fired pizza stall but there was a long queue and they weren’t exactly producing pizzas at the speed of light. So we decided to head off on a random drive, seeing where the roads would take us. Hopefully to a nice pub.

We spotted a sign pointing to a town called Clitheroe – difficult to pronounce and sounding like a character’s name in a Jane Austin story it seemed like the perfect location for us to head to. Clitheroe was a pleasant surprise – winding streets leading to a castle on a hill. We found a café to eat some lunch at before we went for a walk to the top of the castle. From here we had a great view over the countryside until it started raining again.

Moody skies at Clitheroe Castle

Moody skies at Clitheroe Castle

View from Clitheroe Castle

View from Clitheroe Castle

It is great to be able to get out and explore England. It continues to amaze me how much there is to see in such a small space. So much history. Saying that, we drove past a sign for Botany Bay which turned out to be a shopping centre. Disappointing.

Scratching It Up

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

Every week at the Manchester Art Gallery there is an event called Thursday Late where the art gallery stays open until 9pm and there are activities, workshops, talks, tours, etc. This week the theme was “Walk the Line” and focused on printing and knitting and the role art and craft play in keeping humans happy and sane. This is a subject close to my heart, although my desire to get into craft has moved me away from sanity on occasion. But nothing will hold me away from FREE CRAFT!! So along I went.

I arrived at 5.30pm for Craft Bites – a short discussion session run by a member of the art gallery staff where visitors are encouraged to have their say about a piece of work within the gallery. At first I was the only person there, but soon another participant arrived and so the two of us went with the lovely events co-ordinator to look at and discuss dresses. We were eventually joined by some other people who heard our discussion and decided to join in. It was a fun, although slightly off-topic, discussion session that ended up being mostly a whinge about the lack of arts jobs in England. A positive spin was that I came away with a new friend, and she and I went and joined an etching session downstairs.

This was fantastic! We were given a piece of cardboard, one side of which was shiny silver, plus a sharp pencil. We were then told to draw a portrait of ourselves or someone we knew, creating an indent into the silver. We then applied a oil-based ink (although this was brilliant stuff as it also washed off with water and soap!) which we pushed deep into the grooves we had created, wiped off the excess ink and then placed our blocks into a press with a wet sheet of paper. The result was as follows:

Hello.

Hello.

Considering I started and completed this in around 15 minutes, I think it is fantastic and I am pleased to have been able to try an etching technique. It was much easier than I expected and I think that will some fiddling I could do more with it. I am currently trying to work out how I can recreate the bricks of Manchester. I am completely in love with the dark red bricks that have been used to build all of the industrial buildings. Perhaps etching is my answer… we shall wait and see.

Monsieur Chien

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

I can finally reveal my latest linoprint that I created for my friend Chuck. Chuck is a small, flat-faced, wobbly-bottomed dog lover (that is a description of the dogs, not Chuck) and so for his birthday I made him this:

Pug lino print

Le Vie de Chien

I am very pleased with the final print and used my new press that I made with Dad when I was home in Perth a few weeks ago. It made for a nice even pressure and the final image turned out well. I have three more copies in black from this print run if anyone wants to buy one. I’ll be making them available on my Etsy site soon, or just contact me.

Paper Cutting Dreams

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

My latest obsession is paper cutting – I have intense desires to learn how to do it and spend hours cutting away at intricate designs. I am currently faced with two problems – I am rubbish at drawing and I cannot visualise how to join all of the little bits of a design together. Which bits do you cut? What do you leave? How do you make sure it doesn’t all fall apart?

I have spent the last few days researching paper cutters and the types of work that is being produced, and nearly all of them talk about how they taught themselves and started paper cutting because you don’t need many materials and the simple yet structurally sound results of paper cutting excited them. These elements are all sitting very close to my heart and I feel a kick of excitement every time I see a paper cut design. I almost cried watching this film of Julie from Famille Summerbelle because I want so badly to be this skilled and to be able to produce pieces of this quality.

My aim is to teach myself how to do this – I figure if everyone else can then why can’t I? Start small and work my way up…

Pop-Up Paris

Friday, June 1st, 2012

I have just had a great afternoon with a knife in my hand and a sheet of paper in front of me. I was experimenting with creating silhouette-style images and turned a photograph I took this week of the Eiffel Tower into a simple black and white shape with Photoshop. Then add some text (my choice of typeface has been questioned, to which I answered it is very “Parisian”) and it’s time to cut!

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower original photograph

I have been wanting to experiment further and learn more about paper cutting and how to create 3-D shapes and took the opportunity to make some pop-up art.

Eiffel Tower stencil

Pop

Eiffel Tower

Up.

Then I got serious, worked out an appropriate colour combination and got rollin’.

Eiffel Tower stencil

Blue. White. Red.

Eiffel Tower Stencil

City of Love

I am very pleased with the results – I just really need to buy some better equipment so that I can have a smoother finish. The rollers I am using are essentially useless and make the paint bleed everywhere. I need to invest in my work now and hopefully one day when I am world famous it will pay me back!

A Very Big Challenge

Monday, April 30th, 2012

On day one of my 40-Creations-in-40-Days challenge, I realised it was going to be difficult to complete. On day two it all became scarily obvious that I am not going to be able to do it. No, wait, I take that back. I COULD do it, except the things that I would produce wouldn’t actually be what I want to make and hence, what is the point? I guess creative development is always good and I am still trying to do something everyday, however I don’t think I will make 40 pieces.

The reason is simple – lots of the pieces that I want to make simply take longer than one day, and when I have other things in my day that also take up my time (eg. eating) I am not able to fulfil the requirements of the challenge. SO, I am going to change the rules to be 40 days of intense creativity, resulting in as many creative pieces as physically possible. Yes, maybe I am making it too easy on myself, but I also don’t want to just create rubbish. I see no point.

So what have I been doing? Pure brilliance, is what. Allow me to show you in photographic form:

Ben stencil

Step 1. Take a photograph of your brother and use Photoshop to turn it into a black and white image.

Pencil transfer

Step 2. Go crazy with lead pencil on the back of the image for a cheap alternative to transfer paper.

Stencil

Step 3. Attach image to a piece of lino and trace over the lines.

Transfered stencil image

Et voilà! Magic.

Lino cutters

Step 4. Take your Lino Snijgereedschap and start carving.

Lino cut

Step 5. Cut away from you. Don't not put your hands in front of the lino cutter. Attach the lino to your work surface. Remove all white space.

Working outside

Step 6. Work in a lovely outdoor environment and enjoy.

And there we have it! I am still working on slicing my brother’s face, but I hope to finish within the next day and then I can make some prints. It is such an enjoyable experience – I love the tactile nature of the lino and the fact that my hands were starting to hurt by the end of the day. I haven’t made a lino cut since my year 8 art class so I am having to teach myself but I think it is going to look good. I will show you the final results soon.

Stencil Fun

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

An interesting challenge from a friend has prompted me to put more thought, effort and time into my desire to make ‘stuff’. So far the issue has been where to start and what ‘stuff’ actually is. I really need to work on refining this but on Friday I decided it would be a good idea to do some experimentation. A couple of weeks ago I had experimented with making stencils as ultimately I would love to create images that people want to hang on their walls but my drawing skills are non-existant. I therefore I am trying to find sneaky ways to get around this problem. My last attempts resulted in a collection of coloured keys which I rather like and immediately hung on MY wall (with masking tape. I need a frame.) Good start.

Key stencil

Keys. Keys. Keys.

On Friday I sat and pondered what exactly I should stencil next. My thoughts went back to my good sock friend, Gary, who I miss but I hope is enjoying his new life mud-walking in Tasmania.

Gary

I miss you, Gary.

When I send my sock creatures away to their new owners, I make little books containing the creature’s life story. On the front cover is a black and white image that I create in Photoshop with extremely complicated techniques. I would try and explain it to you but you’d be far too amazed by my Photoshop skills that your head might explode. We don’t want that.

Anyway, I took Gary’s black and white picture and added a sentence that has been hanging around in my head for about three weeks now. It doesn’t make much sense, but nothing I do really does. At least I’m consistently strange. Here was the end result after some careful knife-work:

Gary stencil

Good day for stencilling

After cutting out the stencil I then concocted a nice shade of greeny-blue and started painting. I need to invest in some better stencilling equipment as the paper I was using was too flimsy and moved around but I am still quite pleased with the result.

Gary stencil

What will lie underneath?

Gary stencil

Et voilà!

I loved Gary in sock-form and now I love him in stencil. I am really pleased with what I produced and can see how I can work on and improve my techniques. I want to start doing some different colour layers to add some more excitement. So stay tuned – new Zaum ‘stuff’ is coming to you soon!

Gary framed

He looks so good in a frame.

Cross Stitching Fun

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

I have been working on a project on and off for a few weeks now and am finally ready to announce it to the world. I didn’t want to tell people what I was doing in case it crashed and burned and I looked like an idiot. No one wants to look like an idiot. But, surprises of all surprises, I have managed to successfully complete – my very first cross stitch!

I would like to start by declaring that cross stitch should be made COMPULSORY for everyone. It is more fun than riding a bicycle upside down and it is relaxing and therapeutic. You can sit and make little crosses on a piece of material that will all eventually add up to equal one giant picture – who wouldn’t want to do that?!

I bought a cross stitch pattern from a little store in a Parisian arcade called Le Bonheur des Dames (The Happiness of Ladies or The Ladies’ Paradise.) It should be extended to Le Bonheur des Toute le Monde because the entire world can gain happiness from this craft activity. At first I was scared by what I had put myself up against – there was a pattern (in French), a few instructions (in French), the linen to put the pattern onto and lots of coloured pieces of thread. What to do?!

Thankfully, we live in a world where if you want to know how to do something, all you have to do is turn to YouTube and someone will have wasted their lives making “How-To” videos. So I learnt how to cross stitch with a lady named Vickie Pavone. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I complained to my running buddy, Becky, one morning about having a sore neck, blaming it on sleeping in a strange position. That evening I picked up my cross stitch and realised I had ‘Cross-Stitch Neck’ where you tilt your head on a slight angle for a few hours, trying to get the best light to tackle those crosses. I had a sore neck for days.

Cross stitch

What a lovely class room!

The great thing about cross stitch is that you can start it one day, stop for a while, and then come back later when you have more time. This week I put the final touches on my piece and am very happy with the results. I need to work on my backstitch technique as I find it very hard to make round corners. I’m sure there must be a trick to it. I’ll have to ask Vickie.

Now that I have mastered this piece I want to start designing my own patterns. I added a little bit of “Jess” to my school room scene – 10 points for the person who spots it first.

Chocolate stain

I also added a bit of chocolate for some extra flavour

 

A Visit From Big Brother

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Last week saw the arrival of my older brother, Ben, visiting his little sis before heading to England to learn how to bake at the School of Artisan Food. Despite being siblings, we tend to get along quite well and have quite a few things in common, including a desire to make things. We went on an exploratory tour of Paris’s sewing and knitting shops and discovered a few new gems that I will return to another time to either undertake courses or buy fun things like knitting needles, wool and cross stitch patterns. We also completed two courses – a macaron baking course and a knitting course. Fun fun!

The macaron course was run by La Cuisine which delivers English courses on a variety of cooking topics. The course consisted of around 10 people and was run by Jenni, the woman who also happens to bake the cakes that I eat at my favourite coffee shop, Kooka Boora. The students were split into two teams – the other group made a chocolate ganache macaron, while Ben, Tom, another student and I worked on a salted butter caramel macaron. Despite the class only going for two hours, it was very hands on and it was up to the students to make everything. Jenni provided clear explanation and assistance while the students made mixtures, piped macaron biscuits and heated sugar.

The end results were quite impressive for a first attempt and everyone left with a box full of macarons to take home. While Jenni suggested we sample a macaron in its fresh state, she also suggested we leave the rest in the fridge over night as macarons are best served a day old. She was right – by leaving them to settle the outside shell becomes crisp while the inside softens and becomes chewy.

Macaron

Salted butter caramel macaron

It was a really fun experience and I want to take some more cooking courses. Soon I might rival my brother in his culinary abilities – it will be France vs England in the battle of the baked goods.

The knitting course Ben and I took was held at Sweat Shop, a local sewing/knitting/craft zone where people go and use sewing machines and learn how to sew. We took a two hour course with a very cool, knitted-sweater-wearing Frenchman called Sebastien who in two hours had taught us how to knit, purl, and knit with two colours. Ben was a bit more advanced than me, having learnt to knit in the past few months, but I managed to progress quite quickly which Sebastien was very happy to see. He showed us some of the other beginner students’ work and they were full of holes and generally useless. Not us. We’re pros. So now I have ordered a bunch of knitting books online and am eager to start a project. I’ll need to find some decent knitting needles but I don’t really know what size to purchase. I will investigate once I have a project to work on. I might knit socks and then turn them into sock creatures. That sounds like a good use of time.

Knitting at Sweat Shop

My knitting is just beginning

If you would like to see some more photos of Paris that actually feature me and you want to see what my brother is up to, check out my brother’s Flickr site and visit his website, abitofbutter.