Saturday, 29 April 2017

Chichester Art Trail

Today is the first day of the Chichester Art Trail. The Handprinted studio has had a thorough scrubbing and has been transformed into a gallery space. The last few weeks have gone by in an inky haze and culminated in a frantic framing and hanging session late into last night.

Do you know how amazing peg board is? I know I'm late to jump on the band waggon but this week we put peg board up on the walls of the studio and it looks fantastic and made hanging our work so easy. It has meant that we have also been able to be a bit more playful in the positions of the work as no hooks need to be bagged in and everything can be moved as we wish. It's meant we've been able to create displays like this...

...without having to line up numerous hooks and make holes in the wall. I'm going to fill my whole house with peg board and then I can change the decor once a week and I'll never be bored of my surroundings again.

The two of us have been able to get together a large show of screen prints, linocuts, woodcuts, etchings, batiks and dyed homewares. We've been coming in to the studio early every day before opening up the shop and leaving late. Our weekends have been spent here too and wee spent more time with each other than our families. But the show looks good. It looks better than I thought it could given that I was cry-buying frames on the internet on Monday.

If you live in the local area please give us a visit. We've worked hard and I promise that we are good at what we make. We will chat to you the perfect amount, just enough to be welcoming but not so much that you feel uncomfortable and have to make up an excuse if don't want to buy something. We will probably be sat eating scones. 

It's also a great opportunity to have a look around the studio and see what else we get up to in our workshops. The exhibition is open at Handprinted in Bognor Regis this weekend, Monday, and next weekend from ten thirty until five thirty.


Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Making Work Just for You - Life after Uni

When you're studying art university everything you make will be discussed, analysed and will need to be justified and explained. It helps us to consider everything we put into the art world and think carefully about each design decision we make. Although a valuable skill in the art world, in my experience it can build a lot of pressure. It's very easy, especially after one has left university, to stop making if you don't feel like you have the time, energy or dedication to make valuable work. This is something that I struggle with from time to time and I'm guilty of either taking myself too seriously or dismissing my ideas as trivial and not worthwhile.

Lately I've been a lot happier just making without worrying about the end result. There's something calming about sitting in front of the TV carving a piece of vinyl just for fun. That's how my new Anti-Mantra series has come about. They're about giving myself permission to make work any way I like and about encouraging others to do the same. This latest piece 'always remember to reverse your lettering' was made simply because the idea made me laugh (those of you who are familiar with linocut will know that letting that has not been reversed before it is carved will print backwards - we've all done it). I'll post the final print of this print soon and it will be sold in my etsy shop. I may need to exhibit it alongside a mirror in order for viewers to get my joke... Also, for anyone who relates to the above picture, my typographical design 'Just make something' will soon feature on tote bags and signs.

What have you made just for its own sake? Are there any other art graduates who struggle with letting go of the deep analytical nature of university studio life?

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Getting Ready for an Exhibition

 So in my call to arms I vowed to do something creative at least once a week and post it here as proof that I had done it. Like all good intentions there has been a little slip up and I haven't posted anything here in two weeks. But do not fear for me dear reader, I have been Doing Stuff. I just haven't been posting it! There's been no time - honest!

If you're following me on Instagram, you will have seen that I have been carving, printing, pom-pom making, batik-ing and drawing all in preparation for the Chichester Art Trail which starts next Saturday. Those of you who know me well will know that I'm a little bit of a procrastinator and I tend to do things fairly last minute. So instead of printing and framing a little bit each week for the last several months I am putting together pretty much everything in the last month before the show... I also just had a commission deadline this week but more on that later. The etchings and linocuts that I've shown here on 'life the holly way' will feature plus lots more that I've been working on all year. 

If you've been keeping up with this blog you'll know that I have access to a lovely printmaking studio so almost all of my spare hours have been spent there finishing off prints, editioning prints, making new screens and designing fabrics for new homewares. 

 Here's a preview of one of my new favourite screen prints:

This print is made up of 7 layers and is part of a new series of Egret prints. (The key piece in this series is a unique screen print on a vintage map, commissioned as a wedding present - but this will be in its new home by the time of the exhibition).

If you're local and are able to pop along to the show there will be screen prints, linocuts, etchings, lampshades, cushions and bags... The exhibition opens next weekend on the 29th April and is open on Sunday 30th, Monday 1st and the following weekend on the 6th and 7th May. We're open from 10.30-5.30 on these days at Handprinted in Bognor Regis. 

Before that day I'll be putting in more hours in the studio where I will be mounting, framing, finishing and hanging prints. I also have four lampshades to make.

 It's pretty tiring.


Thursday, 6 April 2017

Four Layer Screen Print - Clementines

I flit back and forth when I get asked which is my favourite printmaking technique (this happens a lot - can't I just have them all?) Some days the smooth, curved cutting of a piece of Japanese Vinyl seems like perfection, other days it's the satisfaction of a damp printed etching. More often than not though, my mind rests upon screen printing. The tent-zip-squeak of a squeegee on mesh produces instant results of bright, flat colour on fabric or paper. 

Last weekend, I left Sunday open for a 'printmaking day'. I've got an exhibition coming up that I'm anything but prepared for so a full day of printmaking seemed like a good kick start. I bundled into the studio on Sunday morning with a sketchbook and a few loose ideas. 

One of my favourite things about screen printing is how quickly you can see your ideas coming together. I set about to create four drawings that register together when overlayed. For me, hand drawing onto screen film is the perfect way to produce screen prints that contain signs of the hand of the maker. This combination of hand drawing and screen printing really gets me going. I drew from a photograph that I took last Autumn of freshly cut open clementines.

I exposed the four drawings onto two 90T A4 screens ready to be printed. As I waited for the screens to dry I mixed my colour palette for the day. A neutral with pink undertones, two oranges and a dark brown for this print and three blue tones for some paper stencil experiments I had planned for later:

 When my screens were dry there was time to print a few proofs to test my colours. I used somerset satin white 300gsm paper. The first, a background, in the pink tones neutral:

The second, a drop shadow, in dark brown:

 The third, a vibrant yellow-orange picks out the clementines:

The final forth layer adds the bright orange flesh leaving juicy highlights in paper white. 

Six proofs made their way to the drying rack (although one is a little smudgy) and I'll be making more to produce an edition. This print might be the beginning of a series of bright, fruity prints - this one's sunniness brings me right into Spring. 



Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Spring is Here Natural Foot Soak

It feels like it's been a very long Winter. I can barely remember what it feels like to put on jeans without first putting on tights, my scarf has become a way of life and my feet haven't seen daylight since September 2016. Now that Spring is definitely here - we've already seen daffodils come and go AND I've switched from heavy down-filled coat to denim jacket no less - it's time to do something about those feet. A Winter of long walks, Doc Martens and double-layer-socks has meant that there really has not been any point in pampering. But the bluebells are out and soon it will be time to walk barefoot along the beach. Cue 'Spring is Here Natural Foot Soak':

The Women In My Family designed this foot soak to be used in front of good TV (Poldark, Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife etc.) preferably with an open fire and an open bag of chocolate buttons. You'll need one large bowl for each partaker - beautiful old wash bowls found at a car boot for £2 earn you 10 points, mop buckets earn you only 1 point but work just as well I suppose. 
You'll also need:
Large sprigs of mint, rosemary or lavender
Essential Oil such as tea-tree or lavender 

Into each bowl toss a few sprigs of the herb of your choice. My garden is full of rosemary, Mum's is full of mint. Divide the buttermilk up between the bowls - about 1/4 of a small carton is plenty so the rest can go into the fridge for another time. Sprinkle a dozen or so drops of essential oil into the bowl. Choose tea-tree for its antiseptic properties of lavender to calm and relax your mind.

Pour in hot water from the tap and swirl everything together.
Mini versions can also be made for soaking hands in - pudding basins are the perfect size. If you;re feeling extra idyllic, keep a freshly boiled steam kettle on the hearth for top ups that will keep your bowl hot through a two whole episodes of Game of Thrones.

When your feet have gone pruney and your bowl is getting tepid, lift out your feet onto a towel and pamper. If it's been a really long winter, grab the pumice and buff away the evidence of cold pavements and walking boots. Use moisturiser, cuticle cream and a lick of the sexiest nail polish you possess and then wiggle your toes as you admire your new Spring feet.

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