Maid in Wales

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Welcome or “Croeso” as they say in Wales. This week I have been staying in New Quay, Wales, on holiday with my husband and son. Last time we were in Wales it did nothing but rain, and I’d been expecting the same again, but this time we were lucky enough to be here during a heat wave.

A bay near New Quay

Sunset over New Quay Harbour

The sun shows the scenery off to its best advantage and there have been some lovely sunsets, so I should get one painting at least from these. Hills and mountains always look disappointingly smaller and flatter in photographs, and ideally I would have painted them from real life, which would take hours. As I had the family with me, I’ll make do with photographs for now. I hope to get an opportunity to paint a landscape from life when the art group have a trip out to the Peak District later this year.


Whilst here, I visited Pembrokeshire Craft Makers, a group of crafts people who exhibit in different places within the county. Exhibitions are free. The one I visited was at Cardigan Guildhall and their website is at www.pembrokeshirecraftmakers.co.uk.


At the front of the photo, you can see some wooden furniture made by Steve Thompson, which looks as if it was made from giant Meccano, but is actually plywood. His small bins were particularly clever, as they looked as if they had been bent round. Stevethompsondesigns@hotmail.co.uk.


Deborah Elsaesser’s “Re-ply Designs” could make use of his off-cuts. She uses plywood to make contemporary looking furniture, in a style which reminded me of Finbarr Lucas (featured last week), but with angular corners. www.re-plydesigns.co.uk.


Carole King screen prints paper and uses it to bind books with. www.carolekingart.co.uk. I liked her fish design, and bought a sheet to use as wrapping paper.

A butterfly with see-through wings at the Butterfly and Rainforest Centre.


Whilst at the Cardigan Tourist Info, I noticed that someone called Lisa Hellier has started a project to create an enormous cardigan, commemorating 900 years of existence of the town of Cardigan. The “Aberteifi Cardigan” will depict the townscape, river and landscape around Cardigan. I have brought back some wool that Lisa had left for people to use and e-mailed her for details. I will knit a square or rectangle to go into the design and post it back to her afterwards. It sounds a very interesting and original project and I will let you know if I hear any news about it.
Perhaps this naturally formed honeycomb
will inspire an abstract.
All for now,


Jewel


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More audience craziness

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Yesterday, I went to a matinee of the Tony-award winning play, Red, about the relationship between the abstract expressionist, Mark Rothko, and his apprentice. A woman three rows in front of me was crinkling a candy wrapper for twenty minutes. If I shushed her, I'd be disturbing everyone else, so I had to try to push her out of my consciousness during a play where every word felt key. Suddenly, the guy next to me stood up. He was wiry and at least 6/7." Bent at the waist, he leaned across the two rows ahead of us, his head moving side to side like a snake after a mouse. Then he got very still. His ears pricked. He'd located the candy wrap crinkler and said, "shhhh" in her ear, scaring the bejeezus out of her. I wished I could take him with me to every show.

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Cabinet making for women

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I would have liked to have featured Sheffield’s open studios event this week, but, unfortunately this year not many artists are taking part, including the woodworkers I’d hoped to visit, so I am not going. Instead I will relate some of my experiences of learning to make things out of wood.



To set the scene, my son was nearly a year old, and had started nursery for half a day a week, supposedly to give me a rest, but in fact enabling me to go on a course, at Sheffield Tech. “You might get chatted up” said my cheeky friend Heather, when I announced that I had chosen a cabinetmaking for women course.


I did wonder what to expect, though. Would everyone else be rather ”butch”? I am quite girly myself, so would I fit in? Anyway, what I did find was a very enjoyable hobby class of mainly retired women. They weren’t butch, were very friendly and were mostly well educated (many Oxbridge) and usually great characters, so it was always fun and lively.


The first three items I made were set pieces that we all had to do, to (supposedly) give us the skills to progress onto other things. I began by making a spice rack, although it was never used as such - our only available kitchen wall has a door opening onto it. It is in use in the garage instead now, with my husband’s fossil collection displayed on it. It was relatively straightforward, and I progressed onto the jewellery box quite quickly. At this point, it got a lot harder. I had wanted to whizz through that as quickly as possible and make a box of my own design. I then made a small side table.

The swine!


For these last two, I painted a design on them, flowers for the box and autumn leaves for the table. Suddenly I was doing something in two dimensions! This idea originated when I wanted to cover up my slightly botched routing of the corners of the bottom edge of the jewellery box. It needed filler – and it showed. I therefore came up with the idea of some flowering bulbs on the side and top of the box, and fine roots and bulbs underneath. I was pleased with the effect.


I went on to make a telephone unit and a cover for the strawberry urn in the garden (to stop the birds eating the strawberries – and it works). I made the telephone unit a metre tall, to stop my small son interfering with the phone – and it has. We couldn’t find anything like it in the shops, so it made sense to produce my own one. It fits beautifully into the space we have in our small hallway and the “pidgeon holes” for directories etc have proved very useful. I made it in oak, which felt like concrete to work with as I’d only ever used pine before, but it has proved sturdy and childproof, a good choice for anyone with a young family.

Another offending item.  I enjoyed making it really.  Honest.

I stopped going in the end, mainly because we moved house and are now quite some distance from Sheffield. This made getting to the class difficult, and I eventually gave up. I would certainly like to try it again if I was given the chance. I used to like the noisiness and mess of it all, and was pleased with the things I made. We students were very well looked after – we had our own fridge, kitchen and a designated technician. Even the soap was non-allergenic and there was handcream to use in case your skin got dry. It can be difficult to do things in a class though, you can be waiting quite a long time for instruction (I used to think we needed a ticket system like the meat counter at the Co-op). Also you have to do everything in front of other people, so you feel you are showing yourself up if it goes wrong. And then there is that all too frequent feeling of “I don’t know what to do”. The bits I liked best were designing an item, then finishing it at the end. Once I brought my telephone unit home I remember giving a rueful look, but then all the tussles I’d had with it were quickly forgotten as the family complimented me on it and it proved its worth.

No, I am not this clever - I spotted this wooden car in Ilkley, and it has tiger print seat covers and an "I've got a tiger in my tank" sticker on the back window. I would not have been very popular had I tried to make something like this at class! We had limited space. I remember someone making an enormous rabbit hutch once. Soon afterwards, we were asked to restrict the size of our items.

I was taught by Anna Childs, who has taught furniture making and worked with wood for around 20 years. She takes commissions for all sorts of wooden items of furniture http://www.annachilds.co.uk/. Her partner is John Thatcher http://www.johnthatcher.co.uk/. He is a full time craftsman and has been making furniture for over 10 years. His blog http://johnthatcher.blogspot.com/ is highly recommended. They have very different styles, his being more conventional and “classic”. All in all, a very talented couple. Also worth a mention are two of their friends: Finnbarr Lucas http://www.finkfurniture.co.uk/, whom Elizabeth and I visited when he exhibited last year at Sheffield, and Becca Hopkinson, with whom he shares a workshop. I noticed Finbarr and his wife had a young baby and hoped it was well behaved, as sleep deprivation and heavy machinery are not a good combination (as I know from my own experience). Becca was taught by Anna, and began by producing jewellery boxes, but her website shows she also carries out commissions for furniture. http://www.beccahopkinsonbespokedesigns.co.uk/. Roger has a talent for sculptural design, and makes some very clever looking coffee tables which are created from many different layers of wood, seemingly bent round to make a rectangle. You really have to look at his website to see what I mean.





Patchings - in the rain!

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Patchings - in the rain 10 6 10



Our art group has just had its annual trip to “Patchings”, a small art and craft event held near Calverton, Nottingham. It consists of demonstrations and workshops, professional artists and craftspeople promoting their work , with art and craft materials for sale on various stands. This year we didn’t stay all day as we normally do – rain and wind stopped us. Patchings is great when it’s a sunny day, but this year – well let’s just say it’s as well it is held under cover in marquees. It brought back memories of Bakewell Show, which is usually a bit muddy, and I was glad I’d got my wellies. One or two exhibitors had their stands outdoors, and a water sculptor in particular looked a bit sorry for herself.




The festival runs over several days and, since we were there, it has been warm and sunny. Just as well really, it could otherwise have turned into a Glastonbury style mud-fest. Kevin and Barbara were off there today, and I can imagine it would have been very busy. It was difficult enough to get near the stands on the weekday we were there.

Right: Wet and rainy Patchings


Wendy Darker’s work caught my eye. She produces detailed paintings of farm animals and horses. The original paintings are quite large, often about 75cm square (approx 30”), and she had some small prints of these on sale. These were particularly impressive in their detail. If you didn’t know they were a print from something larger, you would wonder how on earth she had managed to get so much into them. Her website is at: http://www.wendydarker.co.uk. After seeing her work, I decided to give horses a go, and photographed the horses in the field at the back of our house. Now, normally, they get into all sorts of interesting positions when I watch them from the window, lying on their backs, play fighting, rearing, galloping, you name it, but the minute I reached for the camera, they immediately turned their backs to me and began grazing. I did my best with what I could get from them, adding an imaginary stable door into my picture. Not as detailed as I’d like but I’m hoping to improve my technique over the coming weeks.

Below: my first attempt at a pony.



Whilst sheltering from the rain, we discovered guest artist, Andrew Macara, demonstrating how to produce a painting of sun, trees and snow. He works fast, producing a painting in 2-3 hours, and seems to specialise in pictures featuring sun on snow or beaches, reflecting off gates, trees or washing on lines for example. Maggie, Sue, Gill and I watched his unusual technique, which involved painting the foreground before the background. http://www.andrewmacara.com/.

Below: Sir Richard Boyd Dawkins Room at Buxton Museum.


The following day, I took my Clowne Montage painting (see last week’s post) to exhibit at the open art exhibition at Buxton museum, so it will now be on show for a week, along with the “Dragon’s Back”, which forms the background of my Twitter home page, of course, the picture at the top of my blog page. Several other artists were there, dropping off their work, and they already had over 200 pieces. The journey was through the Peak District National Park on a sunny day. With its stunning scenery, it made me realise how fortunate we are to be able to live near such a place. Buxton was an attractive place too – it looked interesting and we hope to visit again for a bit longer in September when I collect my paintings.


Back at art group, Barbara and Kevin were busy creating very different pictures from the same photo of countryside with houses and a bridge, Madge had added something that looked like hyenas to her desert scene, and Elizabeth had completed her picture of two camels on the sea shore.


Places to send your work

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Anthologies: Calls For Submission

Deadline:

6/30/2010

Submit to:

Beltway Poetry Quarterly. Pasted-in e-mail submissions. Email Address

Theme:

Poems celebrating the legacy of Langston Hughes. Poet MUST live or work in DC, MD, VA, WV, or DE.

Type:

Poetry (5 poems MAX)

URL:

Beltway Poetry Quarterly

Featured Listing

Deadline:

8/1/2010

Submit to:

Rattle. Send via email attachment (1 file) or pasted-in text. Email Address

Theme:

Mental Health Professionals

Type:

Poetry and essays (5,000 words MAX)

URL:

Rattl

Deadline:

8/1/2010

Submit to:

The First Line. Send via MS Word or WordPerfect attachment. Email Address

Theme:

Every story starts out the same: Three thousand habitable planets in the known universe, and I'm stuck on the only one without ______________. [Fill in the blank.]

Type:

Short stories (3,000 words MAX)

URL:

The First Line



Deadline:

8/6/2010

Submit to:

Creative Nonfiction, Attn: Immortality, 5501 Walnut Street, Suite 202, Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Theme:

Immortality

Type:

Essay (5,000 words MAX)

URL:

Immortality

Deadline:

8/15/2010

Submit to:

Ruminate Magazine. Submission Link

Theme:

Sounds and silence. MUST BE quality work that reveals the nature of Christ, in whatever form this may look like.

Type:

Poetry (3 poems, 40 lines MAX) and prose (6,000 words MAX)

URL:

Ruminate Magazine

Deadline:

9/1/2010


Submit to:

Workers Write! Blue Cubicle Press, PO Box 250382, Plano, TX 75025-0382, or send via email. Email Address

Theme:

Tales from the Courtroom.

Type:

Short stories (5,000 words MAX)

URL:

Workers Write

Deadline:

1/31/2011

Submit to:

Dream of Things. Submission Link

Theme:

Various topics based on one of 15 themes. See http://dreamofthings.com/workshop-2 for more details.

Type:

Personal essays (500-5,000 words MAX)

URL:

Dream of Things

© Copyright 2010, Writer’s Relief, Inc. | Toll-Free (866) 405-3003 | Phone (201) 641-3





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Completed Montage of Clowne

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After over a month of further work on my painting of the infant school, making it into a montage of scenes of Clowne, I think I’m finally there. I’d eventually like to add some figures to it but have left it for now as it needs to dry out before being exhibited soon.



This painting was originally just of the school, but it had rather a lot of sky and road around it and I’m glad I made it into a montage. I think our village is interesting enough to warrant a painting. Clowne itself has a long history and was even mentioned before the Domesday Book, in Wulfric Spot’s will of 1002, as well as in the Domesday Book itself.


From clockwise top left: St John’s Church – probably the oldest building in Clowne, built between 1135-1154. It has been added to over the years, and has a Norman arch and a miners’ chapel, commemorating the many miners who lost their lives - mining was a particularly hazardous occupation in times gone by. Unusually for a church, it is positioned well out out of the town centre, and is thought to be built on or by the site of an old monastery. It is nearer “The Ridgeway”, an ancient highway. In primitive times, when most of the land was marshy, the only tracks were on the higher ground. Perhaps the monastery was a stopping place for travellers.


The sandstone village cross is grade II listed. Dating from about the 14th century, it was added to in the 17th century. On some old photos of the cross, you can see the village pump next to it and the remains of the village stocks. Until about 100 years ago, the roads around it were just muddy lanes.


The Harlesthorpe Dam – now a fishing lake, but there used to be a mill that produced “bumph”cloth, hence it became known as the Bumpmill.


The headstocks of the coal mine. Southgate Colliery was productive between the mid 1870s and 1929, when it closed after flooding. When it first opened, many new workers moved to the village and the population grew enormously.


Miners’ Welfare – I have not been able to find out much about this building, but it was a pub and social club. Like so many pubs, it suffered from a combination of the recession and the smoking ban, and closed down at the end of last year. Its contents were auctioned in December 2009, and the auction was reported in the Worksop Guardian as being well attended with everything being sold at reasonable prices. The building itself is now being sold. It is a substantial place and I’m interested to see who buys it and what use they put it to.



The grey “Clowne” sign is to be found on the way into Clowne, on Mansfield Road, the main road from Mansfield, Bolsover and surrounding villages. The local council commissioned several pieces of artwork depicting the village name to be placed on the main thoroughfares into the village, from about 2005 onwards. I haven’t been able to find out who made this particular one.


Finally, the old infant school. This was first opened in 1877, and was originally a girls’ school, becoming a mixed infant school in 1956, and continuing as such until about 1983, when a new infant and junior school was built. The building then became part of the Chesterfield College – the white sign I have painted reads “Learning Matters”. It closed again when a new technical college was built – on the site of the old coal mine. About 2-3 years ago, Karen Child, a local lottery winner, bought it, renovated it and made it into a pub (The Village Inn). I managed to photograph it just before this happened. I think it has been sensitively renovated, smartening it up whilst keeping most of the original character of the building.

More next time ...

Jewel