Maldon Art Trail

Maldon art trail logo

Last weekend I was really fortunate to be invited to the Maldon Art Trail’s Children’s workshops – a day of free art and craft workshops for local families. Maldon’s Art Trail began in 2008 and every year is organised by an enthusiastic group of volunteers to showcase the work of the many outstanding local artists, taking over shops, cafes and public buildings all around the town.

I brought along my jelly plates, inks and rollers and taught about 50 children how to use jelly to print onto paper bags. I have to say that I was very impressed with how well behaved all of the children were and how fabulous their prints each looked.

As time was short and there were so many other activities for the children to try, we just focused on the basics of jelly printing (although there is so much more to learn, as the printers on our five week printmaking course are discovering at the moment).

Jelly Printing at The Maldon Art Trail 2015. Credit: Maldon Art Trail
Jelly Printing at The Maldon Art Trail 2015. Credit: Maldon Art Trail

I was also asked a few times throughout the day about other children’s workshops here at Slamseys, so perhaps I’d better put a few more printing dates in the diary – but in the meantime, we are supporting The Big Draw this weekend with our Children’s Dreamtime Art workshop, inspired by storytelling and Australian Aboriginal paintings.

Children's Dreamtime Art Workshop, Slamseys Big Draw, Essex

For any of the parents who are interested in making more jelly prints at home with the kids, there are some directions and recipes here.

Find out more about the Maldon Art Trail here and check out the last few Essex Summer of Art events of the year here.

Creative People Networking Group

Creative people networking group at slamseys, essex

I’ve really got into the Back to School spirit this September and have launched lots of new classes, workshops and courses at Slamseys. Although it’s today that feels like the first day of term as it’s the week that the yoga and pilates classes start up again, our new term of events is already under way.

Last Thursday was the launch of the brand new Creative People Networking Group that I recently set up. I know that there are lots of creative people in the local area, but I just didn’t know where to find them, so I thought, well I’ll make them come to me – and they did!

We had ten people arrive at the barn for our first meeting, bringing a really interesting mix of skills, interests and knowledge with them. There was someone who does willow weaving, someone who makes personalised bunting (I know her as Aunt Josephine), greetings cards and stationery creators, budding photographers, artists, writers, cake decorators and more!

It’s really exciting for me to speak to these local creative types and for us to come up with new ideas for how we can work together in the future – already in the pipeline are some new workshops for the barn and collaborations for next year’s art trail which is all about food & kitchens.

Find out more about our Creative People Networking Group meetings.

I’m really excited for the rest of my Back to School workshops and courses this week – next up is our free art group which starts on Thursday and then on Friday the first of our new five week short courses kicks off – I can’t wait!

Slamseys Sketchbook Challenge Summer 2015

slamseys sketchbook challenge

Welcome to the Slamseys Sketchbook Challenge for Summer 2015.

Over the summer, things really quieten down in the Barley Barn at Slamseys. The tractors are busy carting the harvest from fields to farmyard, but the yoga classes have taken a break for summer and we are only running one or two workshops in July and August as everyone seems to have gone on their holidays. I’ve decided to use the time to enrol myself on a summer art camp – however, technically I have already been on my actual summer holiday, visiting a friend in Canada, so will have to make do with a holiday at home.

This reminds me a lot of the summer that my family ‘went around the world’ – we cooked recipes from different countries, learnt a little of several languages, and at night boarded an aeroplane which flew up the stairs to bed. When we woke up we were ‘in a different country’ and the whole charade started over again. We did this for a whole summer, without leaving home and although I used this as an example of how hard done by I was as a child because we never got to go abroad over the summer due to harvest, actually (and don’t tell my mother) it was fun and has given me a good idea for this summer…

The Slamseys Sketchbook Challenge is open to everyone who wants to be creative this August and perhaps needs a little motivation to pick up a pencil or some prompts and inspiration to develop their creative talents. Think of it as enrolling yourself on an art holiday – from the comfort of your own home.

So here are some ideas for week one…

Let’s start sketching

There are lots of different ways to start sketching. My Great Aunt Victoria (who was a brilliant character and fond of the phrase ‘Wizard!’ when she was really excited) always told me that to get better at drawing you just have to do it every day. Drawing and sketching is also very therapeutic and is considered a key ‘mindfulness’ activity. I think that setting some time aside and drawing something each day, however details or simple is a really good habit to get into. You can find inspiration anywhere, but here are some ideas.

Some ideas

Doodle once a day for a whole week
Draw something from your kitchen
Now draw it again with your eyes closed
Make a sketch from a photograph
Create a new character for a story book

What other suggestions do people have? Share photos of your sketchbook and projects using #SlamseysSketchbookChallenge or if you’re posting them to your own blog, leave a link in the comments section below.

Start Sketching!
Happy Sketching!

Thermofax Printing

Thermofax is one of my favourite methods of printmaking. I like it because firstly it’s very quick and very simple, but also because despite this it gives great results.

Butterfly Thermofax printing at Slamseys Art Month, Essex

One day I will own my very own thermofax printing machine, but new machines cost about £1,000 and old machines, although sometimes cheaper, can be a bit of a handful to keep in working order. At the moment I get my screens from a company in Northamptonshire – you can either design your own, or choose from a large selection of their premade screens.

Ammonite Thermofax printing at Slamseys Art Month, Essex

Thermofax works in a similar way to traditional screenprinting, but is effective on even a very small scale. Your design is burnt into fine mesh which allows the ink to move through the screen. Using a lightweight squeegee, you push the ink through the burnt design to produce your print – simple!

Abstract Thermofax printing at Slamseys Art Month, Essex

This morning I have been playing around with my new screens and I can’t wait to start printing some new project ideas – I’m thinking about customising our Slamseys Art aprons, printing some new cushion covers to give my old sofa a new burst of life as well as printing a series of original prints to hang at home.

I love how each one is an original print and you get slight variations in the thickness of the ink. I’ve been using simple black ink this morning, but you can use any colour in your projects.

Thermofax printing at Slamseys, Essex

Learn more about thermofax printing at our Thermofax Screenprinting evening (part of the Slamseys Art Month).