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.


How To… Find Inspiration

As the summer holidays are shortly to end, I’ve been getting prepared for the next round of workshops coming up at Slamseys. I think of September as the start of the new year and so it seemed a good time to launch our new printmaking short courses. First up we have two five-week printmaking courses where we explore and experiment with different types of printmaking including mono-printing, variations on screen printing, drypoint, lino & more. Getting everything ready has got me thinking about how to encourage new students to come up with ideas for their printmaking projects.

Thornback and Peel Pigeon & Jelly

Last (school) year a lot of my projects had a focus on nature and animals because I was working towards our 2015 summer theme of ‘the natural world’. After months printing owls, leaves, stags & bugs I feel like I’m ready to move onto a new topic. I know that next summer’s arts events will relate somehow to food and kitchens, although nothing firm has been decided yet, but I’m wondering if I can link this idea with my new printmaking projects.

I definitely find it easier to come up with design motifs when I have a broad theme like ‘nature’ or ‘food’ in mind, as it focuses my attention when I find there’s too much to choose from. How you choose your theme is up to you – below are some ideas for searching out inspiration and ideas.

Printing inspired by The Natural World
Printing inspired by The Natural World


  1. Be inspired: Research and visit local galleries and art centres, houses and gardens, to see what exhibitions and events they have on. Use some of the topics explored by those artists to develop your own ideas.
  2. Scrapbook: Flick through magazines and newspapers – tear out anything that stands out to you and put it into a folder. It could be something tiny or the overall idea of something. If you keep all these ideas together you can refer back to them at a later date and see what develops. See if there are any themes that repeat themselves throughout your collection. Make use of free websites like Pinterest – you can pin all of your ideas onto different boards, which is a great way to bookmark websites to visit again, or keep design ideas close at hand. The only downside to this is that you don’t then have a hard copy to work from, so make sure you print out any ideas that you know you’ll want to work from in the future.
  3. Record: When you next go out and about, make sure you take your sketchbook or camera with you to jot down and capture ideas as you go. The drawings and ideas don’t have to be perfect or fully formed – they’re just there to remind you for later projects.
  4. Time: Make sure that you allocate yourself time to develop your ideas – great design ideas don’t happen all by themselves so make sure that you spend time doodling and practising designs. Often once you’ve tested out a few ideas in print you’ll know how you want the design to progress.
  5. Experiment: Finally – don’t be afraid to experiment. It’s unlikely that the first thing you print will be perfect, so play around with the design, experiment with colour, add textures and alternate techniques. Think of each design idea as a project, not as a finished thing.

You might like to work on several different themes at once and may even be surprised at how they can come together. For example designs by Thornback & Peel mixed rabbits with cabbages and pigeons with jelly.

Here’s a few of my favourite print designers to get you started, look on my Pinterest boards for more ideas.

  1. Thornback and Peel
  2. Angie Lewin
  3. Jessica Hogarth
  4. Andrea Lauren
  5. Sally Payne
Angie Lewin Hedgerow Design



It’s been beautiful weather here in Essex for the past few days, making me feel relaxed and lazy. The thought of starting up on some big projects just doesn’t appeal to me this week. So instead I’m going to have a go at one of the latest crazes in art and relaxation – mindfulness, via colouring in for adults.

There are a lot of free and inexpensive resources out there to get you started on your mindfulness adventure – I’ve been putting a few of them onto Pinterest so I can come back to them at a later date. But it’s also possible to create your own designs for colouring in and often the process of making the drawings is as important as the colouring that comes afterwards.


Draw a set of random shapes overlapping and intersecting, add colour
Draw an outline of an object and then fill with as many small lines as you can, add colour
Fill a page with zentangle doodles, then outline an object shape over the top, add colour
Use stencils to draw outlines and then add block colours
Try out free online sources for adult colouring in

sketchbook challenge3

Those who practice colouring in and creating drawings like zentangles explain that there are key differences between doing these mindfully and just doodling. You might doodle on the phone to someone or absent mindedly when thinking about something else, but in order to get the benefits of mindfulness, you must treat this time as meditation – really focus on what you are doing, look at each line, pay attention to which colour you select. After twenty minutes of this kind of drawing or colouring you should feel yourself relaxing and by the time you pack up your pencils hopefully you will be in a zen-like state!


Today I’m not going to have a printmaking session as I think that getting all my paints and inks out might ruin my new-found calm. Mixing inks for printmaking takes time and patience as you are looking to obtain not just the perfect printing consistency, but also the perfect shade. What I will take away from this challenge however, is the enjoyment of colours: Next time I find myself mixing up some inks for my latest screenprinting project, I’m going to really enjoy the process of mixing the colours and try and use it as a mindful activity.

Paint, Slamseys Sketchbook Challenge, Essex

Slamseys Sketchbook Challenge. 2


As I printmaker I have found that sometimes reducing an image down as simply as you can, can help you to understand they key features of the subject – often these shapes are very striking and really highlight the elements that make the object instantly recognisable. This is particularly useful when using layering techniques to ensure that the design never gets too complicated.

some ideas

Draw simple silhouettes of animals and objects
Layer outlines of objects one on top of the other
Place several objects together and draw the whole shadow
What happens when you look at them again from a different angle

I have decided to work on some ideas I had during my recent trip to Canada. Although I didn’t actually get to see any first hand, there was a lot of moose and bear iconography in shops, galleries and even product packaging. I’ve been wanting to create some of my own designs inspired by my trip, so the Slamseys Sketchbook Challenge is a great excuse to do this!

Slamseys Sketchbook Challenge, shadows, silhouettes and outlines


I think that these designs will make a really cool screenprinted series. I’ve decided to work on a small scale at first, using an embroidery hoop as the base for my screen. Especially when I am experimenting like this, I really enjoy the flexibility that using the embroidery hoop offers, rather than the larger aluminium screens. It’s also much less wasteful and allows me to quickly repeat the design over and over again. This is a great idea for printing your own gift wrap or even printing on fabric. By using contact paper I can even keep my stencil to use again in future projects without having to re-cut it.

Moose head Screenprinting at Slamseys

I love that with this method of screenprinting you get these unpredictable variations creating interesting effects.

Moosehead variation,

I’m also keen to experiment with the reverse of my stencils, but for this I need to be able to create a clear edge, so I am moving to my larger aluminium framed screens but still keep my printing on quite a small scale.

Aluminium screen ready for printing, with moose

One of my favourite techniques (although not at all seasonal!) is using talcum powder to create a fabulous snowy background. I learnt this when I was completing a printmaking course at Gainsborough House and happily it works on canvas and on paper.

Moose, screenprinted onto paper and fabric, slamseys, essex

For now I am just experimenting with colour, sizing and texture and printing on fabric tote bags as well as papers, but I think this would make a great four-colour print series for our Winter Exhibition at Slamseys.

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Screenprinting is one of my favourite printmaking techniques as it’s so easy to set up at home. For families looking for inspiration for the summer holidays we are running a fun stencil screenprinting workshop aimed at ages 10-14. Keep an eye on our workshops pages for details of our other printmaking workshops.