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. 2

SHADOWS AND SILHOUETTES

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

PRINT IT

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.

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).

The Essex Summer of Art

It’s official – we are now in Summer. Yesterday the Essex Summer of Art launched their season of events. This year there are 38 art trails across the county for you to explore, featuring painting, printmaking, sculpture, glass, photography and more. There is so much on offer and all for free so I really recommend visiting as many as you can.

Here at Slamseys we were extra excited because the launch party was happening in our very own Barley Barn on the farm.  I’ve spent the last couple of weeks installing giant insects made from reclaimed metal by local artist Graham Thrussell. We’ve placed his fantastic art onto tractor tyres, pallet plinths and tree trunks and I have to say that it looks absolutely brilliant!

Graham Thrussell at Slamseys Art Month
Graham Thrussell at Slamseys Art Month

In the main barn we have an exhibition called AFTERLIFE, the headline artist is Gillian Allard from Suffolk, with her intriguing photographs of animals once they have passed away. She has a brilliant use of light throughout the series and gives each creature a dignity in death. For the launch yesterday we were treated to a video installation detailing a fox decomposing over a three week period – it wasn’t for the squeamish, but was a fantastic display of nature at work.

'AFTERLIFE' Gillian Allard at Slamseys Art
‘AFTERLIFE’ Gillian Allard at Slamseys Art

After a slight hiccup with our taxidermy exhibits, I am really grateful to the John Ray Gallery at our local Braintree District Museum, for loaning us some fabulous taxidermy specimens as well as a deer and fox skull replica. Dunmow based artist Edward Norman (whose mammoth canvas is on permanent display in the barn) also came up trumps with several small cabinets of curiosity on very short notice, which make an excellent addition to our display.

The exhibition and sculpture trail as part of the Slamseys Art Month are open Thursdays-Saturdays 10:00-16:00 until the 27 June. We also have a special event on Sunday for the national Open Farm events – more to follow on that one.

If you like the unusual, the intriguing and the wonderful, then please come and say hi and make your way along our art trail.

For more information about the Essex Summer of Art, have a look at  VisitEssex.

Hope to see you at Slamseys soon!