My old dad left school at the tender age of fourteen to begin life as an apprentice engineer. He used to say "you are never done with learning" and he was right. The very last thing I did for him was to return his library books, he was ninety seven when he took out books on European history. I guess I inherited his sense of wonder and a desire to learn. Much of my recent activities have been wrapped up in education.
I attended a one day workshop run by The Prince's School of Traditional Arts, the venue was in a very beautiful building-The Art Workers Guild and the teacher was Farkhondeh Ahmadzadeh.
We learned so much in one day; how prepare the paper and how to paint in the style of traditional miniature painters. Here is my humble effort, a flower painted on paper stained with walnut ink, burnished, sized and burnished again until the paper looked and felt like vellum. We used tiny paint brushes to draw the image and then we used water colours made from traditional minerals and stored in shells. To complete the image we used gold paint applied with a ruling pen. Of course this was only a taster which served as an introduction to the art of Persian Miniatures, a truly inspirational day in the company of wonderful people., I wish I could do more.
I enrolled on a slightly longer course with my local calligraphy group, starting with Uncials. As many of you will know, the art of calligraphy is as old as civilisation and as broad. I have only dipped my toes, or should I say dipped my pen into this vast subject. You know how it goes, the more you know the more you realise how much you don't know. I found that using some of the materials from the miniature class worked very well, the walnut ink and a lovely gold gouache have been pressed into service.
My husband has been doing some work connected to The University of Cambridge and was required to attend a meeting there. Of course I jumped at the chance of keeping him company, especially as we were offered accommodation in a beautiful Arts and Crafts Building called Westminster College. I sat at a desk overlooking the garden and practiced my Uncials- still a long way to go but the peaceful ambience of the building was very conducive to study, neither of us wished to leave.
The little gallery in my home town has started to run workshops and I was asked to teach a lino printing class. I have run two classes and have had full bookings so far, meeting some old friends and making new ones. We used Japanese green vinyl rather than lino and printed and burnished by hand using wooden spoons and a marble rolling pin. The results were impressive, many people had never done anything arty since leaving school and a good time was had by all. I did find it a little strange to be the instructor after having taken part is a multitude of workshops in the past.
Whilst on the subject of lino, I was thrilled to have one of my lino prints included in this gorgeous book on owls called The Elegant Fowl, available from Mascot Media. They publish a series of printmaker books alongside other art titles. I have a small selection of prints available in my Etsy shop if anyone would like to take a look. You will find a link in the sidebar.
And last but not least, the giveaway! Well two actually. The July edition of British Patchwork and Quilting features my book and fabric "The Dream Quilt" The magazine is giving away a book and a fabric length, one yard is enough to make a mini quilt.
I am also giving away a copy of the book, all you have to do to enter is leave a comment below and tell me what you have been learning or what you would wish to learn. If you would rather not enter the contest please leave a comment anyway, it's always nice to hear your thoughts. I shall announce the winner on the 22nd July.
You can find The Dream Quilt book in my Etsy shop and you can buy the fabric in my Spoonflower shop. I would recommend Kona Cotton if you are considering making a purchase. One yard will make a mini quilt and the fabric is printed in such a way it needs no piecing so you can quilt straight away. The fabric is printed to order so allow a couple of weeks, if you live in the UK the fabric will be printed in Germany, otherwise it will be printed in the USA.