Our new printing press!

At our last studio, we inherited the use of a lovely old printing press, but when we moved we had to leave it behind.

HOFS printing press we left behind

When we moved to our new studio we decided we’d like to get our own printing press. So we asked fellow printmakers for advice and we were directed towards Ironbridge Printmakers, based in Shropshire. They are a family-run business and have been building their own range of printing presses since 1980.

We chose their Little Thumper press as we don’t often print larger than A4 plus our studio isn’t that spacious. They would have delivered the press to us but we decided to visit Ironbridge to collect it.

We hadn’t been to Ironbridge before – it was so lush and beautiful…

Ironbridge, Shropshire

At the printmakers we had booked an intro workshop to learn how best to set up the press for lino, intaglio and collagraph printing. Thank you Jenny, we learned so much!

Ironbridge Printmaking workshop

The press dismantled into a several smaller pieces and easily fitted into the car for the journey home.

Trip to Norfolk

I haven’t been to Norfolk before except to visit Norwich, which I love, but it’s been on my bucket list for while. So we booked a few days in May to explore North Norfolk and these are some of the highlights…

Gooderstone Water Gardens is a beautiful and tranquil place where the only sound you can hear is nature. Their map gently guides you around the garden, taking you over several little bridges, into the bird hide (where you might spot a kingfisher) and along to the cafe.

When the owner lived there, back in the 1970s, the land was so wet that he decided to make the most of it and developed the land into water gardens, which he opened to the public.

Gooderstone Water Gardens

Hunstanton beach has stunning, striped cliffs where you can find marine fossils. It’s also the only beach on the west coast of Norfolk.

Hunstanton beach
Rocks and fossils on the beach

At Wells-next-the-sea you can take a short 20 min walk from the town to the beach. This beach had golden sands and was more touristy but we were surprised to find seals sunbathing on the beach!

Sunbathing seals at Wells-next-the-sea

My much overused word of the trip was ‘gorgeous’ so I definitely enjoyed the trip and will be back!

Watts Chapel

I’ve been wanting to visit Watts Chapel, in Surrey, for a while and this year, I finally got there. Wow!

The chapel is a Grade 1 listed mortuary chapel built by the artist Mary Watts and the villagers of Compton between 1895 and 1904. The terracotta panels on the exterior are made from symbols taken from Celtic, Romanesque, Jewish and Egyptian traditions. The exterior is very striking but I thought the interior was absolutely stunning.

The interior had been created, in low relief, using felt, rope and other materials which were then covered with gesso and painted in rich colours. The design incorporated many symbols representing ‘growth and decay’, ‘the light and dark side of all things’ and the circle of the eternal ‘without beginning, without end’.

On the Watts Gallery website you’ll find a 360 degree view of the chapel.

The cemetery in which the chapel is located is itself Grade II listed, with many of the graves designed in the Arts & Crafts style.

It’s certainly worth a visit and, while you’re there, you can also see Watts Gallery, Limnerslease (the house where Mary lived with her husband George Watts) and take a walk around the village of Compton.

Silk Painting Workshop at the Embroiderers’ Guild

I haven’t tried silk painting before, so when I saw my local Embroiderers’ Guild were running a workshop I thought I would give it a try. The session was run by textile artist, Kirsten Yeates, from Denmark.

Kirsten began by handing out pieces of silk that had designs pre-drawn on them using gutta – a technique that creates a boundary that the inks can ‘bleed’ up to. Apparently it can be quite tricky to draw smooth lines of gutta so, as a beginner, it was ideal to be able to start with these pre-drawn examples. We were then given a short demonstration on how to apply the inks. A fine paintbrush and cotton bud is useful if you are painting a detailed design and a thicker soft brush if you need to cover larger areas with a wash of colour.

The silk painting inks are very concentrated and produce a really vibrant colour on the cloth. Painting with inks looked easy but the inks dry quickly leaving a hard edge of colour. To prevent this from happening you can either damp the fabric slightly with your brush, before applying colour, or water the inks down.

I’m more familiar with watercolours, so by diluting the inks I was able to create the effect of the colours softly blending in to each other. Here is the piece I made, before and after…

In a short two-hour session, these are some of the lovely pieces that the group produced.

For more information on the Embroiderer’s Guild, or to find your local branch visit https://embroiderersguild.com/

Loving Vincent exhibition – Het Noordbrabants Museum, Holland

Loving Vincent is a painted animated film based on 120 of Van Gogh’s paintings. Every frame of the film was handpainted by over 124 artists who created more than 65,000 paintings. The exhibition, held at Het Noordbrabants Museum in ’s-Hertogenbosch, Holland provided a delightful insight into the making of such an ambitious film.

Below is a selection of paintings on canvas complete with registration marks, frame number and production comments.

A close up detail shows how thick the paint was applied on some of the paintings, in the style of Van Gogh.

The exhibition included a 3D mindmap illustrating the thought processes behind the making of the film, from the initial resources used to the script writing and music choices, plus what ended up on the cutting room floor.

How did Vincent Van Gogh die? The film looks at the investigation following his death. The mystery board below shows the possible suspects and how how they’re stories connected.

For more information visit – http://www.routevangogheurope.eu/news/228-exhibition-loving-vincent-at-noordbrabants-museum