Sunday, 6 September 2015


Last week I spent 4 wonderful days at ArtVanGo in Hertfordshire.  I was booked on Alice Fox's Summer School called LOST AND FOUND and people had travelled from Yorkshire and other distant places to attend.  Not only was the workshop full but there were as many people on the reserve list so I considered myself very fortunate to be there.  Not only that, but others paid to stay in local hotels and accommodation. Me?  I stayed free of charge in a pub car park. That's the joy of having a campervan and being sufficient!

But enough of that. Let's talk about the Summer School.  My heart still flutters even when I think of it!  I had SO looked forward to this! Kev and Viv are owners of ArtVanGo who were welcoming and I felt very looked after throughout my stay.  I was also among a lovely bunch of fellow students and in response to a photo I shared on Facebook a friend in Amsterdam commented that she knew someone else booked on this course.  It turns out this mutual friend was sitting right opposite me and that we had struck up a friendship. This creative world gets more connected and smaller all the time!

But I digress again.  See, I told you my heart was a flutter! I am
so full of ideas and memories that it is hard to settle.  But I will try. Here goes!!

The workshop was about creating prints and designs using found materials - rust, plants, string and such like. You get the idea. We started straight away, and I couldn't believe that by lunch time on our first day we had already been so productive!  Alice is a brilliant tutor, very relaxed and informative, there when you need her and giving encouragement and opportunity to develop your own ideas. She had provided a wonderful supply of fabric and card/paper to experiment with, and also an extensive collection of materials to use.  I shared just a few of these on my previous post.

I have learnt to make my own journal/notebook when I go on workshops as I had a habit of loosing my notes and sample pieces. So now I collect these together and I will write another post explaining more how I do this. Meantime you can see my first signature bottom right.

We started by making prints with rust on card and after watching Alice demonstrate we lost no time in choosing from our stack of materials. I chose a sheet of thick cartridge paper and painted it with green tea. There were other mordents available, so lots of opportunity to experiment. Luckily no one drunk the red wine and we discovered this made a beautiful pink dye!
After painting my page I added wire wool and another layer of green tea to make it hold fast to the paper.  It is important to achieve as much contact as possible.
After, Alice showed us how to use fabrics.  This time we wrapped around rusty mails.

I decided to use a random effect for my second bundle. After
wrapping we left the bundle in mordant to soak for a short time so that it was evenly saturated.

We put our work outside and learnt to be patient.  The wire wool started to show  a reaction very quickly which was exciting,  but we wouldn't know what the wrapped items would look like until they were untied.  This is a very unpredictable process, full of surprise.  And we had to wait several days to get the best effect!   
And when my bundles were unwrapped this is what I found. A wonderful pattern of different colour marks.  

Here you can see a third piece of fabric where I laid other rusty objects onto the surface, rather than wrapping.  This creates a very different effect.

And remember I started by putting wire wool onto a sheet of card? This is the result. Isn't it fabulous?! 

Now I know some people will shake their head in wonder.  My friend Jill is a fine example and I know she won't mind me saying! But if like me you like using materials to create something unique and unpredictable then these are great techniques. I love this organic look and having the opportunity to create something beautiful from something that was found or thrown away. Luckily four days allowed us to come home with some finished projects, some work in progress  and a large selection of printed fabric and papers, ready to use.
Alice had so many examples and ideas to share and we were extra lucky as an exhibition of her work was displayed in ArtVanGo at the time of our visit.  So to end, I will show you a quick selection.  Thank you Alice for giving permission to share these photos and more examples and techniques are in Alice's wonderful book called Natural Processes in Textural Art.

And to see more examples of my own work, come back soon.  I am planning another post or two! 
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