Saturday, 22 May 2010

Stoat Family

I was early to the workshop this morning, in an attempt to get some carving done before it became too hot and it wasn't long before I had to stop to take breath.  The sun scorched into a baking heatwave in no time.  I sat in the shade with my back against the trunk of my old sycamore tree and after a few moments caught a movement out of the corner of my eye.  There was a dash and a dart and a shiny head appeared, blinking and bold.  Then another, and another.

The mother stoat had brought her brood out - they played and bounded in ripples and rolled and twisted, sprang and pounced - she called and they were eagerly around her and in a blur withdrew under the shed.

What a magical few moments!  Last year a stoat made her home under one of my pallets of stone and also had young - it would be nice to think it was the same female.  I made a number of sketches of her, and I will try to do the same with this family.  This sketch has become one of my best selling greetings cards.

Watching the mother stoat later that day, it reminded me of an article by Mike Bagshaw in local paper the Gazette & Herald 'The Stoat at Work in the English Hedgerow' as there she was bounding down the lane, through the hedge and back to my sheds carrying prey.   She knew I was there and skirted around me, taking cover where she could, and popping up again in a different spot - despite her heavy load she was much too cunning, quick and agile for me to get a picture.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Dutch House - Specialities and Sculpture

What a wonderful three days.  The Dutch House was so full of excitement and activity, the carpark overflowed as visitors poured in to take part in the taster sessions for the courses being run and to see the newly dug ecological sculpture garden. 

There was a wonderful atmosphere and bustling creativity and proud displays of items made in willow, glass, pottery and of course stone.  Visitors painted, drew, kiln fired, played drums, wove, sculpted, printed and decorated pigs!  And then sampled the so scrumptious pancakes (I ate too many) and Dutch specialities, hot coffee and home-made cakes from the cafe - all enjoyed outside in the cafe courtyard in the sunshine.

Over the three days I ran taster sessions for the stone carving courses I will be tutoring at the Dutch House, and some very keen and able visitors gave chiselling a try.  I am always delighted and amazed at what is achieved.  I had plenty help too, with my boulder, which is now beautifully decorated with a sunflower and attendant butterfly.   Further carvings of a ladybird, ammonite, more butterflies and an eye were made on the side of the stone.  This 'monolith' will remain at the Dutch House on display for all to see, and those who contributed will be able to return to admire their handiwork.  Well done and thankyou!

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