Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Howsham Mill Courses

On a tiny island in the River Derwent at Howsham, North Yorkshire, stands a Georgian watermill. Howsham Mill dates back to c.1755 and is attributed to John Carr of York, more famous for designing Fairfax House in York, and an extension to Castle Howard stables. In 1965, a Royal Commission for Historic Monuments inspector, James Williams, described the Mill as "...a building of the maximum historical interest as a very early example of gothic Revival style…" and "...of great architectural interest as it is a very rare example of the gothic Revival style as applied to a functional building. (I cannot find reference to a similar example, eg watermill)…".

The mill was built both as a working grist mill, to grind grains into flour, and as an 'eyecatcher' or folly within the formal parkscape of nearby Howsham Hall.  The mill was powered by a breastshot waterwheel connected by a gear wheel to millstones, that grind the grain into flour.  Milling of flour ceased in 1947 and the building fell into decay by the 1960's. 

A huge restoration project is underway, with a busy schedule of events at the mill.  They are now generating their own hydro-powered electricity and run courses - clay creations, green wood bench making, willow sculpture, wild food cooking and bush craft.  

I have been asked to do a stone course with them - so will be getting a large block of stone onto the Island (not sure how yet!) for everyone to have a go at carving and make into a sculpture for the site, and also tutor a letter-cutting course where participants will learn how to carve letters in stone and take away their own stone inscription. 

What a location - all that beautiful stonework - I might be trying a bit of gothic styling myself.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Stone Compass

Some while ago a large block of stone was delivered to my workshop, so that I could carve a compass into the top surface.  Initially I had thought to incise the compass design, but when the stone arrived, the surface was heavily marked, scraped by quarry machinery, chipped and uneven, so my carving would not have shown up well and the finished compass would look rather scruffy.  

So I decided to do part incised and part relief - so I marked the compass shape onto the stone and then cut the background away - taking most of the unsightly marks away too.  This meant that the shape stood proud of the surface and for a little contrast, I thought the North, South, East and West could be cut in, as incised lettering.

The stone is going to a beautiful site, on top of the Howardian Hills, between the villages of Brandsby and Dalby.  It will be situated next to a turf maze, known as 'City of Troy', or the Skewsby maze due to its proximity to that village.  The maze is of classical design and measures 26 by 22 feet, making it the smallest turf maze in Europe.  There is a bench there too, so you can sit and take in the spectacular all round views. 

Quite a location!  And now you can tell which way you are looking, or which way is home.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Ryedale ArtWorks

Ryedale ArtWorks is the new name for my local Art Group.  It was all made official last night, with a launch party - food galore, cakes, balloons, games, laughter!  It is a group which has been running for a little while, Chaired and largely organised by Yvette Turnbull the Creative Economy Officer for Ryedale District Council.  We are so lucky with our Arts Officer - she is a marvel and a real live support system for all artists in the area.

So, over the last five years we have been meeting in all sorts of spaces, on hillsides, in studios and galleries and in people's homes, and we have discussed all sorts of topics from artist residencies to marketing, from rural business development to making relationships with galleries.  Now we have become a constitued organisation - creating a members led group with fresh and exciting plans, with the beginnings of a website Ryedale

It is very motivating and inspiring to meet other creative practitioners, to discuss ideas and projects, support one another, pool resources and just learn about the painting, drawing, printing, sculpture, glass, textiles, paper and wood that are the creative output of artist friends locally.

We're on the map! There is a strong visual arts community in Ryedale and with Yvette as our first cheerleader, supporting our progress and development, we'll go far.

Is anyone part of an art group, I would love to hear about how yours works - perhaps we can link or collaborate in some way. 

Thursday, 24 November 2011

More Beautiful Little Stones

I seem to be touched by small stones, well actually pebbles, just at the moment.  Look at this wonderful use for a little collection of beautiful water rounded stones.  How preciously imbued and carefully congregated they are, and how much solid integrity they lend.  Heavenly!

Journal by Margo Klass

They're decorating the front of an artists book by Margo Klass featured on Journals and Inspiring Quotations  from Art Propelled - this post inspired me to action with all my 'scribblings on pieces of paper'.  It is a delightful read and has filled my thoughts all week.  There are some other beautiful books (and thoughts) there too.

I want to hold near, clasp and hug these books!

Artists Book by Margo Klass

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Misty Mornings

I'm rather enjoying the misty mornings - though for some it seems to have caused major travel problems - especially when the sun breaks through, as it has been doing, and begins to clear the view.  Actually I have never really understood the difference between fog and mist.  Mist - water-vapour in drops smaller than rain.  Fog - vapour suspended at or near earth's surface.  (Courtesy Pocket Oxford). 

Then there is the magic effect when it has been a cold night, followed by an early sunny morning and the earth 'steams', plumes of soft swirling smokeyness, rising upwards in whisps and disappearing, evaporating out of sight.  And how the sun plays through it in shafts, bright beams in the soft white.

Is that fog or mist?

Friday, 18 November 2011

Stone Carving Courses

I'm very pleased to be running courses again in 2012, as we had such success this year with some amazing pieces carved by complete beginners, and some keen carvers came back for a second go, improving with astonishing results.   We've just finished organising some dates for you - for the Spring a two day Stone Carving workshop on 28th and 29th April, 2012, a three day summer course in May, alongside a Letter Cutting Course and further days at the end of September.  Hopefully one of these will fit with your schedules.  Stone Carving Courses - Diary Dates and details.

I hold the courses at The Dutch House in Crayke, which is a beautiful venue with inspiring backdrop.  They have an ecological sculpture garden on site, which is now beginning to mature - full of wildlife and insects - so if your arms begin to ache, you can take five minutes in beautiful peace and quiet!  Lunches are served in the little cafe there, or outside in the cafe courtyard where we all sit together in excited chat, proudly discussing progress, stone sculpture and carving techniques.  I'm on hand throughout, guiding and giving one-to-one practical tutoring.  Really looking forward it!

All the workbenches, tools and stone are provided for the duration of the course, so just you, in sensible clothes (it is dusty!) and shoes required.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Carved Stone Animal Heads

Last week in Stone Speaks I promised to show you some more of the stones locally which I find special, interesting and inspiring.

Here are a pair of real beauties - two carved stone animal heads - dog like creatures, one looking wild and guarding, the other a happy, amused, smiley face.  Behind the heads are carved leaves, curling away like they do on a green man image - these are just green dogs instead!

Carved Stone Animal Head - Lastingham Grange

Carved Stone Animal Head - Lastingham Grange

These two heads are built into a wall at the famous Lastingham Grange Hotel in the village.  I say famous as whenever I meet anyone and they discover I live in Lastingham, they immediately say 'oh I've been there - to the The Grange' - it has an outstanding reputation for fine dining and impeccable service.

I recommend it, and these gargoyle-esque stone heads are a real bonus.  Just look how neat and characterful the carved  features are, cut from the stone with huge flourish and style, each with with its own  distinct personality.  I salute the sculptor!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Festive Windows

All the big stores are now unveiling their wondrous Christmas Windows amidst much celebration - here is a behind the scenes clip of the making of the famous festive window by Liberty, based on the 12 days of Christmas.

It made me think about what I would do, if I had a shop window, to show all my work in a spectacular festive way!  I am going to see if I can create one - my blog is quite the best 'window' I could have, so I'm to work with ideas for my display which I will reveal as soon as I can.  Will anyone join me and make a Christmas Window too, I'll link all the displays and we can share our visual merchandising skills!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Beautiful Little Stones

Whenever I go to the beach, or anywhere where there are pebbles, they call me to pick them up.  Some just prove irresistable.  All of them are smooth, worn and rounded, beautiful to hold, calming - just lovely shapes that fit in the hand.  They become tokens of the time, sacred, full of memories.  If they could be made more special, then Natasha Newton at The Blackbird Sings manages this with finesse.

What heavenly little stones.  Impeccable artistry.  More of her creations are worth seeing on her website Natasha Newton.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Plant Tags

My vegetable garden has been tidied today, there was a lot of brown, which is now composting.   There are just a few tomato plants which continue to produce, which I crop  most days.  Also still really beautiful is my herb bed, with parsley thick and abundant and I'm getting the odd strawberry too.  

I'm drawing up my plans for next year, with extra beds and just so I don't forget what I have planted where, I've made these special Plant Labels.  These Plant Tags will be useful to name the beds, but  actually could be used to name, or say anything you like.  I've made three designs which can have an inscripton carved on the front, making a rather smart hanging tag.

Plant Labels - Made in Stone range by Jennifer Tetlow

One plant label for Herbs, another for Beans ... but they can be lettered with wording of your choice.  Carved in my usual sandstone, so perfect for outdoors and garden organising.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Stone Speaks

Not just because of the words cut into it, but just as loudly of skill, endeavour and encouragement.  I do find looking at other carved stone very encouraging - I imagine the maker, chisel in hand, cutting, shaping, expertly sculpting - I create a story of his character, who he was and what he was thinking at the time.  I feel I understand his desire to make the stone his own, to carve it beautifully.  Stone has this pull and it satisfies deeply.

On my travels I notice stone, and wonder how and why and love to see how the carving was done.  Actually I am very lucky here at home, so I thought I would show you some of the stones 'on my doorstep', the stones I see every day, on the way to the workshop, the post box or close-by in the village, which make me happy.

The first is a beautiful and unusual lintel, over one of the doors of our house - The Hap of a Life Good or Ill the Choyce of a Wife.

It makes me smile, and I've seen many a passer-by looking and wondering.  More beauties to follow.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Power of Making - the importance of being skilled

The Power of Making is the second Victoria and Albert Museum and Crafts Council triennial exhibition - it has been about increasing the awareness of, and challenging preconceptions around craft and craftsmanship.  The Power of Making is a celebration of the empowering nature of making and the human instinct to create.  I'm enjoying the catalogue, there is a wonderful forward by Rosy Greenlees of the Crafts Council and Mark Jones, Director of the V&A - 

'The International scope of the Power of Making highlights how the impulse to make things with our hands is universal.  The action of making, and the outcome of a crafted object, connects cultures, communities and generations.  Handmade objects have a story.  They have been touched, manipulated, hammered, thrown, blown, carved by another human hand.  They connect us to ur past and to our familial and cultural histories.  They are the objects that we see in the public collections of the V&A and the Crafts Council - recording, as elegantly as verbal and written accounts, the histories of cultures and peoples'.

I was so pleased to see stone featured in the exhibition - actually a dry stone wall - start with the most affable stone, all the ones laid after chosen for the stones found before.  These words are clever and I can relate to them.  And carving too - I love this - when you are down to the last inch, and you think you are running out of possibilities, sharpen your eye

Alphabet - Dalton Ghetti (photo by Sloan T. Howard Photography)

Power of Making is an exhibition about the breadth and depth of craft’s presence in modern life. The featured objects have been selected to highlight both age-old skills and contemporary techniques, from traditional stone walls to machines that can make other machines. Each exhibit demonstrates refined craftsmanship, meticulous control or ingenious application.

It seems to me that this exhibition does 'officially' on a large scale just what I experience reading everyone's blogs, there are so many makers who's blogs I relish visiting - I have the same sort of tour of exquisitely made objects and the love and compelling creative stories behind them.  

If you can't manage to get to this brilliant exhibition, which continues until January 2nd, 2012 at the V&A Museum - just visit a few makers' blogs!
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