A work-in-progress from Saturday’s Rag-rug demo/drop-in at the Centre for Stewardship. The visitor who stayed and made this amazing little tree found materials I’d never seen before in the scrap-bag – a small piece of soft tan suede and a lump of amber-coloured velvet curtain. She had a vision for the trunk of her tree and it worked beautifully. I hope she sends me a photo of the finished rug.
This tree basket will have to wait till November for its sides. The beech twigs I collected in April have lain too long and even soaking won’t make them supple again. Rather than fight with brittle twigs, I’m happy to wait for winter and this year’s new growth.
The little unfinished beech coil was my demonstration piece over the Open Studios weekend. It helped explain basket construction to many people and its slow growth shows how busy we were! Thanks to everyone who came along and to the Centre for Stewardship for hosting us. We had some great conversations and Tess and I can see our work more clearly in the light of your feedback. I’ll be offering at least two workshops this summer and autumn in response to the interest shown, dates and venues will be posted here once arranged.
It’s Open Studios this weekend, I’ll be at The Stables, Centre for Stewardship Falkland with Tess Darwin tomorrow, Sunday and Monday, 10.00am to 6.00pm each day. I’ll be showing work-in-progress on my Falkland Trees project (eight species done) and Tess is showing her lovely Maspie Den-inspired textile art.
This weekend for the first time I’m going to offer a selection of my baskets, pods and nests for sale. Each one will be labelled with it’s materials, where they were collected and, if I’ve written about it in my blog, the date of the post.
Hope to see you over the weekend if you’re in Fife.
Please note: if you are planning to visit us tomorrow (Saturday 29th April) and are travelling by car, please park in the village or at Pillars of Hercules, as the Stables car park is being used by a wedding party.
Here are more photos of Tess’s lovely textile work inspired by Maspie Den, a place in Falkland Estate she visits often. It is a little valley carved into the north side of the Lomond Hills, sheltered and wooded with lots of damp-loving plants – a miniature tropical rainforest, but colder! Tess captures its atmosphere beautifully.
There is a huge tree in the Falkland Estate Arboretum, not far from the Monkey Puzzle tree near the Maspie Burn. I thought it was a Giant Redwood, one of those soft-barked punchable mega-trees from California. After the strong winds that brought down all the Monkey Puzzle leaves earlier this year, I found some green branches under the big tree, just enough to use for my tree project.
Today I decided to check which Redwood the branches came from, knowing there’s more than one species. It turns out to be something else altogether, probably a Japanese Red Cedar, Cryptomeria japonica. It is related to the Giant Redwood Sequoiadendron giganteum but comes from the other side of the Pacific Ocean, yes, from Japan. There it is called Sugi and is highly-prized for its timber and precious ancient specimens. It can grow up to 70 metres (230 feet) tall and to a trunk diameter of 4 metres (13ft).
I laid the twigs and leaves out to dry in the studio after collecting them. From the left: Hemlock(?), Lime, Monkey Puzzle leaves, Sugi, and one little twig from a neighbouring tree, possibly a Redwood. The Hemlock twigs (if that’s what they were) went brittle very quicky and ended up in the compost bin. The Sugi branches stayed flexible with a bit of soaking and made a very fragrant pair of baskets.
I’ll be at Fife Folk Museum on Friday for our first public rag rug event of 2017. There will be more!
At the end of April I’m an invited artist at the Centre for Stewardship Falkland for this year’s Open Studios North Fife. My friend Tess Darwin is joining me, we’ll be based in the Stables Information Hub on Sat 29th April and in the Stables Craft Hub on Sun 30th and Mon 1st May.
Over the winter we’ve both been working on personal projects inspired by the woodlands and plants of Falkland Estate and we are looking forward to showing some of our finished work. We’ll also be demonstrating how we use our materials and will be happy to talk about our processes – and all things woodland of course. Tess is a City and Guilds qualified textile artist and dedicated journal-keeper. I’m hoping she might bring some of her journals and experimental pieces with her, they are beautiful artworks in their own right.
Here are some examples of Tess’s work-in-progress…
My baskets/pods are dark and wintery in comparison. Between us I think we have four seasons!
I’m still working on some interesting construction challenges with those Monkey Puzzle leaves…