Sunday in late September and all was right with the world. I woke up to hear the first bird songs of the day (as I always sleep with the window open these days) and beautiful Autumn light streaming through my window.
When I arrived at Denmark Farm and read the welcome sign “Denmark Farm Conservation Center connecting people with nature,” I knew I was in the right place. My whole being buzzed wondering who would be attending the course.
As the participants started to arrive, a member of staff, Mara Morris, made everyone tea and coffees. Mara really wanted to join in, too, as she has a ceramics degree from Cardiff, but unfortunately she couldn’t, as she had to go to her son’s football match. Mara did, however, kindly welcome everyone and told them a bit about Denmark Farm before introducing me to the group.
The group consisted of five lovely women all of whom brought with them enthusiasm, their own knowledge of the natural world and bounty of autumn delights that inspired them.They brought poppy seed heads, star anise, acorns and one orchid to supplement reference books about grass and rushes that I brought in.
I began the workshop by explaining about paperclay: what it is and it’s characteristics (such as strength, lightness and its ability to be joined wet-to-dry). I then talked about where, as an environmental artist, I find my inspiration for micro sculpture. The root of the idea came from my first solo exhibition when I discovered flowers in the hedgerows cut before their time, before the flowers set seed so they could bloom for the following year.
I then went on to demonstrate modelling a seed head inspired sculpture. Then I went on to explain and demonstrate how I made a lino cut and a print. I love using this technique as it adds texture and pattern to the sculpture.
I then demonstrated how to join wet paperclay to dry paperclay, explaining that this characteristic was the most exciting part of paperclay for me, as when working with normal clay, you have to make sure the two pieces are leather hard. And this was all before we paused for lunch!
Then I left them to create there own, the best comment was.. “what a lovely thing to do, just play with paper clay!”
After we had our lunch, I invited everyone to walk around the wild flower garden at Denmark Farm . I think everyone got a lot out of it, and returned with more ideas to create beautiful seed head inspired sculptures I was in heaven,the different varieties of flowers and seed heads were beautiful and still attracting busing insects.
For the rest of the day I was on hand to help with questions for the rest of the day, adding a few other techniques and having a enjoyable time.
I was very impressed by the level of enthusiasm, concentration and self expression: A perfect workshop in a perfect location.
All five will be returning to paint and glaze their work and also learn how to make their own paper clay. I will take the work back to my studio to fire, then return the fired work to them the following week.
I will be posting photos of their finished work in a few weeks.
If anyone is interested in booking a workshop at my studio next year please contact me. I can take bookings up to 8 people at £45 plus 5 materials.
Thank you for reading!