Archive for the ‘Craft Fairs and events’ Category

If you are anywhere near Glasgow today then head along to South Frederick Street just off George Square to a one-off Sparrow and Co pop up shop! Sam is a dear friend of ours and he sells lovely homewares: cushions, rugs and candlesticks to mention just a few desirable items… only wish we could be there too. If you can’t make it, the online shop is always open here. Good luck Sam!


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It's aye Scottish ken

It’s aye Scottish

It’s at this time of year that signs start popping up on every roadside and junction end, flashing some sort of gala day, open gardens, charity fair or school fete as you drive past, only to catch that there is definitely something on this Saturday from 10-4 but slightly unsure as to what and where. But the Cushnie Games committee, of which Oli is a proud member, had their signs professionally printed and weatherproofed this year, and no one in this corner of Aberdeenshire could have missed the yearly Games which was set for last Saturday. The event was something of a damp squib last year- drizzly and cold; they made a loss (aim: break even); there was no bric-a-brac stall (fingers severely burned one year when a tsumani of bric-a-brac was donated, requiring weeks of trailer runs afterwards to dispose of it all); and several of the stall holders failed to turn up.

With a few tweaks of layout here and there, a deposit required from stallholders, and some glorious sunshine, this year was quite the comeback. Oh yes, Cushnie was a-buzz with the sound of the pipe band, races with some rather entertaining commentary (and running) and children running amok from the tea tent to refuel with homebakes to the bouncy castles to burn off the malteaser tray bake and fairy cakes.

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Cushnie Games 2013 008

Egg (tattie) and spoon race -under 5’s-
You can just see the ‘cake’ bunting on the tent on the background!

Sol and his friends had a great day, Oli manned the bric-a-brac and thoroughly enjoyed bartering (only the matter of one or two boxes of leftover bric-a-brac decorating our sitting room) and it was altogether a success. I made some bunting as quickly as humanly possible reading ‘Cakes’ for the tea tent, which left the machine on Saturday morning into Oli’s hands and onto the tent- I barely got a glance at it to ensure it did not read ‘Caeks’ or somesuch before it disappeared, so apologies for the lack of photos!

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Cushnie Games 2013 001

I’ll get in back on Thursday so will take a picture of it then before putting it away until the next party at which there might be loads of cake… Otis… two… next week… crikey!

Cushnie Games 2013 005

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Scout jumble haul 2013 005

It’s the only second hand shopping experience where I go with an actual list and expect to tick it off: the now legendary Banchory Scout Jumble Sale. Alas, I forgot my camera, but Oli took a few interior shots on his phone. A rainy start to the morning made for a better place in the queue and, I felt, a better chance at the myriad bargains inside the totem-poled gates. We also had a better strategy this year of splitting up and so I swerved the outdoor displays -garden furniture and equipment, suitcases, furniture, rugs, toys- and dived straight in to the meleé that is the indoor hall: books, clothes, DVDs, textiles, electrical equipment and the 12 metre long bric-a-brac table already two deep like a pub at half time.

Scout jumble 2013

Scout jumble 2013 2

The volunteers are easily divided into two groups: the experienced and the fearful, and I’m sure you can guess who gives the better price! Sadly the linen was disappointing this year; mostly curtains and no hand knitted blankets. The hand embroidered tea tray cloths, tablecloths and napkins were also pretty thin on the ground, which isn’t surprising as they have -quite rightly, if annoyingly!- regained their status as high-value items. But there were baskets a-plenty, and I nabbed a big one for dirty washing, a smaller one for vegetables, and a wee one for… well, I don’t know yet but I do love a basket.

Scout jumble haul 2013 008

I also picked up three clip-lidded glass jars and my long searched-for perfect lemon drizzle cake tin. A hand knitted jumper and some school trousers for Sol (school!) were the only fruits of a rummage through the mountain of children’s clothing, and we fought our way outside with my massive basket to make one final purchase of a battered old suitcase for the boys’ dressing up clothes. I spent £10 in total. Oli splashed the cash and spent £13 on a work bench and some ski poles to compliment last year’s skis.

Scout jumble haul 2013 006

The scout leader who sold us the claw footed bath last year spotted us immediately and enquired as to its status- sadly reported back as a handy receptacle for unused carpets and bits of wood. But no longer- it may be on the move towards fulfilling its fitful purpose, so watch this space! (And watch, I predict, one or two plumbing videos on YouTube)

Last year the scouts raised in excess of £10,000 from their sale, and in terms of bargains, enjoyment and general amusement, I think every penny spent by the customers was very well spent indeed. Can’t wait for next year!

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At the very last minute on the very last day, I paid my final visit to an artist’s studio at this year’s event: quilter Linzi Upton, known by the fantastic moniker ‘The Quilt Quine.’ (Quine is ‘girl’ in Doric, the dialect of NE Scotland) Linzi quilts using two incredible looking beasts, and Sol is pictured above next to the biggest one! Long arm quilting isn’t something I’m familiar with, but it can create very free, sweeping patterns as well as tiny intricate details, and is seriously impressive. There was a lot of metallic thread and fabric in Linzi’s work, especially the use of gold and silver lamé fabric, which looked gorgeous when quilted, almost like real poured gold. Her recent series of Nordic-inspired panels were hanging up in her studio and some of them reminded me of the pre-Colombian gold pieces in the Museo de Oro in Bogotá.

Linzi also quilts antique quilt tops and offers a quilting service for people who like piecing but not quilting. This very traditional wedding ring quilt is one of the old ones given new life by her skills:

What colours:

Linzi is also the creator of a quilted yurt, which I believe is on its way to Houston, Texas as part of the IQA exhibition ‘Tactile Architecture.’ She hadn’t put the yurt up this year, but had all the panels for flipping through as well as a few photos of the yurt in all its glory. It has a Celtic theme and this hare panel is quite magical:

For all her talent and prolificacy, my visit  to the Quilt Quine left me a bit sad. Linzi spoke of her career crossroads today (and at greater length on her blog) regarding whether to continue her pursuit of quilting as a viable source of income, or return to full-time school teaching. It’s a reminder of the difficulties in making a living from art and creativity. Not for nothing the term ‘starving artist’- and when the love of your art gets swallowed up in profit, loss, prize winning (or not), it must be sad and frustrating in equal measure.

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As the North East Open Studios event draws to a close, it’s hard to remember that the booklet of artists and makers is adamant about it being a year-round guide to what’s going on in the NE of Scotland. I feel so frustrated at having only managed a few venues this year… During the week I went in to Jenny Burgess’ textile studio not far from here. I have actually been trying to track Jenny down ever since seeing some of her patchwork cushions in a local shop. Sorry to say I neglected to take any photos of her studio or her amazing, amazing work: I was a bit star struck. Jenny trained at Aberdeen’s Gray’s School of Art and lectured in textiles in London before moving back up to the north east four years ago. Her work is very much influenced by Amish design and deceptively simple shapes and colour placement. It’s quite, quite lovely- much of what she had on display was muted in colour or flashes of bright against dark backgrounds. She also uses reclaimed fabrics: felted blankets, tweeds and checks.  Her animal cushions were very elegant and beautifully made in lined linen.

(Image from the Claremont Gallery, Aberdeen)

She does classes in colourwork as well as technique sampling, and I was warned that I wouldn’t be coming away with a wee finished pin cushion, but a range of different samples of work. She doesn’t use coloured or patterned fabric in this class, lest you become bogged down in not liking a particular colour or pattern. I liked her approach (and share her preference for hand quilting over machine) and her work so much I found myself transported back to uni and just listened to her in puppy-like rapture! This link will take you to the photostream of someone who was a bit more organised than me and took photos at last year’s NEOS. Beautiful…

I also returned to Gabrielle Reith’s exhibition to make a few purchases (sadly not this)

And today we stopped by a group of artists exhibiting together in a tiny WW1 lumberjack’s bothy. Nothing caught by eye there but I did meet a fellow quilter who was keen to join me at one of Jenny Burgess’ classes!

I’m really hoping to get to one or two things tomorrow, but what little I’ve managed has been fantastic. It does one’s soul good to see so much art and craft first hand, and chat to the people who make it in their own homes, rather than some cold, white gallery.

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Oh, it’s that time again, when yellow signs pop up all over Aberdeenshire and I feel like I’m living in amongst such exciting creativity and talent. By far the biggest open studios in Scotland -nearly 300 entrants this year- and one of the biggest in the UK, it’s impossible to get to everything. Or even, what with life, and ill children, supermarket shops and nursery runs, very much. I managed to pay a visit to the talented Simpson family on Monday. Stuart Simpson wasn’t there in person, but his lovely dad showed Sol some printing and it was a pleasure to see his beautiful pyrographs and woodcuts.

New this year were two rounded-edged, 3d wall sculptures, alongside the familiar bears and foxes. I loved Squall, a swirling, stormy woodcut, and a round one which Sol and Mr. Simpson both agreed looked like water going down a pipe. Cue a long and deep discussion about pipes.

Stuart’s mum Ruth, a textile artist, has her studio upstairs, complete with spinning wheels, felt, knitting, embroidery, tea and two woodburning stoves. AKA heaven.

Next stop was a group venue which included illustrator Gabrielle Reith, whose enchanting drawings adorned everything from stickers to brooches to baby clothes to Christmas decorations. She also had beautiful original works and prints for sale, and also sells through Etsy.

I could have spent some serious cash there, and will be going back for one or two Christmas presents. Apologies for the terrible photos, but I was simultaneously child watching, chatting to Gabrielle, and staring agog at all the pretty things, so I took one fuzzy shot and that was it!
More NEOS to come…

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…or rather, loch. Well I am back from my brief sojourn down to the outskirts of Glasgow where I whizzed round as many churches and halls as time and children would allow. Sadly I didn’t make it to all 11 venues, and I didn’t get to see all 400 quilts. But I feasted my eyes on some utterly mind-boggling works of craftsmanship and technique, colour and composition. The age-old question of ‘is it art’ has been going round and round in my head. It’s a biggie, and has been asked of everything from Van Gogh’s sunflowers to Tracey Emin’s unmade bed. Quilts can be, and often are, functional objects. But their usefulness in keeping you warm has long overflowed into sometimes quiet, sometimes loud demonstrations of beauty, technique, technology and outright artistry. It can take years to make a quilt, from design, planning, piecing, sourcing, quilting, embellishing, finishing. The placement of fabric and colour, when combined with the design of the actual quilting, can come together in subtle or spectacular ways. It can be simple, or staggeringly complicated and mathematical. Yet, in the UK at least, quilting is rather derided as something for old grannies. Quilting is traditionally something women do. Older women. It’s not cool. It isn’t really art.

I wish the people who think textile art isn’t really art would come to a quilt show. Or better yet, try and make one. I cannot see how anyone could stand face to face with one of Philippa Naylor’s incredible pieces and dismiss it.

Part social history, part art, part plain old keeping warm, quilts are complicated and thus a bit difficult to neatly box. But, to me at least, they are fascinating and warmly democratic- here was I, a teeny baby quilter by comparison, but able to exhibit alongside award winning, world class artists. Pretty cool and lots of fun.

Apologies for the quality of my photos- I was snapping as quickly as I could and then my battery ran out, so I had to use my phone. And I neglected to get the names of all the quilters. If I did get the name, then it follows the quilt photo. You’ll get the idea!

The black and white exhibition:

The aforementioned Philippa Naylor’s quilts- jaw dropping. She was there, and very lovely too!

I loved this black and white one, it had lovely folky animals and birds all over it in tiny squares:

Winner of the ‘Red Alert’ competition, and recipient of an award for hand quilting. A deceptively simple quilt which was utterly arresting and beautiful:

The back- you can see the sashiko stitches in the different colours. Really effective:

This one was gigantic! The colour scheme wasn’t really my favourite, but the hand quilting was the best I’ve ever seen. So even and, in contrast to the geometry of the quilt, very flowing.

More lovely reds:

The Quilter’s Guild’s Scottish division put this exhibition of A3-sized quilts together, which was great fun:

This was in an exhibition by a group of women called The Filanderers, who were talented and very prolific:

A technique that was new to me, called Boutis, from France:

Winner of the men only competition, ‘Mission Impossible:’

The highly commended men’s quilt, and my favourite, complete with OS map fabric:

The rainbow efforts of the Cupar quilting group:

And two huge antique quilts, in the Turkish Red fabric that the Vale of Leven was once famous for. These weren’t perfect, but they had such majesty and were so modern and striking.

The winner of the competition I entered, ‘Singing the Blues:’

The winner of the ‘Silver Lining’ group competition, an absolutely gorgeous log cabin kimono (an interesting combo, but I think it worked!)

Another ‘Singing the Blues’ entry. Words fail me on this one… wow.

There was something about this one which I loved.

‘Sailing Away:’

Another ‘Singing the Blues’ contestant, made from African fabrics, which was lovely.

Apologies for the mammoth post. I could have stayed among all those fantastic quilts all day- already looking forward to next year!

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