West Dean is famed for its gardens which are open to the public (and which I'm afraid I was too busy to visit), but even the walk to the car park was scenic with a carpet of pretty snowdrops and crocuses.
What were you doing all last week, Hen? Crafty stuff, of course. With materials like this...
If I show you these, I think you'll be getting the idea...
(This is Kim's basket, another lady attending the course; she has long collected Julie's work and was kind enough to bring in some of her collection to show us.)
..and now definitely so!
Yes, I have indulged myself in the company of twelve like-minded crafty folk and the wonderful tutoring of Julie Arkell. You may recall, I attended a workshop of Julie's in the Summer, to make fabric jewellery, this time, it was papier mache creatures!
Julie brought some of her fabulous work to inspire us.
Not just creatures, but houses too. Made of fabric? Died and gone to heaven!
The first evening, we had a leisurely time getting to know one another, having a drink in the bar followed by dinner, then going to the studio for a talk by Julie.
The next day, we were eager to get on. Out came the newspaper and glue and off we went, papier mache-ing like mad. We all let our inner six-year old out to play. The radiators were soon hogged by damp newspaper-y creatures of the weird and wonderful kind! (Yes, some of these photos were dark as we were allowed to work in the studio until 10pm).
The papier mache was fun but quite hard work. We had to work fairly speedily so that we could get our creatures dry and ready for subsequent layers to be applied and dried. Finally, after an exceptionally long day, their dried forms began to emerge and for those who chose to do so, it was time to get out the paints. (No, of course I could not wait to get my fabric out and line it all up.)
At this point, I was in my element. The many bags and baskets came out, full with bits of vintage lace, trims, buttons and all sorts. The needle started flying and the creatures came to life.
Spot the difference!
It was quite a full-on schedule (and there were the boys thinking I was going to return home all radiant and rested!) but undoubtedly so enjoyable. We couldn't tear ourselves away from transforming our creations and some truly fabulous and original items began to emerge. The papier mache sculpting was only the starting of making our creatures. The intricacy of making clothes, knitting ears and embroidering words onto patches for tiny creatures took many patient hours.
Diane's donkeys with their crocheted accessories drew oohs and ahhs of admiration.
Elizabeth had travelled all the way from America (as had two more ladies) to attend the course and wowed us with her funky knitted hair (for her creature, that is!)
Everyone had different skills to bring to the melting pot; some were sewers and makers, some were painters, some designers and so on. It was interesting that everyone produced highly individual pieces.
And me? Well, you will probably not be surprised to see the style of my creations!
I couldn't wait to make a fabric house (I probably should have showed you the other sides which are all made with different fabrics and have embroidered words), and the "winged creature" (based on one in Julie's book,) is probably my favourite.
A few more creatures emerged too, with bunny-like ears and fancy frocks of fabulous fabrics. The one on the right is called "Marvellous Mary" and I think her inspiration, who was kind enough to gift me some of the beautiful vintage fabrics, will hopefully be reading and approve.
I made a few other bits which require finishing touches so will save those for another day. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Munchkin is showing quite an interest in having a go himself so this will likely not be the last you see of papier mache!
And now, back down to earth!