Thursday, 28 July 2011

Hay hay hay rakes!

I learnt to make hay rakes this year, partly because of an order for 5 children sized hay rakes from the Great Glen Community Wildspace group in Leicester.

I made the handles from ash and sallow, all in slightly different designs because there is more sallow than usable ash in the new wood. Some have forked branches which I thought would be naturally strong, they seemed to work fine.

I used dried silver birch for the tines or teeth - bashing the roughed out dowels through a tine cutter of 11mm to make clean dowels. The tines are set in at approx 1.5" to 2" spacing across the green ash head and flats are put on the backs so the tines don't split.

The handles are drilled into the head at a 70 degree angle to make a good rake, making sure you get this the right way up! Wedges hold the handle onto the head so it was solid. After doing a set of rakes the process became easier, but like most things not tried before there was some head scratching at first.

All full test of the adult sized hay rakes proved they worked great. Martin spent many hours in the mornings mowing the rides with his scythe and the hay rakes did their job well.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Private View Invitation - Gateway, Gallery 3, Shrewsbury - 29th July 7.30pm

Please come and join me at 
The Gateway, Gallery 3, Shrewsbury 
for my first Private View at 7.30pm on Friday 29th July for free drinks and nibbles. 

This is my summer exhibition of contemporary plein air watercolour landscapes, some of which can be seen on my website at

The exhibition continues from 30th July - 12th September 2011. 
All welcome, it would be lovely to see you all!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Letchworth Arts Festival - 'Weave with Nature' workshop

Just spent a fab weekend at Letchworth Arts Festival doing a new workshop I've devised call 'Weave with Nature'. It ticks all my boxes - bringing greenwood, natural materials, colour and a good organic measure of creativity into the mix. The idea of this workshop is to encourage people to get into natural materials, and enjoy natural fibres, plants, textures and colours. I am basically providing a creative space for people to play and explore.

'Weave with Nature'

It's a 'hands on' activity for all kids and adults of all ages using natural materials to weave a 'freeform' weaving. This informal activity encourages people to engage with natural materials in a creative way.

I provide a few free standing upright panels which I warp to provide weaving spaces for a communal artwork. Into these people can weave sticks, leaves, flowers, herbs, grasses, washed sheep wools (some dyed with natural dyes), seed pods and anything that I have collected that morning from the surrounding area.

It makes a very nice seasonal activity which grows into an artwork over the day as people add to it. People can join in and stay for however long they like.Alternatively people can make their own natural weaving on a forked stick frame to take away with them.

It is a useful educational tool to discuss where things like wool comes from, or what plants make a natural dye colour, what plants smell and feel like well as playing with colour and pattern. Many people said they were inspired by the idea to go away and try this at home (which is what I was hoping for), and the effect with the natural materials was also delightful. It was great to see the kids walking around the festival with their own natural weaving artwork, which brought other kids in looking to make their own.

It is suitable for country fairs, festivals, shows or school workshops - indoors or outdoors and will reflect the seasons.

If you are interested in booking this workshop or would like me to devise another similar activity, please contact me at

Tel 07583635994.

I am based near Ellesmere, North Shropshire and can travel.

There is a flat rate charge to the organizer per day to cover all materials that might be used. If you wish to keep the panels of artworks as a legacy of the day they can also be purchased for a small fee - this primarily covers the cost of making the rustic frames.

Do get in touch, I am very excited about how this workshop can inspire people!