It’s called Shibori and it’s like tie-dyeing. You remember tie-dyeing!

Yes – the ancient (and much revered) Japanese art of Shibori – tying and dyeing silk to create wonderful effects.
And with modern silk paints, vibrant colours with just an iron to fix. great for home experimenting, and a pleasure to teach in an art class environment.

But what actually does Shibori silk painting involve?

A quick Google or visit to Wikipedia reveals that Shibori is not only an ancient art but a complex one too. In the West, one technique seems to have become used more than the many others – using thread to tie silk around formers before applyimg the silk paint.

In our Shibori classes we explore four techniques that will give you distintively different end results.
We’ll give you 4 silk panels – one for each of the core methods.
The aim is to identify the technique to be used to make an end product – for a beginner’s Shibori class that’s a pleasingly soft silk scarf, using a silk often referred to as Pongee – light and delicate.
Choose the effect you like most and use that for your final silk scarf.

We also use modern iron-fix dyes; the alternative is steam fixing. We suspect the steam fix dyes available might give a more saturated colour, but our aim for this beginner’s class is for you to take your silk scarf home on the day. We’ll just use a household iron to fix the dyes and your scarf is ready to show off!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s have a look at the four techniques you’ll try on our beginner’s class:

First up, try this method – tie the silk around a series of round objects and then apply silk dye (as many different colours as you like) to parts of the silk before drying it and ironing it.

 

 

 

 

 

Technique number two involves wrapping the silk tightly around a former and applying dyes, as demonstrated by Jenny:

 

 

 

 

 

Now, technique number 3 – folding. A delight this, but tricky – calling for precision ironing and folding if you’re to achieve nice, regular shapes and sharp lines.

 

 

 

 

 

And now, technique 4 – tieing the silk around beads and dyeing. As demonstrated by Jenny again! Fiddly, but a very nice effect so worth the bother:

 

 

 

 

 

On our class, testing each of these techniques takes the morning.
Of course we include lunch in our class – to keep you fully nourished and attentive!
Then in the afternoon, it’s time to use your chosen method to make your scarf.
We provide a range of dye colours, and show you how to mix colours to creat your own custom colours!

Fancy having a go at making your own Shibori-dyed silk scarf?
Our website page is here:
http://www.vitreus-art.co.uk/classes/silk-painting.html

As with all our one-day beginners classes, lunch, materials and fun are all included.
We look forward to meeting you at our gallery!

Vitreus Art – craft studio and art gallery
Wakefield Country Courtyard
Potterspury
Northants
NN12 7QX – UK

 

 

The pleasure of learning something entirely new…

How often do we, as adults, set out to learn a completely new skill?GlassBlowing

I don’t mean learning how a new phone works, or becoming familiar with the latest version of an established piece of software – I mean learning a skill unlike the ones we already have.
Possibly not very often if you’re at all like me.

Considering how refreshing learning a new skill can be, especially if it’s learnt for pleasure rather than for work, this tells me lots of us are missing out on a real pleasure, and possibly on new life chances too.

Jenny and I have been thinking about this recently and decided that we would set out to gain some new skills by attending courses in art forms completely new to us. We’d like to offer a wider range of classes at our studio-gallery and that’s part of our motivation to look for new skills.

Since that point (about 18 months ago) we’ve progressed a fair distance in our desire to develop our capabilities as glass fusers, for instance. In fact, our beginner’s classes in glass fusing (which we ‘Fusion-Inclusion’ as we focus on using inclusions to make fused glass art) have become our 3rd most popular class, right behind our stained glass beginners’ classes.

We’re at the point now that our starter kiln is pretty much fully used all the time and the capabilities (and cost) of a larger kiln is often on our minds.

Another one of these new skills is to be the subject for future classes at Vitreus Art and I’m keeping our powder dry on this one! Suffice to say we set out on a certificated course to gain an appreciation of how the art-form ‘works’ and to figure out if we could build our proficiency to a level that would enable us to teach our own students in time.

Of course we don’t expect to be brilliant straight away, but we flatter ourselves that with practice, plenty of ideas to experiment with and recourse to our organisational and planning skills we’ll be able to put on a good show when we feel we’re ready.

We’ve enjoyed (and learned from) the process of following a structured teaching environment too – it’s not all about the new skill, some of the learning has been about the process of learning!
And more recently we tried something even more removed from our present artistic activities – glass blowing.

We set out with no expectation that we would ever want to blow glass on our own.
This was purely for pleasure and to satisfy an urge Jenny has nursed since seeing glass makers on the Venetian island of Murano where some of the world’s most accomplished glass-blowers make their magic.
And what a blast it was!

We chose to attend a one-day introduction to glass blowing at ‘The Glass Hub’ near Bath, in the UK. One of several creative businesses located on a farm complex, the whole place feels like it’s dedicated to artistic endeavour, which is a stimulating environment to learn in – no adult-education at a formal college feels like this!

Glass blowing is hot, potentially dangerous, exciting, and a little scary.

In stark contrast to much of our own glass work, glass-blowing is very much ‘in the moment’ – things happen quickly, glass heats and cools rapidly, the processes need to be timed carefully.

Our tutor Dylan was at pains to apologise for seeming to bark instructions at us but we understood perfectly why that was – something needs to be done – re-heating the glass, rolling it, shaping the molten glass, blowing air in to the embryonic vessel – and there’s little time for thinking, it’s all about action!

The end results were (to be completely candid) not perfect!

We watched Dylan and his colleagues effortlessly melting, shaping, colouring all manner of beautiful blown glass vessels and then made lumpy, uneven attempts of our own. But we love what we’ve made, and we loved every minute of the process. It’s fast moving, sweaty and challenging, but the emotional high of making something recognisably like a glass object from scratch is powerful.

The patience and skill demonstrated by our tutors, their delicately timed interventions, and the humour of the whole class left us a bit breathless and a lot excited!

Now we understand the ‘high’ our own students have told us about – learning new skills, the pleasure of owning a piece of art you’ve made, the collaborative experience of working with craftspeople to create something long-lasting – we’ve felt it and we always hope to deliver that same feeling in our own studio.

From now on we’ll be thinking a lot more about how we can spread that pleasure – it’s not just about making something, it’s about discovering that our hands can achieve results we hadn’t imagined, and enjoying the distinctive pleasure of learning new skills.

What sort of art-form would you like to try that’s new to you?
How would you like to learn a new craft skill and discover what your hands can achieve?

You could do worse than having a look at the classes and courses we run at Vitreus Art.
We’ll help you discover tghe pleasure of learning something new!

Are you ready to display your work in a gallery? A guest post by Jenny Timms.

VitreusArt-gallery-studio-Wakefield-Country-CourtyardIf you think the answer is ‘yes’, how do you do this? It can be a daunting undertaking if you haven’t done it before.

Maybe you belong to an art group and you’ve been lucky enough to sell your work at group exhibitions. Hopefully you’ve sold and family members and friends are queuing up to tell you what a great artist you are!

But here’s the crucial question – is your work really ready to be out there? And are you ready too, as an artist, a professional, a business person?

We (Vitreus Art) opened our doors 18 months ago, after 10 years of selling through other galleries, online and at craft shows.
Since then we have received a stream of people though the door asking if we would display their work and sell it for them.  This really isn’t the way to get a gallery onside!

Ask yourself – would I appreciate visitors to my workplace trying to sell me things? Probably not. A gallery owner has to be responsive to their customers (and potential customers). Artists turning up during the day without an appointment gets a future relationship off to a bad start!

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves – there are some absolute fundamentals to take care of first:

  • Do you have a website and a business Facebook page (not a personal one that can only be viewed by your Facebook friends?
    • If not why not – you need one, it’s as simple as that, you need to be able to direct a gallery owner to your online presence when you first approach them
  • Whatever your art form you need good photos, for your website and for advertising whether it be printed or online – Good photos are a must. If you can’t show a prospective gallery photos of your work how do you expect them to agree to take your work?
  • If you are taking pictures of 2D art, take the photos before the glass goes on – reflections in the glass are a no-no!
  • Do you have business cards and or a flyer with information about yourself and your work?
  • Have you decided what you will be offering the gallery?
    • A one-off piece of work
    • A body of work (hopefully with a consistent look or theme)
    • Continuous supply of work – if this is your option then can you keep up with demand, can you supply the work as and when it’s called for?
  • Is your work properly prepared for a gallery?
    • Is it framed well?
    • Does it have hanging fixings applied – And yes, I have had work with the fixings in a bag, expecting me to fix them onto the back of the frame before hanging; that’s not the gallery’s job!
    • If the work is in a frame – is the back sealed properly?
    • Is the work labelled in the way the gallery would like? Please don’t deliver work to one gallery straight from another with their labels on, and don’t leave the previous exhibition’s pricing on a piece of work.
    • Go to the trouble of printing new labels for each time you change it from one gallery to another, it really is worth the time

And here’s a critical point – will the gallery be able to make enough money on the commission to justify devoting wall space to your work? If your work sells for £30 and the gallery’s commission is 50%, the potential revenue to the gallery is only £15; instead the gallery is likely to prefer to display a work with a selling price of (for example) £200 – the gallery makes a nice round £100 instead when they sell it!

As an aside – some galleries run themed exhibitions – if your work suits the theme of a show coming up you may find submitting work for a themed show is a good ice-breaker as those galleries will be expecting submissions from artists they haven’t worked with before.

Now – please don’t tell me you’re now off to see a gallery before you’ve done some research?

Consider the points above – come up with a list of galleries you think will be a good fit. Pay them a visit but don’t approach them on this occasion. This is your chance for you to see if you think your work will fit in their space. At this stage we suggest you consider the distance – if your work sells well will you be prepared to travel to the gallery to re-stock?

We’ve been guilty of this ourselves – working with a gallery more than 100 miles away, so the sales generated didn’t even cover the petrol, let alone the time involved or the cost of creating the art-work in the first place!

Now you have your list of possible (your work suits their style, price points and ethos) you can initiate contact!

Send them an email, addressing the owner/manager in person, introducing yourself and the reason you are contacting them – this is where having a decent website, a business Facebook page and  good-quality photos all matter.

If you don’t hear back within a few days, follow up with a phone call – but be polite. Most gallery owners are busy and get a lot of prospective introductions. If they are interested you should ask for an appointment.
If they aren’t, thank them for their time and ask if you may contact them at a later date, most will probably say that’s ok, but if not don’t waste any more of their time, or yours, and leave it at that.  Just remember – the art world is a small place so be courteous to people you may encounter again in the future!

If your contact is interested in your work, great – make an appointment and get your pitch in order. At this stage make sure you find out how the gallery operates. Most galleries will display your work on a sale or return basis; if this is the case you need an idea of how long they would like to exhibit your work.

It’s unlikely a gallery will buy your work outright so be prepared to understand how this will work. Sale or return will come with a commission fee charged by the gallery. This is standard practice (and a subject for a whole other blog) but you need to know how much that is and include it in your pricing structure

Make sure you turn up to your appointment on time and present your work and yourself well. Your art is your ‘passion’ and how you present it should be confident, but not pushy.

I get frustrated by artists who tell me they love what they do but then turn up with their work in a supermarket carrier bag.  Much better to carefully wrap the work, or make protective sleeves to keep the frames in good condition.

And think about how your 2d work is framed – marks or damage to frames is a no-no. Who would buy a piece of art with a damaged frame? Your work should look as if it’s brand new – even down to making sure there are no fingerprints on the glass.

And if you want to be taken seriously, make sure your own presentation is smart too – no painter’s smock please!

If the gallery owner likes what you show them, you may be asked to leave some of your work with them. Make sure it’s in saleable condition, and make sure you receive a consignment note detailing the work and its price – a piece’s wall price is the price the customer pays, the artist price is what you’ll receive when it sells.

Most galleries pay their artists in arrears by direct transfer – have your bank details to hand! This is a new professional relationship so it’s important that all aspects are professionally handled.

If the gallery doesn’t take your work, ask for a reason why (without being offended) as feedback is often useful; aim to keep the door open for future approaches with new work or a different style, or a different price point.

Happy hunting and good luck getting your work on show!

 

Who would start a gallery with the economy the way it is?

It’s a good question – who would start a gallery with the economy the way it is?

I intended to write this a year ago, when our gallery-workshop was just a few months old.
Back then we felt full of optimism but still heard nagging inner voices telling us we were a bit daft for even thinking of setting up what was effectively a shop, just when so many others were going to the wall.

On top of that, it was necessary for Jenny to leave the stability (and predictable income!) of a regular job. What were we thinking?

One year on from that part-written blog post and nearly a year and a half since we got our slightly sweaty hands on the keys to unit 4 Wakefield Country Courtyard the optimism is still there, the inner voices have been quelled and our early marketing efforts have paid off.VitreusArt-gallery-studio-Wakefield-Country-Courtyard

We’re delighted to have regular customers who seem to come in just after we’ve put new stock on display.
Our classes are steadily drawing new would-be and established artists and crafters keen to develop their skills or gain new ones.
Our studio is being used to create interesting (sometimes amazing) projects by students.
And we’re finding that folks who used to visit the Courtyard have started returning, having discovered that there’s more to see, do, eat and drink than there used to be.

So of course we’re optimistic – we’re working hard to make our business a success and seeing that pay off.

Some of the things that have really worked for us include:

Having a mix of income – we sell our own stained and fused glass, we sell other artists’ work for a commission, we run a host of our own classes in fusing, stained glass, glass appliqué and more.

We also have a talented band of artists who teach their own art forms to students for us, and we make our space and facilities available for a small fee to those who want to create but lack the tools or a suitable place to work at home.

We’ve built up a really good mailing list over the years. Our regular emails get open rates and click-through rates (which is actually much more important than opens) that are significantly higher than is common in our line of business.

A testament to this is that we’ve just taught a couple of ladies who joined our mailing list after attending our third ever class about 10 years ago; they’ve been receiving our monthly emails ever since and got in touch to ask for a private class at our studio this year.

We keep up our advertising in local magazines. When we get visitors telling us they saw us in a local magazine we know our adverts are being seen. Of course this doesn’t translate in to ROI, but we’re still ‘young’ and working to build our footfall.

We’ve also taken a leading role in encouraging our neighbouring businesses to join us in co-op advertising and that’s making a noticeable difference to the footfall across the site. It’s tempting to ease off on the advertising now we’re in our second year –it costs money after all – but we plan to keep the momentum up.

Running demo days and taster days to show visitors what we’ve got going on. These have been a huge success for us, and are a blast to run too. We invite our artists to join us for our demo days, and show off their skills.
Visitors get to see artists in action and are often inspired to join a class and have a go themselves.

The outcomes of our taster days are similar – we give customers the chance to try one of our glass crafts in a short session for just a fiver. Many then book a place on a full class knowing that they’ll enjoy it, thus reducing the risk!

Listening to customers and hunting out work we think they will like. We’ve tried hard to find work that synchronises with what our customers tell us they like, or actively looking for. We’ve also had to learn that what we like may not appeal to our customers. We remind ourselves every now and again that we are not our own customers!

Of course there’s a lot more we do that’s helping bring in customers – giving talks at WIs for example.
It’s all part of doing what we can to build our gallery, grow our reputation and help our lovely customers own or give art as a present, or even make their own art.

We’d love to hear from you if you’ve seen art you like, have tried a class and enjoyed it, or if you’re an artist yourself.

If you’d like to visit and find out about art and craft classes or check out the art we’ve got on display you’ll find us here:

Vitreus Art, Unit 4 Wakefield Country Courtyard,
Off the A5, near Potterspury, Northants NN12 7QX
Tel 01327 810320

Join our email newsletter group here…

VitreusArt-mapWakefield-Country-Courtyard

 

The Gentleman Crafter – as seen on TV and now on the road!

A post by Jenny…

We all like to share and re-post helpful FB comments, Tweets etc. that raise awareness of charities, disabilities and even political issues.

This is all very well, but apart from raising peoples’ awareness of these issues what does it actually help to achieve?
I for one am not really sure.  I find myself reading these things (sometimes, if I have time) but don’t actually do anything about it and I am sure there are a lot more out there that do the same as me.

So to actually help and hopefully make a little change, Vitreus Art is getting involved  with The Gentleman Craftsman, AKA Mr John Bloodworth  as he sets out on his new charity challenge – The All Counties Craft Challenge.JohnB

https://gentlemancrafter.wordpress.com/all-counties-craft-challenge/

We will be giving over our studio space on the 6th & 7th August so John can run two days of paper crafting in aid of MIND (http://www.mind.org.uk/about-us/)

In short MIND provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding – and a lot more besides.

The Gentlman Crafter (as he likes to be known) will be traveling the length and breadth of the United Kingdom in his trusty campervan and inviting people to take part in all manner of crafts.
You can book on to any of his workshops whether it be in your county or not, and learn a vast array of different crafts with John.

Some of these events will take place in his campervan so numbers are limited, due to space. Others will take place in venues like ours at Vitreus Art, Village Halls, anywhere able to provide a space for John to teach his crafts to like-minded people.
All proceeds will be going to support MIND.

Check out The Gentleman Crafter’s website to find out more about The All Counties Challenge – https://gentlemancrafter.wordpress.com/all-counties-craft-challenge/

If you would like to book on to one of the days being held at Vitreus Art’s studio-gallery you will need to be quick as spaces are limited here!
The cost of the workshops here are £30 for the day, and will include the materials you will need for the day.
The ARTea Rooms on site here will be open for lunch or you are welcome to bring a packed lunch with you.  Tea, coffee, soft drinks will be offered during the day as will biscuits!!

During the day you will create a framed paper art picture. This will incorporate various paper shaping techniques including quilling, paper cutting, scoring and folding for artistic effect, punching and making dimensional paper folds all of which will lead up to the finished piece. It’s going to be amazing!

All that for an amazing £30 per person which will go to MIND!!

To book go here and choose the required date, you can pay via card or paypal, it couldn’t be simpler: https://gentlemancrafter.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/all-counties-craft-challenge-group-workshop-potterspury-northamptonshire/#more-7823

If you can’t make the dates for this workshop but would still like to make a donation then please go here https://www.gofundme.com/allcountiescraft

It really is in aid of a good cause which needs all the support it can get, so please do help in some way.
Please don’t be like me and just read about it, take some action – NOW!!

Thank you.
Jenny T (50% of Vitreus Art)