Category Archives: Being an Artist

Why being an artist is like being socially autistic

Vitreus Art Lockdown update and re-opening – June 16th

We are so very excited that we can invite all our lovely students and visitors back to Vitreus Art on Tuesday 16th June (subject to no changes from official guidance)!
We have certainly been missing you all very much, but our doors will be open again soon.

As with all businesses opening soon, Vitreus Art is following the most up to date guidelines to keep us all safe.

Both the gallery and the studio have been deep-cleaned with all surfaces, floors, tables and chairs cleaned and then wiped down with The Wharf Distillery Sanitizer (thanks Lawrence Connisbee!), which is made to the ‘WHO’ guidelines and is 80% alcohol.

Cleaning is a major priority for us and all tables and chairs and hard surfaces visitors could come in to contact with will be cleaned and sanitised between uses.

Our mutual health and safety is our priority so a few changes have been made and will remain in effect for as long as required:

·         The Gallery and Studio now have their own doors.
·         Studio entrance is for those attending classes only
·         We ask that on entry to either the studio or the gallery you make use of the hand sanitizer and wear a mask (which are provided, if you don’t have your own)

·         Class sizes going forward will be for 4 students only – this ensures the required 2 meter distance between work tables and room to move around the studio.

·         We can accommodate 2 people in the gallery at a time – this allows for safe distancing; there is also a one way system that we ask you to follow.

If you’d prefer to visit out of hours we’ll be happy to make an appointment – to talk about a creative project you’d like to make, commissions, or to allow personal viewings of any of the work we have (and there’s lots of new work on the walls now!).

·         As always we have hand-washing facilities available and more hand sanitizer on hand.

·         We have always had a policy of each student having their own set of tools on our workshops, but it’s more important than ever that these tools are not shared between students – even if you want to be helpful.
Not sharing is the new helpful!

·         Tea and coffee will still be provided for workshops, with washing up of mugs followed by sanitizing between each use.

·         Finally, we will be unable to provide lunches during our workshops for a while so we must therefore ask that anyone attending our workshops brings a packed lunch with them.
·         Finally, Finally if there is anything you think we have missed please feel free to tell us; these are new and strange times for us all and we all need to work with each other to make our world a safer place to be.

We’ll be operating different opening hours for the time being, starting on June 16th:

Gallery
11am to 4pm – Tues, Wed & Thurs
11am to 6pm – Fri – Sat
11am to 4pm – Sunday
Or by appointment outside of these times.

Studio
Workshops will take place as per the times they are advertised, from July in our re-organized space.

As you can see, we’ve changed the layout of the studio and gallery to make space in the studio for classes, and layout out the gallery area to encourage distancing.

We understand that you might be reluctant to venture out on or shortly after the 15th June – so get in touch if you’ve seen something on our website or Facebook page and would like to test drive it at home rather than come to us.

When you are ready to come over, you’ll find new art and craft from Peter of WdWorks, Lou Thomas, Sam Burke, Linda Johns, Abby Cork, Marlene Snee, Ken Flegg and more.
There are lots of online mini-galleries to view on our website here:
https://www.vitreus-art.co.uk/wakefield-gallery.html

And we’ve made lots of new pieces in lockdown too; these are just a few examples…
Hit this page to see all the new pieces we’ve made – there are loads!
https://www.vitreus-art.co.uk/stained-glass-art.html


Workshops resume (cautiously) in July

The good news is that we should be able to resume workshops in July.
This could change, of course, but the plan currently is:

The first workshops to start are the ones where spacing can be easily achieved without reducing the learning enjoyment and where no tools or materials need to be shared.
The full list of workshops due to take place in July is below but there are a few we’d like to highlight.

On Friday Clare Tebboth will be running her next Wild With Watercolours 1-day workshop.
As places must be limited for spacing, there’re just two places available on this session – open to all painters who want to develop their use of watercolours in imaginative ways.
https://www.vitreus-art.co.uk/classes/wild-watercolours-with-clare-tebboth.html

On 4th July Clare is back again, to teach her one-day Introduction to Painting and Drawing for absolute beginners. Again, there are just a couple of places free on this one.
https://www.vitreus-art.co.uk/classes/introduction-to-drawing-painting.html


And then we have a pretty full month of workshops – most of which have one or two spaces remaining.
On each workshop the studio will be laid out for maximum space between work-spaces. Take a look at the photos of the studio to see how we’ve positioned the benches and teacher’s station.

It’s probably going to feel a bit strange for a while, but so many people have been asking about when classes can start again we felt this was a good time for an update!

As we said before, if you’ve booked a workshop and can’t attend, or prefer to join a session later in the year, just let us know. Just as some are itching to get back to being creative, some are understandably cautious.


So here’s the list of July workshops. As usual, there’s lots of info on the web page for each session.
If you want to discuss any potential concerns you have about how a workshop would run before booking, just reply to this email.

July classes with places –

All workshops are here:
https://www.vitreus-art.co.uk/classes/index.html

Finally, next time we’ll include details of the mini workshops we’ll be offering exclusively to everyone who’s agreed to move the date of a workshop as a result of CV as a thank-you.

And now it’s time to say thanks for reading, thanks for your support and do remember to support as many of the independent businesses around you as you can – they and we will be especially appreciative over the next few months!

Best wishes and stay safe,
Mike and Jenny

Lockdown News from the Vitreus Art Studio – April 2020

Well, hello!

We do hope you’re getting the opportunity to enjoy at least a little of the sunshine that we are having at the moment.
We also hope that you are able to be creative in some way – we would love for you to share your creative endeavours with us via our Facebook page here:
https://www.facebook.com/VitreusArt/

Just before we had to furlough ourselves to our home studio I (Jenny) had started taking painting and drawing lessons for beginners with the lovely Emily Brady.
Thankfully, she was able to impart enough knowledge (there is only so much you can learn in 12 hours!) for me to practice at home so that’s what I have been doing.

Far from perfect (working my way there slowly) I have just finished this painting of a place that is very close to mine and Mike’s hearts and we are looking forward to heading there in October (all being well).
The elephant is still work in progress!

So come on, I’ve shown you mine, surely you can share yours with us too?


And now a request – if you have participated in any of our classes or workshops –  be they taught by ourselves or one of our lovely tutors – or visited the gallery and liked what you found, would you be kind enough to leave a review on of the following please? Thank you!
You’ll be helping to continue to spread the word so we can carry on bringing you fun and creative workshops when the lockdown has ended.

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/VitreusArt/

Tripadvisor:
https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g2184602-d8113838-r363142235-Vitreus_Art-Potterspury_Towcester_Northamptonshire_England.html

Google Reviews:
https://www.google.co.uk/search?ei=dc6iXtv5MIKP8gLKtoqYBg&q=google+reviews+vitreus+art&oq=google+reviews+vitreus+art&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQAzoECAAQRzoECAAQDToICAAQDRAKEB46BggAEA0QHjoKCAAQDRAFEAoQHjoICAAQCBANEB46BAghEApQzrUGWIrNBmC91gZoAHACeACAAWaIAZQLkgEEMTAuNZgBAKABAaoBB2d3cy13aXo&sclient=psy-ab&ved=0ahUKEwibiNTW-4DpAhWCh1wKHUqbAmMQ4dUDCAs&uact=5#lrd=0x4877030b1fa97965:0x4f6a69e10a538d7d,1,,,


Wow – we actually have some new pieces of art work to share with you on this occasion!
Some new fused glass pieces from me, some new garden panels, a lamp and some commissions completed by Mike, and some pieces not ready to show that we’ve both worked on together.

How many projects were tucked away waiting for the right time to finish? Lots!
Coral – Fused Glass by Jenny; Falling Water by Jenny; Mosaic Lamp by Mike; Commission by Mike

There will be more, too, so plenty to see when we can re-open.

You will be pleased to know that Mike is keeping busy with plans for a new 3D lampshade workshop (because the devil makes plans for idle hands!).
Plans will be revealed once he has the programme in order; but something nice to look forward too.
There will also be new jewellery and glass fusing workshops anon…


Mike has also been busy getting more work purchasable online from the lovely artists who exhibit at the gallery.
The list is growing day by day and currently includes Lou Thomas, Marlene Snee, Clare Tebboth, Richard Ballantyne, Graham Lester, Niki Thomas,  Lesley Passey, Brenda Stewart, Abby Cork, David Burton, Hilary Audus, Brian Kichenside and John Damsell.
The aim is to have work from most or all of the artists we work with fully online by early May.

See them here: https://www.vitreus-art.co.uk/wakefield-gallery.html

He did tell me to keep this bit of info ‘hush hush’ for now, but those of you who know me, know that I always do as I am told!! (Not).
And when you do get to venture out to us, you’ll notice the whole place looks different!

There’s new work from Marlene, Abby and Peter of WdWorks and a fresh new gallery layout.

We even waved a paint brush around!


Mike and I would like to thank you for your continued support, and we are sorry we can’t bring our workshops to you just at the moment – but hold tight they will be back soon.
And should you fancy trying your hand at any of our courses later in the year you can always book online in advance and get the date in the diary, giving you something to look forward to.

By way of a ‘thank you’, to all of you who have happily postponed your workshops with us to later in the year, we would like to arrange a small offer of thanks to you.
For all who have deferred your workshops (without a single request for a refund from anyone, which is fantastic) we would like to offer a free taster workshop to you later in the year.
Please keep an eye on your in-boxes –  when things get back to some form of normality we will schedule these into the diary and send you your own personal invite to join us.

For now stay home, stay safe, stay well and most of all, keep being creative.

Best Wishes,
Jenny and Mike

Welcome Diane Griffin – new ceramic artist at Vitreus Art

We’re delighted to have work from ceramic artist Diane Griffin in the gallery.

Diane’s work is distinctive and surprisingly affordable, while being unusual and colourful too! There’s a bit of a story to Diane’s work too, as she puts it in her artist statement:

The inspiration for my work stems from a trip to Jerusalem many years ago.  I visited the Wailing Wall and was intrigued  by the thousands of wishes and prayers written on paper and crammed between the stones in the wall. I love this idea of leaving something of yourself, perhaps something very personal yet it’s in a public place.

I was inspired by the collective focus for so many peoples’ hopes and wishes at this ancient site and their interaction with it, much like the Love Letters Wall in Verona and the Love Locks Bridge in Paris. I have also recently incorporated some hand written scripts into my work which are taken from old family letters such as those exchanged by my grandparents during the war in 1944.  

I overlay and essentially redesign the script so that you can’t read the whole letter but can recognise words or parts of sentences which keeps it private yet the final piece will sit in a public place such as a gallery or another’s home.

My work features many paper-like scrolls, sometimes single scrolls as a bud vase and other times pushed together to form a sculptural focus on a larger vase. I enjoy using a combination of techniques – slip casting and hand building.
The main body of my larger vases is slip cast, then I hand roll scrolls in different sizes and apply them individually.

I use a variety of scroll sizes for visual interest as well as allowing different stem sizes to be accommodated.  I have aimed to strike a balance between a sculptural aesthetic and a practical function.

Now take a look at some of the pieces we have on show, below.

Prices range from £30 for the smallest Scroll Vases  up to  £130 and £150 for the Pod Vases – very reasonable for work of such delicacy we think!
Like what you see? Pop in to the gallery and enjoy!|

Make your own stained glass column lamp – a new 2-day workshop with Vitreus Art

A finished lamp, made to one of the designs we offer on our 2-day workshop

There are few stained glass projects more satisfying than making a piece that’s decorative and practical at the same time!
Our established stained glass mirror workshop gives you a chance to experience this joy for yourself in a beginner-friendly environment.

And now, after quite a bit of planning and thinking and experimenting, we’ve developed a new workshop – 2 days to make your own stained glass column lamp.
We’ve decided to go for a column lamp design for a couple of reasons – it’s a cool, modern design that suits contemporary home decor moods, and it’s a practical project for a beginner with two days to spend, and no prior experience.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy to make a lamp like this though – there are some challenges to overcome, and that’s what this workshop is all about!

Firstly, cutting your glass. For lamps, one generally uses opal glass – it conceals the lamp and gives a pleasing, diffused illumination. However, the partial opacity of opal glass means cutting on top of the deisng (how stained glass is usually cut) doesn’t work as the design’s cut lines are indistinct, or more likely, invisible!

Cutting glass using a lightbox – essential for accurately cutting opal glass

This is where the lightbox comes in, as the photo shows. Make sure the lightbox you use is sturdy enough to use as a cutting surface, like the ones we use in the studio. Most art lightboxes won’t be – they’re designed to be used for tracing.

It’s essential to make sure all the sides of your lamp will fit together precisely too. This depends partly on the accuracy of your glass cutting, and how you set up your sections when grinding.
This workshop will share all of these techniques with you.

 

 

Using jigs is the way to make sure all the sections of your lamp will fit together properly!

Take a look at how I’ve set up my grinding and soldering jig here – using pins and aluminium strips to ensure the sides of my lamp sections are parallel, and that the sides end up the same size!
I used this when grinding the glass, and then again when soldering.

All our stained glass classes for beginners include an emailed PDF info pack, sharing with you where you can buy tools, glass and hardware. Many of our students have gone on to set up their own studios and have told us this information was invaluable to them, along with our advice – provided free to anyone who’s attended one of our classes!

 

Now – soldering your pieces together.
This is where things get a bit trickier! It’s not possible to solder foiled glass unless it’s horizontal. Just a moment thinking about how lamps are made up of several ‘sides’ joined togther and it’s clear that some arrangement to hold the pieces together while soldering is needed.

Supporting all the sections when soldering them togther – we make our own jigs for this

This is where a jig comes in!
We make all our own kit like this – you may find something suitable online if you don’t have the resources to make your own kit.

The jig needs to perform two functions – holing sides together to allow them to be soldered on the outside, and then to hold them for soldering on the inside.
The jigs we use do both tasks to make life simpler for our students – and ourselves!

Soldering a lamp like this takes a bit of skill, and rather more patience.
Over the years we’ve been teaching lamp-making on our extended courses we’ve developed some techniques that take some of the worry out of this essential stage.
We share these on our workshops of course, and the aim is for each student to finish up with a well-soldered lamp.

The next stage – soldering a brass ‘spider’ gives the lamp more strength, and a means to mount the lamp holder.

For the lamps made on our 2-day workshops we update this with a modern, low-energy LED lamp, which we provide.
The skills and techniques are the same though, so if you fancy making a different type of lamp, you’ll know how to approach it.

The next stage is to patina the lamp – giving a finish that’s a blend of traditional and modern – enhancing the look and making the solder lines look smoother too.

And then it’s time to mount the lamp on to its base. We provide a stained wooden base to finish off the lamp, and conceal the bottom edges of the glass sections.

Want to have a go yourself on our lamp-making 2-day workshop?
This link takes you the page on the Vitreus Art website where you can check out the details and book your place.

Happy lamp-making!

Mike – Vitreus art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make your own silver jewellery with Precious Metal Clay – it’s like magic!

What is PMC (Precious Metal Clay)?

At its most fundamental level, PMC is particles of fine silver bound up with an organic binder and a little water to make a malleable clay-like material.

 

 

 
When shapes made out of this clay are fired (in a kiln or with a blow-torch) the binder and water burn away, leaving a fine silver piece, ready for polishing.

The finished piece contains higher-purity silver than 925 sterling silver and can be hall-marked just like silver jewellery made with silver sheet, wire and blocks.
The binder materials accounts for about 10% of the overall volume of the clay, so the fired piece ends up 10% smaller. This is important to know when making rings, for example!

Because the clay is 90% silver, it’s not an inexpensive material to work with. Many crafters will be familiar with polymer clay (you may recognise brand names like Fimo) and graduate to PMC to make silver jewellery using similar techniques.
The cost of the materials, and the discipline this imposes on managing waste and controlling the size of projects sometimes comes as a shock!

Why is PMC good for home experimenting?

The upside of PMC though, is that a starter kit of tools isn’t expensive to buy, and small pieces (like earrings or small necklaces) can be fired with a chef’s blow-torch instead of a kiln.

 

 

 

Unlike the benches, bench-hooks and silver-smithing tools needed to make silver jewellery using traditional techniques, PMC can be shaped and refined using clay modelling processes – great for home experimenting.

PMC is available from many retailers in the UK, and in a variety of pack sizes, so the experimenter on a budget can carefully control their use of their key raw material!
One aspect to note is that opened packs of clay will dry out if not handled carefully, or left unused for a while. Open a pack of the size needed only when needed and carefully preserve the remainder!

What will you learn on our class?

We’ve structured our beginner’s class to give you a feel for a range of clay-modelling techniques you can develop at home.

You’ll learn about the properties of the clay to begin with – important to minimise costly waste and ensure you’ll have enough clay for all your beginner’s projects.

You’ll also learn about rolling and shaping, taking a lump of silver clay and making the basic shapes for your pieces.

 

 

 

We’ll introduce you to the use of textured surfaces to give your jewellery more interest and show you how to add bails to necklaces.

We’ll cover the stages of clay shaping, drying, refining, firing (also called sintering) and polishing; each one of these is an important step towards making a finished piece that will be strong enough to be worn regularly.

What can you make on our class?

You’ll make three pieces on our class. If you have spare clay and finish your three pieces before the end of the class, we’ll aim to make a further piece.

First, you’ll make a pair of earrings (like Jenny’s).
This will introduce you to clay handling, shaping, cutting and sanding. The size of these allows these to be fired with a blow-torch – instant gratification!

 

 

Then you’ll make an initial letter necklace – any letter of your choice!
You’ll discover how to roll a smooth snake of clay and shape it in to a letter.
We provide a template for all 26 letters of the alphabet to work to.

This is a tricky assignment but worth it as rolling and shaping is a key technique, applicable to many jewellery design elements.

 

 

 

Finally, you’ll make a pendant incorporating a bail to hang from a necklace, textures, added silver details and a highly-polished section – known as ‘high shine’ in the trade.
You’ll learn about rolling textures in to your clay, cutting shapes and integrating layers.

You’ll also learn about making bails and securely adding them to a pendant base as well as polishing and finishing.

 

 

 

After your three projects, if you have clay (and time) left over you’re welcome to make another project. We’ll help you decide what is achievable in the time, with the clay that remains.

The aim of this beginner’s class is to give you a feel for the versatility of PMC, introduce you to some key techniques you can use at home, and to send you away with three pieces of silver jewellery you’ve made yourself!

Want to have a go yourself and enjoy the magic of making silver jewellery out of clay?
Visit our PMC begonners class website page here and let’s get creative!

If you’re not ready to book but you’d like to receive updates and our monthly newsletter, you can subscribe here.

Happy crafting
Mike