Saturday, 3 June 2017

Crafty Retreats

Over a year ago I had an email inviting me to teach in France. I said Yes immediately. 
It sounded lovely. 
And so it was. 
A week in a beautiful house and converted barn in the middle of the French countryside, teaching a handful of students who were there to enjoy themselves, beautiful food, accommodation and dogs and cats and a tortoise. 
I was picked up at the airport and driven to lovely Mallety. 
Past the old tree and up to the little group of buildings that make up Crafty Retreats.

 This is the house with the hot tub in front which some people sampled later in the week. 

The roof on the left is the 
 lovely air conditioned studio where we all worked happily together with much laughter and mutual support with absolutely everything we needed.

 Tiwi the tortoise kept us amused hurtling round the garden.

 There was brilliant sunshine to dry the felt quickly

 More felt drying.
The lovely pebble piece and the ammonite were made by the amazingly talented Philippa one of the owners, The floral piece was made by another Jackie.

Philippa in the picture below on the right is the genius and talent behind the whole building, converting the barn herself and building the studio.
Thats a real tree they put there to hold up the roof.

More drying felts before stitch.

 Here's Reggie the very shy cat in his antique pram with his scary antique teddies

This is Oscar the dog who had "a very bad start in life" so is excused any naughtiness! 
(There weren't many) He has to wear a t-shirt because he bites his fur if he doesn't.

And this is Tutu, devoted to his Mummy.

But he did jump on my knee for a cuddle.

They were regular visitors to the studio  and were very helpful. 
Sitting on the foot pedal Oscar made Sally's work move very quickly.

Funnily enough they mainly wanted to visit us when it was tea and biscuit time.

The only picture I got of Bubble, the other much more furry cat, was when she was jumping out of a neighbours window.

This is the dining room, the scene of many happy and delicious meals, cooked by the other half of the team, Fran who also played piano for us on the last night.

On Sunday we went out to a market and a Broccante which was amazing.

I bought a gorgeous old light fitting...I don't care if it doesn't work as a light.

After we'd spent we were given permission to crawl all over the owner's house where everything was for sale!

She had painted the murals herself.

After a good nosey we were treated to drinks in the garden.

There were dogs there too.

As we left we met a man with a splendid moustache who shook hands with all of us but we don't know who he was.

On Tuesday we had another trip, this time to the porcelain factory shops and museums in Limoges.
We had a little stop at Pont du Dognon where we all got out for a photo opportunity!

On via the small town of St Leonard de Noblat where the cherry picker matched the exterior decoration of the houses opposite. There was a roofer wandering about quite happily without a scaffold or any protection.

The first factory shop was on a river and very peaceful. It was full of very Chic and very expensive porcelain.

There was a waterwheel and some beautiful old houses surrounding the factory .

Onwards through Limoges to the next museum.

This had a seconds shop and a main shop. These little tea light holders were very tempting, but I restrained myself. there was a lovely sweet pea design. Ah well.

There was some VERY expensive stuff there. Gilded and highly decorated cups at 260 euros each.
A 'Milk Cup' modelled on an historic design, which is a replica of Marie Antoinette's breast on a tripod of goat heads.

Yours for a mere €1184.

I didn't buy that either.

 On our return as we drank Kir Royal from ordinary glasses and had nibbles before dinner. 

Watched carefully for falling crumbs.

I had a cute room with a lovely view. I should have been staying in 'the other house' but there was a bee problem so I was moved and it was lovely to be in the thick of it, listening to the chatter in the morning from the breakfast preparations, so I was very happy.

            The view from my window. 
Acres of forest but sadly I didn't see any wild boars!

Heard a cuckoo though.

Meal times were a pleasure and we were all treated to a beautiful  piano playing  from Fran,  so it made for a lovely 'last supper'.

I love this picture..

But my absolute favourite is this.

I stupidly forgot to take pictures of the finished work that was done during the week. There were some lovely pieces under way when we left an a couple of finished ones, with students going on to use the techniques they'd learnt to do in their own style.

I made a small demo piece when I was there.

Before I went I was worrying. Worrying about how I could sustain such a level of activity for a full week; would I be able to get up in time every day, what if I got bitten by midges, and so on..but I had the most amazing time and felt so well and happy all the week. Ate too much, drank too much and as usual, talked too much!

Of course it was lovely to be home with Brian and Hetty but it does feel odd to be lazing about again.
There are lots of other Crafty Retreat courses available on the website and I'm sure if you're looking for an activity holiday it cannot be beaten.

Oscar is waiting!

Monday, 22 May 2017


Busy busy busy..I've been around and about.
Just before Easter I had another super visit to Snape Textile group where I did two day classes. They wanted to make vessels so I had to practise before I went!
However it all went very well and there were some lovely bowls at the end of each day. 
I usually use the dull and unloved colours for my samples on the day and in this picture you can see the one on the right in maroon and lime that I made on the first day, as well as the bright pink smaller one I made on the second day. 

Here's a close-up. I thought it would be horrible in those vivid colours, but in the end I rather liked it.

We all learnt a lot!

I was  hosted overnight by the lovely Sarah and her family. They have a super seating area outside and some unorthodox planters. Aren't they great?
The views from the bedroom where I slept were of beautiful rolling Yorkshire countryside, but if I craned my neck I saw this and did a bit of a double take!

 I had a wonderful time as usual.

While I was away, number two son had his birthday, so we met up in Manchester during the week and visited 'PLY ' bar where they make the most amazing pizzas ever...
They have a mirror ball pizza oven and the pizzas are light and fluffy and delicious.
I could have eaten two.😋 
I have since discovered there is a similar one in Ancoats so need to get myself there asap just to check if it's as good.

The end of April took us to Wonderwool Wales. An enormous wool celebrating venue in Builth Wells.
On the way we called in to Llandrindod Wells. 
I was impressed with their local celebrity.

Onto Builth Wells. A nice little town with a witty line in Display Art outside a Vintage shop.

Inside the Royal Welsh Showground I set up my stand. It was very hard work and not like anything I'd done before as it had huge white 'screens' behind it. I felt it looked a bit bare but showed off the goods I suppose. Bit blurry photo.
I used the above mentioned bowl with a little plastic container in it to add a bit of nature to my stand. I asked the owner of our B &B if I could pick some Ladies' Smock from their fields which were absolutely full of it, and it just looked perfect with a bit of a budding beech branch.

I had a lovely two days meeting a new audience and one or two old friends. It was an adventure and we made it into a bit of a holiday by having 4 nights and a chance to visit Hay-on-Wye on the way home, and seeing a bit of Mid Wales in the evenings.

I forgot to take a photo in the sunlight but this was the twilight view over the fields from our B&B .

The wooden clad building on the right was where our lovely room was, with its own dining table so we could have our delicious breakfast brought in by the owners.
I would definitely recommend it.
It turned out that the other guests were also at Wonderwool.

My next door stand neighbour was the lovely and extremely talented Jenny Pepper. 
I said my stand looked bare..Jenny's was gorgeous and won 'best stand of its size' . I'm not a bit surprised.

The work and the setting were both beautiful

Really sensitive

I mentioned Hay-on-Wye. For those who don't know, it's famous for its bookshops. I kept seeing this looked intriguing but I didn't buy it. Has anyone read it?

I'd made a LOT of brooches for Wonderwool and I sold quite a lot !

Now I'm starting again for Woolfest.

Here's a piece of embroidery I made as a result of a workshop demo. I'm quite pleased with it.

At the felt group last week one of the members brought some vintage embroideries she'd inherited.
Aren't these lovely?

Waiting for one of the members was the delightful 'Bear' . I had to go out and be introduced to him.

I wonder if Hetty would have liked him?

She wasn't so sure about Lola when she visited last week.

Who could not love those eyes?

st of my pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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