When selecting artists and makers to lead workshops I work on the simple principle that if I love them, you'll love them. The workshops are more than learning days and all of the invited superstars of the contemporary craft world work hard to deliver an experience that goes beyond the expected. Willing to demonstrate their skills and techniques they also share part of themselves and this generosity is at the heart of many wonderful days.
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Julie's a yearly visitor, and I think it's my shop of treasures that lures her back. My mum is well practised at picking her up from the station and whisking her to an adoring crowd. One lady was so nervous at meeting her, she didn't dare say hello in case she dropped into a curtsey. I know how she feels, Julie is indeed the queen of craft.
Janet's weekends are an absolute pleasure to host. Serious work gets completed but it's a miracle as there is always so much laughter and chatting. Janet never fails t0 delight and she is an inspirational teacher and artist.
Jessie's visits usually coincide with the local antique fair and it is great fun to go hunting and gathering together. Talented in so many different ways, she generously shares her skills, techniques and equipment. Her "girl drill" caused much excitement and was at the top of the Christmas list for many!
Sally's creatures are as endearing and gentle as their maker and a day spent in the studio creating your own is a day well spent. Everything just makes you smile from the dolly clothes to the tiny handbags even the needle felting can be quite therapeutic if you need to get it all out!
Tom of Holland
The first ever male maker at Hope and Elvis, Tom took it all in his stride (even with the fabulous Mister Finch in the class). In anticipation of meeting him at the station,I sent him a brief description of my outfit: " I am dressed like a sailor." In reply he said: " I am wearing a red Cornish frock." My eyebrows lowered as I realised upon meeting him that a frock is the correct term for his Cornish jumper! I am in awe of his intricate needle skills - his socks are like no other and his darned sampler jumper is a covetable piece of art.
A regular visitor Janet made it bravely through the snow in 2013 and got stuck straight into demonstrating free stitching faces, declaring "lets see who turns up," which instantly helped everyone get over their fears of drawing. A great feat in anyone's book! Her lovely self also demonstrated free motion stitching and apron construction.
It was interesting to see how many people arrived for Alice's workshop with their very own collections of found rusty items. I wasn't one of them, but then Miss Dawn did point out it's because I never look down! The workshop was a revelation, with amazingly beautiful textiles created. Alice was so informative and incredibly lovely too.
Mary Jane Baxter
It's hard to do justice to Mary Jane in just a few sentences. An author, broadcaster, lecturer and milliner she is a whirlwind of talent and her workshops are full of WOW techniques. Ever resourceful, l on her first visit she had to be persuaded to stay with me rather than camp on the grass in front of the studio! Now she is the proud owner of a Bedford Bambi and all set up for mobile creativity.
Gillian Lee Smith
Dedicated and sincere, Gillian creates pieces that make my heart hurt. Whilst her work is melancholy, her techniques and skills are so generously shared that the results are beautiful. A personal favourite of mine -I hope to own a little piece one day!
Super professional and super lovely, Jennifer knows everything there is to know about paper,but I still think it would be interesting to see which one of us has the largest collection of ephemera. I guess what separates us is that she actually use hers to make amazing pieces of work whilst mine sits in trunks just waiting and waiting.
When I meet Ellie at the station it always makes me giggle. She has a tiny overnight bag and a HUGE suitcase full of driftwood, threads and cool tools - that's dedication for you. When she lays out her haul of found objects any worries about using the big pillar drill are quickly forgotten with such treasures to hand!
A local girl with big credentials, Ellie is as delightful as her work. Every visit I make her show me how to cross stitch a heart by eye and every time I just shake my head in confusion. Bizarrely with an A level, City and Guilds, Degree and Masters in creative practices, that little heart it is still beyond me!
Cath Ray Books
Bookbinding has a wide appeal it seems, as for a change I get men in the studio! Cath gently guides everyone through the processes of making books and unlike my own workshops where there are no rules it is wonderful to see the craft and discipline required to create such beautiful items.
Janine Nelson of Smashing Chintz
It seems I have a fancy for chopping up china as this is the one workshop where I have actually stopped busying about, sat down and made a finished item. I like to think of it as ceramic crazy patchwork and the day flies by in a haze of crunching china, goggles, nippers and glue. Thankfully Janine keeps a gentle form of order, otherwise I think the whole studio might just get covered Gaudi style!
Dottie Angel & Ted and Agnes
With Dottie based across the pond it took quite a few emails to work out the logistics of a collaborative weekend but it was well worth it. I have never seen so many excited girls and pairs of red shoes, pinnies, clogs and baskets in one room! The sun shone and we all took hundreds of photos to capture the special weekend.
My abiding memory of Samantha is her having to lie down on the studio floor as a fit of laughter had overtaken her. Fairy making is a serious business and thankfully she managed to pull it back! A workshop with Samantha is a joy and if you are lucky enough to find a spare seat, grab it with both hands.
Betty's workshop could have been a very quiet affair with lots of intricate hand stitching to be accomplished, but in fact it was full of stories and sharing as Betty plays a serious game of guessing everyone's name. She is fabulously funny and as we all choked on her attempts to get it right the stitching became easier and everyone relaxed into their work.