Sunday, 19 October 2014

Manor House glass painting

This is the last post about my trip to The Manor House Hotel with my mum, and I feel sad writing it!  We had such a good time that I'm sad it's all over and I'm back home and back at work.  

The final class we took was glass painting.  I don't think I've ever shown any glass painting on my blog before and I can't find any examples of my work, but this was something I used to do a lot of in my late teens.  I even took it up again when I lived in Poland - I would paint on empty vodka bottles!

We were given free rein in this class.  The tutor gave her talk and showed us some examples and techniques and off we went.  I'd just been silk painting and wanted to use the same flower motif as I'd found it easy to draw and very effective too.  I chose a short square vase and used a Pewter relief.  The relief forms a barrier for the paint and stands up above the surface.

I gave it a quick blast with the hair drier before painting in the flowers and little leaves.

I am very pleased with it, but when I gave it another blast with the hair drier so it was dry enough for me to carry back to the hotel room, the paint blobbed a little.

Having finished the vase, I started on a candle glass.

This time I used a pearl relief and really like the colour, though I think the finished item looks better when you look through from the other side to the back of the work.  I did the flowers freehand though of course you can trace a pattern.

I already knew I loved glass painting before the class and I did enjoy it.  I have no idea why I haven't done any in years... I feel a new hobby coming on!

The next day we drove home.  It took me 8 hours of driving, including 3 stops as shortly after setting off I had a panic attack.  I couldn't shake the anxiety so it was a thoroughly horrible 8 hour journey with me having anxiety attacks the whole way home...  Such a shame to end the holiday on that note.  I had to rest all day Saturday as I think the episode really shook me up.  7pm on Saturday saw me asking Mr CA if it was bedtime yet!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Manor House candle making

Thursday was a sad day as it was our last day at The Manor House Hotel.  We only had two classes, though we also sneaked in 2 sessions of silk painting and a massage.  The first class was candle making.  There were two techniques, the first of which was dipping, which is why they had this great set up.  A big table with vats set into it holding wax of different colours, and cold water for setting the layers.

We took an ordinarly taper candle and dipped it in clear wax for 30 seconds to soften everything up.  Then we dipped in a colour, then cold water, wipe the water off and repeat for a total of 6 dips per colour.  It was good fun.

This candle had a layer of each colour, then I went back and dipped again, but didn't submerge the candle all the way, just enough to leave a band of each colour at the top.  It came out really dull and mottled which was a disappointment as the waxes were so vibrant.

I had to cut the bottom off and you can see the layers of colour better here.

I had a go at carving for my second dipped candle.  Again a rainbow of dips, then carved with a knife and twisted.

Hmmm, not brilliant.  We only had an hour for this class and the room wasn't left open for us afterwards which was a shame (health and safety I assume), as I'd have liked to try much more carving but I just didn't have time.

The second technique was container candles.  I've done that before of course, but wanted to try a technique she showed us where she made decals from wax poured onto the table top.  I cut the wax with biscuit cutters and stuck the warm decals to the glass.  

After a short while in the fridge, it was time to fill up the glass.  I chose yellow.  And made a right mess!  Luckily it can be cleaned up easily when it's set.  I put it in the fridge and we collected them the next day when it was nice and set.

Unfortunately wax dips as it sets so there is a dip in the top.  If we'd have had a longer class, I could have remedied that, but there just wasn't time to leave it an hour then top it up.

The next post is the last one for the Manor House Hotel and it's about glass painting.

My first time carving candles and making wax decals, so I'm linking up to Something New for 2014

Celtic Thistle Stitches  

Friday, 17 October 2014

Manor House picture framing

Wednesday at The Manor House Hotel was busy, a full morning of pottery and a full afternoon of picture framing.  When I saw this advertised in the brochure, I knew I wanted to make a frame for my crewel piece.  It's not an unusual size, so I'm sure I could have found a pre-made frame to fit, but I like the idea of making my own for it.  After stuffing ourselves with a buffet lunch, we toddled off to the picture framing room.

We started by chosing which wood we wanted for the frame, and which mount board for the mount.  Then we worked in pairs to cut the wood to size and mitre the edges.  We used this piece of kit.

It's a great big saw set up on a mitring-template-type-thing.  I should have asked Mr CA what it's called but that might have ended in a 3-hour lecture on types of saws...

It was manual and it was HARD work.  My arm went dead towards the end and I could hardly get any power from it.  Or I'm just a wimp.  You decide.  Here are my pieces mitred.

When the pieces are cut, you use a jig, a tiny spot of wood glue and some special V-shaped staples to hold the corners together.  I enjoyed this bit.

And ta-dah - sounds quick but actually took hours! - a finished frame.

I forgot to take photos of the mount cutting.  It is done with a cutting mat and fixed ruler and a special 45-degree knife.  I did nick the corners a little, but I'm pleased with it anyway.

Mr CA said my mitres were "very good".  High praise indeed from the wood-worker extraordinaire.  

I wanted to show you a picture of the embroidery in the frame, but alas, I haven't got round to lacing it into the mount board yet.  I'll try to remember to show you when it's done.

There's a special stapler-type machine to put those lift-up thingies in with.  See how I've got all the technical terms down?

Next up: candle making.

As before, I'm linking up to Something New for 2014 and taking over the whole linky party! 

Celtic Thistle Stitches  

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Manor House scroll saw

After pottering and silk painting, it was time for a wood work class at The Manor House Hotel.  We were to use a machine to cut out a piece of wood.  This is a scroll saw.  Mr CA (who is a trained wood machinest type person) says it's not a scroll saw, it's a fret saw.  I don't care what it's called.

It is not a machine that you programme, then sit down with a cuppa, it's a hand-guided machine. Much like a sewing machine except there is no foot pedal, the needle is a blade and no thread is involved.  It's bloody good fun.  We started with practice pieces, triangles and curves.

Then moved on to our patterns.  I chose a bunny.  What a surprise.  The pattern was spray glued to the wood, then it put it in the machine and followed the line to cut it out.

Simple!  Actually, it was.  I found it quite easy and was pleased with what I did.  Mum wasn't so happy with it and screamed "help! help!" the entire time the machine was running!  Here's Mr. Bunny.  I tidied him up with some sandpaper.

Then I oiled him with Danish oil.  He's made from poplar and I chose a uniform piece as the colours vary through the wood from a light wood colour (descriptive, I know) to green.  The tutor then drilled a hole through him for me.

He gave us some clock parts and I put him together when I got home.  How cute!  I think I'll hang him above my computer.

More woodworking in the next post - we move on to picture framing.

First time on a scroll saw - so I'm linking to Something New for 2014

Celtic Thistle Stitches  

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Manor House silk painting

Tuesday was a busy day at The Manor House Hotel.  After a morning of pottery, a buffet lunch and a quick trip back to the pottery studio to take the pieces out of the moulds, we headed to a silk painting class.

I have had a silk painting kit for many years, but for some reason I'd never tried it.  It's now been dug out and is on the dining room table waiting for me as I loved silk painting.  The class was only an hour and a half, and although you can stay after class and use the facilities for as long as you like, we had another class to get to, so I chose something simple.

This was a set of 3 pre-gutta cards.  Gutta is a thick liquid in a tube which is applied over the design lines.  It dries flat and acts as a barrier to the paint.  It comes in various colours, but these cards used clear gutta.  The paint comes in gorgeous jewel-like colours and is easy to work with.  You apply a little to the silk with a brush and it expands and spreads right up to the gutta lines.  It doesn't go over the lines, that only happens if you put on a second coat and paint too close to the edge.

The gutta lines are easier to see in these two cards, they are the white areas.  I chose my favourite pallet of Mackintosh-esque colours and I love the way they work together.  These photos are close ups so where the paint looks mottled, that's just a trick of the camera.

Although they were sold as cards, they are 20cm squared and so I think I'll frame them and hang them up somewhere in a little group.  I'm that taken with them!

On Thursday we had a bit of time in our schedule so we went to another silk painting class.  The rooms and the paints are available at any time, but the silk items are put away so you can only get them during a class.  The way it works is that you only pay for materials, and they are quite cheap, so you could paint whatever you like and you just pay for the cost of the silk item, all the paints and equipment are free of charge.  I'm sure if we'd asked we could have taken some items to paint from the cabinet too.  Anyway, I chose a plain item this time.  I chose invisible gutta again as I love the effect.

This is what it looks like.  If you've ever done any glass painting, it looks just like Cerne Relief, though it is a little different.  I chose a 20cm plain suncatcher and, based on a design on one of the examples, I drew in free hand flowers.  I was very chuffed with them.

We went off at that point for a massage and came back later in the day after our last class to finish them off.  I chose the same pallet as it really is my favourite, and if you see the glass painting post later in the week, you'll see I got hooked on this design and pallet!

I did two coats of the grey.  It dries so very fast that by the time I got back to an area I'd already painted, the paint was bone dry and so a line formed.  I thought this would be a problem, but actually, when held up to the light you can't see it and it looks good.

I really enjoyed silk painting, you will be seeing more of it on this blog! 

The next class, and the subject of my next post is woodwork using a scroll saw.

Yep, another link for Something New for 2014

Celtic Thistle Stitches  

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Manor House enamelling

I'm back again with a post about the enamelling class I took with my lovely mum on our holiday at The Manor House Hotel.  Blogger is telling me I've spelt enamelling wrong, it thinks I'm American.

Enamelling is a technique done on copper blanks. I'm sure you can do it on silver too, but that would be expensive.  It involves enamelling powder (glass?), small chunks of glass, strings of glass and millefiori beads.  I'm sure there is much more you could add, but this is what we had.  

This first picture shows my first piece.  I put it together on the little metal rack and then put it into a kiln for about 3 minutes until it all melted.

Here is how it turned out:

I'm really pleased with it, it's not quite as blurry as this photo suggests!  It has a little hole (at the bottom, the photo is upside-down) so I can make it into a pendant.  I think the middle bit with the white stringers looks like Chinese writing. 

Here is how the back looks after being in the kiln.  A bit of the enamel bled onto the back, I'll have to remove that with my pliers as it'll feel rough against my skin.

I didn't remember to take any more before photos I'm afraid, I tried my best all week to take progress shots, but this was my first class and we'd just driven for 7 and a half hours to get there!  This uses red powder which burns very easily, so I didn't add the millefiori as that takes longer to melt.  This pendant took just one minute to melt, it has burnt around the edges, but I quite like it.  I just added strings in red, orange and yellow.

Of course, when I saw the bunny blank, I had to make a bunny!  Nice and simple in a lazuli blue with a millefiori tail.  I made the diamond shape as a separately pendant but it didn't turn out as nice as I thought it would.  I think it will look good with the bunny if I can find a way to string them together.  I used millefiori and small chunks of glass on that one.  The first version didn't come out great, so I added glue, more powder and some more chunks and I like it better now.

We both really enjoyed enamelling, it's such a creative craft as you literally start with a blank slate.  I'm thinking of saving for a kiln next year and this would be top of my crafts-for-kilns list!

Next up, silk painting.

I'm going to be linking a lot of posts to Something New for 2014 this month, and this is another as I've never done enamelling before.

Celtic Thistle Stitches  

Monday, 13 October 2014

Manor House pottery

Good morning ladies.  You may have noticed I haven't been commenting on your blogs or replying to your emails and that's because I've been on holiday, to a destination without Wifi!  Yes, such a place does exist and no, it wasn't Mongolia (where they do have the internet as I've emailed from Ulan Bataar).  Me and the lovely mum went for a week of craft at The Manor House Hotel.

It's a hotel near Okehampton in Devon which caters for lovers of golf, tennis, other sports and craft.  I guess it's a great family destination, but is also good for people who want to spend their holidays doing activities.  As it was term time, there were only 2 children there, a lot of older people and us.  The place was rammed.  You get three meals a day as I think most people stay within the grounds, most unusual for me and mum who are used to going to places where we stay self catering or B&B and spend our days exploring.

I'm going to do a series of posts this week, each one showcasing one of the activities we did, and some were a little unusual so I hope you enjoy!

We started with pottery.  This was two sessions, but I've put them into the same post.  We started with slip casting.  This involved choosing 3 moulds that we wanted to cast.  My choices were a cupcake trinket box (below right), and Art Deco vase (not pictured here) and a rabbit (below left).  As you can see, the moulds were massive.

We started by taking them apart and cleaning out dried on clay using a little plastic tool.  This is the Art Deco mould taken to pieces - 4 pieces in this case.

Once clean, we put the moulds back together and secured them with big elastic bands, making sure they were nice and tight.

Then we moved over to the slip casting area.  I couldn't get photos whilst I was doing this as it was rather messy.  The moulds sit above a trench for the waste slip and the slip comes out of a trigger gun to fill the moulds.  Slip is a mixture of clay and water (I think!), so it's sloppy, heavy and grey.  We filled the moulds to the top and left them for 20-35 minutes depending on the size of the mould.

My Art Deco vase was leaking as I was filling it so required shoring up with lots of clay, it took me ages to plug the gaps!

Here's my cupcake mould filled up and drying, the slip is turning a brown colour.  After the prescribed time, I had to empty it out and leave it to drain.  As the slip had started to dry, this leaves a cast round the edge of the mould.

Emptying the moulds was very messy!

And here it is all emptied.  At this point we had to leave them to dry a bit more, so we had a demonstration of using a potter's wheel.  I didn't get any photos of this I'm afraid.  We had a go on the wheels, but me and mum were on different wheels at the same time so neither of us have any shots of us trying it out.  I actually managed to make a pot, but didn't heed the tutor's advice to stop when you're happy and carried on a bit too long - the pot collapsed.  I really enjoyed working on the wheel and we're going to take some classes at a local potter's studio where they offer wheel work.

When the moulds are dry it's time to carefully take them apart and fish out the cast object.  They are very fragile and soft at this point.  The lines you see are the mould lines.

These excess bits of clay and lines had to be removed with a sharp knife, this is called fettling and is not easy on the soft clay!  All seam lines are then rubbed over gently with a damp sponge to blend the lines into the piece.  The cast objects were then left to dry on top of a kiln overnight.

The next day we went to the next session.  Our pieces were dry but very, very fragile.  We were to under glaze them, but I decided to leave the bunny un-coloured which meant that after dipping in glaze by the staff, he would be fired and turn out white.  I painted on a layer of wax to the bottom to stop the glaze from taking so he wouldn't get stuck to the kiln shelf.

When we collected them on the Wednesday, I discovered my pure white bunny had blobs of blue on him! No idea where they came from.  I also hadn't done as great a job of blending the seam lines as I thought, but never mind, he's my first piece of slip casted pottery and I like him!

I wanted to glaze the Art Deco vase in an Art Decoey way.

I used masking tape and carefully painted the middle section turquoise.  The colours of the glaze were not the same as the finished colours would be so this took some imagination.  You had to do three layers, as even as possible or streaks would show.  It was really hard as the glaze was all powdery and unpleasant to paint with.

I did the middle fans with black and left the rest white.  As you can see below, it didn't turn out great.  There were random black splodges on the sides and the turquoise bits and the paint was uneven.

If we'd realised how horrible the underglazes would be to work with, we'd have had them fired and then painted them with porcelain paints, but we didn't know how it would turn out.  I'm glad we tried it though.

I've bought a couple of pots of porcelain paint and I'm going to attempt to paint over the black and turquoise parts to touch it up.  I may then paint the white bits white, but I want to see how the paints feel first!  It is a fully-functioning, waterproof vase so it's not the end of the world, but I am a little disappointed.

My final piece was the cupcake trinket box.  I painted the top with the underglazes, this is actually purple!

Then I added the cherries in a mix of red and white and make pink.  They were so hard to paint evenly.

I had a go at the sponging technique on the inside using the purple and pink.  It looked so effective on the example pieces we were shown.  The brown rim is the wax that we used to stop the pieces sticking to the kiln shelves.

As you can see, the underglaze looks dreadful, this picture below was after three coats.  It really was unpleasant to paint with.  The whole thing (I painted the two items, mum also painted another vase) took us 4 hours!

And here's the finished piece.  Again, not brilliant, but it's for me to keep my bracelets in so it doesn't really matter.

The glaze chipped off one of the edges and there is a crack down one side - this can happen if you put more than four layers of glaze on, which I suspect I did by accident.  As you can see, the sponging technique did not work well!

Despite the dubious success of my pieces, I had a great time and loved pottery (with the exception of underglazes!!), I do intend to do some more pottery.

Wow, that was a long post!  I'll be back tomorrow with talk of enamelling (and a shorter post!).

Slip casting, painting with underglazes and wheel work are all new to me, so I'll be linking up with Something New for 2014

Celtic Thistle Stitches