I’d booked on a minibus tour of the outlying studios. In the pouring rain I saw a coach in the appointed car park but as I approached it realised it wasn’t the one I was looking for as there were too many men aboard. Then I spotted several women sheltering under a tree, one of them with a clipboard in hand so I knew I’d found the correct group.
Soon we were all wedged into our seats, very intimate as the bus certainly was mini. Graham the driver insisted we put on our seat belts – an impossible task in the confined space.
The first stop was to Sticky Paper Studio (see previous post) so I’d viewed some of their work at the Pink Cabbage Gallery. However it was interesting to see they used Sunday newspaper supplements for the collages.
Next we were driven to a commercial fabric and wall paper salesroom but Lewis & Wood stock a bespoke range with beautiful designs. We were shown the detailed wood blocks carved by Andrew Davidson which are then sized up and used for digital printing. Some for the fabrics cost nearly £100 per meter – the wall paper is also sold by the meter. Too much for my pocket but not for the customers there.
“This magnificent large scale design, cut in wood and then enlarged, makes for a bold and dramatic wall covering. Featuring the towering spire of St Marys Church Tetbury, the River Avon and birds and animals, it is a striking and beautiful contemporary Toile which depicts a bucolic tableau of country life. The clue to the name is concealed in the oak tree above the peaceful fisherman.”
In contrast we visited a tiny studio that had just been erected in Sarah Hardaker‘s garden with magnificent views over the valley. She too designs by painting then having the fabric/wallpaper digitally printed. One caught my eye as it was just like the cover on my eiderdown when I was small.
Sarah was so welcoming and generous to us during our brief visit.
Frogmarsh Mill has been converted to artists studios ranging from T shirt printers, jewellery makers, ceramist, garment maker, mosaic artist but the person I went to see in particular was Susan Early, a creative basket maker. I wanted to buy one for a present but unfortunately she didn’t have a shape suitable to my needs.
Now I’m regretting I didn’t buy a print from Barbara Webb. They were so reasonable and evocative.
The tea room at Ruskin Mill provided a slice of delicious rhubarb sponge cake and cup of black Earl Grey tea. I could have looked round the studios but had been on a previous visit.
The group called into a fabric shop specialising in selling materials for patchwork and quilts – I had a quick look round but nothing caught my eye.
The last stop was Steven Stars Cottage which was as delightful as the name suggests. On entering the cottage I stepped down into a darkened room lit up by boxed shrines made by Kelly Kitsch. These are fun-filled works of wonderment and the image of Alfred the Horse does not portray the magical lighting inside the shrine.
Kelly uses fake flowers, trimmings, fabrics and charity shop finds – excess is the style!
Here Kelly has used a vase and glass fruit bowl to make a charmingly quirky lamp.
Annie Hutchins anthropomorphic characters caused a stir – some people thought they were creepy and didn’t like them at all whereas I was fascinated by them and the high standard of construction.
In the garden were some grand vessels made by Lucy Birtles which she decorates with slip.
An exhausting but well worth while trip to Stroud International Textiles.