Friday was a frenzy of preparation before collecting Cas from the train station in the evening.
Early start on Saturday where cakes were baked whilst Cas organised how she wanted the studio set up.
Enabling her to teach and demonstrate her processes to the students for the day. by nine o’clock we were ready. A good job as well as the first students started to arrive at nine fifteen.
We were not told what to aim for or how to finish our work at the beginning.
One of the main worries was what to aim for but that would have stilted our flow of creativity. Cas did inform us that we were going to be using our found materials to create a book but not in the sense of a traditional book with a cover and pages that all fit neatly into the bound cover.
This piece is in progress using the found materials, mark making and art materials.
At the beginning of the first day Cas broke the ice by getting the students to select a piece of paper and fold it then write their name on it before passing it onto the next person. This helped introduce the students to each other and get them to converse. As the pages were passed on each time a different fold and different marks were added. This then could be used for the first page or for the cover of the book if desired.
Throughout the two days Cas brought us back to her table periodically to demonstrate her processes. Encouraging us to be brave and use colour and line from the substrate to extend the shapes in a way that enhances our work. And if you don not like it change it.
Layers were added to a fabric backing to help hold them together using CMC paste. The paste gives you the flexibility to make changes as you work as it is not permanent.
This flexibility is great when wanting to take items off the piece or to move them to another area. You can continue to move pieces around right up to the time you start sewing.
This helps your work develop organically. A way I love to work.
For some of the students this was a totally new way of working and they found it a challenge as they were used to planning each stage of their work.
Others wanted to explore each process further but that can take time.
Extending colour from the materials used by adding water based ink or paints helps to bring in tones as well as blocks of colour. Drawing into the piece helps with keeping it interesting with subtle drawings and outlines.
These can be stitched into at a later time either by hand or by machine.
Cas pointed out to us that stitching is an art form using a needle instead of paint or pencils.
A debate then commenced about why the art world did not like to recognise stitch as a form of art. A big subject.
Once we were happy with the pages of our book and we had worked our covers it was time to think about putting it together. Something we did overnight as the work dried.
Day two was all about the sewing.
Cas demonstrated how to set up a sewing machine for free motion embroider. And pointed out that we had to remember that the needle is our new drawing tool.
Everyone had their own favorite sewing machine and this led to a discussion on how the different machines performed especially when used for free motion embroidery.
Once we had finished using the sewing machines to add stitch and texture we moved onto hand stitch. Even at this late stage you can add and remove layers. Stitching through paper works wonderfully if you want to get a specific design onto your piece. Then just pull the paper away.
At the end of the workshop we spend thirty minutes discussing how we felt about our work and what we liked about the process.
Cas encouraged each and everyone of use to critique our own work and to take on board what others said about it.
It turned out that many of us were not that confident about our work and this process helped us see what others saw in our work. This gave us the confidence to continue working into it once home.
This workshop was very enlightening and demonstrated that you do not need to go out and buy the latest gadgets and materials to create a fabulous piece of art.
The was Cas Holmes works shows the artist that you can use these new skills for most forms of art. Cas has demonstrated all over the world it can be of any size and shape.
Thank you Cas for a fabulous two days.
I would also like to thank all of the students for making it a very friendly and informal group who were happy to share ideas and encourage each other.