Last Saturday saw me at the Fibreworks in Chipping Norton - not too far from where we live and one of the best things to happen to 'Chippy' in a long time. Claire, one half of the shop, dosed me with coffee and I popped out a few bits and pieces for a display, including a couple of sketchbooks and some of the 'Puddletown Tales' toys, very excited at being out of their storage bags.
I had seven lovely people attending, including Emma - an old work colleague from Waterstones bookshop whom I hadn't seen for nearly ten years, and two travellers from the other side of the country, who came over specially. Which is the hugest compliment. Frances of 'Felting Needle' and Jenny of 'Renragged', both of whom I know through blogs/Twitter/Facebook. After a brief intro from me, everyone began making birds and soon a familiar peace reigned as everyone became absorbed with their work.
It was only a short workshop, about four hours long, but I was very pleased with the results. Jenny had made her own version of one of my birds, finishing it beautifully -
'Tasha made a lovely nautical bird and then designed her own sweet sloth -
A hare was begun -
After making a delightful little 'posty' bird, Emma went on to make her own heart brooch
Someone made an amazing peacock -
- which she finished off at home. I give you - 'Gorgeous George'!
At the beginning, some of the class were a little unsure, having never needle felted before. After an hour or so, they were off and flying on their own, and I could rejoice in passing on the very benign bug of needle felting. Because they did not even stop when biscuits were produced, preferring to carry on working.
Afterwards, Jenny and Frances bought me a pint at the nearby pub and we talked shop for an hour - not only was Frances invaluable during the workshop for wool-facts (she is an expert) but she brought me some Devon Longwool from a sheep called Dilys, which she had dyed herself. My photo does not do it justice, but it is a scrummy pale lime and will be used for something special.
As I write, there are just two spaces left on my Winchcombe workshop. I've sourced some Cotswold Lion fleece for making sheep with; now I just have to design a sheep. I'll also be demonstrating this Saturday the 14th of April at the Winds of Change Gallery in Winchcombe, from 11-4.30, so pop in if you're in the Gloucester/Cheltenham area and say hello.
One of the blogging toymaking greats, who I've admired for many years, is Abby Glassenburg. Her blog 'While She Naps' has been going for even longer than mine - and I'm really proud that she has featured my work in her 'Softies for Sale' series, so if you want to know a bit more about the nuts and bolts of how I work, her post is here.