Nest making workshop

On Saturday we delivered a workshop on how to make your own woven nest, this was to complement Julie’s work in the exhibition. Here are the photos of  Julie showing what to do and then the development of participant’s work. If you would like to make your own nest please see Jane’s previous post. If you would like to book any of us for workshops or talks then please leave a comment below with contact details. (Your details or message will not be published). Thank you to all the participants who attended we all had a wonderful time.

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A Tisket A Tasket – Festive Basket Making by Jane Pugh

We three are all running a workshop at Bankfield Museum on Saturday 2nd December, although Julie is the expert and Karen and I are supporting. The course is now full but you could make a basket at home – I have tried to describe the steps for success.

I have not tried this method of basket making before but am having great fun getting a few samples ready. You can use a flan tray or cut circles of card (use two pieces with the corrugations running in different directions to give it strength).

If you use a flan tray you may have to manage with an even number of warp threads, which will mean that each time round you will have to miss a thread to keep to the under and over pattern. If you are using card, mark out an odd number of evenly spaced sections (like the segments of a chocolate orange.) Then you could indent the marks with a pair of sturdy scissors or a blunt knife.

Next you wrap the warp thread around the card or flan tray; the last one will have to be double – you will find out why as you do this, but fasten the loose ends off at the back, securely.

Start weaving your chosen weft (thread, wool or fancy ribbon) in and out, around and around. If you are making a very small basket, you might need to use a bodkin to thread and pull the yarn under and over. You can change the yarn when you have more confidence, just weave the new yarn in and continue.

Work loosely to begin with then when you are about half way through, gradually pull the yarn tighter until the last few round are quite tight. This will pull the weaving towards the centre, but will also act to give the basket shape when you have finished.

When you have finished weaving, cut the warp from the card or flan tray – I suggest cutting at the back to leave long threads which will give you options! You can gently encourage the basket shape by easing the sides up.


To finish your basket you can tie the pairs of threads off (you will have one set of 3 threads due to the odd number), or you can sew them in, or use another thread to sew them securely, leaving shorter ends loose.

I am going to use mine to put tiny presents in – perhaps in boxes!

Workshop success!

As part of the exhibition we were contracted to provide two workshops that took something in the exhibition as its theme.  I offered to run a family friendly drop in imaginary mapmaking workshop on Saturday 18 November, Julie is running a Christmas nest weaving workshop on 2 December, if you are interested you are not alone as it is already fully booked, however, please leave a message in the comments and we can advise you where Julie is running other workshops.

All of us are available for talks and workshops. Just ask us to contact you and leave an email in the comments, or, you can email

In the imaginary map making workshop I was, naturally, a pirate who had lost my treasure map and thankfully the children (and parents) who attended had amazing imaginations so that we all created an stunning 3D map with a monster prison, islands, dragons, shipwrecks, treasure chests, a volcano and much much more.

If you want to do this at home you’ll need to collect recycled card, e.g. biscuit and tea packets, coloured paper, masking tape, glue stick, lolly sticks, scissors and colouring pens e.g. felt tips or crayons, wallpaper lining paper and any other interesting things. I like old cotton reels, thread and wool.

Clear a space, tape some wallpaper lining paper down and draw and add the features you want to go on your map.  Ask friends to help, make things up, anything can go on your map.

Once you have finished tidy up!

If you take photographs send them to the email above and we will add them to the blog. Happy creating!

Exhibition Opens

The work was up, the refreshments bought, the nibbles at the ready, eighteen months of work and this was the day! Family and friends all arrived and then the mayor of Halifax read his script and after a tense moment whilst he struggled to cut the ribbon officially opened the exhibition.. We are all very proud of ourselves, it had been a success and all the hard work was worth it. Thank you to all who came, we had interesting conversations and good feedback.

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Installation Complete!

It has been a while since I wrote a blog post as I completed my work in August, this was to reduce stress and to manage anxiety. It worked although the day before I was worried that I had not produced enough pieces but in the end there was only room for six out of the fourteen I had made!  The Calderdale Open Exhibition is taking place at the same time which is good for footfall but not for space, added to this the gallery has unforeseen repair work in the main hall so space is even more at a premium. None of my 3D pieces can be shown nor the film so you can view it here:

As soon as the work was installed I felt a transition, like it no longer belonged to me. My relationship with it changed, like realising your child has a life outside you. I had forgotten about this process as it has been a long time since I exhibited in a gallery.  The prior year I had participated in open studios and even though my work had been put up in my studio, it had not left it.

Once a piece of work is in a gallery it becomes a cultural object, it no longer exists in your mind or in the studio. I’m curious to discover how people interact with it. It’s not about whether they think it is “good”, more a desire to understand how the work “speaks” to viewers. I have been reading a blog by Jason Horejs  who talks about how artists define “success” or what motivates them and for me it is fascination of the making process and how a piece takes on a life of its own with the audience.

It has given me the hunger for more exhibitions and to expand where my work is seen.

The museum has done a brilliant job at printing out our biographies, artist statements and putting up a banner on the wall. To see it all come together makes it all worth it.

We are already planning to approach other galleries to show the work or start a new brief. I prefer the latter and have started another blog, I have found the discipline of making work then reflecting to be valuable. Check it out here, it is only in the beginning stages so please send feedback and ideas for future posts.

The Story Unfolding by Jane Pugh

I have continued in the vein of recording ideas, telling stories of family, friends and others, and I have at last completed my initial sheet of 24 paintings. This has taken a year, and it is with some relief I now feel that I am moved forward to the final stages of the project, which will still involve quite a substantial amount of work.
For the last three spaces on my sheet I have developed three paintings; one is autobiographical, and two are from an outsider’s perspective. These include people, places and objects – facets of lives, in the same vein as in the embroidery which I have been studying.
Two close friends have an interesting background in relation to the current European situation. One was born in, with parents from outside, the UK. The other was born in Croatia but has lived, worked and contributed to the UK for the most part of her life. I have included symbolic elements from Croatian and British culture in the painting.
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Two other friends have suffered a huge loss in their lives and I wanted to record this in some way. I decided to paint the whole family all together as you will see. As these paintings are on a very small scale, I have struggled to get a likeness at times, so the animation of the early drawings shows how I dealt with this. In retrospect I would have taken more photographs to show this process more completely.
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I have linked together the photographs of these two paintings to demonstrate the drawing and painting processes. Using Photoshop, My Movie and by adding music, I have produced two short animations.
In my research for the music for the second animation I have discovered an amazing Spanish opera singer who is perhaps most widely known for singing with Queen in Barcelona. The beautiful fragment I chose is from La Boheme, and the final words are Amor! Amor! Amor!, or Love! Love! Love!, which seemed just right.
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The animation from my third and final small painting is taking much more time than I anticipated due to my imperfect Photoshop skills, so you will have to wait until my next blog to see that!

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Display boards and Exhibition Opening date by Karen Alderson

All my work, complete with fixings, is now mounted, wrapped in bubble wrap and stored somewhere safe. Anything more to do? You bet. All the stuff they didn’t teach me on my Fine Art degree like how to arrange work in a gallery and all the other information needed by the gallery for the viewer.

Firstly, the space. It’s small and enclosed so there’s not enough room for all the pieces.  Decisions will have to be made during installation about what will go up.  A large free standing hinged display board is needed to cover a door way.  These are expensive to buy so once I had done some research on how to make it secure I decided to make one myself.

Here’s what I did: I bought two large sheets of MDF half an inch thick, salvaged some 2X1 and other bits of wood from my shed then got my tools for the job: a chop saw,IMG_5020

a drill,


drill bits and screws


ruler, set square, pencil.


Firstly I chopped some right angled triangles and some short pieces of 2×1 wood. I drilled through the triangles onto the MDF then screwed the triangles to the bottom of the MDF. Once the triangles were in place on both sides I screwed the 2X1 to the bottom. Now the moment of truth.  Would it stand?


Yes! Next a couple of coats of paint and it’s all finished. (I want an electric screwdriver for Christmas)

Second, the film. Where will the monitor be situated? Where will the wiring go? What about the sound? Will viewers need headphones? Will the position of the monitor detract from the wall mounted pieces? Decisions, decisions.

Next, the viewer: What information is required for the labels for each piece of work and how big should these be? Different galleries have different protocols. I have already written my Artist statement and the “Group Interpretive Text” and found it really useful to clarify my practice.

And…….the posters and flyers are done!


If you can make it to the opening, and we would be really pleased if you could, there will be refreshments and nibbles.  The Calderdale Open Exhibition is taking place simultaneously so we are recommending that you get to Bankfield Museum earlier (12:30pm onwards) in order to get a parking space.

Should we have postcards or business cards? We decide on postcards. Will these be individual or collaborative? How many? How will they be displayed? Where do I get postcard holders? So many important discussions to reach agreements. I begin to research retail display merchandise, this is a whole new world and far removed from my rural studio. It’s fascinating.

Lastly, marketing and publicity:  The internet seems to be awash with “Social Media for Artists” webinars and courses that recommend I need a PLAN but given that I have drastically reduced my engagement with social media its going to be rather tentative one. Any marketing wizards out there who want to wave their magic wand at me?