I am pleased to announce the completion of the project I first mentioned in my blog post back in February. This term at POST19, where I run regular weekly Art and Design workshops for young adults with learning disabilities, we have tried something new. We wanted to teach our young people the process involved in creating a product and how the many disciplines that they are involved in whilst with us, can come together to create something special. We set a challenge: to design a 'gift set' that we could sell online. Our potters, who attend weekly classes at 318 Ceramics, under the watchful eye of their tutor, Kathy, created a range of beautiful hand crafted mugs. Our Crafters designed and created colourful batik napkins, and our Graphic Designers, in my own classes learnt all about branding, promoting and packaging products, before creating their own logo and brand for their product. We are quite delighted with how this project has worked out - The Chocolotta Lovely Gift Set has come to fruition! demonstrating how different skills are required to create an end result, and allowing us to have a high quality product that we can sell, to not only cover our materials but also to create a very small profit which we can return into the pot to fund our next 'challenge'. Rewarding and fun times. Well done to everyone involved! Looking forward to the next challenge...
I'll admit to having the first tugs of a mid life crisis just recently. A sudden urge to learn new stuff, do new things, be spontaneous.... before it's too late and I won't be able to learn anything new ever again because my brain is far too befuddled after years of deadlines and the demands of my small people... So my mid life crisis has begun and I'm really quite enjoying it. I discovered, through several freelance projects that I was involved in, 318 Ceramics in Farnham. 318 is a centre of creativity, an organisation which promotes excellence in not only ceramics, but also other arts, by providing education and support to all makers from complete beginners through to professional designer makers. I indulged a whim to revisit silk screen printing at first and throughly enjoyed a weekly course learning new techniques and revisiting the old faded ones that I'd first tried at college years ago... and as well as spending several enjoyable mornings with like minded people and producing some pleasing pieces, more importantly it wet my appetite for trying new skills.
Metalsmithing is not something I'd have considered necessarily beforehand. It looked complicated. It looked hard. It looked.... potentially burney and painful. But it was an evening course 318 were offering and it also looked intriguing. So I signed up. Now here I am, a few months down the line.... blowtorch in hand, apron pockets filled with scraps of metal and a head filled with ideas, ready to doodle in copper and sketch with silver... I'm thoroughly enjoying working in a completely alien material well out of my comfort zone and I would thoroughly recommend trying it. I still think metalsmithing is hard. I still think it's complicated. After several dodgy soldering incidents I also know it can indeed be quite burney and painful .... especially if you're as clumsy as I am. I am slightly addicted, regardless.
I am under no illusions of becoming a master jeweller, or anything close! I am fascinated in how silver can be used as a drawing material, just like any other and I have plans afoot to create my own range of 'wearable art' . Watch this space...
This year, now that my Art and Graphic Design workshops at POST19 have become a firmly established part of the curriculum and my students are all settled and happy, we have decided to start some collaborative projects with other subject teachers. The aim of these collaborative projects is to create products that we can sell at a small profit to enable each course to become self sufficient, with one term's project providing enough income to buy the next term's materials etc. We also want to encourage the students to become more aware of the process involved in creating, branding, packaging, promoting and selling a product. So....what better way to do that, than to start from scratch?
This term we brainstormed ideas with the students and decided to create a small gift set around a 'Hot Chocolate Mug'. We are so lucky at POST19 to have a regular weekly Workshop held at at 318 Ceramics, run by my colleague Kathy Mason and Kathy took control of production, teaching the students all the key skills they needed in how to create the mugs using simple techniques to ensure a consistent product line.
Back in the Graphic Design sessions, students learnt about branding products. We researched and evaluated existing packaging, and practised our branding skills designing our own hot chocolate packaging and creating our own brand of bottled water. Once we were confident, we had a logo competition to design the logo for our mug gift set. We printed and created our own packaging and worked alongside the students in the POST19 Crafts workshops to create a complimentary Batik Napkin to go into the gift set.
The Chocolotta Gift set containing the hand made Hot Chocolate mug, the Batik napkin and a hot chocolate sachet, will be available for sale in time for Mothers Day. A fantastic result! I am so proud of the students for their hard work and efforts and we are hopeful that this, our first collaborative project will set a precedent for many more in the future, allowing our artists to grow and develop as successful artists in their own right.
2014 was a fantastic year for building up the workshops and tuition side of Wallop. I began teaching workshops four times a week to young adult students with learning disabilities over at POST19 in Farnham and these have gone from strength to strength. I'm very pleased to be continuing these workshops throughout 2015 and we have a busy year ahead on both the Graphic Design and Art courses! Watch this space for more projects and galleries as we progress though the term.
At the end of 2014 I also was thrilled to begin a new working connection with Alton College, a fantastic further education college for 16 - 18 year olds based here in Hampshire. I have already completed several graphic design projects for them, including community education leaflets, flyers and promotional materials. We have collaborated on bus stop poster campaigns and programmes of events and have many exciting projects in the pipeline for the coming weeks and months. I'm very excited about the prospect of continuing to work with the college to create a whole range of vibrant, creative projects.
Alongside Alton College, another welcome new client is WessexArts - a new centre and theatre for the arts and entertainments community, situated on the college site. Several projects are already underway for Wessex Arts including their Spring programme of events, poster and banner advertising and various specific show flyers and leaflets. I am particularly looking forward to working on more of the same for this lovely new client as the range and diversity of each commission is fantastic.
So a Happy New Year! Roll on 2015 and all the exciting new challenges it brings with it!
As the run up to Christmas gets so very frantic, we, at the POST19 Art Workshops decided to have a bit of fun and enjoy creating some personalised Christmas gifts for friends and family. We started by painting our own small wooden frames in bright, funky colours, and then filled the frames with our own Self Portraits, created in Acrylics in the style of the wonderful Julian Opie: An artist who we have studied in the past and whom the students are very fond due to his simple and effective style of painting. The Christmassy twist was that the portraits all featured cozy Christmas jumpers. Well done artists! The results are fantastic! Happy Christmas to you all and see you again in the New Year for a fun new term of being creative!
I have given my Graphic Design students this term a rather huge challenge. I have asked them to design and create a bespoke Board Game, complete with the board itself, a packaging design, an instructions leaflet and any extras such as 3dimensional 'pieces' that they might need. Given that this is a complex brief in itself, for my students; young adults with special educational needs - it was initially a daunting task. However, with their usual gusto and enthusiasm, they were soon researching existing board games, debating excitedly the pro's and con's of what is currently available and without even realising that they were embarking upon the first stages of any design process - planning and drawing out roughs and sketches for their own (far superior!) designs.
I'm looking forward to see how the ideas progress over the coming weeks and I know I'm in for some real visual treats.
This weeks Art workshop for young adults with special educational needs, was a fantastic session looking at the work of Javier Mariscal. I truly loved Mariscal's exhibition at London's Design Museum back in 2009, and thought the students would enjoy his brightly coloured, inspirational artwork. As we have looked a lot at the art of hand drawn typography, it was also a fun challenge to incorporate our hand drawn lettering into our Mariscal inspired creations.
I was first introduced to screen printing at foundation Art College so many years ago all knowledge of it has since been lost but I love an opportunity to discover new art techniques and I love hanging out at Farnham Pottery so this course ticked all the boxes.
We explored a few of the more basic techniques, cutting stencils, using found objects for extra texture, and painting straight through the screen for a more freehand approach. I’ve learnt a fair amount in a short space of time. First off I discovered that printing by hand is hard! There’s no ‘command z’ for starters and things just don’t seem to go entirely to plan…. but hey – that’s been the fun of it. The freedom to explore a new media is great and to create something rather beautiful quite accidentally is a joy. And I don’t mind having multi coloured fingers either which has been no bad thing… I’m not sure I’ll be swapping photoshop for a squeegee anytime soon but It’s been awesome creating some prints, just for the hell of it.