Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Art Session and Gesso

The first session of the year for Art in the studio I tend to share the real fundamentals of drawing, painting, art materials and brushes etc This year it is 'Gesso'and I am adding the element of Mixed Media Backgrounds using different medias including collage.

This session was all about  'Gesso'.

"Gesso", or "Italian gesso"[,is a traditional mix of an animal glue, a binder (usually made from animal skin).  chalk (an abrasive ground) and white pigment (paint), used to coat, prime or seal surfaces such as wooden panels, a canvas or a paper surface which are absorbent. This allows the painting media to bond to the canvas.
The colour of gesso is usually white or off-white. Its absorbency makes it work with all painting media, including water-based paints, different types of tempera and oil paint. It is also used as a base on three-dimensional surfaces for the application of paint or gold leaf. 
Mixing and applying it is an art form in itself since it is usually applied in 6 or more extremely thin layers, making sure no ridges are formed with the brush strokes. Brush one way across the canvas with the first layer allow to dry then go the other way of the canvas for the next. Ensure all the surfaces, sides are covered and the back of the canvas where it is stretched over, this can often be forgotten. I always start with the sides and back of the canvas then the front, this stops any ridges forming on the front while painting the sides. Allow each layer to dry thoroughly between painting. Some well known painters would have apprentices do the initial priming process  and then would prime the last layers often leaving days or weeks for drying time between each layer, allowing for curing. 
The amount of layers are up to you especially if you have a good quality of gesso and are time dependent. 
Reason for the glue is flexible and is added to allow bonding of layers and prevents cracking, this makes it suitable for rigid surfaces. Although animal glue was often use to 'size' a fabric canvas. it allows moisture to be absorbed so can lead to cracking too, this has been found of time and history. So we use a pva based glue which does not respond to moisture in the air but allows flexibility.Shop brought Acrylic Gesso does this for you. It is expensive and this is why I make my own.

The better your surface preparation the longer your painting will last.

For priming flexible canvas for oil painting, those made from fabric, an emulsion of gesso and  a few drops of linseed oil, called "half-chalk ground", is used to ensure flexibility in the canvas,help to prevent cracking and the acid in the oil paints from rotting the fibres of the canvas.
Gesso is also great for recycling canvases or panels. Some may need sanding down to smooth the paint surface down or if you want the brush strokes and paint mounds you can just paint gesso over the top.
I often do this by using one or more layers of Gesso (allow to dry) then collaging the surface then using gesso over the top and then painting, this allows for a textured surface at the beginning of your painting.
After you have primed a few layers you can use the gesso to etch into if you want added texture or add areas of gesso that you have applied with tools other than brushes.

Many of the store brought canvases have a plastic 'feel' surface to them, they have been primed but that is to prepare them for sale and so they do not get damaged so easily. You will still need to prime or seal the surface otherwise many paints will 'smear off' or the first layer of paint that you apply will soak straight in. This is why it is often advised to add your ground layer of paint first so it soaks in and covers the 'white' surface.

My Gesso Recipes

A combination of recipes that I have tried and tested over the years that work.
Talcum Powder or
Fine White Plaster
either, Household White Emulsion Paint or White Acrylic Paint
and good quality PVA or wood glue. 

The better quality of ingredients the better the surface and less likely to crack.

 Plaster Mix
1 cup of Water
1 cup of Glue
2 cups of White Acrylic Paint
4 Tablespoons of Fine White Plaster

Mix the Water, Acrylic Paint, Glue and then the Plaster really well.
Put into a sealable container that is labelled with Gesso Type.

*Some times you may need to sieve the plaster mix if you find lumps appearing in the mix.

To make an Emulsion Mix exchange the Acrylic Paint for Household Emulsion.

Talcum Powder Mix
1 cup of Water
1 cup of Glue
2 cups of White Acrylic Paint
4 Tablespoons of Talcum Powder

Mix the Water, Acrylic Paint, Glue and then the Talcum Powder really well.
Put into a sealable container that is labelled with Gesso Type.

To make an Emulsion Mix exchange the Acrylic Paint for Household


These recipes then get diluted with water to the consistency you require depending on whether the painting has fine detail or not. The more thin layers of Gesso the better and if you wish you can lightly sand down between layers to make it even smoother using fine grade sand paper.
This preparation to your surface enables you to get fine brush detail with your paints.

Gesso can go 'off' a mould forms on the top once opened. I make enough for what I need so do not worry that I may need t throw a small amount away.
I have been known to rescue a moulded gesso by skimming off the top layers of mould and then using it. I have only used it on my leisure painting and
would always have it in my head that my professional painting may start to change if I used the damaged gesso on it, so if in doubt chuck it out.

Watch our mixing video on our Facebook Page The Old Art Room  HERE

Sunday, 14 January 2018

The Charmed Children Of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox

We all read alot in the studio especially for research 
and the start of this year I have chosen,
"The Charmed Children Of Rookskill Castle" by Janet Fox.
For a body of work to last the year.
A Scottish Tale ideal to start in January with 'Burns Night' on the 25th of January.
We always use a lot of Tartan and Tweed in the studio at this time of year.

Another reason is it is a story based around,

"The Chatelaine",n.(shat-l-eyn)

An ornament appendage worn 
by ladies at the waist, supposed to represent
 the bunch of keys, etc,
of a mediaeval chatelaine; it consists
of a number of short chains....
bearing articles of household
use and ornament......
(Oxford English Dictionary)

It also contains twelve charms that hang from a charmed number 
of 13. 
Ideal for the 12 months of the year:)))
(The number 13 has always been lucky in our family and Jenn our daughter has a 13 Key)












Follow the blog each month to share in the charms and the body of work.
The First Charm

By buying your copy by clicking the Amazon link below you are donating a small commission to the studio at no extra cost to you.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

New Workshops For 2018

Happy New Year,

Stewart and I have been working hard in the studio and shop over the holidays to make it an even more creative space:)))
Created a New Year Window celebrating the New Year in but also the Chinese New Year that is on the 16th of January, Year of The Dog. The studio window is very Red and Oriental:)))) See the video on our Facebook page(open to all to view)


The inspiration board at the top of the post is in the studio area and sets the scene:)) This board will change each month to reflect the window and inspiration theme.
See the video on our Facebook page cick on link below(open to all to view)


Compared to the December Christmas Window which was beautiful, white and made us feel magical but chilly:))) See the video on our Facebook page click on link below (open to all to view)


Grandma's Chair is in the window with the new patchwork slip cover made by Rachel, who is studing Upholstery at University in London. Thank You Rachel it looks great:)))

As usual, there is lots in the window that has been given, made and now gets to be shared:)))

Thank You to all those who gave, shared and donated to the studio last year and lets do more this year as we continue this circle and get to pass it on in so many different ways.

You can see some of the daily creating on The Old Art Room Instagram  Page. Click on link below.

We open the Studio Shop on the 8th of January, This week I alsways take the time to create and play in the in the studio. Time to enjoy the space, new ideas and use the materials and 'stuff' Stewart and I have sorted out over the break. It's also a time to visit the years inspiration and plot the new workshops on the diary. Making and Sampling is key for me, it feels like play and is ohh so necessary for me to start the year off this way. Getting out the UFO"S (unfinished objects) and either finishing them or re-making them is always a great way to start too. This is always part of the 'Winter Challenge' that I set before the holidays.

Welcome, to Rita our new Italian Tailor who will be in the studio every Wednesday for Alterations and Tailoring. (Rita had a few weeks before Christmas to get stuck in and those that had their clothing altered were really happy). Most alteration requests are accepted and rates are dependant on the type of garment and time it will take. Rita is in on the 8th of January so pop in and say 'Hello'.

Rita will also be asisisting me making the costumes for the window and shop makes, to carry on the inspiration of each month, lots of exciting things planned. If there are makes that you would like to see in the shop, please let us know. Our first costume is something 'Blue' in the 'Outlander' Style, especially for the Hogmany Studio Window for the end of January. Lots of tweed, Tartan and warm materials.

Brenda has amazing Embroidery Sessions Booked in the Diary and the once month Crewel Embroidery Friday, is an amazing session to finish the creative week, held once a month.
Brenda has a selection of her kits in the studio shop.

Violets by Brenda 
February 6th and 8th

Liz will be  back in the Studio Shop on Thursday and is plotting new costume ideas for this year too:)) Everyone who saw the embroidery on her 'Game of Thrones', Dress were in ore. Aided by Brenda who instigated the stitches and Liz brought them to life:)) Liz's and Daniel's wedding prepration makes, were amazing and we all enjoyed the week by week reveal, angsts and the wedding photos are beautiful:)))
She is also sharing with us lots of her makes for their new home:))

Jayne, is back in the studio and is holding a Dog Needlefelting Brooch Session, on the 27th of February 2018. Places are limited as it is a popular session.

Celebrating Year Of The Dog,
with this brooch.
He is so cute and clever!

Mollie is working hard as usual and spent a very creative year making pencil rolls, brush rolls, teddy bears and hearts (a Mollie stitched Heart is in the new January window). She is open for commissions:))) It is so good to see Mollie using her newely won and earnt sewing machine. Everything is made to such a high standard. We are so proud of Mollie and thank her for all time spent in the studio:)))

One of Mollie's Pencil Roll and the Owl is by Lee on our Monday Art Session

'Show and Tell' is always amazing, Thank you so much to all who share and participate. We all enjoy and learn so much. So here's to another year of this:)))

Lucy and Lisa practicing artists themselves will be volunteering on Monday and Tuesday,so welcome to them. Will post how they are getting on and creating within the studio on Instagram and The Old Art Room Facebook. Thank you to all who volunteer and donate to the studio it is really appreciated.

So, here are the first Workshops of the New Year 2018.

The Shop and Studio are open and we especially like visitors and share what we are creating, lots of inspiration.

Main Theme of the Studio Chinese New Year And New Projects

January 2018

Monday 15th 
Art: How to make Gesso. Mixed Media Collage Backgrounds, creating backgrounds and adding drawing and painting.


Tuesday 16th (Chinese New Year) 
Textiles:'Show and Tell' with workshops explained. Both Sessions Full

Wednesday 17th
Alterations and Tailoring with Rita  alterations welcome.
Mixed Media Textiles Full

Thursday 18th
Textiles:'Show and Tell' with workshops explained. Both Sessions Full

Friday 19th
Crewel Embroidery with Brenda 10-2pm Full

Saturday 20th Closed

The full workshop list for January and February 2018 will be available in the studio from the 8th of January.
I will post the full years workshops shortly.

Once again, Happy New Year.
By clicking on the Amazon Links you help the studio with a small commission at no extra cost to yourself, another way of supporting the studio:))) Thank you.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year from The Old Art Room Studio:)))

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Saori Weaving Talk And Demonstration.

A process  to uncover hidden power of creativity.

Had a wonderful afternoon listening and watching Kim Morgan from The Saori Shed, Designers and Makers21 Diss. Kim shared, demonstrated and explained the principles of  'Saori Weaving'. Kim is a qualified Saori Weaver Tutor and studied in Japan in the studio of Misao Jo. Misao Jo started weaving when she retired and soon realised she wanted to weave what her heart desired and enjoy the process.

The 'Sa' of Sario comes from the zen vocabulary meaning "everything has it's own individual dignity"

"In Saori, we do not weave only cloth we weave our true self. The 'Ori means "weaving."

So many beautiful sentiments and ones we hold dear in The Old Art Room Studio too:))))

A way to self, to heart and healing.

No rules,no mistakes, only the joy of creating with fibre.

Saotri has four slogans,

1."Consider the difference between machines and people."

2."Be Bold and Adventurous."

3."Look through eyes that shine."

4"Inspire each other."

Everyone at Kim's talk said that they could listen to her talk for hours, it was so interesting and fascinating, seeing the woven pieces being explained and then worn:)) Kim thought it was funny when she got an applause when she showed us one of her beautiful reversible  jackets.
She shared many weaving tips and dismissed may weaving myths:)))

Here is a video of Kim sharing her weaving in her studio at Diss.

Thank you to Swaffham Visual Arts Festival Team for another great Festival, Talks, Show and Film.

See more of The Saori Shed HERE

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Flower Stitcher Attachment

We have been playing this week on the sewing machine, free machining doodles and using 
The Flower Stitcher Attachment ready for ,'Sewing Machine Fun Sessions' in the studio.
These encourage everyone to play with their sewing machine, stitches, feet and attachments.
Gain confidence and enjoy more of their sewing.
I brought the Flower Stitcher from Amazon( link below)

  • This Daisy Flower Stitch is used to create unique flower-inspired circular designs
  • Use your sewing machine's decorative stitches to create flowers or the perfect circle!
  • Premium Sewing Feet are high quality sewing feet that provide the user with ease of use for tasks they could be extremely tedious if done by hand
  • Add embellishments to garments, button covers, craft projects and more!
  • Come with a detailed using instruction, fit for all low-shank sewing machines, including Singer, Brother, Babylock, Viking (Husky Series), Euro-Pro, Janome, Kenmore, White, Juki, Bernina (Bernette Series), New Home, Necchi, Elna and More!
I played with the foot with Emma who is taking part in her Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award, an ideal skill to master  on the machine, out of the usual and we had fun trying it out and talking about what embellishments we would add in the form of beads, sequins and sparkle:)))

Buy on Amazon Here  and you donate a small amount to the studio at no cost to you:)))

I always find its good to watch a video.
The instructions that come with it are clear but I  find watching someone demonstrating what you want to learn is far more instructive and they show you how they have adapted it,
this one was my favourite:))

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Crewel Embroidery Sessions With The Needlewoman's Studio

Brenda known on the internet as "The Needlewoman's Studio', has started a Crewel Embroidery sessions at The Old Art Room Studio. On the second Friday of each month, 10am until 2pm and it costs £18 for the day. (See the dates below).

You can purchase a starter kit at the session for around £6 and you can join on any Friday as a beginner or to share your love of embroidery. Brenda shows you how to create a beautiful Crewel Embroidery from start to finish, giving lots of hints and tips on how to get the best results especially if you find sewing difficult but really want to do it or continue. If you have a particular image or theme you have always wanted to do, Brenda helps you design, plan and stitch so you can achieve your stitched project.

Liz wanted to continue her theme of 'Game of Thrones' and so they designed this piece so it could be stitched onto a collar that is forming part of a costume which Liz is wearing to 'Comicon'. Those that follow the series can see it is 'The House of Stark' Lion.

I had to stitch some Crewel Embroidery Samples for my Embroidery City and Guilds so had a basic understanding on the stitches and techniques but Brenda made the stitching how to and the history come alive. A wonderful session and everyone enjoyed stitching to the extent we didn't want to go home:))

 I made mine very contemporary, inspired by Blackwork and Steampunk. (Will show step by step photos:)

I like using a sit on frame because it leaves my hands free to get on with the embroidery:) find them here on Amazon. I recommend a 8" diameter one (21cms) because I am able to use it for a variety of

This video is by Phillipa Turnbull, a renowned English Embroiderer, who works alongside The Royal School of Needlework.

When sewing, craft making or reading you need a good light and I have one of these in my home studio, easy to move around and great sewing light, especially when working on dark projects.

  • This Daylight Simulating Desk Lamp / Bed Lamp closely mimics natural light to be kinder to your eyes.
  • High flicker-rate helps reduce the risk of headaches and eye-strain.
  • Concentrate for longer and enjoy clearer vision for hobbies like crafts and sewing.
  • Economical light bulbs have an average life span of 8000 hours.
  • Includes SPARE BULB. Shop with confidence as the Andrew James Desk Lamp is covered by a 2 year manufacturer's warranty.

Brenda recommends Jane Rainbow's book for anyone interest in Crewel Embroidery, we had a look at copies in the session and there where so many great tips and beautiful pictures and projects.

Starting with just four of these stitches, Jane clearly demonstrates, with detailed step-by-step photographs, how to work up a complete project. Instructions follow on showing how to stretch and mount your first embroidery. Using further projects she helps you build up skills, introducing new stitches in each section. Line drawings accompany each design and are used as a guide for the stitches. The designs and colours used are traditional - reminiscent of the embroidery worked by embroiderers during the Tudor period, wonderful floral pictures worked in wool and soft colours. The book is a comprehensive introduction to this lovely technique and at the same time it offers embroiderers practical help with presentation and finishing.

This post contains Amazon links for the items we use and recommend in the studio. By clicking on the link and purchasing on Amazon you are helping the studio, as a small percentage of your purchase goes to the studio with no extra cost to yourself:)))

Friday, 15 September 2017

Selfie Stick

I was lucky enough to be given a selfie stick for a Birthday gift, a bluetooth one at that:)))
A Kitvsion Bluetooth Selfie Stick. An expandable one:))) I am usually behind the camera, photos, a voice or nails on screen, not me:))) I have been using it so far as a hand hold for my phone so, it steadies my photos and great for shooting videos. I have found it quite fun to use and funny at times due to you wanting to talk to the camera and also look where you are going, there's definitely an art to it and needs practice:)) I will be adding more of me using it shortly so, watch this blog:)))

Had to smile when I looked up the definition of a SELFIE STICK::

History of the Selfie Stick

Homemade selfie sticks could date back as early as 1925. A photo from that year shows a man taking a photograph of himself and his wife, with the aid of a long pole which is pointed towards the camera and out of frame. Amateur box cameras of the period would not have been able to capture a self-portrait in focus when held at arm's length, requiring photographers to use remote shutter devices such as cables or sticks.
A device which has been likened to the selfie stick appears in the 1969 Czech sci-fi film 'I Killed Einstein, Gentleman'. It was a mirror on a stick then the camera took the picture that was in the mirror. Just shows you where inspiration is found:))))

My Selfie Stick is a KitVision Selfie Stick with Bluetooth
• Lightweight and extendable
• Extends to 110 cm
• Built-in Bluetooth camera remote for smartphones
• Rubber grip for comfort
• Compatible with Smartphone width: 63 mm - 85 mm

Take your smartphone photography to another dimension with this lightweight extension pole. Extending up to 110 cm, it allows you to take images from a higher perspective, making it ideal for gigs and shows or creating a '3rd person' video effect.

The built-in Bluetooth remote button on the handle, allows you to operate the camera shutter on your smartphone when it's out of reach, so now you can capture the perfect shot with ease. The pack contains a charger lead to charge the Bluetooth stick.

Use the included smartphone holder for attaching your phone, or add an action camera or digital camera using a ¼ inch camera screw. 
The poles come in various colours:))) I have a black one:)))

  • Rubber grip for comfort
  • Built-in Bluetooth camera remote for smartphones for wireless control
  • Extends to 110 cm for a whole new perspective and more creative shots
  • Lightweight, extendable and portable selfie stick
  • Charges in just 1 hour with 100 hours standby time
The best prices for the 360 degree selfie stick, see more information by clicking the link below.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Magic Read

As some of you may know I like fantasy, role-play gaming (spent many hours painting the models, then playing into the small hours, watching films and cheerleading a gaming husband:))). Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them are constant inspiration and spent most of January researching and journalling these sources, see post HERE 

Fantasy allows my mind to wander, stretch and 'Believe' what could be possible.

So, getting stuck into another book of a fantasy and magical nature makes me smile, allows my brain to slide, travel and expand:)))

Being my Birthday Weekend I have got some time off and I was given this book, this week to read and share by Brian, an avid reader, textile artist and speaker . 'Mundane Magic' published this August 2017 is written by his Grand Daughter, Rebecca Milton and is her debut novel, it is a captivating magical read and I feel grateful to share:))

"Hidden within the world, disguised as mundane gifts and talents, it rests....."

Just this sentence seems very apt with The Old Art Room studio being hidden in Swaffham, Norfolk, UK and visitors exclaiming that it is a 'Magical and Wonderful Inspiring Place'. We enjoy making the studio inspirational and I think that is shows and what is 'felt', it's real, in studios.
Rebecca's book has been a well earned read and inspired ideas. Hope it has that exchange for you too:))

Look forward to more from Rebecca:))

Please be kind enough to show the author some praise when buying your copy by giving feedback:))
It has a five star rating and well deserved....

Click the Amazon link to buy it for yourself. There is also a Kindle Copy too for those that like to read on the go:))) I promise, you won't put it down.

Rebecca's website http://www.rebecca-milton.com
Rebecca's Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/rebeccamiltonauthor/
Read what 'Goodreads has to say https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35594650-mundane-magic

I will share my copy from The Old Art Room, which was kindly donated by Brian:))))

On Amazon I found this notebook which is fun and ideal for those who are of the Wizarding or inspired nature. Click through to see the notebook and it comes with your own magic wand.

This Blog contains affiliate links,which means The Old Art Room may receive a small percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links. The products and services are no extra cost to you and some have deals.
By clicking and shopping your support helps the studio put on events and sessions. The products I link are ones liked by Jane and The Old Art Room. Thank you:))

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Nail Art

My hands are on show everyday with teaching and demonstrating techniques and I 
am lucky enough to go along to our local salon  'Innovations' every couple of weeks where they take great care of my hands, nails and pander to my mixture of art techniques which they translate onto my nails.
Kim is especially tolerant:))))
A year of just a little Glitter, then the whole set of 'Glitter 'nails.
A year of 'Foiling' and this year, six months of Chrome, Additives and now 'Nail Stamp Tattoos'.
*Great Tip* I learnt from Sam this visit to the salon, if you are finding it hard to open your nail polish bottles use a set of nut crackers, a few twists and it releases easy, tried this when I got home and it works:))))
I found a great gift for the girls in my life to have a bit of fun.
Ideal for Birthdays and Christmas.