Author Archives: jax

Creating reusable art at the Pumpkin Festival

Supporting my lovely fellow volunteers with Southampton Scrapstore a project that Is right the core of recycling and recreating activities, those  of you who follow my posts will now that Ive been a major supporter of this fantastic project. We had a fantastic day at the Pumpkin Festival today and the shelter coped with the weather, We chatted to lots of new people as well as meeting old friends. This year with lack of troops on the ground we decided to try something different and create a giant artwork using scrap which could then be taken apart and reused.
The images show the blanks boards that we started with and the final collage.Which was based in a ww1 solder standing  in a poppy field
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How simple things can make a real difference- fostering the imagination and cardboxes

I dont know if you have stumbled across the Imagination Foundation they are just a great . At the moment they are asking groups people etc to take part in the great cardboard challenge . So if you love making things out of things that would be thrown away getting involved and encouraging creativity and  inventing wonderful creations  heres an opportunity to join in with something that is both simple and fun


Christmas vintage fair – Southampton

Wyellow vintage fairell Ive finally taken the plunge. After visiting the vintage fair at the Ageas Bowl Southampton I have so many vintage bits and bobs at home as well as of course my own vintage inspired jewellery and crafts that I have decided to take a stall at the Christmas Vintage Fair at the end of November,

If you are interested in all things vintage as well as creating your own crafts  there holding a Make Do and Mend vintage crafts supplies fair on the 6th October so if you are around take a look .



A most interesting project working with young people living in a secure childrens home

Just before the summer I was invited to work with a group of young people who reside on a secure children home,  the young who live in the  centre also attend lessons in the on site education unit who  on occasion invite organizations and individuals with specialisms to come and spend time with them.

I was invited to work on a sculptural project with the young people introducing them to 3d work and materials that they hadnt worked with before,

Many of the young people find it difficult to work together on a collective project and often were not confident in their own abilities to be creative so I knew from the outset that I would need to be adaptive in my approach and focus on enabling them to take part,  I already knew that if they didnt like me then it would be a very difficult to progress, thankfully this wasnt a problem.

Working in very small groups of 3 – 4 participants at a time often with support workers attached. I introduced the young people to using paper mache and mud rock , we then moved on to include wire mesh and finally paper clay and solid foam board skeltons. Myself and  the art teacher decided to set them the challenge of creating a 3d human head the subject being up to them. The winners would receive a prize of their choosing and so they chose a takeaway of their choice.

golden man with dreadsThis is the winning entry , they were so proud of taking part and I was so fortunate to have been offered the opportunity to spend time with them.


Getting ready for Totton and Ealing 1st Arts Festival, May Bank Holiday weekend

Ive been really busy at the moment planning for future activities as well as having problems as a local  garage has just damaged the gearbox on my vw and refuses to admit responsibility but that is another story

This weekend you will find me at the a new arts festival on the edge of the New Forest. On Saturday I will be showing my artwork , jewellery and the like in the arts market and on the Sunday I will be offering two hour taster workshops to crochet and peg loom weaving. If you in the area then please join us as there will be  lots to see  and do for more details visit

Local creative activities and networking

Finding out what is on your local area , creative activities-social  networking or chatting to people you dont know

It is always interesting when I chat to people about how they find out what is on on in there local area,  they often say that they look to local authority websites etc but dont always realize that there are some amazing networks out there.

Now I know that many of these are internet/ email / facebook based , However in itself that is not enough . The power of talking and sharing information  is still the best way . a classic example of this in action is when I attended a great local event last week ” Embrace The Change” held at the Solent University . I was there promoting Southampton Scrapstore which a fantastic local project linked to reusing and recycling.

Anyway to get back to the subject in hand, just before we were due to go into the presentations ( all of which were fantastic)the fire alarm went of and we all had to go outside, now rather than standing there like a lemon I struck up a conversation with two ladies and asked them why they were there. It turned out that one of the ladies had seen a poster in the library and had come along as something to do , as it looked interesting she had invited her friend. Well I couldn’t resist it I asked her if she had heard about SHAPE the local email newsletter for creative activities, I also told them about the Culture Hampshire website and of course the reason I was there as a volunteer promoting the Southampton Scrapstore. All of which she hadnt heard of So there you Id suggest taking the opportunity of sharing what is out there with total strangers when ever you can

Wire people, drawing skeletons and teaching children how to draw what they see

Snowboarderskierwire sculptures

Teaching children how to create their own wire sculptures based on  winter characters.

During the half term holidays  I had a really interesting time teaching children how to create the standard basic stand up wire model which they managed well.I then asked them to sketch out some of their own creations and if they were not sure I had some photographs to inspire them.

I was really surprised that when they tried drawing a person who was leaning down and their head lower than their shoulders that instead of drawing what was in front of them  they still tried to draw the person with the head above their shoulders. Irealized that none of the under 11s had been taught the basics about for shortening etc

So I set about the task firstly by giving them some tracing paper and asking them to place it over the picture and then to draw the outline then helping them to place the skeleton and then finally to use a pen to darken the skeleton so that they had a reference guide.The children who didnt have a reference picture for what they wanted them to draw I asked them to pair up and draw each others skeleton keeping in mind the lesson learned.They then found this task much easier

Meeting people who enjoy sharing creative activites

It is often difficult finding new people who enjoy the same activities and interests that you do.

I have always been interested in sketching outside but have always found that you spend much of your time being disturbed by well intentioned people who are curious about what you are doing and I am just to polite to be rude to them to get them to leave me alone.

One of the solutions for me has to join a local meet up group, ( members come from all over the place and from many different backgrounds the one thing you have in common is the topic of the group. Now I know that groups do exist where  people are not that  welcoming and if the group is such that they always meet at the same place with the same people it can get a bit creaky  however the clue to that is to try one or two sessions and move on to another one if it isnt for you.

I have been lucky. I joined a sketching group where members attend when they can and  we spent yesterday sketching at The Vyne a National Trust Property near Basingstoke. Some people stayed together others went of on their own it really didnt matter. I think the key to the groups success is  that we knew that we could find one of the group if we needed to so we no one feel as if they were on their own,  everyone was  supportive and helpful and non judgmental  and we talked about the topic and did not dwell on our  personal lives

Recharging your batteries and trying something different

Sometimes you need to have a rest and recharge your batteries.

I don’t know about you but I am one of those active people all ways doing something however I do look forward to quiet times where I can  allow myself the luxury of  a chance to recharge.

The early part of the year is the one time when I can do this, people don’t really want to go out they want to make the most of the few good  weather days that we have. I love this time to jump start my own creativity, Ive recently been enjoying  creating abstracted art works with no particular theme and focusing on texture and pattern, creating several pieces at a time and moving between them all waiting for inspiration to kick in its been great fun its something that I would recommend to anyone who is finding it hard to motivate themselves

Gosport Royal Navy Submarine Museum arts project exhibition at Gosport Discovery Centre

Gosport Royal Navy Submarine Museum arts project exhibition

Back in June and July 2013 I spent some lovely creative craft/ history  days  on  behalf of Gosport Submarine Museum  working with children from two local schools on a project designed to raise  awareness about the fact that several of the local roads were named after submariners who had been awarded VC medals from the bravery. Many of the families living in the area have at least one member currently serving or who had served in the armed force.

Medal making     Shadow puppets

Our Street Our Submarine

I have just received a lovely email  from GSM to say that Gosport Discovery Centre is currently running  a exhibition about the Museum with the title Our Street Our Submarine  and that the children’s work is being included in the exhibition ,it is so lovely that the children get to see their work included  and that it is also going to be shown at two other local libraries as well.

Last weekends lantern workshops and getting ready for next weeks parade

IMG_2262We have just had another great couple of days getting ready  for next Thursdays Lantern Parade . It was very busy and I didn’t stop all day on the Saturday for lunch so thank goodness I had thought to have breakfast before I left in the morning.

We are  so lookIMG_2337ing forward to the parade itself we made over 80 lanterns and have sold over 40 packs and with others are being made at home we decided to make  some changes this year and decided to reduce the size of the lanterns in the parade. It is so tempting  to make bigger lanterns however I would advise any IMG_2295one planning a parade to really give some thought to both your location  and the numbers of people taking part as well as observing . Their is some great advise out there when it comes to ensuring that your event is as safe as it can be.

I have received some lovely emails from schools and IMG_2318local groups so it is going to be really interesting to see what they have made.


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A great couple of days creating willow lanterns

Busy workshopproud mum and daughter




I have just spent a great couple of days  running lantern building workshops at the Brooks Center in Winchester. Because of space limitations I decided to spend day 1 making the structures and day 2 doing the decorating. this worked really well when your creating 40 lanterns in a day it is very tiring and changing over the materials mid way would have just been to difficult so a plan that worked well.

The next couple of workshops are on the weekend of the 16th and 17th November I am not sure if there are are any spaces left its been so popular this year, we’ve made up packs to make at home and they are going fast.

bright sky IMG_2233   presents ahoy geometric constuction



turkey lanternGiant heart lantern



A lovely day spent making a ghost town

I have just spent  a lovely day today making a ghost town with children at the D@rt Centre in Hedge End a small group of 6 children its amazing what you can achieve, they had so much fun imagining different ways of getting into their homes etc so much concentration they were so quiet which is very unusual.

Spooky townIMG_2197

Great fun training my new lantern parade workshop volunteers

I spent a lovely day on Saturday training up my lantern parade workshops volunteers, such a lovely group of people all happy to give up their spare time to help me to support the participants who will attending out lantern making workshops starting this week.

We attracted a large audience of passing spectators curious as to what we were doing, we were still awaiting our posters to arrive from the printers so I decided to write some details on a couple of sheets of paper so that people knew what we were up to.


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Getting ready for the lantern parade workshops, moving into our unit at the Brooks Winchester

Ive just spent the day moving all of our materials and equipment into our pop up shop at the Brooks Center in Winchester. The center has been great allowing us to use the space for a peppercorn rate we couldn’t do it without their support, I have put up three examples that I have made to show my new volunteers I  cant wait for the ceiling to start filling with examples that they make on Saturday.

I also introduced myself to my local shop staff and Costa Coffee came up trumps when they popped in and offered to donate us free hot drink vouchers for the lantern workshop participants to have when they finish their session a lovely thought.