Discover your inner Kelly Hoppen
I’m going to put it out there, I’m rubbish at anything that involves arts and crafts. Oh, I like the idea of it – being handy with a sewing machine, running up a pair of curtains, printing fabric, trying to create something unique on canvas but it always looks crap and the disapproving looks of my old art and textiles teachers come flooding back. *Shudder*.
It was something of shock that I decided to hop onto a block printing lampshade course. I mean, let’s not start on something easy like a tea towel, oh no, I’ve got to make a blinkin’ lampshade that will sit in a room and people will actually see. But in the interest of trying something new, I thought why the hell not.
The Robin’s Nest Gallery in Wargrave run all sorts of workshops – introduction to acrylics, stained glass, silver clay, silk screen printing, sit painting and many many more – but I’m here to not only make a lampshade, but create a pattern using block printing. Eek.
I turn up on a glorious Sunday morning, was handed a coffee and introduced to my fellow students. There were only four of us which was lovely under the expert guidance of Victoria Squires. We each were assigned a table to work on with a lampshade kit at each place.
Having been taught how much paint to use, how to apply it to different blocks and the effects you can achieve. This bit was fun. Slap on the paint, press on to paper. Lulled into false sense of ‘this is easy’, I moved on to practising on fabric. Again, I assumed I’d missed by calling as a textile designer. And then we were told to practice our designs in preparation for the lampshade.
Holy bejesus! That was it, all creativity drained away. Everyone else knew what they wanted to do. One a creative floral theme, another a cool paisley and a contemporary linear design. Me? Oh I spent about 30 mins just stabbing at the fabric with rubbers, elastic band and bits of foam. The results were, well, not bad. And it was actually very relaxing doing the printing.
Attaching the lampshade frame was fiddly. Thank god Victoria was there to help, because I don’t think the finished shade would have looked as good as it did. You start my sticking the plastic drum to you fabric. It’s part of the kit and cut to size, so actually quite simple. You then cut the excess fabric off and then apply double sided sticky tape to the wire frames (I got more tape on me than the frame). Then Vitoria helped attach the fabric to the frame, before I tidied the ends with a little plastic tool.
My lampshade was alright. Victoria said it was a bit like a Clarissa Hulse. All I can say is that she is very generous with her compliments. That said, the shade is on a lamp in my living room. Even Mr Muddy didn’t say it was a disaster. Would I do it again? I don’t think block print lampshade making is my calling… but silver jewellery could be. And I’d definitely go back just for the sarnies and cake!
The Robin’s Nest Gallery, 72 High Street, Wargrave, RG10 8BY therobinsnestgallery.com