Sometimes I am asked to do private workshops and it is always a huge pleasure. Apart from the fun of going away visiting, I am always treated like a visiting princess and thoroughly spoiled. This month I stayed at the home of Ian Mackay, maker of exquisite automata and Fleur Hitchcock, the children's writer. Here is Ian, making a needle felt version of one of the chickens on his amazing pecking chicken machine. Needless to say, as a skilled craftsman, he picked it up at once.
It was a fairly informal workshop, and people pretty much free ranged their designs, which was interesting for everyone and made me think on my feet.
There are wonderful examples of Ian's work all over the house, with intriguing handles which beg you to turn them. And when you do, magical things happen.
Driftwood houses are so much the in thing now, with so many people making them, but Ian was one of the early originators and I loved this little wooden street.
Lunch was pretty darned splendid.
Amazingly, after all that, people carried on working. This was a particularly splendid guinea pig.
And the youngest member of the group produced her own version of Totoro from Studio Ghibli.
I am always thrilled to bits when someone who has never needle felted or indeed crafted much, produces something lovely. Often they start out with a little trepidation, but at the end of the day, they have made something beautiful, and in this case, entirely their own design.
Naturally, mid-afternoon, there was cake.
The next day, I myself tried my hand at creating something outside of my own comfort zone, in Ian's workshop, but that's another story for a later date. Thanks so much to Ian and Fleur, for making my weekend really special and reviving my own creative batteries, which have been a little flat for the last few years.