Escaping to experience a Workshop

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As an employee of New Brewery Arts, part of a small team running a busy office, the chance to participate in one of our fantastic workshops doesn’t come up very often. But, with a goal of finally being ready for Christmas well in advance, instead of just skidding into Christmas Eve, decimating the garden for my wreath at the last minute, I decided to enrol in one of our Make a Natural Christmas Wreath workshops run by Kate Holloway.

Natural wreaths are just that, made with all-natural ingredients. No sign of any non-biodegradable oasis here, but instead Kate set us to work wiring our 16-inch frames, adding bunches of lovely, damp moss compressed to the thickness of my wrist, wired again to secure it, to act as a base for the wreath and to keep the foliage hydrated.

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Next, Kate encouraged us to choose hand-sized sprays of foliage to make mini bunches as the basis of our wreaths. The dreaded Leylandii makes a great backing, along with northern spruce, bay, rosemary and berried ivy which were found amongst the huge bags Kate had heaved into the studio, now filled with a heady scent. So, to the strains of jolly of Christmas carols, we made a mini bunch then secured it using wire threaded through the moss, tying it off neatly at the back of the wreath. We continued working our way around the wreath, making bunches offset either at 11 o’clock or 2 o’clock, to create a loose, natural feel.

One of Kate’s goody bags contained a box of dehydrated oranges and limes, seed pods, pine cones, cinnamon sticks, raffia and ribbons so - embellishments chosen - each wreath was finished with citrus slices, raffia-tied cinnamon sticks and tied off with wired ribbon.  A lovely way to spend a morning, cheerfully singing along while making something useful and Christmassy!

Alice - Marketing

Like Alice, I often hear the workshops taking place, and see the results at the end of the day, but too often I am busy at my desk and can’t take part myself. But I have been longing to have a go at paper marbling for a while now, so when a half-day workshop at the weekend came up I booked myself a place.

It was great to have a thorough introduction to the craft, as it was something neither I, nor any of the group, had ever done before. Tutor Mary Day took us through a brief history of marbling, a bit of colour theory and a look at what results can be achieved (though perhaps with more practice). We looked at marbling on different papers as well as onto silk and, while feeling completely inspired, we got going.

Each person had a space to work with a large tray for everybody and different inks and dyes to experiment with. I thought that we’d print our 8 sheets of paper quickly, but each different design took time and it was well worth persisting with each print to build up the colours and the patterns. I tried ‘stone’ design – one of the oldest techniques - and then built up my confidence to try combing (I didn’t progress to nightingale’s nest pattern that Mary had shown us). Other people went a bit more seasonal and marbled baubles and gift tags. I was delighted with the results; the colours were more intense on the paper than in the tray and it was great to be able to just play with the technique.

Now the question is, what shall I use my beautiful marbled papers for?

Beth - CEO


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