shows and studios

Winding back the clock a week or two… I did have the chance to visit a few shows in May, including the Duncan of Jordanstone degree show. Sadly, this year’s graduates are the last cohort who will have the chance to specialise in weaving, so it was good to see five of them in the show — last year I think there was only one weaver out of the whole class. You can see all the student profiles here: the weavers are Michaela Millar, Sarah Mitchell, Sarah Mowbray, Jacqui Page and Ashleigh Slater.

All of them produced interesting and attractive cloth, but the work which stood out for me was Michaela’s. She is interested in children’s development and mental health and she has designed textiles which are meant to be handled and “played with”. Her samples were textured, colourful, noisy (!) and dynamic — all sorts of things that you would want to reach out and touch. So I did, of course. The one which I contemplated the longest was a piece in doublecloth which involved tubes filled with marbles: how did she get the marbles to stay in the tube while she changed the shed to seal them in? When I think of doing this, I think of the Megado — on which the “resting” position of the warp is a downhill slope from the breast beam to the back beam — and I hear the clatter of marbles all over the studio floor… Anyway, I see from the schedule here that Michaela is going to be at New Designers, so if you are planning a visit perhaps you could ask her…

Mum and I also continued our survey of Open Studios events with Angus Open Studios and the re-launch of the refurbished and re-populated WASPS studios at Meadow Mill. Now Meadow Mill is less than ten minutes’ walk down the hill from me* — I reckon I could see it if (a) there were no trees in the park or (b) I climbed onto the roof of my house (I’m not wishing for either of these, however) — and I have been very tempted to apply for space there. And now that I see how it looks, I am even more tempted! There are some lovely rooms still available and I really like the idea of working in a private space but within a community of other artists and craftspeople. However, there are several major reasons not to pursue this line of thinking, not least the cost. So I am not pursuing it, but feeling slightly wistful about it nonetheless.

Stuart spent the whole of last week down south sorting out things for his dad, but because of all the bank holidays they are having down there the funeral is not going to be until next Tuesday (seems like a ludicrously long wait to me, but there you go) and so he is home for a few days. Since he gets the bonus holiday tomorrow (but not the one today, since that is never on our local schedule) we are going to leave our stresses behind and have a bona fide Day Out: we’re off to visit the new Barony Centre in West Kilbride. The first exhibition is Lab Craft, which promises to be interesting.

And meanwhile, on the loom in Studio Booker is the wee mug rug warp, all set up and weaving away. I always have to think hard about the treadling order for summer and winter and, once I’ve started, I always have to stop and think again… But, after a bit of faffing about, it now seems to be working nicely. It’s not exactly exciting since it is only slightly adapted from something I’ve done before, but it is fun nonetheless to play around with the weft colours and it’s a project which is ideally suited to my short attention span!

*though it’s a steep hill and I reserve the right to take more than ten minutes walking back up

shows and studios” was posted by Cally on 4 June 2012 at

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7 Responses

  1. Laura
    | Reply

    There are definite attractions to having an ‘away’ space to work in. But there are attractions to *not* going away, too – like being able to work in one’s jammies, should the mood arise…. :^)


  2. Ange
    | Reply

    Love whats on the loom as I’m a sucker for purple and orange. Hope you enjoy labcraft and west Kilbride:) not sure what’ll be open but can definitely recommend a walk down the beach at seamill or portencross.

  3. Evelyn
    | Reply

    There is “something” about a studio space outside the home…. But then one has to make it pay which changes the making into work.

  4. Lovely blog – I read it often and find it inspiring, but because I read it on the iPad don’t get a chance to comment.

    Today though, this piece really rang bells with me – having a similar conflict of thoughts. We have plenty of space to work at home and I like working at home – except home is 66 miles away from where I am practically living 5 days of the week(caring duties for a son).

    I end up bundling what I can into the car and working when I have a moment, which really isn’t practical when involving looms !!! We have some lovely workshop space here, been looking at two – but can’t quite justify moving here permanently when there is still so much about our future which is unsure.

    Beautiful work though – inspiring.

    • Cally
      | Reply

      Hi Shani, thanks for your comment. It is a real challenge, isn’t it, to get life and work into balance? They seem to delight in getting themselves complicated and out of whack. I am lucky to have a very good working space in my home and in a way my problem is the opposite of yours: I spend so much time working at home – me and the thesis, me and the looms – that I am beginning to become quite peculiar! I was just reading this post by Julia Kehew and thinking that I need a crossroads hat. Perhaps you need one too?

  5. Dot
    | Reply

    I’ve just been looking at the Meadow Mills studio and all the WASP studio info, around £2k per annum with all bills included is superb. When I was looking at making weaving my life the best I could find in this part of the world was a workshop 1/2 hour’s drive away that would have cost £7k per year, around same it would cost to have office space in walking distance if I move my business out of our home – so neither is going to happen! I feel cramped but in one large room I have my weaving and my office plus most of my library and yarn store and a few spinning wheels. I probably work more irregular hours than if I went out somewhere, but get more regular meals. I don’t suffer isolation, this is a friendly town, eg yesterday I walked down to the bins at the front of our property, met two neighbours and stayed to chat.

    • Cally
      | Reply

      We are very lucky indeed to have WASPS and the facilities they provide. You’ve probably found their annual reports and so on – the Meadow Mill re-furbishment is part of a current expansion programme and I just squeaked in in the nick of time! I was snowed under with other things at the time of the re-launch in March and by the time I got my application in most of the studios were let. I compared local office rents, thinking I might miss out on Meadow Mill, and – like you – found them eye-watering, so I’m extremely pleased to have got a place.

      In the last few months, while I have had my antennae tuned to these things, I have seen quite a few studios advertising for tenants, but they do tend to be in Glasgow and Edinburgh – I guess in England they tend to be concentrated in the major cities too, though of course I can immediately think of exceptions such as Farfield Mill in Sedbergh (no idea what their rent is, mind you). I guess if you see an under-loved building in your area then it’s time to start up a trust and a conversion programme…

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