Saturday, 27 October 2012

Samantha Bryan’s Fairy Workshop

On Saturday 20th October I left the busy city behind and went into the beautiful autumnal Nottinghamshire countryside to the Hope and Elvis Studio for a workshop with Samantha Bryan. Hope and Elvis is run and owned by textile artist Louise Presley and is situated on the idyllic Welbeck Estate. The Hope and Elvis studio is spacious, light and airy and is a treasure trove of textiles ephemera old and new. I went on a bag making course there a few years ago and have been eager to return to such an inspirational and welcoming space ever since.

Samantha Bryan is the creator of wonderfully humorous fairy sculptures. Louise had organised for Samantha Bryan to help us produce ‘fairies’ in her whimsical and quirky style. Her work is inspired by ‘victorian gadgetry and invention’ and is constructed with great technical skill and attention to detail. The sculptures are fashioned out of ‘wire, leather, found objects & collected materials’. Some of my favourite features of her work involve tiny roller skates made from buttons and ear muffs made from acorns! Samantha took us step by step through her fairy making process and was happy to let us work at our own pace, giving extra tuition whenever it was needed.

It was a fantastic day and I relished the opportunity to work with a contemporary craft practitioner. Both Samantha and Louise were extremely generous with their ideas, materials and time. The atmosphere was relaxed throughout and it was brilliant to see a range of different ages happily working together. There was even the added luxury of tea on tap and easy access to delicious confectionery – a must for keeping creative minds going!

I documented the experience throughout the day in the hope that it will give you an insight into Samantha’s methods of working. Samantha’s fairies usually take her around three days to create and she works on lots of different fairies at the same time going from heads and hands to wings and feet.

I love the fact that my fairy evolved organically from scraps of leather and found natural materials. I had a loose idea of what I wanted to make at the start of the day but let the materials on offer and the making techniques lead the design.

I didn’t manage to complete my fairy at the workshop but have thoroughly enjoyed finishing her off each evening this week. My favourite part of the whole process was working with such soft and richly coloured leather. I also loved accessorising her and have got carried away with knitting tiny leg warmers and weaving a miniature scarf complete with pompoms.