Self portraits by Rob Stephen

Yay, it’s Helfa Gelf 2014! Over 4 weekends in September, artists and craftspeople across North Wales open their studios and hold exhibitions of their work. Last year, Loglike created an installation in Llandudno. Not being part of it this year, means that we can simply enjoy the occasion without all the hard work! There’s so much to see, and North Wales is quite a big area, so here’s just a snippet of what we’ve found so far…

Dead fly grave by Rob Stephen

Friday night saw the opening of quite a few Wrexham-based art events. Starting off with the ‘Glyndwr Collective’ showing at the School of Art. I particularly enjoyed Rob Stephen’s work. Varied, appealing and authentic, he’s presented it through 5 pseudonyms, each with it’s own flavour of media and subject matter.

Rob Stephen ink drawing

Whether as a contrary response to the MA pressures to specialise and analyse, or simply due to an abundance of ideas and curiosity, each of his characters’ explorations was intriguing.

Typewritten postcard on wall by Rob Stephen
Then we moved onto Undegun, the unassuming art space in Wrexham town centre, where a small selection of Helfa Gelf artists were represented and we were also entertained with acoustic sets by drop-in singer-songwriters.

Rob Stephen art
Later on, we got as far as Plas Power climbing studio, where Jonathan Brier was showing some paintings as part of ACO (The Artists Co-operative). It’s an interesting space to hold an art exhibition, with stylised climbing surfaces of various complexity.

Yellow climbing wall
And quite a contrast to find self-taught Jonathan Brier’s work amongst the climbing shoes and tackle. Brier does beautiful portraiture with a dark edge.

Black and white painting of a beautiful young woman in a white dress
As well as perennially popular and affordable still lives of fruit.

A painting of green apples in a grey bowl
Another interesting visit was to see Hazel Brend, who weaves top quality shawls and scarves from silk, cashmere and merino wool. She’s got a massive loom in a tiny shed and it was fascinating to see all of her specialised equipment and beautifully coloured stores of yarns. We heard how she first hand-dyes the silk warp before weaving with a merino thread to produce different, subtle, painterly patterns on each side of the finished piece.

Another 3 weekends of Helfa Gelf Art Trail to go!
jen

Silk and merino wool handwoven scarf in peach, nude and pink

vintage china candlestick with bluebird pattern

Here’s a step-by-step guide to drilling through vintage china & ceramic. It’s a good method to use when making cake-stands out of pretty, china plates or something more avant garde using every-single-bit-of-crockery-available! We’ve developed this technique to make simple candle holders from upcycled saucers, using our own candlecup design, and can’t remember the last time we smashed a piece. So, here’s how to do it…

Stack of antique saucers on a charming old stool
1) Do your drilling on a stable, non-slip surface that you don’t mind damaging. Maybe put an old piece of wood down for protection. Use safety glasses and get a friend to help.

close-up of two types of diamond tipped drill bits

2) You’ll need a 6mm diamond-tipped drill bit for glass or ceramic. They’re sometimes sold as ‘bathroom tile drill bits’. There’s plenty for sale at a reasonable price online. The picture above shows a core drill bit, which is a little tube and also a drill bit that looks like a tiny arrow. Both shapes are good.

a yellow hand drill

3) Use either a bench pillar drill, (as seen in this other article) or a hand drill that can go at a variable speed.

the back of a small majolica, cabbage plate
4) Put some masking tape on the back of the crockery to encourage a clean exit hole. Put more masking tape on the front.

marking a cross on the fronts of vintage ceramic saucers
5) Measure the centre point and mark a dot with permanent pen, then extend this to a highly visible cross.

trimming slim cork sheet into circles to use when drilling plates
6) Get some thin cork or rubbery material, about 5mm thick and cut out a circle that will fit within the raised foot on the back of the ceramic piece. This will support it under pressure. Plates may not have such obvious ‘feet’ underneath, but a piece of supportive, slightly squashy material will help anyway.

Starting off at an angle when drilling a hole in a ceramic plate
7) This is the point where you’ll need someone to hold the crockery firmly. This leaves you free to hold the drill with both hands. Start very slowly, and if you’re using a tube-shaped ‘core drill bit’ with a hand drill, have the drill at an angle to get a grip on the surface. As soon as you break through the glaze, you can straighten up.

Pouring cool water from a Jenny Murray jug
8) Add a little puddle of water to keep the drill bit and ceramic surface cool. Try and go quite slowly, with moderate pressure. This may take a few minutes. If you’re drilling a super-precious piece, stop every so often and check if the drill bit is getting hot (don’t burn yourself!) If it is, stop for a short while until things cool down, add more cool water and don’t press as hard. Bone china will take longer as it’s stronger than regular ceramic. Be patient.

Drilling vintage plates with a hand drill
9) Lighten-up on the downwards pressure as you start to break-through. When you reach the other side it should be obvious. Stop the pressure quickly, to save your work surface and cork circles.

Making holes in old china crockery
10) Empty the (now murky) water out and peel off the masking tape, taking care with the sharp ceramic shards that have formed underneath.

A successfully drilled hole in a 1960s ceramic saucer

11) Give it a clean, but don’t leave it to soak (especially if earthenware) as water may get into the body of the ceramic piece and may cause crazing to the glaze. Leave to dry.

Ironstone Broadhurst staffordshire England. Backstamp.
12) Fit any fixings. If making a cake stand, the best metal components have bolts on the base which have a very slim, flat head. These keep the stand sturdy, and minimise any rocking around.

Gift box for Loglike upcycled candlesticks made from vintage china saucers
Upcycled saucer-candlesticks are available at www.Loglike.co.uk
And also at our shop on Folksy.com

Special thanks to SP for the splendid photographs.
jen

vintage wire frame plant table
My favourite shop for antiques and collectables has got to be Nook in Llangollen. Tucked away on a side street, it’s worth making a special detour to find.

old advertising signs and wooden crates
The window displays change often and are beautifully put together. The owner, Rob, has an excellent eye for an interesting piece and is often scouring the barns of North Wales for forgotten treasures.

old bread tin with Edwards embossed on the side
Recently on sale were a whole stack of these original loaf tins from Edwards Bakery of Llangollen which closed in the 1960s. Other finds with a local connection include charming old decorated milk bottles and framed letterpress advertisements.

Welsh river scene on an antique plate
Llangollen has been a tourist destination for decades, if not centuries. Although it has plentiful shops selling mass-manufactured, daffodil themed, plastic trinkets; items like those shown here would be my souvenirs of choice today.
jen

Shop front of Nook Antiques in Llangollen

Nook
23A Bridge Street
Llangollen
Denbighshire
LL20 8PF

m: 07792 768 193
e: info@llangollenantiques.co.uk
twitter: @nookantiques

chalk sketch on slate of felled logs

This may be the original tablet device. Pictured above is an antique school slate, from the days before affordable paper & pens. I read recently that David Hockney uses a wood-framed iPad on which he paints digital landscapes in East Yorkshire, so was inspired to try an analogue version.

David Hockney sketch

A recent visit to Annely Juda Fine Art gallery in London, revealed some of Hockney’s large, colourful iPad prints as well as beautiful charcoal drawings and film-work. It was exciting to see these powerful drawings of logs. The same scene drawn again and again with great sensitivity and panache.

David Hockney exhibition in London

Hockney is passionate about the changing seasons. He returns to the same place, taking the same position and paints or draws what he sees. An expert observer, his work is always confident, skilled and demonstrates great curiosity of technique. His film of a slow-paced journey down the same winter lane was recorded with nine differently angled cameras. It’s shown on nine adjoining screens making up one image and is mesmerising.

rural snow scene made from 9 sceens

It was sad and disappointing to learn that his charcoal log drawings feature the remains of a tall, standing tree stump – one of Hockney’s favourite landmarks. The dramatic dead tree, nicknamed ‘Totem’ that appeared regularly in his work, was destroyed by vandals about a year and a half ago. Before it’s demise, the monumental stump was included on the Hockney art trail and according to locals, had helped to encourage visitors to the area.

large felled tree amongst wild garlic in Plas Newydd

Back in another tourist destination, in the naturalistic gardens of Plas Newydd in Llangollen, it’s late Spring. The flowers of wild garlic are everywhere, creating a carpet around the logs which were formed by trees blown over in last years’ gales. Here they even have their own ‘Totem’, thankfully intact.
jen

Tall totem-pole tree stump in Llangollen

David Hockney – The Arrival of Spring
is on from 8th May – 12th July 2014, at:

Annely Juda Fine Art
4th Floor, 23 Dering Street
London
W1S 1AW

Christmas window display at Heals TCR

‘Low-Res Orange’ in colour-themed Christmas window display, London.

It’s a really good feeling to walk into a store as fine as Heal’s and see your products on the shelves. We went into Heal’s on Tottenham Court Road just as Christmas was getting into full swing, with festive decorations and great gift ideas everywhere.

Group of contemporary home accessories.

The merchandising was done with flair and artistry. It certainly didn’t disappoint. It was a thrill to see our wares displayed amongst all the gorgeous, quality products that have been carefully selected by the Heal’s buying team.

Kitchenware department at Heal's

Our Modern Welsh Lovespoons and pastel-coloured, ‘Slice of Cake’ Doorwedges looked right at home in the kitchen department…

Red Loglike Apple amongst striking homewares at Heal's

… and everywhere we turned, there were pepperings of our Low-Res Apples, Pears, Oranges and Lemons, spicing up the tableware and shelving.

Contemporary, colourful kitchen accessories, instore at Heal's

As home accessories, our ‘Low-res’ Fruit ornaments work well to inject colour into an interior.

Marimekko 'In Good Company' teapot and Loglike Low-Res Orange

The fruit’s faceted shapes also seem to resonate with the current trends for bold, graphic prints and strong, geometric forms, like on this lovely Marimekko teaware (above).

Shop interior at Heal & Son

It was great to see items from the All Lovely Stuff range out on display, such as this clever chopping board (below).

Shelves of beautifully designed tableware with Loglike Apples!

Other arresting products included these small sculptural black and white ceramic vases & tealights by Finnsdottir.

Group of black and white ceramic vessels by Finnsdottir

And this set of large glass decanters by Pols Potten, called ‘Bubbles and Bottles’. They were just so simple and appealing, it was hard to walk past.

Group of simple glass decanters in beautiful colours by Pols Potten

The work of Taz Pollard was almost irresistible. She designs and makes these large pitchers and bottles, (below). The jugs have rubber handles, secured with cable ties. Genius.

Contemporary pots and jugs in super-bright neon colours

Heal and Son Ltd have a long heritage. The family business started off designing, manufacturing and retailing beds and bedding in the very early 19th Century. They’ve occupied the same purpose-built store on Tottenham Court Road for over 150 years, albeit with a few additions. Now with five other branches, Heal’s is a champion of British Design and quality manufacturing.
jen

The Heal’s Building
196 Tottenham Court Road
London
W1T 7LQ

Phone: 020 7636 1666

ad-hoc signage at Renegade Craft Fair

Where?

christmas tree shaped sign

Over there?

doorway to an old industrial space

…through here?

old truman brewery interior columns

…er, where?

green cut-out paper sign

Oh, thanks.

inventive large sign

Yeah… R.C.F…. like it. Nice ad-hoc signage.

Renegade team from the United States of America

… they look cool.

Peris & Corr arriving at Renegade Craft Fair

Oh, this must be it.

huge venue for Renegade London

Wow, it’s huge!

Loglike stand at Renegade London 2013

Best get the caffeine in…

Loglike display with doilies

… and set the stand up, next to our Folksy stable-mates, iamkathrynedwards, Mrs Eliot Books & Scawn Studios to name just a few.

star light and heart shaped wooden spoons

We’d been invited to attend Renegade Craft Fair in London, as part of ‘Folksy Selected': a presentation of twelve sellers who all have shops on UK-based Folksy.com.

woodwool and vintage saucers

Heading the Folksy Selected section, we had the lovely Camilla who was staffing the Folksy stand and ably demonstrating the advantages to buying and selling on this beautifully re-vamped online marketplace. Camilla has her own shop on Folksy, called Butterscotch & Beesting, so was well-placed to explain all about the site. She’d also brought along some super-popular Folksy flyers which moonlighted as striking Christmas decorations.

paper Christmas decorations

The event was bustling, with over a hundred quality stands, all with an indie-craft vibe. We were swamped on the first day, with our Low-res Fruit, Lovespoons, doorwedges and candlesticks doing very well. People seemed pleased to find quirky, well-made gifts, with thoughtful packaging.

Jimbobart stand at Renegade

The other stands throughout the venue were great. Very tempting products indeed. It was good to see fellow-North Walian sellers Peris & Corr (below)

screenprinted wooden Christmas decorations

and DyfalDonc (below) amongst others.

upcycled vintage formica jewellery

…and it’s a shame these handpainted shoes by Sam Pierpoint were a little bit too big!

pair of hand-painted 'deep space' pumps

Renegade Craft Fair took place at The Old Truman Brewery, Spitalfields, London.
9th & 10th November 2013
jen

 

view of beautiful Welsh hillside in Autumn

1) Take secateurs, wellies and an early morning excursion to the lush roadside verges of North Wales.

botanical illustration of ferns

2) Snip armfuls of Welsh bracken (a most plentiful fern) with plenty of stalk.

gathering ferns with a car

3) Squeeze into your car, trying not to crush or bend the fronds, if possible. A pail of water is useful for keeping the cut-ends submerged.

Modern Victorian fernery during Helfa Gelf 2013

4) Transport to a glass-topped coffee table, under which you’ve arranged multiple glass bowls, filled with wet, horticultural foam.

sketch for coffee-table fernery

5) Trim the bracken to length and arrange in a naturalistic fashion under the glass top. (Duration: about 1 hour)

close-up of fern fronds under glass

6) Repeat steps 1-5 as necessary, to keep the bracken looking fresh and green. (Ours lasted about 24 hours)

design for plant-based display unit by Loglike

Background:
This folly was dreamt-up by Loglike for Haus of Helfa in 2013. It was created in response to the Victorian theme of the Llawn Arts Festival, for which Loglike constructed a temporary shop and exhibition space on the ground floor of an old, semi-derelict building. Inspiration came from the twin Victorian obsessions with botanical collecting and specimen cases.

Here’s some advice for gathering plants in the wild, by the Wild Flower Society.
jen

abundant wooden fruit tumbling from a large wooden horn of plenty

26 Augusta Street in Llandudno has a nice, new staircase. The rickety, old one was recently replaced during renovations. This big, old building (a former RAFA club) had four floors of curved hand rails, chunky newel posts and multiple variations of bannister spindle.

looking down the central well of an old staircase

We were invited to incorporate the old spindles into our work, making pieces especially for Llawn01, the first Llandudno Arts Weekend Number 1.

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It took a while to decide on a design. Inspiration came via seashells (thanks Kathryn & Isobel), as well as basketry spirals and corn dollies. The repeating shapes formed by numerous maquettes came to suggest the pattern of treads on a spiralling staircase.

Angled ends of old, wooden spindles from a bannister

We carefully calculated angles, incremental lengths and construction joints.

Playing around with form and construction at the design studio

As they were filthy, chipped and full of nails, we decided to pare the antique spindles back to their original state by removing the various layers of paint and varnish. This revealed the bold stripes of resinous pitch pine, which was wonderfully aromatic when cut.

Dark wooden spindles arranged in a ring on the floor

Then came the labour intensive task of re-shaping each spindle to our exact specifications…

Table full of turned lengths of wood

…and forming the hexagons that are the bones of the piece.

Bannister hexagon.

The end was perfectly punctuated by the top of a newel post, also from the building.

Newel post top

Then we filled the large, finished structure with Loglike wooden fruit forming a ‘Low-res’ cornucopia, or seasonally appropriate horn of plenty. It was shown during Helfa Gelf at the Haus of Helfa, an exciting, temporary art space, open during September 2013.
jen

Sculpture by Loglike for Llandudno Arts Festival 2013

Artists and revolving disco / beach ball installation

Haus of Helfa popped up on the Llandudno coast, during this years’ Helfa Gelf.  A diverse collection of artists were invited to create and install work over four floors, in a partially gutted Victorian town house, under the direction of international performance artist and curator Marc Rees.

Four story Victorian building in Llandudno

The building, owned by Mostyn Estates, (the largest landowner in the area), was well-known locally as a former ‘wings’, or RAFA club. It was well on it’s way to being renovated and turned into offices, when the work was paused for art.

Marc Rees introducing the artists to the Haus of Helfa

Loglike was fortunate in taking over the ground floor, installing our version of a Victorian shop as well as a studio area and exhibition space.

setting up Loglike's 'spoon carving grotto'

Here’s a few photos of the installation process. The area seen above became our ‘spoon-carving grotto’, while below was where our site specific sculptures developed. For more pictures of the finished space, see blog post Helfa Gelf 2013.

Exhibition area for site-specific installations

What was extra exciting about the project, was the option of doing site specific work and collaboration. Below is our finished Cornucopia, made from the stripped spindles from the building, and behind is shown a film by Simon Proffitt featuring endlessly revolving low-res fruit.

Cornucopia by Loglike, film by Simon Proffitt 2013

The themes of revolution and repetition were used again and again on the first floor, as Simon Proffitt took over the space with his large disco ball installations (extraordinary when lit by the sun), anonymous portraiture and playful experiments in sound and film. The image below shows Cymbalophone made from a cannibalised turntable, crash cymbal and paper cone.

Collage and sculpture by Simon Proffitt at House of Helfa 2013

Other exciting pieces were made by the ffloc collective as well as Wendy Leah Dawson, Alan Whitfield and Rebecca Gould. The top floor was taken over by many different artists, using a refreshing mixture of materials in their work. There were cyanotypes by Susan Liddle and The Way to Blue’s Sarah Middleton and paintings by Judith Samuel amongst others.

Thanks to all who visited 26 Augusta Street during September, to see the evolving displays and artwork. Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
Haus of Helfa

entrance to 26 Augusta Street, Llandudno

We had an excellent time in Llandudno for this year’s Helfa Gelf, (North Wales Arts Trail). We were lucky enough to be invited to join a group of artists showing work in the Haus of Helfa at 26 Augusta Street. This semi-derelict, four floor building in the centre of town, was taken over as a temporary exhibition and installation space, open every weekend in September.

geometric fruit in a wooden cornucopia

Happily, it coincided with the fab Llandudno Arts Festival Number One, or Llawn01 which took place on 20/21/22 September this year. Being part of this festival, we were asked to use the themes of Victorian, Seaside and Disco, in creating our pop-up shop, gallery space and studio set-up.

pop-up shop and art exhibition

So, we put our own twist on the Victorian theme, creating a coffee-table fernery, spoon-carving grotto and vintage shop counter / bar area, topped with domed glass cloches and display stands.

Berlin-style shop counter and bar stools

bay window filled with aromatic wood-wool, stool and disco ball

As the building was in the middle of being renovated, the walls hadn’t been plastered yet. They were a patchwork jigsaw of exposed brick, complemented by the bare floorboards. The space had been stripped right back, leaving a neutral, raw backdrop for our work.

wooden sculpture in an old, brick building in Llandudno

The rickety old staircase had recently been replaced, and we were invited to incorporate the old bannister spindles from the building into work made specifically for Llawn01.

picture frames suspended from wide, black ribbon against a brick wall

Most of them became Cornucopia, a large, shell-like structure, filled with our Lo-res fruit. The rest became podiums for tiny carved heads of the former (imagined) visitors to the building, which used to be an RAF club.

five, wooden pitch pine spindles with coloured, carved ends

Being blessed with a large floor area, we were able to use one of the open-plan rooms (where the bar used to be) for a studio, and started Low-Res Still Life No.1, a large painting inspired by the 17th Century Dutch artists’ ontbijtjes, or breakfast pieces.

Painting 'Low-res Still Life No.1' on a large canvas

As we were just around the corner, from the excellent Mostyn Art Gallery, it was super convenient to take part in the creative Ffair Feranda, (Veranda Fair) on Sunday 22nd. We made rubber-band powered Art Crabs who held felt-tip pens in their claws, which were made from wooden spoons. We invited people to use them to create abstract art. Hope there’s a Llawn02 next year!
jen 

wooden, mechanical drawing crabs and starfish

We were at:

HAUS of HELFA
26 Augusta Street
Llandudno
Conwy
LL30 2AE

Llawn (Facebook)
Llawn (Twitter)

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