New Skills – Nature Sculpt, Vinyl Cutting and Laser Cutting

I’ve been keeping my eyes open for opportunities to try out new skills and reignite my interest in older ones. When I was at secondary school and college much of the work that I did was tangible; drawing, print making, fashion designing and sewing, textiles. Since I graduated I have worked increasingly in digital and virtual. Don’t get me wrong, I love the skills in UX, design and project management that I have developed, but making, the experience of feeling it in your hands, interacting with the materials as they are shaped into something new is something I miss.

In the last month I have found some great chances to expand out my repertoire and try out things I’ve not done for an awfully long time.

The first two were short courses run by the Museum of Making Curator Daniel Martin (vinyl cutting), and the Silk Mill Maker-in-Residence Graeme Smith (using the laser cutter with InkScape).

Both took you through the basics of how to use the software and the hardware to create something to take away.

Vinyl cut acrylic designs
From the laser cutting I left with an upload of the software (which is OS and available here) and a phone stand made from laser ply. From the vinyl cutting lab I left with two printed acrylic sheets with designs on, one for my son and the other for my partner. In both cases I left with a good working knowledge about how to do the process myself, but more importantly with ideas about how I could apply them to my own creative development. Every Thursday evening at the Silk Mill is the Open Make. I am going to start going for the last few this month (December) and then again when the venue opens again on February 2016.

The last creative skill I tried again was linked in with the work that I completed for my Foundation studies in Art and Design. At the time I was fascinated with wrapping and revealing; ephemera, bodies, rope, clothing. It manifested itself in a number of ways. During one of the days I volunteered at DMAG the artist Jane Bevan ran a workshop based upon her own creative practice, one of foraging and developing unique pieces from her finds. I had gifted some peacock feathers to Andrea who included these in with the materials supplied by Jane herself. Andrea kindly invited me to participate in the workshop which drew about 15 other people, many of whom were practicing craft artisans as well.

Natural mobile from Jane Bevan workshop
I arrived late and only stayed an hour, but during the time managed to create an really eclectic mobile, incorporating wood, feathers, pine cones and copper wire, juxtaposed with a very bright, modern parcel tying string to create a nature mobile. It was lovely to connect with natural materials and remember making something beautiful from found objects. I recalled just how much I love being alone in nature, particularly by myself. The experience is something about being in the moment, seeing the light flickering, hearing the susurration of the plants and trees. Making something new from the natural environment changes it but evokes the experience found in nature and in some small way brings it back into the artificiality we now live within.

Notice Nature sky shot
Andrea has invited me to assist Jane in the creation of a number of vessels for the Inspired by Nature space at Derby Museum.  I’m hopeful I can work with Jane, incorporating some of my own ideas to compliment her own.

I’ll post some pictures here when I have completed the activity.




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