Tag Archives: BCTF

A Secret Garden

Newlands Valley , the garden in Spring

March is upon us; the wheel is turning again, creaking at first as the brave new buds appear but before you know it we’ll be rushing headlong towards summer and taking it all for granted. Do you ever wish you could slow it down, press pause at a certain point; the first snowdrops maybe, or bluebell time? In melancholy mood I want to savour every moment, my 50th spring; when you put it like that each new season has a greater value – how many times will I see the wild garlic or the willow flowers?-  and I know I’m so lucky to live in a place where those seasonal signposts are a daily joy. My dad recently told my brother he had lost his feeling for where he was in the year, unsure if it was snowdrop time yet, since moving from the farm to the town and so spending less time outside. As for me, I’ve been in the next door garden this week, discovering the Victorian “Barley Twist” edges of the lawn which I doubt have been seen for years under the overgrown borders and tumbled rockeries. The garden isn’t mine, it has strange plants that I don’t recognise and it makes me miss “home” and my own lost garden again, but it’s a haven and I’m glad of it. I’m never happier than when I’m lost in a garden.

reflection , design by Kim Tillyer

Apart from my occasional trips in to the garden, to gather sticks or hack through the undergrowth, I’ve been busy with all sorts of odd BCTF preparations, whilst wrestling with guilt trips about my lack of a regular income. I call myself so many mean names before I’ve even got out of bed that it’s not surprising confidence is low… but so far I’m managing to meet all the targets I’ve set for myself, new work is happening every day, spread sheets, catalogues and even the odd drawing are being created and I’m starting to really look forward to April.

polar bear lantern by Kim Tillyer

One useful thing I discovered whilst filling in last month’s sections of The Makers Business Toolkit planner was that many of the people who buy from me via my Etsy shop or Facebook are people who have followed Witchmountain in one way or another for a long time. I really love that I feel as though I’ve known some of you for years, what would I do without you?! But, in trying to train myself to be more businesslike, I realise that I need to reach new people too; BCTF will hopefully do that but I wonder how else to do it? I’ve made a little survey just for fun and it would be great if you could take the time to fill it in , it’s multiple choice, anonymous  and very quick. Thank you.

SURVEY

display by Kim Tillyer

Now the night has crept upon me and the fire has got low, it’s time to think about sleeping and talk to the cat about her plans for the evening; it’s raining outside but I don’t want waking up at 4am by beast scratching at the bedroom door like a demon.

kitchen sink drama

Reading: “Dip” by Andrew FusekPeters Listening To: “Dead in the Boot” elbow

Website: Wooden-boy the arty adventures of musician Sycamore Sykes, including my favourite greetings card of the moment for book lovers and introverts everywhere 🙂

British Craft Trade Fair 2016

Newlands Valley blossom

I feel as though I’ve been caught in a time warp, it doesn’t seem possible that just a week ago I was setting off across the country, full of nerves and excitement, my poor old car packed to the roof with work and stand props. The British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate has been a background preoccupation and worry for the past 2 years  (ever since I had to postpone taking part due to the house trauma) and it seems unreal that it’s now over and actually the real work is only just beginning. I imagine I’m feeling a little bit like a couple returning from their expensive wedding and honeymoon; so much planning and heaps of money just for one special event but it’s what happens next that really matters. I had a fantastic time pretending to be Agatha Christie in the Old Swan but it feels so good to be back on the mountain after an emotional return to North Yorkshire. We are a little behind with the seasons, Hawthorne and Sycamore buds are still only just emerging, Daffodils are at their Wordsworthian peak with Bluebell spears poised to take their place. It all has the air of something about to burst… a little sunny nudge and the whole thing will be freewheeling towards summer abundance.

setting up at British Craft Trade Fair

There is so much I want to say about the experience of BCTF, I haven’t yet worked out exactly how much it cost but I will let you know in a future post because I think might be really useful if anyone was thinking of doing a trade show. I really wish I had done it sooner… within a year or two of graduating, mostly because it has been a really useful lesson in planning, pricing, logistics and PR. It was a massive relief that the calico panels fitted the space (after a tiny adjustment to the wooden rods with a borrowed hacksaw) and everything looked almost as I had imagined it. I was envious of some of the more minimalist stands, they looked so slick and professional but overall I was very happy and relieved. It took 3 hours to set up and one to break it all down again!

Kim Tillyer stand N27 British Trade Craft Fair 2016

My glamorous and wonderful assistant Sara was totally invaluable. I really couldn’t have done it without her (partly because my hips kept seizing up so I could hardly move after 7 hours of standing with a clip board). Sara kept me straight when I drifted in to typical artist “down talk”, reminding me that the work was was unique and perfectionist not experimental and “hit and miss”; she also correctly predicted the winner of the “Wow Factor” award, another CCAD graduate Joanna Coupland .We met so many interesting people and agreed that being a buyer or a trend forecaster must be a great job.

Sara Tillyer Smith at British Trade Craft Fair

The list of artists and makers that we met and whose work we fell in love with is too long to mention, I’ll list a few at the end, but the whole event reinforced my passionate belief that the skills and talents of these people should be celebrated and nurtured. Many artists and makers rely on the sale of cards for example, while they wait for the bigger pieces to sell, galleries too, which is why the Just a Card campaign is such a good idea. We don’t need a world full of mass produced cheap crap, we need fewer but more beautifully made things and an education system that values the arts and the contribution art and craft makes to society.

greetings card display

The wall I was most pleased with was my card wall with embroidered details and a quote from Haruki Murakami. I love receiving real handwritten letters (nice ones not upsetting ones) and it seems that the greetings card is not dead; people still spend money on lovely cards to keep or send.  I was hoping the show would push me in one direction or another but in the end there was interest in ALL the products from original framed pieces to mugs and velvet cushions so after this I’m off to continue following up the contacts I made, evaluating all the feedback and making a start on some new cyanotypes and drawings.

witchmountain stand N27

Thank you so much to everyone who visited the stand or sent good wishes from afar. It’s been wonderful to meet so many people and talk non stop for 4 days – a complete contrast to where I sit now, listening to the buzzards circling above the valley… and an owl just then… oh and the sun is just breaking through.

Some of my my lovely stand neighbours :

Melissa Yarlett– gorgeous jewellery inspired by mosses and lichens             Stephanie Hopkins – copper bowls and jewellery ( award winner at the show)  Holly Argyll – Bright, quirky illustrations on textiles and giftware                       Katie Edwards – Fellow member of Cumbria Printmakers

“Hang up your chairs to better sweep, Clear the floor to dance…”

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It is a lovely feeling to clear the table and tidy up at the end of a long project. Apart from a few last minute finishing off jobs, yet another lost delivery (hint to van  drivers…use a map not satnav when looking for barns in the middle of nowhere) and a painfully slow internet, I’m all packed and ready to set up for BCTF on Saturday. Ok, we have run out of heating oil, I melted my printer, blew up the hoover and the power’s due to go off at any minute but it still feels good to be able to say, “I’m ready… as ready as I’ll ever be”. The kettle is on the stove and I’m going to have a gallon of tea and maybe even make some scones for old times sake (before the power goes off!).

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On Friday I’ll be heading back to North Yorkshire for the first time in over a year, hoping it feels more friendly than when I left it. It will also be the first time I’ve spent much time in Harrogate since I lived there when I first left home, for a rather disastrous foundation year at Harrogate School of Art. Sara is coming up to be my assistant so we are combining it with a kind of belated/early birthday treat and staying in the hotel that Agatha Christie stayed in when she went missing in 1926. Originally I was going to camp in the van on the showground but decided to make a holiday of it. I hope they let me in with a ruck sack as I seem to have mislaid all my monogrammed luggage and hatboxes.

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Preparing for this event has been an all consuming preoccupation since I first had to postpone taking part last year but, even if it’s not a huge financial success, I do feel as though I’ve learnt so much from it already and it has certainly focused the way I work. No doubt I will come back next week with plenty of new ideas and information and it will certainly make a change from sitting here watching the woodpeckers and chatting to the cat. One of the things I’ve discovered is that many of the odd things I have needed can be found and supplied by small quirky, local shops and businesses and I’ve really made an effort to do this, particularly following the floods of 2015.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’m currently multi tasking by sitting on hold to an EE call centre who are trying to work out why the internet keeps going off… they don’t believe me when I tell them it’s because the wire from Braithwaite keeps getting wet.  I will let you know how BCTF went next time I write and if  you’re visiting the show don’t forget I’ll be on stand N27…also Good Luck to all the other amazing artists and crafts people taking part, I hope it’s a big success.

 

 

 

 

Are we there yet?

Crummock  Water from Low Fell

Well on Tuesday I bought a beautiful fountain pen in Cockermouth and I’ve just spent ages uploading all these pictures for you but suddenly I’m lost for words again; I’m drinking tea and looking at that big sky. Im sorry to tell you this, now that it’s the Easter holidays and it’s raining again, but last week was probably the most perfect week ever in the Lake District. Sara and I wore our little legs even shorter with some wonderful adventures… it’s much easier to walk further when you have a companion to share sandwiches with at the top. We discussed the amazing human ability to forget how it felt to be exhausted to pieces once faced with the view from the summit … a bit like childbirth! We also talked about the contrast between Sara’s city life in Bristol and our love of this special landscape; both feeling a little discontented … what is it you miss out on in each place? Could you swap city life for a rural one or vice versa?

the summit of Hindscarth

I loved taking a week away from normal concerns and BCTF panic, to enjoy just being here in the Lake District, feeling lucky despite all the bad luck and upheaval. We climbed three Fells, Hindscarth, Maidenmoor and Low Fell, used my birthday voucher to have a swim and fantastic bone crunching massage at Armathwaite Hall (where we also spotted the Alpacaly alpacas  doing rolypoly’s under the trees)  and cycled to Keswick on unsuitable bicycles to do the shopping (so much more stylish to cycle in the sunshine with a dress on and an aubergine in your basket than to charge around in lycra with serious intent).

colourofspring copyAnd now it’s back to work with less than three weeks before Harrogate and the trade fair. Luckily the sun left as soon as Sara went back to Bristol and even more luckily I was able to find almost all of the hooks and bits and bobs that I need for my stand when I went to Cockermouth… I’d searched in the giant B&Q in Penrith and various other shops until eventually finding the perfect things in the wonderful JB Banks  .It may seem like an odd recommendation but if you’re ever in the Lakes don’t miss this shop; it’s fabulous and has a museum at the back which I keep forgetting to look in.

Spring in Newlands Valley

So Spring has sprung, the air smells good and all is well… ah, apart from the fact that I smashed one of my vases while trying to photograph it today, I have a sore thumb from folding and stapling catalogues, all the printing I did yesterday went wrong and the cat has taken to sleeping up a 7 foot holly tree, perched on a twig like the Cheshire cat (only with a resentful look instead of a grin). I think I’m making her nervous.

preparations for BCTF

The next three weeks are going to be hectic for me and very different as today is also Rupert’s last day working at Carlton Outdoor Education Centre. For the past year he has driven to the North East at the crack of dawn every Monday and pretty much lived in the van all week; but he’s got a new job here now, within cycling distance, so life should be easier for him and I’ll have to become a little less feral and learn to live with people again! (I talk so little during the week that I almost forget how at the weekends and a whole day of talking gives me hiccups so Harrogate should be fun!). Fingers crossed for more days like last week’s to share.

Derwentwater from Maidenmoor

Here I am heading up the valley on a small bicycle with the sun in my eyes. And here is a quote that I think is relevant to the whole BCTF preparation process, because whatever happens I have learnt a lot and after all, thats what we’re here for isn’t it, to learn and experience and breathe in the air? Have a very happy Easter.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
― Ernest Hemingway

cycling in Newlands Valley

Reading:  Various terms and conditions and a Maigret mystery. Listening to: David Grey “Sell Sell Sell” Watching:- Rare that I watch TV but “The A Word” was filmed right here and it’s pretty good so far.

Catching the Sky

blue sky in Keswick

Today the wind dropped and the day was reasonably dry and warm so I’ve just come in from an hour of stick collecting and branch cutting (laying a hedge to let in more light hopefully). Today is Imbolc… the first day of spring, Groundhog Day or St. Brigid’s Day and so, good weather and wood collecting are not necessarily a good thing. The Cailleach collects the rest of her winter fire wood at Imbolc if she intends to make the season last a good while longer (bad weather on this day was seen as a sign that the Cailleach was asleep and that winter would soon be over). Anyway, it was good to be busy outside, it was still light at five, the snowdrops have emerged and as you can see I’ve been catching blue sky in bottles this week to save for a rainy day!

bird house in Buttermere

On Sunday I discovered this little home in a tree on the side of Buttermere; I’m not sure if it had been washed there by the floods or if it fell from higher up but it looked rather sad and in need of a new roof. We walked around the lake, which I’d never done before. The path goes through a tunnel in the rock at one point and it was all very quiet and beautiful; a dusting of snow on the tops and the lake very still and green with orange bracken slopes, bright green moss and young silver birches with pink and white bark –  quite a colour scheme despite the late winter gloom.

Meanwhile in my “studio” the colour scheme is very blue and white as I continue to plan what to take to BCFT in April. I bought some lovely Pink Pig sketchbooks and have been printing and embroidering covers for them on heavy calico. I was so pleased and flattered when they were spotted by the company on Twitter; they were really complimentary which is always such a nice thing when you’re working in isolation in a barn and have no one to get feedback from except the cat!

a busy desk

The days are racing on and by the time I’ve finished typing this it will already be almost halfway through another week and only four days before I pick a winner for the giveaway in the last post… so if you haven’t left a comment there’s still time and if you have then thank you ( and good luck).

embroidered sketchbooks

This is only a short offering today, I have to try and finish designing the catalogue and price list I’m making so that I can post it out to the galleries who have already requested one. I have to continue with product development and working out prices and terms and conditions and how to stick my stand together and most importantly I have to feed the stove because its getting dark and cold now and I need a cozy nest to work or I just huddle and go sleepy like a bear in a cave hoping to hibernate. The wind is picking up again so maybe the Cailleach is stirring…

Buttermere tunnel

 

A year can fly…

Derwent water after the floods

This past weekend marked a year since the first night in our new home in Newlands Valley; the anniversary has so many emotions attached to it that it was a roller coaster of feelings and memories . The snow had given way to warm rain and greyness so Sunday’s walk was along the shores of Derwent Water, where this storm damaged jetty appealed to my introspective mood… a metaphor for life with its wild ups and downs, rakish camber and, well … the obvious question where is it heading and where do you go when you reach the end? I lay awake for hours the other night with so much I wanted to say about this year and how I got here but the rapid approach of BCTF and the fact that for the moment this blog serves as my website, not just a confessional, means I’m more aware than ever of the need to keep a stiff upper lip, appear positive and not get on my soap box too often. However, just for today let me remind you of what I had to leave behind…

Moorside House Snilesworth Moor in happier times - owned by the evil Hortons of Snilesworth Lodge

…not just a house but a home, a garden, a history, a way of life, family, friends and belonging to a landscape. Congratulations to all those involved for living with your consciences for a year and especially Mr Toby Horton who is currently adding to his community spirited portfolio by failing to supply residents of Ingleby Greenhow with reliable running water from the private water supply he owns; some things never change.

And so the only thing to do is keep on looking forwards, treating others with the kindness and compassion you’d hope for yourself and trying to negotiate the slippery pier without falling in too soon.

House drawing by Kim Tillyer

Last week I received the not unexpected news that the gallery in Keswick were having to make staff cuts following the floods,  and so my year in the Lake District ends as it began, with a search for work and security whilst also throwing myself more wholeheartedly than ever into a more professional approach to my artwork. I’ve really enjoyed my time at Northern Lights Gallery and I’m so sad it’s had to end, not to mention a little worried. I think it is important that people realise just how seriously affected many people have been, and will continue to be, by the floods, not just businesses that actually flooded but also those who are suffering from the road closures and drop in visitor numbers. It’s an ongoing thing and sadly so many small galleries and creative businesses  in particular seem to have been hit over the important Christmas period. Independent galleries are vital in supporting many other small businesses, providing a shop window for all those artists and makers slaving away in leaky studios and cluttered kitchen tables; they also make our towns more attractive and uplifting. So here is my appeal… if you can, please support small galleries and independent businesses, don’t go in and ask for the artist’s website address so you can try and get it cheaper, don’t pick up a greetings card to jot down a name and then walk out without even having the grace to part with the £3 for the card ( it happens ) and if you have a moment have a look at this from Snug Gallery in Hebbden Bridge.

Magic tent by Kim Tilyer vases by Kim Tillyer

Well, the kettle on the stove is about to boil so I really need to be brave, make a pot of tea and make a start on cobbling together my stand design; it will involve cutting and measuring and is bound to end in tears which is why I’ve spent all day avoiding it!

Oh my goodness! I nearly deleted this whole post by accident just then, what a fright. Just time to say THANK YOU yet again for reading, commenting and being generally lovely. To celebrate my first year in the Lake District I’m going to do a long overdue giveaway. If you’d like to be entered in the draw to win a pair of  mugs, embroidered lavender sachet, bear pincushion and various other design samples,  just leave a comment – and share this post on Facebook or Twitter if you can. I’ll pick a winner on February 6th… the last day I spent in North Yorkshire and my parent’s wedding anniversary. Good luck x

witchmountain anniversary giveaway

Listening to:  Kaleidophonica by Spiro ( perfect soundtrack for driving around the mountains )

Looking at the Big Skies

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Already the wild and windy moors are starting to hint at Autumn and I’m tucked up in my kitchen with the stove on and “Mother Earth” by Underworld teasing me from the radio “6mix”… its Friday night why aren’t you dancing? Well actually that’s one of the perks of living alone in the middle of nowhere… no one can see me or complain about the volume.

I have lots of exciting news to tell you since the last few tragic tales of woe. Firstly we returned to the Lakes to try and erase the memory of that awful bike ride. I’ve been reading “Rogue Herries” by Hugh Walpole and wanted to see what Stye Head ( Styhead?) was like in real life. Well it was wonderful and despite threats of hurricanes it was a perfect day … the kind of skies that remind me of theatre lighting; much more atmospheric than perfect blue days don’t you think. Here is Wasdale in the spotlight before we turned away and headed up to Sprinkling Tarn and the way down via Grains Gill ( ? ) .

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Back home on my own imaginary mountain I had been making some new cyanotypes on some gorgeous off cuts of thick handmade water colour paper that my dad gave me. The paper is so lovely that these will have to be framed carefully to make sure none of the texture and rough edges are lost behind mounts. I really enjoyed making these and like the odd, slightly dreamlike, unfinished white cottage; although part of me wants to do something else to them…stitch maybe…hmmm. My favourite is the one with the willow dome.

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And so, carried away with blue and the idea of home…

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…Until the sunshine and heat of July gave way to wet, grey August and premature thoughts of log stacks and winter nesting … or should that be hibernation?

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Anyway the main news is that I have done a slightly mad thing and got myself a stand at next April’s BCTF in Harrogate. I now have 7 months to panic and worry but at least I have something to aim for and I wish I’d done it years ago when I was less jaded and more optimistic! I have exactly no pennies to invest in product development but I’m going to take a risk, give it one more big chance before retraining as a plumber or drystone waller… I’m lucky to have some lovely friends who are full of good advice and experience so we’ll see what happens I guess.

IMG_1250People were very kind on Facebook and over 1,000 lovely people now follow my page which meant I gave away one of my needle felt bears. He jetted off to the USA last week leaving these two characters on the Etsy shop shelf.

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Now I really should turn this music down and head off up the apples and pears, I’m sure I’ve forgotten to tell you something; must write more often x

Reading: “Rogue Herries” Hugh Walpole  Listening To:   “Confessions of a Dancer”  Doorly and “Lily” Kate Bush …come on, who got me a ticket? Hey?