Art in Salford at Christmas

I know, I know, it’s only the middle of November, but with the Christmas Markets in Manchester open and Zippy Claus sat proudly outside the town hall it means that time of year is well and truly upon us. I’ve noticed that as we’ve settled firmly into the recession there has been a marked return to handmade, individual items and an increase of interest in various arts & craft style fairs. It seems I get a couple of emails about various events selling art/craft/design/prints along side regular vintage fairs each month. With, it seems quality prevailing and you only have to spend 10 minutes (well if you can get away that fast) on Etsy or Folksy to see that there’s a thriving market for people who want something unique or limited, something a bit different.

Christmas Markets

So as I mentioned it’s the middle of November and I’ve already had no less than 3 invites to Christmas fairs/sales in Salford, all within spitting distance of each other. First up is The Casket Works Open Studios event atCow Lane, Salford, M5 4NB on this weekend Friday 23rd (6-9pm) & Saturday 24th November (11am-5pm). Featuring Hot Bed Press with their annual Under The Bed Sale of prints between £3 – £50, and the launch of this years 20:20 Print Exchange, Cow Lane Studios and Suite Studios, there’s bound to be something to tickle your fancy, I hear there might even be a mince pie and some vino too…
Next up is Islington Mill‘s annual Christmas At The Mill Thursday 29th November from 4-9pm, just across the way from The Casket Works,  on James Street, Salford M3 5HW. “The Mill’s residents will be offering range of beautiful, limited edition pieces, from ceramics and jewellery, to photography and printmaking. As well as the wide range of crafts on sale, there will also be a feast of festive favourite for you to enjoy. Mulled wine, homemade soup and mince pies are all on the menu, plus enchanting sounds from members of the BBC Philharmonic. Making Christmas at The Mill the perfect winter evening warmer”.
I really enjoyed the Mill’s Christmas Fair last year, sampling some tasty food as well as picking up some awesome Pantone flavoured Christmas cards made by Raw.

Christmas By Colour – by Raw

Last but not least Salford Museum & Gallery, on Salford Crescent right next to the University is having a Victorian Christmas with Father Christmas, a craft fair full of handmade gifts,  Music, craft activities to name a few – Saturday 1st & Sunday 2nd December 1-4pm. Their cafe also has some very, very fine cakes to sample if you get the chance.

Vaseline Etching Masterclass At Hot Bed Press

It’s taken me a while to get around to writing this up, back on a chilly December evening, upwards of 30 people gathered at Salford’s Hot Bed Press printing studios for a demonstration and introduction to the wonders of ‘Vaseline etching’. Led by Martin Kochany, vaseline etch is a method devised by Martin, using vaseline (or any other brand petrolium jelly) to ‘stop out’ the acid used during the etching process.

Martin Kochany introducing vaseline etching

During the demonstration, he showed the different methods of using the vaseline, but first stressed the importance of aquatinting the plate first – this ensures that the metal plate you’re using has a bitten or uneven surface – something for the vaseline to cling to, if you use an untreated plate, the vaseline will not adhere to the surface. The first method was painting the vaseline on to the plate can create a painterly, soft strokes. But for me the unexpected and exciting news was that you can also incorporate photographic imagery via a silkscreen, including layering multiple images.

Using a photoscreen

Here you can see the image that Martin created in rapid speed drawn with a paint brush

Print with vaseline painted on with a brush

And here you can see what the image applied via the photo screen looks like

Print from photo screen

Both methods have really nice qualities, and the demonstration left me really excited and buzzing with ideas to take my etchings in a totally new direction.

The next Masterclass at Hot Bed Press is ‘The Book as Art’ on 7th February, for more info click here

Resolutley resolved…

… to have a better year than the last. Although most people I know say this, 2011 seemed to be a pretty depressing year all round (more recession, riots, even more crappy weather). I managed to start the year with a bang of the wrong sort, my hard drive that stores my photos went kaput and I lost about 6 months of photos that weren’t backed up – there’s a slither of a chance that a professional company can retrieve the data, but it will be costly.

So resolution 1.  to do a back up on a weekly basis – a new back up system that creates and stores 2 copies of everything on separate drives is on it’s way and an important lesson learned the very hard way.

2. Print more often and master my craft

Adana Press

Last year one of my resolutions was to spend more time in the print studio, I went on a letter press course, took part in a book fair and the 20:20 print exchange. Taking part in the print exchange introduced me to several print techniques I’d not tried before, so I’m hoping that Hot Bed Press will be re-running their solar plate etch course as well as experimenting more freely.

3. Read more often


This is one that crops up year after year, mainly as I always feel like I never have enough time to read, always buy new books (a couple a month at least, every month) and have ever growing piles. Also we haven’t had a ‘beach’ holiday for a couple of years and that seems to be the only time I make a dent in the bag log. Towards the end of 2011, I set a challenge to read a selection of books before the end of the year, and whilst I didn’t finish all of them, I read more than I would have normally. So in 2012 I’m going to aim to read 2 books a month, picking each 2 at the start.

4. Get back into film photography

Lomo Store

My film photography took a sharp nose dive this past year, in part to a my batch of B&W processing chemicals going off, which I haven’t had time/money to replace and with LCE in Manchester closing their labs making colour processing, especially medium format a suddenly pricier hobby. However Lomo have opened a store in Manchester, and although I probably wont be buying equipment from there, I’m hoping there will be an increase in demand for fairly priced processing that doesn’t involve posting across the Pennine’s (although how anyone will beat LCE’s £3 per film dev only, I don’t know). In addition to that, I also want to get back into printing – there’s a studio in Salford near Hot Bed Press that has a darkroom for hire, when I can get a satisfactory amount of photos to print hopefully I’ll be able to get in there.

5. Knitting & crafting

Knit One

about 18 months ago I taught myself how to knit and joined a knitting & crafting club with some friends, however I got more interested in my cross stitching than knitting and so I never got further than a scarf. This year I hope to progress to something involving a pattern and a few different stitches.

6. Finally, regular & prompt blogging. So often I start a blog post, get distracted, or hung up on .. stuff that I end up finishing blog posts weeks after an event I’m writing about, or end up getting bored of it. So I’m setting myself a target to do my write ups within 2 days of an event, as the information be fresh in my mind and I also really enjoyed the October wordpress post a day challenge that aims to get people writing regularly and concentrating on quantity over quality (odd concept but it works).

Book Fair Business

So today was the day of the 6th Annual Manchester Artists’ Book Fair. I’m afraid i didn’t get there as bright and early as planned, as costume buying in town took slightly longer than expected, but once I got there it was busy. So busy in fact that it took me several goes to get around to looking at everything. Along side the various styles of Artists’ books (and there was every sort you could imagine, and then some), there were also zines, cards, posters, prints, paper and other book making materials as well as a series of demonstrations (letter press and marbling to name a couple) and talks. I was selling my etching book(let) San Francisco Series [Black]  on the Hot Bed Bookstars stall which was selling the work of five members from the print studios. To sum it up, I didn’t sell anything but the other members sold a few pieces and I’m not sure whether the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair being on at the same time was a help or a hindrance to visitor numbers and sales.

I also bought a couple of items, namely a cute pin badge by Caroline Pratt – who does some seriously awesome ‘abstract forest’ prints as well and this card by Samuel Horsley – i love the sad expression

Sad Minotaur

another artist who stood out for me was Charlotte Vallance who had an array of illustrated pieces based on travel that I found particularly inspiring. Check out some of the links above for more info

Round Up

I’ve had a bit of a weird week. At the beginning of the week we had 2 letters on one day to someone who definitely doesn’t live here – which, being suspicious as I am, I opened to find out who they were from to return them and more importantly to ensure it wasn’t for some fraudster. When we first moved here, we had a spate of letters for what turned out to be someone who had defaulted on a loan, we’d been just returning to sender then eventually get one addressed to the owner which was threatening to send the bailiffs round. About 6 months after than we also had someone who gave our address to the police when stopped. So I have absolutely no qualms about opening mail addressed to my house, as it’s nice to know if someone’s going to come round threatening to take all your worldly possessions.

Anyway, the 2 letters were both for someone who has apparently moved to my house unbeknownst to me and my other half and now his doctors are de-registering him – quite simple to post that one back then. Then this morning I get an email from, some kind lady called Candace has sent me a $100 Amazon gift card. Very nice, except it’s not for me, it’s for the rather dim American lady who shares my name and is quite insistent that my email address is hers, which it isn’t as Google kindly point out it doesn’t matter what punctuation you use all emails lead to mine!

Of course now I have to go through the rig amoral of contacting Amazon to ‘give it back’ because I’m not busy enough. Then to top it right off, we get a birthday card through the post. Not for us of course, but for masta (sic) ethan xxx (you can tell it’s a card right off the bat due to the generic hallmark envelope) from all his dear friends at the local church. Yes, your dear, dear Church friends who apparently don’t even know where you live!

On the upside of today, getting everything sorted for the Book Fair tomorrow was pretty smooth, table toppers ironed, pinned, tables & chairs arranged, thanks to a fantastic team of people from Hot Bed Press – the finished result:


Busy week

So only half way through my post a day for October and spectacularly failed with no posts all weekend. whilst I appreciate that the point of the exercise is to get you writing often, quantity over quality if you will, I couldn’t bring myself to write a load of guff just for the sake of writing. I spent most of the weekend reading, processing photos and putting together my books for the Artists’ Book Fair this coming weekend (final touches still under way). In true Britishness I feel the need to comment on the weather. it has really turned cold the last couple of days, as I sit here under a blanket with a hot water bottle on my double socked feet, there doesn’t seem to be enough hot chocolate too warm me from the inside.

Artists’ Books

Today I’ve been pretty busy, after work I offered to drop my other half and friends in town for a gig, the traffic seemed worse than usual (possibly down to the Mancunian way being shut) and then straight to Hot Bed Press for my usual Thursday night printing fun. However, as it’s the The 6th Manchester Artists’ Book Fair next week and I’m not only (hoping) to sell some of my books, but also helping with the setting up and stall manning etc on the day, there was also a mini meeting about that at the print studios. That, along with printing a couple of more copies, plus the ever looming deadline for the 20:20 Print Exchange that I’m also participating in has kept me very busy tonight.

I still have to ‘make’ my books, the basic print is done, but there’s folding and fiddly stuff to finish, but here’s a sneak peak of what I’m making. It’s a series of etchings made from my travels in the USA. I made a prior version for the Tsunami Appeal Print Sale held at Common bar earlier this year and decided to go ahead and make more.

Etching Booklet

As well as the book fair, the afore mentioned 20:20 print exchange deadline is the week after, I have to produce an edition of 25 prints, which is harder than it sounds when you only have approx 3 hours a week of studio access – all it takes is a couple of bad weeks where stuff goes wrong to throw you well off course!

I should be able to get the 6 or 7 needed to finish the edition done next Thursday, but will be aiming to get their early to make sure! This is the print I’ve produced, based on some Roman ruins

20:20 Print Exchange

I’m getting quite excited as these 2 projects are the 1st two I’ve really got stuck into in years.


Ps you can check out last years prints from the exchange at Hot Bed Press’ Flickr Page

On Film

Ok so yesterday i started working on my back log of B&W film waiting to be developed (roll 1 of 5), only managing 1 roll before bed. And the images on it didn’t look too promising, a couple of ok, but mostly seemed under exposed / developed, but luckily it wasn’t ‘important’ stuff, just some experimental double/triple exposure stuff in the park near my house.

On film


Which reminds me, I saw a new bird at the pond yesterday morning, but wasn’t fast enough to catch a decent photo of it – but it looked like a crane or an egret. Either way it was gone by lunch time when the husband headed out with his camera.

Nothing else exciting happened today, apart from my printing ink arriving from Intaglio Printmakers in London (yay), and being summoned for jury service – (partial yay), second time in 5 years. So I guess I know what to expect, but it looks like i’ll be there in the run up to Christmas, which is bad for several reasons – proximity to Christmas markets, leading to money spent & gluewein consumed at said Christmas Markets in the evenings afterwards (all this assuming I get put on ‘normal’ cases that don’t involve being locked up in a hotel or something crazy).


Good News

ok so this posting every day is harder than it looks. Today I got some good news: I’ll be selling some of my print books (more booklet than book) at the 6th Manchester Artists’ Book Fair, later this month on the Hot Bed Press stand. A photo of my book is also being used in the leaflet type thing. I’ll know more next week but I’m getting excited now, I have about 13 copies of the book printed, that then need to be folded and fastened and I intend to have an edition of 30 – so need to get printing some more and fast.

Here’s a sneak preview of what they will look like…