Running challenges for that group is always interesting. We all work in very different ways and we pretty much know how we want to work, so there's no good setting a challenge that requires people to work in a specific way. Experimenting is one thing; making work is another.
The challenge was a Scavenger Hunt. Each person had to bring along:
a second-hand piece of paper - i.e. paper that has been used for something else, by someone else (not you). It can be newsprint, advertising, an envelope from a letter, a page from a magazine... whatever you like.
2. something from a plant - leaves, flowers, roots, twigs, fruit, tea leaves.... use your imagination! It has to have come fairly directly from a plant, without much processing - mulberry leaves are fine, mulberry paper isn't. You don't necessarily have to incorporate it into your work, but you do need to use it in making the work.
3. words - three words from your life during these three weeks, i.e a book title you've read during the time, a sign you've seen, a headline... anything from these three weeks. Be prepared to explain!
4. something, anything, blue
5. three embellishments: beads, buttons, metallic elements, small samples or embroidery, stamping ... to become part of your work. It doesn't have to be three of the same thing.
6. an insect. Any insect. (No, spiders are not insects.) This can be a picture, a fabric, an embroidery, a three-D model, a stamp, a real insect....
7. something long and thin. Yarn, ribbon, braid, paper strips, embroidery thread.....
The idea was to make something from your elements on the day, in whatever way you like to work. A finished item or a part of something else...
I brought along used envelopes, a twig, the words "dancing in silence", blue card, dragonfly and gold brads, a dragonfly punch and some wire. I also grabbed some net yarn that Helen was trying to rehome.
The cover was a monoprint from a glass board, using acrylic paints and drying retarder. I marked the paper size and painted quickly on the plate in blue, black and white paint, mixing the colours a little on the plate. Then I printed, burnishing with my fingers and a spoon. I touched up a couple of areas on the print while the paint was still wet.
I made the envelopes into book covers, with the patterned side out. I added a layer of gesso, which, I was told, can make the blue stand out more.
I'm not sure it did, but it was an interesting effect, especially once I added a layer of folded blue card inside them. I made some signatures and used more blue card as a concertina spine. Helen, who had nothing to do, sewed the booklets into the spine with a simple pamphlet stitch.
I also made an envelope as a place for more private things.
I added some words from a song by Leonard Cohen that seemed particularly resonant.
I'm really happy with how this one turned out, which is unusual, since I'm usually not happy with things until a little time has passed!