Monday 17 November 2008

Meet Julie Arkell

Well........ where do I begin!!!!! What a wonderful weekend Workshop I have just attended ~ organised by with the wonderful Julie Arkell.
There are quite a few photos here, as I wanted to share with you the complete creative process Julie took us on. I was a little shy to take a picture of her as soon as she started to talk, so this one is from a little later in the day ....... I just wanted to introduce her. She is dressed exquisitely, quirky and feminine. She dresses how I would love to dress but have'nt the nerve and I am also too fat....I would look a real fright but Julie, her style looks just right. She is a reflection of her beautiful art, all merging into a sweet, happy, patient, intelligent, romantic, quirky and interesting form.
So here we go ~ first for a human type creature, a ball for the head made from of scrunched newspaper, then another large ball for the body, held together with masking tape. Arms and limbs, lengths of scrunched paper held onto body with masking tape.

Coffee break.... some of Julie's beautiful work.

Brooches for sale £45 each.

The darlings....
Postcards for sale 50p each.

Back to creature ~ very crude shape.

Oh this is another I made, a bunny creature....

Oh yes and another...... a little disturbing maybe, with the arms and legs of foreign dolls.

More of Julie's precious work.....

I took this sneaky pic of her Jacket and scarf, the details of embroidery and little added handmade accessories are so lovely. I just wanted to stare!

Pile of newspapers and making tape.

Demonstration of how to layer the coat of newpaper strips and wall paper paste.

And here we go....
All of my pieces covered in one layer of strips of newspaper and paste (crumpy hands). There was 25 of us! Julie must have been exhausted.
That was basically it for the first day. Four creatures made and covered. I took some paste with me to the Hotel room and spent an hour or so, giving them a second layer but this time we were to use very old pages taken from paper backs, preferrably pre 1950's, which have that lovely foxing and

brown edges. I managed to do this and they dried over night on the radiator.
Sue...sitting next to me, went down the path of dolls heads on bird shapes!
Sunday was all about finishing off the second layer and thinking about how to decorate. When the pieces have dried (after the second layer) they are remarkably robust.
Julie takes a piece of paper and embroideres the eyes and mouth etc. and then applies this with paste. Tricky, very tricky!
Of course, you can't make clothes and decorate the pieces whilst they are wet, so alot of knitting went on and oooohhs and aaaaghs were to be heard, as ladies pulled out lovely vintage fabrics, wools, buttons etc. to dress their work.

Anyway the day came to an end and we had a 'show and tell'. Julie graciously picked every single piece up and made some lovely comment about it's creative path and how wonderful each and every one had turned out.

These pieces were made by Emily who is 16 years old.

A few other pieces, some nearly completed, some not.

I added this because the lady who made these left her knitting with her display, which was very apt.
Here is Julie commenting on each creature.

Here are three that I made, took the photo this evening, so please excuse picture quality. I used embroidery transfer as a layer on all three of these. I crocheted the ear hat and the other hat is a Innocent Smoothie Hat, just a perfect fit. The bunny has a very old doll's underskirt, stained and vintagy looking, so that matched perfectly too.

I will post more photos as I complete and rework these babies.

So happy with the weekend (as you can probably tell)!!!! It has given me lots of ideas of how I could incorporate this kind of medium into my own work. Julie's teaching methods are very genteel and encouraging and really you can't ask for more than that. Well I hope I have'nt gone on too much....thanks for stopping by.x

ps I made a mess of the link to the Light House Festive Flair Designer/Maker Fair on 6th December next, where one will have a stand! Here is the link (thanks Monda)x


Unknown said...

It looks like you had a fantastic weekend! Julie Arkells quirky style and sense seems to have rubbed off on everyone - all the creatures look great, can't wait to see how you finish yours :)




Love the quirky lil creatures/animals. She really is inspirartional and its great for the development of your own work.

I was checking out the Festive Flair info on their website and there was a little pic of your creative talents!! Very exciting felt proud to know you (In a blog world sense).

Enjoy soaking up memories of your weekend.

Sam x

Gina said...

So envious!!! What a brilliant w/e.

Michala Gyetvai (Kayla coo) said...

Hi Viv,
It looks like you had a fantastic time.
A perfect weekend..wish I could have been there.
Thank you so much for sharing.
Perhaps one day we should organize our own creative day with lots of coffee,tea and biscuits!

Teena Vallerine said...

Oh you lucky lucky thing! Thank you so much for sharing with those of us who haven't a hope of attending one of those amazing workshops. I have admired Julie Arkells work since I was a teenager myself - buying pink pyramids on Covent Garden market! t.xx

Nellie and Neo said...

Wow, that looks like it was a fantastic workshop. I'm inspired to make a paper doll myself now looking at those amazing photos :-)

Kitsch and Curious said...

I love the way your admiration for Julie Arkell just bubbles over! I don't blame you!

I only rediscovered her work recently. I used to love her stuff years ago, but didn't see much of it until earlier this year I saw the article about her in Selvedge magazine. Very inspirational...

x vInTaGe VioLeT x said...

wow wow WOW!!!
what a lovely post, sounds like a fantastic experience {very VERY jealous!!}

French Knots said...

Oh wow - what an amazing weekend, I'm total jealous!

Anonymous said...

looks like you had a heap of fun - reminds me of the weekend I spent doing the same thing - can I direct you to my post about it?

you may enjoy it!

Gigibird said...

I love how paper, masking tape and wallpaper paste are all easily available.
What a wonderful weekend.
It must have been fantastic to spend time with such a talented inspiration woman.
I would have studied her jacket as much as thee…..although I’m not sure I would adopt her ‘look’ –

Art4Sol said...

I look forward in seeing more...what fun! I've been tempted to buy her book.

Heloise said...

It sounds as if you had a great time. Look forward to seeing more photographs.

Victoria said...

This is so marvelous and looks like such fun, I would love to take a class like this. Thanks so much for sharing, it was really delightful! (I want to go try this, now!)

Maria-Thérèse ~ said...

That looks like so much fun!!
I've made a dragon using a similar method.

You have been tagged! (please do not worry if you don’t have time etc… Thanks!)

♥ visit me at

'fancypicnic' said...

Absolutely amazing, Viv - looks great fun, and so much creativity in one room.

Jackie said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it Viv.
I have mixed feelings about her..I saw her exhibition at the Platform Gallery a couple of years ago and didn't quite know how I felt about her work.
Its certainly very different and I can see the appeal. I want to go off and make a papier mache rabbit eared figure now.

trisha too said...

these are so much fun, i am SO glad i stumbled upon your post!

(your corsages are lovely, by the way . . .)


elena fiore said...

Many compliments for your creations. On my blog there is my first"Candy" (or Giveaway). If you give me your comment, there is many opportunity for win my art-journal (18 pages handmade). Until 13 december. I'm waiting on my blog. Ciao, elena

ArtPropelled said...

Great post! I have enjoyed reading about the Julie Arkell workshop, having read many magazines and books that feature her work. Looking forward to seeing your completed whimsies.

mimilove forever said...

Teehee! Sounds like you a had a ball missus! Looking forward to seeing more piccies of the mache menagerie! x;)

Lost in the Forest said...

I love Julie Arkells work! It looks like an amazing weekend with a great outcome :)

Pippa said...

In Stroud?! I wish I had known about it - I would have loved to have gone. It looks loads of fun!

Miss Robyn said...

I have only just discovered your blog and have been reading it over the weekend & just a week ago discovered Julie Arkell.. living in Australia, I don't have the opportunity to do a workshop with her.. so thanks tons for sharing this.. I want to have a go at making one.
And even her scarf! This has inspired me to pick up the knitting needles long forgotten and start knitting again.

Unknown said...

Hello I love your post with julie arkell I have one question - you mentioned using paste to stick paper down with - is it wallpaper paste or flour & water mix? they would have to dry quick over night! I love your blog!

jo so and sew said...

Thank you for sharing the step by step... I did one day workshop with her in London last year but we didn't make the creatures. Since I've been back I've been trying to get the fine papier mache finish she gets - but mine are very lumpy looking... I will keep trying.