Saturday, May 10, 2008

Day 6 Oyne

We had another day of sunshine for our workshop at the rural setting of the studio at Touched By Scotland in Oyne. Not only does Robin and Jan have studio space for classes, but a wonderful newly enlarged gallery full of metal, jewelry, paper, fiber, painting, glass, ceramics,wood, and straw artwork all made from UK artists. In addition to the large gallery space, a restaurant on location will open this summer.

Elaine Lindsey is a local artist who has worked for the past 25 years reviving the Scottish forms of straw work. Today we soaked in the history and learned some technique of Scottish straw work from Elaine. " I make a wide range of natural decorations and gifts, suitable for all occasions, including weddings, housewarings, and Christmas. I never know where it will lead me next, from making a traditional Skeklar costume for an exhibition in Los Angelese to producing straw accessories for Hugo Boss. I love reproducing traditional designs but I also enjoy designing more contemporary items too. I am a member of the Guild of Straw Craftsmen and the National Association of Wheat Weavers. "

A gifted teacher, Elaine is so enthusisastic and knowledgeable about many kinds of straw work from around the world. She is always learning new things herself and this shows in the vast of array of traditional and contemporary work she produces. Elaine uses wheat for most of her work, although traditionally, straw was used in Scotland for the traditional "corn dollie" work. Elaine's wheat, the "Maris Widgeon variety, is grown in the midlands in England.

Corn Dollie doesn't necessary mean a doll made out of straw. A corn dollie just means that it is straw work that still has the "ears" or heads of the grain incorporated in the piece. "Dollie" comes from the word "idol". There are many different stories about the significance of the last sheaf of corn (corn is the word used for grain in the UK) harvested from the field. In Scotland the last sheaf, the "cliach", hung in the farm kitchen. The seeds of this were the first planted the next year. It was good luck to have a dollie in the house.

You don't need fancy tools to work with straw, just your hands, scissors, straw and cotton string. In the photos, you can see how proud we were of our creations at the end of the workshop!

Nearly everywhere you travel in Scotland, stone ruins are found. Near our lodging in Insch, stands Dunnideer Fort. The remnants of the fortifications at the site date back to the Iron Age. A number of us took a pre-dinner hike to the top.

Sunday night G&T came back to treat us once again to a house concert of folks songs of Scotland. Trish Norman and Gaye Anthony travel around the UK and Europe performing at festivals. Their voices blend in sweet harmonies while trading off the lead. Trish’s high, clear, lilting soprano is grounded by Gaye’s rich, round alto voice. They accompany themselves with guitar. They sing songs about the sea, fishing, and even taught us the chorus to their famous haggis song! Their stories and banter interspersed between songs kept us all smiling and laughing and singing along. They learned a song new to them, just for us, "The Spinning Wheel" and I got to join in. Gaye and Trish have made 3 recordings. You can hear their joyous sounds at

Three members of the Grampian Weavers Guild were our guests for the evening. Jean Thain, Margaret Wallace, and Zahara Mcmillan brought things they had made and the travelers who were wearing things they had made, and there was a sharing of co-creativity.

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