Monday, May 16, 2011

Day 6 Workshop Day in Oyne

Sunday 1 May, 2011. We had another day of sunshine for our workshop at the rural setting of the studio at Touched By Scotland/Gadies in Oyne. Robin and Jan have studio space for classes, in addition to their large gallery full of metal, jewelry, paper, fiber, painting, glass, ceramics, and wood, and artwork all made by UK artists.

I always provide a workshop on the tour. Since many of the travelers are makers, it allows us to take a break from traveling and enjoy a day of creativity. Elaine Lindsey is a local artist who has worked for the past 27 years reviving the Scottish forms of straw work. Today we soaked in the history and learned some technique of Scottish straw work from Elaine.
Elaine has been working with wheat, oat and rye straw for nearly 27 years. Her work is very varied, from making a traditional Skeklar costume for an exhibition in Los Angeles to producing straw accessories for London fashion Week and photo shoots for magazines. She also makes props for theatre and television. Elaine loves researching and reproducing traditional designs but also enjoys designing her own contemporary pieces. Elaine gets great pleasure out of passing on her skills through workshops, demonstrations and talks.She teaches all over Britain and has taught abroad. In 2010 Elaine was invited to teach for a week at the John Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. Elaine is a member of the Guild of Straw Craftsmen and the National Association of Wheat Weavers.

Jere L. finishing up her projects
A gifted teacher, Elaine is so enthusiastic 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.

Nearly everywhere you travel in Scotland, stone ruins are found. Near our lodgings in Insch, stands Dunnideer Fort. The remnants of the fortifications at the site date back to the Iron Age. There are 99 stone sites and circles in this area of Aberdeenshire. A small group of us went to gaze at the stars during the dark of the moon tonight at the recumbant stone circle of Easter Aquhaorthies. Our tour astronomer Dan K, pointed out all the visible constellations.
Dunnideer Hill Fort from a distance
View over Aberdeenshire from atop Dunnideer
At the fort
Trish on the left, Gaye on the right
Sunday night G&T treated 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 guitars. They sing songs about the sea, fishing, and teach us the chorus to their famous haggis song... "how many legs have a haggis, and how high do they fly...!" Their stories and banter interspersed between songs kept us all smiling and laughing and singing along. They started the concert in their party hats which they wore at their Royal Wedding garden party a 2 days previous! Gaye and Trish have made 3 recordings. You can hear their joyful sounds at

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