Well, last time I wrote anything, it wasn’t very cold, but it has been recently! Still not too wet I’m glad to say, but very frosty, especially at night. David or Ros often have to smash the ice on our water trough in the mornings. Breakfast is really appreciated… and a second snack given to us by a very special friend – like in this picture – is always VERY welcome!
Ros tells me she has been very busy exploring and making in her studio – you might have seen a few things on her Instagram @rosstoddart, but she has also been doing some courses. Since becoming an Associate Member of Design Nation, she has signed up for quite a few things – one of them is a Digital Content course. I know she included me in one of the photos that she has used in a video she’s making. I hope I get on Instagram! Another course is titled Pitching Confidence – not quite sure what that’s about?!? Anyway, she says these courses are excellent, as is Design Nation.
So good bye for now from a sunny but cold field. Reggie
Well, it’s not very cold or wet yet and it’s already mid-November! Luckily though Ros is giving us our winter breakfast now… I’m going to keep quiet, in case she changes her mind. But what we hate most is very wet ground.
What other news? Ros has slowly got back to making in her studio after turning round from the September open weekend. She is very keen to do more dyeing of our fleece with plants and other things out of the garden or kitchen. Having successfully used onion skins with two different mordents, Ros remembered she had grown woad a few years back and had dyed a small amount of our coats… so she is secretly doing some experiments with it… watch this space. She has bought more woad seeds to plant in the spring as a start, but missed the walnuts this autumn to the squirrels.
Ros has recently joined International Felt Makers and Heritage Craft Associations… she is really interested in showing her work further now and keen to spread her wings in many ways. Also the Royal Birmingham Society of Arts has taken some of Ros’s scarves this month and sold one already… and ordered a few more… that’s got Ros moving faster in the studio! But it has meant we haven’t seen so much of her and it’s about time she did some more alpaca poo collecting. I know it helps make fantastic compost for the garden and veg patch, so it is really worth her while!… And we like to have tidy fields.
It is mid September and it feels really autumnal already. Lovely colours out in our field, but best of all there have not been to many flies! We hate flies, especially horse flies, but not even those have been too bad this year.
Anyway September began well this year because Ros showed her latest creations at her friend Gina’s house……..all of them were made totally from our fleeces or nuno felted with silk or organza. Ros had a great weekend talking to people and selling quite a few things! If you didn’t manage to get to see her work, do contact us here and we can show you what she has left in her studio.
The next thing for Ros is to take our fleeces, from this year, to East Anglia Mill to be processed. First she has to go through them all getting rid of as much vegetation etc as possible….a long slow job. I expect she will have most of it made into yarn again for weaving.
It is less than a month to go before Ros shows her work at her friend, Gina’s house along with three other artists. It looks as if it is going to be a cracking show with lots of food for thought. I won’t be able to get there, but I hope you do… I’m really excited what Ros has done with our fleeces, truly amazing and what colours and textures but still soft like when it’s on our backs!
I hope you haven’t given up on me because I haven’t written a blog since March. I’m sorry about that. Well, I’m back again to tell you our news because Ros has found time to help me. Shearing and a forthcoming exhibition are my two biggest pieces of news!
Ros has been working very hard in her studio and just hasn’t been in the right head-space (whatever that may be?…ridiculous, I think!) to do blog-type stuff. She has not only started to use the yarn made from our last year’s fleeces to make cushions and a rug, but she is VERY excited about getting stuck into Nuno Felting again. Yes, what is that!? Well, to put it very simply, it’s when you use fibre (here our washed and carded fleeces) with another fabric like silk. The process works the two materials together as the fibre shrinks and produces a beautiful, delicate, light, soft way of felting…….and Ros makes beautiful things – well I think so – usually in amazing bright colours. It’s quite a shock the colours she dyes my and my pals’ coats once she gets hold of it! Pink or green alpacas! I hope she doesn’t dye us next!
Ros still has lots of fleece from last year to work with in her studio, but we had the horrible experience of being sheared a few weeks ago. Ben and his helper don’t muck about and treat us firmly but caringly. He really knows his stuff and does us all within the hour.
The shearing was much later than last year, in fact a month later. Ros is very interested to see if this extra month of our coats being on our backs will make a difference to the quality of our fibre and it may make it even better for Ros to work with.
It was b. cold the next day and we felt very sorry for ourselves! Now of course the flies are buzzing about and they like us far too much for my liking! But Ros sprays us with a concoction of citronella and eucalyptus essential oils, vinegar and water that has had cloves soaked in it. It does seem to help us, but we hate the spraying. It sounds like a snake and I don’t feel very manly when I’ve been sprayed with it! It’s quite a smell.
Oh, I mustn’t forget the news about Ros showing her latest pieces in early September. It will be at Foxhall House, Nr Harrington, NN6 9JL with other artists Gina Glover, Graham Keddie and Susan Williams. Dates: Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th September 11am – 4pm. It will be part of Northampton Open Studios and the work is for sale. Please come and have a look – you might like to buy something – that will help Ros pay for the costs of looking after us so well!
Well I think that’s enough for now!…a long blog this time.
Ros is very excited, the yarn has been processed from our last year’s fleeces and it all arrived back at the Water Tower yesterday. That will keep her busy and out of mischief for a while….but I wonder what she will make?
She says that she wants to get on with dyeing and making things rather than spending time washing and spinning our coats, so she had sent it to East Anglia Alpaca Mill, in Norfolk where apparently there are lots more alpacas too!
Let’s hope spring is on its way soon, we want our feet to have drier ground to tread on and fresh green shoots to eat.
Well, it is the middle of February already, so time to say hello again.
I have had a few people ask me recently, who is this person who is quietly making things from my, and my friends’ fleeces, so I thought I better tell you a bit about her.
Her name is Ros… well actually when it is written down she prefers it to say – Rosalind Stoddart. She looks after us as well as pinching our coats every June to make beautiful things.
Ros has always enjoyed making things, whether it is drawing, painting, printing, sculpture or the textiles that she does now. She tells me even as a very young girl she spent much of her time with her best friend, Sarah, making dens to draw and paint in.
After school Ros went to art college for four years in London, wherever that may be, and then did a teaching course followed by teaching art in a secondary school. Soon though she became a full-time artist having exhibitions in the UK and abroad. She also started up two arts charities (Fermynwoods Contemporary Art and Deep Roots Tall Trees), but all of this was before I knew her.
Now she lives at the Water Tower with her husband David, Beau the cat, many hens, even more bees and us the alpacas. She spends quite a bit of her time in her studio making the lovely things you see on this website.
Hope the weather is warmer by the time I write the next blog. Keep warm, Reggie.
Well, happy New Year everyone. This month I thought I would let each of us introduce ourselves. So I will go first:
I am Reggie, I am the boss and my word is law. I am great friends with David – you see we are both the leaders of our own packs here at the Water Tower. I take the responsibilities of leadership very seriously and keeping up the morale of my gang.
I am Raffles and I’m the rather sensible older member of the group and I have great respect for my friend Reggie and always back him up… especially when Truffle thinks he’s been so clever.
Truffle is my name and I’m the most intelligent (but don’t tell Reggie) and I’m the most good looking, but also my fleece was used to make Ros’s wedding dress because it’s so soft. Also I love puddles and dunking my under bits.
I’m Valiant and I’m the joker in the pack and Reggie gets rather cross when I fool around too much. I love visitors – playing chase round the field with them is great, or pulling off Ros’ hat and flinging it across the field when she’s poo collecting is a great way to get her attention.
I’m Victor and I like to lead a simple life, keep out of trouble and be friends with everyone.
Gosh this month feels quiet after the exhibition SEVEN MAKERS SEVEN VISIONS during the last week or so in October. We had so many lovely visitors come to see us in the field (we loved it – especially ‘show-off ‘Valiant, who thought it was great fun) and to see what was in the show. Ros was very pleased how people liked and bought her work made from our fleeces……in fact she can’t have a rest because she has to make nine more pieces of work commissioned from the exhibition. Our this year’s fleeces have not yet been made into yarn so it’s all rather difficult! But quite a nice problem to have sold so much of her things, that she has to make more. Ooooh!, we might become famous yet!
Anyway winter is on its way – we get breakfast every morning now the grass is not so lush and a new thing – Ros put straw down today in our shelter (Aunty Dawn gave it to her)! Oh that will be so cosy on a windy night. Also I think David has got someone to help him make the shelter larger. Last winter was SO horrid because of the constant days of rain for 7 months – it was horrid for our feet. We don’t mind the cold but that wet was very horrid indeed!
Me and my pals are quite happy the weather is a bit cooler now and less horrible flies around. Also our coats are getting longer to keep us warm through winter which will be coming soon.
We are also very excited that it won’t be long now before the marquee goes up in the garden here for the exhibition SEVEN MAKERS SEVEN VISIONS – look what my best human friend, David, has made Ros (we do love her too) to hang these lovely scarves she’s made from our fleeces – I must say I am proud how soft they feel!
Please do come and see Rosalind Stoddart’s work and the other 6 Makers work here at the Water Tower. The exhibition starts on Thursday 22nd October at 2pm – please look at my September entry for further details.