Shed Stories #4 ‘Drive the Cold Winter Away’

It is almost Imbolc, the Celtic festival of spring, which is a time of the re-emergence of life after the hiatus of winter. We know that there may still be bad weather to come but we cannot help but be stirred by the fact that the song thrush is singing again, the snowdrops are well and truly out and the catkins are beginning to dangle!

In the past week or so I have seen my local ‘pale’ hare, roe deer and a pair of foxes leaping and playing in courtship in the nearby woods. It has also been lovely to see flocks of goldfinches flying through the rough ground feeding off last year’s seed heads, and to hear the drumming of the woodpecker as he begins to search for a mate and mark out his territory. It is such a wonderful sound and a sure sign that spring is on its way!

In my workshop I have been able to crank the fire up and keep warm and immerse myself in work for the book, Wild Folk. The foxes have followed me in, as well as seals and selkies, hares and owls.

I am also working on a panel that I intend to enter for selection for the International festival of Glass biennale. This wonderful event has been happening over recent years in Stourbridge, in the West Midlands, which is the heart of the industrial glass industry but after this summer, it will become a moveable feast and will be in other towns or cities, so I might not be able to get to it quite as easily. Fingers crossed that my piece will be selected but the exhibition covers all types of glass and the standard of work is incredibly high – I think it gets better every time.

Speaking of Stourbridge, last Saturday I treated myself to a day with the incredibly talented glass blowers, Bethany Wood and Katherine Huskie, and I had my first attempts at working with hot glass and blowing glass. I was quite apprehensive but all my anxieties were swept away by their excellent tutelage and the excitement of the material itself. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I will try to remember to post some photos of the items I made in the next newsletter as they are currently annealing (cooling down slowly so as not to break) in a big kiln!

Hopefully this week or in the next few weeks I shall also make a trip to Two Temple Place in London to see the exhibition, Glass Heart. I like to think that the seed for the idea for this exhibition was planted in my very own workshop out here in the sticks of Herefordshire. The reason being that the curator, Antonia Harrison was visiting me on another matter, and whilst she was here we had a look around my workshop and, I think, she began to see the potential for an exhibition around the subject of glass. Whatever the reason, it is fantastic to see a goodly bit of excitement and interest in glass. It is important that concern is being aired more widely about the demise of the glass industry and also that we should celebrate the beauty and diversity of this alchemical material.

I shall certainly report back on my trip to this exhibition in my next newsletter when I’m hoping to have some exciting news about a radio appearance!

Imbolc is celebrated in early February and it is one of my favourite festivals because of its earthy and feminine nature. Here are some lovely suggestions on how to celebrate it from Glennie Kindred’s book, ‘The Earth’s Cycle of Celebration’. This is one of several wonderful little books by her that I have had for donkeys years and which I still refer to all the time to help me stay connected with the earth.