In April, I set up my first Zine Workshop in collaboration with MESH at ThinqTanq, Plymouth. I didn’t charge a fee to take part because my intention was to introduce zinemaking to people who hadn’t tried it before as well as attract current zinemakers, and I thought it would be more likely people would want to come and have a go if it was free! I created a “zero” issue of my zine Gurt Noodle (issue one is in its early stages) to give out as a simple guide to zinemaking for people who had never done zinemaking before. In this issue I included a brief history of zines, some ideas for new zinemakers (zinesters) and instructions on how to make a minizine. You can look through my portfolio for this issue in the video below:
I chose to do my zine in a comic style because I am an illustrator who loves reading comics and drawing characters! One of the characters is a comic version of myself and the other is one I invented. I knew I would be printing in black and white (because of the costs involved) so I used different crosshatching styles to provide texture, shade and ‘colour’. On the back cover I included a folding guide to make a minizine. I packaged an A6 copy of Gurt Noodle Issue Zero with a minizine I had made earlier (each pack got either Robot Ads and Odd Creatures or The Tale Of The Girl Who Ordered Zelda: BOTW But Could Not Play It Because The Console Broke) and a handmade Gurt Noodle badge in a clear plastic envelope.
Around 14 people took part in the first workshop, including some professional local illustrators and a number of young artists. A few participants had made zines before but others weren’t completely sure what a zine was. Everyone seemed to like my Gurt Noodle package (I have now given away around 200 of these all over Plymouth!). At the workshop I demonstrated how to fold a minizine and helped some of the participants to come up with ideas. I also made a few minizines myself.
As we worked, we shared and passed around the zines we had made or were still working on. Everyone made at least one design for a badge, and I used my badge-making machine (a birthday present!) to make those into badges that they could wear home. At the end of the workshop the feedback was really good and everyone wanted to come back again. Most of the participants had made minizines on topics as diverse as The Short Lived Life of Hairyworm John or How To Function As A Human Being. We left with bundles of minizines and ideas for our next projects and I felt the entire workshop had been a huge success!
In May, I organised a second workshop, again supported by MESH. This time, I had to charge a small entry fee towards the (discounted by ThinqTanq) venue hire, MESH provided snacks and drinks, and I brought all my zinemaking resources from home to share (vintage typewriters, white paper, black pens, scissors, stapler etc). I made a new flyer (above) and this time I drew a typewriter as I was hoping to entice some writers into coming along, to hopefully provoke some collaborative work between them and the illustrators who were already planning to come.
Again there were around fourteen participants but not exactly the same people – a couple of different professional illustrators came to take part and a couple of new young people came to give zinemaking a try, but for the most part the participants from the first workshop came back again. Although I was intending to introduce some teamwork exercises, unfortunately I didn’t have a very good plan to encourage work crossovers and collaborations, and no new writers came along. It didn’t seem to matter though as everyone seemed quite happy with the work they were doing and with the workspace. I have also collected quite a decent collection of zines (mostly perzines or comic style zines, and many are by local zinesters) for my Zine Library (available to browse at the workshops) and the participants seemed to really enjoy looking through those.
This time the (many!) minizines made by participants included Perfect Pairs, The 90’s: Yay or Nay, Spider and The Many Artstyles Of Me. I made some more minizines of my own including Link Responds To Things and Periods Suck. My brother also finished his first solo zine Sweet Tooth that he started before the first workshop and I added a copy to the Zine Library.
The next Zine Workshop is on the 24th June (TOMORROW!). I plan to take along some short creative exercises for anyone who would like to try those. I would like to collaborate with some of the other participants on a project, so I am taking some ideas for how we could do that. I hope that previous participants come back and that new people join us!
There is a fee of £2 towards the venue hire, but there will be tea, coffee, biscuits, and zinemaking resources (such as paper, spare pens and pencils, scissors, and glue) all there to use for free. I will also be taking my badge machine (making a badge will cost 50p to cover the cost of the materials) and more copies of my Gurt Noodle Issue Zero for anyone who doesn’t have one yet! If you or anyone you know may be interested, you can find more details and book on the MESH Eventbrite link or you can contact me via email or Instagram.
Thank you to:
and to Everyone who has participated in the workshops so far!
On the 30th of November I attended a glass fusing workshop hosted by Sheena Hallybone from PaperCutzGlass with my mum and a few friends. Glass fusing is a technique used to make a piece of art by arranging, gluing, and then fusing pieces of glass together at a high temperature in a kiln.
Sheena demonstrated how to use the tools and what they are called. There were three tools:
- A Glass Cutter makes a mark on the glass for the Running Pliers. The line can be straight, wavy or curved.
- Running Pliers snap the glass along the mark the Glass Cutter has made.
- Grozing Pliers, or ‘Nibblers’, are used to take small corners off and chip away at the glass.
We were given a small square of clear glass each to practice using the tools on, and after we finished practicing Sheena explained that we would have a large piece of clear glass each to arrange our coloured pieces on, which could be divided in different ways to make coasters, candle screens, long suncatchers or shorter tree decorations. She also showed us some of the art she made and what other people had made before in the workshop. I chose to make a coaster and 2 sun catchers.
I decided to make a Zelda-themed sun catcher first. I planned it out on paper first then chose what colour glass to use for it. It is decorated with three Ocarina of Time style fairies. I took too long to make this one because making circles is a complicated process of first cutting squares, marking and cutting off corners, then nibbling around the corners to round them off. This meant I didn’t have much time left to make my other two glass fusing pieces. I do think it looks really good and so I’m glad I spent time getting it right.
For my other sun-catcher I used scrap pieces of glass organized by colour to make rainbow stripes. I was inspired to make this by some of Sheena’s rainbow style suncatchers that were hanging up around us. I used black frits (small granules of glass) to decorate the background.
My coaster is also Zelda-themed and shows a Triforce. I used triangles of paper to cover the area I wanted to leave transparent and sprinkled multicoloured frits and leftover small shards of glass over a layer of glue, then took the paper away. This didn’t take long to do and gives a really pretty effect.
We had to leave our pieces with Sheena so she could fire them in her kiln (there are photos of some of the unfired pieces at the bottom of this post). She added hooks to them so I can hang them up. Yesterday we were able to pick them up from her shop in Plymouth City Market. They were wrapped carefully in bubble wrap and I was really excited to open them up. I had tons of fun during the workshop and I’m really happy with how my fused glass pieces turned out. I would recommend the workshop to any creative people and hope to do it again sometime.
Last week me and my brother attended the On Shaky Ground event at the At-Bristol Science Centre (Twitter). It was an event for home-educated young people led by a woman called Kathy about earthquakes, how they are caused and how engineers and architects design earthquake-resistant buildings.
We began the day with Kathy explaining to us how earthquakes can happen, the consequences of earthquakes and how engineering can help. First she explained how the Earth is made from a central core surrounded by a layer of liquid magma, and above that floats the top layer called the crust, which is made up of several tectonic plates. When the plates move against each other or the pressure is released from below it creates a seismic wave, which we also call an earthquake. Kathy explained that earthquakes can be measured using a seismograph and that there are three different kinds of seismic waves: P-waves, S-waves and surface waves.
Next Kathy talked about the consequences of earthquakes. One of the most interesting facts she told us was that around a million earthquakes happen every year but most are not felt by humans. However, some earthquakes are strong enough to cause landslides, liquification, tsunamis and land ruptures. Kathy explained that everything has a resonating frequency and if an earthquake has the same frequency as a building the building can be damaged or even fall completely. She told us that ‘brown sound’ is a frequency that resonates with a human’s bowels and can make them poo themselves!
Kathy said we can’t predict or prevent earthquakes but we can design earthquake-resistant buildings with clever engineering. We split into teams to plan and build earthquake-resistant water towers. We were given a budget of £100 (fake!) to spend on materials for our towers, such as paper straws and string, and we had one and a half hours to finish our buildings. Our buildings also had to be a certain height and as water towers had to be able to hold some weight, and we had to plan them out before trying to build them. Kathy gave us this advice:
- Keep it simple (e.g symmetrical)
- Avoid changes in stiffness (changes in material)
- Avoid local weak points (changes in load transfer plants)
- Keep mass central (if mass is on one side it can cause twisting or falling)
- Reinforce joints
- Strong columns and weak beams
- Use horizontal load bearing shapes (triangles are strong shapes)
My team was called ‘Igloo’ and was made of me, my brother J, and a friend we made that morning, L. We talked about the tips Kathy gave us. At first we thought about a pyramid shaped building but decided against it because it wouldn’t be able to support the weight at the top. Instead we chose to design a building with a cylindrical external shape with a square core support inside. We chose this because one of the tips on the cards we were given said that if something had less sides it would have stronger earthquake resistance. Next we talked about what materials we would build from. We decided to use large paper straws as scaffolding stuck upright onto the plastic base we were given with hot glue, and smaller straws taped at the top of the long ones to increase the building height, since the large straws on their own weren’t tall enough. We arranged our straws in a circle and wrapped sheets of paper around the outside for the outer wall. To make it all stay together we used a hot glue gun, and reinforced it with tape.
We did have a few problems during the challenge. It was difficult to get the straws to stand up straight because the glue was slow to dry. We didn’t budget for straws for crossbracing so our structure was weak. Some of the straws bent, which created some weak points as well. Lastly, we didn’t manage our time well, so we weren’t finished when our time ran out, but we were given an extra five minutes.
Then we stopped for lunch and had a quick look around some of the science centre. When we came back each table had a slinky to use to demonstrate seismic waves. We learnt that a Seisometer measures the pulse given off by an earthquake and picks up where it came from. Volunteers popped balloons of different sizes to demonstrate the different magnitudes on the Richter Scale. Each number on the Richter Scale indicates an earthquake which has 30 times the energy of the number before it on the scale. A very small balloon didn’t make a noise when it was popped but when a very large balloon was popped it was deafening and I felt it under my feet.
In the next talk Kathy spoke about how ground tremors can have unnatural causes, for example they can be a consequence of fracking, underground railway development, or quarrying. Quarrying is digging into the ground to collect materials (e.g. rocks) and fracking is injecting water at a high pressure into rocks to release gas for people to use as energy. Fracking is extremely controversial because of concerns it could cause tremors and pollution. In the UK, fracking has only started to be used recently and is being monitored. The UK doesn’t get a lot of big earthquakes and the only earthquake-resistant buildings here are nuclear power plants. This is because engineers have to consider the likelihood and the consequences of an earthquake on the buildings they are designing.
Finally we tested our water towers on the earthquake simulator which is a table that shakes and has different settings for magnitude using the G scale (engineers prefer to use the gravity scale to the Richter scale). Our team managed to pass the first two levels but fell on the third (0.3G). Another team managed to get past the conditions of a typical Japanese earthquake. Their tower was built similarly to the Eiffel Tower with a wide base coming to a point and had lots of crossbracing. Instead of resting their weight on the top they had it hanging down the centre.
I really enjoyed the On Shaky Ground event and we learned a lot. Afterwards we had two hours to spare so we had a better look around At-Bristol. I went on a giant hamster wheel that generated power to lift water in buckets. We played games to test our reflexes, measured our heart rates and tested our startle reflex. J had a long talk about the chemical structure of water and about antibiotic resistance with Lisa from the Live science team (team Twitter). Our wristbands had barcodes on them that allowed us to save our results. There was a lot more that we looked at and more we didn’t see because we had so little time left but we are planning to go back again soon. At the end we went through the gift shop and J got a pot of Thinking Putty and I got a couple of Banksy postcards. We also looked at the statues and saw a small amount of a fireworks display in Millennium Square.
Before we came back to Plymouth we paid a visit to Bristol Central Library which was huge and had a large kids and young adult’s section, and while we were there I read some of the manga Nisekoi. We walked through College Green and visited Park Street where I bought some Posca markers, Promarkers and Essdee Softcut (for lino printing) from Cass Art. Cass Art is a huge art shop with two floors and a big selection of pens and other equipment. I have started trying lino printing recently and it is quite good timing because this half term we are doing printing at NA&DSC and at one of my home ed groups.
We also visited some of my cousins for dinner and to catch up. My uncle in Bristol is a graphic designer and we looked at some of each other’s recent work. I showed him all my Inktober drawings and he showed me his custom painted shoes and a mural he has painted on my cousin’s bedroom wall. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go to Bristol Museum or any galleries because I got sick, but I did get to see a lot of graffiti from the car window and one of our friends has promised to take me to see more next time I’m in Bristol, which hopefully will be soon!
At the beginning of Summer I attended an inspiring workshop in Dartmoor National Park which was led by photographer Jo Bradford (Twitter). Jo’s exhibition ‘A Love Letter To Dartmoor‘ was on display at the Princetown Visitor Centre and is a collection of photos taken of Dartmoor, one a day for a year with a mobile phone camera. Jo is a mum as well as a photographer and she found it difficult to carry all her usual camera equipment when out walking with her children. However she kept finding interesting and beautiful scenes when out exploring and so she began using her mobile phone camera to capture those moments. Every day she would post her photos on Instagram and people all around the world followed her account and loved her pictures.
I prepared for the day by making sure I had lots of space on my memory card and had downloaded the Snapseed app. I also made sure I was wearing Dartmoor appropriate clothing and so I wore a waterproof jacket and walking boots. I had to leave early to drive out to the workshop and when I arrived I was led to a room where I met some other young people, Jo, and Lucy Piper (Instagram, Twitter) who was helping Jo to lead the workshop. While we were waiting for a few others to get there we chatted about ideal places to hide out during a zombie apocalypse and Jo said that she lives far away from town so will be safe from the hoards, but kindly said we could all join her..
When the rest of the group arrived we all introduced ourselves and I gave my name and age and said that I’m an artist living in Plymouth and that I haven’t done a lot of photography before. There were a few people my age and a couple who were older, and one person was home educated (like me). Jo introduced herself and her work, and Lucy introduced herself and said that she is a drummer as well as a photographer.
Jo then explained that we would be walking to different locations nearby on Dartmoor and taking photos along the way, and that a minibus would also take us somewhere a bit further away later. Afterwards we would come back to Princetown, look through our pictures, choose two of our favourites each, then edit them using the Snapseed app on our phones and print them. She also explained that the images we take with our phones are a widescreen format and that as we would be printing at 6×4 and 10×8 she asked us to change the image size settings on our phones. She also said not to use the zoom as it reduces picture quality and instead to try and get close to our subjects. It was raining outside so before we began we had a look around her exhibition which was set out so that the photos were displayed by month. There was a piece of text for each month which talked about obstacles that Jo had experienced and the progress of her Instagram account.
We set off to the first destination which was to a large rock formation. We found clusters of mushrooms and some of them were growing out of cowpats. Jo said she calls these ‘poo shrooms’ and we took pictures of them. Jo showed us how to activate a grid on our mobile screens and identified four ‘golden points’ and she said to try to always place an interesting subject in one of them. She explained that it was more attractive to position your subject there than directly in the middle of the frame. I tested this out and found that she was right. She also said that when taking a picture of a pathway or a road, “like cats like catnip, humans like swirly things and spirals”, so to try and frame the path as going from one lower corner to the centre of the screen instead of directly up from the bottom middle. She also asked us to add our favourite pictures to a Favourites Folder throughout the day to make it easier to pick some out later.
We walked through long grass and I almost tripped multiple times because I couldn’t see the ground underneath me. It was really foggy and although we couldn’t take landscape pictures we did get some misty atmospheric close-ups of flowers and trees overhanging a road next to a little wooden gate. By the time we got to our final location in the minibus, the weather was clearing up and we took some mysterious photos of low clouds over an old house, and of landscapes with touches of sun slipping through. I took some pictures of a group of cows which remained still like they were happy posing for my camera.
We returned to Princetown Visitor Centre and we all sat round a table and looked through our pictures. I whittled down my Favourites Folder until I was happy with the best two. It was quite easy to find the ones I liked the most because they inspired good feelings in me. I chose one close-up of a flower growing by a barbed wire fence, and one photo of a landscape with a muddy road running through it. Jo guided us step-by-step through Snapseed teaching us how to brighten certain areas and how to make areas more detailed. She told us to keep the brightness setting between -40 and 40 or it would start to look unrealistic. She said that we should try not to change our images too much and to keep it to less than seven alterations each so they would still be true to the subject. I highlighted the colour on the petals of the flower and darkened the opposite side of the frame. In the landscape shot I lightened a road and made the clouds darker which acted to make the land seem brighter.
Finally it was time to print, but my Samsung phone had trouble communicating with the Apple computer which was controlling the printer. In the end I had to transfer my pictures to a Windows computer in another room, then use that to send them to someone else’s iPhone, then use that to send them to the Macbook.. It took a while to get it all sorted out, and then the printer started cropping parts of my 6×4 pictures! Jo suggested trying to make bigger prints and it worked fine, but we didn’t figure out what the problem was. Fotospeed gave us two free art prints of our photos each but I also got to keep my ‘broken’ prints.
The day was an amazing experience and I’m really grateful to Princetown Visitor Centre, Jo Bradford, Lucy Piper, and Fotospeed for the opportunity. On the way home I was still taking pictures, and even got my dad to pull over so I could take some pictures of bales of hay wrapped in pink coverings which looked like giant marshmallows in a field. I have passed on the tips that Jo taught me to my family and now whenever I take a photo I think about those tips and take better pictures.