3D Friendly Plastic – What a Wonderful Weekend

I had been looking forward to the weekend so much: I knew that the group of people would be fun to work with, there were some characters I knew of old, and some I had yet to meet. What I had not anticipated was just how much fun, and just what a whacky and characterful lot they would turn out to be. Spontaneous renditions of camp fire songs, home-made biscuits, selfless sharing of materials, tools, equipment and ideas and buckets full of laughter.

 The weekend I am referring to is last weekend’s Friendly Plastic course 3D FP in Chepstow Castle. Having arrived in the dark on Friday night, I did not get the chance to appreciate just what a lovely little place Chepstow is. After a full English (well, you only get to have it when you stay in a hotel don’t you), I drove my car, laden to the gunwales with stuff, right up to the very walls of the castle. The gates (replicas of the original 12th century gates) swung open to let my modern conveyance inside the narrow entrance and into the ancient keep itself.

Adrienne Goodenough (Lifelong Learning Manager for Cadwr – Welch Heritage organisation) followed hot on my heals and with the help of Annie we unloaded our cars and with a suitably regal wave we grandly proceeded back through the gates that were never designed with anything more than a horse and cart in mind. Not many people get the opportunity of driving in to the very heart of such an ancient and spectacular castle, but we got to do it – twice (we had to pack up at the end didn’t we).

 Adrienne had organised for us to use two adjoining rooms in the castle for the course, and she had brought heaters, tables, and most essentially tea and coffee. By the time we had set up, everyone else had arrived and it was a time for greeting friends old and new, and making real those friendships that had, up until this point, been only virtual ones on various on line groups.

We began with a stroll around the castle with sketch books and cameras to hand, hoping that the rain would hold off long enough for us to get a good look at the ancient stones, towers and views. The castle is right on the river Wye and is in remarkably good order for a ruin! There were beautiful vistas wherever you looked, interesting details, inspiring textures and the time we had was too short to really appreciate all that was on offer. However, we needed to get back to the class room and start exploring possibilities.

Although the course was aimed at creating 3D pieces in Friendly Plastic, not everyone was ready to take things that far. But this was of no issue at all as the techniques that are handy for construction, forming and moulding are also very suitable for 2 dimensional work.

 We looked at construction methods – joining and piecing, forming using bowls (or gourds and oranges as things turned out), moulding, layering, texturing, re-colouring, Lacework, Friendly Plastic Pellets and loads of other things besides. When everyone had a handle on these useful techniques we discovered the castle was about to close so we had to get a wiggle on and decamp for a spot of socialising in a lovely little restaurant bar called The LimeTree Cafe Bar. Having enjoyed home-made soup and rolls in the The Chepstow Castle Inn at lunchtime, everyone still seemed to have plenty of room for delicious tapas at The LimeTree.

The evening was relaxing, and a superb opportunity to get to know one another better. Neet and Vonnie had both brought their other halves with them (they had been off stomping across the hills in the rain), and Nathalie had her 12 year old daughter Marianne (who was also doing the course).

 The following morning the sun made all the autumn colour on the wooded slopes of the river Wye glow in perfect harmony with our uplifted spirits. Everyone was looking forward to another exciting day in great company (with Lynne’s delicious home-made biscuits to fend off any untoward pangs of hunger.


Back into the embrace of the ancient castle we all strode (toddled!) ready for the days activities. Everyone had some sort of an idea about what they wanted to achieve and today was the day that they would do it. Using the skills they had already learnt they set to, with a small amount of guidance from me. You can see the results for yourself, they are tremendous. Everyone took some aspect of the castle itself and used it to create their wonderful bowls, boxes and artwork.  This little Box was made by Maxine who was very new to Friendly Plastic, but she managed to ge eh textures and colours of the walls beautifully.


Annie’s bowl made initially over a gourd using Alcohol Ink coloured Friendly Plastic Pellets worked beautifully and captures the colours of the wooded slopes of the valley.

Kate was one of the more experienced in the group and managed to perfectly recreate one of the towers of the stone keep using small pieces that she textured in a wide variety of ways including stamping and OoozeI  Her colours are subtle and the tumbledown effect should always remind her of Chepstow Castle.  Like everyone else she still has some finishing off to do, but the construction is complete.  Fabulous Kate.

Lynne’s colours hark back to dashing days of chivalry and sumptuous velvets, but her textures and shapes come directly from the castle itself.  She even managed a very neat spaghetti trim round the top – reminiscent of jousts I think.


 Adrienne’s bowl is like burnished metal on the inside and is of a most interesting shape as it was moulded around a gourd.  The outside texture was achieved using lace but until it gets it legs put on, it bears a remarkable resemblance to one half of Madonnas bra!  Or perhaps it could be some medieval warrior princess’ breast plate in the making!


 There are so many photos and I want to show you them all, so I am putting all the rest into a gallery for you to view.  Remember that at least 4 of the girls (whether they were 60+ or 12 or anywhere in between) had not worked with Friendly Plastic before.

I am delighted by what you achieved girls, you worked so hard and put so much of your personalities into the weekend, I only hope that you are as proud of your creations as I am. Make sure you send me photos of the finished items so I can blog about them and put them on the gallery pages of my website. Even if we never touched any Friendly Plastic again (God forbid!!!) I would still thoroughly enjoy your company.

So who is game for next year and what shall we do?