Drama At The Castle

I have just has a brilliant weekend.  It was spent with 13 lovely ladies, old friends and new, at Caernarfon Castle in North Wales.  We were exploring techniques for using Friendly Plastic with textiles and mixed media whilst ensconced in the Kings Tower.  Despite having to negotiate some rather damp (it always rains when I am in Wales) narrow curving 13th century worn stone stairs and crossing a little bridge, everyone made it to our little eerie. Helen had travelled all the way from Inverness, Denise and Kay from Essex and everyone else had around 3 -5 hours travel to get there with the exception of our Birthday Girl Elizabeth, and Wanda who were the local contingent, only traveling from Conwy.

Adrienne, Neet and I stayed in The Victoria House B&B, just a stones throw from the castle walls.  It was quite the loveliest B&B I have stayed in, and Jan who owns it was a delight.  The room was fabulous, everything was clean, tidy and thoughtful, the bed comfortable, the bath had air jets and the breakfast was delicious.  If you ever go to Caernarfon, go and stay at the Victoria house, however when we do the class again next year you will have to be very quick to book a place as Adrienne and I are already booked in!

We were so privileged to be working in a tower in the castle which is a World Heritage site.  Inspiration was all around us – the structure of the castle, the textures in the stone work, the views and vistas, the crumbling windows and bosses.  However as it was raining on Saturday morning we decided to postpone our investigation of the castle itself until Sunday morning which worked out very well as it was a clear blue sky day.  Saturday was Elizabeth’s birthday, and she had brought Cake, so had Adrienne, and we all enjoyed helping her eat it!

Although we were a mixed bunch of abilities and experience, everyone got stuck in trying out all the things I demonstrated.  We looked at the usual culprits of Oooze and Lacework, but also laminating, 3D Oooze, knitted Lacework, colouring, Friendly Plastic Pellets and loads more.  Because there was so much to cover and everyone was enjoying experimenting we decided to loosen up on the idea of doing individual projects on Sunday and continue with new techniques.  This was just as well because Sunday afternoon was disrupted by high drama!  A man had fallen and broken his leg whilst walking around the ramparts.  Castle staff were unable to get him down via the narrow spiral stairs, nor could they winch him down on a rope, so they had to call in the RAF rescue helicopter.

The first we knew of it was an incredibly loud whooh, whooh noise just about the room we were in, it was impossible to teach whilst the noise was going on, so we all went outside to find out what was happening.  Hovering right above our tower was the bright yellow helicopter, from which someone was being lowered on a steel hawser.

A short while later, the poor chaps wife was being hauled up into the helicopter, and then we saw the guy with his broken leg being hoisted aloft.  All the time the wind was whisking the clouds along and the downdraft of the rotor blades was phenomenal.  It appeared the whole town was out watching the drama when we looked down into the streets below.

I do hope that everything ended up well for the poor man, and I think his wife was very brave being hoisted up like that, I would have opted for ground transportation!

Isn’t Prince William a pilot for the RAF Rescue service? Perhaps it was him at the helm, but whoever it was, he held the helicopter really still despite the strong winds.

Drama over, we went back to Friendly Plastic, a little windswept and with bits of stone and stuff in our hair (the downdraft blew everything about).  We coloured Pellets, used moulds, and generally tried out more ideas before finally doing a show and tell at the end of the day.  Here are just a few of the things people had fun creating.

Wanda’s moulded faces had the slightly blurry look of the weathered bosses on the walls.

Kay used Oooze to great effect when she cut out holes in metal mesh – red balls were tremendous.

Madeline wanted to make a vessel by laminating lacework to fabric.  Before this three-sided vessel can be finished off, Madeline intends to stitch into it before assembling it.

Adrienne created these lovely textural pieces because she was inspired by the stones in the steps in the tower.

Denise wanted her pieces as mounted samples for her shop Craft Arena.

Angela wanted an organic feel to her pieces, reminiscent of greenery growing over man made structures.

Neet looked at the shapes of the windows for inspiration.

Adrienne and I were surprised and delighted by two beautiful bouquets of flowers that the group had bought for us, it was a real treat and a total delight, so thank you one and all.

All in all a wonderful weekend.  Thank you to everyone including partners and random visitors to the castle for helping me with all my stuff.  I thoroughly enjoyed being with you all and hope to see you again soon.

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