A year ago, I relied on ten lovely people to help me plan and execute Rapunzel - carrying army stretchers through Wentworth Castle Gardens, spending two hours getting the frames rigged up, and then either staying or returning to take everything down. I will truly be forever grateful to these people - you know who you are!
By comparison, last week, I briefly turned up at Wentworth to meet Mervyn, one of the volunteers. Together, we drove to the Rotunda, and once we'd got the locks open, it took us less than 15 minutes to rig up the frame of the chandelier. Then, yesterday, I dragged "the munchkin" and hubby to meet Pete from Wentworth Castle Gardens, at a leisurely 9.30am (unheard of!!) Together, we went out to the Rotunda. Pete returned to get a brush to clean the floor, and, by the time he had returned, we had most of the glasses rigged up already!
Due to one school dropping out, there were less glasses than anticipated, but the chandelier still looked lovely with the custom-forged ring made by Neil Gregory (of Wentworth Forge). The glasses were wired up with 0.4mm steel wire - plenty strong to hold an individual glass, but so thin that you had the impression the dangling glasses were held by the air alone.
The weather was less than perfect - in fact, had it been Rapunzel yesterday, we would have had to cancel, less because of near-freezing temperatures and constant drizzle, and more because of the constant, driving wind. However, this did not deter the general public, and I was truly touched by the number of people who had made a special effort to walk all the way through the parkland to see the chandelier, ranging in age from 8 months to 80 years. It is a fair track down, across open land, without protection from the wind!
With each folly, I try to have a theme, an overarching idea, which rings true with the folly itself. For Rapunzel, it was playfulness, since Stainborough Castle was originally planned and built as a (rather grand, admittedly) play-castle. For Lady Mary's portrait, it was perseverance, creating over 6,000 glass beads for a mosaic portrait of a very persistent lady, who fought to have the small pox vaccination introduced to this country. The Rotunda used to be a summer house, for entertaining, for people coming together. So the chandelier was intended in the same spirit, for the whole community working together, to paint the wine glasses in question, and then to return to admire their work - as well as the stunning views. So, with this folly, I would like to say "thank you" to the community - for painting the glasses, and for coming to see them, even if you didn't paint one! And, of course, as always, special thanks to Pete, Nigel and Toby (aka the munchkin, who took the first picture above).
The next folly at Wentworth will be the conservatory, in the autumn......watch this space!
It's nearly half way through the project, and I am enjoying my work on the Follies immensely. One of the reasons I wanted to do "Follies for Follies" was because I am interested in stories and characters, and I feel that, over the past 20 months, since I first thought about the project, every single folly has had its own little quirks, and I thoroughly enjoyed the problem-solving that went hand in hand with this. So I thought, in no particular order, I would share some of these quirks.
Listed Buildings - pretty much a given for all follies I have worked on, the most fun one was Rapunzel....how *do* you get a 24ft sculpture secured to a building, without leaving a single mark? (thanks again for Ben and his fabulous knowledge of ropes!)
Distance - getting things from a to b without roads leading where you want to go......the main challenge is still coming up, at Clavell Tower in Dorset. Sculpture needs to be "dismantlable" (yes, I made that word up!), so it can be taken there, on foot, in parts......although the army stretcher solution for Rapunzel's hair comes a close second - or maybe carrying a glass window, in pitch black darkness, across a large parkland (Cannon Hall).
Weather - no, not the "I hope it doesn't rain, so people come", although that's important, too. I mean the "I'm hanging a large dangle of glass from a window, if it's windy, the whole thing won't work" (Rapunzel), or indeed the "access is difficult for a few months each year, as wet weather makes the doors swell, and we can't get in" (Rotunda).
These are just some of my "fun" moments...I'll think of a few more to share!
Last week-end, I attended Wentworth Castle Gardens' Christmas Fair, to tell the public all about the Follies for Follies project, and to begin collecting hand-decorated wine glasses for the Rotunda chandelier. The chandelier will be freeform, to allow as much flexibility in the number of glasses I can include, and via a number of events, I am hoping to get the glasses decorated by as many different members of the public as I can. For this, the public obviously has to know about the project, and so I hung my shingle out. Because I had not been able to demonstrate glass bead making for the Lady Mary folly (no electricity), I had also decided to do that...and I had some wares out. So...demonstrating, selling, and getting wine glasses decorated, all on a single stall. That seemed a tall order, and so I was aptly assisted by the rest of the family (seen left). They took it upon themselves to decorate the first piece of the day, a candle holder, which were on the stall to give people the chance to take some artwork away, too.
When we arrived, we were informed that our gazebo had already made one escape attempt in the high winds, and so we waited a few hours before deciding to put up the Follies for Follies banner - at which point, we lashed it against a Christmas tree to anchor it. Throughout all of this, I was making beads - seaside beads, to be precise, because...hey, what else would you demonstrate at a Christmas fair in the Peak District area, right?
Thankfully, the hardy general public weren't put off by the prospect of sitting down and engaging in a spot of glass painting -outside, in near-freezing temperatures - and before long, we had the table full of artists young and old.
By the end of the day, the chandelier had 25 glasses, an excellent start. The decorations so far include several Christmas trees, but also flowers, a frog, and an Easter bunny!
Throughout the day, I heard just how many people were happy to be able not only to support the chandelier, but also to create handmade Christmas presents, and so, I had the idea that I could travel to local groups and 'accumulations of people' - brownies, sports clubs, societies, retirement homes, schools...bringing with me glasses for the chandelier - which would be free to decorate - and more glasses and tea light holders, which could be decorated for a small fee (£2), which will be used to - you guessed it - purchase glasses for the chandelier!
I'll still be able to fit in a number of groups before Christmas, so if you're interested, please contact me asap (via the contact page on this website). The activity is suitable for all ages, even toddler groups, if Mums and Dads help a bit, and I'm happy to travel - within reason, and within about 6 miles of Wentworth Castle Gardens - and I am hoping to involve as broad a spectrum of the community, so please do share this blog post with anybody who you feel might be interested!
Eleven weeks today, it'll be all go, go, GO!!! at Wentworth, Rapunzel HQ, aka Stainborough Castle. In the meantime, I went up to see Pete Clegg last week, and we trundled up to a potential future folly, the Rotunda. This folly, unlike all the others mentioned at Wentworth so far, is in the Parkland, not the gardens, and it's a pleasant ten minute walk or so from the main house to get there, past the deer, and through a little woodland. I couldn't get in just yet, but I have seen pictures. It'll be an interesting challenge to come up with a 'follification', as the space is fairly small, perfectly circular, and bare. So watch this space :). The Rotunda will be 'follified' in spring 2013. You can find out a little bit more about the Rotunda here
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