Boutique Loves

Stamp making workshop at Pick Pretty Paints, St Ives

Sometimes, getting away isn’t always about doing nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I love a snooze on the beach as much as the next person, but sometimes when I go away it’s nice to indulge in something a little different, something you might not have time for in your everyday life.

For me, it’s all about getting creative. There’s something about letting the left-hand side of your brain have free reign, about picking up a pencil, paintbrush or tool and expressing yourself in a unique and special way. It’s an escape, with the added benefit of having something to show at the end of it.

Here in Cornwall, we’re lucky enough to have a host of passionate artists who are willing to share what they love with others. Erin Lacy of Pick Pretty Paints is one of them; an advocate of print work, she’s a fabulous artist who has her own studio in the heart of St Ives.

A graduate of the London College of Fashion, Erin’s love of textiles and print has always been with her, but it wasn’t until seven years ago, following several high-flying jobs, that she swapped London for St Ives, to focus on promoting printing as a craft and setting up her own paint range of ready-mixed printing inks. Not that she’s been resting on her laurels in any way; she wrote a book though lockdown (as well as having a baby!) and has appeared on Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Christmas TV show – phew!

Erin had invited me to join her for one of her half day taster sessions, so on an unusually warm March morning I found myself strolling along St Ives waterfront, watching the seagulls glide above and the glistening waves in the distance. The tide was out, so a great stretch of golden sand loomed in front. With the stunning scenery and unique light, it’s not difficult to feel inspired in this iconic town.

I found Erin’s workshop, nestled in a prime position in the Sloop Studios. A purpose-built artists’ quarter set around cobbled walkways, the studios were built in 1969, using traditional local materials. The fundamentals of the studios are that an items for sale must have been made by the artists themselves, so it’s a wonderful spot to potter and admire truly remarkable hand-crafted treasures, and bag yourself a unique gift.

Pick Pretty Paints lies in one of the corner studios and Erin offered me a warm welcome, opening the stable doors to let me in. Her space is cosy, bright, and full of her work; gorgeous prints of foxes, birds and foliage adorn the walls, and pots of her handmade paints that she sells line the walls. In the background, soft music played, and gentle light streamed through the window - the perfect space to get creative!

After donning my apron, Erin showed me the different tools you need for creating your print, and demonstrated how they work. As she carved away, she made it look like a doddle, but I got the distinct impression that it’s harder than it looks. She has a wonderful display of stamps she’s made which she let me coo over, and it’s astonishing the depth of detail that she’s able to carve into the lino.

Suddenly it’s my turn, and I spend some time getting used to the tools, carving lines, swirls, dots and squares. The process is quite meditative, and I find myself relaxing into it.

Next step is to design my own print. Erin has lots of prints and designs on display to help inspire, and books to browse through. I settle on a curlew, a coastal bird as we’re by the sea, and draw my design.

After roughly sketching out my idea and getting the thumbs up from Erin, I transfer it on to the lino and start to carefully cut out the largest lines first, gradually getting into the finer detail towards the end.

Time for a quick coffee break (from the nearby Yallah coffee hut, no less – delicious!) then it’s time to start printing. This is where the magic happens – after carefully applying your paint of choice to the lino, it’s placed on to either paper or fabric, then you press down on it heavily and use a roller to ensure even distribution.

Then, holding your breath, you gently peel off the lino, bottom up, to reveal your print. I’m pleased with my effort and love the contrast of the dark colour against the white. I repeat the print on paper and different fabrics.

Pinning up my efforts to let them dry a bit, I sit back and admire my work – not bad for just a couple of hours!

Erin’s workshops are a lovely addition to any holiday in St Ives, or indeed any stay in West Cornwall. She offers a half day two-hour taster session (which I did) – perfect for spending the morning before moving on somewhere for lunch, followed by an afternoon on the beach or pottering in the shops. She also has a full day option, where you can either create a series of lino/blocks for printing or learn hoop and stencil screen printing. She can accommodate up to six people, so it’s also a lovely thing to do as a family or group of friends.

For more information and to book a course, take a look at Pick Pretty Paints here.

Feeling inspired? Take a peek at our luxury cottages in west Cornwall here.

Pick Pretty Paints, Sloop Studios, Back Lane, St Ives TR26 1LS | pickprettypaints.co.uk

 

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