May 20 2011 by Gregor White, Stirling Observer Friday
Strathyre’s Joan has it in the bag
FORTH Valley Open Studios returns next month, giving art lovers the chance to see (and possibly buy) the diverse pieces of work being created locally – and meet the artists in person.
After last year’s successful first outing the event will be back from June 11-19, with almost 100 artists from across Stirling, Clackmannanshire and Falkirk opening up their work spaces to the public.
Over the next four weeks I’ll be talking to a handful of those taking part to give you a flavour of what to expect.
PROVING how old skills can often be turned in new directions, Joan Smith has found a new lease of creative life thanks to bags of talent.
The former dressmaker who was also a further education tutor in the subject - as well as producing upholstery and soft furnishings - recently turned her attentions to handbags.
“I got to the age where I decided I could do with less people calling and coming to house which, when it comes to dressmaking especially, is an inevitable part of the job,” she said.
“I saw making handbags as something that I could just do by myself and the whole thing grew from there.”
Originally from Yorkshire Joan moved first to Killin about 20 years ago and then to her present home in Strathyre, after - as she laughs - she “met the postman”.
Her interest in fabric was sparked early on in life, though, thanks to her worsted manufacturer father.
“I remember these great lengths of material that I was always very interested in and always thinking ‘I could do something with that’.
“And material is still the main influence for me.
“If I see a lovely material I can usually create a design around it.
“I always try to include leather in everything I do, - so many people are doing Harris Tweed and I just want to be different!”
Also turning her hand to belts, leather jewellery and even the occasional made-to-order waistcoat Joan has her son to thank for her latest creation - a waterproof camera case.
“He’s a semi-professional photographer and was telling me how very expensive they are.
“He gave me one to copy and now I think I can probably do them for about half the price.
“Taking into account the hours you sometimes have to put into things, this isn’t the kind of work that’s going to make your fortune.
“But if I can make my money back I’m quite happy.”
Joan will be opening up her home sewing room at 5 Keip Road, Strathyre (just off the cycle path) for Open Studios.
As well as completed works visitors will be able to see pieces in progress and, Joan says, enjoy “a cup of something”.
Visitors are welcome from noon-7pm on June 11-12 as well as Friday-Sunday, June 17-19 and from noon-5pm on Monday to Thursday, June 13-16.
Full Open Studios programme is available to view at www.forthvalleyopenstudios.com.