Monday, 25 January 2016

SHWI gets potty

Following the success of the Great Pottery Throw Down and, for those older members, the memory of Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore in Ghost, it was with much trepidation that a group of our ladies met at The Art House in Sheffield on Sunday morning. 

Situated in the centre of town and next door to the first home of SHWI at St Matts on Carver Street, The Art House is a beautiful contemporary space where various craft classes are offered, as well as exhibition space and The Art House cafe. It also participates in the Pending Coffee scheme, providing free hot drinks for the homeless/vulnerable in Sheffield.

We all gathered in the cafe, bemoaning the early (10am) start on a Sunday, but bubbling with excitement and enthusiasm for the 2 hours ahead. We are greeted by Sarah who was to lead our session with a demonstration assisted by the lovely Claire. We moved upstairs to the airy, bright studio where we were given the obligatory health and safety talk; hair tied back, jewellery removed and a reminder that pottery is messy so it was recommended to roll our sleeves up and enjoy!

Following Sarah's informative and easy demonstration, we were all let loose to gather the required equipment - bag a wheel, a stool and get potting! What followed was great fun, very dirty with clay water spraying all over the place, a bit rude as we coaxed our clay into a variety of phallic shapes before pressing down to make the openings to our bowls; disasters aplenty as the wheels were spun too quickly, hands were not in the right place and the clay did not behave; our saviours Sarah and Claire were on hand to avert genuine disasters.

Each of our ladies succeeded in making 2 items for firing in the kiln; the majority of us making bowls or small trinket plates, Sam made what can only be described as a beehive and Alice made a chalice - unintentional rhyming there! Liz, having found her groove at the wheel, managed to squeeze in a 3rd item which was a genuine accident that she tried to pull back from the brink of disaster, she was left with a beautiful item with folded in pieces of clay which will look amazing once fired with her colour choice. 

We moved all our makes onto ceramic tiles, chose the colours for firing and have to leave our makes for 2 weeks for the next step to be completed. I think it involves baking the makes and dipping them in glaze, I'm not sure if there is anything else that contributes to the magic of colouring them in! Sam kindly offered to pick up the box of makes after 2 weeks and bring them to the next meeting, so watch out for ladies toting around amazing homemade pieces at the next meeting, I am personally looking forward to seeing Alice drinking from her vessel.

Much thanks must go to Carolyne for organising. A number of us are considering going back for more time behind the wheel - it is surprisingly therapeutic to get so dirty! Thanks also to Sarah and Claire for your patience and advice, it was a great start to a Sunday and absolutely recommend to all those other members who said that they wanted to try it out. You never know we might have a SHWI dinner service by the end of the year!

Rachel White
Committee Member

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Christmas meeting and cocktails

December is always a special time for us SHWI-ers. Secret Santa and our Christmas quiz always gets us in the festive mood. However, this meeting was to be our last at Electric Works and we wanted to celebrate. 

Our last meeting at Electric Works - December 2015

Electric Works has been great for us. It’s allowed us to expand to 135 members. We’ve been able to accommodate disabled members and guests easily. We’ve had a ceilidh, cheerleading, crafting, parties and a market. But it’s time for us to move on, but not before one last go on the helter skelter!

Our main entertainment for the evening was Ed, Cocktail-Maker-in-Chief at The Broadfield and all-round spirits connoisseur. He showed us how to make three cocktails, the history behind it and we all got to taste. Hiccup!

Ed shows us how it's done

I also put together my annual Christmas quiz which this time was a picture round of clips from Christmas films. Congrats to the winners!

Winners of the quiz

Secret Santa is always popular with our gang. Members who want to take part bring a wrapped gift worth £5 and get to take away one themselves. I saved mine until Christmas Day and was thankful for some special festive beers. Thanks Santa!

Our Secret Santa presents
We also invited Jo and Theresa from the Young Women’s Housing Project to have a photo with the big cheque totalling all our fundraising from 2014. They gave us an update on where they money we raised has gone and how this has benefitted the women and children they support. We’ll be inviting our charity of 2015, SAYiT to do this same early in 2016. 

Jen and Kirsty hand over the cheque
I was very emotional to see the big pile of food we collected this month for local food banks. Members really dug deep into their pockets (and cupboards!) and brought Christmas puddings, mince pies, stuffing and gravy to make sure the vulnerable people in our community had a great holiday too. This month, I took the donations to St Thomas’ Church in Crookes and they were very grateful so thanks to everyone who helped. 

Our donations to the food bank

Here’s to a successful and happy Seven Hills WI in 2016 at our new home!

Kirsty Bowen

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Shelley Richmond talks about Rain Rescue and how photos can save furry lives.

November is always an exciting month, as it's our group Annual Meeting….. Which means we get to sing Jerusalem. Our youngest attendee Polly also joined us in song which was wonderful, a future member indeed! 

Kirsty took us through her first presidential address. Laura took us through the highlights of our year which were many. It's so great to look back over the last 12 months and see what we've achieved in our Centenary Year with both a new President and Secretary. Vicky took us through our financial statement and we have a healthy bank balance once again meaning that we can continue to offer the very popular Denmark bursaries. 

After a quick break we were onto our speaker. We were joined by Shelley Richmond, although not to craft with felt as per the programme, but instead to talk about her work with Rain Rescue. 

Rain Rescue are a Registered Charity founded in 2002. They are dedicated to supporting the local community by ensuring the provision of a reputable rescue centre to help pets in true crisis. Rain Rescue has saved the lives of thousands of dogs and cats from crisis situations in and around Yorkshire. Primarily savings dogs due to be put to sleep in the stray kennels and cats abandoned on the street who have no one else to care for them. Shelley showed us some images which were upsetting to some (I may have been squeezing Zoe and Anna's hands a bit tight… sorry about that!) and a few moist eyes dotted the room. 

Shelley’s passion and love for dogs was clear as she told us about a few cases, Colin in particular stuck in my mind. He was in a bad way when Rain Rescue picked him up, with awful injuries inflicted by heartless people. Rain Rescue has nursed him back to full health and Colin is also one of the stars featured in the Rain Rescue calendar which Shelley has taken photographs for. 

Photo by Shelley Richmond

The meeting ended on a high note hearing the recovery stories and seeing the ‘after’ photos. We also got to know about Shelley’s mission to change how people feel about the Staffy breed and their owners through a series of beautiful photos. Thank you to Shelley for her visit and to her and Rain Rescue for all they do for vulnerable animals. 

Sarah Willoughby
Committee member