In summer 2008 we did something we'd never done before: we invited the talented, the nervous, the experienced, the novices, the studious and the downright curious into our Orkney studio to share in our Fabric Fusion techniques and design secrets. The courses were a great success, and we’ve held them every year since.

Each year we have changed slightly what we do, and when we do it, to fit in with what works best. For instance, we started off offering one, two and three day courses, but we found that (in most cases) one day was a bit of a rush, and three days was too long for most people. So our fabric fusion courses are now all two days long (except by special arrangement.)

Actually, one change we are bringing in for 2011 is that ALL courses will be by special arrangement. If you drop us a line and tell us when you are visiting Orkney, we will try and schedule a course around you and your visit. This helps us avoid scheduling courses which don’t suit your timing. Naturally, the more notice you can give us, and the more people you can bring along with you, the more likely it is we will be able to arrange something to suit you perfectly.

Meanwhile, we can announce dates for what has become a popular fixture of our summer: Charles Shearer’s printmaking courses.


Charles – graduate of the Royal College of Art, artist, printmaker and lecturer – returns to his island home. He has worked and exhibited in many parts of the world, but when he joined Tait & Style’s summer 2008 programme, it was first time he had ever taught in Orkney. We are delighted to have Charles back in 2011, reprising his introductory workshops, and exploring more advanced techniques too. His courses are very popular, and students of all levels of experience created lovely work. Charles has a wealth of knowledge, and communicates it clearly and inspiringly. He is a truly superb teacher, and is endlessly patient with students, no matter their experience!

All Charles’s courses take place at Soulisquoy Printmakers,
Pickaquoy Centre, Muddisdale Road, Kirkwall.

Sunday 3rd July, 10am – 4.30pm

An exploration of different approaches to drawing and mark making. Today can be enjoyed as a standalone course, but it would also be ideal preparation for the printmaking days.

Monday 4th July, 10am – 4.30pm

We will be working with large paper stencils to produce bold and colourful images. A project will be set, but you may wish to develop ideas of your own. Suitable for everyone, from complete beginners to those with some experience.

Tuesday 5th July, 10am – 4.30pm

This workshop will introduce you to a particular printing process that would suit anyone wishing to experiment and develop their creative ideas. Having no previous experience of print should not be a barrier but some dexterity with a craft knife would help. You will explore the basic techniques of creating, and printing from, collagraphic plates, that is, printing from mount or display board. You will also learn about tools, inks, papers and the machine involved in generating these unique and exciting images. If time allows, and for more experienced printmakers, we will explore the application of textured surfaces using a range of materials including carborundum powder, tissue paper, glues, tape and so on.

Wednesday 6th July, 10am – 4.30pm

Drypoint is generally associated with, and is at times combined with, etching. It involves drawing on a plate, traditionally copper, steel or zinc, with a heavy steel needle. No chemicals are involved, so the quality of line and tone is achieved by direct marking with the tools. Inked and wiped plates then require the exacting pressure of a printing press to give good results. For this workshop we will be using acrylic plates, a tried and tested alternative.

Charles Shearer adds:
These courses have been devised for people new to printmaking, or who have only a little experience of printmaking in whatever form. Here you have a chance to interact with simple materials that can take your ideas to new levels. If you have been on one of my earlier courses here, we will build on your experience. You are welcome to come to individual days, or any combination of courses. Bring an apron or old workshirt to protect your clothing, though water-based inks will be used throughout. Otherwise, you need only bring a sketchbook of ideas – or other inspirational material – ready to begin.

A full demonstration of all techniques will be given, and all materials and tools will be provided. Courses take place in Soulisquoy Print Studio, Pickaquoy Centre, Muddisdale Road, Kirkwall. The cost is £55 per day, including materials. Lunch can be bought in from a nearby café – or take a packed lunch to maximise creative time.

Charles’s courses are always popular, so advance booking is essential. Please phone us on 01856 888792 or email to book your place with Charles, or to tell us when you would like to do a fabric fusion session.