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The Sun

November 29, 2021

I thought it might be fun to warm ourselves up in this chilly month and learn a few facts about the Sun. For instance, did you know…

The Sun accounts for 99.86% of the mass in the solar system.

It has a mass of around 330,000 times that of Earth. It is three quarters hydrogen and most of its remaining mass is helium.

One day the Sun will consume the Earth.

The Sun will continue to burn for about 130 million years after it burns through all of its hydrogen, instead burning helium. During this time it will expand to such a size that it will engulf Mercury, Venus, and Earth. When it reaches this point, it will have become a red giant star.

The Sun is almost a perfect sphere.

Considering the sheer size of the Sun, there is only a 10 km difference in its polar and equatorial diameters – this makes it the closest thing to a perfect sphere observed in nature.

The Sun is travelling at 220 km per second.

It is around 24,000-26,000 light-years from the galactic centre and it takes the Sun approximately 225-250 million years to complete one orbit of the centre of the Milky Way.

The Sun will eventually be about the size of Earth.

Once the Sun has completed its red giant phase, it will collapse. It’s huge mass will be retained, but it will have a volume similar to that of Earth. When that happens, it will be known as a white dwarf.

It takes eight minutes for light reach Earth from the Sun.

The average distance from the Sun to the Earth is about 150 million km. Light travels at 300,000 km per second so dividing one by the other gives you 500 seconds – eight minutes and twenty seconds. This energy can reach Earth in mere minutes, but it takes millions of years to travel from the Sun’s core to its surface.

The Sun is halfway through its life.

At 4.5 billion years old, the Sun has burned off around half of its hydrogen stores and has enough left to continue burning hydrogen for another 5 billion years. Currently the Sun is a yellow dwarf star.

The distance between Earth and Sun changes.

This is because the Earth travels on a elliptical orbit path around the Sun. The distance between the two ranges from 147 to 152 million km. This distance between them is one Astronomical Unit (AU). Deep in the sun’s core, nuclear fusion converts hydrogen to helium, which generates energy. Particles of light called photons carry this energy through a spherical shell called the radiative zone to the top layer of the solar interior, the convection zone. There, hot plasmas rise and fall like the ooze in a lava lamp, which transfers energy to the sun’s surface, called the photosphere.

It can take 170,000 years for a photon to complete its journey out of the sun, but once it exits, it zips through space at more than 186,000 miles a second. Solar photons reach Earth about eight minutes after they’re freed from the sun’s interior, crossing an average of 93 million miles to get here.

The Sun rotates in the opposite direction to Earth

with the Sun rotating from west to east instead of east to west like Earth.

The Sun rotates more quickly at its equator

than it does close to its poles. This is known as differential rotation.

The Sun has a powerful magnetic field.

When magnetic energy is released by the Sun during magnetic storms, solar flares occur which we see on Earth as sunspots. Sunspots are dark areas on the Sun’s surface caused by magnetic variations. The reason they appear dark is due to their temperature being much lower than surrounding areas.

Temperatures inside the Sun can reach 15 million degrees Celsius.

Energy is generated through nuclear fusion in the Sun’s core – this is when hydrogen converts to helium – and because objects generally expand, the Sun would explode like an enormous bomb if it wasn’t for it’s tremendous gravitational pull.

The Sun generates solar winds.

These are ejections of plasma (extremely hot charged particles) that originate in the layer of the Sun know as the corona and they can travel through the solar system at up to 450 km per second. In addition to light, the sun radiates heat and a steady stream of charged particles known as the solar wind. The wind blows about 280 miles (450 kilometers) a second throughout the solar system, extending the sun’s magnetic field out more than 10 billion miles. Every so often, a patch of particles will burst from the sun in a solar flare, which can disrupt satellite communications and knock out power on Earth.

The atmosphere of the Sun is composed of three layers:

the photosphere, the chromosphere, and the corona.

The Sun is classified as a yellow dwarf star.

It is a main sequence star with surface temperatures between 5,000 and 5,700 degrees celsius (9,000 and 10,300 degrees fahrenheit).  The label “yellow” is misleading, though, since our sun burns a bright white. On Earth, the sun can take on warmer hues, especially at sunrise or sunset, because our planet’s atmosphere scatters blue and green light the most.

Here’s a few I made earlier.

And one more retro sun to keep this little chap warm. The Sun… we simply wouldn’t be here without it !

Many thanks to the many illustrative contributors today and the fabulous sun facts from The Planets.org and National Georgraphic.com.

Did you learn anything here today that surprised you ?

Shelle Lindholm Nature Emerging in Art

November 22, 2021

I first encountered Shelle’s paintings on Instagram a couple of years ago. Through following her, I would often see new updates or pieces of work and would always like or comment upon them. I think my love for her work came through two connections. My own love of nature and animals and a link (I feel, but don’t necessarily see) in her work to textile design and repeat pattern. I got in touch to find out more.

What do you recall about growing up with art materials and being encouraged to develop your skills from a young age ?

The encouragement was strong. The materials, inexpensive and easily available. Growing up in a neighborhood where friends and family embraced and practiced creativity in all its forms was the best! My mom was an antique dealer. I watched her repurpose and refinish all kinds of “junk” into unique, functional items for the home. I think that is where I discovered the beauty in something worn out, scarred up and bent out of shape!  The shop was chock full of textiles – quilts, blankets, tablecloths, lace doilies, old clothes and more. Having a creative Mom and all that cool stuff around. made a lasting mark on my imagination! Dad was supportive too, making frames for our art and hanging it in his doctor’s office.

Can you tell us a little about the obvious connection to your subject matter and your sheer delight of nature.

Love for all things furred, finned and feathered has never waned or gone away so it must be something I was born with???

Being around animals has always been part of my life, as well.  My grandparents were farmers who raised corn and livestock. My Dad would take me and my siblings on nature walks, field guides in hand, learning to identify birds, wild flowers, bark and leaves.  Our house was loud and lively with dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits and turtles. Now I live on 6 acres at the edge of the woods in rural Montana. Every day brings surprise visits from a wonderful array of wildlife including deer, elk, fox, coyote, bear, wild turkeys, cranes, owls, hawks, eagles and all sorts of birds large and small.

I see a couple of themes that occur in your paintings. Firstly a representation of an animal as we know it. Secondly an animal that has been dramatised and made into a slight charactature of itself and lastly a style that looks a little more like a textile design and has elements of repeats within the frame. Is there a style or way of working you prefer to work in and if so why ?

Good question!
While the themes may vary, the thinking behind creating the work is the same. What ties the works together is story and intent. The intent is to paint the heart and soul of an animal, not necessarily every hair on its body. The story – the who, what, when and where, is the thinking behind the work. What is this animal doing? Where is it? Why is it jumping, leaping, dancing? Why does it have that look in its eye?


There is also the practical matter of working in 2 different art worlds – the fine art world and the commercial world of licensing. My customers on the commercial side, prefer a little more realism but enjoy the play with color and pattern to reflect the personality of an animal. The discipline it takes to paint for someone else. challenges me to keep up my drawing skills and has made me a better team player.  The fine art world allows for more freedom to explore creative ways to portray wildlife. The experimenting and learning keeps my imagination revved up and excited to paint.

You have a great array of decorative finishes and flourishes. How much of your past career of being a fine artist and furniture painter do you feel influences how you work today, and how do you create your layered paintings ?

I started 21 years ago, as a furniture painter with an idea and a what if. The idea was to combine the paint process I used on furniture, with my lifelong love of wildlife. What if – this paint process can be used to create something more complex than several layers painted on a coffee table? The thought of being a fine artist never entered my mind! I had a fire in my belly and it wouldn’t go away unless I painted, and painted, and painted some more. This process and I now have many years together. We’ve (I’ve) made lots and lots of mistakes. That is where I learned the thrill of its unpredictability’s and the limitations of the materials and myself. Finding the place where this work would thrive and have purpose lead me to the fine art community. It was scary! It still is scary!  I started small, stayed local, and worked on creating good relationships with people in my town, which lead to people in my state, which lead to people in my region. The business has grown beyond my wildest imagination and dreams. With the help of a lot of good people, hard work and a never give up attitude, the furniture painter has grown into a fine artist.

The process? Simply put, wax on, wax off! Paint and scrape. It’s a messy business. Wax is sandwiched between layers of acrylic paint. Scraping (with a dull razor blade) removes the wax and reveals layers of paint underneath. Animal forms are created by using hand cut templates. It’s a messy taped up business too. Someone once asked me , “Why do you use so many parts to make the template?” Because that is where I find ”the different”, I say!  Lastly, the background is developed into a lively environment for the main characters to live in. Sometimes it’s floating geometric shapes. Sometimes it’s a fantasy world of flora and fauna. A lot of negative painting is involved which I find relaxing and meditative.

Where would you like to see your work going in the next 5 years ?

This job/journey has always had a mind of its own. I set tentative goals for the year and make “wish

lists” aka, future projects, opportunities I’d like to experience or learn from.  

“Projects with a purpose” is what I am currently most interested in and on the lookout for.

Have you ever considered creating cards or textiles out of your wildlife ?

Yes. I make cards for special occasions like open studios, commissions or a way to say thank you.
Making textile designs is on my “wish list”.

Do you have a favourite animal or bird that you love to paint ?

I love them all, but seem to never tire of painting the fox, otter, owls, sandhill cranes or the horse.
The bear is the most requested animal I paint.

How do you know when a painting is finished ?

That is THE hardest thing to know, isn’t it?

When I feel I am close to being done, I’ll put the painting in “time out”. It gets stored out of sight. In due time, I’ll pull it out, see it with fresh eyes and know how to finish it up.

If you hadn’t have chosen a career in art, what do you think you might have done differently ?

Hmmm….it would involve working with my hands, be different every day, and would not require math to do the job!

Thanks Shelle for your detailed and informative relies to my questions and for answering, even in the midst of a crazy tornado-type storm when your electricity went down ! Now that’s dedication to your Art ! : ) I think your work would make beautiful greeting cards and textiles too. What do you think readers ?

Fishink Ceramics Sale starting in 2 hours !!

November 18, 2021

Hi Everyone. I thought it would be a good time to have a pre-christmas Fishink Ceramic Sale over on my instagram account @fishinkblog . This will open live on my stories in 2 hours time… i.e. 8pm GMT, later than usual to give my USA customers a chance of buying too : )

I also have the offer on of £5 off every £50 spent in the hope that it gives folk a small help with their present purchasing this year.

Please do pop over and have a look for yourself and let your friends know who may also appreciate my work.

Look forward to seeing you shortly

Craig x

Catch up soon and enjoy the Sale x

Simon Palmer Painting the Yorkshire Countryside Part 2

November 15, 2021

Welcome back to Fishinkblog for the second part of my post about the idyllic paintings of Simon Palmer.

If you missed part 1 you can catch up here.

Yorkshire-born artist Simon Palmer has gained a huge following both in the UK and abroad for his stunning watercolour paintings of the Yorkshire landscape. He studied Graphic Design and Illustration at the Reigate School of Art in Kent, but he was encouraged by his tutors to focus his energies upon painting. Simon Palmer’s meticulously detailed paintings are brimming with wit and his evident love for Yorkshire people and their landscape. He has a completely unique style that is immediately beguiling. He works into his paintings using pen and ink to achieve incredibly detailed foliage and tree bark.

HIs work quite often emplores the viewer to enter further into the piece by wandering down a country lane or wooded pathway.

The movement of the land is sometimes exaggerated and the viewer maybe treated to a birdseye perspective, in order to show more of those faraway fields, or some detail off into the distance that a normal ground level view wouldn’t reveal.

Simon’s work is always serene. These are peaceful landscapes where people go about their daily business and everything ticks along quietly.

Sometimes he captures travellers.

Or the changing seasons.

But most of the time it’s simply.. life happening by itself.

Simon’s landscapes are a visual map of the area where he lives. I feel like I could navigate my way around just by knowing his leafy paths and their twists and turns.

Definitely paintings that you can visually walk into, loose yourself and pop around that bend to see what is happening just beyond the sides of the canvas.

I hope, like myself, you enjoyed the work of Simon Palmer. If you did, send me a comment and let me know.

There’s a great selection of Simon’s work over at The Portland Gallery

Simon Palmer Painting the Yorkshire Countryside Part 1

November 8, 2021

Welcome to Monday and another busy week ahead. We begin today with the first of another two-part post to celebrate the inspiring leafy watercolours of Simon Palmer.

Simon Palmer was born in Yorkshire in 1956, and graduated from art school in 1977. He has exhibited extensively since 1980, and held ten one-man exhibitions in London with JHW Fine Art. For me his work has flavours of James McIntosh Patrick, Paul Nash, Eric Ravilious, Samuel Palmer, Stanley Spencer and even a tiny sprinkling of Beryl Cook !

” I fell in love with North Yorkshire during a visit to the county in my teens, says Palmer. On leaving art school I moved as soon as possible to live in the county and it has become my spiritual home ”

Simon’s love of the countryside surrounding his home in Ellingstring in Wensleydale is the dominant theme running throughout his work.

His paintings depict the rural setting, with a quirky and witty take on the Yorkshire Dales. It’s not entirely clear what period his work depicts, but from the clothing his wandering visitors wear, I’d say between 1930 and 1940. Perhaps a quieter time in a simpler world.

The result is a unique interpretation of the landscape or even just a trip around the local village.

“Expression of my deep love for the Yorkshire landscape is portrayed in my pictures”

Simon’s work often leads the viewer deeper into his paintings.

Pathways and people are both familiar themes.

A book, The Art of Simon Palmer was published in 2011.

His exhibitions have been widely reviewed, and previous catalogues have included essays by Alan Bennett, Martin Drury, Tom Flynn, Iain Gale, Lynne Green, Ronald Maddox, Elspeth Moncrieff and Jane Sellars. He has written and illustrated three books, including Pebbles on a Beach. His work is often reproduced as book and magazine covers, or used in calendars, brochures and programmes.

Palmer’s work is held in many private collections in Europe, America, Australia and Japan. Salt’s Mill at Saltaire holds a large collection of his work; other collections include the National Trust, the Council for the Protection of Rural England, Mercer Art Gallery and the Penn Club, London.

Check back in next week for Part 2 of Simon’s post.

Vintage Book Covers

November 1, 2021

It’s been a while since I shared some classic book covers.

I can’t tell you why but they always make me feel warm inside, I hope they have the same effect for you : )

Here’s a little science to get the visual party started.

A little food to go on the side table.

Throw in a little mystery and intrigue.

Making sure it’s well packaged.

Remember there’s a lot to learn out there.

Even if it’s from our children.

Before alas and all too soon… the party’s over.

Do any of these covers prompt a memory for anyone ? Hope you enjoyed today’s visual feast !

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You can be sure of Shell

October 25, 2021

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As a child my earliest associated memory of going for petrol, was always the free gift you would get for filling up at that service station. Different companies tried to outdo one another with the presents they would bestow on you for your custom. As an early artist, I particularly remember one company giving away felt tip pens. Each colour had a name and so you were encouraged to try and get the set. I always found it so exciting, going to choose the colour (or colours, depending how much fuel you had bought) after my dad had filled the car. It was a clever way to get loyalty and repeat custom and was possibly one of my first exposures of the power of advertising and consumerism !

Shell used postcards as an early form of advertising, beginning in the early 1900s. Postcards were a quick and easy way of sending messages before telephones became a popular commodity and postal deliveries could arrive several times a day. The popularity of postcards helped Shell increase their profile in Britain, reaching everyone including the non-motorists.

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The first Shell advertising poster was created in 1920. They were displayed on the side of lorries carrying fuel to customers all over the country. These adverts (or ‘Lorry Bills’ as they became known), were designed in reaction to the public outcry against roadside hoardings in the countryside.

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Foreign posters too and a whole range of topics and themes, not just centered around the more obvious choices of cars and transport.

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Of course there were still many classic posters produced using the more obvious themes too.

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But unusually Britain’s landmarks and a campaign showing the different types of people who use Shell, became very popular.

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I’m sure you’re relieved to know that Judges, Architects, Scientists and even Film Stars all use Shell.

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We’re told it’s even a ‘friend to the Farmer’, giving it that ‘good for the environment angle’.

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The most innovative designs were created around 1932, when Jack Beddington became responsible for the company’s advertising. Under his direction, artists were commissioned who weren’t necessarily associated with commercial art. These artists went on to become famous names in British contemporary art.  Among them were people like Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland, Vanessa Bell, Ben Nicholson and John Piper.

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There are over 7,000 posters in the Shell Art Collection, reflecting the charm and character of a nostalgic age of motoring.

Just imagine filling up here… : )

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The poster (below) depicting the family all ready for their holidays, is definitely my favourite.

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Which one is yours ? You can find out more about the Shell Posters by visiting the National Motor Museum website.

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Vicky Lindo Ceramics that got the cream

October 18, 2021

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Vicky Lindo has been on my ‘posts to relist’ for quite sometime now.  Based down in Bideford in Devon, she used to work for a number of years in the Burton Art Gallery. Until, both influenced and fascinated by an exhibition of the R J Lloyd slip-ware collection, made in the middle ages by farmers and country folk, (more here), she decided to start up her own workshop and make her personal range of slip-ware. Below are a sample of the ceramics Vicky was inspired by… and I can see why !

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Although it’s far more contemporary and with a slant towards the purr-fect feline, Vicky’s work certainly has a bit more colour and definitely makes me smile, her partner Bill Brookes is also her business partner and together they produce these beautiful ceramics.

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The ideas often originate in a sketch or painting. It helps to determine where shapes and pattern will be, sometimes this will be altered slightly for the final piece. The hardened clay object to be decorated is then coated with a layer of different coloured slip (watered down clay) and once that’s dried, the design can be drawn and cut into (sometimes called Sgraffito). You have to be clever at thinking in monotone and good with shapes and pattern, it’s not as easy as you may think.

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Finally after the second firing, the piece is finished

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Sometimes Vicky hand decorates directly onto a pre-fired piece. Having cats around the home and studio must help when using your imagination to conjure up these whimsical pieces. Of course the cats help out too… when then can!

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It’s great to capture the ‘aloofness’ of cats so well and I like the way the garden creeps up onto their coats sometimes too.

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It’s not all about cats.

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Some pieces are commissioned too.

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More variation of themes and colours.

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When she has a few minutes to spare (which I imagine these days doesn’t happen often), Vicky likes to relax and do some hand embroidery.

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Fabulously quirky ideas.

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But in the kingdom of the ceramic world… Vicky’s cat is still King of the jungle.. or at least her back garden ! Beautiful work Vicky, keep inspired and long may they prosper and continue to amuse us all.

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Charles Keeping Illustrating paintbox picture books

October 12, 2021

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Charles Keeping (1924-1988) an illustrator and lithographer, produced dynamic and emotive images. Born in Lambeth, South London, his secure and happy upbringing had an unusually important effect in shaping both the man and the artist. Entering a working class family, there was no obvious route for Charles to get into art school. He spent his childhood in a house that overlooked an active stable yard, and became a frequent and accurate observer of horses and carts. He attended the Frank Bryant School for Boys, in Kennington, leaving at the age of 14 to become apprentice to a printer.

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He joined the Royal Navy Army at the age of 18, and fought in the Second World War, serving as a wireless operator.  He received a head wound which he became convinced would make him become a Jekyll and Hyde figure, but after being institutionalised, he recovered.  Determined to pursue his love of drawing, he applied several times to study art at the Regent Street Polytechnic, but was unable to get a grant.  He kept on applying, supporting himself by reading gas meters, and continuing drawing in the evenings.  It was at the Regent Street Polytechnic (1946-52), where he met the designer and illustrator Renate Meyer, whom he later married. His books explore amazing roads into colour and texture, whilst dealing with solitary, often lonely figures in their tiny worlds.

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He took various jobs, including cartoonist on the Daily Herald, before starting work as a book illustrator. In 1956, he was commissioned by the Oxford University Press to illustrate stories for children written by Rosemary Sutcliffe, and with the encouragement of the doyenne of children’s book editors, Mabel George of OUP, was launched on a career which for three decades made him one of the best known and more prolific illustrators (1960-1980s). He made brilliant use of colour and the new printing techniques, using a mixture of gouache, tempera, watercolour and inks. He was an early enthusiast for Plasticowell, the grained plastic sheets designed by the printers, Cowells of Ipswich, for lithographic illustrations.

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Charles Keeping was always concerned with the lot of the working horse:  having been born in Lambeth, he was surrounded by them.  He wrote two picture books, Black Dolly and Sean and the Carthorse about ill-treated working horses, and one Richard, about a working police horse whose treatment is always fair.  Illustrating Black Beauty must have been something of a dream commission:  he dedicated his version “to all those concerned with the care and welfare of horses and ponies.”

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Keeping won the Kate Greenaway award for Charley, Charlotte and the Golden Canary (1967), and again for The Highwayman (1981); he was a prize-winner in the Francis Williams Award for Tinker, Tailor (1968), and for Kevin Crossley-Holland’s The Wildman (1976); and he won the Emil Award in 1987 for Jack the Treacle Eater. He became particularly well known for his work on historical novels for children, especially tales by Rosemary Sutcliff, which often depicted Vikings, men in battle or war situations. Or similarly for Leon Garfield books about ghosts, creatures from the dark and other sinister characters.

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His commitment to the immense project to illustrate the complete Dickens for the Folio Society was total, and he completed it just before his death on 16 May 1988. He became the first illustrator to complete a full edition of Dickens illustrated by a single artist. His wife Renate, also an artist, set up a website called The Keeping Gallery so that both of their work can be treasured.

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Have you ever seen such colour in books before ?

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Thanks to Matt for sending in these scans after seeing this post.

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Amazing use of rich shading and textures. Wonderful work Mr Keeping. You can find more on http://www.instagram.com/officialkeepinggallery.

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These Shoes were meant for sharing !

October 4, 2021

Hi everyone, I hope this find’s you well and easing into the week ahead. About a fortnight ago I had a few days away from the grindstone and hopped over to Northampton, largely to visit friends there, but also to take in the city and it’s wealth of surrounding parks.

I discovered that the town hall was rather lavishly decorated with stunning details.

There were beautiful stone carvings, depicting scenes from nature and many of the local professions of the area.

The top one being a shoemaker, which led us to visiting Northampton’s Museum and Art Gallery where there is a fabulous collection of shoes from throughout the ages.

The exhibition starts with the notion that there are perhaps only 11 types of shoe. The Bar Shoe, Boot, Clog, Court Shoe, Derby, Moccasin, Monk, Mule, Oxford, Sandal and Trainer. Northampton Museum and Art Gallery is home to one of the largest collections of shoes and shoe heritage in the world. Arts Council England designates the collection as being of local, national and international importance.

The first thing that struck me about shoes from the 1600’s is how thin and tiny people’s feet used to be. There is such a variety of styles, I just picked out some of the fancier ones. Spot the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ‘child-catcher’ early Winkle-Pickers below and those famous flapper girls!!

As a county, Northamptonshire is built on the shoemaking industry with many towns and villages at one time or another being home to shoemakers, leather merchants, designers, tanneries and other related businesses. Northampton, has a proud heritage dating back almost 900 years. This photo dated around the 1920’s.

The county is still world renowned for the shoes it creates. Today over 25 manufacturers produce a huge range of quality footwear. Famous names such as Dr Martens and Church & Co still continue to thrive. Who recalls a trip to Clarks shoe shop and having their feet measured ?

Some of the information and a rather scary looking reptile boot !

Examples from Trainers…

To something a little more specific !! The red shoes derive from the film “Kinky Boots” and parts of it was filmed locally too.

From desirable and almost sci-fi footwear…

.. to those from further afield.

Spanning many eras.

Possibly my favourite idea was this “decorate your own pair” of Adidas trainers, complete with paints and brushes, all neatly packaged in an artists box. Clever designing !

Something for all and well worth popping in for a browse as the educational videos were as entertaining as the shoes. What shoe stories do you have to share ?