May Open Studio: 2 Shows Daily

Dear Mustard Lovers old and new,

I hope this email finds you as well as can be expected (or perhaps even weller?).

My exciting news is that I will very soon be performing a puppet show. Exciting and very scary as this is a totally new venture for me.

I went on a course with Isobel Smith to learn how to make these rod puppets, and now have two! (Mr and Mrs Mustard). Then I did another course with Robert Race and made some moving wooden toys ( a Doris Dog and a few others) and a bit of scenery. And with all these lovely characters moving in their three dimensions for the first time I felt moved to put on a Show. But it's not as easy as all that. In fact it's not easy at all.

I've been practising an awful lot. Some days it seems that all I do is walk the dogs, make my dinner and practise with my puppets. Not a bad life though, really...

The show has gone through many incarnations... and THANKS to the generous friends who have sat through it all and given me invaluable feed back, as my 2 dogs (Moses and Stanley Philpot) are supportive but not particularly helpful it has to be said.

And now what I'm left with is a simple piece, 15 minutes long, that looks as though it took me 5 minutes to put together. And not particularly well at that. The wriggly puppets seem to have minds of their own, and the props sometimes collapse which really is not part of the show. But I'm hoping that the charm of the puppets, my strenuous efforts to keep it together, and the fact that it's only a short piece will carry us through. O, but I'm so nervous though. So wish me luck, or if you're near enough, do come along and have a smile. There's free popcorn.

The show will be performed twice a day for two weekends:

12.30 and 4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays 21st, 22nd and 28th, 29th Perhaps there may be a short film?

And I haven't just been playing with my toys and nothing else, although sometimes it feels a bit like that...I have painted 8 new small square original paintings ( still at the framers as I write, so as hot off the press as they come). There are new button badges (that will soon find their way onto the website), new card ranges (occasions by Art Press), new limited edition prints (published and distributed by Collier Dobson)... And all will be there at the Open Studio. Along with the Puppet Show... Or did I mention that already?

We also have beautiful, leather handbags made by a very talented new company Ginger and Brown. They really are special. And once they get into the shops the prices will double of course, so if you want that very special handmade handbag of your dreams I recommend a good peruse of the limited stock here at the Open Studio. We also have bespoke corsets and Eco friendly leather accessories by the very talented Harriet Rich

And, my own favourite (as I have 2 of his lamps and  a very special garden fountain) Chris Cain's recycled metal lamps and birdbaths. Some really do have to be seen to be believed. And hopefully a few cards and sketches by Jerwood Prize Winning Artist Cadi Froehlich Cadi's work is brave, bold and sensitive: an upcoming superstar, she really is a one to watch! Really really.

O dear.

I must confess I have just damaged one of Mr Mustard's legs (he has a very high pain threshold so don't panic) and am having to apply some emergency surgery... Hopefully it'll be alright on the night? So wish me luck Mustard Lovers, but don't invite me to break-a-leg (*a quaint British expression for all you overseas fans).

All the very best to you,

Sam Toft x

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