Sara, Silks & Synonyms

I promised I’d be back soon and, true to my word,  here I am!

It’s been a very creative couple of weeks and I’ve really enjoyed being a ‘student’ myself, rather than a teacher, for a change. The lovely effervescent Sara arrived on the island and kindly gave up some of her precious holiday to teach a couple of Creative workshops at Villa Nicara. (Thanks must go to her very understanding and patient husband, Kevin, too!)

The first class, ‘SILK PAINTING’, was so interesting – I can’t remember when I had so much fun!! Not only did we learn how to dye the silk (pre roll- edged scarves, which Sara provided) and ‘set’ them in the microwave but we also had a dose of learning to relinquish control “Let go and just see what happens”….(Yikes!! But a particularly useful exercise for me!).

Applying the inks very carefully to the silk in a plastic tray and then gently ‘squidging’ them around, led one to believe there was an element of control over the final outcome. Not a bit of it! Inks very definitely have a mind of their own; they mingle with other colours (or not) at random and each scarf  once completed and revealed, brought about squeals of surprise and utter delight !

Bright and colourful, they were left in the sun to dry either flat , knotted or scrunched and rolled (each of which produced a very different result every time).

Quick, easy and above all entirely redeemable , should any unforeseen or disappointing  ‘disaster’ occur, I recommend this course to anyone who wants an almost instantaneous result with the minimum of  skill and effort. There is a technique to learn of course but that’s where Sara’s excellent teaching skills come in. She had us believing  we all were more that capable right from the start – and, well, although she just made it look so easy, hers certainly had a more ‘professional’ look about them! A case for’Practice makes perfect’ after all……

Thank you , Sara!

Sara’s second course, ‘CREATIVE WRITING’, was an altogether more cerebreal affair. As a lover and avid reader of poetry and prose, or indeed anything to do with words, in any shape or form, and with  bookcases groaning with well-thumbed anthologies of favourite poets and authors myself, I was completely in my element with this one.

What could be more idyllic  than spending an afternoon gathered together under the shade of a pine tree, on a sunny Greek island, quoting and exchanging favourite authors and experimenting with words through a series of cleverly designed exersises.

Like any of the Art forms, the discipline lies in acquiring a sound knowledge of the basics or ‘rules’ first in order to be able to veer successfully off-track. With Sara’s experienced guidance,  her impressive imagination and enviable store of language, she encouraged us to step outside the boxes we confine ourselves to subconsciously, and to start thinking laterally. It produced some startling results!

As a group we were all very different individuals and each approached their writing in a unique, identifiable way (be it witty, humorous, factual etc). Yet , after just a short time, guided by Sara, we were each thinking ‘outside the box’ and producing interesting, colourful work, without compromising our natural individual writing styles, in any way. It was remarkable!

Also fascinating was the insight to the publishing world Sara revealed. Whether it’s a first novel, a blog or an anthology of poems that drives us to write, I don’t think any of us realised how ‘formulaic ‘ each genre  actually is (as required by the publishing houses). Sara’s suggestion that we start out less ambitiously and begin writing short stories first, which would provide a way to save becoming disheartened by the sheer no. of  ‘do’s and dont’s’!

Alas, the course was all too short (just a couple of days this time) but Sara plans to return in July and I’ll be one of the first to sign up for more! If you’d like to join us, please drop me a line and if you’d like read some of Sara’s own work, including her paintings, please check out her BLOG.

10 thoughts on “Sara, Silks & Synonyms

    • Hello John

      Music, words, art, textures, textiles – pure pleasure! Really enjoyed looking at your work, especially the knifescapes. And that’s a beautiful gallery space. All the best of luck with your enterprise.

      I’ve given your facebook the thumbs-up too!

      Sara Ridgley


    • Thanks again, Sara. It needs some tweaking…for some reason it’s not very stable yet – but I’m working on it! I thought a bit of freshening up for the summer was in order – nice bright Skiathos colours. I know how much (like me) you love them! xx


  1. It was a inspiring and great experience and thank you very much Sara and Yvonne for this. I hope to be able to attend again when I am not too busy. (but then again, I hope to be too busy since business must go on as usual.)
    many greetings, Frieda


    • Thank you Frieda! It was great wasn’t it! I’ll let you know when the next one is – hope to see you there. Meanwhile, it’s good to be busy but don’t work too hard!! Much love, x


    • Hi Frieda and Yvonne

      Thanks for the lovely feedback. And ‘feedback’ is the right word. I am nourished by your responses!

      I was thinking how much I enjoyed discovering your different writing styles and the inspiration it gives me to devise exercises to surprise and challenge people to explore their writing and share it with such delight. I love to encourage people to believe in their creativity because I know we all have it, but sometimes it lies hidden away, sleeping under a layer of responsibilities, that ‘must-do-that-instead’ factor. A little time spent on a truly creative project is a necessity, not an indulgence, to my mind – it gives us the strength and determination to do the other stuff!

      Heavens, that’s enough philosophy for today … It was a great privilege to work with you and I look forward to uncovering further audacity, giving ourselves ‘permission’ to be a little crazy – as W H Auden said of W B Yeats ‘You were silly like us …’ Exactly. My recipe for creative writing? Experimentation, the boldness to dive in and push the boundaries plus a little splash of daft.

      Best wishes and I hope you’re not melting out there in what (?) about 39 degrees?! England is cool, breezy, bright and bursting with leaf. My tomatoes are shivering but making an effort, my herb garden in an old box is thriving, the lilies are all ready to explode into flower and my climbing rose, Zephirine Drouhin, is pink and scented on 10 metres of fence. And now, to London …

      Love, Sara xx


  2. That’s just great, Yvonne! I had a fabulous time and can’t wait to do more. Time tot start looking at flights for July …

    I ran a class today using the old Greek photos on postcards I found in Skiathos town that we used as images to write from and it was wonderful to be able to pass on knowledge gained working with you and the group at Villa Nicara. Several of my UK students are visiting Greece this summer and were fascinated to see the rows of orderly but cheeky children sitting at their Thessaloniki school desks in 1954, the two women working at the weaving loom, the three men around the lanterna (music box) in the Athens taverna and the man sitting on the donkey, sidesaddle, reading his newspaper, confident that his mount would take him home without the need for steering!

    See you (very) soon.

    All the best, Sara xx


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