Things to do in September

Things to do in September

September is a wonderful month in the UK, as late summer tips into autumn. The lazy days of high summer are over and it’s time to slip on a sweater for early morning walks, find a sunny spot to sit in instead of a shady place and plan ahead for autumn.

Here are our favourite things to do this month.


Public bridleway through Essex farmland in September

The glorious colours of autumn are just beginning to show but the days are still warm and sunny making it the perfect time of year to pull on some sturdy shoes and take a walk. We’re lucky in England to have so many public rights of way that allow everyone to hike across fields, through woods and along rivers. If you walk across arable farms such as Slamseys in September, you’ll see the winter wheat crop being sown, which will slowly grow until it’s harvested next summer.

Find a map and discover what’s around the corner or discover somewhere new by following a long distance trail like The Jurassic Way.


Screen printing on fabric with text Learn to Print: Lino, Screen, Drypoint at Slamseys


No matter how many years it’s been since you went to school, do you still have an urge to sharpen your crayons and organise your pencil case at the beginning of the school year? September is a good time to sign up for a class to learn something new or revive an old skill.

Book a printing class at Slamseys and learn how to make screen prints, lino prints or intaglio prints. There are classes for beginners and rusty novices, printing on fabric or paper.

The autumn term starts with one of my favourite workshops the seasonal Creative Inspiration Day, which is about getting started with creative projects, exploring shape, colour and pattern, printing a selection of prints and filling a sketchbook full of ideas, all inspired by autumn.

Book now!


Yellow and red tomatoes in trug waiting to be preserved

Whether you’re the sort of person whose shelves are filled with home-made chutneys, jams and bottled fruit or you just make a few jars of jam for the satisfaction of spooning your own jam onto a scone, September is the time to capture the last of the summer produce in a jar.

Transform a glut of tomatoes into Passata with this recipe from The Shady Baker.

Use autumn fruiting raspberries to make this Raspberry Vinegar Sore Throat Soother from Life in Mud Spattered Boots or use blackberries picked from the hedgerows.

While the damson crop is at its peak, make this Damson Jelly from The Quince Tree.

Wash out the jars and bottles and start boiling.


collection of September foliage, berries and fruit

Collect things that take your fancy like feathers or shells, scraps of fabric or wool, souvenirs from your summer holiday or foliage from the hedgerow.

Arrange your collection and appreciate it. Record in your visual diary or sketchbook.

Make an old-fashioned nature table or a new-fangled digital one.

Make ephemeral displays outside that slowly disintegrate or press flowers and leaves to preserve forever.



Scroll free September

Make time to savour September, to enjoy the simple pleasures. Maybe even switch off social media and go Scroll Free, which will give you more time to enjoy being outside, learning, preserving and collecting.

Find out more about Scroll Free September.


Favourite things to do in September, preserving, collecting, learning

Have fun in September.

Creative Summer Challenge | And Next …

Creative Summer Challenge | And Next …


After four weeks of prompts and themes, the Slamseys Creative Summer Challenge has come to an end. We hope that if you joined in, you enjoyed the challenge and made it your own. All the posts will stay here so you can come back to it at any time.

With luck, you now have a good collection of work, so what will you do with it?

Have you found a format for keeping a visual journal that you enjoy and will continue to keep?

Yellow lino print of Jack Russell dog called Nelson


Over the summer, you should have collected plenty of inspiration for future projects. Ruth’s studies of her dog Nelson have already led to a lino printing session; this is her print of Nelson, but my favourite is of the sausage dog.

Perhaps you’ve gone in a completely new direction with your work and need to investigate further. With the new academic year ahead, perhaps it’s the time to sign up for a course to learn a new skill. At Slamseys, we offer printmaking classes, for beginners and anyone whose printmaking skills are a bit rusty, including textile printing, lino and block printing, screen printing, drypoint etching and monoprinting. If printing isn’t your thing, you may find something suitable in the UK on the Craft Courses website.

If you’ve been too busy over the summer to join in, you can do this challenge at any time of the year and pick it up and put it down at leisure.

We hope you’ve had a creative summer and are enthused enough to continue.


Details of all the printmaking courses in The Barley Barn at Slamseys are on the Slamseys Website. If you are coming to Essex from further afield, we have a good choice of accomodation locally, including campsites.



Creative Recycling

Creative Recycling

Printmaking can be very addictive. There are so many techniques to try, different papers and inks to use and always, the hope that the next print will be wonderful.

In this process of creating and experimenting, there is plenty of abandoned scrap paper. Some of these scraps are prints with pesky mistakes – a smudge here or a bleed from the stencil, many discarded prints are the result of glorious sessions of “what happens if …” and some of the scrap paper has been used to lift off the ink to clean the plate. Some of these bits of paper can be salvaged but some need slightly more creative recycling.

Call us environmentally friendly, frugal or just tight-fisted but we can’t bear to throw away paper that might have another use and have devised a few creative recycling ideas for the scrap paper.


Creative Recycling Don't Throw Out That Scrap Paper

Ten Creative Ways to Recycle Scrap Paper

1 Paper Making

All the strips of clean, unused paper that are the result of trimming paper to size, are kept to one side for a paper making session.

2 Make a Scrap Paper Jotter

Use a bulldog clip to make a scrap paper jotter. It’s surprising how often we need to make a quick note when we have inky fingers and our proper notebook is in the clean area. Keeping these scrap paper jotters to hand means precious measurements and details can be noted on something slightly more substantial than a loose scrap of paper.

3 Gesso and Start Again

Gesso over the worst prints and start again with a sheet of white paper or leave some printed areas uncovered to add interest. This is probably only worth doing if you have some particularly good paper that you just can’t bear to throw away but are happy to experiment on.


hand made book using jelly printed scrap paper

4 Make Small Notebooks

Make smalll notebooks with simple card covers. You can sew them together in sections or punch holes and thread through ribbon and tie together. It just depends how durable you need them to be. The notebook above is made from waste paper, sewn together in sections (there’s a good explanation here for making a sewn book) . To protect the covers, paint over a wash of 2 parts PVA glue to 1 part water to make the cover slightly more durable. Make a tiny pocketed notebook from a single sheet of paper liket this one.

5 Use Offcuts to Make Gift Tags

Use trimmings and offcuts to make gift tags. Or bookmarks. Or index card tabs.

6 Make Christmas Decorations

It’s far too early for even mentioning the C word, but paper cut into strips 1 – 2 centimetres wide can be curled around a pencil and slipped into an empty clear bauble to make a Curled Paper Christmas Decoration. For larger pieces of scrap paper, cut into strips to make old fashioned paper chains or cut into triangles, attach to a length of string and make Christmas bunting.

7 Make Your Own Washi Tape

Strictly speaking, make your own decorative tape unless you’re using Japanese paper. This is the easiest method we know of making decorative tape.  Use it decorate all sorts of things, including your Visual Journal or fasten your hand made envelopes below.

8 Chine Collee and Collage

The tissue paper used to lift the ink from a jelly plate is full of pattern and can be run through the press with drypoint or lino plates to create areas of colour and texture on the prints. Alternatively, the decorated tissue paper can be collaged onto card to make pictures in the style of The Very Hungry Catterpillar. Use the techniques in our guide to making decorative tape for an easy way to do this.

9 Use Sheets of Printed Paper to Make Decorative Envelopes

Hand made envelopes using scrap paper from print studio

My favourite way to recycle scrap paper is to make envelopes. I think a hand printed card needs to be of good quality but who cares if the printing on the envelope is a bit dodgy? A brightly coloured, hand printed envelope is a lot more exciting than the usual boring post.

It’s amazingly easy to make your own envelopes and probably the most difficult part is deciding what size to make them. Follow these easy instructions for making your own envelopes.

10 Shred It

When all else fails, the scrap paper can be shredded and used for packing.


Are you a creative recycler with more ideas to add to the list? Do tell.


10 projects to use up your stash of scrap paper



Creative Summer Challenge | Same time, same place

Creative Summer Challenge | Same time, same place


Summer is flying by and with luck your visual journal will be filled with wonderful things whether you’ve chosen to keep your journal as a record of the summer or as a springboard for producing pieces of art or craft throughout the year.


Creative Summer Challenge Same Place Same Time

This is the final week of the Creative Summer Challenge and the theme is Same Time, Same Place.

You may want to use this week’s theme as way of reinforcing the habit of keeping a Visual Journal so that you carry on after the summer. Setting aside time each day for your visual journal can help to make it a part of your daily routine, whether it’s a snatched five minutes or a relaxing wind down.

Alternatively, you might use the theme of Same Time, Same Place to revisit a place, an object or activity and take in the changes since you were last there. This could turn out to be a weekly, monthly, seasonal or annual activity that will build a wonderful collection of images for you to reflect on.


Here are a few more ideas for exploring the theme of Same Place, Same Time:

Take a walk at the same time each day and record what you see along the way

Make something inspired by the changing colours of your garden through the year

Visit a spot at different times of the day and record the changes of light, shadow and colours or the different people around it.

View a scene made famous by an artist and interpret it in your own way

Visit a historic house and compare the life upstairs with that of the staff downstairs

Do something creative with a group of friends or family and see how each person approaches it differently


Would you prefer to work from a list of prompts? Here they are then.









We hope you’ve enjoyed joining in with the challenge this summer and although there’s no pressure to share your work online, we’d love to see your work. Tag @Slamseys in Instagram, leave a link to your blog in the comments below or if you’re shy and don’t want to put your work online, use our contact form to tell us what you’ve been doing as part of the Creative Challenge this summer.