This is a guest post by Sophie Hammer, founder of Unusual Girl Art.
I’m a resin artist living in downtown Penge, south east London. I create unique resin homeware, wall art and furniture and, pre-pandemic, taught resin workshops.
Back in the late 90s I studied Fine Art at Leeds Uni but my degree left me completely unprepared for considering it as a career. What’s more, my studies had made me question the point of making art at all (4 years of reading Derrida can do that to you). So I followed the lure of working in the media and, as weird as it seems now, didn’t so much as pick up a paintbrush for a decade.
However, as I entered my 30s I started to suffer from bouts of anxiety and feeling weirdly adrift from my own body. It took me a while but eventually I realised that an artist needs to create to feel connected to the world and their sense of self. After years of repressing this impulse, once I started making things I started to feel more like me. This was the beginning of the upcycling boom and, never one to do something simple, I was inspired by the notion of ‘artcycling’. So I took unwanted furniture (from relatives, friends, street corners…) and deconstructed it, painted it, decoupaged it, put it back together, not necessarily the way it started. There were chairs that were awkward to sit in, drawers that didn’t open properly but I was in my element.
It was at this time that I discovered resin. I was inspired by those resin river tables you see on Pinterest - how hard can those be, right? Careful planning and preparation were no match for my enthusiasm so I taped up a broken sideboard with masking tape and got pouring. A sticky mess ensued, but even as I saw the resin pool onto the floor I was hooked. I managed to salvage the side board and have been making unconventional, but increasingly more beautiful and functional things ever since. The happy marriage of use and ornament is what drives me, but as an artist it’s always got to have an unconventional flourish (hence ‘Unusual Girl’).
While on maternity leave in 2018 I started a small pop up art space with my local art community, SE20 Art Group. It was here I ran my first resin workshop and got a sense for how much this activity could mean to people. Every time I did a workshop it would sell out and so I moved to bigger venues, refining and developing the format as I went. My budding resinistas would delight in the opportunity for play and to escape the digital world for something so tactile. Total beginners could create something that looked cool and lose themselves in the process.
For me resin is the perfect medium for art, and for workshops, because it can take so many forms. It can be forgiving to your mistakes, it can be harsh on your intentions. You have to surrender your control, let it guide you and give yourself over to the unexpected.
Sophie Hammer works as Unsual Girl Art, creating unique art homeware in South London.
Sophie will be leading our February workshop, showing our members how to cast a resin pot and pour a coaster, to learn the basics of mixing, pouring and casting resin and create a matching set of pieces.
See more and sign up to join the workshop here (deadline is 4th February however we are close to selling out - for the second time - so sign up soon to avoid missing out!).