Sunday, 28 December 2008

More birds

I seem to have developed an obsession with making little bird beads.  I am not sure whether this is related to the partridge on the patio or to the collection of birds in Whitby Museum but I am having fun trying to make them in different shapes, sizes and patterns.  Not very beautiful but at least I am learning about making shapes in the glass.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Funny beads

I have decided that I need to try and few more techniques and that now is a good time to attempt this. So yesterday I made a couple of beads masking and pulling dots to try and create a pattern. I also made my first attempt at a bird bead - inspired by all the birds I had been looking at in Whitby Museum. Unfortunately I dropped it on the concrete floor of my studio after photographing it and have shattered it...... not that it was very good, just would have been nice to keep the first one! I have attempted another but it is in the kiln annealing.

I have also made my first hollow bead, again not very good but at least I understood the process and managed to achieve a complete bead. It has a few stray threads of glass inside along with bits of bead release that dropped inside as I removed it from the mandrel (and I have no idea how to get it out).

This has all give me food for thought and I won't be getting any work done for the next few days as I am going down to Warwick to stay on the canal boat for the weekend, then Tuesday visiting Nottingham University to look at it as a possible venue for the Guild of Enamellers Annual Conference in 2010.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Whitby Museum

Today I have had a quick visit to Whitby Museum, where I will be artist in residence during 2009. It is the most fantastic place with an eclectic collection ranging from fossils to birds and butterflies; carved peach stones from China; model ships; Roman lamps; Zulu beadwork; jet; hatpins; toys and a display of models inside light bulbs. All of this and more will become a source of inspiration for work in the coming year. I am really excited about the prospect and can see that it will take me some time to sort my ideas out and begin work in a focussed way.

When I got home I attempted a bead with a face on it, inspired in part by the shields in the ethnographic section but also by the beads by Bronwen Heilman in a new book I bought yesterday Masters: Glass Beads curated by Larry Scott (Lark Books)

Monday, 1 December 2008

Warwick Castle

I have just returned from a weekend craft fair at Warwick Castle. I have never participated in such a well run event, the whole thing from arrival at the venue; setting up right through to dismantling and leaving was extremely well organised and from my point of view went smoothly. The staff were lovely, really friendly and helpful and the castle had a huge number of visitors, particularly on the Sunday and it was lovely to meet so many interesting and interested people.

I will certainly be returning to this venue (if, of course I am invited).

Monday, 24 November 2008

New book and ready to go

Today I have received Kate McKinnon's book Structural Metal Clay
It seems to answer many of the questions I had about metal clay and offer all kinds of ideas and solutions. I am really keen to just sit, read, digest and work my way through it. Unfortunately I have to get ready as tomorrow I am going on a course run by Business Link and then off down to Warwick ready for the craft fair at Warwick Castle next weekend.

Can't wait to get back and start experimenting though......

Friday, 21 November 2008


Two pairs of pretty earrings finished off today. These are textured on one side using pieces of fern from my garden and the twist gives them a great sense of movement when they are worn.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Workshop at the Platform Gallery

On Saturday I ran a workshop at the Platform Gallery in Clitheroe, Lancashire. This was a fantastic day at a lovely venue - a great bunch of very creative people and all well looked after by the dedicated staff. I will post some of the pictures on facebook

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Hadar's book arrived here too

and now what am I going to do? I haven't actually got any of the bronze clay yet and am having so much fun experimenting with the silver that I don't really want to get sidetracked at the moment - but it does look interesting and one of my aims for this year was to learn how to make rivets........ and I haven't started yet!

I have gone back to my usual methodic ways and am making tiny samples of the art clay silver all the same, so that I can treat them differently and have a visual record........ to join my folders full of enamelling samples........ no, not really just playing honestly, this is research! Fun though.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

yawn yawn

I seem to have spent most of my day updating my website, not what I intended to do but ah well! I suddenly got all enthusiastic about experimenting with enamel and bits of glass again last night and stayed up much too late - but then of course had to wait for the kiln to cool down after annealing this morning. I think some of the experiments have gone a bit too far though....

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Looking at the pictures really

Well I finally spent my book token, a birthday present in early October it has been lurking in my bag waiting for the perfect book...... which I decided is Precious Metal Clay Techniques edited by Tim McCreight. Each chapter is by a different artist and it is totally inspiring! I just don't know what to do now....... where should I start...... ?

Friday, 7 November 2008

A bird with red legs

Astonishing to see this little red legged partridge sitting just outside my living room window one day last week. If the picture is slightly blurred it is only because I set my camera to zoom as high as possible so I didn't have to go near to the window, I didn't want to startle it

Firing on two kilns at once

Thought it was time I made some input into this! I have been working hard but after a weekend away in Edinburgh am all inspired. I spent a happy afternoon with Emma Baird and she very generously showed me how she makes her lovely spotted beads. I had a day out and went to see a very interesting exhibition of ceramics with calligraphy at The Nomads Tent (and of course had to be dragged away from all the beautiful carpets) and then spent Saturday at the Guild of Enamellers Region 1 workshop which was an introduction to Riso Screens, run by Pat Johnson.

It was a really interesting technique but I am not sure that I will use it much - as it means having to send off to have the screens made!

Anyway, most of this week I have been making glass beads. I have also done my first constructed bi-cone bead in metal clay (art clay silver); made a triangular pendant that I intend to enamel and am half way through a tube pendant with a couple of small matching tube beads to combine with some of the glass beads I have made today! The kilns are working overtime - one annealing a batch of glass beads and the other firing the metal clay........

Phew and at least the studio is warm !

I have now added a photograph of my new beads, fresh from the kiln

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Glass beads and whatever next

I have recently begun to learn to make glass beads and it is totally addictive. I am spending as much of my time as I can at the torch, gas flame noisy and keeping me company. Although I have only just started and am fairly pleased with progress - I love the colours and the way in which I can combine them, sometimes swirling sometimes dabbing on spots. The other beads are silver, made using art clay silver, a mixture of silver particles with a binder. Metal clay that can be moulded, pasted, textured and then fired in the kiln where the binder burns away leaving a pure silver piece. It is a very exciting and flexible medium - I teach courses in my studio in North Yorkshire
For more information see my website