Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas

and a very creative and happy new year to everyone

Sunday, 20 December 2009

The walk to work

Ok, so first of all it is not really a walk at all as I only have to come out of the house door (the nearest one in the photo) and into the studio door which is just before the larger house, where my outdoor light is showing against the wall!  This is the view this morning though.  As you can see myself and my partner have already been backwards and forwards a few times - in his case this is to make sure my fire is lit and that the place is nice and warm.  I somehow just can't work at all if I am cold.  I have been in and made a couple of beads this morning but have spent the rest of the day back home doing stuff on the computer....... it is the last Sunday before Christmas anyway so I don't feel any great compulsion to produce a lot of work at the moment.  Having said that, I have lots of ideas for things that I want to try out so am hoping for a few peaceful days now over the holidays and if it keeps snowing like this I won't be able to go anywhere even if I want to.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Snow, ice and precious bones

Here is my bracelet inspired by the Scoresby collection in Whitby Museum.  The bracelet is call Snow, Ice and Precious Bones.  The glass beads are inspired by Captain Scoresby Junior's detailed drawings of snowflakes and the silver beads are based upon a number of pieces of whale bone that were on display in the recent exhibition on whaling.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Magic of metal clay

On her second day in the studio my student Margaret made a beautiful ring.  Unfortunately my photograph doesn't really show it to its full advantage.  It has two overlapping layers and beautiful areas of contrast in textures and polished highlights.  The stone was actually a very pale creamy colour and there is a second brilliant clear stone which hasn't shown up at all (sorry Margaret!)

Anyway, I hope she enjoyed her two days as much as I did.  She worked really hard and produced lovely work finished to a high standard - I'm sure that ring would fit me.......

New work, new student

I have had a lovely couple of days teaching an introduction to art clay silver to an enthusiastic student.  Margaret has produced some beautiful work.  The top leaf shaped piece is her first and is oxidised.  For her second project she chose to make these beautiful earrings which she then enhanced using the keum boo technique of applying gold to the surface of the silver.  The third piece is based on the pendant by Alcina Nolley in the new Metalclay Artist Magazine.  My magazine had just arrived and we were flicking through it during our tea break and both loved the look of this project which is the perfect addition to the selection of ideas I have available to my new students, so thank you to Alcine and to Metalclay Artist Magazine.  I can see it will be a very useful tool on my workbench.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Crafts at the Castle

I have been down to Warwick this weekend for the annual 'Crafts at the Castle' craft fair. This year the stands were all inside the beautiful rooms of the castle, so it had a great atmosphere. Here is a photo of the Great Hall taken at a quiet moment.

My sister Ceri helped me, so we had a lovely weekend away together too.

The first photograph with the Christmas tree has my stand to the right hand side of the picture with Ceri sitting behind it. We were place in front of a very large and dramatic fire place which gave us a bit more space than behind some of the other stands.

The second photograph is the view from our stand with a fabulous array of armour and weapons displayed on the wall at the end of the room.

It was a very impressive venue. Some stands were in other rooms, one of which had amazing chandeliers.

We had a busy weekend with good sales and finished off with a quick visit and lunch at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park on Monday on the way home.

Back to work in the studio today though.....

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Memento for the plant collector's wife

I have at last got a photograph of this big necklace 'Memento for the Plant Collector's wife'. It is one of my pieces for my residency at Whitby museum and is inspired by the collections of herbaria. The herbaria are very beautiful and fragile collections of Victorian pressed plants and flowers. Earlier in the year I spent an afternoon with the Curator of this collection and she showed me a selection of the plants and allowed me to photograph them. I then converted some of the images into black and white and have used them to inspire various pieces of work since then. This is by far the largest.

To create this necklace I printed out a selection of the images in black and white; stuck the print outs onto sheet silver and sawed around them. I then constructed a chain to link them together. I then spent quite a bit of time polishing the whole thing but didn't like the very flat polished surface so went back over it to produce a scratched finish

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Today I have gone completely mad and ordered a new torch for glass bead making. I have emptied and cleaned the silver smithing hearth and extended it to make room for my new bead making place and am really looking forward to all the new equipment arriving. I did carry on and make a few more beads with my hothead torch though, mainly as I needed a few more to finish off a necklace.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Spring returns necklace

Here is the necklace which was part of the set of accessories submitted to the contest in Japan
showing the front and the reverse. This was inspired by a Japanese printed book in Whitby Museum and at the time I designed and made it I had a small Japanese cherry blossom in flower in my garden so was able to study the form of its flowers in detail. Around the front edge of the silver piece is a pattern of tiny blossoms while on the reverse is the leaf pattern I often use in my work.

The necklace also has a matching 'C' type clasp with the two patterns one on each surface.

The rings also have the same two surface patterns one on each side of the shank.

My good friend Joy Funnell also submitted work that was selected for this exhibition.

I will be keeping the box it was returned in, very beautifully labelled with Japanese characters. I am very honoured to have had my work included.

Exhibited in Japan

Today I received a small package of work returned from exhibition in Japan. The two pieces of jewellery were entered for the Silver Accessories Contest 2009 and although didn't win anything there were selected for exhibition and included in the exhibition catalogue. This was very exciting for me as this was the first time I have ever entered an international contest. Here are the rings shown together as a set then separately. As you can see when they are being worn the very narrow band of enamel is both hidden and protected in between the other two rings.

Thursday, 5 November 2009


I have spent quite a long time today sorting out glass beaded jewellery ready to send off for an exhibition. I have also been thinking about a new website, although difficult to decided whether to just stick with the very simple thing I have and keep on with the blog alongside it.

I have also been sorting out new images ready to have a batch of business cards and some postcards printed. Re-sizing the images for print always seems to take twice as long as I expect it to, so the day is nearly over and I have been sitting at the computer screen for too much of it.

I have put some of my new images in as a slide show called Autumn 2009 so that you can see what I have been up to.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


Today I have been in to the museum and had a lovely discussion with one of the volunteers on the curatorial team about this beautiful beaded purse. Inside was a small handwritten label saying that is is North American Indian Eastern Woodlands Culture. It is made of what seems to be a felt like black fabric with a sort of polished cotton lining and what may be silk binding around the edges (not that I know very much about textiles!). The beads are absolutely tiny and the triangular flap clearly folded over to close the purse - as there is an un-embroidered space on the other side.

One of the things I really love about Whitby Museum is that there are artefacts from many distant places which must have their own, often hidden, stories to tell about their respective journeys to Whitby.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Inspired by heritage

I have finished off one of my pieces for my Inspired by heritage residency project today. This bracelet is inspired by a number of objects from the museum collection of Whitby Museum. The patterns on both sides of the pieces are made using photo polymer plates. I have made the plates from photographs of objects in the museum collections.

On the underlying surface the patterns are created from photographs of spears made from wood and shark teeth. On the top or outer curve the patters are from pressed flowers preserved in the herbaria and not usually on display. The design of the form used to make the shapes is inspired by this beautiful shell necklace from the Pacific which is part of the ethnographic collections and currently on display in the Cook and Scoresby room of the museum. The very textured inner curve also has gold applied using the tradition technique of keum boo.

The piece has been oxidised and then highlights polished back up.

Holiday time

I have just had a brilliant holiday in Rome which has to be one of my favourite places. My partner and I worked out that it was the sixth time we had visited Rome and it is really great to be able to find your way around. One of the things I love is that it is fairly compact and usually we walk everywhere. This time we used the buses more as we had our Roma Passes, which get you a discount entry into some of the museums and all inclusive travel on the buses and trams within the city. Looking through my photographs they seem to be mainly buildings and food. Back to work now though, inspired again! The photo is part of an Egyptian statue and I loved the intricately carved marble collar.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Men and Whales

The current exhibition at Whitby Museum is called Men and Whales and is on the history of whaling. It is an interesting and thought provoking exhibition and, as usual has a huge number of stunning artefacts from the museum collection. It also has a number of artefacts borrowed from Hull's Maritime Museum.

There are historic logs and journals of ships involved in whaling; strips of baleen and artefacts demonstrating the many uses of whale products. There are also stunning photographs and quotations from Inuit people whose lives and communities still maintain their relationships with whales. One of the quotations to create an impression upon me dated from 1994. Nikolai Gal,gaugye of Sireniki said 'As they (the whales) pass by your skin boat, great and quiet, you immediately come to understand your place on the Earth, and you become warm inside'.

The exhibition includes a display of several large old bones and, even as an incomplete skeleton, these help to give the visitor some sense of the scale of these great creatures. I have visited the exhibition a number of times and each time am drawn to the wonderful shapes of the bones themselves. I am now in the process of using some of the shapes as inspiration for one of my bracelets in my 'Inspired by Heritage' project. The exhibition only has a few weeks left to run so I would encourage a visit if you are in the area.

Paper textures

At the recent Art Clay Conference I ran a very relaxed workshop showing how I use thick watercolour paper to create re-usable textures for rolling out clay. I will post more details when I get a bit of free time but in the meantime here are the three pieces of work made by my students.

I love the simplicity of this low-tech technique and although when I took these pictures the pieces were not fully burnished and finished hope you can see the fine detailed unique patterns that are possible.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

More work from the Art Clay conference

Aida Corporation launched a new copper clay at the Art Clay Conference in Jersey. It can be fired directly in the kiln (without the need for an additional firing box and charcoal).

Here is my first piece,
a combination of the copper with art clay silver.

This flower pendant was created under the direction of one of the craftsmen from the Aida Corporation -
Mr Ryota Mituhashi with
Mr Daisuke Minagawa translating for us all.

As usual, this was an amazing experience.

I can see the potential for the use of the copper within
my work, although think I will need to do a lot of
testing first.

Art Clay World UK Guild Conference in Jersey

I have just returned from the Art Clay conference in Jersey and had a fantastic time. It was lovely to meet up with friends and as always, the exchange of ideas was great. There were a whole series of workshops and the first one I attended was called 'Enamelled Accents' and run by my good friend Joy Funnell. Here she is explaining the firing process to some of her group.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

More lovely vivid work

These pieces are by my good friend Margaret Hopley. They are currently being exhibited at the North York Moors National Park Office, Moors Centre, Danby, North Yorkshire. The exhibition runs until 5th October. As you can see she works in a wide variety of media. These images are a leaded glass and a mosaic panel, part of a large framed felt panel and a panel in enamel on copper. What beautiful vivid colours they are.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Introduction to art clay silver

On Saturday I ran a class for eleven friends over in a really pretty village near Thirsk. This was their first introduction to art clay silver and a very creative bunch of people they were. I gave them a short talk about the possibilities and showed them a few examples then they were straight into the making process. I love the way in which everyone is able to make something which reflects their own personality and their enthusiasm throughout the day was wonderful. We had a fantastic lunch and then they finished off their pieces of jewellery. Everyone had made two or three wearable items and were delighted with the things they had produced. Here are a couple of pictures showing some of them finishing off their work and a few of the things they made.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Exhibition at the North Yorkshire Moors Centre, Danby

My friend Margaret Hopley and I are exhibiting (and hopefully selling) work at the North Yorkshire Moors Centre, Danby until the 4th October. Today was our first day and it took us until around 2pm just to set up.

It does look lovely now it is all set up though, I hope you agree?

I am showing some enamel panels and a selection of pieces of jewellery and Margaret has enamel panels, felt, stained glass and mosaics. The pictures below are some of Margaret's and you can see just how much she loves colour.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

More Museum

I have spent another interesting day at the museum. It is always a bit of a luxury being able to spend time just looking at objects and I tell myself it is an essential part of my research and development for my Inspired by Heritage project. Out of the many thousands of objects I could look at today I have had another look at some of the things in the current exhibition 'Men and Whales' including some fantastic large whale bones; beautiful carvings and drawings by Captain Scoresby Junior.

The most exciting bit of news is that I was recently confirmed as Deputy Keeper of the Museum. At the moment it feels like a huge responsibility but I am enjoying the idea of continuing the link I have with all the enthusiastic members of the team of mainly volunteers who keep the museum running, helping the established members of that teams and hopefully even encouraging a few new volunteers to get involved.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Work in progress

The week has flown by in a bit of a blur. I have been concentrating on finishing work ready for Christmas exhibitions and also working on a series of charms. Some of the charms relate to my residency at Whitby Museum and others are for the themed exhibition at the Art Clay Conference over on Jersey. The theme for the art clay conference is travel. As it is a competition where members can vote for their favourite piece I can't show you any pictures yet.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Another lovely day

It has been mild and sunny and a lovely day here. I began by working in the studio but was soon tempted out into the garden for my morning coffee break. The sun is in our back garden in the morning and doesn't get around to the front of the studio until afternoon.

I have been doing more work in dyed anodised aluminium ready for Christmas exhibitions (yes, Christmas!). The work has to be delivered within the next few weeks. I haven't done much work in aluminium recently but am really enjoying it at the moment.

This afternoon I sat outside to work for a while, setting myself up at my little blue garden table. You can see the shadow line in this picture but the sun gradually moved around through the afternoon.

Here are the new batch of bangles, similar to yesterday's work really!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Back to work

After a lovely weekend meeting up with old friends; making new ones and looking, talking, thinking enamelling, it is back to work. It seems like ages since I did any new work in aluminium so I have enjoyed playing around with the colours. It is totally the opposite of enamelling. I am splashing colour around and here is the result.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Home is

I have just finished off this, my first bangle using Robert Dancik's Faux Bone. I have been working on it, on and off for the past week but wanted to be able to wear it this weekend as I am going away for a few days. I have always got homesick when I travel away but have a little version of 'home' down in Warwick (a narrow boat).

This weekend I will going on a visit to see some historic examples of enamelling in Bath on Friday and then to a regional workshop of the Guild of Enamellers in Shrewsbury on Saturday, learning something about using transfers on enamel with Jane Moore.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Workshop work

Yesterday I ran an introduction to art clay silver for three participants here in my studio in Glaisdale. They all worked really hard and I think you will agree the results are impressive. I love the magic of introducing people to this medium and seeing the pleasure involved in making.
We had a fantastic day and all three of them went away with a selection of pendants, charms and beads. Thank you then to Suzanne, Vikki and Linda for a great day!

Friday, 28 August 2009

Earrings in new colours

Today I have been busy finishing off a selection of new earrings. These are in dyed anodised aluminium. I dye small sheets at a time and then file them away for use later on. I have cut and used a selection of pieces in blues and purples ready for the autumn and winter. They are incredibly lightweight and easy to wear.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009


I seem to have had a really busy couple of weeks, which must be a good thing but haven't really had much time for reflection. Monday I ran a class introducing a couple of students to the medium of enamel on art clay silver and here are the results. I think these are pretty amazing especially as I know that neither of them had done any enamelling before and one of them hadn't even used art clay silver. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and lovely to see them leave happily clutching their finished pieces of work.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Robert Dancik's Faux bone workshop

Last weekend I attended a workshop run by Robert Dancik working in the medium of Faux Bone. It was inspirational and I could immediately see ways of incorporating it into my current work.

The first two pictures are of the Robert and the class up in Edinburgh and of my first attempt at using the faux bone. I also did another small piece but haven't really finished either of them or made them into anything.

When I got back into my own studio I just had to have another go and went to my sketchbook looking at ideas for beads for my Inspired by Heritage project. Here you can see I have had a couple of attempts at making beads for one of my charm bracelets. I don't think they are quite 'there' yet but definately work in progress. I am really excited about the potential of this and think it will add another level of interest to my project. Robert is an inspiring teacher and I would recommend you try and get onto one of his courses if you can. He is running a faux bone workshop at the beginning of September at the Mid Cornwall School of Jewellery.

Saturday, 15 August 2009


I have travelled up to Edinburgh to take part in Robert Dancik's 'faux bone' workshop and have spent a day learning a little bit about this very interesting material. Under Robert's guidance we have sawn, filed, sanded, scraped, scratched and bent our pieces and some of the group have made really lovely things. As usual it will take me quite a bit of time to get to grips with this stuff but I think I can already see ways of using it within pieces of my work. I will try and post some pictures when I get home but still another full day to go!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Fold forming

Today my two students Pam and Glynis have successfully completed their level 1 certification course in Art Clay Silver. I had promised that if they finished in good time I would show them foldforming so here they are working away at two little pieces of copper and here are the results of all their hard labour hammering and annealing. I think it was a good way of releasing the tension of the sustained concentration of their course.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Fused glass

I am currently in the middle of running an Art Clay Silver Level 1 Certification course which is, of course, taking up most of my time. I have had a chance to set up and fire a piece of glass in May's big kiln though and here is the result. Although not a very inspired piece from a design point of view it has enabled me to check the firing temperature of the kiln and try out the new controller. I am not quite sure what to do with it now though.......

Saturday workshop

Sorry about the bit of a delay in posting! On Saturday I had a workshop in my studio for a couple who were interested in using beach glass. It was a really interesting day, I always enjoy trying to structure a workshop to fit in with someone else's work. We used a few bits of beach glass I had in a jar and pre-fired them in the kiln, then wrapped them in bits of damp tissue paper and built thin rolled pieces of art clay silver around them, firing them in the kiln at 650 degrees centigrade. Interesting to me as the two bits of glass looked the same before we fired them and the reaction with the silver changed the colour of one of the pieces. We also used some larger glass pieces and built rings with the main part of the shank in sterling silver and art clay silver prongs added on. These were fired without the glass and then the pieces assembled after firing. Impressive results for a first attempt I think?