Friday, 30 January 2009

Fun making badges

My badge making thing has arrived.  What fun this is!  I just thought I would try it out so did a couple of felt pen sketches - from my original drawings done at the museum.  I then took three of my photographs and played around with them and printed them out.  Here are the results.  The idea is that I will get visitors to the museum to do their own little sketch or drawing and make it into a badge so that they have their own original souvenir..... that is if I don't use them all up playing around with them first :)

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Whitby Literary & Philosophical Society

The Whitby Literary & Philosophical Society are the people who run the Museum, Library and Archives. They also run a series of lectures and on Thursday afternoon I attended what was a very popular and entertaining lecture on the Foundation of Hild's Streonshalh & Whitby Abbey, 657 - 1100 AD by Roger Pickles. The series of lectures is published on the museum website at and although mainly for members of the Lit & Phil, guests are welcome on payment of the nominal fee of £1. I will hopefully attend a few more of these this year.

I have also begun to put together some ideas for workshops

On Saturday 14th March 2009, 11am until 2pm and on Sunday 15th March 11am until 1pm I will be encouraging visitors to make small drawings in the museum and then making them into badges - the charges for this will be £1.50 per badge. The usual museum admission charges will apply - but this is a fairly small admission fee of £3 per adult and £1 per child. Whitby residents can get in free if they produce some proof of their address.

There will be lots of other events as the year progresses and I hope to meet lots of interesting people. In between these fun things I will be continuing my own research with a view to producing a new collection of jewellery 'Inspired by Heritage' later in the year.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

More fossils

I did go back to Whitby Museum on Thursday and spent the whole day sketching and photographing things, concentrating mainly on the extraordinary fossil collection.  If you 'click' on the picture of the Museum on the right it will take you to their website, with details of the collections and of the opening times.

The plant fossil is Cladophlebis denticulata which is a very graphic matte black, with the delicacy almost of a watercolour painting across the surface of the stone.  

In contrast the photograph of rib cage (below) is just the central section of a large Plesiosaurus Propinquus.  It is astonishing to me that such contrasting things can have survived almost intact for an inconceivable period of time.  There are so many beautiful patterns and structures in this part of the collection I could spend the whole year of my residency at the museum staring into one cabinet and not get bored but there is so much else to investigate in there.

I am beginning to develop a few ideas and at some point will publish a plan of workshops I will be involved in running inspired by the collections throughout 2009

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Holotypes and ammonites

I have been into Whitby Museum again this afternoon, thinking I would do a bit of quiet sketching. Instead I have met a number of very interesting people (and apologise in advance to them as I won't remember any of their names) and been introduced to some holotypes of ammonites.  Now I have always liked the fossil collection but really only ever viewed it as a series of interesting patterns and forms.  I had realised that the museum had an important collection but now know that it has a number of 'holotypes' - which as I understand it are the actual physical examples (or one of several examples) used when the species of ammonites were being formally described for geological and scientific identification purposes and, yes, when you look more carefully you can see the differences in them!    I need to go in when there is no-one around now so that I can look more carefully and maybe even sketch and photograph some of them.  
I knew being artist in residence at Whitby Museum would be interesting and exciting but had no real idea of the wealth of inspirational material there was tucked away there............ just waiting to be explored.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Rings and things

I have spent the day making three rings that were supposed to be a set, but have decided I like two of them better than the third so put work aside and will have another look at them in the morning. I have also made a few beads with dashes of orange and red, trying to warm things up a bit.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

A book of glorious hands

I have had a very exciting day my book is ready!  I got the phone call at lunchtime and rushed off into Whitby to collect it and I think it is really beautiful, just right for my project.  The book was created by Brian Cole at  I was so excited I went straight up to the museum to show anyone I could find and found visitors...... so have actually started to collect the glorious hands.  I am asking people visiting the museum while I am there whether they would draw around their own hand and write inside the outline to say what is their favourite thing in or about the museum.  Entirely without my prompting some of the participants decorated their drawings so what I have started with are some very lovely colourful hands to cut out and stick into my book.

Friday, 16 January 2009

funny things happen when you can't see in

I attempted to make some beads using Double Helix Terra 2 yesterday, spent ages reading up on what to do and decided the first few were a bit too hot and that I hadn't really understood how to strike them using my hothead torch, they were a very pale almost grey colour. I went and looked up more information and had another go and thought I had got the hang of striking..... opened up the kiln after annealing them to find they had all completely changed colour, everything from yellow to blue, through a rich deep chocolate brown. Some of them are really nice but I am not sure there is even a pair that match. I will have to have another look at them in the daylight and maybe try again?

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Wire bird

Well here it is fastened to the collar of my cardigan, my latest experiment is a little wire bird brooch. So now I've got that out of my system maybe I can get on

Glorious hands and the hand of glory

Whitby Museum has a very popular object called the Hand of Glory.  It is ironic that the myth surrounding it is about sleep as there I was at 4am last night wide awake and thinking about it.  I should have just gone to work at around 10.30pm when I began doodling birds in my notes and perhaps I would have worked out my ideas then ........ instead of later lying awake wondering whether I could make a wire bird small enough to be an earring.  Anyway, there I was at 4.20am with Earl Grey tea and my notebook thinking about hands......... glorious hands!

Hands are of course important to the making process and at some point in my residency I will almost certainly start making bracelets or bangles, as they have always been a key part of any collection of jewellery I have designed and made.  The large size of my own hands originally influenced me wanting to make bangles as I could never find any to fit.

I then started thinking about the way we use our hands, particularly in western society - we shake hands, kiss hands, hold hands, using them to write (or more often these days to type and text) we wave in greeting; to attract attention and goodbye.  They are unique, each with their own set of marks of our personal histories - fingerprints and rings signifying our personality and our attachments.  I recall once reading that wearing a ring for any length of time leaves a mark on the bone not just in the flesh of the wearer and also remember being fascinated by a necklace of wire hands in a museum somewhere - was it in the Ashmolean? ..... which brings me back, full circle to the wire.

For my visitors book at the museum I would like people to draw around their own hands on paper, then write their name, date and favourite thing about the museum within the outline - maybe a small drawing in the palm?  I will then cut them out and stick them into my book, which is in the process of being bound by Brian Cole and they will become a record of my days at the museum.

And so to sleep...... maybe mandrake would help :)

Birds and feathers

I spent Tuesday afternoon looking more closely at the bird collection in Whitby Museum.  I did various sketches  particularly of the interesting patterns of the feathers forming irregular triangles and ripples and waves.  There were many beautiful forms and colours and I took quite a few photographs that will help me later on in my project.  I then went around looking at representations of birds in other parts of the collection and found interesting bird patterns of inlay in a gunstock, ceramic birds, prints in the pages of a Japanese book and of course all the birds in the Noah's ark.  I came away really inspired but with a head full of feathers....... all ideas that need to be sorted out.

Sunday, 4 January 2009


The new year is now well underway. I am not sure that I have really made any resolutions, I do have plenty of aims and ideas that I would like to pursue though. The first of these is to learn to make different types of rivets..... I realise this may sound like an odd kind of resolution but if I really set my mind to learning how to make the different variations of rivets it will open up the possibilities of joining different materials within my work which has to be a good thing, doesn't it?

I am also aiming to start the Metal Clay Masters programme as the way the projects are structured looks challenging and I definately need to set myself new challenges all of the time.

I will also be artist in residence at Whitby Museum throughout the year and am really looking forward to exploring and developing new ideas in my own work based upon objects, patterns and other inspiring themes and ideas from the museum collections. I think this will push me to explore, learn and develop new techniques and skills too - as well as hopefully getting me into a more regular habit of sketching and drawing, something I don't do often enough.