Thursday, 23 December 2010

Merry Christmas and a very happy new year

More snow

There has been another fall of snow in the night, sticky and thick with tracks of some small animal going past the front door. So soon after the full moon there is plenty of light, reflecting off the white landscape. I am restless, drinking scented earl grey tea quietly.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, 19 December 2010

New classes

During the middle of winter I don't usually teach classes in my studio because there is always the chance the roads will be too bad for students to get here.  This winter has been particularly snowy, I don't remember having this much snow in December before.  Anyway, it gives me a bit of free time to play around with new ideas.  At the moment I am testing out an idea for a workshop embellishing beads and here are my first two samples.  The smaller of the two is 16mm in diameter and they are both enamelled.  I will be running this as a workshop later in 2011, let me know if you are interested in learning this technique.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Cloisonne enamel

I have at last got around to doing a bit of enamelling, only a little piece but it seems like ages since I did any cloisonne.  When I first began to enamel it was a technique I used all the time and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it.  It is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but has made me think.  I need to get back to my sketchbook and start playing around with some new ideas.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Too much snow

Here is a photograph of our drive, although the weather does't seem quite so cold there snow hasn't started to shift yet.... could be a while before I get out

Saturday, 27 November 2010


It has been snowing here since Wednesday and is lying quite deep around the house and studio.  Although I really enjoyed being snowed in at the beginning of the year at the moment I am struggling with it, I think it has come too early.  I am really lucky that I don't have to travel anywhere to go to work, just boots and coat and a (very) short walk to my studio next door.  Although the stove is lit and it is not particularly cold in there I have found it difficult to make myself work, preferring to snuggle up with a book and my dog on the sofa in the house. Today I have decided that I need to get a grip and start to think of the snow as an opportunity and as inspiration.

On Thursday I was supposed to be doing a workshop at the museum making paper snowflakes to decorate the tree; these being inspired by snowflake drawings done by Captain Scoresby Jnr. Ironically I couldn't get out so am just hoping the tree got decorated.....

 Here is the snow outside my door today and some of the paper snowflakes I made as examples earlier in the week.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

More work, at last

It seems like ages since I actually made anything!  In the past couple of days I have had a chance to get back in the studio and work again.  These pale blue beads are my first two attempts to make Melon style beads, based on some ancient Roman beads.  I haven't yet got the grooves accurate or even enough, but am quite pleased that I am beginning to understand how to do this.

These tiny enamelled leaf earrings are part of a commission 

I have threaded these grey and purple beads onto nylon coated steel cable, with a small silver catch fastener.

These beads are inspired by the sea, plants, waves, sea creatures.  The fifth bead from the left has tiny copper shapes cut out and encapsulated in the glass.  I was trying to make them look like shrimps!


Sunday, 14 November 2010

Enamelling from the Esk Valley

Today was the final day of our enamelling exhibition at the Pannett Art Gallery in Whitby.  I have really enjoyed seeing visitors peering at the work on a number of occasions as I have passed through the gallery on my way into the museum.  There have been lots of nice comments and it has been encouraging that we have each sold pieces too, especially in the present economic climate.  Tuesday morning we will be taking the work down and packing it, some of it will return to the walls of my studio which have seemed a bit bare for the past six weeks.  Although I haven't done much enamelling over recent weeks I have done bits of sketching and am getting ready to begin working on some new ideas.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Enamelling from the Esk Valley

Today I have been busy helping to hang the exhibition 'Enamelling from the Esk Valley' in the Pannett Art Gallery, Whitby.  This is a joint exhibition of work by Harry Nicholson, Margaret Hopley and myself.  We are all members of the Guild of Enamellers.  All the work is for sale (so fingers crossed we sell some).

 These pieces (above and below) are all works by Harry Nicholson

 These (above and below) are my work

 And these (again, above and below) are some of the pieces by Margaret Hopley

The enameller Ruth Ball has kindly supplied and allowed us to use information panels that she has designed, explaining something about the process.  As you can see this is a fairly large gallery space and the two preceding exhibitions have been of larger scale work, so it was a bit daunting putting this together but I am thrilled with the results.  Thanks to Margaret, Harry, Helen (Gallery Curator), Ruth and everyone else who has helped and encouraged us.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Preparing for an exhibition

I am now in the process of preparing for an exhibition of enamels due to open on the 1st October at the Pannett Art Gallery, Pannett Park, Whitby.  I will be exhibiting enamel panels alongside Margaret Hopley and Harry Nicholson, both also members of the Guild of Enamellers.

I am quite enjoying reviewing some of my older pieces of work as well as creating some new work at a slightly larger scale than anything I have done in recent years.  

These are three of the older pieces and are all enamel on copper and inspired by my local landscape.

This one is fresh from the kiln, so supported on fire bricks and still probably cooling at the point when I took the photograph.  It is enamel on steel, a medium new to me and I have been enjoying exploring the reaction of combining leaded and unleaded enamels.  It is 25cm square and slightly brighter colours than it looks in this photograph, taken quite late this evening after a long day of working at the kiln.

Art clay certification projects

At the recent conference of the Art Clay Guild a selection of new projects for the certification programme in the UK were launched.  All of the projects were on display and had been made by a few of the committee and other  'willing volunteers'.  I had a preview of these projects during my trip to Japan earlier in the year.  This means that there is now a wider range of projects available to students who wish to take the certification programme, although due to the varying sizes of the finished items these are likely to vary considerably in costs.  I am happy to be able to offer a bit more variety although will not be teaching any of the projects I have not actually made myself.  Here are some of my samples so far......

Teaching Enamelling at the Art Clay UK Guild conference

On the Saturday of the conference my good friend Joy Funnell and I joined forces to teach an enamelling class.  We combined the 'Enamelled Accents' technique developed by Joy with my 'Paper textures' technique.  We had a group of 12 enthusiastic students and (unfortunately) we were so busy that I completely forgot to take any photographs during the class.

On the Sunday morning there was a display of work made during conference but not all of the group were present so here is a small selection.  I hope everyone was as happy with their work as I was to see the results.

Domed resin workshop

My second day at the Art Clay World UK Guild conference was spent in a fabulous class,again taught by Ryota Mitsuhashi.  Under his careful guidance we constructed a frame of syringe type surrounded by a ribbon of clay.  After firing he showed us how to construct UV resin in 3D, removing the supporting compound after the resin had been set.   We could then add more colours to the back of the resin to give the piece greater depth of colour.

Here are all of the pieces made by the group.

I really love my pendant and wore it for the rest of the conference.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Thursday's class

I have just spent a few days at the Art Clay UK Guild Conference.  It has been lovely to catch up with old friends and to make a few new ones.  The best part was of course another opportunity to learn from Ryota Mitsuhashi with the aid of Daisuke Minagawa, both from the Aida Corporation in Japan.  On Thursday we were taught techniques for making texture using cuttlefish bone and applying a layer of copper to the surface of silver.
This picture shows the work of the whole class.  I am really looking forward to practising this so that I can teach the technique myself in the future.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Working but not posting

I have been busy in the studio, working on enamel test samples ready for the Art Clay UK Guild conference in York.  I will be teaching a class next Saturday together with my good friend Joy Funnell so have been spending days testing enamels, making notes, preparing handouts, making lists of tools and equipment to take.

The conference starts on Thursday and I am looking forward to meeting old friends and making new ones, learning new techniques and sharing ideas.

Tomorrow I will hopefully finish enamelling a couple of pieces for the themed competitions, not like me to be working on this right up to the deadline though!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

preparation for a Wild Wednesday

I am preparing for a Wild Wednesday tomorrow in Museum Gardens, York.  

This is a free and fun event for all the family in the Museum Gardens, with lots of hands-on and exciting archaeology and science activities to take part in. Activities will include making jewellery, casting fossils, making mosaics, hunting mini-beasts, making a stone trough, panning for gold, Chinese writing, birdwatching, firing rockets and exploring Tudor cures and potions.

18 August, 11am - 3.30pm

Just hoping the weather stays fine!

Monday, 16 August 2010

down time

I haven't been posting much recently as I have been busy teaching mainly art clay certification courses and it doesn't seem quite right somehow to post pictures of the students' work for this.  Anyway, this weekend I have been away to my niece's wedding.  Just so you can see I am only one of a creative family here is a stand of cup cakes made by one of my sisters.  I have kept one of the pretty paper case surrounds but haven't quite decided how to use it yet...... stencil maybe?

Sunday, 18 July 2010


While in Brittany I had chance to visit a museum in Carnac and photographed this lovely piece of carving
of course, one of the reasons I love this is because it is another bird!

Friday, 16 July 2010

PMC Guild Francophone

I was really lucky to be able to attend a workshop with Hadar Jacobson in Brittany at the beginning of the month organised by the Guilde PMC Francophone.  What a lovely group of creative people! A huge thanks to all of them, they made me very welcome.  It was a fantastic weekend and I hope to meet up again. Here are some of the listening intently to Hadar's instructions.

A special thanks has to go to Veronique who must have done a huge amount of work catering -
she produced an amazing lunch for us all each day.  The venue was quite special too, a village hall (or the equivalent) with views out over the sparkling sea and next to a really pretty beach. I did get a chance to sit on the beach a couple of days later!

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Hadar Jacobson and the Guild PMC Francopone

This weekend I am lucky to be attending a workshop run by Hadar Jacobson in Britany organised by the Guild PMC Francophone.  Today has been fantastic and quite apart from all the wonderful information so generously given by Hadar it has also been a friendly and very multicultural group.  My french is not very good and although I can understand quite a bit it is difficult to sort the words out quickly enough to reply properly but this hasn't really hindered communication, we have just all mixed up our languages and added a few hand shapes, waves and shrugs.  The venue is a spacious hall right alongside a spectacular rocky harbour and beach with a view over the sea.  Although this is probably about 10 degrees centigrade warmer than my usual studio it hasn't been a problem (yet) as Hadar's versions of copper and bronze are remarkably forgiving and don't dry out as quickly as my usual medium of art clay silver.  Hadar has demonstrated a vast number of different ways of using the various clays and we are now working on our own small sample pieces.  I will hopefully add some photos when I return home but am already thinking of things I would like to try and still have another day to go.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Colourful days

I have had a couple of amazing and colourful days this week.  On Tuesday I went over the Bradford to take part in a workshop about using traditional dyes at Cartwright Hall.  It was a workshop linked to the museum's Precious Cargo project and was great fun.  We learned quite a bit about using different plant based dyes to dye a variety of threads including wool, silk and linen.
These are not actually my samples but those of my neighbour, I somehow forgot to photograph my own so will have to take a picture and add it to the post later on.  My samples are now lying on the workbench in my studio drying out.  Our teacher was Debbie The Mulberry Dyer who was very enthusiastic and informative.

Today, Thursday, I have been down in Stoke on Trent with a small group from the Guild of Enamellers looking around the factory of W G Ball Limited.  It was fascinating to learn a little about the making of enamel and to see the two batches of enamel poured out of the crucible.  I have used enamel for years now without really knowing anything about how it is made so this was a fantastic opportunity to add a little more to my knowledge.  Apart from anything else I now know that Budgerigar green is still available.  I was given a small amount of this beautiful colour some years ago and have nearly used it up.  Now I can order myself some more!  Thanks to John Ball and his team for sharing such a fantastic amount of information and for continuing to help and inspire enamellers at all levels.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

The final day of North Yorkshire Open Studios 2010

Tomorrow will be final day of the Open Studios event this year.  It has been lovely meeting new people and old friends and welcoming them to look around my studio, especially as being out in this fairly remote location I rarely get casual visitors.  Here are a couple of pictures of my studio as it looks at the moment.  Of course I have to move things around to make it safe for visitors to look without being able to do themselves harm on various bits of tools and equipment.  The picture below is a selection of small leaf pendants and earrings that I have been enamelling during quiet spells today, they are part of an order for a gallery and I will hopefully finish them in the next couple of days.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

More open studios

My studio will be open again this coming weekend as part of the North Yorkshire Open Studios.  The introduction on the Open studios website says 'artists and makers across the whole of North Yorkshire will invite the public into a host of intriguing spaces. From hidden locations on the North Yorkshire Moors and harbourside huts in Whitby and Scarborough to suburban living rooms in Harrogate and beautiful back gardens in the remote Yorkshire Dales.'  I maybe am in the category of 'hidden locations on the North Yorkshire Moors' but it is always lovely to meet people who have managed to find their way here.  I hope the weather stays nice so that they can also see the stunning views, at their best.  It is absolutely glorious here at the moment, reminding me of why I love living and working here.
Here are some Iris in flower in my garden at the moment

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Bright bird

I am still in the process of getting the studio ready for open studios starting tomorrow but did make time to finish my Bright Bird Brooch as an example for the enamelling workshop at the Art Clay UK Guild Conference in September.  I will be teaching an enamelling workshop alongside my good friend Joy Funnell so this piece uses both my paper textures technique and the 'enamel accents' technique that she developed.

I still need to make some more samples but am going to wear my bird brooch for the exhibition preview in Harrogate this evening.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

North Yorkshire Open Studios '10

 I am now trying to sort the studio out and make it possible for visitors to have a 'safe' look around while still seeing what really does go on.  I am taking part in North Yorkshire Open Studios 2010 over the next two weekends.  There will be a huge range of artists taking part and a really interesting variety of venues.  Part of me wishes I could actually get out and visit a few of the other artists but I always enjoy welcoming visitors and trying to give them an insight into some of the techniques and materials used in my work.

As well as having work on display and for sale in my own studio I also have a number of pieces included in the exhibition Jewellery: Materials and Making at Whitby Museum.  The exhibition was due to close on 20th June but has been extended now and will remain open daily, Tuesday to Sunday, until July 11th.

There will also be a number of pieces in the Inspired by Heritage exhibition at the Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate.  The exhibition is open from 11th June until 18th July, Tuesday to Saturday 10am until 5pm and Sundays 2pm until 5pm.  The Mercer Art Gallery is on Swan Road, Harrogate, HG1 2SA.

Friday, 4 June 2010

A chance to enamel

It seems like ages since I actually did any enamelling myself.  This week I have been trying to enamel samples ready for the Art Clay UK Guild conference in September.  Here is the first piece, a feather.   Although it looks very plain in the photograph I had used four different enamels, so am not that thrilled that my photo doesn't show all the detail!

Monday, 31 May 2010

Three 'A's

On Saturday I ran an introductory workshop for art clay silver.  I am still surprised by the amount of work new students manage to produce in one day.
These are Amber's pieces, all produced from 10g of art clay silver.

These are the pieces made by Angie.

These are Adela's pieces.

Adela came back for a second day and made these two beautiful rings.  The ring with the stone set into the clay has another tiny stone set just to the side - you can just see a glimpse of it.  It was lovely to see that Adela was wearing her earrings when she arrived on the second day!

Monday, 24 May 2010


I have had a few new students sharing my studio and producing interesting work in the past couple of weeks.  Firstly Ria and Krista who spent a happy day making pieces in art clay silver followed by a second day learning to enamel onto their pieces.  This was followed a few days later by Emma Mitchell, who already had some experience but came to learn more about enamelling.  She spent a day learning how to grind, wash and apply enamels using a wet laying technique in very thin layers.
I always enjoy teaching and hope that they have all gone away inspired to continue exploring this fascinating medium.
Here is the link to Emma's blog where there are pictures of her work

Friday, 7 May 2010

Rachel's project

Rachel's project was inspired by the Gothic.  She has used a wide variety of media and I haven't managed to get pictures of the finished pieces as she took them away to finish off at college.  She has learned to saw, solder, file and polish; enamel on copper and to make lamp worked glass beads (and is a bit of a demon with the torch now).  The bracelet combines textured and enamelled copper panels and is not quite finished in this picture as she has also made a ring that will be attached to it.  She also used faux bone and polymer clay in some of her development work.  For the enamelling on the bracelet she has used a scraffito technique on two of the panels and embedded tiny glass beads into the surface of the enamel on another two.  I hope she will continue to explore these ideas and techniques.