Sunday, 18 April 2010

Flame Off 2010 at Towcester

This weekend I have been at the Flame Off at Towcester Race course.  It is the first time I have been to an event like this.  There was a large marquee attached to the main building and inside it were long metal topped tables with torches.  There were torches of different types in separate areas, here are torches with propane/oxygen mix I think.  Visitors could have a go at glass bead making, under supervision and with a bit of helpful instruction.  Basically it was a tent full of people having fun with flames!  In the main part of the building were stands selling glass, beads, books and everything a glass bead addict could possibly need.  On the first floor were a series of talks and demonstrations by some very highly skilled glass workers including the lovely and very entertaining Sharon Peters.  On the second floor (in what are the very smart private viewing boxes overlooking the racecourse) were a series of classes.   Lesley Messam ran classes introducing art clay silver.

I ran short workshops introducing enamelling to a small group of people on Friday and Saturday.  The workshops were only 2 hours so I had made lots of silver blanks for earrings and charms and pre-ground and washed enamels ready to use.  Most of the participants had not tried enamelling before and the results were impressive.  They were able to choose colours from a selection of 12 that I had tested and new would behave well on the fine silver pieces.  I hope they liked them as much as I did?

A gift and a reminder

How beautiful this box of rice crackers is, thank you Dice.  Everything about it is a beautiful reminder of my short visit to Japan.  I have cut a small section of the wrapping paper and glued it into my sketch book.

Mr Ueeda's masterclass

On the last day of the Guild of Enamellers annual conference Toshi did a masterclass, demonstrating some of his wonderful techniques with art clay silver and enamel for everyone to see.  In the first photo you can see Jock Miller videoing the demonstration.  This will be edited over the coming year and eventually published by the Guild in its 'Masterclass' DVD series, offered for sale to Guild members.  In the third photo you can see the Guild's new Chair, Ruby Tomes looking on nervously while Toshi made her a ring.  This was a fantastic masterclass, both informative and entertaining and I am looking forward to seeing the DVD later in the year.

Mr Toshihide Ueeda teaching at Enamellers Guild Conference

The Guild of Enamellers were honoured to have Mr Ueeda (Toshi) as a tutor at conference this year.  Here he is with members of his class (and me).  For the first part of the project the group did some spectacular torch firing, Toshi's own rapid firing technique for art clay silver.
This picture is my good friend Joy Funnell firing her piece.

Visit to Nottingham

On the 8th April I was thrilled to be able to welcome Daisuke Minagawa of the Aida Corporation and Mr Toshihide Ueeda, Vice Chair of the Japan Enamel Artists Association to Nottingham.  They arrived quite late on the Thursday evening, so my plans to take them somewhere nice to eat had to wait until breakfast.

This is The Walk in Nottingham, a very nice little cafe complete with Japanese waitress, who saved me the job of describing the breakfast options.  
We had a short walk across Nottingham city centre where Dice and Toshi had their photographs taken with two friendly Community Police Officers.  From there we went on to Nottingham Castle where they enjoyed the 'Robin Hood' experience and some interesting displays about local history, including ceramics and a textiles exhibition.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Jewellery exhibition makes the local press

I have just been away at the Guild of Enamellers (more on this later).  While away got messages from friends saying that the jewellery exhibition at Whitby Museum had a feature in the local press.  I had no idea they meant a full page and what a nice article - thank you Whitby Gazette!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Enamelling again

When I first started this blog I thought the main focus of my work was enamelling.  Over the past year, (ironically while I have been Chair of the Guild of Enamellers) I hardly seem to have done any enamelling at all.  I have recently done some testing and made samples ready for the Introduction to Enamelling workshop at the Flame Off 2010 at Towcester Racecourse.  Today I enamelled a piece I have been working on sporadically for a couple of weeks.  Having finished it I am not sure I like it.  It does look better on the finger and the oxidisation has produced more variety and subtlety of colours than the photograph shows.  I used textures embossed into watercolour paper to make the background textures on the art clay silver.  Added fine silver wires and tiny balls using overlay silver paste, soldered the two shells to the sterling ring band, enamelled it and then riveted the dyed pearls into place.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

More of the Jewellery Exhibition

Whitby Museum is such an amazing place.  This carved and painted bird is from New Ireland in the Pacific.  He was given to the museum in 1928 by Captain Readman and has been one of my favourite objects since I began my residency at the beginning of 2009.  He usually resides in the Cook wing of the museum but a few days ago I had to take him out to photograph him for another project I am just starting work on.  The door of the cabinet was a bit difficult to open and that gave me the perfect excuse to move him to a temporary home in the jewellery exhibition (I know he's not really jewellery!).

Here he is though with my visitors book and a few badges and other fun things made during my year.  The hands related both to making and to the 'Hand of Glory' (more gory than glory as Peter on the main desk often tells visitors).  On days when I have been sketching in the museum I often left my sign out along with paper, pencils and pens and asked visitors to draw around their own hand and say what there favourite thing about the museum was.  I never asked anyone to decorate their drawing, it was just something that happened naturally but I have a lovely collection of these paper hands, many of which have been stuck into the album but some are temporarily displayed here on the back of the display case - I am still collecting them.
This bracelet has been made from small items found in the museum during the year, a couple of them I embedded in resin and made silver settings for, others I simply attached.  I think the bit of stone was a fragment of amethyst and the glass bear I made a silver wire collar for.  It has become a bracelet of things once lost, now found.  

My badge project has developed a new life, at different times last summer I made badges for visitors.  Now as part of the jewellery exhibition I have created a piece of work called 'Equivalent' which has a small explanation panel and a lot of transparent plastic pockets with badges in.  It asks visitors to take a badge and leave me something in exchange.  I have left circles for drawings and these are the first six drawings left by visitors.  I was also left an interesting chunk of hard green stone with a groove in it and an old sixpenny piece - so they are now on my workbench waiting to become part of something new.  I was really excited to find that visitors understood my ideas and am enjoying their responses.