Tuesday, 21 December 2010

White Christmas

Well it has been snowing, cold and icy for 5 days now-
with more snow forecast. 
The whole nation has come to a standstill with roads closed, 
airports in caos and only some trains running.
We have had more snow here on Anglesey than has been 
seen in 25 years.
So it means no adventures (except sledging down local hills) 
and no shopping jaunts.
The only thing we can do is bunker down, 
pull the blankets up to our chins 
and enjoy the company of local friends, food and of course pubs -
 the only things that really matter.
So a Merry Christmas to you - no matter where you are.
And let's hope for a fantastic 2011.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Abundance of greenery

My wreath with eucalyptus, fir, gum leaves, thistle (and always the Aussie),
 tiny painted silver  gum nuts

With snow on the ground and a distinct Arctic chill in the air a group of us got together to make Christmas wreaths - the first time I had ever made one. 
We had piles of greenery, berries, dried fruits and other gorgeous bits to decorate our wreaths with.
For me it was a really calming experience after 3 solid weeks of cutting, filing and pounding silver and constructing jewellery. 
I was able to switch off and just play with the resources on the table in front of me.
We all ended up with very different, beautiful and unique wreaths to hang on our doors.
Showing, I guess, a reflection of our personalities 
and moods on the day.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The coldest place on Earth?

A friend told me that on Sunday, the Uk 
was the coldest place on Earth! 
Hard to believe, but I can handle it if it continues 
to provide such spectacular scenes.
 Glancing out my window, whilst very hard at 
work for the last 3 weeks, 
the views have been one of the few things keeping me going!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Oh my Dali!

Eye of the time brooch - Salvador Dali
Taken at an exhibition currently showing at MNAC Gallery in Barcelona
The other night I was watching, 'Turn Back Time - The High Street' , a program about a study of  Britain's high street and how, over the eras, the face, style and needs of the high street have changed. Essentially there is a 'cast' of everyday people who, for a week, must embrace the way of life of a particular time period and stock their shops  with the wares of that time.
This week it was about the 1930's experience and showed how quickly, patrons of the high street were starting to embrace the notion of mass produced products that were beginning to be sold in most shops.
At the end of the program, the shop owners are judged on how much money  they make and the methods they use to make that money. Naturally, the shops selling products that are readily available were the ones who not only sold the most stock, but were also the ones who worked less hours and therefore enjoyed a better quality of life. 
The toy maker, bakers and dress maker, who all relied on their skills in producing labour intensive goods were the ones who fared less well. At the end of the program, the dress maker who had spent countless hours producing 3 bespoke dresses for her customers, was slightly criticised for having not sold one, 'off the peg ' dress in the whole week. She had though, as one presenter pointed out, shown that there was a demand for a dressmaker who would and could make special, one-off pieces for her clients.
After watching I was left with the sense that as Artists, Makers and Designers we could  so often be tempted and encouraged to take the easy route by buying mass produced components and reassembling them and selling them as our own work; but thankfully there is a drive and strong sense of individuality that prevents many of us from doing just that. 
Dali, with his extraordinary imagination and skill (although he was the Designer but not Artisan of these jewellery pieces), reminds me that it is so important to have people who are willing to push the boundaries and produce bespoke, original, inspiring and sometimes totally, 'over the top' pieces of work.

Ruby lips and teeth like pearls brooch - Salvador Dali
Taken at an exhibition currently showing at MNAC Gallery in Barcelona

Thursday, 11 November 2010

View from the top

looking down on one of the mosaic tower tops

While salivating over all the glorious fresh produce at the 
La Boqueria Market in Barcelona, I could not help but draw comparisons 
between the perfectly ordered displays of fruit, veg and seafood 
and the crazy, bizarre mosaiced turrets on the pillars of La Sagrada Familia. 
La Sagrada Familia turrets
fresh produce in La Boqueria market, Barcelona

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Splendour in the Columns

Looking up into the ceiling of the Sagrada Familia
Stainglass light
Scaling an external tower
10 years ago I first laid eyes on Antoni Gaudi's, Temple of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain.
I remember being totally blown away by the Gothic strangeness of the exterior and by the unbelievable scale of the interior. Climbing one of the towers was like being on a strange roller coaster, where tiny, precise views opened out onto religious motifs, strange and queerly mosaiced turrets, sculptured snails and creatures crawling down the facade, all combined with a giddy 100 metre or so view.
 At that time the interior was very much a work site and still very hollow containing the lower half of the mighty internal columns, which just had bundles of reinforced steel bars spewing from their open, ragged tops.
These columns, which branch and curve like majestic forest trees, are now complete and walking into the almost finished interior was like transcending to another dimension. 
To me the space is breathtaking and totally moving, because it seems so incredible that these columns could have been designed  over 125 years ago and  following  Gaudi's specifications have actually been constructed.
Looking up you almost don't know where to focus because they are so tall and so precisely decorated with mosaics, glass and soft forms that they seem to move and sway gently, as if disturbed by a soft Mediterranean  breeze.

View from rooftop of La Pedrera
Workmen clearing the dust
Side windows letting in natural light

Friday, 29 October 2010

Photoshop Tutorial

Mastered the art in drilling perfect holes in my sea glass

As my, ' JUST get organised & stop wasting time', endeavour continues, I am undertaking a 2 hour intensive photoshop tutorial in;
'How to get my photos looking great for uploading to the web (because even though the look great on the LED screen of my SLR, once downloaded to the computer the colour is all wrong (why is this so?)'
Now 2 hours may not be enough time at all to get totally to grips with this all powerful and mighty program, but it will be long enough to get me nice and cosy and familiar with the basics.
I have tried to teach myself, trolled the Internet looking for help, contorted myself inside out and even pleaded with the computer gods to just please do it for me whilst my back is turned. 
But alas all that has failed.
So I have booked a session with a friend who hopefully can point me in the right direction - and if that fails perhaps she will be kind enough to do it for me whilst my back is turned.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

I have been slack but busy too.... learning

How to hang jewellery for easy photographing

Hmmm not such an inspirational photo I know - but practical.
I have been trying to problem solve various methods for arranging pieces of jewellery  before photographing them. I need the process to be quick, repeatable and practical. 
So using a combination of trial and error and help I have gleamed from the wonderful WWW I have come up with a solution for hanging earrings (multiple pairs) and necklaces ready for photographing. 
And in the spirit of sharing I can now pass these tips on to anyone who has been trying to take successful photos.

What you need
 * a frame ( an old picture frame is perfect )
 * 2 shelf brackets (as in photo above), 2 screws, screwdriver
 * bulldog clips, string or fishing line, some invisible thread (or super fine fishing line), thumb tacks
 * strip of wood a bit longer than the frame

What you do
As in the photo above screw the 2 shelf brackets to the bottom of the frame - so that it has the support to stand on it's own and balance. Then tape the strip of wood to the top of brackets to add as a weight

Take a length of  your string - I have chosen coloured because I want it to be part of the shot - or fishing line and at the top, secure it to one side of the frame using thumb tacks or nails.

Now take a piece of the invisible thread or thin fishing line and depending on your earring lengths - secure it below the first row of string.

Take each of the ends of the string and invisible line and secure tightly to the other end using the bulldog clips.
The idea is that the earrings hang from the top thread and the invisible thread is used to 'anchor' the earrings so that they do not move and swing. You can hang a few pairs at decent spacings along the row - making it quicker when it comes to photographing them. You just move your tripod along to the next pair.

The frame can also be used for hanging necklaces to make them appear as if they are floating in mid air.
In the photo above you can see the bull dog clips are used as hanging devices to drape the necklace over. You can spread these clips out as far as you need to get the correct position for your piece. You can also see the shelf brackets at the bottom acting as feet.

Once you place the frame inside a light tent or light box and  position your camera to the angle you want (in this case front on) you can take your shot. Having the earrings anchored in this way means  you do not have to wait patiently for them to stop swinging. It also enables you to secure them exactly as you want. 
You can see the 'invisible' thread in this shot because I have not cleaned it up yet and also because I have used a thicker thread to highlight my point. Using photo editing you can rub out the lines in no time at all.

A front on shot of a choker

Further tips
 * You can angle the frame however you like taking photos side on or from the back.
 * You can use the invisible thread to anchor necklaces as well to stop them swinging.
 * The invisible thread needs to be taught so you need to have it low enough below your hanging thread to create tension.
 * You can line up several pairs of earrings making it quick to photograph multiple pairs.
make sure you have a continual background - ie: something that is not going to show edges or lines when you angle your camera to get various shots. A long piece of card or paper that can be taped to the top of your light box or tent and that curves down and along the floor is great.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Back to the real world

anitque sign

who lives @ number 12?

faded glory

remains of a sign

Well hello - here I am back in my studio, contemplating my next move and at the same time dreaming of moving to Provence. 
France is beautiful, a country full of friendly people, happy dogs and gourmet produce all wrapped up in a sublime package of beautiful vistas, quaint villages, atmospheric restaurants and an incredible history.
Since returning I have been very busy re-organising and re-designing my studio, so that it is more 'user friendly' and organised. Mosaic and associated paraphernalia at one end and jewellery making/designing/fabrication at the other.
I was super busy before we went away making several pieces for The Yellow House Art website I have been accepted to showcase my work.
It was only yesterday that I managed to finally post the photos and info, so take a look and please let me know what you think.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Photos say a 1000 words

St. Remy de Provence
St. Remy de Provence
Hospital gate  where Van Gogh was admitted
Brass plate - bureau of viti-culture St. Remy
Sun dial & church bells Roussillon
Vines, shutters & azure skies
Boat shed door south coast
Mountain village of Gordes
Don't tell Modj but i made friends with this pooch
Street lamp & shutters
Some of the most expensive wines come from this region
Sunset Les Leques
Moon set les Leques
Heaven, we're in heaven and there seems no end to the beauty of this country