Saturday, 29 May 2010

from this to this

Someone asked me the other day how I created the silver elements for my designs. The answer is I pretty much use the same technique over and over - starting with pieces of silver wire of varying thickness and using my trusty hammers, anvils, torch and pliers I heat, bend, beat, planish,  form and sculpt the elements I want to compliment the beads I have chosen for a particular design. I definitely have to be in the right frame of mind to do it - no distractions and time to work, otherwise I do not get them quite how I want them.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Mosaics and Memories

We have had family visiting for a week and as if by magic, the weather decided to put on the most spectacular, sunny, serene and seducing days we have seen in a while. In addition it has been hot - a wonder for my soul. 
We have been absorbing views of the most calm, glassy seas and even witnessed a pod of porpoises swimming close to shore. It reminded me of some mosaics I'd made in the past, of flowing pools of ocean colours and cavorting dolphins.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Fabulous Liverpool

After a weekend that did not quite go to plan - due to a certain ash cloud that threatened  European air space, we were very disappointed not to be flying to The Netherlands to visit old friends we had not seen for years. We decided we needed to lift our spirits and so jumped in the car and drove to Liverpool - or as we like to refer to it Liverducks. 
It is a wonderful city, full of iconic, glorious buildings that would not look out of place on big Hollywood, blockbuster movie. For me the city has the right blend of attitude, urban grittiness, and mixed architecture from gorgeous Art Deco, restored docks to cutting edge class. I just really feel at home in that city and love the Liver Building the most (above) with it's huge clock towers and liver birds. 
All these photos were taken by my Mum, who also loved the city when she visited last year.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Beautiful Beaumaris

     Beaumaris pier at sunrise, 2010

Yesterday I bought a  print on canvas from Janet Bell, good friend and local Artist.
It is called Beautiful Beaumaris and I actually feature in the print - along with Modji and Mark. I am not sure if it is a true likeness to me but it certainly is an exact likeness of Modji!
Beautiful Beaumaris Print
Anyway the title reminded me of the  photo I took early one morning a few months back. It really is Beautiful Beaumaris in so many ways.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The talented Mr Steven Vella

Ceremonial Staff with bone & feathers, 2009. 220cm x 58x 10
palm branches, feathers, bones, tusks, beads

Last month a good friend of mine held an exhibition of new works at NG Art Gallery in Sydney, Australia. Steven is such a talented Artist working across so many mediums from mosaic, painting, costume design to these wonderful, exotic creations. I could not be at the exhibition but the photos on the NG Gallery website give a fabulous taste of what I missed. 
Tell me, how can one man be so talented, inspiring and gorgeous to boot?

Japanese ghost story whilst listening to Yoko Ono 155x80x10
found organic material, horsehair, cotton
Wheel of fire 2010 60x 60x18 found organic material, pine dowel, enamel

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Today is the day

bits & pieces

me, my studio, my mess

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Modji has an issue with the Postman.......

We think maybe Modji is starting to lose the plot, go long-long, lose her marbles/faculties, go crazy in the coconut or to put it kindly, decline in her old age. She has developed an issue with the Postman - suddenly he is enemy number one. Not so strange for a dog you may say - most dogs HATE the Postman and in fact the anticipation of a 'right good barking' at the Postman is all that gets them through the day - that and the endorphin high they get each time you walk back into the room or the house - 'OOOOH ya back - missed ya, love ya, this is the best day ever - you are BACK!'
Some very good friends of ours have a dog - a black lab and he loves barking and going for the Postman (or anyone in uniform). I remember in Australia one day, I was driving with him in the car and I had all the windows down - it was so hot. Tex would  take up the whole back seat, constantly moving from side to side, looking, waiting, hoping to catch a glimpse of a Postie. On this particular day we pulled up at some lights and a Postie on his bike pulled up beside us. Tex could not believe his luck - he gathered up all his strength and went right off. The poor guy nearly fell of his moped - he took off so fast he ran the red light.
I was laughing so hard I could not drive - I did feel bad after.
The weird thing is Modj was witness to all his behaviour all the time - for years. But she never once reacted - she would look at Tex as if he was mad; 'Just what is the point?' she would seem to sigh.
But here in the UK - things have changed. Now suddenly she gets the point - and is making up for all those lost years of not barking at the Postie! So now when the Postman is about 3 doors away she hears the tell-tale sign of a postbox shutter (most are attached to the front door) and she goes ballistic. She stands at the door all her hair raised, tail up and just goes for it. Of course he is in no danger - perhaps that is the point we think, she knows she cannot really do anything so she can act as fierce as she wants (bit like when she sees a rabbit through the car window - always good to have a barrier so you do not really have to act on your threats!).
We come down to tell her to stop and she turns her back on us and gives a flip of her bum as if to say - 'HA I got rid of him - just through my sheer physical force! He has gone....... but I know he will be back.... OH yes he will be back and I will be waiting for him!'

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Photos & bad backs

Turquoise ceramic bead st.silver hoops
Green ceramic beads st. silver drops

I finally, after 2 days, ended up with some shots of my work that I am happy with. I would not say they are totally brilliant but I think I have enough to work with and hopefully over time I will achieve better results. I must say it is harder than you would imagine trying to get good even photos. I tried all sorts of ways to manipulate both the light and the camera and have learnt a huge amount! The most essential things are a tripod and a light box, which I made 3 times! Each time modifying it a little bit until I got it right.
Also because my work has varying elements to consider - shiny ceramic beads and hand beaten silver (that seriously reflects the light) I had to play around with paper reflectors, backdrops and all sorts. Now I know why quite a few photography websites recommend a remote control shutter release!
I was contorted in many different angles - no yoga pose or game of twister I have ever performed has come close to matching these positions I found myself in. By midday yesterday I could not cope any longer and ended up booking in for a 25 minute back massage at the local beauty clinic! Result though - now I can walk again.
After my day was over I rewarded myself and Modj (for her ever enduring patience) with a walk to our favourite beach-combing cove - it was not sunny but a gorgeous grey mist had enveloped the mountains and made everything look dreamy and silky.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010


design sketches/works in progress

This week I am really trying to tick off a series of tasks that are essential to me getting my jewellery designs online. I seem to read over and over, a common theme among Artsists, Designers and Crafters (yes I do think we deserve Capital Letters)- and that is the effort it takes to perform so many aspects of their art.
We must be good at designing, sourcing the right materials, mastering the skills to use said materials, finishing pieces to a high standard and packaging or marketing our 'products'. Then we have to sell them. We must find the right outlets, galleries or boutiques; all the while fostering  relationships and networking with other Artists, groups and the general public. If we want to sell online then we also need to be able to take really good photographs. Now I took photography at Uni, I have taken loads of photos in the past - great shots both with instant cameras, SLR's and digital cameras. BUT mostly they have been of subject matter larger than a piece of jewellery. Jewellery, especially silver jewellery is so hard to photograph. While there are many great tutorials and tips on the web, it is still really hard to master. So that is my continuing task for today, to photograph my pieces to a standard that is expected and reflects the quality of the work. It may also serve to remind you that when you look at a handmade product and think it is too expensive, spare a moment to reflect on just how much effort and skill has gone into producing that one-off piece.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Heart shaped rock

Do you remember the Nirvana song -
'Heart Shaped Box'?
  'Locked inside your heart shaped box for weeks'.
Yesterday while I was walking on the  little beach in front of us, I was
reminded of this song when I found my very own heart shaped rock.