Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Homes

I'm so glad when I know that my pieces go to a happy home where they'll be looked after and shown off.  This became the case for one of my little fine silver brushes recently.

This little brush came to be owned by the lovely Nancy from the Netherlands.  Nancy is a talented artist, and her miniature oil painting jewellery pieces are truly beautiful works of art.  These are two of my favourite works by Nancy (out of many!):

How apt then that her loving husband should give her the silver brush for her birthday present.  And how sweet of Nancy to blog about it after receiving it!  This confirmed my suspicion that the brush was going to a lovely person.

Read Nancy's blog entry here.

And do visit Nancy's Etsy shop for more beautiful pieces of wearable art.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Keeping Calm

I have had a few days when I felt like I was in some crazed spin cycle.  And that lovely old wartime poster told me everything I needed to be told.  So to return the favour, I reproduced it in solid silver.  Now I just need to repeat its mantra a hundred times.

It's in the shop - here.

Friday, 10 December 2010

New work

There is a definite foresty/nature theme prevalent in my work - so I was surprised to find out I had not made any butterflies.  That needed quick remedial action.  And here they are.  A new batch of fledgling flutterbies.

and back

Available to buy from the shop. 

Thursday, 18 November 2010

In other news...

My beautiful friend's fantastic London wedding which I posted about back in May was featured in an article in Offbeat Bride, and it included the figurines I made for them.

Read the article here.   And see more pics of the figurines on Flickr

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Colour explosion

Ooooh I'm not sure I can control myself - I am giddy with excitement.  Colour has arrived into our lives!  Will you just look at all those fluffy balls of colour?  Felt is such a beautiful material - and these fairtrade balls felted from natural wool are going to be part of a range of colourful jewellery that is in progress as I type.  Type with one hand, hold felt ball in another, think up amazing colour options in my head at the same time.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Keeping it in the family

I knew my girl liked her jewellery, like her mama.  I knew she loved to string colourful beads and I knew she loved to adorn herself.   However, that she would go away and make her mama a present so apt, so fitting and so in every way adorable, is just the sweetest thing.

My baby made me a ring.  

A ring with her hand drawn on it, and the artist's signature (twice, for good measure)

The mark of a craftsman-in-waiting?  She even sized it. 

I love that girl.

Saturday, 18 September 2010


Autumn is probably my favourite season, and for me, is all about forests.  One of my earliest memories is of going hunting for wild mushrooms in the forests of the Pyrenees with my grandparents.  I love that it's called "hunting".  Feels dangerous and subterfuginous.   [That'll do for my word of the day.] 

Back to topic, I've noticed all sorts of foresty-themes making the front pages of the design blogs for some time now...   Leaves, acorns, mushrooms, owls, deer (deer antlers anyone?) - could it be that autumn is becoming everyone's favourite season?

In its honour, I have made some baby owl stud earrings in fine silver.  The deer antlers and mushroom projects will have to wait a little while.

Monday, 6 September 2010

My Inspiration

I have various books of pictures, colours and concepts that I dip in and out of.  My house is a treasure trove of books, leaflets, remnants and bits and bobs that have some creative energy in them, and thus I can't possibly get rid of them and and thus I cannot ever have a tidy house.  I also have a live running list of things that inspire me.  This list is saved on my laptop and is constantly on in the background, ready for me to add a new word, a new idea, a new thought. I retreat to my list on a regular basis, for ideas, for reassurance and for motivation.  There is another, much bigger, source of inspiration however, that is also always on in the background, ready to amaze and amuse and enlighten - her name is Inna.  And Inna started school today.

Inna has a good creative eye already - she was the child who found black the prettiest colour well before pink found its way into the repertoire.  She has decorated the walls and carpets with pens and lipstick because it looks 'improved'.  Given half a chance she would paint herself each and every day just to see how it looks and to be able to show everyone.  She is my biggest fan and my kindest critic.  She drives what I do and if it doesn't pass by her high standards, it does not see the light of day.  She who tells me she knows everything already but keeps asking questions about the world, her favourite concept.  She loves the fact that it turns, and sometimes it shakes - she does a very realistic impression of an earthquake...  So the first day at school will be one to cherish.  Here is to many years of happy learning, baby girl!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Getting Ready - Urchins

Part of my upcoming collection of nature-inspired jewellery - beautiful sea urchins, made entirely from fine silver , with a choice of precious gemstone in the centre.  The one pictured contains a gleaming blue natural zircon.  Stunning.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Getting Ready - the Sapphire Lotus

I plan to have more of the very gorgeous and very popular Sapphire Lotus series - each fine silver flower holds a brilliant 3.5mm padparadscha sapphire.  Very sparkly and very very special.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Getting Ready - The Bee Series

Some handworked fine silver buzzy bees are shortly going to make their way into the shop when it opens - look out for them!

A busy bee for your neck

Bee babies for your ears

Monday, 14 June 2010

Pebble Brooch

After the peacock fiasco, this was the piece that earnt me the qualification. 

I worked hard to make sure the syringe lines had a form and purpose.  To be honest, I'm not a great fan of the syringe - something to do with my total inability to keep a steady hand whilst also pushing down on the syringe - but I am often amazed at what others can do with it.  So I did want to push myself to showcase some of the possibilities of the syringe in openwork pieces.  The syringe can do more than openwork, but this was the requirement from the certification board.   I had to try really hard for this piece to have well defined lines (I ended up with my arm on a block of rubber, my left hand holding the unsteady right one, and not breathing, ha ha!).   Also this piece is quite small, only about 4 or 5cm square, so you can imagine the fiddliness of the job...   I started by doing a series of pebbles individually, cleaning those up and polishing the edges before choosing the nicest ones and attaching them together with paste.  Attaching the brooch findings is always a bit tricky but I had calculated the shrinkage well in this piece so it all matched up nicely when fired. 

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Fine Silver Peacock

I promised a better introduction to the peacock brooch. He was made of silver clay for the body and a more diluted silver clay which is extruded through a syringe which once fired forms fine lines of fine silver wire, for the plumes.   He is quite big at 10x7cm.  This was one of the pieces I submitted for my level II ACS certification, and sadly it didn't make the mark.  The criticism I received was that the tail was too messy, and I have to agree.   The tail actually broke before it was fired, so that made the repair all the more difficult and in the process I lost some of the detail (yes, I had originally syringed individual feathers... so my expletives hit the ceiling when the piece broke and I realised that the repair would make the carefully designed plumage sort of disappear...).  You can't see it so well in the picture, but the tail is actually openwork, which means you can see through it in places, a bit like lace.  

The problem with this piece was confounded by the fact that as soon as you set out, as an artist, to make a respresentation of something recognisable you automatically add another level of difficulty in ensuring that the piece looks like the thing it is meant to look like.  So whilst my melange of feathers did not work as feathers, I wonder whether, had I set out on an abstract piece, the expectation would not be somewhat different.  I'm not even talking about the Art Clay Guild judges, as their requirement is very specific, and this piece would not have passed whether as a peacock or as a Pollock.  However, even for me, as the maker, I find there is something much more unforgiving about a representational piece as the added challenge is to try and achieve a little bit of realism.  

Evidently, a bowl of noodles doth not a peacock's tail make, but I still love this handsome boy.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Too Many Projects

Hands up, who suffers from wanting-to-do-it-all-nitis?  I have a goal to be an expert at a huge list of things (yes, expert - any old experience just won't do).  On my list:
  • Silver etching projects - tried it and got a large quantity of iron nitrate some weeks ago for a lot of pieces, except it's sitting on a shelf, keeping company to the other chemicals
  • Laser-cut projects based on my own drawings - [note to self:  'prioritise']  
  • Keum boo - some weeks ago I mentioned I ran to the gold shop to buy gold sheet, right?  I did run, and I evidently have more ideas than time
  • Resin - bought all the kit, tried it and put it all back on the shelf for later
  • Engraving - ditto bis
  • Making my own stone settings - ditto ter (though I do set my own stones)
  • Making hinges, boxes, rivets, clasps, vessels, utensils - I so want to make a spoon, I really do!
  • Other metal clays - I want to know all the ins and outs of all the other clays, there's copper, bronze, steel... and before I get to grips with them fully, someone goes and brings out a glass clay.
  • 3-d CAD programmes such as Rhino - the fun I would have...
  • Wax carving, and lost wax casting, delft casting (oh and broom, and cuttlebone casting - add those too)  
  • Gemology and lapidary
  • Glass - I loved making my own cabochons, and using dichroic glass in my silver.   'Must learn more' I thought at the time.  I'm still with that same thought.
  • Enamels - oh lordy I love those enamels, but I'm not sure they love me back 
I have been on a very steep metal rimmed learning curve in the past couple of years, and I have taken in a huge amount of knowledge that I never envisaged would be there, but is it ultimately a positive that the more you know, the more you need to know, when this self imposed need to learn is actually just adding more things to your to-do list and therefore, pressure on yourself?    Is it better maybe to focus on one thing and be really really good at that, or is it preferable to have a little good first-hand knowledge of a lot of things?  

To be fair to myself, the list is huge and a large number of things are not included here because they are already ticked (in pencil - full "expert" capacity is a tall order), but in the course of this blog - I expect to tick off one of those every few months.   Unless I find something else to divert my attention, like oh bugs, Palladium.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010


... I passed!

I am now a qualified Senior Art Clay Silver Instructor.

It will probably take me a while to get sorted and start formally teaching, but how exciting is that?!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

The Funkiest Wedding in All London

Two of my very best friends, got married this weekend, and I was honoured to be asked to make models of them to stand next to their wedding cake. 

They gave me free rein pretty much to do as I wished, so I had him as a mountaineering Indiana Jones complete with climbing spikes and compass, and she as a marathon-running bride with a bridal bouquet and diamond ring of course!  He does climb, she does run marathons, and they both do travel a lot - so the  suitcase was full of references to their life and travels, some of which are a bit too risque to reveal here, (bwa-ha-haa!).  The Oahu sticker on the suitcase is a reference to their honeymoon destination.   It was a beautiful day, the couple looked just jawdroppingly gorgeous and everyone had a brilliant time.   Happy days!  x

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Birdie Love

I am fascinated by birds, always have been, so I couldn't have been more pleased when I started noticing more and more avian-stuff in fashion - suddenly birds were everywhere, from teacups to logos to jewellery. 

And I promise it is without an ounce of illwill to all those members of my family with a pronounced aversion to our feathered friends, and just purely as a tribute to this wonderful group of animals (now come on, who hasn't wondered how it feels to actually be a bird in flight, huh?) that I set out to create a few bird-related pieces:

A bird in a fountain ring in sterling silver.  He really looks like he's having a bath.

A selection of foresty charms of which one was, of course, an adorable little feathered creature:

And then this handsome fellow. 

This aristo peacock is a brooch, and at nearly 10cm long by 7cm wide, and made entirely in fine silver, there is just one of him.

I'll introduce him properly on a later post.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Hanging Out

We've just returned from France where we spent some days with family.   Out of all the beautiful and interesting things that France has to offer, and there are many, this little guy just stole my heart.

{If I'm really quiet, they'll never know I'm here.}

Click for a bigger view, and check out those little toes!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Saint George (Sant Jordi)

Today is Saint George's day.  Saint George is patron saint of England where we live, and he is patron saint of beautiful Catalunya, the place we will always call home.  In England there are moves to make St George's day an official holiday and a time for celebration in the same way that St Patrick is celebrated across the world by the Irish, sadly we're not quite there yet and poor St George is not revered in England in the same way as in other parts of the world.  In Catalunya (Catalonia to some), it is an important celebration - it is a day for celebrating love, much in the same way that St Valentine's Day is celebrated in other places.  La Diada de Sant Jordi, as the day is known, is marked with the giving of gifts between lovers, traditionally men give women a rose and women give men a book.  Here is my offering, a little homage to Sant Jordi, brave knight who slayed the dragon to save the king's daughter, a beautiful handcrafted silver rose.  Books in silver will be my next challenge.  

Thursday, 18 March 2010

My Level II Adventures

I have - today - sent off my pieces to be judged by the Art Clay Guild for the Level II Senior Instructor certificate.

They're off and I can't polish them just one last time.   That is probably one very good thing, as my prehnite tree will tell you.   The poor tree was polished until he could shine no more, and then, the "one last time syndrome" that I suffer from made me overpolish the already thin bezel strip and a teeny tiny piece of bezel came flying off and I went from having worked with the tree for many days, to suddenly not being able to enter him in the talent show for his kind.  This tiny missing piece would be unnoticeable to most people, but the judges would spot it right away...

I did swear.  Probably quite a lot.

Do fellow jewellery makers find that every so often, they actually fall a little bit in love with a piece that they have made?  I think I just did with this one.  My default on finishing any piece is that I'm never entirely sure that anyone will like it, so I was definitely surprised by not caring too much if others do or don't like this one, just because I do.  When I realised my tree couldn't go to the ball, i felt really quite sorry for it.

So whilst the others are in the hands of the Guild gods, this little tree is staying right here with me.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Loving my New Kiln

I got it, I got my new kiln - and I'm so happy with it.  It's a Paragon SC2 with the window so I can check on the progress of the pieces I'm making.  I love the window, it really is the best option for curious makers.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Today is a Good Day

And in honour of the inauguration of the new president of the US on this day last year, I have Obama-ised my little girl, based on the iconic "Hope" poster by Shepard Fairey.  Get your own icon here

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

A Very Very Special Order

One of my best friends has a very generous auntie who came to me with a special request - to make a family keepsake bracelet for her gorgeous niece, in sterling silver, which was to include fine silver charms of fingerprints and handprints of every member of her family.

This turned out to be quite a duplicitous task that had hubby and auntie plotting visits to other members to take prints, tricky that it was not to have her smaller children blurt out the secret plans.    Some days later, the subterfuge paid out and the bracelet turned out great, and I am honoured that she calls it "the one item she would save in a fire".   This is coming from the girl who only wears real Prada.   Aww.  I'm all puffed up.

Monday, 4 January 2010

A Christmas Present

I was commissioned to make some fine silver cufflinks with the recipient's initials - I made a photopolymer stamp with the agreed design of the letters, and used it to stamp the silver clay to create the recessed look, which was then coated in platinol for a dark patina.  I think they turned out rather spiffing.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Level 1 Art Clay Silver Certification

Seems like aeons ago, though it was only a few months, that I did the Level 1 Art Clay Silver Certification course - set by the Japanese manufacturers of Art Clay, the Aida Chemical Industries Company.  The UK Art Clay Guild oversees the education program in the UK in accordance with the criteria set in Japan and awards its certificates - and I am the proud holder of one! 

For anyone thinking of doing the course - it is hard work, you have to complete seven projects in three days as set by Aida in Japan but I had a brilliant teacher who kept a great pace and knew her subject thoroughly.  The projects are designed to ensure you have a good grounding in the main techniques:  using clay, paste and the syringe, ring-making, firing schedules, adding findings and stones, making hollow forms using cork clay, mirror polishing and several others. 

I found it to be a challenge, but well worth it, so I thoroughly recommend it.  Here are some of the pieces I made:

This (one of a pair of earrings) was made using the syringe over a dried cork ball that burns out in the kiln, leaving a wonderful hollow design.

This was one of my first items, made using clay.  I applied a bark texture with paste and embedded the marquise settings, for the stones to be set later, and the brooch fittings.  The edges of the branch were mirror polished.

This is what I call my Willow Ring.  First we made a ring out of clay - and carefully syringed a design around it.  Rings in silver clay are a little tricky and so a course is absolutely essential to understand how best to work with the material for a solid structure and a good finish.

We made more pieces - I will post these another time.