Thursday, 13 November 2014

Mark and Danielle's Big ol' White Gold Day...!!

I had a great couple visit my studio to make their own white gold wedding bands, they had had absolutely no experience of jewellery making but their wedding rings turned out fabulous!

All soldered but far from round..... we have a little way to go yet! Getting them round takes some welly, and lots of tea and tasty biscuits.....

After the rings are perfectly round all imperfections, usually scratches from the forming process,  have to be removed, this involves a lot of sanding and polishing, its always surprising to people that finishing jewellery takes as long as the construction.
The finished rings!! Mark and Danielle did a really wonderful job on their wedding rings, they wanted them to be absolutely perfect and they most certainly were.

Monday, 10 November 2014

A bangle for Claire

I was asked recently by my sister in law Lesley to make a very special bangle for a very special person Claire who has had an extremely tough time lately suffering the loss of her daughter Charlie. Lesley had the lovely idea of both their names encircling a solid silver bangle.

The bangle starts with the name hoops that will encircle and move freely around the bangle, as always with jewellery creation, it starts off with a flat piece of silver.....

But not for long, they don't look too pretty - or round at the moment but give a girl a hammer, attitude and a big ol' file........
So do you think a bangle starts off round?? Again - attitude and big hammer....
Nice round hoops and bangle, but they need to be together.....
Its magic...... if I told you then.....
All polished up. For Claire and Charlie.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Ancient Inspiration..

Its been a loooong time since I felt really stunned and inspired by works of art, perhaps I just don't get out enough... I watched a dvd about the decorated cave of Pont d'Arc in Southern France. I found myself literally holding my breath as the camera moved around this cave, the drawings are 32,000 years old but had a contemporary and fresh feel. The artists really understood their animals, cave bears, cave lions (they now know they did not have manes!), horses and bison are painted at the darkest point of the cave where no light can reach, the undulating cave walls were used to indicate movement, lit by firelight the experience must have been so effective, as humans never actually lived in the cave maybe spiritual.




Thursday, 18 September 2014

Staithes Arts Festival

As we head into the weekend this is a little post about what I did last weekend, Staithes has a great Arts Festival in September, artists and crafts people take over the wee fisherman's cottages to show and sell their work, I saw and met some really talented people - painters, potters, jewellers and sculptors, lots of live music and good home baked food too. I'm pleased to report I had my cheese scone fix - nicely mixed with herbs.
Staithes is a lovely characterful little fishing village, not only was it a chance to see some very good and interesting work and talk to the creators, it was also a great opportunity to have a wander around those oh so charming little cottages.... I want one......


Friday, 5 September 2014

New Autumn 2014 Workshop Dates!

A quick post here - as opposed to the last one - my new Autumn 2014 workshop schedule is now up and eagerly awaiting views on my New Workshops page!!!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Gallery Studio or No....?

Ah - the pic bears no real relation to this post as my fantasy studio/gallery does not yet exist and I wanted to post a nice pic to brighten up my words so here are some copper experiments for future work! Anyway on with the real guts of this post. I mentioned earlier that I would post about my gallery/studio sitting experience in Kendal over the summer. I used this time to consider my aspirations for having my own public shop front, to get a feel for the pros and cons of such a venture. I'm so grateful to Zohar and Thuline for giving me the opportunity.
This is not something an artist can do lightly, it depends on funds and personality but for me the pros outweigh the cons. Okay, the three big cons...

It is very tying to have a gallery, no more 'oh its a nice day - I'll have a day off today and work another...'  'the kids are off today I'll spend quality time with them..' You have to be there when you state on the door/your website etc, you cannot afford to lose any purchases.

Disturbance... if you enjoy the ability to totally get in the 'zone' with your work and concentrate, well you will have to time this around opening hours!

A biggie - cost - rent, rates and utilities, they are huge compared to the cost of renting a studio only!


The client meets you and can develop a relationship with you, they are more likely to return - and it could be some day in the distant future but its all about building.

I do feel people are more likely to buy from you when they have met the creative person behind it all, its good to be able to discuss your work with people.

You can make the most of your shop front, allow it to reflect your work and personality, its totally in your hands to get people through the door.

There is so much handmade jewellery online, if you pick the correct location, there will be a lot more people viewing and taking note of your work.

People can pick up your jewellery, see how it feels, try in on.

You can build a reputation, I think with jewellery this can be a slow build, but if you do a good job it will build.

You are in control of selling your own work!

There are just a few there, more will spring to mind after publishing this post!

I guess its a very different use of your time, it is a good opportunity to work on social media, websites, photos, new designs etc.

I do really enjoy meeting people, studio work can be very isolating but I'm not the sort of person who could gallery sit all week, I'm a maker and get frustrated if I'm separated from my workshop for any length of time. For something like this to work for me I would have to combine the shop front with a workshop, maybe separate it with glass (health and safety....) so people could see the tools involved and get an idea of the processes ( intricate work will have to happen after hours!) I would still want to teach workshops, say an evening a week, viewing the workshop may motivate people to sign up for one. I would also like to sell other people's work, not just jewellery, my other passions are printmaking and ceramics...

All of this requires a lot of thought regarding opening times, I don't think I could be open as often or as long as other shops if I wanted to create my own work as well, hence other artists work.

It could be interesting to have a co operative with other artists, shop sitting time could be shared, plus ideas, rent and ... stress! A pop up shop could serve as a nice little taster for a bigger venture.

I hope this has been interesting and or helpful.... I'm sure there was more I wanted to say........

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned my passion for ceramics here, life is too short to go through my old posts, so there it is, I love fired mud! I had a studio in Baltimore Maryland for 11years and taught adult and children's classes at The Baltimore Clayworks and Chesapeake Art Centre. I intend to combine clay and metal in future work, lots of ideas buzzing, I'm determined to squeeze in an evening devoted to clay as often as possible. I visited PotFest in the Park this year, an annual event, I just adore it, stall after stall of highly skilled and imaginative ceramic work, very motivating and in the gorgeous setting of Hutton in the Forest. I'm posting a pic of my buys.... I never return empty handed. This year I bought a mug from one of my favourite ceramic artists from Germany Kathrin Najorka Keramik, I bought a lovely jug from her last year (I'll take a pic and post it) this mug gives me so much pleasure to drink my morning cuppa out of. I also bought a salt glazed bowl and spoon from Southampton artist Liz Gale, roll on next Potfest!!

I will blog more mud.......

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Going with the Herd..

The Kendal caper continues, I had a great time in Zohar's shop during July, headed back to Newcastle to make urgent commissons (a future blog!) and restock sold work then found myself back in Kendal as artist in residence for Thuline while she has a wee break in Spain. Its the same format - I get to exhibit and sell my work to a new audience (though I think they are starting to get to know me around here!) and Thuline keeps her shop open during vacation time. My jewellery and Thuline's livestock - cows with bling.....

I have to say the weather is very different this time, July was actually too hot!! Unbelievable for the Lake District, August is decidedly chilly, bit wet, bit blustery... Tomorrow is my day off and whatever the weather throws at me I'm gonna have fun..... I've made my mind up! I plan to write up my whole artist and shop front experience, so keep checking the posts...

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Jo and Laura's Almost Big Day..

Jo and Laura spent a very enjoyable day with me almost exactly a year ago making their engagement rings. Laura was working in Madagascar and had bought two gooorgeous oval blue sapphires, mmmm! They made their silver bands and I set the sapphires, they have the two most unique and lovely engagement rings...

So Jo and Laura came back to make their wedding rings, this was very important to them, they decided on white gold this time, we discussed what they wanted, they had very different ideas. But all rings start off in thick or thin wire form, and most have to be forged into that state..
Laura surprised herself by opting for a traditional D shaped profile, Jo wanted a more rectangular profile textured with a palm tree pattern I often use using the rolling mill.
The most exciting and sometimes tenuous part of making rings is the soldering - baptism of fire and water... go for it!! It doesn't look pretty at this point but it will be!
Okey doke - we have the forms, its at this point some brute strength comes into play - gotta hammer that lovely white metal into a round ring fit just for you!

Sanding and polishing is a huge part of the construction..
As Jo's engagement ring's sapphire was flush set a groove had to be filed out of her wedding ring so the rings would sit nicely together, the palm tree texture she applied looked just lovely, Laura decided on a satin finish, the ring looked perfect on her finger with her engagement ring...


Sunday, 27 July 2014


One very positive aspect of a shop front is the people you meet, allsorts, people who just wander in to browse as part of a day out, people who need to find 'something' a gift etc, the just plain curious.... Well whomever they are to strike up a conversation very often results in interesting, informative or just fun facts, pieces of life, whatever, that you would never have known about - people. There is a lot going on, people do and deal with a lot. There are also the other 'shop keepers' - people doing their 'thing, ' having the courage to open a shop to the public. My front of shop experience has resulted in meeting Thuline, a talented and driven painter/screen painter of animals, usually farm animals who opened her shop/studio next to Zohar's where I'm camping out this month. Thuline only opened her shop 11 months ago but already has a thriving business - selling originals, prints, teaching and taking commissions.

Well it goes to show what actually making the effort to talk to people results in - Thuline and I have become firm friends, she pretty much took me under her wing and showed me the delights of her wonderful family, friends, Kendal and gave me sound shop front advice! Visit Thuline at

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Jen's Big Day Bangle..

Hello me hearties, more blog post catch up. Recently two lovely people, Karen and Claire bought a voucher from me for their very good friend Jen's big birthday, you don't need to know which one, I'll leave that up to your imagination. This is such a nice thing to do, and it happens a lot, friends/family club together to buy something special from me. A voucher leaves it to the recipient as to what exactly they want, a ready made piece of jewellery they have coveted for a while, a workshop to learn the process of jewellery making or to commission a piece of jewellery from me. Jen chose to commission me to make a very personal piece of jewellery. After visiting me in my workshop we designed a wonderful bangle between us, actually three bangles, two silver bangles with freely moving hoops depicting her daughters names and a copper bangle to contrast with the silver. I began with the copper...

Okay it doesn't look so pretty here, just you wait, all the bangles were to be textured, that and the solder join is achieved first.
Now for the silver, silver wire is forged down to the required thickness, textured and formed into a round bangle.
The all important names..... these are stamped onto flat forged wire, this takes some practise, I have my secret formula......
These are formed into a round and soldered, tiny little bangles on bangles.....
Now the hard bit - the perfectly round big silver bangles are cut in half down the original solder line to slot the name hoops on - after they are perfectly round themselves. It has to be done this way as once the hoops are on it is impossible to get the bangles perfectly round again....
Ta daaaaaa!!  All re soldered and bandaged up, hoops an' all! Just an awful lot of polishing to do.....
Oh... that copper bangle....
Lovely and shiny and ready to be worn....... and the silver twins??
Ah - Edie and Isobel to be worn with or without a copper bangle
I hope you enjoy your bangles Jen - it was a pleasure to work with you!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Merry and Jenny's Wedding Rings

Okey dokey, now that I find myself in a shop without the ability to make jewellery I intend to catch up on posts, I have taught quite a lot of workshops lately and made lovely wedding rings for and with some very special people. Two VERY special people visited my studio to commission me to make their wedding rings. Merry and Jenny had a good idea of what they wanted, contemporary silver rings with initials engraved on the inside to represent a very personal message and a single sky blue stone set flush with the surface of the ring.
The first thing I did was to source the stones, we discussed using topaz, originally we all agreed on sky blue topaz, but on receiving them I found them to be too pale, they really wanted a nice distinct mid blue, the smaller topaz's are often clearer and paler. So we went with a London blue - just gorgeous.... Once I knew the depth of the ring I could work out the thickness of the band, always a very important calculation when setting a stone flush - you don't want the pointy bit sticking in your finger!

Silver wire is hand forged to appropriate thickness and the message stamped onto the surface (with many checks - would hate to get it wrong at this point!) then formed into a sort of ring shape before soldering the join, there is something so nice about a ring in the context of a union, when you make the ring and solder it to produce one piece it seems so much more appropriate.

Who would ever think making a piece of jewellery would involve the brute force that it does, especially to get a ring nice and perfectly round... Setting the stones comes almost at the end and is a far calmer affair..... Though tantrums have been known to occur..... These little beauties were 2.5 mm wide..
The rings were finished with a brushed satin look on the outside and super smooth shiny inside, I ever so slightly rounded off the inside edges to make them comfortable to wear but not too visible as I wanted to keep the nice clean lines. I know that Merry and Jenny are now wearing these rings - I hope they had a wonderful day.

Friday, 11 July 2014

An Awfully Big Adventure...

I'm not posting at my usual post! I'm having a break from my studio, I had the opportunity to exhibit my work in Kendal in a lovely little shop owned by textile artist Zohar Hartley,
This was a chance meeting, I popped into her shop during a little visit to Kendal, we discussed the pro's and con's of being an artist with a shop front and how it all works, this is something I'm interested in taking on, Zohar had to travel back to Israel for a while this summer and despaired of leaving her shop empty for so long... the grey cogs in my head began to turn and a cunning plan was conceived - after I consulted Zohar with the details, to exhibit my jewellery in her shop and live on a boat on Windermere, as she said 'mad ideas are usually the best..' Upon our second meeting she gave me the shop keys - a spare set... and here I am, in a lovely quirky little shop on a hot summers day in Kendal.

It was a lot of work for both of us, Zohar kindly re organised her shop, allowed me display opportunities, advertised me and had the windows cleaned! Not to mention her big trip organisation. I had to finish up pressing commissions, think about my display and make like there was no tomorrow as I will not be able to make jewellery for the time I am in Kendal.
This week is my first week in, its started in chaos - excitable chaos I have to say, I've been sooo looking forward to this!
But after some work I have a lovely little eclectic shop..
Of course I had to make some bling window dressings....
This is all new to me, how to dress shop windows and fronts to entice people in, its even more difficult when your selling jewellery, teeny tiny pieces.
This is going to be a learning experience for me, I'll keep you posted.
Oh yes, living on a boat, so far, so sunny, so good........