The Art of Living by Making Art

Jewellery inspired by nature and made by hand.
How I make it, why I make it, the challenges I face and the successes that come my way.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Away We Go

We are away on vacation tomorrow. I'd like to think it will be an escape from the cold rainy weather here but as we are going to England that is unlikely! I am packing a summer dress and rain gear to cover all eventualities!

Having set up my Etsy shop, my website and my blog this year (I was an online marketing holdout for years and then decided to go all out and try it.) I am planning as to how I can keep checking and updating those things that need it. I don't travel with all the paraphenalia (laptops, smartphones etc) that many people do so will probably rely on friend's computers and maybe the odd internet cafe. Oh, and my parents, who are in their eighties now, and have shiny new laptops!

Apart from keeping up online there is another kind of work I do when I'm away - filing away ideas for future use in my jewellery. Here are some things I pack with me:
Digital camera - indispensable these days. I love to take detail shots of architectural features and close up of plants and flowers.
Sketchbook - the book I use at home is a large hardcover, fairly heavy. Even so I do sometimes pack it along, it has all my jewellery ideas in it, sketched or written. Also I bring a small pocket sized one too.
Pencils, eraser, sharpener, fine black drawing pens - kept together in a metal box.
Water-colours - a small tin box with squares of water colour and a brush.

While I'm away I collect things too, always come home with a mass of things such as:
Postcards - unfortunately most London museums and galleries don't allow you to take photos so I always buy some postcards of things in the collection.
Catalogues - galleries or artists tours often have catalogues with sumptuous pictures in them. Plus can be inspirational if you yourself are planning an open studio or exhibition.
Natural items - I collect all kinds of leaves, bird feathers, flowers, and press them between the pages of my sketchbook. Also I bring back pebbles and seedpods, anything really that catches my eye and that I can pick up.

Well gotta go and pack now, and hope that volcano doesn't decide to erupt again until we are over there. I'll end with a pic of earrings I just finished, my favourite scallop shape again.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Wet and Cold

I am having a hard time getting down to work these days. The weather here has been so cold and wet for the past two months that it is starting to get me down. After a long winter everyone here in British Columbia looks forward to a warm spring, but this year it isn't happening.
You would think that I would be able to get cosy in my studio with the kiln warming the place up, and I have to a certain extent, but I keep obsessing about the weather, going outside to check if anything is growing, and generally not concentrating on what I should be doing.
So here, I am cheering myself up with a picture of sweet peas from my garden taken last year, I can only hope everything will catch up soon.
Good news for jewellers and other crafts people in Canada, Cheryl Fraser is re-opening her gallery, Zilberschmuck, in Toronto. Cheryl is a gem to work with and I am looking forward to sending off a parcel of work for the gallery soon.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cloisonne Wire

I have been using wire in my enamels lately in two different ways. I wanted to try using round wire as cloisonne wire to see how it looked. Round wire is a lot easier to use in one sense because it doesn't fall over like the traditional rectangular flat wire that is used in cloisonne enamel.

I drew down some fine silver wire to the last hole on my draw plate which is about .3mm and used that for the Snowdrift Ring I did a couple of weeks ago (see post: Finished at Last). I liked the look of it a lot. It is much larger in diameter than traditional cloisonne wire so gives quite a different look. It is true that it is easier to keep small, almost straight, pieces in place though I do use some klyrfire type gel as well. I am thinking that next time I splash out on some new tools I'll see if I can get a drawplate that goes even smaller in diameter.

Another thing to remember about using round wire is that as you stone it back the diameter of the wire that is exposed changes, so even stoning is needed unless of course you want your wires to look different sizes.

This past week I made a cloisonne ring using the traditional rectangular flat wire. On this piece I wanted a fine and delicate look and I think I got what I wanted. The little pieces that make up the leaf veins are folded over, curved and then opened out - that way they stand up very well. Of course this ring is flat topped which makes it all much easier than working on a highly formed shape.

Leaf Ring

I really love experimenting like this, looking for ways to get the style I want in the piece, trying for different looks, combining alternate ways of working. Rules are made to be bent, broken and ignored after all!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Finding customers

Hello new followers, thanks for joining. I was wondering whether anyone has any interesting stories about how they stumbled onto customers?

I have a story of my own. A few years ago I was in the UK visiting my family. My Mum and I were at the famous Chelsea Flower Show in London for the day, trekking around trying to take it all in. We stopped at the stand of a woman selling her nursery plants and copies of her book. Her name was Carol Klein and she was just starting to become known in the gardening world in England. She complemented me on my earrings. I said thank you I made them, as you do. She asked me to make her a pair (and I bought her book).

I duly made the earrings and shipped them off. The following year I got a phone call from her husband saying that Carol wore them everyday and wanted something new. By this time my Mum had sent me photos of Carol from her newspaper column, wearing the earrings. I sent over some sketches of ideas but I never heard anything back, despite a follow up email.

Two years later her husband phoned me again saying Carol must have new earrings - she was presenting BBC Gardener's World by this time. Thinking that sketches and design decisions weren't going to cut it, I offered to send three pairs of earrings to them, they could choose what they wanted and return the others. They bought all three pairs and I was thrilled the first time I saw Carol wearing a pair on the tele.
The design has been a best seller for me and I wear my own pair often. Today I decided to update them, so I made them as I always do but enamelled them with shades of transparent green enamels. I am blowing my own trumpet today but would love to hear your stories too...