21 November 2018
Drawing inspiration from the past
I received an interesting commission a couple of weeks ago that I thought I would share with you.
A customer asked me to use the design of an old traditional East Sussex farming implement – reproducing it as a pair of earrings as a Christmas gift for her daughter who lives in Australia to remind her of home.
The design is based on the Pyecombe shepherd’s crook which was in daily use on flocks of sheep on the Sussex South Downs throughout the 19th century. The design is unique to this area and was, of course, originally created by local blacksmiths. The shape is different from other crooks of the period in that the rounded section is quite small with an elongated curled end. This smaller hook was used to catch stray sheep by their hind legs. It sounds a bit brutal but apparently, was and still is a perfectly humane method of controlling them.
The source of the 18th century cast-iron was an unusual one – apparently it consisted of the recycled gun barrels of soldiers, returning from the Napoleonic Wars.
The forging process of the silver is very similar to working with cast iron. Just as a blacksmith heats and hammers iron objects into shape, I repeatedly heated the sterling silver in a process known as annealing to soften it. This has the effect of loosening the metal’s molecular structure making it more malleable and workable. As it’s worked into shape it becomes harder to manipulate so has to be reheated to prevent it from fracturing. This process is a bit of a skill challenge, as once the metal has been made thinner or has been fashioned into a particular shape, it’s very difficult to reshape it, so accuracy was vital with only one chance to get it right! Thankfully, time spent carefully measuring and studying the shape of the crook paid off. The result, I think, is an unusually shaped and elegant pair of earrings.
I really enjoy doing commissions like this as it’s so satisfying to produce something that completely meets the customer’s expectations. It also challenges me to expand my silversmithing skills, helping me to further develop my range.
26 October 2018
Following on from my previous post, I’m delighted to say that the Horsham Contemporary Art Fair was an amazingly successful experience for me. It was well attended and had an impressive array of artwork on display. Thanks to all of you who came along.
At this time of year I am dividing my time between busily working in my studio to fulfil orders for Christmas, which are now coming in, and selling my work at craft events. If you missed the Horsham fair there are other places my work will be on show in the run up to Christmas.
I’m delighted to be showing my jewellery in a new location at Gallery92. Established in March 2018, this lovely, professionally run gallery housed in a parade of shops in the High Street, Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex is owned and run by Clare and Joff Harms – both of whom are artists themselves. It’s bursting with a range of wonderfully colourful artwork by talented local artists and makers and I’m very much looking forward to spending time there. Hurstpierpoint is a bustling village which, aside from the kind of shops you would expect to find such as greengrocers, butchers and so on, also has a number of shops selling interesting handmade gifts and collectibles. It’s well worth taking a look if you are in the area.
I am also going to be at the following pre-Christmas events:
Henfield Arts & Crafts Fayre, Henfield Hall, Henfield, BN6 9DB, Saturday, 17 November, 2018, 10am-3pm.
Light Up Shoreham Christmas Shopping evening at East Street, Shoreham-by-Sea – Friday, 7 December, 2018, 3.30pm-8.30pm.
Xmas Makers’ Market, The Libertine, 45 Portland Road, Worthing, BN11 1QN – Sunday, 9 December, 2018, 11am-5pm.
If you can make it along to any of the above, I’d love to see you there!
25 August 2018
Horsham Contemporary Art Fair – 21-22 October, 2018
I’m delighted at the prospect of taking part in the Horsham Contemporary Art Fair for the first time this year, and am currently working hard on new designs to show at this event. I will be previewing these on Instagram and my Facebook page over the next month.
I am part of the Horsham Artists Open Studios (HAOS) group of artists and makers, working in a wide variety of disciplines and mediums, all living or working in the Horsham District of West Sussex.
The Horsham Contemporary Art Fair provides an opportunity to see art and craft that is original, all locally produced by hand with skill and care. The artists include painters, print-makers, sculptors, ceramicists, glass and textile artists and of course jewellers like me! All work is displayed in the pleasant surroundings of The Parkside building in Horsham, with the added bonus of tea and cake! The venue is very close to the centre of town with easy parking. This makes it an ideal visit while doing some shopping and an opportunity to buy original presents, with prices to suit all pockets.
The Art Fair runs for two days over the weekend of the 20thand 21stOctober and if you can make it along there, I would be very pleased to see you! I will be easy to find as I have been allocated stall number 1 in the Arundel Room, which is on the left-hand side as you enter the Parkside building. Opening times are Saturday 10am-5pm and Sunday 10am-4pm.
Address: Parkside, Chart Way, Horsham, RH12 1XH.
25 June 2018
Worthing Artists Open Houses
Over this past weekend I enjoyed showing my work at the annual Worthing Artists Open Houses (WAOH) event. The idea behind Artists Open Houses started in Brighton in 1982 and has now really taken off, with even quite small towns and villages around the country creating their own similar opportunities for artists and makers to display and sell their work directly to the public.
Open Houses create a unique experience for visitors where they can, with the help of an event brochure and map, follow a trail to view an impressive range of original work, created by local artists and makers in their homes. Being able to meet and talk with many of the artists and makers creates a unique environment, in which buying work becomes a sociable, enjoyable and more meaningful experience.
There are 57 participating venues in this year’s WAOHs and my work is being hosted at The School Yard, Grafton Road Worthing – Venue 17, together with eight other artists and makers, at the home of artist Suzie Mitchell. As well as my jewellery, there are beautiful ceramics, textiles, painting, collages, sculpture and printmaking on display, with lots more to view at the other venues.
Suzie’s home is in a central location close to Worthing’s main shopping area, and if last weekend is anything to go by, we expect lots of visitors again this weekend. I will be spending time with Suzie at some point on Saturday, so if you’re in the Worthing area, why not drop by and say hello?
Venue 17 is open on Saturday 30 June and Sunday 1 July, 11am-5pm on both days.
14 June 2018
Today I’ve been working on some textured Spinner rings. I thought I’d post some ‘work in progress’ images so you can see how they were made.
One of the rings is an order for a customer who called into my workshop during our open garden event at the weekend – she was very enthusiastic about buying a ring I had for sale but it didn’t quite fit her. “No problem” I said, “any ring can be remade to fit you perfectly!”
Spinner rings have a thin, mobile inner band locked in place that can be spun while the rest of the ring stays put. They are great to wear, and are the perfect piece of jewellery for anyone who likes to ‘fiddle’ with something! This type of ring is believed to owe its origins to ancient Tibetan meditation traditions, because the action of spinning is believed to have a calming effect on the mind and body. Having worn one for a while, I’m inclined to agree.
Spinners can be made in a wide range of designs, including up to three inner bands and incorporating small gemstones. The ones in the pictures are fairly simple designs, but the hammered finish does give them a very pleasing sparkle when they catch the light.