Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Meadow Pods in Metal Clay

The second of Holly Gage's courses at the Little Bead Shop in Scotland, making lovely seeds and pods for metal slip coating involved! This was a last minute desision for me as someone cancelled and I couldn't resist (compulsive class taking disorder, and I had wanted to study with Holly for so long!) There was a beautiful selection of everything from poppies to lillies and star anise ( raiding the spice rack at home is looking good...then again when did you last see a whole star anise). Holly also had some probably shouldn't have made it through customs wonders....I loved dogwood. Never heard of it, except as dogwood roses! Plus a few intriguing ones from the bottom of the pot pourri (I have long had strange looks from friends as I dismantle their pot pourri in search of interesting things!) Incidently if anyone wants to send me interesting pods, seeds, leaves, bark textures etc...feel free! Even if its from the smells like Granny pot pourri I will love it!! I didn't have any pods, but thankfully I was donated a few by other people- you know who you are! Holly had everything from bark to loofah in her box of tricks. 
Firstly we looked at taking moulds from our pods. It was great to revisit and get new tips on this technique for me and of course we developed into a full on brand comparison of moulding compound! Pieces later I have poppy heads (in two parts...haven't done this much dissection since I was in school!), lily heads and a dogwood pod, moulds ready to go......

Monday, 19 September 2011

The finished piece!

My finished poppy piece (just a quick pic, so not the best quality!). The cord is a lovely silk dip dyed affair (orange and brown- reminded me of poppies) from the Little Bead Shop
Next onto Elegant Meadow Pods.....
and do stop by my Facebook page Jewellery by Emma Rose

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Repousse in metal clay with Holly Gage

From Prague to Edinburgh.....
4 wonderful days with Holly Gage and our hostess Emma Baird from the Little Bead Shop in Scotland.
After an incredibly stressful train journey we finally arrived in Edinburgh having travelled to Manchester Piccadilly and found our onward train (and all later trains) had been cancelled due to a strike. Which had we had to discover from the information point. So a different train to York...the scenic route (!) to Edinburgh via Huddersfield, Leeds and more, then change again.....we spent hours on trains and finally crawled into Edinburgh around 8 hours after we left home. Our hostess at the B&B had thankfully stayed up (in her jammies) to let us in! I could have slept for a week. Fortunately the prosect of Holly's class was enough to make me spring out of bed (well, almost, I'm not a natural morning person anyway!) grab my kit and walk my way over to Bruntsfield where the workshop was taking place at the home of Art Clay Scotland, the Little Bead Shop, a gem run by Gil and Emma Baird.
Repousse in Metal Clay
Being primarily trained as a metalsmith I appreciate the intricacies of repousse/ chasing in silver. And quite frankly I can't be bothered to mess around with pitch and hammers. So I was very intrigued as to how Holly's process for making such intricate detail worked. She had brought a large collection of stunning pieces to gawp and drool over showing everything from a place she did a workshop in France to some Koi in a small pond. Every piece had a charming history behind it....even the squash flowers which were going to be dinner, but also turned out to be the intended feast of a wee little beastie (who also featured in the finished piece!). The high level of craftsmanship and the integrated nature of the fixtures and fittings were also noteworthy. A considered bail does much for a piece.
A prerequisite of the class was to bring drawings, sketches or photos from which to work a design. This part of the class and Holly's encouragement of individual design consideration meant that the work became uniquely our own and not a Holly " replica " which was fantastic. One of the other workshop participants was an artist and had brought her own amazing drawings of a robin and a horse. Others had brought diverse inspirations from dragons to Art Noveau. If you felt uninspired by your own handiwork then Dover copy right free books were an excellent choice.
I had been working on a sketchbook of Poppies anyway from some youth workshops I had been doing with the idea of translating them into felt (see previous post). So it felt natural to expand on that idea while I was on a roll and I had done some more original sketches and some manipulation of photos in Photoshop too and added them in. (It also kept me busy on the long train journey!).

 There were some interesting shapes and patterns in there I was looking forward to translating into clay. First though some consideration of scale and which parts of the image to use....and lucky us, Emma became our go fer and ran down to the post office to photocopy and rescale our imagery! Some tracing later I was ready to go with my poppy design, an abstracted close-up of the central pod and stamens.
Next that design was to be translated onto polymer clay to make a mold to start the repousse image from. Other than that I am not going to give away any of Holly's secrets of this part of the process- you'll just have to take one of her fabulous classes!!!! With our mold then used to impress the metal clay we had a firm starting point for our masterpieces. 

Though there was some discussion of work having an "ugly" stage to get through (personally I loved what everyone had acheived). Well onto day two we worked on refining and finessing our work Holly is really big on the tiny details, and it does pay off in the work and the intent of the piece. I am suffering tool envy and my first purchase has got to be some micro carving tools made by Dockyard, they and a set of mini needle files (yes they make smaller needle files!) proved invaluable. And conical clay shapers are the way to there were a few homemade tools thrown in the mix too. By now we are onto texturing and adding minute details to the artworks. Everyone's pieces look amazing...there is a robin, a seagull, dragon, art noveau lady in the moon, a tree on a windswept moor (very Heathcliff) art noveau twirls and flowers and a Monetesque statue in a pond. They are all so different and very lovely.
To see more Art Clay Scotland's facebook page- photos from the workshop.The curve of mine part slumped during firing so I have to figure a way to get it back again before I take pictures (it always goes wrong at the last minute when there is no time to fix doesn't it!). I highly recommend Holly's class though, she is very talented and enthusiastic and in no way is it a paint by numbers experience, it is all tailored to indviduals needs and levels. Will post the finished piece shortly, meanwhile check out Holly Gage's

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Felt like Heaven....Peckham workshops part two.

A two day workshop, aiming at little bags made from felt and inspired by summer meadows or gardens. Not surprisingly none of the group had done their "homework" to do sketches or bring pictures, so we printed out some ideas. I, at least had done mine and brought my sketchbook with some poppy pictures (which are "sick" apparently!!) so maybe in future they will be more encouraged. So after some sketching and planning of an idea, it’s on to cutting out templates and learning to lay felts (and a bit of, step away from the bright pink fibres, they weren't in your original sketch!!!). Once we have the basic designs down we add some additional fibres such as wool and lace. Then comes the water, soap and invariably chaotic fun! After making the bags on day one, day two brings embellishment, handles and some chopping and repurposing! Also I am making felt pictures with a few students who booked but didn't turn up on day one so at least they have done something, which means some running around (thank goodness for Louise holding down the embellishment side!!). I am certainly going to be sleeping well tonight- hope the students do too!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Youth Workshops in Peckham

An interesting start when the day you should be working is the morning after the riots the night before, but being pigheaded and persistent I am determined not to let my students down I plunge straight into civil unrest land...and its eerily quiet. Apparently rioters don't do mornings. And everyone more sensible is staying behind closed doors. So I am enjoying the lack of traffic, an easy drive for once!
5 days of activities planned over two weeks. We are recycling old jewellery, making stretch bracelets and illusion necklaces and some funky contemporary polymer name badges during days 1- 3. After that the focus is switching to textiles and we will be felting some little bags and/or pictures and embellishing them. The group is aged 10-16 so quite a range. My wing woman for the week is the coordinator at VAPA, the lovely Louise, a talented artist in her own right (and how she manages to follow all the instructions, make lovely pieces and keep an eye on a bunch of young people I'll never know!)
Recycling old jewellery.
A couple of the students have managed to bring some things but that is all, so it was lucky I had raided my own jewellery box and persuaded my Mum to raid hers too! Also on the table are ribbons, buttons, findings and new beads. Taking one or two pieces of old jewellery we get the sketch books out and proceed to plan. This is a great one for odd earrings or broken pieces as well as stuff that isn't worn any more. The sketchbooks encourage consideration of dismantling pieces and how the parts could be used before we move on to adding fresh materials. My sample piece is made from a dismantled single earring, an old watch bezel and a button is added for balance. The result has a very Art Deco feeling. The students get to work on breathing new life into bracelets, earrings and necklaces by transforming them into new wonders.
Day two brings stretch bracelets. We talk about colour combinations (and I encourage the pick one, two or at most three to try and encourage the " it isn't necessary to throw everything at it" approach!!) and using smaller beads so that the piece doesn't become too heavy. Then after a demo of headpins and coiling we are off...this one is going to keep them occupied for a takes a considerable amount of time to get round the bracelet. By the end most of them are experts in coil making and threading and the bracelets look great. In the time remaining we make some quick illusion necklaces.
Polymer Clay.
Last time we covered some basic caning, marbling and some funky shaped necklaces. So this workshop we followed on with some more canes. We made checkerboard canes, zipper canes and more; with some more discussion about colour use (I learnt the hard way on that one!). We also looked at using gold/silver composition leaf. This was followed by applying them to sheets of clay in a considered way and using letter cutters to create the funky names for our badges! After baking we attached them to kilt pins using chains and brass charms to make them even kookier!
this post will be edited when I get more imagery!