Thursday, 31 December 2009

... And a Happy New Year!

A (hopefully) funny post to end the year on.

Santa was kind to me, and I got lots of lovely, useful, tasty and pretty things. Hope you did too (well, you might not all have wanted pretty stuff, but the others are fairly safe...)

One of the things on my list was a pop up light tent, so that I can photograph the glass jewellery. Someone had kindly lent me one to try out before I went out and bought one of my own, to see how I got on - I liked it and put one on my list, but I got lots of other things instead, so Boxing Day I ordered one of my own. As it was only a couple of quid more than the one I have on loan, I went for a bigger one.

Well, it arrived yesterday, I unzipped the bag, and nearly got knocked out by it when it popped open... I think maybe I went for slightly too big a size....

Apparently, I am not the only one on the Frit Happens! Forum to have gone OTT and ordered a beach shelter instead of a light tent - we might have our very own GLASStonbury festival with them....

Happy New Year to you all!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Hoping Santa will still be kind....

Cos I have been a BAAAAAD blogger again, haven't I? 22nd November was my last post. Tut tut.

I do have an excuse, strike that, a *reason*. The dissertation was due in on Friday, so on top of trying to get shopping for Christmas, falling off loft ladders, still practical work at Uni, and attending various concerts and events - and for same strange reason, unbeknown to man, I thought it would be great idea to make my own cards this year!! Not like I haven't it before, and got lots of the stuff, but why did I think I might have time to do it!

Oh well, the dissertation got handed in a whole FOUR hours before the deadline. For me, this is unheard of. There is hope for me yet. And I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it felt to get rid of that 35 sheet file.... (picture me with an inane grin on my face....)

Happy Christmas!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Craft Fair Comin' Up!!

Hi All

Yes, I am finally going to sell something (at least I hope!).

I have a stand next weekend at the Long Eaton Art Room on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th November, 10 - 4 pm both days.

Unfortunately, I have been so busy with Uni work, and you know, life occasionally gets in the way (what?? I hear you ask, you actually have a life? That's not allowed, oh no! And, no, I don't have much of one at the moment!).

So, unless I get a chance this week, ha ha, its going to be mainly pendants, but I have a few lovely new designs, such as this one:

This a a real Frit Happens! collaboration of my fusing, hand-dyed silk ribbons by Diane at SowerZe Designs, dichroic element from Denise at Chameleon Designs and finished with a bead by the lovely Julie at Lush Lampwork.

It's the first craft fair I have done in over a year, and I will be sitting there with one of my study books for those (hopefully not too often!) quiet times. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Something lovely happened in the Print Room....

We're currently working on a "Negotiated Research" module at Uni. Basically, it means not necessarily towards a final aim, but exploring and refining working methods that we will be using in the Independent Study and final show next year.

I am carrying on with the tile theme (for now at least) and have been exploring different methods of making the casting moulds for ceramic and/or glass tiles.

To give my work some context, I am envisioning that a final piece might be a large scale public work in a healthcare environment (yes, the science bit is still there!)

So I have been working on different types of moulds but also different methods of surface decoration. One of those includes laser cut lino (the block printing type).

Before I took at cast of it, I wanted to run the lino through the printing press, but I was using the blind embossing method, where you don't use ink, you just get the texture in paper.

This image doesn't really show it's full loveliness, but the pressure of the press picked up some of the stained/burnt lino and transferred some colour onto the paper. This image has not been manipulated in any way, just scanned.

Saturday, 24 October 2009


Okay, so its not glass related, Uni related, or anything to do with Art or Craft.... but dear son went to school Halloween Disco on Thursday, the theme was Thriller.

He won first prize for fancy dress, and apparently he can dance, too!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Craft Matters - the Craft Council

The Crafts Council, who do a great job of promoting Craft in the UK

If you value Craft, please help by signing their petition here. to show your support.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

DIY Disaster?

Well, not quite.

Last night, I was very proud of myself, as I put together a table I bought from Ikea a few months ago, that's just been sitting in a box for ages.

Did it all by myself, it was tough work I can tell you. It's a good, solid table, so I am quite pleased with it, there's only one problem....

It's so heavy, that I cannot actually pick it up by myself and turn it over. And I really don't know if we're going to get it out of the living room without removing a leg or two (built it in the comfort of the living room, so the top was protected and so were my knees!).

See, I am fine with glass, but perhaps I really shouldn't be let loose with a screwdriver....

I am a BAD Blogger.....

Honestly, I don't know where the time goes.....

So,we've got started, this is it, final and most important year. Hard to picture that in only EIGHT months time, we will have opened the graduate show (gulp!)

We've squeezed into our matchboxes spaces at Uni now, so just got to get on with some actual work.

Hit the ground running with dissertation information, meetings and deadlines..... if it wasn't for this module, I would be fine and dandy and a happy little third year. Hey ho, not got much choice in the matter. Actually, I was very good recently, and I wrote a piece of work that doesn't have to be submitted until tomorrow morning! Well, its still got a few tweaks, but those who know me well, will also know that my usual style would be Monday morning deadline = Sunday start. Yes, I probably won't actually finish it off completely til later this evening, but I am not sure I have ever been his far ahead....

Was given the go ahead to start my Negotiated Research Project, so I will try and update the blog with how things are going, but don't hold your breath! At the moment, I will be working on more tiles, but trying out different methods of surface decoration, whether it be print, colour and or texture. Doing some lino cutting this week, I will try my best not to cut my hand. Printing with these, and then casting them....

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Mary Johnson Ceramics.

Mary was a year above me at University, so she completed her BA (Hons) Crafts degree this summer.

I went over to her house last week (With its beautiful garden), where she has as set up a ceramics studio at home - I wasn't at all jealous, really I wasn't!

We'd talked about blogs at Uni and how I thought they were useful. In the third year, we have to set up a website, but as a lot of you will already know, they are not so easy to update at times, and I think using a blog is much easier, especially if its main purpose is for information and updated pictures, as opposed for selling. So I'd offered to help her set one up.

Mary was at Wirksworth Festival and asked me if I would still go and help, which I did, last week, and here is Mary's new blog,

Mary does lovely pottery - slip decorated, wheel thrown earthenware.  To be honest, it's not the type I am normally into, but Mary's is fun and interesting,  and often very tactile too. This is one of Mary's rhubarb forcers, which I love.

It was enrolment on Thursday, well confirmation of attendance. The hard work starts on Monday, our first session being context, and the dreaded dissertation.....

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Good Time at Wirksworth Festival

There's currently an Arts Festival in the village Wirksworth in Derbyshire.

We've (me and Ashley) never been before, weather was against us one year, time another. Last year we made it to the one in Melbourne (Derbyshire, not Oz!) and thoroughly enjoyed it, and I resolved we'd do both this year. Well that was the plan, until I realised that the Arts Trail of each were on the same weekend.

For anybody who's never been along to this kind of thing, over a weekend, the people of said festival village, open up their houses and gardens - but not so we can nosy at their interiors, it is so artists and makers can display and sell their work. Churches, school halls, and of course shops are open too.

As I said, we enjoyed Melbourne, but seeing as we'd not done Wirksworth before, and they are about the same distance away from home, we opted for the latter.

Not sure if we went in less houses this time, but there seemed to be less work - perhaps its more spread out. But what they did seem to have, which we didn't come across last year, is far more other things going on. Music - lots of, different types. Jazz band on one corner, guitar bands, even a bagpipe player, beer festivals, lots of foodie places and a makers market - and we only really did half. There just seemed to be a whole lot more "going on" - as Ashley said, there was a buzz - "let's get back to the lively bit".

As always, lots of lovely work, variety of homes and some gorgeous gardens. My favourite find though, was Bruce Aitken, Clockmaker.

Lovingly crafted, wooden clocks, with exposed mechanisms. Obviously a lot of work goes into these time-pieces, which not only are functional but are beautiful pieces of art in their own right.

Bruce clearly not only makes these with lots of care and attention, but was a lovely chap to talk to, who tirelessly explained to us how they work.

He's going to Origin in London later this year - and I wish him well. One day I would love to give one of these lovely clocks a home.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The kiln faeries were kind last night....

Like my blog posting, doing some glass work seems to be a bit of rare thing at the moment. I've done a couple of firings over the last few weeks, and the last one especially disappointed me.

But not one to give up, I spent last Saturday afternoon in the garden, with my flat lap grinder, working on those disappointments until, quite frankly, I was soaking wet and I'd had enough of the noise - I thought my ears were going to drop off!!

So, last night, some re-shaped pieces went back in my kiln, along with some that I have added glass bails to, and a few with dichroic additions. I don't tend to buy dichroic glass very often, its not really my *thing* - but I couldn't resist a posting a few months back on Frit Happens, where someone was selling "100 Horrors" - this lady does lots with dichroic, but had a batch of ready fired cabs the weren't up to her liking. They were a good price, and it meant I got a good variety without buying loads of glass - because I really, really, really don't need any more....

So, in the slide show below (too lazy to post individual links, sorry!), you'll see some with blobs that look as though they are sitting on top. They were "tack fused" on, which means where the glass is actually fused together, but doesn't melt all into one blob.

I've put some lovely hand-dyed silk ribbons on a couple, which have a bead at the other end, which acts as a slider - so the pendant can be adjusted from about 30" long, to as short as you like, and then worn long again at a later occasion (I often find that I might want a different length pendant, depending on what top I am wearing, so how useful is that??)

As usual, the colour of glass is often difficult to capture, especially dichroic, as you really can't see all the different reflecting colours. Oh, and I did this in a pop-up light tent which has been lent to me to see if I like it - I do, and one will definitely be in my letter to Santa. It was great to be able to take the picture without worrying about what was reflected in the glass.

I used my new dSLR, a tripod (something else I need new, this one is 27 years old and a bit lightweight), I was outside; it was cloudy, and late evening, which didn't help with colours, so they did go through photoshop, but not a huge amount. I am still getting used to all the settings on the new camera (might help if I read the instructions!), and it was threatening to rain, so they're not the best photos, but I will get there.

Anyway, here's the pics:

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Sculpture in the Sanctuary

On Tuesday, me and Ashley, and several of my lovely friends from University, went along to the above, which a sculpture trail in the Swan Sanctuary at Roger Taylor's Garden Centre at Southwell, in Nottingham.

It's only a temporary exhibition, so if you get the chance to go, before it finishes at the end of August, then DO! It's free entry, but in all honesty, I would have been happy to pay anyway.

There's no particular theme, just an interesting and eclectic assortment of sculpture of all sizes, shapes and prices.

Rather than post individual pictures, I have just provided my Photobucket slideshow. Beware, over a hundred images to browse through! I might come back in a bit and post a link to the album, so you can just look which you fancy, or I might post a few of my favourite images from the day.

The swan sanctuary is lovely in itself, a pleasant stroll round, even without the lovely art. And it looks like a lovely garden centre, and like most of these, has a lovely tea rooms/restaurant, which we can highly recommend! (well, it would have been rude not to!)

Friday, 7 August 2009

It's that time again.....

Let's go back to this time last year.

I'd been doing my blog a few weeks, and a year ago, one sunny evening (remember them?), a Friday, we saw a balloon pass very low over the back garden, and land in a field nearby. Click here for the original blog entry.

I was fetching in the washing (yes, it was actually dry enough to leave it out there for a few hours), when my mobile started ringing, it was my friend Jo asking if I was at home. I thought she was going to pop round for a cuppa, but she asked if I had seen a hot air balloon, to which I replied that I hadn't.

I took another look out the back door, and spotted it. How I could have missed it, I do not know. Well, actually it was probably too low to see when I'd been getting the washing, because if I thought last year's was close, this one was even closer.

It was a few houses away, but had it been nearer my back garden, it wouldn't have made it over the trees. It looked as though it might struggle to make it over the roof tops, I shouted my son and we realised that it was heading over the front of the house - we thought it might be heading for the same field as the one did last year.

I told him to grab the camera (I was still yacking to Jo at this point, giving her a running commentary) and we went out the front - I am very lucky to have school fields at the back, and large open green at the front - and I think the balloon was rather lucky too, as it clearly wouldn't have made it over the next lot of houses to that next field!

Quite frankly, I have never seen so many people on the green at one time.

Here's some photos - they're not brilliant, as it was my 11 year old who grabbed the camera, and neither of us checked the settings, the exposure compensation was turned up, so they're a bit bleached out, and he got a wee bit excited, so there's a bit of camera shake.

Firstly, these two though, I thought Ashley did a good job with the framing, they've not been edited in any way, I think they make great pictures:

Nicely framed, Ashley!Well centred shot

And here's the rest of them:
coming in to landComing in to land....

Oops, bumpy ride!Oops, bumpy ride!

HOW close to the houses?HOW close to the houses?

Mind the car, mate! Mind the cars mate!

Feeling a bit deflated....Feeling a bit deflated....

Oh dear, I think we damaged your lawn....I think we might have damaged your lawn....



Fire her up, lets get out of here..Fire her up, lets get out of here....

Here we go, jump up everybody so we can take off...Here we go.....

Nope, its not gonna work...Nope, its not gonna work....

Strange giant snail spotted on village green...Strange giant snail spotted on village green....

Makes a pretty tent....What a pretty tent.....

How do you get inside?How do you get inside of it?

Oh, look, that's why we crashed, its got a hole in it....Ooooh, look, that's why we crashed, its got a hole in it.....

Blimey, I wish I could do that with my sleeping bag.....I wish I could fold up my sleeping bag that effectively!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

I have a new toy!

I actually have something about me to blog about today!

(although, please don't forget my friend Shelley's fundraising!)

When I won the art competition back in May, I decided that I would use my winnings to buy a new camera.

As is the norm, I have been dithering about what to get for ages. Having used film SLR for years, and love it, but also loving the speed and convenience of digital, I was divided: start on a digital SLR (unfortunately I could not get one that would take my original film camera lenses, it is an old Fuji screw mount, rather outdated, even if it is still good!) - with the disadvantages of the higher costs of building up a range of lenses - or buy a "bridge" camera - you know, one of those chunky cameras that look like an SLR but have a fixed on lens. They're good in lots of ways, particularly some models that have a macro focussing right down to 1cm, and up to 18X zoom. I figured that a decent one of these would cover all eventualities.

So today, on a trip to Nottingham to buy a new iron, I went into John Lewis just to see what they'd got. I looked at a couple of bridge cameras, but the salesman took me to the SLR range, and put a Canon EOS 1000D in my hand. It felt so *right* - and it seemed really easy to use. Its a refurb, and over £100 less than anywhere else I have seen (not that I had even considered this model before 1pm today!)

Well, I bought it. Without research. How rash am I? But I figured that my compact Canon A540, which most of the images I have shown on here were taken on is ok. Actually, I've taken some cracking photos with it, as good as some bridge cameras can do - its just that I don't have the super macro or super zoom capabilities.

When I got it home, I got it out of the box, and took a few pics, and no, I haven't read the instructions at all, so I don't know how much better I could get. I have to say I am rather pleased with the result though (and it is with the standard lens, who needs macro?).

What do you think?

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Friends are fundraising....

Back in 2007, I did a bit of teaching at Castle College at Stapleford, doing NOCN in Glass Fusing.

I met two lovely, lovely ladies there, Shelley and Sandra, both members of Frit Happens, and we still sometimes meet up for a bit of "ladies what lunch". (In fact, we're due for another meet, must arrange it).

Anyways, Shelley has been a busy bee, making some jewellery for fundraising. She has two lovely items of jewellery on Ebay, and all proceeds from the sales are going to two charities:

This bracelet for the Breast Cancer Campaign


This pendant for Tommy's baby charity

I follow Shelley's blog, so a link should be in the side bar, under good monkey chatter, but she'll drop down the list as others blog, so here is the link to the blog post about it:

Good Monkey Chatter (Shelley's blog)

I always aim to do something myself for charity, but honestly I am terrible at getting myself sorted into actually doing it. At least I can tell you about others who do get their asses into gear and raise money for charity though!

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Out of the Ordinary....

It's a hard life being an artist/maker/craftsperson....

It's the summer break from Uni, and whilst we don't get an official summer project (other than dissertation research, yuk).

But what a few of us decided to do was make sure we still made regular visits to galleries and shows. I know just how easy it is to let the time slip away and before you know it, its time to go back to Uni and have been out of touch with what's going on.

A couple of years ago, there was an exhibition at the V&A that I wanted to get to, but never did. I found out last week that it's at Sheffield this summer, at the Millennium Galleries, so four of us went up today, and I have had a great day (thank you Debs, Nic and Sarah).

It's called "Out of The Ordinary: Spectacular Craft" - and their words "brings together the work of eight contemporary artists who place craft at the heart of their practice".

As we're on a Crafts course, this was a really relevant exhibition for us to see. And I was not disappointed. And I hope to get back again over the summer.

In Context studies, we have discussed the changing definitions and roles of "Craft" over the years, as well as looking at museums and exhibition methods and display, labelling, etc.

Aside from some really interesting work, I was intrigued at the method of display they have used in the exhibition. I would definitely say that it was shown as "art" and not "craft" (some rather subtle lighting for example, and all very minimalistic).

I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition, but I also very liked the Millennium Galleries, the Ruskin Gallery has a lovely piece by Keiko Mukaide, a glass artist who's work I love. I can't seem to get a picture to upload, but this link might work: Nature Water.

Go take a look.

In fact, I liked Sheffield on the whole - I didn't realise just how much work has been done in the city centre, it's still a work in progress, but felt much more like a cosmopolitan, European city than that steel city up north. Mind you, today's blistering heat might have had something to do with that "Holiday" feel....

We also had a walk through the Winter Gardens, where we had lunch, and saw the Hepworth/Moore/Nicholson exhibition at the Graves Gallery above the Central Library.

There's so much more to see. I'll certainly be going back to Sheffield.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Nasa Image for the Day....

Scroll down to the bottom of my blog screen, and you should see a new addition, as titled above.

Thought I would add it and see what interesting and fascinating images appear - should provide some inspiration...!

Friday, 19 June 2009

First, last.... but definitely not least.

Titled that as its the last post I have written, but will appear top of the list....

It was Les, of Flame Born Beads, who kindly threw open the doors of her studio on a very very wet Sunday recently, let us play with her glass and torch, and that was where I met some lovely new friends from the Frit Happens! Forum. Many of which I already felt I knew after two years and couple of thousand posts! And it was lovely to see Shelley and Sandra again, and to meet Fabienne.

I wanted to show you some of the lovely work that these talented peeps from the forum produce. I've picked images at random, cos I like 'em - you'll just have to visit their websites if you want to find out if they're for sale! A lot of people have Etsy shops as well, but there's only so many links a person can post in one day!

Again, a big thank you to Les for arranging this day, now take a look at some lovely glass...

Pixie Willow Designs

Whilst I had either met, or messaged other people off the forum, I hadn't "spoken" to Lorna before. I had been admiring her work though, as I had been following a show and tell thread in which Lorna had been rather prolific. And rightly so! Lorna's fine stringer work is fantastic, and you really don't appreciate it until you see her beads in the flesh.

Lorna generously shared some of her methods with us on the open studio day. It was way above my head, having struggled to get a glob of glass to even stay on a mandrel, but a joy to watch all the same.

Here is Lorna's website.

Cheekey Cherub Designs

Originally uploaded by Kaz ~ CheekyCherubDesigns
I first met Kaz last year at the International Festival of Glass at Stourbridge. She and Diane (Dilunah) had a stand on the saturday glass market (oh, now that WAS a feast for the eyes!).

The stall was full of glass goodies, too many to choose from!

Not only is Kaz a very talented bead maker, she is also a lovely patient lady who showed me how to make my first beads, and was kind enough to take the time to show Ashley too - I think its a brave decision to agree to teach an 11 year old boy how to play with hot glass in a flame! Here's Kaz's website for you to drool over.

Dilunah Glass Designs

I love Raku
Originally uploaded by dilunah
I also met Diane, who will tell you she only took a lesson in lamp-working to "get it out of her system".

She was, and still is a glass fuser like myself, with a bit of a penchant for blue and bubbles!

You can see more of Diane's on her website.

We've already said this, Diane doesn't show her work often enough on the forum, I couldn't decide which photo to show of her work there were so many yummy ones!

Lush Lampwork

New Rolling Stones
Originally uploaded by LushLampwork
When I went to the recent open studio day, where me and Ashley got a chance to have a play at a torch, I met some very lovely and extremely talented bead makers and glass artists.

I wanted to post some pictures of some of the work they do.

This is from Lush Lampwork,take a look at her website here to see some more fabulous work

Julie's work is exquisite, I am proud to own two pieces of jewellery from her, and I love them both. As well as a talented bead maker, Julie puts together some really lovely work.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

We popped our bead cherries!

first beads
Originally uploaded by Flame Born Beads
As mentioned, myself and Ashley went to an open studio on Sunday, thanks to Les of Flame Born Beads.

Here's our first attempts - Ashley's is the top left bead with the mad red bumps, and mine are the other two.

We haven't seen them yet in the flesh, as they were still annealing in the kiln when we left, but they don't look too bad for first ever try.

Especially Ashley's, very promising for an 11 year old who's never done any glass work before!

Monday, 8 June 2009

O-oh, another TWO bite the dust....

Most of you know that I love all things glass. You will also know that I joined the FRIT HAPPENS forum because of it, and I regularly drool over the lovely lamp worked beads that are shown on there by some very talented people.

I fuse glass, which involves cutting it up whilst it's cold, sticking it in a kiln, letting it do its "thing" then getting it back out 12 hours or so later with either an "oooh-aaahhh, haven't the kiln faeries been kind today" or "damn, that didn't work".

Lamp-working involves working with molten glass in a flame (they used to use oil lamps with bellows back in the olden days), so much more instant, although often still at the mercy of those pesky kiln faeries. I'd never done this, but a lot off the forum will know that I have wanted to have a go for a long time. They also tell me that once I start, that will be it, no turning back (one fuser started it as a way of making additions for her fused pieces, now hooked!)

Yesterday, one of the ladies from the glass forum had an open studio day, and it was a fabulous opportunity to meet some of the members that I have spoken to online for around two years.

And I got an opportunity to play with glass in the torch. And yes, I liked it!

However, not only did *I* like it, Ashley had a go too.... oooops, he's hooked! In fact, I think he's probably more excited about having another go than I am! (well, that probably isn't strictly true, it is just that I know that I have to hold off for a bit until Uni is out the way, I haven't got space for a torch right now, so it's something I have to put on the back burner for a while.... if I can!)

From what I saw, Ashley made a fab first bead, we have to wait til they're annealed and sent over to us to see how they turned out.

I will post pics as soon as I can!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

They say we all have a few minutes of fame....

.... in our lifetime. Am I about to get mine?

Derby Evening Telegraph

This was in yesterday's paper.

And they have suggested that, because the award is being presented by Dr Stewart Adams, famously credited with the discovery and development of Ibuprofen, they'll be taking photos of us with him. Because my work was particularly relevant to Dr Adam's work, it's likely that the local press will want those pictures.

The PR people also advise that there is interest from several other magazines, so I'll update when I know more.

Oh, and I forgot to say.... they told us that for the presentation, which is tomorrow (Wednesday), they'd like us to give a "little talk". On stage. Might be 50 people. I don't like presentations to my small class group of 15...... YIKES!

Friday, 29 May 2009

Isn't Photoshop great?

As part of my sketchbook work for assessment at Uni, I wanted to show that I had considered scale, and multiples, etc, as ways of displaying my tiles.

Having no time to actually DO the piece for real, I had a play in Photoshop to show what it could look like:

Now, all I have to do is persuade Derby University to commission me to produce it!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

A few more Uni pieces

Phew, I think its all over.

We had assessment yesterday. As usual, I had a rather late night on Sunday.... although not as bad as the previous year's assessment when I was still up working when the birds woke up. This time, I actually got to bed early, by 3am...

To be honest, I probably WAS more organised this time, although it might not seem it! However, this year, I still managed to take my son swimming on Saturday, and still go out for Sunday dinner and spend two hours in the pub, so I can't have been THAT far behind.

So I feel good about that. I feel even better about the grade and feedback that I got for my Studio Practice module. Basically, the tutors like where my work is going, and they also thought that the most successful part of my visual studies work was my "alternative sources" for generating work - that'll be my photograms, lino prints, monoprints, and photography and photoshop work then! So I am rather happy with that, as I love printing!

So, over the next few posts, you can expect to see some actual pretty pictures....

I'll start with a few closeups of tiles, just cos I like 'em!

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

I won, I won!!!

Just a quick post to say..... I won!

- the Bioscience Competition - well, I was one of the three selected winners, but I don't know out of how many just that it was open to students of:

De Montfort University – Leicester
Lincoln School of Art and Design
Nottingham Trent University
Loughborough University
University of Derby
University of Leicester
University of Northampton
University of Nottingham

- so not lightweight competition!

(Quick link to original blog post: click here)

That silly grin hasn't gone away yet!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Feeling proud!!

Just a quick post, my son has come back from his music lesson this morning with the wonderful news that he passed his GRADE 3 music exam!

I am SO proud of him!

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Phew, I finally did it!

The last couple of pots I have mentioned a competition I am entering. The competition itself is being sponsored by local (East Midlands) healthcare and bioscience organisations, and the winning entries will be displayed in Biocity in Nottingham (a bioscience incubation centre). Oh, and a cash prize and plaque ;-)

It was for a piece of 2D art work relating to the theme of innovations in healthcare and bioscience.

So, here's what I have entered - I am not sure it translates so well in to photographs,

The week extension did nothing for me in the end, apart from allowing me to enjoy the Easter break a bit more - I was still faffing on Friday morning - didn't help when my son noticed the cat paw prints when I was photographing the piece - about half an hour before we were due to take it to Nottingham! Darned cats - understatement.....

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Nearly there......

Last week I posted how I was entering a competition, and that the deadline had been extended by a week - questioning whether that would be a good thing or a bad thing.

Well, the deadline is tomorrow, and guess what? Yup, still not finished. Yes, my brother WAS right, he scoffed that I would still be working on it the day before... am I THAT predictable?

I am nearly there - I have spent probably far too long painting the frame, I have to remind myself that sometimes, perfect isn't, well, the perfect choice. And trying to save time, I attempted to cover the back board with black card, rather than painting it several times - a good idea in theory, except I forget what a disaster I can be with glue, and managed to mark my beautiful smooth base. So, cleverly (or so I thought) I devised a way of recovering it; by this time, it has nine little wooden blocks glued to it to make the tiles stand off, so I could not just paste a new piece of card on, it was more fiddly. And what did I do? Managed to get something on my NEW piece of clean card...... I better not write what my reaction was, but suffice to say my son has now forgiven me and said it was quite understandable after all my work.

With 24 hours to go, and tiles still to be glued on, and the back fixed to the frame, I got the paint out. Why, oh why, didn't I just do that in the first place? Would have been so much simpler (And, if I manage to cock up even more when I place the tiles on, I can just touch it up).

Wow, what a wordy post - I usually like to include a picture, but I don't think I have anything new to show.

Meanwhile, aside from working a little each day on my frame, I have also been following more people on twitter, and following more blogs. Honestly, I don't really know where I think I will find the time to keep up to date with all the blogs I now follow, I don't have time to keep up with my own!!

Mind you, Frit Happens is going to be really REALLY quiet this weekend - it seems almost every member of the forum is going to Flame Off! - I am not going, partly time, partly money, partly because its mainly a lampworking event - I don't lampwork (not yet, just watch me) - but I would almost certainly come back with a torch and kit, and a car full of glass if I did go - and I haven't got time for fusing, never mind a new hobby right now!

Anyway, I still need to go buy some foam board, and to finish writing my description of the piece. And it still hasn't got a title, other than.......Untitled.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Competition Time

I'm still working on the main, double module at Uni, "Studio Practice" - the glass bubble I posted a few weeks ago was an early part of that, the project has been about applying the same surface decoration and techniques to both ceramics and glass - this has taken the form of test tiles, and I have decided to stick with that as a theme.

I have been concentrating on the ceramics side of this for a couple of weeks as I am entering a competition. Here's a sneak preview of one of the tiles:

Click for larger image.

It doesn't show so well, but this has a real metallic look (and feel and sound) to it - that's probably because it contains manganese and copper.... It was a thick black sludge when it went in the kiln, and came out looking bronze like - alchemy!

I have probably made and fired around 200 tiles in different designs and surface treatments, some glazed, some in a standard electric kiln, and some in gas reduction (now that has produced interesting results!).

I have worked my "socks" off to get these done, and the reason for making so many is that I didn't have time to do testing before making the final pieces - I had to make multiples of everything so I could apply the different techniques and still have enough of each to assemble a piece of work. It is going to be wall art, I have been (attempting) to make frames too; woodwork probably isn't my strong point, and I now have much admiration for, and an appreciation of the prices charged by, a frame maker!

So, all this hard work was because the deadline was supposed to be Good Friday, but they e-mailed out this morning have extended it by a week -

Wooop woop I thought!! Closely followed by; actually I am not sure if that is a good or a bad thing. Because of the nature of how the tiles are made, they are not meant to be perfect, or uniform - they are, after all, tests. But a part of me now wants to re-make enough tiles, just a bit neater, because I have this extra week..... although it is, of course, the Easter break, my son is off school and I do actually have a mountain of other work to do (which has been neglected in favour of this competition).

When it is finally assembled, I will take a photo of the piece and you can keep your fingers crossed for me.

Oh, and I also have to supply description, for presentation. The work and/or the description has to demonstrate a clear link to the theme (which is innovations in healthcare and bioscience) - I might need that extra week to come up with that!

Monday, 30 March 2009

More fun than sand castles!

On Saturday, I went to a glass blowing studio for a one day workshop in sand-casting. I did it about a year ago, and have been itching to have another go since.

Sand casting is where you use "green" sand (even though its sort of orange colour!), which is a special sand that holds its form, used for casting metals, and in this case glass (it would make pretty impressive sand castles too).

By pressing objects into a box of this sand, the impressions then create molds for pouring molten glass into. We used lead crystal, usually used for glass blowing, which is heated to 1200 C, so its glowing yellow.

The lead crystal gives beautiful clarity, you can add colour, but I decided to work will all clear this time.

The piece on the right relates to the work I am doing at University at the moment - I am looking at patterns that repeat in the inner body and the outer world, the microcosm and the macrocosm.

As part of the developing visual studies work, these cell-like patterns have emerged, and the pieces I have been working on connect to testing methods - so this was an idea to make a giant "petri dish".

Its about 8 inches across and 1 inch thick - the pattern and texture you can see are on the back of the piece, and the lead crystal is so clear that it shines through - it doesn't show up properly as I was too impatient to wait until morning to photograph it in daylight! I made four other pieces too, but I think this one is the best (some of the others have a lot of bubbles, and surface trails, which on their own are lovely, but not quite the effect I wanted for my project).

Monday, 23 March 2009

Missing link.....

Something I do quite often, actually, forgetting something - you know the sort of thing "please find attached document" (on a lone e-mail), pleased find enclosed..... (with an empty envelope)

So, here's that link I said I was putting in my last post about the Derby Crafts Auction

Derby Crafts

That way you can actually go look at the work!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Arts/Crafts Auction

The third year students on my BA (Crafts) course at Derby University are trying to raise money for New Designers, an important show for graduates held in London in June and it's an expensive do.

They have been doing a variety of things - quiz night (our team won!), and each week they have a home made cake sale - yummy!

They have begged, badgered, and sometimes asked very nicely, for people to donate items for a silent auction they are holding.

There is a mixture of work by current second and third year students, as well as work donated from University lecturers as well as visiting ones - if you're interested in Ceramics, you may already know the work of Jeremy James or Josie Walter - two of our regular lecturers, and work has been donated by well established visiting specialists, evening class students and lecturers from other courses.

So, here's a link to their web page, which has a gallery of all the work - have a browse (you might even want to bid for a bargain! Only proviso is that you can collect from Derby or be willing to pay carriage).

So, apart from being nice and helping them to promote their auction, I wanted to show you the piece that I put in. We did a batch project before Christmas, which I didn't really enjoy, but did end up with several slip cast earthenware vessels - one of which I have glazed, and then this piece which was smoke fired and waxed.

I can't imagine for a moment that anybody will actually bid on it - and I don't mind if they don't as I do rather like this one myself!