Category Archives: Jewellery

All That’s Gold Does Not Glitter: 365-15

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Neither does everything silver. But there’s not a sibilant silver proverb, so you’ll just have to pretend.

Wednesday saw me back in the studio, and I really quite like how battered and mucky you have to make jewellery look before it’s finished, and I particularly like showing people photos to prove it. Here’s a picture of a bangle I’m making.

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Sketchy Design: 365-13

Ideas

Ideas

I’ve got some time in the jewellery workshop starting again this week, and I’m really looking forward to it – it’s been nearly a year since I’ve made anything with silver and I LOVE the classes (and there are still some places available if you fancy it!). I do struggle for ideas though and translating inspiration into design, so I’m really excited to be doing some commissions for friends and family this time, which really helps me work out what  to create.

Planning and sketching designs is something I really could do with practicing so I was surprised how easily this sketch for a friend’s wedding jewellery came to me, and am very much looking forward to getting stuck in to making things again!

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Filed under 365 project, Inspiration, Jewellery, Nice Things, Photography

Arty Facts

Travelling Butterflies by Pam Pauling, one of the Arts Trail Exhibitors

I’ve done a couple of interviews recently, one with Hana Gilbert who works at the Leeds gallery The Bowery, and who is organising the Headingley Arts Trail along with local businesses. It’s an opportunity to see local handmade arty things, and if you like, to buy an unusual Christmas pressie. It’s running on the 13th & 14th November, but don’t forget the launch evening on the 12th with free mince pies and mulled wine! All the information you need is in my article for the Culture Vulture.

The mischievous Lord Whitney woz ere

My next interview was with playfully inventive creative duo Lord Whitney, who have been nominated for the prestigious Illustrative Young Illustrators’ Award in Berlin, which will be announced on 5th November. Find out more about the award, how excited Lord Whitney are and just what exactly they’ll be exhibiting at the Awards exhibition on the Culture Vulture.

If you like their work and want to see it nearer to home than Berlin, then you can see what else they’re up to here.

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Filed under Art, Culture Vulture, Jewellery, Leeds

August and Everything After

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I’m sure you’re all dying to know what I’ve been up to then now I have my new-found freedom. The boring answer, sadly, is more work. Freelance locum work however, so that kinda makes it ok (nobody’s the boss of ME, right? Right. Good), and as the work will start drying up from next month I thought I’d best do some now or I won’t be able to buy catfood. Which wouldn’t make me very popular with this little character:

Furry madam

I *have* been up to some exciting stuff though, including lots of meetings of friends for tea, cake & coffee, spending time in fields (at Moorfest), and making lawts of shiny things as I’m doing my first craft fair next Friday. Come down and say hello. It’s at The Edge at Leeds University on Fri 3rd Sept in t’afternoon. I’ll tell you all about how that goes soon so watch this space.

Shiny stuff what I did make

I’ve also got an interview with Wild Beasts due to go in the next issue of No-Title Magazine. I met up with Tom & Ben from the band at Kendal Calling and got to chat to them about touring the US, what they like about Leeds, and their Mercury Prize nomination.

I ruddy love Wild Beasts and if you’ve not heard them, then you should quite frankly. In my personal opinion their nominated album Two Dancers pisses all over the competition (and it’s a really strong year with the likes of the XXFoals,Biffy ClyroLaura Marling, etc..) so I’ll be having everything crossed for them on Sept 7th. Hell, I’m even going to try and blag in to the awards. (*cough* if you are suitably connected to get me in, my email address is on the about me page).

Tom & Ben Beast

What I’m currently trying to avoid getting over-excited about is Leeds Festival – I’m off tomorrow early for Counterfeit [edit – after I’ve been to bed]. Nope, it’s no good, I’m rilly rilly excited!! We’ve been asked to cover as many new bands as possible, so not only do I avoid having to sit through a pissed-teenager-and-MOR-swamped main stage, I get to see about a million bands I’ve been wanting to see for ages, plus some of my favourite bands having tons of fun on stage.

I could start to list all the bands I want to see but I still have to find my wellies. However you’ll find me at the Festival Republic & BBC Introducing tents, especially if it’s noisy, new, and/or from Leeds or Sheffield. I’ll be dancing around, applying glitter to people, and looking for my pen.

I can’t look at this properly until I arrive because those wellies will never turn up otherwise, but the line-up looks like this. Scroll past the main stage bands and get stuck in!

Pyjamas & Cups, Leeds Fest 2009

You have to put up with me in over-excited mode a bit more though, because after that I have the Culture Vulture Secret Social to look forward to. Open to all, it’s a themed hobnobbing event, and Culture Vulture Emma Bearman prides herself in making it super special. This month’s is again in a secret location – we are promised food tasting though so we could be led into a darkened basement and I’d be happy! (Emma will be careful to point out it won’t be in a darkened basement however… Fascinating location guaranteed of course!)

Mr B. More rock n roll than Muse.

Then I’m off to Manchester to actually be a punter for once and see Muse play a supermassivegreenstadium with support from some bands I’ve definitely never heard of before called Pulled Apart by Horses and Editors. I’m particularly excited because I have never ever seen Muse play live before in my entire little life. I even skipped them this year at Glastonbury to see Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer because someone I know recommended him and I thought it’d be more rock n roll to spend the Saturday headline slot in a tiny tent up in la la land. (It was by the way, take my word for it).

In festival mode...

And finally, if you’re thinking about my title and wanting some Counting Crows, tough. Go find em on Spotify. If however you’re thinking about my title and thinking “Ha! The end of next week isn’t really everything after August now is it?!”, I will leave you with my extended-diary news that this week I have booked my flights to Reykjavik for the Iceland Airwaves festival in October, and a pre-festy trip to the northern Icelandic town of Akureyri. Northern Lights (hopefully), glaciers, whales, fish, hot pools, and lots and lots of live tunes. HELLYEAH!!!!)

OK, really going to find my wellies now…

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Filed under Art, Counterfeit Mag, Culture Vulture, Festivals, Gigs, Iceland, Jewellery, Leeds, Music, Writing

Icelandic Design Fortnight

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Continuing the theme of 2-week chunks of time,  I have been asked to blog about Icelandic design to tie in with Inspired by Iceland‘s Icelandic Design fortnight, and well, if you’ve twigged how awesome I think Iceland is (clue – it’s over there in the post-cloud in letters the same size as the word “GIGS”), it won’t come as a surprise that I said yes.

Aww, you mean I *have* to write about Iceland?

Icelandic design for me is inherently Icelandic. I know that sounds obvious, but let me explain. It doesn’t have any pretensions to copy other Westernised cultures, and you can clearly see inspiration drawn from Icelandic tradition and landscape, things which the Icelanders are rightly proud of. They also understand the importance of individuality. When I was last there, I complimented my friend Klara who was wearing this fantastic salvaged dress made out of 2 t-shirts – one bright red and one bright yellow – chopped up and sewn together. (I wish I had a picture but I had to run for the bus). It was completely unique, looked amazing on her, (even though on paper you might think it sounds awful), and we got to chatting about why Icelanders express themselves so strikingly through fashion. Klara reckons it’s a product of the small community, where everyone knows your business and you’re fighting to be seen as you and not who everyone thinks you are.

Random Reykjavik graffiti. Unlikely to have been inspired by volcanic lava.

That’s why I think I like Icelandic creativity so much. It’s minimal, elegant, proud, personal. Evocative without being obvious, it draws you in and makes you want to immerse yourself in it. Whether that’s music, film, literature, fashion, shopping – or practical design from jewellery, through to furniture and architecture. They even make boring stuff (like making things go) lovely (Iceland has pioneered the use of geothermal power and a happy by-product of that is the creation of the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, seeing as how they thought the excess heat at the nearby geothermal power station shouldn’t go to waste. They also use it to heat the sea at a couple of Icelandic beaches. Who else woulda thought of doing something useful like that?).

So – pretty picture time! I’m going to show you some things that I really like from Iceland:

Reykjavik Harbour

As you can imagine, volcanic lava features quite heavily in the Icelandic landscape and architecture, and huge chunks of it are readily available. Reykjavik harbour is bordered by tons of the stuff, haphazardly arranged like it’s a really big rock pool in your very rich Auntie’s garden. I don’t know what it is I like about these huge chunks of the earth’s core spewed up to the surface, but I can spend hours sitting on them, standing on them, walking on them, and not doing much else. I should probably get out more, but hey. So I really like this series of stools that have been inspired by weatherworn rocks that Inspired by Iceland have sent me to look at (they’re called Fjörulallar by a designer called  Guðrún Björk Jónsdóttir). Love the way you can see bits of rock poking through!

Fjorulallar

I also wanted to show you a dress I bought on my last visit. Handknitting with wool from Icelandic sheep is big in Iceland. I got this one from a wonderful shop on Skólavörðustígur next to the Babalú cafe where they’ll be handknitting stuff in front of you. Here I take the opportunity to pose for you (whilst looking like a complete idiot) to show off my proper Icelandic dress, which not only is handmade by a very nice Icelandic lady, using wool from Icelandic sheep, it echoes the design of the traditional Lopapeysa jumper design, whilst being different enough to be definitely not a Lopapeysa. Four Icelandic things all rolled into one, oh and green is my favourite colour! Watch for me prancing around in it in Leeds:

It’s a dress. It’s green. It’s from Iceland. I’m happy.

I’d like to leave you with some pictures of Icelandic jewellery. There are tons of gold & jewellery shops on Laugavegur, which, despite being waaay out of my price range (and hey, I can melt metal, I’ll make things myself..), have window displays to die for, which translates roughly as a lot of striking use of gold and silver echoing Icelandic nature, or being minimal & sophisticated, or being individual & quirky (or if we’re really breaking it down – SHINY THINGS!).

Retro car Bracelet by Hringa Jewellery (www.hringajewellery.com)

Landscape inspired silver ring

Next time I go I’m making sure I have enough to time to get out of Reykjavik centre and check out what people are making outside of the capital. Now where’s my passport..?

InspiredbyIceland.com want to tell you how awesome Iceland is. Yes they’re trying to get you to go and visit, but honestly, why wouldn’t you want to? Tell them what you like about Iceland and find out about more cool Icelandic stuff on their Facebook page. Or just book a flight to Keflavik.

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Golden Dreams

I’m strangely excited. I have never really felt very creative (although people have told me that I am) – well not originally or visually creative at least – but give me something to start from and I can be well away with things like event planning or decorating or hanging pictures (See? Not exactly ground breaking..!)


But then I started jewellery class just over 6 months ago. Now I’m not one for planning my “design” – it’s my way of defying convention (because I’m hardcore like that) – and have always felt more comfortable just experimenting as I go along and seeing what happens. I like to think this hasn’t resulted in bad results (see pics), but it IS time consuming and expensive. I have also sadly realised that I can’t just sit around for 2 hours a week melting bits of (expensive!) precious metal and hope that I’ll keep making something different and nice to look at and wear each time. 




Fortunately my lovely jewellery teacher Emma Jay not only gets how planning in the right way can actually help the creative process, but she can actually explain it to stubborn & clumsy students like me. Hooray! I know know about things like functionality, aesthetics, value and “reflection of self” (the bit that I always got I think, and it’s more complicated than checking you look ok in the mirror..). More importantly for me, I have decided I want a project, to try and see if I can work all these things together, to develop myself as a proper artistic designer (haha!) and to bring pleasure to someone else: the finished article is not something that I plan to keep.

I intend in my project to turn an old (bottom of the range) engagement ring, and another gold & diamond ring given to me by an ex, into a new piece of jewellery. This relationship is water long under the bridge I hasten to add – there will be no symbolic or emotional smelting, this is a phoenix from the very cold ashes scenario, a truly exciting prospect where I really want to see if I can make something beautiful and new out of materials that exist in my past, that symbolise a past era in my life, using my new skills. A metamorphosis of my past experiences if you like, into a new, more creative me. There will be a certain irony in using those rings as materials like they were never intended (this will be part of the “reflection of self” Emma, check me out doing my homework!), and when I’m done, I’m going to take lots of photos (so that I can show off, naturally), and then SELL IT. And then when some new owner is delighted with my work, I am going to go out and buy all my friends an awful lot of cocktails with the profits. Can’t wait!

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