9 Jun 2014

It pays to look a little closer

Further to my previous blog on Simple Pleasures, this one isn’t really much more than an update, on account of finding some more photos from the walks and leisurely evenings that I’d described.  We did manage to return for another evening last week and although the weather wasn’t as perfect and there was a very stiff and distinctly cool breeze that forced us to eat our supper with one hand holding lightweight items down, it was still a lovely and valued treat.

We have always considered it potentially too breezy to eat al fresco if your crisps blow off the plate and if it hadn’t been for the shelter of the car that we parked nose into the wind, that certainly would have happened.

Please click on any of the photos for a larger view – if you’d like to see them at the size I prepared them, you may be able to middle click and open them in a new tab or window without Blogger re-sizing them to fit.

Whilst it was a less sunny evening than on our last visit, we did get occasional blasts of evening sunshine through the trees and I took this slightly wider shot from the same spot as last week using a different camera.  I’d need to check the times, but in this one, the sun is obviously at a slightly different angle as the bottom of the trees are catching it too.

At this time of year, the hedgerows are filled with the lovely white fluffy flowers of cow parsley and at a glance, all you see is a cloud of delicate white umbelliferous flowers nodding in the breeze at the edges of fields, but they’re certainly worth looking at a little closer.  Looking at it in full bloom, it’s easy to see why one of its country names is Queen Anne’s Lace.

The dome of flowers is understandably made up of lots of tiny individual blooms, but I was surprised to see that they weren’t as uniform as I was expecting – they have 5 petals, of differing size; one large, two medium and two small.  The flower collectives look fluffy as each bloom develops and its stamens reach skyward like a cluster of flowery hairs.  It’s always worth looking that bit more closely at things we think are familiar – sometimes they surprise us.

Recent work:

I’ve finished two large projects this week – two copper clay pendants.  One features another of my own faux cabochons, this one is Chinese amber, which has been leaf-set in a round pendant with lots of tiny leaves and the edges festooned with tiny copper balls.

It has a chunky bail comprised a single loop which overlaps slightly on the top rim of the pendant and is finished with more tiny leaves and balls.  The cabochon is a translucent polymer clay that has been hand tinted and features the dark fissures of a matrix or cracks.   It has been sanded and buffed extensively to a high gloss finish, then this has been locked in with a dozen thin coats of acrylic varnish.

When I’m working for a considerable time of a piece, I like to make the back pretty too and this one features some more tiny leaves around the ends of the bail and a swirl and leaf pattern on the back.  I find with each piece that I make that I have one little corner of detail that’s my favourite part and the bail on this one is my favourite area of this piece.

This next pendant was one of those serendipitous pieces that just sort of happens.  Some pieces start as an idea that gets drawn as a sketch and often the bulk of the time given to a piece is the thinking through of the mechanics of it – what order to make and apply the parts, how to solve engineering aspects of the design etc.  And some you just can’t overcome those issues initially and find yourself returning to repeatedly until eventually either the method presents itself, or you develop skills or knowledge that you perhaps didn’t have when first considering the design – and sometimes you just have to write it off as unworkable.

I’d made some long thin strips of finely rolled copper clay, intending to use them to bezel set a stone, but went with something different in the end.  So I spotted these strips and made a mental note to reconstitute the clay as I was unlikely to use the strips.  Later I was working in the garden and was looking at  stretch of trellis I have along one wall – erected some years ago to provide a veil of privacy from neighbours’ upstairs windows.  Over the years, the vegetation using it to climb has grown significantly and the trellis is now largely obscured with an assortment of honeysuckle, vines, dogwood and a climbing hydrangea.  The latter of which is supposed to flower and after a year or two I mentioned to my green fingered Mum that it never had and she said it might take a year or two to establish.  Frankly, I think 11 years is now quite long enough – so flower damn it!

Anyway, I pondered if the bezel strips might be flexible enough to weave together – as it’s COPPR clay which does have some flex to it when dry.  So the eventual size and shape of this pendant was determined entirely by the length of the bezel strips I wove together, then having put it on a base, I added curly tendrils, leaves, balls and a triple looped bail.  I’ve set it with a single citrine coloured cubic zirconia.  

In line with my plan to keep the backs interesting too, I gave it a wood grain texture and added a curly tendril.  Initially I was going to continue the tendril from the front as though it had just grown there, but I liked the shape of this one better and wasn’t sure that going over an edge would look right from the front.

I especially enjoyed working on both of these pieces and I’d like to think that was somehow reflected in the results.