26 Sep 2016

The unmistakable signs of late summer

Fruits ripen, seeds drip, the hours of day and night are balanced.   Mabon Sabbat and Lore

This is a time of year that I both love and find a little sad too.  That point where the unmistakable signs appear that summer is drawing to a close and autumn is chasing its heels.  It’s sad because you know the long evenings are rapidly vanishing and there will now be more night than day and yet it’s still a beautiful time of year.

Each period of the year has its own merits and I do so love to observe that cyclical rhythm of nature doing its thing.  As summer wanes, plants put forth their seeds and berries and animals and insects use the opportunity to feed up for the forthcoming winter.  Consequently, the hedgerows are full of those fabulous later summer structures full of summer energy ready to fuel a new generation. This colourful display is full of warmth and vibrancy and stunning natural structures, just as beautiful as the flowers that precede them.


Recent work in a new material:

I recently discovered a new brand of base metal clays from Australia – the appropriately named Aussie Metal Clay, only recently put on the market in the UK, which I have thoroughly enjoyed working with.  I intend to do a more detailed blog on working with the product, as there is little information out there yet, but I have one or two issues to resolve for myself first.

When I look at new materials or techniques, I often do a lot of research and reading to formulate a good idea of the features of the product to see if it will be suitable for my needs – this is very often blog articles from fellow users who kindly share their experiences.  Consequently, as this product doesn’t feature very much yet, I want to write some more about it and my own findings from making several pieces with it, to make my own contribution for fellow artisans.

In the meantime, in the gallery below are a few of the new pieces I have made with a couple of the medium fire base metal clays from Aussie Metal Clay to give you an idea of its capability, but I intend to write much more specifics in a future post.  [Article now written and the links above take you to it.]

Metal clay gallery:


7 Sep 2011

Fungi and Blackpool Illuminations – it must be autumn

I don’t have a particular theme to this post, but I’ve accumulated a few photographs, so it will end up a bit random.

Further to an earlier post about trees starting to change, it’s become evident that autumn is well and truly here now – the weather has been appalling for a week and I have the heating on as I type. My garden, which never truly flourished this ‘summer’, is looking distinctly end-of-the-season and the torrential rain today won’t have done anything to improve that.

Please click on any of the photographs for a larger view.

We went for a walk through some of our favourite woodland recently and there were many clusters of fungi at the bases of trees, a sure sign of autumn approaching. I certainly like autumn well enough, what I don’t like is when it arrives before you feel ready for it – when you don’t feel done with summer yet. Once it’s evident that autumn is here to stay, then I’m as happy with it as any season – it certainly preferable to winter – although that has its merits too.

I liked the abstract of this view with the assorted curves and vertical lines. The photograph makes it look a little more cheerful than it was in reality – the sky was black and threatening and it was positively breezy. It was about here that it started raining.

We also had a trip to Blackpool this last weekend – it’s the area we both hail from and were over visiting family. As it had been a better day than forecast, we decided to get a walk along the Prom between dinner and coffee whilst we had the chance. The sky wasn’t quite as cheerful when we got there as it had looked from the window and whilst the temperature was just nice for walking in shirt sleeves – it was soon raining and we did get a little damp.

Even from a distance, you can hear the riders of the Big One scream (and the brave ones raise their arms aloft) as it drops from the highest peak.

The scenes along the Prom further reinforced the autumnal feel as the Illuminations were switched on a couple of days earlier – an event that signals the end of summer, going back to school and nights drawing in.

I do like how they’ve improved the Prom (and are still working on it) – at least at the South Shore end where we usually walk – there are frequent large art and sculpture installations, wide flat, safe areas to walk with plentiful seats, even some under cover for days just like this. See my earlier blog with photographs of the sculpture by Peter Blake.

“They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” – Blackpool’s record breaking glitterball with 45, 000 individual mirror tiles. Named after Sydney Pollack’s 1969 film about a dance marathon.

Last time we walked this section, this particular item was missing whilst it underwent refurbishment. It’s the largest glitterball in the world, tipping the nod to the ballroom dancing heritage of Blackpool. It’s called “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” and features 45, 000 individual mirrors. It turns gently and the scene and sky around it are reflected as a glittering mosaic from the surface – although I’m sure it works much better with a more interesting sky.

My work this week:

Over the last week or so, I’ve finished a number of pieces and am just working my way through a mountain of photographs of them so that I can get them listed in the next couple of days.

The earrings above and the bracelet below are made from the same basic chain link structure. I’d had a gold chain that I wore until it got so thin that a link snapped and it wasn’t worth even trying to repair – every link was hanging by a mere thread of gold and it’s now been scrapped in – possibly for more than I paid for it.

It had an unusual alternating link design that looked like a knot between the links and I wondered if I could mimic something similar and had a bash – but from memory! When I’d done and actually went to get the chain out to compare it, my version was less like the original than I’d expected, but I’m really happy with how it did turn out and I’m sure it will soon become a favourite to make – it’s fun to do, although a bit hard on the fingers. I thought that the long earrings, with their circular joining link had rather an Arts and Crafts feel to the design, with the long elegant shapes so typical of that design movement.

Further to previously posted Sterling silver nugget single piece earrings, I wanted to try making an articulated pair that would move a little more. These are quite large molten nuggets, soldered with a little loop on the back which in turn hangs from an earwire. I also made some much larger single piece nugget earrings and a very large molten nugget pendant – which is already proving tricky to photograph well.

A pair of earrings featuring fully oxed copper ovals, wire wrapped with dangles of turquoise magnesite.
21 Aug 2011

But it’s only the middle of August

Anyone has read any of my blog previously will have figured out that I like to be outdoors and preferably amongst trees. If I had my own way, I’d live like a hermit in a log cabin in woodland, spending my time as a camera and jewellery making bum without having to worry about paying the bills.

Please click on any of the photographs for a larger view.

I’ll grant you, you were pretty well hidden there amongst the long grasses, but I did spot you!

I’d be quite happy to live the simple life, I don’t need clothes shops or restaurants and night clubs, I’d be pretty happy to have fresh air, peace and quiet and would even be prepared to grow and manage much of my own food. People talk of the ‘Champagne lifestyle’ if you won the lottery. What I’d buy would be solitude. I’d buy the biggest tract of land I could afford and plonk a nice house in the middle of it. I think I’d quite like to be reasonably comfortable – I’d need a hot shower and broadband connection, but I wouldn’t need gold taps or marble floors.

Come on, play fair, we haven’t even had a summer yet!

Even the leaves that are outwardly green, are starting to turn and the green is becoming more golden.

Both of us work pretty darned hard and often very long hours and it becomes very important to us to get outside – either at the weekend or in an evening. So whenever weather is suitable – and often when it’s not – and we have the briefest of opportunities, we abandon chores and head outside. Thankfully, we don’t really have to go far, we have several nice places to walk within a ten minute drive, so come the weekend, we grab walking boots and waterproofs, camera and walking pole and head out.

A significant amount of the bracken is already turning – not just the odd dead leaf, but great patches of it.

We did one of our usual weekend routes at lunchtime today and I was astonished at how many trees were already turning to their autumnal display – many trees were both dropping leaves and turning colour – is it me, or does this seem to happen earlier every year?

I’m sure in the past, you wouldn’t see any golden leaves until well into September. It’s simply not fair, we haven’t even had a summer yet! Summer never seems to have even got going this year and here we are, already tramping over scrunchy dried leaves and feeling a bite of chill in the air.

I certainly like autumn well enough – but what I don’t like is how it sneaks up on you whilst you’re still contemplating summer and don’t feel ready for it to appear yet. We didn’t get a summer propper, so maybe we’ll get an Indian Summer?