Monday, 21 December 2009

Favela saves the day!

After much stress and deliberation, I decided to ditch the grapes. I just wasn't getting anywhere with them and while some people can find fruit inspiring, I just don't think I'm one of I'm sorry Dionysus...but I feel much better for it. A few days after 'fruit' was announced, we were told we could actually do architecture if we wanted, and then the deadline was extended to the middle of January, so I feel I have enough time to get it finished off by then. I did a lot of sketchbooking and studies on Favelas, which are areas of slum housing in Brazil's major cities. They are so colourful and busy and a real-life eclectic example of mixed-media. Now I have sawn out some examples of slum housing from white sheet acrylic and coloured them with engraving and rubbing them with acrylic paint. The next step is to add some more embellishment in the form of metal (silver and copper), wood, and a very limited amount of fabric. Then string them up into a big neckpiece i think! I'm so glad I changed it, much happier with it, and it is firing the imagination a lot more than the other one too. I have included a couple of Favela images, so you can see what I'm getting excited about. The thing that made me so interested in them in the first place was the film 'City of God', I highly recommend it :)

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Hattie Sanderson's Masterclass

This Sunday, I was lucky enough to do one of Hattie Sanderson's three master classes which were running in Edinburgh over the weekend. I would have done all three, but had to be at the shop! However, I'm so thrilled with the result of my 'Spinner Ring' that I will definitely be back to do the next two she is coming over to teach in June! It was her first time in the U.K. and an absolute pleasure to meet her. I learned so many little tips and tricks and it was totally invaluable. The picture is my final result and it features a beautiful lampwork bead by Emma Baird.


Friday, 4 December 2009


Right.....I think I have a direction to go with these grapes...finally! And I can mix in an architectural element too, best of both worlds! Dionysus being the Greek God of wine, means connotations of Grecian Freizes/ Frescoes, so I had the idea of engraving acrylic to look like marble (ambitious, perhaps?!). Carving out a Dionysus with a bunch of grapes in his hand, and really pitting the grapes then inlaying mother of pearl with a very thin layer of resin, also known as the 'Raden Technique' (taught at the Bead Shop this summer by the lovely Lynda Cheney) is what I have in mind. Workshop time!! 


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The Grapes of Wrath

Slight change to the colour project. Actually make that huge change, its totally different to my last post! Instead of beautiful, contemporary, colourful architecture we have been given fruit to work with. One specific type of fruit to be precise, which in my case is grapes. Hmmm, I was really looking forward to the architectural one, but never mind, I'm still going to use it for my source project anyway (which I will write about soon). So grapes. What do you all associate grapes with? Vineyards, wine, religious connotations? My favourite episode of Black Books springs to mind too, but I'm not sure what my tutors would think of that... You know, the one where they housesit and drink very expensive wine and end up having to concoct their own wine to replace it, which in turn poisons the Pope? I digress. I think I'm going to line draw some vineyards, also have a closer look at the stalks, I really like the rough texture. We were given some of our fruit to draw in a still life and also to study its decay, cut it in half, peel it, squash it, just observe it really. I have to admit I did eat some of mine too! I prefer the colour of red grapes, I think I'll be concentrating on them. I didn't realise there was so much on the subject though. Type it into Wikipedia and you'll see what I mean! Anyway, I shall leave you to my still life sketches and rack my brains a wee bit more...

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Food for Thought...

So, despite it being Sunday, and my first day off for three weeks, I had a sneaky peek at the brief for our next project. Its based on colouring jewellery, and much as I would have loved to be able to use it as an excuse to play with more hot glaas, it looks like we are having to use resin and/or acrylic. Metal can be used too. Our guidelines are that it has to be a neckpiece (I think it said "elaborate" too, which sounds fun!) and it should be loosley inspired by architecture. So, I've been looking :) Gaudi immediately springs to mind when I think of colour and architecture, but I think it will have been done before quite a bit. I wonder if I'll be able to use murals? Not strictly architecture, but murals make such strong statements and it will be very interesting to explore. Another thing that springs to mind is the Casa Azul in Mexico, the birthplace of Frida Kahlo. I love Frida's artwork, and find Mexican culture fascinating. I guess I don't have to take it so literally and use colourful buildings on the other hand. For now though, I will leave you with some pictures I found, which take the words colour and architecture to the extreme...

They are by an Austrian architect and painter, Friedensreich Hundertwasser. I wouldn't mind living in one of these... :)

Friday, 20 November 2009

The Finished Piece!

OK, so after four weeks, this project is drawing to a close, and this is my final piece! Its representing Autumn blowing into Winter, and I'm pretty pleased with it! The back is a brooch pin, which needs a bit more polishing for that mirror finish over the weekend, but I'm almost there now. I've also put up a couple more of my sketchbook pages for your viewing pleasure :)

Monday, 16 November 2009


Hello, this is going to be very quick as everyone is really busy in the workshop finishing off the artist research project, which we will be presenting this time next week!
Anyway, in the midst of all the madness some of my friends from fine art, jewellery and some other disciplines are exhibiting one piece of work each in the Wasps Studios exhibition space here in Dundee. Its opening on Friday, and my piece is on its way, but not finished yet (a late night tonight is in order!). All of the details are on our flyer, which is pictured below, but if you are in Dundee or the surrounding area, please pop in, in will be fantastic. To the right is my Faux Bone tablet, which I am stringing up with wire and handmade copper chain. I'll get a picture of the finished piece up when its ready I hope!
Back to the workshop!

Friday, 6 November 2009


I have been getting on quite well with my sketchbook this week and think I will be ready to start making come Wednesday. I spoke to Dot Sim, one of our tutors this morning and she seems to agree with my suggestion of going with the four seasons (which are frequently featured in Haiku) for my final piece. Or pieces by the sounds of things as I think four separate ones will be much better than trying to cram all of them into one piece. I'm thinking brooches at the moment, with perhaps a tree going through a different stage of its life cycle in each one. I'm also going to have to worry about setting stones in all of them and what to use. Might fuse some glass to be honest, to keep the cost down and have some more control over the colours. Dot suggested I keep four little sketchbooks for each of the seasons, but at the moment I'm just splitting my big one up into sections so I don't lose anything! Still only on Japanese spring at the moment though, so I should probably get back to it! I hope you like my sketchbook scans, these are my three favourite pages so far.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Haiku and Haiga

Hello :)
Barbara Christie is very busy I think, as she has not replied to my e-mail (yet...). So it looks like I will have to go it alone a wee bit in this project. The narrative aspect of her jewellery, and what I interpret to be a rather Japanese influence and style have led me to Haiku, lovely, short and yet very descriptive Japanese poems. Futher research into Haiku led me to discover something I have never heard of before, the Haiga. This is effectively a Haiku, accompanied by an image, either depicting or enhancing what is said in the text. Sounds like something worth exploring in jewellery and that stones will lend themselves to it nicely. So sketching time it is and hopefully more narrative jewellery on the way. In the meantime, here are some Haiku I found which are inspiring:

These long days
watching the sky fade
with closed eyes.

the river comes
along too.

afternoon rain
into my sleep
your pencil moves.

The big picture at the top is a traditional Haiga. I think its beautiful.


Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Ring Exchange done, new project announced

So the ring exchange went really well. I'm pleased with how my design went, Elspeth made it really well. Its on display in the corridor at the moment, but photos to follow later.
As a project, it really got me thinking about where I want to go with my jewellery, and I really enjoyed studying old town Edinburgh in my sketchbooks, especially the juxtaposition between old and new, and the history which has been hidden underground and pushed from peoples minds. On that basis, I think my focus may be quite narrative and illustrative. Line drawings are the way forward! I really liked that my final piece has something to say, and can be interpreted by whoever sees it. I'm going to have to get some pictures up now so you can understand what I mean!

Now, the next thing, our new project. We have to research a jewellery artist, assigned to us by our tutors. This artist is given to us on the basis of similar ideas we might have running through our work in a bid to help us explore our own ideas further, or at least inspire us a bit. Well, I LOVE the artist I have been given. Her name is Barbara Christie, and though I had never heard of her until yesterday morning I'm finding her work hugely inspirational already. Here is her website:
I love the narrative quality of her work, and the almost Oriental images, especially in her brooches. The really predominant use of stones is amazing too, and something i had never really thought about much. I'll have to consider it now!
The image at the top is my absolute favourite (for now anyway)
Sketchbook time!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Holy moley, I bought a kiln!

Yikes, there goes all the summer cash :)
Its my new obsession with bronze clay that made me do it (honestly), but i do have some loooovely pieces in the pipeline that i want to start selling through my website eventually....hmm I'll aim for christmas, but we shall see.
Meanwhile at college we are in the middle of a 'ring exchange' project, where we design a ring, then swap the design with someone picked at random from our course and then make each pressure! Get the names on monday, so I'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Bronze Clay!

Well, here it is, my Bronze bracelet commissioned a wee while ago :) 

I think it turned out pretty well and the lady I made it for did too, as she has now requested a matching necklace!

The other exciting news is that I am attending Robert Dancik's Faux Bone course in Edinburgh this weekend, so expect to see some results from that soon!

Time to buff up the sketchbook a bit more.

Helen *

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Glass and BronzClay

I'm just back from a wonderful holiday in Italy, where we were near enough to Venice to go for a day to see all the glass making in Murano for a day. Well, I have now developed a new obsession. I just spent £50 ordering the lampworker's bible (oops) and I'm dying to try lampworking again. Apart from that, I have also been working with chainmaille (very fancy, photos to follow) and just completed a bronze bracelet which i had for a commission. I'm so pleased with it, I have a photo of that to go up soon too. I made it with BronzClay, the relatively new bronze version of silver clay. Its a bit tempremental, so I was really pleased to see how it turned out. Photo to follow!

Friday, 19 June 2009

I'm back...again!!

Dear nice people, It is holiday time again, and so I am back with a chance to keep up my blog. Lets hope I can manage to do it a wee bit more consistently!
Also I have no camera, so photos of my work will be up, just maybe slightly erratically. To start with though, my most exciting news is that I have passed my first year at art college, and am now preparing for third year!! :)
Since its the holidays though, I have been in The Little Bead Shop ( non-stop, as my boss Gil is getting a well - deserved break! I am in the middle of my Level 1 Art Clay Silver certificate at the moment, and its going well! There is so much paste though, I think you should be expecting to see a lot of fine silver leaves up for sale soon!! :)

I'll be back to post more soon!! (Honestly!)


Saturday, 17 January 2009

Lampwork - oooh!

Yesterday I was working away in the Little Bead Shop and got to have a go on Emma's lampwork torch, and I love my beads!!
Emma is the owner Gil's daughter and she has her studio downstairs where she creates lots of silver and glass beauties! Her blog is fab,, go have a look! I'll get a photo of my beads up once my camera is up and running :). Meanwhile, here are some of Emmas. Needless to say, mine are not of quite the same standard! :)

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Christmas Holiday Project

Last time I was here I mentioned my Christmas project on Maisie Broadhead. I have been having so much fun doing it!
Her website is and it has some beautiful photographs of her work. I have been focussing on her 'Bathroom' collection, which features household fittings cast in silver to be worn on the body, giving them a new purpose and meaning.
This took me to the Sam Burns scrapyard in Prestonpans ysterday, to see what objects I could come across which i thought could do with a new lease of life... so £3.00 later I had an old remote control, a games consol handset, some old plugs, a showerhead, a couple of taps, a hard drive from an ancient computer and some old screws. Now, what to do with them? Any inspiration greatly appreciated :) . I'm back at college on Monday so will try and scan some of my sketchbook pages for you to see.
Other news...not too much. I just got back from a gorgeous holiday in the Conaries with my boyfriend, and it was pretty much jewellery-unrelated, although that didn't stop me from dragging him into every jewellery shop we passed! Going to have some fun with a bit of fimo tonight, I have a new idea in the pipeline. Ooh. I'll let you know how it goes and get some sketchbook photos up soon! Helen*
P.S. This image is Maisie Broadhead's 'Pullcord necklace'.