Saturday, 28 January 2017

Materials and Techniques

Every couple of weeks or so, someone contacts me to enquire about the materials and techniques I use in my textiles pieces. So, I thought it might be easier to share some information here to answer the questions I am asked the most.
                          
  
I rarely use anything other than natural fibres and fabrics because of the potential to dye them, my favourites are linen threads, because of their strength and texture and the way they hold their shape. I love fine crochet cotton and adore vintage finds, I particularly enjoy recycling old textiles.

                         
    
I am very process driven, I love the act of making and am happy to let pieces evolve depending on the materials and techniques I want to use at any given time. Most of my textiles work is very small, I guess that echoes the scale I use in my jewellery. I particularly enjoy repetitive constructed textiles techniques such as crochet and weave, because of the rhythm and pace they encourage. Building up surface texture using hand stitch gives the same feeling of being calm, focused and absorbed in the moment.

                                         
 
I make jewellery as well as textiles pieces because of my enjoyment of the techniques and potential they offer. Metals give the opportunity to experiment with form and structure, as well as clean lines and repeated shapes. I enjoy the contrast of smooth surfaces, cut edges and manipulating positive and negative space that forming metal allows. Combining wire and fabric lets me add structure and manipulate surface qualities as well as explore my fascination with rust.

                         
  

The overriding themes in all my work encompass growth and decay, from the repetitive forms in the growth patterns of moss and lichen, to the effects of erosion, seen in the formation of pebbles and the way salt corrodes metal to form rust. I am drawn to small details, both my jewellery and textiles pieces are inspired by shapes and patterns seen in nature, especially delicate, fragile and unassuming things. I take photographs all the time, collect inspirational objects wherever I go and absolutely love to draw. My ideas come from all these influences, sometimes I plan pieces before I make, but my favourites are the ones that grow organically as I go along.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Inspirational Cornwall

I recently spent a week soaking up inspiration in Cornwall. I have always loved collecting treasures from the beach, and this trip lead me to the discovery of the perfect beach, at Widemouth Bay on Cornwall's north coast.

My jewellery is influenced by the smooth surface and irregular shapes of pebbles, and I particularly love finding pebbles like these. The crisp white circle against dark grey holds a simple kind of beauty, with it's clean lines and simple form, it calls out to be held. So tactile and satisfying, I long to create this quality in my work. 



Such treasures, I could've filled my pockets, but instead I just photographed my favourites.


The unbroken rings are the ones that catch my attention the most, something about the symbolism of continuity, the clarity and placement on the pebble always draws me in. These rocks have been broken from an unknown surface, cracked, tumbled and eroded over time by the waves and emerge smooth, triumphant and beautifully formed.  



Widemouth Bay has it all; spectacular rock strata, rock pools, softly sloping sand and lovely warm pools when the tide recedes. It's perfect for surfing and has the loveliest little beach cafe, to watch the weather change.



Sunday, 27 December 2015

The Visual Thinker

So I do feel that being a visual thinker is a curse. Look at the state of my work space?

I confess that I am an endless collector, I gather things wherever I go, teeny treasures that spark ideas. They then are laid out in readiness, for that stolen moment when I am not working on orders, to be made into something lovely.

But I never actually get time to finish anything.

So as a kind of confession/New Year resolution, my promise to myself is to finish things. I will push new ideas to completion and I will organise my thoughts by organising my workspace.

This isn't even my jewellery bench, it is an extension I built because my workbench was overflowing with pre-christmas making.

So, I am back making after a wee break, I am stealing some moments before teaching re-commences next week and I am going to make some of these idea happen.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

My work on a book cover!

A very exciting opportunity has come my way. I was recently approached by Tupelo Press, an American publishing company, and asked if an image of a piece of my textiles could be used on the cover of one of their books. They selected 'Little Stitches', featured in a previous blog post to use on a book of poetry by Jennifer Millitello to be published in spring. 



What a lovely adventure for the new year ahead. Happy New Year everyone, I do love the anticipation and invigoration of a fresh new year, so much to explore.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Saltaire Makers Fair


I've just returned from a wonderful weekend at Saltaire Maker's Fair and am feeling humbled and incredibly lucky. Such a beautiful location, in Victoria Hall, part of the world heritage Saltaire Village, built by the visionary Titus Salt to house workers from Salt's Mill. Architecturally magnificent, the hall is a pocket of quiet splendour, with huge windows illuminating the space, it felt like a real treat to be part of such a special event.

I met the loveliest people, so generous with praise and insightful comments on my jewellery and display, people really took time to look and talk to me about my pieces. I was dazzled by the number of people who knew my work, recognising it after seeing it elsewhere or had bought pieces from galleries. I was also fortunate to meet people who follow my blog and Facebook page, and I even had a nudge from a very lovely lady who reminded me I haven't posted anything on here for a while! Posting things online can seem very remote and detached so it was heartwarming to think people do actually follow what I write.

The other lovely thing was the number of people who asked if I deliver workshops or teach classes, there seems to be a lot of people keen to learn making techniques. I do teach, I taught adult and community classes in Leeds before moving to Manchester, and have been teaching in a Sixth Form college for around 12 years. I believe passionately in sharing traditional craft skills, there is such value in time spent making, using your own hands and being absorbed in focused activity. I would love to look towards teaching adults again, there is a wonderful exchange in working with people who enjoy learning or who already make using other processes, and I find I learn as much from them as they do from me.

I used the natural objects that adorn my home studio and inspire my work as part of my display.  It was rewarding to hear people make connections between the shapes and patterns in the seed pods, acorn cups and lichen twigs, and the details they could see in my jewellery. People also shared valuable botanical knowledge about some of the more obscure seed pods I have, which has made me eager to get out and about and learn more.

My other exciting news is that whilst I was at the fair I learnt that I have been selected to take part in the Christmas fair at The Whitworth Gallery in Manchester, another award winning architectural splendour, I can't wait! Saturday 5th December 2015, I'll see you there!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Inspiration

Spotted these beautiful old table tops recently and was particularly drawn to the circles of wood put in, I assume, to replace knots. Something about the way the woodgrain was interrupted, the way the lines change direction, really appealed to me. Imagine how many elbows have rested on these surfaces? What work was done at these tables before they were re-purposed in a London coffee shop?
Gorgeous.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Making, making, making

There are times of year when I have deadlines galore and there doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day. I am in the midst of that just now, but am very happy to say that I'm on a roll! I have had 3 lovely galleries to supply within a 3 week period, so have been making loads of new jewellery. These are a few of the pieces I have made, I absolutely love making bangles so there are quite a few of those!