Monthly Archives: July 2014

Experimental enamelling

Last week/this weekend I did a wonderful course at Morley College – experimental enamelling with Jessica Turrell. It was a three day course, 10am – 5pm thursday – saturday and we covered a lot. Jessica was a great tutor, she showed us sifting techniques, wet industrial process and so much more.  On a personal note it felt great to be cycling off to the course, to be making all morning, to be able to wander off for my lunch, to come back to more making, and then cycle home at the end of the day. I felt free, creative and engaged in learning a new skill. Here are some photos of my three days:

Day 1, introduction to sifting enamels.
Jessica’s samples 1
Jessica’s samples 2
Jessica’s samples 3
Shelves of enamels at Morley College – which colours to work with ?! (orange and grey for me ;-)
There were three kilns on the go – during some of the hottest weather this summer! I tried to use this one as much as possible because if I am to buy a kiln it is likely to be one like this. Also found I had to try not to day dream with pieces in the kiln – I got some interesting results because of losing track of time!
Day 2, wet industrial process enamels. We worked on to pre-enamelled steel or copper, I only had one go at this and really liked the outcome.
My bench with samples under way. I did some prep each evening so that I could concentrate on enamelling whilst at college.
Day 3, applying transfers and working with foil.
Sugar firing/underfiring. Demonstrating on a tripod and with a torch so that we can see the changes in the enamel.
Have to sneak this photo in! Day 3, a saturday and the canteen is closed – no problem! There is a market on Lower Marsh/The Cut and I had this wonderful burger from Greensmiths. Best lunch in ages :-)
Jessica demonstrating enamelling on to 3D forms.
Jessica showed us some examples of her work which was fascinating. They were really tactile and beautiful and it was so valuable to learn about them and how she works with attachments etc.
My finished samples. I like the ones on the left, the ones on the right are my least favourite but still good experiments.
The last part of the course was us bringing our samples together to show and tell what we had done over the last 3 days. It was great to see the variety and different approaches we had all taken – and very interesting to see that someone’s worst piece was someone else’s favourite! It’s always subjective and that’s a good thing.


Jessica was really open and generous in sharing her knowledge and techniques. It was brilliant. I am now going to work with my samples to make them into jewellery, to see if I can combine them with materials I already use and try to come up with a creative, unique way of working with them. If this goes well I will buy a kiln! Watch this space :-)

Manchester Craft and Design Centre

I also went to Manchester Craft and Design Centre for the first time – what a great place! It is in the Northern Quarter and is home to 30 artists and makers who make and sell their handmade products directly to the public. It is open 6 days a week and you can walk in and wander around all the different studios seeing finished products, glimpsing tools and the working process.

The building itself is an old converted fish market with original features and a lovely style.
Creative environment! It also has a cafe and exhibition space.


Upstairs – more studios and a wonderful ceiling.


Another photo of upstairs – love it!

Some of my favourites were Clare Hillerby jewellery, Kaper, paper sculptures by Kate Kelly (a new discovery and a wonderful studio with paper sculptures all over the walls – I didn’t have the confidence to ask for a photo so you’ll just have to go and see!) and Fir + Wren at Holm. Holm looked really cool from the outside (and by peering through the windows!) however it was closed so I didn’t get to see it up close.

I thought Manchester Craft and Design Centre was a fantastic space, so inspiring and I wanted to move in!

Bernhard Schobinger: The Rings of Saturn

Last week I was up in Manchester for 3 days and I took the opportunity to do some exploring. One of the stops on my list was Manchester Art Gallery which had an exhibition of work by Swiss jeweller, Bernhard Schobinger.

Bernhard Schobinger: The Rings of Saturn.

Jo Bloxham, curator, writes:

“Recognised as a key figure of avant-garde contemporary jewellery, Bernhard Schobinger’s subversive approach to making spans more than forty years and has earned him a reputation for rebellious innovation. His work skilfully transforms discovered objects into pieces that allude to past and present, precious and leftover.

Something of an alchemist, Schobinger gathers and processes all manner of matter, which frequently includes discarded detritus. From coloured pencils, spent knicker elastic, precious stones, combs or worn eraser nubs, to coins, diamonds, prickly saw files or poison bottles – such scavenged materials are all sources of aesthetic and physical richness. At once anarchic and collectible, Schobinger’s work unites these materials to create hybrid jewels that irreverently express their provenance while challenging conventional histories of body adornment.”

‘Lens-Spoon Chain’ 2013, silver, steel, glass, acrylic


“Through his departure from traditional jewellery, Bernhard Schobinger denies jewellery its familiar function as a status symbol and choses to make it into a vehicle for expressing a universal voice…He interprets the piece of jewellery as a contemporary witness of our society.”

‘Sea Shells Ballet’ 2013, 4 Trochus niloticus, 1 turbo marmoratus, malachit-pigment, krapplack-pigment, lace’s ca.1950

Hmm. It was great to see an exhibition of jewellery in a city art gallery alongside fine art, fashion and applied arts. It was great to see so many different materials used to make jewellery. I found some of the work challenging because I wouldn’t choose to wear it. It often wasn’t neat, tidy or beautiful. I understand there is a concept behind it and it has something to say however I wonder if this needs to be explained more explicitly otherwise I don’t know what each piece is saying. Does this matter? Should I be standing there trying to interpret this for myself? Fine art is often left to the viewer to interpret so why should this be any different?

Blue walls and cabinets


Display cabinet close-up

I loved the display cases and blue walls in the exhibition. Each piece was numbered and there was one list of numbers with their titles, materials and year on the wall. It was a bit frustrating having to walk over to this every time you wanted to know more about the pieces. Discreet labels or a little printed leaflet would have helped.

It is an interesting exhibition and on until 19th October 2014.

New necklace

Recently I have been working on some new pieces. My work is always a development of pieces, shapes and ideas that have come before. I love working in my sketchbook and with paper and card to develop and test ideas. Even when I do this a piece will change as I begin to make it – I try to work intuitively with the materials and if something doesn’t feel right, I ask myself why and then try to improve it so that it does. I have been working on quite a large necklace recently and I wasn’t feeling particularly happy with it at one stage. I suddenly thought to myself that if I saw it on Pinterest I wouldn’t pin it to my jewellery board! It made me smile that that was what it took to kickstart me into really questioning the design and pushing me to develop it into something I loved.

This is the first drawing of the necklace (righthand side), you can see how different it is to what I have made! Instead of two separate orange pieces I have gone for one big orange shape and you can see the paper versions (on the left) I have made to find the right shape.


Some experiments with wood, paint, oxidised copper and beads.


The necklace! Wood, laminate and oxidised silver.


Close up!


This necklace will be at MADE London in October :-)