Gorgeous 2011

I’m off to Ironbridge this weekend for Gorgeous, the Shropshire Guild of Contemporary Craft’s aptly named Autumn Fair. It showcases some of the best local craft (including the wonderful Emily Richard on the flyer) alongside some pretty scrumptious local food producers too.

I’ll be doing a little talk about etching on silver and they’ll be demonstrations and presentations from other makers through the day too.

Have a peak at what’s coming up here on lilac sky’s blog

Goldsmiths Fair 2011

Goldsmiths Fair 2011

I find it hard to describe Goldsmiths Fair to my non-silversmithing friends. The closest I’ve come so far is saying that it’s like New York Fashion Week. There are hot new designers, old favourites stunning you with their new collections, new heights of genius and always some starring talent that you somehow missed on a previous visit who’s ready and waiting to astound you now.

I suppose, in reality it’s just a fair, like any other, but somehow it manages to eclipse all those others and shine as the countries finest annual gathering of silver and jewellery talent.

I love it. The thought of aspiring to it terrifies me, but I love it all the same.

It inspires me and makes me realise again just how passionate I am about this industry.

Some of the things I saw which made an impression on me this year are:

Samantha Moore makes small silverware, she’s a lovely person and was happy to spend some time showing me her wonderful little tea infusers. The two halves of these snick together so easily, look so neat and are so beautifully funstional that I was awed.

I first saw William Lee‘s work at Collect a couple of years ago, the photographs of it totally don’t do it justice. All those little stripes on the surface are tiny verticle rows of hammer marks and vase itself is almost the size of a beachball. You know, one of those giant stripey ones you had as a kid?

Looking into it is marvellous, it’s hard to image how the thing was raised – just turning the weight alone must be a challenge, but clearly one that’s worth it.

Then, way down on the other end of the scale, is Vicki Amberley Smith. Her work is exquiste, all precise detail and clever use of materials. All her work is wearable, which is an unusual touch in something inspired by something so three dimensional.

So that was Week One at the Fair. I can’t make next week, sadly, which means I’ll miss seeing work like this:

but then there’s always next year …

Three Choirs Festival, Worcester 2011

This week I’ve been heading back and forth to Worcester for the Three Choirs Festival. The Worcestershire Guild of Craftsmen have a marquee in the cathedral grounds and it’s such a beautiful setting!

The show consists of work from the Worcestershire Guild, Hereford Guild and Cotswold Guild, presenting an excellent variety of contemporary craft work from the region.

Some of the highlights include:

Cermacist Rachel Padley makes the most beautful use of some seriously vibrant glazes across neat, practical forms (and I might have to bring home some tiny little bowls for the workshop …)

but if I could bring something from the show home? It’s be one of these, expressive little pieces from jeweller Judith Price who makes solft, organic forms while still retaining an air of precision.

The show is on until Saturday – so don;t miss the chance to come on down and say hello …

Desire Jewellery and Silver Show, March 2011

I made full use of my rail card on Friday and ventured down to Desire, a Jewellery and Silver Fair held annually in the Bank of England Sports Club in Richmond. I’ve never visited one of these shows before but the exhibitor list is prestigious so I was pretty sure that I’d be in for treat.

Another plus for going was to scope out the venue and see if I could apply to exhibit in the future. I’ve done the odd fair in the past where I’ve been disappointed on arrival with the venue, the quality of work or something else and have learned the lesson. So, this year I’m committed to visiting shows that I’m interested in  – or at least bending the ear of other jewellers I know who attend them.

Anyway, there were no anxieties about this one. It was lovely – from the complimentary bus to the venue:

(a helpful treat for the geographically challenged among us, thank you Desire)

to the venue itself.

A lot of shows of this profile feature a mixture of craft disciplines so in a way it was nice to just be surrounded by jewellery and silver makers. It must be how normal women feel when they stumble into Jimmy Choo… I had a blast looking at the extraordinary variety of work on show from people like Sarah Hutchinson:

Sarah Hutchinson

Her work is just gorgeous. It looks incredibly intricate on first glance but is, in fact, deceptively simple. She’s all caught up in experimenting with saw piercing and the result is floral and mesmerising. My favourites are the ones just brushed with a little blush of gold at the edges, they’re like sunflowers just caught in opening.

Alongside these was the stunning work of Michael Berger:

Michael Berger

He’s an eye catcher at any show he attends with his stunning and slightly unreal Kinetik Collection. This sense of unreality is helped along by the maker himself – he seems to make a habit of standing in his booth, looking nonchalant, as his little sculptural creations appear to flaunt the laws of gravity.

The way these things are put together is extraordinary (I’m still not quite sure that I understand how it all works) but do click the image which links to his website – there’s a subtitled video there that begins to explain things.

And I very much liked Hannah Souter’s work too. I haven’t seen it before, it’s so neat and lovely.

Hannah Souter

It reminds me a little of some of my own work, which might be why I identify with it so, but I wouldn’t say no to owning a pair of these beauties.

Sadly, the fair closed today, but there’s another in Winchester in November which will be well worth a visit too.

Centrepiece and Me [in the Press]

The first visitors to the new studio came last week in the form of a reporter and photographer from Birmingham’s Mail and Post.

I’d bearly finished unpacking  but I did  manage to find some tea so that we could sit down for a bit of a chat about me and my work. It’s a little unnerving, talking to someone with an open notepad, but they were wonderfully informal and I actually quite enjoyed it. As an added bonus I somehow managed to get them to list me as 23 – taking a whole year off in an afternoon!

Have a read of the full article here:

Article from Birmingham Mail 25/11/10

It’s in the Mail today …

Wednesday, finishing work and opening Centrepiece 2010

Wednesday was an extraordinarily productive day.

Not only did I get to work on some new ideas that have been kicking around my head for a while:

Pebble Brooch Experiment

but I finally got my first set of snowflakes finished and up for sale too. These have been a bit of a nightmare, porous castings meant that the resin that fills them seeped out as is was setting, causing quite a mess and a lot of extra cleaning up. I’m not sure what went wrong in the casting process (I need to go and consult with my caster) but tiny holes throughout the silver are never good. Fortunately the initial leakage seems to have plugged the holes in them and the second layer of resin went on just fine:

Snowflake Pendants

They look lovely now that they’re all clean again. I’m currently sporting a purple one and once I finish cleaning the rest I’ll get them up in the Folksy shop. The ones I have sanded and polished are in the 2010 Centrepiece Selling Exhibition which officially opened on Wednesday night too. It’s being hosted by Symphony Hall and features over 30 designer makers form in and around the Quarter. It’ll be open until the 23rd of December so if you;re heading into the city for the German Market it’s well worth stopping by us too!

Centrepiece Private View gets underway


Giveaway – tickets for the Farnham Festival of Crafts

Farnham Maltings Craft Festival Flyer 2010

I’m doing a show in a couple of weeks at the beautiful Farnham Maltings, in Surrey. Taking place on the 16th and 17th of October and featuring 75 leading designer makers it’ll be a gorgeous showcase for contemporary craft and the perfect opportunity for some early Christmas shopping.

I have a couple of pairs of tickets for the event (worth £6) to giveaway as a little incentive for you all to make the trip down to Surrey and see us all. Check out the impressive exhibitor list here and leave a comment below to enter (or email me with ‘Ticket Giveaway’ in the subject line) and I’ll draw it next week!

The Worcestershire Guild’s Autumn Show

I spent the weekend doing my first selling fair with the Worcestershire Guild of Designer Craftsman at the Malvern Autumn Show. I joined the Guild back in January but this was the first opportunity I had to get involved with what it’s really about. The Guild is designed to bring individual craftsmanship to public attention, through fairs and shows, and encourage us craftspeople to make a living doing what we love.

It’s a noble aim and, looking around at the variety and quality of work on show this weekend, I think that they might just be achieving it.

One of the things I find when I do events is that people are always surprised by the sheer quantity of talented craftspeople around … and so was I when I stumbled across the Guild. I had no idea that so many of them were hidden away, scattered around Worcestershire, where I’ve lived for most of life. It’s clear that I don’t get out of the Jewellery Quarter and explore enough!

Among the jewellers on show were Sian Elizabeth Hughes and Melanie Hamlet (who runs the inspirational contemporary jewellery business, Kokkino) both of whom will be exhibiting at Goldsmiths Fair next week.

Left: Sian Elizabeth Hughes - Right: Kokkino

But I was really taken in looking at the Crafts that I have very little experiene of. There’s a staggering wealth of these in the Guild:

Marie-Therese King is a batik artist who creates original artwork in a medium that I only ever managed to get burned with, when I attempted it way back in school. Her inspiration ranges all through the natural world and her images are dealt with using a bright, bold palette that’s confident, assured and quite beautiful. She puts stunning levels of detail into her work, this was on of my favourites:

Marie-Therese King, Seagulls

though I loved this series too:

Marie-Therese King, Aquilegia and Honesty

And, just across the hall from Marie-Therese, hung the work of Rowan McOnegal. A stained glass artist Rowan’s glass panels made me want to build a cruck framed house, Grand Designs style, so that I had a home to do justice to her work. Based around botany and with a real rural feel Rowan combines colours and somehow works a sensitive, textured feel into the flat surface of her glass:

Rowan McOnegal, Pink and amber Sunflower

She says that she feels that “this medium perfectly combines her love of image making using drawing, painting, colour and changing light” and that’s shown off perfectly here:

Rowan McOnegal, Willowherb Portrait

Needless to say I’m now looking forward to the next Guild show, Innov8:

to be held on the 26th – 28th of November at  Number 8 in Pershore where another selection of Guild members, hopefully including me, will be on show.

Malvern Autumn Show 2010 – set up

I spent the day on the road today, going down to Malvern to set up for a weekend show. Malvern is a gorgeous little historical town but the driving wind and gloomy skies kept me from appreciating the view too much. Plus, I had to keep my eye on the SatNav to find the venue. When I got there I realised that it’s actually pretty hard to miss the Three Counties Showground. I’ve never been there before,  it seems to be mainly used for agricultural shows … and it’s huge. No really. I sort of expected some marquees in a field but this is what I was greeted with:

Yep. Huge. And that’s one hall. The event, The Malvern Autumn Show, is looking forward to welcoming 60,000 people across two days and includes everything from gardening to quality local craftware. It’s an epic selction and I’m not sure you could honestly see it all in two days but, if you do venture out to see it, drop by the Worcestershire Guild‘s stand and say hello to me!

Wirksworth Festival 2010

Wirksworth, in Derbyshire, is a strange little town. On one hand it’s very much a traditional 18th-19th century village with a slightly touristy feel and some rather wonderful views.

And then, every September, the creative energy of the place expresses itself beautifully in the form of the Wirksworth Festival. Suddenly, overnight, this seeming sleepy town is filled with a truly inspiring buzz of energy:

(Now, I realise that there’s no one buzzing with energy in this particular photo but I did take it at 7 am when I was up to get my stand ready. Once 10am rolled round and the studios opened there were plently of people out and about!)

So, for a whole weekend local artists throw open the doors of their houses, cottages, studios and garages to let the public wander ‘round, getting a first hand look at the creative process. This year there were a good sixty or so venues to explore – almost too much for one weekend – alongside performance events, community projects and 2 actors telling stories while driving you around in a rickshaw. (No, really, they stayed in the same B&B as me so I knew they were real …)

I got to participate by setting up a stand at one of two Maker’s Markets, filled to the brim with local and regional contemporary craft. You’ll be pleased to know that I made good use of my bunting:

and had some great comments about how summery my stand looked.

Of course I wasn’t the only jeweller there, Lucy Palmer had brought her gorgeous mythical pieces back to the festival, Laura Creer had beautifully textured work on show and I met the lovely Helen Shere too. Helens work has a wonderfully quirky and illustrative feel:

Helen Shere - Birds in the Garden Rings

She says that:

I am particularly interested in the use of pattern and naïve folklore in illustration and seek to combine these ideas in my jewellery.

Her ranges are inspired by birds, nature and pattern, it was all so tempting but in the end I came away with one of these:

Helen Shere - Silver Birds Pendant

plus a little mushroom patterned dipping bowl (from ceramicist Mary Johnson) which will make a super present for my mum – who’s an olive fiend:

Mary Johnson - Small Mushroom Bowls

The only really sad thing about it was that I didn’t get to go and explore the towns trails myself, but with events all through September the festival is still going strong and I might get the chance to go back and look at some of the more permanent installations …