The disc cutter from Albuquerque


Meet Albie, my Christmas present to myself.

Too long have I perservered with a cheap, ineffective and badly made disc cutter which ruins a good 15% of the blanks it cuts.

Well, no more. I have finally given in and Albie, an American immigrant, arrived in the studio last week. He came from RioGrande, the Cooksons of the USA, and I had to restrain myself from buying a lot of the other lovely clever tools they have too.

He cuts perfect circles and will be assisting me soon in the making of some new Flotsam pieces, plus a few other ideas that I’ve been mulling over for a while …

Festival of Crafts at Farnham

I got a very exciting pile of post when I came back from Edinburgh on Thursday. It’s kind of like Christmas when you let your mail build up. There were letters from friends, tedious (but nessecary) bank statements and a whole pack of flyers for the Festival of Crafts that Farnham Maltings are having in October.

This is not just exciting because I’ll be there, selling work. Or because it’s the home of a beautiful silversmithing group. Oh no, it’s super exciting because I’m on the flyer! Twice. Whoop! do check it out, it’s going to be a lovely fair:

Farnham Maltings Craft Festival Flyer 2010

Farnham Maltings Craft Festival Flyer 2010

Beside the Scottish seaside …

It’s odd to think that a week ago I was in Scotland … now I’m back in England and it’s muggy, rainy and generally not looking like summer at all. Still, I went to a beautiful wedding yesterday which has made up for the weather (a little) – though I won’t feel like I’m home until I’ve been through the stack of emails that piled up while I was away.

I got to go to the beach while I was up north, Mr Williams and I took a day trip to St Andrews – which turns out to be a town with more than just golf going for it. There’s the gorgeous Alchemia Gallery on one of the main streets and some most delicious ice cream sellers too – I recommend the chocolate at the place on Market Street!

From a distance the town is dominated by the ruins of a castle and a cathedral. The graveyards around the cathedral are a fascinating mix of old and new tombstones from the 1500’s to the modern day.

As you can see it was a gorgeous day – I had a few preconceptions about Scottish weather overridden last week and I actually managed to get sunburnt too!  The beach there is gorgeous, I live in the Midlands so I seize upon any chance to get out to the sea that I can. I wasn’t disappointed:

There’s a huge stretch of sand peppered with these tiny little pebbles:

I always end up bringing handfulls of pebbles back form the seaside – they’re just so darn pretty and, unlike traditional facetted stones, they have such wonderfully organic shapes that I could just gaze at forever. This time I looked for truly tiny pebbles to put into my Flotsam range … so keep an eye out for these turning up in a piece some time soon.

Busy in the Studio

Well, I’m working away on pieces for A Taste of Summer, measuring up driftwood to turn it into spoon handles and planning jewellery. That all sounds incredibly technical until you come to realise just how I size up my spoons:

Yes, that is a cut up post-it. But it’s also an insight into the creative practice of the working Jeweller. Honest. Anyway, the method works for me. I’ll be silver shopping soon to get production properly under way … in other news. There’s some more Flotsam jewellery being made:

and I’ve had some time to work on some new ideas. I set out to make a brooch today – which ended up as a pendant, thus showing the serendipitous and random nature of the average design process.

The beachcombing silversmith …

Well, everyone has to get their materials from somewhere.

It just so happens that my latest range [flotsam] means that I have to scour the odd beach looking for the perfect component. Of course, with weather like today’s it’s no hardship at all!

I went driftwood hunting in Aberaeron, in West Wales, a town where I holidayed as a child. It’s great to think that the work I’m making now is somehow tied to the landscape that’s inspired me since I was small. 

I gathered quite a stack of wood that’ll become handles on spoons, pots and pouring vessels in time for a show at the end of May, at Bleneheim Palace.

Making Spoons …

I’m developing something of a spoon addiction, at the moment it’s manifesting itself in a new set of spoons in the style of my current ‘Flotsam’ collection. It’s quite satisfying to go back to basics with my silversmithing and hand raise the bowls of the spoons, hammer texture into the handles. Of course, it’s a noisy job and I’ve rattled more than a few things off the shelves in the studio doing it! But them I think that the results were worth it.

I chose to add pearls to this pair of spoons just to put a little more ‘preciousness’ into them. As working pieces it makes them a little less practical but I think it gives them a nice extra touch as a gift.  The bowls are based on the shapes of pebbles, worn down by the sea – most of my inspiration comes from the landscape of the beach and when I’m not using actual found objects from the shore it’s great to work those natural, unsymmetrical shapes into a piece.

Anyway, they’re out of my hands already and down in Suffolk with Sea Pictures Gallery  who’re hosting my new Flotsam range and stocking my little Tenby Street beach houses. It’ll be very exciting to see how the work is recieved in a gallery that’s devoted to the sea.


Press releases, invitations and the merits of a thicker skin

It seems to me that I’ve always been encouraged not to boast about the good things that I do, not to ‘show off’ and definitely not to draw attention to myself. But, thing is, I’m self employed now – and the only way I get publicity is by creating it.

RBSA Invitation

I’ve just written my first press release (a pretty daunting thing it was too, not to mention a massacre of everything good journalism is about) and found myself forced to write it in the third person, for fear that I sound horrendously big headed. It’s somehow more comforting to say “Becca creates…” rather than “I create…” for the simple reason that it puts some distance between me and what I’m writing.

A lot of design makers seem to fall down on the issue of getting their work out there. It’s easy to say – oh, I’ll send it to a gallery, but trying to get one to take work and promote is just as hard as getting a publishing house to read the novel your great Aunt Bea wrote one summer 15 years ago. On beer mats. At her local. During a recent trade fair I stood alongside my work, objects I’d spent hours making and watched bored, disinterested Gallery owners stroll right by, or ask flippant questions before passing on to the next stand. And the thing is, I know  I’ve got that same 10 second attention span but somehow having those apathetic, seen it all before eyes glancing over your work wears into your soul. I need to aquire a thicker skin.

Flotsam Spoons, packing, and the paperwork that entailed.

Flotsam Spoon Pair 2009

Flotsam Spoon Pair 2009 - Silver and drift wood with etched detail

Pft, I always forget how much paperwork is involved in packing, cataloguing and organising things. I’ve just delivered work for an exhibition (details of which are here.) The task seemed simple: put 20 pieces of jewellery and a few bits of silverware  in a box and walk it around the corner to the gallery.

Ha, as if I would allow  myself to make my life that easy. I had to make lists of things, fill in gallery forms, clean my silver, wrap, then spy imaginary finger prints on my pieces, un-wrap everything, re-clean it, re-wrap it (yes, I may be my own perfectionist curse) and finally, having got it all together I put in a set of gloves (in the forlorn hope that who ever unpacks it will not get fingerprints on it) and made myself deliver it.

After all the effort I was rather ticked when the woman at the Gallery just snagged the box out of my hand, said thanks and slid it behind the counter. She didn’t stop to appreciate the hours that went into the effective use of space inside the box, or the neat scotch-taping of the bubble wrap. Still, at least it’s gone. Re-packing a third time would have been excessive.