Rest and relax
After a crazily busy summer I decided I needed to have a short break and consider where I would like my journey through woodland peculiarities to take me next.
I've enjoyed taking the time to experiment with new techniques (and tools), including a day spent with my close friend and amazing jeweller Karen Ward to practice a bit of chasing and repousse.
I've also been exploring opportunities to develop my silversmithing through some specialist mentoring, which is going to be an exciting journey for me into 2024 and beyond. Who knows where it will take me next...
Return to the Bestival family
I had such an amazing experience at Camp Bestival with my woodland creations in 2022, I decided that I needed to return this year and do it all over again. I spent a lovely weekend with other wonderful artists and craft people in the makers market curated by the team at Wye Valley Makers. Our market was full of bright, unique products and we even held a series of drop-in workshops which were really popular. I met so many lovely people and I can't wait to see what Jo and her crew think up next year for the festival.
What an adventure
I've had such an amazing couple of weekends as part of the York Open Studios trail. Thank you to everyone who came to say hi! I've met so many lovely people, especially the fellow toadstool lovers and the Mister Finch fans.
My new toadstool creations went down a storm and I've been discussing my new ideas and next steps with my visitors which has been really exciting.
I'm now planning to relax in a dark quiet corner for a couple of days.. lit by my new toadstool lamps, before emerging to explore more woodland inspired pieces.
After a few busy weeks of preparations I'm ready for York Open Studios 2023. Over the next 2 weekends I'll be opening my workshop and 'once a year' gallery to visitors where we can talk about all things toadstool, fern, snail and woodland.
This year there will be a Friday night preview, where my gallery space will be beautifully lit to look extra magical and there will be celebratory drinks and toadstool cookies for visitors!
I have had the opportunity to learn traditional silversmithing skills from the ever patient Nik Stanbury over many years. I have been working recently on applying these skills to develop a foragers tableware collection.
As part of the collection I have finally had the chance to produce some larger sculptural toadstools. I have been following the guidance of 'Longhi and Eid', masters in anti-clastic raising to create the stalks of the toadstools, which has been a challenge I have really enjoyed. The final pieces are adorned with gemstones and finished with internal lighting to ensure a warm glow.
They will be on display at York Open Studios venue 89, from 15-16th and 22-23rd April 2023, with a special preview on Friday 14th.
New year - new challenges
Happy new year! The website for York Open Studios is now live and I am starting to buckle down to create some of the key pieces of my foragers collection, which will add to my jewellery pieces for York Open Studios.
My new collection will build on my developing silversmithing skills to create key pieces. These will include: caddy spoons, tea strainers and jam spoons - essential kit for serving up your spoils from local foraging. The pieces will be formed in copper and sterling silver and incorporate ferns, toadstools and acorns. They are designed to be individual, entirely unique, but also (and most importantly) useable.
Popping up in Jigsaw
Many of you will already be aware of the wonderful clothing store Jigsaw. I was very lucky to be asked to do a 'pop-up' within the York store as part of their drive to support local creative businesses. Our pre-Christmas event celebrated with mulled wine and prosecco. My jewellery went down really well and the woodland theme with lush velvets and snowflake sparkles really fitted with the feel of the store on the day.
We're hoping to collaborate again in the spring with some in store events, so keep an eye on my 'meet the maker' events section on my homepage for details.
Jewellery as Art
I am over the moon to have had my work accepted as part of art exhibitions at Nunnington Hall in York and at the Fronteer Gallery in central Sheffield. If you have visited me at one of the markets I have done, or at Open Studios, you will know that I take a lot of care in how I present my work, setting it within woodland finds to really show the link back into the natural world. I have had so much fun taking my presentations further and framing some of my statement pieces to hang as works of art in these fantastic winter exhibitions.
Nunnington Hall is open to visitors between 25th November and 18th December, including my fuchsia, Snowdon lily and mighty oak brooch... whilst Fronteer Gallery is open between 19th and 23rd December, including my snowdrop pendant.
York Open Studios 2023
I'm so excited to be able to announce that I've been accepted to be part of the amazing York Open Studios event in April next year. My journey has been incredible since I first 'launched' my woodland peculiarities at YOS 2022 and I've been so flattered by the reaction I have received to my pieces... thank you so much for the support and continuing to follow my very unique creative journey.
For 2023 I will be developing my woodland theme to include more sculptural and useable pieces, including eclectic tableware and home decoration. Open Studios will run over the weekends of 15-16th and 22-23rd April, with a friday night preview on the evening of the 14th April.
Sun, Sparkles and Family
Camp Bestival is over for 2022, but what an amazing experience. I took my woodland creations to the Shropshire festival as part of the Makers Market, curated by the incredible @wyevalleymakers. For a lot of us this was the biggest 'gig' we had ever done and we couldn't have asked for a more supportive and inspiring group of makers, DJ's and artists. The best part was being able to share the experience with my mum and daughter.
My creations went down a storm with the festival crowd and I have come away with so many ideas for new collections, new directions and new places to explore in 2023.. watch this space for my next steps...
Disco, glitter and toadstools
In a weeks time I'll be packing my glittery jacket and heading to Camp Bestival Shropshire with my mum and Amelie to share my unique woodland creations with the visitors to the 'Desert Island Disco' themed festival.
I will be part of the new 'Makers Tent', which I took the opportunity to explore at the Dorset festival earlier this month. The tent was filled with inspiring and talented makers, displaying jewellery, artwork, collectables.. I'm sure the Shropshire festival will be just as incredible. There are still tickets available if you'd like to join us at the best family festival there is.
With my new festival pieces now completed, I can finally share them with you in my 'festival vibes' collection and although they are limited editions at the moment, I'm sure some of them will be finding a permanent place in my nature inspired collections. The new pieces incorporate bigger, brighter toadstools; toadstool charms on bangles and rings; healing crystals incorporated into stunning pendants and my lovely velvet toadstools reimagined into festival headwear.
Well, we are now in July and with Glastonbury on last weekend, its now officially festival season!!
My new pieces for Camp Bestival have been in careful development, but now it is the time to energise and start creating my pieces that I'm planning to take to share with a glitter-infused festival crowd.
I have developed new additions to my range, including bangles, rings and amulets to decorate the home. I have also taken my velvet and vintage fabric toadstools to a new level, developing toadstool head-wear and providing 'take home' craft kits to recreate my gorgeous toadstools.
I can't wait to share all my creations with the festival crowd.. even my stand will be adorned with sparkles and toadstools. I just hope my mum is ready for the crazy Bestival world!
Bespoke statement pieces
I met a lot of incredible and inspirational people during York Open Studios. One particular lady I met asked me to make her two bespoke pieces of jewellery, based on pieces she had seen in my gallery.
I have had such a wonderful time creating these for her. She has been so supportive of my work and the craftsmanship that goes into each piece.. its been lovely to meet someone that appreciates the time taken to handmake jewellery and the personal connection to each piece we make as artists.
I have had lovely feedback from her, she adores the pieces I have made for her and I'm so happy that I got the opportunity to recreate some truly statement pieces.
The Snowdon Lily is one of the rarest flowers in the UK and can only be found in the most desolate and isolated rocky crags in Snowdonia. There are estimated to be less than 100 of these plants remaining. It resides in my favourite place, although I have never managed to see one myself (probably due to my lack of enthusiasm for heights!).
It is no secret that Snowdonia is a very special place for me, but it also holds close family connections for one of my dearest friends.. so what better to make her for her 50th birthday than a Snowdon Lily pin. I really enjoy making pieces for galleries and studio events, but making something so personal for someone so special to me, really was a pleasure.
Created in sterling silver and 9 carat gold, I'm pleased to report that she loved it!
Toadstools and glitter.. Camp Bestival 2022
I can't believe my journey in 2022. From showing my work for the first time in April, I have recently been accepted by Camp Bestival as part of their 'makers tent', which is a new venture by the festival to include the countries best indie-makers into a makers market. The tent will be full of an amazing eclectic mix of crafts-people, with a cafe, bar, vinyl and DJ.
My kids and I have been going to Camp Bestival for 10 years, so this really is the most exciting opportunity. My head is racing with ideas for the festival crowd.. vintage fabric toadstool headbands; woodland keepsakes and a new range of jewellery developed in time to launch at this amazing event.
If you want to experience the best of the UK festival scene, at an event which is incredibly welcoming and family friendly.. come along and say hi.. I'll be joined by my mum too .. so when were not on the stall, you will find us at the main stage boogy-ing to Fat Boy Slim!!
I feel incredibly fortunate to have been asked by Village Gallery (York) to include some of my key pieces in their Colliergate site. My pieces will be available to peruse and purchase for the next few months. Simon (the curator) is passionate about championing and supporting local talent and his gallery contains pieces from a range of local artists.
When you're next in York, be sure to pop by and see what is on display - and watch out for those tiny snails and brightly coloured toadstools..
That's a wrap - Open Studios 2022
Phew.. what a ride. Exhausted but very happy. I have loved the journey I've been on to prepare for Open Studios 2022. I have never shown my work in public before. It felt very personal putting my ideas and my soul on display, but the feedback has been incredible.
I have met so many wonderful people and I have so many ideas where my woodland theme and my creative journey can take me next.
But first its time to give my hard working Dad a break from all that DIY.. take a deep breath and have a cup of cherry tea!
Open Studios is LIVE!!
Well.. were one weekend down in Open Studios 2022 and what an amazing time we've had. The Friday night preview was nerve-wracking, but exciting and the following two days were cold (weather), but warmed by the amazing reception my jewellery collection received. My displays are adorned with natural found objects, where people can 'discover' my jewellery nestled amongst bark, twigs, leaves and seed pods.
Come and explore what Karen and I have been up to and visit some of the other amazing local artists in my neighbourhood.
Come visit my woodland peculiarities
York Open Studios is finally starting. After months of planning, creating, decorating.. my gallery space is complete and my woodland peculiarities have become reality.
Please come and visit and explore my woodland world.. 2nd/3rd April and 9th/10th April at venue 18.
On the final run up to York Open Studios everyone is helping... Dad is pulling together my gallery, Mum is in charge of packaging & Mick is helping me with all the graphics and my amazing website.
Freddie has decided she needs to help out too.. so has taken up residence on my workshop bench!!
Spring is here
There are signs of spring in the air and the Knavesmire Woods at the end of the road are blanketed in snowdrops. I've created a snowdrop pendant from sterling silver with enamelled highlights and had great fun hunting out perfect patches of snowdrops to take some photos!
It's St David's Day today
If you know me, you will know how special north wales is to me, especially the shores of Llyn Idwal. To celebrate I have created a Snowdon lily from sterling silver and gold, which can be worn as a pin. This flower is incredible delicate and rare and can only be found in the Snowdon mountains around Llyn Idwal.
I was lucky enough to be in Snowdonia in the week before St Davids Day, so got the chance to photograph the lily in Llyn Idwal - in a rare moment of sunshine between the icy rain and howling winds!
Back to my workshop
I've had a big gap in my blog updates whilst I concentrated on working towards a qualification for my 'day job'. But during that time I developed some great ideas for new pieces that I now have time to make reality.
It's now time to start concentrating on what pieces I am planning on including in my gallery for York Open Studios.
Supersized 'found' objects
It's no secret that I love integrating 'found' and unusual objects into my designs. Yesterday I managed to surpass myself though, finding a stunning mirror sat on someone's drive in the rain!
Suffice to say I (well Mick) rescued it and it's now being restored by my mum. This piece is likely to form a centre piece to my York Open Studio display!
I'm so excited about where my jewellery journey is taking me, as I have been accepted into York Open Studios for 2022.
It's something I've always dreamt of doing and I'm still pinching myself that I'm going to get to take part. The scariest part so far though has been getting a new profile picture taken!
I'll be sharing a venue with my good friend & fellow jeweller Karen Ward, so save the date & watch this space for developments of my woodland theme
I've enjoyed thinking about how I can incorporate some of my natural finds into my jewellery. On an earlier blog I shared some successful casts of some beautiful acorn shells. I have now had the opportunity to develop these further and my first completed piece incorporates an acorn shell finished with a highly polished gold plated interior, which really sets off the form.
There will be more pendants based on my acorns coming soon, which will explore the use of patinated finishes and the inclusion of semi-precious stones. The idea is that the pendants can be worn individually or 'stacked/collected' and worn together.
I have previously explored developing hoop earrings adorned with toadstools, but I decided to revisit this idea and incorporate my snails into them too. These earrings are formed in sterling silver and finished with a mixture of highly polished and heavily textured surfaces.
The form aims to reflect the unfurling of a new fern with the toadstools nestled into the form on one earring and the snail exploring from the other. This version of these earrings uses African turquoise for the snail shell, but can be formed with any of the stones and glass that I routinely use with my snails.
Finally realising my ideas
This pendant has been developing in my mind for months. I made the 'hoop' quite a while ago and then got distracted with new projects while I considered the best approach to realising this piece.
There are so many individual parts (and solder joints) that it took a bit of thought to get it just right.
I'm so happy with the results though - a really striking pendant incorporating both my toadstools and snails into one piece.. with a lovely bright coral for the snail shell to really make it 'pop'
I've been thinking about using natural materials in my woodland themed jewellery for some time, so I decided to experiment with casting natural objects.
I've started with acorn shells and sycamore 'helicopters', with the acorns coming out rather well.
Next stage is developing these cases into some unique jewellery pieces (I have so many ideas for them already).
Archive photo session
Now I have my beautiful new website, I've been spending some time taking photos of some of my key pieces. I think I still need a bit more practice in remembering how to use my SLR camera properly (!), but I'm really enjoying finding the right angle, lighting and backdrop to best set off my creations!
Big Day - Website Launch!
This is an exciting day for me. A new year, new challenges and finally my own website for my jewellery and textile creations. I've talked about doing this for such a long time, I can't believe it's finally happening. I would never have managed to portray what I do without the help of my boyfriend and flatcapdesign.
Now I just need to realise a few more of the many ideas I have spinning around in my head!
My dad has been experimenting with woodturning as a hobby for as long as I can remember. Before Christmas we had a chat over a pint or two about combining my silver and enamel toadstools with his woodturning skills and collaborating on some tiny toadstool adorned tumblers... the vision being of toadstools growing from the wooden form.
Dad has come up trumps with some beautiful shapes - now its my turn to develop some toadstools to complete the project.
Found Objects and Lost Treasures
My mum has been hinting about wanting some of my textile toadstools for months! I had a vision of setting some vintage velvet toadstools around 'found objects'; as if nature was enveloping around a discarded or lost treasure.
I finally found some weather beaten baubles which were perfect for my project. It has taken a couple of months to perfect the toadstools and a few close misses when my mum nearly saw them, but today she finally got her toadstools!