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SEPTEMBER 2021

Circular Walk Vowchurch Hereford
Nature winding down, Vowchurch, Herefordsire

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AUGUST 2021

Leeds Craft and Design Gallery

This month a small collection including the pieces below went to the The Craft Centre and Design Gallery in Leeds. With over 300 artists on display at any one time, they are located by the main entrance of the Leeds Art Gallery. Well worth a visit!

The collection will be there until mid-November.

First Exploration Collection

Along the River Wye
Glorious magenta colours along the River Wye near Brockhampton

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JULY 2021

Big Butterfly Count

Between Friday 16 July and Sunday 8 August, you can take part in the Big Butterfly Count. Find out how to join in at: Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count.

GatekeeperGatekeeper

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JUNE 2021

Day Out

I’m a bit late to the show for June. Nevertheless, I wanted to share with you this image of Whiteford Point Lighthouse taken on our first trip out after a year and a half of staying local. It felt strange, yet familiar and exhilarating all at once. This walk is a favourite of ours, starting along the salt flats with its big vistas, wild ponies and sheep, and its abundance of wildflowers. About half way, after a short stretch through a shady, fragrant crop of pine trees the view opens up to the dunes and the sounds and salty scent of the ocean. Skirting the beach along the strand, you pass the lighthouse where the sea opens up to meet the sky. The walk continues along the surf with all its treasures and sea birds, until, a couple of miles further on you head back inland and uphill to complete the circle. A perfect day out!

June has been a busy month with a lot of work behind the scenes. I can’t wait to get back to my Spring Series to finish what I started.

Whiteford Point Lighthouse, Gower Peninsula, Wales

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MAY 2021

Pastel Plasters

I’ve always loved spring, but this year its arrival felt more welcoming than ever, like a breath of fresh air and a tender embrace rolled into one. With corona tensions peaking in January, spring came with a sense of relief so strong, that I felt moved to capture its essence and celebrate this fragile and transient moment. Spring, I wish I could rest you in the palm of my hand and gently blow you into the wind so that you could reach out across the world.

As so often, my work is initially moved by perception – the way things touch me - and colour. This year, spring leaped out at me in pastels, soft, soothing sticky-plaster pastels on the wounds of winter. Although I had planned something entirely different, I swept it aside and welcomed the new.

To be continued...

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APRIL 2021

To the Autumn People

My Dutch grandmother used to say ‘April doet wat ie wil’, part of an old Dutch saying meaning April does at it pleases. So far we’ve had glorious sunshine, summer days, hail and snow. There is something to be said about those old sayings, those tiny snippets of wisdom carried down through the ages. Although reassuringly unpredictable, April’s summery days also witnessed a worrying number of early butterflies in our garden. With not much yet in flower, they landed on last year’s seed heads, left to help the birds through winter.

Mental note to self and task for this month: to research early-flowering bee and butterfly-friendly plants and make sure they’re in place for next year! When I read ‘Sea and Summer’ by George Turner in the eighties, that reality seemed so far away, yet its Summer People are once again in my daily thoughts.

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MARCH 2021

On 5 and 6 March, I will be joining a group of talented artists and makers @quarantinecraftfair on Instagram run by the equally talented @hannahduncancreations. We will be showcasing a selection of new work - a great opportunity to ‘meet’ artists through ‘Meet the Maker’ posts, process videos and commenting. Why not pop over and say hello.

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The Gower salt flats – throwback to March 2018. Can’t wait to revisit this walk!

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FEBRUARY 2021

Cheesecake

This time of year is always a little slow, so to liven things up a bit I took part in the #makersathome2021 Instagram challenge organised by @makerscornwall. Twenty-eight prompts – one for each day of February – with artists from far and wide taking part. Great fun!

Pop over to @wilde_works to read more, but Day 25 I’ll share with you here: ‘Recipe’

This is an adaptation of a very old recipe my aunt in California sent us by post in the seventies, long before the dawn of e-mail.

 

Base

14 gluten-free digestive biscuits

1/4 cup dairy-free margarine

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Middle layer

300 g lactose-free cream cheese

2 eggs

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla essence

Topping

250ml lactose-free Greek yoghurt (or filter out the whey of approx. 450g of plain lactose-free yoghurt until you get the same consistency)

4 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla essence

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon lemon juice

 

Method

Preheat the oven to 175 Celsius. Crush the digestive biscuits with a rolling pin, then mix in cinnamon and melted margarine. Press in to a pie dish with the back of a spoon. Bake for approx. 5 minutes.

Place the cream cheese, eggs and vanilla essence in a bowl and whisk, slowly adding the sugar, until light and creamy.

Carefully pour onto the pie base and bake for a further 30 – 35 minutes until set and slightly risen.

Let the middle layer cool until it has subsided enough to pour on the top layer.

For the top layer, mix all ingredients together, pour over the middle layer and bake for a further 7 minutes.

Let the pie cool to room temperature, place in an airtight tin or tub (do not cover with aluminium foil, as this will melt due to the lemon juice) and chill overnight in the fridge.

Bon appetit!

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Vowchurch view – throwback to February 2019. I love these 'tissue-paper' kind of days.

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JANUARY 2021

Happy New Year!!

January started with a frost and a flurry of snow, followed by a lockdown. 2021, may you be kind to us, keep our loved ones safe and be our new safe place! xxxx

Birdies in the snow

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DECEMBER 2020

Merry Christmas!!

It's been a hard year for most, but I hope you are able to spend precious moments with your loved ones, in person, online, by phone. Stay safe this Christmas; we will be together again soon! xx

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I often mix resin to match colours found in nature, like the vivid autumn green in these Eclipse earrings. The Eclipse collection was inspired by an image of Saturn called 'Quintet of Moons'.

Seen from space, life on Earth feels even more dwarfed than this minature landscape found on one of the many stiles in the Herefordshire countryside.

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NOVEMBER 2020

Changing Tide

November is always a busy month for jewellers, probably the busiest month of the year. However, in between orders, I found time to work on a new piece for my Snapshot2016 collection.

The collection started in 2016 in response to the socio-political upheavals at the time (see previous posts). Trump had just been elected and the UK had voted for Brexit. International tensions were rising, countries were increasingly looking inward and the environment seemed to be slipping off government agendas. Echoes of globalism could still be heard among new talk of walls and fences. The world had changed more quickly than I could ever have imagined into something very bleak. I decided to make a pendant in response to the year gone by, juxtaposing man versus nature.

Roll on four years and the world is changing again. A global threat more immediate than global warming has forced countries to collaborate again, and in its wake – finally – the world is waking up to the reality of climate change. Vaccines are in the pipeline and the environment is back on government agendas. New promises and commitments – perhaps too premature for celebration – have been made. Nevertheless, it’s a milestone and to mark the changing tide I decided to create a new piece for my Snapshop2016 collection.

 

We are a tiny planet in this vast universe... I’m feeling cautiously hopeful.

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Wild pony on Garway Hill, one of my favourite walks with its panoramic view of the Herefordshire countryside.

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OCTOBER 2020

We Live in Strange Times

We also live in strange places: each in a universe of our own. The people with whom we populate our universes are the shadows of whole other universes intersecting with our own. Being able to glance out into this bewildering complexity of infinite recursion and say things like, “Oh, hi, Ed! Nice tan. How’s Carol?” involves a great deal of filtering skill for which all conscious entities have eventually to develop a capacity in order to protect themselves from the contemplation of the chaos through which they seethe and tumble. So give your kid a break, okay?’

Douglas Adams

 

Now, in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, times seem stranger than ever. Knowing that each generation has faced its own hardships only serves to emphasise how fragile our delicately balanced ostensibly stable society is.

But life goes on – in a strange kind of way – and new life is still celebrated in some of the traditional ways.

In addition to my own work, I occasionally make pieces for  John Mckellar Designer Jewellery, a contemporary jeweller's down a picturesque little street in Hereford, called Church Street, with a shop front that could have come straight out of an Anton Pieck painting (Anton Pieck Museum).  A couple of weeks ago I was asked to make two expandable baby bangles for one of their customers – a first for me, so I decided to share the process.

The silver wire chosen by the customer was just too cute – an adorable procession of farmyard animals along a 10mm-wide strip of Sterling silver. A little wide perhaps for a baby bangle, but charming nonetheless.

Step 1 was to decide on a plan of approach, starting at which point to saw and how to overlap the frieze to preserve the best-possible image for the front of the bangles. There wasn’t much room for manoeuvre within the length provided, so I felt quite pleased to have two puddle ducks and a bunny on one front and mother goose on the other!

Step 2 was to file the ends flush for soldering into a solid bangle.

Step 3 was to tap it into a perfect circle on a bangle mandrel and sand and polish the inside and edges.

Step 4  was to decide on the size of and make the brackets, leaving enough room for the bangle to adjust smoothly. These too had to be sanded and polished, as once soldered the inside would no longer be accessible.

Step 5  was to saw open the bangle and file away a little of the relief pattern to seat the brackets.

Step 6  was to set everything up for soldering, ensuring that the brackets remained at exactly 90 degrees to the bangles.

Step 7  was to saw away the slightly protruding top end of the bangle, making sure that the saw blade stayed well away from the frieze!

Step 8  was a final polish and burnish.

I wonder if the babies for whom these bangles are intended will live in strange times too as adults. If I think back to how different our world was thirty years ago, I’m sure their world will be strange to us, but I hope they’ll live in better times.

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I love this time of year, when the last flowers dotted around the garden stand out like precious jewels in the autumn glow.

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