Welcome to the weird and hopefully wonderful world of my imagination , jewellery inspired by the animal life around me and the mysteries of history.
Click on the links to see more of my work, feel free to contact me if you have any requests or suggestions.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Frankenrobot the mad scientist


 It was a dark and stormy night when Frankenrobot lurched out of the castle looking for a subject suitable for his lateast research. He clanked and screeched along the road, his rusting legs much in need of a good oil. What poor unfortunate creature was facing its doom tonight?

The robot rolled his eyes, searching high and low for some living animal on which to work his evil experiment. It was getting much harder to find suitable material as his fell experiments had emptied the forest surrounding his lair, and Frankenrobot was obliged to roam long into the night.  

Any sensible creature was curled up as small as possible in the deepest burrow it could find in the hopes of avoiding unwanted attention.

  Even the last rat in the area was in hiding, hunkered down in a deep drain hole nervously chewing his tail. Luckily for the rat the robot's antenna were as ill maintained as the rest of his body the centre sensor was supposed to pick up on signs of warm life , but a chunk has rusted off the bottom which limited the robot's perception of depth.

AAAAArrrrgggghhhh growled Frankenrobot, his rubbery lips quivering as he gave vent to his fury.

He had reached the boundary of his domain, at the furthest point from his castle was  the graveyard, where he buried his failures . 

 The sun was now making a vain attempt to lighten the sky and Frankenrobot knew he must return home soon, then suddenly he spotted his victim

silhouetted against the sky too intent on watching the dawn come up and preparing itself to welcome the new day with a song...................................

Sorry it was just that this robot looked like it needed a history, not very christmassy is it?


Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Just take one pumpkin

And carve.....................
happy pumpkin
angry pumpkin

wicked elf pumpkin
scarecrow pumpkin 
rat infested pumpkin
Its a good idea not to drop your pumpkin 
Gently decaying pumpkin several weeks later

                          Happy Halloween

Friday, 5 October 2012

Enamel insect and flowers

Anyone who saw my last post about my brass bird, may have wondered why it was sitting on a real branch. When I first started it it was going to be sitting in a nest made of wire, but having made its legs and feet I didn't want to hide them . The idea I had was to make a Victorian taxidermy style diorama  ,  with metal creatures instead of stuffed ones.
So what follows are the close ups of the piece of bark that the branch is mounted on with its accoutrements.......
First I made an insect, this was intended to be flying in the air above the bird, which is why the bird is looking up but finding a suitable branch was impossible so it has ended up on the floor....of the piece that is.
Is body is enamelled top and bottom with a brass band around its circumference to hide the join, the legs are copper with beads melted on to the ends for feet.

I also made a copper worm which had a great dark wormy patina from heating, I'm so tempted to make some sort of a brooch with a whole bunch or these so they would emerge out of a pocket.....would anybody buy it though?

Then I made some plants from copper which I enamelled


I was particularly pleased with the way the leaves turned out, they are all enamelled on both sides, which in the case of the brass flowered daisy was probably a waste of time as you cant see the back, but working out how to make them was very instructive. I'm now trying to decide how to combine these flowers and leaves into a brooch.
And here is the picture of the whole thing for those who have not seen it on my facebook page.

My apologies for the state of the photos they were taken late at night the day before I sent it off for the exhibition when I realised I had no pictures of the finished article. I really wanted to have it all under a glass dome but couldn't find anything suitable that was affordable. I found a couple of websites selling old oblong domes, plenty of stock but no prices, I hate that. If you have a shop why not put the price on things? It reminds me of the thing that posh antiques shops do, where the assumption is if you have to ask the price you cant afford it. My attitude is that if I have to ask the price I assume you don't want to sell it.  
This was great fun to make and I'm thinking about what creature to make next, I spent a very boring day at work today stapling bits of insurance policy documents together whilst daydreaming about dragons, but don't hold you breath it will be probably after Christmas before I get a chance to make another project like this.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Bird in a bush

An adventure in metalsmithing

For the last few weeks I have been working on a much bigger project than usual, as much as anything to prove to myself that I haven't forgotten all the silversmithing I learned at college all those years ago.
I started with a few doodles which became a plaster maquette made from polyfilla which was all I had to hand.
 This is the plaster bird without it's beak I had to cut it off as it was getting in the way when I was fitting the brass bottom bowl up against it to check for size.
Having carved the  bird I cut a circle out of brass and started hammering it to shape..............
I dont have any proper stakes and had to nip out to B & Q for a substitute raising hammer as the one I bought years ago has disappeared.So armed with my small cross pein hammer and a variety of doming punches I began , here follows for those of you interested some photos of the results of the process of raising and forming follow in order. Click on the photos to see them larger.
This is the basic raising for the underside of my bird.
Then refining the shape, narrowing the base and making the bowl deeper
Then I formed the neck and underneath of the tail, followed by a spot of planishing to smooth the finish
The top of the bird, basic forming done by hammering into a lead block, two flaps pulled round to encircle the beak
The two parts fitted together and feathery bits cut out
The beak made from copper is inserted to try the fit and more feather shapes cut in the upper tail
At this point my camera battery ran out, I couldn't find the battery charger and for some reason it didn't occur to me to use my other camera......so I'm afraid how I did the legs, eyes, ears,wings and extra bits of tail I will leave to your imagination. And, eh voila.... here is my little bird all assembled and standing on his wooden perch.
I'm not sure what kind of a bird it is , a finch perhaps, I think they can have quite chunky beaks.
I really enjoyed the challenge of making this and am I have to admit quite pleased with the finished article. What do you think of my LBJ? (bird watching term for unidentified small plain bird)

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Redfern's Cottage Museum of Uttoxeter Life

Redfern's Cottage Museum of Uttoxeter Life

One of the trustees from Redfern's museum, contacted me a while back and asked if I'd like to sell some of my work in their museum shop. It's taken me a while to get my act together but today at last they have taken delivery of a batch of assorted brooches.
It is a tiny little museum run entirely by volunteers after the council decided they no longer could afford to run it.  I had a quick guided tour and learned quite a lot about Uttoxeter that I didn't know
prior to my visit to scout out the place. I dont think I've ever been into Uttoxeter town centre  before,despite it only being only 18 miles away. Which is a shame as I found it to be a lovely little town with lots of old interesting buildings and shops. The Saturday I visited there was a small market and some live entertainment next to the war memorial in the market place.
The museum itself features information about local famous people like Mary Howitt who wrote the well known  and slightly chilling poem about the spider and the fly  which starts

"Will you walk into my parlour? said the Spider to the Fly

So in honour of the museum I have made two new brooches, one a small mouse as they have a Redfern's mouse and the other is a half timbered type cottage brooch with smoke curling out of its chimney.

                               I have made another similar mouse to sell myself, available here

The house is a sort of reverse image of the part of the museum that is behind the red car in the photo,  with an added window above the door, and an extra support beam for good luck....

If you live in Staffordshire or nearby, please give them a visit and spread the word to let more people know about this hidden gem .

Oh and the parking is cheap in Uttoxeter too, (behind the Co-op off Silver street) and there's a lot of lovely little shops and a butcher around the corner from the memorial selling very nice and cheap  handmade sausages that I can recommend.

Here is a lionk to their website

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

My sister's wedding , and cake..............

My big sister got married yesterday it was a lovely day , the weather having turned at last  it was a beautiful sunny day. The service at the registry office in Pershore was in a conservatory , a great setting and luckily at that point of the day not boiling hot yet.
My sister made her own wedding dress and did all the flowers and organising herself . As I've done a few cakes for family birthday dos she asked me to make her wedding cake, so there would be one thing that would be a surprise on the day. the consequence of which is that  I've spent most of my days off for the last 2/3 weeks making cake rather than jewellery. I quite enjoy making and decorating cakes but dont like cake myself so never get to eat my creations. 
 This is the result of all my work................................

 A 3 layer fruit cake with fondant icing,The brief being a cake with a spring/summer pale green and yellow theme. All the flowers should have been pale yellow but faded overnight, perhaps because I used Asda colourant, the green leaves kept their colour perfectly, they were done with proper paste colours . I'll know not to use old food colouring next time. I was pleased with the fondant it was Tesco's own brand and rolled out beautifully,  I bought some expensive sugar paste to make the flowers but it didn't smell/taste nice or have a nice texture, so I went back and bought more Tesco fondant and they worked out fine.   I took it down to Worcester where the reception was, with a kebab stake driven through the layers to stop then moving but despite driving really carefully so as not to damage it but it  slipped to one side of the box in transit and a few flowers were squashed. As a result of lots of reading online cake info and blogs I was prepared with spare flowers and icing to stick on to repair it.. Having made this I can fully appreciate why wedding cakes cost so much. 
And this is the happy couple cutting my cake.
Congratulations Pat and Alan , the new Mr and Mrs Carter.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Birds, drawings and enamelling

It has been quite a while since my last post as I've been busy in my new, mind numbing and totaly un craft related job. Only having two days off a week restricts the time I can spend on my own work condsiderably.

I bought a kiln after christmas and at last I am  getting round to playing with it.

paragon sc2 kiln
 I find with any new piece of equipment I spend a lot of time looking at it before I get up the nerve to use it.....The more expensive the item is the longer the contemplation time.
First I spent a period of time reading up all I could find on enamelling in the local library and on the internet, then I watched various enamellers demonstrating on U tube, then a few weeks later finally I got around to buying some enamels. 

I think choosing what colours to buy is the hardest part as the information on the British web sites that sell enamel is very poor, colour samples are either non existant or very  inconstistant , in the end I went to WG Ball as it is only a couple of miles from where I live and bought 6 basic colours. black ,white, grass green,yellow ,red and dark blue, and a clear flux.
Then I went back to the library and reborrowed the books as I'd forgotten what they said!

Testing time................................................

One half of the test piece has clear flux underneath, the other is just enamel. The base is a 1p piece.
O.K tests are boring.
The next question of course is "what of all the ideas floating around in my head to make first?"
 During the quiet bits at work I've been doodling birds 
which lead to some drawings................

and finally 
Ta Da!
to some finished? enamel bird pendants
Black bird pendant
With the black bird, the beak seemed to go matt with handling over the next week so I refired it then the centre of the eye went matt.............I think I might try firing it again to see what happens. 

Green and yellow bird.pendant
These are both enamelled on very thick copper (1.5mm) so I have not counter enamelled the backs, The colours are all applied over a clear flux base. I'm quite pleased with these, I like the speckly nature of the enamel colours, and the bulginess of the bead eyes. I left the feet off as I thought they would be more comfotable to wear without.
 At  the moment I am subjecting them to wearing tests to try and ascertain their durability before putting thetm up for sale, any feedback would be appreciated.