Sunday, 24 July 2016

The fly that thought it was a bee

Mr J and I have done our bit for recycling this year. It all started when our fence blew down. The old post had snapped... we needed a new one. Out on one of our walks Mr J spotted something in the hedge. Someone had dumped a fencepost, a newish one, exactly the right size. Mr J hoisted it over his shoulder and it was soon given a new lease of life. Good for a few years yet we hope. A few days later we also rescued a big brand new patio planter. This is now full of pretty plants including some aubretia which tumbles down the side very prettily. We were sitting outside one lunchtime when we noticed something that looked like a miniature humming bird with a long proboscis hovering and feeding on the tiny centres of the aubretia flowers. It looks like a tiny bee but when we looked it up it is actually a fly. This charming looking little creature has a less than charming life cycle though. Its own larva live on the larva of actual bees! I do hope the residents in the various bee boxes we have in the garden this year are safe.

I love the way jewellery from the art nouveau era used shapes from nature, and observing this special tiny creature has influenced my latest piece. Using a new technique to make the centrepiece enables me to have tiny flowers in it. The picture below shows it in progress with wire wrapping partly done. When it has been antiqued and buffed to make it look vintage it should be unusual and rather pretty I think.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Wild spaces

The area we live in has seen many changes over the past 20 years. It still just about manages to hang on to its identity as a village, although some of the farmland has been turned into housing estates over the years. But there are still plenty of wild areas to enjoy, and one of these is a very special little grove of trees. For a while though this favourite walk through the trees has been closed off and we could only peer in through the wire at the increasing tangle of undergrowth and gathering wind-blown litter. Then one day things started to happen. Men with diggers and chain saws turned up and I started to worry.  But something wonderful has happened. The ancient trees have been treated to some professional surgery, little areas of wild flowers have been planted, and best of all a proper footpath through the grove has been made. It has taken a month for them to complete it and we took a first stroll through it last week.

Funny how some areas can just feel magical. This small grove is just a stone’s throw away from the airport, but judging from the age of some of the mighty oaks which line the footpath leading up to it and a look at some ancient maps of the area, this was once a field boundary in what was farmland. The farm would doubtless have employed many local men and we know there was a smithy as we have a road called Blacksmiths Way in the village.

The house where Anna Sewell lived and wrote Black Beauty is not far away. Horses still graze in the pasture opposite and her window looked out onto it. The old photograph above shows horses on the road nearby to her house.

So we linger amongst the trees and hedgerow, watching squirrels, jays and speckled wood butterflies in the wood, and discovering interesting tiny creatures in the hedgerow. We notice wild roses become hips, hawthorn berries reddening and the year racing oh so quickly by. Every sunny (or rainy) walk together is treasured.
Spent the morning cutting shapes and drilling holes with my Proxxon drill stand. These will be used to make a necklace, with the ring shape soldered on and filled with something richly purple berry coloured. Unlike the year, I'm going sloe! The leaf shapes are going to be earrings.


Sunday, 10 July 2016

Wirework inspired by wild roses

Delicate pale pink wild roses are in bloom in the hedgerows just now. Their time is all too brief and I always find myself wanting to capture their transient beauty in some small way. In this instance I decided to showcase just one pretty glass bead within a filigree tracery of sterling silver to create a wirework pendant.

The challenge was to include a heart shape to surround the bead and to make a bail that suspended it nicely from the rose pink thong. After some trial and error I managed a pleasing little heart shape in the centre of the wire weaving.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Using polymer clay to create a vintage look

People who create art are incredibly lucky to have a wealth of exciting new materials to work with. Polymer clay, resin, cool melt enamels and metal clays are the chameleon characters on the jewellery making stage and can reflect many different moods. Take polymer clay for instance – this magical material can be made into a piece that looks as if it has just stepped off the set of a Bollywood film, or can be crafted into something that looks as if it came from the jewellery casket of a pre-Raphaelite beauty. Modern clays and resins are professional grade and really tough. I sand and finish with the same tools I use on metalwork. My ‘Rhiannon’ necklace is complete at last and has a decidedly vintage look. 

Constructing  it proved to be a challenge but  I’m pleased with the way it hangs – in a pleasing ‘V’ shape on the chain which has little bamboo coral beads in it to echo the inlay on the main sections. I decided that this design needed some negative spaces, little areas to give the eye a break. I also included the paler blue areas within the darker blue to draw the eye down over the centrepiece.