An interesting and unusual commission came my way recently. The husband of a member of the local clergy rang me and asked if I could create a pendant from a small fossil as a gift for his wife. When he brought the fossil to show me I was surprised to find that it was a small, very light object that resembled something man-made – perhaps a wooden counter from some ancient board game.
My client explained that it was known as a St Cuthbert’s Bead – a million year old fossilised section of an ancient Crinoid plant stem. The fossils’ coin-like appearance has also led to them being referred to, rather quaintly, as ‘fairy money’. They are found only on the beautiful Lindisfarne Island, the earliest site of Christianity, on the North East coast of England. St Cuthbert was a Mediaeval monk who lived and worshipped at the monastery during the second half of the 7th century, and legend has it that he and his followers found these tiny fossils on the seashore and strung them together to make rosary beads.
As well as setting the bead in silver, the commission was to incorporate a cross motif. As the object felt so very delicate – like a tiny biscuit – I was quite nervous about applying pressure to it while encasing it in silver, however it turned out really well and I’m pleased to say my client was delighted with this thoughtful gift for his wife.
The past few months have been busy and exciting ones for me – lots of gallery sales and successful craft events while working on a range of Christmas commissions. To top all that, I now have a new outlet for my jewellery which opened just before Christmas.
Store 34 maybe small but it’s very colourful and bursting with creativity – situated right on the beach – it is a joint venture between myself and four other designer/makers. It’s located at East Beach Studios, on the East side of Worthing Pier, and artists include Suzie Mitchell who has hosted my work for the past two years at her home at School Yard in Grafton Road for the Worthing Open Houses event. She specialises in wonderfully colourful and quirky illustrations and collages, and Sophie Chapman who makes a range of gorgeous, colourful fabric lampshades, many using recycled fabric.
There is also colourful artwork and jewellery from Brighton-based artists, Cassia Beck and Pinki Jones.
As well as a range of other talented artists’ work, housed in the other Studios at East Beach, you can visit the fabulous Coast Café at the end of our terrace of studios which serves breakfast and lunch with top-notch, locally roasted coffee as well as a range of scrumptious snacks and cakes. This is a great place with a sea view where you can rest a while and refuel after a stroll along the beach path.
The outlook from Store 34 is a glorious one of the English Channel and some spectacular skies, so it’s a lovely place in which I enjoy spending time. I will be at Store 34 at various times over the coming months and will post the times I am doing a shift on my Facebook Page. so if you fancy coming and saying hello, I’d love to see you!
Store 34 has core opening hours of Thursday-Saturday, 11am-3pm (sometimes earlier and later) and in the Spring/Summer of 2020, we’ll also be open on Sundays
29 July 2019
Looking back and looking forward
Quite a few people have been asking whether they are able to order from me online over the past few months, so I’m delighted to announce that you can now purchase my jewellery direct from my Shop.
It’s starting off at a small -scale but I will be steadily increasing the number of available items over the coming weeks.
As well as stock items, I will make-to-order on the items listed with (dependent on the item) a 2 to 6 week timescale for delivery. I know that 6 weeks may sound like a very long time, but in addition to making time, I have to send larger items off to London to be hallmarked by the Assay Office
It’s been a busy few months – I participated in no less than six Artists Open Houses over the summer, as well as other craft events, and through doing so, I have really enjoyed meeting other local artists and makers, and many existing and new customers.
I’ve completed several commissions – some of which have helped me further develop my skills and I’m pleased to report that they all turned out very well, resulting in some lovely feedback from customers. One of the most enjoyable things about what I do is seeing the broad smiles of happy clients!
I continue to exhibit in Gallery BN5 in Henfield and Gallery92 in Hurstpierpoint. Gallery BN5 has continued to flourish since it opened just over a year ago and is attracting lots of new artistic talent as well as customers. If you are passing through Henfield it’s well worth a visit. Easy parking is available just off the High Street.
Gallery92 is similarly full of lots of tempting art and craft items with an impressive array of talent. I work shifts at both of these galleries and will post the dates I am there on my Facebook page. If you’d like to come in and have a chat sometime, ‘Like’ my page so you can see when I’m next around.
I also use Instagram a lot and it’s a good place to see the kind of designs I’m currently working on. I love taking photos so, as well as images of my jewellery and the making process, you’ll find images of what’s going on around me, as I use it as a kind of life blog – I’m sure you’ll be pleased to read that I’m not big on taking selfies though!
I’m now looking forward to the events I’m involved in for the remainder of the Summer which include exhibitions in August and September at Horsham Artists Open Houses Exhibition at the Capitol Theatre on North Street, Horsham, and The ‘Other’ Summer Exhibition which is taking place at the Skyway Gallery in Shoreham-by-Sea, as part of the Adur Art Collective. More information here.
Looking further ahead, I’m taking part in the Horsham Art Fair in October once again. This is a fantastic event with lots too see and enjoy. I’ll also be at a Craft Fair at South Downs Nurseries in Hassocks in December. I will no doubt be taking part in further pre-Christmas events and I will add details of these to my Events page as they’re confirmed.
I wish you all a great Summer – let’s hope the weather stays warm and sunny – and I hope to see some of you over the coming months.
22 March 2019
Diary Dates for Spring and Summer 2019
After the dark days of Winter, it’s so good to see signs that Spring is on its way. At this time of year, I start thinking about the craft fairs and other events I’m going to be involved in over the coming months. I’m spending lots of time in my studio at the moment to ensure that, as well as completing my growing list of commissions, I have enough stock to be able to put on a really good show.
In April I am attending the Easter themed Fairy Tale Fair in Worthing. This is a new event for me and I’m looking forward to meeting lots of other designer/makers and of course potential customers there!
In May I’m taking part in Brighton Artists’ Open Houses at Gallery 92 in Hurstpierpoint. This open house event was the first of its kind in the UK and set the standard for all the events of its type that followed. Later on, I’m taking part in the Steyning Art Trail for the first time. Steyning is a lovely, historic village not far from where I live and, when I’ve visited this event in the past, I’ve always been impressed by the standard of work on display.
June is going to be particularly hectic. As well as Worthing Artists’ Open Houses where I will return to talented artist and maker Susannah Mitchell’s lovely School Yard home venue in the centre of town, it’s also Henfield Gardens and Arts weekend. This is my home event, when we open our garden to the public in aid of charity, sell tea and cake and I display my wares. This is always great fun but lots of hard work in the run up to ensure that the garden looks presentable and that I’ve made enough cake to sell – last year we almost ran out as demand was so strong and Saturday night saw a frantic baking session to ensure fresh supplies for the following day!
The following weekend I’m taking part in Horsham Artists Open Studios where I will be exhibiting my work at Farlington School, on the outskirts of Horsham with talented fellow artists and designers Kezia Noel-Paton, Tracie Callaghan, Iris Bishop, Angela Brittain and Vicky Glynn.
July is Henfield’s Village Fayre which, for the first time, is offering local craftspeople the chance to have a stall and sell their work. This is a very popular event which takes place every two years on the village common. As well as the traditional prize events for best flowers, vegetables and homemade produce, it’s also an opportunity for local artists to show off their talents. It also includes a number fun, family-orientated events such as The Sheep Show – much more fun than it sounds!
I have other events in the pipeline during the later months of the year, and will confirm details as soon as I have them. It would be lovely if you could come along to any of these events – just to say hello – it’s good to meet new people and also to keep in touch with my faithful customers. Visit my Events page for full listings with dates, times and venues.
21 November 2018
Drawing inspiration from the past
I received an interesting commission a couple of weeks ago that I thought I would share with you.
A customer asked me to use the design of an old traditional East Sussex farming implement – reproducing it as a pair of earrings as a Christmas gift for her daughter who lives in Australia to remind her of home.
The design is based on the Pyecombe shepherd’s crook which was in daily use on flocks of sheep on the Sussex South Downs throughout the 19th century. The design is unique to this area and was, of course, originally created by local blacksmiths. The shape is different from other crooks of the period in that the rounded section is quite small with an elongated curled end. This smaller hook was used to catch stray sheep by their hind legs. It sounds a bit brutal but apparently, was and still is a perfectly humane method of controlling them.
The source of the 18th century cast-iron was an unusual one – apparently it consisted of the recycled gun barrels of soldiers, returning from the Napoleonic Wars.
The forging process of the silver is very similar to working with cast iron. Just as a blacksmith heats and hammers iron objects into shape, I repeatedly heated the sterling silver in a process known as annealing to soften it. This has the effect of loosening the metal’s molecular structure making it more malleable and workable. As it’s worked into shape it becomes harder to manipulate so has to be reheated to prevent it from fracturing. This process is a bit of a skill challenge, as once the metal has been made thinner or has been fashioned into a particular shape, it’s very difficult to reshape it, so accuracy was vital with only one chance to get it right! Thankfully, time spent carefully measuring and studying the shape of the crook paid off. The result, I think, is an unusually shaped and elegant pair of earrings.
I really enjoy doing commissions like this as it’s so satisfying to produce something that completely meets the customer’s expectations. It also challenges me to expand my silversmithing skills, helping me to further develop my range.
26 October 2018
Following my last post, I’m delighted to say that Horsham Contemporary Art Fair was an amazingly successful experience for me. It was well attended and had an impressive array of artwork on display. Thanks to all of you who came along.
At this time of year I am dividing my time between busily working in my studio to fulfil orders for Christmas and selling my work at craft markets. If you missed the Horsham event these are other the places my work will be on show in the run up to Christmas.
I’m delighted that my work has found a home at Gallery92. Established in March 2018, this lovely, professionally run gallery in Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex is owned by Clare and Joff Harms, who are themselves artists. It’s bursting with a range of wonderful work by talented local artists and makers and I’m very much looking forward to spending time there.
I am also going to be at the following pre-Christmas events: