Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Love Letters

Today, I thought I'd share a little of my design process.  Back in November of last year when I was at the Christmas Market at the Harley Gallery they asked if I would like to be part of the showcase that was being planning for the New Year entitled 'Love Letters'.  They were looking for makers who feature text, handwriting and fonts in their work, so I fitted the bill nicely.

It is always a pleasure to be asked to exhibit my work and it usually sends a chain reaction from my brain to my fingers.  The cogs started moving round and the electrodes fired sending idea after idea through my synapses.  I decided, as it was so close to Valentine's Day, it would be ideal to use the Eva Collection as a starting point.  Call it cliche but roses connect nicely to the feminine and will always be the Victorian token of love.

The Eva Collection takes the rose as an observation of  the strong bond between mother and daughter.  As a bud my mother nurtured me to full bloom where I flourished, and now I observe my elderly mother as the faded rose seeing her colour dim as the petals wither and gently but gracefully tumble to the floor.

My idea was to still use the rose structure but perhaps change the paper, introduce additional jewellery items such as a necklet, a wristlet and a different style of brooch, perhaps a brooch bar.

Incorporating more textile elements such as crochet and tatting to embellish the paper and make them appear richer, yet retain their feminine qualities.  It was whilst down at my mother's house doing yet more sorting I came across some old letters that were written by my brother to an old girlfriend.  I loved the idea of using paper with handwriting but I was unsure of the paper quality, it was quite modern and trying to age it purposely would be totally out of the question as it would look contrived.

Once I had the letters in my studio I set to work creating a few roses from the paper.  What did I like about them?  The blue ink stood out as it danced decoratively across the lined paper forming patterns.  If I echoed the colour of the ink by using a very fine tatting thread it might just work to reflect the handwritten patterns.  As you can see in the sketch, I have also added a few ruby red beads, these ended up being swarkowski crystals, a word I can never say the same way twice.

Other ideas that came, went or were developed included a crocheted wristlet embellished with tiny crocheted beads, a brooch bar and a rose brooch with tatting and crystals.  I think I enjoyed creating the brooch bar as I feel it is almost like a medal or an award celebrating beauty.  Now I feel that the brooch bar needs to be developed further........

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Interview with Sharyn Dunn

Tell me about your current body of work?
My current main work is producing interesting and thought provoking lighting, sculptures and wall pieces produced from a mixture of papers and metals.

By using various light sources I am able to display hidden textures and designs often missed when using a simple item such as a piece of paper.  Coupling this with repetition and manipulating these shapes leaves me able to produce chandeliers and lights with a different appeal.

I find your work truly stunning, what is your inspiration?
Inspirations come from within the organic forms found in nature and from their constant repetitions producing an array of designs and patterns.

Have you always earned you living by being creative?
Throughout my career I have been involved in various forms of art or craft, and at one stage owned a knitwear company designing and producing garments for high end boutiques and shops in SE England.

Why University?
I started to turn my hand to Interior Design which involved various other crafts I realised a need to “do something more” and decided to consolidate my skills and return to University on a design/crafts course.  I felt this would allow me to experience and master various crafts across a selection of disciplines – my favourites being metals, paper and mixed media.

Did you see any major changes following your degree?
Yes, on the completion of my degree the obvious option for me was to work as a self employed designer and maker.  Obviously this comprised of many applications to various shows and exhibitions throughout the country, building up a practice and improving and developing my designs.  It’s hard work but definitely fulfilling.

So, how did ‘The Collective’ come about?
It soon became clear to me that there were very few opportunities for new designer/makers to exhibit their work within the Midlands and definitely nothing which would show the opportunities a Design Craft course would offer to a prospective student other than the New Designers show in London for graduates.

The idea initially for me to set up the group “The Collective”, was to show the diversity of skills and quality of workmanship we had achieved, and provide another stepping stone for new designers building their careers.

Are there any future plans for 'The Collective'? 
The intention for me in the future is to extend our group, and take the exhibition on tour to galleries throughout the country, displaying our skills and showing how the development of a creative group of graduates move on to become accomplished craftsmen in their fields.

What are the details for this year's exhibitions
This year's exhibition will be at Creative Hinckley Gallery, The Atkins Building, Lower Bond Street Hinckley, Leicestershire, LE10 1QU

Monday 26th March to Saturday 5th May 2012

Opening times:- 9.00am to 5.30pm

There are also plans for some workshops whilst the exhibition is running, by Katie Almond, Phiona Richards and Samantha Robinson. Prices £20.00 - £25.00 To book a place please contact Creative Hinckley

Samantha Robinson "Springtime Inspirations" Saturday 31 March

10am to 1pm Make a beadwire brooch inspired by Easter or Spring
2pm to 4pm  Suffolk Puff brooches

Phiona Richards "A day of Paper Jewellery" Saturday 7 April

10am to 1pm  Paper beads to create a pretty necklace
2.00 to 4pm  Paper roses to embellish a brooch or hairslide

Katie Almond "Choose Ceramics" Friday 20 April
10am to 12pm Make a ceramic brooch
1pm to 4pm   Ceramic beads or tiles

If you'd like to find out more about Sharyn please visit her website.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Lostock Hall Academy

At the beginning of January, I made my usual 6 week trek up to Manchester to visit my elderly mother.  This visit had a few more added extras a) it was my birthday b) I had a day's work in a school in Preston.

I had a fabulous day, working with year 10 and 11 who were working on their GCSE Art and Design Textile.  The girls were great, very keen and produced some lovely work.  I feel honoured that a few asked me for my autograph, which I have to say is a first.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Buttons and patches and the cold wind blowing, The days pass quickly when I am sewing.

I recently made a delightful purchase of some jet buttons.  It is something I've been thinking about for a while for some jewellery pieces I have in mind, that and incorporating hooks and eyes (which I explored for a little while at University).  They were quite expensive, but compared to what.  Whitby Jet  is rapidly diminishing and was originally used in mourning jewellery by the Victorians who took the whole occasion of death rather theatrically.

After paying for the beads I waited about 3 days for my package to arrive.  I was really excited as it brought back all those lovely feelings as a child when I used to sit in the sewing room and look through the buttons like I was looking through a box of precious jewels.  Amongst my treasures I have some beautiful jet and metal shoe buttons which I still have to this day. I carefully took off the brown paper to find a layer of bubble wrap with a blue piece of paper(which has been turned purple by the camera) just underneath, it read:-

 Imagine my delight, not only had I purchased a personal collection but it was coming in it's original container.  Now, believe me, the temptation here was to rip off the bubblewrap as though I was playing pass the parcel and get to the next layer, but I had no idea what the box was going to be made of tin, card, plastic.  I took a deep breath, carefully removed the note from Jessica and peeled back the bubblewrap.

How beautiful.  I don't know whether you can see it, I think that Jessica's grandma may have handwritten 'Jet Buttons' on the box.  The box itself, an old stockings box must come from either the 50's or 60's.  By this time I was wearing a huge grin in anticipation of what my purchase had been all about - the buttons.

What an absolute adventure, the suspense still continued as I noted that the buttons were carefully wrapped in white tissue paper and almost tucked in the box ready for the next delighted participant.  I carefully lifted out the bundle and gently peeled back the paper so as not to tear it.  Here is what I found:-

I took my time appreciating every single group of buttons as quite a few of them were strung together.  I counted 350 buttons in total, what a find, they should keep me busy for a while yet.  There was also an odd buckle and an Art Deco bracelet which needs re-threading (I think I might be keeping those)  the rest will be absorbed into new jewellery pieces that I am planning for next year.