It’s been a busy week so far…….

I thought this week might be a bit hectic and I was right. So much to do and so little time to do it in. Of course, it’s all my own fault for leaving everything until the last minute – again! Fortunately, I am at my best when working under pressure as it makes me much more focused and less likely to dither on decisions.

It was 5 days and counting until the local art and craft exhibition at St. Mary’s Church, Whittlesey. This year I intend to enter 7 pieces of jewellery, silverware and glass work to showcase the variety of my skills. I was very pleased with myself when I emailed off the entry form 3 weeks ago. I sat back with a mug of coffee congratulating myself on my excellent organisation. A few moments later the horrifying realisation hit me that not one of those items entered even existed yet!!

Fast forward to this week. It started well on Saturday, with the weekend to myself I was up and about with a spring in my step (although the weather did it’s best to dampen my spirits). I had completed 2 pieces in the previous 2 weeks and I had one at the picture framer so things weren’t looking entirely great, I had to focus.

I decided to start with what I know best, silver. Layered up to the eyeballs in a fleece, body-warmer, jacket and scarf I went out into my luxurious workshop. For my bangle, I already had a length of silver prepared and I knew what I wanted to achieve. After and hour or so of hammering and banging (God bless my neighbours who fully support my work)  and heating and quenching I had achieved the shape I wanted. Now, here I could have taken the simple option and left it with the hammered surface; but that would have been too easy wouldn’t it? I wanted a smooth surface on my bangle. Some initial filing was necessary and then – all hail the Dremmel. It took a couple of hours to get smooth but it polished up a treat and although I’m not a massive jewellery wearer, I have to say I really like the end result myself. Another one ticked off!

A change of medium and across the other side of the workshop I needed to get on with some glass pieces as they can take up to 15 hours in the kiln. My glass work is still quite experimental with ever changing temperatures and soak times in the kiln I’m never entirely sure what is going to come out at the other end. What’s more, I was suffering from weather associated designers block – a terrifying condition when you are under pressure. So it was a case of tools down and go find something else to do.

My next challenge was an acid etched and enammelled brooch. The etching was already done and the fastenings for the pin were already attached. The problem was I had had been dithering over whether to use traditional glass enamels, cold enamel resin or cool melt powders. I decided on the latter as I had come across these powders recently. They melt at just 150 degrees c so they can be used in a conventional oven. Mixed with a little water I packed the colour painstakingly into each recess then ‘fired’ it. Turns out I had to repeat this process at least 3 times to ensure all gaps were filled. Then I sanded it smooth and re-fired it again one last time. I could have gone on like this for ever but decided to call time on it and attach the pin. This was supposed to be so easy but the catch wasn’t functioning properly. I had to take all the little components apart, file them, re-shape them and put them all back together. Finally – success.

Rewind my brain and back out to the glass. I just had to get on with it. I cut a selection of pieces, washed them and glued them together in various forms. In between times I was applying a wash to the kiln to stop the glass sticking. Several hours, five coats of wash later and all of the glass pieces ready I carefully positioned them, lowered the lid on the kiln and set it going. It would be the next day before I knew how they turned out.

On Sunday I focused my attention to silver clay. I was going to try water etching for the first time. I designed and cut out my piece quite quickly but then I had to wait several hours for it to dry out. Eventually, late evening, I was able to paint my resist on and carefully I sponged away at the clay with water to remove a layer. It was quite a satisfying few minutes watching something alter before my eyes. The clay had to dry out again overnight before it could be fired. The next morning I got back out into the workshop, fired the piece to burn off the clay binder and was left with pure silver. Of course, it needed an hour or so spending on it to smooth, polish and apply my chosen texture. After that, I added a splash of colour with some red carnelian beads and it was done.

So, just the glass pendant to finish. By this time it was Tuesday morning and I had to go off supply teaching until lunchtime. Before I left I studied the glass shapes that had emerged from the kiln. I spent all morning thinking about how I could add silver to improve and embellish a piece. My gut instinct was that less is more. On my return from work I created myself a silver ring which I hammered to get a sparkle effect. I had to do a bit of jiggery pokery with the diamond drill but eventually I managed to pass the silver through the glass. The simplicity was perfect, I was really pleased.

So just one final trip to The Blackcab Studio to collect my piece of fused glass wall art and by 5:30 last night (Tuesday) I had everything finished, boxed up and ready for the exhibition…..and relax.

Hold on a minute, I can’t relax. I’ve got Yaxley Festival all weekend. Hopefully I’ll see you there.

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