Thursday, 30 September 2010

A voyage to sea

Another craft which gives me a great deal of  pleasure is my paper crafting. Even as a little girl I always loved to cut and stick everything and anything and made scrapbooks years before the term "scrapbooking" was ever used. My Mum and I are both keen paper crafters and over the years have attended several classes on this art. We always had to arrange these for a day when I was not working, the children were in school etc etc so we were quite limited to what we could attend but we have been lucky enough to be taught by some very talented ladies. As well as my bead stash  for my jewellery making I also have a large stash of  papers, embellishments etc for my card making. I do have an ever patient husband, he has allowed the cupboards in my daughter's old bedroom to gradually be take over by me as my craft storage room, thank you M ;0) x

Recently my daughter's boyfriend sailed off into the sunset (well actually he's been posted to serve as a trainee engineer on a cargo ship sailing between Spain and France!) as part of his Marine Engineering course. He went a few weeks ago and is not back until nearly Christmas. Yes, a long time and I know how much she is missing him :0(  However her job as a very busy junior doctor keeps her quite distracted, especially the frantic on calls!

 Before Tom left for sea I decided to commission a little ACEO that I could use to make into a Bon Voyage card for him.

For those not " in the know " an ACEO stands for Art Card, Editions and Originals. These are a branch of   ATC s (Artist Trading Cards) where artists make little miniature works of arts to trade with one another or sell.
ACEOs are very affordable as they small, about the size of football trading cards, but they are still one of a kinds.
The artist I bought from is the talented Vita who sells on Etsy.

This beautiful little mermaid is holding up and protecting the ship and I thought Tom would appreciate the imagery - although I'm not sure how many mermaids he will meet on his trip.

I added some "sea" themed backing paper

and made a frame for the watercolour using rivets at the corners and finished off using some silver peel off lettering.......

and hey presto I had a card which he could then use as a little picture in his cabin or a bookmark etc.

As a keen paper crafter we NEVER waste a scrap of paper so I decided to also use the backing paper to make my Dad's birthday card and a couple of other male cards (these are always the tricky ones to do).


I used a paper folded shirt on this one for my Dad's card...

and a different variation for this one and also a third variation shown below.

It's so interesting how differently cards turn out despite using very similar "ingredients". So once I finished my crafting session I had 4 cards !

So Bon Voyage to Tom and a very safe time out at sea, see you at Christmas!
Bye for now,
Jane x

Friday, 24 September 2010

The start of a new year for me ...for silversmithing

At last after such a long summer break my silversmithing class has returned. It was time to get out the trusty tool box. Yes it really is quite heavy and full of my precious tools.Jewellers are very protective of their tools and I am no exception!
I have a heavy tool box where I keep everything.

Here is a peep inside.

One of my most recent birthday presents from my husband was a beautiful planishing  hammer. 

To protect its mirror finish head it even has it's own made to measure stripey sock!

Our last class was at the end of June so it really was a long time ago. Every year the funding at the local council changes and every year I wonder if the class will be stopped but so far it has continued running.

I started my silversmithing classes in 2002 so this will  be my 9th year. Many people have come and gone. It is always good to see some of the old faces return and also to welcome some new.

I was unable to quite finish my last term's project which was to make a hinged locket. Hmmmm it really was as challenging as it sounds and took many, many weeks from its beginnings as a piece of flat sheet silver into a locket.
I also tried the process of etching for the first time so the lid on my locket has a 1930s art deco feel to it. To finish the locket I have to pass a 0.4mm piece of wire through the hand made 2 part hinge and then flatten the ends to keep the wire in. That way the locket will open.I will come back to my locket in a future blog and show some photos.

I thought you may be interested to see some photos here of some of my creations over the last 8years......

This is my very first creation, a ring, which I made in 2002. It really is very basic but I treasure it. It is a bezel set lapis lazuli cabochon. It took me a whole term to make it from a piece of flat silver!

This is the very 1st pair of earrings I made in 2003, again very basic.

 I sketched my idea onto paper and transferred the design to silver sheet and then sawed them out. I then added the pattern by running the pieces through the mill with a piece of  bag that oranges are sold in! The design gets transferred onto the metal as so much pressure is applied through the mill. I then made fittings to put them together so that they would hang properly.

Here is a chain I made in 2005. It was very time consuming to make as all the links have to be wound, cut and soldered from 1mm round silver wire but I love this necklace and I wear it a lot.

In 2006 we leaned how to cast using delft clay. I had such fun casting real shells in solid silver. I then made a chain and made my own seashell charm bracelet. This piece took a whole term to make, each shell took nearly 3 lessons to complete.

This is a forged bangle made in 2007, I made my daughter a similar one and it is one of her most worn pieces.

In 2008 one project was to design and make a spoon. At home we love having pickled onions at family parties/Christmas etc and we always find it difficult to get the onions out of the jar. So I made a pickled onion spoon complete with a cut out pickled onion on the top. The plaited handle was really fun to make.

There is a little onion on the top and I made feature at the back of the spoon where the handle met the bowl.
Doming the bowl and piercing it was tricky as I needed to keep the holes as I shaped it in a doming block.

This spoon has pride of place on our table when we have family tea/birthday/christmas celebrations. My husband jokes that it the family heirloom!

 I had a dabble with enamelling last year. Now there is another whole world to go to.... I made a flower  necklace and although my enamelling is a little basic it really is a delightful piece. I have it on a short silver chain and really enjoy wearing it.

I designed the flower and leaves which were  cut out of silver sheet. You can see the cloisonne wires between the colours, it was tricky keeping them in place in the kiln. The layers of powdered enamel are built up very slowly and each layer is fired in a kiln which melts them to glass. This piece had several firings and at any time there is the risk of burning  the enamel and ruining the piece. Thankfully that did not happen.

I hope that you enjoyed looking at some of my older pieces. My silversmithing gives me a great deal of pleasure although there are times when it would test the patience of a saint. One year I made a claw setting for a beautiful amethyst stone. I was soldering on the last claw and concentrating so hard that I managed to melt 2 of the claws I had already hand made and attached. Needless to say I put that project away for a couple of years but I did actually eventually finish it. I think that was my most challenging piece.

I will update you during the year as my projects develop. At class this week it was the usual health and safety, fire drill etc. Not a lot of hands on work was started but our 1st project is going to be press forming shapes...should be interesting!

Bye for now,

Jane x

Monday, 20 September 2010

I went walking...autumn through my childhood eyes

For those of you old enough to have learnt to read using the Janet and John books "I went walking" was one of the series of these early readers. I still have a copy (my Mum was a teacher) and the illustrations are just so nostalgic for me. I was a 60s something child and they still evoke very fond memories. They really do seem such a long time ago. I appreciate these were originally written many years before I started school but they were in use for many decades in primary schools in England. We also used the Peter and Jane ladybird books. Without sounding like a grumpy old woman there was a definite innocence to childhood then. I secretly think that some children still want this, my own children  loved to read the Enid Blyton stories, going to camp with the brownies/guides/scouts etc.

Yesterday I really did go walking,  looking for the first signs of autumn in my area. I think I will never fully grow up because I still get so much pleasure from nature and it's changing seasons. As I child my brother and I were free to explore and would go off to the local park at this time of year in search of treasure.....aka the first conkers of autumn.

When my children were of primary school age (in the 1990s) as we walked to school in Septembers we always looked out for the first conkers. Even when my son was at secondary school he would come home with trouser pockets full of the first shiny conkers. I often only discovered these when his trousers had already gone through the washing machine!

I noticed some of the trees are developing  their autumn colours.

I also noticed many other signs of autumn including berries, rose hips and holly berries all getting ready to feed the wildlife during the winter.

We have water voles in the river banks of our local park but over the last 27 years I have seen them on only 3 occasions, never when I had my camera. They were keeping very quiet on this day! I would really have loved to have got a snap to show you.
But what I was really looking for were the  Horse Chestnut trees to see if they had begun to drop their treasure.
                      This is a very large horse chestnut which grows near the high street. I noticed in its branches above me lots of conker cases, but they all seemed to be closed tightly shut with no sign of their treasure inside.

I continued on my walk and found lots more trees but all seem to have their conkers tightly shut away. However when I had nearly reached home again I spotted some cases which had begun to split and the shiny conkers inside were beginning to protrude!
And on the floor I had even more luck by finding one of these!
Yes a closed conker case!! Often as a child we would find these early in the season and stamp on them to open them up only to find the conker inside was still white and not quite yet ripe. It was always so disappointing!
I brought the case home and carefully split it open to reveal.................................

Yes...treasure, a beautiful brown shiny conker. I carefully peeled it out of the shell and a single conker was revealed in all its glory...............

I still enjoy finding these so much and guess who else did too.............................................

Yes Billy :0) Cats really are SO inquisitive aren't they?

I hope this may have evoked some fond childhood memories for you. I am looking forward to when the conkers start to rain out of the trees over the next few weeks but there is nothing like finding the first ripe conker of autumn!
Bye for now,
Jane x

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Holiday memories...The Butterfly Valley, Rhodes

On  previous holidays to Rhodes we have noticed the signs to the Butterfly Valley at Petaloudes. We  have considered a visit but then thought that it was possible it just might be a place where you only got the odd glimpse of a butterfly. Also the butterflies are only in their adult state from June to September in the valley, so we thought we may be a little late in the very wrong we were!

This year curiosity got the better of us and we decided to pay a visit.  It was a beautiful drive through the middle of the island and we parked the car and set off to the entrance.

There was a small gift shop and ahead was beautiful woodland and the sound of running water...on Rhodes, which is a hot, baked country, this is most incongruous.

The walk thorough the valley was steep and worked its way up hill but around every corner were the most glorious views.

This waterfall shot water over the steep rocks to the pool below

We climbed up through the valley until the river levelled out.

We began to notice a few butterflies but as we walked further into the woodland it dawned on us that the strange patterns on the tree trunks were not lichens growing .........but butterflies....

................thousands and thousands of them, if you click on the photo above you can enlarge it and see this most extraordinary sight. Every tree along the river was completely covered by butterflies and the red colour in their wings emerged as they fluttered from tree to tree.

Along the river bed we also spotted freshwater crabs scuttling about.

We continued our walk through this beautiful valley, it gave such good respite to the hot mid day sun. We even ate our picnic on a wooden bench amongst the butterflies which regularly landed on us. At the final stretch we emerged back out to the road where we found a tiny old monastery                                            

From here we had a superb view back across the valley towards the sea. There was a small shop and we were able to buy an ice cream and we sat and ate it whilst we enjoyed the view.

After a rest we started the walk back down the valley to where we had left our car.

We passed back through the dappled,
shaded trees which dripped with the
butterflies,even the leaves were heavy
with them. (Click on photo on the left.)
We passed more waterfalls as we made our way back. We even watched a lizard peeping out of the rocks trying to catch a butterfly for dinner. Unbelievably he did not succeed whilst we were watching, the butterflies were too quick for him!

It was an incredible and very unique visit. This was mother nature at her very best. We took home some wonderful memories from our Rhodes holiday this year. As always though it is good to get home, especially when it means our Billy can come home!

 Thanks for sharing my holiday memories with me and I hope you have enjoyed these few postings.
The weather now at home is turning very autumnal, yes I will  mention the "a" word now. The trees are really changing into their autumn colours. When I walked home from work yesterday I noticed some swirling, fallen,crunchy leaves on the pavements and the horse chestnuts look ready to discharge their conkers very soon. I think Rhodes really was  my last blaze of summer. Here's to a new season even though officially it starts on 23rd September this year. Time to start closing the curtains earlier, plant up those bulbs and snuggle down in the evenings. I really do enjoy the changing of our seasons.

Bye for now,
Jane x

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Holiday memories..Rhodes Town

We have visited Rhodes Town on previously holidays so this time we decided to explore a part of the Old Town we had not seen before. As it was such a hot day we thought that somewhere inside would be a sensible option.We decided on The Palace of The Grand Masters of The Knights. The original building was constructed in the 14th century as a fortress by the Knights of Rhodes who occupied Rhodes at that time. Over the centuries it gradually fell into a state of disrepair. In 1912 it was re built by the Italians as a holiday residence for the likes of Mussolini.
It now stands as a museum and was a beautiful cool bolt hole to explore. One interesting fact we found out was that the Colossus of Rhodes, far from straddling the harbour, which was originally thought, is actually believed to have stood at the site of this castle. There are no remains of the statue, only small statues stand in the court yard now.
After lunch in the town square sitting under the shade of the trees we walked part of the city walls.

The fascinating thing about the Old Town is that it is still very much lived in and has 6,000 inhabitants. Past history exists quite happily with modern day life. In fact it is the largest inhabited medieval city in Europe. All the tiny streets criss cross one another and lead down to the several gates to the city. It is now a world heritage site and rightly so! It is like stepping back in time 500 years.

After our visit to the Old Town we drove to one of our favourite restaurants and started with their mixed dips platter  for 2...
Followed by the most scrumptious clam risotto...

Delicious.....a perfect meal to finish off a perfect day.

 I will return with another posting to tell you all about another visit.... to the Butterfly Valley.
Bye for now,

Thursday, 9 September 2010

My holiday revealed

Well we are home again having had a wonderful holiday. To those who were intrigued by my little riddle... we went the the sunshine island of  Rhodes...such a perfect destination. Rhodes truly is the sunshine island with more hours of sun than any of the other Greek islands.
Spot the similarity to last year's photo? This was taken at 9am before the sun had even come across the beach...such a place to relax. We stay in the tiny resort of Pefkos, for us it's perfect, so quiet.

This is the best place to have a cool drink overlooking the beach.

We had 7 days of dawn to dusk sunshine with the sky the most azure blue and with a shimmering sea underneath to match.
We hired a car too so that we could visit some of the wonderful sights Rhodes has to offer.

This is nearby Lindos with the Acropolis.

I shall be back to write some more about our wonderful trip including our visit to Rhodes Town and the Butterfly Valley but I just wanted to share a little taster with you. It is actually a beautiful day here too and the sun is shining as I write, sending you all some more summer sunshine too.
Bye for now,