Sunday, 14 November 2010

favourite beaches

there's such an advantage to living near the norfolk coast, and that is easy access to beaches out of season when the hoards of tourists, their cars and caravans have gone.

our favourite out of season beaches are old hunstanton and sheringham. when you have a dog that loves swimming as much as ours does, no matter what the weather or temperature, you have to be not to far from the sea otherwise much sulking ensues. she wants to get in for a swim as quickly as possible and then you're allowed to go for a walk. because of that, we bought a tide clock so we can time our visits to both much better. if it's approaching or close to low tide, then we go to sheringham (more beach, less pebbleridge). if it's around high tide we go to old hunny (less miles of beach & much more sea). it's an organised affair going to the beach these days.

yesterday afternoon at old hunny was lovely. very very cold wind but beautiful.

the textures of the sand with the retreating tide inspire my retreating tide pattern jewellery. old hunny sands at this time of year have such complex ripples, which must be due to being a beach quite far within a wide estuary, complicated drifts.

a happy and exhausted dog afterwards makes for a perfect end to a saturday.

the sunset was also rather nice.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Landscape East - finished jewellery images

Following on from yesterday's technical posting - Celia has posted the finished works on her blog here  if you would like to see how they've turned out.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

it's been busy

life in the studio has been very busy over the past few months.

I have started a very interesting collaboration with the suffolk designer, illustrator, henkeeper & gardener Celia Hart (, turning her lovely designs into wearable jewellery. the first pieces will be on sale on Celia's pretty stall at the Saffron Walden Art Fair this weekend. Celia has an excellent article on her blog about our collaboration if you want to know more.

I thought I'd show the process of turning Celia's print designs into pieces of jewellery so here are some images I took last Friday. etching is a hazardous occupation due to handling acids so I like to do the etching all at once to reduce exposure.

this is a shot of the blanks for leaf doodle and sleeping hare prepped for etching.

the black is stop out varnish painted on by hand.

the clear shiny areas are sticky backed plastic, with the shapes I want pierced out very carefully.

the combination of the two means that only the areas I want to be eaten away by the acid will be exposed. the other areas are not, so will stay 'raised' in the final piece. as with printing, it means you have to think carefully about which bits are cut out.

Once the varnish has set (they are cured under a bench lamp, which is what's happening above) they are lowered into the acid, which is diluted 60% nitric acid. In my recent previous life I was a research scientist and have a healthy respect for nasty chemicals so I wear PPE and use as little acid as I can get away with. I also have a great little slide bath with lid that's perfect for etching as it's very stable, resistant to acid, and is deep and small. ideal for small pieces.

this is a shot of the bath in action. the acid is a hazy green blue when it's been used due to soluble copper nitrate in the presence of silver nitrate. sterling silver is 7.5% copper.

pieces stay in the etch until I'm happy with the depth of cut. I regularly flush the surfaces with a small bulb pipette to keep the etching surface clear of salts to improve the etch, but I actually want the rough texture so don't go overboard.

once I'm happy with the etch depth, they're hoiked out, washed thoroughly and either painted again for a second etch or cleaned polished and turned into jewellery.

this is Celia hart's flying hare design after it's second etch and initial clean up. lots of work to do on it but it looks great at this stage.
more images soon of final pieces from this Landscape East collection.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

rainy sunday

the gaps betwen the showers today are a bit short for anything to be done usefully outside.

we have attacked the enormous patch of nightshade in what will be the kitchen garden (eventually). Both OH and I had thought that we had some old potato tubers growing through but they turned into nasty looking massive plants only bearing greenyblack berries. they've spread like wildfire and need attention before they drop all their seeds this winter. most of them are now out but we will keep an eye out for 'potato' plants over the coming months.

Friday, 24 September 2010

like set stones

the high winds today have brought down the conkers from the highest branches of the trees (I know that because our local trees were denuded of conkers in the reachable branches some weeks ago by kids). the ones just smashed to the ground showed the most beautiful contrast between the glowing chestnut conker itself and the fluffy pure white interior so I brought some back home to photograph before they browned. oxidation doesn't seem to take very long though as you can see, this conker was freshly opened by me before the image was taken and already it's gone brown on the edges.
they really glisten at this early stage.

now I just need to find someone to play conkers with!

cinder toffee recipe

just found this on the Guardian site, will definitely have a go this weekend

Revving up

this blog is currently under construction, basically I had a rare 'lie back in' (get up as normal, have brekkie with OH (always nice), go back to bed for an hour with Canna dog when she gets back from her walkies) this morning.

this is Canna, she's a big softie but not when it comes to the postie.

I hope to include on here some of the thought processes that go into the work I produce, links to techniques, suppliers, my outlets and then links to things in the arts and crafts world that are interesting me at the time.

twitter is great and through the twitterati I come across people, producers, designers and all manner of unusual and interesting things I otherwise wouldn't have found. I'll share them when I can just in case someone else finds them interesting too. which they might, I don't know.

I also love gardening, but over the last year have bitten off slightly more than me and OH can reasonably chew with our new but totally neglected garden. it's not heligan, but it does need alot of work. we have hens to help keep the weeds down, when the fox leaves them alone to get on with their work anyway. we also love going to the beach - you can't have long walks on the beach and garden at the same time so we do our best.

today's animal count at the red door studio is - 2 humans, 1 dog, 1.75 cats and 2 pullets. there's a mole underneath somewhere, a hedgie snuffling about, a tawny owl, 2 muntjac and a squirrel - but they're free agents, sometimes here, sometimes not. there's also a big family of sparrows, resident blackbirds, blue tits and siskins.

better get on... replenishing window boxes today before opening the red door and getting the hammers going.

hope you're all having a lovely day