‘What’s on my Workbench?’ Wednesday – Testing some Titanium Ideas

I am having a lovely time ‘mucking about’ with my new material, titanium sheet. Despite being flat out with an unexpected exhibition opportunity, I am taking the time to try some things out. I love the play aspect of new things, and the way you start looking and thinking about things a-fresh.

So far I have achieved some lovely colours, and tried using the titanium as a backdrop for silver shapes. It is not possible to solder the titanium either to itself or to other metals using my soldering set-up so cold connections are the order of the day, riveting being the option of choice so far.

The Christchurch Arts Centre, that was

When I first began my silversmithing life we had access to the guild workshop in our beautiful neo-gothic arts centre where I used to enjoy a view through sandstone, arched windows into an english lime tree that waved its green leaves in the breeze. These buildings are something that the earthquakes have taken from us, and any repairs are possibly decades off, with the likely hood of access to the final buildings being unlikely for lowly art practitioners.

I have always loved those graceful arched shapes and often use them in my jewellery. So no surprises to find myself reconsidering them at the moment. A sort of tip-of-the-hat to the things that have been, amongst our dusty, slowly demolished city, and the raising up of glass and concrete. I will be guilty of saying, ‘ Things aren’t what they used to be.’ and being declared ‘out of touch’ and  ‘old fashioned’.

Gothic window shapes and beautiful blue titanium

I do think we lose something when there is no reference to our past, and a great lack of fun or whimsy is evident in the money making focus of this world. It is a very serious business, this process of living! Anyhow, back to my wee indulgence in whimsy – I am making a few of these arched window shapes and enjoying the process. Hopefully someone else will enjoy having them to wear, and there will be a little bit of the sense of looking through those arches into a different world than that which surrounds us at the moment.

Little pendant made of sterling silver and titanium

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‘What’s On My Workbench?’ Wednesday – Busy, Busy, Busy

Life has a way of suddenly taking off at this time of the year, and I have got a bit behind in some things. Nothing new there, I guess. Actually it would be worrying in suddenly there was nothing to do!

Pendants ready for the next step

Can you guess which Christmas song these are referencing?
Days 1, 2, 3, and 4.

I have been working on these designs for some Christmassy themed pendants – you guessed it, from ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’. At this point that is probably where this will stop as I really think squeezing ’12 Lords a Leaping’ onto a piece would have to be more than a literal design and I am slightly appalled at the idea! ‘5 Gold Rings’ is a more attractive idea, but it would have to be copper and silver and I am not convinced yet – maybe I will let that simmer on the back-burner in my brain while I concentrate on setting the stones.

Here are the pieces all patinated to show off the textures I have used and the stones sitting nicely in situ for me to work on today, first thing while I am fresh. Best not muck things up at the end of the day!

Stones in situ and ready to go.

All lined up, polished, patinated, and waiting for their final touches.

What will I be up to this week? More work to get my photos interesting, sized and uploaded to my wee shop, the garden is crying out for a big tidy up and planting things in the vege patch, and flowers in the front, and all sorts of plans afoot for a lovely family Christmas this year.

I have to say, while it is lovely being able to enjoy an outdoorsy Christmas at the start of summer, there are a lot of things going on for us on top of that. The school year ends in December with rounds of school performances, ceremonies, and sports days; our gardens are all bonkers wild with growth of everything – so there is a lot of hayfever about too; people are trying to get away for their annual holidays, camping, beaching, tramping etc; AND all that Christmas shopping and cooking. Phew!

I’ll try and keep up – not promising anything, but I will try. See you next time


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Another Postcard Swap

I decided to participate in another postcard swap – this time using words and some of my photos. I had no idea I would struggle with choosing quotes to use, there are so many quotes out there, all the way from banal and slightly naff, all the way to mind blowingly profound! And I have to keep that sneaky scoffing, sarcastic little voice in the cast of inner critics in his place! How come he has so much to say about it?

Anyhow, here we are. Apologies to anyone I have misquoted, not attributed to properly, annoy, or provoke….

An Angel's Feather

Make Time To Enjoy the Simple Things in Life

This little heart appeared in the bottom of my coffee cup when I tidied up my breakfast things.

A Beautiful Place in the Port Hills

Walking in the Port Hills above Lyttelton Harbour, the sun broke through the trees.

Abandoned House in a field that grows vegetables. Love the heart in the window!

I love these rusty old houses that still remain, reminding us of times and people that went before us. What tales would those walls tell?

Incense burning Dragon and olive wood beads

I have a couple of these delightful creatures. The quote is a favourite too!

I enjoyed going through my photos and playing about with colour and text, and I hope my recipients enjoy getting them. And ‘Ha!’ to that inner critic, ‘take that!’

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‘What’s on my Workbench?’ Wednesday – New Stuff!

Refreshed by our trip, recovered from the time differences AND daylight saving adjustments, and rearing to go!

Suddenly Christmas seems far too close – I should know this happens by now – but I am still lulled into a false sense of Christmas being ‘way over there’, and there being plenty of time. I was outraged when I passed a Christmas tree all decked out in September in a shopping Mall, and now it seems I should have rallied and taken notice!

A sweet group of earring studs

All this to say  am feeling a sudden urgency and need to get on with producing some things with the approaching festivities in mind. I made a set of studs for my daughter and, inspired by my tardy arrival of new metal, I have been putting together some designs to make the best use of some of those annoying little offcuts from bigger pieces. Silver is so expensive these days that I just can’t afford to waste a bit!

Little Stud Earrings in Sterling Silver

New Materials too! After a protracted wait for the order to arrive, and a customs fee to pay, my long awaited package has arrived. It is very exciting. I have a piece of titanium sheet to try out and see if I want to include it in my jewellery. I know I can make some gorgeous colours with heat, but I have no idea how hard it will be on my tools, and exactly what effects there will be at my finger tips that I can add to my ‘vocabulary’.

Time for Play!

Play times ahead. My favourite time, and always so fruitful. There is much cross-pollination between the things I enjoy doing and thinking about, so I can’t wait to see what emerges.

I have also been trying to get something exciting to happen with a couple of silver-clay pieces that I made from previously etched pieces. They were looking a bit wimpy and I wanted some good contrast, or something.

Whilst looking around for some more information about mixed metals I found an idea using the annoying event that occurs if you put anything ferrous in your pickle with your silver piece. All you sharers of the pickle pot know all about this – your lovely silver piece turns pink with a tricky layer of copper which can be the devil’s own to clean off again!

Come up and see my etchings!

So, what if I do this on purpose and all the indented areas are left with a nice copper fill as I clean off the surface? And, what if darken said copper with heat, and see how that looks? Pretty interesting…. I can see a few more happy hours ‘mucking about’, ahead of me.

This has potential

So, what is everybody else up too? Any further ideas of where this could lead to?

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‘What’s on My Workbench?’ Wednesday – Home Sweet Home

Lovely Spring Flowers

Home again, after a lovely time in Perth visiting family who have escaped at least partly to get away from earthquake aftermath. So good to see them, share their new experiences, see new places, and generally spend time together. So good…

Lots of pictures to share, amazing scenery, flowers, long drives through big country, and so many colours and different bird song. I’ll put a couple of posts together to share, but after I have unpacked and caught up on the time differences!

Spring flowers

Wonderful to be home again, and doubly so as our friend who house/cat sat for us filled the house with flowers and ready to go vegan goodies. We are so lucky. The garden has exploded into its full spring colours as orange azaleas have burst into flower, and the lawn is covered in beautiful daisies. There are even self-sown pansies amongst the herbs.

So, my work over the next weeks is opening up in front of me, jewellery bench, garden, working towards,  (here come those words!), Christmas celebrations, and a thousand other tasks that come up as the year proceeds. Looks as if we had a break just in time to be filled with energy for the next few months ahead!

What is every one else up to, I wonder? I am heading for a small pile of mail that awaits.Mail awaits me.

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Give our Cities some Colour!

 I thought I would bring this over from a previous blog, just because I am a bit exercised by the possibility that our city to be rebuilt is probably going to be a mass of tilt-slab concrete buildings if the powers that be don’t be careful. Unfortunately money speaks, and the small voices of those that have to live with those decision makers’ decisions, don’t really have a big enough voice to be heard. I would like to be proved wrong… 


I have always wondered if high rise buildings would feel less oppressive if they were a warm, sunny, pink, instead of grey, or white and metal colours. Wouldn’t city life feel more cheerful? I couldn’t help but smile when I saw brightly coloured buildings along the edge of a canal/river in Spain, and buildings in ‘undercoat pink’, and intense vicks-bottle blue cottages in the UK. Perhaps we should be paying more attention to the colours we surround ourselves with, maybe carefully chosen colours would make the grimmer parts of our cities a little less grim.

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‘What’s on my Workbench?’ Wednesday – a clear space.

By the time you are reading this we will be winging our way across the ditch to visit our youngest in his new life in Perth. I am so looking forward to seeing them both and being able to give them both a big hug. It will be a lovely escape, and a chance for new inspiration, new scenery, and warmer temperatures.

In preparation, I have cleared up my workbench (don’t laugh, that IS clear as far as I am concerned!), so I can return to a fresh space for those fresh ideas that I hope to collect.


I am trying to decide which art supplies to limit myself to, always a challenge. I get carsick if I read, so I can’t draw or write either in transit. I don’t want to miss any chance I get to scribble a bit, and hopefully capture some colour impressions. I think a sketch book, a couple of 2Bs, and maybe my watercolour box, should suffice, especially if I take my camera. But am tempted to pack more….

My sketchbooks are invaluable resources. They probably don’t look much to someone else, but I can recall a whole lot of stuff when I look at a visual note, and I often use them as jumping off points for new pieces of jewellery. For example, the following is from an afternoon spent by the sea looking at shapes against the sky, and an earlier trip down south where the trees stood out, all dark against the sky.

tree silhouettes

There are blossoms all around at the moment and I am exploring making little sprigs that can be worn. I am trying to work out whether to suspend the twig, or make a dainty(!) pin on the back. I tend to make quite chunky things usually, and work everything out on paper first, but both these pieces are changing as I make them. This is a new way of maintaining the excitement of an evolving idea for me.


So, works in progress, and a clear space to return to in a couple of weeks time. See you then – what will you be working on over the next few weeks?

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A Bouquet for Kat!

DaffodilsDeciding to enter Kat’s Postcard swap has been an inspirational delight! I had the great pleasure of coming up with the images for five postcards to be sent out into the big wide world, and the continuing fun of visiting the facebook event set up for us to see others’ postcards as they arrive at their destinations.

All PostcardsHere are all the lovely things that came to Christchurch, New Zealand.

The snowy door mat came from Teresa Harrington Hazelbaker, the pier from Molly Dwyer, the rose from Deanie Houghtaling, the blue collage from Lui in the Philippines, and the lovely orchid from Michelle Ledesman. Of course the lovely hydrangeas are from Kat herself!

My PostcardsJust in case you didn’t see these before, here are the originals of the ones I sent out. Of course I now have lots of postcards to send out over the next little while.

If anyone fancies one let me know and I will send you one! Better still we can do a swap and I will have one of yours to enjoy too.

This has been great fun, and good to meet some new fellow ‘makers’ of stuff out there! Drop by sometime and say hi, I would love to see you!



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‘What’s on my Workbench?’ Wednesday – Unpacking Stuff

My own workbench is standing alone and neglected this week. I am helping unpack my parents’  worldly goods as they return to their repaired and repainted home. They have been living out of suitcases for 8 weeks or so, and are eager to get back to the business of living their lives in their own surroundings once more.

It is a mission unwrapping. Not only are the things you think about, the treasures and useful daily pots, pans and china, but also the contents of the cupboards that you cook with. Bottles, tins, and jars will all sorts of contents – some of which are unidentifiable and mysterious, bearing labels that date back quite a while longer than they should! Odd remains of powders and dried fruits, things that look dubious but, I am assured, they are for curing meat. (When was the last time she even did that?).

All these things have to be unwrapped, identified, and given resting places in the cupboards. It is a long job, and will be on-going for a few weeks ahead. We have cleared the kitchen and made access in and out of the house clear so the rest will be spread over time as it is not quite so pressing.

My favourite part in this is going through all the things stored in the hot water cupboard. Embroidered mats for tea trays and dressing tables, table napkins with lace work, appliques and openwork. Table cloths that come out on special occasions, or which have never seen the light of day but are treasured. All sorts of pretty things that the ladies that have gone before us created for their homes, or as gifts. It is a colourful trip back into different times when hand sewing ruled and your ability to sew a fine seam was prized.

After 2 days with my head in these boxes I have taken a break to sit at the sea and stretch my eyes along the horizon. The tide is in and there is sunshine following the stormy weather we have experienced overnight. Fresh, clean air with the local birds out in their spring finery, diving for fish as the tide turns.

Life just keeps on going, regardless of our dramas, personal or cosmic. I need to be reminded of my small part in all this and the sea is the place for me to catch up with myself. Small under the sky and on the edge of the ocean, large in the eye of the birds nearby. Just me, in this body that gets me about and this mind that is so busy with itself. Me and the wind, the sea, and the sun on my face…. ahhh

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Thankyou Kat for running your postcard swap for us all to enjoy. It has been good fun looking in my mailbox for ‘happy mail’ as opposed to all that advertising and the bills we usually get. I think the postal services in our different countries will be delighted for the extra business too!

I have really enjoyed looking at all the facebook posts with postcards from all over being posted, and the comments that people have been making. A temporary community of creative souls having a bit of a gathering. Not exactly a flash-mob, but something like it! It has been fun, and I look forward to the next one.

I am looking forward to the blog hop to come as well. It certainly makes it easier to decide who to visit out there in very full ‘blog land’! I love it when people drop in and visit mine, and I especially love it when they leave a comment:)

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