Enamelling at Ravstedhus

I have been really lucky to spend a week enamelling at Ravstedhus in Denmark.  This was organised by the Guild of Enamellers, mainly by Tom Lundsten and coordinated at the UK end by Jill Leventon.  The workshop facilities are absolutely amazing.  There is every tool I could dream of and some that I’ve no idea what they do.  It’s been a great opportunity to experiment and I’ve played around with some ideas.

It has been great to make new friends; share ideas and discuss techniques and approaches.  The workshop has been open until 10pm each day (the latest I’ve managed has been 9pm). We did have a trip to a museum just over the border in Germany on Wednesday afternoon.

I’m writing this in my room, we finish here and have a big clean up tomorrow I think.  I will return home inspired and invigorated and probably a bit tired but what a wonderful experience this has been.

New studio

IMG_0575I am very excited that I’m having a new, purpose designed studio built, here in Hunmanby, near Filey on the Yorkshire coast.  It’s going to be perfect with plenty of room for jewellery making and enamelling.  It’s had the first fix of electrics and all the insulation has been done except along the front wall as they’re waiting for the windows to be delivered and installed. There will be loads of lighting both in the ceiling and task lighting above the work benches.  Work seems to be going to schedule and it should be done within another couple of weeks.  In the meantime I’m still using my temporary studio – the one I’ve used for the past 18 months but I’m looking forward to the move

Introduction To Art Clay Silver

Today I’ve really enjoyed teaching Jude and Rosie something about making jewellery using Art Clay Silver.  It was the first time they had used it and they made some beautiful pieces.  We began by using a leaf and rolling it over the clay.  Art Clay takes on very fine detail so Rosie and Jude used this to create contrast of smooth and a delicately textured area.  We then made small molds from limpet shells so they could learn to press the silver clay in, using it economically to make small three dimensional pieces.  We followed this by making unique texture plates and rolling out the silver clay between them, to make pieces textured on both sides (I forgot to photograph the backs).  They then made bails and used up the remaining silver clay rolling out another leaf printed piece.

After drying and refining the edges all of the pieces were fired in the kiln.  I then showed them how to polish and finish their work, adding patina to some of them.  This was a very productive day and they both worked to a very high standard of finish.  I hope they will enjoy their silver clay adventures.

Processed with Snapseed.
Processed with Snapseed.

Wedding rings

I’ve had a lovely day helping Lisa and Stuart make a replacement wedding ring.  They made each other a wedding ring early last year, in my old studio but Stuart has somehow mislaid his – he takes it off for safety when he’s woodworking or playing sport. It didn’t take quite as long this time as they remembered the steps and also took it in turns to do the making.  It will now be sent for hallmarking and the Stuart will have a ring to wear again (he’s hoping the original one will turn up now).

If you are interested in making each other a wedding ring then please contact me using the enquiry form on the classes page.


A new studio

I have had a very exciting few weeks. It has involved moving house and studio. Moving house was relatively simple but packing and unpacking my studio felt like a major undertaking. I am happy to say everything is now in its new place and i have begun work on a few new ideas. I will miss the moors but am now very close to the beautiful beach of Filey bay.  I am so looking forward to welcoming students to my new studio and ready to begin teaching again in the new year. Best wishes for 2016 everyone! 

Photopolymer plates

I regularly use photopolymer sheet to make my own textures for using with metal clay. it is available in a number of thicknesses and also with either a plastic or metal backing. I have a slight preference for the metal backed version although it is easy to cut the plastic backed version yourself with scissors and the plastic backed version is also flexible.

Image for photopolymer To make your own you need a UV light source, photopolymer sheets, line drawings printed onto transparent sheet a small clip frame i.e.. glass, backing and a bit of white card and some metal spring clips, a soft nail brush (you can buy a specialist sponge for washing the plates). Check that it fits inside the light box before you start.  I begin by printing two copies of my line drawings onto overhead projector sheet and then very carefully tape the two layers together to make a double thickness transparency with quite dense lines. Make sure you line the layers up really carefully.

Unwrap your piece of light sensitive photopolymer sheet and remove the thin protective layer (wrap any unused sheet back up in black plastic straight away). Place the transparency onto the photopolymer sheet and put it on a small sheet of white imagecard on top of the back board of a clip frame. Place the glass on top and clip the layers together so they are held firmly against each other. Remember that the black areas and lines are the areas that are washed away and if you are using text you will want the finished plate to have the text in reverse.

Place it in the UV box and switch on – you may want to do a test piece first by covering most of the sandwich with a card and drawing it out a little every five seconds, so that you have even segments of your test piece with different exposures. Then when you wash, dry and finish the plate you will know the best exposure time for your set up. I know that mine works best with an exposure around 25 seconds. Set a timer so that you know you are making consistent exposures.  Do NOT look into the UV light.  Mine is a UV nail box but you can purchase a professional version if you really like using this technique.

Once the exposure has been completed take the photopolymer sheet out of the stack and wash it gently in hot water. I use a very soft natural bristle nail brush but you can get a special sponge from most photopolymer suppliers. Be careful not to over wash your plate at this stage. It will be tacky so dry it thoroughly either with a hair dryer or in a dehydrator. You can wash it right down to the backing plate but I generally prefer not to.  Then re-expose your plate in the UV light box without the glass this time. I usually give mine a minute. This sets the areas that weren’t exposed the first time.

Remember to lightly brush olive oil or release agent over your sheet before each use and I keep them wrapped in acid free lightly oiled tissue paper in a box when not being used. If clay does accidentally stuck into your plate you can give the plate a gentle wash and dry to clean it up. I hope you enjoy creating your own unique texture plates – they can of course be used for printmaking too!