Sunday, 30 September 2012

Divine iron inspiration

a mystery to be solved
I love a good bit of door furniture, and it doesn't come more divine than this over the top creation discovered in the Bishop's palace at Wells. I'm also rather keen on that nice muddy paint colour too. What I find delicious about this ornate door handle is that it is utterly beautiful, yet surprisingly uncomfortable to actually use... some fiddlesome door funiture for fine fingered clerics... argh! couldn't help the alliteration there!

I'm finding that I keep coming back to this image not because I want a door like this, but because it is tickling away at a couple of ideas.
The first is for the beady alternative to the metallic bronze, silver or gunmetal, my staple metallics so far. I have put in a request with Miyuki for an antiqued copper (so far they have a nearly OK one but only in size 11 seeds and not the same in 15's)...  most of the gold beads are all just too gold, brash and harsh, so I love the pale as straw colour of the metalwork in my picture. The door paint is another colour I keep seeking. I have just a pinch left, they are matt, mushroom grey and add gravitas to all other colours, but obviously out of production, sigh!

I also return to this image because it's so 'homage to' Pugin. Divine symmetry is snapped off and the keyhole aligned to a gap in the tracery, rather than designed for this particular door... so was this a piece of Victorian Gothic envy? Pugin was responsible for influencing a generation, as architect of six cathedrals and forty churches, whereas this ecclesiastical building had already been standing for 700 years. I suspect that someone might just have sneeked in a few twiddly bits to keep up with fashion.

Finally I love this image because it is singing pendants, bracelets and other design ideas which are safe in my sketchbook until I have beady time and some pale gold beads.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

late summer roses

My little green basket
Late summer is the best time, the warmed earth time, the ripening fruit time, and the very best time to see the last of the roses grown a little bit wild and reckless. Late summer evenings are the time to drink in the scent of roses. So, I was in a junk store the other day (when am I not, given the chance), and came across this delightful Wade Heath pottery ceramic basket. Many years ago I had a Wade Heath pottery rabbit... that got left in a garden, and which I fondly imagine hidden in a wilderness of overgrown weeds.
Technically a Flaxman Wade Heath ceramic. Wade Heath started in 1810, but split in the 1950's, one part becoming simply Wade and producing licensed character ceramics such as Disney and the 'Whimsies' ranges.
My newly acquired basket dates from the 1930's and has no real financial value, you can easily pick up Wade Heath ceramics for pocket money prices.
Who cares, it is a little snippet of history and of a particular shade of green glaze that anchors it firmly in time to it's production date. It is also a green that is quietly calming and allows flowers and foliage to show off.
The roses and hydrangea in the picture are fake! gasp! My dears with the summer we've had most of the roses gave up weeks ago, then ones left are just too brave to be picked.
I am a demon for slipping in a few fake flowers here and there... they are so beautifully made these days enabling you to do that whole, 'The gardener sent these up this morning for the house ma'rm', Downton Abbey type scenario; whilst actually living in a small cottage. It is also a great way to play colouring in when nature is sulking from a summer of rain.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Exhibition piece

So, after telling you how it got started here I can now show and share my finished piece.
The Beadworkers Guild are having an exhibition of works called 'The Magic of Macintosh in Beads' and hopefully my necklace will make the grade. I love the way that the Guild got us all inspired to explore a design theme, then rollup our collective sleeves to have a go.
Pause to mourn the path not taken, elaborate designs consigned to sketch book pages for that 'one day when' and superseded by fresh ideas. Share the fun of the piece I did get time to make.
the design idea on the day

If you recall, my sample was a little triangle, an idea I wanted to get right if nothing else as my 'on the day' one was a bit lumpy.
This sat in my beading box until the deadline loomed, I hate that life is like this but in between were lots of other deadlines and the somewhat glorious excuse that my brain needed time to think it's way around the technical problems I had set it.
First, I really didn't like the bezel, to get a bead count for three sides gave a sloppy bezel that was pulling out of shape. Next, I knew that the sides and edges needed different bead counts to get them to lie flat and in a more crisp triangle shape. I have long loved Rennie Macintosh drawings and thought my colours based on his drawing of a fritillary flower was a good selection, but taking a harder look at his architectural work changed my mind on colours too. So bead it, change it, bead it, change it and million unpicks later I had a triangle motif in the colours of the Willow Tea rooms.

The Willow Tea Rooms, photo by w:User:Dave souza

The May Queen
I also wanted to hint at a texture inspired by the embedded glass beads and cabochons in Margaret MacDonalds panels, and a hint of the graphic lines and zigzags in the interiors of 78 Derngate, created for a man with colour blindness, so unusually stark and graphic.

Once I had the motif finalised, the final necklace configuration was based on the shapes I so love in Margaret's panel called 'The May Queen'. One of three panels for the Ladies Luncheon Room, Ingram Street Tea Rooms.
It is constructed of oil painted gesso on hessian and scrim, set with twine, glass beads, thread, mother-of-pearl, and tin leaf panel; you just sense that she had the best fun getting inventive with these materials! 
I love the long embellishment that the May Queen is wearing on her gown.

the finished necklace
So my final piece, inspired by these uniquely creative people, unashamedly borrows colours and shapes, makes absolutely no claims or pretensions other than as a really enjoyable process to play with inspiration and make something I will definitely wear once it is home again. 
I've loved the process of transferring ideas into my own medium, beads. 
I've also really enjoyed the 'doodling' process, the jotting out of ideas, those paths not yet taken, but which sit and wait, a feast of ideas to explore. Finally, I like that the process has taken my work in a direction I wouln't normally go, and has brought me some new elements that I'm sure will morph into projects I can share.
Now I'm itching to see what everyone else has made. If you're in Northampton, drop by and see for yourself... If not, join the Guild and be part of our next beady adventure.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

refill and recharge

The Isle of  Wight vase
So, beader's block... beading envy... bead fatigue... whatever it was I am now on a 'recharge the batteries mission' to get uber inspired and full of energy for the hectic autumn ahead. I Love my beading and the slight negativity in my last post was less about the gorgeousness of beads and beading and more about the frustration of one who has beaded on demand for too many weeks without pause.
OK so in work mode the interaction of emails, facebook, i-messages, pokes, tweets and general tendency to also pick up the phone for a good old gossip can make the reclusive studio life anything but. Which is lovely, to be so connected, with fun friends, with responsive customers, with suppliers and so on, life affirming and enriching even.

Same vase different daylight
But it's also really lovely to be able to take time out, and come back inspired.
So, while I go recharge, fill up some sketchbooks, get away from the desk to see a horizon...

I'll leave you with this adorable little glass treasure, a handcrafted stem vase from the glassmakers on the Isle of Wight, a wee gifty that arrived in the studio for me a few weeks back. This I fell instantly in love with because it 'is' the sea, and rock pools, and sliding surf, soft watery skies and utterly English sunsets and dawn breaks. I gaze on it often and relish the transience of colour and light.