Wednesday 8 May 2013

Cornwall in May

May is proving to be quite a mixed month weather wise down here in Cornwall - sometimes clear blue skies and wonderful sunny days and then quickly changing to windy and rather cold. This hasn't stopped me getting out and about but it (the weather) has also encouraged me to do more inside. Before I left Devon, I packed up 3 boxes of old pre-digital photographs going way back through my life. As part of my plan to travel round Europe, I feel that I need to tidy loose ends up, one of which is sorting through all these old photos and putting them onto flash drives to give to my children. There are also boxes of family letters that I intend to organise and scan too but that's another story for another time. I thought that scanning photos would be easy, that I could do it whilst I painted sort of thing! 
Me in our garden when I was three years old.
Well, I didn't reckon on the time tunnel  and the ensuing emotional re-connection that would take place. The whole process is expansive and actually seems to take its own time on an emotional level. I fine that I can only deal with a few images a day and then I need to sleep on them. Metaphorically speaking. The process seems to be tidying up my memory, adding to it, defragmenting it in computer speak.  

I have started to make some more videos. Still not worked out how to edit but have discovered that it's possible to add small after thoughts.

This is a link to Letty the Pilot Cutter that I mentioned on one of my videos. The Larch wood shavings I collected from this renovation I will use to make the papier-mache pulp for the next stage of my replica Delft dish. 
And here if the Facebook link -

A brief interlude in Devon whilst my daughter has a short holiday. We went for a lovely walk along the coast path near Dartmouth Castle with Bella and lay down on the sloping grassy hillside in the sunshine. Bella lay down between us. Bella is not one for staying still for very long and began to wriggle and inevitably began to move - it was then that she discovered the sheer joy of slipping and sliding!

Making papier-mache dishes and bowls in the garden in the sunshine. I couldn't resist collecting handfuls of Cherry blossom and piling them into this half finished bowl.

Making a start on the big blue dish reminiscent of the fragment of Delftware I found whilst mudlarking in London. All made possible by the discovery on the beach of the big red balloon. 

Actually an old buoy whose link had broken. This is exactly what I had been hoping to find on one of my beach-combing forays and at last here it is. It just fits into my boot and spends the day on the end of my bed. 
Fragment of a very beautiful old Delft dish that I found on the foreshore of the River Thames in London whilst mudlarking one day last year. The dish was probably similar to this one - the image and information below has come to me via one of my favourite blogs - 
Delftware was first produced in London from 1571 by two Antwerp potters, Jacob Jansen and Japser Andries, who opened a pottery at Aldgate. During the 17th century several potteries were established close to the Thames in Southwark (in the wonderfully named Pickleherring Quay) , Lambeth, Vauxhall and  Rotherhithe and later at Putney and Wapping. The best delft descriptions I've found are from Judith Miller, antiques expert, author and TV presenter, so many direct quotes from her,
‘Delftware is a type of earthenware characterised by its opaque white enamel glaze, made from a mixture of tin and lead ash, powdered glass and water.Before the development of this revolutionary enamel, British potters had been severely restricted in terms of decoration by the drab browns and greens of the clays they used. The clean white finish of Delftware allowed them to paint patterns, landscapes and portraits for the first time.They painted their naive designs in bright colours derived from various minerals - cobalt blue was the most widely employed, although copper green, manganese purple, iron red and antimony yellow were also used.’ 

Starting off the dish with a few layers of Modroc.

Modroc sticks very easily but I should probably have put cling film down first - wondering if it will come away easily!

Made a lip and foot as guidelines. Also started some more paper beads off. Discovered that they dry very well in a microwave! The chamber pot is ideal for sitting a balloon in whilst making a papier mache pot or as a large water container for making beads. As you can see I am using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Experimenting with it really and hoping that it will actually be OK to use as a substitute for the traditional gesso that I usually make. Two reasons - 1. I want to be able to suggest a viable alternative to people who object to using animal derivatives and 2. I simply can not imagine myself brewing up gesso in someone else's kitchen as I work my way round the UK and Europe as a lodger! Unless of course I could find a studio space wherever I go. At the moment it feels as if I live in a Tardis!

I have bought a couple of blues, a green and a white in Chalk Paint and shall be seeing if they will work on papier-mache beads too.

Today is Flora Day in Helston, not particulary sunny but not yet raining as promised by the weatherman so hey ho off we go - embedPin
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A somewhat relaxed and easy going video in my studio in Cornwall. I am trying to work out the best way to harden air dried papier mache clay. Thinking that a powdered resin wood glue called Casamite may possibly be the way. I have diluted it considerably with water and laid the pieces out to dry on a silicone plasticy thing. It's meant to be non-stick.

I have been making up some pieces to sell on my Etsy Shop from fragments of paintings that I have brought with me whilst I work on new ideas.
I am hoping that eventually I will be able to market my Etsy shop to galleries in the U.S.A and Europe etc so henceforth all is offered at wholesale prices. My prices are very low right now as we are still in recession. 
These brooches, pendants and earrings are made from papier mache and resin. I paint where ever I go and often cut my work up and make the fragments into jewellery. This process as I have explained elsewhere started 25 years ago just after my daughter was born. I was showing a woman my paintings in a dream, literally. She said Oh, why don't you cut them up and turn them into brooches? So I did. 
I sent just one to the Guggenheim Museum Shop in New York who loved them and started to order them to sell there. It has been that simple. I don't sell there at the moment but will see if they would like to have me back. They changed managers and I haven't reapplied even though this was now some years ago.
When I started to sell my work 25 years ago it was all sold on a 30 day invoice but gradually over the intervening years, more and more galleries have gone over to S.O.R until nowadays virtually all galleries can only work on the later. I can quite understand. 
This is why I try to offer a range of work, starting at £6 and upwards each for pendants and brooches and/or per pair in the case of earrings. This is a small selection of what I will be offering on Etsy. I find Etsy to be a really good platform for selling my work.
Etsy is so simple and straight forward. It has grown so much and seems to be constantly improving. 
The earrings are quite simple and very light weight. The hooks are silver plated. Ideas for the images I use come from all over the place. These green ones from a mossy bank on Dartmoor in Devon on a sunny afternoon.

These particular ones on the right came from a painting I did when I was in the South of France. I took a bus from Nice to Monaco one day and stopped for lunch in a courtyard cafe under the shade of an incredibly old and very large palm tree. I took some photographs of the part of the tree where the palm leaves had been cut away. The sun was shining and there were lots of dappled shadows emphasising the golds and pinks of the tree.  
I made the necklace above using a form of papier mache bead that I make from heat shrunk  Tyvek paper and an iridescent tissue that I think is called Fantasy Film. I may be wrong here. They seem to work together really well and form the impression I intended, that of irregular baroque pearls. I sometimes dip them in resin or coat them with varnish - matt or gloss, depending on the look I am after.
The ring on the right is made from a fragment of mother of pearl that I found on one of my mudlarking forays along the foreshore of the river Thames in London at low tide. I love making these rings. They are basic in that the ring part is silver plated and adjustable. I like to add my finds by attaching the fragments or whatever with an epoxy resin paste, I use Milliput. Whilst it is tacky, I gild areas with silver leaf. 
These earrings are made using some of the so called faux baroque pearls that I make with the addition of moonstone chips and silver lined pearly Japanese glass beads. The process of making the beads can result in tiny ones or really quite large ones, depending on how may layers of Tyvek I heat shrink.

It is possible to make elongated versions too. I use wooden kebab sticks and simply extend the process along the length of the stick. 
The turquoise beads are also made from papier-mache but this time from a papier-mache paste which dries in the air. When dry, I paint them with acrylic inks and the varnish with matt varnish. This process does not result in rock solid beads though. They would dissolve unfortunately if put into water. I have been experimenting with a product called Cascamite that I add more water to so that I can dip the dried pieces into. Even though Cascamite does contain urea  formaldehyde, I am given to understand from googling that all glues stabilise and become chemically neutral as they cure - dry.
This work is made up from my paintings or sections of them set into a base of silver anodised aluminium. 
The pendants and brooches have my logo pressed into the back of them. The pieces are set in resin. 

Pendants come with a faux black suede cord. 
All the findings in this range are sterling silver I am selling this range on my Etsy shop
The earrings come in two different designs, square and rectangular. 

I do however make stud earrings in papier mache. 
Have been making rings from lovely old found fragments in the last few days too. This one made from a shard of Roman glass - a fragment of the neck of a bottle - the edges of which are now made smooth by the ebb and flow of the River Thames and iridescent with flecks of gold, silver and peacock blues and purples by the passage of time and alchemical working of centuries.
Also using fragments of broken plates, dishes, teacups, saucers and bowls. Often in blue and white, sometimes willow pattern, sometime blue Delft ware. I add epoxy paste and silver leaf to a fairly simple adjustable ring. I try to make things that are inexpensive and accessible whilst at the same time sharing inspiration and techniques. Inspiration is everywhere - tarmac with a concrete gutter now a resting place for delicate and transparent young green beech leaves and bright pink and bronze sepals tipped with opaque white.

I have been searching for a studio space since I arrived and have been offered one in a lovely old greenhouse. It's at Potager - a remarkable and truly lovely treasure of a place tucked away beyond Constantine. My work space will be for me to use on the days when the cafe is closed. 

I will also be able to help in the garden and they have chickens. Wonderful, a home from home again. Oh I am missing Emmy!
Back to the sea now. The weather has at times been gale force 8-10 here and we have sat at the kitchen table and watched boats coming adrift and being rescued by passing fishermen.
These are close ups of paintings on the walls of the house of a friend. They look completely different here as I have focused on just one small section of each painting. I love them, especially the one above.

A large mural in Falmouth has provided me with lots of images of cats, seagulls and boats. It is just painted on an out of the way street onto a concrete wall!

I found this little alien washed up on the beach - This reminds me - have you found slinkachu yet? 

It is the season of Bluebells. They are everywhere. In woods, along roads and perched on top of old stone walls. Bella came down from Devon for an early morning walk with my son, Richard. We went down to Durgan beach where she swam in clear turquoise water and later sat in the shade of an old rhododendron as its petals fell around her. She is such a very poetic poser.

Reflection - love the colours and shifts of blues. May use it as reference for jewellery. 
Four short video tutorials on making papier-mache beads using soft white loo paper and PVA glue -
1 -

2 - 

3 - 

3 again!!
4 - 

Don't you just love synchronicity? I was about to leave the house where I am staying to go out and paint. I had a pile of things on the hall table to take with me. Suddenly my phone rang, I picked it up and took my mind away from what I was doing and walked out of the house, shutting the front door - Yale lock, owner of house in Portugal and who had forgotten to tell me with whom she had left a spare key!! Sunny day, Bank holiday Sunday, street devoid of people, everyone at the beach. Yes, of course, keys on hall table. Just as I was cursing my own stupidity under my breath, along came this chap who said Are you looking for Belinda? I explained and he said I am Rory, I have the spare key. He did by the way live in another street so what do you make of that? He is also very interesting and is an authority on seaweed - 
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