Monday, 9 September 2013

New woodland friends and new designs

I'll not bore you with trying to make excuses for my blogging tardiness - yet again - the weeks simply get away from me - thankfully because I've been nicely busy and keeping on top of customer orders and e-mails and trying desperately to make a few new things and develop ideas and new skills is more than enough to keep me out of mischief.  I don't even have any energy left for any mischief.  More's the pity.

Please click on any of the photographs for a larger view.

We were disappointed when a favourite woodland sculpture vanished from one of our regular walks.  But earlier in the summer when we set off for some fresh air on an especially nice evening, we were delighted to see a new friend had taken up residence.   It was only on a subsequent visit that Mr Boo pointed out that he was even nicer from behind - aren't his wing tips and tail just gorgeous.

I'm also feeling a bit left behind and out of sorts at the moment.  The years are being added to my own clock at an alarming rate and I work with a very old computer that I simply can't afford the pennies - or the time it would take to get set up again properly - to upgrade to something more appropriate.  And these two facts are leading to an increasing feeling of frustration when using some of the sites I frequent - especially ones that have recently undergone massive overhauls - that aren't seemingly conducive to easy navigation with an old computer.

A have a series of 'hedgerow' designs in mind at the moment, so was taking some reference photographs of emerging blackberries in the lovely golden evening sun and this comma butterfly landed - I haven't seen one for ages.

Flickr was the first of these to drive me to distraction.  I can fully appreciate that the interface was stylistically a little dated, but it worked and I enjoyed using it - it was fast and easy for me and I felt comfortable with it.  Then came the upgrade and it was like trudging through treacle with lead boots on in comparison.   I'm not sure it's entirely my fault that the improvements feel anything but, but reading the forums there, I'm certainly not alone in my frustration with it.  I fully understand that with my old gear, I need to make some on-line compromises, but this feels rather more than that.  And don't even get me started on what Yahoo! have done with the same upgrades to 'Groups' they are just now unfathomable!

I've finally found some time to work on some new design ideas.  Small copper clay filigree heart with a champagne coloured CZ stone.

I finally braved working with some silver clay / PMC the price of it feels like it stifles my creativity a little - I'm conscious of how little you get for your money and the need to make it go as far as possible.  The leaves and balls are all created by hand and individually applied.  The fine silver pendant hangs on a Sterling silver and garnet belcher chain.

I can only really judge from my own little corner of Flickr - I've had very few comments on photos recently and my contacts used to post a page full of photos every day, yet I'm only seeing a handful of new images a week now from all of them together.  So I'm not the only person that has reduced my time there significantly and I can't comment on other photos myself as on my low res. monitor, all of the links and buttons pile on top of each other and navigation is pretty much impossible.

A little silver leaf pendant I made as a treat for myself.  It's set with a little peridot coloured CZ stone and oxed to bring out the texture of the leaves. 

I also made a big decision a few weeks ago to stop supporting my Etsy shop and allow the stock on there to just expire naturally when each listing time was up.  There are a multitude of contributing factors to that decision, not least of which is that it only accounts for a tiny percentage of my sales, yet takes a significant portion of my online maintenance time to manage the shop there - with the perpetual changes to the format and search algorithms etc. it simply takes more time and effort than were justified for the return.

I'm a smidgy bit fixated on sticking little copper balls on everything at the moment - they serve many functions - they can fill gaps for design balance, add texture, cover blemishes, reinforce delicate areas, hold gemstones in place etc. etc.  Here I just added lots of them - because I could!

It wasn't an easy decision and I know that a chunk of me will probably live to regret it, but it was also a great weight off when I finally made the decision and has allowed me to give my own site a bit more time to address some stuff under the hood that I wanted to attend to and to work on the head full of ideas I had waiting to take form.  Thankfully, I've managed to make progress on my new ideas and they're gradually filtering through to my shop - I seem to have spent a lot of time recently working on photos.  But I set myself little targets and rewards - list 2 new things and I can have some bench time and the like.  It's a bit of a poor do when you have to bribe yourself to get stuff done!

Copper leaf and earring set.  Done initially to test the embeddable eyelets that they hang from, which worked incredibly well.  I can't claim any design credit for the leaves, these were created using a sugar paste cutter with an impression plunger - I picked them up in a cookery shop bargain bin in the summer and they work really nicely.  I try to make all my own templates and textures, but I do rather like the simplicity of these and their ease of use.

Perhaps my most extensive piece of metal clay work to date - a large red jasper cabochon mounted in a pendant festooned with tiny leaves, tendrils and balls and held in place with several small leaves.

In my next post I want to try and write more specifically about the metal clay work I've been doing - trying to ascertain a brand of clay that will manage the type of things I want to create - like the fine detail in the pendant above and the heart pendant higher up - and the perpetual frustration of honing down a good firing schedule for the nature of the pieces.  I've had a couple of spectacular failures lately, so if I feel brave, I'll show you those too!


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