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Archive for the ‘Craft’ Category

I had been meaning to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum for months (hmm probably years actually …) and have finally made it this week! A friend volunteers as a guide once a month and I accompanied her on the introductory tour. WOA! The tour was only an hour, to give us a taster of this vast museum and it left me wanting more.

As I arrived through the main entrance, this is what I saw.

V&A chandelier

Ok I admit, at first glance I thought this was made of balloons… Thankfully I was put right as my friend explained this was a piece by Dale Chihuly – a chandelier made of glass, designed, blown, and first assembled in Seattle USA before making its way to London to be reassembled here. It is more a sculpture than a chandelier as it has no source of light; instead it bounces the light from the roof and neons. Amazing!

I had a little bit of time before the museum closed to see the Baroque exhibition where the artists have piled on so many ideas, skills and materials that the objects become bloated and grotesque (to my philistine eyes at least!). And finally a few minutes left to see the jewellery gallery: 3,500 jewels, a visual tour of European jewellery during the last 800 years. I can’t wait for my next visit!

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I had a wonderful day today, learning to enamel with Rachel Gogerly. Rachel is a fantastic craftswoman, artist and tutor.

A few months ago, I did an introductory day with her, producing these samples.

rachel-gogerly-feb-2009_intro_1

We used the wet layering technique, and even carved our own spatula out of goose feathers! Of course, I made many of the classic beginners’ mistakes like putting my greasy paws on the enamel before firing, which dulls the lovely transparency. So nice of me to give Rachel the opportunity to teach the class how to remedy these mishaps! Hmm someone had to do it I guess!

I was very excited this morning to be traveling to my second class – how to blend colours.

Step 1 – choosing our colours. Like kids in a candy shop!

Step 2 – grinding the powder or lumps in a pestle and mortar, until the enamel is the consistency of caster sugar

Step 3 – washing the enamel and transferring to our dishes

Step 4 – wet layering and blending. This is Rachel in action (a bit blurry…)

april-2009

We used two techniques – blending two colours together, and using flux to get a gradation of the same colour. My first sample was a bit hit and miss, with the middle colours just NOT blending! But they would be lovely on the same piece separated by a silver line.

april-2009_2

One of the students is a professional jewelry maker and engraver, who brought his own piece – stunning… He did this free hand! I’m looking for an engraving class or workshop at the moment, so had a quick chat. According to him, it’s easy! Well, he has been doing it 34 years… Something tells me, as with most of these things, it’s going to be harder than it look!

april-2009_3

A great day, made even better by sunny weather and a picnic on the lawn outside for lunch. I’m now bursting with ideas and have already signed up for my next class! I’ve also been playing with dry sieving and decals, …

enamelling-amy-surman-march-09_1_-decals3

… but more on that another day. Now… time for a cuppa and some more knitting. Bye for now!

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