Sunday, 7 August 2016

A Day Out To Bentley Wildfowl & Motor Museum

Let's face it, August hasn't exactly got off to a flying start weather-wise here in the UK, so when the forecast looked peachy for the first half of this weekend it would have been madness to waste it on being indoors (even though I have lots of work to do, as usual).

Bentley Wildfowl & Motor Museum is down the road from Brighton, just beyond Lewes, and in combining cars and birds manages to please BOTH members of the visiting party.

After a quickish scoot round the car bit (enjoying the rogue Peter Rabbit sat in a small car) and a light snack outside in the perfect sunshine, we launched ourselves into the wildfowl area.

Having recently got a new camera, I was keen to get to see what it could do (of course, I've not read the instructions yet, preferring to just 'get in there') and it was fantastic - with a great zoom.

I love birds so much - they're a real inspiration for my designs - and there were plenty of beauties wandering about here, although they were mostly sleeping and not really interested in the corn I'd bought to feed them with, unlike the geese at the Wildfowl Trust in Arundel, who are NEVER backward in coming forward.

We had such a lovely time, the birds were great, the weather just perfect and a stop off for cider-tasting at Middle Farm and a little wander round the fields at Berwick finished the day off beautifully.

Of course, it's grey and cloudy again today.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Thank You For Sharing

Do you have a piece of Shark Alley jewellery?

I'd really love to see how you wear it.

Post a picture on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tag Shark Alley and I'll send you three fabulous foxy postcards as a thank you.

What could be simpler?!

Monday, 4 April 2016

Mosaics Revisited

Back in the late 90s I got my crafting freak on by making mosaics rather than jewellery.  

Found objects mosaic bust, 2003

Swan planter (for/with Kaffe Fassett), Chelsea Flower Show, 1999

I loved it very much but it wrecked my arm (RSI in my right wrist) and left me with a LOT of mosaic-y things to accommodate in a small flat.  So I stopped.  I like making jewellery more, but some of the aspects are similar - making a whole out of many parts, recycling and playing with pattern and colour.

So when my friend Liz Pichon (author extraordinaire and mother of Shark Alley model, Ella) asked me to make some commemorative mosaic pieces from her late mother's blue and white china collection, I wasn't sure whether I actually could.

Extreme laziness had meant I hadn't actually got rid of my mosaic tools, so that was all OK and hopefully my wrist could take a small burst of mosaic-making activity before having a melt-down.  Liz and I had a very business-like (prosecco-free) meeting and she showed me this great piece which incorporated cups as plant holders.  Very inspirational!  I was totally on board.
Sadly I can't find any accreditation for this piece
Liz's Mum had collected lots of cups and mugs, as well as jugs and sugar bowls, so providing I could snap them in half fairly cleanly, there was plenty of scope to make four of these using three 'containers' each.

As is usual in these sorts of projects, it was all about the prep and the prep took aaaaaaaages.  Then there was the breaking of the cups.  Three just disintegrated, so I had to try and work out a good method of snapping them.  I found that taping up the 'good' side all the way round and then carefully snipping with the mosaic nippers was slightly more successful.  Any breakages were repaired with Araldite.

All in all, they worked out better than I thought and they definitely improved as I went along and got my mosaic mojo back.  I'm quite tempted to make more!

Here are some pics!

Exterior surfaces prepped with gloss paint to protect them. Also for aesthetic purposes!
Mirror plates to attach the piece to a wall have to be screwed on before the mosaic part begins.

Oops.  Hurrah for Araldite!
Laying out the cups.
More gloss paint goes under the cups in case I can't tile inside them.
Breaking up the china.
Blue border goes on first.
Then the cups are stuck on and decorative elements applied.
The white background is filled in 'pique assiette' style.
The surface area is all filled and waiting for grout.
I love a rubber potter's kidney for applying the grout.
All done!  This is my favourite 
The grouting process is so important in tying the whole thing together.
Mirror pieces are added in case candles are going into the cups instead of plants.

The bottoms of saucers with 'England' logos look like little stamps or maker's marks.

Monday, 28 March 2016

New Collections

After a slight work-based diversion to mosaics (more on this later) I couldn't wait to get back into the studio to use that fab paper I got last month in New York.

One paper - many options
Rather stupidly this involved working on Good Friday, which turned out to be a beautiful sunny day and so should have been spent lounging on the beach drinking coffee and getting sunburnt. But never mind - the muse must be appeased.

As is so often the case, some patterns work better than others, and some of the ones that did were a surprise!  This gold on cloudy blue looks unexpectedly stunning and the complexity of the design means that there are lots of options.  I shall definitely be making more of these.

I have also decided to change the way I design and sell online too.

Pieces, particularly the brooches, will form part of twice-yearly collections - Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter - and the online stock will change accordingly in March and September (though it will be the end of April for S/S this year).  I'll certainly be using some of these new papers for the new S/S16 range!

As a result, I'm clearing some old stock, and have created a special 'Last Chance To Buy' section in the shop.  Click HERE to take a look - they're available until 30th April 2016.  Prices are reduced as well.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Paper! Paper! I Need Some Paper!

I can't deny it - I'm still feeling incredibly stimulated by a recent trip to New York!

Look how happy!

It's such a visually exciting place - and the visitor's default setting must almost certainly be head up and mouth hanging open.  Art, architecture, atmosphere - it has it all in spades.

One of my favourite paintings - Madame X by John Singer Sargent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Worth the entrance fee all by itself.

I found myself doing less shopping this time (second time) around but couldn't resist the lure of tracking down some exotic new paper for work.  I had researched and planned a visit to an art shop but found instead the wonderful Paper Source on Fifth Avenue and succumbed massively to the amazing choices on offer.

I can't wait to start making!

Sunday, 24 January 2016


I'm having a huge clearance sale on my Facebook page on Wednesday 3rd February at 8.00pm GMT.

Product photos are being uploaded from now until the 3rd February, so you can choose your favourite pieces, all ready to start shopping at 8.00pm GMT.

The sale is a lot of fun as it's first come, first served, so get those fingers ready!  Full details and photos can be found by clicking HERE.

Happy shopping.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Tidy Studio!

It's never going to appear in those lovely crafty lifestyle mags, but never mind.

You might also like: