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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Red Raku Barrels

I thought it was time I showed you the Red and Black Raku Barrel beads that I have been making lately.

The Raku Barrel beads all began when I was trying something out for someone in Australia, and we were trying to come up with a shape and style within some parameters for her.
I've used glass raku frit (tiny shards of crushed glass) for a long time now in my beads, and have always loved it in combination with red and black.  As I understand it, the colours in Raku glass are made by using a lot of metal in the recipe, and that metal is usually silver.  Anyhow, it gives a lovely effect rather like that of tiny pebbles or spice sprinkled around.

Being an ex Cantabrian (that's the province in New Zealand where Christchurch is located, for you folk overseas), I have a penchant for red and black, especially in these post earthquake months, when our hearts go out to the people there.  I wanted to combine them both in some beads but in a kind of subtle way that's more wearable than the usual sporting colours.
So...without further ado...here they are...

This is the first necklace I  made with the smaller shards of raku glass.
And this is the set that I made with the larger shards - I can't decide which I like best!

I've been experimenting with the barrel shape in bigger beads too - here it is in the same True Red and Black, the same as the other ones here.

I think they look vaguely oriental, and because they're smooth and long, they're lovely to wear and quite neat and dainty looking.
There are a few more to look at here.
So, what do you think?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Shop Update

Things have been moving along happily in the little shop in Takaka - we are still yet to build some storage and work units, but we are thoroughly enjoying being in the main street.
I'm enjoying having the torch, jewellers bench and office in the same place and often swing from one to the other and feel like I'm getting more work done.

I'm looking forward to hanging some favourite local artists work around the room.
We have lovely big windows along the side of the building and will build units to make enticing  displays there.  Do you see the sweet little French candelabra?  I bought it to embellish, but I think I love it just the way it is.
The toy shelf is slowly filling up for the winter - we will need to have lots more made by the time August rolls around and we have the Dunkley's Great New Zealand Craft Show South Island run.
The space isn't huge, and we occasionally struggle with sharing, but generally we manage to get along pretty well.  You can just see the Toy Boy working at his painting bench in this photo.  I often work opposite him swinging a paintbrush on the toys.
The whole move into the village has been good, and we feel much more social - even if we do drink way too much coffee these days!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Paper Art of Isabelle De Borchgrave

I have just discovered the art of Isabelle De Borchgrave, a woman from Brussels who creates the most incredible paper "fabric" sculptures.
She paints paper then sculpts it into costumes, mostly iconic pieces from history, but often with her own whinsical twist. Among other things she has created a whole collection of historical garments but changed the colour palette to just white to show the design details in the garments.
She observed images in ancient portraits and as she was curious to see right around the clothing, she studied it's construction and used it as inspiration to construct like garments in paper.
It's hard to believe that the pieces are not made of fabric, such is her skill in catching the lie of the cloth, the texture of the embroidery, or the heft of her embelishments.
I've only ever seen her work online or on paper - I would love to see it "up close and personal", but I know that the first thing I would want to do is touch it, and I'm sure that would not be the done thing!

Delphos Dress 2006 2007 Inspired by a design by Mariano Fortuny.

Detail of Neopolitan Woman 2010.  Inspired by a 1635 portrait by Massimo Stanzione in the collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
If you would like to see more - try the website link above, or just do a Google Image search - it's well worth the clicks!

Friday, June 17, 2011


Gorgeous juicy colour! It's one of my favourite colours - to wear and to have around me.
Within the chakra system, it is the colour of the second or sacral chakra and represents passion, creativity and sexuality.
It's also the colour of Tibetan monks and nun's robes.
The first orange dyes for cloth were made from turmeric - there's just nothing not to love about orange!
I've been making Rose beads in orange lately, and have just fallen totally in love with a Transparent Orange which works differently in the flame every time, if I'm careful! I'm sure the Italian masters would prefer that I worked it so it came up the same colour every time, but that would be boring, now, wouldn't it?!
Orange is one of the colours that the Italian glass-makers seem to play with from time to time and I have had several odd batches over the years which have given some exquisite effects.
Transparent Orange & Olive Green Roses Necklace
Transparent Orange & Olive Green Roses Bracelet
Transparent Orange & Olive Green roses Earrings
Another Orange I've been playing with is Orange Sparkle, which is semi-opaque and has a gorgeous subtle sparkle in sunlight - I made the Roses using Olive Green again - I like the combination - what do you think?
Orange Sparkle & Olive Green Roses Necklace
Orange Sparkle & Olive Green Roses Bracelet
Orange Sparkle & Olive Green Roses Earrings
I'd love to know how the colour orange is made is glass - I am pretty sure it involves sulphur, but beyond that I know nothing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Weekend in Melbourne

I am lucky to be the middle daughter of three girls, and I consider my sisters to be one of the greatest gifts of my life. Every year we try to get away for a weekend together - sometimes it works and sometimes family ties and responsibilities get in the way, but this was one of the years that it worked for us. We have just returned from Melbourne, one of the most beautiful cities that I know. Everywhere we looked there was a visual feast, from street art to architecture, food and craft markets to high end fashion stores. We explored as much of it as we could in the little time we had, and I have come home refreshed and inspired.
The city is flat and we walked everywhere, apart from taking the odd tram. We constantly stopped to ooh! and aah! over things that caught our eye.
I wonder what lies behind this doorway?
The Victoria Market was full of eye candy - these are flowering cacti that a guy grows from seed and pups.
We found this amazing little stall selling foodie goodies from the Middle East - their nougat was to die for, their walnut stuffed fresh dates the food of the gods, and their retail display one of the more inspirational sights we saw.
Even the fruit and vege sellers made sumptuous displays.
And I'd always wondered what to do with a pomegranate!
And I found an amazing little shop in one of the beautiful arcades making murrini out of sugar, (as opposed to glass)which I stood and watched for ages. They start off with a fat roll of rock on a heated pad with the image layered through, and slowly roll and pull it out to thin strands which they break off into sweeties. The smell of this was amazing!
You can see the image of a raspberry in the end of the cane.
This is one of the glorious little arcades that are dotted throughout the central city.
I could go on and on with the photos, and bore you all to death, but you get the picture? We had a ball!