Glass Artist and Proud!

Well after last weeks little incident at the hockey and the subsequent self-doubt, you will be pleased to know that today’s ‘Old Girls’ gathering at my old school’s centenary afternoon tea was refreshingly jolly, nostalgic and full of lovely Old Girls – some of whom were the class of ’55!!! Blimey!! Me and my lovely friend Sam who is also a sculptor turned up and immediately met 2 others from our year who seemed genuinely interested that we are real artists who actually sell our work!! Phew! I’m not going mad after all :0)

The thing that made my day however, was not their appreciation of my chosen career, but the fact I found my name in the 1983 Sports Day programme – My record for the 4th year long jump (4.27m!!!) had been unbroken for the next 6 years! Those people who  know me will appreciate how very exciting this was – not only had I completely forgotten I’d ever won anything, (let alone long jump) but I was easily the shortest person in my class, not known for my athletic prowess and never picked first for teams! When I saw my name, I not only took a picture of it on my phone, but I looked around me for someone to tell – anyone! Random old girls were told ‘I’ve found my name here and I was good at long jump! Look!!’ And nobody gave me any blank or ‘nutter alert’ type looks – they just enthused along with me and smiled, because everyone was happy! I have to thank the PE teacher Miss Stuart, who, 30 years later is still there, for keeping such fantastic records – of every sporting fixture we ever attended, of all the sports days, of all the sporting colours awards, and had pictures of girls with their wooden tennis rackets and their perms……. She would never have known at the time how one entry in the records would have brought such satisfaction 31 years on – YAY for Miss Stuart!!

And so, with renewed enthusiasm, I must now turn my attention to my son’s school Art/DT showcase on Weds, followed by Medway Open Studios the following week…..

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This is Ellis’ entry (he’s 10, and yes, he made this completely on his own, apart from me programming the kiln, and taking the photos!)

I still can’t get over my long jump record… lol

A strange thing happened at the hockey…….

In between making glass goodies for the forthcoming Medway Open Studios, this Sunday the whole family relocated to our son’s Hockey club for the juniors to have a practice session with the Men’s 1st 11 – who include the current GB Men’s captain Barry Middleton, and serveral other of the recent GB squad who came 4th in the recent world cup! What with that and the offer of a BBQ, we were all keen to go! Plus, the sun was shining and the club house bar was open – win-win!!

However…… shortly after arriving, I spotted one of the other mums, who I had not seen there before and realised that she and I were apprentice engineers together some 30 years ago! Not only that, but we had shared lifts to the training centre, I had sat with her for weeks in her knackered VW Beetle when she was learning to drive, and I had also worked in her parent’s pub when I turned 18 – As you can imagine, 30 years ago, we had shared a lot! I finally plucked up the courage to go over and say hello, thinking that she may not recognise me since I’m not really the tiny size 8 I was back then lol. I’m not sure what I was expecting really – it was a tad uncomfortable when for what seemed like hours, I was just waffling and not sure if she even knew who I was! I said ‘you haven’t changed a bit – I recognised you instantly!’ She said ‘I recognised your voice’. Hmmmmm – it went a bit down hill from there really!

She asked ‘What do you do?’ – I replied ‘I’m a glass artist! (smiling happily) – She just stared at me, looking like I had spoken Russian. Then she said ‘OH!’ followed by ‘What?!’ followed by ‘How come?’ – maybe I was speaking Russian?! It didn’t occur to me that my job would render her practically speechless! I endeavoured to explain a bit about what it meant to be a ‘Glass Artist’ – she continued to frown!

In the end I stopped talking and said ‘So what about you then?’  ‘Oh, I’m the Director of the British Chemical Engineering Contractors Association – I stayed in Engineering.’ Aaaaah! You know when you wished you had just carried on walking and gone straight to the bar?? Yes – that’s how I felt. Somehow I know this is not about her – she has done phenominally well – has an MBA, and a string of impressive jobs on her CV, whereas I am a Glass Artist and she has no idea what that is! Should I have felt insignificant? Should I have felt like a massive under-achiever? Should I now be hatching plans to avoid her at all future Hockey socials? NO I should not! So why did I?

Maybe it’s because being a ‘Glass Artist’ is a title I have bestowed upon myself – I have created the world in which I am my own boss and I make as much or as little as I wish. I make time in my week for the things that are important in my life, like my family and friends. I am involved in fundraising for my son’s school and I volunteer a day a week at Nucleus to keep the gallery running, which supports other local artists. Maybe I am not one of life’s high-flyers – although I used to be! Maybe I could have had a list of impressive letters after my name and an office in the city if I’d kept at it!? But maybe I am just as happy (albeit brassic lol) to be using my creativity and my engineering skills to make glass art that people who do know what that means, appreciate and buy, to make themselves happy too! Yes, I am very happy not to have the stress and politics of the old days in industry and I don’t even think about it until I meet someone from my past and feel like I have to justify it!

My immediate hope is that I get over this little episode of self-doubt before this coming Sunday, because I am attending my old school’s Centenary Afternoon Tea for ‘old girls’. I am bound to bump into many more high-achieving old friends and have to explain what it is that I ‘do’. Mind you, with the help of another ‘old girl’ who is a ceramicist, sculptor and rescuer of donkeys, I’m sure we will manage! If not, there are always the scones!

In the meantime, I will just go back to my workshop and make more suncatchers for Open Studios…… Or maybe I’ll have a cup of tea and a biscuit and do that later…… just because I can!

*skips over to the kettle with a little grin*

cuppa

x

 

Long time no see!!

Where has the time gone?? I can’t even claim to have been that busy with glass, but I have been visiting my caravan lots and been a busy bee with lots of school PTA related activities like the Summer Fair etc, so I am letting myself off my tardy attitude to my little blog.

The Summer fair was scheduled for last Saturday, on the day that the SE of England was due thunder, lightening and cricket-ball sized hail, the like of which had not been seen in 171 years! It was an interesting exercise in damage limitation! As it happens, it poured with rain at 10am and finished at 11am, then the sun came out! Well you know what they say about the righteous lol

Because I was in charge of securing a nice selection of ‘outside stalls’, and being an arty crafter myself, obviously I was drawn to local artisans. It was great to see Tina’s Tasty Treats (pickled pears, plumbrillo, chutney and coconut ice….) rubbing along next to Creations by Amanda, selling some lovely glass jewellery and coasters, alongside Dolly Dewberry (aka Karen) with her sewing machine and a variety of ready-made bunting flags that could be mixed to make ‘instant bunting’! Then Turning Matters (Mark) who makes fabulous turned wooden and acrylic pens and accessories – they were all unique and very unusual….. The list goes on….. FAB!!

Talking of the appearance of the sun, I have finally made it up to Berkley Square to see the stunning Chihuly ‘Sun’ installation, albeit, lit up from below, since it was dark by the time I got there and the park was locked up! lol However, even from the pavement, and in the dark, there is no denying the amazing skill and sheer creativity of his work! I do wonder how it’s all held together – I’d really love to know that – it’s the engineer in me!

chihuly sun Blue fiori sun

The stunning Blue one is Blue Fiori Sun – unfortunately that’s in the US somewhere, but if you are as impressed as I am by this amazing glass then take a look on his Facebook page – just make sure to have tissues ready for when you start drooling!

http://www.facebook.com/chihuly

My own contribution to outdoor art this week was 6 fused glass sun-catchers for the Nucleus Garden in Rochester – they are very pretty, but somehow not quite as ‘take your breath away’ stunning as Chihuly’s suns – one day!! lol

6 sun catchers suncatchers in the acer

Must take some more pics when the sun catchers are actually catching some sun! They do look nice in the tree but obviously they are then not then in the sun – doh!

Until next time, enjoy the weather and keep those sun dances up – they are obviously working!

Bev x

Jewellery can be art!!

Some of you have been following the progress of the new glass jewellery on here or on my FB page so you will know how wet and messy I got in pursuit of a new style of glass jewellery! Thanks for the encouragement along the way – it was very helpful and I’m pleased to say it’s the start of something new and exciting! For me it’s where art and jewellery have come together – I’m so excited!

I delivered loads of new necklaces, earrings, rings, bangles, cufflinks and one little (well biggish) brooch to Nucleus last Friday for the Bling Bling exhibition. It looks great all displayed in the cabinets and has received some great feedback so far! When the exhibit finishes tomorrow I will be sending it out to the Nucleus shops in Rochester and Maidstone, and taking some proper pictures of it with the intention to get my Etsy shop back up and running so I can spread the love beyond Kent!

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Here are a couple of pics to whet your appetite – more colour combo’s will be made soon, so any requests or ideas for colours you wold like to see swished randomly together, please comment here or on my Facebook page! (www.facebok.com/adornjewelleryandglassart)

The bottom picture is the original slab that all but the blue jewellery was made from – as you can see, I got impatient and decided to make three colours in one slab. This turned out to be a genius idea (I know,I know!) as the points at which those stacks melted together, gave me the most interesting chunks of glass, which I wouldn’t have naturally put together. YAY! Hope you like them x

On a slightly different note, I have decided to do a weekly or fortnightly recommend of a ‘Classy’ independent tea or coffee shop in my local, so if you have any ideas for nice establishments to visit, please let me know and I’ll do my best to go and eat cake and drink coffee and tea there! It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it, if we want to support our lovely local independent businesses! 

Today I visited ‘Bruno’s French Bakes and Coffee’ which is at 12a High St Rochester, Kent – https://www.facebook.com/brunosfrenchbakes I have to say, the smell of fresh baking and coffee from the pavement outside was enough of an enticement to go in, but once there, the friendly staff and Bruno himself were the icing on the still-warm cinamon cake!! Bruno (who IS actually French) chatted away, happy to share his pastry recipe with a customer, and offered us tasters of the delicious rye bread, fresh from a little independent bakery in Maidstone, and delivered fresh every day – but you have to be quick as once it’s gone, that’s it till tomorrow! It’s a tiny shop, with an eclectic mix of seating and decor – local art on the wall and something being baked up throughout the day. It was a delight – especially as I bumped into a friend at the counter and then got to taste her salted caramel and chocolate tart too! Gosh, what a lucky girl I am! 

Do pop in there and let me know what you decided to have! I brought home a seeded sourdough loaf, which will go nicely with my tomato soup for lunch! Cheers!

Bev x

A Crying Shame

Now I’m not one to get all political and shout about injustice and the wrongs of the world, but this week I can honestly say I have been so sad and disappointed in my local council that I totally understood the phrase ‘a crying shame’.

As you probably know, I am a small independant glass artist, lucky enough to be associated with a local charity that supports local art and I have volunteered in one of their retail/gallery spaces once a week for over 5 years now – Nucleus Arts in Rochester (Kent). Unlike most High Streets, Rochester, as well as having one of the oldest Castles and Cathedrals in the country, has the quaintest, most unique and friendly gathering of small local businesses – shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs. You could say that, along with being famously ‘Dickensian’ with it’s festivals and landmarks associated with the great man, these independent businesses are what makes Rochester, Rochester!

So it was with horror, but a sense that it surely wouldn’t actually happen, that I recently signed an e-petition (along with nearly 1000 other locals) to plead with our local council NOT to allow the massive chain that is COSTA COFFEE, to take over one of the most desirable, beautiful and best positioned buildings in the High Street! We already have (off the top of my head…) 10 fantastic, individual and welcoming tea and coffee shops – there may be more that I’ve forgotten. They rub along nicely together and fit in with the unique nature of our beloved Rochester extremely well. They connect with the local community, some providing space for artistic endeavours, and they are all owned and staffed by local people, who know who you are when you go in, and treat you with a sense of familiarity that these huge conglomerates never do.

So, imagine my distress when I read on facebook on Friday that our council planners in their 11-4 majority wisdom, have deemed that COSTA pose no threat or detriment to the wellbeing and livelihood of the High Street and it’s independent businesses! WHAT???? Sorry, didn’t they read the e-petition, the hand-written petition, the nearly 200 letters in objection to this application? Apparently not – apparently they read the ONE letter in support and were clearly dazzled by the corporate spin (and dare I say it, money) of the COSTA PR machine, who, I might add have already got permission  to put another COSTA unit into the new Rochester Station that is being built over the road from the high st and probably 150M away from this delightful old building. Grrrrrrrrr!!!!

Sorry, but my rant is not over – I could cry at the sense of disappointment I felt when I realised that money speaks louder than the local residents who pay the wages of the local SERVANTS who represent their interests. I can draw no other conclusion…. call it cynical….. call it whinging….. I am so outraged I can feel myself thinking I should organise a march of protest!! And that’s really not me lol I have messaged @MarkReckless MP and asked him how this has happened – no reply and no comment on his FB page or twitter.

I guess that the conclusion I have therefore reached is that independent small businesses actually have nobody but themselves and each other to look out for them. Medway is fortunate that the arts scene is strong and lively and supportive and we will do our best to support our local cafes and tea shops and vote with our purses – we will NOT be visiting Costa Coffee – and as one of my friends said, maybe we will pick up their discarded take-away cups off our historic flagstone pavements and post them back to Costa through their antique letter box!

There you have it! When I have calmed down (maybe tomorrow) I will tell you all about Bling Bling and show you some lovely pictures of the new jewellery collection x

Wet & Wild

You know from my last post that cutting glass strips with the tile cutter turned out to be a bit messy, so today I decided I would do the next batch on the patio…… I’m thinking in hindsight that this may have made me a bit gung-ho with the use of the splash guard (or not!) – to say I got wet through is an understatement – *whispers* “even my knickers were soaked!” lol

me soaking wet

BUT – it was totally worth it – see the picture below of the blue strips I cut and you’ll have to agree – soggy under garments? Bring it on!

blue strips

I’ve since cut some of the strips into various sized squares and rectangles for cufflinks, pendants, rings and earrings. I’m still stunned at how much variation was found from cutting the strips from all sides (not something you would do if you wanted to make the repeating pattern for a dish like I did with the green – then you need to keep cutting from one side).

I’ve lots of ideas now for colour combinations and stack arrangements – this is feeding my inner geek/engineer as well as my creativity. It’s great to try new ideas, especially when it involves power tools! As my friend did say, when I got the diamond tile cutter for my birthday last year: “not the sort of diamonds I would have asked for, but whatever floats your boat!” And yes, it takes all sorts – I can’t resist tools and machinery. I’m now considering the possibility that a little pillar drill would be jolly handy to have in the workshop too!! I’ll add it to the list and keep saving my pennies ;0)

Have a fab weekend! Bev x

News flash – I love my job!

Earlier this week I was rambling about the boredom of creating the same old glass jewellery – well……… after an exciting couple of days of experimentation with random stacks of glass and a diamond tile cutting saw, I’ve decided it’s still fun after all!

The idea was to create jewellery cabochons from a slab created by stacking glass in a dam and allowing it to melt and flow into negative spaces – in doing this, you have no idea what layers of glass you are creating within the slab – VERY EXCITING!!

The first 3 pics below show the creation of a slab….

blue stacks pic 1blue stacks pic 2blue slab

Once the slab is made, the fun really begins!

I got a diamond tile saw for my birthday last year (I know, I’m a bit sad like that) and this was it’s christening. Just incase you are thinking of doing this at home, be warned, it makes a lot more mess than you think and you really need a waterproof mac and wellies!! You literally slice up the slab – I made 8mm slices, as this is a good thickness for most things I want to do.

Anyhow….. the next pic is actually of a green slab I also made, which as you can see, was cut into strips. These were then laid on their sides in an alternating way, to form a continuous pattern. All clear so far?

    green slab being cutgreen slab after firing

The green strips were re-fired to create a new slab which will become a bowl.

The blue strips on the other hand, well, they are practically edible!! I’ve cut a few into squares and rectangles and they are, as I type being fired to smooth the glass back off (as it gets pretty roughed up with the saw).

blue chunks pre firing

I am unbelievably excited about these little chunks – I’m seeing cufflinks, rings and necklaces – How funky are they?? VERY!! Yay – Mojo well and truly back, I’d say!

…..now there’s just the small matter of a tax return…… boo hiss!