Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Three muddy maids

Mudfog - salvage doily brooch - antique rusted button

London Town - salvage earrings - black tourmaline

the circle of another - salvage wrist cuff - vintage lace and rusted bottle cap

Rule Britannia

Spirit supernal

I've been meaning to make some more union flag necklaces since the last one it already known that it takes me three times longer to get around to something than the ordinary person.

And I've managed to trap another treasury! This time my inspirations were sort of vague ideas about mid-century wartime design from a British perspective. And the colour grey/green.

My spring board was definitely the 'bad day in London' print. It strikes something in me. My trip to England is looming closer, I don't have 1/3 of the money I need...Mum is worried we won't afford it but I am resolute. I am going to England, but I'll never have a bad day in London.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Stronger than thunder - salvage stud necklace with rusted antique button

climb the heavens - salvage textile wrist cuff with vintage Russian patch

budding cinnamon - salvage rusted chain and ceramic earring

the darkening air - salvage hand of fatima necklace

busy fingers lately! I'm just on a roll making things, I haven't been this productive since I don't remember when.

Monday, February 22, 2010


heroic poems - salvage rams head bone and shell earrings

I've had these ram's heads for a while now, but finally I'm letting them go. I always have a little stash of thing I think I'll never be able to part with- precious fragments. I'm re-training myself not to hoard things like an old dragon, so the next few week's updates will probably contain some great things! Like always, of course. :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Elizabethan ghosts

1. virgin, 2. doll parts, 3. Untitled, 4. Salvaged book, 5. itissafe, 6. Untitled, 7. _chateau_39_19, 8. full power, 9. La scala di zucchero

Thinking and exploring the new themes in my head lately- coming together of my two recent 'brain hummings' - the term 'Elizabethan ghosts' (bought on by these beads) and field walker's finds from across England's rolling landscape.

I'm waiting on some more chain and jump rings in the mail, so I can't do much except construct little pendant ideas and sew up the lacy rags. I have finished one piece that's in the shop, but I want to explore using less textile and more rag for these, since they need to have an almost invisible appearance.

While the inspirational images and the elements I'll be using in the pieces are not Elizabethan in themselves, that's kind of what I want. I'm looking for the ghost element to be a representation of something lost in time- or being in the wrong place in time. To us the Elizabethan ghost is in the wrong place; to the ghost themselves it's the environment that is wrong. So I guess this is jewellery that an Elizabethan ghost has made to fit the world they find themselves trapped in.

I purposefully haven't studied any Elizabethan jewellery while on this trip because I don't want to replicate what was the style or fashion of the time. I want to evoke what my mind sees as Elizabethan whether or not that's real- in fact Elizabethan is more a evocative term more than anything, because I'll be going from Tudor and Georgian 'ideas' as well. I'm trying to get to history via my own imaginings rather than what's documented; I've never been big on research into historical fashion, since I'm creating rather than recreating, I have the liberty to explore what my mind tells me is Elizabethan rather than what actually is.

I suppose most people usually call it 'inspired by'. It doesn't really feel like that, it feel more like remembering half-forgotten dreams, and getting them confused with something else.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Real Deal

Well all this hammering and rusting of perfectly innocent metal objects is all well and good, but sometimes a girl has to have the real thing now and then, so I've purchased a small number of items from a metal detectoring chap in the UK, and they arrived the other day. I've scrubbed them, photographed them and am part-way through researching them.

Mostly it appears to be 17th and 18th century, which people don't seem to care much about in England, judging by prices. They're all mad for boring old Romans. I've always had a hatred of the Romans, ever since I was a really little kid- I think it's a past life thing.

I just can't get over that the little tiny ball charm thing (next to the buckle on the lower middle) is a Tudor period button. So tiny to have lasted so long, laying secret in the ground all these years.

This is a shot of my studio shelf where the thimbles live- I was going to make the smaller ones into earrings but I can't bear to mess with them, so they'll just sit along there like good little soldiers. The round-top ones are 18th century, the flat-tops are 19th.

And we have a new arrival in the shop- one of the first 'Elizabethan ghost' pieces- In the company of the dead.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Flat Rusted

As those of you who subscribe to my flickrsteam will know, I've been smashing things with a hammer. I have never had so much fun in my life! Well I probably have, but I can't remember it.

I bought a small anvil and a ball pein hammer in the junk shop ages ago, and put them away neatly with my other things to be seen to when I took up metalwork. Which is now! I think I have everything- just flux and a torch, and I'm ready to rock. I'll buy the flux next week when I go see my Dad, who's lending me his propane torch and his Dremel! Life doesn't get much better than when you casually say to your Dad you want to start metalwork, but you're saving for England and you don't know if you should spend the money on a torch and Dremel and hope you make it back in what you produce...

...and he says oh have 3 of both those things, you can borrow some. Hooray for Dad!

Anyway- so I've been smashing stuff because that's all I can do right now. And punch holes in things with this amaaaaazing hole punch I got from Etsy.

Now I know alot of you probably know all about this stuff- hammering and holes and whatnot- but I don't. All this experimenting with finishes and using heavy's all new to me. I've always HAD tools though, I've always believed women should have tools- everyone should have tools- and a shed. I think there'd be a lot less grief in the world if people were able to retire to their sheds to make things and think about the world (but not too much).

I'd started to get slightly depressed recently because I look around and see all this amazing chain jewellery that all you chaps out there make, and there's holes drilled and rivets and wire-wrapping (I'm only just getting the hang of wire-wrapping) and hammered things and soldering and resin and I think all I do is open and shut jump rings, I want more!!

I'm so happy to have this hole punch, and to be getting patinas and anvils and solder torches, because I think there's a big part of me that's just not getting dirty enough with my art. I think that's why I sew so much, because there's alot of experimenting involved. I can't just design a cuff in my head and then make it, I just have to sit down with the fabrics and mess around till something comes together. And it's no easier now than when I made my first!

The little c-shapes were large jump rings that had a finish I didn't like; the ankh was just a bit too well-formed for my liking; the silver ring had a central crest but it fell out (you can see it above it), the pins were just shop-bought headpins from ages ago that I've never used- I hammered the end and now they're fantastic.

This button came up great- it's antique but it was very gold and shiny. I wish I'd take a before shot (I always forget those!) but essentially I've just hammered it, rusted it, drilled a hole in it then sanded it back a little bit so the lion stands out.

Some things in their include an amethyst point that I rust-dipped the top of, cut steel buttons, a thimble, bone beads, plastic rhinsetone buttons, paper mache beads and metal mesh ripped from old disco handbags.

This gin piece is my absolute favourite. I think I'll have to keep it. It used to have more rust but the rusting patina recommended sealing the pieces, so I tried PVA and water, but it seems to have removed half the rust. What can I use that's a good sealer? I want a total matt finish, an invisible sealer.

Tomorrow I'm going to try pressing buttons into polymer clay and then painting them with rust paint to duplicate the look of Roman lead seals.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Two more darlings...

written in the dust - salvage textile wrist cuff with antique and vintage lace

Sixpence Song - salvage buckle and sterling silver sixpence coin necklace

I promise tomorrow there'll be a proper interesting post- involving a hammer!

Monday, February 8, 2010

More new arrivals

sharp and sudden - prayer medal and glass pearl necklace

Come to dust- smoky quartz and antique lace necklace

New pieces...

Three new lovelies in the shop...

The tongues of soothers- vintage doily scrap brooch

as hollow as a ghost - scrap salvage doily brooch

The Angels weep - vintage rosary chain earrings

I was on a real black kick there for a while, but I bought some amazing beads:

from kchulita on Etsy, and when I saw them my brain said 'Elizabethan ghosts...' and now I'm riding a wave of white, grey and silver. With perhaps a drop of red.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

As chimney-sweepers, come to dust

Fear no more the heat o' th' sun
Nor the furious winters' rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages.
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this and come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o' th' great;
Thou art past the tyrant's stroke.
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak.
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this and come to dust.

All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee and come to dust.
There are certain films, songs, images that perfectly evoke what I want from my work. This is one of the songs on the Sparrowsalvage soundtrack.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday Scores

I went to a flea market with my Dad yesterday- I came home with a few cool pieces, as well as ouchy sunburn and a sprained ankle -which probably wouldn't have been as sore today if I hadn't walked/limped around on it, but you can't keep a junker down!

Victorian/Edwardian cash tin, still with the top tray! I'm a sucker for these but it's hard to get them at a reasonable price. This one was cheap because the lock barrel was removed- if the seller had just figured out that all he had to do was slip it back in place and screw it in (with the screws that were in the bottom of the tin...) he could've charged more. His loss!

Tourist necklace from Tunisia (I think?) circa 1930s-50s. I don't know what's it's made of, maybe some kind of paper clay- it's quite lightweight but has that perfect ancient look I'm wanting lately!

Amaaaaaazing star-shaped crystal plates from vintage chandeliers- I've never seen these before, anywhere! I'm keeping one for a bold necklace and the rest will go into the supply shop.

Sterling silver zodiac charm bracelet, circa 1960s/70s? If anyone has any idea on the age of this I'd be really gratefiul. I'm thinking 60s/70s as the zodiac was a popular theme back then, but it could be older. The quality of the charm's design is stunning. They look to have been cast with the lost wax technique- if you look at Aries you can almost see it as a tiny model, sculpted by masterful hands. (click the pic, it'll get bigger!)

They have some gold rub to them- at first I thought they were silver plated but the gold parts are on the sunken areas, which means gold's been rubbed off- so they were gold plated? They're not stamped anywhere but the chain has a sterling tab.

I also saw some lovely vintage cars...

and ended the day with an early bird Easter egg- because I love easter eggs!! I don't care what anybody says, they taste different to regular chocolate, especially when you keep 'em in the fridge. And I love their coloured foils.

A lovely treasury by the wonderful LuxuryMarleyProd - featuring my Ghost of winter necklace:

Monday, February 1, 2010

gouge out their stones and rust their bones

Several days on, and I am still obssessed. I'm combing over every picture, trying to think of how I can adapt the look of these pieces to fit with my work. I'm in the middle of trying to obtain some, but meanwhile I think about ageing techniques- grungeing, rusting, crusting, staining, sanding, waxing, to get 300 years of Thames mud and movement into something.

These lead seals make me think about experiments in clay- polymer, paper, stone, precious metal...which would work best? Paper clay seems too feather-light, stone clay seems to difficult to fire -could I fashion a tiny raku pit? I only have about 30cm square of dirt to dig in. Precious seems the best idea, it has the weight (I assume) and I can fire it with a hand-held torch. Polymer never quite looks rustic enough. I wondered if there were easy ways to get a rusted surface on poly clay and found this great post where the author uses antique solution to obtain great results.

Pins, thimbles and buttons are easy to obtain, they could be treated with the same liquid set as the poly clay or put in a rusting solution.

These two pieces especially make me excited. I usually don't bother with costume rhinestone pieces because they're too shiny for my work. Having said that I do have a few of them, and I've been meaning to add them to my supply shop. But there really are SO many of them on Etsy already- would I not be better to just keep them? Subject them to all manner of tortures.

there are things that spring to mind when I focus on the images above- incense ash, chimneysoot, boot polish, soy sauce, mud, salt water, vinegar...

All this is slightly strange in my books. I've never really put alot of effort into antiqueing things before, it's always seemed kind of...dishonest.I certainly don't mind when others do it, but for me...I don't know, it just never sat well. What I like about using genuinely old materials in my work is that it imbues the pieces with a real sense of honesty. It looks like a pile of Victorian rubbish because it is a pile of Victorian rubbish.

I was talking with fancifuldevices about this (who is the queen of faking it in my opinion- if my fake comes out like hers I'll be a happy bunny). She rightly pointed out that most of the fabrics I use are antiqued because I've dyed them. I'd never thought of it that way, but she's right. The reason why I've never though of it like that was because I wasn't trying to get a fake look, I just couldn't find the kind of things I needed. It's impossible to find a good really dark brown Victorian lace, so I dyed the white stuff. It's impossible to buy black cotton with a slight pattern to it, so I just dye the pastel 70s stuff. I had a big piece of pink and white brocade pattern cotton- I gave it a brown then a black bath, and it ended up this decrepit, soot-black colour where you could juuuust see the pattern- like something that has lined the walls of some old London house for 200 years.