Category Archives: Inspiration

Inspiration – Munsell Colour System

Albert Henry Munsell was born in Boston Massachusetts on January 6, 1858 and died on June 28, 1918. He attended the Massachusetts Normal Art School in Boston, and was hired as an instructor in 1881 shortly after graduating. He was later appointed lecturer in Color Composition and Artistic Anatomy. Munsell taught at the institution for 37 years. He took a brief leave from 1885-1888 to study art in Paris at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts, where he won several awards for his work. (I feel Massachusetts must have been a magical place – my favourite Ralph Waldo Emerson was from there, as were Edgar Allan Poe and  the wonderful Theodor Seuss Geisel!)

{photograph of Munsell included in his 1905 book''A Color Notation''}

{photograph of Munsell included in his 1905 book”A Color Notation”}

Munsell is best known for his 1905 book ‘A Color Notation’, and his 1915 book (and precursor to today’s ‘Munsell Books of Color’), ‘Atlas of the Color Solid’. As well as being an artist and teacher, Munsell was also an inventor. He holds several patents for a color-sphere and mount; an artist’s easel, and a photometer. I love that he developed a range of crayons in 1906, which in 1926 were sold to the Binney & Smith Company (owner of Crayola) and were then referred to as ‘Munsell Crayola Crayons‘.

The Munsell color system is three-dimensional, and specifies colors based on three color dimensions: hue, value (lightness), and chroma (color purity). This evolving color science theory served as the basis for today’s color matching technology.

I was very taken with this system, as it seems to me to be able to pinpoint with ease every imaginable colour! The only place I feel it is lacking is in the romance department – colour is divine, but gorgeous names for colour make it even more so. It doesn’t matter at all – we can all see 5GY, and call it lime, apple, chartreuse. 5RP makes sense – and it can be known as magenta, fuchsia or mulberry.

To celebrate finding out about Munsell, I’ve re-organised the ‘filter by colour’ option in my shop to include some more of the wonderful hues (and I’ve named them, too.) Beautiful, wonderful, magnificent colour – where would we be without you!

Sterling Silver Seashell

Inspiration ~ The Fibonacci Sequence

Because of my love of spirals, I got interested in the Fibonacci sequence. Now, I’m no mathematician, so don’t get too excited, but I did a bit of research, and this is what I found out.

Fibonacci

Leonardo Bonacci (c. 1170 – c. 1250), known as Fibonacci, was the son of a wealthy Italian merchant. During travels with his father, he came across the Hindu-Arabic numeral system in Algeria – this is the counting system we use today, with symbols 0-9 for numbers and positional notation (place values showing ones, tens, hundreds etc.). He promoted this system in 1202 in a book called Liber Abaci.

Liber Abaci also outlined a problem involving the hypothetical growth of a population of rabbits. The solution was a sequence of numbers which  were later named ‘Fibonacci sequence’ by the 19th-century number theorist Édouard Lucas. It should be noted that although Fibonacci’s Liber Abaci contains the earliest known description of the sequence outside of India, the sequence had been noted by Indian mathematicians as early as the sixth century. Good on you, Fibonacci (and Lucas), sorry ’bout that Indian mathematicians!

In the Fibonacci sequence of numbers, each number is the sum of the previous two numbers. Fibonacci’s problem considered the growth of an idealized rabbit population, assuming that: a newly born pair of rabbits, one male, one female, are put in a field; rabbits are able to mate at the age of one month so that at the end of its second month a female can produce another pair of rabbits; rabbits never die and a mating pair always produces one new pair (one male, one female) every month from the second month on. The puzzle that Fibonacci posed was: how many pairs will there be in one year?

OK, so that’s all sounding a bit like ‘two trains are heading in opposite directions at 53km per hour, at a gradient of 14 degrees – so, what is the driver’s name?” however:

At the end of the first month, they mate, but there is still only 1 pair.
At the end of the second month the female produces a new pair, so now there are 2 pairs of rabbits in the field.
At the end of the third month, the original female produces a second pair, making 3 pairs in all in the field.
At the end of the fourth month, the original female has produced yet another new pair, the female born two months ago produces her first pair also, making 5 pairs.
At the end of the nth month, the number of pairs of rabbits is equal to the number of new pairs (which is the number of pairs in month n − 2) plus the number of pairs alive last month (n − 1). This is the nth Fibonacci number.

So the sequence looks like this: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233 which can be shown in tiles in this fashion:

From this, comes the glorious Fibonacci spiral – which is an approximation of the ‘golden spiral‘ created by drawing circular arcs connecting the opposite corners of squares in the Fibonacci tiling.

 

Fibonacci sequences appear in nature –  branching in trees, the arrangement of leaves on a stem, the fruit sprouts of a pineapple, artichoke flowers, an uncurling fern all follow the sequence. Apparently some claims of Fibonacci numbers or ‘golden sections’ in nature (the breeding of rabbits in Fibonacci’s own unrealistic example, the seeds on a sunflower, the spirals of shells, and the curve of waves) are poorly substantiated – pretty sure the above looks just like a shell, though, so I’m running with it! And there, my friends, endeth the lesson – if you’d like to know more, a Google search will lead you down many rabbit warrens on the interesting Fibonacci spiral.

The Ocean Cleanup

The Consensus (photo credit Asli Alin)

The Consensus (photo credit Asli Alin)

It’s a very scary thought – since we humans started making plastic, millions of tons of it have entered our oceans. Plastic NEVER biodegrades, and so it simply bobs around in the sea. Due to the movement of the water around the world, this discarded rubbish concentrates in five rotating currents, called gyres.

At least one million seabirds and one hundred thousand marine mammals die each year due to plastic pollution. The survival of many species could be jeopardized by plastic debris. On top of that, plastic pollution is a carrier of invasive species, threatening native ecosystems, to say nothing of the economic and health effects this plastic waste has on human beings.

The Ocean Cleanup

While diving in Greece, Boyan Slat became frustrated when coming across more plastic bags than fish, and wondered: “why can’t we clean this up?” He decided to dedicate half a year of research to understand plastic pollution and the problems associated with cleaning it up. This ultimately led to the passive cleanup concept, The Ocean Cleanup. A team of approximately 100 committed people, performing research in the fields of engineering, physical oceanography, ecology, finance, maritime law, processing and recycling, are all working to make this concept a reality.

Ocean Cleanup Concept

An array of floating barriers and platforms are attached to the sea bed to concentrate the plastic before extracting it from the ocean – a collection process which is 100% driven by the natural winds and currents. Instead of nets, solid floating barriers make entanglement of wildlife impossible. Virtually all of the current flows underneath these booms, taking away all neutrally buoyant organisms, while the lighter-than-water plastic remains in front of the floating barrier, up to the microscopically sized particles. The scalable array of moorings and booms is designed for large-scale deployment, covering millions of square kilometers. Thanks to its projected high capture and field efficiency, a single gyre can be covered in just 5 years. The method is theoretically highly cost-effective.

Fanta Orange Handblown Glass Bubble and Sterling Silver Earrings

A feasibility study is being held, but funding is needed. What worthier cause than the health of our beautiful oceans? 10% of all The Silver Forge sales will be donated to The Ocean Cleanup this month. Head to my shop now to help out, won’t you? I love to support enterprising and hardworking people dedicating themselves to the future of our planet!

Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors

Steve Irwin – a man of passion and integrity, who did his utmost to change the way the world views wildlife. His tireless work for his worthy cause and his legendary enthusiasm have always captured my heart, and the hearts of millions of us all around the world.

Irwin, Terri - Steve and Me

I read ‘Steve and Me’ a while back, written by Steve’s wife Terri; as well as being a great and moving read it further increased my admiration for both Steve and Terri and their wonderful work, and inspired me to do something – however small – to help. Without wildlife, we are nothing, and the conservation of nature is incredibly important.

Wildlife Warriors

Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors are carrying on Steve’s legacy. Wildlife Warriors believe that people, wildlife and habitat should be able to survive and prosper without being detrimental to the existence of each other. Their objectives are:

To protect and enhance the natural environment
To provide information and education to the public and raise awareness of wildlife issues
To undertake biological research
To research, recommend and act in the protection of threatened or endangered species.
To enter into cooperative arrangements with like-minded organisations

Apple Green Czech Glass Tube and Sterling Silver Earrings

I am proud to support Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors this month, by donating 10% of sales from The Silver Forge. Shop up and help save the planet!

 

 

{title photo credit – Guillaume Blanchard}

Surfrider Foundation Australia

Wave Goodbye (Photo credit Elgarboart)

Wave Goodbye (Photo credit Elgarboart)

Surfrider Foundation Australia is a not for profit sea-roots organisation dedicated to the protection of Australia’s waves and beaches through conservation, activism, research and education.

Surfrider Foundation Banner

Amongst other campaigns, Surfrider are currently campaigning to promote awareness about plastics and what they are doing to our world. Here are a few chilling facts from the Surfrider website:

  • Most plastic pollution at sea starts out on land as litter on beaches, streets and footpaths. Rain or overwatering flushes that litter through a storm drain system or directly to creeks, streams and rivers that lead to the ocean. After plastics enter the marine environment they slowly photodegrade into smaller pieces that marine life can mistake for food, sometimes with fatal results.
  • Ocean gyres concentrate plastic pollution in five main areas of the world’s ocean and various research groups are bringing back alarming data documenting plastics impacts.
  • The amount of plastic produced from 2000 – 2010 exceeds the amount produced during the entire last century.
  • Plastic is the most common type of marine litter worldwide.
  • An estimated 100,000 marine mammals and up to 1 million sea birds die every year after ingesting or being tangled in plastic marine litter.
  • Up to 80% of the plastic in our oceans comes from land-based sources.
  • Plastics comprise up to 90% of floating marine debris.
  • In 2009 about 3.8 million tons of waste plastic “bags, sacks and wraps” were generated in the United States alone, but only 9.4% of this total was recycled.
  • Plastics do not biodegrade, but instead break down into small particles that persist in the ocean, absorb toxins, and enter our food chain through fish, sea birds and other marine life.
  • Plastic bags are problematic in the litter stream because they float easily in the air and water, traveling long distances and never fully breaking down in water.
  • Cleanup of plastic bags is costly. for example California spends $25 million annually to landfill discarded plastic bags, and public agencies spend more than $300 million annually in litter cleanup.
  • It is estimated that Americans go through about 100 billion plastic bags a year, or 360 bags per year for every man, woman and child in the country. 

Surfrider Rise Above Plastics

RISE ABOVE PLASTICS

Here are ten easy things you can do to reduce your ‘plastic footprint’ and help keep plastics out of the marine environment:

  • Choose to reuse when it comes to shopping bags and bottled water. Cloth bags and metal or glass reusable bottles are available locally at great prices.
  • Refuse single-serving packaging, excess packaging, straws and other ‘disposable’ plastics. Carry reusable utensils in your purse, backpack or car to use at bbq’s, potlucks or take-out restaurants.
  • Reduce everyday plastics such as sandwich bags and juice cartons by replacing them with a reusable lunch bag/box that includes a thermos.
  • Bring your to-go mug with you to the coffee shop, smoothie shop or restaurants that let you use them. A great way to reduce lids, plastic cups and/or plastic-lined cups.
  • Go digital! No need for plastic cds, dvds and jewel cases when you can buy your music and videos online.
  • Seek out alternatives to the plastic items that you rely on.
  • Recycle. If you must use plastic, try to choose #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE), which are the most commonly recycled plastics. Avoid plastic bags and polystyrene foam as both typically have very low recycling rates.
  • Volunteer at a beach cleanup. Surfrider Foundation Chapters often hold cleanups monthly or more frequently.
  • Support plastic bag bans, polystyrene foam bans and bottle recycling.
  • Spread the word. Talk to your family and friends about why it is important to Rise Above Plastics!

Blue Sparkles Handblown Glass Bubble and Sterling Silver Earrings

And from me, a reminder to you all, although the sentiment is a lovely one, please don’t release helium balloons into the air – they end up in our oceans, where turtles and other marine life think they are jellyfish, and get sick and or die from ingesting the rubber. 10% of all The Silver Forge Sales for this mnth will be donated to this very worthy cause. (And for goodness’ sake, if you smoke, bin your butts!!)

Inspiration ~ Paisley

My ~amorphia~ collection was in part inspired by amoebae, but is also reminiscent of paisley – and how I love it!

‘Paisley’ is an English term for a a droplet-shaped Persian design, known as Boteh Jegheh, which has been used in Iran since the Sassanid Dynasty (AD 224 to AD 651).  The word ‘Paisley’, though, comes from the town of the same name in Renfrewshire, Scotland, a centre for textiles where paisley designs were produced.

Paisley was made especially fashionable during the ’60s, with the psychedelic style being credited to the pilgrimage of The Beatles to India in 1968. Prince paid homage to the design with his 1985 song ‘Paisley Park’.

You could go on a little online paisley finding pilgrimage.. you might enjoy it! I’d love to see your fave pattern. Now, just don’t get me started on fractals!

Inspiration ~ Christopher Trotter

Growth - Christopher Trotter

Growth – Christopher Trotter – 2006

This fantastical sculpture amazed me every time I visited my son’s school at Indooropilly. There’s just something about the industrial and functional meeting with the organic and surreal that really appeals to me! On his last day, I finally took the time to take a photo and to read the plaque mounted beside it – I’m so glad I was able to identify Christopher Trotter as the sculptor behind this sublime creation.

Alderley Fossil - Christopher Trotter

Alderley Fossil – Christopher Trotter 2007

I had a feeling that this glorious fossil sculpture (much admired on every journey I make past a park not far from where I live) was also Christopher’s work. I finally found this picture on his website, and was pleased that my eye for style had not deceived me!

Bottle Tree - Christopher Trotter - 2004
Bottle Tree – Christopher Trotter – 2004

Christopher’s sources of inspiration include Australian sculptor, Robert Klippel; Swiss surrealist, H.R. Giger; and even Dr Seuss. His website, full of fabulous creations, states “It is the artists who pursue an individual vision regardless of the fashions of the time that history remembers, and Trotter is such an artist.” A sentiment that speaks to my heart! Thanks, Christopher Trotter, for making the world a more marvellous place. Keep animating steel!

The Fred Hollows Foundation

Eye of the Beholder (photo credit Bianca de la Torre - Gisel Photography)

Eye of the Beholder (photo credit Bianca de la Torre – Gisel Photography)

I chose The Fred Hollows Foundation as The Silver Forge’s worthy cause for January. The Foundation is inspired by the work of the late Professor Fred Hollows (1929–1993).
 Fred was an eye doctor, a skilled surgeon of international renown and a social justice activist. He was committed to improving the health of Indigenous Australians and to reducing the cost of eye health care and treatment in developing countries.

Fred Hollows Foundation

An estimated 32.4 million people around the world today are blind – four out of five don’t have to be. Simple interventions, such as inexpensive medication and surgery, can restore people’s sight, productivity and livelihoods, giving lasting benefits for individuals, their families and whole communities.

Fred Hollows

Half of global blindness is caused by cataracts – a clouding of the lens of the eye that can be treated by a simple surgical procedure – and the World Bank has identified cataract surgery as one of the most cost-effective of all public health interventions. Cataracts affect both the young and old. The Foundation focuses on the comprehensive treatment of cataract blindness, but they also tackle other causes of blindness, including trachoma and refractive error. Since its formation in 1992 The Foundation has helped restore sight to well over 1 million people. What a marvellous gift!

Orange Melon Czech Glass and Sterling Silver Dangle Earrings

You can donate directly to The Fred Hollows Foundation here – or make a purchase from The Silver Forge shop and 10% of everything you buy during January will be donated to The Fred Hollows Foundation on your behalf. Thank you, and happy shopping!

MadeIt Kris Kringle

Along with some of the lovely handmaidens of Australia that are my co-sellers on MadeIt, I recently took part in a Kris Kringle, and I was really thrilled to be the lucky recipient of this lovely journal cover, complete with notebook and pen!

Kris Kringle Journal Cover

What a sweet cover, with handpainted butterflies, and such a gorgeous sentiment too!

Kris Kringle Journal Cover

Just what I needed, as I have many plans for 2014  – and now I have a great place to keep them!

Kris Kringle Journal Cover

It took me quite a bit of searching before I found out who the creator of this lovely cover was – but I found her! I knew I’d seen that style somewhere before! It was Rachel from Babee and Me.

Babee and Me Fish Teether

Rachel’s shop is just overflowing with divine gifts for babies and children, like this divine fish teether, or these fabulous wooden blocks.

Babee and Me Wooden Blocks

You can find Babee and Me on Facebook, too.

Babee and Me Cloth Book

Thank you so much, Rachel – I’m really looking forward to filling this lovely journal with plenty of dreams to follow in 2014! Happy festive season, and I hope your Kris Kringle gift was as lovely as mine. 🙂

Have a Fabulous Festive Season!

Merry and Bright Christmas Star

To you, all my dear Silver Forge blog readers, a very merry time, whatever you’re doing and wherever you are over the next couple of weeks.

I’d like to thank you so much for your kindness and support, and may 2014 be filled with joy and fulfilment for everyone. Peace and happiness to all!

Australian Wandarrah Secret Santa

I signed up to participate in a Secret Santa swap which is taking place on the Australian Wandarrah Etsy team I belong to. Look what arrived in the mail – this gorgeous parcel!

Australian Wandarrah Secret Santa

When I opened it, here’s what I found inside:

Australian Wandarrah Secret Santa

Yes, it really did feel like Christmas.. and even better, a nice early Christmas! And LOOK what was inside the parcel:

Australian Wandarrah Secret Santa

Oh, how lucky am I? What totally divine Christmas ornaments, and such a beautiful key fob! The handstitching is immaculate, and these gorgeous goodies are obviously made with such love and care.

Of course, when you get a Secret Santa present, it’s just second nature to want to know who it’s from – so with a little detective work, I discovered that the creator of these handcrafted delights is Nari from Nari Design Pot!

NariDesignPot - Christmas Fish

Nari’s shop is filled with divine handmade creations – as well as these lovely Christmas ornaments, she has many other treasures.

NariDesignPot - Jigsaw Brooch

You really should check them out – I bet there’s something there for a few people on your Christmas list! You can find Nari on FaceBook, too.

NariDesignPot - Green Heart

Thank you SO much, Nari – you really made my day with your thoughtfulness, and your divinely made creations. I hope your Secret Santa is as good to you as you were to me!

Inspiration ~ Travels in China

China - CloudsIn 2008, we travelled to China. It was an interesting an amazing journey, and as I looked back at my photos recently, I realised that many of the things I saw have provided me with artistic inspiration.

Warhammer Ogre Bull

At the time, I was silversmithing but had not yet started The Silver Forge. I spent a lot of my spare time painting Warhammer miniatures for my elder son, and he asked for his Chaos Ogre Army to be Chinese themed – which it was, as you can see from this banner!

Chinese Wall

I just loved this round window we found at the top of a khast hill climb in Yangshou, after a boatride upriver from Guilin. The exposed brick at the bottom and the grafitti all around that gorgeous window looking out onto nature are typical of the China we saw – beauty surrounded by wear and tear.

China - Pottery

I had not thought of these beautiful old pottery pieces we found in a museum exhibit for years, but their influence is apparent when you look at my Elementals collection!

Elementals Range

As I was discussing recently on my Facebook page, I have a fascination with manhole covers – it’s not hard to see why when you find such beauties as this one!

China - Grate

Travel to anywhere can provide inspiration, even just a trip down the street – and I’m glad to have seen a tiny part of China, and carried away some lovely memories, too. Xièxiè, Zhōngguó!

Mick Bradley

Vale Mick Bradley, wonderful man and photographer extraordinaire.

Mick Bradley - London - The Monument

London: The Monument (photo Mick Bradley)

I had the pleasure and the honour of knowing Mick as the father of Morgan (my best and dearest friend since we first met in first grade nearly forty years ago) and her beautiful sisters, Elwyn and Dylan. I recall Mick first from those earlier days, a bohemian and sharply witty man who filled the room with his shine; always with a quick quip or a joke, usually with camera in hand, snapping away, capturing those fleeting moments.

Mick Bradley - Canberra, Murrumbidgee 1984

Canberra, Murrumbidgee 1984 (photo Mick Bradley)

I seem to remember I was there the day this picture was taken, down by the Cotter River where Mick was camping. What an enviable ability to live life to the fullest and to just be himself he seemed to have!

London: Kew Gardens (photo Mick Bradley)

London: Kew Gardens (photo Mick Bradley)

Mick was an international photographer of great repute. The Wakefield Press description of a beautiful book Mick co-created, ‘City Streets – Progessive Adelaide 75 years on’ says “His work bridges the gap between documentary and fine art photography. He was born in London, but came to Australia as a boy, and his images tell stories from our lives from the 1970s on. Mick honed his craft as a fine art printer, darkroom operator and photographer working for studios in Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide and London. He has created a niche for himself in the history of South Australian photography, while his work appears in books, exhibitions and collections throughout this country and in North America and the United Kingdom.”

Mick Bradley - Kangaroo Island South Australia

Kangaroo Island, South Australia (photo Mick Bradley)

Mick’s work spans decades and continents; and transcends this ordinary world, as did Mick himself. As my dear Morgan so beautifully and eloquently put it “He remains in the amazing photographs he took, in the trees, land, sky and water – in the music he loved to listen to and play, and in the people who love him.”

A Private Residence, London (photo Mick Bradley)

A Private Residence, London (photo Mick Bradley)

The world is a smaller and sadder place without him. He is remembered with so much love by so many people and he will live on in his work, and in our hearts. I can only aspire to have my life’s work bring such beauty to so many for so long, and I’m sending peace and love to all of his loved ones in my thoughts.

Mick Bradley - Sturt Highway, Australia

Sturt Highway, Australia (photo Mick Bradley)

His passing from this world makes me more aware that today is the day: “Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

Vale Mick Bradley – one of the world’s cool guys.

Inspiration ~ Johnson Tsang

Johnson Cheung-shing Tsang is “a Hong Kong sculptor specializing in ceramics, stainless steel sculpture and public art work. Tsang’s works mostly employ realist sculptural techniques accompanied by surrealist imagination, integrating the two elements, “human beings” and  “objects”, into creative themes.”

So says Johnson’s blurb. Words, however, cannot adequately describe this body of work. It has to be seen to be believed. I strongly urge you to click on the pictures you are about to see – the links will take you to Johnson’s blog posts, giving you more detail, and more delicious images, of these stunningly beautiful pieces.

A Painful Pot - Johnson Tsang

A Painful Pot – Johnson Tsang

I was blown away by ‘A Painful Pot’  – a stunning commentary on how Tsang feels about his country, made even more amazing by being able to see the process that goes into the creation of this piece.

 

Earth to Earth - Johnson Tsang

Earth to Earth – Johnson Tsang

Earth to Earth is a result of Jonhson’s musings on life and death. You have to see this piece in its entirety – purely amazing!

 

Kiss of Eternity - Johnson Tsang

Kiss of Eternity – Johnson Tsang

The beauty of a kiss and the symbol of eternity entwine to create this simple yet intricate flowing sculpture.

 

Breathless - Johnson Tsang

Breathless – Johnson Tsang

Breathless – and a little speechless – this striking bowl actually bubbles.

 

Humanosaur - Johnson Tsang

Humanosaur – Johnson Tsang

The humanosaur. Need I say more!

I love the humorous undertone contained in these deep and evocative pieces. I actually had to stop myself adding pictures to this blog post – I could browse through Johnson’s website from dawn to dusk! I hope I can see some of his pieces in real life some day – until now, I’ll remain inspired by these works and the beautiful and heartfelt messages behind them. Thank you, Johnson Tsang, you make the world a better and more amazing place!

Mysterious Organic Mosaic and Metal Sculptures

Sculpture at Chermside

Outside the Chermside Westfield Shopping Centre, there is the most fabulous art installation. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it.

Sculpture at Chermside

Each piece is a combination of beautifully sculpted metal and wonderfully colourful mosaic tiles.

Sculpture at Chermside

These are so obviously life forms of the most unusual and exquisite type!

Sculpture at Chermside

I see flowering gumnuts and banksia, scribbly bark and ladybeetle, all blended into these magnificent artworks.

Sculpture at Chermside

 

The mystery for me is “Who?” “Who dunnit?” for nowhere could I find a plaque informing me who created these delights. I’ve searched high and low online. I even emailed the centre management team to ask – with no reply. If anyone knows, I’d be delighted to hear!!

Sculpture at Chermside

 

Meanwhile, they are just there to be enjoyed. I love them, and love that they are next to a megaplex shopping centre in a tiny park with other magical creations for kids to clamber on and interact with. Whoever created these, a big bravo!!!!

Story of a Beautiful Tree

I bought the most divine wooden tree puzzle from my lovely friend, Kylie, and it lives in my study where it brings me joy each day! I was inspired so much by it, that I asked Kylie how she would feel if I were to borrow her beautiful tree design for the ‘Earth’ symbol in my new Elementals range. She kindly agreed to let me! I feel honoured both that she was happy for me to use her gorgeous tree shape, and that she liked the pendant I created so much that she bought it! Below is a blog post that she wrote about it. You can read it in full over at Kylie’s Raw Toys website!

______________________________________________________________________________

From Puzzle to Pendant

Back when I first started my little shop, I made a handful of two piece tree puzzles. I sold most of them and have not felt inclined to make more so I discontinued them. Out of the blue, I received an email from my silversmithing friend, Ruthie, from The Silver Forge, asking my permission to use the design from one of these trees she had purchased a while back for an idea she had in mind.
It’s no secret how much I adore Ruthie’s work, so as you can imagine, I was thrilled with the idea! Here is the original tree puzzle belonging to Ruthie:
And here is her finished piece.. my tree design as a stunning silver pendant!
I developed an instant crush on this pendant and decided that I neeeded to be it’s owner. The beautiful tree pendant and I are now insperable and it’s especially perfect that it features my birthstone, the peridot. Thank you so much, Ruthie, I treasure each of the beautiful creations of yours that I’m lucky enough to own – you are a rockstar!
______________________________________________________________________________
Thank you so much, Kylie!

Craft Swap

Christine from Scissors Paper Cloth recently organised a craft swap for members of Australian Wandarrah (an Etsy team I’m part of). I’d never been part of a craft swap before, but it seemed like such a nice idea! A good way to get some feedback from some fellow creators, too.

By chance, it happened that I was Christine’s craft swap person. She did some research, discovered I have a little person, and sent me this divine creation for his room:

Scissors Paper Cloth Hot Air Balloon

This gorgeous hot air balloon came with a light fitting, and can be used as a mobile, or as a lamp or wired in to become a light. My small person and I are both just delighted with this beautiful creation. The little bunting flags are made from pieces of maps, all ready for a journey around the world!

My craft swap person was Deepa of Tunic Botik. Deepa makes gorgeous polymer clay jewellery like this. What a talent!

Tunic Botik Brooch

I sent Deepa these olivine green Swarovski crystal earrings. They’re a one off creation, so she’s the only person in the world with a pair.

Sterling Silver Green Olivine Swarovski Crystal Earrings

What serendipity that the colour of the pieces I sent and received was the same!

I really enjoyed participating in this craft swap, and would definitely sign up again for another one. It’s all about sharing the love! Thanks, team!

Down from the Mountain

The Mountain Kids are a fantastic brother and sister team, aged 5 and 7, who have their own great JuniorMadeIt shop on MadeIt.com.au.

Mountain Kids Creations

I got to know of them as I have become fast online friends with their lovely mum (Kylie from Raw Toys), and after checking out their newly opened shop, Mountain Kids Creations, and the lovely goodies within, I commissioned them to make me this divine rainbow necklace.

Rainbow Necklace

I just love it! When I’m not wearing it, it hangs in my study and brings me joy each day!

The Mountain Family came to my place the other day, as they were interested to see what a silversmith at work looks like. It was such a pleasure to meet them in real life! I gave them a tour of my workshop and a bit of a demonstration. A few days later, and what did I find in the mail, but a lovely thank you card, and this divine bracelet.

Rainbow Bracelet

I truly feel blessed to know such a lovely bunch of people. Do pop over and check out The Mountain Kid’s shop, and if you find yourself a little something, you’ll be helping them support the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, too. Thanks, Mountain Kids, you rock!!

Newmarket Brickworks Chimney

My fascination with constructions in Brisbane continues! Not far from our house, and in the grounds of Flipside where my younger son and I go to learn circus skills, this divine brick chimney is all that is left of the brickworks which stood in Newmarket from 1912 to 1987. As a rare example of a load bearing chimney stack, it was allowed to survive when the Brisbane Brick Company was demolished, and is now heritage listed.

Newmarket Brickworks Chimney

The chimney stands 50 metres tall, and when you look at it now, you can see where the opening to it has been bricked in. It is a remnant of an industry which struggled to survive in a timber-dominated building market. The brickworks was originally set up by a frustrated group of builders and architects who were unable to find good quality bricks nearby. It used the Hoffman kiln method of brick making. (If you’re interested to read more, there is a fabulous blog post on the history of Brisbane bricks here.)

Brisbane St Andrews Presbyterian Church

(photo credit Trevor Bunning)

Mr Anderson, former Manager of Newmarket Brickworks, was the works foreman for the construction of St Andrew’s Church in Brisbane (pictured above), and he sourced the bricks from his old firm. The brickworks also supplied brick to the University of Queensland. During the war it was occupied by the Defence Force to make uniforms and other army equipment.

There are brickmakers in the distant past of my husband’s family, pioneers who came from England to Adelaide in the 1800s, and as I researched them I could only imagine what hard and yet satisfying work it must have been! I had given thought to bricklayers, but not to the people (and methods) that created the bricks themselves.

My photo doesn’t really do this beautiful chimney justice; it is a magnificent creation, built the way things used to be, with much care and attention to aesthetic detail. It was part of my inspiration for this ring, and the one below. I fell in love with this chimney the first time I laid eyes on it, although I had no idea what it was at the time, and still each time I see it it gladdens my heart.

Castle Turret Sterling Silver Ring

Blacksmithing

When I first started silversmithing, I hadn’t made the connection, but I came to realise that I had become part of a family tradition of shaping metal with hammers and fire. There have been smiths in my family since the 1830s. My great-grandfather, great-great-uncle, and great-great-great-grandfather were all village blacksmiths in tiny villages in Kent and Sussex, England.

Horton, William (Bill) -  in the Forge, Brede, Sussex

Great-Great-Uncle Bill Horton working in the forge c 1900 – Brede, Sussex, England 

My grandmother, who is now 97, remembers her dad working at his forge first in Guestling Thorne, then in Icklesham, Sussex, making horseshoes and farming implements. He made the gates for Rambledown House in West Chiltington, West Sussex, where my Great-Auntie worked, which I believe may still be there.

Great Grandad's Trivet

Trivet made by Great-Granddad Robert Horton

Great-Granddad also made this gorgeous trivet (I presume for my Great-Granny), a horseshoe with little boots as the legs, which is one of my most treasured possessions.

Smithed Hook

   Hook made by me

A few years ago, I did a weekend blacksmithing workshop at the railway yards in Ipswich. The first thing I smithed was this hook, and I am very proud of it. Building the forge fire using coke, maintaining it, heating the straight iron rod to red hot, and hammering it with a big hammer on a huge anvil was very exciting. I had to adjust to the idea that the metal had to be glowing red, as if you heat silver to that state, it means it’s melting! Although I got covered in black coke dust, and was pretty worn out by the end of the weekend, it was immensely satisfying and something that I mean to do again some day.

I wonder what my great-great-great-grandfather would have thought of my endeavours? I hope he would have been pleased!

Blue Creatures

I love how Mother Nature occasionally throws something unexpected into her mix – like these gorgeous creatures with a touch of blue!

Blue Footed Booby

Amazon Milk Frog

Glaucus Atlanticus

Blue Lobster

Blue is such a lovely colour. I do have a little range of blue pieces which you can check out using my new ‘shop by colour’ feature here!

Sculpture – Agamemnon

People who know Brisbane might be familiar with le Forme del Mito sculptures, created by Arnaldo Pomodoro in 1983. Pomodoro was born on June 23, 1926, in Morciano, Romagna, Italy. These sculptures were originally theatre set pieces for Agamemnon, a classical Greek tradgedy, which were brought to Brisbane during Expo 88. The Brisbane City Council purchased them, and they were set in King George Square, later moving to their current resting place at the bottom of Jacob’s Ladder in the centre of the city.

Forme del Mitophoto credit to Carlo Orsi

Each figure is created in bronze, and represents a principal character from the play. From left to right above:
La macchina – Machine – Aegisthus
L’ambizione – Ambition – Clytemnestra
Il potere – Power – Agamemnon
La profezia -Prophecy – Cassandra

Clytemnestra

The one that really spoke to me when I came upon them at the bottom of Jacob’s ladder a little while ago was Clytemnestra. I’m sure it’s heretical to say this, but the sculpture really reminded me of nothing so much as a Dalek. And Daleks are cool, so that makes this a very cool piece!

If you had read my recent post on the ring that I just made, you see where my mind has been lately. Very industrial scuplture! 🙂

Books, glorious books! And a way to make a difference.

Reading – it’s probably my number one favourite thing to do.  Ever.  Who doesn’t love to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and a good book? I read morning, noon and night. It’s a miracle that I get anything else done in a day, really!!!

Royal Albert Trio

Anyway, at the moment, I’m devouring reading “Twenty Chickens for a Saddle” by Robyn Scott.  It is a memoir of Robyn’s life as a child, growing up in Botswana, Africa.

Twenty Chickens for a Saddle

As well as many entertaining and amusing anecdotes about her family (swimming in crocodile infested rivers? Being home-schooled in a most unorthodox fashion by their mother? Running an egg selling business, using rescued ‘past their use by date’ battery hens, to fund a new saddle?), Robyn manages to impart – in a way that is completely engaging and without overloading you -a great deal of information about a number of potentially politically touchy subjects, including the AIDS epidemic, and the scary and dangerous beliefs that some of the African people have about HIV.

I haven’t even finished the book yet (plans for that later today!) but I just had to let you know that I was excited enough to tweet about it yesterday, and was surprised and thrilled to receive a tweet from Robyn in reply, letting me know about a great organisation she helped found, Mothers For All.

Mothers For All

Mothers For All are non-profit, supporting women in Botswana and South Africa who care for children orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS. Mothers For All has this to say:

Every mother hopes, should something happen to her, someone will be there to both care for and love her children as she did. But in sub-Saharan Africa millions of mothers have little or no means of ensuring this. Of the 15 million children under 18 years who have been orphaned as a result of AIDS worldwide, 12 million live in sub-Saharan Africa.” (figures from 2009).

I think this probably resonates with all of us – I can’t think of anything more awful than not being there for my children, and not knowing that they would be safe and cared for if I were to die. So, what started as a gentle book read has morphed into a worthy cause to support.  Like me, perhaps you could take a few minutes to read the website, and perhaps make a donation or purchase one of the lovely bead pieces, handmade by the mothers of the project.

Mothers For All Necklace Green

Perhaps you could become an activist for Mothers For All, or simply use whatever social media you’re comfortable with to promote this very worthy cause!

Inspiration – Windmill

The oldest surviving structure in Queensland is right here in Brisbane, in the City.  It is a windmill, built by convicts from the penal settlement at Moreton Bay.

Windmill

There is an interesting story behind this structure.  I think many a convict would have rued the building of it; not only would it have been hard slog to create it, but it was, in part, powered by a treadmill trodden by convicts as punishment!

Windmill

The Moreton Bay Song, a traditional Australian song from the pen of convict, Frank McNamara, was written in celebration of the death of Captain Patrick Logan, former commander of the Moreton Bay convict settlement, who oversaw this windmill. I remember singing the song in choir in primary school. Little did I  know that one day I would be living in the area and seeing this fantastic old building!

Windmill

So, a thought for those who came before us, and their hardships and trials – especially those pioneers, both intentional and through circumstance, who shaped our country into the great place it is to live today!!

Inspiration – John Paul Miller

John Paul Miller

I came across the most divine pieces pictured in ‘Jewelry Concepts and Technology’ by Oppi Untracht, a fantastic book that I bought recently. I was inspired to research John Paul Miller, the artist who created them.

Miller was born in 1918, and started his career as a painter.  Inspired by the creations of a fellow student, he started making silver jewellery of his own.  After receiving advice from the director of his school that “we don’t need any more good watercolor painters. Why don’t you concentrate on jewelry?” he turned his full attention to the craft.

Miller rediscovered the lost Roman art of granulation. He immersed himself in enamelling.  I love his work, it is so intricate and organic. I can only dream of aspiring to be one hundredth as good as this!!

From the interviews I have read, he seems, at 94, to be a humble and gentle man, who has lived an interesting life – well worth reading more about. Thank you, John Paul Miller, for providing such beautiful, inspirational works to the world!

Inspiration – The Carp Leaps Over The Dragon Gate

Carp Leaps Over Dragon Gate

While walking through the Brisbane Chinatown Mall in Fortitude Valley one evening, I was delighted to discover this divine sculpture, “The Carp Leaps Over The Dragon Gate”, designed by Catherine Chui. According to the legend, the carp faces challenge with great courage to undergo metamorphosis from fish to dragon, and so represents a spirit of initiation, exploration, persistence and willpower. The shape of the Brisbane River forms the Carp’s spine.  It is part of the revamping of ChinaTown, and is designed and situated with good Feng Shui principles in mind. I love his silvery orangeness and his innards!! 🙂

Inspiration – Antoni Gaudi

My sister first introduced me to the fantastic architectural works of Antoni Gaudi i Cornet, blogging photos of his creations she visited when she was in Spain.  I think he is the master of all things when it comes to architecture.  His use of fluid, organic lines and beautiful mosaic tiling just blows me away!

I love that he didn’t just design amazing buildings, he had input into everything that went into or onto them. He was skilled in various arts: ceramics,  stained glass, carpentry and wrought iron forging, all of which he incorporated into his beautiful works.

Born in 1852, he was unique, especially in a time which had probably never seen anything remotely like this before!

A truly inspirational man, well worth spending some time immersing yourself in his story and works.

Oh, for a visit to Barcelona to see his work!!  It’s on my list of one day dreams….

Photography: J Gray.