Tag 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.


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.

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!

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!!!!

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

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 – 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.