Monday, July 25, 2011

Look here you lot, I have something to say

Backgrounds! We all need 'em, we all got 'em, we all want 'em to look nice. That's where I come in. (No I'm not modelling for you.) But I can teach you how to know what to do to get the best results, no matter what kind of camera you have.

Above you see a picture of some of the props n' whatnot I use when photographing supplies. I have a small collection of various antique papers, books, old journals and the like, to shoot against, because the paper gives texture without too much pattern. On the top is an antique camera negative plate which gives black background for dark things, next to it is a tape measure to give an idea of scale, and on the right is a folded up piece of cloth- this is no more than a resting pad for the camera! I put my camera down a lot between shooting items, and when I'm short on temper and there's a cat wanting to be fed nownownowNOWNOWNOWNOW, I tend to drop my camera down a little too harshly, so having a padded surface means there's no damage done.

detailed and small things need a plain background so nothing distracts the eye

But this post is just sort of a teaser- the post before the post. I plan to write a nice big long boring post about this subject; I'm looking to teach you a little bit about the right props for your product, the right colour backgrounds for your product (another sub-lesson in Know Your Market), the right lighting, the right approach. I can't teach you how to ignore the cat, it cannot be learned.

I'm trying to do is help as many people in the right way- there's no point in me bleating on about how to shoot on a black background if none of you intend to. So many people have trouble with their photography but I maintain that once you've got your background looking good, the rest is as easy as riding a horse backwards while on fire.

So your backgrounds- let me see them! Leave a comment in this post with a link to your troubled item/s and I'll use the pic in the post so we're working with relevant examples.

Props help your item to feel less lonely.

And yes I am really on holiday, and no I don't consider this to be working! It's helping. I can help and still be on staycation. Helping is not working! Honest! Stop making that face!! Look, here I am spending time with the bird:

See? Holiday!

Sunday, July 24, 2011


begins at home

Surprise vacation! Almost as much of a surprise to me as to you. It's a decision I only made 2 days ago; I've been finding work getting a little on top of me lately, so in order to find some breathing space I've made some. All my shops are on vacation now for the next 2 weeks, wherein they will open again.


As for me, the first week of my 'staycation' is mostly cleaning. (Hey don't knock it, I love a good scrub.) I'm not hanging around for that Spring thing to get into gear, the dust gets shook up now! Cleaning my studio is way overdue and I know I'm never going to get to it while I'm working, so I decided to stop working.


Of course we all know that lasts approximately 2 days, so to lull myself into that false sense of security we all love and depend on, I am allowed to make things, as long as they're either something for me (clothing mends, jewelry etc) or they're paper collage and painting.


I've been wanting to do some exhibition work for a while but was never going to happen while I was working. I also plan to sort out the veggie patch, redecorate my room, purge the eBay pile, sort some destash, make more DIY kits, sew some textiles for an upcoming market stall project and generally expect too much of myself. As is my way!


of course I'll still be here, sharing ideas and musings. Apart from the first image (which is mine), this post is decorated with nice images I've found lately, things that resonate with me right now, for reasons that I both know and understand. All is revealed in time.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Many travel, few rest.

harvest- going for some simple stuff lately, I've often remarked to myself that what I make isn't really what I'd wear, because I don't wear over the top jewelry. So I've been working on some pieces that showcase the individual form of each element rather than telling a tale by combining many. It's good to branch out.

Geology - more simple showcasing. I find it hard to use chunky beads but these bracelets work well.

Signal - more simple! The combination of antique clay pipe stem, tribal bone and African Bauxite- it's like magic, these things that come from far corners of the world to sit together so well. Humans are so connected in what we make. These simple pieces have a strong geometric flavour (which I usually don't have) that's very popular right now, I've noticed alot of people doing it- but for most shops I come across it doesn't seem like a 'jumping on the band-wagon' thing, it's more like a 'collective unconscious' thing. We're all communicating with something.

Bounty- a peak at the kind of romance that's coming into my work lately, I've been feeling textiles again and you shall see more of them in the next update!

Allooshna - fish vertebrae bones from Africa, who knows how old as they came with a big batch of trade beads, some of which are turning out to be several hundred years old.

Secret, with a tiny antique key, a lovely little scrap of glass bead work and hand painted locket.

Whitethorn, using bauxite beads hand carved by villagers in Ghana, and a tin cone I made myself out of an antique tin lid. I like the combination of painted dots and shredded lace, alluding to a kind of Ancient romantic thing I'm feeling lately. Jane Austen goes Iron Age.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sparrow visits the castle

I had a studio-free day this weekend (a rarity) , choosing instead to catch up with friends who live out in the hills behind my town.

This if you can believe it, is the view from their garage. Seriously. At it's like that on the other 3 sides of the house too. (click the pic to view large.)

Every room is filled with the treasures of a lifetime of adventuring, each object has a story connected to it.

We cleaned out some of the enormous shed while I was there (the last owners left a lot of junk), I was tasked with sorting through a whole chest of vintage craft stuff- the terms were I kept what I liked and boxed up the rest for charity. Good deal! I don't have a picture of my haul, so here's a picture of my work desk instead:

The lighter tones of pink and cream are making themselves known right now. And look- textiles! I feel as if the Spring is already inside me, the weather just needs to catch up. Unusual for me- usually I hang on to the winter as much as I can. I guess I'm just sick of sitting still. Plus I have plans brewing.

Big plans.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Coming Home

These two treasuries made today are a thought train for my mind of late. There has been a real theme of 'home' in my life these last few days- more than usual! Talks I've had with friends, books I've read, thrifted things, blog posts, tumblr images... everything has been nesting itself together in my head and coming out on my work table.

The Other

Autumn Afternoons in the West Country

Pale dusty pinks, creamy tans and chocolate browns, rough texture and smooth wood... not just the sense of home in terms of buildings and people, but in colours and objects- what make me feel I am at home, whether I'm at home in a building or an environment or some abstract feeling I cannot put a finger on. A decidedly British direction (no surprise) with Iron Age evocations.

Or maybe I just watch too much Time Team. As if there could be any such thing!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Nothing is more true.

Take it apart! The motto of my childhood. Read the rest of this hilarious comic (and so many more faux 19th century amusements!) at Wondermark. Always cheers me up, that site.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Beads ahoy

As artists we often chide ourselves (while completing checkout I'm sure) that we don't really need any more supplies, that we should really hold off for a while and make something with what we've got..blah blah blah. But when you specialise in things that are made with antique and vintage pieces, you can't really 'hold off'- most stuff that comes up is gone before you've had a chance to figure out what you'll do with it.

It's especially hard to abstain when these things are a bargain, and these recent acquisitions were.
They need a clean obviously, but for the price they were I'm happy to get the toothbrush out. The silver metal 'block' pendant charms were from an Ethiopian necklace of an undetermined age, the rest were a 'grab bag' from an eBay seller. These are actually only about 1/10th of the total bag, but there were a lot of coloured ones that I don't have a use for. I'll be putting them in my amazing kits when I do some up with tribal bohemian overtones. (This weekend, cross fingers!)

So ancient looking- I suspect all of these to be at least 100 years old, if not older.

But look at these! Could these be the tiniest beads in the world?

How about these ones?

So tiny! I really can't imagine what anyone could do with such microscopic creatures. Those last ones are carved lapiz lazuli from Afghanistan. I bought them to make hoops like these - but I'm really bad at measuring scale on the internet- I thought they'd be much bigger! Oh well.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

supplies party

---- cotton candy ----

Over at Sparrow Salvage, my DIY kits are back in stock, so you can get yourself some of my hand-dyed vintage and reclaimed fabrics and special little beads ' whatnot I pick up in my travels and make your own piece of Sparrow genius!

Of course in my own stubborn style I can't just snap some shots and sling up the listing, I have to go all out, spending what is probably too much time laying them out and arranging the buttons and what-have-you next to each other. Truth be told, the part about textile jewelry I liked most was actually getting the supplies and arranging them. And then the picture taking, which I love more than anything.

---- green acres ----

Love that little pie tin! These 4 are up now, then there will be more in the next few days. I have about 15-20 made up but buckets more fabric and beads, so I'll probably do about 50 kits all up. Then that's it! Gone is gone!

---- ghosts ----

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Lazy Blogger

Your most gracious pardon if you will, I've been spending time in my own head- not usually recommended but sometimes necessary. Here's some supplies and components to amuse you while I get around to showing you finished things!

I bought these amaaaazing earrings to take apart, but they're in my personal collection now- I can't part with them! I love their ancient astronaut feeling. I'm thinking more about 2012 lately; an interesting subject with themes I'm attracted to right now (and for the record no- I don't think it's the end of the world).

These beads came from riveting- the blue stripeys were trade beads and the rest came on a broken necklace. They were a criminal bargain- I would've paid the cost of the necklace just for the little coral/turquoise Tibetan ones alone!

Look at their arcane grunginess! The necklace was only a 70s tourist number, but as with a lot of things made for the export market in India and Tibet back then, the people making them didn't pop down to the local craft supermarket and pick up some supplies, they just fished about for whatever they had- these beads could be 400 years old. An importer who worked with a friend of mine once said he would get in hippy skirts and patchwork cushions made of 19th century textiles, simply because the manufacturer had some in the warehouse. Is the preciousness of antique things a very modern Western attitude? How long ago did people start getting in a tizz about how old something was? I could buy this and find out.

Anyway- I bought these little metal plates from riveting as well- you can see two of them have already been introduced to His Lordship Mr.Hammer - and a brush with the novacan too. I like the way the hammering has given them a feeling of ancient gold, pushing up the 'archaeological find' vibe I'm after lately.

Here's a peak of some stuff I've been working on- the round one was the pendant that came with the broken necklace mentioned above. it only had a 'stone' in the middle to which I thought was plastic, but when I hit it with his Lordship to get it out, it powdered a little, revealing it to be glass. Then I had an idea. 10 minutes, some fire and a spot of massively innapropriate use of tools later, I succeeded in redistributing the glass, so now it's a sort of rust brown, with subtle druzy sparkles! (Which you can't capture in camera, the pixies.)

I think sci-fi has had it's short round again; it comes through now and then to clean out the dust and throw back the curtains. There are some pieces still to list that have the look I was going for (I'll show you those later) but as for new work (coming next week!) there is a definite tribal element shining through- and lo, a return of our old friend, the 18th century. Have I been influenced by anything in particular..?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Love letter to a mountain

Love letters come in all shapes. I've written a few of the traditional sort (only one has been given to the person concerned) but love letters can be paintings, music, photographs... the jewelry I make is a love letter to my wounded place. Because love letters don't always have to be happy- in fact the best ones do have a little sadness in them, the desperation of restless desire.

The Mountain from TSO Photography on Vimeo.

This video seems to me a love letter to a mountain.

found via this fantastic blog.