Monday, 28 July 2008

Making a difference with Beads

The more observant of my website visitors will note that I am now donating £1 for each individual item sold on my website to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Firstly, I want to pre-empt the inevitable question of whether I have increased my prices to account for this. The answer is "no, I haven't". The DSWT is a very worthwhile charity, and I wanted to find a way of using my passion for glass to benefit its work. Until the time when beads become an accepted currency once again, this is the easiest way for me to do that!

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was established in 1977. It is dedicated to the protection and conservation of wildlife and habitats. If you have ever watched the BBC's "Elephant Diaries" you'll know about the outstanding work they do in rescuing orphan elephants. Many of these have become orphans through the illegal trade in ivory, and The DSWT operates several de-snaring teams that work very successfully, along with the Kenya Wildlife Service, to pursue illegal activities, thus making a safer environment for wildlife.

The orphans are taken to the Nursery in Nairobi, where the keepers care for them. They soon begin to bond with their new siblings and the most wonderful relationships are formed. Once they graduate from the nursery they transfer to either Voi or Ithumba, within the Tsavo National Park, and here they stay until they are ready to be reintegrated into the Park to live alongside the wild elephant community.

I have fostered two orphans. A little girl, called Makena, and a little boy called Shimba. I receive regular updates on how they're getting along and I take particular pleasure in reading when they've been up to some mischief! Makena is three years old and has recently graduated from the nursery and is now at Ithumba where she was joyously reunited with some of her elder foster siblings. Shimba is just two years old, and still finding his feet in the nursery.

It costs just £3 a month to foster an orphan elephant or rhino. If you would like to find out more about the DSWT, or how you can foster an orphan too, visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's website.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Art in Action

Yesterday we went to Art in Action at Waterperry Gardens in Oxfordshire. I hadn't been to this event before, even though it's now in it 28th year. It was a fantatstic day, and an event I will definitely be returning to next year. I was in my element all day!

Art in Action brings together artists and craftspeople from all over the country, and further afield too, to demonstrate their skills to the public. All manner of crafts were represented, including leatherwork, sculpture, calligraphy, metalwork, ceramics, textiles and more. Of course for me the glass was the biggest attraction, and I watched several of the demonstrations by talented glassblowers and lampworkers. Anthony Wassell's plate spinning demonstration was fantastic! The final stage where he span the plate out was magical!

There are many similarities between glass and ceramics. The application of heat and cool can effect the colours in each, and we watched as some of the Raku pottery was fired. The smell of the burner was delicious!

This pot in the ceramics tent was born surprisingly quickly and it was really interesting seeing it come together.

Dora Schubert was in the Market Place, and I watched Diana East make a beautiful hollow bead from boro tubing. Julie Ann Denton's flameworking pieces are exquisite. We also watched beautiful wine glasses being made in the flame.

I was enthralled with the jewellery. Particularly I loved Lucy Sylvester's work. Her work is inspired by nature, and I was especially taken with her rings, with seed heads and acorns on them.

The best thing about Art in Action is the fact that you can roll your sleeves up and get involved. There were a plethora of practical classes to sign up for. My husband took the opportunity to take a winetasting class, while I watched yet another glass demo!

If you've never been to Art in Action I would recommend it wholeheartedly. The setting is beautiful, and the house and garden are open to visit if you want to pack even more into your day! It was really well organised, and the atmosphere was completely chilled. I took the opportunity to meet up with a couple of lampworker friends, and it was lovely to see Diana and Dora again too.

The event is on tomorrow too, so it's not too late!

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Sunflower Necklace

I am so pleased to have finally made this necklace for myself. I bought the hollow beads from Andrea Guibelli when we were in Venice in May. He makes them on a hollow mandrel and the end that isn't on the mandrel, he heats up and blows through the mandrel to blow out a hole. Very clever indeed. These beads are steel grey. I made the tiny spacers to match. The stunning silver focal lentil bead is one of Rebecca Crabtree's. She makes some beautiful beads using silver clay. You can see her work in her Etsy Shop.

Here is a close-up of the focal;

And a close-up of one of the hollows;

I've finised the necklace off with some byzantine weave. The clever thing is that the chain clips off so I can easily swap it onto other necklace frontpieces! Now I can have lots and lots and lots and lots(!) of necklaces without spending an arm and a leg on silver. With the way the price of silver has been rocketing lately, I'm quite pleased with my ingenuity!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Byzantine Necklace

I haven't managed to make any new beads this week, although I'm itching to get a session at my torch. I will have to wait until next Friday now. I have made so much Byzantine weave this weekend that I can still see it when I close my eyes! I had a commission for a bracelet, which is now finished, and I made one for the Jinney Ring, and I've just finished this necklace, also destined for the Jinney Ring some time soon.

The beads are black, with silvered ivory highlights, and encased in lovely clear glass. I've used my own handmade bead caps, and lots of silver. This is such a versatile necklace I'm tempted to keep it for myself. But I won't...

I managed to take a break from chainmaille (it's a hard life...) and we went for a walk by the river this morning and fed the swans. We managed to dodge the rain and had a lovely relaxing walk. There's something about being close to water that soothes. As always, the camera was at home so I have no swan pics to share, but there were absolutely loads! We did, however, remember to take bread.