Lockdown Thoughts . . .

So it’s been 3 months working from home. At first I worked like nothing much had happened, except at home, making collages as I’m unable to make jewellery at home, less days, 5 instead of 6, and shorter days though my days now start at silly o’clock as the weeks have gone on, they are also less interrupted, slower making, more considered, and it was lovely, simple. I like the no commute mornings, eating lunch from an actual bowl, birds singing and my garden view, and seeing my partners face every day. Bliss.

Then I wobbled.

Then I got back on my feet and attempted to draw and learn calligraphy, both on my list of what I would do if only I had time and space. I took online calligraphy workshops, though they were an essential start I soon decided, predictably, to do it my own way. My drawing is rusty and was totally unsure of what and how. So, feeling a little lost I posted my drawings and writings so far in stories on Instagram as a good way to see things from a different angle and objectively. The feedback was great, I’m used to comments about my finished work from having a shop so it feels only right. And so I thought I’d share them here too so I don’t loose momentum and hopefully it will push me to continue. Somehow!

There seems to always be a bit of ephemera weave in my books when I need to find direction, not sure why but it is satisfying to do and nice to see words fragmented.
Testing colours on kraft paper for fragment collages made early on in lockdown. But they are reminding me how much I love colour in jewellery and how I’d like to include colour and shape like the fragments, into my future jewellery, somehow!
Calligraphy workshop practising. I worked through all the pens I had and all of my new sketch book that I expected to use over this year had I still been at the studio.
I tried brush and ink. I normally don’t like writing in blue ink but I love the inky blue handwriting found on postcards. I liked the practise marks you need to do in calligraphy too.
All the letters. Having used all my pens I worked through any marker pen I could find but it was good to work out style of letters and movements.
Sad and tragic news made us slow even more.
Looking at the alphabet . . . Looks like stitching.
Pattern making.
Looking at each letter individually, who doesn’t like a repeat pattern!? With viewfinders that refer to jewellery shapes, but how to translate into jewellery?
Unsure of what I was doing I decided to start drawing, very rusty but nice to draw again, something I regret not keeping going over the (many) years .
Buttons. Not got the hang of it yet but it’s a start!
Back to practice mark making in a brush and ink made me think of jewellery so I chopped out a couple of oval viewfinders to locate some nice areas that mixed a few patterns.
Worked on them a little more. Not sure how to translate them into jewellery yet, or if they will end up being used. We shall see!
Back to drawing. I like old advertising tins, with writing, of course I do.
I decided to visit the British Museum, albeit online and pretend I was wandering and drawing my findings. A statue and two Nigerian carved ivory cuffs.
Nigerian calabash bowl with motto. All the items I’ve chosen to draw are made by people from the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria.
Nigerian cup in carved wood. I’ve always loved the Africa section of the museum and have since wandered around museums with my partner, who is Nigerian (Yoruba) and now learn so much more than the labels describe. About how objects are really used and that they are still in use. There always an old man who lived down his road that would carve wood into objects like this. There was also a man on the street who owned a crocodile!
Nigerian cuff . . . and I also learned about the items that have been stolen from Nigerian palaces, yikes, they know you know! He told me to hurry up drawing these items before they have to be returned!

So I intend to continue writing and drawing and see where it takes me. Hopefully to new jewellery when we return in August. I may just share again here before then. If you are still reading, thank you and hi!

Our Northern Quarter

One of the things that pulled me to Manchester was the Northern Quarter, it has such a great creative atmosphere. A year after I arrived here I managed to move my studio to Manchester Craft + Design Centre in the heart of the Northern Quarter, 5 years further on, I still love the Northern Quarter, and of course have my own studio / shop.

There are a few things going on here at the moment that make it worth a visit . . .

Bee in the City continues until 23 September, over a 100 bees decorated by various artists are situated all around the city. We have a large and a few baby bees at the Craft Centre and you can pick up a trail map here too.

Heritage Open Weekend continues this weekend, 13 to 16 September. An annual festival allowing people to visit places that are often hidden or to find out more about our history. MCDC will be joining in this Saturday 15 September with free tours and a ceramic workshop, and of course all of our studios will be open as usual.

Our next exhibition will also be open on Saturday, A Journey Home, it launches this Thursday and continues until 17 November. It is the first UK solo show by Eunmi Kim, her ceramics explore what it means to be Korean and traditional Korean art and is part of Asia Triennial Manchester. I have been following Eunmi’s preparations over on Instagram, her work is beautiful and I can’t wait for this!

You can really make a day of this area as there are so many nice shops and cafes to choose from, and restaurants and bars for a little later on. One of my favourite cafes is Fig + Sparrow on Oldham Road, I love the interior as much as the food.

Whenever I’m in need of a florist, there are two that I always support, Northern Flower on Tib Street (opposite MCDC and next door to Sugar Junction, a very popular cafe) as well as Flourish at the Market Street (shopping high street) end of Tib Street, they both always have such an great interesting choice.

Back on Oldham Street, near Fig & Sparrow, there are plenty of vintage clothes, record and book shops. Oldham Road leads north from Piccadilly Gardens, the city centre and the Northern Quarter leads on to Piccadilly train station, so it’s an easy walking distance.

Around the corner is a shop most makers at MCDC couldn’t live without, Fred Aldous as it supplies so much for our making lives

But while you’re wandering around the Northern Quarter remember, look up and look down, look around, there are so many works of street art everywhere, painted bees of course, things from last years Cities of Hope and changing pieces, just keep wandering!

And if you’re looking at this one then look left to find, another bee, and MCDC!

Hope to see you soon!

March Meet The Maker 2017

So I took part in #MarchMeetTheMaker on Instagram again this year and I thought I’d share a selection here . . .

Can’t live without . . .

My riveting tool.

Apart from my family, my fella, the support of customers and admirers, my hands, my daydreaming , etc etc! Thought I’d keep this one basic! I do love that tool and have been using it for 20 years now!
I discovered recently I have an ancestor, in one census he was a riveters helper, in the next a riveter, yes!

Me. . .

… this is me! At my bench. A place I love to be.

Favourite to make . . .

New things! Shouldn’t be showing this really as I haven’t got far with it at all. Currently playing with stone setting, which has been on my list for years, some of these stones I’ve had since I was studying! My vision is greater than the results so far, so much more to do. Eek!!

Workspace . . .

We have pretty small workspaces at the craft centre to give room for shop area, so it has to be well organised to make the most of it and i have to say it does work perfectly, it’s my favourite studio of all the studios I’ve had.

Organised . . .

A bit of the organisation I mentioned above. I (conveniently!) love drawers, boxes, tins!

Inspiration . . .

History / People / Stories

Old buildings & Details

Found things

Paper Books & Documents

Non precious becoming precious

Beautiful mysteries


Sketchbook . . .

I don’t get much time to work in a sketchbook these days but since I graduated I’ve maintained a collection of soft back a4 with cartridge paper (same paper as I roll print with). They’re a mix of workings out, off cuts, repeated drawn shapes, scribbles and lots of designs I’ve scribbled onto the nearest bit of file paper then masking taped into the book!

Work clothes . . .

I can wear whatever I want for work. It’s often grey with stripes or holes, as long as it’s warm, I’ve had lots of studios over time and they have all been cold, some really cold!

 Brand image. . .

My logo which is simply my name handwritten and a rather large pile of postcards with their lovely layered old edges, which isn’t technically my branding, but it is very relevant!

Where . . .

For the last year and a half I have been making and selling from my lovely studio / shop upstairs at Manchester Craft & Design Centre, and it is perfect, I really feel my years of being a jeweller makes sense working in this way.

How it’s made . . .

I do plenty roll printing, everything gets roll printed with cartridge paper to give a warm texture referring to the postcards and the paper with these unique prints are then used in my collages.

Feedback . . .

I spent many years in a studio making and sending my work out with no feedback and it took me a while to pick up courage to take my work to fairs, I was not confident in my work for years. Now I find myself in a studio that’s also a shop. We all get to hear, quite a lot! I am developing a thick skin! Some don’t say anything, that’s fine. Some make comments that are really useful or interesting, and some are . . . ! I also get such treats like people coming with a box of perfect ephemera they want to give me, amazing! And some are gorgeous people like the couple who recently bought a necklace and then came back the next day and left with a collage, (My favourite too!) and I’m so chuffed it now lives with them in their lovely home in Germany. They even took the time to send me this photo of it amongst some lovely intriguing other works. Thank you! This kindness keeps me (us?) going. Our work doesn’t end when you wrap it up for someone, it starts its journey.

Cities of Hope

A very exciting thing happened in Manchester a couple of weeks ago, in the northern quarter in fact where my studio/shop is. It became our turn for the citiesofhope.global project to visit us. 9 renowned street artists came and made our streets even more intereting. The images discussed social issues which you can find more about on their website. 

I was even more excited to find two artists working just outside the craft centre so I was able to snap some work in progress shots of those. Others I found in progress too and I returned this evening with fingers crossed that none had been over painted (LOST HOPE has already!). 

March meet the maker

Last month I took part in the #marchmeetthemaker challenge over on Instagram. It was open to any creative business that wanted to take part, a subject was set for every day of the month. I thought I would share the project in full here . . .

Day 1 | Brand Image . . .

img_2143I created my own handwritten logo a couple of years ago to reflect my interest and use of old handwriting. Then when I moved to my own studio / shop last September it was given a fresh look by having it laser cut in wood. I originally wanted to paint it but it looked right left alone along with my shop branding. I have old wood furniture against a pale grey wall inside.

Day 2 | You . . .

 Something I never do is take photos of myself, this was definitely the biggest challenge of the project! Taken in my studio / shop.

Day 3 | Workspace . . .

This is the jewellery making side of my workspace at the back of my shop, which continues across the back wall and then behind into a long simple bench area I created for making cards and collages, (or doing admin). All of my work is made in the studio, and it’s the perfect space, have great light and fab windows either side of me, one with the best view of the craft centre.

Day 4 | Tools . . .

 A selection of basic everyday tools. I’ve managed to buy most of my tools through much appreciated awards I’ve received over my career. There are still many tools on the wish list!

Day 5 | Can’t live without . . .

My awesome mum and my amazing fella firstly and mostly . . . then work wise it would be coffee before I start making to make me human, paper and pens, or a mountain of notebooks, my diary and a selection of inky black pens and pencil to write, make notes, lists and record thoughts.

Day 6 | Raw materials . . .


The first image is of a silver order I had just received. I make everything from scratch using silver sheet, wire and tube, and gold tube for the rivets. Postcards are next, Manchester is really good for vintage fairs which I go to as often as I can (I have the man in my life interested in vintage now and we are a good ephemera hunting team!). I also use old stamps and linen maps. I (we!) also hunt for old wooden rulers. I started buying rulers back in Edinburgh, they add a very warm and friendly feel to my work. Lastly here are a sample of the semi-precious beads I scatter through my collection. Always good quality and a great addition of colour and texture.

Day 7 | How & Why . . .

How & Why was a tricky one to answer in an image, and simply, so I opted to show the days work in process instead!

Why? I need some new simple every day wear earrings to suit some recently made necklaces.

How? I’ve prepared the hooks and stems, crazy how long such little things take. I lay out the ideas next to me at the bench on clean white paper, to stop me being distracted, which kind of works! I want to use semi-precious beads in them to link with the necklaces but give colour and interest on their own.

Day 8 | Where . . .

My walk from Piccadilly Gardens in central Manchester to the Craft Centre, is about 7 minutes across Thomas Street and up Oak Street in the Northern Quarter, then upstairs to my studio / shop.

Day 9 | Goals . . .

To get my cabinets stocked up! Now that I have more space with the new shop, and also to try and keep up with what is being designed in my head, its hard to keep up! It is a constant shifting to accommodate the unexpected order or deadline, then back to my schedule, adding in some random ideas as the inspiration takes me, if I leave it until I have time, sometimes I loose the inspiration for it. I also would like to open an online shop at some point this year.

Day 10 | Favourite small business . .

There are so many great makers, and too many jewellers I love, so for this I chose 3 differenet disciplines . . .

Lizzie Stewart illustration

Ness Donnelly stitched drawings

Cathy Cullis embroidery

Day 11 | Post run . . .

Day 12 | First ever sale . . .

A bangle from my Degree Show which I sold at New Designers to a very lovely French lady, I will never forget it!

Day 13 | Feedback . . .

One reason I wanted a shop at the Craft Centre was so I can meet the people who like my work and buy from me, it’s the best way to progress. I have a lot of conversations about my work, the display and, I didn’t expect so many conversations with guys about these old pegs I use for hanging pendants. Random, but I do love these little old things!

Day 14 | Creative friends . . .

Plenty here at my making home, Manchester Craft & Design Centre.

Day 15 | Inspiration . . .

My inspirations board above my workbench . . .

Day 16 | Time to relax . . .

If I’m at home, I’m learning to cook, because it’s just time I did! I’m not a natural, I end up adding creativity to things, which I think are genius at the time, but end up in disaster quite often!

If I’m out, and not at vintage fairs, I’m a bit of a wanderer and love exploring the city and adding to my collection of photos of derelict, urban textures, ghost walls, road markings and graffiti.

Day 17 | Photography . . .

Day 18 | Shelfie . . .

My shelves at home are a combination of handmade, vintage collections, and books.

Day 19 | Helper . . .

On Mondays I am extremely blessed with the help of the ultra lovely, friendly and happy Tamara. X

Day 20 | Sketchbook . . .

I generally design by playing with previously made but unused metalwork elements, sometimes along with card models. I fill a sketchbook in about a year or so with ideas and doodles of repeated shapes to warm up, and the occasional drawing of objects around me. If I’m lucky enough to have time!

Day 21 | Work clothes . . .

My second apron, made by my lovely mum, in denim with patterned fabrics around the edges and a hug pocket on the front (big enough for a hot water bottle in the deepest winter months!).

Day 22 | Best seller . . .

As most of my work is either one-off or limited edition, I cant really have a best seller, but, these studs are the first items I made using stamps and I always have them in stock in a nice selection of coloured stamps, maps and postcards. They are a good, or best friend!

Day 23 | Studio playlist . . .

On this day I was working on a brooch commission while listening to the radio. I get bored easily so I move between radio, silence, watching documentaries, or listening to my own music, though I have to be selective in a studio with visitors!

Day 24 | Milestone . . .

I moved to Manchester 4 years ago now with the hope that it was firstly a good idea, which it was. And also that I would get my own shop at Manchester Craft & Design Centre, which I have! I now need to make the most of having the shop and focus on some new goals.

This is an image taken from the current exhibition at the Craft Centre, Ceramics by Verity Howard.

Day 25 | Packaging . . .

Day 26 | Colour and Texture . . .

A sample of the stamps an their colours. Stamps, maps and beads give my work colour, and they are sitting here on white cartridge paper which I use to texture my silver by passing layers through the rolling mill. The paper comes out with lovely prints from the silver, and they are a perfect addition to my collages and cards.

Day 27 | Routine . . .

We open Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 5.30 pm, though as I have a helper I am at the studio Tuesday to Saturday. We can work outside of those hours too.

It takes me around an hour to get to work by bus and I love my route. I pass the Museum of Costume, the Whitworth, Manchester Museum and travel through Curry Mile and the universities to the centre of town.

Day 28 |  Organised . . .

Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.

Gustave Flaubert.

Day 29 | In action . . .

Day 30 | Books or Blogs . . .

Books! Though I do have a few favourite blogs I regularly visit, I love books. Beautifully illustrated books, or books by illustrators. I love old map books, and I am a big  Nigel Peake fan.

Day 31 | Customers . . .

My fab view  from my workbench of my visitors.

Customers, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you. Without you I couldn’t continue my work, without my work, I would be nothing. Thank you X



Last few days

Starts with some sparkly trees on Canal Street!

Then a trip to the Whitworth Gallery to see the We Face Forward exhibition, some of which spilled out into the park.

Keep seeing these two poems from the bus on the way to the studio so at last I got a chance to see them close up . . .

Couple of great walls found in the Northern Quarter . . .

Two more pendants on cottons with oval postcards and dots of stamps I made at the start of the week; a couple of things I made later in the week are coming up soon . . .

Day out in Stockport

This was actually the Sunday before last but its been so busy this week, I’ve had to leave it until now. I ventured out on my own to Stockport, not such a big deal if you know that its not that far and very easy to get to. I’ve been lucky to have new friends taking me places so far, but this one I knew I wanted to spend time wandering and wandering, so off I went! The Vintage Village was on again, amazing! And I also went to the Staircase Museum, supposed to be really haunted, but I didn’t see anyone, shame!

Some lovely adverts, always my favourite thing to find

The old market place where the fair takes place

Beautiful ornate buildings with cinema and more vintage

Advert for a tailors by my new favourite furniture shop

Wandering around the market place

Curious date inscribbed into the floor

Went to the Staircase House Museum

Beautiful orange walls

Inside every floor was from a different period

Layers of walls from its stages of life

The rooms were based on who actually had lived there

My favorite, the 20’s room, and the least spooky

more old faded signage …

Lots of tudor style buildings dotted around the town

People getting married at the Plaza, their names in lights

New place to work …

I’ve been spending a bit of time at the Manchester Craft & Design Centre in the Northern Quarter since moving here, and I worked a couple of days last week in Selina Campbell‘s studio, and will be again later this week. It’s a great place to work, really lively with 2 floors of studios that are also open as shops. The makers there have been very friendly and made me feel welcome, its made my new life here very easy.

Its only about 10 months since I first visited Manchester and decided to move here, so it was strange to be actually working in one of the studios in such a short time and to be feeling so very at home in Manchester. I love the Northern Quarter too, everywhere you look there is street art, graffiti, derelict buildings (which I find beautiful!), old ornate buildings, lovely little streets, old signage, busy cafes, bars and independent shops … just love it all!

spooky baths …

FutureEverything continued over the weekend and I went along to an event on Saturday at Victoria Baths which I had been intending to visit at some point, so perfect. There were craft and fanzines stalls and installations throughout the beautiful old baths. One of which I have just discovered was by my AWOL studio neighbour Laura Jane Blake . Really lovely piece and situated in one of the old pools. Its a gorgeous old building left to decay when it closed in the 90s but has now been saved and under renovation, while this happens its being used for events, looking forward to a couple of vintage fairs there later in the year. And I found more little clay men! … some of the rooms, were very spooky …

a few found papers and objects

Spent some time this morning having a tidy of my website, getting it ready to add a shop, the collection of jewellery is growing for that. And inevitably my eyes start wandering around my flat and studio while still thinking about new ideas, falling on the odd objects and papers I gather along my way . . . and playing with combining them as I’ve started plotting some new collages too . . .

Stamps . . .

Looking through my materials and inspirations in the studio at the moment as I’m in the process of making new work to launch on a new online shop on my website. Something I’ve been using for quite a few years now are stamps! Have yet to find a shop filled to ceiling like the one I used to go to in Edinburgh here, but I am sure there will be somewhere, Manchester seems to have everything and then some more. The stamps I prefer are one colour printed oldies and anyone who has visited my studio will see I divide them into bags based on colour, perhaps a little obsessively! They are such beautiful colours, and the linear printing, words, numbers, patterns, makinge them such little treasures. I avoid using stamps worthy of a proper collectors stamp album, it just wouldn’t be right. These are ‘apparently’ not so collectible. Biased towards reds at the moment and US, Africa and Indian stamps!

Tin type collection

Possibly a bit of an odd one . . . but I’m working on ideas for new jewellery and collages and have started by looking through groups and collections of objects I have at home and in the studio; one of which is my collection of tin types! Very intriguing things, I started to collect them a few years ago when I found them for pennies in a New York fleamarket, its not a massive collection, but I like them! . . .

This morning

Sightings from my walk this morning up to the studio through Ancoats, some pics came out too sunny to use! Lots of textures, Ancoats is … the canal (no ducks or fishermen this morning tho), new apartments, against the characterful derelict, and the renovated textile mills, our studios being in one of them …

Bye Edinburgh!

I will shortly be saying goodbye to Edinburgh! I came here for college (Edinburgh College of Art) and remained here for 14 years-ish. Its a beautiful city but its time to find a new home. I’ve been inspired by Edinburgh massively, its given me a love of cities, and the colour grey! I have a couple of weeks left so have found myself looking over photos from the last few years that have been an inspiration. The textures, walls with disappearing old ads painted on them many years ago and the architecture . . .

This building is on my walk to the studio, and is beautiful, but I loved it when the walkway towards it was adorned briefly with yellow scaffolding. Scaffolding is like jewellery being worn by the building, and reminds me of constructing jewellery, work in progress!


On a lovely lane towards Stockbridge


Love the work that has gone into this perfectly gold sign in St Stephen Street


Another advert on both sides of a doorway at the end of Chambers Street, Straw and Felt Hatters


Love this building, off Nicholson Street


Nice wall! Could easily be a painting or tapestry


An Antony Gormley at the entrance to the Gallery of Modern Art. There are a series of these but have only managed to see about half of them


Foxy get off the roof! Its a 2D metal cut out on the top of a building off Broughton Street


Up in Leith, I love old tatty shop fronts, really honest looking and a proper fishmongers I reckon


On Leith Walk, lovely disappearing tailors sign


Stencil grafitti ... this was in Bruntsfield and there's another to come soon ...


Stick No Bills ... always thought of this as being on posters and more of a modern thing


Have no idea what kind of brances, the shop itself no longer exists


Beautiful wall ... looks like a tapestry


Another sign on the Royal Mile with a lovely hand, there's another hand sign somewhere here that I've been searching for...


Would love to see what these sections where advertising, just for a minute, then let them to go back to this


This entrance on the Royal Mile is very collage-y and stitch-ery dont you think!


I dont think this is there anymore, it was on Victoria Street


Gorgeous layers of blue and gold writing either side of a door on the Bridges




Laser cutting summer school

Very excited to be attending a summer school this whole week at The Edinburgh Laser Cutting Studio. I have a collection to make for Debbie Bryan Studio & Shop in Nottingham ready for their Heritage Open Days (8 – 11 September 2011). After visiting Debbie last year, I came away with some beautiful original lace pattern drawings to use as inspiration for a new collection of work for the shop. Really not sure what to expect at ‘school’, trying not to expect really! I’ll hopefully have something further to say later in the week! I’m armed and ready with lace drawings, tracings and a quote?!