Monday, 23 June 2008


These are the latest two plaques commissioned for a friend's sister in Chicago. The ceramic lettering on this plaque says "Allah" which means God in Arabic. These plaques are 13 inches in diameter and are made on a 1/2inch thick plywood base.

I make the letters from clay. The process is slightly lengthy in that I roll out the clay into slabs and then roll a plastic textured mat over the top to give a deep etched pattern and texture to the clay. I then score out the letters from templates I've made, after which I have to wait for the clay to harden a little in order for me to cut the letters out. The next step is the bisque firing and after they've come out the kiln I glaze the letters and put chippings of glass on top as well as glass beads. This is then re-fired under glaze settings and the end result is that the glass fuses into the glaze to give it a deeper intensity and adds a decorative effect.

The lettering in this is made using a black clay, glazed in transparent and fused with blue and white millefiori beads. The background mosaic is worked in broken white irridescent china with blue millefiori randomly dotted around. The edging is a blue that contrasts with the blue in the lettering. The mosaic is grouted in brown and dries to a neutral shade. I've applied a textured paste to the edges of the plaque and when dried, painted it with a matching shade of blue. It's completed with a hanging fixture at the back.
I've used a white clay for this lettering and glazed it in Emerald Green and fused it with green millefiori . The background mosaic is worked in two shades of pale green vitreous tiles with random green millefiori dotted about. I've run a border of broken green and white china around this and then finished off with a border of another two shades of whole green vitreous tiles. I've grouted the mosaic in brown which dries to quite a neutral shade and I've applied a coat of textured paste to the edges of the plaque and when dried, I painted it green to match the mosaic and attached a fixing to the back for hanging.
I made these glass fused pieces many years ago and have a good collection which I house in these compartmented boxes that have glass lids to them. I aim to use them in my mosaics (I've been saying that for ages!).

I've fused stained glass onto clear glass and nuggets, beads, thin glass rods, glass sweets, millefiori, glass nuggets, broken glass bottles, glass frit, and many more things - so long as one glass bit is compatible with the other glass bit you're going to fuse it onto then it'll work and if you put uncompatible pieces together - well sometimes the results pleasantly surprise you and other times you have to live and learn!

I just love the way they all look displayed togther in the boxes. I feel like a magpie collecting these pretty things:-)


These are just little trial pieces I made when I was experimenting with fusing glass into ceramic. I gouged out little channels of design into the clay while it was still soft and pliable and then it went in for bisque firing. I then applied glaze to the pieces and began to fill in all the grooves with tiny shards of glass - almost powdered. Then it went in for the final firing and the glass all fused into the glaze perfectly, but you can see from these results I didn't quite fill up the channels sufficiently as the glass should've levelled out. Nonetheless I'm happy with the results and I've learnt a lesson for my next attempt:-)

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Bookmaking & Travelling Journal

I go to Bookmaking classes every Monday evening. They're run by a really nice lady called Annalise, from New Zealand. She's a professional bookbinder with 15 years experience behind her. Her classes are run from home and it' a very relaxed and informal atmosphere. There are 5 of us in attendance - myself, my sis-in-law, Uzma, 2 of my mosaic buddies, Amanda & Lyn and , a lovely Chinese lady called Terry - we're a good multicultural bunch!

I started this class at the beginning of this year and have made quite a few books in a number of styles and in the process have learnt many interesting techniques. Annalise always gives us printed notes at the end of each new technique and book that we make, so we get to keep the tutorials so that we can practice at home.

These two books above are album type books with hard covers. The music score book has a stab binding and the red bookcloth book is a very simple 2 hole sewn book attached with buttons for decorative effect. These are great as travel journals or even photo albums.

Even if we repeat a style of book, it will always be different in cover design and materials. Besides which, repeating a technique is good for us as some books have a longer process to construct and therefore practice makes perfect (well... that's the idea anyway!)

This is a slimline Tab Book in an accordian style - it has pleated pages with tabs attached to each pleat. It's very easy to make and very different from what we think of as an ordinary book with pages. This is a more decorative book - great as a personalized gift for someone as you can personalize it according to their tastes or hobbies etc. In this instance I made this one for myself and themed it according to my fave colour - can you guess what that could be? - DUH! Yeah ok, it's RED! I titled it "If I was RED I Would Be..." and inside on the tabs I've listed all the things that I associate with the colour RED - such as a red red rose, bright red lipstick, sexy red Ferrari etc. (click on the pic for a closer view). This was great fun to construct and I plan to make more for friends and family (ssshhh... when I get the time!)

The classes last 2 hours from 7.30 -9.30pm and Annalise's place is quite local to most of us, so the travelling's not too bad and some of us car share. For a very reasonable weekly fee Annalise provides all the materials and equipment and shares her vast knowledge of bookmaking skills with us, explaining to us and demonstrating step by step. She makes the same book along side us so that we don't get lost in the process. If we do get stuck, tangled, glued, or behind she is always there quick on the draw to ease the way and we breathe a sigh of relief when it's all sorted out.

This is another accordian style slimline book with 3 pleats (6 pages). The pages are wider and have a slot where another accordian runs through it. I used an old map to lend some interest and to coordinate with the cover, which is hardbound. Again, this style of book is more decorative than functional but can be personalized to suit any theme or anyone. It's also very good for journalling - which is what I'll use mine for:-)
We all leave the class feeling good and having accomplished something creative, practical and unique. On top of which we've had a thoroughly enjoyable time and come home with a book that we've made ourselves from scratch!
I'm a member of a Yahoo group called Travelling Journals. This is a group that encourages you to either start off or take part in a collaborative journal. These journals can travel within a country or all over the world and can be tracked back at the Group site. The owner of the journal sets the theme and starts off a few pages to get the ball rolling and leaves instructions in the journal with a return address should it ever get lost and a sign up database on the site. Then the participents who've signed up for the journal wait their turn for the journal to get to them. A reasonable amount of time to work in the journal is set by the owner and sometimes there are delays, but things can be settled mutually and with understanding.

I've participated in quite a few travelling journals, 1000 Journals being the biggest and most popular as well as 1001 Journals. Then there have been the private journals signed up on Yahoo groups. The groups contain a database where you sign up and keep log of the journal, so at a glance others can see where the journal is in line and how much longer they have to wait. In the meantime people who've completed their pages and have mailed it to the next in line scan their pages in and upload them to the Group album where the other signees can have a sneak preview.

The journal I recently participated in was titled "A Day in the life of..." and participants were asked to journal a day in their life either in pictures, words or both. The day could be an imaginary one or a realistic/typical one. I chose the latter and took photos of things I do during a typical day, like waking up, brushing my teeth, having breakfast, checking my email etc etc. Then I just collaged and journalled and decorated the page artistically. Here are my pages - I did 5 double page spreads.

Okay, so this is the front cover of the Travelling Journal entitled "A Day in the Life of..." The cover was designed by the owner of this journal and this was a foreign text book - so not only is it a journal but it's also an altered book.

This is the first double page spread - pretty basic I think - what most people do first thing in the morning. I've added artwork to the pages.

This is my second double page spread showing the daily routine of my life.
Third double page spread - more details about my day!
Fourth double page spread I decided to make a little gift for the owner of this journal and included it in my page. I added stickers and embellishments to liven up my layout.

Fifth and final double page spread - by this time I'd condensed my day right down to the basics, otherwise I'm sure I could've completed the whole book!!

I really enjoy taking part in these collaborative journals - a little bit of me goes out there and I'm sharing my life with people I haven't met physically, but people I know through the group and it feels good - especially when you get great feedback from them, telling you how much they enjoyed what you had to say and how they loved your layouts and design. It gives you the warm and fuzzies you know?
Strangely enough I've never started off a journal of my own and sent it out into the wide blue yonder - I've though of it many times tho' and do have every intention to do it, I even have great titles and themes planned - it's just the getting started bit that's always the hardest (as with anything - procrastination is a great enemy of action) - and you can quote me on that if you want:-)