I have been spending the Summer adding a new branch to my tree. I have found a wonderful family company in the Midlands that supplies ethically sourced genuine gemstones and precious metals. After receiving my first delivery I am completely hooked. I have worked in silver before as I have been on several silversmithing courses and produced many items of jewellery but there is something about working with real gemstones, that have come from the earth, that adds an extensive new dimension. As you hold a real gemstone in your hand you can feel the weight of it, it is cold but soon warms to your own body temperature as if it is reconfiguring itself to your own tuning.
When you work with glass , acrylic or plastic beads they are what they are. They may look beautiful but there is no story connected to them. When you work with a gemstone you think of its history, geology, possible healing qualities and folklore. Who can resist a gemstone named by an ancient Greek philosopher or reputedly given by mermaids to protect sailors at sea. You think of the places in the world where they have been mined and the efforts made to discover and collect them from the ground. I am heartened to think that the supplier is a company that cares about the conditions and welfare of the miners. Schools are set up in many of the local villages and earth stoves are fitted within the homes: these replace the open fires used for cooking and benefit the health of the whole family.
I am passionate about the materials that I use. I recycle where I can and have become quite adept at making something out of nothing. However, I am prepared to invest in these wonderful gemstones as they are providing me with a new found interest that I can become completely absorbed in. My first pieces are quite simple in design as the stones are so beautiful in themselves that you do not need to be too elaborate to show them off at their best. As I learn new techniques I am beginning to be a little more confident and ambitious with my designs and I am thinking more about how the light affects the surface and how different colours next to them can make them glow.
I have recently taken part in Herefordshire Art week and have had lots of lovely feedback from the large audience that came to visit. I have to thank Katie at Trumpet Corner Tea Rooms (www.trumpetcorner.co.uk) for hosting the week long event and my fellow exhibitors: Ed Elliott, Elaine Mason, Douby Evans, Kevin Kimber, Bronte Woodruff, Victoria Harrison and Clare Hooper for their company and their wonderful art work.
Photos of many new creations will follow shortly.