Friday, 14 November 2014

What you can do with just 1 leaf


Making my jewellery I use natural, found materials in a variety of ways. These three pendants are all made using the very same oak leaf in three different ways.



This piece was made by rolling out a slab of silver clay and then pressing the leaf into the surface to leave an impression. I then cut carefully around the outline to give the leaf shape. When the clay was dry, I sanded and smoothed the edges until I was happy with them and added a handmade bail to the back for the chain. When it was all ready I fired it in the kiln before giving it only a slight polish which has left it with a fairly matt finish. I've added patina to enhance the leaf texture.




Next came this piece. Again this was made by rolling out a slab of clay and impressing the leaf into its surface. This time, instead of cutting around the outline of the leaf I cut a free-form shape around the leaf. When the clay was dry I refined the edges as before and drilled the hole to take the jump ring. After firing, I polished around the leaf using a fine point on my polishing tool to give a shiny contrast to the texture of the leaf. Again I added patina to enhance the leaf veins.


This leaf was made entirely differently. I used silver clay paste to build up layers on the surface of the leaf itself. When it was thick enough and completely dry I fired it in my kiln which burnt away the leaf and left a 999 fine silver leaf in its place. I then drilled the hole and added the jump ring before tumbling to give a really great shine, again adding patina to enhance the natural texture.


As you can imagine - if you want to use the same leaf more than once, you have to make sure to work in this order! Once you've used a leaf with the paste method, it's all burnt to ash and you have a totally unique silver leaf that can't be re-created.

All these leaves are currently listed in my Folksy Shop.


Saturday, 8 November 2014

Who's been to the rock and gem show then?

Well, me! And look what I've bought today:


These are amazonite, picture stone, tigers eye, agate, lapis lazuli, impression jasper, green jasper,chrysocolla and rose jasper.

Now I can't wait to get started! My favourite is the lapis lazuli in the centre (ish) - how about you?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A Walk in the Woods


It won't come as any surprise to those that know me that I do enjoy a nice trip to the woods, so with the weather really rather fine on Sunday (and finding ourselves with a rare window in the diary) we trotted off to reconnect with some trees.

Now, this particular piece of woodland is high on a hill with fantastic views for miles and miles. It's open and airy with mostly deciduous trees like beech, hazel and ash, but sadly not an oak tree to be found (my personal favourite........maybe). The ground slopes VERY steeply down to the one side of the path - glad no one slipped!


It's amazing what you spot in the woods - I wonder who might live in a house like this.......


I love to find little gateways like this one......


I was really taken by the textures of the ivy on this tree......


and the roots on the path......


And finally, if anyone knows what sort of fungi this is then I'd be very grateful not to have to look it up (pretty please).............


Thanks for reading - now that Little Miss is back at school and Small Boy has started in reception (sob) I'm enjoying getting back to the work shop - pics of this week's creations to follow very soon!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Baaaaaa - trials of the sheepdogs

Of course I've seen One Man and his Dog - years ago, is it still on? As far as I recall, it probably isn't quite 'reality tv' enough for today....maybe if they brought in a public phone vote to choose the winning dog and a panel of 'experts' who may or may not have once owned a dog of some kind, perhaps even a sheepdog.
Anyway, I digress......
Today I went to watch the English National Sheepdog Trials and had a great day out with children and grandparents. I've never seen sheepdog trials before and found it quite fascinating!
I won't pretend to have the slightest clue as to how it's scored or what makes a good run - I just spent my time willing the sheep into the pen and marvelling at how the dogs did exactly what the whistle told them to. The children spent the day standing on tiptoes on a hay bale looking through binoculars trying to be the first to spot the sheep coming over the hill.
Note to self: I wonder if whistles work as well on children, perhaps that's my mistake!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Instagram - my new obsession!

Yes folks - I've downloaded the app and joined in the fun. I wanted to see what it was all about and I LOVE it! What a great idea - who knew that browsing peoples snaps could be so much fun?

If you are a fellow instagram addict (my husband is getting a bit cross with me already!) then you can find me over there as @moonriversilver.

I've spent the morning working out how to import my pictures to a blog - my guinea pig was the blog I run for Gloucestershire Arts and Crafts Centre (click here if you'd like to take a look) and now I'm messing about with my own.

Here are a few of my photos:


If you'd like to put your instagram pics on your blog then I recommend using SnapWidget to generate the code as I found it really simple. Just remember to add the source as https rather than the http in the original copy and paste (trust me, if you try it this will all make sense!)

Find me on Instagram!



Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Back to the classroom

It's a bit after the event now (doesn't time fly during the summer holidays!) but last month saw my first foray into the world of teaching.

I'd been invited to run a two day course for Gloucestershire Arts and Crafts Summer School, so I diligently packed up my work shop and relocated to a local secondary school.

I have to say that it was a bit strange being back in a science lab again, it was not my favourite subject at school (and yes - labs still look and smell the same)!

I had a great two days with eight lovely and willing students. Over the two days they each made four pieces of jewellery, including a silver leaf and a gemstone tree of life. One of my ladies even made a silver ukelele pendant!

Sadly I was so busy teaching that I forgot to take any photos to show you (maybe next time).

I'm hoping to run some short classes of my own soon, so if you'd be interested in classes in Gloucester then watch this space or sign up for my newsletter here.

To find out more about the Gloucestershire Arts and Crafts Summer School you can find their website at http://www.spanglefish.com/gloucesterartsandcrafts/index.asp

Friday, 13 June 2014

Mutant fruit!

Some of you might remember my garden from my old blog. It's still there and I've been busy planting all spring - now I'm watching it all grow.
I'm most proud of my strawberries so far. I've only got the strawberry bed by accident really! Two years ago I bought loads and loads of old growbags from a local fruit farm for something silly like 10p a bag. All my new beds needed filling up and compost/soil is expensive. Some of the bags didn't get used straight away and sat all winter on my drive, but in the spring all the strawberry plants grew again so last year I planted up a whole bed.
They didn't grow too well and I thought they'd all die over winter but they've grown so well this year that it's taken me completely by surprise. In the last 2 days I've picked 2.5kg of fruit! I can't believe it.
We've eaten more strawberries than Wimbledon, given lots to friends and tomorrow we're making jam!
But back to the mutant fruit - tonight I picked this! Now I've never seen a strawberry that shape before!

Friday, 30 May 2014

Was this a holiday or a history lesson?



Well, actually it was both! I have always loved history and archaeology and never let it be said that I am one to miss the opportunity to impart wonderful historical knowledge to my children, even if they're not in the slightest bit interested (which fortunately for me and the sake of our holiday on this occasion they were). My eldest has been doing Iron Age and Roman Britain as her topic this term so when we found ourselves near Castell Henllys it was the perfect place to visit to show her what iron age life was really all about.





If you get the chance to visit then I thoroughly recommend it for a day out with the family - reasonable entrance price and plenty to see and do. Castell Henllys is an iron age hill fort which has been partially reconstructed for visitors. The round houses you see on site are built on the exact place that there were once real round houses all those years ago (based on the location of the post holes). It was a great experience to go inside a round house and see how the smoke from the fire didn't choke us and rose up into the roof space without setting fire to the thatch - a concept demonstrated by the costumed guide by making sparks fly up from the hearth! How does this work? Well, the answer is that there was no smoke hole at all as it would have added air and caused the sparks to ignite the thatch. (I tried to explain this when we built our own mini round house for her Easter project but this visit explained it much better!)

Our wonky attempt at a round house!

We learnt how to make fire using flint, about making bread and about weapons and warrior face paint too. The costumed guides did all they could to really make it come alive for the visitors.




If you'd like to know more you can here: www.castellhenllys.pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk   

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Homemade Potions

Today I've been experimenting with potions! Not in the hubble-bubble toil and trouble way, but with this lavender and chamomile salve.

I've never tried making anything like this before but I'm quite pleased with how it's turned out so far.

This is how I made it:

I gently heated 1 cup of olive oil with 1/2 cup dried chamomile until warm then left it to infuse for 20 mins. Then I took the chamomile out and squeezed out the oil. I added 2 tbsp beeswax pellets and heated the bowl over hot water until the wax melted, then stirred in some lavender essential oil (12 drops) and some tea tree oil (6 drops). I poured it straight away into my cleaned pots and left it too cool.

I'm looking forward to using it and can't wait to experiment with more! I love the smell and the simplicity of the ingredients - no chemical nasties here :)

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

A tale of Commission......


I often take commissions from clients to design and create a unique piece of jewellery for them, sometimes they know exactly what they want but other times they have an idea that I then need to bring to reality.

I had just such a customer recently - she was interested in the Evenstar pendant featured in the Lord of the Rings films. Now, I couldn't recreate this exact piece for her - that design belongs to the film studio and as such I would infringe their copyright if I were to do so. So we got talking about the piece as it featured in the film (and more importantly where it WASN'T featured in the book!) and she decided that she would rather have a completely new piece based on the book.



Now, where do you start on such a commission? Well, with the book of course ("oh dear, what a shame I guess I'll just have to read it again", I thought to myself with glee) so to the pages of my copy I turned.

If you know me at all, then you will know that I could talk for hours on the intricacies of the plot from Lord of the Rings, but I will not bore you with all the details now. Suffice to say we settled upon using this description of Arwen's pendant,

"a white gem like a star that lay upon her breast hanging upon a silver chain"    

This was a good place to start and left me with plenty of space to add my own ideas, so after lots of thinking and head scratching and crumpled up pieces of paper I settled on this idea:


The design features the impression of real leaves and an 8mm round moonstone cabochon at the centre. The customer loved the design and so I set about making it for her.You can see some of the stages of production along with the finished item in this picture:


I'm happy to say that my customer loved the finished piece - I enjoyed working on it so much that I was sorry to see it go really, it's given me lots of ideas for the future though!



Thursday, 1 May 2014

The post is here!



Just recently I read a blog by a lady who had signed up for Postcrossing - I thought it sounded interesting so I had a look and signed up too.

Basically, you sign-up (for free) and get the addresses of other members around the world so you can send them a postcard. Each postcard has a unique ID which you write on it with your message and when the postcard arrives the recipient logs it online. Your address then gets given to another random member and you receive a postcard in return.

Already I have sent cards to Germany, USA, Russia and China and today I have just received my first card back (see the photo above).

I thought it would be a fun way of looking at Geography with the kids and there's something nice about getting post that isn't a bill isn't there!

If you'd like to find out more have a look at their website at www.postcrossing.com 

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Now Booking!

Look what I received in the post this morning! The brochure for this year's Gloucester Arts and Crafts Summer School featuring a two day class by little old me.


This is what it says about my class:
Silver Clay Jewellery -  21/22 July - Fee £95

Learn how to use precious metal clay and sterling silver wire to make your own pieces of silver jewellery.  The course will include making pieces from lump clay and clay in its paste form, as well as some wire work.  We will be using naturally found materials in our work to add texture and make moulds.  All tools  and equipment will be provided.  The cost of the materials is £30 payable directly to the tutor.  Each student can expect to take home at least three pieces of finished jewellery depending on what they choose to work on.  This course is suitable for complete beginners.

Tutor

Heather de Gruyther runs MoonRiver Jewellery, specialising in silver fingerprint keepsakes and draws her inspiration from the natural world around her.  She sells her work online, at various shows and shops, and at Gloucestershire Arts and Crafts Centre.  She also works to commission.  You can see her work on her website - www.moonriverjewellery.co.uk


There are also classes available in painting, textiles, stone work, mosaics, beading, glass, decoupage, encaustic arts, sculpture......... if you'd like to find out more information or to book a course then visit www.spanglefish.com/gloucesterartsandcrafts 

Monday, 17 March 2014

Scissors and Sentimentality

I recently found this old pair of scissors. They don't look much, but I love them. I'd forgotten all about them and found them in a drawer.

They are old, but they're still surprisingly sharp and just right for certain little jobs. They used to belong to my Gran - she kept them in a glass pot on the mantlepiece ready for use, where everyone knew where to find them. I particularly remember using these scissors while she taught me to knit - a skill I'll always be grateful for.

Gran's not here anymore to see all the new things I've learnt with silver  and although the scissors are no longer shiny, I'm glad I still have them.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

MoonRiver - Light!


Well, I'm used to my jewellery being bought and ordered for different occasions - birthdays, Christmas, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day etc. - but this week I found a whole new use for my work!

A customer of mine dropped in to say thanks for some jewellery sets I had made for her but that she had felt a bit frivolous in just buying so much for herself - so she had come up with a cunning plan........

She allowed herself to have one set straight away and was using the other set as a 'carrot' to encourage her to lose a little weight. She is going to have the earrings after she loses a certain amount and then the matching necklace when she reaches her next target. What a great idea.

Thinking of carrots - perhaps I should make a carrot from silver........ that would certainly have no calories whatsoever!

P.S. I did ask my lovely customer if I could use this story and she so very kindly said yes xx  

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Birthdays and Hobbit Holes

Well today is my daughter's 10th birthday - where on earth did those years go?! I don't consider myself to be old enough to have a 10 year old!

We all know that you can't have a birthday without cake, so I spent last night making a cake look like Bilbo's house from Lord of the Rings (as you do!) - yes, that's right, we've done a good job and got her to love Lord of the Rings already.

Now, I'm not an expert at cake decorating but I'm quite chuffed with the result - and so is she.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Out with the old.......

Well, it might be grey and damp again today but we have at least seen some sunshine this week. On Thursday I even sat outdoors to eat my sandwiches!
This quick snap was taken next to the bench where I sat - it's in the cloister gardens in Gloucester Cathedral. I love the fact that you can see the dark evergreen holly bush in the background surround by the snowdrops. There's a lovely daffodil there too just about ready to bloom.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Kiln love!

For some time now I have been coveting a kiln for my metal clay work. Finally (after much thought, research and procrastination) I took the plunge and clicked the 'order now' button on the website. I then sat and watched through my fingers as my hard earned bank balance disappeared before my very eyes.

But finally it is here! My new kiln has arrived and I have managed to take it out of the box, put it on the side and gaze lovingly at it between reading the pages of the instruction manual.


I really feel that I should give it a name - and when I say 'it', I really feel that it might be a 'he'. I will get my thinking cap on and maybe try out a few names and let you know.

Now I just have to pluck up the courage to turn it on and actually make something with it!

Wish me luck xx

Monday, 24 February 2014

A change and a new beginning........

Well, things have been pretty busy down my way for a while now. So much so that things like blogs and website maintenance have had to take rather a back seat. I've been blogging for a while now but have decided to really try and commit to it a bit more - and with my new plan I thought I'd try a new platform. It might take me a while to get things set up the way I want, so bear with me while I get myself together! I'm sure I'll soon be up and running at full speed and have lots to share with you all.

Thanks for reading.