Monthly Archives: April 2020

Backbone jewellery

I can’t quite recall what got me onto reading Genevieve Williamson‘s blog but I am so glad I started. After a nanosecond I signed up for her newsletter and there began a friendship which I value enormously. She is a gem.  I (like many others!!) adore Genevieve’s work and after surviving a tough time several years ago I treated myself to a Genevieve Williamson necklace as a You made it gift to myself. The necklace was inspired by a quote by Clementine Paddleford (what a fabulous name?) who said Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.” I felt like I’d shown some backbone!  I have this necklace on right now, in splendid isolation, with the fabulous drop earrings I got to go with it.

Do you like the board I painted to show earrings on? As I said on IG, she is exactly like me except for the absence of eyes, hearing aids, age spots, facial hair and wrinkles. But the lipstick and hair colour is bang on.

Just do yourself a favour and look at Gen’s website and the simply extraordinarily beautiful works of art on it.  I think you will start breathing more slowly, feel soothed, calmed, and ready to face whatever comes next with backbone.


Dancing with the devil

People who know me know that I have a very conflicted relationship with social media.  I basically hate nearly everything about it but use it of necessity.  I am not SO narrow though that I cannot see the positives. I am just not totally sure that they out weigh the negatives. But this makes me sound very snarky and I am not really. Much.

For the next 5 days, I will wear earrings that celebrate some good things from social media…mainly connections with gorgeous people which may not have happened without it. I have already referred to Kate and Heidi who began as Instagram friends and today’s earrings celebrate another friendship born of a social media connection.

Early on in my involvement with Samunnat Nepal, a dear friend Mel told me I should contact the legendary  Cynthia Tinapple of PCD and tell her about the ladies and what was happening over there. Me being me I didn’t, but Mel being Mel she encouraged me to until I did.  To cut long and fabulous story short, Cynthia was thrilled to hear about the amazing Nepali girls and how they were using polymer clay to escape lives dominated by violence.  She came and visited (twice!!) bringing with her all sorts of resources including our beloved Simmons slicer (thanks Dorothy too!!) One of the many things we learnt from Cynthia was how to make what we called our shisha veneer which she designed especially for her trip to us. Later on, with the extraordinary help of also legendary Ron Lehocky she rallied the polymer community to help us raise thousands of dollars to build our home. Cynthia learnt the delights of a good mustard oil massage and the best time of year to meet mosquitoes.

These earrings always make me think of darling Cynthia and the very special time we had together there in Nepal. A time that may never have happened without horrible social media.

Weekend Wear

Did you all realise it was a weekend? Harder to pick the difference in these days of the new normal.

I realise that a lot of the earring posts are really about connections. If the most I can do is to connect lovely people with other lovely people or lovely things (via links or photos or whatever) then…that’s enough!  I sometimes think that is my role on the Colourful Journey….cue wistful sigh…connecting wonderful people to each other.

I am catching up a bit today.  Yesterday I was obsessively walking or gardening. But OF COURSE wearing earrings. Yesterday’s earrings are on high rotation. I made them using veneers I made in an online class called Matrix Canes by Dan Cormier.  Dan and I work differently. Dan works with precision and exactitude and I sometimes work less precisely and exactly but I learn SO much from his classes. I learn techniques but also about another way of working, another approach, that I can modify for what works in my studio.  I have now done several of Dan’s online classes and he and his partner Tracy have donated a place in the classroom to the Samunnat ladies just about every time they do a class.

I made today’s drops using two gorgeous silver beads from Millennium Crafts in Thamel, Kathmandu. We sometimes go there on our trip. It is one of those really tricky to find places that are well worth the effort hunting down. A place where it is good to have local knowledge or you could end up in a dance bar with cabin. Don’t ask.  Today I wore these earrings on a cold, windy walk to Mt Ainslie’s quarry. I wanted to find an old dump I had heard about and I did. But decided that it would be better to return wearing heavier boots rather than runners!!  I may have had the wrong shoes but I did have the right earrings.

This post is mainly about Bonnie Bishoff!

Today’s earrings are hot off the press. I have been working for a while on a collaboration that I was doing with Annette* from Dissonance Fashion for a fashion parade that Trove Canberra had planned. Obviously the fashion parade has been postponed but I am still excitedly working away with the fabric swatches and drawings that Annette gave me.  Part of my intention was to just play with the colours and work with different ideas that I had learnt, invented, liked or made by mistake. I want to really make exploration a big part of this.

As I mentioned before, I have been playing with ideas about mark making triggered by Sage Bray in her wonderful Virtual Art Box.  I’ve also been looking at ways of combining veneers and colour. Someone whose work I have loved for decades now is Bonnie Bishoff. I was transported by the pieces made by Bonnie and her partner J.M Syron which combined Bonnie’s skills with polymer and her husband’s cabinet making skills. Just stunning.  What a handy husband.

Over the years, Bonnie has made different kinds of sculptural and practical pieces and, more recently, jewellery.  Her voice is so clear and her style so distinct. There are several artists who use a cut and replace technique with polymer veneers and Bonnie’s is just so vibrant and joyful and celebratory. I have also used this technique but more often with blends or veneers made from repeated canes. Bonnie uses both caning and colour blending. The earrings I am wearing today are the result of me trying to do what Bonnie did. The really important step though is the next one (that isn’t counting the message I sent to Bonnie about buying earrings…)

When someone has a really clear, distinctive style, I don’t want to copy it. It was the same when I did some online courses with Dan Cormier. If the result simply was that I could make something like Dan’s, or like Bonnie’s (and it would NEVER BE AS GOOD) then I have sold myself short. And when I teach my own classes, students might initially make something very much like something I have shown them. But I REALLY want them to use what they have learnt to connect with their own voice. (Such a laden word but I can’t think of a better one at the moment.) To make something that is authentically THEM.

Only Bonnie Bishoff can make art like Bonnie Bishoff. Any copy is usually very obviously a copy and just lacks the…singing. The authenticity. Now that I have made some veneers that look a bit like sorry imitations of what Bonnie does, I want to work out, not how to make them better imitations, but how those techniques and skills can work in the pieces I want to make.  Because Bonnie’s work is the star here my earrings will take a very small role in the wings. For a feast of visual sumptuousness (Mum, you will LOVE this) just go to her website and drool.

*Annette is the amazing woman who made my goddess dress.

Good enough

I am doing some of the things some of the time and, given the lay of the land, I am telling myself that is good enough!! This will be a catch up for those of you not following the earrings on Instagram (where I have been a bit more disciplined!) There was Anu from Samunnat Nepal modelling some colour exercise earrings that we made and that I wore on Monday. With trakky dak equivalent.

Then there was my turquoise ensemble which is another version of comfort eating for me. I may at one point have popped on something a bit less gardener’s wear…yes! I shopped for essentials!  My model is a classic isn’t she? I fell in love with her battered but stunning form at The Green Shed and she is very patient when I try necklaces out on her to see how they sit.

Then…mark the day…on Wednesday I dressed in a dress. The black version of this dress. And accessorised it with another pair of Kate’s earrings.  I love these for so many reasons and one is because they have so much heart and such story attached. Kate was thinking about lungs because she made these when fires were blazing around Australia and Canberra was shrouded in smoke. AND…she cleverly used Holi powders got from Nepal to colour the earrings. This is beautifully significant for me!

And today it is raining outside. I have been on my wettish walk and wore the earrings of the day! They are big, bold and elegant. A perfect match for the There is no planet B t shirt! My friend David from Trove Canberra makes colourful, humorous, practical, intriguing things on his 3D printer. One day he bought in an articulated gecko brooch. I told him I would wear this as earrings and he replied, Yes, YOU would. He may have been in italy sceptical if other people would. Well, he ain’t sceptical now because I suspect Dave’s articulated geckos are among his best sellers! They are light, lithe and elegant and in these days of physical distancing it is nice to have something nibbling on your ears!