Friday 26 March 2010


At last I have managed to get back into my workshop and make something. Of course it had to be Japanese inspired! This is a tiny little dish measuring just 36mm across with a cherry blossom pattern on it. Sakura is the Japanese for cherry blossom.

I normally make jewellery all the time so it was a nice change to make this little trinket dish.

The only problem is this is cheating really. It is going to be enamelled but it is so long since I posted any new work that I decided to patinate it lightly to pick up the texture so I could show it to you now.

I shall pop it back into the kiln for a few minutes to clean it for enamelling and that will remove the patina at the same time.

I'll show you the finished piece soon I hope :)

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Whoo Hoo ....

This is exciting. My blog has just been featured by Lori Phillips in her Best of Blogs feature in the latest edition of Metal Clay Today! You will find it on page 30.

Metal Clay Today is a great free online magazine and if you have not yet subscribed to it then just pop over to their site and sign up now. I normally read the magazine as soon as it arrives but having been away and still catching up on everything I had it in my waiting to be read heap for when I had a bit of me time.

 Thanks Lori for letting me know that you had featured me - I feel honoured :-)

Sunday 21 March 2010

Home Again!

I'm home again! Ok so you probably didn't know that I was away actually. Before I ever won the trip to Japan hubby and I had planned a trip to Venice so the two worked in nicely togther and gave me the most wonderful 3 weeks of holidays!

Venice was beautiful and I shall be posting more photos. We took a trip to the pretty island of Burano and the photo above is of some of the stunning little houses which they paint the most amazing colours (and you know me - I DO like my colour :-) ).

So now I have reopened my ebay shop and website and am working my way through all the emails. If you are waiting for a reply I will be getting back to you soon.

Finally watch this space as I am going to do a giveaway in the near future ....... 

Friday 12 March 2010

Japan - the last day

Ok so you are thinking this is day 5 right? Well actually because Japan is 9 hours ahead of us when I did the journey out post at the begining of this saga it actually ended on day 1. So when I posted day 1 it should of been day 2 etc etc!! So in fact this is day 6. Clear as mud eh :) So the trip continues....

Our last full day in Japan. Today we went to Kamakura which is famous for the Great Buddha.

Once again we travelled by train. We were getting to be seasoned travellers through the vast railway network now. The journey took us about 1 ½ hours. It was interesting to see the style of houses change as we got away from Tokyo and it’s suburbs, but the route was still built up all the way. We never saw any rolling countryside.

Today the forecast was not good and it was already raining when we arrived at Engakuji Temple and its vast complex. There were beautiful gardens and buildings which we slowly wandered around taking loads of photos.

We then made our way to the main shopping area and had time to peruse all the lovely little shops and sample some more fantastic street food for lunch. Sadly the heavens really opened so we abandoned our trip around the next temple, but not before seeing a Japanese wedding. Dice asked if we could take some photos of them and while we took our photos their official photographer took photographs of four soggy westerners doing their tourist bit!
Back on another train for a short journey to our last stop. The Great Buddha. An amazing sight and well worth the journey. Some of us made quick detour on the way back to the station to see the Pacific Ocean and do a quick bit of beachcombing for shells and sea glass.

When we eventually arrived back at Fuchu there was a chance for one last taste of Japanese food. Dice took us to a Japanese pub, establishments that put equal importance on the food and the drink. This was nothing like a British pub! We sat in a small booth area of our own and as Dice ordered dish after dish of food he thought we should try we just happily ate and drank. A wonderful end to a wonderful week.
Above - some of the food we sampled and Dice, translator and guide extraordinaire!!

Next morning it was an early 6.15am start for the long journey back to the UK.

The week just flew by. It was an amazing experience and I am very grateful to Glyn Mitchell for organising it and for the generosity of Aida Chemicals in supporting it and especially to Dice, without whom the trip would just not have been as good.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Japan - Day 4

I hope you are still with me on this :) If you have only just started reading you need to go back a few posts to the start of the Japanese adventure!

Workshops over we now had 2 planned days of more touristy activity. A chance to see a bit more of Japan. Dice collected us at 8.45 from the hotel and we headed off to the station. We were to go by train to downtown Tokyo to the Shinjuku Art Clay Studio. As well as all the Art Clay products there was some stunning work by some of the top masters in Japan in Art Clay with lots of fascinating new techniques we will be hearing more about soon I think. In the teaching area were Japanese students making some wonderful creations that they were keen to show us. The standard of work in Japan is really very high.

Then it back to the trains and off to the Temple at Asakusa.

This is one of the oldest temples in Tokyo and it was all stunning. We ate street food from the small stalls – I don’t think I have eaten rice in so many forms! – bought small souvenirs and wandered around soaking up the atmosphere. The sun shone all day and it was really warm.

Below - One of the many pottery shops
Above - even the modern shutters were beautifully decorated

More trains and back in Toyko to Tokyu Hands , Creative Life Store, a large department store. It has a really large craft section so needless to say we all descended upon that area and had a good shop!

Then it was a brisk walk back to the station to ensure we caught a train back to Fuchu in time for the highlight of the week, a meal hosted for us by Mr Aida himself, President of Aida Chemicals. The meal was booked for 7.30pm and with impeccable timing Dice got us all there for 7.25. The meal was Chinese and in a stunning location at the top of a tower block with views out across the city. Mr Aida was the most gracious and entertaining host and a good time was had by all.

Below - group photo and me with Mr Aida and Mr Kwai

Japan - Day 3

The second day of workshops. Today we had an intensive morning going through the 26 projects in the Sweet and Men’s project books. These are the two new lines of Level 1 and Level 2 projects which are expected to be launched here in the UK at conference in September. The new books are to be released in English and we were fortunate enough to be given prepublication copies of them. All the projects were explained to us pointing out the variances from the existing projects. It is going to be an exciting time when they are all up and running giving more choice for people take the certification levels.

Below - Ryota working hard
After lunch we were offered the choice of making either the Bee project or the Spider project which both have the bezel set stone in them and are in the new books. I opted for the Spider project. It was a fun piece to make.
Above - Glyn, Maria & Enid working hard. My finished Spider!

Dice provided some traditional Japanese refreshments mid afternoon when he surprised us with a tray of traditional fish shaped cakes which all had wonderful gooey filings inside. Yum.

It was a long day and we returned to the hotel around 6.45pm. That evening five of us returned for some more Tempura and sake – it really was that good!

Above - the streets around the hotel in Fuchu

Japan - Day 2

After the action packed first day of our trip today was where it got serious! Back to the Aida Chemicals factory for two full days of workshops, 9am – 6pm, with Ryota, one of the Art Clay masters. A chance for us all to learn new things.

Today we were learning how to bead set stones, in this case 2mm czs, into Art Clay Silver. To do this we used special beading tools which have tiny concave circular ends for creating a “bead” in the silver surface which pushes the silver over the edge of the stone to hold it in place. The result is a pave effect with the stones nearly flush on the surface. I shall be practising and using a lot more of this in the future I think. We all made two tiny pieces, drilling the holes into the unfired clay, refining them once fired and then setting the stones – this is definitely a technique you need some magnification for!

During the afternoon we laid out examples of our jewellery that several of us had brought with us and Ryota laid out examples of work done by the master instructors and then we had a wonderful session with all the masters and designers who work at the factory. For over an hour we all looked at the amazing array of work, asked each other questions about it and explained techniques on our pieces to each other. It was a fantastic exchange of information and ideas and we certainly made Dice work really hard translating everything back and forth.

That evening we were taken out for a Teppanyaki meal. We went to a tiny place that had a small bar at the front and at the back an area with low tables each with an iron griddle set into it. We all sat around the tables and all the food was cooked for us by Dice, Ryota and others from Aida. It was a fun evening and the chance to experience something we would not have done on our own.

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