On Valentines day I got up ridiculously early, bag packed the night before, tool kit at the ready I had my travel tea cup filled, my breakfast bars on standby as I zoomed off in search of Redditch!
My destination was the Sewing and Pearls workshop, taught by Sheila Davies (resident designer at jewellery maker). I made it in plenty of time, not liking pearls nor lace this was going to be a challenge.
However, that is precisely the reason I decided to take the workshop, sometimes you learn more whilst working out of your comfort zone. My comfort zone is tiny beads, peyote, right angle weave, brick, albion, herringbone stitches and shortly the hubble stitch (watch this space but the awesome Bead School Mel has designed a new stitch, a book is being written as I type!) and french wirework beading.
I have been to Jewellery maker before, so the building, the layout was familiar to me, the workshop environment wasn’t. Previously I have only attended a sunday experience, I am desperately trying to get on another but try as I might I haven’t been successful yet 🙁
I was expecting a kit, demos, instructions, and finished items to view as inspiration pieces, interaction with other guest designers & presenters etc However, this wasn’t quite what the day turned out to be…….
I will say, Sheila is a wonderful lovely lady, who is kind, generous and incredibly helpful she allowed us the freedom and creativity to design our own pieces as the day progressed, I actually moved away from lace and on to Sari silk ribbon which I have to say I much prefer to work with. Sheila, I love, she isn’t your conventional teacher, but she is a patient, and thought provoking one. As such there were no instructions, no detailed diagrams of the course objectives for the day but there were inspirational pieces. Including those I have pictured throughout this blog post.
Around the room she displayed her pieces, allowed us to use her stash of pearls, lace, needles etc without the need initially to dip into our “kits” which consisted of a strand of pearls, 2 backing pieces of material, monofilament, and pieces of white lace.
Sheila dished out bead scoops, cut additional backing material up for us to use, gave us access to her pearl stash, quartz etc so I ended up making a piece that isn’t at all something I would of ever dreamt of creating, and then I moved on to creating (and am still creating) what I think will be my favourite piece using Sari silk ribbon and the bead scoop.
Another part of the course is the opportunity to meet the presenters and guest designers on the shows that day. I would love the opportunity to become a guest designer, sadly I suspect my area of specialism is too small & time consuming for JM, bead weaving is my passion, I love creating a bezel for a cab using peyote or albion stitch, adjusting the size of the beads to enable a tight secure bezel, cubic right angle weave, basic right angle weave (ladder weave to JM viewers) and much more, not all bead weaving needs to be done with tiny seed beads and personally I think there are many jewellery makers out in the big wide word who would love to learn a simple daisy stitch, create cubic weaves one day maybe my dream will come true!
I have to say some presenters & guest designers were much friendlier and lovely than they come across on the television, others sadly for whatever reason failed to acknowledge the workshop attendees, or if they did, it was glaringly obvious to several workshop attendees that the acknowledgement was done begrudgingly.
Two of the presenters on Saturday were Ali Defoy, and Lucy Nicholls. Ali & Lucy are simply the loveliest, kindest friendliest most down to earth hilarious people I met on the day, along with the lovely Scott who was standing in for Wendy (workshop co-ordinator), and obviously Sheila. Each of these people took time out of their busy day to come into the workshop room, interact with the attendees, delight, encourage oooh and aaahhh over the our creations, share the delights of the strands which had been or were going on air. This was before Ali went on air, & after Lucy had been on air, and then they popped back again a few hours later to make sure that they both the time to say goodbye to us, just as the lovely Elena had done when I met her on the Sunday experience last year.
During the day Sheila gave us an insight in to stiffening lace, staining white to an antique tea colour (using a tea bag!) and some of her design methodology. She virtually emptied her stash of lace encouraging us to take more pieces to create with, she willingly (or so it appeared) popped here there and everywhere looking for glue, wire mesh, sari silks, and other samples of products that we may not of used or tried previously.
I love teaching myself, but I also love taking classes. I am always looking to learn something new, the inspiration you can get from being around other jewellery designers makes for a vibrant buzzing atmosphere – I really would love to go again and learn something new, maybe a silver clay or wirework workshop next!