Chairman's Column

Letter from the Chair Spring 2011 Ruby Tomes

 

I hope you are all charged up and prepared for conference! This is the Guild’s flagship event, and the schedule promises to be really exciting. As I write, the tutorial workshops are almost full and the final touches to the programme are being put into place. Before becoming Chairman, I had no idea of all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure the success and smooth running of the event. My thanks go to all members of the executive committee and in particular to Liz Gilliland who works so hard to coordinate the process.
 
Unfortunately, due to a family bereavement, I had to curtail my planned New Year visits around the regions, but I am still hoping to squeeze in a visit to Region 3 in the North West shortly. In the meantime, I look forward to meeting many of you at Canterbury. It is a great opportunity to display your work in the exhibition, so please do take part. I have always found it useful to have a topic on which to focus, and the themed exhibition is a good tool for this purpose. “T”, “tea” or indeed “tee” is open to many interpretations so it will be interesting to view the results of our creativity. Mary Ford, our selection secretary, has been busy organising the entries for the Guild’s selection work. We are fortunate to benefit from the hard work and expertise of this year’s panel of selectors - Keith Seldon, Sarah Macrae and Ruth Ball.
 
As the Guild’s main purpose is to promote the craft of enamelling, I can think of no better way than to display our work to as wide an audience as possible. We are fortunate to have been given several recent opportunities to do just this, one being the forthcoming exhibition at the Ravenstein Vlakglas museum in Holland. The Guild’s exhibition team has been working hard to make entry as simple and straightforward as possible, and Ellen Goldman has been keen to add incentive to visitors by way of offering workshop tuition at her studio. It promises to be a very exciting opportunity. Other exhibitions are currently under discussion including one in Japan and one a little closer to home in Whitby. Further information will follow when details are confirmed.
 
Lesley Miller coordinated Guild activities at the Creative Stitch and Hobbycraft show in Brighton last February and the Guild stand raised a great deal of interest. Region 7 members helped man the stall and to assist Lesley with “come & try” demonstrations throughout the weekend. I am always surprised to discover how many hobbyists have no idea what enamelling entails, and just how quick and easy it can be to get beautiful results.
 
To help further the public’s awareness of our craft, the executive committee are currently trying to organise an enamelling event to take place throughout May. We are hoping to run activities such as teaching and demonstrations at various locations along the lines of the Open Studios event. As I write, this project is in its infancy, but I hope to be able to give you more information at conference.
 
Lesley Miller is finalising the details for the Guild’s participation in the Art in Action craft fair event to take place in Oxford from 21st -24th July 2011. I enjoyed last year’s event so much that I have volunteered my services for the four day duration this year, so please pop by and say hello if you are visiting.
 
My teacher training course is now coming to an end and although I shall be glad of my certificate, I will be even happier to return my concentration to actually producing some enamelled pieces! I’ve learned that the correlation between increased paperwork and creative inspiration is inversely proportional (?) or something like that. I’ve found it extremely frustrating, particularly during my year as chairman, to be unable to find the time or the inclination to enjoy being arty, so the array of work at conference will be a real tonic.
 
I shall sign off with a big thank you to you all, particularly the executive team, for your kind support during my year as chairman. It has been a real privilege and a very enjoyable experience and has provided so many opportunities for friendship and wonderful creative ideas.
 
 
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Letter from the Chair Winter 2010 Ruby Tomes

 

As we wind down after Christmas, our thoughts turn to this year’s conference which will be held at the University of Kent in Canterbury, 15th – 17th April 2011. Please remember that this is the weekend before Easter. We will be based in three blocks, all near to one another. One will house standard accommodation, one en-suite accommodation and the third will house all our weekend activities, including meals, workshops, talks, library, exhibitions and suppliers.
 
It promises to be an exciting event, with workshop tutorials covering a wide range of subject areas. Bonnie Mackintosh will be exploring the use of silver foil with craft punches, suitable for all abilities; Joy Funnell will be introducing a new technique she has developed with Art Clay silver which lends itself to the use of enamel; Sheila McDonald will be using textiles as a source of inspiration for introducing layering and texturing to enamel; Phil Barnes and Harry Forster-Stringer will be running a joint engraving workshop, using both Gravermax and traditional hand techniques, suitable for those who have a basic knowledge of engraving; Carol Griffin will be creating enamelled pieces for the garden using copper shim in a 3 dimensional way; Tamar de Vries Winter will be using photographic transfers to print on enamel. Further details of all these workshops are included in this journal, and please remember to book early as they fill up very quickly!
 
The weekend will kick off with a fun session of Art Attack, with art teacher/jeweller Lizzie Howe, who will show us how to use coloured acetates to construct a unique kaleidoscope. After dinner and the AGM, Phil Barnes has promised to entertain us with a short talk about his work. On Saturday we will be busy with our workshops for most of the day with an opportunity for feedback before dinner. In the evening, Jinks McGrath will be giving a talk entitled “Jewellery Travels” about her teaching abroad. On Sunday, the Awards ceremony will be followed by a Master Class with Fred Rich entitled “still soldering on”, where he will share his secrets about how he produces his amazing cloisonné pieces.
 
You will have the opportunity to purchase materials and equipment from a wide range of suppliers, including enamels from WG Ball, Thompsons and Vitrum Signum, tools and equipment from Walsh’s and Art Clay from Joy and Glyn. Most suppliers will be happy to bring pre-ordered items to conference for you to collect, thereby saving postage costs – don’t forget to order in plenty of time. The Guild’s own DVDs and videos will be available to purchase, and the library with its extensive collection of books and DVDs will be there for you to browse and borrow.
 
One of my personal favourite activities at conference is the exhibition, which is open throughout the weekend. All members are warmly encouraged to participate, and I always find the great range of techniques and ideas truly inspirational. Please don’t be shy, and do bring something along, even if you are a complete novice! This year’s themed exhibition is “Tea” (or “T”!) so I look forward to viewing your interpretations! I would also like to encourage those of you who have not already done so, to consider submitting your work for selection. It’s a great opportunity to have your work assessed by expert craftsmen and can be a real help in focussing your efforts. Although daunting, I found the experience very rewarding, and the selection team were very supportive throughout Mary Ford (selection secretary) has included information about the process in this journal.
 
I have found this a very busy time now I have embarked upon my final year of teacher training. It has been challenging to produce 2000 word assignments when the most written work I normally manage amounts to the weekly shopping list (come to think of it, with four hungry kids, husband and dog, even that can seem like a dissertation these days!). But I bravely struggle on, and hope to become fully qualified this summer. Meanwhile, my classes at adult education centres and at a retirement home are thriving, and it is good to know that I will be more adept at passing on the knowledge and skills of my craft. I have also enjoyed visiting some of our regions. In September, I took a trip to the Region 4 meeting in Shrewsbury, and was treated to a talk given by our Kathleen Kay about how she combines mixed media with enamel. It was great to see Kath in action, and lovely to meet up with the regional members.
 
In October, I braved the journey north, and enjoyed the hospitality of Regions 1 & 2 at their Edinburgh weekend, where Raymond Jackson disclosed the secrets of simultaneously etching and plating copper. Dorothy’s evening meal was attended by over twenty members, and her pasta was delicious!
 
I have been struck by how friendly and welcoming our guild is, and would encourage you all to try the occasional workshop at a different region. Regional activities are listed towards the back of each journal, and I can guarantee that you will enjoy meeting with like-minded, friendly members. My thanks go to all members of regions 1, 2 and 4 and I look forward to more visiting in the New Year! All the best and happy enamelling,
 
P.S.
I'd like to encourage all members to consider submitting work for the forthcoming Ravenstein exhibition in Holland. This is a unique opportunity to show your talents, and I'd like to thank all those involved in the organisation of this event, particularly Tilly Wilkinson, Lynne Glazzard, Lesley Miller and Ellen Goldman. Further details are included in this journal.
 
 
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Letter from the Chair Autumn 2010 Ruby Tomes

 

                   
I hope you have all enjoyed a good rest and some wonderful weather over the last couple of months. I will excuse you for not doing too much enamelling during the summertime but encourage you all to get out your forks, ready for action, right now!
 
My regular courses finished in May and I then ran a couple of taster sessions along with a busy two day summer school when the sun was at its peak. We were visibly melting in front of four scorching kilns on the hottest day of the year!
But I was struck by the enthusiasm and enjoyment of the learners. It is so rewarding to pass on enamelling skills to such mixed audiences, from my own children, to the wide range of ages and abilities encountered in adult education colleges, to the elderly residents of retirement homes. The lustrous colours and almost instant effects never fail to surprise and enthral the novice enameller.
 
My own passion for enamelling began after I’d achieved poor results when dabbling in pottery. I would spend hours creating a clay pot and painting on glaze. I found it very frustrating to then be excluded from the firing process, only to return a week later to an unrecognizable item! And I could do nothing to alter it! When I discovered how speedy it is to fire enamel and that I could actually hold the fork and control the process, then add to embellish resulting work, I was hooked! My favourite way to design is to begin with a basic concept, then to nurture and develop the idea with each firing. This tends to be quite an experimental approach and the results can be unique and unexpected.
 
I try to pass on this approach in my classes and it was a very rewarding experience to see so much enthusiasm shared by tutors and learners at the recent Art in Action event. This is a four day craft event of mammoth proportions, held in Oxford every July. The Guild had a stand manned by volunteer members and practical classes were made available to the general public throughout the four day fair. These classes were all over- subscribed and very successful. It proved a unique opportunity to publicise the Guild and our craft, and my thanks go to all tutors and assistants involved, particularly to Lesley Miller who coordinated the Guild’s activities. It is hoped that the Guild will be able to participate on a regular basis.
Other recent Guild activities include the formation of another new region. I extend a warm welcome to all members of the new Region 10 which covers Denmark. Tom Lundsten, our webmaster, put forward the application to become a region and he is now their regional rep. I believe that many of their members are located in the Copenhagen area, so should you pass that way on your travels, I’m sure Tom will be pleased to welcome you to any of his group’s activities!
 
By the time this reaches you, the leaves will be beginning to turn, and I shall be back to my lessons. I shall also be busy formalising arrangements for next year’s conference which will be held at Canterbury University (the weekend before Easter, 15th – 17th April 2011). The organisation of tutors, workshops and speakers is well under way, and it promises to be a very exciting event.
 
I hope to visit some of the regions this autumn, and look forward to meeting some of you. It is an exciting time for the Guild to see our membership increasing, with many young talented enamellers emerging!
 
I shall leave you with a final thought. When teaching parent & child courses, I have on occasion found it challenging to find suitable positive comments to make about the children’s work! One particular incident springs to mind, when I struggled to enthuse over a somewhat unusual piece of enamelling, settling for “what an interesting piece of work we have here – it’s truly unique, and you’ll never see another like it!” The swift reply came back “Yes Miss, but is that a good thing?”
I think for all our sakes, yes!
 
 
 
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Letter from the Chair Summer 2010 Ruby Tomes

 

 
I’m thrilled and honoured to take on the role of this year’s Chairman, and am currently still reeling with the excitement of our recent conference held at Nottingham University. It was such an amazing experience to witness the wealth of talent and enthusiasm of our members. Those of you who were fortunate to attend will now be aware that I am not much of a public speaker, so it’s good to get this opportunity to thank everyone for their kind support, and to let you all know that I shall do my best in the coming year to promote our Guild and to meet as many of you as possible.
 
I started out as a jewellery student in weekly Adult Education classes back in the late 80’s, when the crèche facility at my local centre offered a bit of welcome “me-time” and an escape from children and housework! Now, after twenty-odd years of studying, I am still passionate about my craft and lucky enough to have benefited from tuition with Monica Larkin and Bonnie Macintosh. I began teaching enamelling several years ago, and now work at three different centres in the South East London area. It’s been an interesting experience to be both student and teacher for many years, and I feel I owe a lot to the old Adult Education system, which now appears to be in sad decline due to funding and bureaucracy difficulties.
 
I was introduced to the Guild by Monica, and became a member about eight years ago. It was great to discover a source of so much talent and friendly experience, active and enthusiastic, right on my doorstep! I was immediately made to feel so welcome, and enjoyed my region’s workshops and of course the annual conferences. I became the region 7 rep in 2005, roundabout the time I studied for my City & Guilds under Bonnie, and feel the Guild has always been such a helpful, welcoming group. In 2008, I finally plucked up the courage to enter my work for selection at the Leicester conference. I was truly elated to be awarded Craftsman status, along with the Maureen Carswell award.
 
As regional rep I have witnessed the steady increase in membership, along with a decline in local education courses. Contemporary use of enamels has generated interest from a younger audience, who must now rely on organisations such as our Guild to supply information and training. I think it’s wonderful that we have taken this on board and encourage younger talent with such concepts as the bursary scheme and the new Judith Harris Young People’s Award. So it is with great fondness and trepidation that I take up the Chairman’s reins, and hope that I am able to offer my experience in education to the benefit of the Guild in the coming year.
 
 
 
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Letter from the Chair Spring 2010 Lynne Glazzard

This will be my last letter from the Chair and the year has just flown. By the time you read this I hope we will have some spring sunshine. It seems to have been a hard winter with the most snow I remember since I moved to Glaisdale 12 years ago. There have been traces of snow here continuously since before Christmas and it is now well into February. This winter though I have enjoyed the sharply graphic patterns the snow has created and have taken lots of photographs of tracks and of frozen plants and trees. It has provided plenty of ideas for new work. Will it give you a bit of inspiration for your piece for the ‘pearl’ themed exhibition at conference?
 
I am looking forward to conference. I know now just how much hard work goes on behind the scenes to pull it all together.  My thanks go to Liz in particular. She deals with all the planning of rooms, tutors, the enquiries and bookings, and I know that putting the information pack together takes a huge amount of work. The thing I look forward to the most is meeting up with old friends and making new ones. I have always enjoyed the friendly exchange of ideas and the encouragement given by the more experienced members. I love that the less experienced members can share ideas with the experts and that everyone learns from this.
 
As well as conference there are a number of other events on the horizon. I following weekend I will be running two workshops at the Flame Off at Towcester racecourse, a great chance to introduce enamel to a new audience. Lesley Miller is organising workshops at Art in Action from 15th to 18th July. Please contact her if you plan to go to the event and can offer to help either assisting at one of the enamelling sessions are on the Guild stand talking to visitors and giving them information. Of course if you are doing any shows during the year it is a great opportunity to publicise the Guild and you can also advertise the events on the Guild website.
 
I am just putting the finishing touches to the plan for a jewellery exhibition at Whitby Museum.   It will show historic pieces from places such as the Pacific islands; Africa; Asia and of course jet from Whitby. It will attempt to put some of these pieces into context. There will also be a few of the pieces I have made during my residency in 2009. I have learned a huge amount while selecting and researching the chosen artefacts and the range of materials used to make the selected pieces is vast. There will be jewellery incorporating hair, bone and shells, through to silver, enamel and jet. The exhibition opens 30th March and runs until mid-June (entry to the museum is £3.50 and it is closed Mondays). Get in touch if you are planning to visit and I will try and meet up with you. If you can’t make it then I hope to meet with you at some other event. In the meantime, enjoy experimenting and happy enamelling!
 
 
 
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