On Saturday, I did something completely new; I taught other people how to make things from silver. And it was a lovely and productive afternoon. I had three willing and able pupils who learnt how to saw, drill, file, sand and punch. They were fast learners, who didn’t break a single saw blade, which is very impressive for first timers.
You teach really well. I love the way you explained the origins of tools or the reasons behind certain skills.
They enjoyed a peaceful afternoon learning new skills, chatting and eating homemade cake.
My boys were all thoroughly impressed with my tags
Today was brilliant. My creative brain loves me!
Their finished results are beautiful, as I think you’ll agree.
It went so well that I’m going to do it again! I’ve decided to try doing two, one on Friday 28th March 10-1 and the second on Saturday 29th 1-4, keeping them small, with a maximum of four people each. If you’re interested in these or future dates, leave a comment and I’ll send you a bit more info.
*disclaimer* If you’re expecting a coherent blog post, look away now…
Half a lifetime ago, I lived in an airy, light-filled Victorian flat near Battersea Bridge. It was built on the site of Sir Thomas More’s orchard. The tree outside my bedroom window was the last remaining mulberry tree planted by More, a huge gnarled, many branched tree, heavy with sweet fragrant mulberries which exploded staining pink juice when I picked them every summer. I don’t know if the tree is still standing, but I feel immensely privileged to have eaten Thomas More’s mulberries.
Our parish church, when we lived in that flat, was a not particularly attractive, red brick, mid-twentieth century building. The building belies the history. There’s been a church on the site for as long as there have been Christians in England. It was flattened during WWII, the Bishop of London decided not to rebuild it as London is heavy with churches, but the parishioners wouldn’t countenance that, and rebuilt it themselves. The outside of the church isn’t pretty, but the inside is rather lovely, filled with the tombstones and pieces of broken masonry. My favourite fact about the church is that Anne Boleyn marries Henry VIII there. I’m not sure why they were married in a church on Sir Thomas More’s land, maybe they were sticking two fingers up to him.
A couple of weeks ago, we went to the Epiphany service in the chapel at the Tower of London, the chapel where both Anne Boleyn and Thomas More are buried. Also at the service was the Lord Mayor of London, wearing full regalia. Around her neck was Sir Thomas More’s chain of office, the actual one that he wore in his portrait by Hans Holbein. It’s the only time of the year that it’s allowed to leave Mansion House, to visit the site of More’s tomb. I was close enough to her to touch it. I didn’t obviously, but I could have. Isn’t that more than a little bit amazing?
After a certain amount of umming and ahhing, I’ve pulled my finger out and organised this. So on Saturday 8th February, I shall be teaching a workshop at my home in Battersea from 1-4pm. Together we will make tags like these using traditional silversmithing techniques and tools. We shall drink tea and eat homemade cake. The cost, including sterling silver for the tags, is £65, plus £10 for a sterling silver snake chain, if you wish. Want to join in?
I’m not a big fan of inspirational quotes. They mostly make my teeth itch, not sure way. Maybe it’s a stiff upper lip thing, or maybe it’s just that they’re mostly trite nonsense. But when I saw this in an advert for Not on the Hight Street, I said YES with every fibre of my being.
Partly it’s because I have a very soft spot for Ferris Bueller. I was introduced to him by an American childhood friend who aged 11, I was sure I was going to marry. By the time I was 16, and we were watching this film, I was still harbouring an unrequited crush, and a combination of this and the achingly cool, only slightly older than me, Ferris made a kind of perfect storm of favourite filmness. But you know what? Ferris was right.
I have no idea what our purpose on this earth is, or whether there’s anything else afterwards, but I do know that I don’t want to lie on my death bed regretting that life passed me by. The best way I know of slowing it down is to grasp every opportunity that comes. OK maybe not EVERY opportunity. I have absolutely no desire to jump out of an aeroplane, but I do want to fill my days with things that are interesting, lovely, exciting, make me think, add in some way to the greater good or are just plain fun. The more you can cram in, the more time you seem to have.
As well as that, I also want to be present in the moment, not always rushing onto the next thing and wishing my life away. If you’re having a cup of coffee, make it a really good cup. Appreciate the small things and each day can be crammed with a series of tiny pleasures. This morning I heard a woodpecker while I walked the dog in the blinding winter sun on a frosty common. Today is already a good day.
Enjoy life. And listen to Ferris.
I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. There’s something about them that makes my childish brain want to do the exact opposite. Instead I like to write a list of things I’d like to aim to do during the year, no pressure, just a go-to selection of activities for times when we’re a bit stuck in a rut. The children have contributed too.
Of course seizing moments has to play a big part too. Last year we had some brilliant experiences like being on Newsnight and meeting a real life spaceman. Life without being open to new experiences isn’t properly worth living.
So here’s my list so far…
- Plan a skiiing trip
- Plan a long trip for the summer holidays
- Tate Britain
- Tate Modern
- 19 Princelet St
- Ragged School Museum
- Downe House
- Kew Palace and Gardens
- Cutty Sark
- Paul Smith Exhibition at Design Museum
- Go Ape
- Lazer Quest
- Swim in Hampstead Ponds
- Long walk based on one of locations in Wild Swim book
- Lots of other long walks
- Sam Wannamaker’s Jacobean Theatre
- Polka Theatre
- The Globe
- Ice Skating
- Swim in new Streatham pool
What should I add?
I made this for myself, back when I was just starting out on this making jewellery lark, and I love it. It’s very simple, just three sterling silver tags, rounded edges, stamped with my children’s names in two millimetre high capital letters. I wear it most days and I’m happy to say that I’ve made a few for other people now.
Someone asked me the other day if I’d teach them how to make their own name tag necklace, they wanted to have their own, but also wanted to learn some new skills and for it to be extra special, because they’d had a hand in it. So this is what I came up with…
Silver tag necklace workshop
Would you like to learn some traditional silversmithing skills and make your own lovely personalised name tag necklace?
I will teach you how to:
- cut your silver tags using a piercing saw
- drill holes with a handheld bow drill
- file and sand your tags to make them smooth
- stamp names using metal letter punches
You’ll come away with the satisfaction of having made a beautiful piece of jewellery for yourself, or a brilliant present for someone else.
The workshop will last for three and a half hours, including a break for coffee and homemade cake. Cost £90 including a ready made sterling silver snake chain and all materials. Dates to be confirmed and it would be in London.
There’s a lot I don’t like about Christmas.
But before you dismiss me as a modern day Scrooge and click onto the next post, please hear me out. I’m as festive as the next person come December. I love giving presents to my loved ones, watching my children act out the birth of Christ in dressing gowns and tea towels and singing the songs of my childhood in a candlelit church. I love Christmas, but there’s a lot about it I don’t like.
I don’t like people talking about it in October when the leaves are still on the trees. I don’t like how it seems to be mostly about spending money. I don’t like that there’s a huge pressure to do it exactly right. Whatever right is. And most of all I hate chocolate advent calendars.
I’m not particularly religious and I’m not a dentist, but to me they epitomise everything that is awful about Christmas. They are almost always decorated with branded images that bear zero relation to anything festive, it’s just a case of mega companies cashing in. I’ve seen Simpsons, Hello Kitty and The Stig calendars, without so much as a sprig of holly. They imply that children should get some kind of daily reward just because Jesus was born; they shouldn’t, Christmas isn’t about rewards and this is yet another thing giving children a nasty sense of entitlement. And the chocolate is hideous, it’s not chocolate it’s brown fat with flavourings and piles of cheap sugar. It’s completely wrong that we feed it to children and nothing will convince me otherwise.
There are so many things that are magical about Christmas, but chocolate advent calendars aren’t one of them. And now I’m off to buy a pretty glittery card one with pictures of bells and toy drums inside the doors…