Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ich gab kein Gold für dieses Eisen

I should have been working late this evening but just couldn't be bothered, especially as I've just finished my most recent piece, Ich gab kein Gold für dieses Eisen:

Ich gab kein Gold für dieses Eisen, 24

A piece based on the iron jewellery from Berlin, made during the Napoleonic wars to be exchanged by the wealthy Berliners for their gold. The iron jewellery was freqently stamped with the words, "Dem Alten Vaterland Die Treue zu beweisen Gab Ich in schwerer Zeit Ihm Gold fur dieses Eisen" ("For the old fatherland Loyalty to Show ,Gave I in difficult time To him gold for this iron"). The title of mine translates - thanks to the assistance of James - as "I gave no gold for this iron"!

I've wanted to make a piece on this theme for ages, so it was a huge pleasure to me to be able to make a piece with a real 1820s feel!

Invulnerable my ass...

Invulnerable my ass..Mabel get the blowtorch.
Originally uploaded by rj.tempest

Merry festive season! I loved this.

Friday, December 04, 2009

A word to the wise...

This morning, around 8.30am, I was looking for a cheaper health insurance policy and did a bit of a search. I went to a website which requested certain information from me, which I wasn't too bothered about filling in as it was an email address and phone number plus my name and age. When I got to the bottom of the page, I noticed a little disclaimer which said that by clicking "proceed" I would be granting health-on-line the rights to contact me. Of course, I shut the page down without clicking.

At 10.30am, I received an email, thanking me for my interest in health-on-line. At 2pm, I received another. I have just had a phone call from a smarmy idiot who simply would not take on board how annoyed I am that their supposedly passive website has actively stolen and used my details... despite the fact that I did not click the link giving them permission to contact me.

It makes me wonder what other "respectable" websites use methods like this to steal details without the user noticing.

Monday, November 30, 2009


I just got a confirmation by letter that two of my pieces are in the next Lark book, "500 Gemstone Jewels"!

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Here I am in Dundee for the ACJ show and I forgot to put the battery back in my camera...


The show is very interesting. Met loads of people last night and took a few commissions, which is excellent. I really, really like Dundee, so it is a great pity that I don't have the camera, especially as I saw a collision of posters which read "3 for 4 offer on" "Social Workers". You had to be there...

Friday, November 20, 2009


I've been free to make things again, now that all the constraints are off!
Here is a bracelet I made earlier in the week:

Auger Bit Bracelet 1

From some beautiful auger bits given to me by one of my students:


I have a plan for the rest!

fruit-flavoured gems

Surprising to say, but I was running out of large gemstones to use as features on my work, so I bought some more. This sample arrived today:

Fruity Gems 1

from a new supplier in Thailand whom I have not used before. I will be using him again! These were very reasonably priced and are absolutely beautiful. (2 x Amethyst; 1 x Green Quartz; 2 x Czochralski Chrysoberyl/Alexandrite).

Sunday, November 08, 2009

from edinburgh

The pictures I promised yesterday!

Confessions of a Justified Sinner

Lyceum Ceiling

The top is a picture of the banners which were all round the outside of the theatre and the second is the ceiling of the lovely auditorium.

confessions of a justified sinner

I've just got back from Edinburgh where I went to see the Lyceum Theatre Company perform a stage version of my favourite book, one of those things which just shouldn't really be possible - on the grounds of complexity of the text - but which worked incredibly well and was absolutely gripping. My only complaints would be: 1) The acting overall was a bit "shouty" and; 2) The passages which were contemporary in the book - the opening and closing narratives - were made contemporary to 2009 with a couple of pantomime-style policemen... Fortunately, the pantomime police were only in it twice for a total of about five minutes out of two and a half hours!

Never having been in the Lyceum theatre before, I was really surprised at what a beautiful place it is. Pictures tomorrow.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

and this entices me in?

Occasionally, spam email really makes me laugh, usually because it is so utterly schoolboy smutty. It is rare to be lured into opening a spam message because it reads like Edward Lear...

(Subject) Mr Quangle Wangle Quee
(Body) And they went to sea in a Sieve

Fortunately, I am not intrigued enough to open the link attached after the body text.

Friday, October 30, 2009


At long last, my work is in print!
I am SO chuffed about this:

Very Pleased

The book is called 1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse and features all three of the Post-Apocalyptic Cocktail Rings.

1000 Ideas For Creative Reuse

Friday, October 23, 2009


Here is an idea of how the ring will look...

Ultraviole(n)t, WIP 3


Anyone who reads this knows that I have no time at all for the BNP or their views. This morning, I have done nothing but defend the right of the BBC to allow the BNP to be represented by their leader on Britain's prime political debate programme, Question Time.

All I have to say to those who object to him being allowed to air his views is that if his ideas are censored because people find them abhorrent, your views could be next.

Marcia came to visit this week, which means I am skint.
Bought loads of stones from her, the best one being this 67 carat amethyst:

Gigantic Amethyst

Which is going into a ring, of course!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


What a few days!
I am completely exhausted: got back from Brighton on Sunday night at about 11.30 but didn't get into bed until nearer 1am after getting everything together. Taught all day on Monday and did some voluntary work in the evening until 11pm. That wasn't so much trouble, but then I didn't sleep and had to be at the airport to go to Coventry for a conference on CAD/CAM. All day, we wandered around, chatting to people, looking at machinery and samples, listening to speakers and watching demonstrations (I have GOT to get my hands on a direct metal printer!). Back to the hotel after that, where I didn't sleep again but had to get on a 7am flight back to Glasgow to meet with my stone-dealer and help the students buy stones. Meeting at 4pm until 6pm about our new qualification. Home at last. Hope I sleep tonight!

Rapid prototyping and manufacture is going to be such a major way forward for us jewellers and there is no escaping that. To be able to beat the sweat-shops and offer a unique product with a cutting edge, jewellers are either going to have to go down the line of my own work - using scavenged and unusual materials - or the line of technology in order to do this. Everything else is fading fast. It makes me wonder exactly what is the place of the jewellery courses we currently offer? They have a few years yet, but this needs to be addressed. As one of my students said to me, talking about the need to make a living from her work, "This isn't therapy".

My wonderful stone-dealer, Marcia Lanyon, didn't disappoint. (She never does.) I spent an absurd sum of money on stones, including some Rose-cut black diamonds and a monumental 62ct Amethyst!

Pictures tomorrow.

Dinner and bed soon...

Thursday, October 08, 2009

postal strike

Nice to see that the postal "delivery" workers in the UK have voted to go on strike again. So they've decided to have a day or two off from stealing the mail? From throwing it down drains? From hiding it in the sorting office? As someone who now has everything delivered to his work because mail addressed to my home never gets there, this is a no-change situation.
Privatise it now. Deutsche Post can't wait to get their hands on it and should be given it free, gratis and for nothing forthwith.

Saturday, October 03, 2009


There is something incredibly funny about the new lords of indie-rock, Muse. One of their previous singles, "Muscle Museum" is so ludicrous that it makes me laugh out loud (and I actually quite like it for that) and their latest offering, "Uprising" is just as amusing for sounding like Goldfrapp playing with Delia Darbyshire's "Doctor Who Theme".

A band which is not more than the sum of its influences...

Thursday, October 01, 2009


Having dreamed last night that Scott Walker had died (he hasn't: I checked online as soon as I got to the workshop!) and generally not having slept very well for the last couple of days, I am starting to flag, looking forward to the weekend.

Spent last weekend in Brighton, which was great fun, as ever. We didn't do very much but it was nice to see Dingo and eat ice-cream and stuff, even if the horrible Labour Party conference was in town, filling the place with protesters, armed police and politicians. Not that we really noticed.

Took lots of photographs:

Bandstand 2

Though given that a certain person - who shall remain nameless - thought it her duty to take me aside and tell me that the photographs on my Flickr photostream were not very good and could be improved, I don't know why I bothered.
Oh... yes, I do know why I bothered: because I enjoy taking photographs and enjoy it when other people like them.
Of course, anyone with any sense who didn't like a set of photographs would simply find a set that they did like and forget it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

lovely post

I am not going to dwell on the deeply unpleasant experience of being attacked in the street for commenting on somebody dumping litter from their car into the gutter as it is just another example of WHY GLASGOW IS SHIT.
Tell us something we didn't know.


I picked up a parcel from the post office this morning. I wasn't expecting any parcel, so it was an absolute delight to receive a gift from Bob Ebendorf, a brooch which is so completely to my taste that it is incredible:

Brooch By Bob Ebendorf

He also sent me a handmade iron nail from India!

Handmade Nail


Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Place Called "Far Out"

Ken Nordine - Word Jazz
Originally uploaded by Gordon Coale

Incredible! I finally found a copy of this album, of which I had only ever heard tell, never even hearing one track from it. Of course, it is pure Ken Nordine: that voice and the bizarre narratives which are nowhere near as bizarre in reality as the delivery makes them seem.

Any album which opens with a track containing the words, "Short time ago, we went out to a place together, to a place called 'Far Out'", has got to be good!

Friday, September 11, 2009

almost at an end...

The big commission work is nearly over for the moment. It's been interesting, grabbing every moment in the workshop and trying to come up with something worthwhile out of what are effectively "repeats" of a formula. I've only to complete three pendants, which should be done early next week. The main part has been eight bracelets:

8/11ths - 8c

8/11ths - 7a

8/11ths - 6a

8/11ths - 5b

8/11ths - 4b

8/11ths - 3d

8/11ths - 2c

8/11ths - 1c

On another front, I'm back to finishing (at last) the "Four Cocktail Rings of the Apocalypse" now as I've been invited to submit some work for a book which is being published in Spain in both Spanish and English. The book is being put together by the marvellous Nicolas Estrada whom I admire very much and so flattered me hugely by requesting some of my work!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

on hold

Real life is on hold at the moment as I have a huge order to fulfil. Not that I am really complaining as it is all good stuff. Eight bracelets for men and three roofing-nail pendants. The difficult part has been keeping these designs fresh as I've now made dozens of variants of these. Forgot to take the camera today, so no photographs.

I also received a very nice surprise by email: an invite to submit some photographs for a book on "Rings" being published in Spain.

More tomorrow, when I will remember the camera!

Saturday, September 05, 2009


Woke up late this morning and feeling absolutely wretched. I didn't sleep very well and think that last week was just a bit too tiring, what with working late every evening and the new intake of eager students craving my attention all day. Must try and get some rest before they come back on Monday so that I'm up to their demands!

There was a strange note under my door this morning from the old boy who lives in the next block, "Come and see me. Have cukes. George". His allotment had produced some tiny pickling cucumbers which, for some reason, he had seen fit to grow; strange given that he told me that he hates cucumbers... Anyway, I got a few kilos for pickling. They are really tiny and I think that they'll be lovely pickled.

Morning Work

I've been doing some work using the techniques I learned over the holidays. This piece, using a shard of ceramic from a beach in Fife, surprised even me a little bit, being so completely different from my more usual work:

Me Old China 7

I've just had an order for eight of the found-steel bangles I was making last year! Plus three pendants, all to be made by the 3rd week in September, I'm going to be very, very busy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

back to the bench

Working at the bench all day today, which was just great. I managed to finish the pendant I started before the holidays, "La Fleur du Mal":

La Fleur du Mal 19

This was an interesting piece for me as it is primarily silver, something I've not done for ages, and it was also mostly designed in Rhino 4 (a CAD programme) which was also used to create the cutting plans and then the pieces were cut and assembled by hand.

I've also started work on the cabinet for my penny-press machine, which I've still not bought!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

edinburgh weekend

Just back from a weekend in Edinburgh for the festival!
I went through primarily to see my friend, Mark, in a play about Suffragettes in Scotland at the turn of the last century and have to confess to being a little worried that it might be a bit of the usual agit-prop rubbish that Scottish theatres used to do rather too much of: it wasn't. It was a rather excellent little series of sketches in which Mark played all of the men, all 13 of them:

Mark In Play

Here he is writing a letter to the newspaper about how ludicrous it is that women should have the vote!

Edinburgh at this time of year is great. The town is full of tourists and street performers, some of them very good indeed:

Gothic Actor

This guy is one of the actors from a company called "The River People", who I went to see on the strength of their street performance. Their show Lilly Through The Dark was a blend of physical theatre, narrative, music and puppetry and was absolutely excellent.

Of course, the street performances can be dreadful too:

Henry On Sax

(This was even worse than it looks.)
And they can be plain odd:


I'm still not sure why this guy was performing with a horse's head on.

Also got to see the Callum Innes show, which is worth a look, and the Jerwood Contemporary Maker's Show, which has some lovely work in it.

I heard someone on the radio last week saying that Britain was 67% nicer this month because all the wankers go to Edinburgh. Not strictly true, but I take the point. Highlights of middle-class obnoxious behaviour include the three families who colonised a cafe yesterday at breakfast-time, re-organising the furniture to suit themselves without by-or-leave and who huffed and stropped at anyone who wouldn't move to accommodate their selfishness; the young teenage boy who thought it was OK to curse and swear and scream in public at his revoltingly liberal mother and father for not asking his opinion about which restaurant to go to; and the private-school idiot who actually uttered the words, "That's Yay. No, that's double yay. No, technically that's, like, yay squared."

Of course, the other reason that Britain can't be 67% nicer is that some very nice people have also come to the festival: my highlights of star-spotting were Barry Crier, who sat next to us in a restaurant, and Nicholas Parsons who was meeting his daughter outside a theatre I was going to.

Back to unglamorous work tomorrow!

Friday, August 21, 2009


I've been featured on the Carrotbox website! A website I always forget to check regularly but full of great jewellery and well worth a look.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

join me in having a remembrance joke at the expense of jade goodie

Because we never like to forget.
Well, actually, I wouldn't care if the vile chav were utterly forgotten forever, but for the moment we shall keep her dear to our hearts with this delightful picture which Dingo sent me from the Argos catalogue:

There is so much that is wrong with this picture, not just that one of them looks like Jade. These are dolls from a range called "Baby Born" which are supposed to be new-born babies. Why are these dolls getting married?

Friday, August 14, 2009

and all too soon...

Home again. It was an easy drive back, though I was very glad not to be going the other way, which seemed to be endless queues of traffic. The weather is pretty poor here at the moment.

The summer went SO quickly this year, what with the course at West Dean and then visiting Norfolk. The pictures for that are on my Flickr photostream(link left) and I can't really be bothered writing it all up at the moment.

Over the last week, we've been gathering up fruit from an abandoned fruit-farm and I made jam and chutney!
How domestic.

Back to work on Monday.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

6 weeks later...

Wow! Remiss of me, I know. It is six weeks since my last post. So much has happened since then.

In Brighton for my usual sojourn with Dingo. After a couple of weeks I went to the lovely West Dean to take a course with Robert Ebendorf.

West Dean

The college building itself was amazing: the country seat of the classic English eccentric, Edward James, friend of Salvador Dali and one of the leading lights of the British surrealists. The interior of the house has absolutely loads of artworks, from Chagall to Dali himself. Superb food as well! Working with Bob was incredible. It was so brilliant to be encouraged to properly think outside my comfort zone and then to be able to discuss it with peers:


Everyone on the course was SO supportive and lovely to work with.

Here are the pieces I produced in the five days:

Work From The Class 1

With which I am very pleased. The bangle (far right) and the lens pendant (second from the left) are not too brilliant, but the rest are much more interesting as diversions from my usual work. What drove me forwards with these pieces was that they are entirely constructed without soldering.

As soon as that was over, I came back to Brighton to head off again for our holiday in Norfolk (avoiding the ghastly spectacle of "gay pride" in Brighton). More on that tomorrow.

Friday, June 19, 2009


I've not posted for SO long. It's been really, really busy at work, what with the students finishing off their work, the Trades House show for the students and generally getting everything ready to get off to a flying start at the beginning of the next academic year.

More to follow.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

happy days

It's been an exceptionally good day today. Not only was the weather really pleasant again, but it was the end-of-year show for my students. I didn't realise until about 2pm - the show opened at 6pm - how proud of them I am. They really have been exceptional this year and everyone who saw the show commented on the excellent quality of the work.

Two unrelated but lovely things also put me in a good mood: 1) a pair of old trousers which I wore to the opening yielded two well-washed £10 notes from one of the pockets, and; 2) There was home-made ginger beer in the fridge for me to drink with dinner.

Long may it continue!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

home again

From my long weekend in Brighton.
Did all the usual things we get up to there, but rather foolishly decided to go to Bognor Regis on Saturday.

My favourite paper signboard ever:

Honouring The Dead

Which strikes me as wholly inappropriate!

Bognor is not a place I would much care to visit again. It was obviously once genteel but now is just rather boring, though we met some brilliant people - notably the woman in the camera shop with frightening nails; the woman in the taxi office whom I confused by photographing her sign:

The Ace Of Spades

and the couple who owned the cafe where we had lunch.

The downside was having to scramble the emergency services to prevent some 10 year-olds taking a golf-club and laying into a drunken down-and-out: another good reason for banning golf, I think!

The run-down to summer is upon us. The students are all running about like mad, trying to get things finished. A frustrating and sad time of year for everyone, even the staff.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

annoying news, yet again

I am going to have to stop listening to Radio Four news!

  • Hazel Blears: was there ever a more clear-cut definition of the words "Smug" and "Odious"?

  • The Catholic Church: It is quite OK to systematically abuse children in your "care" but it is completely wrong to use Twitter.

  • What is the matter with this planet?

    Saturday, May 16, 2009


    The weather today was a bit patchy, but I took the camera out to get a bit more used to what it can do. As an experiment - and a bit of a reaction against the rate at which I've been acquiring/building lenses! - I only took one lens with me, the Olympus 35mm (70mm equiv.) macro lens, a true macro which continuously focuses from infinity to very close-up indeed. The 35mm is a bit longer than would be ideal for general town photography and it is not the fastest lens in the world, with the largest aperture being f3.5: it is also manual-focus only. In short, not the ideal lens for snapshots! I did, however, end up taking almost 200 photographs, of which about 30 are interesting enough to post to Flickr.

    The best thing about this lens is the macro. When it is set up properly and in ideal conditions (the wind not blowing the thing being photographed!), it produces some incredible images:

    Chucked By Apollo...

    Moss and Lichen

    Though it is super-sharp at all ranges.
    There was a hideous "orange walk" in town today, to which I stepped boldly and took photographs. It was quite liberating to assert my right to be there instead of skulking away and avoiding them, changing my plans to accommodate their sectarian bullying. I also got some very disturbing shots:

    Orange Walk 5

    Orange Walk 4

    Orange Walk 3

    Orange Walk 6

    The first of these pictures was especially upsetting as the little boy at the back got slapped on the back of the head by the adult who was with him for not paying attention to what was going on. These children are not only being slapped about the head, but they are being indoctrinated in a system of hatred. For anyone not familiar with this "event", those uniforms signify nothing, mean nothing: they are not millitary, not police, not even as official as a security guards. They are something made up, an invented fantasy.

    This lens was particularly good for this set as it let me take pictures candidly without being too close to the subjects to worry them.

    Of course, there was the usual nonsense I like to photograph too:

    Graffiti Character

    More Gutter Heart?

    Dispensing Chemist

    Tuesday, May 12, 2009


    I don't know why everyone is bleating about the "scandal" of the MPs expenses. Looking at the figures, it seems as if everyone has spent more-or-less the same, around £150000. OK, so some of those expenses seem a little far-fetched, but the majority are trivial: furniture, toilet-seats, bedding... Things we all need.

    Has nobody considered - given the fact that all the figures are similar - that it perhaps COSTS around £150000 to be an MP?
    Has notbody considered that if Silvio Berlusconi saw these figures, he would probably sneer with disdain?

    Yet again, all I can see is the British media trying their best to undermine British democracy. The system is not perfect but it is not open to the sort of wholesale fraud inherent in many other systems. Even in the current form, the system is better than the system we had here only 25 years ago, where one had to be wealthy gentry or union-sponsored in order to be an MP.

    Disaster struck in the workshop today. Well, not quite disaster. I broke one of the irreplaceable stones in the final "Four Cocktail Rings of the Apocalypse":

    The Four Cocktail Rings Of The Apocalypse (Disaster) 27

    However on analysis, trying to find a replacement for this stone, I decided that the ring doesn't really match the others in the set. SO, it is back to the drawing board to make a different one which is more in keeping with the first three.

    Much improved pinhole for my camera. I went out on Sunday with an even tinier pinhole and took some photographs and the images are way sharper and more interesting:

    Sink Estate With Bike 2

    Moving Cyclist

    Papaver nudicale and Scilla

    Saturday, May 09, 2009


    Having spent a rather large amount of money on a new DSLR and two exceptionally good lenses (Olympus f2.8 28mm Pancake and Olympus 35mm Macro, 4/3), I've spent the last couple of days making completely crap lenses to go on the body too, a pinhole lens and a modification of a Diana+ lens:

    Lumix G1 With Diana+ Lens 3 Lumix G1 With Pinhole Lens 1

    I didn't get the Diana lens finished until this evening, but I did get the pinhole finished enough to use.

    Annoyingly, the weather has been so bad that I've not really wanted to take the camera outside, but I did get half an hour between showers in the Necropolis in glasgow today.

    The photographs taken with the 28mm are amazingly crisp:

    Mother And Child

    And the depth-of-field effects achievable with it are wonderful:

    O Grave!

    Compare the photograph of the statue above with the pinhole version:

    Pinhole Mother And Child

    This is actually too soft-focus for my liking, as can be seen from some of the other pictures:

    Stained Glass Pinhole 2 Pinhole Towers In And Out Of The Dusty Bluebells Stained Glass Pinhole 1 Pinhole Tomb When Lilacs Last...

    I remade the pinhole this evening to use an even smaller hole, only using the tip of a pin to make it. This should sharpen things up a bit.
    More test pictures tomorrow.