Archive for Artisans
You know how as soon as you make a note of something new, then the chances are you’ll see it again pretty soon?
I can’t help but see owls (and pears) everywhere – writing this blog has honed my radar. So I was always going to notice a news story on the BBC website about a newly carved owl in Harrogate to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
A few months passed; I organised a trip up north to visit friends; plans were made to meet blogging sensation Kat in Valley Gardens in Harrogate – a place I knew nothing about, but which turned out to be the perfect picnic and catch-up spot.
But there’s only so long you can spend in a park with a 3YO before you start to gravitate towards the swings. Lo and behold, outside the gate to the play park stood the carved owl throne from the article I’d read back in May.
Sculptor Jonathan Sherwood was easily located once back home, courtesy of Google, and I’m really chuffed that he has agreed to talk to us this week about his work and inspiration:
First of all, I have to ask: why owls?
A stylised tawny owl was the first thing I learnt to carve so I find them easy to create. The reason for putting one on the seat was to add something to the top of the chair to make it more interesting for kids.
How did you get interested in wood carving?
My dad [Tim Burgess] is a sculptor based in Mobberley and works in the Manchester area. I started by joining him on jobs and shifting wood around, then I had a go for myself. [Readers, a talent for owl sculpture and wood carving runs in the family: read all about Tim Burgess's jubilee Oak Leaf Throne here. It also features an owl or two.]
Apart from a chainsaw, what tools did you use to create the Diamond Jubilee Sculpture?
I used two chainsaws one with a standard sprocket bar and the other was an electric one with a carving bar on it (it has a pointy tip and no sprocket in the end). I used an angle grinder with a sanding pad, a file sander, a drill, a couple of chisels, a mallet and a crowbar. And of course all the necessary safety equipment.
How long did the work take to complete, and what challenges (if any) did you face in making it?
The work took five days; however some of the days were not full days. The whole project was a huge challenge – it was the biggest sculpture I had done (by a long way). It was in a public place which means having to stop a lot to answer questions. It was the first seat I had made and I had some problems with chainsaws and lost half a day of work due to some wood chip in my eye.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from my head and real life; I am always aiming to make my work more realistic so whatever the subject is I will look at pictures of it and then decide on what I think would look good in terms of movement, attitude and composition.
Who are your favourite contemporary sculptors?
I don’t really have a favourite contemporary sculptor: I’m not very good on names of artists and so on. If I had to name a sculptor who’s work I really like it would be Bob King who is a chainsaw sculptor in the US.
What plans do you have for forthcoming works, and do any of them include owls?
I have no plans for any work – it depends on what I get comissioned to sculpt. At the moment I don’t have time to go and make what I would like to make as I have a full-time job and will be starting my part-time university study again in September.
If you’re interested in finding out more, you can visit Jonathan’s website (and read the BBC article) by clicking on the embedded links above.
In the meantime, I can heartily recommend a trip to see the owl seat in Valley Gardens. And if any of you can suggest alternative owl sculptures then leave a comment below – as you know, I like to keep the radar honed!
I just love the thrill of discovering an astonishingly unique and beautiful owl or pear objet. And this forest owl necklace is exactly what I’m talking about: it’s chic, it’s retro but it’s on trend, and frankly, it’s drop-dead-gorgeous.
In the run up to the present-giving season, I’m looking for things to blog about which I know would make the perfect gift. But I am also keen to find out more about the designers and artisans themselves.
So who the heck is behind this masterpiece? Folks, it’s time to meet the creative genius that is Natalia Lovat, and talk about pliers, vintage screens and Etsy treasuries.
Let’s start with the necklace of joy – how did it come about?
Forest Owl necklace is made from chunky green 1980s beads which I found on eBay. I often search through eBay looking for old beads, broken jewellery and vintage pieces that I can take apart and turn into something new. The owls are also an eBay find, I wish I had some more, I think I have just one left! I used copper to connect the beads as it looks beautiful with green.
I imagine the necklace being worn during the day, with lots of colour. It’s perfect for wearing on a winter day with a woolly cardi or jumper and a nice warm scarf. Or it would look fab with a grey dress or top.
Could you tell us more about your background in design and what inspired you to create such beautiful jewellery?
I have an art college background and a degree in knitwear design. I worked in the fashion industry for just over eight years, for top end designers and high street suppliers, as a production manager. When small people came into my life all the travelling around had to stop. I have always wanted to do something more creative and eventually start making and designing for myself. I started a course in silver jewellery making and was hooked from the first blast of the torch and have not looked back since.
I still go to evening classes, mainly for the use of the studio and equipment for a couple of hours a week. My fellow students are great and I enjoy seeing them each week and talking about new projects and ideas. It is two indulgent hours which is purely about making jewellery: heaven!
I started making pieces for friends and family as gifts, and that soon progressed to making pieces to sell. It has been a slow progression, but lots of fun.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
It’s hard to pinpoint anything in particular that inspires me – much of my work is organic and inspiration comes from the smallest of things sometimes. As a lot of the beads I use are upcycled/recycled/vintage, I am inspired from the moment I open the packet or hand over the cash. Often just one bead or charm can lead to many pieces.
I try very hard not to follow trends as it can be distracting from my style. However I love flicking through magazines, keeping an eye on what’s happening on the catwalks, and of course I love a bit of research ‘shopping’. So I’m sure on some level trends filter through into my work, even if it’s just the necklace length. If I am ever stuck on what to make I just make myself a mood board, and that always gets the ideas flowing.
Do you have any exciting plans for the future?
In 2012 I would like to continue making and growing Natalia Lovat, especially the silver jewellery making. I’d like to have some pieces in a shop/boutique and I would love to have a piece of Natalia Lovat jewellery in a magazine feature or fashion shoot.
What are your hints or tips for budding jewellers and creatives?
My best piece of advice is don’t give up the dream: it’s never too late to start something new.
Could you share your recommendations of places to visit for creative inspiration online?
I love searching through Etsy and Folksy, not really for inspiration but to see all the beautiful things that people make: there are some awesome designers out there. Also, putting together treasuries on Etsy is my new addiction! [O&P: my fave Natalia Lovat treasury is here].
My favourite blog is What Katie Wore. Katie always looks amazing, so bright and cheerful and has such a unique and quirky style (I think Katie would totally rock the Forest Owl necklace, by the way). [O&P: see below for Katie in a most handsome colourway - click on the image for a link to her outfit, as worn on 10 August 2011)
What is it about owls and pears that appeals to you as a designer?
I have always loved owls and pears! They are used throughout design, and especially in textiles, in so many beautiful and unique ways. Finding something with an owl or a pear on always makes me smile and can often lead to a purchase!
What's in your toolbox? Are there any vital tools or accessories that you simply couldn't do without in your studio?
Tools I can’t do without: this would have to be my pliers - they are essential for so many things.
I'd love to know more about your studio - could you describe your workspace for us?
My studio/workspace is one side of the dining room, which seems to be growing! I have a beautiful vintage screen hiding all the equipment and boxes; I just have to tidy up the desk when we have people over for dinner.
Do you like to work to music, and if so, what are your favourite tracks for inspiring creativity?
I always work listening to music. Either the radio (I’m a 6music girl) or the iPod. At the moment I’m listening to the new Laura Marling album a lot – A Creature I Don’t Know. Or else the iPod is on shuffle so I don’t have to keep getting up and down.
Finally, your owl necklace is my current Etsy eye-candy, but you have plenty more beautiful pieces to choose from. Could you show us three favourite items in your Etsy shop?
My current favourites would have to be the Silver Kisses Pendant, the Silver Pearl Cluster Earrings and the Queen of Heart Necklace (illustrated below, from left to right).