29/10 I came back from my trip to the UK. Two wonderful weeks full of experiences. The little workshop Jewellery Making in Cornwall is situated among the rolling green hills between Truro and Falmouth.
There I had the opportunity to get private lessons from Stuart and his former pupil Jasmine, now a student at Plymouth university. His assistant Shirley was also a very nice acquaintance. People came and went all day long to see Stuart, to take part in a course or just have a chat. The atmosphere was very friendly and I learnt so much! First of all how little I know and what it means to have a teacher and not have to figure out everything on your own. Listening to Kate Bush and piano jazz music (the Swedish group EST was a favorite of Stuart’s) I managed with some help to make two rings with stone settings and a bracelet.
I lived in a little flat in Falmouth, a pretty town by the sea. This was the view from my bedroom. After a day in the workshop it was dinner, watching BBC and then sleep.
In London I had one day which was spent in my favorite museum Victoria & Albert’s. It is so big that some smaller part has to be selected and I choose Jewellery and Tapestry, not surprising. The collection of silver and jewellery is amazing!
Here a photo from the collection of contemporary silver items. In the attractive shop I fell for an embroidery kit from Ehrman’s, a motif from V&A:s collection of tile patterns. This one is pre-painted on the canvas, usually I stitch from a blank canvas and count the stitches from a model. I will also try the right way with all stitches the same way. I will report later how it goes.
It has been a long time since my last post. I can’t say that I am short of time quite the opposite. Like many people during this pandemic, I spend most of my time at home and meet few people in real life. Thanks to Zoom and Google meet I am not isolated altogether. So I have a lot of time to spend on my website, but the inspiration has just not been there. Fortunately, I have my crafting, what should I do without it. Sometimes it seems like things will never go back to normal, but with successful vaccination, there are hopes of a better next summer.
During the winter I have worked with silversmithing and I have even had a few orders, among them a pair of engagement rings. Very satisfying job, where the couple had its say to every step of the process. Also nervous, as it is such an honour to get such an important task.
But my biggest mission this winter and spring has been the Merovingian project. It started with my son asking me to make period costumes for him and his girlfriend, from the Merovingian period in northern Europe, which is 500-700 AD approximately. If you want to read more about it from start to finish take a look at the page “Tablet weaving” on this website. Anyhow, I had to learn about this ancient craft, one of my most challenging projects ever. After multiple mistakes, it has become almost an obsession. I have not only learnt a lot of living, crafts and clothing of this period, you come close to the individuals when you struggle with the same methods and equipment as they used. To make tablet woven bands you use square-shaped tablets with four holes, threads and some kind of loom. Through turning the tablets forward or backwards and passing the shuttle through the weft patterns are woven. It can look like this:
Tablet woven bands were an important part of Merovingian clothes.
So far it has been a cold spring, but sunny days I have walked along my beloved neighbourhood lake “Malaren”, and brought home bare twigs to put in a vase with water. Always exciting to see what it is when the leaves develop, in this case hazel.
I have written before about the garden of “Vinterviken”, an organic garden run by volunteers. It has a restaurant and a craft shop. I have been a guest maker before, but this season I am invited to be part of the team that runs the shop. It is such a joy to be part of this enthusiastic and committed group of people, and I have the opportunity to show my jewellery in the shop. The shop is open all weekends from May to September. The shop is full of beautiful crafts all made by members of the group. Apart from a selection of jewellery I have a few woven bands in the shop.
Another recent nice thing was buying new gemstones for my workshop. I have a wonderful supplier in Stockholm, a small shop called “Geo Art”, packed with gemstones and fossils. This what I bought:
Aren’t those stones a piece of art in itself!
The last months have been like nothing else in our lives, with a raging pandemic that affects the whole world. In a way, it connects us all in a new way, at the same time as we are more isolated than ever before, with lock-downs and travel restrictions. Although Sweden has been considered to be relatively open life is turned upside down for many of us. The infection is still widespread here and you have to be very careful not to interfere to close with other people, including your own children. In fact, I have lived much more isolated than usual. Depressing in many ways, but I am fortunate to have two very comforting things to do. First, I have a wonderful nature around the corner. Almost every day I walk in my neighbouring forest morning, midday and evening. It is very clear that when not much happens around you get more sensitive to what you see and hear and to perceive the atmosphere. It has never been more breathtaking with the scenery, wild animals like hares, deers and birds. Plants and flowers that alternate over the seasons. I do love it all dearly.
I have not travelled much but in June I had the opportunity to visit another beautiful part of this country. I have written before about this very special place. It is so called “fabodvall” in the county of Dalarna. Now mostly a summer resort, but some decades ago it still played a significant part of farmers life in the North. The cattle, cows, sheep and goats, was essential for survival. In a harsh climate, it was a struggle to get enough fodder to last the whole year-round. “Faboden” or “Bua”, as is the local name, was an additional summer location for the cattle. Further up the mountains leaves and grass provided good grazing for the cattle. Every ” fabodvall” consisted of a number of small log- cabins for sleeping, cooking, making butter and cheese. Often in small groups, the activity was run by young women, often in their teens. It was a very important task and is an example of traditional independence and status of women in Scandinavia. This valuable part of history is now kept alive by descendants to the traditional farmers and is a much-loved summer resort for families with children and grandchildren. Many log-cabins have been in the family for centuries. Now a lively little community with a friendly atmosphere and it welcomes also newcomers.
And now to crafting. For some weeks I have been knitting, many, many hours. Maybe a waste of time but it is relaxing and keeps you occupied while listening to the radio. You have to concentrate on counting stitches and not think so much about a troubled world. One of the sweaters turned out to be to my son’s liking so I will give it to him.
My son and I have for quite a long time talked about making a set of clothes from pre-Viking age, it might be both a male and female set. We haven’t come up with a decision on fabric yet, but to start with a have made the first attempt in tablet-weaving. A very clever method for making fine ribbons used at the time. Clothes were often lined with elaborate tablet-weaved ribbons. You use a tablet with four holes threaded with yarn in different colours. By turning the tablets in various directions you weave the pattern. It is quite complicated and I have to practise more, especially to get the edges straight. But it’s fun!
I have recently made a new cover for my Kindle. The old one made two years ago was completely worn out. The button is made of silver and carneole stone. Apart from that, I have not made much silversmithing. I feel I have too much jewellery for the moment, I hope to have the opportunity to sell off some further on.
In this very special time with Coronavirus epidemic at least one thing is positive: when you have better stay indoors you have plenty of time for crafts. I walk every day in my wonderful forest along the lake Mälaren. It is not spring yet but there is no snow and the moss is beautiful. In my backyard, there is some crocus.
I work quite a lot at my bench. Some of the new items can be seen in the webshop. My son who returned from Beijing a few weeks ago brought me a fine polishing motor. He left China temporarily because he was fed up with not being able to go to work. Sweden was then a safe country and since then everything has changed. My son says the situation in Stockholm is far worse than it ever was in Beijing. Strange!
Before everything closed down here my embroidery association started a collaboration with the Museum of Technology in Stockholm. We will later work on the subject “artificial intelligence”. Our first task was to make something with a connection to various technical innovations from the 20th century.
My object is a radio from 1949. I thought of how technical innovations change how people behave and communicate. ” The family gathering around the radio 1949″.
The Museum of Technology has taken care of the first head office that the Swedish telecommunication company L M Ericsson (now Ericsson) opened in Tulegatan in Stockholm in the end of the 19th century. The actual building is demolished but the luxurious interior is saved. Look at this wonderful mixture of top modern technology and the lavish style of the time. Even the putto has a telephone, of course.
Now, what’ s new from the bench:
If you like, take a closer look at the webshop. That is all for now, take care in these difficult times!
This blog post will be about textile exclusively. In my world, there is so much interesting going on about textile so I have to tell you. It seems that textile art is becoming gradually more recognized as important and relevant, at least from my horizon here in Stockholm.
Märta Måås-Fjetterström was one of the most influential textile designers and artists of the 20th century. Her famous studio in Båstad celebrates 100 years this year and there are two exhibitions in Stockholm. I visited the one at the Royal Palace. “Look at the rugs, find me” was her own description of her artistry. Her innovative designs of rugs and tapestry are still astonishly modern. She became a very sucessful entrepreneur and sold rugs worldwide. Her designs are still on the market today and are highly valued. The Royal family has a special connection with Märta Måås-Fjetterström being one of her greatest admirers and part of the exhibition comes from their private collection.
More exhibitions : on Helle Knudsen gallery the textile artist Linda Lasson has shown her remarkable works, mostly embroidery with black thread on tarp. She shows her art all around the world and her next stop was an art fair in Miami US. Her motifs come from the landscape of the North of Sweden and the Sami culture. Some of the embroideries are about the situation for the Sami people with centuries of oppression from the Swedish state and current threats to their land and way of living through mining exploitation.
Sweden has a black history of mistreatment of the indigenous Sami people. Less than 100 years ago Sweden was leading in ” race biology” with a “scientific” center at Uppsala University. Most of the interest was directed towards the Sami people who was considered of an inferior race. Their “scientific” interest made them steal sculls from graveyards, make humiliating involuntary examinations of nude individuals who were photographed and published. Other misdeeds was compulsery tranfer of groups of Sami people from the land they had inhabited for many centuries, parting children from their parents and placing them in Sami boarding schools. It is important to have this in mind to understand the significance of the current interest in Sami culture, art, film and pop music etc. It is part of a growing interest and recognition of indigenious people around the globe.
Britta Marakatt-Labba is a textile artist who has reached worldwide fame in recent years. She tells the story of the Sami people in embroidery some of them monumental in size. Having worked with embroidery for 40 years she made a remarkable success at the Documenta 14 in Kassel Germany 2017 with her 23,5 m long textile “Historja”. Now she travels the world with exhibitions and lectures on her works. She combines historical events with the rich Sami mytho!ogy.
” Vad var det vi sa”, “What did we say”, lithography
I had the great privilege to be able to attend a two days course in ” Narrative free embroidery” with Britta Marakatt- Labba a few weeks ago. It was very interesting and rewarding where she was very generous with advice and she told a lot about both her own art and other textile artists.
The Crows” is an image from the Alta conflict in the 1970:s. Crows are symbols of the authorities, who gradually transform into black-dressed policemen.
Another textile artist that I have discovered recently is Anneli Krantz. Here is a little embroidery that I bought for the lottery in the art association where I am a member.
“While the ice is melting” is an immensely beautiful exhibition at the Nordic Museum in Stockholm. It is a very ambitious story about nature and culture in the Arctic in light of climate change. The Nordic Museum has a rich collection of items from the Sami and the Inuite cultures. Incredibly rich and elaborate clothing with embroidery and application. Living on the edge of what is fysically possible the most important tool was – guess what- the needle! Not only clothing is sowed but also housing and kayaks etc.
The entrance hall is decorated to give the impression of walking into the ice.
Finalle my own humble effort to stich with the motif of fantasy medieval animals.
Autumn has arrived early this year with lots of rain and the leaves are already falling off after an outburst of autumn colours. Time for walks in parks in Stockholm and time for indoor activities like craft making!
One of the last days in September I went with a friend to the county of Dalarna where she has recently bought a small cottage. The temperature was 4° C with drizzling rain mixed with snow so I just took one photo, which shows the barn with the cottage in the background. The cottage belongs to a group of old houses called “fäbodvall” in the middle of the forest. In former days farms in the north of Scandinavia moved their cattle up in the mountain forests for grazing leaves during the summer months. This was better than trying to grow enough fodder around the farm. It was young women who kept the cattle, protected it from wild animals and took care of the milk, making butter and cheese. The young women ( in fact in their teens) lived on their own for several months and this of cause made them more self- confident and independent than many other women at the time. Today most of the old houses are kept as summer-cottages. I will tell more about this later on when we visit the cottage again at springtime.
As I have mentioned I have become a member of the textile group “Skapande broderi” and we meet once a week. I am of course excited to learn more about what they have achieved before. Last year they collaborated with “Postmuseum” in Stockholm which resulted in an exhibition called “Postal art”. It will go on until the end of December. I visited it a few days ago. I was amazed! Such creativity and artistic fantasy with endless variations around the subject “mail” . I was more than ever convinced that embroidery is an art form.
I am really inspired by this unconventional and creative use of needle and thread. I have always thought of embroidery as painting with yarn and this really confirms it. The current theme is the Middle age and I am now working on a pair of images with fantasy animals. Sometimes the back of the work is ever so interesting as this photo shows:
This year we are at “The Swedish History Museum”, a museum that deals with early history up till the Renaissance. This is what Skapande broderi has contributed with so far:
And from my silversmith bench: Yes I have been quite busy with that too. For the first time I have been able to make a new item from scrap silver. I melted down all the leftovers of silver I had and thanks to the new rolling mill I could mill it to a nice even sheet 1,2 mm thick. From that I made this ring with granules and a turquoise. I also want to show you how helpful the titanium strips are that I bought a while ago. You can shape them according to your needs and they are excellent. It makes soldering so much easier.
Thanks to the rolling mill I can also make my own filigree wire, it is so good to be able to lavish with wire. This is a new filigree pendant and a pair of ear pendants with kyanite gems. A lovely blue stone with stripes looking a litte like sapphire but much cheaper.
Finally a ring with filigree and claw setting which is new to me. The stone is carneol. That’s all for now! Thank you for reading and I would really appreciate any feedback! Maybe you have some advice or experience to share, would be so interesting!
Now in September, I had another weekend at Vinterviken gardens. Exciting to show my jewellery and nice company with the shopkeepers at the craft shop who run the craft shop as volunteers. Marie Oredsson is a fine potter and textile artist, take a look at her website. www.marieoredsson.se
I sold just a few jewels but it was so nice to meet people and talk about crafts. I hope to be back next spring when Vinterviken opens again.
I have found a society for creative embroidery and have been on a first meeting. So interesting! www.skapandebroderi.se The members are everything from hobby makers to skilled textile artists and the purpose is to promote embroidery as a recognised art form. They have developed collaboration with various museums in Stockholm, this autumn at the Swedish History Museum. We meet there every Wednesday evening and stitch. The current subject is medieval seams and stitches. The society also organizes courses and lectures. I add a link to their website and to the History Museum. www.historiska.se
This is the embroidery I have started, inspired by medieval motifs.
And I have finally set up a little webshop take a look! I start with just four items but will add more further on. Webshop
Summer months pass quickly and now it is already August. Late summer. In July I visited the beautiful county “Värmland” in the west of Sweden. Together with four very dear old friends (in fact from my teens) we hired a small cottage for a few days. Värmland is a quintessential Swedish county with forests, open meadows full of wildflowers and an abundance of lakes. Farming is still common with grazing cows and sheep. Houses are typically made of wood painted in red with white corners. This is a county where storytelling is traditionally practised and many famous Swedish authors come from here among them Nobel Prize winner Selma Lagerlöf. It is a land of trolls and fairies and fairy tales.
Among other things, we visited a genuine craft fair “Gammelvala”. Held every year in a small village most of still practised crafts where shown. For example the complicated production of linen from flax, the beautiful blue flower. This has been very important for many hundred years.
The crafters were dressed in clothes from the nineteenth century. Plant-dyed wool skeins on a line:
I have also visited a childhood friend. We are three friends from early childhood who meet once every year. We now visited the one of us who !ives in the countryside with her family. They have a chicken farm in the middle of Sweden. A life very different from mine! They grow most of the fodder for the chicken and needed more land. And then an old castle with lots of belonging fields neighbouring their farm happened to be for sale. So now they happen to be castle-owners! The oldest son is now restoring the interior to be able to live there with his family. A huge project that will take a long time. It is a historical castle from the seventeenth century called “Rinkesta” It was very interesting and exciting to see.
Now to my crafting:
I have completed a cardigan that I began knitting when I was in Portugal. This one I think I will keep for myself for a change. As usual patterns inspired by Alice Starmore.
New silver from the bench:
And finally, my son and I have bought a rolling mill. It is an economy mill, but good enough for our needs, for example to make filigree wire. We will have to fasten it firmly to the bench with bolts, something we haven’t done yet.
I have told before that I am planning to set up a small webshop for my jewellery. Just in a small scale as my production is not big.
There have been midsummer celebrations, that as usual we have shared with friends in the Stockholm archipelago. My grown-up children have spent all their childhood midsummers there and we keep up with the tradition. Lots of food and people around a big table in the light summer night. I can’t think of a more beautiful place at this time of year.
One thing that surprised me was that the catch of fish in the archipelago has gone down to almost nothing. Traditionally we have a delicious fish lunch on midsummer day. Now we got only two perches from six fishing nets. The reason for this is not only pollution and over-fishing by humans. The main reason is a substantial increase in seals and cormorants. In my youth, we hardly ever saw any seals, and they were said to be on the brink of extinction. And now they are seriously competing with humans for fish. Interesting that not only humans can cause ecological imbalances.
One of the guests is a breeder of Cavalier spaniel and here is a photo of some of those cute dogs.
Back home in my suburb, with its typical architecture from 1960:s. The concrete houses are not considered to be very picturesque, but around the corner you have nature. We have a nature reserve with walking paths along the lake. Above the lake, there are a few meadows full of wild plants and flowers. There are no grazing cattle to keep them open but they are actually scythed by volunteers a couple of times every summer. Isn’t that nice!
This is close to Stockholm but there are no houses here. Wildflowers from the meadows. The close up is St Johns wort with bumblebee.
From the bench: a pendant with labradorite, a necklace with boulder opal. And a ring with labradorite, one of my favorite gemstones.
A weekend in May I had the opportunity to be a guest crafter at Vintervikens organic gardens close to Stockholm. It is a nonprofit organization with a beautiful garden, a vegetarian cafe and a craft shop among other things. It is so nice; if you are in Stockholm pay it a visit! Now I got a table where I could show my jewellery, so exciting! And in spite of bad weather ( hard wind, rain and thunder at times) and a payment system failure for some hours there was plenty of people and I actually sold quite a few of my jewels. Having only sold to friends and relatives before, this was a new encouraging experience. And best of all, I discovered that people seemed enjoyed and happy with their new jewels when they left. I hadn’t realized that my work at the bench, which I do for fun, could bring that.
Here some pictures of the making:
I am now considering the possibility to start a webshop, we wait and see.
In a recent post, I praised the beauty of Lisbon, deservedly. But, if I raise my eyes I have to say that I happen to live in a city of unusual beauty, especially in this time of the year. The architecture, all the water, the stunning parks. One of my favourite spots is Långholmen ( long island) where I like to stroll. A former prison island, now a place for crafters, garden allotments, marinas, cafes, a hostel and even a beach ( yes the water is clean).
A garden alottment with a little wooden shed where the gardening tools are kept.
The Bellman museum, about the 18th-century troubadour.
Now to another stunning island of Stockholm: Djurgården. There is another of my favourite museums: Thielska galleriet. Ernst Thiel was a rich banker and art collector who donated his house to the Swedish state. The house and garden is a piece of art in itself.
I visited an exhibition about Lisbeth and Gocken Jobs, two sisters who worked in ceramics and textile with mostly floral motifs. They became very popular and made Swedish homes blossom during the post-war period.
And at last, we do have some street art in Stockholm too, but not by far as many as in Lisbon.
Spring is early this year and the cherry blossoms have started since a couple of weeks, even in my own backyard, beautiful!
I have knitted a sweater “on demand”. It is my daughter’s boyfriend Simon who wanted a warm alpaca sweater to use when birdwatching in our cold climate. I knitted from my Alice Starmore book with patterns from various countries and I made a mixture but mostly Norwegian. This is the result:
Not long ago I bought a jewellery tumbler and I am so happy with it! Half an hour’s tumbling with a stainless steel mixed shot, some water and soap makes the silver shine with a gloss that is difficult to achieve in any other way. The tumbler reaches every corner and is so gentle that even delicate filigree comes out undistorted.
I like dragonflies and I know it has great symbolic value in other cultures. Here are a pendant and a pair of ear- pendants:
Other things I have made recently, rings with labradorite and bracelet of chrysocolla:
I have bought soldering clamp strips made of titanium, very neat. You bend it to the shape you prefer and it can be used to hold items in place during soldering. Titanium is a metal with unique features: solder doesn’t stick to it, it stays strong when red. It transfers heat very slowly and it doesn’t interfere with nearby joints and parts. I have a titanium solder stick which I can hold in one end when red hot at the other end. Very useful when it comes to “pick soldering”.
My favourite art museum in Stockholm: Prince Eugens’ Waldemarsudde has two ongoing exhibitions: its: Grez-sur-Loing – Art and Relations and Björn Wessman, an excellent colourist. GsL was a legendary French village with an artist colony with artists mainly from Scandinavia and Anglosaxon countries in the late 19th century. This exhibition focus on relationships and highlights both women and men, for example the marvellous Julia Beck. Björn Wessman, a contemporary Swedish artist is inspired by the nature in Stockholm archipelago. Many of those paintings have not been exhibited before. These paintings are breathtaking and no photo can show the colours properly.
Last spring I visited Lisbon on a short filigree course but stayed only four days and got just a glimpse of this beautiful city. So now I returned in late February and early March for two weeks. The plan was that my son with girlfriend should join me but their plans changed so I spent my stay in Lisbon on my own. It was much of an escape from the Swedish winter, which is nice around Christmas but is far too long too grey, windy and freezing cold. You never get used to it, on the contrary, it is harder and harder to endure as the years pass by.
I had hired an apartment in the district of Alfama, which is the old town of Lisbon, much-loved by tourists. The view from my windows is to die for and I start with some photos from my apartment during various hours day and night. There is the river Tajo, some anchored ships, the rooftops of Alfama, the São Miguel church, orange trees at the stairs. I saw fireworks and a children’s carnival from my windows among other things.
Day temperature 17-23 °C.
Alfama around my apartment: 66 steps up is the Largo Santa Luzia full of life all day long, street music, cafés the breathtaking view from Portas del Sol. A lot of steps down the São Miguel church, Largo São Miguel, winding narrow alleys ( beco in Portuguese), beautiful houses, many tiled, and some a bit neglected. Laundry on lines.
You can’t talk about Lisbon without mentioning tiles, azulejos, a heritage from the islamic rule. Many, many houses are tiled in amazing patterns, so common I think people living in Lisbon don’t think much about it. But it is a real treasure. One of the joys of strolling around Lisbon (as I did a lot) is admiring the tiled walls. Here is a little collection:
Lisbon is full of outstanding museums and I made a strict selection after all the time was limited to two weeks. The museum of filigrana was an obvious choice. A small museum but a very interesting and I got a personal guiding. With roots from prehistoric times, it was practised among farmers in the north of Portugal in their spare time. They worked in gold and it is only the last decades that silver is more common. Unfortunately, there are no books on this fascinating subject.
Another really important museum that should be a must for every tourist is Museu da Aljube Resistência e Liberdade. A whole museum dedicated to all men and women who worked in the underground resistance movement under the fascist dictatorship under Salazar. Incredible bravery and sacrifice who finally led to liberty in 1974. Very thought provoking and gives a background to understand Portugal today.
Another museum I have to mention is the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Exquisite is the word I want to use to describe this museum with selected objects from Ancient Egypt to modern art and everything in between. Gulbenkian was a rich engineer and businessman from Armenia who ended up in Lisbon during world war two. His love for art made him buy the very best of the best and build this outstanding collection. After his death, a museum was built exclusively for his collection, an interesting concrete building from 1969 situated in a beautiful park.
Fado can be heard from bars and restaurants everywhere around Alfama, and the district also hosts the Fado museum. Of great importance for Portuguese identity, this museum tells the story of the fado, and you can listen to recordings of all the famous artists as long as you like.
The iconic yellow trams of Lisbon are still in use, built in 1930:s. The engines and brakes were replaced in 1990:s. No new coaches were found on the market who could manage the sharp curves and steep hills of Lisbon so they kept the old ones. I spent half a day travelling with trams. Very picturesque but I have to confess that I prefer the metro: fast, cheap and comfortable.
A real treat in Lisbon is Street art. I am very interested in street art and Lisbon appeared to be one of the best street art cities in the world. One reason could be that Lisbon has quite a few rather derelict buildings and Lisbon city council is said to encourage artists to decorate them. Street art has become a big tourist attraction and all guided tours were full for weeks ahead. Instead, I found an app that guided me to Street art around Alfama and I spent a lot of time hunting to find them. I can’t say what it is in Street art that is so exciting and fascinating. It has something to do with the rebellion side of it, and the contrast between derelict and run-down sites and the bright and stunning colours of art. Here are a few of my finds:
In Cascais, a coastal town 40 minutes from Lisbon by commuter train, I appreciated a break from the hustle and bustle and to stroll along the sea. Cascais has both beaches and rough cliffs, a spot called ” Boca da inferno” ” the hell’s mouth”.
The entrance of Lisbon is guarded by five lighthouses. One of them is the “Farol da Santa Marta” in Cascais. Being an old sailor, l have a special affection for lighthouses. They are often beautiful buildings and represent safety and reliability. This lighthouse is both a working lighthouse and a museum.
I visited Cascais twice, the second time was my last day in Lisbon. Two weeks went by quickly. The last I saw of Lisbon was when the aeroplane lifted from the airport early in the morning, white houses with terracotta roofs shining in the sun, the Atlantic sea glittering in green-blue. Goodbye Lisbon and many thanks for this time!
Christmas has passed. I had made a silver pendant with an oak leave motif (our family name) for my daughter wich was much appreciated.
I got a few tumbled stones as Christmas present and it is new to me to work with irregular shapes. It is more difficult than for example cabochon shape and I got some practise in claw setting. The stone here is azurite I also made a pendant with chrysocolla stone and granules.
My latest knitting project: a sweater in Fair Isle style inspired by Alice Starmore. Knitted in finest alpaca yarn that of course is not typical for Fair Isles. My son spent Christmas in Bolivia and brought me two huge balls of non dyed alpaca yarn. Inspiring, let’s see what will become of that.
Winter is coming, though so far more “English” than “Swedish”, that means mild, misty, rainy and windy. And I don’t mind, I am not fond of blizzards, slippery roads and chaos in public communications. But of course, we usually don’t have the wild storms and flooding that England suffers too often. But now to: what has happened in my little workshop? In fact I have mostly used leftovers of yarn ans scrap silver this month. My passion for mittens resulted in a new pair of mittens, pattern from Alice Starmore.
The beauty of autumn/winter inspired me to this necklace. I used a boulder opal from Queensland in Australia, where 90 % of opals come from. This is a cheaper stone because the opal is mixed with ironstone. I think it has a rough and rustic beauty. The chain is made of square wire.
From scrap silver, pieces of wire and granules that I melted from scrap pieces I made those rings and ear pendants.
Next project is a “crazy” Fair Isle knitting from Alice Starmore. I write crazy because it is very complicated with lots of colours, but lots of fun! I have just started and it will be very time-consuming I’m afraid.
This colourful month I have been inspired by the autumn in the forest. Walking, picking fungus and breathing the fresh cool air gave me impressions that resulted in a couple of weeks of intense stitching. This is some of what inspired me:
The red fungus is poisonous but beautiful so it was just shot and not eaten. Back home the stitching started. I made two projects, one almost nonfigurative with the autumn colours and the other is inspired from the master needlepoint artist Elian McCready. She was working many years for Ehrman’s tapestry and in my view she was the best. It took many, many hours and many times I thought about the big differences between embroidery and silversmithing. The latter is quicker and in a way more exciting, there is always an element of the unpredictable about it. Stitching is full control, and it is more challenging your patience than your courage. The rewarding thing is the use of colours, I love to combine different colours and see what works and what doesn’t. Colours can sing together in stunning harmony.
Framed and ready to decorate my bedroom:
And finally some silversmithing even this month:
Whilst autumn is slowly setting in, I have been busy with a few new items. Another amber ring, this time a little thicker silver and some small balls soldered on. My old torch had started to leak gas ( scary) so I bought a new smaller one which is easier to use with the left hand. Good to have the right hand free to hold the piece in place and to correct it with the solder stick if needed.
The next project has been to make a necklace with the three little lapis lazuli cabochon stones I bought a while ago. Lapis lazuli is a favourite of mine, beautiful midnight blue colour. This time a made the chain from jump rings from 1 mm silver thread. Well necklace completed why not sew a matching blouse? I went to the best silk fabric shop in Stockholm (Sidencarlson) and bought a piece in likewise lovely blue silk. With such expensive and delicate fabric I dare not but sew by hand, it gives more control than the sewing machine. A little embroidery along the neckline, in fact I started with that before cutting. The blouse design is super simple, it is the fabric that makes it all.
Last week I visited a friend who lives in the Netherlands, in Friesland but she came down to meet me in Amsterdam. Together with her two sisters we explored some of Amsterdam and the Hague. I had made these gifts for her and for her little grand-daughter:
In Amsterdam there were the canals, pretty old houses, and a lot of new tall buildings growing everywhere. After some travelling the last years I have noticed a rapid change of the skyline in many cities in Europe. Development is generally good, bit is this really necessary? Coming back to Stockholm I realize how comparably modest this city is when it comes to construction projects and keeping the skyline low. And this in spite of being one of the most rapidly growing capitals in Europe. I am thankful for that. Having said that, both Amsterdam and the Hague are still very enjoyable cities.
I knew that the Hague is known for hosting international courts, but I had not realized the scale of it and how much it defines the city’s identity. “The city of peace and justice” has several courts, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and Hague Academy of International Law. The Hague has a history of peacework long before the UN was formed and monuments over this are still manifested, here the World Peace Flame:
You can’t go to the Netherlands without looking at art. One fascinating painting I had not heard of before is the Mesdag panorama painting. Hosted in a house built for the purpose it is a huge circular painting of the sea village of Scheveningen in 1881. With foreground of real sand and natural light from the ceiling it gives a perfect illusion of really being there. Beautiful!
Another wonderful museum in the Hague is “Mauritshuis” full of paintings from the golden age in Dutch art, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Rubens, Frans Hals and other. Some of my favourites:
At last two pictures from Stockholm, one from my place, a nature reserve 15 minutes walk from my home. The other from the city, one of the bridges of Stockholm.
Two weeks ago I attended a 5 days summer silver smithing course in “Helliden folkhögskola” in a lovely 19th century setting in southwest of Sweden. The school is hosted in a castle with a beautiful park and a view over wooded hills far away. Truly an inspiring environment for creative work. The “folkhögskola” concept is in itself a special treat for making people do their very best, with its including and encouraging atmosphere where everyone is welcome.
Looking back on July I realize how industrious I have been with my silversmithing this period. Despite an unusually long-lasting heatwave that has been going on since the middle of May with high temperature and sustaining drought or maybe because of it, I don’t know…
Long lasting high pressure produces imposing thundery squalls This one went on northwards and didn’t give any rain where I live, unfortunately.
I have forgotten to mention that I have actually tried blacksmithing! It is very different from the delicate silversmithing I am used to. It is hot, heavy, noisy and dirty. In May I had the opportunity to go with my son to his very good friends living in Lima in the north of Sweden. As many in this region they have a farm that has been in the family for centuries. Keeping old traditions alive goes well along with a modern, tolerant and broad-minded lifestyle. One tradition to keep alive is blacksmithing and they have a forge which my son borrows from time to time. With some assistance from him I managed to make a hook from iron. I am proud!
The result of my bold efforts and my son in the forge.
Now to the production this month. Nothing in textile just jewellery. The trip to Lisbon gave me new confidence in filigree, and the understanding that the seemingly impossible is not, it is just a matter of patience and determination.
Ear pendants in filigree.
Ring with turquoise and a pendant with Swedish blue slag, nice together with denim.
A pendant with granules and a beautiful stone called chrysocolla and a filigree pendant.
A bracelet in viking chain style, the simple tools that are used is shown on the uppermost photo with the almost completed chain on the stick.
And finally a pendant with a sodalite and an amber ring in a more modern style. That’s all for now!
A few weeks ago I completed an amber pendant for my daughter.s graduation. Amber is her favourite stone, very beautiful but also very soft. It makes it nervous to set, it can easily crack. This pendant has a more clean and simple design than the more elaborate things I usually make. But I like it too!
Now my filigrana piece from Lisbon is done. I see it as a practise object and I have really learnt a lot. Patience, patience, it is possible to make a construction where the wires are stuck before soldering. After popping out ten times it eventually works. The design gains on a dense pattern, necessary with those incredible thin filigree wires.
After frequent e-book reading the cover for my Kindle was really worn out. It gave me an opportunity to make something useful in vadmal and wool embroidery. I attached a little silver clasp. just for fun.
June 2 to 3 I attended a short course in filigree, filigrana in Portuguese, in the wonderful city of Lisbon.
Portugal is famous for excellent filigrana so this was very exciting for me. As the information about the course was in English it was a big surprise to find out that it was held in Portuguese and I was the only foreigner! But, with some translation from the teacher André and a lot of help from fellow students I got the most of it, I think at least.
Filigrana has a very long tradition in Portugal with work both in gold and silver. André had learnt his skills from a master in the town of Gondomar in the north of Portugal, the hottest district in filigrana. It takes several years to really master filigrana, so of course this was just a short introduction.
It was very nice to be surrounded by Portuguese and we had an enjoyable time, laughing a lot when the very tiny filigrana wires popped out all over the place. Filigrana is not easy and it takes A LOT of patience! We got a frame structure already soldered and done and our task was to fill it with filler wires. We were taught three different shapes commonly used in traditional Portugese filigrana: s-shape, escana aberta and cartäo. When we had (hopefully) secured a section of shapes, the piece was dipped in water to make the solder stick, then sprinkled thinly with powder solder, last step was heating with a torch a few seconds until the solder flowed . No pickling until the piece was finished.
As I have a workshop I didn´t stress to make my piece finished as i can continue back home. This was as far as I got:
I took more time studying my fellow students work. Many of them were incredibly good, Look at this work, made by a young girl who had never tried filigrana before. She sawed her piece in two and made those beautiful ear pendants:
The finishing process was: first put the piece in hot pickle to remove any oxidation. Instead of polishing this magic took place: heat with yellow flame to provide a soot layer, than heat with blue flame and it will turn white and beautiful. Finally clean with water and soap with a brass brush. Done!
Before leaving I bought some filigree wire and powdered solder (almost non-existing on the market) a black workboard and a special tweezers. The latter sadly got seized by the security control at the airport as it was considered too dangerous to take on an airplane. It felt a bit sad to say good bye to those nice people I met on the course.
I had a few days in Lisbon to explore this gorgeous city. You have to wear shoes with a good grip and be quite fit to walk the numerous steep hills though. But the beauty! Here is a jakaranda tree in bloom:
Good bye Lisbon until next time! Hopefully there will be a continuation course in filigrana.
Take a look at my webshop with a few items from the bench!