This weekend I attended a brilliant conference called Blogtacular, which funnily enough has inspired me to write a blog post! The event is for bloggers and small businesses with an online presence. As I fit into the second category and would like to get back into the first I thought I would go along and see what it was all about.
The conference has been running for five years now and it was really exciting to be involved. I felt really welcome as a creative person and it was a great feeling to be in a room with so many other creative and inspiring people.
We kicked off with a photo walk around London. There were several walks happening at the same time and my group headed down to Peckham Rye in south London to take a look at all the crazy colourful venues they have there. I felt like we walked up and down a lot of stairs but it was totally worth it because even the staircases were vibrant and full of colour ranging from pink to turquoise and every colour in between. We found artwork on rooftops, explored graffiti murals down back alleys where there are all kinds of studios for all kinds of crafts, and enjoyed the social spaces of Peckham Levels. I felt like I experienced a whole new side of London which I normally just pass through on the train. Plus, during our stair climbs it was a good opportunity to start making connections with other attendees, finding out what they are passionate about and why they were there. I was worried before I went that I would be the only one to not know anybody as it is such an established event and everyone on the forums seemed to already be friends, so I was relieved to find that there were plenty of other first-timers who were alone and just as nervous as me!
Following the photo walk the organisers had arranged dinners for smaller groups of attendees to sit down and have a longer chat to get to know each other better. In my group there was a diverse range of skills and interests including sewing, illustration, cooking, lifestyle and of course jewellery. We had such a varied and lively chat over dinner and it definitely gave me more confidence ahead of the conference the next day, knowing that I would see some friendly faces when I arrived.
The conference day itself was an overwhelming blur of even more new faces and an information overload…in a good way! The talks I attended were insightful and gave me a lot to think about. I didn’t feel that I was just hearing things I already knew. The whole day was a learning experience and I came away with so many new ideas and actions that I spent all of Sunday writing to do lists!
The team who put the whole event together did such a fab job. Thank you to them for creating this amazing space for like-minded people to come together and share their knowledge. Blogtacular really was spectacular!
Week four has been full of variety including a lot of new techniques I have never tried before.
Monday was our school trip to the jewellery gallery at the Victoria & Albert museum in London. The jewellery in there is absolutely stunning and from a huge range of eras. Firstly I spent time having a look at all the displays and then focussed on pieces I was drawn to which I sketched as case studies. I was particularly drawn to the Art Deco and Art Nouveau eras. I really like the shapes and lines they use and the blocks of colour. After we had spent time in the gallery we went for coffee and cake to discuss what we had seen. It was really interesting how all of us had picked out completely different things to look at. I found it really helpful to talk about my ideas and influences and to start thinking about my collection for the final exhibition.
Next we did technical drawing... I have to say I haven't used a protractor since school! It was good to get an idea of how to map out a design, especially if you are going to be following it closely like we did the following day in wax carving, however I did feel like I had a bit of a clash of creativity and mathematics!
Wax carving was really great. After we designed our pieces (and did a bit more technical drawing) we started to work on the wax model. It was really easy to whittle and file away to create the desired shape and then we had to sand and polish it to achieve a smooth finish. Once we had finished it was taken away to the casters where it will be melted away and replaced with silver. I'm really looking forward to getting the finished ring back and seeing what it looks like. Hopefully I will have done enough work on the wax version that I won't have to do too much to the silver one.
The last two days of the week have been all about resin. It comes in two parts, the resin itself and the hardener which you have to mix together in precise ratios otherwise it won't set properly. You can then pour it into different shape molds and once it is set it becomes like plastic. The first day we did lots of experimenting with different colours and metallic powders, setting things into it like buttons, glitter, sequins, patterned paper...anything you can think of really! A little goes a long way as well, once I had mixed up a colour I found myself making so many bits with it. Day two was all about finishing. Once the resin has set it's really easy to pop them out of the molds. They then needed any rough bits filing off and sanding down. We used the polishing machines to give them a great shine and finally attached rings, brooch backs, chains and fastenings to turn them into wearable pieces of jewellery.
I feel like I learned a lot this week and it was nice to try loads of different techniques, rather than focussing on just one. I also feel like I made lots of progress with my designs for the final exhibition and have already put some ideas down on paper.
Next week we are returning to wax carving and also to silver with two days of stone setting, but we are going to try out fused glass and enameling, which I think will add some variety and colour to the week.
Jewellery enthusiast embarking on an exciting new adventure to set up my own business.