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It's January! If you'd have shown me the News headlines from this New Year last New Year, I would have been blown away. We are living in some strange times. Back in July when I came up with the idea of this project, I thought we'd be back to normal by now and I'd be getting ready for my first solo exhibition. It is/was due to open on 25th January (St Dynwen's day) in the lovely Oriel Bevan Jones Gallery. I'm hoping it will still be the case, but given the current COVID situation noone can guarantee it. As and when the gallery can re-open, it will go ahead. I hope to know more on Friday after the lockdown restrictions are looked at. It'll get shown as soon as possible, promise! A preview show in the Autism Directory Hub in Caerphilly had to be postponed due to our tier 4 lockdown. It will now go aheadl after the OBJ exhibition, when it is safe to do so. I'm hopeful of being able to do some workshops at the Autism Hub in the future too.


'gwawr' neckpiece components, silver cut up and loose glass fangs
'Gwawr' at the 'is this going to work' stage

I have had beautiful pictures of the final 10 pieces taken by Aga Hosking (not pictured - you have to wait for those!), so on 25th January the online gallery will launch. A short film (a virtual gallery visit) planned to accompany the online gallery is also likely to be delayed due to covid restrictions, but again, will be added as soon as viable.


I'll make a short video entry next week, once I know what will be happening with the physical gallery showing. I'm having a stand at the Autism Directory Live Show in September (providing Robot Overlords haven't destroyed Earth, at this stage, nothing is a given), where I will have some of the pieces and images on show.


I cannot stress how incredibly lucky I feel for having the opportunity to undertake this project. The luxury of time to explore new materials and ways of working has been completely liberating. It has also been frustrating, fun and surprising, sometimes simultaeneously. Ultimately it has been very successful in it's purpose. The grant from the Arts Council of Wales and National Lottery has enabled me to explore what I was making, to consciously 'allow' my neurodivergence to take stage in what I was working. Fundementally it brought me back to a place where creating is a total joy. It has also helped me refocus on what I love about making jewellery, and given me a new direction to go in with my work, for which I'm really grateful. Having this to go to at a time when every other aspect of my life was giving me The Fear was incredibly important.

a double pin brooch in silver with 4 drooping 'worms' of silicone in blues and greens
'Llygaid' double pin: silver & silicone

Like most people, I feel like I've been through the absolute wringer this year. Keeping my business running needed some very fancy footwork (and I largely owe the grant for this project for keeping it alive). For the first time in my life I've had to seek support for my mental health (which I found very difficult). One of my kids is in GCSE year, one home schooled who we were trying to get back into education, my husband's work entirely stopped and he's having to retrain in a completely different area. My comfort zone is in routine and knowing what's going to happen, obviously that's completely gone. Having the certainty that I had this project to work towards, to provide a creative outlet, has been a lifeline to me. I'm hoping that the pieces, and their stories, will interest you. I'm looking forward to continuing to experiment this year, and very much looking forward to showing the collection.



A version of the Yn Barod ring with coloured patination
'Yn Barod' version 2

Happy New Year folks, I wish you health, peace and all good things. Please get in touch if there's anything you'd like to see alongside the online gallery, I'd love to hear from you. Honestly (I've spoken to about 7 people in the last 9 months).

Am lydia@niziblian.com or you can use the chat function or comments.


Lydia

Updated: Jan 6

In Welsh it's pronounced 'vynt', with a hard 'i' sound. I'm glad I heard it before seeing it written down, or I think my set connotations with the English 'faint' (quite a different feel), would have clouded things.


This word gave me very straight lines, a square edge going across and up and meeting at a corner. It gave me a very particular sensation of that corner intersection. So it was obvious to me that this would be a square piece, with something reflecting or drawing attention to that specific corner. Up and to the right! It might feel like I've simplified the process of creating this, but it was very clear from the get-go how it was going to be!


I confess I didn't even sketch this initially as the sensation was so strong, there was not going to be another shape it took, just how it 'came out'. This piece has ended up possibly being my favourite, as it is most 'me'. I like pieces that look like they've been found and have a history, and I had quite a strong military or authoritarian feel from this word, so wondered about making something that look like it might have been some kind of insignia or badge, and that it had been found in the future . A theme I do like to return to! I don't often use colour, apart from gemstones, and thought it might be good to add some to this.


2 aluminium squares with coloured pigments brushed on
Colour tests on aluminium

I initially looked at doing a piece 7cm x 7cm, but it was frustratingly too small - I wanted something heavier. I ended up using a 10 x 10cm sheet of silver 1mm thick. I wanted to draw attention to the top right, so decided I'd set a precious stone in 18ct gold tube. I soldered silver tubing to the rear, and made a double pin from stainless steel (photos of back to come).


I tried and tested various coloured patinas out, and settled on black, orange and yellow (yellow took a while as the correct strong colour had to be ordered from the US). The patinas are designed to be used on metal, and can be heat set for durability. I checked they could be scratched off, as I wanted the piece to look worn, as though it had been trampled underfoot and forgotten about and rediscovered years later. With this in mind the biggest part of creating it was to beat and wear the silver. I used a number of hammers and gravers to do this; and can recommend it as a cathartic process! The bright orange and yellow formed the meeting bands, joining at the stone. I went with a deep blue/green parti sapphire for contrast. I notched the setting randomly to suggest wear, whilst ensuring the stone would remain secure. I scrubbed the patina away roughly, and used a liver of sulphur solution to oxidise the exposed silver to age it.


I am delighted with the finished piece, it sits very happily with how the word 'faint' feels to me. This is also definitely springboarding a collection based on it. The process of making 'Faint' reminded me of my core loves for jewellery, and I think will inform my direction of work moving forward. Exciting times! It's quite a simple looking piece, but it means a lot to me. Better photos coming soon.


What does the word 'faint' feel like to you?



Finished 'Faint' brooch.  A battered, beaten, dirty silver square with coloured bands meeting in a corner, set top right with a sapphire in gold.
'Faint' brooch: sterling silver, 18ct gold, sapphire, patina, stainless steel.

The first piece that is ready, is quite correctly 'Yn Barod', meaning 'ready'. Serendipity.

There will be a couple of variants of these. It makes me properly happy, it ('yn barod') feels great!

First look here. Let me know your thoughts!

Lydia@niziblian.com