#Untitled10 and the Baby Sapphos

Continued from previous post… Hannah's Work at the Bowes Museum

Two weeks ago today, our #Untitled10 exhibition opened at the Bowes Museum in the old market town of Barnard Castle on the edge of County Durham.

The only picture of me from the Private View, casually leaning on my workbench, currently installed in the Silver and Metals Gallery.  Photo Credit - with thanks to Paula Moore @TalkinCulture

The only picture of me from the Private View, casually leaning on my workbench, currently installed in the Silver and Metals Gallery. Photo Credit - with thanks to Paula Moore @TalkinCulture

A great turnout as Matthew Read, Director of the Bowes Centre, gives an overview of our project.

A great turnout as Matthew Read, Director of the Bowes Centre, gives an overview of our project.

Visitors enjoying my work.

Visitors enjoying my work.


This project has been part of my life for over 8 months now. I hadn’t realised it’d been that long. I attended a briefing day waaaay back in March in the teeth of the worst winter I can remember, and spent the blistering summer thinking about it, working on it, developing it, testing it. And now - suddenly - it’s all over.

I taught myself the traditional craft of sand casting through trial and error. Once I’d sourced and set up all the equipment - including a specialist oxy-propane casting torch - it took me six attempts to successfully cast a passable figure in fine silver.

I went behind the scenes at the museum, into storerooms and up to the high attic archives, and had complete creative freedom.

I found almost an exact copy of the necklace which Pradier’s figure of Sappho is wearing - an antique Victorian silver collar - which is now in my personal jewellery collection.

I cut up a book of Sappho’s poems and burnt the remainder; a kind of smoke-offering of thanks.

I created a 100 page reflective journal, filled with collage, embroidery, feathers, tissue paper, antique Victorian scraps and a mirror of real silver. I included my treasured cuttings of Tim Walker’s photoshoot of Lily Cole in India which I’d saved from the July 2005 issue of Vogue, interspersed with fragments of Sappho’s poetry.

I ended up listening to the same songs over and over again - you can find my playlist silvered on Spotify.

I transported my real jewellery bench, the one which I’ve used everyday for 14 years, to the Silver and Metals Gallery of the museum. It’ll remain there until January next year.

I met some wonderful, deeply creative people.

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What’s it all about?

In the museum, if you look at the text on the wall just next to the statue of Sappho, you’ll see a quote from Benvenuto Cellini, a renaissance metalsmith, which reads “…I completed my work in a style which did me the greatest credit. Next I set about to cast it in bronze…Suffice it to say that the figure came out splendidly, and was as fine a specimen of foundry as had ever been seen…”.

When we see beautifully curated museum displays, especially in this particular gallery here at the Bowes Museum, every single object is finished, polished, perfect, clean. We can’t see any evidence of the actual manufacturing process; it’s as if the objects have appeared suddenly, miraculously, and fully formed. As a jeweller and silversmith, I know first hand that the creative and developmental processes used by metalsmiths, founders, and casters can be extremely grimy, dusty, uncomfortable and noisy. There are prototypes, practice-runs and maquettes; chemicals, oxides and acids. Inevitably there is a very fine layer of metal-dust all over everything in the studio, necessitating the use of protective goggles and face masks whilst at work. Cellini makes it all sound so easy and instantaneous, so I decided to take this as a direct challenge!

Over the summer of 2018, I taught myself the traditional technique of sandcasting. I based my work on the solid silver figure of Sappho by James Pradier, since she was also manufactured by casting. I took the existing fragments of Sappho’s poetry and pieced together a reflective journal which documented my mind-journeys, creative processes and practical experiments, the hypothetical culmination of which would be a classical-style necklace made from hand cast solid figures.

I thought it would be an interesting concept to install my actual jewellery bench in the Silver & Metals gallery. This is my ‘real’ bench, which my father made for me when I was starting out as a self-taught jeweller in 2004. It’s very simple, and was made from off-cuts of wood and bits of MDF. The tools on the top surface are my real tools. The crucible-holder and crucible are the real things I used when I made the silver figures in the nearby display case. The worn and dirty bench beg has been used for 14 years and is testament to hours and hours of work at my bench. I seek to ‘deconstruct the museum’ and show that creative developmental processes have a great deal in common with everyday ways of living and working, like those which take place in the family shed, our friend’s garage, or neighbour’s barn.


The Installation

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The Finished Gallery Setup

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About the Baby Sapphos

To accompany her work on display at the Bowes Museum, Hannah has created a limited edition run of her solid silver figures; ‘Baby Sapphos’. Only ten are (and will ever be) available.

Inspired by James Pradier’s silver figure of Sappho dating from 1848, these diminutive figures are individually sandcast in solid sterling silver. Hannah took inspiration from fragments of Sappho’s poetry to create a ‘hypothetical’ necklace in the classical style, assembled from chained links from which are suspended these solid silver ‘baby Sapphos'. Each of these ten figures are a finished individual link from the necklace, if the necklace were ever to be made.

Each figure has been individually cast from the original Frozen Charlotte in a handmade single-use sand mould. Each figure will be struck with Hannah’s personal hallmark, and will also be hand-engraved with their series number. They will have a sterling silver pendant bail attached to their feet, so that they can be worn as pendants or pinned to a coat. They are made from solid sterling silver and weigh approx 7g each.

***SOLD OUT***

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Who are the Other Nine Artists?

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Ann Gill

costume

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Bridget Kennedy

installation

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Eliot Smith

dance

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Kit Haigh

sound

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Lisa Smith

embroidery

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Nick James

furniture

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Rachel Emily Taylor

installation

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Richard Glynn

photography

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Stuart Langley

light

You can see the creative and developmental work of the #Untitled10 collective at the Bowes Museum from 9th November 2018 until 11th January 2019.

Hannah's Work at the Bowes Museum


If you follow us on social media, you’ll know that during the summer Hannah has been working on a very exciting project… and this project has finally reached it’s completion!

Yesterday, Hannah travelled over the moors with her car packed with all sorts of things - including one very big thing - to deliver her work for a wonderful exhibition which opens next week at the Bowes Museum.

We’ll be writing a series of blog posts about Hannah’s work and about the exhibition. This first post is all about the background…

Introduction 

In spring 2018, The Bowes Centre, in collaboration with The Bowes Museum and Durham Creatives, invited proposals from artists and makers to investigate the Museum, its collection, building and immediate environment. This open-call was specifically designed to encourage the expression of experimental and developmental practice. Over 230 artists applied.  Ten were selected.  These are now collectively known as #Untitled10.

The Open Call 

The Bowes Museum is a nationally important decorative and fine arts collection, housed in an imposing building which opened 1892.  The building, park and its collection were the philanthropic vison of founders John and Joséphine Bowes.

Bowes houses over 15,000 founders’ objects.  Almost every object is a finished work.  Each has a story to be told.  The #Untitled10 challenge was using Bowes as inspiration, to communicate the creative process that lies behind all work.  Central to the commission was there should be no finished work; only process.

Artists responded to individual objects in the collections at Bowes, to associated objects such as the monkey-puzzle tree and the sense of physical and emotional historic space, all connected by John and Joséphine Bowes’ bitter-sweet story.

Throughout the summer of 2018, #Untitled10 developed their projects and now tell their personal and professional journeys, of materials, making or manufacture, of creativity, experimentation and development, of failure and success.

I see museums as theatres for objects, which is to say that most pieces displayed within them are clean, shiny, finished, perfect. I seek to show that creative developmental processes have a great deal in common with everyday ways of living and working, which similarly include experimentation, error, repeat practice, dust, noise and mess. In response to the solid silver figure of Sappho, and with particular reference to Cellini’s breezy quote on the gallery wall nearby, I taught myself the traditional technique of sand-casting over the summer of 2018. My work for the Bowes Museum documents reflective, creative and practical processes.
— Hannah on #Untitled10

The exhibition runs from Friday 9th November 2018 – Friday 11th January 2019, at the Bowes Museum in County Durham.

The fabulous chateau-inspired architecture of the Bowes Museum in the market town of Barnard Castle, County Durham, in the wintery afternoon light of delivery day.

The fabulous chateau-inspired architecture of the Bowes Museum in the market town of Barnard Castle, County Durham, in the wintery afternoon light of delivery day.

NEW! Fledermaus Bat Rings

These have been in the pipeline for a loooooong time and we’re so pleased to share them with you, just in time for Halloween!

a spooky silver night visitor, just outside our studio

a spooky silver night visitor, just outside our studio

Our beautiful Fledermaus ring is named after the German word for ‘bat’ which literally translates as “Flitter-mouse”.

Our Fledermaus rings are all cast directly from an antique mid-Victorian ring from Hannah’s personal collection. We use a slightly different casting technique for these rings (as opposed to sandcasting) to enable us to highlight the beautiful details of the bat’s ears and wing-bones.

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The bat is wonderfully 3D and is positioned with her wings and tail outstretched, as if she is launching herself into flight directly from your finger. She has long pointed ears which are pricked and alert.

Her wingspan is 2.0cm, and from the tips of her toes to the tops of her ears she measures 1.2cm.

Available in any ring size from UK size H (approx US size 4) up to UK size V (approx US size 11). The price is the same for all sizes of the sterling silver Fledermaus ring. Please just let us know which size you need and we will make one to your size.

Maximum lead time is normally around 2 weeks, depending on our workload.

You can purchase your own little silver or soon, gold! Fledermaus right here…

Fledermaus Bat Ring
from 145.00
Metal Option:
Quantity:
Add To Cart

Impromptu Summer Open Studio

We only decided to do this at 4pm the day before...but we were had vistors nearly all the time from five minutes after we opened until late afternoon, which was a real surprise considering where we are! The weather was against us in the evening with only a couple of callers, but nevertheless it was a really fun day.

We had on display the first bench-fresh Teeny-Tiny series pieces from our Wild & High collection in fine silver and 18ct yellow gold. These are individually hand-cast by Hannah from life (or rather...death) and are seldom larger than 1cm long.

We also raided our archives to show off a tempting selection of handmade sterling silver and gemstone pieces. 

But most of all, it was wonderful to be able to show off our beloved studio with fresh garden flowers, cups of tea and glasses of wine, and just to hang out with lovely people and talk about jewellery!

Keep an eye on our new EVENTS CALENDAR where we'll be sharing details of our Christmas Open Studio. 

We'll have on display a handpicked selection of affordable sterling silver jewellery, perfect to give as gifts (or of course as a treat for yourself!). Prices will start at £15 for handmade sterling silver stud earrings, and rise to around £300 for a statement necklace, with everything else in between. We'll also have a very limited number of gold and precious gemstone pieces, as well as hand-picked antique and vintage jewels to tempt you.

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Our studio and garden will be transformed with fairy lights, candles and (weather permitting) outdoor braziers, and there'll be edible wintery treats, wine, mulled cider, and hot drinks to wash down any purchases and to keep you toasty!

We look forward to seeing you later in the year - and we promise you'll have advance warning this time...

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Wild & High Collection Launched - Opening Pieces Now Available!

This Friday we are thrilled to launch the opening pieces from our Wild & High collection. This first release is inspired by the folk tale The Teeny Tiny Woman.

In early January of 2018, Hannah found the tiniest perfect rabbit bone whilst out walking on the fells near her studio, which led to the creation of the Teeny-Tiny series.

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Each piece is painstakingly hand-made to order in our own studio and individually hand crafted by Hannah from fine silver and solid 18ct yellow gold. We use found bones and teeth from native British mammals, and then breathe new life into them through the ancient technique of sand casting; each bone or tooth is hand-cast from the original. We only use fine silver and 18ct yellow gold for our castings. 

Each time Hannah makes a casting, she has to make a brand new mould. This is extremely small-scale craftsmanship... teeny-tiny, in fact.

There are endless things to consider...

Did you know that to reach full melting point, 18ct gold must reach over 927ºC/1700ºF, and fine silver even higher at more than 961ºC/1762ºF?!

When we open the cooled mould to inspect the new casting, it's not uncommon for a casting to be incomplete. This means that Hannah has to re-make the mould, re-melt the silver or gold, and re-cast right from the beginning.

Each finished piece of jewellery from the Teeny-Tiny series takes around 2 hours to make, if everything happens as it should, and depending on complexity. Since each piece is individually made, there will naturally be small (teeny-tiny...) variations between them all. We inspect our finished castings very carefully, and only turn the ones which meet our strict standards into jewellery; those which we would be proud to wear ourselves. 

Our sand casting is a very eco friendly process; the casting rings are permanently re-useable, and we use the sand again and again (the only waste is the small burnt part). Most of the 18ct gold that we use is recycled, and our fine silver and gold can be re-melted and refined as many times as we need; incomplete castings are simply re-melted!

We have a limited number of 18ct gold necklaces with natural faceted tourmaline droplets. The tourmaline pieces are all one-offs, and the ones you see in the photographs are the one you will receive.

Each piece is made to order but since everything is made in-house and made by ourselves, we can control every step of the process; meaning no lengthy waiting times!

Please allow around one week for us to make your jewellery for you. 


The main inspiration as to why this is called the Teeny-Tiny series (aside from the obvious fact that everything is really small) is Hannah's favourite childhood folk tale. You can read it here; it's called The Teeny-Tiny Woman. You'll have to imagine the very particular way Hannah's mama would say "Give me my bone!"...

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Once upon a time there lived a teeny-tiny woman who lived in a teeny-tiny house, in a teeny-tiny village. Now, one day this teeny-tiny woman put on her teeny-tiny hat and her teeny tiny coat, and went out of her teeny-tiny house to take a teeny-tiny walk. Whilst this teeny-tiny woman had gone a teeny-tiny way, she came to a teeny-tiny stile, and so the teeny-tiny woman climbed the teeny-tiny stile, and went into a teeny-tiny churchyard. And when this teeny-tiny woman was standing in the teeny-tiny churchyard, she saw a teeny-tiny bone on a teeny-tiny grave, and the teeny-tiny woman said to her teeny-tiny self, ‘This teeny-tiny bone will make me some teeny-tiny soup for my teeny-tiny supper.’ So the teeny-tiny woman put the teeny-tiny bone into her teeny-tiny pocket, and went home to her teeny-tiny house.

When the teeny-tiny woman got home to her teeny-tiny house, she was a teeny-tiny bit tired; so she went up her teeny-tiny stairs to her teeny-tiny bed, and put the teeny-tiny bone into a teeny-tiny cupboard. And when the teeny-tiny woman had been to sleep a teeny-tiny time, she was awakened by a teeny-tiny voice from the teeny-tiny cupboard, which said:

’Give me my bone!’

The teeny-tiny woman was a teeny-tiny bit frightened, so she hid her teeny-tiny head under the teeny-tiny clothes and went to have another teeny-tiny sleep. And when she had been to sleep again a teeny-tiny time, the teeny-tiny voice again cried out from the teeny-tiny cupboard a teeny-tiny bit louder,

’Give me my bone!’

This made the teeny-tiny woman a teeny-tiny bit more frightened, so she hid her teeny-tiny head a teeny-tiny further under the teeny-tiny clothes. And when the teeny-tiny woman had been to sleep again a teeny-tiny time, the teeny-tiny voice from the teeny-tiny cupboard said again a teeny-tiny bit louder,

’Give me my bone!!’

And this teeny-tiny woman was a teeny-tiny bit more frightened, but she put her teeny-tiny head out of the teeny tiny clothes, and said in her loudest teeny-tiny voice..

’TAKE IT!!!’
— traditional folk tale