The Temple Studio
My studio is so much more to me than just a space to work in, it is a sacred space where magic happens. It is also a place of great solace and peace. Here i dance, drum, sing and create. In this temple studio there is an altar where i daily light candles and centre myself for the scared task of talisman making and writing.
My studio is like a cauldron, a bowl containing many elements that weave themselves together to become artifacts that support the journeys of people in my community.
Beginning at the Altar
Each time i begin work i sit before my altar and light candles. After lighting candles i sometimes simply sit in silence, or I might play my flute, drum, sing or move my body.
This time before the altar before i begin has many purposes. One is that it invites the numinous in, courts the muse, opens me as a channel for creation, also drumming, dancing and singing ignite the space, and stillness offers a space for what ever wishes to be there to come through. Much of my work is intuitive, it is about listening - to the objects i work with, to you who request pieces and to my creative self.
About the Materials
The materials I work with are my own hand made elements, preloved beads, bones and other natural treasures.
Being a maker of things once held a concern for me that i was simply adding to the mountains of things that become unwanted and discarded, contributing to the deep holes in the earth filled with mankind's unwanted objects. For this reason a few years ago i made a shift. I decided that firstly i wanted to make things that would be treasured, handed on from one person to another and never discarded. Secondly that, in the making of them, i would not contribute to the scouring of the earths resources. My acquiring of resources is always guided by the maxim Reduce Reuse Recycle and Buy Local, therefore many of the beads and other treasures i use are preowned. For this reason often they come into the studio and sit there quietly in a kind of sleep, at a threshold moving from their old life in to their new. Some objects will rest here for a good long time before letting me know what they would like to be made into.
If you were to come to the temple studio you would see baskets of bones and bowls of beads amongst the tools and other materials. These are like mini cauldrons containing elements sitting and chattering to one another, whispering their hearts desires, feeling out if they align with one another enough to create something both aesthetic and meaningful together.
I have come to remember something i knew as a child - that things have lives, that they have been on journeys, and if we listen well enough they have voices to tell us about them.
When i am thinking about working with an object that has obviously had a complex and interesting life, i feel moved to know what it has been and what it would like to become.
I feel that when something has come to me it has chosen to come, to put its self into my hands so that i can help it on to the next part of its journey.
My understanding of objects, and the language in which they often speak to me, is mythic, influenced by fairytale and dream. Their language is both philosophical and intuitive, yet the seed sounds they use are colour, texture, form and weight.
Working with Bones
Working with Bones and other animal parts i feel is a sensitive and especially sacred task. I have a way of welcoming animal remains in to 'the cauldron' that developed intuitively over time. Firstly they are placed in a beautiful bowl or basket, then put on the altar. They sit there, in a quiet sleep like death for as long as is needed, and when i drum, sing or dance i often do it for any new bones that have come into the space. They may sit there for a short time or a long time depending what i feel they need. Some things require more of this some less, but each is given its own time to settle in.
Some pieces require more attention before they are ready to embark on their new life. I have here a large and magnificent snake skin that called to be gently tended with prayers of apology whispered as i conditioned the leather.
It sat in its regenerating death sleep for a good long while then, before it asked me to dance with it, an undulating dance echoing the way it moved when it was alive so that the spirit of snake could return to it.
Many of the bones i have were brought to me as gifts, many i have been able to use, some i have not. I was once brought a chaffinch, looking as if it was only asleep, it was hard to tell how it had died. However, it did not want to be part of my work and asked to be buried instead, so i gave it it's wish.
I create from bones in a variety of ways....
The piece on the front of this medicine pouch was made by pressing it onto a mould taken of the fissures of a deer skull found in the woods. The bead to the left was pressed directly on to a cave bear bone. The picture below shows its contents, hedgehog spines, sage leaves, dried sap from a blackthorn tree and a mole bone.
A piece of cave bear bone made in to a necklace with a rough wrapped chain featuring amber and bone beads.
Bone Bundling feels to me to be ancient, the act of binding it's self is a powerful way to focus attention on bringing certain symbolic elements closer to one another. Once a bone bundle is made it can serve as a 'touch stone' reminder, as ritual object or an altar piece.
These Bone Bundles are made from fossilised cave bear bones found in the Ural Mountains in Russia, they are some where between 40,000 and 100,000 years old
This Fox sacrum, is another piece made by bonding elements together. This piece was made as a commission for a shamanic earth healer. The sacrum was honoured in
Meso-American culture as a seat for the spirit after death, the place from which regeneration occurs.
This bear totem sits in a bowl of cave bear bones it is being seeded with the bones magic.
This boar tusk has been filled with seeds of the field - wheat, oats, linseed and poppy. It was made in honour of the Norse God Frey and the courage of boar he rides. The seeds were sealed in with a Glastonbury bog oak stopper and hung to be worn as a necklace and/or used in ritual.
Precious Metal Clay
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Arthur. C. Clarke
This image shows PMC in its various states.The top left image shows it in its clay from drying. The top right image shows it just after firing.
The bottom left shows it after being hand brushed and the final image shows it after having a patina applied and then being hand sanded.
Precious Metal Clay is a most wondrous material, so close to magic that Arthur C Clarke would no doubt consider it proof of his assertion. This material begins its life in the hands of creators as clay, it can be hand sculpted or formed with moulds and stamps. It is then fired, either in a kiln or with a blow torch, to become pure metal. I have no doubt that many of the alchemists of the past would have blown their scientifically excited tops to see this material in action.
As an artist it gives me the freedom to create my own elements for jewellery, as well as one-of-a-kind, hand sculpted deity and animal totems, and pieces created from moulds i take from rocks and plants in special places.
All the elements i make are hand made either by being hand sculpted as a one of a kind pieces; or made using my own handmade moulds or stamps. They are then fired in the kiln, cleaned with natural citric acid to remove fire scale. Then finally they are 'aged' which is done using patina, i then hand sand, polish and burnish each piece.