Maasai Giraffe Necklace




Now that the giraffe was painted I could move onto making the glass for the beaded necklace, which was going to be a key feature of the giraffe design. I had no idea how many pieces of glass I was going to need to make and couldn’t attach them as I went along as I was also painting 3 coats of varnish onto the giraffe at the same time.Image

I therefore spent hours and hours cutting up small pieces of glass in the hope that I’d make enough. I even tried laying them out on a template in the kitchen to see how far they would go. Despite this I seriously underestimated just how much I needed!


On my 2nd weekend with the giraffe I began attaching the pieces I’d made. Gradually the design began to take shape but I could tell that if I didn’t go slightly overboard with the glass I’d be in danger of it looking a bit half hearted so I was back to making more pieces. This time I made a LOT of pieces. There was no way I was going to run out this time… fact if I did I’d be running very short on time to finish the giraffe so it was all or nothing time.


After several days of battling with the glue that was too sticky …..I say too sticky, it was what I needed so the glass couldn’t be pulled off, or fall off in the rain! but it was still a pain as it stuck to everything and was so thick it didn’t want to come out of the tube!!!……this is what I created….


…..and then it hit me….the glass was all finished and that mean the giraffe was finished. 

I’d expected to be all excited and over the moon that it was all done but I think I was too tired for that. It was a very strange feeling to have. Maybe the other giraffe artist felt the same, who knows but the anti-climax feeling didn’t last for long and just a couple of days later I was all bubbly and excited again as I delivered a completed giraffe to Colchester Zoo.


Finishing the Painting Stage

Sunday morning started with finishing the draping fabric. 2nd layers of red were needed, as were stripes for definition and creases to help it look more realistic. By the time Di arrived I had pretty much managed to achieve this 🙂 so we were ready for the next step.


After a quick cuppa Di also had a paintbrush in her hand and was put to work adding layer 2 of the cream body colour. Di is a few inches taller than me but even she couldn’t see the top of the giraffe from the ladder so out came the digital camera. Photos helped us to see the bits we had missed around the ears/horns. Very handy.



The only bit left to do now was the mask and thankfully due to the scorching weather the paint dried really quickly so I could add the 2nd layers pretty much as soon as the 1st was done, which definitely helped to speed things up.


And so the giraffe was all painted …..



…..and we could go out for tea and cake to celebrate…well it was Di’s birthday so it’d be rude not to 😉 (fab friend for helping me out too)


Stand Tall Giraffes

Stand Tall

Elephants on the streets of London, Swans in Wells and Gromit dogs coming soon to Bristol. These are all examples of similar projects to Stand Tall, the amazing Colchester giraffe trail that I have been lucky enough to be a part of this summer.

giraffe design

Back in December I submitted my design for a Massai Warrior giraffe to Colchester Zoo and then kept my fingers crossed it would be picked. Unfortunately, I had a call from the zoo saying it hadn’t been chosen but…..there was still hope. They wanted to hang onto my design as they liked it and were looking for more sponsors, so again I kept my fingers crossed and at the start of May I was in luck. Imaginative Traveller, a tour company based in Suffolk, had chosen my design and as there was just 1 more giraffe left would I be able to make the final giraffe? Yes yes yes of course I could 🙂 by the end of May? “Yes I’ll do it”….and then I got an email asking me to aim for 24th May “eeekkkk!!!” That was just 15 days away.



I was a woman on a mission from then on……



1st Weekend with the Giraffe

girafffe painting in progress

girafffe painting in progress

It’s Thursday lunchtime and a plain white giraffe arrives at my house, from Brighton, on the back of a small trailer…the driver mentioned he’d had a few strange looks on the motorway!!! Well you couldn’t miss it could you? 🙂

By the time I get back from school the wind is creating havoc with the electricity and I keep having power cuts which doesn’t make it very easy to find out what primer/sealers I need from the email the zoo have sent that day. That calls for a little creative thinking and a phone call to my brother-in-law to access my email and read it to me on my mobile. Nothing like a challenge to get this done eh!

Thursday evening is my 1st trip out to B&Q for the primer en route to my choir rehearsal….we are learning new music so there’s no way I can miss going….but it does mean I needed to prime the giraffe when I got home at 10.30pm!!!! Ok, not a problem, I can do that….or so I thought until I was up a ladder with a paintbrush when we get yet another power cut. So what do I do? …get out the torch and finish painting the base coat by torchlight? yes, why not.

Friday morning involves base coat number 2, a trip to B&Q for coloured paints, Hobbycraft for acrylic and brushes, back home to draw out the design and paint the cream body, out to the glass shop to buy the glass for the necklace and back home again to paint the brown patches…..just a little bit hectic but it saved me sitting around waiting for paint to dry.


It didn’t take long to realise that the paint was going to need 2 coats to cover the base the way I wanted. You can see in the photo above just how different the brown patches look when they have 2 coats as opposed to 1. The colour is much more intense and doesn’t look patchy. I was determined to get 2 coats of brown done before going to bed but by 11pm I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer and gave in to sleep.

Saturday morning I was determined to get the brown patches finished before a trip out to the dentist and thankfully managed just that. The afternoon was then my chance to move onto the red fabric. I knew that I had to get the creases correct or it just wouldn’t look realistic so I laid a stripey cloth over the giraffe, photographed it and then drew onto the giraffe from the photo. It worked a treat.


I set myself a target to get the stripes all done before bed on Saturday but again I had to give in ….after working on it for 5hrs straight I suddenly realised just how long I’d worked without a break, sat down for dinner and that was it. When I tried to pick up my brush I knew I was in danger of ruining it so cleared away and went to sleep, thankful that I was getting a little help from my friend Di the following day.


Chilling in the sunshine with glass

I have good intentions about keeping this blog updated more regularly so lets see how long I can keep it going…..

Part of the reason I’ve not blogged is that I’ve had a lot more supply teaching come my way than I’d ever expected but Fridays are currently my day off….well I say day off but what I really mean is my day out of school, because I’ve had a repeat student here creating a lovely hot air balloon out of glass. It’s for a friend of hers who had a baby a few months ago and the nursery has a balloon theme, so this should sit perfectly in the window. The balloon combines layered fusing techniques and a lattice effect on the basket, which will therefore have holes in it like a wicker basket. The colours will be much bolder and brighter and absolutely perfect for any child’s room.ImageWhile Amy was making her balloon I was working on some of my own designs which need several firings in the kiln. This is layer 1 of glass powder applied carefully to a base of white glass. Next will come a 2nd layer of glass and people will also be added. I’ll show you more once I’ve done this so keep your eyes peeled.

Wedding Commission

Every now and again I get asked to do an extra special commission and this is an example of one of those.

I was asked to make a pair of coasters for an arty couple getting married in an Art Deco cinema. The invite itself was my inspiration….what a fantastic design for the invitation. Fingers crossed that the happy couple like the design as much as I do.

Lino Printing on Glass

Since I went on a screen printing on glass workshop back in May I’ve been experimenting with ways of printing imagery/lino/textures onto different types of glass. Some have been successful and some not so but I’m now feeling like the experiments are starting to pay off.

All those years in a secondary school art room have definitely helped develop my confidence and printing composition ideas. I started by doing plain lino cuts onto glass and copper foiling them together.

lino cutting on glass

lino cut on glass

I then tried to develop layered designs which could come into the ‘not so good’ category but in doing so I saw what would work better and then started experimenting with new ideas.  I discovered that layering the enamel printing helps the design to stand out better and finding the frames in a shop was perfect timing too.

enamel prints

The next step is to develop larger hanging prints for walls and with the autumnal leaves all around they were a great inspiration. I know it’s still not perfect and I’m going to experiment with colour accuracy more but so far so good.

I think I might be seeing this view more often in my garage….

Preparing for Christmas Fairs

It’s a busy time of year for any crafter with lots of fairs to prepare for, stock to make, packaging to sort out, websites to keep updated…..I could go on and if you do fairs I’m sure you can easily add things to this list.

Over the past week I’ve been making new Christmas themed stock and today started to pull it all together with the packaging and thinking about how to display it on my craft stall. I’ve been posting images of some of the new glass designs onto facebook and they’ve been well received which has led to sales and me making lots more glass stockings. They are a simple design but I am happy to create lots of them as I can make them all slightly different which means it’s continually interesting to do….not so sure I could focus on making as many Father Christmas’ or snowmen!


Today I spent several hours adding ribbon to hang the decorations, sorting them into sets and putting them into gift bags. Then came a rummage through the garage to see what display baskets I had for the stall…..I was definitely glad that the kiln was kicking out a fair amount of heat brrrrr it was cold today wasn’t it! Anyway I think the cupcake stand was a perfect solution and might even be a suitable mini xmas tree substitute….what do you think? I’ll decide towards the end of the week I think.

Next on the ‘to do’ list were the Christmas cards and Santa keys. I’m suspecting the keys could be a top seasonal seller this year based on how well they have been received so far. I’ll be sending some over to Chicken and Frog Bookshop in Brentwood too.


All this creativity is great for my business  but not so good for the tidiness of the house… kitchen is madness this eve….Does anyone ever manage to craft neatly?!?

Glass Workshops in the Essex countryside

Back in the summer when it was scorching hot (yes we really did have a few non-rainy days!) I ran a fusing workshop at my house for 3 lovely ladies. 2 were friends and had come along having seen what a friend of theirs had been making with me and the other had seen me at RHS Hyde Hall Craft Fair. It was so hot that day I actually had to move the location of the workshop from the conservatory so that we didn’t melt!!! I think that’s why I can remember it so well as days like that didn’t happen much this year did they?

The 2 friends contacted me a couple of months ago keen to come back and learn more and wanted to bring 2 others with them too….I love how glass fusing enthusiasm is contagious like this hehe. So yesterday the group came along with some sketchy plans of what they wanted to make in glass and we had a great time chatting and making glass dishes, candle lights and jewellery.

glass landscape

Christine wanted to make the 4 seasons in glass for her mantelpiece and came armed with a book of flowers for technical accuracy, Philippa thought she was going to make something Christmassy but after seeing how long it was going to take to cut out lots of circle shapes this quickly developed into Christmas presents for her friends instead. Alison was more unsure but took inspiration from a blue colour pallet and made a lovely aquatic dish among other bits n pieces and Bobby was so determined to get her colours right for a present that she rang a family member to check they would match their decor. This level of thought about design definitely helped them to create a wide range of fantastic fused glass pieces.

fused glass dish

Over the next few days the kilns will be going crazy fusing everything flat and then slumping everything into/over moulds….especially as I had another 1 to 1 glass lesson in the evening with fused glass Christmas decorations on the menu.

fused glass christmas decorations

For now I think it’s tidying for me as this is the current state of my conservatory… glass workshop scene