New work

Carved wooden birds, painted and embellished with enamel on copper wings and eyes

I’ve been playing around with some new ideas and have carved these birds, painted them and then embellished them with enamelled wings and eyes. I love the reflection of the birds in the marble surface I’ve photographed them on (my new kitchen worktop and splashback!).

I’ll be showing them for the first time (with a few more friends) at Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, 10-13 October at Spinningfields, Manchester. I’ll be on Stand 128 and hope to see some friendly faces.


It’s been a while since I’ve written on my blog – I was drifting a bit and then my mum died and I’ve not really felt very motivated. However, despite the upheavals in my personal life, I have remained busy and have taken part in more fairs this year than previously.

I’ve attended Craft in Focus at RHS Wisley in May,
Enamel panels and jewellery by Janine Partington

Affordable Art Fairs at Bristol and Hampstead with the Rostra Gallery in Bath in May and June, taken part in the Southbank Bristol Arts Trail where I live in Bedminster, Bristol in May,

the Contemporary Craft Festival at Bovey Tracey in June,

Enamelled clocks, standing figures and vases

The Craft and Design Experience at Henley Showground, also in June and coming up this week Art in Action at Waterperry House in Oxfordshire.

I’ve also joined Made in Britain shop in Quakers Friars in Bristol. This shop is run partly by exhibiting makers who volunteer their time to man the shop. I’ve enjoyed doing this, and though I’ve only done a few duties it does make me feel part of something. This pop shop is now due to run until Christmas.

It’s been a busy time and with little motivation a huge stretch for me. I’ve also had a lot of catching up to do with orders having had a month off in April/May to deal with things. I’m still catching up, so I apologise to all my galleries for my less than optimum performance.

Doing fairs when you really aren’t feeling up to it is always difficult, and whilst I have enjoyed meeting new people and sharing my work, I am sure that at times I seemed distant and didn’t engage as well as I should. “Must do better!” would be a good sum up of my current performances.

Art in Action is due to be very hot, so I’m going to take a chair, a fan and a chill pill and enjoy the experience instead of worrying about it. I hope I’ll meet lots of lovely people and have lots of good chats.



The Button Project

Late last year I took part in an online project called ‘Chain’. It was a collaborative project set up by Marina Sheetikoff. Eventually it had a physical presence in a gallery in Brazil where she is based. The results were great. Look out for more about this and some great pictures in the future. Anyway, it got me interested in taking part in more collaborative projects such as the ‘imapiece’ project mentioned in a previous blog. The Button Project in Macclesfield curated by maker Victoria Scholes was yet another opportunity to be part of something bigger than little old me.

Originally I planned to make an enamel button, but my mother died on Easter Saturday and due to delays the funeral is not until 18 April so I am away from my family, my home and my studio at present. Waiting for a funeral when there is such a gap between it and the bereavement means that there is a lot of sitting around, and I can’t sit with my dad twenty four hours a day, so I decided to make my button, but to use embroidery instead.

Entry for the Button Project

My button is made in memory of my mother who taught me how to sew and I thought that the butterfly was a fitting image for memories of a life gone. It also happened to fit with the loose suggested theme of metamorphosis that we could use guides inspiration (though we didn’t have too).

For something smaller in size than a 10p coin, it took many hours to sew, but I am pleased with the finished result and, as said, it gave me something to do.

The Button Project, with more than 300 contributors, runs from 14 June – 8 August 2013 at The Heritage Centre, Macclesfield.


Here is my jigsaw piece for the imapiece project.

Save the Children and Craftivist Collective project 2013

imapiece is a project set up by the Craftivist Collective in conjunction with Save the Children’s Race Against Hunger campaign. They urge the craft community to help create giant jigsaw pieces embroidered with provocative messages that will then be brought together to create an installation to raise awareness for the Race Against Hunger campaign. They want the Government to use it’s power and influence as host of 2013 G8 to tackle injustice. Find out what you can do by visiting the Craftivist Collective website.

I seem to be sewing a lot lately, something that I really love doing. Here is a bag I made last night for the three year old daughter of a friend of my husband’s who really loves bags.




Taking Robert Race’s Automata short course at West Dean College

Last weekend I took a long-planned break from work and family to go to West Dean College in West Sussex for a four day course with Robert Race learning how to make simple automata. I’d been there for an Association of Contemporary Jewellery conference in July 2010 and fell in love with the place. I took this photograph then.

West Dean is a wonderful place to go not just for the courses they put on or even the fantastic food, but for the quiet – there’s no tv (unless you take advantage of the WiFi in the magnificent Oak Room and have remembered to bring headphones) and it’s just so calm and peaceful when you’re not in class.

I decided to travel down by train. As I got close to Chichester I realised that I’d forgotten to pack my linen threads, needles and crochet hook. This would mean that I wouldn’t be able to do the things I had planned in the evenings after the course had finished each day.

Feeling anxious about this omission, I switched on my ipad, enabled the 3G and quickly found a shop near Chichester Station where I could buy some essentials. The Eternal Maker is a wonderful place to visit if you’re ever in the area where you can find almost everything you would need (though it didn’t have any crochet hooks). It shares it’s space with The Button Company which stocks thousands of buttons. It is just a great place to wander around.

In a huge old suitcase I found some scraps of felt for sale by weight and elsewhere some lovely heavy duty cotton threads that could be used for embroidery. I carefully selected colours that would complement each other working mainly with a grey base and a green palette with a bit of red and yellow thrown in for good measure. The choices I made were to work well for me when it came to the course the next day.

Materials for automata

When we all gathered for the start of the course we were confronted with a room full of tools both mechanical and electrical that I had never used before but also box upon box of wood and other materials that we could use when it came to making automata.

Robert had also put out lots of books for ideas and many many examples of both his own automata and items from his personal collection which he had amassed from around the world (see opening photograph above).

Robert was a wonderful tutor and very patient with us all.

I didn’t want to simply replicate the great pieces that he had made – if I wanted those pieces then I could buy them from him, so I set  about finding my own take on the medium. Having a bag full of scraps of felt, I quickly settled into my comfort zone of sewing. As it turned out the colours and the felt itself sat comfortably with the pieces of drift wood and scraps that were provided and so I think the pieces I ended up with were harmonious and I was happy with most of them. I particularly liked the bumble bee balancing toy which took inspiration from the distressed yellow paintwork on a piece of weathered wood I found in the boxes Robert provided….

…. and the rabbit in a hat which had the most complicated mechanism I attempted (though it is a relatively simple one). I was pleased because it turned out pretty much as I envisaged it.

Other students (there were nine of us in total) included a potter, a web designer, a retired music teacher and a gallery owner. All produced wonderful pieces, some reproductions of Robert’s work, but most their own interpretations of the tasks we were given. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to photograph everyone’s work, but here are some of the pieces that were made over the course of the three days we were there. (I should mention that days at West Dean can last up to 10pm as workshops remain open until then. This is wonderful because none of us really wanted to stop at teatime and it meant we could make the most of our time there.)


I would thoroughly recommend any course with Robert, but also any opportunity you can get to visit and study at West Dean. Well worth the fee!


Sponsored origami box making

My nearly eleven year old daughter Breesha decided late last year that she wanted to raise some money for Cancer Research UK (because one of her father’s friends had cancer) and PSDS (a small localised charity providing support for children with Down’s Syndrome and their families which was co-founded by our friends whose son is our godson and has Down’s Syndrome). After much deliberation it was decided that following on from the origami workshops that she led last May for our local Arts Trail, Breesha would make as many origami boxes as possible in an hour and ask people to sponsor her.

Origami boxes for charity

Last Sunday Breesha finally completed the task under the very careful and watchful eye of her father. She made eleven boxes in the hour allotted and has so far raised over £130. Well done Breesha! And thanks to all those kind and generous people who have sponsored her.



First new design of 2013

Always good to get a new design made. This waterlillies design is my first of 2013.

vitreous enamel on copper panel

Here is the original drawing from which I cut the stencil and created the enamel panel above.

Drawing for vitreous enamel on copper panel





Insects and Bugs Poster

As promised in an earlier post, please see below the poster for the Insect and Bugs Arts Trail Poster in BS3 Bristol that my daughter Breesha helped to design. I am so proud of her.

This event is being supported by Bedminster Town Team and the Mary Portas Pilot. The poster also gives you the clues for the trail.

Another big event coming up is Bugs of Bristol organised by Upfest Gallery. Over eighty bugs painted by artists and schools will be placed around Bedminster from 16 March 2013.


A leisurely stroll at Tyntesfield

Armed with our new National Trust car badge, my husband, children and I spent Sunday afternoon was strolling round the grounds of the National Trust property Tyntesfield, near Bristol.

As I get older I get more and more like my father, noticing colours, patterns, silhouettes and lighting everywhere I look. I used to sigh and roll my eyes when he spoke about these things, and whilst I don’t have the childlike wonder that my father always had when he viewed a beautiful sunset or a broken tree, I do notice things more now.

I always take my camera with me, but don’t always remember to use it, and now I have to share it with my daughter who loves taking ‘interesting’ photographs as she puts it. But for now, here are a few of mine…..

Photograph taken at National Trust property, Tyntesfield

I love the look of these white dried up grasses in sharp focus against the blurred bark behind. The colour palette is so muted and I love the underlying greyness of it all.

Different materials at National Trust property, Tyntesfield

Again, it’s the colour and line that appeals to me here and the way the lines lie and relate to each other.

Photograph of roof tiles at National Trust property, TyntesfieldColour, colour, colour…..age is beautiful.



A Loveliness of Ladybirds

It’s a new year and it’s been several months since my last post – I’ve been busy making and packing and sending off orders, but then there was Christmas and a bit of a break, but it’s January 3rd and orders are starting to come in again – seems like the first proper day back at work.

Vitreous enamel ladybirds on cherry tree branch

Late last year I applied to take part in a local treasure hunt trail – Insects and Bugs – to take place in shops in my neighbourhood of Bedminster. In 2012 the Greater Bedminster Community Partnership and other agencies in my area applied for funding under the Mary Portas Pilot Towns scheme. There were over 371 bids, but the newly formed Bedminster Town Team (who have adopted a version of the logo I originally designed for  Bedminster Community Partnership) were one of 12 successful applicants. This trail is one of the first art projects to receive funding, and I am excited to be a part of it.

My daughter Breesha (aged nearly 11, as she likes to say) has also designed the poster, which is great and her first official job!!! I am very proud of her and will post a picture of it when the text has been added to her image in the next week or so.

The piece above is one of two and is entitled ‘A Loveliness of Ladybirds’. This collective noun for ladybirds struck me as being so beautiful and the opportunity to use my favourite red enamel couldn’t be missed. These ladybirds are also available as brooches, priced at £20. Please see the Jewellery page on my website.

Vitreous enamel on copper brooch by Janine Partington