A privileged workshop with Dr Trish Woods “Pewter” – Working in group – criteria 1.2.3.


What an exciting opportunity to join the group led by “Dr Trish Woods” to learn more about the amazing metal “Pewter” and all it’s possibilities.

Trish Woods, is a metal smith and has a Ph.D in design. She has presented numerous papers on the potential for colour on tin and pewter, and continues to present her work as a designer-maker. (Contact: thwoods@blueyonder.co.uk

According to Dr Woods,  pewter was found and used  in “Goodrington, Devon, England

A History of Pewter
It wasn’t until the 13th century that significant production of pewter began. By then, pewter was beginning to be widely used for items such as chalices, pilgrim badges and other ecclesiastical items. From the fourteenth century pewter manufacture grew rapidly and almost every market town of any size would have a pewterer in its craft guild. In 1474 the London Pewterers ‘purchased’ from King Edward IV a royal charter for the legal control of pewter manufacture – the birth of the Worshipful Company of Pewterers, which is still going strong to this day.
In these early times pewter contained lead which gave the metal the dark appearance associated with old pieces. Today’s lead free pewter is capable of being brightly polished which gives it its long lasting appeal.(http://www.pewter.co.uk/acatalog/aboutpewter.html 2015)
Pewter is a fast working metal, economical, recyclable uses a low amount of energy so is very ecological. It doesn’t tarnish and was one of the most expensive metals to mine. it is also very soft and easy to work with.IMG_0535

Under Dr Woods careful advice, I cut my first  circle (not an easy task) then smoothed the edges. Then  I began the task of hammering it into shape.

Then the exciting process of colouration, a process that I confess I will have to explore in more detail. First was to draw the design I wanted, use glue to fill it in and then use a nitrate acid solution to give me the finished look.

What is Pewter
Our pewter is an alloy of tin, antimony and copper, tin being the main component at 92% (or in some cases 95%). Tin in its pure form, whilst being the fourth most precious metal in common use today, is too soft for practical use. Copper and antimony are therefore added as hardening agents.
The Association of British Pewter Craftsmen stipulates its members pewter is made up of a minimum of 90% tin, the remainder being composed of antimony and copper, and that a minimum of .026 gauge metal is used ensuring an adequate quality and weight is achieved.

Article worthy of mention – Crossing boundaries: A partnership of craft, industry and science through practice-led research into the patination of pewter. (Craft Research, Volume 1 (c) 2010 intellectual Ltd Craft and Industry Reports. Trish Woods South Devon College,Uk )

This is my finished bowl, it was a  thoroughly informative and interesting experience, something I will always treasure. The photo  doesn’t really do it justice, But  I know that if I have the opportunity to repeat this experience, I will not hesitate. Perhaps my next adventure will be to work with pewter to create jewellery designs. Watch this space! – evaluation



Personal Development

Personal Development Plan

Name: Valerie Iliffe

Where am I now?

Coming to the end of my first year “3D Contemporary Design”

This has been a very interesting journey for me, and has stretched my creative imagination, and organisational skills.

I’m still finding it a challenge to think outside skills I already have, and move more into the Contemporary arena.

Working in the different workshops/mediums has been really interesting, and I certainly want to experience more.









Where do I want to be?

Confident and able to execute, my design ideas. To take the skills I have learned back into the “voluntary sector” and work with individuals with special needs.

To bring awareness of how helpful and therapeutic, “making, craft and design” can be in the healing process.








How can I get there?

Time Scale



Start Date


End Date


Evidenced by




To complete my first year, and embrace all the different concepts of design completing my briefs with a much deeper understanding.

To continue to draw more of my ideas/design, and log my progress effectively.

28.2.15 30.6.15 Good results

To continue to embrace, all the different workshop environments, with a confidence, in design.

To have a clear comprehension of organisational skills needed to complete each module of the course.

To complete my second year, with a good grade.

To have the knowledge and confidence, to showcase my product and skills in a secure business environment?

Sept/15 30.6.16 Good results

The imprecision of the handmade aesthetic- Criteria 1.


IMG_0819 Work in progress Calla Lily Light shade, made using the free stitch process

Do you ever feel that your the only one who thinks about the concepts of design and make, in a particular way?

While I was pondering the wisdom of my design and the medium I was using, ( free stitch Calla Lily Light shade) Tony gave me a really interesting article to look at on Friday.

The article is about a “Alison Berger” showing some of her amazing light designs, inspired by scientific apparatus.

Aware of the ongoing battle between “Craft and Design” I just  love it when people won’t be “pigeon holed”.

‘Based in Los Angeles, Berger mainly creates lighting, but also furniture and other objects, all using traditional Italian glass-blowing techniques. Their shapes reference history, nature and science , from chemistry, astronomy, meteorology and maritime apparatus, to natural phenomenon such as fireflies, constellations and raindrops’.

She goes on to say, ‘I love the misshapen quality of items made without industrial precision” she says that she wants the pieces to be brother and sisters, not identical’.

Lighting is so much more about what happens once a piece is in its space.

Reading this article has given me the confidence to pursue my vision, to incorporate my traditional skills with my design idea, for a modern and up to date look to my lighting designs.

http://www.hollyhunt.com/documents/B/HH_Alison Berger Book.pdf

Ageing disgracefully

Read an interesting article in Elle Decoration recently called “Ageing disgracefully”by Simon Doonan . he advocates lifelong eccentricity, asking questions like (are you to comfortable? you might be trying too hard to be sensible, thereby losing what’s left of your youthful spontaneity. And who came up with the whole concept of age-appropriate style, A narrow minded poo-poo head is his reply.

Retirement sounded really good to me a couple of years ago, then I tried it and got so bored with the routine of housework and the regular shopping outing, that I decided to do an Art & Design course at college, (although I do miss my veggie plot)  I personally see no reason why we the bus pass set should go quietly into the night or be subject to dreary sartorial rules”. Au contraire.

This has lead me to undertake a 3D Contemporary design course at Uni, and while it has stretched me beyond belief, it has given new insights to the world of design. And also raised some very interesting points, which I will discuss in my next blog.

Newsflash: good taste and bad taste don’t exist. They are subjective concepts that were invented by annoying, snooty, tyrannical people to oppress the rest of us, and they are irrelevant for our times.

I love the way Doonan writes, (Why frown when you can smile)  If like me you are from the baby boomers generation, are a creatively adventurous and you find yourself on the receiving end of any discouraging reproaches, please disregard them, style is life-enhancing and age minimum.

(Elledecoration.co.uk October 2014)

My latest discovery – Criteria 1.2.3.

At the moment I’m reading an awesome book called “Design of the 20th Century”, and I have found it really encouraging.

One of the issues I have regarding “design” is (only one!) how to think outside the box.

I have a bit of a fixation at the moment with light fittings, and am seriously thinking about design, materials and techniques.

And of course my ability to execute all this!

Perusing this book has I think given me a small breakthrough.

I was looking at pieces of functional furniture that looks so similar to others, but have actually be executed in different ways using different materials.

I enclosed some pictures for future reference…

I love the chaise longue, never owned one but it’s on the wish list….

The one I would really like to own is of course the chaise longue, Model No. B306 Chaise Longue.

,for Thonet 1928, Chromed bent tubular steel, leather, Design:LeCorbusier, PierreJeanneret,Charlotte Perriand.[pg 347] Which was advertised in The “ELLE Decoration magazine” in September 2014 page 112                                                       by “Louis Vuitton and Cassina”

,for Thonet 1928, Chromed bent tubular steel, leather, Design:LeCorbusier,
PierreJeanneret,Charlotte Perriand.[pg 347]
Which was advertised in The “ELLE Decoration magazine” in September 2014 page 112 by “Louis Vuitton and Cassina”

Charlotte Perriand is one of my design hero’s, she collaborated with Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret at the Le Corbusier studio.(pg 554)

Upon reading this wonderful book I had a light bulb moment. This chaise longue is not by any means the only one ever made, let me show you the wonderful array of chair and chaise designs that I have uncovered.

I will attempt to do a timeline for you to follow, with pictures

Eillen Gray – Transat chair for Galerie Jean Desert 1925-26 [ pg 297]

Kaare Klint – Model No. 4699 deck chair for Rud Rasmussen, 1933 [pg 385]

Bruno Mathsson – Pernilla chaise longue for Karl Mathsson, c. 1934 [pg 455]

Gabriele Mucchi – Genni armchair for Crespi Emilio Pina 1935 [pg 497]


Alvar Aalto – Model No. 43 chaise longue for Artek 1936 – Organic Design [pg 531]

Franco Albini Model No. PS16 rocking chaise for Carlo Poggi 1956 [pg 30]

Oliver Mourgue – Dijinn seating for Airborne International, 1965 [pg 496]

Cini Mariani Boeri – Bobo chair for Arflex, 1967 [pg 121]

Toshiyuki Kita – wink chair for cassina, 1980 [pg 382]

Josep Llusca – Faventia chaise longue for Oken 1992 [pg 424]

Pierre Paulin – Model No. 577 Tongue chaise for Artifort, 1967 [pg 547]

This is adorable, I can just imagine relaxing listening to some music with a vino in hand, bliss.

Now the idea of this blog is not to sell you any products, but perhaps to encourage you and myself about the concept of design and as George Nelson say’s, “design is a manifestation of the capacity of the human spirit to transcend it’s limits. [1957 Nelson G. The Problems of design]

And perhaps the most significant reason for diversity in design, however, is the general belief that, despite authority and success of particular design solutions, there is always a better way to doing things. [Introduction, pg 8 2005 Fiell P. & Fiell C.]

I am going to put this on my wall, so looking at it might just give me courage to carry on.


Design and the 20th Century

Fiell P. & Fiell C.]

2005Taschen GmbH

Hohenzollernring 53, D- Koln

Printed in China

ISBN 978-3-8228-4078-8

Crisis of confidence – criteria 1.2.3.

I have just read another magazine from our library (what an amazing source of inspiration) but its thrown me.

Let me explain, at the moment I’m in the middle of a new brief called “Duplicating Form” and trying very hard to find a design that I like and is contemporary “different”.

I’m sixty and have gone through six decades of different style’s. My teenage years were spent in the sixties a fabulous time of changing style and pushing the boundaries.

But what about now?

The magazine/journal I’ve just read is “Ceramics, Art and Perception- 2014- issue 95. In the editorial by Elaine O Henry, she has quoted a comment by “Nils Lou, ceramics artist, writer, teacher and wood firer”, he talked about his philosophy of pursing art. “Don’t try to see where you want (the art piece) to go, but allow the process to take you on the magical journey”.

While all of the articles in the magazine are amazing, lots of it I just don’t get, and I’m asking the question (but what do I like?)

This could be a very healthy question to ask at this stage of my journey, or I could just be lost!

I know I like natural forms I’m heavily influenced by the Art Nouveau style, which I have always admired from a distance, and I’ve certainly grown up through an age of visual /eclectic looks. I like the industrial look, with it’s clean lines, functionality and stunning colours. But I also get excited about “nature” with all it’s complexities.

Perhaps I should take up meditating, and just hope that something pops into my head, that I have the confidence to design?


Wouldn’t it be amazing if we didn’t have to even consider issues like “Gender Equality”,  when we are thinking of our future approach to the work place?

As  a class we are preparing for a 2,000 word essay, and we will be discussing “issues” for the next four weeks. Those issues will include Social, Global, Cultural, Religious, Political and Financial etc.

And how any of the above mentioned might impact on our future in the Design / Craft Industry.

We might think it a just a subject that effects other people, but evidence suggests the opposite to be true. The recent tragedies in Paris, and the concerns for the Jewish communities in England, will be making most of us very aware of Global issues. And make us very aware that what we write/make or publish has consequences.

But what about equal pay, equality and diversity gender issues, how do we feel about it? does it bother us that men predominantly get paid more than women? or that men are given more value in the work place?

Through history we are aware of amazing women who have made a difference to how we live in England today, but in some ways I believe we still have a long way to go.

My view is that nothing is ever just about us, we have to choose to make the world a better place, to stand up for what we believe, (equal opportunities for all ) and be an inspiration to future generations let others see that it’s not just about the taking, but the giving and sharing of the knowledge and creativity we have learned from past generations and pioneers of change.