Wooden spiral structure

On Saturday February 7th, Southern Lines and Northern Lights will be opening at the splendid Ruthin Craft Centre. It’s a group show, highlighting some of the contemporary design happening in Wales today. We’re pleased to be included and look forward to seeing our newly re-finished Cornucopia and Low-res fruit on display up here in North Wales.

Welsh design exhibition in converted chapel
The exhibition, curated by Ceri Jones, has already shown at Mission Gallery in Swansea, finishing in early January. I had the pleasure of visiting just before it closed. The exhibition space in this converted church formed two distinct areas – one filled with natural, white light where the altar used to be, and one with dark grey walls and spotlights – perfect as many of the pieces on display were lights, lampshades, or used illumination for artistic effect.

Small converted chapel by the waterfront
I’ve admired these basketry lampshades by Louise Tucker for a while now. Beautifully made in natural materials, they function well as shades whilst looking like big, sculptural jellyfish.

sculptural woven wicker lampshades
It was also great to see Sian O’Doherty’s work, part of her ‘Print, Stitch, Cut, Sew’ collection which were framed textile pieces referencing the traditional textile culture of Wales, but in a new, three dimensional way.

sculptural textile art in black and silver with red stitching

Jessica Lloyd-Jones was showing three neon light sculptures, displayed in Victorian-style domed glass cases. Titled Anatomical Neon and inspired by biological electricity, the glass heart, glass eye and glass brain ‘specimens’ flickered softly.

domed display cass with neon sculpture
The lights cast by laser-cut inserts in Hannah Wardle’s lamp were projected to beautiful effect onto Sian Elins Wallpaper…

…and Louise Tucker’s lamps reflected in the gloss surface of Freshwest’s scale-bending Pool Table coffee table.


Another of Freshwest’s pieces, the Brave New World Lamp is an oversized wooden anglepoise and dwarfs Loglike’s spindle Cornucopia which usually looks quite big on its own!

Looking forward to seeing the exhibition re-presented in a new venue from 7th February to 12th April 2015.

Ruthin Craft Centre
The Centre for the Applied Arts
Park Road, Ruthin
LL15 1BB

open daily
10.00am – 5.30pm
admission free
free on-site parking
T: +44 (0)1824 704774

Lathe in a country cottage
Recent interest in Cornucopia, (a large sculptural piece made from reclaimed wood) and the opportunity to show it at Mission Gallery and the Ruthin Craft Centre prompted a radical renovation and overhaul. The question was, how to improve an artwork that had already been made once, but so rapidly and loosely that it had fallen apart at the end of its original installation?

Sculpture in Haus of Helfa, Llandudno
The first showing of Cornucopia at Haus of Helfa in 2013 had proved that the design worked well. It was appealing, impressive and understandable. There, against the backdrop of a gutted building, its rough surface made sense. The piece did what it had to, for as long as it needed to. In this new exhibition, Cornucopia had to stand up to close scrutiny and also hold its own against a wealth of work by Welsh design talent. The distressed finish wasn’t doing it justice.

wooden hexagons of different sizes
Solutions we needed to find:

  1. Improve the surface finish of each component.
  2. Decide how to treat the idiosyncratic knots, damage and patina left in the original material.
  3. Strengthen each spindle which was formed of two pieces.
  4. Work out how to fasten all the parts securely and invisibly.
  5. Work out how to assemble & disassemble the sculpture easily.
  6. Decide how to incorporate the three sections made from new wood.

scraping glue from wood

1. Improve the surface finish of each component.

After scraping off the old glue from each piece, the sanding began. Each spindle had been previously roughly, dip-stripped of ancient paint and varnish, which left a considerable amount of ‘fluffiness’. The wood was old pitch pine, different to the soft pine one gets today in the DIY store. This was heavy with aromatic resin which gunged up blades and sandpaper, but smelt amazing and produced the distinctive dark stripes that the timber is known for. To re-finish each spindle, jigs were made to fit onto a lathe and turn slowly whilst strips of reinforced sandpaper of different grits brought back the natural shine.

Turned pitch pine close-up detail
A sanding disc did the same with the flat sides. The angled ends were problematic as they had deep saw marks to remove, and resinous end-grain which was prone to blackening, even at low speed.

wooden rhomboid shapes

2. Decide how to treat the idiosyncratic knots, damage and patina left in the original material.

To be honest, the material wasn’t looking its best from the very beginning. It had been pulled from the exhausted staircase of a large Victorian town house, and had the crowbar marks, nail holes, splits and old woodworm holes that you’d expect. There had to be a sensitive re-finishing, but with a light enough touch so that the history of the material was still evident. Very bad splits were discretely glued, missing corners and old scraps and gouges were smoothed and left.

joining a pole with a double ended screw

3. Strengthen each spindle which was formed of two pieces.

Special screws were used to join two spindle halves into a whole. Each spindle was often made up from two different ones, leading to a variety of different turned profiles on the finished piece. Joining them together straight and true is harder than it looks!

clever joining device for woodwork

4. Work out how to fasten all the parts securely and invisibly.

We didn’t want any fixings showing, to distract from the grain and the overall shape of the finished piece, so secret screws were positioned where the overlapping layers would hide them. (Shhh…)

making a conical sculpture
5. Work out how to assemble & disassemble the piece easily.

The piece needed to be transported multiple times, as this was a touring show. First to Mission Gallery, Swansea until 4th January 2015, then to Ruthin Craft Centre, Denbighshire from 30th January to 12th April 2015. It needed to be easily assembled in situ, and then safely dismantled at the end of the show. It was a job in itself to work out and annotate instructions for safe building of this heavy, spiky object. (Thanks Chris, hope it went together without too much fuss!)

white sculptural hexagons
6. Decide how to incorporate the three sections made from new wood.

When initially built, the raw materials didn’t quite stretch to these little end sections (above). The left-over spindles were either too riddled with worm holes or the wrong diameter. As they would have been square section anyway, without any turned detail, we originally substituted new timber, and artworked it to match the old. This time around, we painted the new wood pink, in an opaque, satin finish similar to our low-res fruit that was displayed inside.

exhibition space at Mission Gallery

Thanks to Ceri Jones for curating this exciting exhibition. A brilliant selection of interesting work that shows “a view of design practices in Wales. Work by a selection of talented designers exploring bright ideas and the insightful understanding of materials needed to illuminate them.”

red and green wooden apples by Loglike




Contemporary sculpture at 3B gallery
Today is the Deed at Galeri 3B in Wrexham includes some exciting contemporary sculpture shown to good effect. Responding to the 1920 Realistic Manifesto, it’s a show of new work by four artists. Above is pictured work by artist Jo Marsh and also by Marja Bonada, both of whom make particularly appealing pieces.

Pink neon light box art
Galeri 3B is a sizeable space with white walls and high ceilings. A former Laura Ashley shop, it’s hidden down a side street in the centre of Wrexham. It would be understandable if you didn’t spot it, but it’s well worth trying to visit, with regular new music events amongst the artworks.

Marja Bonada painting of water

Marja Bonada also has some wall-based work on show in sister artspace, ‘Undegun’. These three strong drawings, done in what look like charcoal and paint, seem to be of water and trees. They look great against the rough gallery wall.

Charcoal drawings of trees

Writing on a bare plaster wall

Head over to Oriel Wrecsam, housed in Council buildings with the main library, to admire a show of work by Morgan Griffith (sonomano) which combines collage with found objects & paint, on a background of wood and pastel hues. Just lovely.

person hiding under a desk with a pink oval on their head

Who can resist mushrooms and fungi especially when they’re pictured taking over the world?

clump of mushrooms weighing down a helicopter

Previously exhibited in Haus of Helfa in Llandudno (below) it was good to revisit Griffith’s work, and also see some of the pieces produced by a collaboration with Jo Hinchcliffe (concretedog) which involve little motors and slowly moving found objects.

Artworks against stripped back, bare walls of Haus of Helfa

Seeing this work reminded me that I’d not shared photos of some of the wonders found at Haus of Helfa this year. So here’s just some of the interesting work that was on show. Unfortunately these are the only ones I successfully photographed!

Vintage poppies saucer from the 1920s
Go and buy our upcycled saucer candle holders from the British Red Cross in Covent Garden! We’ve donated them to the charity’s new pop-up boutique stocked with big name fashion and homeware. It’s open for another couple of days only… last day Sunday 16th November.

Nurse outfit style from the first world war.

The first pop-up charity shop opened 100 years ago during WW1, so we chose a delicate antique saucer with a design entitled Poppies to ‘upcycle’ into a candlestick. It’s got gorgeous bright orange-red handpainted colouring. Marked 1915 underneath, This may be the pattern number rather than the year of manufacture, as it seems this design was brought out by Crown Ducal in the 1920s. Obviously numbered with great significance though!

Ducal vintage china backstamp

It didn’t take us too long to drill through this saucer, but as we always use super-special crockery, we have to be extra careful as they’re often quite rare designs. Here’s some pictures of us drilling through vintage china.

Drilling through vintage china with a hand drill

The poppy stems on one of our donated candlesticks has fine, black, whiplash curves, made popular in the Art Nouveau era.We echoed this in our choice of turned wooden candle cup which is made of spalted beech and has dramatic natural colouration. The black lines are formed by a fungus as the tree grows. We’ve recently had a delivery of these beautiful turnings, handmade for us in North Wales, each one completely unique and perfect to pair with our salvaged vintage saucers.

Spalted beech with black lines

So head along to the Gift House pop-up in Covent Garden or donate some goodies of your own to your local store and help British Red Cross support people across the globe needing urgent medical care and first aid in a whole host of situations.

The British Red Cross Gift House is situated at; Unit 19 (Basement), Market Building, Covent Garden, WC2E 8RE – it is located on the lower ground floor of the East Piazza

Opening times 11am till 7pm, from the 7th November until the 16th November 2014



gull attack llandudno prom
Sun, sea and a weekend of art. It must be Llawn again. Another fantastic festival in the seaside town called Queen of the Welsh Resorts. So much to see and do – one day isn’t long enough. Particularly impressive were Kitsch n Sync performing ‘Gulls’ (above) – a skit on Hitchcock’s 1963 thriller, The Birds.

David Subal collapsed on the floor in a white shirt

David Subal cutting a portrait in a processed cheese slice
Also, Michikazu Matsune & David Subal as STORE was absolute genius, I could have stayed all day to sample their entire range. Above are performances ordered from the takeaway menu, entitled ‘Expressionist’ (top) and ‘Local Cheesy Art’. They travel to Newport 24th – 27th Sept!

Cut glass decanters filled with black engine oil

Robert Pitwell’s Shell in an abandoned garage was another stand-out favourite. The choice of textures and placement of materials were so considered and observed. Simply beautiful results. (above)

Secret floor
Loved the Haus of Helfa of course. There was some really interesting work going on (more pictures soon), and it was heartening to see that (unlike last year when we showed there), they had ‘luxuries’ installed such as running water, loos and lighting!

This is still my favourite part of the floor – old black & white tiles peeking out through concrete scree by the main entrance.

House-face watercolour painting  by James Rielly
Then there was an excellent exhibition in The Studio of James Rielly’s unsettling watercolours on thick, deckle-edge paper. All superb, what a treat.

And not forgetting a meditative performance by brothers Cai Tomos and Meilyr Tomos as Gymanfa in the disused Tabernacle chapel and baptism pool. We were given our own sung ‘tones’ in little boxes that one could wander around the building with. The sounds originated from vocal recordings of different chapel goers.

live art performance in a baptist tabernacle chapel

The once grand Tudno Castle Hotel, housing an exhibition called Llwch had atmosphere in spades. And it was the little details like the super-intriguing bell-hop performer in full vintage costume that makes this such a special festival.

Can’t wait for the Time Travellers to return for Llawn03.

Two figures with disco ball heads and victorian bathing costumes



Behind a small door in the corner of an unassuming art gallery in Wrexham, lies an unexpectedly large concrete space, housing the latest installation by artist, Simon Proffitt, exploring automated sound, light, sport and chaos.

spinning lights from a disco ball
It’s a dark, windowless room, once used as a sports warehouse, now stripped back to industrial walls and floor. The vast open plan area measures about 3,000 square foot and features concrete columns like an underground carpark. As you enter the space, your ears focus on layers of sound while your eyes adjust to the lack of light.

Disco balls glittering  in the dark

The first installation is in the centre of the space. A mesmerising cloud of darkly glittering mirror balls and sports balls are suspended from floor to ceiling, forming a tightly clustered galaxy, some orbited by smaller ‘moons’ of tennis balls and snooker balls. Each rotates slowly under the spotlight of a vintage film projector, causing great swathes of pin prick lights to swirl and dance.

Ping-pong ball, desk fan and drum.

In each of the four corners, there’s an inventive sculpture involving light and sound. In one piece, a group of oscillating desk fans sit on the floor in a pool of light cast from a large industrial shade. They blow ping-pong balls at the motley collection of instruments that surround them, creating unsettling, discordant music.

Pool of light on a concrete floor

In another corner, toy slinkies are stretched out above floor-based speakers, holding ping-pong balls. Extra deep bass makes the balls dance and rattle, and the mic-ed slinkies twang like sci-fi rayguns.

vintage reel to reel tape recorder

Each group of objects play their own carefully crafted soundscapes. Not tuneful melodies but hypnotically rhythmic samples and resonous scrapings made by the machines themselves. The vintage equipment looks like it’s been rescued and coaxed back to life to play one last time. Authentic found objects, arranged with an original and creative ear to great sensory effect.

Undegun, 2nd Floor, 11 Regent Street, Wrexham LL11 1SG
(The old JJB Sports shop)

Entrance on pedestrianised street, near Waterstones. Nearest parking… Island Green Shopping Centre LL13 7LW, or if lucky on the little streets around town.

12 – 4pm Thurs / Fri / Sat, until 4th October 2014.

slinky playing music

Self portraits by Rob Stephen

Yay, it’s Helfa Gelf 2014! Over 4 weekends in September, artists and craftspeople across North Wales open their studios and hold exhibitions of their work. Last year, Loglike created an installation in Llandudno. Not being part of it this year, means that we can simply enjoy the occasion without all the hard work! There’s so much to see, and North Wales is quite a big area, so here’s just a snippet of what we’ve found so far…

Dead fly grave by Rob Stephen

Friday night saw the opening of quite a few Wrexham-based art events. Starting off with the ‘Glyndwr Collective’ showing at the School of Art. I particularly enjoyed Rob Stephen’s work. Varied, appealing and authentic, he’s presented it through 5 pseudonyms, each with it’s own flavour of media and subject matter.

Rob Stephen ink drawing

Whether as a contrary response to the MA pressures to specialise and analyse, or simply due to an abundance of ideas and curiosity, each of his characters’ explorations was intriguing.

Typewritten postcard on wall by Rob Stephen
Then we moved onto Undegun, the unassuming art space in Wrexham town centre, where a small selection of Helfa Gelf artists were represented and we were also entertained with acoustic sets by drop-in singer-songwriters.

Rob Stephen art
Later on, we got as far as Plas Power climbing studio, where Jonathan Brier was showing some paintings as part of ACO (The Artists Co-operative). It’s an interesting space to hold an art exhibition, with stylised climbing surfaces of various complexity.

Yellow climbing wall
And quite a contrast to find self-taught Jonathan Brier’s work amongst the climbing shoes and tackle. Brier does beautiful portraiture with a dark edge.

Black and white painting of a beautiful young woman in a white dress
As well as perennially popular and affordable still lives of fruit.

A painting of green apples in a grey bowl
Another interesting visit was to see Hazel Brend, who weaves top quality shawls and scarves from silk, cashmere and merino wool. She’s got a massive loom in a tiny shed and it was fascinating to see all of her specialised equipment and beautifully coloured stores of yarns. We heard how she first hand-dyes the silk warp before weaving with a merino thread to produce different, subtle, painterly patterns on each side of the finished piece.

Another 3 weekends of Helfa Gelf Art Trail to go!

Silk and merino wool handwoven scarf in peach, nude and pink

vintage china candlestick with bluebird pattern

Here’s a step-by-step guide to drilling through vintage china & ceramic. It’s a good method to use when making cake-stands out of pretty, china plates or something more avant garde using every-single-bit-of-crockery-available! We’ve developed this technique to make simple candle holders from upcycled saucers, using our own candlecup design, and can’t remember the last time we smashed a piece. So, here’s how to do it…

Stack of antique saucers on a charming old stool
1) Do your drilling on a stable, non-slip surface that you don’t mind damaging. Maybe put an old piece of wood down for protection. Use safety glasses and get a friend to help.

close-up of two types of diamond tipped drill bits

2) You’ll need a 6mm diamond-tipped drill bit for glass or ceramic. They’re sometimes sold as ‘bathroom tile drill bits’. There’s plenty for sale at a reasonable price online. The picture above shows a core drill bit, which is a little tube and also a drill bit that looks like a tiny arrow. Both shapes are good.

a yellow hand drill

3) Use either a bench pillar drill, (as seen in this other article) or a hand drill that can go at a variable speed.

the back of a small majolica, cabbage plate
4) Put some masking tape on the back of the crockery to encourage a clean exit hole. Put more masking tape on the front.

marking a cross on the fronts of vintage ceramic saucers
5) Measure the centre point and mark a dot with permanent pen, then extend this to a highly visible cross.

trimming slim cork sheet into circles to use when drilling plates
6) Get some thin cork or rubbery material, about 5mm thick and cut out a circle that will fit within the raised foot on the back of the ceramic piece. This will support it under pressure. Plates may not have such obvious ‘feet’ underneath, but a piece of supportive, slightly squashy material will help anyway.

Starting off at an angle when drilling a hole in a ceramic plate
7) This is the point where you’ll need someone to hold the crockery firmly. This leaves you free to hold the drill with both hands. Start very slowly, and if you’re using a tube-shaped ‘core drill bit’ with a hand drill, have the drill at an angle to get a grip on the surface. As soon as you break through the glaze, you can straighten up.

Pouring cool water from a Jenny Murray jug
8) Add a little puddle of water to keep the drill bit and ceramic surface cool. Try and go quite slowly, with moderate pressure. This may take a few minutes. If you’re drilling a super-precious piece, stop every so often and check if the drill bit is getting hot (don’t burn yourself!) If it is, stop for a short while until things cool down, add more cool water and don’t press as hard. Bone china will take longer as it’s stronger than regular ceramic. Be patient.

Drilling vintage plates with a hand drill
9) Lighten-up on the downwards pressure as you start to break-through. When you reach the other side it should be obvious. Stop the pressure quickly, to save your work surface and cork circles.

Making holes in old china crockery
10) Empty the (now murky) water out and peel off the masking tape, taking care with the sharp ceramic shards that have formed underneath.

A successfully drilled hole in a 1960s ceramic saucer

11) Give it a clean, but don’t leave it to soak (especially if earthenware) as water may get into the body of the ceramic piece and may cause crazing to the glaze. Leave to dry.

Ironstone Broadhurst staffordshire England. Backstamp.
12) Fit any fixings. If making a cake stand, the best metal components have bolts on the base which have a very slim, flat head. These keep the stand sturdy, and minimise any rocking around.

Gift box for Loglike upcycled candlesticks made from vintage china saucers
Upcycled saucer-candlesticks are available at www.Loglike.co.uk
And also at our shop on Folksy.com

Special thanks to SP for the splendid photographs.

vintage wire frame plant table
My favourite shop for antiques and collectables has got to be Nook in Llangollen. Tucked away on a side street, it’s worth making a special detour to find.

old advertising signs and wooden crates
The window displays change often and are beautifully put together. The owner, Rob, has an excellent eye for an interesting piece and is often scouring the barns of North Wales for forgotten treasures.

old bread tin with Edwards embossed on the side
Recently on sale were a whole stack of these original loaf tins from Edwards Bakery of Llangollen which closed in the 1960s. Other finds with a local connection include charming old decorated milk bottles and framed letterpress advertisements.

Welsh river scene on an antique plate
Llangollen has been a tourist destination for decades, if not centuries. Although it has plentiful shops selling mass-manufactured, daffodil themed, plastic trinkets; items like those shown here would be my souvenirs of choice today.

Shop front of Nook Antiques in Llangollen

23A Bridge Street
LL20 8PF

m: 07792 768 193
e: info@llangollenantiques.co.uk
twitter: @nookantiques

chalk sketch on slate of felled logs

This may be the original tablet device. Pictured above is an antique school slate, from the days before affordable paper & pens. I read recently that David Hockney uses a wood-framed iPad on which he paints digital landscapes in East Yorkshire, so was inspired to try an analogue version.

David Hockney sketch

A recent visit to Annely Juda Fine Art gallery in London, revealed some of Hockney’s large, colourful iPad prints as well as beautiful charcoal drawings and film-work. It was exciting to see these powerful drawings of logs. The same scene drawn again and again with great sensitivity and panache.

David Hockney exhibition in London

Hockney is passionate about the changing seasons. He returns to the same place, taking the same position and paints or draws what he sees. An expert observer, his work is always confident, skilled and demonstrates great curiosity of technique. His film of a slow-paced journey down the same winter lane was recorded with nine differently angled cameras. It’s shown on nine adjoining screens making up one image and is mesmerising.

rural snow scene made from 9 sceens

It was sad and disappointing to learn that his charcoal log drawings feature the remains of a tall, standing tree stump – one of Hockney’s favourite landmarks. The dramatic dead tree, nicknamed ‘Totem’ that appeared regularly in his work, was destroyed by vandals about a year and a half ago. Before it’s demise, the monumental stump was included on the Hockney art trail and according to locals, had helped to encourage visitors to the area.

large felled tree amongst wild garlic in Plas Newydd

Back in another tourist destination, in the naturalistic gardens of Plas Newydd in Llangollen, it’s late Spring. The flowers of wild garlic are everywhere, creating a carpet around the logs which were formed by trees blown over in last years’ gales. Here they even have their own ‘Totem’, thankfully intact.

Tall totem-pole tree stump in Llangollen

David Hockney – The Arrival of Spring
is on from 8th May – 12th July 2014, at:

Annely Juda Fine Art
4th Floor, 23 Dering Street

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