I have managed to secure a place on the intensive Jewellery and Goldsmithing Skills & Design Course run by the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCOI). Twelve of us will spend our days making jewellery on the upper floor of the curved, 18th-century former coach house and stables at the Castle Yard.
I’ve delayed writing my last post about Florence because I couldn’t bring myself to say goodbye to the place. Having treated my Florence withdrawal symptoms with unnatural amounts of sleep and large doses of all the carbohydrate groups for the past while, I can finally reflect on it again without drifting into a thousand yard stare punctuated with wistful sighs.
Piacevole is my new favourite Italian word. It means enjoyable or pleasant and is pronounced pee-ah-chay-voh-lay. It's even enjoyable to tumble that morsel around in the mouth for a minute. It's so nice to say that I even find myself saying it aloud when I'm cleaning the toilet or sweltering at the bus stop - things which are decidedly un-piacevole. It sounds like that feeling of not having to carry a bag of any description anywhere. Picture that. Ahhhh, it's so piacevole.
A lot has happened since I've last posted something and I again have been too busy to write about most of it. I'm sure everyone, myself included, has had enough of Brexit talk so I won't go there. We have entered the final month of our stay in Florence. I'm determined to make the most of the time we have left and try to prevent negativity about our own Florexit permeating all of my thoughts! I would vote to remain here but it seems that leaving will be sadly inevitable. Despite all the clear advantages of staying, we will soon be packing our bags and heading for more unpredictable, chillier climes.
My final jewellery project in Morley College required me to put together a mood board for inspiration. So I collected images which resonated with me for whatever reason, be it their colours, use of line, or composition. I pasted them into my sketchbook, which has travelled with me from London to Italy, and didn't think much more about them. Little did I realise that one of those images would, years later, take me to one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.
Oven. Check. Long-handled utensil for adding items to, and removing items from the oven. Check. Lovely discs, topped with various ingredients in need of baking. Check. I'm not actually making pizza, but enamelling does feel a bit like I'm cooking up a miniature storm in the kitchen! The fact that il forno means both oven and kiln helps to reinforce the association. My toppings, however, are pure silver wire and ground glass powders of various hues, and my base is copper rather than dough.
It feels like an eternity since I was last in Italy and yet, on the other hand, it's almost like I never left. The emotional upheaval of leaving loved ones in Ireland, after settling into everyday life there for the first time in years, was soon replaced with frantic forward momentum. We flew from Dublin to Heathrow three weeks ago, and London was a full-throttle working week en route to Italy, gone in a blur of snatched reunions. We made our way to northern Italy, stayed in Bolzano for four days, where Ollie attended a conference, and I fell in love with the pristine Alpine air from the snow-dusted Dolomites surrounding the picturesque city.
Back when I lived in London, I did a few short courses at Morley College, an amazing adult education institution which offers a range of part-time courses in everything from flamenco dancing to anatomy. What started as a way to creatively fill my days off work, ended up resetting my trajectory and kick-started my jewellery adventure.
I've just spent my birthday in my childhood home for the first time in a decade, maybe more. Originally I had planned on being back in Italy by now, but we've pushed it back a few weeks because of work that needs doing in Ireland before we return. The work we are doing here will secure the second leg of our Italy trip, but is inevitably punctuated with some down time. When I'm not filing and polishing silver at my improvised jeweller's bench, I have mostly been colouring in, playing dress up and dancing around my old bedroom to long forgotten CDs with my favourite pair of five year olds.
One of the really nice things about being home in Ireland for Christmas is hearing stories from years ago. I thought I had heard all of them a million times over, but today my mother told me a new story of something heroic my Nana Murphy once did, which will leave a lasting impression on me.