Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Tutorial Tuesday - sewing projects

I'm halfway through a jewellery tutorial for you - the instructions are done but the photos need sorting out - but I've been busy working on a commission today. So.... I thought that I'd show you some of the sewing projects that I've got lined up. I'm hoping to get at least one of them made during the Easter holidays when I'm not teaching in the evenings. Enjoy!

1. Two Pillowcase bag - I've got the pillow cases lined up and waiting!
2. Birdie mobile - I think this would look great in a friend's new baby's room
3. Sketchbook cover - perfect for my many sketch books!
4. Patchwork tablerunner - I'm planning to make this for my dining table when it's been stripped back to it's beautiful oak

Monday, 29 March 2010

Picture weekend

Culinary experiments with B
melt 55g of butter with 400g of marshmallows
mix in 180g of rice crispies
melt 250g of chocolate (milk or dark)
spread rich crispie mix into tin lined with greaseproof paper (easier said than done!)
spoon chocolate over mix
cool in fridge

Lots of new lego cars
(still got to find wheels for two)

Potatoes waiting to sprout on the windowsill

A very useful book! I'm determined to improve my veggie growing this year!

Two hats - both for friends' husbands at their wives suggestion!
A great quick pattern that you can find here

My current main knitting project! I've nearly finished the front. The back is identical
and then the yoke will be knit across both in the round. It's an easy pattern but is taking a while as it's a bit repetitive - which is why I've got smaller projects on the go as well! You can see what it will turn out like here

New designs on the way and orders nearly complete!

Jewellery to be photographed tomorrow morning -
some new designs, some orders

And my slightly guilty secret -
the Twilight books arrived on Wednesday and I'm now halfway through Eclipse and loving it!

And the winner is.....

Ali Burdon! (aka craftmatters)

Thank you for the comments, newsletter sign-ups, tweets, facebook mentions etc.

B pulled Ali's name out of the basket this morning before school. Ali, I'll be emailing you, but could you let me have your address please and then a pair of the Rose Red drop earrings will be on their way to you!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

A good morning's work!

I spent this morning making up colour samples of new enamels for my college classes. And of course, being me I had to make the sample shapes daisies rather than circles or squares! I'm planning to mount them in a frame to go on the wall of my shed - easy for reference and lovely to look at! I think my favourite part of enamelling is watching the colour change as the glass cools down after being taken out of the kiln, especially when it's a colour that I haven't used before. It's magical!

By the way, if you haven't yet entered my giveaway you've still got a couple of hours left!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Tutorial Tuesday - circles scarf

Spring is in the air - but it's not warm enough here yet to spend too long outside without a scarf, especially with the rain that we've had today! I've been teaching today, and we got a little wet going from the workshed into the kitchen for our lunch! My winter scarf is too long and thick and heavy though, so I decided to make a new shorter one. I'm trying to reduce rather than add to my stash of yarn, though, and wanted a scarf that I could break down into smaller steps as a break from a couple of larger projects that I'm working on..... and this was the result.

It was really easy to make once I'd worked out how many stitches I need to increase in each round, and one of the best things is that you join each circle to the previous as you go along so there isn't lots of sewing up to do at the end.

To make a scarf approximately 15cm (6") wide and 120cm ( 8 circles) long you will need -

approximately 300 yards of aran weight yarn - in the example above I used 3 different colours of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, one ball of each colour, and the example I've used in the step by step photos below I've used two balls of red Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran and one ball of Rowan Lima (love that yarn!)

a 6mm crochet hook

You can, of course, substitute different weight yarns with different sized hooks, but you may need to change the increases in each round slightly to compensate, and may wish to crochet more rounds if you are using a lighter weight yarn.

Step 1 - Make a chain of 5 stitches and join them in a ring using a slip stitch

Step 2 - Chain 3 - this will be the first stitch in the round.

Step 3 - Make 11 treble stitches into the chain ring and join to the top of the 3 chain with a slip stitch. (12 st)

Step 4 - Chain 3, 1 treble into the first treble of the previous round, 2 trebles into each of the remaining 11 stitches of the previous round, join to top of 3 chain with a slip stitch. (24 st)

Step 5 - repeat the previous round (48 st)

Step 6 - Chain 3, 1 treble into the top of the first stitch of the previous round, *1 treble into next stitch, 2 trebles in the following stitch*, repeat from * to * all the way round finishing with 1 treble in the last stitch and join to the top of the 3 chain with a slip stitch. Fasten off the yarn (68 st)

Step 7 - Make a second circle in the same way but this time do not fasten off the yarn at the end. Hold the two circles with right sides facing and join them together by crocheting single crochet stitches through the next five paired up trebles of the last rounds of each circle - you will be passing the hook through both of the circles at the same time.

Step 8 - After the first 5 stitches continue in single crochet all round the first circle you made. Join with a slip stitch and fasten off. In the example, the first circle is red, the second purple. The purple yarn is joining the two circles together and then edging the red circle.

Step 9 - Make a third circle and hold it together with the second circle with right sides facing so that you will be starting the single crochet edging opposite where the first two circles are joined together. You will now be joining the second (purple) and third (red) circles and edging the second with red yarn.

Step 10 - When you get halfway round the circle you will need to pick up the back loops of the trebles from the last round of the second (purple) circle in order to complete the edging. This helps to give the illusion that the circles are overlapping each other slightly.

Continue until your scarf is as long as you wish. Edge the last circle in a contrasting yarn to continue your pattern of colours.

If anyone does make one of these please send me a picture so I can see what you've done! I hope that everything I've written makes sense - I've made up my own crochet patterns before but this is the first one I've actually written up so to be honest I'm a bit nervous about what you all think of it!

Monday, 22 March 2010

Luxury and Roses - and a giveaway!

These are a few of the new designs that I've been working on recently. The earrings are ones that have been sketched out in my book from months but only got made when a customer asked if I had a pair of stud earrings to match the Rose Red pendant. I made a pair for her and then these two pairs! They are both made using sterling silver (of course) and beautiful rose-cut garnet cabochons.

I love this necklace - I only managed to get one of these unusual smoky quartz beads. I knew I wanted to make a necklace to match my Luxury earrings, but it took a while to get the balance of rubies and silver just right as I knew I wanted the necklace to be a delicate design. The cut of the stone, by the way, is known as a cushion cut, and it's more usual for a set stone rather than a stone drilled to become a bead. But, as I said, there is only one of these, so if you'd like it you'd better be quick!

Anyway, the giveaway! Would you like a new pair of earrings? Yes? Well, if you would like to be in with a chance of winning a pair of Rose Red earrings then all you need to do is join my mailing list and then leave me a comment letting me know that you've done that and also telling me which design of earrings you would like - the studs or the drops. If you want to see more pictures of the designs so that you can decide, take a look here!

If you are already on my mailing list then you are already in the draw cos I'm nice like that, but if after joining the list you would like a second chance at winning then all you need to do is buy a piece of jewellery or book a workshop place. To be in with a third chance, either blog or tweet about the giveaway and let me know that you've done that by leaving a comment.

The draw is open to those of you overseas as well, and closes at midnight GMT on Thursday 25th March - good luck!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

New tuition dates!

Pictures of jewellery made in private tuition sessions earlier this year

I have just updated the list of dates that are available for tuition - and you can see them here.

They cover the few dates I have left in May, and also my June and July dates. I'm hoping to have a couple more dates in July as well, but I've got to wait and see if T can get any time off work for us to go away for a week first!

If you are interested in coming for tuition then there are a few things you need to be aware of:
  • I don't do the "come and learn how to make a bangle" sort of tuition - there's no point in paying for private tuition if you can't choose what you'd like to make! Sometimes people have no idea what they'd like to make and are complete beginners, and then I usually suggest that we start with something like a bangle or a simple ring or chain as they teach the most skills that beginners need to progress further. Sometimes people come with sketches of designs they are interested in, or have come to learn something in particular. For example, a recent student, who had been for tuition a couple of times before, wanted to use this session to learn how to set cabochons. So, what would you like to learn? What would you like to make?
  • I can't actually teach all the dates that I've listed on the website. I have other work commitments (magazine deadlines, college prep, gallery orders etc) that have to be done. So, if someone books tuition on, say, Tuesday 8th June, I won't take a booking on Thursday 10th July as well otherwise I won't be able to meet my other deadlines. In other words, if there is a date you are interested in, get in there quick!
  • And lastly, and this is definitely the most important point - jewellery making is very, very addictive - you have been warned!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

At last!!!

For some horrible reason I have been unable to publish new posts on my blog over the last few days, so that coupled with the fact that I haven't been too well - again - has been the reason for my absence. I've been able to edit old posts (not that I needed to, but I wanted to see if I could or if I was locked out completely), moderate comments and draft posts, but not actually publish them. VERY frustrating!! But this evening the problem seems (touch wood!) to have gone, just as mysteriously as it appeared.

I had written several posts about what I've been up to over the last week, both in the garden (the sun reactivated my usually dormant gardening gene) and in the workshed, and with my boys, but it seems a bit daft now to publish them as they're out of date, so instead here are a few random thoughts covering the last week or so!

  • I am ridiculously proud of of having finally planted the empty flower bed in the back garden! B helped - well, when I say help, his contribution was to help choose the plants, play with his cars in the soil and play on the swing. But his company made the job far more enjoyable! There are quite a few clusters of summer bulbs hidden under the earth as well, and I'll add more as time goes on. Next on the list to tackle - a vegetable bed!

  • I am also ridiculously proud of the latest Beads and Beyond issue! It's been a while since one of my pieces has been the main feature on the front cover, and this month my Fiesta necklace not only is the main feature but also has inspired the magazine cover colours! I've got another project in there this month as well as Fiesta. Spiced Honey is a 5 page project at the front of the magazine. I didn't (surprise surprise) have time to photograph it before sending everything off, but the magazine's main photo is much better than any I could have taken so here you are!

  • This last week has also been really busy for teaching - college classes Wednesday and Thursday evenings, very successful Keum Boo Taster Workshop on Saturday (the feedback tells me it was successful so I'm not blowing my own trumpet!). Didn't have time to take photos of what the students made, though, so I'm going to borrow a couple of pieces back to take photos of them!
  • Had a great trip up to London last Monday with my City and Guilds college class to have a tour of the Assay Office to see how the hallmarking and assaying is done. It was really fascinating to see everything in real life, and fun to spend more time with my class. I've taught them for over a year now - in some ways the time has gone really quickly but in many ways it seems as though I've known them for years. I will be very sad when the course finishes in May. I just hope that we can find a way of continuing classes somehow. If only I had a bigger workshop then I could teach them all here!
  • Had just as much fun with the class today - we spent the whole day enamelling! I took some awful pictures with my iphone (took my camera, forgot the memory stick - dumb!) that I'll sort out for later in the week, probably for after our Thursday evening class as we'll be enamelling again then. Poor girls - they've spent two evenings and two whole days with me in the last 9 days!
  • T and B went to a Science Week event at the Oceanography centre today while I was working and had a fantastic time. B has come home with a few souvenirs including a penguin shaped magnet that he loves so much that he's taken it to bed with him!
  • T is out having a curry with a friend so I've just watched Twilight - it's been sitting on the shelf for a week since arriving from Lovefilm, waiting for me to have an evening to myself so I could see what all the fuss is about. Let's just say that I now definitely understand all the fuss and am now off to Amazon to see how quickly I can get the books delivered!
Night all! Back with some photos and workshop news tomorrow!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Tutorial Tuesday - Vintage Blue crochet earrings

I was going to write another tutorial for you myself this week, but as soon as I saw a picture of these gorgeous earrings in this month's Beads and Beyond I changed my mind! They have been designed by Jane Platt who designs the most beautiful crochet jewellery. She uses wire in some of her designs, but my favourites of her work are definitely those that use thread as the colours are so beautifully soft and the work so tactile. Jane has a necklace in April's Beads and Beyond, and the earrings and a pendant can be found on the magazine website here. As you can see, I've already made some!

I had to modify the pattern ever so slightly as the rings (that form the base of the earrings) that I had are smaller than the ones that Jan suggests, so I use double crochet rather than treble crochet to fill the middle of the rings. I also used a slightly shorter length of chain than Jane used as my earrings were smaller. They are lovely to wear!

P.S. more about April's Beads and Beyond later!

Monday, 8 March 2010

Spring is Springing!

Beautiful crocuses are pushing their heads up through the ground at the bottom of our apple tree. I love this time of year!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

I love getting post....

...and I especially love getting parcels from other designers and crafters as everything gets packaged so beautifully that it's like getting a present! This is what arrived yesterday morning......

And these were the goodies inside......

Aren't they lovely? I have long admired Lisa Stevens' work (aka c-urchin) - She turns simple clay into delicate and detailed jewellery and wall art, and this week I finally treated myself to some of her pieces to use in my jewellery. The pendant (which is actually more bronze around the circles than the photo shows) will become the focal piece in a necklace - I think that some silver tube and leather cord will feature in the design too, but we'll see! The three daisy cabochons in that beautifully soft turquoise are first on my list though. I'm hoping to have some time to play with new designs next week, so I should have something to show you very soon!

I don't know quite why I'm telling you this as if you go and buy Lisa's work there won't be any left for me :P Anyway, you can find her work at www.seaurchin.etsy.com and www.folksy.com/shops/seaurchin. Happy shopping!

P.S. I also collected a parcel from the sorting office yesterday that made me skip round the kitchen, but you'll have to wait until tomorrow for that as I want to play with it first!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Birthday earrings

These are the earrings that I made for my Mum for her birthday in the middle of February. They weren't her main present, but I wanted to make her a little something extra to add to her collection of Daisychain jewellery!

The earrings started out as rectangles of sterling silver sheet. I hammered them, curled them round and soldered a stud fixing on the back. I then oxidised them as Mum prefers that look to shiny silver. They curl round a bit more than you can see in the photo - I did try to get a photo that was more from the side, but I was taking the photos myself with the aid of the hallway mirror as everyone else was out! I think she likes them - every time I've seen her since she's been wearing them!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Tutorial Tuesday - lampwork bead hammered bail

I had several lovely comments about the bail that I made for Lynne's gorgeous hollow lampwork bead for the Bead Soup Party (I've never had so many comments on a post before unless it was to enter a giveaway!), and a couple of emailed questions about how I made it, so I thought I'd make another, take some photos and show you.

I used 2mm sterling silver wire for the bead soup party bail, but decided to use thinner wire (1.5mm) for the smaller bead in this tutorial. This bead is approximately 15mm. I probably wouldn't go thinner than 1.5mm wire though as you will be doing a lot of hammering. Obviously you can use copper instead of silver! The bail is made from a relatively short piece of wire that is hammered at either end. The first end is hammered without the bead on it - easy enough - but the second end is hammered with the bead threaded on. You need good hammer control, especially if you use artisan lampwork beads, but remember that you can obviously practice with a large mass-produced glass bead if you want!

Step 1 - Cut a 6cm length of wire, or use a scrap piece as I'm doing here. Start to flare out one end of the wire with a chasing hammer and a bench block, working your way up the wire so that the tapering is gradual. You will need to slightly flatten up to the other end of the wire too so that when the bead moves up and down the bail you can't see any round wire, and you need the tapering to go approximately two-thirds up the wire. This end will eventually be curled over to form the bail.

Step 2 - This is the tapered end halfway through hammering. Don't worry if it starts to bend to one side as you hammer, just turn it over so that it curls back. You will also be filing later on so that will help to tidy it up.

Step 3 - Once you are happy with the first end of the wire thread the bead on. Hold the bead out of the way and hanging off the edge of the bench block as shown in the photo. The bead will be pushed up over the start of the tapering you've just done so that it's safely out of the way of the hammer.

Step 4 - Carefully hammer the second end of the wire, again trying to make the tapering gradual, and again turning the wire over if it starts to bend as you hammer.

Step 5 - This is what the pendant should look like now - the longer, wider end end of the wire is the end that will become the bail.

Step 6 - File the edges of the wire to smooth them out and round off the ends. If necessary trim the bottom end of the pendant first. File and then sand the flat sections of wire too if you want to get as smooth a finish as possible.

Step 7 - Use round nosed pliers to bend over the the longer end to form the bail. Thread your lovely new pendant on a cord or chain and enjoy!

These beads, but the way, are were made by Isabelle Anderson. The pendants will be making their way into Between Dreams gallery at the end of the week unless anyone emails to tell me they'd like one of them! They are £17 including postage.

Monday, 1 March 2010

What do you mean, it's March already?!

My life seems to be going faster and faster - what on earth will it be like when I'm 50?!

Sorry about the lack of posts recently. I got out of the habit of posting over a rather hectic halfterm and it's taken me a bit longer than expected to get back into it! The Daisychain Household has been busy with family birthdays, halfterm fun, magazine deadlines (as always!) and lots of lovely tuition. I've had five people over for private tuition this month, and although I didn't manage to take photos of everyone's work (forgot to set up the photo studio as we were too busy, well, making jewellery!), the photos below show you a few of the pieces they made.

Photos 1 and 2 are the pendants that Amy designed and made when she visited for a day at the start of February. She is the first private tuition student I've had who has come ready with a detailed sketch book - I was very impressed! Her designs involved a lot of melting silver to get the hammered balls you can see on both pendants.
Photo 3 shows the ring and bangle that Snita made during her day. She doesn't have the bangle she made any more, though, as a friend of hers loved it so much that Snita, lovely lady that she is, gave it to her. Don't worry - she's already booked to come back and make another one!
Photo 4 shows the pendant that Debi made last Friday. I love the hammered finish. She also made a bangle - and she's had her first orders already as several friends have asked her to make bangles for them!

When I first started offering private tuition my aim was to teach one person at least every 6 weeks. Well, it turns out that I under-estimated slightly. I had one booking roughly every month for the first 4 months or so, and then people started recommending me to their friends and others also googled me after reading articles I'd written for Beads and Beyond. This year I've taught at least one person a week. March is full, April has one date available and I've got bookings for May, July and August already. I really do love teaching jewellery making and silversmithing - I love that I can combine what I was originally trained to do (teach!) with my passion, and, (although this is going to sound really cheesy!) I love that I'm passing on skills that have been in use for centuries. I sometimes get asked why I'm teaching people how to make jewellery for themselves when those people could (and some have!) set up a jewellery business that could compete with mine. My answer is always that the skills I learnt aren't mine to keep, I have a responsibilty to share them. One of my favourite books is Creative Stonesetting by John Cogswell. What that man doesn't know about setting stones just isn't worth knowing, but I've mentioned him now because the introduction to his book really strikes a chord with me. I won't quote it all because a) this was supposed to be a quick "hello, look what my students made this month" post and b) well, there would probably be some copyright issues there, but this part is really important:

"I am one link in a social order, a metalsmithing tradition, that stretches back to the dawn of human civilization, and which will, I hope, stretch even further into the future. As workers in precious metal we are - every one of us - stewards of our profession, privileged with the gift of information handed down to us, prehaps adding a little something to it, and then passing it on. With privilege comes responsibilty, and this gift of knowledge is actually less a gift than a loan."

P.S. If anyone was hoping for one of the introductory priced (discounted) Keum Boo tuition places there's only one left! And there are only two places left on the Keum Boo Taster Workshop on Saturday 13th March. Just thought someone out there might like to know...


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