Tuesday, 31 August 2010

I've moved in!

I've been on a self-imposed computer ban over the Bank Holiday weekend to make sure that we got the workshed finished - and it worked! Mum and Dad had B to stay for a couple of nights and kept him busy with trips to the seaside, baking cakes, running round the woods near their house and teaching him truly awful jokes, and T and I got all the last jobs done. We finished the roof, painted inside, laid the insulation, floorboards and then carpet on the floor, built new workstations and then finally on Sunday I moved everything back in!

Ummm...my wonky photo makes it look as though the roof isn't quite straight!
As you can see there are still a few jobs to do. I need to take back to Ikea the bookcase with a missing shelf I bought on Sunday (yes, I even braved Ikea on a Sunday, armed with a list of exactly what I needed and the relevant aisle locations!) and unpack the two boxes you can see on the floor on the left, put my orders notice board up and we also need to insulate the ceiling - that can wait until the autumn though.

I also need to fit the bench pegs that you can see sitting on the new workbenches. Three workbenches!! I didn't have the traditional semi-circle for the bench peg and skin underneath cut into my old workbench as it gave me a bit more versatility when I had students over, but here I've got room for three good sized work areas. The one nearest the door is mine and the other two are for my friend Katie when she comes over to help me a couple of times a month (she keeps me stocked up with jumprings, headpins etc, helps organise my paperwork and package orders) and for two students - yes, I'm about to put details on the website for teaching two people together!

And this is the soldering station. Isn't everything beautifully neat and tidy?! Don't worry, that definitely won't last!

Today was my first day working in the new shed, and I loved it! I didn't have a full working day but I got so much work done. It had been taking me twice as long to get anything done while I was working in the kitchen as everything was so cramped and disorganised, however much I tried to keep it all tidy. It's so nice having the kitchen table back too! B was so good around my work tools. We had a chat when I moved things into the kitchen and he understood what he could touch and what was out-of-bounds.

One of the things I was working on today was a new tutorial, so I'm going to get on and edit that now - I'll be back later!

P.S. T and I did treat ourselves to an evening out at the cinema on Saturday as B was at my parents. If you haven't seen Inception yet, make sure that you do! It's fantastic - so many twists and turns and great effects.

Friday, 27 August 2010

I'm so excited!

I've been keeping this news to myself for the last couple of weeks*, but now I can finally tell you!

I'm going to Beads and Beyond's Artisan show at the beginning of October and I'm going to be demonstrating one of my magazine projects there at B&B's stand on Saturday 2nd! I can't tell you which project yet as we've still got to check a couple of practical issues, but it will hopefully be one of the projects I've got in the October issue of the magazine, due out in a couple of weeks' time.

And to make thing's even better, Kerry Bogert will also be there, signing copies of her book Totally Twisted and demoing one of the projects from the book. She's brought forward a planned trip to the UK so that she can be there.

To find out more about Artisan and to book tickets, visit here and here. There will be some great stalls, and from the sounds of it there will be lampworking, jewellery making and metal clay demos going on all through the two days of the show.

*well, my family knew and have, I think, got a little bit tired of me skipping round the house in excitement!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Flower Power

I didn't do much crochet or knitting when the weather was hot, but friends having babies has definitely kick-started my yarn projects again. I've been working on a couple of baby blankets and a few baby clothes (you know me, I can't just have one project on the go!), and there's one I'm determined to finish before the weekend. It's a crochet flower blanket, and each individual motive is quick and easy. However, the published project used aran weight yarn which I think is far too thick for a baby blanket, and anyway, I find it hard to get a nice aran weight yarn in a good range of nice colours. So, I decided to use a soft but machine washable DK yarn. This means that the motives are about two thirds of the size of the aran ones, so I've had to make a lot more! Never mind, I'm nearly done. All of the flowers are crocheted and sewn together, and I've made a good start on the green leaves so the end is in sight, and as it's an easy pattern it's been one that I've been able to take on play dates sometimes and also do whilst catching up on CSI episodes!

For those of you who like to know these things, the pattern is called Bright Flower Throw and it can be found on the Lion Brand website here (you  have to sign up to search for and then see the full patterns but it's free) and the yarn is Sirdar Country Style DK.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Our summer tour

I've checked my diary and the date on my phone and on the computer and figured out that it definitely is Wednesday. I've been even more mixed up about days for the last five days or so as we've been doing a grand tour of the country. Ok, I know that the UK isn't exactly the largest country in the world, but with smaller countries come more windy roads and longer travel times! We started off travelling up to T's Mum's in Staffordshire where we all stayed the night. I then left my boys there for a couple of nights while I travelled up North (and that's definitely North with a capital N - I was really concious in shops that my southern accent sounded odd!) to Middlesborough to see one of my bestest friends in the whole world and meet her gorgeous new baby!

This is Eliza - isn't she a beauty? She's five weeks and two days in this picture and I'm sure that she was just starting to smile - it can't all have been wind! It was so lovely spending time with Hellie and Jamie and Eliza - I just wish they didn't live so far away! Mind you, last year they were living in Texas for a year, so maybe Middlesborough isn't that bad!

My next trip was back to the in-laws to pick the boys up and stay the night. We then drove over to Suffolk for the Christening of the daughter of another of my bestest friends in the whole world. Kate and I went did our A levels together, as did two other friends who were there, so we all had a lovely catch up. The men did a great job of running round after the children (7 between the four of us, ranging from nearly five (my boy!) to Emma, the Christening girl at one year) while we sat in the sun and chatted - bliss!

It was lovely sleeping in my own bed again - just need to catch up on the orders that came in while I was away - oh, and all the washing!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Tutorial Tuesday - Bath Bombs

B made some bath bombs at his childminder's house a few months ago. He loved them so much that I thought I'd find out how to make some. Since then we've made several batches - some for family and friends, some for his teacher at pre-school, but most for him - yes, I have a nearly five-year-old who loves his baths and bath products! I've been promising the recipe I use to a couple of friends for the last month or so, and thought that if I actually wrote it up as a tutorial then I'd actually get the recipe to them before Christmas - so, Nicky and Jo, this Tutorial Tuesday is for you!

A couple of quick notes before we start - there are many bath bombs recipes available on the internet. This is an adaption of about four or so that I came across. I've changed the proportions of bicarbonate of soda and citric acid to get the best "fizz" and experimented with the amount of essential oils. The first set we made had far too much oil and the smell was a bit over-powering! There are many many different essential oils available. Some have a more powerful aroma than others, so you may wish to do your own experimenting. There are many recommended combinations of oils, and each oil is said to have it's own effect on the body. I've used lavender (relaxing), bergamot (uplifting) and cedarwood (calming and balancing) in equal amounts.

Special moulds can be bought for making bath bombs, but B and I have used what we've had around the house. I bought some cheap silicon cup cake moulds and they have been ideal. We've even used ice cube moulds and cup cake trays. Just make sure that your bath bombs are completely dried out before you try to remove them from the moulds. It took much longer than the few hours most websites suggested for our bath bombs to dry completely, and I now leave them overnight to be on the safe side. I suppose it partly depends on how humid your climate is! Once you have started to add moisture (either oils or water) to the mix you will need to work quickly.

Anyway, the recipe!
You will need:
  • 300g bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g citric acid
  • colouring if you wish to use it - food or soap colouring are ideal, and remember that a little goes a long long way!
  • 2.5ml each of lavender, bergamot and cedarwood essential oils
  • clean water in a bottle with a fine spray attachment (I use a thoroughly cleaned old spray cleaner bottle)
  • moulds
  • large mixing bowl and spoon
  • measuring scales
  • seive
I think I need to get his hair cut before school starts!

Seive the bicarb and citric acid and mix them together in the bowl. I would definitely recommend sieving the dry ingredients to make the mixing easier.

Add the essential oils and mix quickly and thoroughly. If you want your bath bombs to be coloured, add the colouring a little at a time at this point, again mixing quickly and thoroughly. Please do remember that a little will go a long way!

Spray a very small amount of water into the mixture and keep stirring the mixture. B usually sprays while I mix and an extra pair of hands is useful at this point to make sure that the mixture is stirred constantly! You only need to add a few sprays of water, enough to make sure that the mixture holds together when you squeeze it in your hands. You will need far less water than you realise - we added a bit too much the first time and the bombs continued to grow after we put them in the moulds!

You will now need to work quickly to put the bath bomb mixture into the waiting moulds. We sometimes add small paper flowers that you can buy cheaply in a bunch from craft shops to the top of ours.

Wait until the bath bombs are completely dried out and firm and carefully remove them from the moulds!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Tutorial ...erm...Wednesday - lampwork bead videos

These summer holidays have left me very confused about the days. T now has the summer holidays off too (well, I say that but he seems to still have meetings most weeks to do with the new project he's working on in the new term!), which has made me even more confused about which day it is! Anyway, that's my feeble excuse for Tutorial Tuesday being a day late!

I've got some great lampwork bead tutorials for you this week - well, I say I've got them, but as you can probably guess they're not by me but by two lampwork bead artisits I really admire. The first is by Laura Sparling -she's added to her lampwork videos with this one on making encased silver wire beads like the ones below - I've used some of her silver wire beads in a few designs before, and they are beautiful. The video is here, and you can find the rest of Laura's lampwork videos here. Laura's also got a fantastic lampwork project in the latest issue of Beads and Beyond, showing you how to make heart shaped beads.

The second tutorial is by Kerry Bogert - her video is showing how to make a bead inside a hollow bead, something that I wasn't even aware was possible until I saw her video! The beads below are my favourite of the ones she's put on the post with the tutorial, but there are others so make sure that you take a look! I love how Kerry combines her colours.

Hello New Shed!

It's going up! T has been working so hard....

 He even put the gazebo up so that he could keep working during the rain!
(ok, so I know it's actually sunny in this picture, but it was raining on and off all day, honest!)
The roof is on now, and T has started the insulation and plaster board on the inside. I'm hoping that I'm going to be able to paint inside next week and put the new flooring down - and then move in!!!! I am so excited!! New tuition dates will be available on the website very soon, with dates starting from the middle of September hopefully. I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Farewell Dear Shed....

I had many many days of bliss working in your shelter, hammering, soldering, sawing and teaching. You were warm, you were (more or less) organised, you were MY space. You will be missed.

The garden looks lonely (if bigger) without you. I hope that your new owners (thank you ebay) will appreciate you as much as I did - and as much as my family did as you kept my work out of the house!

But what's this? T's building an extension to the decking for a new, improved, twice-the-size workshed! Woo hoo!

It doesn't look much at the moment, but my super-star hubbie is working hard to give me a workshop large enough to teach two people at a time! (and to house my growing collection of tools). Little brother came over on Thursday as well to lend a hand - thank you!

Meanwhile, this is the state of the kitchen table - my current workspace. My mantra at the moment is something along the lines of "it won't be long now, I mustn't nag, he's doing this for me in his summer holidays and is being a star" but I HATE working like this!! All together now, "it won't be long........."

P.S. I hope this explains in part where I've been! The rest of the time has been taken up with general school holiday fun (painting pictures in the garden, visiting friends, trips out) and the usual magazine articles and orders. By the way, the Arundel bath tub race was brilliant fun - my favourite "boat" this year was the floating tennis court below. I think one of the swimmers pulling the tub along was getting bored and trying to pull one of the players in. I heard someone ask whether having swimmers pull you along was in the rules. I don't think that there are any rules - apart from needed a bath tub, of course!

P.P.S. Details of new tuition dates and prices for teaching two people at the same time will be available shortly, as will dates for new stone setting and Keum Boo workshops. If you would like to know as soon as the details are available please join my mailing list via the button on the left - thank you!


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