Thursday, 29 December 2011

Thank you

Thank you to all of you for your support, your love and your encouragement this year. It truly has been a year of ups and downs. Jamie's birth at the beginning of the year was obviously the biggest blessing, and he and Ben have continued to be an absolute joy. Finding out that I had cancer 6 days after giving birth was not, however, part of the plan for this year, or for any year for that matter! The surgeons and all the hospital staff who continue to care for me and who got all of the tumour out (hurray!) are amazing, but I know that the only way that the family came through it all was with the support of our friends - and I include you in that. Thank you for your comments, for the emails and letters that I was sent while I was ill, and the prayers.Thank you for continuing to read my rambling posts!

Thank you too to everyone who has bought my jewellery on my main website or my clasps in my new etsy shop (64 sales in my daisychain extra shop in 7 months! So much more than I hoped for!), everyone who has come to a class or for tuition, or has tried one my magazine projects or downloaded one of my tutorials.

I have more plans for 2012, but in the meantime there is 
a thank you sale 
10% off all clasps and findings and 15% off all jewellery. 
The jewellery website already has the discount applied, but to get the discount on etsy 
you will need to enter the code "XMASEXTRA"

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

I haven't been hiding away in the workshop making jewellery orders all this time - I was allowed out for good behaviour every now and then. Well, seriously, I have been busy with lots of lovely orders (quite a few last minute ones!), but there have also been lots of family things going on too. And to be honest, I've also found it quite hard the last couple of months. The last operation I had at the beginning of November brought back a lot of bad memories that I didn't even realise I had from my big op and stay in hospital in February, and I've been hiding away a bit. But enough of that for now - this is some of the more fun stuff we've been up to!
  • Ben is now 6! I know every mother says it, but where on earth has the time gone?!? He had a fab birthday weekend. His birthday was last Saturday and the school PTA had organised a trip to Peter Pan so we had a family visit to that, along with the families of his best friends. He had a swimming party on the Sunday. I'm not sure who had the better time there - Ben and his friends or T and the other dads who went into the pool and on the inflatables with them!
  • Jamie is now crawling - and boy can he crawl! He had been bum-shuffling for a while and the week before last he just decided he could do it - and that he wanted the toy that was just out of reach badly enough. He is so pleased with himself.
  • Ben was a wise man in the school play. He was so confident and thoroughly enjoyed himself, which I'm sure has alot to do with how encouraging his school and teachers are. Jamie got so excited when he saw his brother!
Add to that three more birthday parties, two sleep overs and a trip to the inlaws, and you can see why we've been busy! At least everything is ready now, Father Christmas's progress has been checked on the NORAD satellites, milk and cookies has been left out for him, raindeer food (oats and glitter!) has been sprinkled on the lawn, and both boys are finally asleep. I expect to be woken up very early tomorrow morning, for Ben to get over excited and for Jamie to think that the boxes and wrapping paper are the best things ever. I hope that you and your families have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Counting down....

Just a quick note before I hide myself away in the workshed to get some more orders finished! Thank you for all the lovely comments about the challenge pieces I made last week. I've had lots of fun looking round all the other blogs taking part. It was great to see what everyone else made with my oak leaf clasps, and I've seen so many lovely designs on the Challenge of Color blog hop. The palettes that Erin sent us were gorgeous, and the good news is that she's got more challenges planned for the new year. I've got another couple of challenges up my sleeve too!

Before then, though, I've got to finish getting organised for Christmas and Ben's birthday. November is always so busy with Christmas commissions and orders, family events and Christmas craft shows that the start of December always seems to surprise me slightly - and then starts to panic me slightly as from now on until the end of the year it's a bit of a mad rush! Ben and so many of his friends have December birthdays, so this month we have as many birthday parties to take him to as he gets invited to in the whole of the rest of the year put together. The general theme for this year's parties seems to be sporty. One of his best friends had a party at St Mary's, Southampton FC's stadium, last Saturday. T went along with him as I was sure he'd appreciate the venue far more than I would! His other best friend is having a swimming party next weekend, and Ben is having a swimming birthday party the following Sunday, and then there are mid-week teas and a couple of sleepovers in between as well.

Right then, off to the workshed! I put the heater and the pickle pot on before I came on the computer so hopefully everything to ready to go! I've got photos to edit this afternoon as well, so I'll be adding more pieces of jewellery to the website this evening. There's still time to put in Christmas orders. The last date for UK orders for pieces that are ready for immediate dispatch is Monday 19th December, and for made to order pieces the last date is Friday 16th.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Challenge of Color blog hop

And here is my third challenge of the week! Erin of Tesori Trovati set the challenge of making a piece of jewellery with a palette of colours as the inspiration. The palettes she sent out after we all chose a colour family to work with are themselves absolutely beautifully put together and come from Jessica Colaluca's Design Seeds Blog. Jessica's blog is packed full of colour inspiration, and since the challenge started I've spent several happy hours on there. Her palettes and this challenge have definitely given me more confidence with working with colour mixes, and even the new colour scheme in our lounge diner have been inspired by one of the palettes - more on that next month!

I chose red as my colour family, and this is the palette that Erin assigned me - such gorgeous rich colours!

You can find the original palette here

With that rich raspberry red I just had to choose garnets for my design and continuing in my current liking for long dangly earrings this is what I came up with:

Decadent Earrings available here

All the metal components are made by me. The swirls connectors have been sitting in a pot on my desk for over a year, the result of a session teaching my friend Katie how to use silver art clay, and I'm really pleased to have used them finally! I made the settings for the rose cut (ie flat on the back but faceted on the front) oval garnets, and added light amethyst beads to represent the light grey/purple on the palette. Long elegant earwires complete the look!

The other Challenge of Color participants are listed below - I've had a quick look at a few of the blogs and the designs I've seen so far are really beautiful. Erin decided to give herself an extra challenge by picking a palette from each colour family and making a piece of jewellery for each - and they are each of them absolutely gorgeous! You can find her challenge pieces here.
1 Norma Turvey ~ Teal ~ Color Crave
18 Tari Kahrs ~ Orange ~ Citrus Tones
23 Amy Severino ~ Orange ~ Winged Tones
28 Linda Landig ~ Green ~ Cacti Dark
35 CJ Bauschka ~ Teal ~ Teal Air
41 Jenni Connolly ~ Gray ~ Paw Tones

Oak Leaves revealed!

30th November seemed quite a way away when I set this challenge, but it's actually come round very quickly! At the beginning of the month I offered one of my oxidised copper oak leaf hook clasps to the first 5 people who accepted the challenge of making something with it and posting the results on their blog today. The five willing volunteers were


Melissa Meman                Art, Life, Love
Niky Sayers         SilverNikNats
Amber Boorman              Larksong Studio
Kimberley Roberts          Bahama Dawn
Rebecca Anderson          Songbeads

We've all got very different styles of jewellery design, so I've been really looking forward to seeing what everyone came up with! And a little nervous too, to be honest, as this is the first time that I've set up a blog hop myself! The biggest challenge for me has been working with copper as, as I'm sure you've figured out by now, I'm a silver girl by nature. I kept trying out the clasp with different beads, but it wasn't until last night that it all came together! I did worry for a bit that I wasn't going to meet my own deadline as Jamie and I have both had a 24 hour tummy bug, but here it is, a combination of clasp and jump rings by me, lampwork by Mindy Macgregor (of course!), silk by Marsha Neal, Swarovski crystals and copper beads. I would have preferred to have used a blue silk, but I've run out so I may swap to that when my new silks arrive! I did consider adding more blue or purple beads to the mix as I love the combination of browns and blues/purples at the moment, but in the end I decided to keep to an autumnal theme to match the oak leaf.


I'm off to see what the others have made - join me?

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Tutorial Tuesday - Leaf Green earrings

Thank you so much for the lovely comments about the earrings I made with Sue's gorgeous glass headpins! As promised, here is a tutorial for them. Once I'd planned out what I wanted to do they were actually very quick and easy to make, but to make them even quicker you might want to substitute the silver rings and the ear wires that I made for bought ones. I turned my silver rings into ovals using an oval triblet but if you don't have one the design would work equally well with smaller round rings instead.

You will need:
  • two glass bead headpins from Suebeads
  • two silver rings - mine were made from 1.2mm wire and had an inside diameter of 13mm
  • two 7cm lengths of 0.8mm wire
  • mandrels - I used the body of my 24mm wooden doming punch and an 8mm mandrel
  • round nosed pliers
  • nylon jaw pliers
  • wire cutters
  • hammers and bench block
  • nylon hammer
  • oval triblet
  • needle file
  • sanding pad


1.  Wrap the headpin around a large mandrel as show.
2.  Twist the end of the headpin around the wire just above the glass to form a wrapped loop.
3.   Use your fingers to pull the circle of wire into an oval.
4.  Make sure that the glass is facing the right way - see, easy so far isn't it?

5.  Holding the glass safely off the edge of the bench block hammer the steel oval to texture and strenghten it. Hammering the steel would have damaged the hammers that I use, so I used the one I keep for hammering the disc cutter and doming punches.
6.  Use a nylon hammer to shape the silver ring into an oval around a oval triblet - I made these ages ago and they've been sitting on my desk for months!
7.  Check the fit of your silver oval. Push it thinner with your fingers if need be and hammer it.


8. Start the earwire with a small eyeloop.
9. Bend the wire next to the loop around a small mandrel.
10. Hammer the front of the earwire to strengthen it and to give it a more finished look.
11. Use flat nosed or nylon jaw pilers to flick out the last 5mm or so of the earwire and file the end smooth. Make a second earwire, loop on the ovals and there you are!

Leaf Green earrings available on the website here

Monday, 28 November 2011

Challenge Time!

I'm currently taking part in three challenges, and they are all due this week so be prepared to see quite a few new designs! As well as the Color Challenge organised by Erin Prais-Hintz and my Oak Leaf Challenge (both due on Wednesday!) I've was lucky enough to be picked as one of four people taking part in Sue's glass headpin challenge - and today is the day we reveal our designs!


These are the headpins that Sue sent me - a beautiful shade of leaf green embossed with a flower pattern on steel pins. I've often admired glass headpins but I've never worked with any before, and I was determined that I was not going to go the more obvious route and make a pair of earrings with them. However, a friend was with me when I opened Sue's parcel and immediately said what a great pair of earrings they would make - so that was that!


And this is the pair that I made. I used the lovely long steel pins to create long oval shapes that I then hammered both to strengthen the shape and to give it a more finished look. I then added silver ovals inside the steel and hung the earrings from long silver earwires. I was going to oxidise the earrings but decided that the brightness of the silver was a lovely contrast to the steel and gave them a brushed finish instead. You can find them on the website here!

I took photos as I made the earrings, so do come back tomorrow for a tutorial on how to make them! And meanwhile please do go and have a look at what everyone else made:

Sue - SueBeads
Kay Thomerson - KayzKreationz
Kristi Bowman - Kristi Bowman Designs
Courtney Breul - Beads by Breul
Krisi Jaro - Curiosities by K

Sunday, 27 November 2011

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

Well, actually today I feel mainly tired and will be off for an early night very soon, but yesterday with Christmas music playing in Winchester Guildhall and lots of fairy lights twinkling on stalls (must get some new ones for my stall next year!) and between 5.5 and 6 thousand people through the door (so many the clicker counter couldn't keep up!) it definitely felt a lot like Christmas in Winchester!

We had an amazing day, and the atmosphere was wonderful right from setting up to packing away. Handmade Winchester has always been my favourite of all the craft shows I've ever done, partly because I get to meet up with friends I only usually get to see in real life at the show, partly because absolutely everything for sale is handcrafted by the people behind the stalls, and partly because the atmosphere is so wonderful. Everyone is so cheerful and smiling and so delighted to be there taking part again, or so delighted because although it's their first time everyone is welcoming!


Thank you for the comments on Friday's post. I didn't sell the necklace (I'm not too upset about that as I am still rather tempted to keep it myself - afterall, I have to wear my jewellery to advertise it, don't I?) but did sell two of the bracelets, and in total I sold nearly 30 pieces of jewellery with prices ranging from £10 to £80, the best I've ever done. My stud earrings sold very well. I put the tags I showed you a few months ago pegged onto cord running across a painted canvas this time, which showed them off very well. It made it easy for people to compare the different styles.


I also had simple brown paper bags to put the jewellery boxes and bags in this time, something I've been meaning to do for ages, but I've got a few things I want to do before or at the next show I do:

  • get a sign/banner made similar to the one my gorgeous friend Helen had made - a great way of showing people that she made everything that she had on her stall. Helen and I always have a stall next to each other now, but we didn't have much of a chance to chat yesterday as we were so busy!
  • get a stamp made with my logo on it to stamp the brown paper bags.
  • put a leaflet about my classes and private tuition in the brown paper bags ready to go. I got bags ready with two business cards in (one to keep, one to give to a friend), I don't know why I didn't put the leaflets in there too!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Ready for Winchester!

Well, I'm all packed, everything's priced and labelled, my new business cards have arrived, I've even packed my lunch for tomorrow - yes, it's not yet midnight and I'm ready for the Handmade Winchester show! I am really looking forward to tomorrow. Handmade Winchester is my favourite of the shows I do (not that I've done many this year with a new addition to the family!). It's got such a wonderful atmosphere and, of course, all of the crafts on display are wonderful. It's the only show I do where you can guarantee that everything you see for sale will have been beautifully made by people in the room, that you can talk to the designers and makers about how they work, where the inspiration for the piece you're interested in came from. And this time it's going to be even better as my Mum is coming along for part of the day - which means that I get a rare chance to wander round myself and do some Christmas shopping!

I promised you photos of some of the pieces I've been working on this week....

These bracelets are a design I've been wanting to make for ages. I really like lampwork bead bracelets but I don't like wearing them while I'm working or typing. These bracelets are great as they're really comfy, they don't twist round as you wear them so the lampwork you want to show off stays on top, but there's no lampwork under your wrist to catch on anything.


However, they're not the easiest of designs to photograph, so I decided to take an "in-action" shot so you get a better idea of how they look - and that turned out to be not so easy as well! After several dozen takes the best I got was a shot of me taking a ball of yarn out of my new Raspberry bag - and Alice (Raspberry) is going to be at the show too - of course, afterall, she organises it!


The next design nearly didn't make it to the show. I am so pleased with how it turned out. It's one of those rare situations where I planned how I'd like to set the lampwork cabochon before it arrived and the design has barely changed as I've made it. Am I allowed to say that I absolutely love this necklace? Is that too much showing off considering I made it? What the heck, it's my blog I can say what I like! I LOVE this necklace, and if it sells tomorrow there definitely a part of me that will be very sad!


T is calling me, reminding me how late it is and how early I've got to get up, so I will leave you with this reminder the show details. Have a great weekend, and Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!


Wednesday, 23 November 2011

BTW

Today started off with a maths lessons! Ben's school has been holding maths workshops for parents first thing in the morning each day this week so we can find out more about how the children are learning their numbers. It was fun! We've been doing some maths with Ben at home but it was useful to learn more about the language his teachers use so that we can use the same terms at home.

I spent the rest of the day working on some new pieces for Handm@de Winchester on Saturday. I'll take some better photos for you tomorrow but here's a quick view of some of the pieces - I'm watching an episode of Alphas and cleaning up after liver of sulphur!


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Tutorial Tuesday - necklace display stand



It's the Handm@de Winchester show this Saturday (you can see more details below and visit the new Handm@de Blog here), so my thoughts are turning to stock (need to make lots more stud earrings and some more pendants, but my fingers are itching to make a couple of new designs!) and also my stall display. I'm always on the look out for things I can make to display my jewellery, especially things that won't take up too much room when I store them, and this necklace display stand fits the bill perfectly! You can find the tutorial for it here at Black Daisy Designs.

And for those of you who live locally, here are the details of the Handm@de Winchester show - with over 70 stalls you can probably do all your Christmas shopping here, and feel very virtuous at the same time about supporting local independant businesses!


Where to start?



Trying to figure out where to start can stop me from getting back into blogging after an expected break. So much happens in just a few days in our household that it can just be overwhelming when I try to write anything about it! Maybe I'll just leave it as that - I've been a bit overwhelmed over the last week or so. My plan after the last operation a couple of weeks ago was to take the weekend to recover (mainly by staying in bed and sleeping while T looked after Jamie and Ben had fun with Grandma and Grandad!) and then get back into the swing of things the next week - general family and household stuff, teaching at college Tuesday night, private tuition Wednesday, orders to complete, last minute arrangements for charity Christmas Shopping evening on the Friday (forgot to tell you about that - doh!) etc etc. I was doing fine - and then Jamie got hand foot and mouth with a nasty rash and very very sleepless nights. Poor love! The virus is doing the rounds at the moment because of the mild weather we've been having. He's absolutely fine now, but we had three nights when I took him downstairs to try and get him back to sleep so that T could sleep and function at work the next day. I don't do well on only a couple of hours sleep a night, so something had to give so that I could concentrate on the urgent things - and that was the blog for a couple of weeks, sorry!

Anyway, the whole family is currently bug free - a rare miracle in the winter months, so I'm back! The Christmas Shopping evening was fab, by the way. We raised a few pennies under £280 for the Wessex Cancer Trust, the turnout was fantastic and the rooms are booked again for next year - and next year I willl blog about it before it happens!!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Oak Leaf Challenge



The oak leaf clasps have now been posted to their new homes - three in the UK, one in the States and one in the Bahamas - and me in the UK of course. Hopefully the UK ones have arrived now and sitting on work desks waiting for their designs! The challengees are:
Jo Tinley (me!)              Daisychain Designs

Melissa Meman                Art, Life, Love

Niky Sayers         SilverNikNats

Amber Boorman              Larksong Studio

Kimberley Roberts          Bahama Dawn

Rebecca Anderson          Songbeads

We've all got very different styles and the colours we tend to use are very different too, so I'm hoping that we'll all come up with very different designs to use the oak leaves in. The rules of the challenge are very simple - create something, not necessary jewellery, using the oak leaf and on Wednesday 30th November post pictures of what you have made along with some information about the other materials used and where your inspiration came from.

I'm planning another challenge in the New Year, but in the meantime if you would like your own oak leaf I've just added clasps in silver, oxidised silver and oxidised copper to the daisychainextra shop and the coupon code OAKLEAF will give you 10% off all daisychainextra orders placed during November.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The point at which I ask why....

  • why did I say yes to booking the plasterers in during halfterm?
  • why did I say yes when they phoned last Tuesday morning and ask if they could come a day early, Thursday and Friday instead of Friday and Saturday?
  • why did I insist that T go away climbing in Spain for a much needed break after a very stressful halfterm, while also saying yes to the above?
  • why did someone think that woodchip wallpaper was a good invention? (unless they were a plasterer?!)
  • WHY ON EARTH DID I START THIS?!
It's always halfway through big DIY jobs that I start asking myself questions like these - the point at which the house is filled with a horrendous mess and the end is definitely not in sight! Thankfully now the plasterers have finished skimming the lounge diner, the plaster is almost dry despite the horribly damp wet and my thoughts can turn to paint colours. Half of the dining room is still in the kitchen (good job we've got a big kitchen!) and our bedroom is filled with boxes of books, ornaments, DVDs, definitely not the oasis of calm I would like it to be, but the end is now in sight. Most of the plastering dust has now been cleared up but I expect that we will still find the remnants of it in December as it gets *everywhere*. The new sofas (2 two seaters, one of them a sofa bed) are due in about three and a half weeks, so I'd better choose those paint colours quickly! While I do, though, do you fancy a look at what I found under the woodchip?

The lounge diner was originally two separate rooms but the dividing wall was removed by a previous owner. We decorated in a deep red and also a mustard yellow above the picture rail ten years ago. Definitely time for a change! Obviously we're usually a bit tidier than this!

This was under the wallpaper above the sofa! Parts of it are missing and patched up with filler but you can tell that it was once really beautiful. I know the grand-daughter of the people who lived here during and just after the war. Apparently wallpaper was both scarce and expensive, so her Grandad painted the walls!

The painting of the ship was in the dining room, and the rest of the walls in there were painted with mock panelling. The two round scenes were either side of the fireplace in the sitting room. Such a shame that the plaster was so badly damaged and crumbling away, but at least I've got the photos. Every time a door opened or closed more plaster came off.


I may be a bit quiet here over the next couple of days as I'm popping back into hospital for a spot of day surgery tomorrow. They're going to sort out one of the scars under my chin left from February's surgery. It's horribly tight and uncomfortable at the moment, although apart from that everything is healing well. So tomorrow evening I may look as though I've been in a fight, but things should then improve!

A quick update - the surgery went well, and despite the stitches the mess under my chin actually looks better already! I'm feeling a bit battered and bruised, but should be back to normal (whatever that is!) by the end of the weekend.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Challenge accepted!

No BTW post from me today. I've spent most of the day at college, firstly at a small craft fair that one of the ladies from HR (who's also one of my beginner students) organised, and then up in the adult ed office sorting a few things out for my classes and generally catching up with the ladies up there. The craft fair was a small one, 9 stalls with lovely goodies made by college staff, but we had a good trickle of people coming in during their breaks and lots of lovely comments. Beverley had the idea of organising it so that the staff who have creative hobbies could show what they do and raise some money for the college charities at the same time. She was really nervous about it, but all her hard work paid off and it was great. I was particularly pleased (and proud!) that one of my old advanced evening class students who works at the college had a stall with beautiful and beautifully made jewellery and made lots of sales - one very proud teacher here :)

Thank you to the five of you who have accepted my oak leaf challenge! I will be in touch with you tomorrow to get addresses and to give you a bit more information!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Tutorial Tuesday - Sweat Soldering

I'm going to be teaching my beginners college class how to sweat solder, amongst other things, this halfterm, so I thought that this tutorial from the Etsy Metal team blog would be a perfect one to link to this week! If you haven't come across the EM blog yet, do go and have a look. There are over 100 members of this Etsy team, and the jewellery they create is gorgeous, and in so many different styles that you are sure to find great inspiration. They have recently started an "ask Auntie EM" feature, answering readers questions on everything from what type of stone setting to use to what tools are best for a particular job, and this tutorial came about because a reader was having trouble with sweat soldering and asked for advice.

If the term sweat soldering is new to you then here's a quick definition before you have a look at the tutorial! Sweat Soldering refers to the technique used to solder a (usually) flat piece of metal on top of another larger one. Solder is gently melted on to the back of the smaller piece - melted just enough so that it flows as evenly as possible across the back but not so much that it actually starts to sink into the metal itself. This smaller piece is then put in position on top of the larger piece, the work is then refluxed and the solder melted again. The trick is to make sure that this time you keep the heat mainly on the larger piece of metal so that you don't melt the smaller piece. The jewellery that you can see here are examples of pieces I make using this technique.

Onyx Pebble, Dusky Rose and Russian Circles pendants

Common problems with this technique include the solder not flowing evenly or at all on the second melting and the small piece moving about on the second melting of the solder, and the Etsy Metal tutorial helps with this and more with clear photos - you can find it here!

Anyone up for a challenge?

Do you remember this picture from a just over a week ago?


Well, they've now turned into these - cute little copper oak leaves with a hook on the back, a hook version of the oak leaf toggle clasps I sell in my daisychainextra etsy shop. I've hammered veins onto the leaves and oxidised them to highlight the texture, and then curved them slightly to give them a more natural look. Each leaf is slightly different as they are sawn out by hand and textured by hand, but they measure approximately 20mm by 13mm.


So the challenge - what do you think you could create with one of them? Each oak leaf is now wrapped up in one of my chocolate brown organza bags waiting to go to a new home and be made into a stunning piece of jewellery, and that new home could be yours! If you would like one of them then all you have to do is:
  • leave me a comment on this post, complete with your email address
  • grab the oak leaf button on the left to put on your blog with a link back to this post
  • make something beautiful with it and post pictures of what you have made on your blog on the last day of November, Wednesday 30th November. 
You will also need to tell us a bit about your design process, what other ingredients you used etc, and link to the other people taking part. I'll be taking part in the challenge too as soon as I've made myself a leaf! You don't have to make jewellery - if you think of some other creative way of using your leaf, go for it!

The first five people to leave a comment asking for a leaf will get one, and this is open to those of you overseas too!


Thursday, 27 October 2011

Danglies!

I'm enjoying making very dangly colourful earrings at the moment. Maybe it's the time of year - it's been so wet and grey here for the last few days that I need more colour in my life! It's also partly due to the fact that I've been blow-drying my hair straight again recently and I like dangly earrings peeping out - and these ones are looong, with lots of movement.


These are the first two pairs. I should have taken photos of the purple pair a week or so back as they are actually for a friend who claimed them as her own when she saw me planning out the stones while she was filing her pendant during a recent tuition session. Anna - they're ready! I was going to solder long earwires on the back but Anna requested stud fittings, and they look fab like that, even if I do say so myself. The stones are smoky quartz and amethyst (one of my favourite combinations at the moment) with phospsidarite cabochons - a stone that I hadn't actually come across before but I love. You can find out more about the stone here if you like. The longer earrings are red onyz in a lovely rose cut cab, orange aventurine and smoky quartz again - very autumnal! These are actually my favourite of the two pairs, and I'm going to treat myself to some more stones so I can make myself a pair.


And these are very different from my usual style - lovely Sea-urchin ceramic cabs in a prong setting, separate earwires for lots of movement and forged drops of silver wire dangling underneath. I've been wanting to make a prong setting like this for ages, and I'm really pleased with it. It's the perfect setting for these cabs as I didn't want to hide any of the gorgeous texture. I've cut discs from the centre of the back of the setting so that you can still see the stamp that Lisa puts on all of her work. These are actually my entry to the Love My Art Jewelry monthly art spark challenge "colour and movement" - when I read the challenge this month I knew that I had the perfect design sketched out for it, but I've only just met the deadline - all that wallpaper stripping took up so much time this week!

The earrings will be on the website by tomorrow evening!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

BTW






 Another work in progress photo from me this week! It's been a busy half term week so far. I've just about recovered from the 4am wake up Ben and his friends kindly gave me on Monday, and we've been busy building lego models, sorting out Halloween costumes, playing with friends and, of yes, stripping the wallpaper off the walls in the lounge diner. As you do when you've got two children to look after and gallery orders to complete, but more of that later! These are some of the pieces I made this evening for a gallery.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Time for Cocktails


Look, look! I actually remembered to photograph a magazine project before sending it off to the magazine! This is my project in Beads and Beyond this month. It's the magazine's 50th issue this month so one of the themes that we were given to get our creative juices going was the 1950s - a time when jewellery was big, blog, and glamerous. Cocktail rings were very fashionable, so I designed this ring with a rose cut smoky quartz cabochon set in ornate gallery wire. It gives the sparkle that a faceted stone in a prong or claw setting would have, but it's much easier to make - and, of course, it uses my favourite stone. Gallery wire comes in a wide range of designs, and the most important tip to remember when cutting it is to make sure that your two cut ends match up perfectly so that the pattern contimues seamlessly around the bezel. Cut the wire slightly too small if necessary and then enlarge it on a triblet for a perfect fit.

Five children and a baby

Yes, that's how many children I cooked tea for yesterday - which will explain why I took the boys out for pizza this teatime, and also partly explain why I felt like this for much of the day today!


Ben had two friends over for a sleepover last night. It's the halfterm holiday and Ben had been asking if David and Sam could sleep over for ages, so despite T leaving for the airport to fly to Spain for a few days Sunday afternoon and the sitting room being packed up so I can strip the wallpaper and generally prepare for the plasterer at the end of this week (yes, we're finally decorating!) the boys came over midafternoon. We made cakes, they made a den under Ben's cabin bed and lots of lego models, and it was lovely to hear them play. We also had my god-daughter Gracie over for tea as her mum phoned the night before to say that they'd be in the area, and then my friend across the road knocked on the door with her boy who was apparently desperate to see Ben after being away at his Grandma's for the weekend - as I was serving up and there was spare I thought he may as well find a seat at the table as well!

They did have a lovely time, and were very well behaved, but to be perfectly honest I could have done without the 4am wakeup this morning. Yes, 4am. Jamie thankfully slept through the boys getting up, Ben creeping (like an elephant) into my room to ask if they could go downstairs and watch a DVD. A stricter mum probably would have sent them back to bed - this realistic one realised that that would only lead to a stressed mummy going in every 10 minutes trying to get them to be quiet, so off they went. And bless them they were quiet, but there was no way I could get back to sleep! Oh well, at least Ben (and the other two apparently!) fell asleep almost as soon his head hit the pillow tonight!


Thursday, 20 October 2011

Finally!

The broadband "improvements" in the area have finally finished, so I finally have my internet connection back! So, this is going to be the first of quite a few posts catching up on everything I've got to show you!


This was the inspiration for the Art Bead Scene challenge this month. I have to say that I thought I'd be sitting it out again as the pinky brown colours in the painting aren't usually ones that I use on their own, but then a beautiful lampwork bead by Isabelle Anderson caught my eye - the advantage of keeping a dish of beads on my desk! The ivory stringer and fine silver encased in the bead reminded me of the hedgehog, and as I'd just made some more oak leaf toggle clasps one of those got added to the mix too together with a length of brown silk ribbon and my favourite stone, smoky quartz. I did try to keep to just the colour palette, but it just didn't work. In the end I decided that the important thing was to use the picture for a starting point and see where it led me - and so aquamarine and amazonite joined the mix! So, this is what I ended up with!


I started cutting out some copper oak leaves this afternoon with a new clasp design and a giveaway in mind. I'll let you know more soon!


Friday, 14 October 2011

Backwards Shuffling Baby

I have so much to show you - beautiful jewellery from yesterday's tuition, new clasp ideas, new jewellery from me - but it'll have to wait until tomorrow now as after a busy week of general family things, teaching college, private tuition yesterday and making quite a few lovely orders I am giving myself a night off! I think I may have a bit of an early night too as I need to catch up on some sleep. It was my monthly appointment at the hospital on Tuesday - a general checkup, keeping an eye on how everything is healing and I guess keeping an eye on how I'm getting on mentally too as everything happened in such a whirl, so fast. Everything was fine at the appointment, but I can't seem to stop myself worrying at night for a few days before each appointment - a natural reaction to it all apparently! I will be going back into hospital for a day operation at the start of November so that they can loosen a very tight scar under my chin, but that's all. So, tonight T has gone out with a couple of friends from work so I've got the remote control to myself and I've ordered Chinese and I'm going to watch Love Actually. I think I may be watching it curled up under the blanket as although today was beautifully sunny it's gone quite cold now.

Anyway, the post title......


Jamie is trying his best to learn how to crawl and I'm torn between cheering him on and groaning a little bit because as soon as he's on the move that boy is going to be into absolutely everything and I'm going to have to completely rearrange the house to keep things out of his reach until he's a bit older! At the moment his progress consists of pushing himself up fully on his arms and pushing himself backwards, which seems to surprise him. He keeps backing himself into a corner and getting stuck as he can't go forward yet. This is causing a few problems at bedtime as we put him down on his back in his sleeping bag, he then turns on his front and starts shuffling backwards, gets stuck at the bottom of the cot and cries angrily! So back into his room we go, put him back up the top of the cot, he puts his fingers in his mouth (he favours two fingers rather than his thumb, just like his Mummy did :) ) and off to sleep he goes. He's also started to kneel up and rock back and forth, so I don't think it'll be long now before he's on the move. He's going to enjoy it so much - so much more to explore, pull apart and chew! The photo above, by the way, was taken after his afternoon nap on day in July, but I can't seem to capture his backwards shuffling on camera and I had to share this cute one with you anyway.

Oh, and remember me moaning about the dodgy internet connection this week? Things were a bit better Wednesday and yesterday, but again today it worked perfectly just before the school run when I checked on something for Ben's homework but as soon as I came home again it stopped. I had a prefect connection to our wireless network, but no internet, almost as if someone had flicked a switch - which is more or less what they had done! Upgrades in the area meant that they kept turning the internet on and off again according to the man I spoke to at Virgin Media. At least I know now that I wasn't going crazy, and today was the last day. Isn't it awful how dependent we've become on the internet?!


Thursday, 13 October 2011

BTW



These are the fruits of my jewellery labours today - silver clasps almost ready to fly off to their new owners! As we speak they are in the tumbler being given a lovely shine but I like to do a little bit of polishing with my pendant drill attachments first as the shot in my tumbler doesn't always get right next to the centre of the flowers.


As this is what my poppy clasps can look like in a finished piece! This lovely braclet is by Sue Doran, my first ever etsy customer. She bought a copper poppy at the same time as this silver one but the bracelet she made with it sold before she got a chance to take a photo!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Tutorial Tuesday - earring display cards

Yippee! I'm back on the internet! We've had a very erratic connection over the last four or five days. We've tried everything we can to sort it out at our end but we've come to the conclusion that it must be to do with the work that Virgin (our provider) is doing in Southampton at the moment, as the problem only seems to be during the working day! I was very annoyed yesterday as I finally had sometime during the day to get some admin jobs done and couldn't do half of them.


Anyway, at least it's working again now so I can share this very quick tutorial with you. I'm constantly thinking of ways to improve my displays for craft shows, partly to make everything look more attractive, and also so that I can set some jewellery up at home and so reduce the time needed to set things up on the stall on the day. I'm selling alot of stud earrings at shows at the moment and I did have them on brown card folded in half to form a tent. They didn't stand up very well after a little while though, and didn't look that attractive. This is my next idea, and Mum is going to be trying it out for me at her coffee morning on Thursday. I've used a punch to cut out little tags from brown card and I've used watermark ink to stamp a flower on the front. I use the same tags and stamp to make the tags on my gift bags, but a pink flower on ivory card. Dusky pink ribbon has been threaded through the top and holes pushed through for the earwires. I've started making a display board for the tags to hang from, but they actually stand up really nicely as they are so I'm going to leave them like that for Thursday! I'm going to write the prices in pencil on the bottom corner so that they can be rubbed out and the whole tag put in a gift bag.

The tags were very quick and easy to make, and I was especially pleased that I only used materials I already had. even the display board is being made from things I already have around the house. So, a quick question for you - what quick, easy and cheap ideas for craft displays do you have to share?

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

BTW

I'm lucky at the moment as I can usually get out to the shed or do some admin for about an hour while Jamie naps. The rest of his nap time gets used for housework (exciting!). I'm not quite sure how much time I'll get out there when he drops down to one nap a day - we'll have to wait and see!


Anyway, my hour today was spent finishing off some orders from the weekend, and this was the state of my desk this evening! Sorry about the awful pictures but the days of lovely, perfect for photos sunshine streaming in through the windows in the evening have disappeared until next year!

Fancy a few close ups?


From top left to bottom right the pictures are:
  1. Some wooden pendants waiting for their silver daisies to be riveted in place, to make more Simply Wood pendants, this time in a couple more shapes too.
  2. A stone setting for a beautiful rutilated quartz teardrop I bought from my friend Brenda
  3. Possible beads for this month's Art Bead Scene challenge
  4. A variation of the necklace I made for the Bead Soup Party, this time using a beautiful cab from seaurchin
  5. Stud earrings ready to be posted out to their new owners tomorrow morning
  6. Moogin beads ready to be made into pendants starting tomorrow
  7. Oh look! More Moogin beads - fancy that!
  8. Lampwork discs from Outwest, again ready to be made into pendants.
Hopefully I'll be able to show you at least a couple of these finished tomorrow while Jamie is at the childminders!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Tutorial Tuesday - how to make a jewellery leather cushion



I love this simple tutorial for a leather cushion! No, it's not for a cushion to go on your sofa - it's for your jewellery workbench! Jenni wrote it as she wanted to use upgrade from a folded towel for cushioning her bench block when she was hammering. I've bought a leather cushion years ago when I first started out, and not only are they horribly expensive but as they are heavy the postage is usually expensive too. So, save yourself some money, grab some offcuts of leather from a friendly upholsterer and head over to Jenni's blog!

A bbq? In October?!

I'm not going to harp on about it, honest, but the weather here over the last week or so has been just beautiful - temperatures more usual for August, beautiful blue skies, hardly a cloud in the sky. The poor plants and animals must have been very confused, but I loved it! It's definitely turned autumnal again today, but that's fine, I'm ok with that now that I don't feel that we've been cheated out of a summer!

We spent the weekend up in Oxfordshire at a family get together. It was T's stepmum's 60th and her children had organised a great party for her on Saturday night, and then we had a family BBQ on Sunday. T's Dad and brother and his family were there too, and it was so good to meet up with them. With everything that's been going on this year T's brother and sister in law hadn't met Jamie until this weekend! Poor old Ben got really confused at who everyone was though as he's only met T's step family a handful of times - T's got two step brothers, two step sisters (identical twins to add to B's confusion, although they look less like now than they did as teenagers when I first met them) and four step nieces and nephews. There were lots of children to play with though, so he had a great time. Jamie did too - lots of cuddles and kisses, but not much napping. That boy is far too nosey to nap if he thinks that anything else is going on! One of T's step-nieces is four weeks younger than him and crawling already. I was torn between urging Jamie on to copy her and being thankful that I don't have to move everything out of his reach just yet!

Thank you to those of you who took advantage of the discount at the weekend! I'm going to have a busy time making up orders this week, mainly clasps and a few of my new Simply Wood pendants, but the parcels will be on their way to you within a couple more days!

Friday, 30 September 2011

New designs - and 10% discount this weekend!

Well, the challenge was met - there are now just over 100 fans on my business facebook page so as a thank you there is now a 10% discount on all Daisychain jewellery and jewellery making supplies from now until midnight on Sunday for Facebook fans. Just place an order as normal and let me know that you've liked my facebook page - if you use paypal I'll refund the 10% discount through that, and for cheque or bank transfer payments I'll email you the total due so you can send that through.


I've uploaded a couple of new designs this evening - a couple of sweet pendant designs. The Ruby Red teardop has a 5mm facted deep red ruby bead hanging in the middle of the curved teardrop. There are only 3 of these available as I only have 3 rubies of this size!


My favourite though is the Simply Wood pendant. I bought these wooden beads in Barcelona a few years ago. I used a few of them a while back in a bracelet for a present and had saved the rest for this design that I've had sketched out in my book for ages. I've cut out a silver daisy, hammered it so that it catches the light, domed it so that it has a bit more depth to it and riveted it with a simple silver wire rivet off centre on the bead. The chain runs through the bead, and I've added a 2" extension to the chain so that the pendant can be worn at different lengths according to the neckline of what you are wearing. I've got about 20 of these beads so it'll be a limited run, and I've got two other shapes of beads to rivet daisies to as well - but that will be a job for next week!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Poppies and Silk - and a facebook discount!



Here it is! I am really pleased with how this necklace turned out, and so glad that Janna got me interested in using silk ribbons in my designs! A silver chain would have drowned out the poppies in Mindy's stunning cabochon - and put the price up a lot too! The double strand of silk is definitely best - thank you to everyone who commented last night! Poppies and Silk is now available on my website.

By the way, I realised tonight that I have somehow managed to get to 98 people liking my Daisychain Designs facebook page. Not bad considering I never really promote it! If I get to 100 people before the end of tomorrow (Friday) then there will be a 10% discount on all Daisychain jewellery on my website and Daisychain Extra clasps and findings over the weekend for everyone who "likes" my facebook page.

So if you're trying to get organised for the holidays, fancy treating yourself or have had some of my clasps on your wishlist, you know what to do!

I've been featured!

I've been following Rebecca Anderson's Introducing.... series of blog posts, and loving finding out more about some of my favourite jewellery designers and meeting some new (to me) people too. I felt really honoured when Rebecca asked me to take part, and her post this week is on me! Answering her questions was a lot of fun, and made me think more about why I do what I do, and how much I enjoy it. Doing the interview also made me finally take an up to date photo for my profile avatar and to send into Beads and Beyond. The one they've been printing in there was taken when I was pregnant with Ben almost exactly six years ago!

Thank you Rebecca! You can find the interview here!

And thank you for the comments on my poppy necklace dilemma below - I'm going to go with the two strand option. That was the consenus at the school gate this morning too! I'll get it finished today and post some final pictures.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

BTW - and some help needed please!



Do you remember this gorgeous poppy cabochon from Mindy Macgregor? I wanted quite a simple setting for it with a nice clasp and not too much (if any) silver in the necklace section and so made a plain bezel setting and one of my poppy clasps. It had to be a poppy clasp! After all, they were inspired by Mindy's poppy beads! I sent them off for hallmarking at the end of last week. They're not over the legal 7.78g limit but I wanted my hallmark on them as the cabochon is such a unique piece. Anyway, I set the poppy this evening and then got out the silk ribbons that the postie brought me on Monday and chose a soft navy to go with it. I decided that a silver chain would be too much shine and distract from the poppies, and that a brighter coloured silk would be too much too.


My dilemma is this..... I had planned that I would use the silk double but now I'm not sure. Does it make the necklace too thick, too heavy,too much of a distraction from the poppies?


But does using it single look too little?


I can't make my mind up! I try one way and like that best, until I try the other way! T says it doesn't realy matter as when I actually finish it and put it on the website or on my stall at a craft fair people will only see what I decided to make, not the two options. Please ignore the ribbon hanging down from the cab in the first set of pictures - I had to put it somewhere and obviously didn't want to cut it! I had hoped to show you a photo of each option being worn, but it's too late for the light to be good enough for that.

So, what do you think? Any input would be much appreciated!

On a different topic, my college evening classes started last night. My first evening teaching since having Jamie and being ill. I was a bit nervous before the first students arrived, but it went great and it was so good being back and getting back to normal - whatever normal is! It was great to see so many of my students from before Christmas back again, and to meet some new people to introduce to the addiction that is jewellery making.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Tutorial Tuesday - Flowers bracelet

copyright Sabine Lippert
One of my favourite jobs for Beads and Beyond is searching out beautiful blogs to review for the monthly spotlight pages. I try to find blogs with inspirational photos, and if there are tutorials or the blogger also teaches then so much the better, but my aim is to find blogs that will inspire the readers. I also make sure that I write about blogs with a mix of jewellery, not just silver and wirework! The blog I reviewed in the September issue was Sabine Lippert's Try to be better - her beadwork is absolutely beautiful. Her blog is full of pictures of her work in progress, and her website is full of amazing tutorials, some of them free like the flowers bracelet pictured above. So, as I'm spending my work time today preparing for tonight's evening classes, Tutorial Tuesday this week is on Sabine's beautiful work. You can find the flowers bracelet here - scroll down the page a bit and you'll see it there. Have fun!

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