Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Having a fantastic time!

We're having a fantastic time in New Zealand! It has just about sunk in that we are actually here, on the other side of the world. We're thankfully over the jet lag, but I seem to have replaced that with child lag - I've been up with Jamie most nights for the last week between 1 and 4am NZ time that even though he now (mostly) sleeps then, I'm wide awake! I've got tonnes of photos to show you both of Hong Kong and New Zealand, but for now I'll leave you with a couple of the boys playing at a play park at Mission Bay beach here in Auckland in the winter sun on our first proper day in New Zealand.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Meet the Brit Pack Beaders....

Although I work from home on my own for most of my work time, it never really feels like I'm on my own, and that is mainly through the wonders of the internet and the amazing people I have met through it - even though I have only met a few of them in real life! I love being part of such a friendly, creative, supportive community. And it is such an international community too! 

One part of this wonderful community life that I have enjoyed over the last through years is taking part in challenges. They have stretched my skills, introduced me to new techniques and improved my confidence in my design skills, especially when it comes to colour. So, when Lesley Watt (aka Thea Jewellery) asked if I'd like to be part of a Brit Pack of designers I didn't have to think twice! There are five Brits making up the Brit Pack Beaders, and I expect that you already know them through their blogs and shops, and if you don't then do go and visit them at the links below. They are.......

Rebecca Anderson - Songbeads -,
Claire Braunbarth - Smitten Beads -,
Teresa "Bo Peep" Hulley - Bo Hulley Beads -

Lesley has called us together to take part in some bi-monthly challenges with a little bit of a difference, and as she put it perfectly I thought I'd just quote her!

"For each challenge, one person will choose a theme based on anything they like - could be music, literature, film, visual images anything at all that inspires that person. Each of us is then allocated one of five design items - clasps, focal beads, accent beads, decorative embellishments and stringing material, and must send each team member a different one of those items that has some relevance to the theme. Ultimately, we will all end up with a different bead soup created by 5 different people with which to create a piece of jewellery inspired by the theme."

 Lesley has kicked off the challenges with the photo below as inspiration

 "Tangle" by Carolyn Saxby.
Carolyn is a Cornish textil/mixed media artist who takes amazing photos of the environment around her. You can see more of her work on Flickr here and also sells beautiful fabric beads in her Etsy shop, Cornish Pebbles.
Lesley has also sent all the pack members (apart from me - I'll come to that in a bit!) a slightly different clasp, Rebecca is providing the focals, Claire the embellishments, Bo the accent beads and I've sent out the stringing materials. For the next challenge we will rotate so that we get to send different items.

The reveal for this first challenge will be Wednesday 8th August and we would love it if you'd come back then to see what everyone got up to. I won't be in the country then - in fact, this post is coming to you through the wonders of blogger scheduling - so although I'm sending out the stringing materials I'm not actually making something for this challenge, but I'll come back on here to remind you about it!

In the meantime, if you'd like to find out more about the Brit Pack Beaders you can visit their blogs using the links below our photos.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

And they're off!!

 If blogger does it's job, this post will be published while we're up high in the air somewhere on our way to Hong Kong - how's that for technology?! Then it's off to New Zealand for the main part of our trip, and a stop over in LA on the way back. I will be checking in from time to time to inflict my holiday photos on you, but not all of them, honest! And hopefully when I return to the UK in 48 days time I'll be refreshed, full of fantastic ideas for new designs and magazine projects and articles, and not at all frazzled from four long flights with two very bouncy children! I hope you all have a great summer!

Friday, 13 July 2012

New tuition dates and a new workshop

 My plan was to come straight on here after sending out my latest newsletter and let you know that new private tuition dates and a new workshop date had just been published on my main website - but I then spent the rest of the evening answering emails and booking people in for tuition! So, instead of telling you that a whole bunch of dates in September and October are available, I can tell you that two dates are left - you can find them here, and from the speed at which the other dates went, if you want to book in you'd better be quick!

There will be more dates available in November and December, and I will publish those when we get back from your travels at the end of August. I am also running my popular Hammered Chains workshop on Saturday 15th September for a maximum of six people. It teaches you how to make jump rings, soldered chains, clasps, ear wires and much more and full details can be found here. It's the perfect workshop for those of you wanting to learn important basic soldering techniques to add to your jewellery making repertoire - what a fancy word for this late at night!

Monday, 9 July 2012

I'm getting there, I'm getting there......

That seems to be my mantra at the moment! I always have several "to-do" lists on the go - for family, for DIY, for my business. I'm one of those people who just has to have lists to make me feel more organised, and I have been known, when writing my list of jobs out for the day, to include a couple of jobs that I've already done, just for the feel-good factor of ticking them off.

My to-do lists at the moment have a sense of finality about them, as they have a strict unmoveable deadline as the family summer travels that I mentioned a few weeks ago start this Sunday! Where on earth has the last month gone?!? These are very special travels, a once in a lifetime trip for me and for T (made possible by the payout from my critical illness insurance last year - cancer is apparently the one illness that the insurance companies don't quibble about!), but it would be nice to think that the boys will get to do something like this again when they're older - but without having cancer first to pay for it of course. In case you haven't recognised all the places featured in the photos above let me enlighten you  - she says rubbing her hands in excitement!!

On Sunday evening we fly out to Hong Kong, where we will stay for two nights. Hopefully we'll be able to recover enough from the flight to see some of this amazing city!

We then get back on a plane and fly out to ..... wait for it...... New Zealand!!!!!! I have always wanted to visit, but never ever thought we'd be able to do. We are visiting my lovely friend Hellie and her family who moved out to Auckland just over a year ago. My excitement at seeing her again has overcome my fear of flying and my worry about how on earth we're going to be able to entertain the boys, especially Jamie, on the flights! We're going to stay with them for about three of our five weeks in New Zealand, but not all three weeks in a row, and the other weeks we will be spending in a hired motor home touring first the South and then the North Island.

Towards the end of August we get back on a plane and fly to Los Angeles - another place I never every thought I'd be able to visit! As T says, we're going to have three winters in a row by visiting NZ at this time of year, so as we've got to have a stop over we decided to make sure it was somewhere hot and sunny! We're staying in a self-catering apartment for five nights, before heading back to the UK, arriving back here on Friday 30th August.

Phew! It suddenly seems real now that I've typed it all up. Millie the cat has gone to stay with my parents while we're away, the house sitter (a colleague of T's) moves in on Friday, everything is booked, and there are piles of packing all over the house, but there is still a part of me that doesn't quite believe that by this time next week we'll be away! I've got a couple of blog posts planned before we go and you can expect them to get more frantic as the week goes on!

Oh, and if anyone can recommend anywhere crafty that I really shouldn't miss, either in New Zealand or LA, please do let me know!


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