Thursday 31 July 2008

A new project

My friend Katie came round to help me take some photos for my tutorials on Saturday. They look really good, and I should have the tutorials up and running very soon. Thank you Katie!

Anyway, she brought with her an old silver (so we thought) chainmaille purse that her parents had given her with the idea that we might like to repair it. As you can see from the photo, it does need a little bit of TLC! The side edges of the purse have come away from the frame, but as far as we can work out the problem is that the rings have come loose, not that lots of rings are missing. There are also a couple of sections towards the bottom on one side where one ring is missing or where a ring has opened up slightly and joined itself onto the ring in the row below, rather like when a knitter drops a stitch. I think that it's European 4-in-1 weave - I'm hoping that someone out there will tell me if I'm right or wrong!

The first thing we did was to clean it in my lovely new ultrasonic cleaner and it does look alot better already. The next job is to cut some new rings. I managed to work out what diameter wire we needed and took a ring off the edge of the purse to check the inner diameter and I've coiled up the wire, just need to cut the rings now - we'll have to do that by hand as the 'koil kutter' cradle that the coils sit inside for my dremel to be able to cut them safely is too big. We're going to have to oxidise the rings slightly for them to match the original rings in colour. We were certain that the purse wasn't sterling silver - the colour, even for tarnished sterling, was wrong and anyway a sterling silver purse of that size would have been very expensive! The purse has got the name 'Alpaca' stamped onto the frame, so I did a bit of hunting via google and came up with the following:

"Alpaca silver is a common name for a metal alloy, a combination of metals, of copper, nickel and occasionally other metals such as zinc, tin, lead or cadmium. The alloy also can be called nickel silver, German silver, new silver and paktong."

If you want to find out more about it, have a look here. I'll let you know how we get on with the repairs!

Monday 28 July 2008

In the Pink

I've realised that I didn't actually get round to posting the jewellery I made for the pink colour challenge - oops! I realised that although I haven't been using a lot of pink in my designs recently and it's not a colour that I wear myself (unless it's just a little with my favourite brown!) I actually had quite a few pink beads, including several lampwork beads. So, here are a pink jade pair of earrings and a lampwork bead necklace. The earrings are a design that I've used before, but it's a popular one at craftshows so I thought I'd make another pair.

The necklace uses a bead by Emma Mason. I bought a set of three, plus some spacer beads, from her last year and this is the second one from the set. I love that fact that although all three beads are of the same style they are each unique. I used the first bead in a fairly simple leather necklace but for this one I took inspiration from the honeysuckle blooming outside my shed window and twisted 'vines' of sterling silver wire. It is, of course, called honeysuckle, and it should be on the site tomorrow.

While tidying up my beads this evening I realised just how many lampwork beads I've got, so expect to see some more lampwork jewellery over the next week or so!
P.S. My eye is much better now, thankfully! I've been looking a bit odd (okay more odd than usual) in the sun though as I've obviously been wearing my glasses rather than my contacts. The problem is that I haven't got any prescription sunglasses so I've been wearing my normal sunglasses over my glasses. I'm going to go to the opticians and order some prescription sunglasses tomorrow, so you'd better expect the sunshine to disappear completely as soon as I get them. Sorry!

Friday 25 July 2008


I know, I know, it's been over a week. I've had every intention of posting most days this week, but it's been a week of DIY, jewellery parties and commissions. My mum had a jewellery and cards party on Wednesday (I think I've mentioned before that she sells Phoenix cards?) so B and I went over there for that. I had a jewellery and cards party here yesterday evening (thank you to those of you who came!), and the beginning of the week was busy as I decided that I just couldn't live with the state of the front bay windows anymore - so out came the sander and then the paint! It took me 3 days, but I'm really pleased with them. They're not perfect, but they'll do until we get double glazing.

I have managed to get some photos done too, although they're not of finished jewellery. I roped T in to help me start the tutorial photos, and he's not done badly at all. What do you think? The plan is that by the end of August I will have at least 3 tutorials on the website. I'm going to start with the free basic wire work tutorials (how to make coils, how to turn eyeloops, that kind of thing) and then move onto the projects tutorials and there will be a small charge for those ones.

Anyway, why 'ouch' as the title of this post? Well, the plan for early this afternoon had been to deliver a couple of repairs to a customer - repairs to some old jewellery, I hasten to add, not to anything I'd made! Instead I ended up at the eye clinic at the hospital. DON'T read on if you're squeamish about eyes!! I had got something in my eye while driving at the beginning of the week and as I was caught in roadworks on the motorway I couldn't pull over and sort it out. I think it was a bit of dust from the diggers at the side of the road. I wore my contact lenses for as little as possible during the week but as my eye was still looking very red and sore I went to the opticians today who sent me up to the hospital. It turns out that I've got a small cut on my eye that isn't infected but has become inflamed. Thankfully the eyedrops they gave me are working really well, and my eye looks and feels a lot better already. I just look a bit odd while outside in the sunshine at the moment as I haven't got prescription sunglasses - I'm having to wear my sunglasses on top of my prescription glasses!

Thursday 17 July 2008

Mocca Chocolata

Today has been a day of admin, photography, accounts (a necessary evil) and the like rather than creating, so it was a pleasant surprise to get a message from somsstudiosupplies, a jewellery supplier on etsy, that she had included my Antique Pearl earrings in her treasury. You'll find it here until Saturday.

Thanks Som!

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Tutorials & Time Management

For ages now I've been meaning to up date my tutorials, the ones for basic wire skills. I've got several already written - making eyeloops, wrapped loops, ear wires for example - and I used to use them in workshops alot, but since improving my photos of my jewellery I've realised just how bad the photos on the tutorials are! One of the problems is that it is very difficult to take photos of the wire actually being worked on your own - you can't hold the camera, look through the lens and hold the wire on the pliers all at the same time, and using a tripod doesn't help much!

Anyway, one of the reasons that I decided to use a zen cart based website was so that I could easily offer pdfs for people to download. So this afternoon I decided to stop procrastinating (what a big word for this time in the afternoon!) and get to work! I've improved the writing of several of the tutorials and sorted out what photos I need while B has been asleep, and I'm going to ask a friend with an excellent camera and a photography course under her belt to come round and help me take the photos over the next couple of weeks. I'll swop her for some jewellery or silversmithing tuition!

This stopping procrastinating is all part of something that Nicky and I have been talking about for a little while now - time management! We both have young children and so obviously work around them, so organising our time efficiently is so important if our businesses are to grow. She showed me a blog called Bead Nerd (I love that name!) that's all about encouraging people to fulfill their potential. It's written with bead makers in mind but the advice is fantastic for anyone who runs (or wants to run) a craft-based business. I've also been talking to Tracey, the owner of the gallery where I teach my weekly jewellery class, Spice Art Studios, about time management. Anyway, as I result of all this I have decided to block out my diary into time set aside for certain jobs, both household and business. Tracey calls it a default diary - unless there is an emergency, holiday or something like that, a default diary sets out what you are going to do each week at that particular time. I've realised that I have been doing that more or less with household chores, so now it's time for the business. It'll hopefully make me get the non-creating jewellery jobs done rather than allow them to get pushed to one side! I'll let you know how it goes - well, hopefully you'll see the results in terms of tutorials on the website, new jewellery listed more regularly and more magazine articles - oh, and another outlet or two would be good too!

Tomorrow morning is photography time, so look back for some photos then!

Monday 14 July 2008

So cute!

I was just doing my usual quick visit to the blogs I read, UK Beaders and etsy before going to bed and I saw some baby booties on the front page of etsy that are sooo cute that I just had to show you!

I know that my baby niece would look gorgeous in a pair, and several friends are expecting babies so I think that I will be making a purchase or two...or three! You can find them by clicking on any of the pictures or by visiting

I'll be back tomorrow with some pictures of the jewellery I made this weekend.

Friday 11 July 2008

Green leaf

Do you remember this from the silversmithing course I went on at Flux'n'Flame? I had originally thought that I would have small beads hanging down the centre of the leaf, but it just didn't look right. I tried a few other ideas too, until finally I came up with this.

So what do you think? I've used peridot, garnet and amethyst, a combination that I really love. And the peridot means that it qualifies for this week's green colour challenge!

As for last week's challenge, sorry this is late but I haven't been good at taking photos this last week or so. The website is looking a bit bare, but by the end of this weekend it'll be stocked up again - assuming that I don't sell everything tomorrow that is! Anyway, this is one of my triple bangles (I love making these) with beautiful rubies - the colour of these lovelies is even better in real life!

Thursday 10 July 2008

Work in progress

It's been another busy Thursday here. I'm doing a craft show with other Wessex Guild of Craftsmen members on Saturday at Chichester, so I've been pricing and organising and making some last minute bits and pieces. I was going to take some photos too but my daylight bulb blew yesterday and it's been horrible weather here (again!), so for now you'll have to make do with a picture of some work in progress I'm afraid!

First thing this morning I used silver art clay to make lots of bits and pieces. By this afternoon (with help from my hairdryer!) they were dry and so I've spent the last hour or so sanding them down. What you can see in the picture will by this time tomorrow be stud earrings, pendants, drop earrings and cufflinks - yes, I'm adding cufflinks to my repertoire at last! There's been a section for men's jewellery on the website for a while now, so I thought it was about time I filled it! I have made some cufflinks before now, but they've ended up the galleries or being given as presents. I've mentioned art clay before, but if you're not familiar with it have a look at this site

Anyway, the show on Saturday is at the Assembly Rooms in North Street in Chichester. It runs from 10am until 4pm, and if you come along and spend £30 or more on my stall and mention my blog I'll give you 10% off. This only applies to my stall though! Other crafts exhibited by the Wessex Guild will include ceramics, fused glass and woodwork.

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Browsing through etsy...

Etsy really is a great site - it's full of fantastic unique handcrafted goods and the forum has some really good advice. I came across this blog through the forum this evening. Shalana, a felter who makes some gorgeously cute felt jewellery, had posted on there that she had written a blog article about selling wholesale. It looks like she's done alot of research and has written some really good advice, so if you, like me, want to get your work into more outlets, go and take a look!

Oh, and her hair pins are really cute too!

Friday 4 July 2008


We were chatting about birthstones at the sterling silver pendant workshop last week, and someone asked where the idea of having a stone linked to each month came from. I said I'd find out the answer - and here it is! Actually, my RE teacher would say that I should have remembered, but my only excuse is that I did do my GCSEs nearly 20 years ago!

The traditional birthstones are said to be based on the gemstones used in the breastplate of the first Jewish high priest - Moses' brother Aaron. The breast plate was designed to show the colours associated with the twelve tribes of Israel, and the 12 stones representing those colours were places in 4 rows. Over time, the fact that there were 12 stones became more important as there are also 12 Apostles, 12 months, 12 signs of the zodiac etc, and people began to associate each stone with a particular month.

So there you go! If you want to read more then have a look at these sites:

Thursday 3 July 2008

Okay, I know it's a cliche but....

where on earth does the time go? I mean, this morning was only 1 hour long, I swear it was, and I got up early too! It's not just the individual days though. When I was teaching full time at school there were certain times of year where I used to keep myself going by counting down the weeks, days, lessons left even! Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed teaching, I still do (especially now it's teaching people how to make their own jewellery!), but it was the paperwork, the meetings, the paperwork, the marking, the paperwork! Nowadays, friends who are still teaching will ask if I fancy meeting up when the holidays are about to start, and I'm surprised at how quickly they've come round again!
Today has definitely gone quickly. I was busy this morning packaging up a delivery of lovely shiney new jewellery for the Southampton City Art Gallery and writing descriptions for it and the time flew by. I left on time to deliver it and would have been there on time too if it hadn't been for a couple of cars in front of me in the queue at the traffic lights - let's just say that not everyone leaves as much space as I do between them and the car in front. I stopped to check that everyone was okay and gave my details in case anyone needed them for insurance claims, but left when people started swearing and having a go (verbally, not physically thankfully) - male hurt pride I think! Anyway, my jewellery is now in the City Gallery so go and take a look!

I made the earrings above while we were at T's mum's this weekend - look, brown to fit in with the theme last week! I've used smokey quartz and carnelian. I don't use carnelian very often, but I decided to have a change. I'm working on a commission using garnet this week, which fits in nicely. In fact, I've been a very busy girl, so I'm off now to take some photos to show you what I've made!


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