Saturday 25 October 2008

Pretty Pictures

Oh I do love my new camera! I don't think I had realised how basic my old one was until I tried some others. Mind you, the old one did me well. The photos it took in lovely natural light were good, some so good that magazines accepted them for step-by-step projects pictures, but it just couldn't do inside photos.

Anyway, these are some of the earrings I've made this week. I've revived an old design and given it a new twist. The original design had discs made from silver art clay and were flat, but this time I've used discs cut from sterling silver and hammered and domed them. The design is on the inside of the discs and picks up the colour of the beads beautifully. I've used garnet, amethyst and Swarovski crystals so far, and I expect that more variations will follow! I've just added them to the website.

The Lavant show was a good one today, and I've got some more Christmas orders to work on. We're off to a family wedding in Suffolk first thing tomorrow morning, though, so I going to give myself a day or so break!

P.S. Sorry that I'm not replying to comments at the moment - I don't mean to be rude but Blogger won't let me leave comments on anyone's blog at the moment, not even mine! I'm hoping that it'll resolve itself while we're in Suffolk. I do read all the comments though!

Friday 24 October 2008

P.S. I Love You

For once I didn't feel much like going into the shed to work yesterday while B was at his childminders. I guess I was just feeling a bit washed out after the busy weekend and after teaching a 3 hour workshop Wednesday evening. I hadn't spent an afternoon beading in front of the television for months, so when the postman delivered "P.S. I Love You" from Lovefilm, I decided to get out the materials for a couple of necklaces I'd planned and indulge myself!

The 2 necklaces I made use lampwork (the purple by Izzy Anderson and the black by Caroline), Swarovski crystals and some lovely silver twisted tubes. It's been a while since I made necklaces that didn't involved sawing, hammering or soldering, but these were very relaxing to make and I'm really pleased with how they turned out. They took a lot longer than I expected though as I ended up needing a lot of tissues as I watched the film! I always cry at sad bits in films, and I've got even worse since having B! T is away for a couple of nights next week, so I think I'm going to hang on to the film for another week and curl up on the sofa with some more tissues and some chocolate and watch it again!

The necklaces will be going on my website tomorrow evening after my craft show at Lavant. I've been really bad at uploading new products lately, sorry. It's partly because I've been so busy with commissions and work for galleries, partly because I've sold quite a few bits before I've had a chance to put them on the site, but alot to do with my appalling camera. It was great for taking photos outside in perfect light, but not for inside, and let's face it, perfect sunny light isn't exactly reliable in this country. I have finally got a new camera, so I've spent this evening taking lots of photos with the view of uploading as much as I can tomorrow evening. I'm really pleased with my new camera - for one thing it's got a far better macro setting than my old one - just look at the close up of one of Izzy's beads!

Thursday 23 October 2008

You're It...

It seems that I've been tagged 3 times (by Lesley, Alison and Tina) by the "Seven Random Things" game that's been doing the rounds on blogs recently. Now, coming up with random facts isn't going to be hard, but trying to come up with seven people to tag is going to be a tricky one as the people I first thought of have all been tagged already!
So, the easy bit first,
  1. When I was pregnant with B I had two cravings - fajitas (one of the few things that overpowered the horrible metallic taste I had in my mouth for much of my pregnancy) and a chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate ice cream from the co-op. T was on standing orders to buy a couple of tubs of the ice cream whenever he saw it as it wasn't in the shop very often!

  2. As any visitor to our house will know, we have a few cows in the house - the picture below shows a couple of the ones that I allow in the kitchen. Picture frames full of postcards, crockery, the ironing board cover etc etc. Children of friends like to try and count them but soon give up after the first 100 - no, I'm not joking. It started when T and a friend started swapping postcards as a joke, and then all our family and friends got involved. It really started getting out of hand when people started giving them to me as well. There is now a strict policy on cow-giving and I try to keep most of them in just one part of the house!

  3. Two of my 3 Grandads are buried in the same church yard. Yes, 2 of 3. My Dad's Mum remarried a couple of years after my Grandad died before I was born. Not only are both my Dad's Dad and step-Dad buried in the same church yard, but they shared the same birthday, died of the same thing and (obviously) married the same woman - and before you start getting strange ideas about my lovely nearly 91 year old Grandma, yes they did die of natural causes!

  4. We used to have a valium-taking, vegetarian, epileptic dog. He developed epilepsy when he was about 2 and I was in the house on my own when he had his first fit, right under the hot iron sitting on the ironing board. I was jumping up and down screaming at him to stop as I was so scared - poor animal! We had to give him valium after a fit and we told that a vegetarian diet might help.

  5. Talking of valium, my aforementioned lovely sweet nearly 91 year old Grandma offered me one before my driving test to calm my nerves. She said that it had worked for her!

  6. I resat my A-levels. I passed them the first time round but not nearly the grades I was expected to get or needed for the uni course I wanted. My mum blamed moving house three times during 6th form and both my Grandads (Mum's mum and Dad's step-dad) dying the winter before the exams. Spending too much time with my first boyfriend might also have had something to do with it! Anyway, I'm glad that I did have to resit. It made me a better teacher as I'd never done badly at anything academic before so it definitely made me more understanding. And I never would have met T if I hadn't resat as I would otherwise have gone to a different uni and not gone into teaching. Which brings me to....

  7. T and I met while we were teaching. I remember him clearly from my interview. Spending time together on Duke of Edinburgh award weekends and A level geography field trips was a strange courtship, but it obviously worked as we've been together for 11 years now!

Right, now for the difficult bit! I think that instead of tagging I'm going to list the people who I would have tagged if they hadn't had been tagged already and the three who tagged me - go and read their blogs and see what they've been up to!

  1. Nicky at Sparkly Treasures

  2. Laura at Beads by Laura

  3. Kerry at Kab's Creative Concepts

  4. Alison at BeaDangles Jewellery

  5. Tina at So What's New Today?

  6. Lesley at Coburg Crafts

  7. Izzy at Adventures in Glass

Monday 20 October 2008

On the catwalk

Last night was the Sophie's Appeal Fashion Show. It was a busy night with about 350 tickets sold and lots of bidding on auction prizes, so I think a lot of money was raised for the charity. It was also a fun experience being behind the scenes of the show when the models were rushing in and changing between scenes - at one point there were three of us helping one girl get changed! If you fancy reading more about it then have a look at the Daily Echo's website here, and photos of my jewellery being worn during the fashion show here. The piece you can see most clearly in the photos is the necklace shown above and the matching bracelet.

I am very tired today though! I knew that I'd need a good range of bigger pieces of jewellery and Lin (Sophie's mum) had asked me to make a couple of pieces in certain lengths/colours. As my working time during the day has been taken up with teaching silversmithing recently (far more enjoyable than teaching GCSEs at school!) the last pieces of jewellery making were done at night. So it's a soak in the bath and an early night for me tonight! And I bet Lin and Sarah Beattie (the organisers of the show) slept well last night!

Thursday 16 October 2008

Photos at last!

Nicky let me use her camera when she popped over this morning and it has made such a difference! The camera that I have been using so far has been great for taking photos in natural daylight outside, but I've come to realise that it's not up to the job of taking photos indoors, and let's face it, living in the UK I need to be able to take my jewellery photos inside! If any of my family are reading this - I think I know what I'd like for Christmas!

Anyway, these are some of the photos I took this morning, and they are a sneak preview of the new collection of jewellery I will be uploading to the website at the beginning of next week. I've hinted a couple of times over the last couple of months that I've been designing a new range of jewellery, partly in preparation for taking on more wholesale work, and partly because I had a sketch book full of ideas that needed a new material. And that new material is resin.

I have to admit that I had looked at resin jewellery years ago and was not that impressed, but after a lot of experimentation I love the combination of the beautiful range of colours I can produce (I colour the resin myself using a range of different pigments) with sterling silver, and that customers will be able to order specific colours. And the ideas for new designs and variations on a theme keep coming! The blue earrings in the blog competition last week were a preview, but here are a couple of other pieces. The blue pendant is mine (sorry!) as I've worn it every day since making it, but a couple of others in different colours will be on the website soon, as will several pairs of earrings and a few other bits and pieces that I'll show you over the next few days.

Let me know what you think!

My talented graphic designer!

The very talented graphic designer who designed my lovely logo for me is one of only 19 finalists in a competition to design the first in a line of unique designer coats - please visit Vaute Couture before Monday to vote for her and find out more - hers is the mustard-coloured coat at the bottom right of the page. Be sure to visit her bio page too by clicking on the coat - I love the picture she's drawn on there!

And the winner is...

Kitsch Kitty! Congratulations Lucy - I'll email you for your address and get the earrings posted off to you asap. B's at his childminders today, so I used a random number thingy on the web to 'pick out of the hat' for me.

I'll be back later with some photos!

Wednesday 15 October 2008

Wednesday already?!

What do you mean it's Wednesday already?! This week is going far too quickly, but then most weeks seem to be like that at the moment! Mind you, it's far better to busy than quiet when you're self employed. I've spent part of Ben's preschool session this afternoon having a coffee and a chat with T's brother who dropped in while he was working in the area (he lives north of Birmingham so it was an unexpected pleasant surprise) and the rest improving my indoor photos, so I'll have some goodies for you to look at tomorrow.

In the meantime, though, I thought I'd remind you that you've still got a couple of hours until the competition I posted last week finishes. Click here for more details. You don't need a blog to be able to leave a comment, just make sure that you leave me a way of contacting you if you win!

Thursday 9 October 2008

The right tool for the job

I finally had the chance to read the September newsletter from the Art Jewelry Magazine this afternoon - well, better late than never! I found a link to this great list of the tools needed for different types of jewellery making, from wirework to enamelling to metal clay. It's got photos of all the different tools too, which is great for when you've been told the name of a tool but have no idea what it looks like. It's also been useful in helping me identify a couple of tools that I'd inherited!

Wednesday 8 October 2008

My boys are back!

My boys came home yesterday afternoon! T phoned me when they were about 30 minutes away and so I was sitting in the bay window waiting for them to arrive. I managed to get lots of work done while they were gone and they had a lovely time with our friends in Wales and with Grandma and Grandad (they called in on the journey), but 5 nights is far far far too long. Heavens, what on earth am I going to be like when he leaves home?!

I did take a bit of a break from working while they were away and took the opportunity to do some stencilling in B's new bedroom too - something I'd been wanting to do since I first painted it. I've stencilled cars, trains, bicycles, tractors, boats and aeroplanes around his room and he had great fun trying to find them all. They're not quite as neat as I'd have liked (horrible bumpy woodchip wallpaper) but he likes them, that's the main thing. Ummm - I really must improve my indoor photos! Outside in sunshine ones are good, but my indoor ones look too harsh or washed out and my very simple camera won't let me change any settings. Maybe I should drop a few hints for Christmas?! Anyway, the cars do look a lot better in real life, honest!

And they brought me back a present too - a hot pot for heating my pickle! I asked T's mum if she'd be able to look out for one for me at the car boot sales she goes to, and she got one really quickly. Pickle is essential when you're soldering sterling silver as it's the only real way to get rid of the fire scale that appears after the silver is heated. Pickle works alot faster if it's warm and so far I've been using a tealight food warmer to do the job. This will be far more efficient, and look, I've been able to use it already!

Tuesday 7 October 2008

Post number 101 - competition time!

I've realised this morning the post yesterday was my 100th! Who would have thought that I could talk that much? Well, apart from T and the friends I spend ages on the phone with?

Well, I can't let this go unmarked. I logged on to the computer to tell you that the random number generator picked Gill Utting (I've emailed you, Gill, to get your address) to win last month's earrings (if you can't remember what they looked like, not that I really expect you to, look here) and to show you a picture of the earrings for this month's prize draw, but I think I will have to have two competitions now...

Competition number one - October's newsletter prize draw. If you would like a chance of winning these lovelies (oxidised sterling silver, pale green freshwater pearls, garnet and moonstone) then all you have to do is sign up to my monthly newsletter by clicking on the link to the left - the big brown one that says 'newsletter' on it.
Competition number two - to celebrate my 100 blog posts (and the fact that someone actually reads them!), leave me a comment to tell me what you're celebrating - it could be a special occasion, it could be that fact that it's not raining right now where you are (it's been sunny here today too - yippee!!). I will get either the random number generator or B to pick a winner for the earrings below. You have until midnight next Wednesday 15th October! Both competitions are open to those of you from abroad.

P.S. The second earrings are a preview of the new ideas/experiments that I've mentioned - more coming as soon as I've taken more photos!

Monday 6 October 2008

Tornado warning

One of the blogs I catch up with regularly is Jillian's The Life and Times of The Plume. I love the enthusiastic way she has with words, and it seems as if tackles everything in her life with the same energy and enthusiasm! Anyway, she described herself today as a tornado, twisting and turning from one direction to another, trying to decide which project to do first. That's exactly what I've been like the last couple of days. I've been so determined to be as productive as possible while T and B have been away that this morning I really didn't know whether I was coming or going! I have sawing wire for bangles, cutting discs and then doming then with my two latest toys tools for several different projects, cutting tube for even more projects, soldering etc etc etc. Put it this way, with the amount of work I've done in the shed today, I haven't needed to put the heater on at all, and it's been a miserable damp day here weather wise! The problem is, though, that if I don't give myself an evening off tonight I'll be worn out by the time my boys come home tomorrow!

So, I'm going to leave you with a picture of some of the work I've been doing over the last few days - lots of lovely shiny silver necklaces, bracelets, pendants and earrings, but they're not finished yet - I'll explain more tomorrow!

Umm...I guess I have had a busy long weekend. Oh look - if you look closely you can see upside down mini mes reflected in the cupped discs! I think that may be the closest you're going to get of a self-portrait!

Sunday 5 October 2008

I'm back!!

Okay, so I haven't actually been anywhere, but I haven't been posting either - sorry! This week has been another busy one, partly due to making jewellery, partly due to teaching jewellery, and of course, family stuff! So..

T had the day off on Monday so I went into town with a friend in the afternoon to try and find an outfit I could wear to a family wedding at the end of the month and also to the bigger craft shows I've got before Christmas. I had set my heart on a brown dress, something that had been in all the shops last year, but obviously not this year! I did, however, see lots of navy cardigans - something I had been looking for last year. Ummm....I don't do too well at clothes shopping. If I have no money to spend I see lots of things I like, if I have some spending money it's a different matter!

Tuesday morning was spent pottering about the house and then hammering etc in the shed while B was at preschool. I've been busy getting more items ready for hallmarking in time for the Sophie's Appeal fashion show in a couple of weeks time.

Wednesday turned into a sofa day with B as he had a slight temperature and was wanting lots of cuddles. I was pretty certain it was just his last teeth coming through and he was fine by bed time which was just as well as because.....

Thursday was spent teaching silversmithing while B was at his childminder's. I'm really enjoying this tuition. It's very different from teaching a class or small group as the whole day is tailored to whatever the student wants to learn. In this case Helen wanted to learn techniques she could use with her lovely dichroic glass pendants. I also had my weekly jewellery class at Spice Art Studios in the evening. All but one of the students on the course are new to jewellery making this time.

So, all in a fairly normal week - until Thursday evening. Since then I've been home alone, and it's a very strange feeling! We had been planning a trip to see friends in Wales, but as the time had been getting closer I had been getting more stressed about having 5 days (we were planning Thursday evening to Tuesday evening) without being able to do any work so close to the shows I've got coming up. So, T suggested that he take B and I stay here, get some work done and maybe have a bit of a break. B has stayed at my parents a couple of times, but I've never been apart from him for more than one night before, and it's very strange! I've got so much work to do that during the day I deliberately haven't given myself any time to miss them, but the evenings are very stange. It's not as bad as I thought it would be as, afterall, B is with his Dad. I did get a bit of a lump in my throat, though, when I read him a bedtime story over the phone tonight.

I've got lots of work done, some of which won't be finished until it gets back from hallmarking so I can't show you that yet. I'm planning to take photos of some of the rest of it tomorrow though, so it may be worth checking back then!


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