Saturday 31 January 2009


You may have noticed that over on the left of this blog there are links to 3 wirework tutorials that show you how to make eye loops, wrapped loops and coils. These are the instructions that I print out for my students on the sterling silver workshops, and they are free to download - all you have to do is go through the website and add them to your shopping basket. Once you've checked out (and haven't had to pay for them :) ), all you have to do is click on the download button on your order details. Virtually all wirework techniques are built on these three basic ones, and the bracelet and earrings are examples of some of the workshop projects I'm teaching over the next couple of months.

I had realised, though, that the number of photos on the tutorials was making them very slow to download for some people, so I've just been through everything and compressed the photos i.e. made the memory space they take up smaller. They're still good quality when you print them out, but they download in a fraction of the time.

So, for fast downloading, step-by-step photographic tutorials click this way. Just remember the health warning that I give to everyone who comes to my workshops - making your own jewellery is very very addictive....afterall, how do you think I got to the stage of making a business out of it?!

By the way, I'm halfway through writing up a couple of new tutorials - one for earwires and a project one for a pair of earrings. I planning some on making clasps and how to oxidise silver too. Let me know if you've got any requests!

Friday 30 January 2009

More Blooms!

Yesterday was a busy day. I didn't manage to get out into the shed, but I did get alot done. The day started, as most Thursdays do, with dropping B off at his childminder's. I then picked up some croissants and headed over to Nicky's for breakfast - a very pleasant and civilised start to a Thursday! We even managed to get some work done too. In an ideal world we'd 'do breakfast' once a week, but real life always gets in the way and this is the first time we've managed it!

Most of the rest of the day was spent taking and editing photos and bits of admin for the two big things that I've preparing for that I still can't tell you about. I've recently downloaded a free piece of editing software that I love. I used to have to spend quite a while editing photos (using the software that came with my laptop), and spend quite a while waiting for the right daylight conditions to be able to take the photos in the first place! The camera I bought before Christmas and my folding photo studio sorted most of the problems out, thankfully, and this new piece of software seems to have solved the re-sizing issues that I was having. It's called, and it's worth checking out if, like me, you'd rather spend money on silver and beads than software!

Anyway, these are some of the photos I took, and all the jewellery shown is on the website now. As you can probably tell, I like cutting out this bloom shape! I've made myself a pair of the earrings, and I love the way that they swing when I move - I seem to be going for bolder earrings since having my hair cut short! The earrings, and the matching pendants, are available in gorgeous blue iolite and in tourmaline in rich honey shades and in pinks and greens. They, like the bloom necklace and the daisy cuffs, are made-to-order items, but I'll try to keep one of each in stock.

Thursday 29 January 2009

Calling number 16!

I've just asked T to give me a number between 1 and 18, and he came up with 16, so counting from the first comments left on Monday's giveaway post that means that our winner is........


Stephanie, if you could email me your address please then I will wrap the earrings up safely and pop them in the post for you.

Thank you everyone who left a comment - and for all your cures for colds! My favourite is still Kelly's chocolate one, but Vicky's idea of no housework came a very close second! Glueandglitter, my immune system is thankfully pretty darn good after so many years so teaching, so these must have been strong germs to get to me! The cold has almost gone now, thankfully.

I've just come back from a rare night out with the girls. These particular girls are friends that I used to teach with. Most of us have moved on from the school that we worked at together, either for promotion or for families. We don't get together as much as we'd like to, but it's always great when we do. I think we were definitely the noisiest table in the pub! I'm off to bed now, though, as B's waking up earlier than usual at the moment. I will be back tomorrow with some of the photos that I took today - it's been a day of admin and uploading projects!

P.S. A note for Vonnie - I accidently pressed the wrong button and lost your comment - sorry! You were still in the draw, though, as I gave you number 4, the number of the comment that I added to Monday's post.

Wednesday 28 January 2009

This is Me

I stumbled upon this quiz last night - you know how it is, you follow a link that leads to another blog that leads to another that leads to something that makes you stop. It's a multiple choice quiz - you know that sort that you choose one of the offered answers, or in this case a picture that goes with a statement. I thought it would be a bit of fun and just clicked on the pictures that appealed to me the most - and was very surprised to get an 'evaluation' at the end that seemed to be, well, ME! Whoever wrote the end result descriptions has got a beautiful way with words, and I actually found it very inspiring to see in words how I feel about what I do and how I create. The quiz designated me a 'Hands on' person, which is, obviously, spot on.

I won't bore you with everything it said, but this is the part that really made me go "This is Me":
"For you, creativity is all about getting physical. You like to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. Being able to make something with your hands is an important expression of who you are. Art is probably a big part of your life. And you like to use your natural flair for creativity at work and at home. You particularly enjoy the feeling of seeing a project through from start to finish. Nothing beats that sense of satisfaction that comes from watching your own creation evolve and grow. Chances are you really appreciate the special skills that you have – it’s a wonderful way to be able to express yourself in this way."

So go on, how do you create? You can find the quiz here!

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Tag, you're it!

A couple of weeks ago Magriet tagged me, and I've been really slow at posting a response and passing the 'tag' on - sorry Magriet! The only excuse that I have is that I used up my best 'random facts' a couple of months ago, and it's actually taken me until now to think of some more. Actually, now I read back that last sentence it sounds quite sad, but never mind!

The rules to this tag are:
  1. Link to the person who tagged you
  2. Post the rules on your blog
  3. Write six random things about yourself
  4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them
  5. Let each person know they've been tagged

So, here goes!

  1. I have knitted 3 pairs of fingerlesss gloves and 1 pair of baby's bootees so far this year, and I started my new hat yesterday - yep, when I renew my addiction to a craft, it's serious!
  2. I have 3 sketch books - one in my bag, one by my bed and one on my desk. There's nothing worse than having a great idea and not having anything immediately to hand to record it on!
  3. My favourite time of day is actually first thing in the morning before anyone else gets up, especially on a sunny day. However, because B hasn't learnt to sleep in yet I've become a bit of a night owl. I'm not wishing my life away, but I am looking forward to getting my quiet mornings back at the weekends when he's a teenager!
  4. Okay, halfway through now, I can do this! Erm...I wanted to be a meteorologist. I did all the right A Levels and had a provisional offer at Reading University to study meteorology and maths, but didn't get the grades - which was most definitely a good thing as I love how my life has turned out.
  5. I don't like tea or coffee, never have, but that doesn't stop my Grandma from offering me a cup of tea every time I go and see her!
  6. I have two really exciting pieces of news that I really really want to share with you but I just can't yet! I just don't want to jinx them! I'll tell you soon, though, promise! I know, such a tease...

Okay, now the people I'm tagging:

  1. Nicky at Sparkly Treasures
  2. Laura at Beads by Laura
  3. Alice at Raspberry
  4. Katy at I'm a ginger monkey
  5. Laura at Bugs and Fishes
  6. Kyoko at Cotton and Cloud

Thank you, all of you who left comments on yesterday's post - you have been entered into the draw, and the rest of you have until midnight tonight to put your name into the hat to win that pair of heart studs! The cold cures were great - I think my favourite by far is Kelly's chocolate cure!

Monday 26 January 2009

Love is in the air!

I know it doesn't seem that long since Christmas but it's only a couple of weeks until St Valentine's Day! That means it's time for a Valentine's offer on the website - spend £25 or more on jewellery or workshop places before the end of 14th February and receive a free pair of fine silver stud earrings, a pair of heart studs shown above. Another reason to drop your loved one a subtle (or not so subtle!) hint!

I didn't want to leave my blog readers out, though, so it's time for the first Daisychain blog giveaway of 2009. All you have to do is leave me a comment on this post before midnight on Wednesday and you're in the draw! The competition is open to those of you who aren't in the UK too, and if you leave an anonymous comment please remember to leave your name so that I don't get confused. Good luck!
By the way, the comment doesn't have to be on any particular subject, but if anyone out there has discovered the cure for the common cold then I would be grateful if you could let me know!

Sunday 25 January 2009

Full Bloom

This week has been a week of finishing projects, taking photos and general admin. I've had a few new designs on my desk that have needed simple things like sanding, polishing, bails soldered on, that kind of thing, so I've been strict with myself - no new projects (except commissions!) until they're finished! The one that I'm particularly pleased with is this necklace. It was one of those rare ideas that worked perfectly from sketch book to finish - often ideas want to be adapted as I work on them! It's on the website now as the latest in my Bloom made-to-order designs.

Today has been a workshop day - the ladies who came to play with beads and wire today made beautiful charm bracelets and matching earrings. The next workshop is on this coming Wednesday and that's full , but if you fancy coming for the one after that in February to make a pair of sterling silver earrings, see here for details!

Thursday 22 January 2009

New packaging

For a couple of months now I've been looking for the *right* ribbon to use on my jewellery boxes, and I finally found it last week. So, here, at last, is my lovely brown and pink packaging complete with handmade gift tags and a gorgeous textured pink ribbon. I think I need to tone down the pink for male recipients though...

Monday 19 January 2009

A bit carried away, do you think?

These are the fruits of my knitting so far - 2 and a half pairs of gloves! The plum coloured pair are mine, the other pairs are for friends. I expect I'll get the green pair finished in a couple of evenings. The blue line that you can just about see on the green glove is where I need to add in the thumb. I have made a change to the pattern for the green pair though, as the ruffled casting-off that the pattern suggested is pretty but I think I prefer the tops of the gloves held a bit tighter, so I've just cast-off normally. I've already bought the yarn for my next project - a hat this time with a lacy pattern. It'll be my first time knitting a pattern by following a chart - I must be mad! It's from the Knitty website again. I don't usually wear hats but this is my first winter with short hair and I've decided that I need one! Oh, and my other knitting project was a scarf for B's Baby Teddy, the teddy that he absolutely has to have at night. Apparently Baby Teddy (or BT to his friends) particularly requested a red scarf, and now wants a hat to match!

Today's lesson

Well, Saturday's lesson, but it's taken me until this morning to edit the photos! Sue came round for a day's private silversmithing tuition on Saturday with the aim of learning how to make chains and making herself a bracelet. She learnt how to make the individual links, solder, hammer and link them together - and ended up with enough links to be able to make herself a necklace and a bracelet! The bracelet features a lampwork bead in lovely muted shades of green by Tan.

If you fancy coming and learning how to make your own pieces of jewellery with me, then email me on . January is fully booked, I've got space for one more person in February and there are still spaces in March. I have to warn you though, silversmithing is addictive!

Sunday 18 January 2009

Sad news today

It was really sad to hear in the news today that Tony Hart has died. I loved watching Take Hart when I was a child. Drawing has never been a strength of mine but he made it look so easy and approachable that he gave me the confidence to have a go. I loved the mischief that Morph got up to too, and without him we wouldn't have had Wallace and Gromit or Chicken Run or anything like that. For those that don't know him, Morph had a pet nailbrush and was often visited by the Very Small Creatures - happy memories!

Friday 16 January 2009

Old but much loved

Having shown you my brand new workstation for my dremel I thought it was about time I showed you a much older, but very much loved drill. I've mentioned a couple of times that a friend very kindly gave me some of her parents' old tools from the days when they were goldsmiths in Portsmouth. I love them and use many of them every day I work in the shed, and this beautiful bow drill and one of the hammers are my favourite tools. I guess beauty really is in the eye of the beholder!

For those of you who haven't come across them before, bow drills (sometimes called pump drills) are centuries old. They've got a drill shaft (mine is metal) which obviously has the drill bit at one end, and at the other it's got a hole drilled through. A cord runs through this hole, and each end of this is attached to an end of a stick with a hole in the centre - the hole board. As you can see from the photo, the hole board fits onto the drill shaft. The last piece of the drill is the flywheel.

To use it, I place the drill bit in the indentation I've made with a centre punch (okay, a nail and a hammer!) so that it doesn't slip, hold the top of the drill shaft with one hand and give the hole board a push so that the cord winds up the shaft. I then hold the hole board and push it down gently. The drill spins, the weight of the flywheel makes the cord wind back up and then it starts again! I love using it as it's got such a soothing rhythm. I won't stop using it just because I've got a modern version as it's great for drilling small holes in small pieces, like the daisies that you can see, as it only needs one hand once you get going, so the other hand is free to hold the piece you're drilling.

Okay, the history lesson is over for today! There will be photos of finished daisies tomorrow!

"Grace under pressure"

I am certain that I am far from the only person who has had tingles running up and down their arms from watching the news reports of yesterday's miracle in New York. I can only imagine the terror that those on board the plane and those on the ground who saw the plane approaching experienced, and the thankfulness that they are experiencing now. Michael Bloomberg, the New York mayor, said that the pilot had shown true heroism, "grace under pressure".

Again like many, many hundreds of people, I can remember exactly where I was, where exactly in the room I was standing, when the BBC showed the breaking news of 9/11. I visited Ground Zero a few years ago, not through choice, I have to say as I knew I probably wouldn't be able to handle the emotion of it well (my Grandma always did say that I cried too easily), but because I was a teacher on a school trip to New York. I will never, no matter how long I live, forget the feeling of that place or the news pictures. Thank God for heroes.

Thursday 15 January 2009

My latest!

My inlaws gave me a work station for my dremel drill for Christmas - isn't it lovely?! It turns the dremel into a drill press and will make polishing a lot easier too. I spent some time this afternoon moving things about to make room for it and then dragged T out to the shed so that he could admire it. He made some "yes, lovely, dear" noises - then we stopped, looked at each other, and realised what a role reversal it was - then T went inside saying something about doing some ironing!

Wednesday 14 January 2009

Daisies in progress

As promised, here are some photos! Not of finished work, though, but of work in progress. The first photo shows how I left my desk at the weekend, and I was finally able to get back to it this morning! I've been spending half my workshop time this month working on commissions, and the other half working on designs that I've had planned for ages but didn't have the time to do before Christmas. These daisies will be earrings. I cut out the daisies by hand, drilled a hole in the middle and then threaded through a wire 'stem'. The end of stem that you see inside the daisy was melted to form a ball, and I've soldered the stem in place. The earrings just needed more sanding and polishing and the earwires finishing this morning, and they're sitting in the tumbler being polished as I type. You can just about see a couple of silver birch bangles that need a bit more hammering in the background too.
Yet more daisies! This time for a necklace that I've had sketched out for months. This is how I've left my desk this evening, and tomorrow I want to drill some holes, pierce (ie saw inside the design) some detail and then do lots of sanding and polishing. I've got to do some admin and photo taking tomorrow too, but I'm also hoping to make another pair of daisy earrings like the ones below - these were a Christmas commission, and I liked them so much that they're going to be a made-to-order design too.

Tuesday 13 January 2009

Keeping warm!

Well, I'd love to be able to show you lots of photos of jewellery that I've made this week, but as I've been working on my tax return accounts I hope that you'll understand that you'll have to wait until tomorrow! The accounts didn't take as long as I thought they would, but I'd still much rather have been doing something else. It is very satisfying to have finished them though!

I did realise as I was browsing through the comments on recent posts that I haven't yet answered Magriet's question about my shed and whether or not it's insulated - so I thought I'd do that now before I forget again!

My workshop is a 8'x6' shed that T has customised for me. He's put in electricity and lighting, laid carpet (I would have preferred something I could have swept, but we had the carpet left over from doing B's room) and, most importantly, insulated it. You can see some of the insulation in the photo above. He first of all lined the walls with rubble sacks (thick plastic bags designed for use in the garden) so that the walls would have a damp-proof membrane. On top of that he put loft insulation, and that was hidden behind plasterboard. None of the materials that he used were particularly expensive, but they are certainly doing their job! My shed may have been cold enough to allow my pickle to freeze over night last week, but it warms up very quickly once the heater is on and holds it's heat very well. In fact, even last week once the shed had warmed up at the start of my work session I turned the heater off and the heat from my blow torch was enough to 'top up' the temperature. The photo below was taken on the day I moved into the shed last June - I wish I could tell you that it's still as tidy now as it was then!!

The plan tomorrow is to spend as much time as I can in my lovely, lovely shed working on a couple of commissions and on a new idea for my daisy range of jewellery - and to take some photos!

Saturday 10 January 2009

Lots of links

Do you remember this picture? I thought it was about time that I showed you a couple of the pieces that I made with them. The first is a commission piece that I can show you now as it arrived safely with it's new owner this morning! It uses beautiful lampwork beads by Canadian designer Marie-Andree Marchand linked with lengths of by double interlinked chain. I love making this chain, so it's been great having commissions using it this Christmas.

This extra long necklace was one that I finished on Wednesday (during B's first Wednesday at his childminder - I've been able to get so much done with 2 work days this week!). Single chain this time. Each link measures about 1cm across, and I've used purple lampwork beads and smoky quartz faceted rondelles. I've been toying with using purple and brown together for a month or so since seeing more clothes using that colour scheme in the shops and magazines, but what really decided me was seeing a friend's photos of Scottish heather that she took on holiday last year. So I've called this piece Heather, and I've got another piece to show you to using similar colours too - just got to take the photos of it tomorrow!

By the way, if you're in the south of the UK and fancy learning how to make your own jewellery, then Heather is an example of one of the styles of jewellery that you can make during my new workshop - I've just finalised the details and they'll be on the website on Monday. If you would like to know them before everyone else then sign up for my newsletter - I'm sending one out tomorrow, and it'll have a special offer for workshop places on it too.

I haven't ventured out into the shed today, mainly as it's been a day of household chores (such fun!), but also as it's been soooo cold here today. It's barely got above freezing all day, which I know is nothing to some of you in the States, but it's big news here! We had a burst pipe earlier this week as it's never been so consistently cold down here before. The thick frost has made the garden look beautiful though. This is some of the jasmine that smells so gorgeous outside my shed while I'm working on summer evenings!

Wednesday 7 January 2009

Would you like ice with that?

This is not exactly what I was hoping to find in my pickle pot and quench pot this morning, but I suppose given the weather recently I should have expected it! I was planning to finish off the chains that I made the other day, but as they are currently sitting at the bottom of my quench pot I guess I'm going to have to wait! Oh well, back to the accounts instead!

Tuesday 6 January 2009

New Year, new winner

I've stopped using the internet random number generator to choose the winner of the monthly earrings draw as, well, it just didn't make for a very pretty picture! So, last night I printed out all the names from my mailing list, cut them into strips and put them into my new prize draw drawing machine. Introducing...........

my pink paper and little basket! T pulled a name out of the hat last night, and the winner is Zoe Monk! Congratulations Zoe. I'll email you to get your address. The earrings that Zoe has won are these ones, and the earrings for January are the ones below - lovely pink jade and sterling silver -I thought we needed some bright colours during this dull weather! All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is to sign up for my newsletter by clicking on the brown box on the left. But I've also put a pair in on the website here if you can't wait!

Monday 5 January 2009


It's so cold it tried to snow here in Southampton this afternoon and it never snows here - the warm sea air generally keeps it away. B and I went to Katie and Tim's for lunch today, and Katie and I took the children for a walk on the common - well, we had to do something to walk off the chocolate muffins! It was FREEZING!! B enjoyed the playground though, and Gracie had a lovely sleep snuggled up warm in her pram - and a quick hot chocolate in the pub next to the common sitting by the fire helped to thaw us out before the walk back!

I've managed to get some much needed time in the shed over the last couple of days. I definitely get cranky without regular soldering and sanding time! I've been making chains for a new workshop project that I will let you know about over the next day or so, and I've also been finishing off a couple of pieces including the ones here. They both involve rolling leaves through the rolling mill with sheet silver. I made them before Christmas and sent them off for hallmarking with my Christmas commissions. Today was the day to sand and polish off the scratches made by the hallmarkers - they are careful with your work, but a few marks are inevitable unfortunately. The cuff will be going on to the website tomorrow, but the pendant needs some gems and chain. The last one I made ended up looking like this, but I'm not certain about the new one yet. It's slightly bigger than the original. Any requests, anyone?!

Friday 2 January 2009

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a relaxing/fun/busy/family/partying (please delete as appropriate!) New Year's Eve! Has anyone got used to writing 2009 yet? It usually takes me a while.

We had a lovely New Year's Eve at home. I usually find the whole night a bit of an anticlimax - you know, let's stay up really late, oh look it's another year, let's go to bed - and I have to admit I really don't like big New Year's eve parties - although if Jools Holland invited me to the Hootanny I wouldn't say no as that looks like a lot of fun. My ideal New Year's Eve is to invite a few friends round for some food and maybe games like 'who's in the bag', and that's exactly what we did this year. Nicky and her family and Katie and Tim and baby Gracie came round - Nicky's little ones slept upstairs (the youngest in B's room with him which worked amazingly well), Gracie was downstairs with us as at this age they sleep through everything, and we had a great relaxing evening. Well, I assume everyone else had a good time too - T cooked curry from the book Katie and Tim gave him for Christmas and we haven't had any phone calls complaining of dodgy tummies!

I haven't set any resolutions of the "I must eat less chocolate/go swimming once a week" sort as there's no point, I never ever keep them. In fact, I'm wound up until I break them and then relax as I can go back to normal again! I have, however, set myself some goals for this year. Some of them were written on the back of an envelope (in small print!) when Nicky and I went out for a business meeting (aka pudding and a drink at the local pub) before Christmas. Some are business, some are personal, some are family. One of the personal ones actually is to go swimming more as it's something that I enjoy and find relaxing, but never seem to find the time for. I've come to realise that unless I timetable things in, they won't happen. For example, T goes out for a drink late on Tuesday evenings with friends. I know that's his night, so I never book anything else in - and then I moan every now and then that I never go out unless it's to teach a workshop! There is absolutely nothing stopping me going out if I organise to properly and get into some kind of routine, so that is what I must do. Oh, and I suppose the exercise swimming will give me will be good too!

Another goal is to do more of other crafts. Don't get me wrong, there is no way I'm going to reduce the amount of silversmithing/jewellery making that I do. I'll be doing more when (do you like the positive thinking?!) my other goals are achieved. It's more that there are so many crafts that I can do (thanks to my Mum, my Grandma and a great textiles teacher at school) and I've hardly enjoyed them at all since B was born. And it is this goal I have been working on this evening! I decided that it was about time that I learnt how to knit gloves. I learnt to knit when I was 7, so it's daft that's it's taken me this long! I want to make myself a pair of fingerless mittens to wear in the workshop when it's cold in there, and found this pattern on a great site called Knitty. They've got a blog that I think I will be adding to my list of daily reads too. The thing is that not only have I never knitted gloves before, I haven't done any cable knitting since I was about 15 for a GCSE Textiles project, so I'm really hoping that I haven't over reached myself this time! The pattern does say that it's a quick project, though, so fingers crossed. I really like the fact that they only need one ball of yarn too. They seem to be coming along well - what do you think? It does get a bit tricky when I'm trying to control 5 needles at the cabling parts in the pattern! Nicky, if you still want me to teach you how to cast on and off, I've got a spare ball of wool, just get yourself a set of knitting needles!

I've joined Flickr at last, mainly as I thought that Lupin's Crafting 365 Flickr group challenge was what I needed to kick start me into the New Year. So, if you feel like seeing whether I meet the challenge of crafting every day this year and posting a photo of what I've done (remembering to take the photos will be by far the harder part!) then come and see me here!


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