Saturday 28 November 2009

How on earth did I forget to tell you

that I'm doing a craft show tomorrow?!?

I guess it's because whenever I've done this show before all I've been doing for the couple of weeks before is preparing for it, whereas this year I've been teaching and plannig lessons and having meetings in college, writing magazine projects, keeping up with the influx of orders (so many more than last year - thank you!), writing tutorials etc etc etc


I'm exhibiting at a craft show tomorrow!!

It's the annual Southampton University Christmas Arts and Crafts Fair, and it's at the Staff Club, next to the Nuffield Theatre on the university campus. It's well signposted with the lovely bright yellow AA signs all the way fron the motorway (junction 4 is the best junction to come in from the M27), and it's open from 10am until 4pm.

This is always a great show - a lovely atmosphere and fantastic Christmas presents (or presents for yourself?). There's even a lovely cafe for your Sunday lunch.

If I have time during my last minute preparation I'll come back and show you some of the things I've been making today that will be on my stall tomorrow!

More roses!

Thank you so much to those of you who posted or left comments on Crafteroo for me about the Rose Red pendant I showed you the other day - it's one thing to like something that you've made, but another altogether if other people like it too!

I loved making it, so I've made some more! I'm really into setting stones in my work at the moment, so expect to see more of that over the next few weeks. This time I've used turquoise, garnet (a smooth cabochon this time) and blue topaz.

I'm particularly pleased with the blue topaz rose, especially how the oxidisation has completely changed and softened the look of the rose while at the same time highlighting the clear blue of the stone. These three are going to be delivered to Between Dreams and io Galleries tomorrow, but I've also decided to make the blue topaz rose (Dusky Rose) a made-to-order item on the website - but of course, I can make one with any stone in the middle that you wish for!

P.S. Note to self - remember to check that the photos have attached properly before posting!!

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Tutorial Tuesday extra - getting organised!

I suppose that this is more in the way of a getting organised tool rather than a tutorial, but I thought I'd show it to you anyway!

I had a sheet that I filled in at work every day that helped me not just keep organised but also prioritise my work and delegate to my deputy and secretary (yes, believe it or not, I once had a deputy and secretary!! Ok, so I shared Mo the secretary with the other four Heads of Year, but she was, and still is, wonderful!). I still find it really helpful to write a list out each day, but it always ends up on scrappy bits of paper and, because those bits of paper are quite big, I end up writing down more than any one person can do in one day. So I was really pleased when I found this on Balancing Everything:

I know, I know, it may not look like or that exciting, but this simple sheet makes me feel a lot more organised, and if I feel more organised I work better and make more pretties for you to look at (and to buy :P). I've changed some of the jobs listed to make it relevant to me, and if you fancy doing the same, head over to Balancing Everything and download your own!

Tutorial Tuesday - wire wrapped briolettes

There are two tutorials this week as I'd written one for you and then found another that I just had to share!

The one I've written is on wire wrapping briolettes, those beautiful tear drop shaped beads with a hole running across the tip - the beads that can be so versatile but tricky to use if you haven't picked up some hints and tips. There are several different ways of wrapping briolettes so that they can be attached securely to your jewellery, and this tutorial shows you how to do my prefered method with step by step photos. And it's free! I love using briolettes, mainly in earrings as you can see in the photos here.

You can find it here on my website. The tutorial does assume that you know how to form wrapped loops, but I've got a free tutorial on that too, and you can find that one here.

Sunday 22 November 2009

Red Rose

I haven't had as much time as I'd like to work on new ideas recently - the only down side that I can see to being busy with orders, magazine writing and teaching! This week, though, I've been making an effort to set time aside for this, partly because my head is buzzing so much with ideas it hurst, and partly because I've got some Christmas events coming up (including the Southampton University Christmas Fayre - more on this tomorrow).

I've had this first design, Rose Red, planned out in my head for ages. I even had the name sorted, which is very unusual for me! Usually I sketch my ideas out, even roughly, but for some reason I couldn't get this one right on paper. My drawing skills aren't exactly the best out there, but usually I can get down a rough idea at least on paper so it was rather frustrating not to be able to capture this one in a sketch book! It doesn't matter now, though, as it's now come to life! I'm really pleased with how the petals sit together and the organic shape that my hammering has created, and I love the stone that I've set in the middle. It's a rose cut garnet cabachon - it has a flat back like all cabs, but the front has been faceted, and it catches the light beautifully. I can get more of these stones, so this new design is now a made-to-order item on the website.

This next design, aptly named Black Beauty, is a one-off. It's a beautifully glossy black onyz on an oval base that I have textured with (of course!) my favourite hammer. At 30mm by 18mm it's small enough to wear every day, but eye-catching enough for special occasions too.

So, that's what I spent my free time doing this weekend, how about you? I hope that you found time to get to do what you love and relaxes you too! I did drag myself out of the shed for some of the weekend, though. T and I had a cosy evening in front of the fire last night. It was the first time we've had the fire lit since having double glazing fitted at last this spring, and I must admit was because it's lovely and relaxing. We've come a long way since our first winter here with no carpets, drafts everywhere and a broken boiler! We had to turn the heating off las night otherwise the house would have been too warm - this time last year we had so many drafts coming in through the window frames and the inch wide gap under the front door (no amount of draft excluder solved that) that we needed the fire and the heating every night! This morning it was T's turn to have a bit of quiet time to himself getting some jobs done while B and I went to church. I've only started going regularly again since the spring, and I'm so glad I have. B loves going too, and has fallen in love with one of the helpers in the children's room they play in for part of the service!

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Tutorial Tuesday - earwires

This Tuesday's tutorial is one from me - how to make your own simple earwires - and it's FREE on my website! I hadn't put a new tutorial on the website for a while as all of the projects that I've written over the last year or so have been destined for magazines, and I thought it was about time I put that right.

I rarely buy earwires any more. I originally starting making my own as I found that it was cheaper than buying them and I did not have to wait for the next delivery or my next trip to the bead shop, but then I realised just how many shapes and sizes I could make and I’ve never looked back! The tutorial shows you how to, obviously, make your own earwires like the ones on the earrings above, and I've also included some information on some fancier designs too. Like the eye loops, wrapped loops and coils tutorial, it's in pdf format, and you can download it here. Have fun!

I'm crying....

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I've just spent the last half hour or so laughing so much that tears are literally rolling down my cheeks! A friend introduced me to icanhascheezburger this afternoon - I've seen some of the pictures on there before but I hadn't realised that there's a whole blog of them! There's no way on earth that I can narrow it down to my favourite, but considering I have a child and a cat this one struck a chord!

P.S. Tutorial Tuesday coming as soon as I've uploaded some more pictures - I guess I'd better stop laughing at the cats and get on with my list of jobs!

Saturday 14 November 2009

A productive evening!

As shown by the state of my desk! The three pieces you can just about see at the front are currently polishing in the tumbler, and their stones are waiting to be set. Photos soon!

Thursday 12 November 2009

Rippling River

My project in Beads and Beyond this month is a long lampwork necklace. The links that I've used between the beads were inspired by a scrap piece of wire that was sitting in my 'just in case I find a use for it' pot on my desk for months. Now, that's not my scrap pot, even though silver does get pulled back out of there if it just happens to be the perfect length for head pins etc, but my pot of bits and pieces left over from previous experiments. They're too potentially good to put with the scrap but just didn't work out at the time. Anyway, this particular piece of wire had been hammered on both sides with my favourite hammer and been shaped. I found the perfect beads to go with it (beautiful lampwork beads from Caroline at Crafted Gems, and Rippling River was created! I usually find it hard to come up with names for magazine pieces, but this one just had to have a water based name!

There's a bonus project on the Beads and Beyond website too - the earrings above. They're made from one piece of wire and are much quicker and easier to make than they look - perfect for Christmas presents!

Tuesday 10 November 2009

Tutorial Tuesday - frothy flower crochet pattern

There are an amazing number of fantastic tutorials out there on blogs. I've got dozens of them saved and I've even found the time to make a few of them, but not nearly as many as I would like. Anyway, I thought it was about time that I linked to more of them on my blog .... so .... welcome to my first Tutorial Tuesday!

The idea is that that every Tuesday (obviously) I'll link to a tutorial or two that has caught my eye, and hopefully show you what I've made using it too. I'll include more tutorials of my own as well as - some showing you jewellery making techniques and some for projects that haven't made their way into magazine articles. The first tutorial is for a gorgeous crochet flower by Ali of Craft Matters - and this is one tutorial that I've actually found time for! I'd actually been looking for something to spice up my plain brown winter coat, and I think that this will work perfectly. I think I'll be making a few more too to decorate presents as inspired by Bugs and Fishes - look at that! Two tutorials for the price of one!

Itchy fingers!

You know that feeling when you've got work to do that you actually do enjoy doing and find very satisfactory but your fingers are itching to do something else instead? Well, my fingers are itching and twitching right now! I've got half a dozen or so orders that I need put the finishing touches to so I can take them up to the post office this afternoon, but I what I really want to go is make a start on at least one of the designs that I sketched out late last night. I will be good and get the orders done first, but hopefully I'll have something else to show you either tonight or tomorrow as well!

Monday 9 November 2009

Old friends

Well, not friends who are old, but you know what I mean!

We had visitors on Saturday, friends who I went to university with and their two girls, the eldest of whom is now B's new best friend. They seemed to spend most of the day in fits of giggles! They'd met half a dozen or so times before, but this was the first time that they'd spent the whole day together since they were toddlers, and it was lovely to see them playing so beautifully together. Of course, Jo and I had the usual conversation that all old friends do, the one that revolves around how amazed we are that time has flown so quickly, surely it was only a couple of years ago and not 1996 that we were sharing a house and trying to find any distraction (even cleaning the bathroom) from studying for our finals, and how on earth did we get old enough to be married with children and mortgages?! Oh, and we must, really must, meet up more often. Jo's going to come over and spend the day with me playing in the shed in the New Year, so that's a start!

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Finished projects

I'm feeling rather pleased with myself as I managed to finish two projects last weekend while we were driving up to Suffolk for Grandma's birthday. I finished knitting and crocheting them both a couple of weeks ago, but as usual it's taken me a while to sew them up!

I made the elephant for my friend's new baby girl. We called into see them for lunch and a lazy afternoon on Saturday before continuing onto my Aunt's for the birthday celebrations. I had lots of lovely cuddles with baby Emma and was rewarded with a little bit of sick and lots of smiles! The pattern for the elephant came from this blog, and B and Emma's big brother have put orders in for their own!

And this is the waistcoat I made for Grandma's birthday that I was keeping a secret. I'm really pleased with it - it's not my taste but it's definitely Grandma's, and her favourite colour too. I made it longer than the pattern suggests as Grandma likes her tops to cover her back well. I found the pattern listed on Ravelry (a site that I'm spending more and more time on). The cover of the book it's in nearly put me off as it looks so dated, but I think it turned out rather well.

Tuesday 3 November 2009


I had a lovely surprise this morning - my Golden Lovebird is featured on the Cuteable blog! This is one of the blogs that I check out regularly as there are always so many lovely things featured, so I'm really pleased that one of my pieces has been included!

The items in this particular blog post were chosen by Belinda from Shop Handmade UK, and if you wander over to the Shop Handmade UK blog you'll find a nice discount code waiting for you! Thank you Belinda!

Guaranteed Delivery

I've decided to sign up with a courier due to the Royal Mail strikes. I usually use Special Delivery, and while I haven't had any problems with this service during the strikes as Royal Mail have been making them a priority, I don't want to risk any problems as the strikes continue. no extra cost to you, my dear customers, all UK parcels will be sent by the courier myHermes who will call back twice more if you are out the first time. The parcels are trackable, and I'll include the tracking number in the order dispatch details.

And what's more, they will come and collect the parcels from me so that I don't have to wait in the post office queue - how cool is that!

P.S. On a serious note, I am steadily growing more angry about these strikes - don't they realise the damage that they are doing to everyone, and that most people who have switched to using couriers won't switch back afterwards? I really want to support my local post office and send my parcels through them, but I feel as though my hand has been forced. I'm going to leave my comments on this whole stupid affair at that, as if I go any further this will turn into a long rant!

Monday 2 November 2009

Look what the postie brought me today!

Look look!! I actually got some post today!

Now, don't worry, this isn't going to be a Royal Mail strike moaning blog post - but I'm certain that I'll write one soon.... I'm excited because the beads for the next Designer Challenge for Beads and Beyond arrived this morning and they are gorgeous! They're from Precious Sparkle beads, who I tend to buy quite a few beads from, and I've already planned out what I'm going to make with them.

I can't spoil the surprise, but if you're very good you can have a look at the packaging - aren't I generous?! If you look closely you may even be able to see a few of the colours contained in that plain looking bag.


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