Thursday 30 June 2011

Less than 12 hours left!

Yes, that's all! Less than 12 hours left to enter the draw to win one of these pairs of earrings - both pairs are up for grabs! To see more details have a look at this post. The giveaway is open to everyone, UK and international.

Wednesday 29 June 2011


Poppy soup, anyone? I am really pleased with this bracelet - I've finally used one of the poppy beads that Mindy made for me after hoarding them for much longer than I usually hoard her beads for, I haven't used it in a necklace or pendant as I would normally do, and I've continued to break out of desire to make everything symmetrical!

I had planned to make a necklace using the bead soup ingredients that I tucked away in my cupcake tin yesterda , but as I started to make it up I realised that it wasn't really going to work out. I wanted to use the bead horizontally rather than vertically as I would usually do, but it kept spinning over due to its weight. I actually went to bed feeling a bit fed up last night as neither of the two pieces I was working on yesterday evening were going well. But then inspiration struck - how about a Summer Solstice bracelet instead of a necklace? This is the reason why I keep a sketch book beside the bed!!

I'm really pleased with the poppy clasp. I wanted to do something to balance out the bead so it wouldn't spin too easily underneath your wrist, but if it did something lovely would still be on view - and it works! I wore it out tonight to test it - yes! I went out somewhere that didn't involve children, although they were the topic of conversation more than once. I went out for a meal with some friends I used to teach with, and it was lovely. We don't get to meet up often enough. Thank you Ali for organising us, and congratulations Tiggy on the pregnancy and Suzy on the new job!

If you want to remind yourself of what my ingredients looked like, and where the inspiration for the bracelet came from, visit this post!

Tuesday 28 June 2011

June giveaway at last!

A comment that Lynne made on my incy wincy hat post reminded me that although I had planned what this month's giveaway was going to be, I hadn't actually got round to sorting it out - oops! If only someone had given me a Tardis for my birthday (with or without David Tennant, I'm not greedy!) then all my not-enough-hours-in-the-day would have been solved!

Anyway, I have finally listed the pieces above on my website. I first made them before Christmas, and they've sold really well on craft stalls, but I'm still catching up on taking and editing photos etc of pieces to go on the website. The pendant and stud earrings above have been textured with my favourite hammer to match the Silver Birch bangles, and they are lovely to wear - and that's not just me saying that, honest! Katie (my tester and owner of the largest collection of Daisychain Jewellery (Mum and Hellie are very close seconds!)) sleeps in her Silver Birch studs as she finds them so comfortable to wear. They've become her "go-to" earrings. Both designs are made from 2mm square wire. The pendant is just over 2cm in diameter and the earrings are about 13mm long.

Both designs are available in a shiny or oxidised finish, and they can be found here and here. However, if you would like to be in with a chance to win your own pair of Silver Birch earrings then read on...

  1. There are two pairs available - one pair to one lucky person on my newsletter mailing list and one pair to someone leaving a comment on this post.
  2. You can enter both draws by adding your details to the mailing list if you haven't already done so and leaving a comment.
  3. You can get an extra entry into the blog comment draw by blogging/tweeting/facebooking about the giveaway, linking to this post, and leaving another comment telling me that you've done so.
  4. You can choose whichever finish you prefer.
  5. The draws are open to international and UK readers.
  6. The draw closes at midnight on Thursday 30th June, so you haven't got long!
I think that's all I need to tell you! Good luck!

    Tutorial Tuesday - Summer Solstice Necklace

    I've fallen in love with this gorgeous necklace by Heather Powers on Art Scene Blog - each of the components are so different yet go together so beautifully. I've started my own version using the ingredients below, but you'll have to wait until tomorrow's Bead Table Wednesday as I've got a magazine article to finish and a teething baby to console - oh, and a giveaway to take photos for!

    The Art Bead Scene Blog also had another great idea - well, a challenge really that I didn't have time to join in with. Use a muffin or bun tin and fill each dish with the ingredients for a project, and see how many you can work through in a week. I usually have little piles of beads and pieces of silver all over my desk, some in little boxes, others in bags, and they never stay organised for long while they're waiting for me to have time to make them into something lovely. I don't know why I didn't think of baking tins before - such a simple but brilliant idea! Anyway, these two piles of bead soup ingredients will end up as two very different necklaces based on the Summer Soltice necklace - one with a gorgeous labradorite cab with beautiful purple flashes, and one with a Moogin poppy bead and Swarovski crystals. My aim is to finish at least one to show you tomorrow!

    You can find the tutorial here: Art Bead Scene Blog: Summer Solstice Necklace

    Monday 27 June 2011

    Incy Wincy Spider Hat

    Lori posted last week about, of all things, stinky shoes. It may sound like a rather strange thing to blog about, and an even stranger thing to take a photo of, but if you go and read her post (click here) you'll understand that it wasn't the shoes themselves she was blogging about but the memories and about how the small, simple things can make life a joy. Now, we (unfortunately) have a few pairs of rather stinky shoes in our house, and I expect that as the boys grow and turn into teenagers that we will have even more, but after reading Lori's post it was the hat pictured above that came into my mind. It's Jamie's hat now but it was Ben's before him, and I love it. It reminds me of how small my big boy once was, of how easy it was to pick him up, to carry him about and cuddle him, and of how lovely it was not to have to rush around for school and various appointments everyday. He still likes cuddles, but I think from his reaction the last few school mornings that the days of letting me kiss him goodbye at the school doors are numbered! At least the summer holidays are coming up, so we'll have a few weeks at least of taking things at a bit more leisurely pace. Jamie looks just as cute in the hat, and I think it's going to be one of those items from their babyhood that I'm going to keep and cherish.

    Sunday 26 June 2011

    Sunny Sunday

    The sun decided to come out and play again today - just in time for Dad's birthday BBQ! Lots of lovely BBQ'd food, wine, birthday cake, playing in the garden, teasing Dad about the fact he can now collect his pension - you get the idea! Both boys had a lovely time. Ben loved playing in the garden and playing with my brother who he absolutely loves spending time with, and Jamie just loved all the attention and tickles!

    Happy Birthday Dad!

    Today was the perfect opportunity to try out my new camera. I finally invested in one with a better zoom after seeing the fantastic photos that my friend Hellie took with her's when she visited a couple of months ago - there is no way that my old camera could have taken the beautiful shot of Jamie that she took here. I need to spend a lot more time practising with it but I'm really pleased with the pictures I took of Ben playing with his giant bubbles!

    Wednesday 22 June 2011


    Thank you so much to those of  you who posted a comment on my dilemma about childcare. I know I'm doing the right thing, both by me and by the rest of my family, and I know that I will really look forward to my Thursday work days and make the most of them so that my time with my boys is quality time, but I also know that there will be a bit of guilt as well - that's just the way I am!

    I spent some of Jamie's nap time this morning making up some orders - some NOTHS orders and some orders for my clasps as well - I am so chuffed at how well they are selling! They're selling mainly on my website at the moment, but hopefully the etsy sales will pick up too as I list more designs - the more I list, the easier it will be for people to find me. This evening, though, I actually used one of the oak toggle clasps myself and made the bracelet above. I've had it planned out for ages! The beads are some of my goodies from Artisan last October - picasso jasper in a beautiful matt finish. The chain that makes up part of the bracelet is interlinked - fun to do but it takes a lot of concentration to get the pattern right!

    Now, my job for tomorrow is to upload this, some earrings and some new clasps to the website!

    New Workshop date!

    I have at last organised a workshop date! It's been a while, but I really wanted to get something organised before the school summer holidays and I've had a request for more beginners workshops.

    This is the perfect workshop for learning your first silversmithing skills or for refreshing your knowledge - and of course you go home with a beautiful piece of jewellery made precisely to fit you!

    The aim of this workshop is to teach you how to make a bangle from sterling silver wire. A range of diameters and shapes of wire will be available for you to choose from, and the first £10 worth of materials are  included in the cost of the workshop. Depending on the cost of silver on the day this usually covers the cost of an average sized bangle. All equipment is provided.

    While learning how to make your bangle you will learn the following skills:
    calculating the amount of materials required
    sawing, filing, sanding and polishing
    hammering textures
    We will also cover topics such as hallmarking, and you will be given information sheets to help you to make your own bangles at home. These are the basic silversmithing skills required for creating virtually every other piece of silver jewellery from chains to earrings.

    This is the only group workshop that I will be running before the autumn, and there are only 5 places available. For more details and to book a place follow the link - link!

    That was quick!! There is now only one place left - if you'd like it, you'd better get in there quick!!

    All of the places have been booked now, thank you!

    Tuesday 21 June 2011

    Tutorial Tuesday - Bubble earrings

    This is the tutorial that I was hoping to share with you last week - the earrings themselves don't take very long to make, especially if you have some jump rings already to hand, but writing everything up and editing the photos takes a bit longer! Anyway, I hope that you like it.

    I'm making quite a few different designs of stud earrings at the moment. They're very popular both on my website and and at craft shows, partly I think because they are more every-day wear than my long danglies, and also because as they tend to use less silver I can offer them at a lower price. This design came about because I wanted a longer pair of earrings that were still studs and still nice and light to wear.

    To make them you will need:
    • 3 small jumprings (I used 3mm inside diameter rings of 0.8mm wire)
    • 3 larger jumprings (I used 5mm inside diameter rings of 0.8mm wire)
    • 2 stud fittings/pins (I buy mine from Cookson Gold - I prefer these as they have a small head which makes soldering them so much easier! They are one of the few findings that I still buy rather than make myself)
    • 2 butterfly scrolls for the studs
    • meduim solder
    • easy solder
    • usual soldering kit, hammer and whatever you use to polish your work
    To start, arrange the jumprings  in a pattern that you like. You can of course use more or fewer rings than I have, and different sizes of rings too. If you don't already know how to make your own jumprings, have a look at my tutorial on that here. Make certain that the two earrings are mirror  images of each other!

    Make sure that the rings are tightly closed and move them on to a soldering brick. Put the joins of the rings where the solder will go so that you solder the rings closed and solder them together at the same time. Put a little medium solder on each join. I used solder paste but I'm going to try solder pallions and separate flux next time and see if that's less fiddly.

    Solder the rings together, removing the heat as soon as the solder has flown so that you don't risk melting the rings. Quench, pickle and rinse the silver.

    Hammer the earrings if you wish - I much prefer the hammered look!

    Mark on the back of the earrings where you want the pin to go. I used marker pen which gets quickly burnt off, but it stays there long enough to guide me. This step isn't absolutely necessary, but it does help you to make certain that you end up soldering the pins on the right sides!

    Hold a pin in tweezers and apply a little easy solder to the end. Melt this onto the pin. I prefer to do this so that the paste doesn't get smeared all over my work if my hand moves while I'm soldering. Solder the pin into place. Repeat with the second earring, and quench, pickle and rinse them both. Polish the earrings, and enjoy!

    The old working mum's dilemma...

    An old dilemma I mean, not an old mum! Although my grey hairs have increased recently! It's the dilemma of childcare - do I or don't I?

    Ben went to a childminder after the May halfterm holiday from the age of five and a half months when I went back to teaching back in 2006. He went fulltime, five days a week, which I absolutely hated. The only reasons that I could cope with it was because he really enjoyed it as he was such a sociable baby, and I knew it would only be fulltime for the last seven weeks of the school year. The knowledge that it was the only way I could get the rest of my maternity pay helped too! After I finished school he went one day a week so that I could work on my new business, building up to two afternoons a week after school or two full days a week during the holidays now. He still goes to the same childminder, as do the children of a couple of friends when they saw how happy he was there, and he still enjoys it. It's been good for him to spend more time other children of all different ages too, and I'm sure that it's helped him to settle into school better this year.

    Jamie is now nearly six months old and I'm feeling well enough to go back to work properly - in fact I really really want to spend more time working - I have told you before that jewellery making is something of an obsession, haven't I?! Jamie is most likely going to be our last baby, though, and I love spending time with him. He is such a gorgeous little boy, so sociable like his brother and an absolute joy, especially considering how long we waited for him and how hard some of this year so far has been. I don't want to miss a single thing, but I know from experience that I need to work as well. I love what I do, and there's only so much I can fit around having a baby at home all the time, and if I try to do everything with Jamie at home I know I'll only get stressed about it. I haven't liked not blogging as much, and I've really missed teaching both at home and at college.

    So, Jamie is going to go to the same childminder as Ben from September, just for one day a week. There's no point him going before then as T has the school holidays off and we've agreed that I can have some work time during the holidays while he looks after the boys - we'll have lots of family days out too though! All I need to do now is to stop feeling guilty about asking someone else to look after my baby!

    So, how do the rest of you balance family, childcare and working, especially if you run your own business?

    Wednesday 15 June 2011


    Guess what we're doing?! Yes, it's time for the kitchen (and me!) to be covered in puree and for Jamie to need even more changes of clothes during the day! Apple, pear and carrots are going down well, and apple mixed with blueberries are a big hit - so much so that he keeps grabbing the spoon himself!

    Tuesday 14 June 2011

    Tutorial Tuesday - earring display

    I was going to share a tutorial for a pair of earrings, but, well, I just need more hours in the day! I had my monthly clinic appointment this afternoon, which went well, they're still pleased with my progress, but it takes up the whole afternoon as hospital appointments can do! At least Jamie keeps the whole waiting room amused, and the staff at the clinic too. They're not used to seeing such young children down there, and as they first met him when he was 6 days old everyone makes a big fuss of him.

    So, instead of showing you my new tutorial I thought I'd show you a lovely and simple idea for displaying earrings for craft shows. The craft show I did at Winchester went really well, and it was nice to get back into the swing of things, but I realised that I need a better way of displaying my stud earrings and also my lampwork bead pendants, and this will do nicely for both. Marissa from Sea Flower Studios has written a fool-proof tutorial that you can find here.
    photo copyright Sea Flower Studios

    I will leave you with that, as I'm off out tonight!! Such a rare event! I'm meeting up with the girls from the advanced class that I taught for a drink. It'll be lovely to catch up with them, especially as I haven't seen a couple of them since before Jamie was born. Whatever you're doing tonight I hope you have fun too!

    Monday 13 June 2011


    I reviewed a button jewellery project book for the Spotlight page in Beads and Beyond the other week - it'll be in the July issue. Anyway, it got me thinking and planning and this is what I ended up with:

    Simple squares of silver, hammered with my favourite hammer (of course!), with two holes drilled in the middle. The corners have been rounded and the holes have been bevelled slightly to soften the edges. There are nine in total, and I've made a toggle clasp to go with them too. Mind you, I say simple squares, but neat squares are actually one of the more difficult shapes to cut. With curves you've got a bit of room for error, for filing to correct little slips, but with squares everyone would notice if your saw blade went off the line!

    I can see these layered with coloured buttons to make rings or with lampwork discs, as charms on bracelets or with wire wrapped beads in between. I've added them to my Daisychain Extra shop on etsy in the limited edition section as this design will not be made to order. I may make another set in the future but each will be slightly different as that's part of the charm of handcrafted items!

    I've also listed some simple wire toggle clasps in oxidised copper, oxidised silver and polished silver. They're listed in sets of five, and there are discounts if you buy more than one set. They will be on my website as well shortly, but the buttons will only be on the etsy shop.

    Oh, and while I'm talking about clasps, the new Beads and Beyond is out now! I've got a set of jewellery in there teaching you how to make your own toggle clasps, and one of the giveaways is for three of my clasps - details of that are on the Retail Therapy pages. My favourite project is Rebecca Anderson's Songbird necklace - I love Rebecca's work, and she always uses colours I love! She's used beautiful bird beads by Heather Powers as the starting point of her design, and if you have a look at Heather's blog you can see some great pictures of the different stages her beads go through.

    Friday 10 June 2011

    A strange kind of logic

    The scene - driving home from the library this afternoon, the boys are sitting in the back of the car.

    Me: "Ben, is Jamie awake or asleep?"
    Ben: "He's as awake as a pie."
    Me:" pies sleep then?"
    Ben: "Well, they don't talk"
    Me: "So is Jamie asleep then?"
    Ben: "He's not talking...but he is awake."

    It's a wonder that I've stayed as sane as I have!

    Thursday 9 June 2011

    Sooz Jewels and Daisychain Extra Clasps!

    Sue Doran of Sooz Jewels kindly let me know that she has posted a couple of pictures of bracelets she's made featuring my daisy clasps. I was really chuffed to see what she'd made - beautiful bracelets with her lampwork beads and my handmade clasps! They go really well together. My favourite is the copper combined with her gorgeous beads made from recycled beer bottles - the colours go beautifully together!
     Sue has a stall at the Art & Craft market opposite Trinity College in Cambridge every Saturday, so if you're in the area do go and admire (and buy!) her work!

    Jamie and I are off to Ben's class assembly now but my main Daisychain job today is to edit the photos for some new clasps, including a set of limited edition buttons and matching toggle clasp, and to list them on the websites. I'll let you know when they're up!

    Wednesday 8 June 2011

    BTW and Lark Books!

    I haven't actually got any pictures of finished jewellery to show you today. It's not that I haven't been making any, it's that the jewellery I've been putting the finishing touches to has to stay under wraps for a little while, so for now you'll have to make do with pictures of parcels waiting to go up to the post office!

    The first parcel is for Becky at Beads and Beyond with a couple of magazine projects inside, one using a beautiful poppy heart focal bead by Mindy Macgregor and a pair of wirework earrings. I've got a sketchbook full of possible projects that I'm working my way through. I couldn't make anything while I was in hospital (they might have disapproved of me soldering on the ward) or for a while after I came home, but that didn't stop my brain from designing!

    And the second...well, that's flying off to the States, to Lark Books!

    I linked to Lark's blog yesterday for the Tutorial Tuesday and mentioned their 30-minute jewellery project books. What I can tell you now is that I've had a project accepted into the 30-minute Bracelets book due out next spring! I am so excited to be part of this book. I love Lark's jewellery books, and the thought that one of my projects is going to be one of the sixty in this new one when so many talented jewellery designers submitted their ideas is unbelievably exciting! It's my first project in a book rather than a magazine - and hopefully not the last!

    P.S. The giveaway clasps were posted today too!

    Tuesday 7 June 2011

    Tutorial Tuesday - 30 minute rings

    A trio of tutorials today! I love Lark Books - their photography is beautiful, and the books are wonderfully presented. One of their series of jewellery project books is the 30 Minute series - so far there are books on rings, necklaces and earrings, and a bracelet book is also in the pipeline. Each book contains 60 projects, and Lark has just posted pdfs of not one but three of the ring projects here on their blog!

    My favourite is Kenneth C. MacBain's project below.

    I've started to make my own version, turning it into a pendant. I used 1" discs, the largest that my disc cutter can cut, and didn't want as many holes as the ring has. I'm going to oxidise the pendant and then remove the oxidisation from the outside, but that's going to have to wait until tomorrow. I think that it makes a lovely contrast, and as the inside of the pendant will get tarnished over time and will be difficult to clean I thought I may as well make the colour difference deliberate!

    Thursday 2 June 2011

    Look! Look!

    Because this will probably never happen again! As my family will tell you, I am definitely not green fingered - remember this carrot?! However, I was given quite a few flowers (I can definitely look after those) and plants while I was ill - and not only have I managed to keep these beautiful orchids alive but they're actually thriving!!

    Wednesday 1 June 2011


    It's just about still Wednesday! I took this photo earlier this evening while the sun was setting and the warm evening sun was streaming in through my workshop windows. I'm still getting used to the different light in my new workshop as the windows in the old one faced a different was, but I think that the evening sun is my favourite. I was able to spend an hour or so in the workshop this evening after the boys went to bed and T was watching old episodes of CSI. My main task was to edit the photos for a magazine project, but I managed to start some new toggle clasps and plan out a bracelet using the lampwork beads you can see on my (surprisingly tidy, only tidied up for magazine project photos) desk.

    I'm going to be spending a few more evenings in the workshop next week on top of whatever time Jamie gives me during the week as I've got my first show of the year on Saturday 11th, a week on Saturday - eeek! I signed up for it quite late as I wasn't sure that I'd be ready for it, not in terms of stock, but physically feeling ready for it. In the end I decided that if I wasn't careful I'd keep putting it off. I've also got the Winchester Handm@de show coming up in July, and I'd like to do a smaller show before that. The show on the 11th is at the Winchester Discovery Centre. I did one there last October and it was very successful, so hopefully this one will be too!

    Daisy Toggle Clasp winners

    I had meant to write out people's names on coloured pieces of paper, put them in a basket and ask Ben to pick out the winners for each of the three toggle clasps, but, well, we went out for the day instead - so you'll have to make do with the good old random number generator again instead - sorry! We didn't go anywhere wildly exciting today, but we had fun. T is taking Ben camping for a couple of days starting tomorrow, and we had to run a few errands in town, one of which was to take back a set of waterproofs for Ben that T had bought yesterday as the shop had left the security tag on them. I hate it when they do that! Anyway, to make the trip a bit more exciting we took the train into town instead of driving. I'd love to show you photos of Jamie entranced with the scenes flying past the window on his first train journey, but I'm afraid that taking a five year old and a baby with a pram on a train doesn't leave hands free for taking photos!

    So, the toggle giveaways....drum roll please....

    The winner of the copper daisy toggle clasp is

    The winner of the silver daisy toggle clasps is
    Lesley (Coburg Crafts)

    And the winner of the oxidised silver toggle clasp is
    Kat Boyd

    The last winner was taken from my newsletter mailing list, and the first two from the comments left on the giveaway post. Ladies, if I have access to your email address I will be emailing you to ask for your address so I can send you your winnings - or you could beat me to it and email me! Thank you everyone for entering! There will be another giveaway later in month.


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