Tuesday 26 February 2013

AJE Component of the Month - Giveaway!

First of all, thank you so much for the lovely comments on my Mum's earrings in yesterday's post. It was so nice to wake up to them this morning!

Secondly, GIVEAWAY!! Did that grab your attention? Good! It was my turn to create something new for the AJE Component of the Month challenge. The challenge itself isn't until next month, but so that I can get the components out to the challengees early enough I've reveal them today. As I'm enjoying making hollow beads so much at the moment I thought that I'd make some for the challenge, and here they are!

Antiqued copper hollow lentil-shaped beads, measuring approximately 15mm in diameter and with the holes running across the beads. If you would like the chance to win one and take part in the challenge then visit the AJE blog and leave your details in the post comments before Friday midday eastern time. Winners will be revealed on Friday evening - good luck!

P.S. these are not available in my Daisychain Extra shop yet - but watch this space!

Monday 25 February 2013

Very special recycling

I've got a very special project to show you today, one that I was rather nervous about but thankfully turned out very well!

My Mum has recently been dropping hints about wanting a pair of gold earrings - the type of hints that were accompanied by a little plastic bag with parts of a couple of broken gold earrings and a few other scraps as well! As it was her birthday on 15th February I decided that that was the time for gold earrings. Fancy seeing how I made them? I'm afraid that the pictures aren't the prettiest as they were quick snaps of work in progress, but there are pretty pictures at the end, promise.

First up was melting the scrap into a ball on my charcoal block. Doesn't look particularly pretty at this point, does it? I then realised that to make the type of earrings I had in mind I would need some more gold, so I took out of my Grandma's old jewellery box a couple of old broken earrings of hers that I'd been keeping to melt to make something special. Perfect for a new pair of earrings for Mum! A bit of weighing scrap and a bit more melting and I had two nuggets of gold of as closely the same size as possible. 3g of 9k gold is about £30 worth of gold!

My plan was to use the rolling mill to turn the nuggets into little pieces of sheet as oval as possible, so I hammered them first to speed things up a bit and passed them through the rolling mill lots (and lots!) of times, making sure that they were the same way round each time to stretch them out into ovals. A little bit of filing to make sure that they were the same shape and size and they would have been ready for hammering......but I decided that I wanted to make them thicker and a different shape so I melted them again, into one bigger nugget this time!

And, after hammering with my favourite hammer, soldering on stud fittings and polishing, this is what I ended up with (here are the pretty pictures!). I think that I was more nervous about giving Mum these earrings than I have been about any other piece of jewellery I made for her. I don't think it was because they're gold, I think it was more about where the gold came from, but I do like the idea that I made Mum a pair of earrings from gold recycled from her old jewellery and her Mum's old jewellery. Much better than old broken pieces sitting at the bottom of a jewellery box! Mum put them in as soon as she opened the box, which is always a good sign.

Friday 22 February 2013

Canadian Soup

Deb has emailed - her parcel of Bead Soup ingredients has arrived in Canada! I have to say, I am very impressed with how quickly it has got there. There is still one UK parcel that I posted at the same time that is yet to arrive at it's destination! I showed you a teaser last week, but now I can show you more details....

 I made Deb a copper Lovebird clasp (you probably guessed I'd make the clasp!), and a smaller Lovebird charm and heart charms to match. There's also a reel of patinaed copper wire and some hammered rings in there in case she didn't have any copper wire. I am sorry to say that I don't know the name of the maker of the lampwork bead, but I love the swirls of blue and ivory inside the clear glass. The ivory spacer beads are ones a friend who no longer makes beads made me a few years ago, and the blue spacers are Mindy Macgregor's. And a final touch to bring it all together, a length of deep turquoise silk ribbon from Marsha Neal. 

I'm really looking forward to seeing what Deb makes with her ingredients - you can see what she thought of her goodies here. And I'm really looking forward to seeing what the postman brings me!

Thursday 21 February 2013

New Daisychain Extra designs now available

It's been far too many weeks since I listed new designs in my Daisychain Extra shop, but there are lots in there now, from new toggle clasps with lovely textured daisies in copper and sterling silver....

to Lovebird bangle blanks like the one I used in the Art Jewelery Elements challenge last month.

There are also reels of 1mm and 1.2mm patinaed copper wire following requests from customers and leaf connectors to match the leaf rings used in the new Daisy and Leaf toggle clasps.

And if you'd like to find out how to make your own Daisy and Leaf toggle clasp (or to see just how much work goes into making a handcrafted jewellery component!) then please visit the third of my Soldering Tips tutorials over on the AJE blog today!

Daisychain Extra shop update!

I've spent the morning taking and editing photos of lots of lovely new products - 
there will be a Daisychain Extra shop update at 1pm today!

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Mystery Discs!

Earlier today on Facebook I posted this picture and asked if anyone could guess what they could be - either everyone was out enjoying the spring sunshine this afternoon or I had everyone stumped! Well, this is what the textured discs have turned into....

I am slightly obsessed with making hollow beads at the moment. One of the three projects that one of my evening classes are working on for their assessment pieces is a hollow bead pendant, and we've been exploring different ways of making hollow beads and decorating their surfaces. This is one of the most simple methods. I've used a punch to decorate the surface of discs of silver, used a doming punch to cup them, filed the rims smooth and flat and then soldered them together in pairs. One of my jobs tomorrow is to drill the holes in them.

The five smaller ones are going to be part of the bracelet I'm making with the wonderful cabochons that Mindy Macgregor sent me for our collaboration, and the larger one will be in a pendant with the largest cab - and here's a reminder of how beautiful the cabs are, just in case you'd forgotten!

Saturday 16 February 2013

Focus in Life - week 7: Beauty of Flowers

Earth laughs in flowers.
                                                          ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I do love that quote, but until Sally used it in her prompt for us this week I hadn't known who it was from, and unusually for me in this age of Google and Wikipedia I hadn't got round to looking it up! 

The beauty of flowers was our photo prompt this week. I could easily have shown you the lovely red roses that T gave me for Valentine's Day, but it was my orchid that kept catching my eye when I got my camera out - not the best photo I'm afraid as the sun has refused to come out today! This orchid is something of a miracle. I maybe able to saw and shape delicate flowers out of sheet metal but I am most definitely not as good with living flowers but so far I have been able to keep my orchid alive for just over two years now. And not only is it alive but it has 15 buds in various stages of blooming as well as this lovely flower, plus new shoots growing. Heaven knows what I'm doing to it, but it seems to be working!

For more beautiful blooms follow this link!

Thursday 14 February 2013

Bead Soup!

Unless you've been hibernating more than me over the last few weeks you'll know that Lori Anderson has been busy pairing up people from all over the world for the 7th Bead Soup Blog Party. This is the fourth party I've taken part in as I took a break when Jamie was tiny, and I've been particularly looking forward to this one Lori is only running one a year now - not surprising considering the amount of work it takes to organise several hundred jewellery designers and beaders!

My partner this time is Deborah Read who lives in snowy Ontario, Canada. You have to go over to her blog to see how beautiful her home looks in the snow at the moment! It almost makes me feel jealous that our snow never lasts for very long - and then I remember that we live at the top of a steep hill and snow and steep hills don't got well together! Deborah works with so many different jewellery techniques and materials from resin and etching copper to lampworking, that I have absolutely no idea what soup ingredients she will have put together for me, but I do know that it's on its way!

My ingredients are on their way over to Canada as well. I can't show you what pretties I've put together for Deborah until they arrive so that I don't spoil the surprise, but you can tell what colours I've included from the teaser above! As soon as our ingredients have arrived I'll show them off more, and then I'll be busy designing ready for the reveal on 6th April.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope you are having a lovely day wherever you are, and a remembering and being remembered by your loved ones! T and I didn't have much time for more than a quick "Happy Valentine's Day" this morning in the usual pre-school rush, but I'm planning a quiet meal in tonight, followed by curling up on the sofa watching a good film. A bit different than how we spent Valentine's Day two years ago. Today is the second anniversary of the operation that helped me to beat cancer, and with another set of biopsy results this week (all clear, thank God!) today is doubly sweet.

I've got a few blog posts to publish today (well, at least one, we'll see if Jamie naps for long enough for me to finish more than one!), posts that I half wrote at the weekend and the beginning of the week but was too distracted to actually finish. I can't quite seem to concentrate on writing when I'm waiting for biopsy results. I tend to hibernate a bit, and spending time in the workshop becomes more important as I stop worrying when I'm sawing, hammering and filing! Thankfully I've had lots of notonthehighstreet orders for my Lovebird pendants to keep me busy!

I'll be back later today with bead soup!

Thursday 7 February 2013

Inspired by Winter - Snowdrops

I signed up for another challenge - I couldn't resist! I had told myself that with the Focus on Life photo challenge, the AJE earrings challenge and the Bead Soup Blog Party (more about that at the weekend!), not to mention teaching, orders, magazine deadlines etc etc - oh yes, and family! - I had enough going on. But I couldn't resist when I read Sally Russick's post introducing her Inspired by Winter challenge. It was the words "The muted colors of nature as it awaits Spring" that caught my imagination. Our garden and the local park are not looking their best at the moment. We've had so much rain over the last year that everything is so wet, and the new growth hasn't arrived yet. In fact, everything looked a lot prettier a couple of weeks ago when it was covered with snow! But if you look carefully there is beauty, and a promise of what's to come.

And so this is what I made - subtly patterned earrings in off-white and a dark dusky purple jade, reminding me of the snowdrops that have started to grow and the berries that the birds have almost finished off the bushes along our route to school! The ceramic teardrops are by Bo Hulley. They've been sitting on my desk for a while, waiting for the perfect time, like the snowdrops they represent I suppose. I hope that you like them - and if you really like them you can find them here! And I hope that you will take the time to see what everyone else who took up Sally's challenge has made. I'm teaching all day today, so I'll be working my way round the blogs this evening.

Monday 4 February 2013

A Collaboration

A new month, a new resolve to blog more often. I have to admit that last month was a harder one than I expected. I expected to come back completely refreshed after the Christmas break and bounce back into everything with lots of energy but I forgot a couple of things - firstly I was ill over Christmas so why on earth did I think that I was going to get refreshed?! And secondly - it was January! I didn't have the January blues, but with all the grey weather it was too easy to feel a bit flat after the boys' birthdays and Christmas. It was also an extra busy month in that I had a lot of private tuition students booked in - three last week plus a whole day teaching one of my college classes last Saturday plus my usual Tuesday and Wednesday night classes. Good for the bank balance, lots of fun while I was actually teaching but very little time to do my own jewellery making. I got everything done, met all deadlines, but I did have a lot of late nights in January!

Anyway, a new month - and a new collaboration! If you've been reading my blog for more than a month or so you must have picked up on just how much I love Mindy Macgregor's beautiful lampwork. The colours she uses frequently challenge me, which I need as I can easily get stuck in a colour rut, and the detail she puts in her beads is amazing. And thankfully Mindy likes what I make with her creations too! Before Christmas Mindy emailed to ask if I would be interested in a collaboration. She was keen to see some of her new, smaller cabochons set in silver to form a bracelet, and wondered if she sent me some, would I be interested in making a bracelet with them? Can you guess just how many seconds I thought about it before saying yes please?!

If you haven't guessed already, the beautiful lampwork in these photos are the cabochons that Mindy sent me last week. I can't decided which I love the most! I love the size of the set of smaller cabochons and I know that I will be buying as many of this size as I can from Mindy! They are perfect for bracelets and smaller pendants. The colours in the larger cab are just amazing, colours that I would not have considered putting together but work perfectly together. The smaller set will form part of a bracelet, and I have a pendant planned for the larger cabochon. I will post updates to show you how the designs are progressing!

Saturday 2 February 2013

Focus on LIfe - week 5: Capture Our Hearts

"Capturing our hearts" was the prompt Sally gave us this week for the Focus on Life photo challenge, asking us to look for hearts in our surroundings. I didn't have to go far to find these pretty ones! They are a birthday card from a lovely friend of mine, and they were far too lovely to put out with the recycling after my birthday last April, so they have been decorating my book shelf and making me smile ever since.

You can also get a snapshot of my reading tastes in this photo. The shelf at the top of the photo has my chick-lit, the books I go to for a bit of light relief. The shelf below has my collection of Anne McCaffrey books, including treasured copies that she signed for me when I was lucky enough to meet her at her home, over a decade ago now. I started reading her books when I was 13 (I'm going to be 40 in April!), and they are like old friends. A friend of mine calls books you love like this "literary teddy bears"! I may know every twist of the stories, but I still love reading them again. Other shelves contain everything from David Eddings (another favourite!) to Harry Potter and Jane Austin. My Confirmation Bible is there too, and a couple more far more well-read editions with rather beaten covers! You can also catch a glimpse of one of the many lego models Ben and I love to make on rainy afternoons when Jamie is napping!

Friday 1 February 2013

AJE Component of the Month - Spring Leaf

It was Karen Totten's turn to create and send out the Art Jewelry Elements Component of the Month for January - beautiful beads that have made all of the AJE team dream of pies! She wrote a blog post yesterday showing how she made them, and I am amazed at how much work goes into making them. I always find it fascinating to see how artists create with other materials.

And this is what I made with my pie bead.....

I made a bangle with a lovebird - a hopeful spring symbol to go with the green leaf on the bead that Karen sent me. The wooden beads are from Smitten Beads, and I've used copper wire to twist peanut seed beads around the thicker wire of the bangle to stop the larger beads from slipping around too much. I'm really rather pleased with it, although it's not my usual style of jewellery. And I'm very pleased with the bangle I made! I've got daisy and poppy bangles in my Daisychain Extra shop, and I think lovebird ones will be joining them soon!

I'm really looking forward to seeing what the rest of the AJE blog team and this month's guest challengees have made with Karen's beads. You can see what they've made too by following the links below...
Our guests:
The AJE team:


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