Thursday, 31 January 2008

Black and White...

Blimey, Thursday again already! Why do some weeks go by in a flash and yet others seem to be a month long? Answers on a postcard...

Last Saturday was Chepstow Gem and Bead Fair. I dragged the family over there as it was 'on the way' to my mum's. It was actually a 20 mile detour, but, bless them, they didn't complain - and I didn't make them come round looking at beads, they went off for a walk.

The Fair was great and I managed to say hello to chums from the UK Beaders forum:
Su from Tillerman Beads (
Bea from Just Beads (
and Graham from CJ Beadworks (
I bought lots of lovely things, especially from Eleanor at Twinklepieces ( and some fab David Christensen glass.

Talking of which , here's the first item made with beads from my haul. It features a David Christensen large focal piece. I've married it with black onyx, both polished and matt, and Swarovski crystals. This was one of those - rare - occasions when I knew exactly how I was going to make the necklace as soon as I saw the focal.

This one will be added to the website today.

Also added to the website today, will be a selection of earrings - also made with David Christensen glass beads - like these!

I'm sure you can see why I got carried away on that stall!

Had a miracle result at WW... I lost half a pound! A miracle because I'd eaten soooooo much at the weekend. I'm trying to be extra good this week so the over-eating doesn't catch up with me next week... watch this space!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Caribbean Dreaming

Been busy the last few days making this:

The fabulous focal is by Julie Fountain ( I'm sure Julie won't mind me saying that she's not been making lampwork beads for very long... but she's certainly got the knack and is producing beads like she's been at it for a lifetime.

This particular one just said, "Beach, holiday, sand, sea and sun." So I've teamed it with loads of freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystals in Caribbean sea colours, along with a few Thai Hill Tribe silver beads: starfish and a shell. The clasp is also in the shape of a starfish and because it's so gorgeous, I've made the necklace side fastening. The back of the necklace is blue leather.

This will form part of my Marine Project which has been the main project for my jewellery course this year. Once that has been assessed, the necklace will appear on the website (if it's not been sold beforehand!).

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Ring-a-ding BLING!

Been making some rings recently - bling rings or cluster rings. I was inspired when I found these rings - when I was buying something completely different!

I'd not seen this shape before and thought they were really unusual and desirable... I made a couple using the wrapped loop method, but when I was trawling about looking at other people's rings, I found the suggestion of attaching the beads to the ring with jumprings. Well, that was it, I was off! Here are two of the first ones, along with a wrapped loop one with Swarovski crystals:

I really like this method. It is quick and gives a different look to the ring. And I can use my Miyuki drop beads, which are some of my favourites in the seed bead department. Lots of these on the website now.

The Christmas weight is slowly shifting. I lost 2.5 pounds last week, stayed the same today. Will try and have a good week this week, but we're away at the weekend which is always a challenge!

Am extremely happy to report that Tom got an A* in this GCSE Maths which he took in November and also that he passed his Grade 5 keyboard exam with distinction. Am thrilled for him.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

It's all about remembering...

What a horrible, horrible morning. It's SO wet and windy. Roll on the spring...

I've been adding more things to the website: this time it's memory wire bracelets and bookmarks.

Bookmarks were a huge seller in the run up to Christmas. I made loads with little Swarovski crystal dragonflies - some will be added to the website shortly - and then larger ones with lampwork beads. All the beads are completely unique and have been made by some of the UK's best lampwork artists, so this is an affordable way for people to own a little piece of today's glass art. Here are a couple:

Memory wire bracelets continue to be good sellers. Part of their appeal, I think, is the lack of a fiddly clasp, as you just wind them round your wrist.

Today I'm off for a long meeting with Sarah, my partner in crime... oops sorry, my partner in craft fairs and jewellery parties. We're going to look back at the events we did last year and see how we can improve our operation and see what lessons we have learned.

But before that, it's the weigh in at WW. I've not been perfect, but I've eaten less than in the weeks over Christmas, so hopefully I shall have started on the downward slope. As long as I've made even the slightest inroad into the 5lb I put on over the festive period, I shall be happy!

Friday, 11 January 2008

Making a Spectacle... Chain

When I first started selling jewellery, my best sellers were my spectacle chains. I don't know how many I made - it felt like thousands. Then I got really bored with them and moved onto other things.

However, studying the statistics of my website, I see that my spectacle chain page (I've always got a few knocking about) gets more hits than anything else. So, I've decided that I really must capitalise on this trend and get some more done.

These ones are my favourites at the moment:

They are all mixes of Toho seed beads from Japan. They are called Bara Rose, Sakura Cherry and Kimono Lilac. I even like the names! They are quite unusual as spectacle chains and, I think, very sophisticated looking.

Managed to get a few more necklaces/pendants and sets listed today - so website categories are slowly filling up. I've still got quite a way to go.

I got some delicious beads through the post this morning from Emma Ralph - a very talented lampwork artist. I'm itching to get going with them, but have told myself I have to get the website updated first. Have a feeling the beads will win out though!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

The Maille of the Species

I promised myself I'd learn lots of new techniques and skills this year, so I started by sending for a couple of chain maille kits. I've had a ball making them. The first is a bangle made with aluminium and rubber rings:

The rubber rings mean that the whole thing is stretchy and so fits over your hand easily.

The second is a bracelet made with five different colours of anodised aluminium and rubber rings:

Martha made off with this one as soon as I'd finished it! The clasp didn't come in the kit - but I thought it was a more secure fastening than their suggestion.

After I'd made these, I had quite a few rings left over so I made some earrings!

I really like these last ones. They are a matching pair, but I've shown them from different aspects as they look quite different. I think they're very 'biker chick'!

I'm very taken with this new skill and keen to try other maille patterns, so I'll be ordering some more rings and hope to show you more soon!

None of these items are going to be on the website as they are very much practice pieces. But, hopefully, I'll be able to offer similar items for sale in the not too distant future.

And just to tempt you... I have some very exciting beads arriving in the next day or two...

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Goodbye Christmas... Hello Weight Watchers!

With the taking down of the Christmas tree today, I must finally call a halt to the non-stop eating and drinking that has been the hallmark of this festive season. I go back to WW on Tuesday and I dread to think what news there will be on the scales... Hey ho, I've had a really good time!

I've been doing lots more playing with my Photoshop and I'm beginning to get the hang of it. I've been posting up more sets onto the website and have been making a montage of the photographs to show when someone clicks to see more. Here's an example:

I'm quite pleased with this - although (after consulting Tom - fount of all knowledge at 15) I've now found some more tools that will make subsequent ones even better!

I have added a few more sets and a necklace today, so categories are slowly filling up.

Tomorrow I really have to try and get all my beads back in my office - they are still scattered all over the house (in boxes, I should add) after the New Year's Eve party. Also, tomorrow I'm back to college and my silversmithing course. I must have a think about what to make this term.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Three New Sets Listed!

Yes, three new sets listed today!

They were actually made before Christmas but I didn't have time to photograph them before today. Of course, today turns out to be the dullest day in the history of the world... not exactly what you need for taking photographs.

However, it provided a good test of the Photoshop Elements software that Father Christmas brought for me. For a first go, I don't think they turned out too badly

This first set features beads by the very talented Helen Brodt-Savage. I love her beads... but so do lots of other people and hence, the price can go too high on ebay for me. Also, if you then use a lot of the beads, then the jewellery becomes expensive too. In this set, I've used just three and so the price can be kept at a reasonable level.
The glass chips are a really good match for the beads and I like their jaggediness (is that a word?) amongst the smoothness of the other beads. There are also little ivory freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystals.

I got a new set of Helen's beads in the post this morning... and they are stunning... so watch this space!

This set is a real show stopper! The freshwater pearls are a fabulous shade of purple and they are top drilled - dancing pearls, which means that they don't hang in an orderly fashion. At the front of the necklace, I have separated the pearls with rectangles of top drilled opalite. The rectangles are faceted and so catch the light. At the back of the necklace I've used Sterling Silver tubes instead. This is one to get you noticed!

This final set was rather an experiment. The silver-lined beads are quite large and nothing I strung with them looked right - they needed chunkiness. Then I hit on the idea of using Tibetan Silver... something I used a lot when I was starting on jewellery making, but not much lately. The knobbly tubes are actually daisy spacers strung in clumps of five. These, teamed with some Tibetan diamond shaped beads and some silver plated beads gave exactly the look I was searching for. I think I'll be using this effect again.

OK, so I've broken the duck for this year. I hope to be back with some more additions very soon!

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Happy New Year!

I'm so sorry my lovely blog readers... I have really been very remiss in updating you over the last few months. Things got SO hectic between September and Christmas there just wasn't time to do everything.
I'm very happy to report that the autumn was amazingly successful - 7 craft fairs and 14 jewellery parties - and all with great sales. But great sales mean a lot of work to build the stock back up for the next event. I was beading day and night!

Just before Christmas I took my daughter to Paris to see Bruce Springsteen. He was amazing (as always) - in fact, I think the best I've ever seen... and I've seen him 9 or 10 times! Martha really enjoyed it - until the last night (thankfully after the concert) when she threw up all night. Poor lamb.

Christmas was a quietish affair, just the four of us, plus my lovely mum. I was totally spoilt - lots of beady books and Photoshop, so hopefully my photographs will improve!

Then we had a few days of dashing hither and thither seeing friends and relations, then back home to get ready for our New Year's Eve party. This involved taking apart my office/workshop to make room for people to stay over (14 people stayed!). We decided to start dismantling the old kitchen (which will eventually be my new workshop) so we could store all my beadies. Brian and Tom did a fine job and although there is still half the old kitchen in situ and the rest is filled with boxes, I can begin to see how it will look and now can't wait!

The party was great. Lots of people, food and drink. Great fun.

Yesterday, I got my computer back together - so feel connected to the world again. And today, I must find some beads and make something. Definite withdrawal symptoms setting in.

One of my (many) resolutions is to keep this blog - and my website - more up to date. So, if I've not posted for a week, I hope you'll get on and nag me!

I wish you a very Happy, Healthy and Successful 2008.