Sunday, 31 May 2009

Still time to enter!

I had a fantastic day in Cambridge yesterday. The weather was lovely with no hint of the breeze that the forecasters promised (wind is always difficult to manage on an outdoor craft market!)

I was delighted that four of the new items that I introduced to the stall all sold
Handmade lampwork beaded braceletHand made lampwork bead necklace
Handmade lampwork beaded pendantHand made lampwork bead earrings
The bracelet uses a variation of the green shoots beads but three of the beads are kalera shaped and this time I used a base of transparent mid blue and the silvered frit has turned a lovely shiny goldy colour in a reduction flame; the photograph hasn't quite captured it. The silver beads and clasp are all Hill Tribe silver. I'm going to use more of these clasps, they really turn bracelets into a "statement" piece.

I tell a tiny porkie about the pink earrings as they didn't physically sell themselves but I took an order from someone who wants a pair made up in the blue/green beads that feature in the competition I'm running. I really like these new earrings, the "tail" is a piece of 1.5mm sterling silver wire which has been hammer finished in my trademark style which means it catches the light from lots of different angles. The top has been hammered flat so I can drill it to attach the bead and then the whole thing wrapped around - guess what! - a knitting needle to make it corkscrew. Getting the two to match was a bit tricky!

Speaking of the jewellery naming competition, there is still time to enter before midnight on Wednesday - I have received some e-mails and so, along with the two on the blog, there's only been a handful entries - which means there's an excellent chance of winning. Just make your suggestion as a blog comment or e-mail me using the contact form on my website.

Gotta run, having my brother and his partner over for Sunday lunch! Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

E-mail blunder

I e-mailed everyone on my customers' mailing list to let them know about the competition here on the blog. I sent them out in batches of 15 or so to make sure it didn't get stopped at the server as "spam". I accidentally put the e-mail addresses in the CC field instead of the BC field.

I apologise unreservedly for such a stupid blunder, I'd certainly understand if anyone got cross about other people that they didn't know seeing their e-mail address but my customers are such a lovely lot of people, I haven't received one complaint. I assure you that it won't happen again.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Name that jewellery

I didn't make many new designs last week, there was only one necklace with matching earrings and that was the sum total of new items on my stall last Saturday. Any necklaces and bracelets costing over £25 and made with lampwork beads are one-off designs. I might make some more of the same type of beads but next time, I make a totally different necklace or bracelet with them.

Many people want earrings to match their necklaces/bracelets and I've found from experience that if you don't have matching earrings in stock, you can lose a sale. But last week, everyone was mainly buying earrings - it was a big earring day - so almost my entire week's production was on making more to match the unsold necklaces and bracelets! My zebra necklace (with matching earrings!) was a notable exception. One of my regular customers purchased it to take with her on holiday so I hope she's having a lovely time!

So, rather late, here are photographs of my latest new creations.
When I first made the beads (see close up in my blog entry Blue and Green shouldn't be seen on 8 May), I named them blue grass but I'm not that keen on it. The lack of a name has stopped me putting them up for sale on the website! It's got me completely stumped. Has anyone got a better name for them? I will run a draw of everyone who suggests a name here on the blog and the first out of the hat will get a pair of the earrings. Deadline for entries here on the blog is midnight on Wednesday, 3 June 2009.

If you prefer, you also enter by e-mailing me via the Contact page on my website.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Phone calls - hate them!

I hate being interrupted by phone calls. I think it stems back from all my years when I had a proper job working in various offices and having to take constant phone calls that I had to answer else I'd be sacked. Nowadays, I much prefer e-mail. I can reply when I want to, not when the telephone demands. DH sometimes works from home and he answers the phone (I'm quite likely to just let it ring ...!) However, he knows better than to interrupt me if I'm in the studio working on beads but when I'm making jewellery I can hear the phone ring and sometimes I might be half expecting a call like today as I have a family member in hospital, I thought I had better answer it.

But it was my bank. They telephoned me and wanted to talk to me, OK, fine, talk but make it quick. First you have to prove who you are ... but I know who I am! For security though madam. Well, how do I know you're my bank, you could be anybody trying to trick me out of my security details, because you can do 1471 and it will tell you it's National Westminster Bank. How would I know this isn't a scam and your telephone number has been set up specifically to con me out of my identity. You're ringing ME so if my telephone number is the one you have on record, it IS me, I assure you.

Well madam, if you tell me your date of birth, I can tell you why I'm ringing. But I'm not interested in why you're ringing me, I have money in the bank, I can pay all my cheques and direct debits, I don't want a loan, insurance or a re-mortgage; there is nothing I want to talk to you about. Bye bye.

I phoned the main number and complained and told them not to get their call centre drumming-up-business-staff ring me again - they have to write if they want to get my attention in future. What a waste of my time - I hate my time being wasted, I would so prefer to be making beads and jewellery. I know, I know ... I am just a grumpy old artist.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Raspberry wool and jam

A couple of days ago, I was making recycled beads out of Harveys Bristol Cream sherry bottles which are a lovely rich royal blue colour for an order I got via my website. I cleaned them in the evening and then settled down to start knitting a new pair of socks (yet another pair!) in a kind of raspberry colour. When I absent-mindedly put the knitting down on top of the beads, I saw that the colour contrast was really something. I hope I can either get or make some beads in the same colour as this wool now as I'd really like to try combining the two colours in a piece of jewellery.Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry recycled lampwork glass beads and raspberry coloured woolSpeaking of raspberry, that reminds me, last night we caught the mouse that has been in our house (... pure poetry, you get everything here!) This morning, as soon as he was dressed, DH drove it a couple of miles down the road and let it go. He said it looked quite thin and scrawny when it came out, I don't suppose there's much to eat in our house so I'm surprised it took so many days before it was tempted to try the jam in the trap. I think it has been living on the nuts that I fill the bird feeders with. I nearly always manage to spill some and it must have found the ones that rolled under the fridge. Because apart from scraps left on Missy's feeding bowl before I wash it up, there wouldn't have been much else that's would've been accessible. Hopefully s/he's much happier now out in the wild again.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Website update

I've updated the website with the photographs of all the new products I had waiting in my digital camera. There are too many to include here but there are 9 new items on the Lampwork page, 1 on the Bracelets page and 2 more under Recycled Green.

I've not finished updating the database with the product descriptions, but at least you can see what they look like. I have other things I need to get done before bedtime so I'll finish it when I get chance tomorrow.

Having finally got the shopping in, I am now ready to try to catch the mouse with some jam in the humane mousetrap overnight. Fingers crossed!

Rain stops play

Considering how much it rained on Friday, I considered myself lucky that yesterday on the outdoor craft market was pretty much dry except for a light shower first thing. Had a great day, I'd describe sales as adequate rather than plentiful but I consider myself lucky that my business is surviving in these economically challenging times. The hagstone necklace which I wanted to keep myself was sold along with matching earrings, but it has gone to a very good home so I am glad it has gone to someone who will appreciate it!

Today I have been dodging showers trying to get some gardening done. The hardy annual seeds that I bought on bank holiday monday have been sown into pots as the area where I want to plant them has yet to be dug over. That's what I've been trying to get done today but there have been heavy showers here and after the third time of going out for twenty minutes and having to come back in, I gave up at around lunchtime and did the ironing this afternoon instead!

I got about half of it done. When it's finished, I shall transplant the pots into place and hopefully will have as colourful a border as the seed packets promise ...
Hardy annual seed packets showing colourful plants that will soon brighten my garden, I hope

Friday, 15 May 2009

New necklaces

I've been a busy bee over the last couple of weeks, making new beads and new jewellery but I haven't really been updating my website with my output. After photographs that I have been taking this week, I now have two weeks worth of new items to update the website with.

There is usually always more to see if you come to my stall on the Art & Craft Market than is on my website. Sometimes I don't get time to photograph everything and it goes out for sale and then if it's sold, I don't get a photograph of some items at all!

I've been creating and photographing all day today. I've packed up my boxes ready for transporting to the market tomorrow, printed new business cards and now I've had my beef stroganof dinner with lashings of my favourite Chianti red wine, I don't think I'm going to get my web updates done tonight. I am hoping to get a couple of hours to do it on Sunday - especially if it rains. In the meantime, here is a sneak preview of a couple of new necklaces that are a bit of departure from my usual style.Lampwork bead necklace made with hagstone inspired beadsThe above is made with a combination of my etched hagstone inspired beads, sterling silver bali beads and 8mm swarovski crystal bicones strung on 1mm black waxed cotton. I so want to keep this one myself that I'm hoping no-one buys it!Shiney reduced lampwork beads and copper necklaceThe above is a combination of my lampwork beads made in the same manner as the simple green shoots beads but this time in an amber colour. I've used a reduction flame at the end of beadmaking to give the same kind of shiney finish that the green shoots beads enjoy. I think they look super with a variety of copper beads and topaz swarovski crystal bicones; again all strung on 1mm waxed cotton.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Jaffa cakes don't work!

No mouse in my trap this morning so the mouse clearly doesn't like jaffa cake. I shall have to add some jam to my shopping list for this week. A long time ago, I remember someone recommending milky way as a good bait for mousetraps (well, it's an excuse to buy some of those as well at the very least!)

Any other suggestions gratefully received!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Mouse in the house

Last week, I discovered that we have a little visitor to our house. It's a tiny mouse which appears to be living in our kitchen. I hadn't seen any signs of it at all until I turned round and I saw it scurry out from a Tom & Jerry style hole in the skirting board (cut for the central heating pipe to the radiator). It disappeared behind the fridge!

I am ashamed to say I got up on my toes and was half way up onto the kitchen worktop before I stopped myself. I have always prided myself on not being afraid of spiders and such like (unless they are physically climbing on me). I therefore disappointed myself by having such a girly reaction. I think it was the surprise more than anything but at least I didn't screech "Thomas ..." at the top of my voice (well, not out loud anyway).Humane mousetrapSo I have purchased a humane mouse trap from a seller on Ebay which catches the mouse, doesn't harm it in any way and allows you to release it outside without touching it. I think you can see how it works from the picture. Trouble is my dog, Missy, is far too interested in it when I leave it out during the day, she only has to nudge it with her nose and it sets it off. I can therefore only try at night when the kitchen door is shut.

So far I have tried the traditional cheese (didn't work) and birdseed (at suggestion of DH), no joy there either. My dad says bread and jam as they like sweet things but I don't have any jam in the house, I will have to scour the cupboards before bedtime!

Friday, 8 May 2009

Blue and green shouldn't be seen ...

My mum has a saying "Blue and green shouldn't be seen without a colour inbetween", now I'm sure she didn't make it up herself and it sounds like some old folklore passed down for aeons. Well, I shan't be passing it on to the next generation ....These beads were made on a base of opaque mid-green glass with dots of iris blue and then the gaps between those dots were filled with some ivory with silver foil burnished into the surface (been using a lot of that lately). The dots were melted flat and then gravity swirled and the whole thing encased with clear glass.

I will be making jewellery with these next week. I've got ideas for other colour combinations to make next week.

I do have photographs of new jewellery to show you but no time to add them to the website. I've got pasta bake in the oven and it will be ready in precisely six minutes so you'll have to come to my stall on the Art & craft Market in Trinity Street in Cambridge tomorrow to see them before anyone else!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Perfect day

Today has just been a perfect day for me. I was beadmaking all morning in my studio with warm sunshine streaming through the open door. Missy, our dog, was in the paddock with me and I could keep an eye on her through the window - she was stretched out sunbathing-big-time-lazy-bones. The birds were tweeting away so much, I didn't even put my MP3-player on, I just enjoyed the birdsong.

I wish I knew which bird was singing which song! I have a birdsong DVD and the playlist tells you what bird is singing on which track but you have to keep looking at the playlist and make sure you don't get lost. It would be much better if the DVD said "this is a Robin singing", then you hear the song. About the only one I recognise is the alarm call of a blackbird!Away, I digress, the above are a couple of photographs I took just before lunch of some of yesterday's output. The top ones are called "Bonfire" - can you guess why?! (I told you I'd be making more of these didn't I?!) The bottom ones are simple beads that I make quite regularly for my pink Georgia necklace/earring sets but I don't think I've ever done a close up of them.

Missy and I ate toasted cheese and pickle sandwiches in the garden for lunch and then in the afternoon, whilst the morning's beads were cooling in the kiln, I did some soldering. Missy continued her laze-about (obviously tired out by the morning!) and Spike, the tortoise parambulated about the garden nibbling on the weeds in the lawn - dandilions are his all-time favourite so I don't treat my lawn with herbicide. As a result, I get bonus flowers like this carpet of speedwell and daisies. Isn't it pretty??!I then watched an episode of Jonathan Creek whilst making jewellery. I knocked off working at around 5pm to take Missy for a walk for half an hour. When I got back, I watered the new bit of lawn I sowed the other day and then DH arrived home. He is now cooking me a chilli for dinner whilst I blog away with a glass of red wine! What a great day!

Monday, 4 May 2009

New jewellery and forgotten socks

I added the jewellery which I made with my zebra and green shoots beads to my website on Friday but I was too tired to blog about it as well and so here they are a little late
The zebra earrings aren't a good photograph, the big black bead is a faceted swarovski coin shaped twisted bead which is really nice but just looks like a huge black blob - better when seen and worn!

I was very pleased with the labradorite/green shoots beads combination, they suit each other very well.

I etched the hagstone beads that I made last week and they look even better now but I ran out of time for making jewellery with them so that will be on the agenda for this week.

I've had a busy bank holiday weekend, after a lovely and successful day on my stall on Saturday, I was sowing grass seed on Sunday to tidy up around the edges of the new driveway and path and the big bald bit where the lump in the lawn was flattened. I have been bribing the birds to not eat the seed by making sure the peanut feeders and half coconut fat feeders are full to brimming!

Today we were invited to my sister's house for lunch; she lives about half an hour's drive from here. My other sister, her boyfriend and my mum and dad were there so it was great to see everyone. She lives right next to a garden centre and so we had a twirl round there in the afternoon. Quite a few things fell into my basket including some colourful hardy annual seeds in order to fill up the garden with some flowers this summer.

I was telling everyone about the hagstone that I found on holiday and Sharon (the sister that also makes jewellery) suggested that I just drilled a hole through a stone myself! Cheeky mare!

I made a sock for my other sister's boyfriend, as it's the first one I've made for someone else, I took it with me as I didn't want to waste time on the other one if it didn't fit. Fortunately it was fine but I left it there - I need to get it back so I can make sure I do them the same length!