Sunday, 30 August 2009

Back to normal

I'm so glad to report that the Craft Market in Cambridge was back to its usual "tranquility" yesterday, lots of shoppers, bank holiday weekenders and day trippers amid the trees and stalls at All Saints on Trinity Street. It was a pleasure to be there on a lovely summers day. There was a jazz musician just outside and some really nice laid back "lazy" numbers were drifting in over the buzz of the shoppers which suited the atmosphere perfectly. I'm not usually much of a jazz fan as I tend to think most of the fast stuff just sounds like someone tipped some instruments down the stairs but the cool, mellow stuff is .... great! ;-)

After complaints and e-mails from various stallholders (including me), the Markets Manager and the Council, the police sent a couple of officers round on patrol a few times and they stopped by to have a word with me saying that they were going to nip this thing in the bud. They are apparently putting the word out amongst the street people that anti-social behaviour would not be tolerated in the Craft Market. If they defy the message and there are further transgressions, there would be arrests. I found it most reassuring.

It has however given me a bit of a kick up the backside that I am too reliant on my income from the Craft Market so I think I'll be upping my on-line presence. Much as I love the craft market and the way of life it affords me, I can't see me sitting out in all weathers when I'm approaching pensionable age!

I already have an account with Etsy as I do buy from there quite often but I haven't sold anything yet. I shall also look into Artfire, Folksey and other places too. I found Ebay far too expensive to sell from when I tried that 3-4 years ago. The on-line sales sites that specialise in hand made items seem far more reasonable in their listing fees. From what I can see, Artfire seems to be free ... they must make their money through advertising perhaps.

I must stop by that shop that Laura mentioned in her comment last week as well, though I'm not sure they would take my items all the time I am also selling in the craft market but perhaps if I developed a new range exclusively for them. Handmade lampwork bubble beads with black onxy and sterling silver earringsIn the meantime, here are a couple of new design earrings that went on display this week for the first time. They are both priced at £20, not on the website yet but soon will be. The black ones feature my black/silver bubble beads, different shapes of onyx and some antiqued chain. The other pair have a super new (to my designs) shape of swarovski crystal nuggets and some bumpy beads made in transparent straw yellow glass. The bumpy bits are made from stringer of silvered glass and these have been reduced to very shiny golden dots. Excuse the peculiar photographs, I needed to hang them from something as they're so long!Hand made lampwork bead earrings with swarovski crystal golden shadow faceted helix beadsEnjoy the rest of the bank holiday weekend!

Monday, 24 August 2009

Reasons to be cheerful

Today we have heard from a good friend of ours. He had a lump removed from under his arm several days ago, just before a holiday in Cornwall. The holiday didn't work out too well, apparently it was wet (that horrible fine mizzle) every day; they ended up coming back a couple of days early. So it was fantastic for him and his family to get news today that the tissue was benign - sounds like it has cheered them up no end. That kind of thing really puts problems back into perspective!

Perrier rustic rectangles braceletSpeaking personally, I am pleased with a new shape of recycled glass beads which I made last week. Extra long perrier earringsI took the photographs last week but have only just got round to adding them to the website - here are a couple of thumbnails. They're kind of a flattened rectangle/cylinder. The earrings are really l-o-o-o-ng!

I'm going to make some beads of this shape in the lovely blue Bombay sapphire glass this week.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Sleepless at 2am

I am really worried about the future of my business. On Saturday, I felt compelled to pack up my stall at three in the afternoon, at least an hour and a half earlier than I would do normally, during the busiest trading time. I am certain I have lost quite a lot of money as I usually do between a third and a half of my business in the last couple of hours of trading. Oftentimes, people who have been round in the morning, come back and purchase after looking around at other options.

The reason I felt I had to leave was a group of intimidating looking people dragged a bench into some open space behind my stall and sat down swigging alcohol. I think they may be homeless but I thought I knew most of the homeless people in Cambridge as I always a buy a Big Issue but I didn't recognise any of them. They had two large dogs with them and they kept barking at my little terrier, Missy. Consequently, she wouldn’t settle down in order for us to sit peaceably behind the stall. I couldn’t talk to customers and deal with Missy.

On the Friday, the craft market is also open during June to August but I only trade on a Saturday. Apparently the same people were there nearly all day; they had a fight amongst themselves and the police had to become involved, statements were taken from the stallholders.

The market manager called in the police on Saturday as soon as the people arrived; two officers saw their dogs menacing at Missy, Missy was very well behaved in response and the police also saw that. The market manager has asked me to write a strong letter of complaint about it - not sure who to at the moment. I am worried if I write a letter about it, all the Council will do will ban dogs from the market which may stop those people appearing in the market but that will spoil it for everyone else – ie other stallholders who also bring their dogs with them and also customers with dogs who usually enjoy a problem-free stroll around the market. I certainly don’t want to leave my dog at home, it would mean her being on her own from 7am until 6.30pm in the evening, which she isn’t used to as I am at home all day during the week making my beads and jewellery.

Anyway, the police started to leave with the people still sat there behind us, I asked the officers why they weren't moving them on and the police just waffled at me. Another stallholder also complained about them being there so the police stayed a bit longer but didn't do anything to get rid of them. Some stallholders have credit card machines, we all have personal belonging and it's really unnerving to have people sat behind you.

If it's happened in the past, ordinarily I have felt able to approach people and point out nicely that we don't feel secure about it and most understand but I didn't feel able to ask these people considering how violent they had been the day before.

It's 2am in the morning and I can't sleep for worrying about what I'm going to do. They left after I had packed up and gone and apparently were heard to say "see you next week" to a couple of stallholders.

I don't get enough business from the internet though I could perhaps open an Etsy shop and do more on Ebay but even then, I feel I would have to get a job. I haven't worked at a "proper" job for 4-5 years - I was in web design/system support before and I haven't kept my skills as up to date as an employer would demand and so the prospect is not a good one.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Gender change, please!

Sometimes I don't like being a girl. It's so annoying to be too weak to be able to get a 13kg bottle of gas for beadmaking out of the boot of a car that is ridiculously deep. Fortunately, DH was working at home today (in fact it's his car, I don't have one) so I got him to get it out. "I can connect it up ... let me do that ..." I whine, not wanting to look like a completely useless female. But, no - he does that bit as well despite my protestations. I tell him thanks with a peck on the cheek and send him off back into the house - him to the study to do his work, leaving me to make some beads - I ran out of gas last Thursday, I had to go to the dentist this morning and so I was keen to get started.

Then I try to turn the gas regulator on. Someone has tightened it up so hard I can't get it undone (sigh). I don't want to go ask DH to come help again so I nearly give myself a hernia trying to get it turned but it won't budge so in the end I have to go get the man again. He was very good and resisted the urge to smirk about how much I need him around. I wouldn't be without him but I would like to be a little more independent.

On the plus side, I did think I had got the girly shrieking every time a wasp gets into the studio under control. This time last year when wasps were in "nuisance" mode, I was running out, abandoning bead after bead every time one appeared. However, last week, I came to realise that most of the time they just bimble around the windows and they ignore me til I can shoo them out. Wasps started coming into the studio more and more last week and when I notice one, I calmly let them get on with their angry buzzing at the glass whilst I finish my bead and then - after my work is safely garaged in the kiln - I deal with removing the wasp by ushering it out of the door or the open window using a magazine. Today I was using a print out of an Ann Ricketts tutorial on tribal beads which I haven't yet got round to trying.

However, one of the wasps today decided to buzz about my head which isn't on at all and I got straight back into shriek mode immediately. I dropped my bead, waved around the back of my head and managed to knock it onto the back of my neck and then I felt it going down the back of my t-shirt .......... eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!!!!!!!!!!!

Straight away, I jumped up and took off my t-shirt, goodness knows how I didn't get stung but why all this drama? I got stung by a wasp on the finger a couple of years ago and it didn't hurt that much! I say again, sometimes I really don't like being a girl. Men don't shriek about wasps ... or do they?! Anyway, there I am, shaking my inside-out t-shirt and gingerly peeking up the sleeve to locate this blessed creature that has given me such a scare. I must have looked (and sounded) like a demented Scottish country dancer. And then I hear a voice "I'll just leave your tea on the side for you, love"....

The strange thing is DH didn't even turn a hair at the fact that his wife was hopping about in the studio, shrieking, half naked and shaking her t-shirt about. I find it a bit odd that he seems to view this as normal Sue-behaviour ... I have no idea what he thinks I was doing - he hasn't mentioned it when I came back into the house. Perhaps he thinks I had a sudden whim to be a morris dancer!

Anyway, I did managed to get quite a lot of beads made this afternoon, just as well as we had lovely weather on Saturday, my customers were out in force buying lots of things, including a bracelet, earrings and a necklace in the red mist jewellery to a total of £96 - which means another £48.50 donation to the Orangutan Foundation which I'm particularly happy with. I have lots of stock to replace this week so I'm going to be busy-busy. I took some time today to make some subtle colour variations on the hagstone bead. I'm still using grey as a background but I've marbelled it through with some different colours - I'm impatient to see how what they turn out like when the kiln has cooled down.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Sunshine at last!

I have rummaged around in all my jewellery boxes and fished out most of the jewellery that hadn't been photographed and so there are lots of new things on my website, particularly on the Lampwork page, where there are countless new bubbles products, the Red Mist Charity page has new earrings and a bracelet and the Recycled Blue page has new Bombay Sapphire bracelets.

Handmade lampwork glass bubble beads in sterling silver braceletHandmade lampwork glass bubble beads in sterling silver earringsHere's a photograph of the red bubbles I promised, and I forgot about another new colour I added to the bubbles range in amber glass so here's a pair of the earrings just to show those off too, but follow the links above to see many many more glass bubbles.

I hope to see you on my stall at the Art & Craft market on Trinity Street in Cambridge tomorrow - the forecast is great, no rain at all and some lovely sunshine, especially in the morning; grab your sunhat and I'll see you there!

Bubble mad

I have been going a bit bubble mad on my beadmaking lately but the last couple of weeks haven't been conducive to photographing the jewellery I've made with them. Every time I've had the chance, the weather has been ... well, if you're reading this in the UK, I'm sure you know what I mean! I like natural light for photography so I take them outdoors but it's a bit damp AGAIN at the moment - I'm hoping it will brighten up later so I can do it then.

You've seen photographs of the blue/aqua, amethyst/lilac and black/clear beads and the jewellery made with it has been on the stall for a couple of weeks but I also now have some super red ones too and the jewellery looks great.

I'm particularly pleased with the red ones because I've not always had alot of luck with striking trnasparent red but I have got the knack of it now - at least when using as encasement!