Sunday, 30 May 2010

More daisies

This photograph looks suspiciously like the last daisy photograph but these are much bigger wild flowers - ox-eye daisies. There were thousands upon thousands of them lining the verges of the A14 on the way home from All Saints Art & Craft Market yesterday. I didn't make a suicide stop on the very busy road to take this photograph; fortunately, there are a few sizable clumps on the fringes of some farmland where we walked Missy this morning.

Good news on the red necklace I showed you on Friday, the customer who picked it up was really pleased with it and bought it. I'm still waiting for the the customer who wanted the black necklace but it was only 50/50 she would make it anyway. Quite frankly from around 10.30am I was surprised to see anyone shopping in the outdoors given all the rain we got in Cambridge yesterday. Fortunately it was dry when we were setting up and packing away our stalls so overall, given the dire forecast, we stallholders felt quite fortunate!

I bought some plants for the garden on Friday so I'm off to go plant them and enjoy the windy sunshine. I hope everyone is enjoying the bank holiday weekend!

Friday, 28 May 2010

Couple of commissions

Here are a couple of new necklaces that were commissioned by customers and hopefully they should be collected from my stall tomorrow.

The above was a very straightforward commission. A customer saw one of my Aeolian Treasure necklaces and loved it but she wanted it all in black. I therefore offered to make another necklace, replacing the turquoise gemstone chips with haematite.

This one was not so straightforward.

The customer asked for a mainly black and red necklace, she was drawn to the Red Jagged Edge necklace but wanted more orange in it and much longer so it could be worn doubled if required but would just go straight over the head when worn full length. The photograph doesn't really show much difference between the reds and oranges, but they are there when you meet the necklace in person! My offer this time was to see what I could come up with and the customer would be under no obligation to buy it if she didn't like it. I only make jewellery I like myself, that way if no-one else does, I can have it! So whilst I'm reasonably certain the first necklace will be well received, I have no idea whether this one will be!

Whilst I'm blogging, I thought I would mention a second freaky wildlife incident that happened to me last night. I was letting the dog out last thing at night before going to bed. I had the outside light on with the door open; I had a copy of Gardening Which? in my hand that I was planning to read in bed before going to sleep.

Suddenly I heard a commotion and looked up to see Missy and another creature squaring up to each other. It looked like a stoat but I think it was a bit bigger than the ones I saw playing in the snow earlier this year. It was so dark and as they were outside the arc of the light, I couldn't be sure but it might've have been a ferret. Either way, both are predators and have a nasty bite and I had visions of having to take Missy to the vet yet again. Despite the difference in size between the two of them, it was impressive that the stoat/ferret/whatevever wouldn't back down and wasn't at all intimidated by the fact that Missy was at least 10 times bigger!

I therefore ran over, picked her up and started to go back into the house and I noticed that the stoat/ferret/whatever was still there; it wasn't intimidated by me either and then ... then ... it started to charge towards me! In alarm I threw my copy of Gardening Which? at it and fled back into the house with Missy growling and grumbling at me in my arms. It was only 4-5 yards away but I slammed the door shut and then looked out of the glazed top and the stoat/ferret/whatever was lurking about right outside the door, it must've followed me! My heart was pumping like mad, after realising that it couldn't get me, this demented creature then went back to my copy of Gardening Which? shook it about a bit, got under it, chucked it up in the air and then ran off into the night leaving me shaking! I made DH go rescue my magazine (telling him to be very careful - all he did was laugh when I told him about it). It took me ages to get to sleep ... I think I prefer the kind of wildlife that visits the garden during the day time!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Daisies and bats

My lawn was well overdue for cutting this week. My lawnmower broke last time I cut it. As it's over 15 years old, I have been researching new ones on the Which On-Line website. I won't bore you with the details but I am very specific about what I need and it just doesn't seem to be available.

I will have to get my existing one fixed. In the meantime, it has been too hot to spend the marathon 3 hours it takes to do the huge lawns that I have here anyway. Today it was much cooler and a neighbour was kind enough to lend me their mower, but it seemed such a shame to cut all these lovely daisies down.

Speaking of the natural world, I was nodding myself to sleep in front of the News at 10 last night when Missy woke me up jumping up at what appeared to be absolutely nothing and then I realised that she was trying to catch a bat that was flying about in the lounge; it was a surreal moment, for a minute I thought I was dreaming. DH and I opened the door to the hallway and then the front door and kind of "herded" it out by waving our arms about at it.

It actually happened twice last year as well when I left the house windows open at around dusk, on one occasion last summer, we had two at the same time. There are lots of trees near to us which I guess is where they are roosting, I mustn't forget about open windows at dusk in the future!

Laura Sparling - lonelies prize draw

As you know, I'm always going on about Laura Sparling's lovely beads and she is having a prize draw. If I mention it in my blog and link to the draw, I get entered into the prize draw twice so stand more chance of winning. 'Nuff said. :-)

Monday, 24 May 2010

PMC spacers

A couple of weeks ago, a little while after Missy's op, she had a minor set back when she started bleeding. The vet wasn't concerned as long as she was bright and not listless. He said it's not uncommon for a blood clot to form at the site of the operation if she'd overdone something. As long as it only lasted 3-4 days, then it wasn't anying to worry about. Keeping a usually active dog quiet for 10 days is really difficult, you can't exactly nail their paws to the ground!

Anyway, it meant me keeping a close eye on her as the vet said to bring her straight back immediately if she started to act like she was feeling poorly. Instead of beadmaking in the garden studio with her possibly risking infection from lying on the grass, I worked indoors and made some PMC* spacers that I'd been wanting to try for ages to fit Pandora, Biagi, Troll etc. bracelets. Instead of drying the PMC flat, when the clay was still leather hard, I draped them over pencils, knitting needles, toothpicks etc to get different degrees of wavy-ness from them so when you've got more than one on your bracelet, it sets up different rythyms of spaces.

I got round to firing and polishing them up on Friday and the above photograph is the result.

They were really popular with my large hole Pandora style bead customers on Saturday. They all sold out, so thanks, Missy; I have a new product line!

Here is another photograph of a few on my own Pandora bracelet and you'll notice that the edges have been decorated on a couple. I ran out of time but I was going to patina these with liver of sulphur and then polish so the patina just rested in the grooves/holes. I shall be making more very soon and I have lots of ideas for variations and hopefully I'll have time to patina these before I sell them.

* For non-jewellery makers, PMC stands for Precious Metal Clay. It is made from particles of fine silver, water and binder combined to make clay which is similar in texture to plasticine. It can be moulded, cut and shaped anyway you like when it's wet. When it's dry, you fire it in a kiln, the binder burns away, leaving behind fine pure silver.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

What a knit

I got the yarn to knit this snuggly heavy duty cardigan when we were on holiday, DH paid for it as part of my birthday present, lovely man that he is. And look, unlike all the cardigans in the shops at the moment, it has arms that go all the way down to my wrists. I am such a fashion guru (not!) It was made on huge 8mm and 10mm needles and I knitted the pieces in 8 days flat! I really like the coconut shell buttons, the colour goes really nicely.

So if it knitted up so quick, why so long before I finished it? Well it was the sewing bit, I'm not that keen on sewing, especially by hand (except cross stitch which I quite enjoy ... doesn't make any sense does it? Even I don't try to understand the way my mind works!) That's the great thing about socks (especially toe up ones), no sewing.

Anyway, when I did get round to putting all the pieces together, I managed to sew the last arm onto the garment inside out! I was so cross with myself, I put it aside for quite a long time. Of course, now I've got it finished, the weather is beautifully warm and I could actually do with a lighter weight cardigan ...

Unfortunately, my sister, Sandy saw the cardigan during its period of neglect and I have been beseiged with texts since then taking the pee. So yes, I am a knit, yes, I have stitched myself up, yes, I am fed up with all the ribbing! ;-)

Friday, 14 May 2010

New jewellery

I haven't been updating the website as often as I usually with jewellery. I have a germ of an idea about how to re-arrange it and so am holding off in the meantime. There are always lots of new things every single week on my Saturday stall at All Saints Art & Craft Market in Cambridge, I very rarely photograph everything new. Quite often, it will be a pair of earrings in a style I've done before but with beads I haven't made in that design before ... if I photographed every piece of jewellery for the website, it would take too long to upkeep. The new way I plan to rearrange the website will address this point but I'm getting ahead of myself.

In the meantime, I'll be adding new beads that I've been making to the blog and any new designs of jewellery will also be featured but I'll keep you posted with news.

Here are just three new things that I've made this week.

(Larger version if you click the image).

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

More blues

Not BB King or Muddy Water blues, these are hap-hap-happy blues. I made a couple of these beads as experiments and have decided to go into production with them, there are a whole bunch of them cooling down in the kiln as I type. They have a CIM Lapis base, a frit blend melted in and then encased in clear. I like the way the Lapis has "veined" behind the individual shards of frit colours.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Beside the sea

Lots of things around at the moment seem to involve the sea. There was our lovely holiday a couple of weeks ago on the Northumbrian coast, BBC4 have a season of programmes to do with the sea, the government seems to be all at sea whilst they decide what to do about the hung parliament (Is Gordon Brown waving or drowning I wonder!) I also picked up a commission from a lady who is having a seaside themed wedding in a little under three weeks time. Apparently she is getting married by the sea so her theme followed on from that, I think that is just such a cool idea!

She picked up the three bracelets pictured above on Saturday and was so pleased, she ordered another pink one! (I made sure I got her permission to feature the bracelets in the blog as I didn't want to ruin any surprise). I'm keeping my fingers crossed for fine weather for her.

The blue one is made with recycled glass from a Bombay Sapphire gin bottle, the green one is made from a recycled Perrier water bottle and the pink one is made from Effetre glass with an intense pink frit mixture. The silver beads are a mixture of fair trade Karen Hill tribe fine silver and Bali sterling silver.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Blue is the colour

Laura Sparling, who as regular readers of my blog will know, is my favourite beadmaker, has recently been honoured with becoming a Creation is Messy glass tester (well deserved), you can read more about it in her blog. I've been reading Laura's blog since I first became interested in making beads - even before I started making them myself. She's so knowledgeable, I'm sure she will provide very useful feedback to CiM on their new glasses. She's set herself the target of testing every colour in their range and has done reports on some of them already.

Knowing my passion for all things blue and her inclination towards random acts of kindness, she passed along some of her CiM stash for me to try. The postman delivered one each of every blue rod that CiM do and so one of the main reasons I've been so quiet since I got back from holiday is that I'm having a total blue-fest in my studio and loving it!

I have made lots of experimental beads over the last week but here are a couple of my favourites so far:

This small lentil shaped bead is made from a twistie of Glacier, Lapis and Grumpy Bear (what an odd name for glass!) and then encased with Halong Bay. I will definitely be making more of these after I place an order for more Halong Bay - so far this is my favourite of the new colours.

When you see it "in person", the rod itself is only partially transparent but when it's melted, as you can see, it's completely see thru'.

The footprint of the base of the lentil doesn't quite reach to the end nearest the camera and so you can see some of the bead hole through the transparent encasing - this is a fault in my opinion and when I go into production, the beads I make jewellery out of will have the base extending right to the end.

This prototype of a nugget shaped bead is made with Peacock, which is a CiM colour I already had in my stash but it is shot through with Leaky Pen sent by Laura. Leaky Pen is such an apt name, it is exactly the colour of the ink I used to get all over my fingers when trying to use fountain pens at school. (Yes, I can remember that far back!) It's a very intense colour - a lot goes a long way. The Peacock rod looks similar to Halong Bay in that it is only partially transparent - I don't know if you can see from the photograph but unlike Halong Bay, Peacock has retained some of the semi-opacity and hasn't become totally transparent when melted.

I have made a batch of these beads today but I've put lots more trails of Leaky Pen in them and so they look even better than the one photographed here and more like the nugget beads I was making last year. Hopefully I'll get them made into jewellery and on my stall in time for this Saturday!

At the time I was making the nuggets, I was trying to come up with a transparent turquoise/aquamarine coloured version of it but nothing quite worked. When I saw Pulsar in the CiM blues, I thought I may have found the answer but it's a very bubbly glass if you so much as waft it anywhere near the torch! By encasing it in other transparent colours, I was able to get rid of that effect and get some beads that I like. The photographs haven't come out very well so I'll save those when I can re-do them.

Update on Missy: we are all sleeping much better now, she's much more back to her normal self. The vet saw her for a check up on Tuesday and declared that the wound looked "perfect" so we're all hopeful that the stitches will come out on Monday and she can finally drop the daft looking lampshade.