Friday, 30 July 2010

The bead that got away

Out of the many experiments I did last week, this week I chose two colours of my new plasma doughnut nugget beads to make jewellery with. Here are earrings and a bracelet in an orange/red combination.

When I made the orange/red plasma doughnut beads, there was one that just wouldn't come off the mandrel. The irritating thing from my point of view is that the bead moved about an inch but then wouldn't come off the end; I've never had this before. Very occasionally, beads will get stuck but generally, they stay stuck to the part of the mandrel they were made and it's usually a failure of the bead release during bead construction. You can see gouge marks made by my pliers as I tried to grip the mandrel whilst pulling with all my might but I have had to admit defeat.

I took this photograph of some emerald plasna doughnut nugget beads yesterday. I have made a bracelet and two pairs of earrings out of them but the light had gone by the time I finished making them so no photographs of those; the beads look lovely combined with citrine and green aventurine.

All the jewellery is available to be viewed and purchased at my stall on All Saints Art & Craft Market in Cambridge tomorrow. :-)

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Oi! Stop nicking bits of my shed

I noticed a few weeks ago that the paintwork on my studio exterior is weathering in a very odd manner.

I discovered the culprits today - wasps are nicking bits of my shed and taking it away to build their nests. I don't remember this happening last year. The shed was painted with preservative shortly after I got it about two years ago. I guess that last year, the preservative was still quite fresh and tasted bad for nest building. This is all telling me it's time to re-paint the shed. I'll wait till the Autumn when the wasps have stopped nest building.

Tom up the road (he of ferret fame) has done a lovely job of repainting the large old timber barns outside his place in black.

It looks very traditional, which also appeals. I'm very tempted to do mine black as well. I know black tends to absorb heat but the studio is insulated on the inside with Kingspan on the roof and sides so I don't think it being a darker colour will make it much hotter than it already gets in summer. I find mornings are cooler for beadmaking, by lunchtime, the sun moves round and is streaming through the windows which ramps up the temperature a bit too high for comfort even with the window and door open and the fan going full blast. I tend to spend hot afternoons indoors making jewellery. As we live in a stone cottage with thick walls, the downstairs is relatively cool.

If I find the studio does get much hotter afer it's painted, I'll just have to wait for a year before the wasps get at it again!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Not so wild wildlife

Remember the stoat/ferret/whatever incident at the backend of May? Through DH's conversations with our neighbours, we have discovered the night after Missy and I's encounter, it gatecrashed a bar-b-q in our next door neighbours' garden.

Bethany trapped it under a washing basket and called Tom, who moved into one of the houses over the road a few months ago. Apparently he keeps stoats and it turned out to be one of his tame ones that had escaped a couple of days earlier. Tom says it was starving when he got it back. It wasn't charging at me to attack my ankles, it probably thought the human was going to feed him!

Tom has three dogs of his own and that's why it wasn't intimidated by Missy. I feel really bad that I let the poor thing go hungry another day but how on earth was I to know? As an additional plus, I feel very glad to have found out that the wildlife in my garden aren't really all out to get me and I can now stop taking magazines out at night for protection!

(Photo courtesy of Admin at

Friday, 23 July 2010

Looking forward to Saturday

Got lots of new jewellery to show off on my stall tomorrow at All Saints Art & Craft Market in Cambridge. Here is the bracelet that I made with the multi-coloured plasma doughnuts that I featured here on Wednesday. The beads were just screaming amethyst at me and I really like the colour combination. There are a couple of pairs of earrings to match.

This cluster pendant won't be for sale but I'll probably be wearing it; this is made with the diamond anniversary champagne beads and is a special edition exclusive to female members of my family only (previous blog entries explain the background to this range). Again I've made a couple of pairs of earrings to match as well.

I've not made any new silver earrings for a while, these have got handmade earwires, I've also made a pair of studs with the same puffy hammered triangle shape. The silver has been slightly domed in order to catch the maximum amount of light. I usually use a small ball pein hammer for my hammer effect but I've bought a new texturing hammer which has a stripe profile and makes larger elongated impressions on the silver. I think I'll be making more jewellery using it as I like the effect so much.

Come along tomorrow, have a day out in Cambridge and see the new jewellery in person! Having missed last week, I can't wait to get back into it; have a lovely weekend everyone!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Multi-colour plasma beads and first anniversary beads

Here are some more plasma doughnut nuggets made using a multi-coloured frit blend and clear glass. Encouraged by how they turned out, I gave myself the day off making annniversary beads today and experimented with making more doughnut nuggets using lots of different frit blends and also different encasing glass, not just clear. It was great fun and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes out of the kiln later!

Yesterday I was all discipline and got 25 or so anniversary beads made and it took all morning. Groan! The glass is much thicker than Bombay Sapphire, Perrier Water or wine bottles that I also recycle. The shards are even a bit thicker than the Cava bottle that I've got used to. These champagne bottles take an absolute age to melt even with my Mini Carlisle torch which is supposed to be an entry level torch for Borosilicate glass.

Here are about half of the beads I made yesterday, I'm still not crazy about the colour of the glass but I'm confident they will look completely different once I get them teamed with other beads and gemstones. I'm steeling myself to make a load more tomorrow and hopefully I won't have to make any more!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Recycled champagne bottle and silver seed pod

I am planning on spending half a day tomorrow making some recycled glass beads out of the champagne bottles that were purchased for mum and dad's 60th wedding anniversary back in March by Uncle Arthur. I have been meaning to do this for absolutely ages but with it being such a busy time for my business, I haven't had chance. As I didn't go to the craft market on Saturday due to illness (I am completely recovered now, thanks for all your good wishes) and I have restocked my stall last week, I have some time to play around with new stuff til Saturday.

My Uncle Arthur had a stroke recently and is recovering, we don't think he's likely to be able to live completely independently again. His motor functions aren't great, he does get a little confused which is understandable but fortunately, he's still all there and knows who everyone is. I know he'd love to see the beads made up into some jewellery. I want to make jewellery for myself, my sister, Sandy, my mum, Auntie Mary who was so instumental in planning the party and something for Uncle Arthur to give to his grand daughter. For my other sister, Sharon, she makes her own jewellery and so I will give her a few beads so she can make something for herself. Hmmmm, thinking about it, I may need to spend more than half a day making the beads - from that little list, I'm going to need quite a few! I go a little insane if I spend more than three hours on melting recycled glass into beads - it gets a teeny bit tedious! I'll spread it out over 2-3 days I think.

The colour of glass isn't that great (broken shards of the bottles are shown on the right of the photograph above) but I think the new beads on the left that I made at the back end of last week will provide a nice colourful counterpoint. I'm calling the new irregularly shaped beads Plasma Doughnut Nuggets, these ones are made with a brown and gingery frit blend. For the Diamond Anniversary jewellery, I have some smokey quartz, rutilated quartz and opal gemstone chips and I think any of those will also combine well. See how it goes when I have everything on the table in front of me.

For all the people interested in the PMC seed pod bead that I made, here it is all polished up and combined with black waxed cotton macrame.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Advanced notice

Pretend I've told you a long, tedious and uninteresting story about how I came to end up in my GP's surgery on Monday afternoon. The upshot is that she prescribed a seven day course of antibiotic; one of the not uncommon side effects is a bit of an upset stomach.

I am working on beads and jewellery but I'm really only firing on one, possibly two cylinders at the moment. Unless I feel much better tomorrow, I can't really see me being on my stall on Saturday so I thought I'd better let you know.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Copper flowers

Many of the blogs I read regularly have gone all green fingered in the last couple of days and so I thought I'd join in! Here are some Rudbeckia which I sowed from seed this time last year. They're really easy to germinate. I grew them on in little two inch module pots and then they were planted out in late summer and here they are flowering away with ... yes, look ... that is rain on the petals! It looked so pretty as I stepped out of my front door. I think the droplets really bring out the coppery tones in the flowers beautifully. The best thing is these are perennials and so will flower again and again every year and cost next to nothing. :-)

We had a hot, dry and dusty Saturday on the market, we did pretty well sales wise and Sandy came along with her friends and assorted partners, we had a laugh with them on the stall, I hope they all enjoyed the rest of their day in Cambridge!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Jewellery for the weekend

I have gone into production with some purple/bluey ribbon beads, here is a bracelet made with them. I have 4 different pairs of matching earrings as well but - give me a break - I haven't done too much photography today - it's too blimmin' hot!

I also have an amber colourway in the ribbon beads, I ran out of time today to make jewellery from them; I did take a photo of the beads on their own but the colour doesn't look right and I'm getting cross with trying to make it look right in Photoshop so have given up (blame the heat again!)

Ah, this is a bit better, a photograph of the long awaited necklace to go with the earrings I photographed earlier in the week. Very pleased with this one, all the hammering did me good in getting rid of some of the crossness with how hot it is!

I thought I lived in a temperate country ... do you know that ancient prophesy foretold of (speaks in a hushed voice) drops of water falling from the sky ... my lawn could so do with some of that at the moment!
I digress, here are a couple of pairs of earrings using some of my own cool black and white triangle beads. There is a matching bracelet but (you guessed it), I have limited the number of photographs I took today because IT IS HOT (did I mention that before?!)

Here is the latest photograph of the seed pods after coating with 10 coats of PMC paste but before firing. I'm not sure I like them any more, I wasn't sure how to finish the tops off; the silver loops are too big and I think overall they look a bit like carrots now! Oh well, I'll get them fired and see what they look like polished with a bit of patina on them. :-)

All the jewellery (except the carrots) will be on sale this Saturday on my stall at the All Saints Art & Craft Market in Trinity Street, Cambridge. I am looking forward to a visit from my sister, Sandy, and some of her work friends. They are having a day out in Cambridge and are planning on going punting (I hope they have plenty of sun screen!)

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Cambridge Blue

I bought some of the very first beads made by Laura Sparling since she moved to Cambridge. I absolutely love them. I have four beads left and am excited to be making a matching necklace to go with these earrings.

The links are just waiting to be cut and then I can get on with the soldering, so this is just a quick visit cos I'm itching to get on with it!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Come on Andy!

I'm ready, got my coathangers all untangled; I don't think there's anything more aggrannoying than the way they get themselves in a mess and then you can't just pick one out when you need one.

My iron is primed with water ready to go at my usual full steam, full pelt, red-hot-maximum pace. All that's needed is for Andy to do the business at Wimbledon.

Are athletes as superstitious as actors about being wished good luck? The traditional "break a le-" doesn't seem appropriate for a tennis player so I'm just going to say "break a fingernail (very slightly)" as I don't want to jinx him. I can't wait (but I have a lot to do before the match so I hope the quarter final before his goes to a five-setter!)

Edit after the match
Ah well, he gave it a very good try, maybe next year. He played much better than the straight sets defeat might suggest. At least he tried very hard and put a lot of effort in, which is far more than I could say about the England footballers.