Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

I hope that you and your families have a wonderful day!

I would have said a peaceful day, but if your household is anything like mine, it's going to get rather noisy when an excited four-year-old wakes up!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Tutorial Tuesday - Christmas felt ornaments

This will be the last Tutorial Tuesday this year, as I probably won't be blogging much over the next week or so. I obviously had to show you a Christmasy project, and as soon as I saw this one on Zakka Life I knew that this was the one - it's felt, it's easy, it doesn't need much sewing, it'll last for years, what more could you ask for?

The photos are lovely and clear, and the balls are surprisingly quick to make. I drew round a CD to make a template. Here are mine - I just need to find somewhere to hang them now!

By the way, if anyone else is like me and hadn't come across the term "zakka" before then have a look at the Wikipedia definition here and some google images of gorgeous zakka crafts here

Monday, 21 December 2009

A lucky boy!

It was, as I said on Friday, B's birthday last Thursday. I know every Mum says this, and I know that I'll say this again when he starts 'big school' next September and on every birthday he ever has, but how on earth did my baby get so big? And where have the last four years gone?! Our lives have changed completely since he was born, especially as I was teaching full time when I was pregnant with him and now run my own business. I'm not even sure that I would be running Daisychain if it wasn't for the fact that we thought that it was a case of now or never when I went on maternity leave.

Anyway, B has been a very lucky boy over the last week and a bit, starting the Friday before his birthday. I said "never again" after having 13 children round (plus mothers and some younger babies) for his party last year, and this year we hired one of the party rooms at a local soft play centre and had a joint party with a friend of B's who is a week older - sooo much less stress, and because we'd clubbed together it was actually no more expensive than getting in the party food, party bags etc etc. I actually managed to sit down and have a chat with some friends!! Thursday was pretty low key as I'd managed to use up all my energy and was feeling grotty again (damn you flu! Why do you take so long to get over?!), but my family and some friends came over on Saturday for a bit of a party. And then Sunday I felt ill again from doing too much, which is why I didn't write this post yesterday!

B's favourite present was definitely this train set - it's fantastic, look, the track goes up and round in a spiral and there's a bridge and a crane and junctions and...... can you tell that having a train-mad son has rubbed off on me?! T took B down to the park for an hour or so before everyone arrived and I set the train track up and hid it under (several large) boxes. When my family (who clubbed together and gave it to him) arrived they hid too and when B came home they surprised him with it all.

I'm really pleased with where I bought it from. I don't usually link to other sites that aren't crafty ones, but you've got to go and have a look at all the wonderful wooden toys at Clementine Toys. A friend told me about all the train sets they've got (together with lots of other things) so of course I had to look. It turns out that they are just up the hill from me so I could even go and pick things up, and that makes them even handier for buying all the birthday presents that I need to get now that B's being invited to birthday parties!

Friday, 18 December 2009

I'm dreaming?

The level of excitement in our house this morning was so funny! Well, what do you expect when you add a very exciteable only-just-four year old (more about that tomorrow!), a just as easily excited 30-something Daddy and SNOW together?!

Oh okay, so it doesn't really look like that much snow, especially compared to what my Grandma and cousins have got in Suffolk, but we NEVER get snow before Christmas down here on the south coast. Come to that, we hardly ever get snow after Christmas either!

Now, if you'll excuse me, the post I was going to write about B's birthday yesterday is postponed until tomorrow after my parents, brother and a few friends come round for yet another birthday party. I'm off to see if B and I can scrap enough snow together for a few snowballs!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Tutorial Tuesday - silver nugget earrings

I've been preparing this tutorial for my beginners silversmithing class tomorrow night, and I thought I may as well post it on here for you as well!

These earrings are really easy and fun to make, and what's more they're made using scrap silver! It's not often that you get to melt silver on purpose, so why not make some last minute Christmas presents?

The equipment and materials you will need are quite simple:
  • scrap silver (obviously!)
  • o.8mm wire
  • butterfly backs for stud earrings
  • easy solder paste
  • flux (I use liquid Auflux)
  • a charcoal block
  • wire cutters
  • large blowtorch
  • reserve action tweezers
  • safety pickle
The first step is to gather a small pile of scrap silver. Cut any large pieces into smaller bits and pile them up on a charcoal block.

Add a couple of drops flux (the yellow liquid that you can just about see on the silver) - I find that the flux helps the metal to melt into a smoother ball.

Now comes the fun bit! Light your torch (you will need a large torch to be able to generate enough heat) and melt the silver! The silver will start to ball up and draw together as it melts.....

and will then draw into a ball. I like to make the ball 'spin' in the heat but holding the flame on to for longer than is needed to just melt it (I couldn't get a photo of this bit as all you'd see would be a bright glowing ball!) as I find that this helps to even the silver into a smoother ball.

Due to the heat there will be alot of cleaning up to do so pop the ball into the pickle after quenching it.

Once the balls have been cleaned up you can file and sand any rough parts if you wish, but I prefer to leave them more organic! I do file the back if they are very rough so that it's easier to solder the earrings fittings on.

To turn your silver balls into stud earrings, turn them over to the flatter side and use easy solder to solder a small jumpring (mine are 2mm) and then a 1cm length of 0.8mm wire into the middle of the ring. I find that the jump ring helps to strengthen the pin that you have just formed.

Once you've pickled and rinse your earrings, use a cup burr or a needle file to round off the end of the wire post and then polish!

These earrings look good with any finish. An oxidised finish highlights the 'organic' look.

A couple of points to note:
  • I melt the silver on charcoal as this helps to absorb some of the oxygen in the flame. If you turn the the ball over once it's cooled down you'll see that there's not much firescale underneath as the charcoal has aborbed the oxygen and prevented the copper oxide (the blackness) from forming.

  • Charcoal blocks only last for so long! Eventually they do crack and break apart like the one below. Some people like to wrap binding wire around them to hold them together for longer but I find that that gets in the way of my work.

  • There are a couple of ways of helping to make even sized balls for a pair of earrings - the simplest is to weigh the silver but you need to use more sensitive scales than kitchen ones. I prefer to make lots of balls at the same time and then choose the ones that match the best!

Busy busy busy!

Just because the blog posts have been slow recently, don't think I've been slacking - it's Christmas, don't you know, the time of year when I spend a lot of time in my shed, thanking God that we (or rather Tony and Tim) insulated it well and I've got a good heater, making lots and lots of goodies to post all over the UK. There's been quite a few overseas parcels as well this year thanks to notonthehighstreet orders. More and more people have found my website too - thank you! I've done a fair bit of promoting this year, some of which, such as posting my tutorials on forums and writing magazine articles, didn't seem like advertising the jewellery sales side of my business, but it seems to have had an impact. Thankfully the bout of the flu I had last week seems to have been a fairly mild one. I started feeling ill a week ago Thursday, but I was fine, just very tired, by the weekend. I'm still tired, but I'm working through it!

Christmas also means that I'm busy making gifts for family and friends. I started earlier than usual this year, partly because I knew that I'd need to be ultra organised this year - I had been warned by a few of the other stall holders at the Winchester Handm@de fair that Christmas on noths is rather busy! - but partly because I really wanted to get started on knitting the patterns I'd found! Now, I can't show you all the things I've made as there are probably a few prying eyes looking for things they shouldn't be, but these are a few of the projects I've been knitting recently. They still need blocking, soI'll show them to you again in all their full glory and tell you about the patterns later on!

Today's tutorial is on it's way, but the way - I've got to polish the earrings I've made (well, there's a hint for you!) and finish some more photos for it first!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Tutorial Tuesday - paper Christmas decorations

I came across this tutorial on Design Sponge a couple of years and put it on my 'to-do' list - which, as you should know by now, is far too long for my own good. I even left a comment on the Design Sponge blog saying how much I like them! I forgot where I saw them, though, until Laura over on Bugs and Fishes posted about them and reminded me - thank you Laura!

A couple of years ago I was going to make them out of white pattern vellum, but my plan this year is to use some Christmas double sided card in lovely rich colours that I've got left over from making my Christmas cards - at least, that's the plan once I get some more energy, cos guess who's gone and got the flu? It's not fun, I can tell you (it's taken me nearly half an hour to write this post!), but at least I seem to have got it pretty mildly compared to others I know. Oh well, at least I was organised enough to make up plenty of stock of most of my made to order items, so I'm still meeting my orders shippping dates.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Made in the UK Advent Calendar

For those of you who haven't come across it yet, the Made in the UK blog is a blog full of, as they say themselves "wonderful and inspiring makes and how-to's from the UK Handmade team members". UK Handmade is a forum full of designers and makers, both people who do their crafts out of love and as a hobby, and those like me who do them out of love and as a business! Every day this month there will be a new Advent Calendar post with a tutorial or recipe for you, and the yummy cookies above are the first day's offering. If there is time before they are all eaten I will take a photo and show you the ones I'm planning to make with B tomorrow after school!

Tutorial Tuesday - Laura Sparling's lampwork tutorials

I've written about Laura Sparling's beads before. They truly are beautiful unique works of art, and the control that she has over that hot molten glass is just amazing!

Laura's been writing some tutorials recently, and she's put together some youtube videos as well, sharing her techniques and hints and tips. They are definitely worth watching, even if like me you don't make lampwork beads. My main reason for not learning how to make them is that I would be forever comparing myself to Laura and not being satisfied with what I could make. I'm sure Laura could bring me up to standard but I love working with the silver too much to take the time out to learn lampworking properly!

You can see Laura's latest tutorial on how to make her roly-poly beads (shown above) here
and following this link will take you to a list of all of her tutorials.

By the way, Laura teaches too! She offer many teaching sessions during the year, and they understandably get booked up quickly, but you can find info on them here. Enjoy!

Saturday, 28 November 2009

How on earth did I forget to tell you

that I'm doing a craft show tomorrow?!?

I guess it's because whenever I've done this show before all I've been doing for the couple of weeks before is preparing for it, whereas this year I've been teaching and plannig lessons and having meetings in college, writing magazine projects, keeping up with the influx of orders (so many more than last year - thank you!), writing tutorials etc etc etc


I'm exhibiting at a craft show tomorrow!!

It's the annual Southampton University Christmas Arts and Crafts Fair, and it's at the Staff Club, next to the Nuffield Theatre on the university campus. It's well signposted with the lovely bright yellow AA signs all the way fron the motorway (junction 4 is the best junction to come in from the M27), and it's open from 10am until 4pm.

This is always a great show - a lovely atmosphere and fantastic Christmas presents (or presents for yourself?). There's even a lovely cafe for your Sunday lunch.

If I have time during my last minute preparation I'll come back and show you some of the things I've been making today that will be on my stall tomorrow!

More roses!

Thank you so much to those of you who posted or left comments on Crafteroo for me about the Rose Red pendant I showed you the other day - it's one thing to like something that you've made, but another altogether if other people like it too!

I loved making it, so I've made some more! I'm really into setting stones in my work at the moment, so expect to see more of that over the next few weeks. This time I've used turquoise, garnet (a smooth cabochon this time) and blue topaz.

I'm particularly pleased with the blue topaz rose, especially how the oxidisation has completely changed and softened the look of the rose while at the same time highlighting the clear blue of the stone. These three are going to be delivered to Between Dreams and io Galleries tomorrow, but I've also decided to make the blue topaz rose (Dusky Rose) a made-to-order item on the website - but of course, I can make one with any stone in the middle that you wish for!

P.S. Note to self - remember to check that the photos have attached properly before posting!!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Tutorial Tuesday extra - getting organised!

I suppose that this is more in the way of a getting organised tool rather than a tutorial, but I thought I'd show it to you anyway!

I had a sheet that I filled in at work every day that helped me not just keep organised but also prioritise my work and delegate to my deputy and secretary (yes, believe it or not, I once had a deputy and secretary!! Ok, so I shared Mo the secretary with the other four Heads of Year, but she was, and still is, wonderful!). I still find it really helpful to write a list out each day, but it always ends up on scrappy bits of paper and, because those bits of paper are quite big, I end up writing down more than any one person can do in one day. So I was really pleased when I found this on Balancing Everything:

I know, I know, it may not look like or that exciting, but this simple sheet makes me feel a lot more organised, and if I feel more organised I work better and make more pretties for you to look at (and to buy :P). I've changed some of the jobs listed to make it relevant to me, and if you fancy doing the same, head over to Balancing Everything and download your own!

Tutorial Tuesday - wire wrapped briolettes

There are two tutorials this week as I'd written one for you and then found another that I just had to share!

The one I've written is on wire wrapping briolettes, those beautiful tear drop shaped beads with a hole running across the tip - the beads that can be so versatile but tricky to use if you haven't picked up some hints and tips. There are several different ways of wrapping briolettes so that they can be attached securely to your jewellery, and this tutorial shows you how to do my prefered method with step by step photos. And it's free! I love using briolettes, mainly in earrings as you can see in the photos here.

You can find it here on my website. The tutorial does assume that you know how to form wrapped loops, but I've got a free tutorial on that too, and you can find that one here.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Red Rose

I haven't had as much time as I'd like to work on new ideas recently - the only down side that I can see to being busy with orders, magazine writing and teaching! This week, though, I've been making an effort to set time aside for this, partly because my head is buzzing so much with ideas it hurst, and partly because I've got some Christmas events coming up (including the Southampton University Christmas Fayre - more on this tomorrow).

I've had this first design, Rose Red, planned out in my head for ages. I even had the name sorted, which is very unusual for me! Usually I sketch my ideas out, even roughly, but for some reason I couldn't get this one right on paper. My drawing skills aren't exactly the best out there, but usually I can get down a rough idea at least on paper so it was rather frustrating not to be able to capture this one in a sketch book! It doesn't matter now, though, as it's now come to life! I'm really pleased with how the petals sit together and the organic shape that my hammering has created, and I love the stone that I've set in the middle. It's a rose cut garnet cabachon - it has a flat back like all cabs, but the front has been faceted, and it catches the light beautifully. I can get more of these stones, so this new design is now a made-to-order item on the website.

This next design, aptly named Black Beauty, is a one-off. It's a beautifully glossy black onyz on an oval base that I have textured with (of course!) my favourite hammer. At 30mm by 18mm it's small enough to wear every day, but eye-catching enough for special occasions too.

So, that's what I spent my free time doing this weekend, how about you? I hope that you found time to get to do what you love and relaxes you too! I did drag myself out of the shed for some of the weekend, though. T and I had a cosy evening in front of the fire last night. It was the first time we've had the fire lit since having double glazing fitted at last this spring, and I must admit was because it's lovely and relaxing. We've come a long way since our first winter here with no carpets, drafts everywhere and a broken boiler! We had to turn the heating off las night otherwise the house would have been too warm - this time last year we had so many drafts coming in through the window frames and the inch wide gap under the front door (no amount of draft excluder solved that) that we needed the fire and the heating every night! This morning it was T's turn to have a bit of quiet time to himself getting some jobs done while B and I went to church. I've only started going regularly again since the spring, and I'm so glad I have. B loves going too, and has fallen in love with one of the helpers in the children's room they play in for part of the service!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Tutorial Tuesday - earwires

This Tuesday's tutorial is one from me - how to make your own simple earwires - and it's FREE on my website! I hadn't put a new tutorial on the website for a while as all of the projects that I've written over the last year or so have been destined for magazines, and I thought it was about time I put that right.

I rarely buy earwires any more. I originally starting making my own as I found that it was cheaper than buying them and I did not have to wait for the next delivery or my next trip to the bead shop, but then I realised just how many shapes and sizes I could make and I’ve never looked back! The tutorial shows you how to, obviously, make your own earwires like the ones on the earrings above, and I've also included some information on some fancier designs too. Like the eye loops, wrapped loops and coils tutorial, it's in pdf format, and you can download it here. Have fun!

I'm crying....

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I've just spent the last half hour or so laughing so much that tears are literally rolling down my cheeks! A friend introduced me to icanhascheezburger this afternoon - I've seen some of the pictures on there before but I hadn't realised that there's a whole blog of them! There's no way on earth that I can narrow it down to my favourite, but considering I have a child and a cat this one struck a chord!

P.S. Tutorial Tuesday coming as soon as I've uploaded some more pictures - I guess I'd better stop laughing at the cats and get on with my list of jobs!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

A productive evening!

As shown by the state of my desk! The three pieces you can just about see at the front are currently polishing in the tumbler, and their stones are waiting to be set. Photos soon!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Rippling River

My project in Beads and Beyond this month is a long lampwork necklace. The links that I've used between the beads were inspired by a scrap piece of wire that was sitting in my 'just in case I find a use for it' pot on my desk for months. Now, that's not my scrap pot, even though silver does get pulled back out of there if it just happens to be the perfect length for head pins etc, but my pot of bits and pieces left over from previous experiments. They're too potentially good to put with the scrap but just didn't work out at the time. Anyway, this particular piece of wire had been hammered on both sides with my favourite hammer and been shaped. I found the perfect beads to go with it (beautiful lampwork beads from Caroline at Crafted Gems, and Rippling River was created! I usually find it hard to come up with names for magazine pieces, but this one just had to have a water based name!

There's a bonus project on the Beads and Beyond website too - the earrings above. They're made from one piece of wire and are much quicker and easier to make than they look - perfect for Christmas presents!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Tutorial Tuesday - frothy flower crochet pattern

There are an amazing number of fantastic tutorials out there on blogs. I've got dozens of them saved and I've even found the time to make a few of them, but not nearly as many as I would like. Anyway, I thought it was about time that I linked to more of them on my blog .... so .... welcome to my first Tutorial Tuesday!

The idea is that that every Tuesday (obviously) I'll link to a tutorial or two that has caught my eye, and hopefully show you what I've made using it too. I'll include more tutorials of my own as well as - some showing you jewellery making techniques and some for projects that haven't made their way into magazine articles. The first tutorial is for a gorgeous crochet flower by Ali of Craft Matters - and this is one tutorial that I've actually found time for! I'd actually been looking for something to spice up my plain brown winter coat, and I think that this will work perfectly. I think I'll be making a few more too to decorate presents as inspired by Bugs and Fishes - look at that! Two tutorials for the price of one!

Itchy fingers!

You know that feeling when you've got work to do that you actually do enjoy doing and find very satisfactory but your fingers are itching to do something else instead? Well, my fingers are itching and twitching right now! I've got half a dozen or so orders that I need put the finishing touches to so I can take them up to the post office this afternoon, but I what I really want to go is make a start on at least one of the designs that I sketched out late last night. I will be good and get the orders done first, but hopefully I'll have something else to show you either tonight or tomorrow as well!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Old friends

Well, not friends who are old, but you know what I mean!

We had visitors on Saturday, friends who I went to university with and their two girls, the eldest of whom is now B's new best friend. They seemed to spend most of the day in fits of giggles! They'd met half a dozen or so times before, but this was the first time that they'd spent the whole day together since they were toddlers, and it was lovely to see them playing so beautifully together. Of course, Jo and I had the usual conversation that all old friends do, the one that revolves around how amazed we are that time has flown so quickly, surely it was only a couple of years ago and not 1996 that we were sharing a house and trying to find any distraction (even cleaning the bathroom) from studying for our finals, and how on earth did we get old enough to be married with children and mortgages?! Oh, and we must, really must, meet up more often. Jo's going to come over and spend the day with me playing in the shed in the New Year, so that's a start!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Finished projects

I'm feeling rather pleased with myself as I managed to finish two projects last weekend while we were driving up to Suffolk for Grandma's birthday. I finished knitting and crocheting them both a couple of weeks ago, but as usual it's taken me a while to sew them up!

I made the elephant for my friend's new baby girl. We called into see them for lunch and a lazy afternoon on Saturday before continuing onto my Aunt's for the birthday celebrations. I had lots of lovely cuddles with baby Emma and was rewarded with a little bit of sick and lots of smiles! The pattern for the elephant came from this blog, and B and Emma's big brother have put orders in for their own!

And this is the waistcoat I made for Grandma's birthday that I was keeping a secret. I'm really pleased with it - it's not my taste but it's definitely Grandma's, and her favourite colour too. I made it longer than the pattern suggests as Grandma likes her tops to cover her back well. I found the pattern listed on Ravelry (a site that I'm spending more and more time on). The cover of the book it's in nearly put me off as it looks so dated, but I think it turned out rather well.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


I had a lovely surprise this morning - my Golden Lovebird is featured on the Cuteable blog! This is one of the blogs that I check out regularly as there are always so many lovely things featured, so I'm really pleased that one of my pieces has been included!

The items in this particular blog post were chosen by Belinda from Shop Handmade UK, and if you wander over to the Shop Handmade UK blog you'll find a nice discount code waiting for you! Thank you Belinda!

Guaranteed Delivery

I've decided to sign up with a courier due to the Royal Mail strikes. I usually use Special Delivery, and while I haven't had any problems with this service during the strikes as Royal Mail have been making them a priority, I don't want to risk any problems as the strikes continue. no extra cost to you, my dear customers, all UK parcels will be sent by the courier myHermes who will call back twice more if you are out the first time. The parcels are trackable, and I'll include the tracking number in the order dispatch details.

And what's more, they will come and collect the parcels from me so that I don't have to wait in the post office queue - how cool is that!

P.S. On a serious note, I am steadily growing more angry about these strikes - don't they realise the damage that they are doing to everyone, and that most people who have switched to using couriers won't switch back afterwards? I really want to support my local post office and send my parcels through them, but I feel as though my hand has been forced. I'm going to leave my comments on this whole stupid affair at that, as if I go any further this will turn into a long rant!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Look what the postie brought me today!

Look look!! I actually got some post today!

Now, don't worry, this isn't going to be a Royal Mail strike moaning blog post - but I'm certain that I'll write one soon.... I'm excited because the beads for the next Designer Challenge for Beads and Beyond arrived this morning and they are gorgeous! They're from Precious Sparkle beads, who I tend to buy quite a few beads from, and I've already planned out what I'm going to make with them.

I can't spoil the surprise, but if you're very good you can have a look at the packaging - aren't I generous?! If you look closely you may even be able to see a few of the colours contained in that plain looking bag.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Out of hibernation

It's taken me much longer than I expected to get back into the habit of blogging after coming back from holiday, mainly as it's taken me a while to get used to my new routine of B at preschool three mornings a week and at his childminder's one and a half days a week, and of teaching two evenings a week. The second evening class, a beginner's jewellery class at our local secondary school on Wednesday evenings, started the day after we came back from holiday and it's going well, lots of fun to teach and everyone's very enthusiastic. I've also been really busy with orders from a couple of galleries for their Christmas stock, and with orders from and my website. It seems as though the Christmas shopping season has arrived!

I have been planning blog posts as I've been sitting working in the shed though, so I thought that rather than write one long post of what we've been up to I'd actually write up the ones I'd planned in my head, so if you want to catch up with everything and see what commissions and projects I've been working on have a read of the posts below!

Right then, back to work - I've got a magazine project to finish!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Halfterm glow stick fun

It's amazing how much fun you can get out of a tube of glow sticks from the local £1 store!

Friday, 9 October 2009

A couple of repairs

I don't often take on repair work. I've only once needed to repair a piece of jewellery that I've made, and that was because I'd sold the bracelet to a friend of mine who has a habit of catching bracelets on door handles and breaking them. I don't really like repairing jewellery made by other people as a) I can never be completely certain exactly what materials have been used to make the piece, b) repairs can be time consuming and so take time away from the work I really want to do and c) to be blunt it's rarely worth my time doing the work as people generally do not want to pay very much for the work at all and although the repairs rarely require much in the way of new materials they do take a lot of time and my time is money! So I don't advertise that fact that I can repair jewellery, but every now and then I'll repair something that a customer has brought in to a gallery I supply work to or that a friend or colleague needs mending.

T brought the ring in these pictures home from work one day, with a note from a colleague of his asking if I could mend it. As you can hopefully see the 'before' photos the band of the ring had completely snapped. Soldering it back into place and cleaning up the new soldering wasn't actually going to be that big a job, but the first thing that I had to do was remove the turquoise as that would be damaged by the heat from the torch, and that was where the problems started!

The bezel setting was very rough and quite sharp in places, but it wasn't too hard to gently pull open. However, what looked like quite a big stone actually turned out to be a thinner cabochon with some kind of packing behind it (an unfortunately common trick to make stones appear bigger and therefore more expensive) that had just crumbled away to leave a right old mess. So, after repairing the band of the ring I had to clean up the inside of the bezel setting and then file and sand the bezel down so that it fitted the stone properly. The bezel actually ended up looking a lot better than it had originally!

It took a while, but I was actually quite pleased with myself when I had finished and oxidised everything so that it had the same finish as before and I'd reset the stone. I still prefer making my own designs though!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Grinning from ear to ear!

My copy of the latest issue of Beads and Beyond arrived through the door today - and I'm feeling rather happy! Not only have I got a Masterclass article in there (this time on how to make your own ear wires in various styles, with a bonus web project showing you how to make the earrings below) but there's also a review of my silversmithing tuition!

Becky (assistant editor of the magazine) came down to spend a day making beautiful jewellery in my workshed at the beginning of September. We had a great day, a really fun day, and Becky made a couple of beautiful pieces - a bangle and a gorgeous pendant in the shape of a swallow that she cut from silver sheet. It was a really complicated shape, especially for a beginner, but she did a fantastic job. Apparently the necklace was going to be a birthday present for a friend, but Becky couldn't bring herself to give it away!

I'm going to try and get hold of a photo of what she made, but in the meantime, go and buy a copy so you can see it for yourself - oh yes, and learn how to make your own ear wires too!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Holiday projects

I didn't take any jewellery projects away with me on holiday this year, as I thought that as much as I love making and designing jewellery a complete break would probably do me a lot of good. That didn't stop me from drafting out three new magazine projects on the flight on the way home though - or maybe my mind was fresh enough to come up with those ideas precisely because I'd have a break?

There was no way on earth that I was going to go on holiday without craft projects though - and you wouldn't really expect me to, would you?! I took three balls of yarn for each of two crochet projects, the Victorian cardigan/wrap for me that I've shown you pictures of before and a waistcoat for my Grandma. I got a fair bit done on each and should have taken at least one extra ball for each project! I nearly finished the back of the waistcoat, but I'm not going to show you that one as Mum comes on here sometimes (hello Mum!) and I want the waistcoat to be a surprise for the family until Grandma's birthday at the end of October. It's proving to me a quick project.

I've made a good start on the Victorian wrap, but that's going to be a longer project. It's crocheted all in one piece, starting at the bottom of the back, going up the back and increasing for the sleeves and down the front, dividing for the wrap's fronts. The lacy cuffs and bottom of the wrap are then crocheted on. I've got as far as the sleeves, and something tells me that I'll still be working on it in the New Year!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Sunshine and floods

We're back! We've had a lovely break, very relaxing, but with very mixed weather! We spent most of the first half of the week at the beach, and that stretch of the Spanish coast has mile after mile of beautiful sandy beaches. B had his first proper swim in the sea (well, with arm bands and help from Daddy) and loved it - it took a lot of persausion to get him back out again! The second half of the week wasn't exactly beach weather, but we did go for a short walk on the beach in the wind and rain anyway! Rather then bore you with a blow by blow account of the holiday, I thought I'd share a few pictures instead......

Being chased by the waves!

Decisions, decisions

The biggest ice cream in the world!

Isn't it supposed to be sunny on holiday?

We're going to the beach, no matter what the weather!

The rain in Spain - this is a road!

Monday, 28 September 2009

Having a lovely time

A quick postcard from (not so) sunny Spain! Well, it was beautifully sunny at the beginning of the week, but the rain has definitely set in now - not that it's stopped us from going to the beach as you can see! We'll be back later this week. Bye for now!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

News from the Daisychain Garden

This year was the first year that we tried growing vegetables. We've still got a massive amount to learn, but at least we didn't kill the plants! Neither T or I are the most enthusiastic gardeners. I love the idea of have a productive, well laid out garden that I can potter about in, dead heading and pruning and digging up our own veggies, but I don't really have the time needed to set everything up to get it organised and productive. This autumn, though, I am determined to dig up some raised beds. There's a perfect sunny spot under my workshed window, and the earth is already piled up there from when we levelled the garden to lay the new lawn.

So what has made me so determined to dig a raised bed? Let me introduce Mr Carrot (name chosen by B). Our carrots have been lovely and sweet and tasty but, well, let's just say that we now realise the importance of planting carrot seedlings in deeper soil!

P.S. The stick-on eyes were T's idea. Honest.
P.P.S We have dozens of green tomatoes but no ripe ones yet! I'm trying a few tricks I looking up on the internet to get them to ripen, but I think I may be making a few jars of green tomato chutney!


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