Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year!

Yes, I am still here - and a bit horrified at how long it has been since my last post! My only excuses are that I've been lovely and busy with lots of Christmas orders and gallery orders and teaching, and that when I haven't been working I've collapsed into a heap with my absolutely massive bump.

Yes, Bump is still a bump! He or she is due in two weeks time - well, I say due, but they come when they want to, don't they? B was 12 days early, but we'll have to wait and see! Like every other expectant mum I know I'm torn between wanting the baby to hurry up and get here and wanting them to stay inside for as long as they need to - and so that they can have their birthday just a little further away from the Christmas and New Year holidays! I will miss the kicks and watching my tummy move from side to side (B thinks it's hilarious when the baby kicks), but I will most definitely not miss the acid reflux (I now actually like the taste of Gaviscon), the cronic back pain and pelvic problems (physio is helping thankfully!) or, of course, the constant need to waddle upstairs to the bathroom.

Anyway, before this turns into a pregnancy post with far too much information, let me wish you a belated Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year! I shall be back in a few days when I'm feeling a bit more organised with photos of some of the things I've been making recently - lots of Christmas knitting!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

What a week!

It's been a mixed week so far. Monday was very productive - I spent most of the day catching up with boring but necessary admin jobs but managed to set the stones in the part-made examples I'd put together for last Saturday's stone setting workshop. However, I tossed and turned all Monday night, and woke up on Tuesday morning looking like a cross between a chipmunk and a relative of the Mitchellin man - and a throbbing abscess on a tooth. If I hadn't already written and scheduled the tutorial this week it would have been very quiet here this week!

Thankfully, one emergency dentist appointment and strong (pregnancy friendly!) antibiotics later and I look and feel a lot more human. I even got some sleep last night!! Whether I sleep next Tuesday night, though, is another matter as I'm having the abscess drained on Wednesday! I had to cancel my classes on Tuesday night, which I hated having to do, but I wouldn't have got much teaching done without being able to talk.

Anyway, today has been alot better. Anna has been round for a day's silversmithing tuition to build on the stone setting skills that she learnt during Saturday's class. You can see the pendant she made on Saturday here, and she's popping back round to finish setting the stone tomorrow morning - I promise to take some photos when she's done as it's going to be a gorgeous pendant!

Tomorrow is going to be a busy day - it's the Christmas Shopping Evening! I've still got a few pieces I'd like to finish to take along with me (I always want to make more, just in case!), and I've also got to buy the wine for the drinks included in the ticket price and finish collecting the raffle prizes. Local shops have been very generous with prizes - we've got everything from vouchers for the local butcher to a gift basket from the hairdressers and a voucher from a great local photographer who I'm hoping will take some photos of our newly enlarged family in the New Year. If you're in the area tomorrow evening do come along - ticket sales have gone even better than we hoped they would, but there will still be some tickets on the door!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Tutorial Tuesday - bezel setting tips

I've had a few bezel stone setting projects in Beads and Beyond over the last few months, and there are more to come! I have a very strict word and photo limit to work to when writing the projects, which is good because it makes sure that the instructions are concise, but sometimes it would be nice to show an extra photo or two. Sometimes Becky can accomodate this by having two smaller photos for one of the steps, but it's not always possible. So, I decided to take a whole load of photos when I was setting stones in a pair of earrings last week so that I could show you a couple more details. Mind you, if you have back copies of Beads and Beyond with my stone setting masterclass and with the stone setting projects that I've already had published then it's worth reading through those one after the other if you're learning how to bezel set stones as I've tried to teach something new and show a new detail in each project.

So here goes! As always, if you've got any questions or any tips of your own, please do leave a comment! I know that not everyone sets stones in exactly the same way, but as I keep saying to my students, there's quite often more than one way of getting the job done, but if you get the same end result, are working safely and efficiently and in a way that makes sense for you, it doesn't matter which method you use in the end!

The stones waiting to be set on my desk at the start of the morning! I like to make quite a few settings and then set them all at the same time.

These are the earrings with the stones in place ready to be set. All the soldering, filing etc and most of the polishing has been done. They've been through the tumbler to start to harden the ear wires but I'll need to do a bit more polishing at the end as the earrings will be handled so much while the stones are set. The bezel setting has been bevelled slightly at the top to reduce the thickness of silver (never by more than a third though otherwise the setting becomes weakened) that needs to be pushed over the stone, and it has also been filed slightly lower at the tips of the stones to make it easier to get a neater finish there. If you're just learning how to set stones I suggest that you start with oval or round ones first, and ones that aren't too small and fiddly at that!

I use a bezel pusher to do most of the setting. This is a short piece of square steel rod in a wooden handle. It's always worth checking new stone setting tools when they arrive in case they have rough edges etc. I've filed and sanded the edges of the end square so that they don't leave so many (or hopefully any!) marks on the silver as I'm setting the stone.

To start setting the stone, hold the pusher flat against the setting, pushing slowly and firmly. You may be surprised at how much pressure you need to put on the setting, but if you move slowly you will still control the movements and are very unlikely to slip.

Then push the pusher up and over the top of the stone, again moving slowly and firmly.
I'd usually be holding the stoneand setting firmly with my left hand when using the pusher, but I needed it to take the photos! Just imagine it's there!!

To set the stone evenly you need to push once on one side of the setting and then travel across the stone in a North-South-East-West pattern. If you start pushing at, say, the southern most end of the stone and then continue to work your way around the stone rather than moving across it then you will end up with the silver bunched up when you get round to the finishing point.

It gets a little more complicated when setting a teardrop shaped stone like this one, but hopefully you can see that I've pushed the setting once at the botttom and once on each side.

In this picture I've continued to push between the original pushed areas.

In this picture both stones have been set, the bezel has been pushed or rubbed over the stone evenly all the way round, but I'm not quite finished yet! If your stone still feels a little loose you probably need to continue pushing or rubbing over the setting - you may not have been firm enough the first time round!

This is a burnisher. I've also got straight burnishers and even one made by filing and sanding down an old screw driver! Burnishers are used to rub around the setting, removing the marks left by the bezel pushers. Make sure that you regularly check your burnishers for marks and sand them out, otherwise those marks will be transferred onto your silver, causing more work.

This setting still needs a bit more burnishing on the area that appears duller, towards the top of the teardrop.

And in this picture the marks have magically gone!


All that was left for these earrings was to turn the earwires, hammer them (carefully!) for extra strength and to give them a final polish - and you can now find them on the website here

Monday, 8 November 2010

Our school run

We are lucky to live in such a lovely area of Southampton. I have to admit that before B came along Bitterne Park was just somewhere that we happened to have our house, somewhere that was convienent for work and travelling to parents etc, but having a child really does change how you feel about a place. I'd still ideally like to live somewhere more rural (but somewhere with good public transport for when B and Bump are older - I know what it's like to be a teenager in a tiny village with one bus a week!!) but as Southampton goes, this is definitely one of the nicest places.

We're not far from the River Itchen and Riverside Park runs through most of Bitterne Park - lots of ducks and swans to feed, an outdoor activity centre, three play parks, a minature railway in the summer, a pitch and putt, lots of room to run about in - and at this time of year, absolutely gorgeous colours. I finally remembered to take the camera with me so that I could capture them, as I'm sure they'll only be with us for another few days. B and I currently drive halfway to school, purely because I'm finding it rather painful walking back up the steep hills after dropping him off - the downside of leaving on the side of a river valley! We then walk through the park the rest of the way. Well, I walk, he speeds off on his balance bike, doing about three times the distance I do by the time he's had races with his friends! The park is always busy with dog walkers, football matches in the winter, cricket and picnics in the summer, community events.

P.S. B's very pleased with the new hat and scarf I've knitted him, and I'm pleased with the way the yarn has striped. He had one request - a large fluffy pompom on the top of the hat!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Stone setting workshop

Today the conservatory/kitchen was filled with the sound of people oohing and aahing over beautiful stones, sketching out ideas, sawing, hammering, soldering and filing - yes, it was my last group workshop at home before going on maternity leave!

The majority of the group hadn't set cabochons before, but they all produced beautiful work - just take a look! I always love how one basic technique can have so many different uses and end results. I'm off to tidy all the tools away while you admire their work!

Syd's purple charoisite pendant - the beautiful stone works brilliantly in a simple organic setting
Anna's pietersite pendant - her clever use of the square of silver I gave each person reminds me of origami!
Carol's carnelian pendant - I love the texture she used!
Helen's jade pendant - the simple setting shows off the stone really well
Jenny's labradorite pendant - I really like the way she's used such different shapes. They've made a stunning pendant.
Sara's hematite pendant - the perfect "go with anything" piece of jewellery!

P.S. Syd, Anna and Jenny used stones from my friend Brenda's etsy shop - she let me have a box of stones for them to pick from if they wanted something a bit more special than my basic cabs!

P.P.S. I have only three dates left for private tuition before I go on maternity leave so if you'd like to come and have a great day learning new skills in my workshed you'd better get in there quickly - this time yesterday I had five dates left! You can find the dates and more details here. I'm also teaching a beginners jewellery taster day for Eastleigh college on Saturday 20th November - details can be found here.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Catching up

Thank you for you good wishes - my cold has virtually gone now thankfully! Colds don't usually knock me for six like this, so I don't know if it was something worse or if I was just really run down but I hadn't felt that bad since getting the flu last year. Oh, and one bit of maths I forgot -
heartburn that I've had all pregnancy + lots of coughing due to cold = acid reflux  
Not Nice. I now actually like the taste of gaviscon. This is also the reason why I am posting at such an un-Godly hour - I gave up and got up as it's more comfortable to sit upright at the moment! Ten weeks to go, ten weeks to go......!

The very expensive beach huts!
Anyway, I'm just glad that I was feeling well enough to travel up to Suffolk last Thursday. We always spend part of October halfterm holiday in Suffolk as my Grandma's birthday is on 31st October. The older she gets, the more important it is to me, although I'm pretty certain that she'll be with us well into her hundreds! This year the family have spread their birthday visits out, as Grandma finds it a bit too much to have all of us with her at the same time - too much noise! My aunt and cousins and their families live in Suffolk too and did her a special tea yesterday, B and I took her out on Friday, my parents are travelling up to take her out this weekend and my brother is going up later in the month. (By the way, T spent the weekend climbing Snowdon - yes, he is mad!) None of her trips out seem amazingly exciting (B and I took her out for a special afternoon tea for example) but they are what she enjoys.

An ice cream at the seaside is compulsory, even in the winter!

We stayed with friends rather than family this time. Mum and Dad moved away from Suffolk a few weeks after they got married but we moved back up for a while when I was a teenager and I went to college in Suffolk, and I've still got friends in the area. We stayed with my friend Kate (we've been friends for two decades now - where has the time gone?!?) and her children - her husband was also away for the weekend so we spent the days exploring the beautiful Suffolk coast with the children and the evenings eating too much chocolate and setting the world to rights! We spent Saturday at Southwold. I love how different the coast is at each time of year, and that even when it's cold, it's still beautiful! I don't know whether it's the quality of the light along the coast or just the fact that I'm in a place that I love, but everything looks beautiful - I haven't inflicted all the photos I took on you, but I hope you like this selection!

First go on tuppenny slot machines on the pier
Two train mad boys!

This week has been back on track work-wise - lots of orders with people getting organised for Christmas. I've been making lots of lovebird pendants! Also lots of preparation for a couple of shows at the end of next week (more details tomorrow - erm..later today!) and preparation for my fully-booked stone setting workshop on Saturday. I was teaching today too - Debbie came and made a beautiful cuff bracelet, learning how to use the rolling mill and how to oxidise her work - hello Debbie! I forgot to take a photo, so you'll just have to trust me when I say it was lovely!

Time to try sleep again I think!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Christmas in November!

It's that time of year - the Christmas craft shows are nearly here and I'm busy creating new pieces to go on  my stalls. I've got two more stalls this year, one in Southampton in just over a couple of week's time and one in Winchester the next day - and then I think I'll give myself at least the morning off the next day!! I'm really excited about both events, but for different reasons.

The first show is the first one that I've ever had a hand in organising. At the beginning of the year I suggest to a couple of friends who also have their own small businesses in the area that it would be great if we could get together for a shopping evening before this Christmas, either at one of our homes or in one of the local church halls. We've finally put our plans into action - introducing our first every Christmas Shopping Evening on Friday 12th November, 7.30pm-9.30pm!

The venue is the Old Chemist, a beautiful old shop in Bitterne Park that's now a church office for the local evangelical church and a small community centre, and we've got seven different stalls, from gorgeous handbags, great traditional wooden toys, Pampered Chef, Vie at Home cosmetics, Phoenix cards, and, of course, my jewellery! The evening is also raising money for the Wessex Cancer Trust, who do a amazing amount of work helping cancer patients and their families in the South of England - more information about the evening can be found here! We're selling tickets in advance, with money going to the Wessex Cancer Trust, and the tickets include a glass of wine, mince pies and a raffle ticket. There will also be tickets available on the door.

The event the next day is the Christmas Winchester Handm@de show at the Winchester Guildhall on Saturday 13th November from 11am - 5pm. This is the third Winchester Handm@de show, and the first Christmas one that we've had. The first two shows were a great success, with beautifully unique handcrafted goods - some of which you can see here!

Monday, 25 October 2010


Pregnancy + catching the horrible cold that's been doing the rounds for the last couple of weeks = not being able to take any medication + sleeping even less well than usual

all of the above = very grouchy Jo (sorry family!)

thankfully fantastic family = Mum and Dad helping out with B for a couple of days while T has to work and I can try and fight the bug off!

Normal service should be resumed soon!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010


Another waffly post from me today, I'm afraid, as I can't seem to settle my mind on any one thing at the moment! I think it's partly because it's a Wednesday morning and on Tuesday evenings I teach two college classes and don't get home until about 10.30pm - I tend to run on adrenalin while I'm teaching and flop as soon as I get home! It's also definitely partly baby brain though. I seem to have reached that stage of breaking off half way through a sentence as I've completely forgotten what I'm saying and of going up stairs and forgetting why. I set the washing machine going four times last week without putting the washing liquid in. Four times! Once I can understand but really! My bump is growing pretty big now, and I'm starting to feel as though I've been pregnant for a year. I think that this baby is going to be a kick boxer :)

The craft show at the Winchester Discovery Centre went really well. It was a bit of a slow start but I had lots of lovely customers. Most of the lemonade earrings I made last week were sold, together with lots of bangles and pendants and a couple of bigger pieces, some of which I hadn't had a chance to put on the website, such as the Blue Velvet necklace above. I love the stone in this piece - it's Russian Blue Pietersite, and it's so unusual to get it in such a rich blue without hints of other colours streaking across it. It's got such velvety depths to it! The bezel setting is quite plain but I made the chain and the clasp is the flower on the front. The clasp hooks onto any of the chain links, so the new owner can change it slightly - either a long chain with the clasp right next to the stone or a shorter chain with a longer chain drop leading down to the pendant. The flower was cut out from the back of the stone setting, so even if the pendant flips over it still looks beautiful from the other side!

The other pendant that you can see here is still available, and I'll be putting it on the website this evening along with a couple of other pieces. The stone is fossilised crinoids, not something that I've been tempted to use before, but I loved the colours and the smooth shape. The setting is similar to the Blue Velvet one, but this time the clasp is a toggle in the shape of an oak leaf - I really enjoyed making this clasp, so expect to see more in this style! Both of the stones, by the way, are from my friend Brenda's etsy shop Iced Hot Rocks.

Now there was something else I had to tell you..............oh yes! The latest Beads and Beyond magazine is out!

I've got a stone set pendant in there this month, so if you'd like to learn how to make your own bezel settings like the ones I've used on these necklaces then that would be a very good starting point. I've also got the last of the "Staying Legal" series of articles in the magazine this month, this time on accounting and taxes - a subject that sounds quite horrible but really needn't be scarey, honest! I think my favourite project in there this month is Rebecca Anderson's Retro Romance set - red and turquoise are such a yummy combination!

I hope you all have lovely days today - I know I'm going to enjoy this afternoon as the sun has started to shine and I'm off to Brenda's to see her latest batch of gorgeous stones. I expect I'll be buying one or six!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Tutorial Tuesday - Sheep in the City scarf pattern

Picture from Sheep in the City blog
I have most definitely reached the stage when my bump is too big for coats to do up, and it's got pretty cold here in the mornings when I'm taking Ben to school, so I've decided to knit myself a new scarf. I've been getting organised and knitting lots of Christmas presents, so it seems like ages since I knitted myself anything! I think I've found the perfect pattern - great for showing off variegated colour yarns and an easy pattern to memorise for when I'm sitting in front of the television in the evening. I'm hoping to be able to wear it by the end of the week!

The pattern (and the photo of the scarf above) come from Sheep in the City. I'll let you know how I get on with it!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Making Lemonade out of Lemons

That's been my task this afternoon! So many little pieces of sheet left over from bigger projects but too big for the scrap pot have been building up in my silver drawer, and I've also had so many part done examples collecting on my desk, pieces that I've started as examples of sawing or piercing or texturing that I've done for my college classes. With the price of silver as sky high as it is at the moment I knew I had to get to work and use them, and this is what I've come up with! I've got a stall at Winchester Discovery Centre (we're not allowed to call it the library any more!) tomorrow, so I'm waiting until after that to put those that are left on the website.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Tutorial Tuesday - soldering tips 2

The plan had been to add a few photos to this and post it when I got back from college last night, but ended up making packed lunches for school instead - what an exciting life I lead! Anyway, it's here now!

A couple of weeks ago I posted some soldering tips with photos showing work being soldered and pickled. This time I thought I'd show you the basic tools needed to solder silver, and also talk about the different types of solder available  - and why you can get different types of solder!

This is my soldering area - a little messy, I know, but soldering isn't exactly the cleanest part of making jewellery. You don't actually need a lot of equipment to start soldering. Each tool is quite cheap, although the price can obviously add up, but if you look after the tools well they will last you for years.

Going through the labels we have:
  1. Old slate tiles - left over from a DIY project, these protect the table below from the heat. You can buy soldering sheets that do the same job, but tiles are cheaper!
  2. Soldering block - extra protection from the heat. These also absorb some of the heat from the flame and pass it back into the silver, so if you have several pieces on the block waiting to be soldered (for example if you are soldering lots of links for a chain), they will start to heat up before the flame even touches them. I have a couple of blocks, and if I am soldering a big piece I will prop a couple up behind the block I'm working on to radiate the heat back to the metal.
  3. Charcoal block - used to melt small balls of silver such as in this tutorial
  4. Reverse action tweezers - these take a bit of getting used to as they open when you push the handles, opposite to how most pliers work. This is useful, though, as I often use them to hold, for example, an earwire in place on the back of the earring during soldering and I don't have to remember to hold them tightly closed, they do the job for me. They are insulated.
  5. Solder probe - not essential put useful for pushing solder back to where you want it to be if it moves during the process.
  6. Third hand with tweezers - not essential but useful for holding small pieces during soldering.
  7. Torches - I've got two hand torches, and also a propane torch that feeds of a gas bottle under my desk, out of sight. It is the heat of the piece of work that melts the solder, not the heat of the flame, and so if I am soldering a big piece such as a bangle I need to use a bigger torch to heat the silver up enough. The smaller torch is ideal for chains, clasps, earwires etc. The small torch came from Cookson Gold, as did most of my soldering equipment, and the big one is a plumber's torch from B&Q!
  8. Quench pot - such a sophistcated expensive piece of kit! Never put hot metal in the pickle, always quench it to cool it down first.
  9. Goggles - you've only got one pair of eyes!
  10. Binding wire - useful for holding together larger pieces during soldering.
  11. Pennies! - useful for propping up small pieces while you solder them.
  12. Snips/shears - use these to cut solder strips into smaller pieces (pallions) ready to use for soldering.

 A few more bits and pieces for you:

  1. Pickle pot - another expensive piece of equipment! You can buy expensive pickling units, but I use an old slow cooker that cost £2 at a carboot sale. Remember that pickle cleans the silver quicker if it is warm. As you can see in this post, the pickle sits in a pyrex dish that sits in water inside the cooker. I can't put the pickle straight into the cooker as I haven't got a ceramic insert in mine, it's just steel. If you put steel or iron (eg reverse action tweezers, binding wire) into the pickle, all of the copper the pickle has collected off the silver as it's cleaned the oxidisation off will go back on the silver! Which leads me to....
  2. Brass tweezers - use these to take work out of the pickle instead of steel tweezers. You can also buy plastic tweezers.
This picture shows my soldering materials - flux and solder in various forms.

  1. Borax cone and dish - a cheap and easy to use form of solder. Put a very little amount of water in the bottom of the dish and grind the cone in it to form a milky paste which is then painted onto the silver. Remember solder will only flow, rather than ball up, if flux is present.
  2. Auflux - an artificial form of  flux, again relatively cheap but doesn't last as long as a cone. Again, just paint it on where it is needed.
  3. Solder strips - the traditional form of solder. Cut into smaller pieces (pallions) ready to use for soldering. I have a little pot for each solder - Hard, Medium and Easy - I'll explain those terms in a bit!
  4. Solder paste syringes - a modern form of solder - some people love it, some people hate it saying it's cheating! I say it's got it's place and can be useful, but it doesn't replace solder strips. Solder paste is basically ground up solid solder mixed with a flux so that it's ready to use. I only really use it for chain work as I find it more convenient - just work along the row of links waiting to be soldered, squeezing a little bit out at a time! It is much more expensive that solder strips though. Again, I've got Hard, Medium and Easy solder.
So why the different names for solders? Hard, Medium and Easy solders have different melting temperatures - hard has a higher melting temperature than medium (ie. it is harder to melt), medium has a higher melting temperature than easy. You can also sometimes buy extra-easy solder which has an even lower melting temperature.

Why do you need different melting temperatures? Because you often need to solder more than one join on a piece of work, and when you solder the second join, you don't want the first to remelt or it is likely to weakend. Take the chain in this post as an example - my Ebony necklace from this month's Beads and Beyond. The large links were soldered closed with medium solder and then hammered. If I hadn't soldered them closed first hammering would have mis-shapened them. They were then linked together with smaller round links that were closed with easy solder - the temperature needed to melt the easy solder wasn't high enough to remelt and weaken the medium solder. The small links were far enough apart that soldering one closed didn't affect the ones I'd already done. If I had needed to solder three times on the piece of work I would have started with hard, then medium and finally easy solder. On the other hand, if I only need to solder one join, for example on a bangle, then I just use easy solder as it's easier to melt.

I hope all of that makes sense - quite a technical Tutorial Tuesday this week! Do let me know in the comments if you have any questions and please do leave a comment if you have a tip of your own to share!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Order out of chaos!

This was the state of my desk this morning. In fact, this was the state of my desk from Friday lunch time, when my in-laws arrived, all over the weekend until this morning when I managed to get back in there! I always try to tidy my desk, or at least put things in orderly piles and clear a space, at the end of the day, so it made me feel a bit disorganised this morning! Thankfully my first job was to set the stones in the pendant below, so once I'd got started I felt better and I've actually got a lot done today. I've even taken photos of the pendant (obviously!) as soon as it was finished rather than put it to one side to do later - the joys of being able to have my photo studio permanently set up in my lovely new shed!

Dainty - sterling silver flower with smoky quartz and peridot - now sold, thank you!

Right then, next on my list is a late lunch/early tea (yes, strange time, I know, but I leave to teach my college classes at 5pm and don't get home until gone 10pm, so Tuesday meal times are always a bit mixed up), and then pack for college - Keum Boo for my advanced class tonight and chain making for the beginners! I'm hoping to finish another Tutorial Tuesday with more information on soldering too, but that may have to wait until I get back from college tonight!

P.S. If the pendant has caught your fancy you can find it on the website here!

Monday, 11 October 2010

I'm in a competition!

And I didn't even realised it until last weekend! This year as part of Beads and Beyond's Jewellery Maker of the Year competition readers were asked to nominate their favourite bead shop, bead website and B&B jewellery designer as well as to submit their work. I saw the final pieces at Artisan, and there are some really beautiful pieces, such an amazing amount of work and original designs. You can see them, and vote for your favourites here, and if you scroll down to the bottom you'll see a familiar name!

Thank you for any of you who read this who nominated me - I was really surprised when Becky and Michelle told me, and really touched!

A sunny weekend in October?!

We've had such a beautifully sunny few days! At this time of year if we have any sunny days they're usually fairly chilly, but it has been absolutely gorgeous, so gorgeous, infact, that we had a barbeque on Saturday and picnic on the coast yesterday! T's mum and step-dad were visiting for the weekend so we swap the usual household chores, DIY, trips to the park and the swimming pool for trips out, including a trip to take B for his first climbing session. Yes, B's comments about the beads that I bought at Artisan made T realise that he'd better start his son's official outdoor education as soon as possible! It was great seeing him listening so carefully to his Daddy's instructions and taking his first holds on the wall. He's far more trusting than I was when T taught me to climb. And of course, proud Mummy took lots of photos, but don't worry, I'm only going to inflict a few on you!

Checking the harness

Getting started

Going up!

Up high!

Friday, 8 October 2010

My spoils from Artisan

I didn't buy quite as much from Artisan as I thought I might, mainly as I was demoing more than shopping - but that is what I was really there for! I did get some lovely goodies though.

 This lovely pile of sparkling stones is from Precious Sparkle Beads - rough cut nuggets of iolite and amethyst. The photo definintely doesn't do them justice, especially the iolite as that appears to be different colours depending on the direction you look at it from, which makes it rather difficult to photograph.
I bought the iolite specifically for a project for Beads and Beyond. Sometimes the beads will dictate the project, but this time I'd already made the silver components for the pieces of jewellery and wanted some good sized nuggets to go with them. 
The amethyst is for a project in the New Year.

 I haven't got a specific plan for these beads yet, but I expect the ideas will come soon! 
I just had to buy them as I hadn't seen anything like them before. The lighter beads are picasso jasper, which isn't that unusual, but I hadn't come across beads with a soft matt finish before. 
I bought the onyz beads for their matt finish too - so different from the usual high gloss!

These beads are plastic. I hardly use plastic in my work at all, and never in the work I sell, 
but the colour and sparkle of these really caught my eye. 
I try to use beads across a wide price range in my magazine projects, so these will be used with some antique gold coloured chain and findings for a project in the New Year.
B liked these ones in particular - he kept saying how gorgeous they were! T started muttering about how he must take him climbing and canoeing very soon before I corrupt our son completely. 
I think it might be too late!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

What a week!

This has turned out to be one very busy week! I came back from Artisan (which was brilliant, but more of that later) to find lots of notonthehighstreet orders and an urgent request from one of the galleries that stocks my jewellery, so what with the general running around after the family and household chores (oh the glamour!), my college classes on Tuesday night and a couple of magazine articles I feel as though I've spent the days rushing around! The non-teaching evenings have been a lot quieter, but only really because almost as soon as B has been put to bed I've just run out of energy and flopped. I keep forgetting that I am nearly 6 months pregnant and I need to pace myself!

Anyway, Artisan!

I had a brilliant time there, and all of the visitors seemed to be enjoying themselves! I certainly saw lots of smiling faces with full carrier bags! I arrived later than I planned on Friday afternoon as the traffic and the weather were awful - what should have been a 2 hour journey took more than double that. I think it would have been easier for Radio 2 (yes, I have reached the age when my preferred radio station is BBC Radio 2 - my parents and I now listen to the same station!) to have listed the motorways that didn't have problems rather than those that did. I still managed to arrive in time for the last hour of the first day, to say hi to Becky and Michelle (deputy editor and editor of Beads and Beyond), to have a look round and (much to Becky's amusement) to buy some beads. I think it was that fact that I hadn't been inside for more than 20 minutes before I bought something that made her giggle, but what can I say? I'm an addict! Friday evening was spent settling into the hotel, going out for a great evening with lots of chat and lovely Italian food with Becky and Michelle, and then searching for somewhere that sold butane gas for the small blowtorch I had brought to use for the demos. I suppose I could have forgotten something more serious, like the torch itself, and we did get to see some nice parts of Leamington Spa!

Saturday was great, although we were all so busy that it seemed to go very quickly! I started my demonstration, showing people how to make a hammered soldered chain like the one in my Ebony project, at about 10.15am, and I was answering so many questions and enjoying myself so much that it was gone midday before I realised. Kerry arrived not long after that, and it was in some ways rather strange seeing her walk in the door - strange because she looked and sounded so familiar, like an old friend, but we'd never met or even talked on the phone before. It was so good to meet her properly, and great to see her demos. She showed us two bracelets from Totally Twisted, complete with her own beautifully coloured lampwork beads, and I was amazed at how quick the projects were - instant gratification! Kerry also demonstrated some lampwork, which I would have loved to have seen, but by then it was time for me to get back to hammering and soldering. Anyway, I could waffle on for ages about my girlie weekend away serious working weekend, but I think some photos would be much more interesting for the rest of you, so here you are.....

Kerry demonstrating the first bracelet


Kerry signing books and my turn to wrap wire!

Signing more books!

Group photo - Michelle, Kerry, me & bump, and Becky


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