Sunday, 31 January 2010

What lurks in that cupboard?

I'm spring cleaning. Well no, not really, but I'm getting very annoyed with my ineptitude to keep my findings in one place, so every time I make a piece of jewellery, the search starts - where are the jump rings? They jumped away! Ceramic Spacers? Lost in space! Loose chain? Unchained and gone walkies. Don't get me started on head pins, my pliers, or my bead reamer! So (once again, trust me, this is not the first time) I vow to do better, and start little boxes. And come across a little bag of scrap silver. It doesn't look familiar. Hang on...I've got another bag of scrap silver...somewhere. Forget tidying up, I'm on a money-making mission! After unearthing two more small bags of scrap silver, I find a piece of jewellery that I made in my beginner's silver smithing class back in 2005. Okay, I was proud of it in week 2 of my course, but let's be honest - I'll never wear it. Neither will I ever wear (or have I ever worn) that huuuuge cuff I reticulated towards the end of my first year, or the bangle that I engraved so wonkily. Hang on!! This is starting to look promising! Out come mis-shapen castings (at which point, I find a pair of tiny 'blob' earstuds made of casting scrap, and put them to one side - they will get worn again!)

I'm still looking, but I've gone over the 200g mark. Now all I need to do is send it off, and the order I just placed at Cookson Gold will be - for want of a better word - free! Recycling, kind of.

In honour of the 'heavy metal' theme, a metallic rose topper:

Friday, 29 January 2010

The Three Ps

I like playing around. I normally have very little time to play around, and, if I'm honest, little time to do the whole PPP thing, you know the one, practise, practise, practise. And that's okay...sometimes. Sometimes, it's okay to just do what you find easy for a while, to settle, to gain confidence, to establish yourself. Sometimes, you need to play. Nobody will ever see those beads, they're colour combos that you thought might be worth trying, the first goes with a new press. If you try it once or twice, then move on to something else...that's playing. And sometimes, you need to play.

But sometimes, you have to practise. There is an idea in your head, a bead that you see so clearly, you are convinced if only you lit your torch, you would hold it in your hands the next day. How can you not - you see it so clearly?

First, I made the murrini. And I have to say, hurrah, it turned out pretty much exactly as I wanted it. Apart from the fact that I'd done a black outline on it, which grew ad infinitum on the bead - blob-headed geishas! So, I ground the edge of my titchy-tiny murrini, to see if that would work in principle. Huzzah (this is why the face is a bit grimy, but at least now I know it's worth to do another one! And thus started the PPP - colours for the cherry blossoms, for the dress, the obi (belt). Research into layers of dress, right over left, left over right...translating these into stroke order. What to melt in, what to leave raised. Which colour for a background.

This is the bead I'm happiest with. It's not perfect, but it's the result of a lot of PPP - don't be surprised if there aren't too many beads newly up for sale this week-end! I've got some more PPP to do ;o)

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Let the sunshine in!

Thank you to everybody who nominated me for a sunshine award - I got four of them!! So, in no particular order, thank you to

Jean -
Mel - and

Thank you all so much, it's lovely to know that I'm spreading sunshine. Having had a look around, though, it seems so many people already have one of these, so apologies if I'm re-nominating.

And because I cannot resist showing this one off:

Monday, 25 January 2010

What a lovely week-end!

On Saturday, a group of lovely people descended on my studio, bearing biscuits, chocolate, homemade fudge, and lots of other goodies! We had such a fab time, playing with the torches, demo-ing to each other, and...hmmm....expanding our horizons. Dawn brought her grinder, and June brought her Koil Cutter...and now I have tool envy ;o) No, seriously, thank you all for a fantastic Saturday!

On Sunday, I had a bit more time making beads, and since the first two rose ring toppers sold before I could even take a proper photo of them, here's one:

I am liking these very much, and I hope the ring system will take the UK by storm, lol!

Friday, 22 January 2010

Catching up!!!

Apologies, the day job has been getting in the way....but things have been happening, nonetheless!

Here's what's happened since the last blog:

1) I launched the RingXChange range on my website - see here! You only need one ri
ng, which is stainless steel, with a screw in it
, then all toppers have the matching nut, one ring
fits all toppers, and feel free
to experiment with creating 'washers' out of other m
aterials - I have a couple ready, but still need to take photos. No, that's a's a piece of driftwood from my honeymoon! I have made some rose and other flower toppers, too, but not had a chance to list them!

2) I have been on a fabu
lous course with Claudia Trimbur-Pagel, who is a lovely lady, and a great teacher! I am still waiting for my beads from the course, but will post photos when I get them!

3) I have finally
connected my Midrange burner, and am now officially owner of a two
-torch studio, equipped to teach two people at the same time, so...bring it on! :o)

4) As if that was not enough, I have agreed to teach a group workshop in November, 6 peo
ple, so I will have a 'travelling' set-up of hothead torches.

5) I have been busy writing tutorials, both for magazines and a
book. In this month's Making Jewellery magazine, you can find three of my tutorials, two involving
lampwork beads, including a kanji bead with
the Japanese/Chinese for 'Love', just in time for Valentine's Day. The 'Hidden Love' choker reveals the bead as you move, hi
dden by dangly sterling squiggles.

My roses are featured in this month's Bead Magazine.

And finally, I got the images from when the press came to call back in November/December. Shaun Flannery sent them, and here's my favourite:

...and my apologies for the rubbish formatting in this post!

So...things have been busy :o)

Friday, 8 January 2010

Mountains, Mohammed, and other things

This morning, I drove as near to the sorting centre as I could, walked the rest, and picked up my mail. Boy, were they happy to see me! It was the first day they were open, and they were drowning in mail. Alas, the parcel I've been waiting for has not yet arrived - a real blow, it's been on the road for more than two weeks now, from Germany. But I guess the weather isn't helping anybody.

Beads sold straight off Flickr all week, but I will list what I have later on. Making Jewellery Magazine should land on subscriber's door steps tomorrow, a reminder to get sorted for Valentine's Day!

Here some rough pups that I'm rather partial to :o)

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Go, postie, go!

I'm planning something special. And for that special-ness, I need the post to get to me. I've not had any mail yet this year, which is highly frustrating when you're planning something special.

On the plus side, I've been in the studio every night so far, and am officially up-to-date with commissions and tutorials (six this month).

And just in case you were wondering what my studio looks like at the moment, based on yesterday's story:

This was at 9.30pm last night....stay warm, ladies & gents, stay warm!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Snow, snow, snow!

Well, there will be many, many people blogging the snow, so instead, I shall blog my route to the studio. Put on knee-high boots, stuff jeans inside. Put on extra jumper & coat. Nab torch & keys. Open back door, eye knee-high snow about to fall into the kitchen with suspicion. Gently tread it down towards the outside, avoid kitchen flooding. Take one last look at warm, cosy house, sigh with regret. Step outside and firmly shut door behind. Narrowly avoid saying 'I might be some time'. Realise snow is so deep that wading through it means it comes over knee-high boots. Stupidly decide that it'll be less wet if I do it quickly, so start thrashing through the snow like a frolicking pony. Realise this is quite fun, and do a few sideways jumps & kicks for the heck of it. Just in time, spot the ilex spiky bush, so laden down with snow that it is now shoulder height. Decide whether it would be better to get thrashing from bush, or to stoop low enough to avoid it, crouching into the snow. Give a contortionist a run for their money and do an oscar-worthy limbo...realise coat was trailing in the snow. Open studio door and turn on light. Bring in two cubic metres of snow when I realise I didn't do the 'tamping down' bit before opening the door. Wonder how it could have snowed horizontally against the window...everything covered in snow. Realise clothes & shoes are soaking wet. Turn on ventilation and heater and break into hysterical laughter at the futile struggle of industrial strength ventilation (huge draft) vs. tiny heater. Settle down for two hours of torching.

Come back inside. Realise it's been a while since I've felt my toes. Sit in front of open fire, feet an inch away from the flame. Watch steam rise, and realise I can't feel a thing. Contemplate inching closer, stopped only by 'the look' from hubby. Be overwhelmed with love when hubby comes with a bowl of warm water. Strip socks of, gently lower feet in. Twenty minutes after coming inside, watch with strangely detached interest how all toes have turned pink, apart from one. Idly wonder whether it would be possible to lose a toe when beading. Realise I'm actually quite attached to all my toes. Starting to worry. Watch toe very, very closely, decide there might be a tiny hue of pink. Praise the kiln fairies and wonder whether I'd do it all over again tomorrow. Realise that I will.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Name in lights :o)

When I entered my Warning! Necklace for a Frit Happens! Forum Etsy Street Team challenge on 'Resolutions', the lovely Jolene went on to feature it on the team blog - you can read about it here - thanks Jo!

And then, I had a look at the new Handmade Artists Shop, which grew out of the Handmade Artists Forum......and if you go to the shop (see link above) and take a close look at the banner, what do you see? My Ice Fairy! Thank you for featuring it! It is lovely to see that the fairy (R.I.P., courtesy of my then 16-month-old) lives on in cyberspace!

Some Rough Pups as a photo today...there are new, new beads, but they'll get wrapped up and parcelled off in secret today or tomorrow ;o) So you'll have to be patient for a little while longer.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Little grumbles

Some days, I swear my torch is out to get me. Of course, it's not, it's always human error! But why is it that:

- I made a commissioned set - with a base on clear - only to find out that...errr, no, one of them has a base of pale, pale blue transparent?
- I made three virtually identical focals for a tutorial. One broke in two coming off the mandrel, one has a tiny flaw in it, and the third shows a hairline crack near one hole?
- What I thought was coral turns out to be CiM Phoenix?
- My opaque turquoise glass has disappeared?

...and all in one day?

Yes, okay, give it to me: If I was tidier, calmer, better prepared, thinking things through in advance, I wouldn't have had these problems. Work starts again tomorrow, that's my excuse.


..., that was rambling, and an unusual post for me. Still........nobody's perfect ;o) At least I got to show you my new 'Crossroads' beads :o)

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Happy New Year!

It's been a long silence from me - apologies! First the rush of pre-Christmas commissions, then a few days in Germany, then back just in the nick of time to panic about that little festival you might have noticed was happening last month - what was it called again? Chirsmas? Crimas?
Anyway, the studio is positively freezing, but I'll be listing a few goodies later tonight, including this necklace - I made the beads for it before my holiday, but only now got to wire it up. I've also posted the poem it's based on, although I'm sure many of you will recognise it.

Happy New Year to you all - may it bring only good news, exciting adventures and lucky coincidences. May you be healthy and safe, and may you have everything you need, and a little bit extra for luxury :o)


by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn't go and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only eat bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers

But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old and start to wear purple.