Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Thursday, 8 September 2011
Friday, 2 September 2011
Tuesday, 31 May 2011
I made an awful lot of these necklaces a few years ago! So much so that I eventually got very tired of them, even though I wear them myself every time I'm at a show or selling event.
I wore my orange ones (I wear two or three together) at the Smallholders and Gardens show last weekend, and so did another stallholder who had bought one from me a while back. Several people commented on them, and one lady asked if she could buy one! Now I'm not that desperate that I have to sell my jewellery from around my neck, so I rooted through my stock and found one left, in muted browns and greens. Result - one happy customer.
Anyway, I decided maybe it was time to make a few more, ready for the summer, so this little crop of Summer Silvers came to life over the weekend.
More about the Smallholders show next time.
Friday, 27 May 2011
We took the car for a service, back to the dealership, just outside Abergavenny. The garage kindly lent us a car to get us into town to kill the couple of hours that the service was going to take, and after a wander around in the sunshine, we decided to have something quick to eat before heading back to collect our own car.
We spotted a cafe that didn't seem too busy (I wonder why!)and ordered Cheese & Potato Pie - mine, and Corned Beef Hash - himself, both with salad.
When the plates were put in front of us a few mintes later, I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing. Now I've been on this old earth long enough to know exactly what both these meals are meant to look and taste like, and this was not it!
The Corned Beef Hash was unbelievable. It consisted of a bowl of what looked like wallpaper paste with a few faint pinkish brown streaks. It tasted even worse. It was simply instant potato, and not even seasoned. Just disgusting. The husband will eat most things if hungry enough, but even he turned visibly grey after tasting it.
My apology for a Cheese & Potato Pie was just as miserable. The same slimy instant mash, with flakes of lurid bright yellow cheese, covered with a slab of warm soggy pastry.
It also got left pretty much untouched.
The waitress asked what the problem was. I politely explained. She said, "Oh this is how we always make them, our regulars love them".
We paid and left, glad to leave the sorry disgusting mush behind.
So if you are ever looking for a half decent lunch in Abergavenny, choose somewhere other than the cafe just up the road from the Angel Hotel (where we really should have eaten!).
Have a lovely bank holiday,
Monday, 23 May 2011
Black Is Back!
I'm afraid I don't do "seasonal" colours when it comes to jewellery, so black and silver in May is just fine with me!
This necklace uses a set of Ray Skene's dramatic signature hollow glass beads, in combination with ornate sterling silver.
Tuesday, 17 May 2011
But of course, with it being the tail end of the summer, he only managed to complete one before we went on holiday in late September, and by the time we came home, the weather was bad, and carried on being bad all winter.
So when Wil came home for a visit last Tuesday, he happily agreed to help his Dad and get the other two dormers finished. They re-tiled the roofs, replaced the rotten timber, and clad the new wood in uPVC.
They finished last night, just in time for Wil to go back to Bristol today.
Finally, the scaffolding can come down, and we can sort out the garden!
It's pretty high up there!
I'm going to choose my moment carefully before mentioning that the three dormers at the back of the house also need renewing...
Sunday, 8 May 2011
Monday, 25 April 2011
And by doing this, I am confident in the knowledge that the customers who see me at various events over the summer, will be looking at fresh, bright, attractive jewellery, rather than pieces that might have been out on display last summer and have lost the newly-made gleam.
This process can be rather tedious, and it involves cleaning up a substantial quantity of silver in the tumbler, but with the shocking rise in silver prices over the last year or two, every tiny piece is very precious.
I'm also in the process of working out what new pieces I need to make, often to match up with existing necklaces. One design that proved very popular last year was a decorative necklace featuring high grade freshwater pearls combined with clusters of tiny gemstones and lots of silver. I've made this in three colours - creamy beige, peacock black, and silver grey. So yesterday I made a matching bracelet for the silver grey necklace - Belle Etoile - with the other two colours to follow shortly.
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Spring is a lot later here than in many parts of the UK, we are quite high up in the hills so the soil is much colder. There is never any point planting vegetables any earlier than now, they simply wouldn't grow.
So the veggie plot has now been rotovated, and hopefully by the weekend will be full of neat rows of edibles to see us through the year.
Have a lovely Easter weekend!
Tuesday, 19 April 2011
Friday, 15 April 2011
The quartz is heat-treated to bring out a range of stunning colours, then faceted in order to catch the light. I am always in awe of the skill of the lapidarists who undertake the painstaking task of faceting gemstones, and these particular stones have been beautifully cut.
I opted for bracelets eventually, mainly because I am still going through a bracelet phase. But also because the advantage of a bracelet over a necklace is that the wearer can actually see it and derive pleasure from looking at it on her wrist. Simple!
Have a lovely weekend!
Thursday, 14 April 2011
More of the glass later, but while we were there, both Wyn and I fancied having a go at a couple of other things that were happening as part of the event.
I went along to an Art Clay taster session, being run by Lesley Messam, a senior Art Clay instructor from Chichester.
I've had a packet of Art Clay for years, but I've always been too terrified to open it. It's expensive material, and I was always worried that I would totally mess it up and therefore throw a lot of money down the drain. Or rather, in the bin.
But Lesley was a wonderful teacher, and I emerged a couple of hours later proudly clutching my first, dreadfully imperfect, pieces. I opted for simple little ivy leaves, which I have now tumble polished and turned into earrings. They are my babies and I love them!
And while I was happily playing with posh clay, Wyn was bashing the living daylights out of equally expensive silver. The aim was to come away with a pendant, but Wyn being Wyn, and a bit of a bolshie on the quiet, decided not to follow the others in the class, and instead of carefully cutting the silver with the help of templates, opted to do everything freehand.
The result was a really individual heart-shaped pendant, with a little brass heart applied on top. I call it a Happy Heart, because it has a carefree, casual look. He wants to finish it off properly, but I absolutely love it!
I definitely want to learn more about Silver Clay, and after I've bought a few more essential bits and pieces, and managed to fight my way to the kiln, I think I now have the confidence to try out some ideas ready for the summer.
Wednesday, 13 April 2011
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
Monday, 4 April 2011
The best quality examples posess a distinctive irridescence, and can almost be said to glow in the light.
I was lucky enough to come across some fabulous rough-cut Watermelon Tourmaline a couple of months ago, along with Hessonite Garnet and Fluorite.
I already had prettily coloured Apatite and Iolite, so I've brought them all together in the blog today.
And finally the most delightful, and spring-like colours in these mixed stone cubes, mostly jade but with some fluorite thrown in for good measure.
(Now SOLD, thank you!)
I've just had my latest batch of new pieces back from the Assay Office in Birmingham, where they were being hallmarked, so I will be updating the website and the Etsy shop in the next few days, to include the newest jewellery.
Monday, 28 March 2011
I'm really not sure why, but over the last few weeks, bracelets have been proving to be more popular than ever. From glass to gemstones, silver to pearls, with all possible combinations in between.
This is really handy because I adore making bracelets, although sizing them can often be challenging, especially if I'm making one to a customer's specifications. But we somehow work something out, and I tend to get the size right more often than not!
So today's eyecandy consists of bracelets - some new, some sold, some simple, some statement pieces, a few yet to be hallmarked, and one or two available for sale.
Right, I think that's enough bracelet eyecandy for one day.
Now I need to go and design more...... bracelets.
I hope it's still sunny where you are, it's another lovely day here again.
Friday, 25 March 2011
Wednesday, 16 March 2011
I don't crave an exciting social life (been there, done that), or heaven forbid, spend empty hours "shopping", which in my opinion tends to mean just killing time and wasting money.
No. My simple life really does mean spending time here at home, making jewellery, promoting my work to the best of my abilities, and holding things together domestically - baking bread, cooking, trying to manage the clutter in this house that has accumulated during a hundred year's worth of occupancy by the same family - but some days, I feel completely defeated by such apparently simple chores.
The husband, bless him, has commented several times over the last few months, that he thinks I should get back to simpler jewellery styles and maybe put the fancy-nancy microfaceted gemstones on the back burner for a while. Maybe he's right, but when you are drawn to a certain style of jewellery design, then it's the devil's own job dragging yourself away from it.
So for me, a compromise seems just the right thing. Enough of my elaborate styles to keep me happy, while keeping the simpler styles on the agenda.
These two necklaces, which feature glass by Isabelle Anderson and Moon Stumpp, are just gorgeous! Sorry, not going to play them down, they really are gorgeous! And perfect for summer.
But. And right now it's a huge but. Simple jewellery, however gorgeous and exclusive the components, leaves many of us totally exposed to the copycats and plagiarists who rip off and exploit our efforts to make simple, elegant, and desirable jewellery. Let's be honest, some styles are just so easy to copy.
Today I stumbled upon a website that did just that. The first image I saw, quite honestly, caused me to do a double take. The necklace was pretty much identical to several of mine, from last year and the year before using the exact same glass beads and components, and photographed from an identical angle.
When I looked rather more closely at their website, I saw several more pieces that mirrored mine almost exactly.
Now before anyone thinks I'm being precious and picky here, I am well used to "influence" when it comes to jewellery making, and it's something I'll happily tolerate, and indeed encourage - we are all sponges when it comes to creativity - but when a piece has been copied practically bead for bead, then I'm sorry, but that is just not right.
There is absolutely nothing I can do about it. I've been in this situation many times before, which is why I always try to keep things moving in terms of styles, but I still like returning to older designs from time to time because not only did they prove popular with customers, I also enjoyed making them. Simple, clean lines using beautiful glass and gleaming silver are enduringly popular. And easy to copy.
So short of deleting any online presence for my work - doing away with my website, my Etsy shop, the Flickr album, this blog, and leaving a couple of jewellery forums - I just have to put up with the situation, and hope that the copycats will realise that ultimately, they are on a hiding to nothing by trying to shortcut their way to a reasonably successful venture.
It doesn't make me feel any better though...
Friday, 11 March 2011
This little china donkey was the first gift I remember buying as a child, with no help from my parents. We were on holiday in a little North Cornwall village called Trelights, and went on a visit to the pretty little village of Clovelly just over the border in Devon, famous for it's incredibly steep street, and the donkeys which were traditionally used to carry everything the villagers needed up and down the cobbled lane.
I must have been about seven years old at the time, and I remember feeling very proud as I chose, and paid for out of my own pocket money, the little donkey for my Grandmother, Aunty Val and Uncle Graham, who lived in the small village of Felindre, just outside Swansea.
My Grandmother died many years ago, but my Aunty Val and her husband Graham continued living in the family home, which is where my father was born and raised, until they too passed away, both, very sadly, from cancer.
They didn't have children of their own, so the task of sorting out the contents of the house has fallen to myself, and my cousin. She lives a lot closer to Felindre than I do, so she has undertaken much of the work, but I've been going there every week, and we have now reached the final stages of tackling several generations worth of posessions.
When we were sorting out a cabinet containing glassware and china trinkets, I found the donkey. I instantly remembered that summer's day in Clovelly, and how pleased my Grandmother looked when I presented them with the gift. So the donkey is now here with me, it's come full circle.
Enjoy your weekend,