Monday, 28 March 2011

The Bumper Bracelet Bonanza!

Is there such a thing as a collective noun for bracelets? If not, then there should be, for at the moment, I seem to have one!
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.
Nia xx

Friday, 25 March 2011

It's A Cat's Life

Spring has sprung with a vengeance, but the cats are as lazy as ever.
Nia xx

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Give Me The Simple Life

The simple life - oh in so many ways! And compared to most people, I suppose my life is fairly simple. I mostly stay home and make jewellery.
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.
(Marine Life now SOLD - thank you!)
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...
Nia xx

Friday, 11 March 2011

Coming Full Circle

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.

(With Val, Graham and the corgis, Cymro and Sian)
(On a family holiday in St. Agnes, Cornwall, with Mum, Val and Graham)
(Val with our William when he was a baby. He's now 22! I love this photo).
Enjoy your weekend,
Nia xx

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Colouring In.

I love a challenge, and colour matching jewellery is just my favourite thing.
A customer is interested in this necklace

But she would like matching earrings to go with it. Now I can't use lampwork, as the entire set of boro beads, made by the lovely Fiona Sands, went into the necklace.
So I colour matched the glass as closely as possible using a mix of gemstones and pearls, and created cluster style earrings, which not only blend in with the necklace, but would look great as wear-alone, summer jewellery.

That was my challenge for the weekend. I hope I've succeeded!
Nia xx

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Settle Down With A Good Book

My lovely friend Mary is participating in World Book Night, and as a result, she has a stack of books to distribute amongst us book-a-holics. I'm lucky enough to be one of the recipients, so next week I will take posession of a copy of David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas", which has been on my Wants list of books for a while now.
To quote from the website:
"World Book Night represents the most ambitious and far-reaching celebration of adult books and reading ever attempted in the UK and Ireland.
On Saturday, 5 March 2011, two days after World Book Day, with the full support of the Publishers Association, the Booksellers Association, the Independent Publishers Guild, the Reading Agency with libraries, World Book Day, the BBC and RTE, one million books will be given away by an army of passionate readers to members of the public across the UK and Ireland.
The book give-away will comprise 40,000 copies of each of the 25 carefully selected titles, to be given away by 20,000 ‘givers’, who will each distribute 48 copies of their chosen title to whomever they choose on World Book Night. The remaining books will be distributed by World Book Night itself in places that might otherwise be difficult to reach, such as prisons and hospitals.
The twenty-five titles were selected by a wide-ranging editorial committee, chaired by James Naughtie."
Now, a lot of people, like myself, who are life-long avid readers, have been very much looking forward to this celebration of books and reading in general, which is wonderful, but I find myself increasingly concerned that "settling down with a good book" is a diminishing pastime, and even more sadly, has never figured in so many people's lives. Whenever I go to someone's house for the first time, I find myself scanning rooms for books. It isn't deliberate, really! I seem to do it instinctively, and when books are conspicuous by their absence, I invariably feel deeply sad. My father, who himself was an avid reader, used to tell me that his best friends were books, and that during the horrific years of the Second World War, he could forget what was going on around him, and what he had to participate in night after night, day after day, by losing himself in books.
And a good book really doesn't need to be "worthy", or "literary". I'm just as happy whiling away the hours with a blockbuster crime thriller from Stieg Larsson or Val McDermid as I am re-reading my beloved Thomas Hardy and Charlotte Bronte, with all stages of fiction in between.
While I've been typing this, I've been watching Book Night on BBC2, and I'm now desperate to get my hands on some of the titles mentioned tonight. Nothing, not even my favourite perfume or the aroma of bread just out of my oven, smells as good as a new book. I'm sure there are names for people like me!
Enjoy your weekend,
Nia xx