Sunday, 13 November 2011

Its that time of year again, making for Christmas events. I have a few new pieces that Im really excited about, some are still work in progress but I have a couple of new flower pendants (Which would look super stunning with a little black dress... hint hint) to share - 

And a prototype of a new design, this one I made for myself to test it out, but it is an interchangeable pendant you can swap the drop between a range of glass or semi precious drops and/or the bead for different big hole lampwork beads,  so it can be mixed and matched with your outfit or mood. 

If you are out and about looking for some unique handmade Christmas presents then Im going to be at some great events in the next few weeks, including Guildford Craftacular on Saturday 3rd December and the We Make London Christmas Popup Shopping Experience on Saturday 10th December so do pop by and say hello if you can.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Flame On 2011

Hello, hello, yes Im back. Im sorry I have been quiet since my return, I have been rather busily running about trying to put the house into some sort of order having spent the run up to flame on charging around like crazy and as a result turning the house into a scene of chaos reminiscent of my bedroom as a teenager with piles of stuff everywhere !!

Im finally getting to the point where there are work surfaces visible again and life is returning to something approaching normal so its time to sit down and tell you all about the Flame On. I shall try not to end up with an epically long blog post but I feel it is only fair to warn you that I have made myself a hot drink (Vimto if you are interested, having just rediscovered it) in order to write this so you may wish to get a brew yourself and settle down in order to read it !

The trip did not get off to the most wonderful of starts as on dropping the cats off at the cattery her spottyness decided to take a great dislike to being "abandoned" and started to create and play up awfully shrieking, growling and hissing constantly at which point i apologised and scarpered quickly !!

We decided to take the ferry over to The Netherlands so we could take the car and himself decided that Harwich to the Hook of Holland was the best route involving the least driving on the "wrong" side of the road. The ferry was surprisingly nice and we had an excellent meal, all the lovelier as we were not expecting it !

Our first night hotel at Hoek van Holland is worthy of a mention for the sheer amazingness of the breakfast. With a "starter" of fresh warm croissants with fresh strawberries and cream, followed by a whole host of warm breads, meats, cheese, fresh fruits, boiled eggs and even fresh made pancakes !! and there were yoghurts and cereals too but we didnt get that far !! (Should you find yourself in the area we stayed at the Hotel Noordzee)

There were also curious little boxes of "sprinkles" very similar to hundreds and thousands, for bread. My inner child was delighted, and when we came across a supermarket I had to buy some to bring home with me ! I can confirm that despite being very messy to eat they are very nice. ( I cant read the label as it is in dutch so I remain blissfully unaware of how many e numbers they may contain or how much sugar I consumed :) )

Anyway.. we got to Oosterhout without incident, had a very good coffee in a lovely little shop we found, which was served in fab little bodum double walled glasses (another thing to add to the must get list !)

Thus revived we went over to the hall where the Flame On was to be held we were introduced to Joyce who has been co-ordinating and organising and started the setting up process, amid a certain amount of chatting with the other stall holders

That evening Joyce cooked us a lovely dinner at her home where we got to meet the other demonstrating artists Anouk Jasperse, Mauro Vianello and Michou Pascale Eliane Anderson, and also to meet her partner and their lovely cats.

They day of the Flame On dawned with some nerves from me as my demo was to be first and despite having made the beads I was demoing many times I did get a touch of the shakes, however everyone was very kind and said that it was not very noticeable ! After my demo I relaxed a bit and was able to enjoy the demo's of the others. I dont have photos of the demo's but there are some excellent photos of them in Mauro's facebook album .

I do have some photos of work that the artists had bought with them to sell so without further ado -
Michou's beads - 

Mauro's sculptures -

Anouk's Beads -

It was lovely to meet everyone who came to say hello and great to see some old friends too ! I was very lucky and got to do some glassy swaps with some of the other stall holders so I will take photos of my haul of beauties and share them with you soon ! For now I must go and unearth the rest of my house but hope you enjoyed the pictures so far !

Saturday, 15 October 2011

British Bead Awards

Ive had a lovely day today. I have been to the Big Bead Show at Sandown racecourse as I had a set of beads in the finals of the British Bead Awards.

Im very pleased to say that they got 2nd place !! What a lovely start to the day ! 

I have spent the rest of the day drooling over pretty shiny things and talking to friends and must say a huge thank you to Sarah of Flame Force Five for letting me use her stand as a "base camp", Judith Johnson  and Hazel Crompton  for being their usual lovely chatty selves, it was a pleasure as always ladies, and to my lovely man for chauffeuring me about. 

One of the best moments of the day was getting to meet my first bead soup partner Niky of SilverNiknats you know when you have been talking to someone online and you have built up an idea of what they look like etc ? Well it was great to meet Niky finally and her lovely daughter. 

Ive also been gathering supplies for a special project idea I had, inspired by the bead soup swaps, which I loved being involved in. Stay tuned for more on that very soon !! 

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Preparations ..

Mainly pictures today, Im currently working on preparations for the Flame On and also getting some gallery orders together. These give you an idea of whats lying around on my bench today awaiting my further attentions ...

New Toppers for interchangeable pendants / rings

Manga Ladies

Ear Bobs - a -glueing

Spacers. Spacers Everywhere. All need cleaning. And turning into things.

All photos taken with Hipstamatic and the new Susie lens. 

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Visual Merchandising

With the festive season approaching there are craft fairs on the horizon. Following a discussion at the recent UK Handmade Surrey meet-up I have been doing some online research on display or "Visual Merchandising" for crafts and fairs, I found these articles quite interesting and Im going to use some of the advice in my new displays -

Back to Basics Visual Merchandising

Display your Craft to Sell

Meylah's Tips for great booth displays

(There are also a number of other articles on display in the Meylah learning centre)

I am currently building my new display set up so I have no pictures to share at the moment but I will pop some pictures up as I get my display sorted for my upcoming fairs.

If you are looking for table eye candy thought, have a look at the Show Me Your Booths group on Flickr !

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Bead Soup - Reveal day

Yes, it's that time, its reveal day !!! You can see the ingredients I was sent by my partner Jana on this post here

Jana said that she sent me these pieces to challenge me to push my boundaries (one of the main points of the party) and I'm sure you'll have noticed that the stunningly bright green focal she sent is certainly different from my usual colour palette. I wanted to do something a little different with the focal and have made it up and taken it apart again a couple of times, trying echoing the shape in beads, and also making a rather complex net type idea (which it should be said may have been interesting in principle but was a complete disaster in actuality lol) then out of the corner of my eye I saw it lying about on my desk with some of the other pieces and the little dragonfly was sat almost on top of it ....

As a result, may I present to you the "Flight of the Dragonfly Necklace" 

I decided to work with some wire and try to create "flight pattern" shapes, random flitting about type trails and I was quite pleased with them but decided I needed something else to bring a bit more colour and the jade beads Jana sent seemed perfect so I strung them separately to sit just under the focal. I liked the two elements together but I thought they needed something to make them a little less disparate so I redid my flight pattern links including a little jade bead on each link.

I didnt want the flight pattern links all the way round the necklace as I though they might be a bit uncomfortable on the back of the neck so I continued with sections of jade beads and linked all of them together with the little square links Jana sent, finishing it off with the little flower clasp that was also in my ingredients from Jana.

I have also made these dinky little earring with the swarovski butterflies Jana sent, very simple but cute !

Once again I have thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the Bead soup party, thanks for visiting and looking at my bead soup creations, please do check out the other participants creations, you can find the full list on Lori's blog here.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Keys to my heart

I made these earlier in the week, Ive been wanting a pendant that was a bit special to show off my Dinky Sari Hearts and this is what I came up with. Simple & pretty.

Most of the rest of this week has been commissions and sculptural work, none of which are currently ready to share, but watch this space, there'll be more soon :)

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Soup ingredients

The soup I sent to Jana has arrived so I can share pictures of what I sent her and what I received.

Jana sent me -
A zingy bright green Jasper focal, Jasper, Jade, Pearl and Mother of Pearl coordinating beads, a sterling clasp and lots of silver plate findings and two cute little swarovski butterflies ! Im really looking forward to getting started on making with these !

I sent Jana -
Flat square wooden beads, freshwater pearls, swarovski crystals, lampwork twist beads and spacers, a vintaj clasp, and a choice of things to use as a focal  - a vintage button, a lampwork cabochon and a lampwork focal bead. Cant wait to see what she makes :)

Saturday, 20 August 2011

The Road Less Travelled

Very exciting news this morning, following a series of chats with the lovely Kirsten Miller (who incidentally makes the most adorable miniature creatures from Polymer Clay, do take a look at her website) I have been featured this morning on UK Handmade's "INSPIRE: The Road Less Travelled" spot.

For anyone who hasn't come across it yet, UK Handmade is a fantastic website full of useful and informative articles from profiles on types of crafts and makers, helpful business articles looking at marketing, accounts and legal aspects to a lifestyle section with tutorials, recipes and reviews. All this plus the beautiful UK Handmade online magazine which is published quarterly and a great forum !

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Time for some soup

Yes its that time again, Lori Anderson is running another Bead Soup Blog Party !

I loved being involved with this last time so I couldn't wait to sign up again, and this time I have been partnered with the very talented Jana Tarhala of Helmitarha, as soon as I found out I rushed over to have a look at her work (of course) which is absolutely stunning, seed beading always amazes me, so much patience needed but such beautiful intricate designs.

I cant share a picture of exactly what I have sent Jana (that would spoil the surprise !) but I can show a teaser so here goes.

As a bit of fun, the first person to guess correctly what one of the ingredients are I will send a little surprise to. (You need to be specific though, just saying beads isnt going to cut it, oh-no. Material and colour please :) )

Monday, 8 August 2011

Working it out

Do you ever get that feeling, you know you have an idea, but its hiding from you, and you cant quite get it out of your head and into life ?

I have been having that itchy feeling for a little while and so I thought I would share how I have been working it out.

I wanted to "draw" flowers on my beads. but not just any old flowers, special flowers. With details. And fine stringers (because we know I have a fine stringer addiction right ?).

So, I started doodling in glass.

The first one I did is at the bottom, working through to the top one. Grotty arent they !! 

They were intended as quick "sketches" in glass, checking how things look, how the glass behaves, how much it moves / distorts as you layer up the details, practising skills that will be needed to make this work. Althogh for quick sketches some of them took rather a lot of time to do !

By the time I got to that top one I was getting grumpy. I could see in my mind clearer now what I was wanting to achieve but it just didnt seem to be working in the glass. And then the brainwave hit.

I sat down with a piece of paper and drew what I wanted. Then I drew it again. and again. Messing with spacing, numbers of elements, fiddling around until, on paper, it looked how I wanted. 

From a design point of view, this is called doing things back to front !!! But for me, I needed that technical information and feedback from working with the glass to get my idea out in the first place. The drawing allowed me to refine the details of that idea much quicker than I could have in glass. 

And this is one of my new flowers on a cabochon

Im looking forward to making many more and seeing where the idea takes me ! 


Saturday, 30 July 2011

Things that make me happy.

Thing number 1.
My Moo order arrived this week, happy sigh, I do love it when stuff comes from Moo, the packaging is lovely and its so nice to see designs Ive done on the computer as "real" objects, stickers, business cards etc. And for anyone who has not seen them yet, there are new types of stickers. in different shapes. (Obsessed ? Who me ? Its Stationery, and personalised, of course Im obsessed.)

Thing number 2.
I came across some fantastic little magnetic frames that are the perfect size for Moo's square stickers (which  I happen to have a new pack of....) so.... ta dah...
.....Customised magnets. Did I mention I love custom and personalised things ??

Thing number 3.
The apples on my discovery apple tree are ripe ! I have been watching them like a hawk (or maybe a hungry caterpillar) since I heard on the radio the other day that discovery apples were ripening ultra early this year. I can confirm that they are indeed, and very, very gorgeous do they taste too ! 

Thing number 4.
OCDVPDD. As christened by my very good friend Lizzie, "Obsessive-Compulsive-Disorder-Very-Precise-Detailed-Dots". As may have been mentioned previously (cough) I have a tendency to be slightly detail obsessed. So you can imagine the happiness I felt making this ring topper below. Its approximately 18mm diameter and has delicious quantities of fine stringers and dinky dots. Heaven.

What has made you happy this week ? 

Friday, 15 July 2011

Ooo and more oooo's !

Ooo number one, look what my lovely postie bought me today -

Threadfishes from the lovely and very talented Rebecca Watkins aka ArtyBecca, (you can see her work on Flickr, on her Blog and buy it on Etsy). These are so adorable ! I have been stroking them since I unwrapped the packet, they are very tactile and I do love "touchy-feely" things. 

Ooo number two, baking ! Mmm ! Yes I have had a little time out this week, and spent some of it baking. I made shortbread bisquits (with mixed success if Im honest) and I have just made a Banana Loaf, fingers crossed it turns out well, it smells divine ! 

The rest of my time recenty has been taken indulging my current beady obsession.

Im addicted to the bright and summery-ness of these and thoroughly enjoying making them. They make me feel all cheerful and happy, especially when seen in a group like this ! I hope the sun is shining where you are (and if not and you want a sunshiny bead to cheer you up, these are on the website now). 

Have a great weekend ! 

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Winner announced

First off a HUGE thank you to EVERYONE for your donations in total £308 has gone to Macmillan which is fantastic so huge thanks for all your help  


And drum roll...

The winner chosen by the random number generator is JOY FUNNELL. Congratulations to Joy, and thanks again to everyone for taking part and donating to Macmillan. 

Saturday, 2 July 2011

WIN a day of my time

I am fundrasing for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Everyone who donates on this page on or before 10th July 2011 will be entered into a draw to win a day of my time.

It can be a days of me making beads for you (and I can make a LOT of beads in a day!), or you can come to me for a days lampwork lesson, the winner can choose.

There is no minimum on the amount  you can donate to be in the draw, any and all donations are HUGELY appreciated.

Its a great opportunity for a great cause, please, give if you can.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Work in Progress

I thought you might like to see what I have been upto, or at least one of the things that I have been working on. It will be a new framed piece and has a lampwork daisy and a dinky little torch blown vase to hold it in (and yes, I was very very pleased when the vase worked first time i tried it !)

I have been meaning to make this one up for a while as its a couple of months since I had the idea but as I had a request from Layne Rowe for more daisies for his blown glass pieces I decided to get it done while i was in daisy mode !

Here you can see it in the frame, Im still tinkering about with exactly how its going to all sit together and how many petals will be with it etc ...and given that i can occasionally be ever so slightly particular about these things (*cough*) this might take a while !!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

There's something in the water in Surrey...

Frit is something that I dont use very much, I never really have despite the fact I love some of the effects that I see people getting when they use it in their work. It is not that I dont have any frit, believe me I have no shortage of it (so pretty !) I just dont often use it. So I decided it was time I made a concerted effort to make friends with some of my frit.

I tried a few different techniques and found the results quite interesting, Although as you can see from the swirls on the ones below I couldn't help but add a little extra surface decoration, when I look at these beads they dont scream at me that they are "mine" in the way that my beads normally do (to me at least). 

Then I was talking to Sarah, a fellow lampworker and friend who lives just a little way across Surrey  and she was saying that she has also been playing with Frit this week, which is unusual for her too ! She's made some beautiful beads, like these below (more pics on her Flickr) and I love the fact that they are very "Sarah" beads, she has taken the frits and made them into beads in her own style.

It got me thinking of what makes up a persons "style"? I generally think that any style that can be ascribed to me is down to the fact I have quite a specific idea of what I do and dont like in the way of colour, form and pattern and that those preferences come across despite using a variety of techniques. 

How would you describe artistic "style" ? Do you think you have a style of work and if so what would you say it is?

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Evolution of a studio

As my studio is now finished bar a few little details I thought it would be fun to share how far it has come from when I first started lampworking.

My very first "studio" was in the corner of our kitchen, with the things I bought at a taster session. I made one very simple (very bad) set of beads on this set up -

The set up was then packed away in order for us to move house. Once we were settled at the new house I took a couple of weekend classes with the very lovely Diana East, whilst I was away on the first one himself was busy in the garage building and I came home to this - 

My kiln arrived shortly after and many happy hours were spent in there. We did decide however that a little more space was needed, so another bench was added to make an L shape -

There was then a jewellers bench added to the right of the picture, and I worked with that set up then until just before Christmas last year. That was when we started the renovations and added more benches to make benches on 4 sides and I had a move about, setting up both my torches on the new bench. Then a couple of weeks ago the builders came and built me a new wall, added a ceiling (the space was double height) and I spent a lot of time with pollyfilla and paint. My torch area now looks like this with the new wall behind the torches - 

My bench is the one on the right and my glass storage sits to my right -

The rest of the studio is still needing a little work but as soon as it is all done I'll take some more pictures.  It is a lovely place to work, very light and Im really looking forward to having it all sorted and indulging my ocd in organising everything !