Spring Clean Sale

It’s time for a spring clean, and I’m starting with the Etsy jewellery shop.  I have lots of new pieces to list but before I put them up I want to give the shop a bit of an overhaul.  When it first opened, it seemed such a job just getting the basics done and getting the listings up there.  Now, after just a few months, and after learning lots from others, I can see lots of things that need fine-tuning.  The whole thing needs more cohesion!  There are a number of things I want to change.  I’m not happy with some of the photos and I’m really not happy with the style of the listings.  I find writing them very awkward, and I want to come up with a new way of doing it.

The pricing is also inconsistent.  This isn’t helped by there being some pieces I made some time ago, which were priced rather low.  I want to avoid putting up the prices of things that have been listed at a lower price.  I also want to avoid having to redo listings for all the current stock.  So, I’m going to have a sale while I’m sorting out the changes I want to make and preparing new listings.  There’ll be 25% off everything, using the discount code SPRINGCLEAN.  When I’ve finished fussing, I’ll be taking down some of the pieces, rather than redoing all the remaining listings, so if there’s anything you’d like to reserve please let me know – otherwise it may not be available after the sale!  25% may not sound a huge discount but with quite a number of pieces, the sale price will be really rather low.  For example, enter the code and this bracelet will be £11.25.

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Both of these pairs of earrings are now £6.75

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And this necklace will be just £16.12.

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There’s plenty more like that in the shop.  So do head over.  And don’t forget the discount code: SPRINGCLEAN!

Tait beads and kitchenware love

So, I’ve got some things planned.  Most involve the jewellery shop (of which, more soon), but there are some changes I mean to make to the bead shop.  There are a number of designs that are made-to-order.  In time, once I’ve got stock levels up, I’m aiming to shift over to having listings just for beads that are in stock (although I’d still be happy to do custom orders of out-of-stock beads).  There are several pluses to this, I think.  It will mean that there is more variety, more new and different beads for returning customers.  It should – I very much hope! – give me a greater push to keep working on new designs.  I also wonder whether people are less inclined to buy made-to-order beads.  I’d be very interested to hear what anyone else thinks on this.  Do you prefer to order something that you know is already made and ready to ship?  Also, do you put off buying made-to-order beads, thinking, ‘I can get that another day’?  I’m being quite frank in asking this, I realise, but I would be interested to know.  Some of my made-to-order beads are more popular than others.  The ombre owl has been very popular – like all owls!  I’ve had fewer takers for these.

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tait for blog

It may just be that my lovely bead buyers don’t share my love of vintage ceramics.  I say ceramics, but that sounds a little grand.  It’s really the kind of mass-produced kitchenware that has now become very popular with collectors and vintage enthusiasts (and has, of late, regrettably, been Alsop-ed too).  I have quite a lot of it.  I am a terrible cook so I don’t have that excuse for buying it, and I’m running out of places to display it.  I’ve always had an attachment to it.  When my grandparents passed away and the house had to be cleared, it was a box of plates and bowls and mugs I took away – things I remembered using everyday as a kid.  I started making these beads after a weekend visiting a close friend, Pech, who is also a vintage crockery lover.  We managed to spend a good part of my stay looking at the stuff, in one form or another – in some pop-up cafe, whilst browsing around numerous second-hand and vintage shops, and during a lazy hungover sunday, when we looked at more of it online and in books.  This is starting to sound rather nerdy, yes?  Had I anticipated writing this post, I’d have taken some photos.  Instead I’m borrowing some from one of the collections on hoarder-chic site, Obsessionistas, which looks like a good place to lose a few hours, should you need to.

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All of these designs are by Jessie Tait.  It was her work, in particular, that I had in mind, when I started making what I’ve called, naturally enough, Tait beads.

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They are all quite large beads.  I hadn’t realised until recently that I often seem to make larger beads, without really planning to.  I’ve started to work on smaller versions of some designs, but I quite like the size of the Tait beads.  They sit nicely in your palm, with a pleasing thing-ness.  One other thing I’ve found myself doing is forgetting to use my own beads in my jewellery.  So, as I was making up several of these beads, I made an extra one that I used in a necklace yesterday.  I kept to the typical 1950s Tait colours and mixed in some fabulous vintage glass.

tait necklace 4 blog

The photo isn’t great, but I like the necklace.  Which is just as well because there was a lot of knotting, cursing, chopping up and staring again.  I stayed with the vintage homewares feel when making my second pair of earrings for the AJE earring challenge, although these remind me of a later decade.

aje pair 2 again

The lampwork beads are wonderful – just right.  When I signed up for the AJE challenge, I had a bit of a hunt around Etsy for bead pairs, and came across Journey Beads (also genschi).  I got a couple of pairs there, and, getting ahead of things, I’ve made my third lot of earrings with the other pair of beads.  The embossed blanks are available from Claire Braunbarth at Smitten Beads.

cherry blossom earrings

These just make me think of cherry blossom.  I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to seeing some cherry blossom.

Late present and AJE earring challenge

There’s still a lot of snow on the ground.  Dexy remains unconvinced.

Dexy for blog

The snow coincided nicely with the arrival of a late Christmas present.  With some money I received I treated myself to a Gaea Beads gift certificate.  I had been wanting to try them out for ages and there’s such a wide selection on the website I knew I’d be hard pressed to pick just a couple.  So, my gift allowed a bit of a spree.

gaea beads for blog

Lovely, yes?  I particularly like the faceted heart, the polka dots and the textured peanut.  Rather stupidly, I didn’t think to order any pairs, because they would come in handy right now.  I’m taking part in the Art Jewellery Elements Earring Challenge.  Today is the first reveal day.  So, here’s what I made.  I used a pair of beautiful ceramic buttons made by Jane Lidbetter and available from Big Bead Little Bead.

AJE earrings pic

I do like the way the czech glass spindles pick up the pattern painted on the buttons.  There are heaps of folk around the globe taking part.  There’s also a Pinterest board where a number of participants are sharing their earrings.  It’s time I went to pin mine.

Snowbound

It’s been a day of almost solid snow.  I’ve been finishing off beads to put in the bead shop on Etsy, just in time for a sale this weekend.  Just enter the discount code SNOWBOUND to get 20% off.  There are several new designs.  I’ve made some sets of smaller monaco leaf beads.

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And there are now mini owls as well

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with some in two tone pairs!

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And here’s a simple pendant that turned out nicely.

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So, stay in, keep warm, and bead shop.  And don’t forget: SNOWBOUND…

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Fade away and Giveaway

I’ve been wondering over the last few days, how many folk share my enthusiasm for what I started off on Sunday, terming ‘barely there’ colours.  ‘Barely there’ doesn’t really meet it.  To be more precise, it’s more faded cool tones, with some warmer touches.  The bracelet currently on my page header serves as some example, as do these photos by Stephane Couturier, that I came across recently.

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http://www.stephanecouturier.fr/couturier/accueil.html

Looking at them, I’m drawn back to the phrase ‘barely there’, perhaps it is closer to the mark, thinking about it.  I was asking myself whether I was alone in this liking, when making this bracelet at the weekend.   There was quite a bit of umm-ing and ahh-ing.

faded shades 1

I made another this morning.  I got some kyanite a couple of days ago and when this  blue poppy turned up this morning, they had to go together.

faded shades 2

The poppy was made by Elise Canning.  I got a number of flowers from her and they’re all wonderful.  I’m not always a fan of polymer flowers – I find some a little sugary – but these ones are beauties.  It was only after I’d made both bracelets that I realised they both had flowers in them.  While it wasn’t planned, it seems quite fitting that there should be a little something blossoming away quietly there.

The other flower is one of Rebekah Payne’s (Tree Wings Studio).  It arrived a few days ago with a lovely set that I won in a giveaway on her blog.  I’ve won a couple of blog giveaways recently and I’m always stupidly chuffed.  One of my other wins was in Rebecca Anderson’s (Songbead) pay-it-forward draw.  There’s some extra fun elements in the PIF giveaway; one of them being that winners, in turn, ‘pay-it-forward’ and run their own giveaway.  So, that’s what I’m doing here. It’s very easy to take part.  All you need to do is comment on this post, leaving a contact email.  The first three people to comment will each win a little handmade surprise from me, simple as that.  I will also pick another two commenters, at random, and they will win gifts too.  For added fun, your mystery gift will be sent on a mystery date some time in the next 365 days.  And as I haven’t included any bead pictures on my blog yet, now seems a good time to do so!  Although, that’s not to say you’ll win one of these…

Owls for blog

Of course, if you win you have to run your own PIF giveaway.  You do, however, have 365 days in which to do it.  And it doesn’t have to be beads or jewellery that you give; so long as it’s handmade and something you’d be happy to receive yourself, that’ll do sweet.  Please make sure that you leave a contact email address with your comment.  If I can’t contact you, I can’t count you in.  The competition will close in a week’s time (23rd January).  I’ll then contact the winners to get your postage addresses and check a few basic details – metal allergies, colour phobias, that sort of thing.  You’ll then be scheduled to receive something lovely sometime in the next year.  Fab, eh?

Starting late…

So, at last, a blog. And a new year seems a fit time to start out on one. I could have said this much a week ago, when I first settled down to write this opening post. Since then I’ve been quietly turning a blind eye to an increasingly pressing virtual blank page. At least my procrastination led me to make some new pieces, which I’ll dot throughout here. I love the chunky vintage copper curb chain in this bracelet. I had planned to add more details to it, but struggled to find something that suited the proportions of the chain. Having left it for a few days, I decided I liked it as is, raw and slightly spare.

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At least the new year gives me one (slightly inevitable) subject to go at, and making jewellery offers some chance of making resolutions that are manageable – enjoyable, even – rather than the usual denials of pleasure or emotional disciplining (‘I’m not going to worry about X, I will no longer care about Y). And, as this is my first post, it will give a bit of an idea of what is to come on my blog. This year I will try lampwork and have a go at making ceramic beads. I did ceramics for several years when I was younger and I wish I had the room here to take it up again properly (this year I will continue to dream of owning a shed), but I’ll have to make do with a workshop for now. One of the main reasons I use polymer clay is that it can be used in confined, domestic spaces. I’m planning to try some new claying skills this year, and experiment with making moulds, stamps and texture sheets. I’ve also got plans for some text pieces that I’m hoping to get working on shortly.

rutile earrings

Of course, selling jewellery offers its own set of more challenging but predictable resolutions – spread the word, do more markets, promote, promote, promote…  I must at least resolve to get a bit better at this side of things.

One other thing I’ve told myself I must start to do more, is use the art beads that I’ve been hoarding for ages.   I only really discovered the mass of beautiful handmade beads that are available from all over the world in the last twelve months.  (I always wish I could have two of everything I get so I can keep one for myself.)   I’ve already made a start to this end while I’ve been busy not writing my blog.  I used Lesley Watt’s gorgeous bronze button in this bracelet, along with a lovely pale rose dahlia bead from Ciel Creations (all contact details are given below.).  I’m quite tempted to keep this one for myself.

rose tones w dahlia

There’s a Blueberribeads urchin nestled in there too.  I have quite a clutch of Caroline’s pieces, including this gorgeous pendant that has finally been freed from the hoard.

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I’ve also got a fair few NKP Designs beads stashed away.  One found its way into this bracelet.

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I had the idea for this piece in my head for some time and when I came to make it, it was a bit of a fiddle to realise.  I came close to abandoning it, but I’m glad I pressed on.

It is, I think, a pretty poor time of year to be subjecting yourself to additional deprivations and punishing strictures.  I find winters quite difficult, and the coming tranche is the worst.  There’s none of the warmth of autumn and its attendant celebrations (i.e. pumpkins and bonfires), and the anticipation of Christmas has passed.   Despite having resolved to abandon all hope of there being anything like a summer this year, I am allowing myself to look forward just a little.

crisp white bracelet

vintage spring floral necklaceThose stunning lampwork roses in the bracelet are made by Cecelia Lawrence of Midgetgembeads.  I think that’s all my jewellery-related resolutions dealt with.  I’ll save the more harrowing ones for another day.  After all, I don’t want to exhaust all my potential subject matter in one sitting.   I realise I’m writing this as if you might have the first clue who I am and what I do.  You’ll find an ‘About’ link at the top of the page, which gives some idea of what’s what with something to do with your hands.  It also gives links to my Etsy and Folksy shops (where I sell my jewellery and handmade beads).  Whoever you are, I hope you’ll be back soon.  Foolishly, I picked a blog host that is fiendishly difficult to use – you practically need to be a computer programmer.  I’ve been relying very heavily on my friend, David [Thank you, David!].  I’m hoping to set up some method of subscription shortly.  Perhaps I can tempt you back by telling you that next time there’ll be a giveaway!!  Ta-ra for now.

rose taupe long earrings