Happy New Etsy Listings

So, er, happy new year. That it is the end of January and I am only just getting around to posting here is pretty representative of how things have been with me thus far this year. I haven’t been idle. I had planned to spend xmas making myself the rings I’ve never had chance to make for myself, which is a job that ended up running into the start of January instead. That done (mostly), I’ve been focused on making beads. There are a lot. It may end up being the biggest bead shop update I’ve ever done. I’m pretty much on to glazing now. I can see it taking some time… I’m hoping to get the update done in the first half of February, but it’s likely it will end up being mid February. Also, I’ve made a batch of beads for sawdust firing. I just need to establish if that’s really possible at this time of year. If it is, I’ll be adding them in the update too – assuming they come out okay.

Really, I’m still in a pretty hibernatery mode; just hunkered down making and avoiding the outside. Oh, and I’ve had bad anaemia, which has been surprisingly debilitating. It took me all my resolve to get my act together and photograph all the jewellery I made over Christmas. All of the following have been listed on Etsy, although some has sold or been reserved. Here’s a link to the shop.

Placida 1

A Calm Passage Across Many A Night 1

A Modest Need 2

Abeyance 1

An Elusive And Demanding Country 1

An Excess Of Mercy 1

And This Is Why The Empress Waits 1

Central Lines 2

Ghosts 1

Gladly 1

Her Pale Sister 1

Her Plague, Her Redemption 1

How Quickly They Changed Their Tune 1

Night Flight 1

Omissions 1

One Constant 1

That Faint Half-Flush 1

The Barest Places 1

The First Colours 1

The Watery Light 1

The Wild Places 1

They Answer One's Questions 1

This Is All 1

Which Having Been, Must Ever Be 1

Until next time, ta-ra!

Happy Winterval…

Well, I did have the best of intentions. I was going to write a proper ‘end-of-the-year’ post – thoughtful, retrospective, entertaining, insightful… but… I’m just beaten. Really, totally beaten. My head is fit to split and I’m seriously in need of some down time. So, this is just to say thank you for your company this last year. I hope you’ll be back in 2017. In the meantime, here’s a slightly blurry picture of Dexy looking surprisingly content about being wrapped in tinsel – an annual tradition.

dexy-tinsel

Happy Winterval, dear reader!

Finally… Something of Substance on the Silver…

For some time now I’ve been mentioning my silversmithing but failing to share any images or discussion here. It’s been such a thing, and it’s been going on for large parts of the last year. There’s so much that I feel I want to record about the process, I don’t know where to begin. I did, however, make something of a start on doing this when I was still writing for the Art Bead Scene blog. I wrote several posts on my early metalworking progress and I also wrote about setting up the tiny metal workshop that I’ve created in my airing cupboard. As these posts cover quite a lot of what I’d wish to cover on this blog, I thought it would be easiest to include them here in one long post: a kind of Me and the Metal: The Very Early Days, if you like. (Apologies if you happened to read them at the time; I’m just a bit lazy!)  Inevitably, reading these posts back now, there are things I want to correct; matters that I’ve since learnt about, of which I was ignorant at the time. So, I’ll chip in between the posts. I should say, first of all, that I’m less than impressed with my sawing skills on the first pair of studs in this post from last November, but hey – it was still the very early days….
Sometimes I find that, when my Inside the Studio post comes around, I risk going over the same things: I’ve been making beads; I’ve been making jewellery. And, since my last post, I’ve done plenty of both. But, I actually have other things to report on!  For a long time now, I’ve wanted to get to grips with metalwork. Ages ago, when I first got into making jewellery, I bought a load of kit for silver-smithing, but for various reasons, I’ve never set to and used it all.  I bought books and read things online, but I find taking in instructions from reading things quite difficult. Finally, during the summer, I got my act together and booked a place on a silversmithing course.  It’s not that I really wanted to start making silver jewellery. I’m planning to use other, more affordable metals, in the main, I think. I just needed opportunity to get comfortable with the various tools and processes. However, I have got a little seduced with working with sterling.

 
 
 
This crop of earrings – all kinda minimal (and not without some flaws!) – have all been made during the six weeks of the course. The term finished this week but I’ll be booking on to go back in the new year.  I am now far happier with the logistics of soldering, and I really want to do it some more, preferably sooner than next year! One of the things that has held me back from trying soldering, etc., at home is the lack of space. I’ve moaned about this here before, numerous times, in relation to one thing or another. Speaking to Christina, the jeweller running the course, I’ve come to see that the table area I was planning to use wouldn’t necessarily be the safest place. Then, about a fortnight ago, I had a brainwave. In the corner of my flat there is what I – and certain close friends – would describe as ‘a naughty hole’. To flesh the term out, I guess I’d describe a ‘naughty hole’ as any cupboard or hidden space where undesirable junk and clutter or ‘just stuff’ is stored/dumped, usually in a careless, haphazard manner. You open the naughty hole door, you take the thing you’re struggling to house, you sling it in the naughty hole, you shut the door, you forget about it.

Now, my naughty hole isn’t just a cupboard. It’s a walk-in naughty hole. Can you guess what my brainwave might have been? I really can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner!!  If I clear out the naughty hole I can set up a jeweller’s bench in there!! And possibly have space for other things! Like good, orderly storage! And places to keep all of the many, many things!  But… oh… oh no, that means…. I have to clear out the naughty hole!


That will be quite a tall order. Towards the back of the hole there is stuff that I stacked up in there when I moved in. Heaven knows what half of it is. Dozens of VHS tapes that I can’t play, that no charity shop will take, that can’t be recycled easily…. but that belonged to my grandma?  Mountains of bank statements and suchlike that need shredding before disposal. About 8-10 years worth of the Times Literary Supplement and The London Review of Books. If I chuck them out, am I abandoning academia forever? Oh, naughty hole!!

BTW, am I the only person preserving one of these?

Because: design classic? Thought so…

The mouth of the hole poses another problem. At some point, I did attempt to set up some sort of storage nearer the door; there are some old shoe racks on which I had piled my unused metal tools, my polymer stuff, and various other supplies and kit. This started in an orderly fashion but has since descended into chaos. I messed it up even more the other week, trying to find my neglected metal tools under the other stuff. Now it looks like some kind of craft-based dirty bomb went off in there.

Just writing about the task in hand is making my head spin. I’m telling myself that, now we have this lovely expanded ABS team, and now I only write an Inside the Studio post every other month, I might have it sorted by the next time I join you. I so hope I can do it. Wish me luck!

One of the many, many things that I’ve learnt along the way – but this is a big one – is that, in most cases, it’s really worth using silver over copper, especially for making elaborate, time-consuming things. Sure, silver is expensive. but it’s not that expensive. The other cost that really racks up when making a substantial piece, is that of your time. I soon came to the conclusion that if I’m going to spend hours slaving over something, I want to be able to charge a decent price for it, and – as a quick scan of Etsy will show – you simply can’t command anywhere near the same price for a piece made in copper that you can for a piece made in silver. Moreover, there’s every chance that you’ll spend even more time working at the copper because you’ll need to remove all signs of the silver solder (assuming you’re using silver solder), which is far more visible on copper, obvs (although I have learnt a trick to help with this problem). I think this is particularly the case with bezel-set rings, as the connection points are more conspicuous. Also, rings receive more scrutiny when they’re worn – at least, I think that’s the case. It’s less of an issue with bangles, say, or earring hoops or pendants. So, I may have thought then that I’d largely be working with copper but I’ve ended up working primarily with sterling, and I love the stuff. I used not to be so bothered; now I get anxious if I feel I’m getting low on my favourite gauges of wire and sheet.

On to the next post, which I wrote in January this year. This is an extract from a longer post covering various things.

Is it a little late to be wishing you all a happy new year? I hope you’re all contending with the potential gloominess of January. I last shared an Inside the Studio post with you back in early November. Perhaps you’ll remember: I have recently taken up metalwork and I had plans of converting my under-the-stairs cupboard – aka the naughty hole – into a little work space.  There was a problem, however. Five years of accumulated junk and mess.
 
 
Well, it certainly seemed like a mammoth task. I was shocked just now, revisiting these pictures. A chance turn of events lead to me actually taking it on. I was telling a friend about my plans, a friend who actively likes sorting and tidying (I know?!), and she said, ‘Right, we’re going to do it’. I can’t thank her enough. It took two long afternoons-into-evenings-into-the-small-hours to sort it all, and it was pretty tough going and stressful at points: so many things to have to decide to throw away; so many, sometimes painful, memories unearthed. (Some of the stuff at the back had been dumped in there when I moved into the flat and that wasn’t the best time of my life.) But we did it! Can you see the little pixie door? Where the metal working pixies live?
 
 
Open wide and what’s inside….
 
 
I hope you’ll agree, it’s a pretty remarkable transformation! This is going to be the tidiest it will ever look, I reckon!  I’m so chuffed; I’ve only just got to the point where I’ve stopped going in and turning on the light and just thinking, ‘Eeeeeeeeeee!’ One thing I hadn’t remembered was that the naughty hole was actually an airing cupboard.
 
 
My first thought on seeing this beast (which actually serves all the flats in the damn building) was: ‘Oh, thank goodness! That’s several square foot of stuff I’m not going to have to drag out of here and and re-locate!’ Once this relief had worn off I was a bit disappointed that it was lurking in there taking up precious space. Still, I reckon I’ll live with it well enough.
 
So, it’s now time to pick up the torch/saw/file/hammer, etc.  My classes started again last night. I’m making bezels for stones. I was working on my first one again this morning. I got to the stage where I had it looking all neatly trimmed and thought, ‘Oooo, look, that looks like what it should look like! Will the stone fit nicely? Yes, it fits very nicely!’ Hot on the heels of that thought came, ‘Oooooo, look, is it? Yes, look, it is… it’s…. stuck…’. I’ve tried finding something thin enough to lever it out, but nothing is thin enough. I’ve tried running water into it. I’ve tried tapping it on the back. I’ve tried tapping it on the back with a hammer. I’ve tried holding it in a pair of tweezers and hitting it on the back with a hammer. I’ve tried holding it in a pair of tweezers and hitting it on the back even harder with a heavier hammer. No joy. It’s only a small, inexpensive, piece of moss agate but if anyone has any suggestions, do share!
I think the only thing to say here is that, despite a wealth of helpful suggestions, I never did get that wretched moss agate cab out of the bezel. I still have it somewhere – an object lesson in the importance of dental floss when seeing if your stone fits its setting!
Finally, this is an extract from the last post I wrote for Art Bead Scene in February 2016:
In the last couple of weeks. I’ve primarily been focused on the metalwork that I wrote about in my last Inside the Studio post.  I’ve been happily settling into my new workspace, filling it with tools and pleasing things – the utilitarian things; the lovely, visual things. It’s the closest I’ve ever got to a dedicated studio. (Well, my living room is as much studio as it is living room.) So, it’s still kinda exciting – and I rather love its diminutive proportions.
 
 
(Apologies for the blur – it’s hard to photograph this space through the aperture of its mini door.)
 
I really must thank all of you who expressed concerns about the lack of ventilation. (I even had one lovely reader message me. You know who you are – thanks again!) Of course, you were all right and I was… optimistic? After a few short bursts of soldering in there, even my raddled lungs were questioning the wisdom of it. Fortunately, I located another area of my flat that is also sorely underused and all set up for tolerating heat!
 
 
I know – I just boss health and safety! I must be making some progress because I’ve been happily soldering away in my pyjamas, which is not something I’d ever imagined. (NB. Never solder in your night clothes.) I had hoped to include some images of finished pieces with you. One thing I’m still getting my head round is the amount of time that metalwork takes (for instance, the filing, the endless, endless filing…. ) – especially when you’re still learning. I just have to keep telling myself that there are things that were boggling a few weeks ago, that I’m now doing with some ease. I have a stack of things in the works, including a number of bezelled rings which now need setting. I had my first go at setting in my class last night. Like a fool, I’d imagined it would be a relatively quick job. Will I never learn? For the first time ever, I’m wishing I had muscles in my arms. Why can’t I order them from Cookson’s like everything else?
I’m sure people who read this must have wondered what the hell my problem was. Why was I struggling so much with the setting? Well, I was making my bezels from 0.7mm sterling sheet. I’ve since learned that it’s best to use fine silver so I’ve swapped to 0.5mm fine silver strip. I did try the 0.3mm fine silver strip but I really can’t get on with it; it’s like working with tin foil. I think my early use of thick sterling has lead my to favouring a thicker bezel – something with a bit of resistance and the scope for shaping and sculpting.
By this stage in the proceedings (i.e. February 2016) I was fairly close to the point where I felt fairly comfortable doing simple bezel settings. All of these still get a good amount of wear.
simple-rings-group
And I was moving on to developing more involved and distinctive designs.
double-ring
the-mooring-of-starting-out
The last two rings are amongst a large crop of metal pieces, primarily silver, that I have ready to put into the shop. They’re all ready to go! The listings are drafted, they’ve all been hallmarked, I just need to take some more photos and edit them. I’ll come back in the next day or so to share some pics of more recent designs.

Must try harder…

Yes, I know, it’s been some while. What have I been doing? Well, amongst other things I’ve been producing lots of jewellery, the latest lot of which I’m going to share here. I’ve been doing a few pieces lately that, without planning it, have turned out a bit more colourful than the majority of my more recent work…

Shedding Treasure 1

Even a bit more pretty? Cute, even? Maybe it’s because it’s Spring? And things have been sunnier?

Shedding Treasure 2

I’m really liking the pictures taken on the mannequin too so you’re getting them as well!

the gypsy's warning 1

Again, kinda cute and folksy…

the gypsy's warning 2

Both of the pendants in these necklaces were made by Kathrin Kneidl (Donna Perlinplim). They have enough of a rough, scuffed, and rustic feel to avoid things looking too cutesy. I’ve been using quite a bit of Kathrin’s stuff lately. I’ve never found face beads appealing before but I really like the charms in these earrings.

idea-free sleep 1

Again, they’re Kathrin’s, as are the connectors below.

Lives Aslant 1

I buy far fewer beads these days – including art beads. I guess it’s because I’ve found other things to obsess over lately – silver, cabochons – but it also feels that now I’ve got this smaller group of makers that I buy from over and again, whose stuff I can’t resist and whose work just fits with what I want to make. Does that mean my style is finally becoming more cohesive? Who knows… Petra, of course, is one.

emissaries 1

Obviously, that doesn’t mean that I’m not open to stuff from other bead makers. Oh, no, no, no. I guess I just have a stronger sense of what I will use.

Another factor is that I am inevitably using far more of my own beads. The blistered drops in the pair above, and the pod pins below are both mine. The connectors are both by Petra – I probably don’t need to point that out…

eternal attendants 1

Actually the majority of the pieces in this latest batch feature my beads, especially my head pins. (I do love a handmade headpin – they just make things look far more integrated.

Little Tall Dark Circles 1

purveyor of clouds 2

I also LOVE these chunky Indonesian star beads – so cool!

Quiet but Constant 1

A number of the beads I’ve used here are the few that were unsold after my last update. I have a big new batch of beads on the go, although I’ve got distracted this last week or so, with metalwork stuff.

rose-rock, rock-rose 1

I keep mentioning this silversmithing and I’ve yet to share any images or anything here – or most places. I’m hoping my next post will see me putting this right. (Again, more of my beads and charms in these bracelets.)

simple pleasures 1

Finally, a couple more pairs of earrings.

Those Strange Affectionate Animals 1

When I initially took up doing metal stuff it was partly so I could do basic things like making bits like the hoops and connectors in these pieces – a bit of simple soldering, etc.

Your Ancient Cool 1

I hadn’t thought I’d end up throwing myself into learning how to set cabochons and stuff but that’s what’s happened. Anyway, fingers crossed I’ll get round to sharing some pictures soon. Till then, all these have been listed on Etsy. Some have sold but the rest are available here. Ciao!

Even More Words and Pictures

Those new beads I mentioned last time? They’re all done! ….. well, nearly… As ever, I’ve used lots of lovely crackle glazes. Although, they’re only really lovely when the damn things do what they’re meant to do and actually crackle. It’s never guaranteed, especially with some of these glazes, so to improve the chances of a nice net of crackle you really need to leave them some time for the crazing to develop, post-firing, before adding stain. It’s annoying, but in some ways welcome, this time at least, as it means I get to postpone the misery of photographing and listing everything!  Instead, I’ve listed some new pieces of jewellery which I’ve been making when I felt the need to have a break from the mud. All the pieces in this post are now available on Etsy.

Your Drifter 1

I realised the other day that it’s been nearly a year since I had my – how do you say? – ‘reassessment’ of what I’m doing making this jewellery stuff.  Around the same time I had to stop doing the big, monthly artisan market in my town, as I no longer had the help I needed to do it. It seemed a shame at the time, although part of me was very glad that I had a way out of those early, often cold and wet, Sunday mornings, and the attendant stress and anxiety that built up in the preceding days.

starlings 1

Over time I’ve come to find other advantages to this change. Not only did all my preparation for the market take up an unwarranted amount of time, given the money I was making at the event, but it was having a perhaps not altogether positive effect on what I was making and how I viewed what I did. Too often, I ended up focusing on making things because I thought they would sell at this particular market. I’d be governed by thoughts like: ‘that’s going to be too expensive for the typical market customer’; ‘I need to make things that will have a wide appeal’; ‘I need to make some bracelets – or whatever – in this price range, so I can only use x type of materials’.

Making a way 1

All this, along with what I found to be the nature of selling at a market, had me feeling that what I was doing was really just making accessories that would hopefully appeal to a good number of market punters.

roads 1

As I’ve said before, I never feel comfortable describing my work as ‘art’. But, once I stopped doing the market I was able to focus on making things with which I had a greater connection. I could pursue and develop an aesthetic that really appealed to me, one I felt a deeper connection to, rather than worrying about whether it would appeal to Sunday market shoppers in a Somerset town. Fortunately, I’ve subsequently picked up more online customers who also like this more niche style.

marianna 1

That said, I have had some pricing anxiety recently!  I’ve been forcing myself to pull out and use some of the precious artisan beads that I’ve long been hoarding, and telling myself not to be restricted by worrying about the cost of the end product. Just put the things that work together together. Then, of course, once I price it up, I think, ‘oh dear….’.

mischief 1

There are a couple of pairs of asymmetrical earrings in this latest batch. I’m truly sold on asymmetrical earrings. Really, personally, I can’t see why you wouldn’t want to wear them. (I mean asymmetrical earrings generally, not specifically mine!) And yet, of course, lots of people don’t get on with them. But, I’m still compelled to make them, even if they’re not for some (or even many!).

creatures 1

These last two mismatched pairs are amongst my favourites from this latest batch. So are these:

aeolian 1

Moving on, I’d really appreciate some thoughts on my necklace predicament. Chances are, if you have read this blog much in the past, you’ll have heard me whinging about the business of photographing necklaces. I’ve developed some tricks lately that work with some designs, but sometimes it’s just impossible to get an acceptable shot that features the whole piece. Some time late last year (I think!) my frustration reached a new height and in my fury I splashed out on a dressmakers dummy. It’s a pretty tattered affair although a bit of spot-healing when editing pics hides the worst of it.

curious tapestries 2

Now on my listings I can include some good and useful pictures of how the necklace looks when worn, and I’m not forced to include pictures of pieces contorted into odd, confusing positions just to show the full item. And yet, I never use them on the first picture as they’ll disrupt the uniform white ground in all my shop photos. Also, I find it can be harder to see details on these pictures with the dummy. Instead, as a first pic, for the necklace above, I have:

curious tapestry 1

Yes, well, now I’ve typed all that, I see it’s a fascinating read, but if you do have an opinion, please comment. I know the comments thing on this blog is a nightmare but if you include the words ‘necklace photos’ in your comment I can search it out from wherever WordPress has hidden it. Right, enough of that!

clemency 1

I mentioned last time about my silversmithing. Well, with my latest batch of beads I also made myself a porcelain ring stand to use for photos, so when I have a few more pieces done I guess I’ll get round to sharing some pictures here. I also need to tell you all about my natty new(-ish) metal-working station which I’ve set up in my airing cupboard!

What more 1

Now I’ve got these beads made – and when I get them listed – I’m looking forward to getting back in there and working on some new pieces.

first light 1

I’m still struggling with feeling torn between the ceramics, the metalwork, and my regular jewellery. On a number of occasions recently I’ve felt I’m not at the top of my game with any of these things because I’m having to move from one thing to another. When I finally feel I’m really motoring with something it’s usually time to turn to another pursuit for fear of neglecting that…

villains 1

Aaaaanyway, I think that’s all my chunter for this post. I’ll be back soon with that beady preview!  Bye for now!

New-ish year: new beads (anon!) and new-ish earrings

Well, happy new year… sorta. I am planning some more ‘proper’ posts with words and things in the weeks to come. I mean, planning. I have soooo many new things to share. I’ve just finished a real jewellery-making spreeeeeee! There’s the usual crop of earrings – my default, really. But I’ve also made around six bracelets and around eight necklaces. I find both more difficult. Necklaces have always been a bit of a challenge, but, I think, I actually really rather like some of them. Now I’ve said that, they’ll probably sit stubbornly in my shop and I’ll end up not liking them so. This making frenzy came at the end of a bead-making marathon. I spaced out the making of the greenware, interspersing it with making jewellery, but once it got to the glazing stage, it was glaze glaze glaze, day in, day out.  I decided to put off listing them until February, when folk will have a bit more money, I hope. I haven’t done the photos yet, but here’s a little teaser. (A bit of a blurry teaser, taken with my phone….)

earring beadsThis mound of earring pairs doesn’t look as large as it actually was. They’re now all strung into sets: eight sets with six pairs each. Anyway, I’ll be back with more bead images and information about dates and times for the update nearer the time. If you have requested a custom order, I’ll be in touch in the next few days.

I photographed all the new jewellery today. It was freeeeezing. It took a couple of hours and by the end of it, I could barely hit the camera button. I’m just about to set to on the selecting and editing, but I do have some things to share here today. The following are some of the first earrings I made this year. I listed them a couple of weeks ago and have shared them elsewhere. But, you know, I like to share everything here at some point or other, if only for my own record. Some of these have sold; the rest are available int’shop.

Wouldn't you miss me at all 1 brimming with lives 1boogaloo dudes 1 cold blooded old times 1 duchess 1 In waves 4 mathilde 1 psalm 1 shadow on the things you know 1 Streamin' Beads of Light 1 The Final Breaker 1 They've Got Some Hungry Women There 1 try out your god 1

Back soon!

Ta Dah!

Look at this. This is the clearest and most tidy that my work table has been since… since… I started working on it:

photo 1-2

Also: I have a tidy, tidy stash:

photo 2

All orders are packed (thank you!):

photo 1-2 copy 2

Essential purchases have been made and delivered –

photo 1-2 copy

– and appraised by Dexy:

photo 3

And unwrapped:

glaze

(yep, all essential stuff, that….)

Which means….. it’s time to get the mud out!:

photo 4

If you have any bead custom order requests, now would be a good time to ask. Email me: somethingtodobeads@gmail.com.

New jewellery and a spot of candour

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time you may have noticed that there’s been very little in the way of new jewellery lately. Aside from blog hops and the like, I haven’t shared any new jewellery here at all this year. The reason being there wasn’t really any. I was very taken up with making beads and didn’t have any proper time for making jewellery , aside from magazine stuff. But, finally, I’ve got some made and listed.salsa 1

(painted coins – Graceful Willow)

But it wasn’t just the ceramics that was taking up my time. I don’t tend to talk very candidly on this blog but I’ve decided to give it a bit of a go this once.unreckoned 1

(ceramic droppers – Scorched Earth)

The thing is, around the turn of the year, I had a little jewellery-making crisis.  I was preparing for a Christmas craft fair, working out my table plan. I had a hangover, one of those joyously self-accusatory hangovers that just tells you what a fool you are and that all is useless. A watch over still water 1(enamel plates – 4 Ophelia)

And I stood and looked at my stock and just felt…. ‘meh…’.  At the time I wasn’t wholly sure what the problem was – and a good part was the hangover (I managed to persuade myself that all my stock was terrible – and perhaps I should just not go), but I think part of the issue was the lack of coherence in what I was making. There’d be something pretty and folksy here, something kinda primitive there, something vintage looking here, something I made along a particular theme for a magazine there, something strange and gothic here, a sorta tribal bracelet there, some things I made because I thought people would buy them as gifts, some things that were made because there needed to be some more affordable items. You get the picture….

dependents 1

What I really should have been thinking is, ‘This is all over the place’.

(candy cane sticks) 1

(polymer bicones – Graceful Willow Beads)

I know many think differently, but I’ve never been very comfortable with describing my own jewellery as ‘art’. I feel happier with the word ‘designer’ or even that modish term ‘designer maker’.  I guess it stems partly from when I studied Fine Art when I was younger.  After doing a foundation course post A-levels, I went and did two years of a fine art degree at Chelsea College of Art and Design. At the time, Chelsea was one of a number of colleges – Central St Martins, London College of Fashion, London College of Printing,  Camberwell College of Art – then called The London Institute.  The different disciplines and modes of making were split, and, I guess, there was a certain sense of hierarchy, certainly from the Fine Art point of view, as the name would suggest. Not saying that’s right or… or… that’s just how it was…

still image 1

One thing that didn’t happen on the degree course was life drawing. I think it still happened on the Foundation, but I guess that amongst the undergraduates and up, it was seen as a rather antiquated practice. So, it’s funny that taking up a life drawing class now has, in a small way, caused me to think some more about how ‘artists’ (whoever they are!) work and how that relates to what I do.

Amen 1

(lampwork beads – Glass Bead Art)

There’s a point that the tutor at the life drawing class likes to make. It’s one of those self-evident and yet provoking things: How can you expect to get any better if you keep doing the same thing?

olympia 1Part of the problem I had with what I was doing was that I’d fallen into patterns of how I made things: bracelets go like this; earrings are like that. (Even though the styles may have varied.)  I decided to spend some time avoiding those habits to some extent.prefering not to 1(ceramic connectors – Scorched Earth)

Working on my ceramic beads has also lead me to think about how I go about making jewellery in a different light as well – inevitably. There’s much more to say on that but that’s for another day….

the sea grows old in it 1

(polymer beads – Humblebeads)

I’ve ended up on a bit of a primitive thread, jewellery-wise, right now. I’m conscious that there are a number of designers out there who make wonderful jewellery in this sort of a style and are all over it. When I say ‘conscious’, I mean ‘very conscious’.  But it’s given me a place to work from and one I feel relatively comfortable with. And there’s another reason, too: I’ve just been mad keen for patina-ing (is patinating a proper word?). I’ve finally found something – on this side of the pond – that will give a patina to just about anything, and so I’ve ended up patina-ing the b’jeezus out of everything.staggers and the jags 1

(ceramics – Scorched Earth)

Here I used some old sieve brooch findings that I discovered in a tub of ancient findings – things I’d bought in the early days of beading where you pick things up indiscriminately, thinking, ‘yeah, I’ll use that’ (or, at least, that’s what I did). I chopped the tips off them and fashioned them into connectors of a sort. Here’s more old sieves.last remains 1

(ceramic spikes – Scorched Earth)

Rattlebag 1

(ceramic drops – Scorched Earth)

I’ve also been on a bit of an asymmetrical earring drive.

fixed alternatives 1

(ceramic spike – Scorched Earth; ceramic connector – Ragged Robyn)

mineral fact 1

(ceramic leaf – Something to do Beads; ceramic spike – Scorched Earth; lampwork – Glass Bead Art; enamel link – C-Koop)

like reasons 1

(ceramic drop – Scorched Earth)

I’m aware that I’m falling into some mannerisms, but… …Ultimately, I’m hoping that I might be able to blend all those divergent materials and tastes that led to all those clashing pieces on my Xmas market table – the vintage, the primitive, the pretty, the grungy, the folksy, the rustic, etc., etc., etc., and maybe – just maybe – I’ll manage to establish something that is properly mine.

maybe to everything 1

(glass ring – Outwest; ceramic coin – Something to do Beads; ceramic connector – Scorched Earth; lampwork barrel – Helen Chalmers; lampwork rondelle – Puffafish)

That’s kind of what I tried in this necklace! I seem to be a bit scared of the more ‘pretty’ colours at the moment. I guess that gives me another challenge.

Rectangular tablet earrings 1

(ceramic tablets – Scorched Earth)

Another thing: after all my years of Lit-ing, I decided I really needed to pull my socks up on the title front.  I’m almost – almost – enjoying it.

A tear 1Anyway, I think I’ve rattled on self-indulgently quite long enough. I’ll leave you with the rest of the latest crop of earrings and necklaces.  Again, all are listed in the shop. There are bracelets too but I’ll save them for another day.

all ways contained 1

Eyes Full of the land 1

(ceramic barrel – Happy Fallout; ceramic beads – Something to do Beads; ceramic ring – Scorched Earth)

call it oranges 1

(tin caps – Lorelei Eurto)

earth brown, earth golden 1

(ceramic drops – Scorched Earth)

Frailties 1

(ceramic building – Jubilee; ceramic ring and point – Marsha Neal; ceramic pendant – Scorched Earth)

lipstick leopard 1

(polymer bicones – Graceful Willow)

the leaves where they leave 1

(lampwork beads – Magdalena Ruiz)

bent into a better shape 1

(ceramic pendant – Something to do Beads)

perdita 1

(ceramic drops – Scorched Earth)

when I see the first buzzard 1

(ceramic spike, disc and toggle – Scorched Earth; ceramic round – Something to do Beads)

the sea held

(lampwork beads – Glass Bead Art; ceramic drops – Scorched Earth)

Final day of Sale, plus things and stuff

I’ve done a woeful job of promoting it but today is the last day of the Spring sale in my jewellery shop.  In case you don’t know, I’m offering 25% off all jewellery, including a good number of pieces that have already been reduced. All you need to do is apply the coupon code SPRING25 when you check out. This means you can get this bracelet for £22.50, which seems a crazy price, frankly.  (Click on the links below the pictures to go straight to the shop listing.)

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Sea Wreath

These earrings – always a bit of a personal fave – can be yours for 12.38.

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Picasso Coins

This bracelet will be just £20.25.

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Soft Geometry

Which, again, is pretty daft. And this necklace can also be had for £22.50.

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Folksy

Sometimes you just want make space and what have you… Many of the items in the ‘Sale’ section of the shop will be removed and no longer available from tomorrow, and the price of those that remain will be put back up. So, it’s now or never on a good few items…

Aside from all this, I thought I’d share a few pics of other things that have been happening, like you should do on a blog. On Thursday, the gallingly good Caroline Dewison of Blueberribeads shared a post on Art Jewelry Elements showing some stamps that she had made by lino-cutting. This is the sort of thing I have been meaning to do, but I hadn’t managed to get my finger out and do it. Thanks to Caroline, I finally gave it a go.  As Caroline said in her post, it’s often not really desirable to use commercially produced stamps and textures, and I generally try to avoid doing so. I made some plaster moulds whilst I was still doing pottery classes last year and I’ve loved having them to use. I wish I had the opportunity to make more. I do own some moulding compound but I always feel I should be all organised and have everything planned before I use it, and that sort of thing tends not to happen in my world. The beauty of the lino-cutting thing is that you can just have a bit of a doodle and see what you come up with, and the materials are relatively inexpensive so it’s no great disaster if you bodge it up. I’ve got a little mound of carved lino bits now.  I’ve yet to try them out properly on any clay yet but I did try a few bits, just to see if I was on the right track.

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a huddle of houses

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some flowery bidnizz

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scribbly Giacometti-style faces

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And as you can see here, you can save up any stray offcuts and carve them to make textures for rolling beads over. I’m looking forward to seeing these glazed.

What else? There’s been some sun the last few days – the proper stuff that actually makes you feel that Spring might just be a possibility. Dexy has be sprauncing around on the terrace sniffing the air…

dex in the sun

…despite having mysteriously developed arthritis in his back legs. He’s only six. He’s a medical marvel, really – always managing to find some new ailment requiring extensive and expensive treatment. Thank the lord for pet insurance. Apologies for the cruddy little mobile phone pictures. Here’s some better shots of him that I’ve had on my desktop, waiting for to be shared, for an age.

snoozy dex

Other than that, I don’t have much to report. I’ll leave you with a tune that’s been buzzing round my head for the last day or so…

Christmas come early… come late

Hello all. I hope you’ve had an at least tolerable Christmas…

xmas tree…and that your festive season has been full of good things,

photo-5 copy 3like fluffy pink elephants and stuff.

Last time I posted, some days before Christmas, I mentioned that I has amassed a pile of parcels full of good things like beads and glazes.

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I also mentioned that I’d be back in a day or so to share this early xmas bounty. Well, I never got around to it so that’s what I’m doing today, some days after xmas.  I meant to take the pictures of the contents outside, on a white background, but it was cold and I was lazy – it may even have been raining – so I ended up taking them on my scruffy, stained work surface. Sorry about that. Anyway, on with the good things. I’m sure a fair number of you will recognise the red wrapping on that top package. A Petra parcel is always very welcome and this one contained those dinky Christmas trees at the top of this post.

PetraI’m loving those spiky ring things. Not entirely sure what I’ll do with them yet but you know how it is when you have to have something? Course you do!

A number of the parcels were things I ordered in Black Friday sales, like this little bundle from Earthbutter Beads.

earthbutter

The colours in those raku rounds are so subtle and beautiful; I had to order another two more sets just to ensure I had enough to bring myself to use some.  I did a similar thing with the earring pairs I got from Slate Studio.

slate studio

I knew I’d need to keep a pair of each for myself.  I love Sarah’s beads so I stocked up when she had her Black Friday sale. Ditto Tree Wings Studio.

tree wings

I can’t get over how teeny those little birds are!  More Black Friday purchases here, from Happy Fish Things.

happy fish

I got a few beads to keep this necklace company on its way over the Czech Republic.

happy fish necklace

I’d had my eye on it for ages and it had already been reduced quite a bit. I did try taking a pic of me wearing it. I won’t bother sharing that!

What else? I’d also stocked up on more Madeline Bunyan polar bears. I didn’t get around to using them this year but they’ll be ready for next Christmas!

m bunyan

I wish I’d got a better picture of these Numinosity goodies.

numinosity

Also wish I’d managed to bag a few more of them whilst I was shopping. Finally, beads-wise, some lovely new designs from Blueberribeads.

blueberribeadsJust lovely!

Edit: I forgot to include these:

moogin

How??! The wonderful Moogin Mindy, of course.

Now for some really fascinating pictures.

glazes cromartie

Proper eye candy, hey? Wanna see more?

bath potters

I just can’t stop buying glazes…

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In fact, I think I might just have to have a little browse to see if any online suppliers are  running end-of-year sales.  Speaking of the end of the year, let me leave you with the best of wishes for 2015.