Sunday, 4 October 2009

Weddings & Workshops

I've been working hard getting some commission pieces ready for a friends wedding next weekend. I'm very pleased with the result but keeping everything a secret until the special day....I'll release photos after Saturday!

This weekend I delivered an Introduction to Beads & Stringing workshop - we had nine attendees. The workshop had a great feel. We had sisters and family together, somebody making their wedding jewellery and others who jut wanted to add to their list of techniques. Some great pieces were made...

Judy made this piece using the some beads from a broken necklace she was given by a family member - she decided to add a few beads from the shop floor to enhance what she already had.

Heather bought in some beads she had bought from a charity shop - a very long string for £3.00!! She made a necklace, bracelet and still had more left. I think they have a wonderful colour to them - they almost glow.

Within this piece Christina used the clasp area as the focal point within the necklace and wired some beads to the hoop of the toggle. She also added some lengths of beads to build the focal point that will then sit at the front.

This piece is not yet quite finished. Ann bought in lots of pearls she had bought from antique shops and had been given. One of the strings had this beautiful clasp attached - to complement the clasp she added some Amethyst crystals...I can't wait to see it finished!

Wendy, Jayne & Denise all made a lariat - I long row of beads without a clasp. These are very popular at the moment. They can be worn in so many different ways and are perfect for using up a variety of oddments. I think the colours used within these pieces are gorgeous.

Lou is getting married in December so bought in some crystals that were her Grans and she is planning to wear on the special day. She had to give them a good clean, increase the length a little using some chain, and wired in a blue crystal to sit at the back of the neck - she's going to sparkle all day!

Janet has been coming along to a whole range of our workshops and its great to see how she is pulling all the techniques together. Here she's used the stringing and wire technique to create his beautiful bracelet. To add an area for the charms to hang she inserted a jumpring along the strung section. She eventually wants to use PMC to create the charms.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Work, work, work..

Well, the term has truly started. I'm back with full force into the adult learning evenings and very much enjoying my classes. I always love meeting new people especially because they all have an interest in making jewellery. I know this term is going to go so fast....Autumn term seems to flyby - before we know it, it'll be Christmas!! I've also been delivering some classes at the shop - Introduction to Beads and Knotting and Introduction to PMC 2 Day. As always some wonderful pieces made.

Beads and Knotting

Tracey made this piece using some silk cord, lampwork beads she bought from ebay and some of our glass beads. As the focal bead she used one of our new silver-plated hearts - I love the black, white, crystal an silver combination.

Introduction to Precious metal Clay Two Day

I really enjoy the two day workshop. Everyone can really get their teeth into the processes and techniques, and have time for reflection between day 1 and 2.

So you can see all the photo's taken from my workshops I've actually set up a Facebook page for
Amy Surman - The Oxford Beadshop. Here you can see images of everything made on the workshops, make comments, add reviews and connect with other creative people...take a look.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Summer Holidays

Well, I hope you all had a lovely summer. I visited America - Orlando & Miami for my holidays. We stayed in the most amazing hotel in Orlando, The Animal Kingdom Lodge - part of the Walt Disney World empire. The Animal Kingdom Lodge is based on an African Lodge surrounded by savannahs and exotic pools/spas. This is an image of the lobby...a very grand entrance!

Throughout the hotel everything had been thought about and placed with the finest of detail. Look at the railings...hidden amongst the uprights and turns of the metalwork you can see a giraffe and on others zebras, buffalo, birds and more - All of which could be viewed within the savannahs.

The most amazing sight we saw at the hotel was one afternoon when the giraffes were feeding. There were three giraffes - all female and one was only 9 months old. It was such a beautiful site...they were only about 25 foot away from us!! Unfortunately I didn't have my camera and we didn't have same encounter again.

The Zebra Walk

In the lobby there were numerous cases spread around with interesting African articles from jewellery and beads to bowls and working tools...there really was so much to see. As we were in Orlando we visited some of the parks - my favourite is Seaworld. Here we saw the killer whales, dolphins, manatees, stingrays, sharks and lots lots more. We fed the dolphins and stingrays too!

After a 6 night stay in Orlando we drove (I did the driving) down to Miami for a beach holiday. It was a lovely stay although due to the hurricane season by the afternoon the clouds started to roll in and we had to leave the beach in case we were struck by lightning!!

Sunny Isles Beach, Miami

Now I'm back in the UK and back to work....I've been delivering new workshops - Beads & Wire improvers, private tuition, children's workshops, private workshops. We've also got some new products in store and I've started my PGCE (Post graduate certificate in education) course yr 2 - it's great to be back!!!

Beads & Wire improver project

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Look what Vikki made....isn't it beautiful. Vikki is one of our regulars at the shop and she has been working on a project for quite a few months now. She kept coming in buying pretty sparkly beads and this week bought in the results!! I think the necklace is gorgeous and a fabulous example of what can be made from a variety of different beads...some of the beads I haven't had for 2 years!! The project is based on one from Bead Magazine...Flower Garden - (I'll find out the issue number). I really appreciate it when customers bring their projects in for us to's great to see what creativity is happening out there and how our products are being used. More welcome....

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Our Jersey Trip and Weddings...

We returned from Jersey on was so lovely seeing Harry (and Lucy of course!!). When we arrived in Jersey on the Thursday they had the Battle of Flowers just starting...I took lots of photo's but here's some of my Favourites...

Can you believe these are all made from flowers.....yes every little bit!!!

I managed to get these photos before the parade started. We also managed to speak to some of the people that put them together. They said that they had been working on the floats since February then started to put the flowers on from Sunday and finished Thursday morning at about 3am(ish)!! It was totally amazing - unbelievable!! We were so lucky to arrive when we did.

On the Thursday afternoon Stuart and I hired bikes then got ready for a long bike ride starting Friday morning. Jersey is so beautiful and hiring bikes was the perfect way to see the island. You can pick the bikes up from a number of hire companies on the island - we used Zebra in St Helier. Cycle route maps are available from the tourism office and most hotels/ B&Bs. We cycled up to some beautiful beaches..

...some very long steep hills that we then had the pleasure gliding down....

...and collected some souvenirs along the way.

On the Saturday we went to Carl & Rachel's wedding - the purpose of the visit. The day was very magical and the weather was perfect. Due to some of us being more hungover than others I spent Sunday morning on my own. I first visited The Shell Garden. This was pretty cool - started in 1957 and still being added to today. The guy on the gate was the third generation. Reminded of a great book I have called Fantasy Worlds - a Tashen book. I then went to a wonderful gallery filled with beautiful things and inspiring objects in St Aubin - I think St Aubin was my favourite place for its nice resturants, bars, galleries, views and interesting buildings.

On Tuesday it was back to work. Lucy, Mum and Kay did a great job holding fort. On Tuesday I had a wedding ring workshop. Jeff and Pauline came in to make their own wedding rings - it was a lovely four hours and they finished in perfect time with perfect rings - Congratulations.X

Hard at Work

The finished Rings

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Decoupage Elephants and bubbly kits...

Look at my elephants....a couple of weeks ago I ran a children's birthday workshop for Storm. During the session Storm and her Mum mentioned they were going to make some elephants out of a very common item that we all discard every week.....any ideas??? First person to get it right wins a prize!!!!!!!

Kay has also put together some new kits using the pearl mixes we have in store.....aren't they great. I think they'd make a fab could actually fit a clasp that would enable you to use it as both a bracelet and necklace (not at the same time!). Obviously you'd need an extra section for the necklace that you could clip in- it would look wonderful!!

Pearl Bubble Bracelet Kit

Tomorrow we're off to Jersey for Carl & Rachel's wedding....I'm really looking forward to it. When we arrive on the Thursday they have an event called Battle of Flowers...take a look at the website. As far as I can tell its a big event based around floats and a procession dripping with flowers!! I'll take lots of photos...hope the weather's nice...fingers crossed!!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Making a Silver Ring

Saturday we did a Silver Ring workshop. The pieces made on the 10-4pm workshop were fantastic and a great achievement in the time. Helen made a bangle as she doesn't really wear rings. All the techniques used in this workshop are your silversmithing basic - this is why I use this project for my first on the Adult Learning classes.

Sterling Silver Rings made by complete beginners

Sunday Lucy and I went to The PMC Symposium in Bristol. We had a table there selling some of our products along with The PMC Studio. It was very interesting and a great opportunity to see pretty much everyone I know in The PMC world. I was also very impressed with Bristol. There seemed to be a lot going on and lots to see. We might have to make a visit in the future...maybe a weekend away.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Birmingham School of Jewellery

Last Sunday Stuart and I drove up to Birmingham to get ready for my three course I was delivering for the jewellery school. I've never driven to Birmingham before...well the centre anyway...only ever the NEC. It was surprisingly easy if I didn't take much notice of multimap...I'm sure I confuse myself too with it!! We drove straight to The SAS Raddison Hotel on Holloway Circus. The hotel was perfect for our stay...18 floors high with private apartments above for ???? floors - a very tall building!! On the 18th floor was a gym that I went and tried out on the sunday...felt a bit scary - I thought my cross trainer might jump forward and I'd end up out the window!!

SAS Raddison

The rooms were very comfortable..everything you could wish for. The beds were EXTREMELY comfortable - just what you need after a long days work!! The hotel was 5 mins from the Mailbox and Bullring so would be perfect for a weekend of shopping and relaxing if you had the time.

Our home for four days.

The Mailbox is a very 'trendy' area filled with nice shops, restaurants, galleries and a relaxed vibe. Stu and I had Tapas for dinner at Estillos on the Sunday night....the Paella was amazing!!! After a good nights sleep and a massive buffet breakfast I was ready to start my 3 day course. I took literally my whole workshop so got to the jewellery school early so I could get set up - Stu helped. We were greeted by one of the most friendliest security guards and caretakers I've met..they made us feel very welcome. Each day ran from 9.30-5pm with breaks if you wanted them. I had a group of 6 ladies from various areas around Birmingham and one from Belfast. The group were great and were all keen to learn what PMC is all about and how to work with it. What made the group so interesting is that each person had different reasons to be there and levels of jewellery making.

The Birmingham School of Jewellery

Throughout the 3 days we covered using:
  • paste to create a silver leaf
  • paste to create a hollow bead
  • lump to create a dry construction pendant
  • lump and torch firing to make a pair of earrings
  • soldering techniques on PMC to create a pair of stud earrings
  • dichroic glass and lump to create a pendant or ring
  • syringe to reate pattern and texture
  • cubic zirconias
  • and more.......

Hard at Work

The PMCers Bench

The Final Pieces

While we were gone Harry stayed with his much as he loves them he was pleased to see us!!!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Introduction to Precious Metal Clay

We had a great workshop today....Intro to PMC. Everyone achieved some great pieces - we made Silver leaves, Pendants and Earrings with multiple layers, cubic zirconias and more. I think all we sleep well tonight!!!

Hard at Work

Silver Leaves - Fresh from the Garden this morning!!!!

Silver Pendants - Dry constructions, Cubic Zirconias, Syringe work..

Friday, 31 July 2009

Dichoric Glass Cabochons

Look what I've just taken out of the kiln......some lovely dichoric glass cabochons!! These are lots of fun to make. I'm going to practice with the technique - maybe order in some new types of glass to play with and hopefully build this into a workshop for next year. Tomorrow I'm off to Birmingham to teach 3 days of PMC....that's the reason for making the cabochons actually. As one of the projects Im going to be doing a pendant project with them as they can be fired with PMC. Have a full day today of PMC to - Intro to PMC at the shop......I'm going to be all PMCed out by Wednesday night!!!!!!!!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Witney Day Centre

Today I've been teaching over at Witney Hospital for the Day Care Centre. This is my second visit. I love going over to see them all - they're all such a lovely enthusiastic group and I get to teach some men!!!!! We had an hours session together and made a bracelet and earrings set. I think these types of workshops work well in within a day care environment because it means everybody acheives something and has been given the opportunity to be could see they all enjoyed it!!!

This is what everybody made

Here's the group

I've spent the rest of the day organising.....try to get a better system in place. With the small scale products we deal with it can be really difficult...we're getting there!!!!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Its been a long time.....

Hello!!!! Yes I'm still here. Apologise for not blogging in earlier - I need to keep on top of this! I've been involved in soooo many lovely things I've been dying to get it all online - so here it is.

Back in June I started to attend The Oxford Castle Market on a Friday. I really loved attending, met some great people and experienced being part of a nice event. Unfortunately I've now stopped, for various reason but mainly because I found it a big commitment what with everything going on at the my shop. Here's an image of my little stall....I was very happy with how it was all set out and it gave me lots of opportunity to make jewellery and promote my workshops.

As always we've been running lots of workshops with some great pieces being made. Back in June we ran a Make your own Tiara workshop - Kirsty made this beautiful piece for Ascot. She used a combination of Delica beads, Swarovski crystal and 0.4mm silver-plated wire to create her tiara.

Our Introduction to Beads & Wire workshop is one of the most popular we do and most people that come along to it are complete beginners so this is their first jewellery making experience. The jewellery made is always full of fresh ideas and new combinations of colour. These pieces are very much influence by the summer season (Does anyone know where its gone?).

Memory Wire Bracelet with Czech Glass Beads

Silver Plated Chain and Wire with Glass Beads

With the summer holidays upon us we have started to take lots of children workshop bookings. Last week we did a workshop for Storm and her friends. They all made a cluster ring using a wire ring base, glass beads and headpins and a bag charm using a bag clip, glass beads and headpins. The technique I taught the group was simply making loops above the beads after making over 20 loops they all went away knowing how to do it!!!

We had a briliant Enamelling workshop this month. Everybody on the session really thought about what jewellery they were going to make their pieces into and had some fantastic results. We explored the use of decals, stencils, wire, stringers, Millefiori chips and more....

Butterfly made using a stenciling technique and Millefiori

Our most recent workshop has been Recycle Silver. I must say one of my more high maintenance workshops but I do love it. The results are always amazing. This time we looked a little more at pushing objects into the cuttlefish to cast them. You can see here Debbie used a shell that I picked up years ago in Florida to cast. The results aren't perfect but they give you a really nice quality.

At the beginning of July we went to see Take That!!!! It was amazing. I've never seen such a spectacular show. There was so much to see I couldn't take it all in and am eagerly awaiting the DVD to be released. They had an elephant which they all came in on...Tricycles, clowns, acrobats, lots of balloons, unbrellas, gymnasts, fire, ringmasters and so much more. Here's a couple of pictures.....

This image it a picture of a floor at High Road house in Chiswick....isn't it great. We went there when we stayed up at Kay's for Stuart's B'day. We had a lovely breakfast then did some shopping and in the evening went to see Oasis at Wembley - again a great show but nowhere near as fab as Take That!!

Harry's doing well apart from a case of Kennel Cough. It s not very nice for him but he's getting over it with the help of some antibiotics. Fortunately its not passed to humans at all so he can still come to work with me and socialise with all his friend at the shop.

This coming week I'm getting ready to teach at The Birmingham School of Jewellery. I'll be teaching an Introduction to Precious Metal Clay for 3 days on Aug 3rd, 4th & 5th. I'm really looking forward to it and excited to work for a new establishment. I'm also going to be working at The PMC Symposium on Aug 9th for The PMC Studio. We've got a table in the market place where we will be selling a variety of tools and equipment and introducing people to our workshop programme. If your attending I'll see you there!!