Thursday, 30 April 2009

Working my little socks off!!!!

Wow....its been ages since I last wrote in. I have been working my little socks off!! Getting ready for Artweeks has been really good fun but added a big work load to the already full schedule!! I've also started back all my evening classes - I've really missed them while I've been off although it was nice having a couple of evenings to make a few beading things. I've been playing with the bead mixes we have in store....Kay and I found them at a trade show in Feb and since I've had them in the shop they've sold really well. I always say to people who come along to my beginner workshops "If you go into a beadshop and aren't to sure what beads to choose always look at their bead mixes...these are a great place to start as they can give you ideas on colour schemes, textures, beads types etc" I think the summer being on the way is inspiring these necklace and bracelet sets - all I've used in the set below is one of the Tiny Gold Bead Mixes £1.50 and a selection of semi-precious and glass beads to match. The necklace is approx 30 inches long with a toggle clasp so you can wear it long or doubled up. The bracelet is simply on memory wire - we've got some new silver plated stuff in the shop by Beadalon...much easier to work with then the previous one we had.

This necklace is one that Rosamund started on the Beads & Knotting workshop the other week. She'd finished it at home and bought it into the shop for us to see. I love it when customers do this!! Its always great to see what you've been upto!! Rosamund used the Planet bead mix for this necklace along with some blue No18. Nylon - she's used simple knotting and macrame techniques to create the complicated looking piece. She came into buy some Square Calottes to finish the ends - these are clamped on so a clasp can be fitted.

Last week we also had Little Lucy's birthday....29years!! We started back our evening classes on her birthday so as usual on a Thursday she had dinner with Stu, Harry and me then we went into class. To celebrate with Kay we all went for dinner at The Mole Inn at Toot Baldon. Our Dad grew up in The Baldons and was actually born in the house opposite The Mole so it was a lovely blast from our past!! We used to go to what was then The Crown for the best chip buttys. The Mole is very nice...not cheap but really worth the money. If you want somewhere special for the evening I'd highly recommend it although booking can be a bit of a hassle!!!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Lampworking, New Kits and Yummy Cake!!

Having fun!!!!

Last Wednesday Dawn, another lampwork artist, came over to the shop to have a play on the torches with Me and Kay...Lucy joined us later. We had a lovely day passing tips to each other, showing each other demonstrations and colour ways we liked. Dawn taught us how to make a hollow bead......great fun....we showed Dawn how to make a gravity bead and a solid fish. Dawn currently sells her work on ebay and from her website

Yummy carrot cake
Kay made a lovely carrot cake for us to eat.....she cut the hugest slices!!

Kay & Dawn on the torch

Kay has also been busyputting together some new kits for the shop. We've got three new necklace kits and a beaded bead kit all using seedbeads, glass beads and semi precious stones. I'm really pleased with the kits - they make fabuolous presents. Those of you that have signed up to be a 'follower' of this blog will be in for a chance of winning one of the Beaded Bead kits - the winner will be drawn at the end of April.

Multi-Strand Necklace Kit

On Friday we (Kay, Lucy & I) visited a show in Towcester called Flame Off. The show was all about lampwork beading. We spent lots of money, saw a demonstration by Sarah Hornik and saw some other artists work. The show wasn't as big as we'd expected - originally we'd booked two days to go but only actually visited for one. It was a great opportunity to see products and glass colours we needed.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Tester tester 1...2...3

This is a test to see if I can send images and text via email from my
iPhone!!!! Has it worked???

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Camping on The Isle of Wight

Well, we survived the dreary weather over the Easter break while camping in The Isle of Wight. Mum bought us the break for Christmas.....she hired us Camper vans from the Isle of Wight Camper Van Holidays. Even though the weather wasn't great we did have a lovely time. Sometimes its just nice to get away and have a break. The Campers were great....completely kitted out with everything you need although a heater would of been great! We had a little hamper on arrival that included a fabulous cake, apple juice, tea, coffee, sugar and local bacon. Here's ours....Oliver - a red retro van. Lucy had one called Primrose - a primrose yellow retro camper. We spent the four days cooking local produce on the BBQ - Lobster, Crad cakes, Sausages, Lamb Burgers, Ribs....yes...a meat over load!!!


We did go out and about but opted to do this on foot as the vans weren't the easiest things to drive. We had a really nice walk to Bembridge that took us past the Bembridge Windmill, where Harry made a friend and then picked up some free range eggs from a local farm.

Harry & a new friend

Bembridge has got some beautiful little shops, antiques, delis, bakery, grocers, fish mongers, butchers.....we did a bit of shopping (window & food) then Lucy and I went to explore an antiques fair while the boys went to the pub.

Yummy cakes!!

Although we had a lovely time I am pleased to be home - Harry and Stuart are too. You appreciate the luxuries of your home when you've been 'roughing it'!!

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Urban Fox

Look what a beautiful site I had from my back window on the middle of Cowley Oxford!!! An urban fox!!! Isn't she beautiful - I'm not completely sure she's a she but that what I seem to be labeling her. She was laying in the sun amongst the ivy at the end of our flat roof. I read that they sun themselves sometimes in the day then have there dens with their cubs under places such as sheds in town gardens. I must say that Harry keeps wanting to go outside and smell around much more since I saw her.

This week I made this bracelet for a commission. The bangle is sterling silver and the leaf is made using PMC paste. We teach people how to make these leaves on our Intro to PMC workshop.

Tomorrow we're all (Me, Stu - Boyf, Harry, Lucy - Sister & Pete - Sister's boyf) off to The Isle of Wight for our holiday that Mum gave us for Xmas. We're going over in our cars then picking up VW Campers when we get there!!!! Really looking forward to it.

Have a lovely Easter to all.XX

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Easters on the Way.... first big news today is that I've now finished my evening classes for Easter. As much as I love it I do look forward to a break. My last night was Thursday - we had a couple of bags of Mini Eggs to celebrate!!! I've taken a photo of the workshop we work in. We're very lucky to have such a good space to work in and so many tools available - Stakes, hammers of all kinds, etching, fly press, rolling mills and more..

Friday afternoon I ran a childrens birthday workshop for's what they made. It was Ellies 11th birthday, she had four of her friends, her little brother and mum and dad join in. Everyone had a great time and as you can see really made some wonderful necklaces and bag/phone charms.

Yesterday we had a Hen party in!!! It went really well....haven't got any pictures...we were too busy!!!! They made some beautiful pieces. One of the girls made a bracelet with five rows of all different pearls that all sat at different lengths - it worked really well. She crimped all ends onto one jump ring at either side and used a caribiner to fasten.

Harry's foot is getting better. We took him to the vets and he was very good. We've been given some capsules that help with allergies...look very similar to cod liver oil and a cream to put on his paw. The trouble is he licks the stuff of so we've resorted to selotaping a sock to his foot for now!!!!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Oxfordshire Adult Learning

Tuesday - Thursday evenings I teach for Oxfordshire Adult Learning. I teach Tuesday in Thame, Wednesday in Eynsham and Thursday at Oxford & Cherwell College. I really enjoy it and always have a fabulous class to work with. All the classes are mixed ability so I have some complete beginners to more advanced learners.....some of which have been with me for 4 years!! We have three terms a year that run the same time as school term and for 10 weeks. It always amazes me how much can be made on a 10 week/ 20 hour course.

This term we explored the idea of lost wax casting. Sarah Pulvertaft another adult learning tutor uses this technique and came over to my shop last year to participate in a casting evening with me for our classes. We found out details of casters, materials and tools we needed and had a go. (I didn't unfortunately because I didn't have the time - but I will at some point!!!)

There were all sorts of things made....rings, pendants, lizards, beads, doves and more. Here's some of them in there unfinished state.

There's all sorts of other techniques being used too such as fusing - this bracelets been made using the fusing technique. Fusing is when you take your scrap of new pieces of metal, place it together and heat it until it begins to melt. This then joins the metal toghther without the need for soldering.

These bracelets have been made using the etching technique. Etching is when you use a dilute nitric acid solution to eat away the surface of silver. To create the pattern on these bracelets Sarah used stickers, then coated the whole piece in nail varnish, let it dry then removed the stickers. The nail varnish acts as a stop out and prevents the acid from eating away the metal in those specific areas - very effective.

These bracelets have been made using the etching technique. Etching is when you use a dilute nitric acid solution to eat away the surface of silver. To create the pattern on these bracelets Sarah used stickers, then coated the whole piece in nail varnish, let it dry then removed the stickers. The nail varnish acts as a stop out and prevents the acid from eating away the metal in those specific areas - very effective.