Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Last workshops for 2010.

Last weekend I had my final workshops for 2010. Saturday I had a very small class of two learning Beads & Stringing. The class size was very small compared to what we're used to but I took the opportunity to make myself a new bracelet.

Katie's Feather Necklace - Carnelian, Goldstone and Mother of Pearl

We went out with a bang and had 8 people learning how to work with Precious Metal Clay on Sunday.

It was a very busy day as you can imagine. Everybody made a wonderful collection of pieces. All of which can be seen on our Facebook page. This week I'm hard at work completing all the commissions that have come in. I'm hoping the snow stays away for the weekend so shopping isn't affected but its not looking good! I still need to get some presents too.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Christmas is Coming!!

Wow, I feel that my little size 3's have not touched the ground. With Christmas fast approaching we have definitely got into the spirit and have been encouraging others by offering our Christmas decoration workshops. Lucy and I also visited the German Market which is running at The Oxford Castle site. We went a couple of Fridays ago when it opened and when the Oxford lights were turned on. There was a lot happening all over the city centre. I think the lights this year look great...

With the chandelier theme they remind me of Oxford Street in London when the lights were based on the film Enchanted.
Our Christmas workshops have been received very well again this year. We have delivered Christmas decorations with Beads & Wire and Beaded Christmas Baubles. All of our workshops were full and everybody very pleased with what they made. All the baubles look great together.

Last weekend we had an Introduction to Beads & Wire - again a great day. Mum did this workshop because she wanted to finish off a necklace she designed in my Introduction to Precious Metal Clay Workshop. This is what she made...

She had already made the butterfly in the PMC workshop then wanted to add chain and beads to create the tails. She's used swarovski crystals with cultured pearls and a small belcher chain along with some wiring techniques then for the string around the neck a stringing technique with crimps and a hoop and bar clasp. She's very proud of her work!
We have also been working on projects to go into two magazines Fine Silver and Creative Beads and Jewellery. For the Fine Silver magazine I have made a pair of cufflinks out of PMC which I have enamelled with cobalt blue and turquoise - they have been sent off to the photographer so I'll show you when they return. The second project is a beading project based on our Beaded Daisy. We use rivolis, delicas, size 15's and dagger beads to create these pretty pendants. I'v been wanting to start providing projects for some of the jewellery making magazines so this is great start for me.

We've been quite lucky here in Oxford not to get too much snow...so far!! Its still very cold though- even Harry's feeling chilly so we've been putting him in his little jumper.

Friday, 19 November 2010

I Love Teaching

I've had a really lovely day today teaching the first day on a Precious Metal Clay Certification Module 3 Workshop. Today we made a syringe pedant and a section of chain - tomorrow we'll make a semi-precious stone set ring and a pendant combining the use of a photopolymer plate (that we'll make) and Keum boo. Keum boo is a Korean technique where you apply gold foil to the surface of fine silver, it looks beautiful. I shall tell you all about it once we've finished on Sunday.

Everybody working hard - look at my snowflakes in the window!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Monday, 15 November 2010

Weekend Workshops

What a busy weekend. Saturday I went over to Banbury to teach an adult learning class Beads & Wire. I had ten beginners in the class - the day went really well and everybody achieved some great pieces of jewellery. The 10-3pm session covered using memory wire, using headpins, making headpins, creating loops, spiral headpins, how to use different findings to finish, how to use cord and chain within your designs. A jam packed session!!

When I returned back to the shop Kay, Mum and Fiona had completely decorated for christmas. Kay got a bit carried away with the tinsel!! It looks great..snowflakes, tinsel, button wreaths and icicle lights. Sunday we had a Chain Making workshop. I had 6 people on the workshop and we were using the new studio. The space worked really well and was comfortable to work in. The chains that were made looked amazing. Everybody designed their own piece using sterling silver wire and traditional silversmithing techniques and tools.

Becky had her last week working for us too. She bought me these beautiful flowers - they smell amazing. When I was putting them into a vase I found a hazelnut hidden in them. I looked up the meaning on good old google and it said that the hazelnut tree can help with creativity - Perfect. I made my little hazelnut into a pendant ready to call on should I have a creative block!!

For more images from all our workshops visit our Facebook Page.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

A Bead called Harry

I've been playing in the studio this week exploring glass colour combinations and making doggy beads. This is my handsome Schnauzer Harry...

...and this is my Harry bead!! I've also made a paw print charm out of PMC to hang with my bead and engraved his name on the back. Its always best to write into PMC when its dry - write into it very lightly and build up the depth so you avoid taking a chunk out of the clay.

I've also made a Gladys bead and body - Gladys is my sister Kay's Pug dog. I can't put up the image though what with Christmas around the corner!!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Catching Up

Well things here at The Oxford Bead Shop have really moved on. We now have a Lampwork Studio...Yay!! I am sssoooo pleased with it. Here it is...

So, as you can see we have lampworking benches on one side and silversmithing benches on the other. The lampworking stations are set up to accomodate 3 people and the silversmithing 4. I can't wait to start tecahing in there. My first lampworking class in on January 22nd and its already full..my second is on 6th March and that's full too!!! I'm going to look at the diary today and try and fix a date in February. We launched the Studio at our workshop taster evening on Friday 29th October. The night went fantastically well, we had about 50-60 people attend and we raised £56.00 for Breast Cancer Research. Lucy and I were demonstrating how to make Lampwork beads, I also did a Button Necklace and PMC Demo, Fiona ran a beads and wire workshop to make a bookmark, Becky did a beads and knotting workshop to make a bracelet and Bella did a textured silver pendant. Mum was demonstrating and answering questions on our beads and stitching workshops, Kay was holding fort on the till and Mary was making sure everybody had a drink. We were all very busy - I'm not sure what the neighbourhood thought was happening...as the night went on the windows became fogged up and we were full to the brim!!

Pete (Lucy's Boyf) was called upon to take photos for the night - he did fabulously well. All our photos can be seen on our Facebook page. We also launched our 2011 workshop programme that can be viewed on our website.
With Christmas just around the corner we have been preparing some new kits that are perfect little stocking fillers. This week we made a Memory Wire Bracelet Kit and a Charm Bracelet Kit - I'm really pleased with them. We have a few Craft Fairs coming up before Christmas so I thought these would work nicely. Our Bauble kits are flying of the shelves - they are so pretty and easy to make.

We have the first of our Christmas workshops today - Christmas Decorations with beads and wire. I'm feeling very Christmassy - is that wrong??

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

PMC and Fine Silver Wire

Doesn't time Fly...

Since my last blog the studio has come on beautifully. The decorating is complete, the silversmithing benches are in and the electrician will be here next week to put all the lights and sockets in. I have a working kitchen, a secure and working fire door - we're nearly there!! Time is flying by. We're already getting ourselves stocked for Christmas - early I know but our christmas shoppers will start earlier. I've been doing some really interesting experiments with PMC over the last week. Firing it at a much higher temperature 899 c and for longer at 2 hours - this is a firing taken from the book Sculptural Metal Clay by Kate McKinnon. Everything came out of the firing a combination of white and silver and very hard. This temperature takes the PMC to almost fusing temperature and means the silver becomes hard enough to hammer and work as you can sterling silver - it was rather amazing!! I'll up load an image I've taken on my iphone...

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Kay's Beautiful Pug Gladys

I had to post this image...I think its beautiful.
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Monday, 6 September 2010

Weekend Workshops

We're still decorating here but having to fill in around our workshops. It's nice getting back to normal although I have a lot of boxes that need to find a home!!
I've got a few weeks left until I start my Adult Learning teaching again but this year I have reduce my hours from three to two evenings a week. Hopefully when the new studio is finished I can begin teaching my own programme of evening classes and go back up to three evenings - that's the plan. Anyway, due to starting soon I have been trying to make use of my evenings off and have been doing some small projects. This is one of them. I love green so decided to use one of my PMC beads with a selection of crystal, fire-polished, glass, and pearl beads to create this 26 inch (ish) necklace. This type of design is great to wear with a plan t-shirt.

Precious Metal Clay Bead and Textured Crystal/Glass Chain

This weekend I delivered two big workshops. Saturday we did an Introduction to Precious Metal Clay - we had six people on the workshop. The group were wonderful a great buzz of enthusiasm and inspiration. There were some fabulous pieces made during the session. For more images visit our Facebook page.

Precious Metal Clay Pendant using one of our New Mats we sell in store for £4.00 and lump PMC

A Silver Leaf made using PMC Paste

Sunday we had an Introduction to Beads & Stringing. I have taught this workshop lots of times and have never seen the same necklace made twice. Its great to see how everybody uses colour and how they bring their own personalities and preferences into their designs. Again a great day with great people.

A Beaded Lariat - 45 inch with no clasp

For more images visit our Facebook page.

Friday, 3 September 2010


Well, I think that promising to blog daily was a lot to ask of myself considering we were working 12-14 hour days on the new studio. The bank holiday weekend work went really well, we got everything done we were hoping to. We now have a fire door, new walls, new kitchen (not up and running but installed), a new floor, and a completely white room. It's amazing the amount of work involved in creating a good blank canvas to work in. The amount of rubbish we have removed has filled two skips!!

Day One: After the kitchen wall had been removed - a very dirty, noisy and hard job. Kay was frightening with the sledge hammer!!

Day One: Room completely cleared, batons fixed to the wall ready for the foil backed plaster board. Me treating the walls for damp. (Got to remove all the ivy that has built up on the outside at some point)

Day Two: Plaster board up, polyfiller in holes.

Day Three: Floor down

Day Three: Kitchen started to being installed, decorating started.

Throughout the whole time Harry looking in on us!!

Day Four: Kitchen Installed, Door finished.

While the three of us were working (Kay, Jon and I) my little sister Lucy was away on holiday. Lucy got back on Monday and since then we have continued with the decorating. Got a little more to do but we're almost finished. I've had to try and get things in the shop back to normal this week so have been teaching workshops, private tuition and organising the shop. Today I have an Introduction to Precious Metal Clay to teach. Lucy is going to finish the painting then she has a childrens workshop to teach. Another busy day for us all!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

New Workshop - Stage Two

Well, thanks to Mr McAllister (my neighbour and builder) we now have a hole in the wall ready to take a fire door...there's no going back now!! (not that I want to). Yesterday was a bit noisy and quite dusty but the hole is there ready for the carpenter who is coming to do his bit this afternoon. Kay and Gladys are on their way here ready to take down a wall and remove the old (quite awful) kitchen. I'm getting very excited now! I'll update with pictures later...

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The transformation begins...

I've talking about it for ages and been wanting to do it for even longer but the time is here and the transformation of my stockroom into a Lampworking and Silversmithing workshop has begun!! We're at the very early stages but its all going to happen very quickly. Today and the past few weeks (on and off) Kay and I have been sorting, throwing out and clearing the stock/junk room. Here's how it looks now...

Workshop Stage One

Stuff to sort out

Its actually a little more cleared than the photo shows. I am too ashamed to show how it looked before the clear out began!! But here's some of the stuff that was in it. I have thrown away a skip load of old bits and bobs...I knew I was a hoarder but didn't realise quite how bad!! I have been taking the Kay attitude 'Just get rid of it!'.

So the plan is..
Wednesday - Hole for fire door by Mr McAllister
Thursday - Interior stud wall half taken out - Fire Door in by Carpenter
Friday - Plaster board up
Saturday - Painting / Floor
Sunday - New Kitchen
Monday - Painting

The team is: Kay (my sister), Jon (Kay's Boyf), and Me. Julie (Mum) will be looking after the shop.

Its going to look great!!

I'll shall be keeping a daily blog to keep you up to date so keep in touch

Friday, 20 August 2010

A Teaching Marathon...

I am pleased to say that I have just finished a teaching marathon. From last Friday until Thursday I have taught a full day, everyday and each day was a new experience. Friday I began by starting a Precious Metal Clay Certification course - Module One Naturals. I had six ladies in the group and we covered 7 projects designed to teach how to make a textured pendant, simple stone setting, combine PMC with glass, making a ring, use organic materials, make a clasp, a dry construction piece and the use of wood clay. It was a lot to fit in over the three days but everybody managed to finish their projects and pass the course. I also had my first full graduate who has completed and passed all three modules!! For more images visit our Facebook page.

After finishing the certification module on Sunday I then started teaching on Monday a four day Summer School Jewellery course for 10-14 year olds at D'overbroecks Leckford Place. We had 10 girls in the group. I spent the first two days on my own then Lucy joined me for day three and four. This is something completely new to me. I am familiar with and trained to teach post 16 education so teaching 10-14 year olds was quite a challenge. A challenge that I feel I rose to and was very happy with the results. It was very interesting for me to see the difference in teaching a different age group, how they interact with each other and me and how they take on the projects set. We covered an awful lot throughout the four days such as Beads & Wire, Beads & Stringing, Beads & Knotting, Polymer Clay and PMC. On the final day we had an exhibition of their work and a mini fashion show for all parents, family and staff to enjoy. For more images visit our Facebook page.

A collection of work

Polymer Clay Beads

Polymer Clay Pendants

I've been completely inspired by Polymer Clay (Fimo) and we are now stocking a wide variety of colours and finishes in The Oxford Bead Shop. I'm going to have lots of fun playing and designing some new workshops for 2011!!

Fimo Soft and Fimo Effect

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Tuesday 3rd August
Although this blog is being posted today I'm actually writing it on Tuesday 3rd August half way through my holiday on the Isle of Wight. Stuart, Harry and I have come to the Isle of Wight for a week and are staying in Stuart's Mum's caravan on a campsite in Brighstone right near the beach. Every other year we have a Harry holiday so that's why we're not laid on a beach in an exotic location!!

Harry loving the sanding beach

So far the sun has been shining and we're spending our days wandering around the beautiful villages and towns, ending up in a pub for lunch, more wandering then coming back to the campsite for a BBQ and drinks.

A fabulous field of seeds - I loved the texture

Before we came away I bought a Doggy Trailer from Ebay so we could do some cycling while on the Island and still take Harry with us. Sunday we cycled along one of the longer routes from Newport to Sandown...it said the route was 9 miles - it felt more like 12!!! Pulling Harry in the trailer was a lot of extra weight and by the time we reached Sandown my hip was very painful....hasn't been the same since!!

Yesterday we had a lovely day in Ventnor and visited the Isle of Wight Glass. It was fascinating watching them work with glass. This is a picture of one of the guys making canes or what I would know as stringers - thin pieces of glass used for decorating. There was also another guy making a vase using the canes, millefiori and gold foil.

Heating the glass in the furnace

Walking with molten glass to create the cane

I also managed to visit a bead shop in Ventnor - Purple Moon Beads. The shop was quite small and had a nice selection of czech beads, plated and precious metal findings, tools, cord, books and examples of projects. What inspired me though was the aluminium links and rubber o-rings used for chain mail. I have recently bought a book called Link It by Susan C. Thomas so was very excited to see I could buy all the materials I needed. I will definitely be getting all the materials into The Oxford Bead Shop and through the use of my iPhone have already sourced a supplier!! As the hip is still playing up we are going to have a rest day and chill out around the campsite...I'm going to pop back to the bead shop, buy some more materials and make some samples from the link it book. I'm also going to get my shopping list together for the rubber o-rings and aluminium links.

This is what I made the Up and Down Motif Bracelet project from the Link It book. I found the project very easy to do and think that this technique would make a great workshop.

Wednesday 4th August - Freshwater

A beautiful mosaic tucked away in a bus stop - it was a set of three

Thursday 5th August - Morning
Coming to the end of the holiday now - looking forward to getting home and getting on with all the things I want to do this summer. Going today to have my holiday cream tea then we have our ferry to catch at 2pm.

Thursday 5th August -Afternoon
For our cream tea we went to Chessell Pottery Barns Decorate your own Pottery Home of the Ultimate Island Cream Tea. It was such a wonderful place. When you walked in their were the biggest scones I'd ever seen in all different types, HUGH slices of cake and lots of Emma Bridgewater and other fabulous pottery.

It looked like the pottery studio and tea room was once barns that had now been converted. The space was really big and perfect for that type of business. I would love to have a space like that. I could have various workshops happening at the same time, a beautiful tea room for people to meet for tea and coffee and cake or maybe lunch then a large bead shop with all the other jewellery making products we sell too. It's good to dream.....

Had to photograph this lorry - not often you see ....& Daughter.