Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Wrapping Up 2012

I know...I know...I am the worst at keeping this blog up to date!! We have had LOADS happening here...christmas fairs, commissions, new workshops, new customers, new products, new outside workshops...its been very exciting and very busy!! I have my last weekend of workshops this weekend finishing with Making a Silver Ring on Sunday then one week until our Christmas closedown.

New Bead & Button Christmas Wreath

This was our new Christmas workshop this year, a Bead & Button Wreath. I've been so happy with it and everyone that's joined us has enjoyed the two hours and been pleased with what they've made. I know that a few people around the country will be receiving them as gifts for Christmas...a lovely thought. As I do every year I've been making lots of finger print jewellery pieces using Precious Metal Clay...I think I'm on number 12!

So does anybody else have holiday projects? I need to get my Christmas projects sorted out. I think I'm going to make a Kumihimo Beaded bracelet, a Crown Jewel pendant from the Laura McCabe Swarovski book, finish off Harry's crochet blanket, finish off my crochet scarf...I think that should all keep me busy between eating and drinking all the lovely things I'll be surrounded by!!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Back to my weekly classes...

Yesterday we started teaching our weekly classes. I run five throughout the week all that run for five weeks. Each term we have some wonderful pieces made with lots of exciting experimenting happening too. Today we've been playing with a wire twister tool...a Beadalon Product. It's really affective and easy to use. I think I'll add some to our next Beadalon order.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

A Day of Colour

Today we had a fantastic day with Lisa Whiteside from House of Colour. My Mum, sisters and I set off to arrive in Witney for 9.30. We spent the day looking at our colours, what does and doesn't suit us, what seasonal colour spectrum we fit into, which colours within these suit us best and the shades of make up we should be wearing to complement our colours and complexion. The day was fantastic, very informative and lots of fun. Lisa was great and provided us refreshments throughout the day and a lovely lunch. I would highly recommend the session. If you'd like a taster we still have a few spaces left on our Night of Colour event tomorrow. Call us on 01865 774298 to find out more.
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Thursday, 12 July 2012

Monday, 2 July 2012


Have you finished my blanket yet?

Saturday, 9 June 2012


My poppies are back in my garden...they are so beautiful.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Lampworking Play Days

After a fabulous Diamond Jubilee weekend I was lucky enough to finish my holiday with a visit to my sister's new lampwork studio shed. It's fantastic!! We had such a good day taking it in turns on the torch and talking lamp work, glass, colours and a bit of crochet always sneaks in! We played with our new cabochon mandrels, I learnt how to make a cupcake, use bicarbonate of soda to create bubbles and how to make a pretty little flower detail.

A week ago I bought and downloaded a pdf on Making glass Cabochons from Mango Beads so Kay and I have both been using the techniques suggested. This shows me melting in glass dots on a cabochon...I really enjoyed making this and can't wait to have another go. We have both actually booked to spend the day at Mango Beads in September...I'm sure the day will be very interesting and I'll have lots more to show you. For now its practice, practice, practice!! 
You can see the finished piece below with the rest of the beads we made throughout the day...more images can be seen on our Facebook page.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Summer time!

Fingers crossed for the weekend!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Catching up...

Once again I have got behind with keeping this little blog of mine up to date. I must say with everything that's going on its pretty difficult. I have however been taking photo's of everything and have a few more tips and tricks for you to make your jewellery making that little bit easier. Here's my first tip...

When you first start working with wire or if your using a heavy wire that's quite soft then you can be prone to dent it or mark it with your metal pliers. What you can do to prevent this as much as you can is to wrap a little bit of masking tape around the nose of the pliers to create a little padding without compromising on grip. I have some nylon jaw pliers but find this much more affective.

A Beautiful Morning Walk

Our morning walk at the allotments in Wheatley Oxford.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Annie Smith Jewellery Studio

A lovely gallery I found on my recent Easter trip to Edinburgh...I love the imagery on the windows and inside was a pretty range of jewellery from various designers.

Pretty Pieces

Precious Metal Clay Beads

I made these fine silver beads, along with many others, over the past  couple of years. Each time I teach I always demonstrate the technique so ultimately I have collected a large and diverse range of components. I rarely have the time to make them into pieces of jewellery so end up with lots of pretty pieces waiting for a home. I have just opened an account with Folksy so watch this space for outlets you can buy from.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Happy Sunny Friday!

What a beautiful day today...looking forward to our walk this morning then a practical day in the workshop...handmade findings are on the menu.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Tube Settings

This week we've been making tube settings. We've used 5mm cubic zirconia's because they are very hard for a first setting and minimises the chance of breaking the stone. The tubing is 6mm outer diameter and 4.6mm inner diameter with a 0.7mm wall. Susan set this setting onto a ring shank. We then used a 5mm ball burr and the pendant motor to burr down into the tubing, polished and set the stone using the rub over technique...a voila!! 

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Spring is here!!

Yay...spring seems to be here!! Harry and I have been having such lovely walks the last few mornings. The Cherry Blossom trees are beautiful.

Location:Wilkins Rd,Oxford,United Kingdom

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Tiara Workshop

Next Saturday we have a Tiara making workshop. It's always been a successful workshop for everybody that's attended. Brides to be take up most of the seats but some people just come along because they want to make a tiara. One session a tiara was made purely for ironing...to make it more interesting!! I made this tiara a few years ago and loved every minute of it. I have since based our Decorative Wire Cuff workshop on the techniques used. If your keen to find out more visit our website or Facebook page.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Tip of the Week

Hands up if you've ever put your cabochon into its bezel setting then struggled to get it back out. I know quite a few of you that have. Well...there's a couple of ways to deal with this problem:
  • Make sure you put a hole in the back before you put the stone in...then you can push it out. You can then fill the hole with solder before you finish and set the stone or cover it with other components of your piece.
  • Use dental flos! Place it into the setting before you put the stone in then you can just pull the stone straight back out...what a clever idea.

Kath using dental flos with her beautiful agate stone

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A little update...

 This weekend I taught a Beads and Wire Improvers class. Within the session I taught how to use heavier weights of wire to create jump rings, bars and clasps. We also used the Spiralling Gizmo to create our own wire beads. The Spiralling Gizmo is going to be our featured product of the month in April so you can come into the shop, see how it is used and what you can make with it. I love the name!

Silver Plated & Enamel Coated Wire with Glass Beads

Yesterday I travelled to Wotton Under Edge to demonstrate how to work with PMC to a craft group. The drive was pretty long but beautiful through the cotswolds...although the weather was misty and foggy so I couldn't actually see much! The demonstration went well and the ladies all enjoyed themselves. They asked lots of questions and were very enthusiastic so it was well worth the drive.

This week I have been working on a new Newsletter that will be sent out monthly to my mailing list. I very excited about it. The idea is to keep customers informed and up to date on workshops, products, events and promotions. If your not already on our mailing list you can sign up at www.amysurman.com.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Beautiful Tulips

Look at my beautiful tulips...gorgeous!!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Creative Copper Clay

Creative Copper Clay

I have just had such a good day working with and teaching Copper Clay to five people. I feel it was really the first time I have got to grips with and appreciated the difference between Precious Metal Clay and Copper Clay. I am very happy the the processes and techniques we used today but the only thing I would change are my timings. We had a very rushed finish again...I need to be more stern about getting pieces into the kiln on time. Copper clay needs more finishing time than PMC. After it comes out of the kiln take at least 2 hours - therefore everything needs to be firing by 2.30. Anyhow...that's my issue not yours!
So, as promised, here's my tips and tricks for firing Copper Clay:

  • Make sure your pieces are completely dry before firing. This make take up to three times longer than PMC. Its difficult to tell you how long because it depends on the size of piece your working on.
  • If torch firing use a fine flame torch. This torch has a bigger more powerful flame than a micro or kitchen torch.
  • Heat until your piece glows a soft orange glow than begin timing for 7 minutes.
  • If Kiln firing preheat your kiln to 920c, place your pieces in the kiln in a kiln blanket and fire for 30 mins.
  • Once fired place immediately into Picklean (pickle solution) this will begin removing the fire scale. Leave to pickle for 10 mins.
  • Remove from Picklean and brush with a brass brush.
  • Barrel in Picklean for 30 mins, change the solution and repeat.
  • Finally barrel polish in barrel bright then finish with an agate burnisher.
I told you the finishing off process was pretty long...well worth the effort though!! Have a look at our Facebook page to see todays results. We could have achieved a much better finish with an extra hour but that's always the way with workshops.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Going through the change...

You will see over the next couple of weeks a few changes happening here on my blog. Background, text colour, positioning etc...bear with me...I'll find what I like eventually and stick to it...Promise!!

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

How many workshops!?!?!?

This weekend was very busy with workshops...as most weekends. We had Beads & Wire, a Children's Party making Charm Bracelets, Decorative Wire Cuff, Private Tuition - Making a Silver Ring and then a 40th Birthday Workshop with Beads & Wire. I can't believe myself that I managed to fit it all into two days!! I've received some really nice emails since saying how much the people taking part enjoyed themselves...always lovely to receive. To see all the images from the weekend follow the link to our Facebook Page.

Introduction to Beads & Wire

Children's Birthday Workshop - Charm Bracelets, 2 Hours

Private Tuition - Making a Silver Ring, 2 Hours

I have however since the weekend caught a bug that has made me have to take 2 days off of work...apparently there's a lot going around! I'm sure I'll be back to full health soon. Hope your all well. x

Thursday, 23 February 2012

How do you store yours?

I think storing jewellery is really difficult. You don't want to have it tucked away because then you forget what you've got. You don't want it all out getting in the way and maybe damaged. This is how I store my necklaces...on a mannequin. I love how it's become a focal point in my bedroom because of all the colour and obviously the sparkle!!
How do you store yours?

Monday, 20 February 2012

What did I learn?

The answer to that is a lot! I didn't set many stones in the end but I learnt so much from Penny our great tutor for the weekend. I also made all the tools I need to continue practicing at home...and that is exactly what I need...practice. It definitely is a well practiced skill. I feel that I have the knowledge now to develop the skill of flush settings and tension settings. On Sunday we were also introduced to bar settings...I'm looking forward to having a go at making one. I need to download my photos then I will post some and put the rest up on our Facebook page.
So today Mum and I went to The Craft Hobby and Stitch show. We found some new suppliers, some exciting products and also participated in two workshops. The workshops we did were on how to use polymer clay. The first one showed us how to make Mokume Gane using layers of coloured clay and then how to use a bead roller to make beads that we then covered with the patterned layers. It was a great technique that I could see I would use again. The second was how to use the clay to make a rose...I really enjoyed this workshop and could see the potential for using the technique in a new workshop. I'm thinking maybe using the clay to make focal flower beads then baking and using them in a necklace....got to give it some more thought but it sounds exciting! Looking forward to getting into my own bed tonight and after all the fabulous food I consumed while at West Dean looking forward to getting back to the gym!!!

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Location:Back Home...well nearly!!

Flush Settings

So...the square flush setting didn't go so well yesterday!! I spent most of the day doing it then had to cut it out because I broke the stone then the new stone stone wouldn't set...nevermind...I felt I learnt an awful lot from doing it and that's what this weekend is all about. I have though got to grips with round flush settings. Today I'm going to begin by doing a tension setting then we're looking at channel settings...not sure if I'm going to make one or not depends on if I feel I would use it...whatever I decide it will be good to see how it's done. The food here has been amazing...I have tried to limit what I eat though because you could really over do it!! Well... I'd better get myself started. Full report and pictures after I finish today.

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Location:West Dean College

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Stones are being set!!!!

I've set a few round stones so far....now I'm trying a square one...wish me luck!!

West Dean College

I am about to start my day of stone setting....very excited!! More pictures of my success or failure later!!

Friday, 17 February 2012

West Dean College

I am currently sat in a very grand room at West Dean College called the Oak Room. I have a huge fire blazing in front of me and I'm sat in a very old but comfy chair. As I have mentioned before I am here to do a course in stone setting...Non Traditional Stone Setting for Jewellers to be precise. The drive here from Oxford was pretty easy although, following google maps, I think I was taken around the houses a little...never mind I got here safe and sound that's the main thing. The grounds and buildings are amazing and I am lead to believe that is has been designated an area of outstanding beauty...I can quite believe it....I'll take some piccies for you tomorrow. My room is basic but clean and comfortable and there are the most intriguing objects everywhere you walk around the house. Tonight we get in introduction to our course, meet our tutor and have dinner. We are due to meet in the bar at 6.45 so I'd better head off. I'm sure I'll have lots more to tell you tomorrow...
...Bye for now.x

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Location:West Dean

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Sparkly Rings!!

On Saturday night Kay, Lucy and I tested out some new ring kits by Swarovski. They include some epoxy clay that you mould around or into a base then push chatons in to create a fabulous sparkly piece of jewellery. They were very easy to make and as you can see very effective...we loved them!! We will be getting them into stock very soon.

Lucy...working hard!

What are you making????

Monday, 13 February 2012

Happy Valentines Day!!

This year is flying by at an incredible rate already!! So much has been going on with all areas of the shop, workshops, new products, new members of staff and my own development. This week we are interviewing for a new member of staff - the position is for 20 hours and to help with keeping the shop running smoothly, setting up workshops, display and I'm sure much more. I'm very excited about somebody new joining the team and giving me more time to grow the business and set up new areas.

Copper Clay Workshop

At the end of January we had our first Creative Metal Clays workshop. I was very pleased with how the session went and everybody made some fantastic pieces. As the product is still very new, there is still a lot to be discovered and explored with it. I am continually making new samples and trying out new ideas. So far I have found that the fire scale (black oxidising on the surface) is proving difficult to remove and means that the finishing off after firing is taking much longer than the time it takes working with precious metal clay. There are ways of minimising the fire scale - I will be writing a post on Copper Clay, my experiments and what I've discovered.

Steam Punk

We have some Steam Punk parts in the shop which seem to be creating quite a stir with our customers. This is a pendant made during some private tuition. We used one of the more ornate watch parts and created a sterling silver setting which set but didn't detract from the watch. I think it worked really well and made a very interesting pendant.

Valerie's West Dean Explorations

These pieces were made by Valerie who visited West Dean College to participate in their Anti Clastic Raising course. Specific tools and hammers were used to create these wonderful pieces. AntiClastic means that you have a curve running in two directions. It seems to be a very popular technique at the moment. Last week I visited The Spring Fair trade show in Birmingham and some of the tool stands had a new product they were demonstrating that enabled you to make these fabulous curves...obviously I can't refuse a new gadget so watch this space. I'm going off to West Dean this week to learn Non-Traditonal Stone Setting for Jewellers...can't wait to get started with a new technique. I do a little stone setting but have never had any training so am very much looking forward to see how others do it. I have realised that I haven't actually been in any type silversmithing/metal work training since I graduated in 2001!!

Too catch up with all that's been happening visit our Facebook page for new stock and workshop images.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Valentines is approaching...

We have an inspiring display of ideas and beads for Valentines Day. Come in and treat yourself or send in your Valentine and we'll point them in the right direction.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Manic Thursday

What a day today...it has been non stop all day with workshops and private tuition. This is the first time I've been able to relax all day apart from this morning at 6.10am when I woke to prepare myself for the day!! I'm currently looking for a new member of staff to help me out with everything that's happening...it's all very exciting. Yesterday I sent out an advert for a part-time member of staff and within 2 hours I had 10 responses...looking promising!! Today Charlie, who's helping out at the moment, created a great Valentines display on our mantel piece. It's exploding with red, pink, sparkly beads and lots of ideas for the romantic day. Tomorrow she'll be working on a Steampunk display. We have some great packs of Steampunk parts, here's a little peek...

Tomorrow I have some private tuition using Precious Metal Clay then this weekend I'll be passing on my knowledge of Beads and Stringing and Copper Clay. I've been playing with some copper clay this week...seeing what processes can be applied to it once fired. I'll report back after the weekend if I don't find the time before.
Bye for now.

Location:Amy Surman - The Oxford Bead Shop

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

What a lovely weekend

We had a lovely weekend in the shop. I ran two workshops...Saturday I did Intro to Beads and Wire and Sunday I did Beaded Daisy Pendants. Both workshops produced some lovely pieces. Here's the Daisy Pendants that we're made and an experiment that one of the girls did where she beaded a rivoli, added some loops ready to combine with some chainmaille she's been exploring. I made a beaded daisy that I'm going to make into a hair slide for my lovely niece lily...she's one at the end of the month - doesn't time fly!

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Location:Amy Surman - The Oxford Bead Shop

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Silversmithing for Improvers...Thursday night.

Everybody hard at work making silver jewellery and Harry chilling on my completed crochet blanket.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Happy New Year!!

Hello in 2012...New Year and Christmas seem a long time ago now but I did had a fun and relaxing Festive break. I have returned to The Oxford Bead Shop feeling ready for a great year ahead. We have lots of new exciting events this year such as The Oxford Summer School, Birmingham School of Jewellery, Wilderness Festival, Denman College and not to mention all the new workshops happening at the shop. I am very excited and would like to thank everybody for their support.

2011 finished with lots of commissions, workshops and new stock. Its lovely to think that Amy Surman presents are being handed out around the world!! We had some very successful workshops last year - the results can be viewed on our Facebook Page but here's a few to tempt you.

Decorative Wire Cuff

Chain Making

Introduction to Lampwork Beads

As you can see Harry's still as handsome as ever...he's going to be five next month!! I can't believe how time flys by so quickly. He was soooooo happy to get back to work this morning...he was even scratching as the door to get in and greeted a lot more people than usual today. It is great to be back to work, seeing all my customers, students and being surrounded by sparkly things all day!!

As I've said I'm very much looking forward to 2012 and would like to wish everybody else a happy and exciting 2012.