Saturday, 30 April 2011

It's those little victories ...

Here is a card I was sent for my birthday
.I think this very apt for my life!

I live in a rural location with no water supply, no drainage, no fuel supply and no car - it may sound idyllic, but it is also hard work.

one very happy passenger!
I recently decided that I had no choice but to buy (a 2nd hand) 'all terrain' pushchair. Boy, do I wish I had done it sooner! I'm sure I must be walking up the hill faster, arriving home more refreshed and therefore able to do more work!

However this got me thinking, if the buggy is paying for itself in increased output, maybe there are other things I can justify.

The size of my wirework jewellery is determined by biro, highlighter and deodorant can!  Now whilst this proves you can start out without great investment, I am beginning to think that I am ready to move on, and maybe those little victories wouldn't feel so few and far between!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Handmade Easter Monday

Handmade bank holiday Monday or is it bank holiday handmade Monday?

Have you taken a tour around the other participants of Handmade Monday yet?  I usually look at a few more each day through-out the week.  Loads of great products and ideas out there.

Last week on Ali's Craft Studio blog, I spotted her Art Nouveau inspired stain glass window, and it set me thinking.

Some time ago I came across Linda Jones' wirework design for Art Deco earrings.  I just HAD to make it.  That first pair are a firm favourite in my jewellery drawer, but a variation exists in my Polly Polkadot shop too.

I took Ali's window and re-designed it to work simply with wire.

I found a little quiet time to work on the individual wires.

I worked in 0.8mm silver plated wire, because it is easier to manipulate but long term I would like to try 1.2mm wire for a chunky pendant.

I hammered the silverplated wire on my tiny jewellery anvil.

And attached the wires to a header and footer bar.  As you can see, this is still a prototype, accuracy with lengths and angles is needed for a finished product.

I intended to make a pendant from it, but learning from my experiences in my first handmade Monday about pre-conceived ideas, here are a few others ways it could be used.
Homage to Rennie Machintosh - O.H. said it looked like homage to Red Nose Day!

Curve it to make a bracelet?

My favourite is to add the coloured and silver beads to make it into a bracelet, but what do you think?

Saturday, 23 April 2011

A Sunny Week

It has been a good week for me.  We have had most of the week together as a family.  We decided not to go away, but instead, take trips from home.

To our 4 and 2 year olds, the trips to Fairbourne beach just 6 miles away has been magical.  We camped one night, so that allowed beach, tent, campfire, picnic and ice cream to occur in the same 24 hours - the children were fit to burst!

I attended the Dolgellau Country Market on Thursday and hit my sales target - two weeks ahead of schedule (are you impressed with my business planning or my sales rate?!!).

Copyright William Metcalfe
So I was already feeling very happy, when I was invited to join some of my Country Market Collegues at the Dolgellau Farmers Market.  This is a great honour as craft places are limited.  I will be the only jewellery maker on the market.  Eleanor's Attic - oilcloth bags, who also sells through my website, Polly Polkadot, has had a stall at the Farmers Market for 7 years now, so I shall be following in good footsteps.

My first market will be on 15th watch this space.

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Hard Task Master

Oh Handmade Monday you hard task master.

As Sunday drew to a close I realised that I would have no choice but to rush down to the studio on Monday morning and finish something /anything. Did I do it?  Did I 'eck!

It has been a lovely dry week, so at all opportunities I have snuck out into the garden.  I have made myself a new potato patch, and whilst I did it all myself, I don't think I can include that in Handmade Monday.
Could that really be the studio?

On Friday my 4 year old broke up from school and came home to tell me all about the crucifixion.  This is where Jesus was crucified between two Robs, and how after 3 days he came back to life, but her guinea pig didn't and could I please show her how to make hot cross buns. (I'm not sure if she drew breath in the sentence or not!)

I had a quick look in my recipe book, but realised that hot cross buns fall into breads - which take them beyond my skill level.  So the good old Internet came to the rescue.  I put in 'bread maker hot cross bun receipe' and hey presto Delia herself appeared before me.
Our Hot Cross Buns - Honest!

Although it did turn into be a five hour event, I can recommend the recipe and the Mother-Daughter bonding time.

As to Handmade Monday I think you better check out all the other participants!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Dolgellau Country Market

In 'a positive start to the week', I mentioned he Dolgellau Country Market, as I received many good wishes towards it here is a little more.
The Dolgellau Country Market is held every Thursday in a building called the Free Library.

There is a network of these markets across the UK and each one develops a character to suit their local area.  Not surprisingly, Dolgellau Country Market's biggest seller is the cake section.

Photo by John Clift, Flickr.
Although it is the county town of Merionydd, Dolgellau is only the size of many villages in England.  With a population of around 2 and 1/2 thousand, the market is a popular alternative to the local supermarkets.  Along with the cake section we sell savoury bakes, jams, pickles, organic pork, free range eggs, home grown veg, plants and crafts.
2 of our many tables of baking!

a small selection of our plants and veg.
My main role is to supply homegrown veg and plants, however i also take along my wirework jewellery.
some of the crafts

Dolgellau is located in the Snowdonia National Park, so it has a big influx of tourists during the holidays, which makes this the busiest time of the year.

Anyone can become a member of the Country Market Scheme.  All payment is received 1 month later, with a comission taken to cover costs including insurance and room rent.

So a morning at the market, allows me to meet with regular customers alongside  my fellow producers.  I am able to take my children, who in turn enjoy working at 'mummys little shop' and all of this whilst hopefully making a profit!

Edited: The Dolgellau Country Market has now closed, but Dolgellau Thursday Market has opened!  The new Thursday market has many of the same principals, all produce is homemade, and the emphasis is on local produce.  Hours are now 9-12.30.  Products available include: cakes, savoury bakes, honey, cheese, meat, eggs, veg, plants and crafts.

Monday, 11 April 2011

A Positive Start To The Week

Well this is my 2nd Handmade Monday, what a positive way to start the week - looking back at what you have achieved, not what you have failed to finish!

Take a look at all the other participants too, what a diverse range of people we are.

Output has been slow as I didn't see the Osteopath until Friday.  This week I have been concentrating on 'fillers'.  These are items that I make for my stall which aren't meant to sell!

First I made these simple glass pendants.  Strung on suede and finished with a trigger clasp, they are to add a touch of colour to the stall. 

Then I set about making a hairband - during the Easter holidays my daughter will attend the Country Market with me, so I thought she could model a hairband.
I've got one week left before term ends, and my peace is shattered, so here's hoping that I can have a positive end to the week too.

Transhumance Crafting.

The transhumance method of farming is well known in the alps, - moving from the winter home to the lush alpine meadows for the summer months.

It also exists in Wales, where the farmer often owns two cottages called Hendre (the winter home) and Hafod (the summer place).

I too have a similar lifestyle, making things upon my knee during the winter months.

And moving back to the studio during the warmer weather.

Well my bad back limited the time I could spend sitting this week, so I set about moving everything from the house to the studio.  {This move was spurred on by warm weather, and was in no way related to the end of the university term - when someone might wish to turn my store room into their bedroom!}

Unfortunately on completing the task this was my workbench!

Ah well, 'twas on a Monday morning the gas man came to call !

Monday, 4 April 2011

Handmade Monday

Inspired by 1stuniquegifts Handmade Monday I thought I should let you know 'what I have made this week'!!

My main achievement was to complete a challenge set by Linda Jones of the Wireworkersguild blog

Make a piece that can be repeated.

So here is my pendant

here is the pattern in a chain

When I mirrored the pattern I tried the idea of a teardrop

but settled on a central bead.

The earrings and evil eye necklace are available for sale on my shop Polly Polkadot

Backbreak Thursday

I recently discovered 1st Unique Gifts handmade Monday and thought I'd take part.

Unfortunately I invented my own event beforehand - Backbreak Thursday.

All you need to do is take one heavy task that is beginning to annoy you.  Go at it like a mad man ...
... and then spend the next week considering the error of your ways.

By Saturday evening the out of hours doctor had given me enough drugs to be able to walk again.  I am unable to get an osteopath appointment until Friday, so I left trying to care for two young children, unable to bend, twist, or lift.  

As to the pile of logs it will have to stay where it is.

Still I am sure that Osteopath fees are cheaper than heating oil!!