Monday, 30 May 2011

Taking a break

Firstly thank you to all of you who helped me out on Facebook, below you will see why things have been so quiet ever since!

This week I've been taking a break, I'm blaming the Springwatch effect again, (incidentally Springwatch starts tonight at 9pm and the green door in the background of every studio shot, is my old back door!).
I've been running around like a headless chicken.
I haven't taken a break from working, but I just felt the time had come to take things a bit easier.
So I didn't post for WOYWW.
I didn't attend the Dolgellau Country Market.
Ballet  was cancelled (for my daughter, not me!), so one less taxi service by me.

Conversely my OH has found things hotting up even more at work, with a visitation from the top brass of RSPB Wales, and a major contractor suddenly negating on their agreement - leaving him with lots of panic phonecalls, sleepless nights, and absorbing a frightening amount of his precious time and energy.  So I think it was just as well I was around to be a bit more wifey than normal. (This meant making sure we didn't run out of food, the piles of washing were kept to a minimum and I didn't answer back when he said he had had a terrible day!).

 But I still have been busy, working on shelf 3.  I decided to hedge my bets and fill the bottom two shelves with textile products in case they sell better, (as it is a new shop I just don't know what is the general feel of the place until it all settles down).  So I thought I would fill the bottom two shelves with Christmas gifts ... that is to say, things that I can give away if they don't sell!

So I made a tiny gift bag, and then I thought I would make a post bag.  I fancied putting a small motif in the corner, so suddenly I was scratching my head to recall how to carry out machine embroidery (I think I last did this back in 1990 for my GCSE textiles!).

Lapwing, (outline blackened by me!)
I thought it would be good therapy for my OH to sketch me a picture.

I then traced it onto a piece of fabric and began stitching it on to a trial piece.
I got the technique right, but unfortunately I decided the subject wasn't.  So I'm off to make a better choice.  In the meantime why don't you take a look at everyone else's work over with Wendy at 1st Unique Gifts.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Handmade Monday no. 17

So its Handmade Monday time.  I had accepted that I needed to take a week off as I had nothing to show ...

This week I was planning to complete wirework pendants for my 2nd shelf (in the new shop that I'm always harping on about).  I have concentrated on established designs as they are quicker to make than fiddling with new designs. But I felt that you wouldn't want to see work you can see over at my Polly Polkadot shop.

... and then last night changed everything.  I got the children in bed and asleep by 7pm, we had all eaten, I had washed up and the OH had even hoovered the floor.  So there was nothing for it, but a trip to the studio at the bottom of the garden.
This the only pendant design I would class as finished from last night, the rest are 'designs in progress'!

But I had an excellent session, with lots of ideas to work on.  The following are snapshots taken this morning.


 I spent ages on the first pendant, but I just couldn't get it to lie how I wanted it, so I think that might go on the noticeboard until I come up with a new way to use it.

Chain of hearts
The second piece was a chain of hearts, I don't think I have the balance right yet, but it has potential.  In addition, I have discovered that I will be able to manage short pieces of wire for earring hearts.

The squiggle
Next I moved onto a squiggle.  I was pleased with the form of this.  I'm not confident with random design, but over all this doesn't look too symmetrical or contrived!

This pendant doesn't have enough curve to the tail, but it is a starting point.
Back again to the treble clef.  I have been intending to make a treble clef for some time, but never getting around to it. I was delighted with the result and this will definitely be in my online shop, and on the infamous second shelf!

OK, so now I must move onto the 3rd shelf, something a bit different just to hedge my bets on sales!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Toolbox Talk part 1

I'm not sure I am going to tell my blog anything in the future ... I said I would do a toolbox talk blog at the weekend, now I am concerned I will not full fill your expectations!  After all how do you make talking about pliers interesting?!!

Can you believe I still kept it?!
My interest in wirework jewellery came from spotting Linda Jones book in the local library.  I really fancied the Celtic cross brooch.  Unfortunately I had no understanding of wire, or physics of materials, or the patience to read the instructions.  Here is my first attempt, as you can imagine I stomped off and sulked.

Some time later I must have decided to give it another go, but I don't recall the length of the break.

So here is my guide to how to get it right first time (well have a better chance of getting it right).

The first and most essential piece of equipment for wireworking is pliers.  I struggled to find the right pliers and in the end bought a set of 8 pliers.  But in truth I only use 5.

The round nosed pliers are the starting point for so many pieces. Curling the wire around the pliers, get it wrong and you are making an oval shape, get it right and beautiful spiral begins to form.

The second pair of pliers is your flat nosed pliers.  These pliers can form sharp angles in your work, but they are also used to grip the wire as you curve spirals.  Unlike normal flat nosed pliers, the mouth is smooth, so that it doesn't mark the work.

The final pliers you need are wire cutters.  Ideally you need good sharp pliers, which allow you cut close to your work. 

If your interest in wirework jewellery making continues,  you will wish to add and improve on your pliers set.  Adding nylon coated pliers to avoid scratching the wire, notched round nosed pliers to mass produce jump rings, angled pliers for awkward pieces etc. etc.

Do I have all the pliers I want yet? Definately not.
Do I have favourite pliers? Definately
Do I think I could use someone elses pliers? Ooo, no, I'd feel guilty.

Pliers are all you need to start you on your journey into wirework jewellery, but below is a second toolbox talk, explaining about dowels and hammering your work.

Toolbox Talk - Part 2

can, pens,nozzle from a silicon cartridge gun.
To create some of the shapes you may wish to make, you'll need a collection of dowels.  Often ring mandrels are suggested because they offer you a variety of sizes. However so far I have not had to invest in any mandrels I simply wander around the house looking for pens, tubes, and pipes.  Felt tip pens offer a small size, marker pens another, and cans and then you probably have a full range.  My only complaint is that the pens keep wandering off my workbench, but I suspect that is me 'borrowing' them.

The final item you will need to get you started, is something to hammer on.  This was the item I found most challenging.  I discovered with my first piece that you can't hammer on wood, because it is too soft.  I hammered on tables, stones, and eventually I realised I could clamp a second hammer into a vice and hammer on that.
Obviously it didn't have sawdust on it when I used to use it!

Whatever you choose to hammer on will pattern your material, so ideally you are looking for a smooth surface - although I must admit that did discover some wonderful patterns by accident.

I do now own a tiny jewellery anvil. It only cost around £15 but it is not worth buying when you are just experimenting.  It offers me curves and angles to hammer on as well as a flat surface.  My jewellery anvil always cheers me up, because the novelty of such a silly sized tool has still not worn off!

Again you can spend plenty of time buying yourself a variety of nylon coated hammers, and patterned heads for the hammer, but in the early stages a normal domestic hammer is fine.

So that's it, that's all you need and if you are lucky all the items were lurking in your household toolbox anyway. Now go and give it ago!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

WOYWW again

workbench or chaos?
My workbench has continued to be a hive of activity.  I have completed the pieces for the top shelf of my jewellery cabinet that I have rented in a shop (opening soon).

hmm, I can count 6 different pieces of jewellery in progress!
 A close up of the desk reveals that I don't work in an organised fashion at all.  On the tile lies a new hammered motif that didn't work the way I wanted it to, several flowers that were supposed to be made into earrings but I couldn't get a matching pair, a tear drop shape that I would like to put a bead in the centre but I don't have a bead the matches, two chains lacking in motif, several pens that I use as dowels and of course the potty training reward badge that is still in the studio!

display board.

I had planned to show you my layout of jewellery for the shelf.  Unfortunately that would involve clearing my workbench to take the photo, and it all sounded like too much effort, so you'll have to be pleased with a close up of the display board which will set at the back of the shelf.

The top set is a copy of a Linda Jones design, it is a personal favourite of mine, far too beautiful to be left in a book.  (Please note the little Miss Bossy mug in the background!).

So this week I will be working on shelf 2 - hammered wire pendants. 

At the weekend I'll do a 'toolbox talk' blog to show how accessible wirework can be.

Pop over and see how everyone else's workbenches are looking at stamping ground

Monday, 16 May 2011

Handmade Monday and blatant begging!

It is time for handmade Monday again, an opportunity for us all to show what we've been up to for the week.  Pop over to 1st unique gifts to see everyone else's hard work but not before you have taken a look at mine, as this week I have plenty to show!
Earrings that I have ensured I have enough of!- sorry for photo quality

Anyone who 'called by' for WOYWW, will know that I have had to have my nose to the grindstone.  I need to get my stock levels ready for a cabinet that I have rented in a new shop (opening soon).

This week I have been focusing on just one shelf.  I intend to place my wirework jewellery on the top shelf of my cabinet.  My hammered jewellery is heavily influenced by Linda Jones.  It was Linda's books that drew me away from strung beads and fixed me on my obsession with hammered wirework.  I'm afraid the earring and necklace set shown is a copy of Linda's, but I feel it is such a beautiful piece that it shouldn't be left in a book!
sorry for photo quality

I hope to complete my Art Nouveau bracelet in time for the shop opening, but I have yet to perfect the design.

The starting point of the design
Now to the blatant begging bit of the blog:  So I've rented a space in a shop - Any chance some of you lovely people would do some 'liking' on facebook?  I feel it would look better if I had more 'likes'!  Obviously favours will be returned if you write a link on my wall! Thanks.

Thanks for reading, I'm off to start on shelf 2 - wirework pendants.

Friday, 13 May 2011

The Springwatch Effect

You've heard of the Delia Effect? (This was when Supermarkets felt the impact of a Delia recipe on tv )  Well our household is suffering from the Springwatch Effect.

My Other Half works at the nature reserve selected to host the BBC Springwatch programme - namely RSPB Ynys-hir.
RSPB Ynys-hir Visitor Centre

Well, the first impact of this was his sudden interest in blogs.  I can remember the tuts and sighs as I would type up my blog, but now I go to bed and leave him typing away about the Purple Heron or the Spotted Flycatcher.  The Springwatch Effect.
I spotted the Hawfinch first, did I get credit in the blog??

Next he was asked to return to full time work.  The O/H only works Mon, Tues, Wed, allowing me his company for the rest of the week, (well actually I was only interested in the car).  So I find myself back on the number 28 bus.  The Springwatch effect.
not quite the no. 28

Then he was called into work on a Saturday, letting me down for child care for a craft fair, a charity craft fair at that.  The Springwatch effect.

That was the finally straw, I downed tools and admitted defeat, 'OK, Springwatch comes first'.  There are times when it is just better to accept that some things are bigger than you!  The Springwatch effect.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011


If you viewed here last WOYWW (whats on your workbench Wednesday), you'll see a massive transformation.

I promised I would tidy my bench by this week, but I didn't expect it to be a hive of activity too.

I have rented a space in a brand new shop (more about this in later blogs no doubt).  It is due to be opening soon.  But when I glanced at an e-mail I realised it said 'opening BY June'.

I have rented a cabinet with 4 shelves, so at the moment I am concentrating on the top two shelves, namely wirework jewellery.  At the front is one of my entwined hammered motif necklaces, while behind is a second entwined necklace, a plain daisy chain, and a half finished necklace, awaiting a new design of motif.

The teeny tiny anvil is out, and the pliers set is on the side - the only thing in my life I am tidy about is my pliers.  They came in a set of 8, and my other half lusts after them, so if I put them away each time, I can tell if he has 'borrowed' one.

I forgot to say... the star and heart in the middle are rewards for potty training!  How they have ended up in the studio so far from the potty and the child I'm not sure!

Everything at the back of the bench is not used, especially not the badminton racket!  Lets see if it has disappeared by next week.

Take a look at the other workbenchs via WOYWW

Monday, 9 May 2011

Handmade Monday

Handmade Monday has come rushing around again, and I don't have much to show for it.  Production this week has been slow again, I did finally manage to visit the local fabric shop.  Which in turn means that I could embark on Dreamstars Tutorial.

I bought fat quarters of William Morris prints. It is an expensive way to select fabric, but at least it made a decision, (otherwise I might still be there browsing).  I don't have much in the way of remenants, so I even purchased the plain colours.

My first attempt
My second attempt

I intend to attach them to the headbands I designed previously.

I can't be trusted in a fabric shop, but I can be controlled!  I only came away with one extra piece, and here it is.  I am unsure what to do with it, and suggestions gratefully received! 
Help needed!
Here's hoping that everyone else had a much more productive week.  Take a look, over at 1st unique gifts.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

A day out

By Dimitra Blana, Flickr.
Today, whilst juggling several other tasks, I treated myself to a visit to Wheelers Fabrics in Machynlleth.

I should have taken my wirework jewellery to a charity craft fair - but my childminder (otherwise known as my other half), let me down.

As I would now have 3 and 1/2 days at home I thought I'd embark on potty training the younger child.  However I had forgotten that the children had been invited to a birthday party, (getting the hang of juggling yet?).

The party was 17 miles away, so I felt I could allow myself the luxury of dropping off the older child and continuing 3 more miles to Machynlleth (with the nappy-less child).

By Kelp, Flickr.
Now Wheelers Fabrics is a treasurer trove to anyone, but to me it is very near perfection and the only improvement I could suggest is adding coffee and chocolate cake!

 I don't think I have managed a trip to this wonderful emporium since July, so you can imagine my joy when I realised that my nappyless child, had stubbornly refused to wake, despite being transferred from the car to his pushchair.  Three floors of fabric, friendly staff, and now, no children - heaven (except for the coffee and chocolate cake).

So what did I buy?  Well I would like to boast that I exercised huge self-restraint, and bought only what I went in for (well OK, I did buy one extra item).  As ever my tight budget kept me in control, but my head is buzzing with fabrics that I desperately want to buy!

I am hoping to show my purchases in their new form, shortly.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011


I thought I would make a contribution to WOYWW  (what's on your workbench Wednesday).  However I think I should rename it, what's NOT on my workbench!

In the beautiful sunny weather I have been making jewellery outside on the picnic bench.  It's not ideal, as the slats are quite a hazard!

I've been to three craft fairs this week, and on returning home, I've dropped by stuff on bench and now, I can't even sit down!  However that doesn't explain why there is a bottle of de-icer on the bench nor the fact that it has been there since I wrote transhumance crafting back on the11th April

Unfortunately now that the weather is breaking (very windy here) I need to move back inside, so look out for a change of appearance next week!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Yet another Handmade Bank Holiday Monday

Well what a fantastic set of public/bank holidays?  Well done to Wendy for keeping up with Handmade Monday instead of lying in the sunshine!  Well done as well to everyone else, who has ignored holidays, children home from school holidays, housework and all the beckoning craft fairs to contribute this week.

This week I have been fiddling with these beads in the sunshine.  Forget the studio, I sat at the picnic table and cursed every time I dropped the beads though a slat!

When it comes to jewellery making, I run a very tight ship, financially.  I usually only buy a few beads at a time, but I spotted these in an online sale and couldn't resist buying a large bag.  Unfortunately I then put them to one side, however it really is time to use them.

I've made a batch of earrings.  Each bead is crimped on to tiger tail wire and I have left the end exposed to create the impression of the stamen extending from the flower.

I have yet to decide how the necklace will look, but the bracelet will probably take the form of a kind of charm bracelet, with flower beads hanging off it.

At least that is a dent into the flower bead pile, now what shall I do with all the leaves ....