I have been so busy making things, doing things or being unwell that I’ve badly neglected my blog over the past year. I’m not big on the whole resolutions thing but I will be making an effort to blog much more often this year. So in the spirit of starting to do that, here’s an update on some of the things I’ve been working on and some of my plans for 2014:
I spent a large part of 2013 working on a humongous commission for almost 100 1920’s/1930’s inspired necklaces and bracelets. Every piece had to be original and they were all made with gemstones, crystals and assorted Czech glass beads. The customer was very pleased with the end results which made up for what in the end became a bit of an onerous task. The moral being that I am much better suited to making single items or very short runs of a particular type. It was a useful learning experience though and I have acquired skills that can be carried over into other projects.
Of late I have ventured into a couple of new areas – wire & bead crochet and wire wrapping, both of which I will be doing more of this year. I have a few pieces that are near completion and I’ll post some images when they are finished. In connection with wire crochet I am also returning to my craft roots and trying my hand at yarn crochet again. I crocheted a great deal from childhood until my 20’s but it fell to the wayside as I got involved in other things. As of last month I now have a lovely granddaughter to crochet for and I know that many of the skills I develop from that can be carried over to working with wire. I’ll be sharing my yarn crochet adventures with you along with those in jewellery making.
The other thing that I am going to explore is working properly with polymer clay. For various reasons this had to be put on hold last year but I now have the time to delve into it once more. I’ll document how I get on with it here.
What else is planned for 2014?
I need to make a concentrated effort to market and sell my work this year. As a result, I have decided to create a proper website and also to attend the occasional craft fair. I plan to donate a percentage of the majority of my sales to charity. These funds will be going to support three charities close to my heart – Macmillan via Lifeclimb, which is a group set up by friends. Then there is Breast Cancer Care, a charity that helped me get through the tough times of diagnosis and treatment. Finally there is the appeal for North Devon District Hospital’s new chemotherapy unit. This my local hospital and the place where I had the majority of my treatment, delivered by an outstanding team of healthcare professionals. Details of how much you help me to raise will be regularly updated here.
Wishing you all a healthy, happy and successful craft year for 2014! x 🙂
As a dancer myself I have long been fascinated, intrigued and entranced by the beautiful shapes and images created through the medium of dance. Whether it’s the colours of the costumes, the way the dancers move, the effects of lighting and atmosphere or any of a number of things connected with seeing dance in motion. In fact to a certain extent ‘motion’ is the key word here because as much as I am inspired by the costumes themselves, whether they are simple or richly embellished, it is seeing them in motion that gives me a tingle of excitement. From the kaleidoscopic mix of sparkling crystals, the rich tones of primary colours or just simply the swirl of a skirt or fabric, it’s all inspiration to me.
Very soon I will be off to Torquay to host my annual dance festival and one of the highlights is definitely going to be seeing all the lovely costumes in action along with the mix of all the pretty things that will be on sale in the souk over the weekend.
I am yearning though, to go back to the sea and hopefully I will find the time to do this at least once whilst I’m away. I am slowly building my collection of found objects to begin work on my By The Sea collection but I don’t think I am quite ready to start actually making things just yet, I really just don’t have enough materials to work on. The other day someone advised me to just go to a shop and buy some shells but where on earth is the fun of that? No, I want objects that I choose myself, fresh from the sea shore. It’s not about any high-minded, ‘artistic integrity’ thing, oh no, it’s about the simple pleasure of a walk along the beach and having a shell or an object catch my eye. Many of the beaches in and around Torquay are idea hunting grounds and I am determined to make a visit to at least one of them! 🙂
I am always on the lookout for new inspiration and I realised the other day that I live near the beach but hardly ever use this as a theme for my work. I guess this is partly because in living where I do the beauty and wonder of my environs sadly becomes an every-day background kind of thing. It’s there, you look at it, you might actually feel lucky to be surrounded by such beauty but you do have the danger of taking it all too much for granted. What I want, actually what I need, is to rediscover the wonder of the beauty all around me. To take it back into my heart the way it did when we first moved here 11 years ago. It is beautiful and even on the greyest of days there is much to see and admire, I just need to start doing that again.
There is wonder all around me and now I want to (re)open my eyes, mind and heart and revel in it the way I should be doing.
This has led onto thoughts about jewellery and I have some ideas along with an embryonic collection of items to use and to inspire me. I stopped carrying my camera around with me and now I intend to be a camera bore, taking photos of anything and all things that I find interesting.
Watch this space!
Below is a photo of the current works in progress – scrabble tiles, dominoes and pendant trays. None of this batch are likely to be good enough to sell because they all have little flaws that are part of the learning process. One lesson I learned very early on is that it’s not wise to completely trust the label when it comes to measurements! The dominoes are significantly smaller than the 2″ x 1″ it said on the box which meant that all the digital images I’d created and printed were useless as they all need rescaling. Annoying but mercifully not particularly wasteful as I’d only printed a single sheet and Photoshop allows me to batch process the images.
Currently I am using Glossy Accents for the top coat and I’m liking the finish on it as it comes up lovely and clear, with it being fully cured after 24 hours. I learned the hard way that pendant trays are best filled in layers rather than trying to do it all in one – far too many bubbles that were just impossible to get out.
One of the things I have had a bit of fun with is adding detail with Fimo. I bought a lot of nail art rhinestones to use whilst I practised rather than make mistakes using crystals and beads. They were delivered with 10 free assorted Fimo canes which are great fun to play with if they are sliced into thin layers! 🙂
Over the weekend I will add some more layers to those that need it and bails to those that are finished. The dominoes all require additional work to neaten them up before I add any resin to them but they are coming along nicely.
Today was the first time I had the chance to sit down and actually do some proper craft work, so I started on the scrabble tiles. So far I have put the backgrounds on, added decoration and texture, and sealant. They will now be left overnight to fully harden before I put on a top layer (or two) of resin tomorrow. This evening I have been working on producing a sheet of collage images to print and use for the rest of the tiles as well as the dominoes which I want to work on this weekend.
Here’s what they look like so far:
I was inspired by another artist – Deborah Fox over at – http://blackwillowboho.blogspot.co.uk/ to have a go at making some domino pendants along with the scrabble tile ones. I’ve spent the last few days collating and preparing the images I want to use on the scrabble tiles. There are a lot of places to buy ready-made collage sheets if you don’t have the time or skills to create your own but I love making my own and I now have a good selection to choose from.
Materials-wise I will be using a mix of Glossy Accents, various types of Mod Podge, metallic paint and items to add a bit of texture like rhinestones. I ordered up some nail art rhinestones and they came with some fimo canes, so I’ll be using some of those as well. A lot of online tutorials say that it is not a good idea to use ink jet printed images due to problems with the ink running and less than crisp images but I’ve found that I can get good results printing at the highest quality setting using either premium or photographic paper. The secret is not to use them the same day you print them and it helps if you have a printer designed for printing photos which mine is. If you cannot get crisp images with your printer you can always get them laser printed at a local printer/copier store.
Traditionally it seems that a lot of artists sell the pendants with ball chain but I prefer the look of ribbon whether it’s organza or another type of fabric.
I will be starting this weekend and I’ll photograph each stage as I go along.
This morning the postie delivered some new things for me to work with and I am already dreaming up new designs to use them in! I just love it when new supplies drop on my doormat because it’s like going on an exciting mystery tour – you never know exactly where you are going to end up after using them! 🙂
I will take a photo later on so that you can see them in all their glory! I’ll also post about the black and white bracelet because it went through some minor changes before being finished and of course I want to show off the end result!
The other thing that I’ve spent money on recently is tools, namely:
- 2inch square steel bench block
- planishing hammer
- mini craft hammer
- a set of diamond-coated small metal files
All things that have come in very handy in my latest designs, especially the hammers and block which I have been using to harden little wire shapes that I plan to use in charm bracelets and earrings.
More news later on! 🙂
On Sunday I started a new project – a black and white charm bracelet. This is a birthday present for a family member who is about to go off travelling for an extended period. I want to give her something pretty that will go with a lot of things, not too heavy as she will be travelling light and using silver plated findings so that it didn’t matter too much if it was lost or stolen.
I have a short turnaround on this one as it is needed by this Friday!
For this bracelet I am going to use a mixture of beads and charms in the following materials:
- Czech and Indian glass lampwork beads in a mixture of shapes and sizes
- Tibetan silver charms
- Black puffy Lava Stone coins x 2
- Various acrylic shapes
- Clear Gutermann Rocailles size 9/0
- Random silver wire shapes which I will make
- Lucite flowers and leaves but I’ve actually run out of black and white ones in the sizes I need, so they will only be included if the ones I’ve ordered arrive in time.
- Silver plated head pins – 4.5cm (1-3/4″)
- Approximately 18cm (7″) of silver Beadalon stamp chain
- 4mm and 5mm silver plated jump rings
- I Tibetan silver toggle clasp
- Chain nose pliers
- Bent nose pliers
- Round nose pliers
- Side cutters
So here’s what things look like now:
I made a selection of dangles with both closed loops and wrapped loops using the head pins. Some of the beads have larger holes so for those I threaded a rocaille on before the bead. Some beads looked neater if they were topped by a rocaille before the loop but some were fine as they were. This is a personal choice thing because sometimes I just prefer the look of this especially if I am using just a plain closed loop rather than a wrapped one.
To attach each element I am using jump rings but you could slip the dangle onto the chain first before you close the loop. I laid the beads out along the length of the chain first to get a feel for how they worked together and whilst they are being added in a fairly random order, I am also making sure that the beads look nice next to each other and that the mix of colours looks balanced across the bracelet as a whole. I want a fairly dense bracelet so I am adding an element to every link but if you wanted to use fewer beads for a lighter look you could go for adding one every other link instead.
This is the story so far and I will update you on the final stages and the finished bracelet later in the week.