Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Been a while

Well, I haven't blogged in ages, naughty me! I just seem to have been so busy recently. Since my last post we have done 3 craft fairs, but unfortunately they proved quite unsucessful. I was busy making loads of stock in the run up to the first one. It was at Ilkley on the 8th November, I was pleased with my display, it looked quite professional even though it was done fairly cheaply. Here's some of my stuff laid out on my living room floor

After laying it all out I realised I needed more bracelets and so made loads of memory wire bracelets and some wire wrapped bangles, I also made a load more earrings and some more rings.

I decided to hang my earrings on a christmas tree, like this

which is fibre optic and looks really nice when you switch it on, lots of people commented on it at the fairs and looked at my earrings so that was good.

So the first fair - lots of people there, it was in an old people's centre so a lot of them were elderly, but I got lots of nice comments about my jewellery, just no one buying. I sold one of my button rings and that was all and I even had to remake that to the right size. I did meet some lovely people there though, a few of the crafters from the UK craft forum so that was really nice. We had Emily with us so that attracted people to our stall I think. After chatting to some of the other stall holders I don't think many of them had many sales, in fact I think quite a few had no sales at all.

The second fair was a charity fair in a village hall, so I wasn't expecting much, there were quite a few people in. Again met a few people off the craft forum and had a lovely lady next to me who sells cosmetics - creams and shower gels etc, which she makes herself from scratch. Again I didn't sell much. My mother-in-law came and she bought a bracelet and necklace that she'd specifically asked me to make anyway

She also bought a memory wire bracelet and this pair of earrings

And a young girl bought a wire wrapped bangle

and that was it really, one of the other stall holders really liked one of my necklaces but thought it was a little too long for her, her mum was thinking about getting it for her for Christmas so I gave her a business card and offered to alter the length but I haven't heard anything.

So fair number 3, this one was at York Railway musuem and was bigger than the other two, so I thought it might be a good one, it was very slow, didn't seem to be many through the door and again I didn't sell much, 3 pairs of earrings this time, got some good comments again and people quite interested but just not buying. So three fairs down - it's cost a total of £55 to stand at them (not including petrol and food and drink on the day) and I sold £33 worth of stock, but I'm trying not to be disillussioned. I have a jewellery party coming up on the 4th December so hope that will prove sucessful and a two day fair at Elsecar the weekend after. Actually, now hoping I don't sell loads of stock at my party or else I may be short for the fair. hmmmmm may have to encourage people to place orders at the party instead.

Friday, October 16, 2009

These are a few of my favourite things.....

Not raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens

I wasn't sure what to blog about as haven't really been up to much, I have made a few bits of jewellery but nothing very exciting, I've started my upcycled book into a bag, but it's not ready to show yet (am pleased with it so far though) and I'm sure there's millions of other things I should be doing while the kiddies are asleep, but I just wanted a bit of me time as I've been running around all over this week and just want to sit and chill. Soooooo I thought I'd just blog about some of the lovely handmade things I've come across recently and I hope the creators of these lovely things don't mind me link to their photos, I'm sure they won't as I'm just doing it to show off their fabulous work.

So my first favourite thing are these gorgeous little pram shoes by LittleMillie on Folksy, they are so gorgeous that I've actually asked LittleMillie to make me some for my little Emily.

At number 2 we have this amazing yew vase from Bodrighy on Etsy, I just love the organic-ness of this and the colour, I would love to be able to feel it. If it were mine I think I'd have a potted plant in it and it would look fab on my kitchen table

Now we have some beautiful beads by Glittering Prize, which I saw on the UK Beaders forum. Trudy sells her beads and jewellery on Etsy. I love the colours in these beads but there are some other fabulous ones in the Etsy shop too.......if only I was rich! or richer at least

At number 4 I had to have these absolutely adorable Tomte Family by Miss Searls which are for sale on Etsy, Miss Searls had the brilliant idea of doing her Sew It, Stick It, Sparkle Sundays (SISISS) Featured Blogs where she features other crafters and tells everyone a bit about them and what they've been making, I was featured in her first one!

For my number 5, I just had to show you this gorgeous wall hanging, poor Laurie at 23BeechHill has been busy making loads of these on commission and I'm not surprised as they are beautiful, it's called princess and the pea and if you look hard enough you can see the button 'pea' on one of the matresses. I want one for Emily's room, but will wait until after christmas and see what the bank balance looks like.

At number 6 I have this lovely pig by Moonbeam Angel, on the UK Craft forum, Diane (aka Moonbeam Angel) makes loads of fabulous mosaics and is so talented, but I just loved the colours in this pig. She sells her stuff on Misi

I saw this amazing piece of jewellery on the UK Beaders forum and was in so much awe, it was made by a lady called Dorrie and I would love to be able to make something like this one day, so this is my number 7

Well that's my top 7 favourite things, I might add more later, but I'll leave it there for now as it's getting late now.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mmmmmm strawberries

We went to a local farmers market on Sunday and there was a stall there selling strawberries, I was suprised because I thought the strawberry season would be over by now, but the one I tasted was lovely and sweet so I got a punnet, didn't get chance to eat any on Sunday and forgot about them yesterday. So when I got them out of the fridge tonight I assumed they'be going mouldy or at least soft, but no, they were absolutely fine. Had they been supermarket ones they would definately be passed it by now. So I made some strawberry coulis - with lemon juice, caster sugar and strawberries, spooned over sliced peach and strawberries with creme fraiche, mmmmmmmmm.

On the jewellery front I made two necklaces as a gift for my team leader at work who's leaving our team this week. I used a vintage button in the first one and was pleased with how it turned out

The second one is a bit fancier, various wirework and wire wrapping and a mixture of glass beads, it's a bit more daring, but I hope she likes it.

I also had time to make two other necklaces and two bracelets today, which will be more stock for the craft fair I'm doing in Ilkley on the 8th November.I'll hopefully be doing another one in York on the 22nd, if it's not fully booked already, must remember to send my cheque off tomorrow.

And now it's time for a bath.......night.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Burning down the house

You know how easy it is to get sidetracked when you've got two youngsters in the house....... well, Emily and Archie were both asleep so I made myself some lunch, had a sit down with a cuppa and a bit of a break, then started making Archie's tea - pasta bolognese. I'd already started the source and it was simmering away so all that was left to do was put the pasta on and garlic bread in. I heard him stirring, so put the pasta on, a mixture of broken spaghetti and tiny stars. I decided to quickly fold up the dry washing that was hanging in the garage, which must have took longer that anticipated as when I went to get Archie up he'd dosed back off again. Got him up anyway as he'd been alseep for over two hours and was just changing his nappy when the fire alarm went off

We live in a four story town house and so have a proper "break glass" fire alarm system, I had to leave a rather shocked and upset Archie mid nappy change and ran down to the kitchen, where I found the pasta had boiled dry and burnt to the bottom of the pan and the kitchen was full of smoke. So I turned everything off and ran to the fire alarm control panel in the cupboard in the hallway and entered the reset code and it didn't work! The sound was deafening and I tried about 4 times to no avail, so I decided I had best get the kids out of the house. I found Archie screaming his head off half way down the stairs with no nappy on, poor thing, so took him back upstairs and put on nappy, trousers and shoes and took him down to the hall where I had to leave him (screaming again) while I went to get Emily - who was soundly sleeping through it all!. I realised the pram was in the back of the car with the other half at work, so I got Archie's coat and reins on and wrapped Emily in a blanket and got them outside while I rang him. He rang the building company and asked them to help so they arranged for the site foreman to come round and sort it out (luckily for us they are still building houses on our estate!). So the builders couldn't get the alarm to reset either and ended up disconnecting it to make it stop, when they reconnected it said there was a fault, so they hoovered out all the sensors and detectors but that didn't work, all they could do was leave me with it beeping every 30 seconds to tell me there was a fault and arrange for the company who installed it to send someone out. At least we were back in the house, it's no fun being on the street for 20 minutes with a bored toddler and a baby who has been rudely awakened and thinks the only consolation is a feed. The alarm company rang and said they couldn't get anyone out for 2 days!

To top it all off, Archie turned his nose up at my bolognese - and no I didn't give him the burnt pasta! He wouldn't even try it - little monkey. But he did eat all the middle bits of the garlic baguette.

So that was my eventful day on Tuesday, yesterday was much calmer and I even found time to make some jewellery..... just a couple of rings which is a new thing for me

I'm quite pleased with them, and going to see if they sell at the craft fairs I'm doing.

Today I've spent most of the day setting up a Folksy shop, which seems tobe taking me forever.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Busy busy busy

Gosh, where does the time go?

I've had such a busy couple of weeks. Archie started a new nursery and is only going half days so my afternoons are not so quiet anymore. He seems to have settled there just fine, but I cried on his first day because I was worried he would miss his old nursery!

Emily cried again at baby massage, this is the third week in a row now she's cried, yet she loves it when we do it at home and I was shocked to find out she's only put a pound on in 5 weeks,  so now I'm feeding her for England even though the Health Visitor wasn't too concerned - I feel like she's permanently attached to me!

Last weekend we went to the Newark gem and bead fair and my OH went round and bought me loads of stuff. He gets so carried away at these things and chose loads of pendants and some lovely beads for my necklaces. We spent £200, which I wasn't planning on, but he is so supportive of my jewellery making, I'm just hoping I can start selling my stuff and make him proud.

So here's what I've been making with the new beads....

This first one is my favourite, I think the pendant is banded agate and I used black faceted glass beads and blue seed beads and a lovely Tibetan silver toggle clasp

This is banded agate died pink, it's a really bright vivid pink and really stands out, it's about 3cm diameter and I used clear faceted glass bicones and velveteen tubing (which we bought a load of at the bead fair)

Here's another pink banded agate pendant, but this time with some really bright pink beads

Another pink banded agate, but this is very pale and delicate, I got a string of 10 of these pink coin beads and they are all different, some very pale and some bright pink. With this one I added some pink quartz ovals, silver lined seed beads and tried my hand at some wirework - which I think turned out ok

More banded agate, but this time green and yellow, with some lovely green and yellow beads and gold bugles, this one reminds me of a landscape, sunrise over green fields

I love the colours in this one - 4cm greeny blue and brown banded agate coin bead - to which I added sesame jasper flat ovals. I love the fact that you can spin these coin beads around and get a different pattern/colours on the other side

We also got 10 of the greeny blue banded agate coin beads and to this one I added some of the faceted black beads and blue seed beads which make a very pretty combination

I love this heart shaped pendant, I wished I had got some brown velveteen tubing for this one, but we only bought black, the smokey quartz cubey-pillowy beads are gorgeous and we also got those unusual shell beads at the fair

I wasn't sure what the purple pendant was (that's the problem when OH wonders off and buys a load of stuff but doesn't listen to what the sellers tell him about what they are.....) anyway it went well with the flourite chips we got so I did this 2 strand floating necklace on illusion thread.

I love this faceted glass teardrop pendant, to which I added some black faceted beads and some crystal rondels and good old velveteen tubing!

Last one using bead fair beads, again I'm not really sure what this is..... will have to do some research, I think it may be jasper, the round beads look very similar and so was a natural choice to compliment this pendant

Now for some other things I've made recently. I saw a tutorial for a wirewrapped cuff somewhere and was dying to make one, then not being able to remember where I'd seen it, I just had to make it up as I went along. I used silver plated wire and swarovski crystals from a mix called contempory christmas. Not bad for a first try I thought....

I made this beaded bangle which was featured in one of the bead magazines last month, quite easy to make but took a bit of time and used lots of thin wire.

I'm not sure about this one, I had started off making a stretch bracelet out of these and more similar beads, but then I didn't like it. When I pulled the elastic out the beads looked like they would make a nice necklace and so I added some champagne coloured velveteen tubing I had left. I'm just not sure if the lampwork lentil gets lost among all the dangles

I made this floating Swarovski crystal necklace to wear to a christening and it got me a cracking comission that I can't wait to get started on

Green agate ovals and serpentine round beads teamed up with some little purple beads, it's quite heavy this one, but I love the feel of the cool beads.

and a matching braccelet....

I love this little fishy bracelet, especially the little silver 'bubbles'

And finally I've made a load of earrings ready for the craft fair I've got coming up, I've paired off a load of other beads to make some more too

So I have been busy, just not had chance to take pictures or blog about what I've been doing!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Search for the perfect book

I know it's been a few days since my last blog, but I've been so busy and haven't had chance to get on the computer much or take photos of my new jewellery makes. I spent hours this morning in town, hunting for the perfect book for a new crafty project.

I saw this brilliant idea on a craft forum I go on...... Making a bag from a book, and I was inspired to make one as a wedding gift for my friend so she can keep wedding memories and bits and bobs from the wedding in it. The lady, Kaz, who posted about it on the forum blogged about it here

It all seemed so easy when I was sat in the library with a cup of tea and some toast, feeding Emily. Get a cheap hardbacked book from a charity shop and there are a few of those in Barnsley, and some nice co-ordinating or contrasting fabric. So how hard could it be?

Well in the first charity shop I spotted a shelf full of hardbacked books and soon realised that the majority of hardbacked covers are black, brown, dark blue or dark green - not really wedding keepsake colours.
So there I was, knelt on the floor pouring over the books, just focussing on the colour of the backing boards by titling each book towards me and I spotted one that was cream, slipping the dust cover off, I saw it was a lovely cream and in perfect condition, brilliant I thought until I noticed that the title of the book was "How to murder your husband" and this was printed onto the spine - not so brilliant. Would have been great if I'd wanted to make a comedy, fun present, but I want this to be serious and something for them to treasure, so I headed to the next charity shop. So not only was the colour of the backing boards important, but the title also had to be appropriate. I continued my search, avoiding anything with "dead", "blood", "murder", "affair" etc in the title. I eventualy spotted another potential candidate in one of the charity shops, entitled "The Perfect Day" (so far so good), the backing boards were white (not as nice as the cream but still good) and they were in good condition, but then I realised it was a bit too slim - the hunt goes on. Six charity shops and £11 later I still hadn't found the right book, I had accumulated a door frame baby bouncer (£4), a leaf shaped glass dish that I'll use for displaying my bracelets in at craft fairs (£1 - bargain!) and a long pink beaded necklace with light and dark pink faux pearls, pink seed beads and 7 large dark pink beads in bead cages (£4 - not such a great bargain, but need some pink beads and pink seed beads and the bead cages will come in handy) and some super glue and fabric glue from the pound shop. I was debating whether to trek over to the larger charity shop near the train station as I was feeling a bit deflated by this point and my feet where aching, but remembered that this shop does have a lot of books, so off I went. On the first shelf I spotted a book with a lovely purple hardback board for £1 so I decided to get this to practise on and if all else fails purple is my friend's favourite colour anyway. A few shelves later and I found one with a lovely light teal-blue cover which I thought would also make a nice bag and that was also only £1, then just when I was about to give up, I tilted a shabby looking book toward me and saw its backing boards were a pale colour, white or silvery or maybe grey, I slipped off the dust cover and to my surprise found that it was a lovely shiney silver! It was just perfect and a good size as well so I quickly checked the title, praying it would be something suitable - "Rite of Spring" - well, could be worse, in fact a marriage is classed as a "rite of passage" and the wedding will be in Spring (next March) tenuous I know, but better than "How to Kill your Husand". I gave the cover one last check for damage and realised, to my utter joy, that the book title wasn't printed along the spine, so it was indeed the perfect book and only £1 as well.

I was so engrossed in finding the book that I completely forgot to look for fabric to line the bag with and by this point I could face going into another charity shop, so that'll have to wait until another day.

Oh, I also nearly lost Emily in my jaunt around the charity shops, I left her parked (in her pram) at the back of the shop, out of the way and was just looking at books a few feet away from her, when two ladies started wheeling her into the back of the shop! I went over and told thhem the pram was mine and apollogised for
leaving it in the way and they thought someone had left it to be sold! It's a tandem pram, and Emily was in a car seat, cocooned and hidden from view inside the two hoods (car seat hood and pram hood) so they hadn't seen her! I'm glad I spotted them before they got into the back of the shop, otherwise the hunt for the book would be out of the window!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Baby massage

Well Emily and I are going to baby massage today, quite looking forward to it as I never got the chance to take Archie. Hope she doesn't just cry all the time. knowing my luck she'll decide she wants feeding right in the middle of it.

Had a good jewellery day yesterday, I made a bracelet and necklace from some bargain beads I bought recently, I did the earrings to go with the necklace and bracelet for my friend. I finished off a wire wrapped cuff I started on Tuesday and I had a go at a stretch bracelet with those yummy cream/brown beads I bought in Leeds and blogged about the other day - but I don't like it, it's not quite big enough, it's slightly tight on me and I've got small wrists! need to find something to space it out a bit......hmmmmmm.

Haven't got any pictures of my new stuff yet as my camera battery is charging but will try and take some later and post tomorrow. I've got loads of ideas for stuff I want to do next (some inspired by others' work and some are all my very own ideas!) After making my wire wrapped cuff I'm addicted to wire wrapping, I love it. There's an article in one of the recent bead mags on wire wrapping and it said once you start you'll love it - I didn't really believe it, but oh my God how wrong was I? Wrapping neat little spirals and making unruly wire do what you want it to do is somehow very satisfying. I don't think the other half is a fan of the cuff though, he keeps picking it up and turning it round with a funny look on his face, he said it's very Boudicca-ish! Not sure if that's a good thing or not! I like it anyway and am thinking of making a delicate necklace to go with it, illussion thread and swaro's I think - I got a lovely swaro mix for my birthday - "Contempory Christmas" all purples and silvers.

Anyway, can't sit blogging all day - better start making the curry for tea while Emily sleeps, and got a cuppa to drink and some chocolates that just need eating (I don't normally eat chocolate every day I promise - it's just that I got a load for my birthday!) Look out for lots of pictures of my new stuff tomorrow

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Naughty naughty naughty!!!!!

I had a trip to Leeds yesterday to meet some friends for lunch, my partner had put some money in my bank account - more than I expected really so I thought I'd just have a quick look in yumyum beads.......I couldn't resist buying these
and these
I can feel some bracelets coming on methinks!
I then went to the outdoor market and got two necklaces because I wanted the pendants - I'm sure I can do somethng more inventive than just threading them onto ribbon and they were only £2 - £3. Then I popped into TK MAXX as I'd heard about a fab bargain to be had, 9 tubes of guitermann beads for £6.99 and I eventually found them and got some of those too, I then had to force myself to go home before spending any more money!

I met a lovely lady, Chris, on Sunday at Barnsley craft market. Chris is a fellow local jewellery maker and gave me lots of tips and advice for which I'm very grateful, I left feeling very motivated and full of enthusiasm, so now I'm doing a craft fair in November and going to see if I can do a school fair at half term, I've also made some headway on my website too. I was so elated when I got back from chatting with Chris that I finished my commission necklace too:
So I've just got the earrings to make now, but I'm going to enjoy a cuppa and some chocolates first while Emily is sleeping

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What have I done today..............?

Not a lot really. I finished the necklace this morning to go with the purple and black bracelet, but haven't taken any pics yet. I popped up to my work space in the spare room last night at about 11:30 just to have a look at what I'd done so far with it and thought "I'll just thread a few more beads", the friend I'm making it for was visiting me today so I wanted to have something to show her that would give her an idea of the what the finished piece would be like. Suddenly it was 1:30am!!! Time has a habit of doing that to me when I'm beading. I could hear my other half snoring downstairs and assumed he'd gone to bed (I work in the attic room) but I could hear that the computer in our bedroom was still on and I found him asleep on the sofa. Anyway after the late night and having to get up at 5am to feed Emily and express some milk I was quite tired today. It was lovely to see my friend Barbara though, she loved her bracelet and what I'd done with the necklace so far and then she took me, Emily and Archie out for lunch. When we got back both kiddie winks went to sleep so I finished the necklace (it was calling to me I swear), just got the earrings to do now - hopefully the beads I ordered for them should come on Monday.

I wasn't the only one who was tired today though, although he didn't have to get up in the middle of the night, my other half had disturbed sleep too - I changed Emily's nappy at 5:30am and opened a new packet of baby wipes right next to the baby monitor in her room, the other bit is in our bedroom at the side of the bed and apparently it was louder than being next to a plane taking off - he jumped out of his skin and struggled to get back to sleep after that. He then had to work all day too, not sure what I'd rather do, two young kids and two kittens, dirty nappies and night time feeds or his job, dealing with naughty people, injunctions and ASBOs

Other than finishing Barbara's necklace I just spent far too long on the UK craft forum (as usual), found some unusual acrylic beads which have a smooth satin feel that I'm tempted to order and make myself a necklace out of and arranged to meet a friend who I've never met in person before (we met on a mother and baby forum and had our babies within a day of each other) we're meeting in Nottingham - a place I've never been to before. I'm also going to meet a fellow jewellery maker who I've never met before in my local market tomorrow, so it's all go.....

Things to do next week:

Barbara's earrings
set up a Facebook group for my jewellery
Look at my website and try and finish those niggly bits I haven't done yet, like terms and conditions, returns policy and payment method.

Busy week then

Friday, September 11, 2009

lovely purples

I've been busy today making this lovely purple bracelet for a friend of mine,

I'm really pleased with how it's turned out and I love the photo, I took it in the bath! I've just got the matching necklace and earrings to do now.
I might be able to get a stall at a craft fair near Leeds in November, so I'll have to get cracking with making lots of stock. Must make lots of earrings as people are likely to be happy treating themselves to a nice pair of earrings - or buy as a gift and it won't break the bank during these hard times. I've made a few pairs....
Maybe I should make some Christmassy ones too, I got a whole load of fimo for my birthday so I could make some snowmen and santas to turn into earrings, or maybe I'll just stick with beads, not sure.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Taking the plunge

Well, as this is my first ever blog I suppose I had better include a bit about me, who I am, what I do etc. I am Nicola, a busy 31 year old mum to Archie (17 months) and Emily (8 weeks) and stepmum to Jacob (9 years). I'm currently on maternity leave from the NHS, where I work as an information analyst, collating and publishing national statistics on smoking, drinking, illegal drug use, obesity, physical activity and diet.

I have recently discovered a new passion that has been keeping me even busier. I have discovered the joy of jewllery making. I started off by making breastfeeding bracelets because I wanted one but didn't know where to get one from and so bought the materials to make myself one, but thought that if I could sell a few I could cover the cost of the materials and tools I'd had to buy. if you're now wondering what on earth a breastfeeding bracelet is I'll blog about those soon so keep your eyes peeled. I took the family to a local bead fair, worried that my poor partner would be bored out of his mind and struggle to entertain the children, but he loved it and got right into the swing of it, coming up with ideas to expand my jewellery making beyond breastfeeding bracelets, so a few hours and £40 later I had some materials to make some necklaces and it all started from there really.

So far I've made a handful of necklaces, some sets of matching necklace, bracelet and earrings and loads of breastfeeding bracelets. Last week I helped Jacob make a necklace and bracelet for his mum's birthday. My latest make is a charm bracelet for my mother-in-law for her birthday. She wanted something bright blue and fun so I've made this....
Which I've called "Under the sea". I've also been asked to make some jewellery for my friend to wear to a christening, something aqua coloured, I'll be doing that soon so look out for pictures.

I've sold two of my necklaces (well my partner sold them to colleagues at his work) which I was very pleased about, but also a bit sad as they were my favourite ones, I had to remind myself that I'm making them to sell, not for me to keep! This was my most favoured one and I can't find another pendant like this.

I didn't get chance to name this one, but I loved it, so simple and elegant.
well I think I'll sign off for now, I've got housework to do and need to post my mother-in-law's birthday present.