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Thursday, 30 January 2014


Hi Everyone
Having spent all day having a lovely time yesterday, I'm going to have yet another lovely day. Today, it's my metalsmithing course. I'm hugely excited about this and can't wait to get going. It's going to be such a treat. I have great plans of working with metal in the future and will probably have more sessions in the near future.
Jill Stewart is the artist running the workshop -I'm especially interested in cutting and soldering. Here is a quick look at her work.

After the workshop there will be a lunch in the same building (there is a great little cafe). There are also other artist workshops at the facility, so will visit them all - yet another treat.

Again, not much time for any work in my studio. Such as life ! I will need to make up some time over the weekend. I hope to move my current painting on a little and make a decision on the trees (see my post yesterday for that story).
I also need to make a few more earring hooks for shop stock. If I manage that, I will be pleased. Next week it's back to a more disciplined work schedule. I want to get all my stock into the shops and a new range underway.

Have a great weekend.
Bye for now.

Thanks for reading

Thoughts of rejuvenation

Hi Everyone
Today, is going to be a day 'off' for me, it's my husbands birthday and we always celebrate both our birthdays by going out for the day. We are going to the small town of Corbridge this time and plan to go visit a gallery followed by lunch and a trip to RE (a great household/gift shop) - take a look at their web site. They have some great stuff. HERE is a link
I probably will not have time for any work. Perhaps, there will be lots of ideas and inspiration instead ? I always find treats like this hugely beneficial to my work.

I have been working on my current painting (Genervieve). Not too much time spent but Ive made some progress. Ive added several layers of purple in various shades. Ive also embedded Genevieve using a gloss liquid polymer.

I like having drips all over paintings. Not sure why ? I want to add some lines of trees along the white bits. I'm not sure (exactly) what trees to use yet. Ive sketched a few trees and will do some more.

Whatever, tree I use, I would like to make them the all same or maybe not ? I'm considering making a stamp.

The drips are going to represent 'raining thoughts'. I want the trees to link with the idea of growing 'the thoughts'. With this in mind, I can start developing some more features in the painting.

Genervieve is in deep thought and I need her to look a bit more serious. I will try and age her face a little.

That's about it for today. I'm off to have a lovely time and come back rejuvenated.

Thanks for reading

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

New Earring Plans.

Hi Everyone
It's Wednesday and I feel like I'm having a Monday ! - another 'where has the week gone ?' moment. My day yesterday 'evaporated'. I had a few things to do outside work and then the online shop development took over. I spent ages redoing bits of my shop appearance pages. I spent some time adding an 'about' page on Etsy. Ive sort of done it but need the space of a few days for editing. I also need some decent photos of my workshop/practices. I have some in the draft pages but I'm not happy with them. It's always good to leave things and go back. I find I have fresh eyes to be objective (I hope).

I also tried to sort the Big Cartel shop ie THE E SHOP. I want the E to turn into a bit of the word 'jewel' as a vertical word. I need to make a banner for this. Ive 'prepped' something that I will aim to develop. I want it to be very simple and to work as small thumbnail too.

I hadn't realised the processes I needed to go through, at the time. It's obvious now but I did spend ages messing about. Still I'm there now. The shops are still in very early stages and I now need to get my stock right. I feel I know what I'm doing - so I make that a positive move. Although frustratingly hard going and time consuming. When I'm happy with things I will provide a launch day with all the links.

Ive had yet another great idea for some small post earrings. I will make a range of similar design but with individual colours and surface designs. Some will be textured and some using colour. My idea is to embed silver into the design and experiment with the metal paint/wax. My colours will be a selection of brights (red, orange, green, blue); pastels (green, pink, yellow) as well as some whites and browns. I like the idea of little hearts but also organic rounds or flat stones. I want to present these little earrings in little wooden boxes. I'm working on a name. If I get them right, I will develop more beads to build other pieces like bracelets and rings.
I'm not sure where this idea has come from ? Ive been trying to find some examples to illustrate my thinking and develop my ideas, there are none out there that I can find ! Great ! It's down to me to provide. However, I thought I would share what I did find. I like all these samples - you can find the details on my Pinterest boards.
Love these green ones. These designs, in particular, are closer to my ideas.

All are available on Etsy if you want to buy them. You could wait for mine !!

That's it for today.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Shop Talk etc.

Hi Everyone
Yesterday, I talked about adding to the current painting of the week (now an official job each week !! - challenging I know !) and failed to do anything about it. However, I did have an idea even though it stayed in my head. It's now in the book to action ie the idea. My plan is to add a layer of purple in the form of a large stamped area. I know what I would like to achieve with this, so will get it done today. Will share the results tomorrow.

I did work hard yesterday, I did lots of sorting and some finishing of beads for specific earrings. I sanded one piece for ages and it worked out well. Prior to the sanding the clay colour mix made the bead look very messy. I think it's taken on a polished semi precious look.

I wanted the bead to have a very shiney side (without a varnish) to contrast with a highly textured front side. I want to re drill the hook holes next. I re shaped the wires too. Generally the earrings are good. They need to pass the quality test next.

I also spent time experimenting with the metal paint/wax stuff (I introduced this material last week here) the application can be tricky depending on where the colour is intended to be. I was experimenting and wasn't sure where I wanted to put it. It's quite thick and covers well but not forgiving. I need to be sure of where the colour should end up. I think my best approach is the use the mixed media approach and layer. I will try this again and sand to reveal under layers. This is a skilled approach with this technique - if you are a bit heavy handed the sanding just takes all the layers away. However, I like the finish and will work at it until I have a good technique.

The red version has pewter metal paint on it - in a very thin layer. The base bead is in fact a pre painted white clay. Highly dyed by the initial baked in paint layer.

The next batch is navy bows on a translucent white clay and I think doesn't work so well with sanding. I think next time a navy/translucent mix would work.

This is a second layer after the navy painted bake. I like the flaked surface and will build another few layers. Ideally I would have added the hooks later but Ive baked them in here. The next photo shows the paint layer well - I hope to give the surface texture using this flakey paint feel.

The last green bows are getting there. This is a much lighter touch. I will enhance the edges a little more and keep the finish a dull sheen rather than a shine.

Moving on, my little stock books here didn't get their labels yesterday. Today, Ive promoted this job to number 1 job today.
Talking of stock - Ive reorganised my shops !! This is a BIG announcement. I have 3 shops now. Folksy,Etsy and something called Big Cartel. All 3 are under development but I feel there is a logic to what I'm doing. The Folksy shop will be called thepapersac and will focus (for now) on paper related stuff or have a paper element to the items. The Etsy shop will be known as theARTsac and be more of an 'art jewellery' and paintings stock. The Big Cartel will be called 'THE E SHOP' and I intend to grow this in time but initially have 5 key pieces with more of an 'arty'/ statement feel. You can also get my stuff from a real shop in Felton, Northumberland called Gallery 45. I will do a piece on Gallery 45 in a few weeks. I have a small stock in there at the moment but have plans for a new range to be available soon. I'm happy with this arrangement and will stick with it for this year.

That's all my news for today.
Thanks for reading.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Pretty Books

Hi Everyone
Another weekend has 'flown by' - not sure what the highlights are ? I managed to complete a sewing job for my Dad which has been waiting to be done for months. It took lots of hands sewing time and rather dominated my weekend. It's complete and ready for delivery. Not too complicated a job - just a few fixed cushions for 2 stools. The challenges came from using a very thick upholstery fabric and a lack of skill on my part. However, I think it's a neat and tidy job and I hope he's pleased with it, I am !

Talking about 'time', I also decided to spend some of my valuable time on working on my paintings (this year) as a regular habit. I find it very easy to relegate my painting projects to the bottom of the every list. I seem to have very little time to fit everything into my days and if I don't timetable stuff it doesn't happen. My painting attention was going to go on Mary Haversham Look here for details.On Friday, I changed my mind and have chosen another partly completed painting.

This one did have a name ........ but Ive changed it. My son saw it and immediately came up with the name Genervieve (in honour of Genervieve Williamson's birthday - last Friday). I'm sticking with it. I'm not sure how it will go but I will aim to keep Genervieve displayed on a mini easel (within my daily view). I'm already thinking of the characteristics of 'Genervieve, the person', I can look and develop ideas over the day - if/when I get an idea I can immediately respond to it (either do it or make a note). That's the plan.

This week, I'm concentrating on my Etsy shop and giving it a makeover. I'm also going to organise my stock into Collections. I mentioned last week, I'd completed a whole stock take exercise. I have an electronic record but I also like to have a little book. Not sure why ? I think I just like little books. It's an excuse to have another pretty item. Keeping little records is part of my discipline systems and the process makes me think I'm 'in control' !!!! Not sure what that says ! Here is a look at the little book.

I know what you must be thinking ...... there are 3 books not 1 ! ......... but they are very pretty ! Can't quite decide which one to use. Will get back to you on that one.

Bye for today.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Green is coming !

Hi Everyone
It's the end of the week again ! I realise I say this most weeks !!! In my defence, time just flys by and when it gets to the end of the week - the fact leaps into my mind and I'm unable to resist writing it.

Anyway, I'm eventually getting rid of my minor illness, although, I still feel drained of energy. I ticked off a few things on my list yesterday and feel almost in control of work.

Today, I plan to get some stock in my etsy shop. It's been empty for a while and although Im working flat out on custom orders I do like to have things in the shops. Ive finished my current cataloguing so am for the first time able to find things easily and keep an accurate record of work. It's a great feeling - not very exciting for anyone else ! This job has been waiting to get done properly for around a year !

I did something VERY exiting yesterday - I developed a new colour item - green. Ive done green things in the past but not for a while. Ive chosen this particular green because I wanted a pair of bow earrings (for myself) in this green and thought I would try out the colour. I like it, so I'm preparing a little range (for production) within the metal stones collection.

The third photo shows a pair of navy bows too. I'm going to change the ear wire design for the green version. Ive drilled holes in the centre and will pass the wires through. The blue version has the wire embedded. These navy ones are not finished but you get the idea.

Other news - I talked about wanting to create some quality measures (earlier this week)for using with new jewellery pieces. I want to decide, objectively, if each item is good enough for sale. I wrote some simple statements, as a starting point for developing the quality measures.

I'm not sure if these particular statements will completely cover the job but Ive gone with them for now.
Here are the results of a particular item.

As you can see, this item needs a bit more work. I want to work through the exercise for a large batch and refine the detail. It's a good start for me and worthwhile taking the effort to develop this process as part of my work. I believe it will ultimately improve my skills and the quality of my creations. When I convinced of the questions, I will make a pretty little form for the job. I like the idea of pretty forms which are a pleasure to use !

That's it for this week. Have a great weekend.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Chains and magnets

Hi Everyone
I'm still struggling with my cold virus. I didn't manage very much work yesterday and I'm going to focus my time today on sorting out some stock for the shops today.
My plans included work on a small batch of jewellery

I did add a magnet to a couple of broaches.

I was surprised to find how thin the magnets are and how good they look on the back of the broach. I think this will be a great solution to my broach problems. My next hurdle is to create the ideal 'magnet back' for the broach to stay in place. Another of the same magnet would work but it's so tiny that the practical putting on and taking off would be very tricky. My current thinking is to have a larger magnet set into a piece of matching clay - as flat as possible. I need the larger magnet to embed and stay within a clay surround. More experiments needed.

I added a few posts to the back of matching earrings (matching the broach) and a coat of seal varnish on another pair of earrings. I'm working on making these earrings look more like they are made of metal and this is the first stage. Not sure if this will be a success but I will try out my idea. My next move is to add some dark silver metal paint around the edges followed by a little sanding.

Something else which is taking up lots of thinking time is what chain or stringing to use with my necklaces. I quite like the look of handcrafted chain, although - I think, I may need a fine chain for some pieces. The handcrafted variety is a much more of a chunky or ornate item and will not always suit my beads or pendents. I ordered a book a few days ago about making chains and it arrived this morning.

There are some great ideas and some brilliant advice on making my own chain. Most of the projects are about making the actual chain the focal point of the jewellery piece, rather than as a way of complementing other elements of a necklace.

I had a go, yesterday, at practicing some different link shapes and jumprings. I am learning fast about what might work. So far, Ive just made individual turned rings and some links which resemble paperclip shapes.

Clearly, each ring is a slightly different size. What I need to perfect is making a long stack of rings on a mandrel or similar and cutting through with a saw or cutters. Here is a look at my practice rings and long thin shapes. I understand the theory, I need to practice. I'm hoping my forthcoming metal course on 31st will help me with this one.

Bye for today
Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Can QUALITY be defined ?

Hi Everyone
It's another half day of rest for me - am feeling much better today so my 'taking it easy' must be working.

I did some more admin type work yesterday. I'm re doing my Business Plan (BP). In the past this has been a very dry read. The traditional financial thing. However, I'm not quite sure why it needs to be so. I'm planning to use my BP as a central 'working document' which will guide my business development as well as explain what I'm about and how I will achieve this year. All the vital business information will be there but I'm going to make a pretty book which I want to build and use. I will design it to allow changes and add new ideas or initiatives.
I'm also re doing my shop banners and am going to think about photos more. This whole revamp has come about because of an online course I'm currently doing called Do What You Love - you can find the detail Here The programme does what it says and has given me a whole new approach to my work. I want to enjoy what I'm doing.
On a practical front, I want to develop a few bits of jewellery today. I have several new pots of metal paint to play with. Here they are (a bit grainy in the dark morning light). The colours are called copper, platinum, graphite.

My plan is to give a different look to the edges of my bow earrings with the metal paint. I need to sand down the edges first. My other job will be adding a shiney finish to another few items including a broach. I want to add some clay to hold the magnet in place (on the broach) and bake before adding the paint.
Here are the pieces as they are right now. The first photo shows a pair of bow beads destined for earrings and are just shaped white polymer at the moment. The next picture shows two earring/broach pieces. They are similar in shape and form but I'm aiming to develop a different finish.

One thing I would also like to work on is a range of questions I can ask myself about each piece I produce. I want to be objective about this QUALITY idea and produce 'quality' items. This is a hard one ! ie determining what quality looks like. I think it's easier to know when something does not have 'quality'. But quantifying quality is another thing. I have produced an initial set of questions and will apply these questions to the finished items above. I will share my thoughts tomorrow.

Bye for today.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Jewellery Engineering

Hi Everyone
Very little to report today ! I'm suffering with a virus at the moment and my work rate has taken a big dip. I need to rest again this morning but hopefully will resume work after lunch. One of the things Ive promised myself this year is to have a work/life balance and this includes listening to my body.

I mentioned my ongoing cataloguing job yesterday and am still with it. I plan to do about 15 mins each day and will keep this going as a daily admin. task. When the cataloguing is complete for my current work more will come along and there is always work to do in reviewing descriptions/photos etc. I'm hoping this organised approach will help me save time for creative things in the long run. My shop stock is now in 'the box'.

I have some new packaging ideas for my jewellery - some decorated little paper boxes and some little wooden boxes. Will share them in a few days. For now, this is where the stock will live. It's the first time ever, all items have a label and stock number. It feels good !

The magnets for my broach ideas check here. have arrived and I need to figure out how I will use them. I could just glue them onto the back but this is not how I see them working. Somehow, I need to find a way of using them as part of the design. I'm very keen to have the back looking as good as the front (almost). Ive been thinking about this for a few days. My best approach, I think, is to play with some ideas. I like the idea of 'engineering' jewellery. On the whole, I favour, clean lines and balanced structures. I want to push these principles to the limit but the 'form' needs to be there as well as the 'design' - each (for me) is important. I'm beginning to think about these things as part of my initial sketching of ideas and Im feeling more confident about my designing process. I know (from experience) there is a place for 'playing' and I don't want to loose this either. The broach back needs to be 'played with' - all my ideas to engineer are a bit functional !

Bye for today.
Thanks for reading.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Shop Talk

Hi Everyone
Ive had another busy weekend - 'full on' activity. Yesterday, we had a great walk along the coast with our walking group - rained throughout ! Some of the walk was on the beach and the sea was amazing - quite rough and crashing waves. Very dramatic. It took me most of the evening to dry out and warm up ! I can't remember much about Sat !

This week I'm still cataloguing and will need to allocate a bit of each day to this job. I also need to organise some photo shoot sessions to link with the catalogue. I'm going to update my Etsy shop completely - new banner and pages etc. So, this week it's a priority to get that organised. Each item in my collections need some work. Some items need very little and I will take those first. I also want to include some new packaging ideas and will launch those as I fill my shop.

I want to develop some creative ideas alongside my current work and will plan to start working on some sketches for the idea I introduced last week. Check out the link here. Its quite an 'edgy' bracelet but I like the idea of linking the elements with a new technique (yet to be decided). Here is a photo of the inspiration item :

The original bracelet is made from metal and I'm using clay. I may use metal links ? Not sure yet. I want to make more bead pieces to produce other jewellery items too.
I'm hoping to work on ideas in time for a forthcoming metal working course - a week on Friday. I'm so excited about the course. I can't wait. Anyway, I will be thinking about the new project and hoping my course can help me with the metal link plan. I need some detailed sketches to take with me. I won't make the piece on the course but am hoping to learn techniques which will be helpful. I also hope to get some free advice from the teacher.

Bye for today.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Broach Talk

Hi Everyone
Following on from yesterday........ I talked about consolidating various collections of work. I am in the process of cataloguing my current work. This is important (to me) for a range of tasks and will make life so much easier for shop orders. Ive already organised about 60 plus items. Some pieces need more work and others need photos but I'm getting there. I need to spend another day on this job followed by entering the data into a digital log. I actually enjoyed the job yesterday but will be glad when it's finished today. My new system is helping me organise my stock and space in the studio but its also generating more ideas - there's definitely a good argument for leaving part completed work and re looking for further development. I know it sounds like an excuse but I'm convinced it's an artistic technique (for me). There's another whole discussion there !

While re looking at some of my items of work, I was drawn to thinking about the 'broach' as an item of jewellery. I do like broaches as an idea of jewellery and have lots of ideas for designing and making broaches but ........ and there seems to be so many 'buts'.

Most of the negative aspects of 'the broach' seem to be about the attachment facility and the effect it has on clothing. From a design perspectives, there are so many possibilities of the broach. I have a Pinterest board for both broaches and the backs of broaches ! This is my current favourite. I love the simplicity , colour and great pin. The same issues would arise from wearing this lovely broach.

Getting back to my own work. Ive rediscovered these part completed broaches :

The last photo does have some earrings too (not very small broaches). I like all these 'broaches to be' and am keen to try and develop a way of constructing the attachment/pin to wear them. These designs are specifically very thin/flat and need to stay that way if the design is to have integrity.

I don't like the usual bulky mass produced pin - this sits away from a blouse or fine fabric top/bodice and tends to hang down/away from the clothing or damage the clothing. There is a skill to designing the broach interns of weight balance too. These unattractive/unwanted negatives stop me from wearing broaches. Custom made pins tend to use relatively thick wire too and again, are potentially damaging for clothing. Ive thought about using 'magnets' - Ive seen receptionists wearing very flat style name badges on fine silk blouses or T shirts with the magnet attachment. This seems to be a logical way to try. I don't want to just glue a magnet on the back of my broach but perhaps I can construct some element of the broach design to accommodate the magnet. Ive ordered some magnets and will work on this idea.

On that note, I will get back to my cataloguing and await the magnets.

Have a great weekend.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Metal Talk

Hi Everyone
I'm working on consolidating my many jewellery projects at the moment. Ive been experimenting with different styles and techniques over the last few months and am gradually focussing on some designs which are working for me (at the moment).

When I look at the range of stuff I have produced there are very definite collections forming. This is a happy coincidence (nothing more). I'm feeling optimistic about finding and developing new skills and especially want to produce work with INTEGRITY. While on this journey, Ive made some dreadful stuff which I have worked on and eventually made something positive and/or developed my skills. The odd item has or should be in the bin. I have a problem with binning anything !

I thought I would try and classify my current stuff over a period of a few weeks with the aim of cataloguing (photo/name/description) it. The central theme in my work (I keep coming back to this idea) is using and imitating metal in my jewellery. I love the idea of mixing materials especially making clay act and bond with metal. With this in mind Ive been experimenting with all types of metal related materials I can get my hands on. Obviously metalworking is a highly skilled activity and can demand specialist equipment. I am neither skilled or have specialist equipment. However, I am keen to learn and do have some tools. So far, Ive THOUGHT a lot ! 'Dreaming up' ideas for trying. Ive worked with some power metals, gilding, wire, metal wax/paints and metal clay. Watch this space - I'm really motivated by working with metal and have high hopes. In addition, Ive got a class booked with a local metal artist (next week) and am hoping to move up a league ! So excited about this.

Here is a look at a few things which are the results of my early experiments. The first image is a pair of stud earrings which are clay and have a fused metal powder surface. The second photo is another application of the same thing. I need to seal the pieces and add an oxidised silver chain to the pendant bead.

I spent some time yesterday working on the shape of this pendant bead. It's very light and I have thoughts of adding another element on top of the bronzed area. Not sure ? I will wait until I have the chain on and wear it for a while. I like the feel of the shape and the colour mix is good for me. The grey and bronze are colours which I like to wear. The shape is rather 'organic' and almost 'casually' thrown together but I like how it looks and feels.

I also like the shabby paint effect. I will definitely seal it at this point. The bead has been baked after painting but it would scratch over time. I like the way in which the earrings look as if they've been 'dug up' - they have a 'grunge' feel about them.

The next item is a ring that has undergone various transformations. The ring started out as a large, angular thing with a button.

I carved bits from the ring surface and reduced the size.

Then, I lost the button and painted it (lightly) with gold wax.

I like the final stage. It's great to wear. I do need to finish off the inner ring area and make a repair on the top but I think this will be the final shape and finish.

The finish is subtle and has a lovely warm glow about it.

Today, I also wanted to share this piece Ive found while browsing. It's a bracelet by Monica Cecchi. I love this sort of thing. The square/oblong pieces are made from metal and linked with metal to each other. I want to use this idea to make a similar piece. Ive a few ideas about surface images and colours but I like the idea of using metal and possibly other materials to link the piece together. I want my piece to be wearable and comfortable. I have some sketches and will work it alongside other work. I will share the details of the development when I have something.

Bye for today.

Thanks for reading.