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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Even more bracelets are born.

Hi Everyone
I had a poor day work wise yesterday, however, I went out to lunch and fiddled in the garden ! Great. I'm now ready for a packed 4 day week !

Today, I'm running a workshop as a fund raising event at my local school. I mentioned the details in yesterday's blog. The session has been lovely. Lots of amazing women - having a lovely time. Here is a look at what they came up with :

Everyone had great ideas and completed their works of art in a relaxed but focused manner. Can't ask for more (as a tutor). Thank you to everyone.

I have also planned some new metal jewellery designs for later and really need to get down to working. Just enough time for a coffee and a browse through a new magazine (arrived via post this morning). Not sure what else I can do to delay work ? Not sure why I'm delaying because I love what I do ?

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 29 September 2014

How many bracelets do you need ?

Hi Everyone
Ive had a lovely weekend, didn't achieve much but it was relaxing and the weather was lovely.
I'm sharing a little of a new bracelet workshop which will start next week.
I prepared these beads last week and am using them for the basis of the session.

The idea is to look at colour mixing, bead shaping and threading. I'm using a range of very basic techniques and I want to keep the tasks simple. These colours are using left over clay from my last workshop. The colours I'm using in the workshops are colours which have been mixed and toned down with a metallic clay (other than the blues/brown).

The plan is to use up the original clay but with a twist. I'm hoping that almost all colours can mix with each other.
The mixing of two coloured clays is based on a simple cane technique. I want to explore the idea of caning but without too much complex cutting. I will get some photos of the results and share here. I know there will be some lovely surprises.
My next production plans this week are going to concentrate on metal work. Today, I'm hoping to get this going.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Perhaps, next time ?

Hi Everyone
Yesterday turned out to be rather busy - I had plans for all kinds of creative production however, being a 'mum' took over. My production happened much later and as with many of my plans, things changed. I had expected to work on something I'm calling a Starburst polymer cane. I was inspired by this work and I wanted to try and get something similar.

However, this happened instead. My distraction was trying to multi task and prepare some clay for a polymer clay workshop next Tuesday. Before I realised, I'd started making something else. I had a nice time so that's OK - isn't it ?

These photos show what I did. Apologies for the quality of the photos, it was a bit dark and the lights interfered with the images.

The final shot shows how the shapes came together. My plans is to make enough to develop a bracelet. I may need to make more ? Perhaps, next time I can focus on the job !!

Have a great weekend. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Flower beads are here

Hi Everyone
Although, I had lots of commitments yesterday, I did manage to get my moulds made and some experimental beads created.
I used something called Siligum. It's described as a moulding paste. The process involves mixing equal amounts of each of the blue and white substances from two tubs supplied in the pack.

I used these garden plants as the basis for the shapes.

Here are samples of the plants places in the Siligum. The plants stayed in the Siligum for about 5mins (to set the shape).

The plants were removed - not an easy task ! The dried parts of the plants came away and stuck in the mould. I needed to use tweezers to remove all the little bits.
However, when cleaned the moulds were very detailed and easy to use. The Siligum is great stuff for this kind of job.

The moulds produced some lovely shapes and the detail is fantastic.

I wanted to link the two moulds into one bead by placing one inside the other.
I'm not sure what I can call my new flower bead but it's a lovely shape.
My next task is to colour the bead and decide what I can do with it ?

I particularly like the smaller bead and have I ideas to make a bracelet. Not sure about the larger one or the combination bead ? I will keep thinking and testing out some more ideas.

Thanks for reading

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Bead Moulds

Hi Everyone
Ive got a busy day today - volunteer work this morning and early evening so I'm going to try to get a new little project underway in the space between ( about 3 hours). Ive been thinking (seems like forever) of a way of making some moulded beads inspired by a tutorial I found via Polymer Daily here is a reminder of the original beads (you can find a tutorial in my Pinterest boards)

My plan later is to produce some moulds to work towards making beads which are something similar to the photo. I love these beads and am quite excited about the possibilities. I especially like the colour but may work on some other colours too.
I'm going to use plants from my own garden to make some moulds. Here are the plants. I picked them a few days ago and they are quite dry.

I will take some photos as I try to make the beads and share the process tomorrow - good or bad !

Thanks for reading

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

New Workshop

Hi Everyone
I'm getting excited already about a second polymer clay workshop (second in the series) I'm facilitating next week. I blogged about the ideas for specific jewellery designs last week and had made some samples. However, there are big changes after several meetings with members of the class. Now, it's much simpler but dealing with a couple of techniques which can be applied in the future.
I'm talking about colour mixing to create a colour palette as well as making polymer canes. The canes I'm looking at are very simple and a subtle take on 'pattern'. We will not be trying to get complex, 'kaleidoscope' style canes, I'm seeing a simple 'zebra' stripe pattern emerging. The cane aspect is in the method of merging the colours and creating a simple colour combination. I'm hoping the class will find a creative surprise when they form their 'canes'. Here are a few photos of the process I will be using with the class.
These colours are something called wasabi and antique gold (Sculpey brand) - I'm using this particular clay because it's spare in my box - Ive decided I quite like it !
The colour combinations for the actual class will be created today. I'm thinking I will introduce a raffle style choice for the class as we will have unique colours and combinations for everyone. Here are the stages I developed. I will take the class through each stage and demonstrate as we go.

I developed these bracelet samples from my clay beads.

The beads will form a simple stretch bracelet as you can see. Ive made different shaped beads to give an idea of the possibilities.
If anyone in the Morpeth, Northumberland area is interested in joining one of the workshops - please contact me to check availability ( We have lots of interest but will try and accommodate.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Stretchy Bracelets

Hi Everyone
Ive had a lovely weekend, very busy and I now need a few days to recover ! Chores and house jobs were lined up and I felt I wouldn't achieve very much. However, all completed ! In addition, we had a family/ walk group walk yesterday. The walk was local to our town and initially quite 'tame' but proved very interesting and quite challenging and the weather was lovely - almost a Summer day again ! I fell into bed after the first episode of the new Downton Abbey on TV.

Today, I'm picking up on the jewellery workshop 2 development. After coffee and consulting with friends on Friday, Ive completely changed my plans. I'm going to make a bracelet instead. The idea will be to focus on clay mixing and colour development with stretchy bracelet production. Ive got a great sample but will mix more clay to form another bracelet with the actual clay colours. I'm hoping to complete that today. Alongside, I need to get some invites ready for more earring workshops. All go ! Ive got meetings this afternoon too. So busy day again, perhaps a lazy day on Tuesday ?

Here is a quick look at the stretchy bracelet which promoted the workshop idea.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Restrictions = Rethink !

Hi Everyone
My efforts yesterday were very frustrating ! I had a plan to develop some sample pieces of jewellery (for a new workshop) inspired by my chosen photos (see yesterday's blog for details). I took characteristics of each of four pieces and produced my own. My restrictions were applied ie limited quantity of clay, limited tools and limited time. Given all these 'limitations' - Ive had to reconsider. I produced a reasonable copy of each design in a simple two colour design but needed way too much clay and more tools than we have available for the workshop. So, I had to compromise and develop another set of samples. Here are the designs

These are not the colours I will use for the actual workshop samples - I have a real problem with anything that isn't blue !!! Ive used blue because I have lots of it. I want to take the original workshop clay colours and mix them with a smaller proportion of bronze clay. This will have the effect of allowing the original clay to develop a common tone and work together well. These are my starting colours. I want to change these very bright colours into 'autumn' tones with a subtle soft glow. Fingers crossed.

I will, hopefully, work on these designs and mix the clay for early next week. Ive not cured the blue clay samples yet and I want to make some clay fastenings for all the items which will turn them into a necklace. Plenty more work to turn these ideas into a good workshop.

I think the most important thing I've learned today is that a basic range of tools is necessary, even for these very simple designs. I think, an acrylic roller and a slicing tool are essential. My last workshop worked well without these tools but only because the items were very small. Just a note - the flower design was just an indulgence on finding myself with a simple, experimental jelly role cane. I couldn't resist making the flower. Not my thing at all ! Not sure what I can do with it ?

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

This is my plan !

Hi Everyone
Following on from yesterday, I mentioned preparing some follow-on polymer clay jewellery workshops. Read back for some background on my first workshop.
I spent lots of time thinking about how and what to suggest. Ive decided to go for a necklace on buna cord. Buna is a rubber looking product. Ive seen some great examples of using this material for stringing and thought I could use it with a particular mounting technique (often an issue for me ie the right necklace construction). I can also create a fastening from clay and the buna.
My group were brilliant and their skills are up to it !

My workshop group is part of a larger fundraising movement and we are very much an experimental test group for developing suitable projects. The fund raising element of the projects means that we are aiming to raise as much money as we can for our cause and because we are at the beginning of our projects - tools and other resources are limited or non existent. These limitations, in some respects, are great for focusing the mind. I need to develop my projects very carefully and make sure I can adapt or make tools rather than buying everything new !

Anyway, having got all that sorted in my mind. Ive chosen four design ideas which I will try and use as the basis of Workshop 2. My plan (today) is to make my version of each design and then ask the group to choose their project. Hopefully, I will get at least two new workshops and maybe even four from my experiments. Ive researched the ideas from a few sources but mainly Pinterest. I like Pinterest for lots of inspiration - I get the sense that all the photos on there come with a sharing purpose which fits my brief.
Here are my choices - the artists concerned are Victoria Sewart, Celine Charuau and someone I can't find - will keep looking and credit her beautiful work (top left flower).

Ive also added these lovely earrings which are created by Genervieve Williamson, my favourite polymer jewellery artist. I will turn the earring idea into a pendent.

My versions will be inspired only and will probably not look like these versions. Colours will be based on the clay colours we have. I thought I would mix a range of colours to give a colour palette rather than give a wide ranging choice.
That's my plan - I will share what I come up with tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Workshops etc.

Hi Everyone
I had a lovely time yesterday leading a polymer clay jewellery workshop. Everyone was hugely enthusiastic and it was a joy to be part of. This is to be the first on a series of workshops and we have already planned a date for the next. So exciting !
Here is a little peak at some of the stuff produced.

My ideas for the next session will build on the experimenting we did yesterday. I want to challenge the group to making something in particular and 'take charge' of the clay rather than having a go and seeing what happens. I'm preparing some samples to make a group choice. Will share my ideas here too. I'm going to develop some kits and will put these in my shops.

Thanks for reading

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Inspiring Moments

Hi Everyone
Building on images from yesterday's blog and the beautiful beads produced by Rebekah Payne, I was thrilled to see some work from one of my favourite printmaker artist - Angie Lewin. Her work is stunning. Over the weekend, I mentioned going to a few National Trust properties and saw some cards for sale in their shops. The shops have a range of cards produced from Angie Lewin prints. This is the one I chose - it's called By Green Bank.

I find this so inspiring. Ive got lots of ideas to use the shapes to develop beads. I can also see opportunities for brooches in there. Ive got the card positioned next to my work desk - so I can see it at all times.

Yesterday, I spent lots of time on paperwork and almost no time on anything else. I'm feeling I wasted my day !

Today, will be much more fun, I'm running a clay workshop with about 12 folk. We will be making small jewellery items and Im very much looking forward to seeing what everyone produces. I enjoy these workshops and find the whole thing an inspiration for more work. I will get some photos and share some of the things people make.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Cakes, flowers and beads.

Hi Everyone
Lovely weekend - didn't achieve much but the weather was great and our little family spent both Saturday and Sunday visiting National Trust properties and eating afternoon teas. I feel Ive been enjoying beautiful flowers eating all weekend ! it was lovely.

I also had a run yesterday !! - Ive been suffering from injury for a while, so it's great to get back to normal. I did wonder how things would go with my run but 'all is well', hopefully I'm back on the road to getting fit.

My aim this week is to get 'focus' into my work. The metal collection needs to be at the top of my list and I also have a jewellery workshop on Tuesday so much of my week is already taken. I also want to develop some moulds to make some beads - I'm working on another workshop which will have plants and flowers central to the plan. I have an idea is to make something like these.

A tutorial exists here I will have a go with the tutorial and then try to develop my own take on it. Wish me luck. Thank you so much to Rebekah Payne for sharing this tutorial.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Is creativity disciplined ?

Hi Everyone
My day yesterday was a frustrating series of experiments which came to very little. I found myself searching for a new 'big' idea and my plans seemed to go backwards. I failed to adopt my own design process ie idea - sketch - apply. Instead, I 'fiddled' with bits of clay, without a deliberate plan and although some of my idea worked the final item is not what I wanted. Ive made a mental note to myself - to follow my disciplined design process every time. Having slept on things I now have another plan. Perhaps, this is the way creativity works ? Perhaps, I need to have the 'struggle' to make something worthwhile. Anyway, life moves on .... so here is a look at my little experiment.

The aim behind this exercise was to find ideas for a series of workshops. These workshops will be fund raising sessions. I'm helping to fund raise for a local botanical project and am trying to make flowers and botanical links central to the workshops, hence the use of the flower here. I wanted to incorporate the impression of a real flower and then infill - both the impression/infill technique worked well. My problem is with the actual bead ie the shape and the plain back. I did consider another impression on the back and should have tried this. My other issue is how to assemble the pendent into a necklace. I have problems with necklaces every time ! I don't particularly like the obvious ie a jump ring onto a chain. I want something different and will eventually find something else ... but in the meantime, it's taking up much of my thinking. Currently, I'd describe it as a bit of an obsession. Perhaps, today will be more fruitful !!

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Organic Stuff

Hi Everyone
I had a lovely day yesterday, the weather was great and I moved effortlessly through my chores list in the morning. Surprised myself !
After lunch, I spent a few hours messing about with metal. I used every tool I have and did lots of filing (my favourite thing). I eventually came out with 3 sets of earrings and some scrap. More work and a bit of soldering as well as finishing required. Here is part of the development (of one set).

These earrings are copper, sterling silver and Swarovski stones. All the bits need cleaning and polishing but I like the basic organic design. They are in fact quite small items - the close up photo makes them look larger. When finished, I will wear them to show their size.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Happily Distracted !

Hi Everyone
Yesterday, all my intentions of working on the new packaging and metal collection (listed as my objective of the day) went out of the window !
I did spend time making sure I'd completed the details for a jewellery workshop Im running next week. However, I found myself distracted with making something from some leftover clay and watching a few great polymer clay videos on making large focal beads. Not great use of my time but I enjoyed it ! Here is a look at the results.

Today, I need to be more focused and it's time to hammer out a few bits of metal and do some soldering. I love doing this sort of thing. I will share my creations tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Tomato Talk

Hi Everyone
I'm celebrating picking my last (probably) tomato crop for this year. This will be the final big harvest - I may get a few more individual tomatoes if the sun keeps shining.

I can't believe how many tomatoes Ive had from two tiny plants. My plan is to make sauce from this batch. I intend to bag the sauce into small batches and freeze. I will enjoy taking out a bag every now and again and think of the lovely smell from the greenhouse as I picked the tomatoes. These toms are very sweet and juicy.
The other tomato plant is an unusual dark purple colour and has a small cherry tomato fruit.
Here is a bowl of soup made from the small cherry variety. The soup is mixed with celery and tastes very 'tomato like' although amazingly, there is no red colour.

Tasted great !

I did manage a little work today - as well as eating tomatoes and feeling very smug about eating my own produce. I'm focusing on packaging and developing a metal jewellery collection. I have some prototype wooden packaging going on with new printed labels. More work needed on this today.

Thanks for reading

Monday, 8 September 2014

Celebrating the end !

Hi Everyone
It's the official back to work day for me (after a very long Summer holiday) - looking back Ive had a great LONG break and because the weather has been very good it's been extra enjoyable.
This weekend, our little family joined a local walking group for a lovely walk in the Lake District. Again, the weather was brilliant and we had a hard but exciting walk. Here is a view from the top looking down on Keswick and Derwent Water.

Here is another view of a Lancaster Bomber flying through the valley above Thirlmere. This caused lots of excitement and although the image is tiny the noise was immense and immediately recognisable (even to me - I'm no plane buff !).

Earlier, before the Lancaster Bomber experience, the Red Arrows flew over - amazing. Apparently, there was an air show going on in Glasgow as well as our walk. What a great end and celebration of Summer 2014.

Now - at last, it's time for work.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 5 September 2014

What's wrong with knots ?

Hi Everyone
It's Friday already ! - how did that happen ? Ive been quite busy all week and felt happy that I have organised my monthly schedule, I'm now wondering about time management - again ! I'm still not into a high production routine but I'm getting there (I think ?). The weather this week has been great - almost 'hot' most days, this has helped my mood !

Most of my work has been centred around preparation for a few workshops in the middle of September. Ive got my samples sorted, materials and equipment organised - very satisfying. The workshop will offer either earrings, brooches and necklaces from scratch using polymer clay and my own sterling silver findings. It's a basic half day course and there will (hopefully) be more 'follow on' workshops to develop ideas and skills.
With the samples, I have been (unexpectably) working on ways of dealing with covering waxed cotton knots on necklace closures. I know leaving the knot is just fine (that's what I'd initially planned) but for some reason I'm never happy with the result (for myself). I like to wear my designs to check out if they are durable and the simple knot closure always leaves me wondering how I can get rid of the knot. Ive experimented with a few different techniques to share with my workshop students. Some work better than others. Essentially, Ive covered the knot with a bead. However, the challenge is how to get the bead over the knot and ensure the bead hole is big enough for the job, post construction. Each of the necklaces have a slightly different solution but Ive tried to make the necklace and then construct a bead around the actual knot, curing the final bead while in position. My anxiety was - can I carry out the curing without damaging the necklace ? No worries there - all beads, silver findings and waxed cotton come through undamaged in any way. Here are the results.

Learning from the experience, I can plan this process into the design next time. I will spend more time perfecting the covering bead. This bead is working just like a crimp cover. I have an idea to make a little mould for the job - perhaps in a few sizes ? I will ponder this one. I have other issues with this type of necklace design ! - I'll leave that debate for another day.

PS I'm also preparing some kits to add to the workshop offer and will put some in the shop when ready.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

A gift for me.

Hi Everyone
I'm almost there - third day back at work (ish). But, I have to admit to being distracted yesterday, just a little ! I have a list of samples I need to make for a class (almost done) but while working on this little task, I found some leftover beads (from a recent birthday gift). I couldn't resist making myself a similar bracelet. I didn't quite have enough beads, so spent ages looking for extra beads. Before I knew it, my work session was over ! My time management will need to get better ! Such as life.

Anyway, here is my new bracelet and the gift bracelet. I had picked the best beads from the batch for the present but the leftovers are OK. Ive been wearing the bracelet and I do like it. At first glance, it seems a bit too busy for my tastes. But - it's surprisingly pretty and I find myself smiling as I get a glance while going about my business.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Creative Opportunities

Hi Everyone
I had a good day yesterday. I have my monthly work targets in place and Ive made inroads into the post holiday washing/tidying chores. I also managed an hour sorting out the garden. The sun was shining and it was hot ! - great.

Big news - Ive signed up for a new initiative from Do what you love - there's an open invitation (on the link) for everyone to join in, take a look.
It's all about making time for creative activity in a busy life. I don't think I have any spare time but Im committed to prioritising such things and I'm giving it a go. So far, I've done two days. Day one is a listening activity for a minute and day 2 is creating a Haiku. This is my Haiku :

I created this in my allocated 2 mins activity. I was inspired by looking at some flowers in my garden. It's been good so far, I'm hooked.

PS - If you need to know about Haiku hereis some detail.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Nettle Chord Bracelet

Hi Everyone
a day in (from the dreaded first day back at work) and I'm still not comfortable with my lot ! I managed to struggle through yesterday by organising a few house tasks and a bit of food shopping. My big treat of the day was watching the US Open Tennis - love watching tennis.
My photo story today is a little gem from our holiday. My very clever son decided to play at making chord from natural fibres ? This example is made from nettles. I can't go into the why ? - a teenage state of mind is difficult to explain ! However, this is the result.

A bracelet made from nettles - fantastic (but not resilient - only lasted a day).

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Good memories !

Hi Everyone
our summer hols are no more and The Grand Tour of 20014 is over ! It's back to work today after a long and lovely holiday. Ive struggled all summer with poor internet access so had to abandon my daily blog photo stories but Ive got a few collage photos so will post some of the highlights over the next few weeks.
Our house is in a big mess - always to be expected after a holiday !!! Washing waiting and bags needing to be emptied etc. It's all too much at once so I will take my time today. I need to sort out my diary and get some lists going ! Work 'propper' will start Wednesday (when the kids are both back at school.
However, a little something from the last two weeks :

- yesterday on the beach !

Thanks for reading