Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Revive and Renew...

Did you manage to survive the festivities then? As always after all the build up, Christmas seems to be over so quickly and we now find ourselves in this strange period of hiatus where we try to restore our energies for the New Year celebrations.

I actually had quite a productive time this year - I was lucky enough to get some new tools as presents so naturally I had to go off and check them out by making some jewellery. I'm on a bit of bracelet kick at the moment and put together a few variations on the theme I started before Christmas...

It's an annual habit of mine to use this time of year to get organised and clear the decks for the coming year. I'm not that fussed about the parties but I do like to start the New year with loose ends tied up and clutter cleared wherever possible. I get a bit of a rush from the prospect of the new and sometimes unknown on the horizon. This was never truer than this time last year and I've been having a good sort out of all the bits and pieces I've accumulated since then, when I stepped into the world of jewellery making and blogging and believe me, there's quite a lot of it...

So, I've batched up lots of bronze clay and enamel components I made this year and I'm going to be making up some 'grab bags' that will go into a destash sale in my Etsy shop. There's quite a lot of work involved with listing these so it will take me a few days but hopefully, they'll be up and ready for the new year and maybe will become part of a new project for someone else.

And of course, I'll be back soon to let you know as soon as they're available.


Saturday, 24 December 2011

The Foolish Fir-Tree

The Foolish Fir-Tree

by Henry Van Dyke

A Little fir grew in the midst of the wood
Contented and happy, as young trees should.
His body was straight and his boughs were clean;
And summer and winter the bountiful sheen
Of his needles bedecked him, from top to root,
In a beautiful, all-the-year, evergreen suit.

But a trouble came into his heart one day,
When he saw that the other trees were gay
In the wonderful raiment that summer weaves
Of manifold shapes and kinds of leaves:
He looked at his needles so stiff and small,
And thought that his dress was the poorest of all.
Then jealousy clouded the little tree's mind,
And he said to himself, "It was not very kind
"To give such an ugly old dress to a tree!
"If the fays of the forest would only ask me,
"I'd tell them how I should like to be dressed,
"In a garment of gold, to bedazzle the rest!"
So he fell asleep, but his dreams were bad.
When he woke in the morning, his heart was glad;
For every leaf that his boughs could hold
Was made of the brightest beaten gold.
I tell you, children, the tree was proud;
He was something above the common crowd;
And he tinkled his leaves, as if he would say
To a peddler who happened to pass that way,
"Just look at me! don't you think I am fine?
"And wouldn't you like such a dress as mine?"
"Oh, yes!" said the man, "and I really guess
I must fill my pack with your beautiful dress."
So he picked the golden leaves with care,
And left the little tree shivering there.

"Oh, why did I wish for golden leaves?"
The fir-tree said, "I forgot that thieves
"Would be sure to rob me in passing by.
"If the fairies would give me another try,
"I'd wish for something that cost much less,
"And be satisfied with glass for my dress!"
Then he fell asleep; and, just as before,
The fairies granted his wish once more.
When the night was gone, and the sun rose clear,
The tree was a crystal chandelier;
And it seemed, as he stood in the morning light,
That his branches were covered with jewels bright.
"Aha!" said the tree. "This is something great!"
And he held himself up, very proud and straight;
But a rude young wind through the forest dashed,
In a reckless temper, and quickly smashed
The delicate leaves. With a clashing sound
They broke into pieces and fell on the ground,
Like a silvery, shimmering shower of hail,
And the tree stood naked and bare to the gale.

Then his heart was sad; and he cried, "Alas
"For my beautiful leaves of shining glass!
"Perhaps I have made another mistake
"In choosing a dress so easy to break.
"If the fairies only would hear me again
"I'd ask them for something both pretty and plain:
"It wouldn't cost much to grant my request,
"In leaves of green lettuce I'd like to be dressed!"
By this time the fairies were laughing, I know;
But they gave him his wish in a second; and so
With leaves of green lettuce, all tender and sweet,
The tree was arrayed, from his head to his feet.
"I knew it!" he cried, "I was sure I could find
"The sort of a suit that would be to my mind.
"There's none of the trees has a prettier dress,
"And none as attractive as I am, I guess."
But a goat, who was taking an afternoon walk,
By chance overheard the fir-tree's talk.
So he came up close for a nearer view;
"My salad!" he bleated, "I think so too!
"You're the most attractive kind of a tree,
"And I want your leaves for my five-o'clock tea."
So he ate them all without saying grace,
And walked away with a grin on his face;
While the little tree stood in the twilight dim,
With never a leaf on a single limb.

Then he sighed and groaned; but his voice was weak
He was so ashamed that he could not speak.
He knew at last that he had been a fool,
To think of breaking the forest rule,
And choosing a dress himself to please,
Because he envied the other trees.
But it couldn't be helped, it was now too late,
He must make up his mind to a leafless fate!
So he let himself sink in a slumber deep,
But he moaned and he tossed in his troubled sleep,
Till the morning touched him with joyful beam,
And he woke to find it was all a dream.
For there in his evergreen dress he stood,
A pointed fir in the midst of the wood!
His branches were sweet with the balsam smell,
His needles were green when the white snow fell.
And always contented and happy was he,
The very best kind of a Christmas tree. 

May your festive season be filled with joy and contentment

Lesley x

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

I saw three Ships...

This will be my last blog post before Christmas so I thought I'd use it to share the last piece of jewellery that's likely to come off my work table for a while too.

I Saw Three Ships bracelet
The name for this bracelet came about because the beads remind me of sand and sea spray, there are three of them in the focal section and it's nearly Christmas, soooo... I saw three ships!

This is one of my favourite bracelet styles and I love making them in all silver but this does make them expensive to sell as the core is very heavy. For this one I decided to use mixed metals since the teal green works so well with both copper and silver tones.

The core bangle is heavy gauge copper wire wrapped with Sterling silver and lighter gauge copper wire. The gorgeous lampwork beads are by BB Glass Art and are accented with fine silver and copper dipped organic Greek ceramic and textured copper beads.

It's finished with a hand forged copper clasp and a short length of chain link which makes for easy access and adjustment. I have an awkward joint in my hand and have trouble getting a lot of closed bangles on so I particularly like this open bangle design. Hopefully my customers will like it too. Once I get into making one of these I usually end up creating several variations so I'll will probably have a few more to share in a week or so!

Well now I'm off turn my creative talents to wrapping presents and making the seasonal favourites around here...sausage rolls and florentines! I'd like thank everyone who has joined me on my blogging journey this  year as without you there really would be no point. I've made some wonderful friends, learnt all sorts of new things and I've had a great time doing it. I hope you all have the happiest of holidays and I wish you a very...

Take care,


Saturday, 17 December 2011

The other side of Christmas...

Handmade wreath by my sister-in-law Janet

Amidst all the fun and frivolity that accompanies Christmas I have to be honest and admit that it's not my favourite time of year. I haven't had a tough life by any means but it does seem that throughout my adult life, the difficult periods have always fallen around this time of year and for me, like many others, old wounds can sometimes open up a little in this season of remembrance.

Ten years ago I spent Christmas morning with my dad visiting my mum in hospital where she'd been for the previous two months following heart surgery and where my dad had been every day since. I was also in the process of changing jobs and relocating to another part of the country so was pretty stressed myself. We returned to my parents home in the afternoon and I cooked Christmas lunch while my exhausted dad dozed in a chair. My mum never left hospital and after contracting a respiratory infection and MRSA died a month later.

The following year I moved into a brand new house (where I still live) five days prior to Christmas and my dad came to spend it with me - both of us glad to have so much to distract us with all the things that needed doing to make the house a home. Before the Christmas after that I had lost my dad as well. 

My lovely mum and dad at a Christmas party about 50 years ago!

Don't get me wrong - I don't spend the festive season in a miserable fug... I join in with the fun with friends and family and am thankful for the the good times. But I'm always a little relieved when it's over, normality resumes and I can get on with life in my usual positive manner. Ten years may seem like a long time but when you accumulate such events over a long period of time you develop mechanisms to cope with Christmas but not necessarily to embrace it as fully as others.

I can empathise with other people when they say they don't like Christmas because it's all too easy to dismiss the sentiment with a throwaway comment like 'Bah humbug!' But we don't always know what other people have been through and how Christmas affects them. Emotions are heightened at this time of year and it can be really overwhelming when you feel out of kilter with the rest of the planet, so a little understanding and a hug can go a long way.

That said, I'm now off to continue with my preparations and do some things that make me smile. The lovely wreath my sister-in-law made me is on the front door, the tree will go up this evening and I have a pile of cards to deliver by hand. It's very chilly here today so I think some wine mulling may be in order too...

I hope you are all well on the way with your preparations and that those of you who need to, can find the time and space to reflect and remember.


Thursday, 8 December 2011

Big Christmas Giveaway...

First of all, many thanks to everyone who took part in this giveaway - the last one of 2011. For those of you who haven't won - well never mind, there's only a couple of weeks to wait and then we all get to take part in the fun of giving and receiving gifts.

But for 3 lucky people the waiting is over and I'm happy to announce that the winners are:

No.35 Jennifer Justman - Soul Fire Designs

No.41 Cilla Watkins - Tell Your Girlfriends

N0.22 Sue Harris - Blue Box Studio

Congratulations ladies - e mail me your addresses and I'll get your prizes off as soon as possible.


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Time On My hands...

I was due to be doing a craft show this coming Saturday until I found out last week (with just two weeks to go...?!) that due to what I shall call an 'organiser's oversight' I would not now be able to exhibit. Having already paid and spent recent weeks building up show stock I was not best pleased as you can imagine!

As a result of this, I now find myself in the very unusual position of having time on my hands with no pressing deadlines to meet. Since making the decision to try and sell my jewellery back in March, there's always been something I need to do urgently. Now, with stock in the shop and plenty in reserve to keep it topped up the pressure's off and it feels kind of strange...

Now of course there are a million and one things I could usefully be doing around the house and plenty of planning and admin tasks, like filing in my tax return :0(. But  that's really no fun and it is nearly Christmas after all... So what Have I been doing instead...? 

Well, I've started knitting again after a gap of more years than I can remember.

Nothing fancy, just some simple ruffle scarves (like the one in my current Christmas Giveaway) which I can knock out in a few hours, but I can do this at the same time as I watch TV - and that's something else I've not had much time for until now. I'll be putting some of these in my Etsy shop soon.

I've been reading too. I just love books and when I shop for them I can never buy just one - it has to be an armful. This is the focal point of my very small lounge and there are more bookcases dotted around the house.

The only New Years resolution I ever make is to read the unread books on my shelves and it gets carried over every year because I can't resist buying more. But I've made an early start this year, all-be-it by re-reading two of my all time favourites, To Kill a Mocking bird by Harper Lee and Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. I studied the To Kill A Mockingbird at school decades ago and have read it many times since. Wide Sargasso Sea I discovered a few years ago when I took a Humanities course with the Open University ( I have half a degree I still need to finish...) and was hooked from the get go - not an easy read but it gets better every time I do. Just need to start on the unread now...

Of course, I've finished all the shopping for Christmas than I can do at this point. Nothing is wrapped yet  but I like to do that nearer the time as it's when I really begin to feel festive.

And if there's one thing that is almost compulsory when I have the time to sit down with a leisurely cup of coffee or glass wine it's shop for beads - yay! Because there have been so many sales and events on recently it's been even more fun so, here's a peek at some of my newest buys...

Fun and funky spotted lampwork rounds by Helen Helen Chalmers .

Gorgeous cassis and vanilla graduated donuts by Sarah Watts - Sarah is new to Etsy and I can't wait to see her shop develop.


I love this set by Rachel Bishop of Puffafish called Winter Morning - such a perfect name, they remind me of a beach on a clear crisp December morning.

Lovely autumnal tones and reactive silver make these organic rounds by Clare Scott really shine.

And finally, another really striking set by Clare - very classy and sophisticated...nothing like me then!

In reality, these new bead sets and all the others in my stash mean that I always have something creative to be getting on with so I'll never really have time on my hands unless I choose to have - what a great place to be. And just once in a while I might even take a leaf out of Cleo's book and forgo all of these activities in favour of...

A restorative nap!

Hope you're finding time for yourself at this hectic time of year.


Sunday, 4 December 2011

Big Christmas Giveaway...

I'm usually a bit of a 'Bah Humbug' person until much nearer Christmas but I do love giving presents and this year I'm in the mood for doing it a bit earlier than usual.

2011 has been a year of change and new starts for me and has just flown by. During the course of it I've had a great time and met some wonderful people, many of whom I now consider to be friends even though I'll never meet most of them. This is one hell of a community we have going here.

Much as I'd like to, I can't give gifts to everyone (I've had a word with Santa though...) so to say thanks to all my new friends, customers, followers and fans I'm having a special Christmas giveaway with 3 gifts which everyone has a chance to win.

First up...

A lovely lampwork pendant in a gorgeous deep burgundy red embellished with drops of fine silver melted into the glass. Accented with Karen Hill Tribe fine silver beads, It hangs on a burgundy leather cord with sterling silver fittings and a hand made sterling silver clasp.

Next we have the result of one of my other creative endeavours...

This hand knitted cranberry red and silver ruffle scarf that's not just beautiful (don't be put off by the look of disdain on my model's face!) but long and cosy and will keep someone 'snug as a bug' all winter. I make these scarves when I'm watching TV in the evening as I like to have something to do with my hands - I tried jewellery but that got a bit messy! I'm getting quite a collection of these now and will probably be adding some to my Etsy shop soon.

And finally...a little bit of festive fun...

One of my bag charms featuring cheerful red and green handmade lampwork beads and a pretty bow - can you get any more 'Christmassy' than this..?

To be in with a chance to win one of these gifts all you need to do is leave a comment on this post, that will count as 1 entry. You can then get additional entries by:

  • Sharing this post on your own blog, facebook page, Twitter or other social network
  • Joining my blog
  • Joining me on Facebook
Please leave a separate comment for each activity you do so I know how many times to enter you and don't forget to leave me a contact e mail. The winners will be drawn using random number generator.

I will announce the winners on Thursday (8th December) so good luck and I'll see you back here then.


Friday, 2 December 2011

I heard a bird sing...

'Sing for Joy' - Donna Carlisle Noice

I Heard A Bird Sing

In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember. 
'We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,'
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

Oliver Herford

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Today's the Day....for great giveaways

Day 4 of Lori Anderson's Virtual Craft Fair to be precise and the day that that I get featured along with a whole bunch of other talented artists, all of whom have a give away - this is mine...

A gorgeous pendant that features a seaside themed conch shell focal bead by UK glass artist Julie Fountain with matching bead earrings. These beads have the most fabulous lustre which makes them really striking. Needing little more to accent them than simple copper beads, the pendant hangs from a fine copper chain and the earrings dangle from copper ear-wires.

Chain measures approx. 47cm (18ins).
Pendant measures approx. 3.5cm (1.5in) from the top of the bail.
The shell measures approx. 2.5cm  x 1.8cm (1in x 0.7in) 
Earrings measure approx. 2.5cm (1in) from top of the ear-wire.

Value $55

For your chance to win one of the 70 giveaways up for grabs just hop over to Lori's blog and leave a comment. You can get extra chances by sharing the Virtual Craft Fair with your friends too. You can then visit the blogs and shops of all the Artisan and maybe bag some yourself some great bargains. 

Virtual Craft Show visitors to my Etsy shop will qualify for FREE STANDARD INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING on all purchases until Saturday 3rd December - just use coupon code 'VIRTUAL'.

I'm off to check out the days talented artists now and I hope you have a great days browsing and shopping!


Thursday, 24 November 2011

Virtual Craft Show and Pumpkin Pie...

Just a quick post to remind you that the first ever 'Virtual Craft Show' starts this Saturday 26th November over at Lori Anderson's Blog Pretty things and runs until December 3rd.

Lori will be showcasing 70 Artisans and this will be your chance to visit their Shops and Blogs, discover new artists, shop for Christmas (or yourself!) and, take part in the activities that could see you win one of 70 giveaways over the course of the week!!! No braving foul weather either - you can do all this from the comfort of your own home.

For the duration of the show I will be offering free shipping on any purchases from my Etsy Shop to all you Virtual Craft Show visitors. Just enter Coupon code VIRTUAL to take advantage of this special offer.

I'm sure many other artisans will also be running special offers too so keep your eyes peeled.

I'll definitely be looking to start my Christmas shopping at the show and hope to see you there - don't forget to tell your friends either...

Oh and a very happy THANKSGIVING to all my friends in the USA today!


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Full of Flavour Bead Soup

In between the big Bead Soup Blog Parties that Lori Anderson organises there are some smaller bead swaps. We don't have to make anything for these - they're just for a bit of fun and chance to get to know fellow beaders. My partner for the winter swap is Kate Gardenghi of Tropical Blonde who makes her own beautiful Polymer Clay beads.

My beads arrived this morning and Kate has put together a gorgeous selection...

The beads arrived in these lovely little silk pouches - so pretty and a little bit different. First to tumble out were some of Kate's own Polymer beads.

As some of my favourite colours are green, teal and turquoise, I was delighted to find these lovely flower beads and matching focal along with some little disc beads and some toning ceramics. I think these are just perfect for the current season.

Next came a big selection of green Czech glass and Miyuki cubes - so fresh and lush, and aren't those little bug beads the cutest!?

The final ingredients for this tasty bead soup were lovely sea glass barrels, a couple of funky large green tree agate faceted rounds and some pretty Grossular green garnets (garnets are my birthstone) along with some copper beads that complement the aqua tones just perfectly. And the final touch - a luscious rich burgundy red length of Sari silk.

I'm totally delighted with my goodies - thanks very much Kate, you did a great job picking for me and I'll be working with these very soon.

Hopefully Kate will be as pleased with the beads I sent her when she get s them :0)


Friday, 18 November 2011

It's a charmed life...

Well it certainly has been for me this week...

I've been working on a number of commissions including quite a large order for the beaded lampwork bag charms/key chains I started adding to my Etsy shop a few weeks ago.

I thought these might make good Christmas stocking fillers and they've sold quite well so I'm hoping they will prove to be as popular at a Christmas craft fair I'm doing next month next month.

The great thing about these is that I can batch up all the bits and pieces - beads, charms, cords and clasps and then sit quite happily making them whist I watch TV. I can't do that with most of my jewellery pieces that's for sure.

And as I've still got lots more to make that's exactly what I'll be doing this evening!
So how are your Christmas preparations going - are you doing any special jewellery items?


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Santa Baby...

I've spent quite a lot of time this week adding new stock to my Etsy shop and whenever I do this, it's inevitable that I get distracted by lots of beautiful handmade creations that I come across en route. As we're all gearing up for the festive season I thought it might be nice to share a few of the things that have made it to my Etsy favourites and would definitely be on my Christmas wish list. As I have a huge variety of favourites I'm going to split them into categories and do a little series of these posts over the next few weeks.

And what better place to start than with jewellery. Some of these artists have influenced my own work and some I just dream  of emulating - I hope you love the pieces as much as I do.

Earrings and pendant by Celie Fago
Celie Fago is a Doyenne of the metal clay world and oh, how I would love to be able to achieve the originality and refinement of her designs. I think I need a lot more practice before my clay work becomes anything more than rustic!

Pendant by Suntribe Designs
Earrings by Mocahete
Mocahete features the work of Dante and Sabrina Acevedo and was one of the first shops I came across on Etsy and then I discovered its sister shop Suntribe Designs. I just love the beautiful ethnic and tribal  designs and the stunning quality of the metalwork and finishing.

Necklace by Stacy Perry of Hodgepodgerie
I actually discovered the work of Stacy Perry of Hodgepodgerie 2  long before I knew about Etsy. Her bold wire and metalwork is just beautiful and she has a really great eye for colour and detail. Her jewellery is also quite relaxed and lots of fun which is something I try to achieve with my own designs..

Bracelet and necklace by Cyndie Smith
If money were no object I could probably relieve Cyndie Smith of her entire stock. Beautifully made organic designs in metal that are stunning pieces of art but also immensely wearable. I have yet to attempt fold forming but Cyndie's work really makes me want to give it a go.

necklace by BlueSagePearl
There's a saying in the culinary world that 'what grows together, goes together' and I think a similar adage can be applied to grouping materials together when designing jewellery. This gorgeous necklace from BlueSagePearl combines similar but complementary stone beads to create a design with both understated elegance and high impact. I often find designs like this that at face value seem quite simple the hardest to get just right.

Enamel bangles by Lia Bowen of Bullfinch Barbury
You may be aware that I've recently added enamelling to my repertoire of techniques. At the moment it's limited to quite simple earrings but these lovely bangles from Lia Bowen of Bullfinch Barbury have me yearning to do so much more.

Lampwork beads by Amber Van Meter of NaOs Glass
I just adore the the work of Amber Van Meter of NaOs Glass and have coveted these beads sets for many, many months. OK, so strictly speaking they're not pieces of jewellery but if anyone wanted to see my face light up on Christmas morning, finding these in  my stocking would do the trick! Don't go running away with the idea that the end results would be for sale though - these are most certainly keepers

These next two pieces are definitely not jewellery but every girl needs somewhere to keep her beads and jewellery doesn't she...?

Apothecary Chest by Red Rooster B & B
Printers drawer jewellery display by Black Forest Cottage

Oh well, I can you think Santa reads my blog?

I could seriously go on with this for a long time but I think I'd best call a halt for today - I'm sure there will be time for a second round of jewellery favourites before the holidays.

So have you started your Christmas shopping yet, have you finished it already and if you could have anything, what would you love to find under the tree on Christmas Day?

Happy dreaming!