Sunday, 23 September 2012

And the winners are....

And the winners are....

Made by Jules wins my special bracelet :-)

and a bonus surprise gift goes to......

Moonlit Fantaseas!

Congratulations girls! Email me and let me know your addresses and I'll get your prizes out to you ASAP :-).

Friday, 21 September 2012

Lorelei and The Beadin' Path: Challenge Reveal!

Welcome to Lorelei's latest challenge! Anyone who reads this blog knows that I love a challenge....but probably also that I am great at leaving these things til the last minute. I sat down to create yesterday but  by the time I'd finished, it was dark outside. And today, I woke up to more darkness - a rainy, gloomy day. So you'll have to excuse some of the pictures - I'm not happy with them, and hope I'll maybe manage some better ones over the weekend so that I can list them in my shops.

Here's the materials we had to work with:

Fun lucite, acrylic and resin components to work with - a mixture of new and vintage. Very different from my usual materials - but the colours! The colours were pure Songbeads. 

I actually started working on these projects a few weeks ago, but the ideas I had just didn't work. These plastic components are very light, but not quite as light as I had thought - it took me a while to get used to working with these different materials but yesterday it all seemed to flow pretty well. 

 First up, a sweet pendant necklace. I layered lampwork discs and a tiny Czech glass flower on top of one of the resin flowers, and then added a spotty glass rondelle stacked on a faceted czech glass rondelle. 

I used one of the buttons as clasp. I like to use hooks when using larger buttons as closures - slips easily round the shank of the button, and is more secure than a big loop when the clasp is at the back, in my opinion. 

A fun pair of earrings - but they didn't photograph well.....I'll try again when the day is a happier one!

Next, some knotting - you knew I couldn't stay away from the linen cord(!) - combining the lucite orange slabs with some cool polymer from BeadsByEarthTones, and some petite czech glass rondelles. Very different to my usual style but I really like it!

Lastly, I tried a bit of ladder stitch with the barrel beads. Some orange cord this time, and I added a ceramic leaf from Kylie Parry, and instead of knotting to finish, added a couple of czech glass flowers to the cord ends. 

A great challenge and I am so pleased with the results! Thanks Lorelei and The Beadin' Path.

You can find the list of others taking part on Lorelei's blog. 

Monday, 17 September 2012

Giveaway time!

Until recently, I was not a big fan of Facebook. I don't really know why - something about how voyeuristic you can be with it, and in fact, the voyeuristic tendencies it brought out in me! For the last few years, I rarely used it, and often missed out on things because I went on it a couple of times a month at most. 

However, over the past few months, I've made a conscious effort to change that. It's sort of become like an extension of my blog, or a merging of my blog and the blogs of many of my jewellery making friends from all over the world. I really like that. I like that it's almost become a new thing altogether - not somewhere to check out how many kids someone I went to school with has, or what an amazing job someone I was at university has, just somewhere to check in with the jewellery making community. And I'm pretty good at keeping to that - not too much 'ex-stalking' or looking at friends-of-friends wedding snaps!

On my Facebook page, I recently hit 300 'Likes', which was actually pretty exciting! I promised a giveaway to celebrate but local-(ish) friend Lesley told me that the rules are pretty tricky on Facebook in terms of hosting a giveaway, so I've decided it's just safer to bypass all of that, and post it here instead. 

I also did a little mini-poll in some of the groups I'm in on Facebook, asking - jewellery or voucher to giveaway? I got a mixed response, and so here is the upshot - a special piece I've designed especially for this giveaway! 

But if you are the winner  and you'd prefer, you may choose an equivalent voucher (£25) for either of my shops. That way, everybody is happy! 

And just look what is on of my very own, custom-made tags from Mamacita Beadworks. They arrived on Saturday, and I am in love.....

Look how very gorgeous they are! Teeny tiny perfection. Thank you D'Arsie! And along with my initials, Ra is also the Egyptian Sun God. Somehow, that rather pleases me. 

So, to enter this giveaway, just leave a comment here. You must either have your email turned on in your blogger profile, or leave me an email address though! And if you would like extra entries, you can blog, share on facebook, or tweet about this giveaway. Just don't forget to come back and leave a separate comment for each act of social media kindness you do. 

Giveaway will close on Sunday 23rd, 2pm (ish!) British Summer Time. 

Thank you so much to all my followers here, and all my likers on facebook! I so appreciate every single one of you. What a marvellous community to be part of. 

Thursday, 13 September 2012

more new, colourful pieces...

I was definitely a wee bit down in the dumps in my last post! Helen told me off. So this post will be a happy one - some songbead eye candy for you! I am trying to be FEARLESS in my work at the moment - grabbing beads I have been hoarding for months, sometimes even years, and putting them out there. They need to fulfil their beady destiny and become lovely jewellery! Here are a few new pieces to hit the shop this week.

Friday, 7 September 2012

and the nights are drawing in....

September is closing in, the days are getting a little shorter....people are posting pictures of Christmas chocolate for sale in the supermarkets....! So many people write that Autumn, or Fall, is their favourite season.....for me, it means back to (school) work, cold, rainy weather and is generally a wee bit depressing. 

We haven't had as much summer as I would have liked here in Manchester, I'm hoping for perhaps a warm September before the rains begin. In case you don't know, Manchester is known for it's RAIN. 

I'm a cheery soul am I not?! As someone who went straight from school to  university to college to working in various schools, I've never got over thinking of my life in terms of the school term calendar. And as I hope that the next 10 years of my life will bring children of my own, I am guessing that isn't about to change any time soon! 

Grateful as I am for my break from the school teaching side of my work during the holidays, I never enjoy the 'back to school' feeling that inevitably accompanies this. Ah well. 

Perhaps one day I will sit and design jewellery somewhere sunny by the sea and my school teaching days will be over....we can but dream! 

I always have great plans for the summer 'holidays' - how I will get a great daily routine going including swimming, yoga, jewellery designing and making, photographing and listing; reading, learning a language....needless to say, this has never actually happened, not during any summer that I have lived through! 

But this week I'm aware is my last week with just that extra wee bit of 'free' time, and I have been working away like a demon - photographing, editing and listing; setting up my shops for the months ahead when time and light are precious. 

I've given myself an arbitrary target of filling both of my shops with 50 items each, and looking through my inventory on Tuesday, I realised there was no making that needed to happen in order to achieve this, just getting the pieces actually listed. 

I'm getting there, with over forty in my etsy shop and almost thirty in folksyAll of my bracelets are up, most of my earrings (although I've got a bunch more destined for folksy), just the necklaces left to photograph now.  

Please, let Sunday be bright and warm but with clouds for some of it to allow me to photograph! Natural light is surely the way to go when there is that choice. I've dotted this post (as you can see) with some of the pieces I've listed over the past few days. 

I am really enjoying my new cracked white cabinet background. The colours work so much more happily and easily when editing. I don't think I could ever go for just a plain white background - even though it's subtle, the cracks and chips are important to me for character and atmosphere. 

I'm sure I'll return to my favourite beer garden tables also! But my new set up makes me happy in so many ways - the ease with which I can transport it around is a bonus as well.

I'll hopefully be continuing to update both shops on a daily basis until early next week, so do watch this space, or check out my facebook page for new arrivals, as I cling on to my last few days of freedom the summer.

This seems an appropriate piece to finish with to my mind - flying south, exactly what I'd like to be doing for the chilly months ahead!
 I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Monday, 3 September 2012


A few shots from our holiday. Skye really is gorgeous but it's not for the faint of heart! It is rugged and alive and beautiful. Helen and I were instagramming away like mad when we were over there. Most of these were taken on Thursday which was gloriously sunny, but we had all weathers whilst we were over there. If you are ever in a position to visit this beautiful island, then I thoroughly recommend it. 

And lastly, my Sea Owl bracelet, which I made in Portree, Skye's main town. I love him. I hope somebody else will too :-)

Back from Skye

***If you're looking for my Challenge of Travel post, here it is!***

I'm just back from Skye; we're stopping off in Edinburgh before heading back to Manchester tomorrow. I can't quite wrap my head around the fact that it is September - as my Mum said the other day, we're still waiting for our sunny July! And unlike so many, Autumn (or Fall) is NOT my favourite season. Perhaps if we got lovely long crisp but sunny days, wind, sunshine and lovely crunching leaves underfoot for a lot of it, I would be more inclined towards it. I do love those days when they appear - the wonderful light they contain; the beautiful colours that appear on the trees. But having grown up in Edinburgh and then lived all of my adult life in Manchester, it is more often than not grey, wet (bordering on torrential) and freezing cold. So I hope for a wee Indian Summer before the cold and wet weather sets into my bones. 

Anyway, if any of you are my friends on Facebook, you'll have seen that I had a few poor attempts at photography whilst on Skye, but for the most part came up empty handed. Almost number one on our list of things to do on Skye was visit our favourite bric-a-brac shop, which is just off the main road shortly after you hit the island. It is a wonderful treasure trove of bric-a-brac, collectables, junk and curiosities. We never leave empty handed! This time, we were on the hunt for photography craft fair props. I wanted to find some wood for photographing on; I had in mind something white, old and chippy. I found a cabinet door (no cabinet to be seen) which I was allowed to take away for free! Not even a few pounds, which I would have been more than happy to hand over, but the owner very cheerfully told me that he wasn't a very good business man and I should just take it away! Never fear, we did spend almost £20(!) on several other goodies that we found. I will share some pictures with you once I've taken them, but for now, I will share some of the pictures I managed to snap on my new cabinet door. I have a feeling it will work very well for me. 

Dunvegan Shores

Primrose Beach

Printer's Drawer ii

Talisker Beach

Papua New Guinea

What do you think? I think the white but interesting looking - lined and chipped - background brings out the colours in my jewellery that are so important and inspiring to my work. I will still use the grey and weather-beaten backgrounds form my favourite local pub, but I hope that this happy find form Skye will help make my pictures more reliable to take!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

The Challenge of Travel - Papua New Guinea

I love Erin's blog hops. I love that the inspiration comes partly from her (travel, literature, music...) and partly from the designer taking part, with the choice of country, piece of writing or music. I also love that Erin offers different levels of choice and control. I could have chosen my own country of inspiration within my continent of choice, but for this challenge, I decided to pick a continent I knew little about - Oceania - and picked the 'Surprise Me!' option for the country. 

My surprise was Papua New Guinea, a country I knew next to nothing about, apart from vague ideas of cannibalism in its past....I am somewhat geographically challenged, and so my ignorance didn't surprise me - Wikipedia is my friend, and I spent a bit of time reading about Papua New Guinea, it's cultural heritage - vibrant and very much alive - the old practice of cannibalism in some areas - died out now thankfully! - and searching through the internet's wonderful bank of images. 

There are of course many images of Papua New Guineans in full tribal festival garb; birds are an important part of their culture and a lot of their tribal-dress features feathers or feather-like decoration. 

Faces are often painted in bright colours and there is a lot of texture and movement throughout their dress. Colour - Birds - Movement - three things that perfectly capture the aesthetic towards which I strive in my jewellery designing and making! Much of Papua New Guinean tribal culture is based in the countryside, so I wanted to add in a natural element too. (This is another image I found and loved, but I believe copyright restricts me from showing it here - so do follow this link.)

Now, I could have gone totally overboard, made a dramatic collar, mimicking the country's own tribal wear. But I really felt this would be too obvious - it could make for some hugely dramatic jewellery, but it wouldn't really have taken the challenge beyond simply copying the country's own beautiful costume and decoration. Along with the four elements I listed above (colour, birds, movement, nature), I was struck by the repeated appearance of red with yellow. Checking out the country's flag 

I saw a link there too to this bold colour combination. 

So now that I've taken you through my design process, here's what I created.

Possibly not what you were expecting! I really did keep it simple here, and I hope you can really see my thought process behind each element. These are long, and have swing and movement, imitating feathers, and capturing the vibrant colours I was inspired by, and the natural element I was after with those wooden discs. Inspired by, but not copying, which is exactly what I was hoping for. Hopefully I'll get some more shots soon - I'm currently on holiday on Skye, and the weather and light have been rather autumnal for August! Hence this shot here. 

Looking forward to hopping round the other participants on my return to Manchester! Thank you so much to Erin for another fascinating and fantastic challenge. 

Monique Urquhart Faso
Niky Sayers
Therese Frankhttp://www.theresestreasures59.blogspot.comAfricaKenya
Raychelle Heath
Joan Williamswww.lilrubyjewelry.wordpress.comAfricaMauritania
Sherri Stokeyhttp://www.KnotJustMacrame.comAfricaSenegal
Regina Santerrehttp://reginaswritings.blogspot.comAfricaSeychelles
Raida Disbrowhttp://havanabeads.blogspot.comAfricaTanzania
Kristi Wodekhttp://livedinlife.blogspot.comAfricaZimbabwe
Sally Russickhttp://www.thestudiosublime.comAmericasBrazil
Melissa Trudingerhttp://beadrecipes.wordpress.comAmericasMexico
Tracy Stillmanhttp://www.tracystillmandesigns.comAmericasUSA
Sandra Wolberghttp://city-of-brass-stories.blogspot.deAsiaIndia
Tanya Goodwinhttp://pixiloo.blogspot.comAsiaJapan
Susan Kennedyhttp://suebeads.blogspot.comAsiaJapan
Beth Emeryhttp://storiesbyindigoheart.blogspot.comAsiaJapan
Lisa Cone
Tanya Boden
Inge von Rooshttp://ingetraud.wordpress.comAsiaLaos
Erin Prais-Hintzhttp://treasures-found.blogspot.comAsiaNepal
Dee Elgiehttp://cherryobsidia.blogspot.comAsiaPhillipines
Carolyn Lawsonhttp://carolynscreationswa.blogspot.comAsiaSouth Korea
Lisa Stukelhttp://carefreejewelrybylisa.blogspot.comAsiaSri Lanka
Elly Snarehttp://themagicsquarefoundation.wordpress.comAsiaThailand
Shelley Graham Turnerhttp://www.shelleygrahamturner.blogspot.comEuropeAustria
Mallory Hoffman Herzegovina
Paige Maximhttp://www.pmaximdesigns.blogspot.comEuropeFrance
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Sharyl McMillian-Nelsonhttp://sharylsjewelry.blogspot.comEuropeGreece
Evelyn Shelby
Holly Westfall
Rebecca Siervaaghttp://www.godsartistinresidence.blogspot.comEuropeIreland
Toltec Jewelshttp://toltecjewels.blogspot.comEuropeIreland
Lee Koopmanhttp://StregaJewellry.wordpress.comEuropeIreland
Laren Dee Bartonhttp://larendeedesigns.blogspot.comEuropeItaly
Cindy Wilsonhttp://www.mommysdreamcreations.blogspot.comEuropeNorway
Kathleen Lange Klikhttp://ModernNatureStudio.blogspot.comEuropePoland
Shaiha Williams
Jennifer Justman
Elsie Deliz-Fonsecahttp://ladelizchica.blogspot.comEuropeSpain
Lola Surwillohttp://www.beadlolabead.blogspot.comEuropeSweden
Kim Horahttp://www.kimmykats.comEuropeSwitzerland
Leanne Loftushttp://firstimpressiondesign.blogspot.comEuropeThe Netherlands
Patti Vanderbloemenhttp://myaddictionshandcrafted.blogspot.comEuropeThe Netherlands
Marcie Carrollhttp://labellajoya.blogspot.comEuropeTurkey
Marlene Cupohttp://amazingdesigns-marlene.blogspot.comOceaniaFederated States of Micronesia
Ine Vande Cappellehttp://jewelsbyine.blogspot.comOceaniaFiji
Tammie Everly
Alice Petersonhttp://www.alice-dreaming.blogspot.comOceaniaKiribati
Elisabeth Auldhttp://www.beadsforbusygals.comOceaniaNauru
Susan McClelland Zealand
D Lynne Bowlandhttp://islandgirlsinsights.blogspot.comOceaniaNew Zealand
Denielle Hagermanhttp://somebeadsandotherthings.comOceaniaNew Zeland
Rebecca Andersonhttp://songbeads.blogspot.comOceaniaPapua New Guinea
Mischelle Fanucchi
Kari Asburyhttp://hippiechickdesign.blogspot.comOceaniaSolomon Islands
Cece Cormier
Emma Toddhttp://www.apolymerpenchant.comOceaniaTuvalu
Debbie Pricehttp://greenshoot.blogspot.comOceaniaVanuatu


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