Sunday, 28 April 2013

Pin It!

Well, how very exciting. I have just managed to add a Pinterest 'Pin It' hover button to the photos on my blog! Just hover your mouse over these lovely clasps (currently available in The Curious Bead Shop) and you'll see a wee tab button appear in the corner. I am always slightly astounded when I manage anything on the technical side here on the blog! I'm on Pinterest but haven't yet really got into it......I know loads of others are, so hopefully this will make it easier for you to Pin my pictures, should you so desire :-)

Friday, 26 April 2013

New Bo/Curious Collaborations!

Look what's coming to The Curious Bead Shop later this evening......more Bo Hulley/Curious collaborations! 

 These Returning Swallows OOAK sets disappeared within minutes last'll have to move quickly to snap one up! 

 New Ocean-themed button clasps.

Some new, juicy, summery glazes...

Another new design for these collaborative clasps - bumblebees! These are the only two of this style...

Some old favourites - these vintage glazes on the curved buttons are some of my personal faves.

More Ocean-themed clasps - this time in cool, liquid-turquoise. Beautiful! 

See you at The Curious Bead Shop tonight, 7pm BST (UK time)!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Gardenia Collection

It's long been an ambition of mine to create a jewellery collection or two. All the advise you read online about running a successful jewellery business suggests that this is a really important aspect of a jewellery business. It makes things more co-hesive, and if you want to approach shops and potential stockists, it gives a clearer message. The problem for me, and many others I am sure, is that working with handmade beads and components, often the items we work with are one of a kind. Not so easy to create a collection based around this! 

I have grown into this job/career/business - whatever you want to call it - in a slightly non-traditional manner. I didn't go to art college; I have had no formal training in jewellery making or design of any sort. And whilst this isn't necessarily (I hope!) a drawback, I am aware that I don't always have a clear strategy in mind when I sit down to work. I'll be honest - my brain doesn't often have a clear strategy for doing anything; it tends to leap and jump around all over the place, no matter what I'm doing! And when you create purely for yourself - well, who then would set out to make themselves a co-hesive and artistically co-ordinated collection? No one that I know! You make what you feel like and what feels right....

And as for no formal training - well, I spent most of my 20s being an almost-full-time teacher, and I've had no formal training in teaching either, and that has never held me back! I am somehow confident that I am a bloody good teacher, if I do say so myself; certainly for the kids that I have taught over the past 8 years. (Couldn't handle classroom teaching though - NO idea how some of my colleagues manage, it'd drive me absolutely crazy!) 

But jewellery-making, I realise, is a completely different kettle of fish. I don't feel that I'm sinking in this business, but I'm sort of paddling about and splashing my arms about enthusiastically, and not quite out in the depths, swimming confidently, as yet. I want to take that plunge; to lift my feet from the seabed and swim, but I'm not quite sure of how to do that quite yet.....I am hoping that the creation of my first ever jewellery collection will help with this. 

So over the past week, I've been working on the beginnings of my Gardenia Collection. I have plans to launch this very soon, and have decided that it's main home shall be in my (long-neglected) Folksy Shop. Yes, I have linked but you'll see - there's no one at home in this poor wee corner of the internet! This collections is springing from one of my most popular pieces - one that I offer in my etsy shop as a 'made to order' piece - my Gardenia bracelet. 

I felt that here was potential for growth - I could develop this very simple idea to incorporate different shapes, different jewellery pieces - different colour schemes as well, although I'm very fond of this one. I have many different ideas rattling around in this old 32-year-old head of mine....

This weekend I worked on a Gardenia necklace, and today, some earrings. STATEMENT earrings! I will be creating some daintier ones too as I know not everyone likes such long and dramatic earrings as's a sneak peek of today's contribution to the Gardenia be launched hopefully very soon. What do you think of them? Just a quick snap; I'll be taking better photos for the launch, but I wanted to share them here first.

I am very excited about this side of my jewellery - I won't be giving up my custom, bespoke and one-of-a-kind items. After all, what could be more lovely than wearing a unique piece of handmade art? But I am also excited to go down this avenue as well. Collections of jewellery that I can present to the world, with the real stamp of 'me' upon them. 

Sunday, 21 April 2013

First Craft Fair of 2013 today! Magpies and I, Altrincham

Yep, I'm up and out early this Sunday morning, off to Altrincham's vintage and craft fair - Magpies and I! My first of 2013. Wish me luck! And if you're in the area, why not pop along and say hi? 

Saturday, 20 April 2013

New beads!

Just look at these beautiful beads that arrived today from Beads By Earth Tones! Aren't they just lovely? Handmade especially for me from colourful polymer clay and acrylic paint, they are full of rich, saturated hues in my favourite colours. A few 'regular' beads - rounds and discs - but mainly a little flock, crafted for Songbead. Birds and owls in a selection of Alison's special colour combos. I do realise that owls are also birds, but how to describe a bird bead that is a little tweetie bird like most of these? Hmmm. A puzzle.

Thanks for making these for me Alison - I love them!

Friday, 19 April 2013

New Pretty Jewellery

Some new pretty things heading to le shop tomorrow.....some old, some new, but all freshly photographed in today's lovely bright but overcast light - perfect! I'm off to my first craft show of the year - Altrincham's Magpies and I Vintage and Craft Market which runs in the covered market from 11 - 3.30 this Sunday (21st April). If you're local, why not pop along? I will be bringing all of these pretties (if they haven't sold!) and more! It's a great market with a lovely atmosphere and plenty of wonderful stalls - including fresh produce - to peruse. Come along and say hi! I'd love to see you there.

Spring Morn


Got the Blues

Fly Away Home

Blossom Buds


A Certain Darkness

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

It's my birthday! Competition, giveaways, and sale celebrations...

It's my birthday today! 32. Hmmmm.....I'm still not quite sure what I think of that......

I am ALWAYS in favour of birthday celebrations however. I'm heading into my city of Manchester today to spend a day of wandering and taking the time to do the things you always mean to but never get around to - visit the Manchester Art Gallery, visiting the Craft and Design Centre, drinking many cups of tea, I suspect....! I'm teaching this evening but then after that Helen and I will head out for dinner somewhere or other. Tomorrow, I think we are meeting up with some friends in the evening for further celebrations. Not too shabby. I'll also be raising a toast to my good friend Jo, with whom I share a birthday. And it's a pretty special one for her too.....

I'm also holding a giveaway and competition celebration in The Curious Bead Shop! Chief and Only Curious Elf Helen stopped by my Facebook page yesterday with the full details.....

"Hi! It's the Curious Elf here, in my first outing on Curious facebook. I come with news of the exciting Golden Headpin. So, here's the way it works..... the first 25 orders over £20 (inc. postage) this week will receive a complimentary pack of 5 handmade Deco Rose headpins with their order. Not only this, but each of these orders will be entered into a draw to win the Golden Headpin - oooh, aaah! At the end of the birthday week (22nd April), a winner will be picked at random from the entrants and will receive the Golden (or shiny copper....) Headpin in the post at the beginning of next week......When the winner snaps a picture and shares with us - either on Facebook, or sends it to us via etsy, they will be rewarded with a £25 Curious Bead Shop voucher! What are you waiting for? Get over to now and help us celebrate Rebecca's birthday!"

Don't you fancy playing along and searching for the Golden Headpin? :-)

I'm also having a Flash 24-hour sale in my Songbead jewellery shop today. Well, I'm thirty-two for today only, you can take 32% off all jewellery (excluding reservations and custom orders)! I don't often have sales that are quite so generous so take advantage whilst you can.....Use coupon code BIRTHDAY32 at checkout to activate your discount.

Hope you're all having a great week and any other April babies - Happy Birthday to you too!

Monday, 15 April 2013

A new bead artist - Jana of Happy Fish Shop

Don't you just love finding a new bead artist? Or new to you, anyway? I stumbled across Jana of Happy Fish Shop last week on etsy and immediately fell in love with her polymer creations....check what I bought out! The top left pendant (the Autumnal one) is huuuuge - it will be quite a challenge! But a good one. If you have a minute, do take a quick peek around her shop. She has many more where these came from! An added bonus for those of us in the UK is that Jana is from Belgium - my parcel reached me in under a week, and no customs fees to be paid - always a good thing! She also makes her own incredibly lovely jewellery too, very inspiring. Don't you just love 'discovering' someone new?

Rebecca is a Scottish jewellery designer, currently living in Manchester, England. You can see more of her jewellery at She also has a supplies shop at thecuriousbeadshop.etsy.comand is a contributing editor at Art Bead Scene.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Bead Soup Blog Part 7 Reveal!

Welcome to the Bead Soup Blog Party 7 Reveal! {If you're not sure what a Bead Soup Blog Party is; firstly - where have you been?! ;-) and secondly - click here.} My partner, lampworker extraordinaire Maryse Fritzsc-Thillens of Glass Bead Art, sent me the most gorgeous soups (yes, 2 soups!) which you can take a peek at here. Thank you Maryse, I feel extremely fortunate to have been paired with you this time around, and have no doubt that I will be visiting your shop SOON.

I created 2 bracelets with the lovely soup I was sent (and I've still more left to play with). First up, this bracelet,  which began with the stunning Kate McKinnon clasp which Maryse had sent me. She told me she'd had it for quite a while, but had never quite found the right 'special' project for lovely that Maryse sent it to me (and incredibly generous!) - I felt just a little bit of pressure though, as you can imagine! I have many beads that are in a similar position - those ones you love, but can never quite bring yourself to use, including some stunning 2-hole squares from Mary Harding. I've been hoarding these for quite some time, never quite able to find the right way to use them....but as my clasp was 2-hole also.....this happened:

I also used some blackened steel wire from Heather Powers, another component that I've been hoarding for a good while. It seemed to go well with the silver clasp, along with some czech glass from The Curious Bead Shop. Very pleased with how this turned out! Here's another Instagram of it, with a different filter....can't resist playing around with Instagram at the moment!

Next up, I used almost all the lampwork beads that Maryse had sent me, along with the cool glass button, to create this double-strand knotted bracelet. I included one of the beautiful focals she sent me too - I was keen not to use it simply to make a pretty pendant, so turned it into a bracelet tab here. I've knotted it using some leather lace, which The Bead Shop in Manchester where I teach, has recently began stocking. It's lovely to work with - very soft and supple. I snuck in a wee ceramic tab from Susie Q Beads {can't find her on etsy! But I'm sure she's there!} too.

Regular/frequent readers will know that I just love knotting....but my usual waxed linen cord wouldn't have held up to the weight of the lampwork glass. The leather lace is a great alternative! 

Now hopping over to see what Maryse has been up to. Please check out her blog here too!

And a huge thanks, as always, to the unstoppable and rather wonderful Lori Anderson. What a fantastic host/human being she is! THANK YOU Lori! Hop over to her blog for full details of other participants, and to see what she has created, of course.

Rebecca is a Scottish jewellery designer, currently living in Manchester, England. You can see more of her jewellery at She also has a supplies shop at, and is a contributing editor at Art Bead Scene.

Friday, 12 April 2013

My Bead Soup Blog Partner - Maryse Fritzsch-Thillens

Yes yes, I reveal is tomorrow.....but it's better late than never to share with you my delicious and nutritious bead soup that came all the way to me from Luxembourg weeks ago, surely?!

I was lucky enough to end up with a particularly fabulous partner this time around - Maryse Fritzsc-Thillens of Glass Bead Art. Maryse makes the most beautiful handmade lampwork beads, as you can see here. And she was amazingly kind - she didn't just send me one bead soup, but two! How am I ever to choose? (And admission here.....I will be making my jewellery tomorrow....or is that today as I'm typing this post after midnight.....?!) 

Lovely lampwork in my absolute favourite shades, along with some gorgeous sterling beads, which I have a sneaking suspicious may well be getting a liver of sulphur bath and a buff with renaissance wax as my first plan of attack.....

and this absolutely stunning clasp, which Maryse was so generous to give to me in our swap. She wrote to me that she had had it for some time and that she felt it needed just the right, special project.....eek! I hope I can do her justice!

Close up on my turquoise bead soup....

Close up on my seagreen opal bead soup....

Some tasty extras that Maryse threw in!

And one other thing that Maryse tucked into my package which I can't share a photograph of as they are LONG gone.....a packet of bunny treats! Yes, Maryse and I both have floppy-eared friends who live in our houses :-) My bunnies snaffled up the lovely (if the speed at which they disappeared is anything to go by...!) treats super quick. 

Thank you Maryse! I am really looking forward to seeing what you (and I!!) come up with for Saturday.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Follow Close Here

Yesterday I blogged about some particularly awesome beads that were either fairly recent acquisitions or on their way to me.....This morning, a little package of lovely handmade polymer clay arrived in the post from Claire of Something to do beads. Along with the wee red house I shared yesterday , I bought a few of Claire's new word beads. I just had to share them with you today because they are too, too fab! Just look at these:

Rustic, vibrant and direct. I like their one word, lower-case straight-to-the-point verbal style.
Regular/frequent readers will know I am almost as passionate about the written word as beads (really! I know it's hard to believe ;-)) and I love to include words in my work. These are a fantastic addition to the world of wordy art beads. Now to turn them into something fabulous.....
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

New Jewellery

I told you I would do better with the blog this week! Here I am today to share with you some new pieces that are either already in the shop, or will be shortly. As regular/frequent readers will know, I am absolutely in love with colour....and I think these recent pieces show my love off perfectly. And those in the know will see I've been having fun with Instagram and it's Lo-Fi filter.....

What colours are floating your boat at the moment?

 Tweet Love (thanks Samantha!)


Je ne regrette rien


Little Blue (thanks Emma!)

Monday, 8 April 2013

Curious Bead Shop April Update

Hi all. It seems like an awfully long time since I updated the blog - I'm sorry, I have plans for being much better this week! Let's see if they come to fruition.....The last few weeks have been a busy few, including my best friend's wedding on Easter Saturday. It was an awesome day, as you can imagine - the bride and groom looked bonnie and were ridiculously happy throughout the day, the prosecco was flowing, the ceilidh band was fantastic.....I do love a good wedding! 

A couple of days after we got back from the wedding, my latest bead order for The Curious Bead Shop arrived. I am definitely getting faster at photographing, uploading, editing, listing etc.....but it's still a lengthy process for me. Helen discovered the 'copy listing' button this time around (can't believe I hadn't spotted it before....) and this saved us A LOT of time. Here's a collage of some of the new beads currently available. I am thrilled with the new stock - it can be a bit of a gamble buying from pictures on the internet, but I love every single bead in the shop! I made sure to keep some stock back this time for my own designs. Cannot wait to have a play! 

And yes, you may have spotted that not all of these pictures are of beads......I have started my own range of antique copper findings! Deco Rose findings. I am really excited about these, and have already been using them in my own work. I am going to be adding handmade ball-end headpins and soldered rings to my selection very soon too :-)

Anyway, I hope you like what you see! I promise I'll be back soon and not leave the blog alone for quite such a time again.....


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