Monday, 28 December 2009

Ancient Broken Links

Sorting through an old jewellery box I came across this broken bracelet that appears to use the same link as demonstrated by Boo in her beautiful "loop in loop" pieces, but here it has been used as a connector.

Broken Bracelet

I vaguely thought I'd seen it somewhere before when I was reading Boo's blog, and as it's at least 3000 years old it's hardly surprising. That's the link that's 3000 years old, not Boo's blog, or indeed this bracelet. It's a little over 30 years old and was the first piece of jewellery my ex bought me when we were teenage sweethearts.

I must see if I can fix it, although it appears to be missing a link...either that or my wrists aren't as dainty as they once were!

Or maybe it should remain broken as a symbol of our relationship.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Christmas Round Up

I've had a lovely, relaxed and peaceful Christmas. We've had quite a lot of snow so I haven't used the car since last Friday. The steep hill leading up from our close to the main road is like an ice rink and I've seen too many cars skidding all over the road to even attempt it. So Bailey's daily walks have been limited to the green at the top of the road.

But today the footpaths aren't even safe to walk on, so the poor lad has only been in the garden. It has rained a little tonight, so I'm hoping it will help to melt the ice. My son very kindly did the food shopping at 7.00am on Christmas eve morning... he caught the bus there and back, so I really have had a lovely stress free break.

Snowy garden

Christmas tree and fireplace garland

Sepia Christmas

As far as my jewellery is concerned I haven't been very productive lately, but here's a necklace I made recently:

Lemon Sorbet Vintage Lily Pendant

I made these earrings today. Not very festive, and more reminiscent of balmy summer days by the sea. But I figured if exotic holiday adverts are shown on Boxing day, then why not. Anyway I have customers in Australia to think about!

Ocean Drops

Happy New Year to Everyone! xx

Friday, 4 December 2009

Recent New Additions

I've neglected my blog lately, along with several other little bits and pieces, so last night I wrote up a "to do" list, and writing up my blog was top of the list!

I've been busy increasing my shop inventory, and here are some pieces I made recently:

Pippin - Apple Coral Earrings

I love these earrings. They remind me of little apples, or maybe cherries? I was walking Bailey in the woods when I came across some lovely autumn leaves and decided to use one in the photos as it picked up on the colour beautifully. That's something that is becoming increasing natural to me since I started making jewellery and taking photographs; I notice ideas for props all around me.

Staging my photos has become one of the most enjoyable aspects of my hobby. They don't always work out how I had imagined; sometimes they look really awful, but every now and again I'm pleasantly surprised by the results!

Raspberry Earrings

These earrings use colour washed vintage lucite in a lovely shade of raspberry. I quite like the way this photo turned out. I laid a piece of plain card at an angle across the jacket of a book that matched the raspberry beautifully. I think the contrast works quite well.

Ebony Earrings

I love the simplicity of these black glass and silver earrings. I've recently begun to introduce simpler designs to my range. I particularly like the little silver bead caps. They are so versatile and are an effective means of dressing up an otherwise plain bead without stealing any of the limelight or making them appear over dressed. For these I have used a neutral background to help them to stand out.

Hearstrings Earrings

These earrings are fancier than the previous ones. They started off as a simple trio of glass hearts, but I felt they needed a little something extra, and I had a short length of delicate sterling silver chain that was too fine to use as a bracelet so decided to add strands of it as tassles which look rather festive. The background for this photo was a lovely bronzed marble effect from the inside of a book cover. It's quite reflective so I don't feel it's particularly suitable for use as a background, but in this particular shot it does seem to make the colours pop.

Harlequin Earrings

Back to my simpler style. Here are a cute pair of earrings with a twist. Each vintage bead is made up of two interlocking parts to form the whole bead. I think the effect is really striking! Again, I used the simple silver caps to finish them. Another plain background this time, photographed from directly above to show off the pattern of the beads.

Innocence Bracelet

Innocence Earrings

Here we have a matching set of bracelet and earrings using beads of the most gorgeous shade of blue. I used sterling silver wire to wrap couplets of beads together. Again, the silver caps have been used effectively in keeping with the simple design, as has the background for the photos.

Next we have a black and silver bracelet incorporating some pretty floral lampwork beads to compliment the focal flower bead.

Astrid Bracelet

Tangled Web Earrings

Admittedly there wasn't an awful lot of design introduced here. These were some charms I came across in a bead shop, and I fell in love with them! My intention was to somehow incorporate them into a more detailed piece with the addition of beads, but in the end I decided "less is more" so kept them as they were, nice and simple, hanging from sterling silver hooks. I suppose it is cheating in a way, but they look so effective I couldn't resist!

For these I felt a steel background tied in nicely so propped them against a solid steel bench block on a black background. When deciding what to call these earrings various thoughts came to mind; webs, lightening... even bicycle wheels. Don't think I'd get very far on them though! In the end I opted for tangled web.

"O, what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive."

I wouldn't want to unintentionally dupe anyone into thinking I had made these charms myself. I don't think there is anything wrong with taking a charm and making a piece of jewellery out of it. It's really no different to threading beads onto a headpin or a pendant onto a chain. But they have inspired me to have a go at making some from raw materials, so they have served a purpose. Inspiration comes from the unlikeliest places!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Weekend Round-Up

Members of the Etsy UK thread are running special promotions for individual members in the run up to Christmas. The lovely IslayBower has kindly volunteered to co-ordinate this mammoth task and is doing a fantastic job of keeping everyone up to date. The second half of last week was my turn to be in the spotlight. Members very kindly promoted me in various ways. QuercusSilver started a thread in the Promotions forum, other people tweeted my shop or selected items, some included my jewellery in their Treasuries, and BigBlueBed featured me in her blog, as did Angela Callanan in her Preciouslittlebirdy blog.

I was even asked to take part in an interview for Etsy member SnowdropAndDaisies blog. Snowdrops sent me a list of questions and I provided the answers which she turned into a lovely interview accompanied by a selection of jewellery photos from my shop. I think it fair to say she was a little surprised at my response, but very kindly took it in the humorous spirit intended. If you have time to spare, you can read it here. But you'd better make a nice cup of tea first... oh and a slice of cake... I do go on a bit!

It's been a lovely few days that's resulted in many views and hearts, and I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who took part. Apologies if I've missed anyone!

In other news, here are a few new pieces I've recently made.

Clementine Necklace:

Olivia Bracelet:

Honour Bracelet:

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

What's In Your Trolley?

Grabbing my Tesco trolley the other day, I happened upon a discarded till receipt the previous shopper had left behind. Picking it up, I popped it in my pocket; not because of an absence of bins, there were plenty of those, but because I'm nosy and wanted to read it over a cup of tea. I know, it's a bit sad, but you'd be surprised what you can learn from a shopping list. And yes, I know, wanting to learn anything at all about a total stranger is even sadder! But don't forget, I am nosy! Think of it as people watching from the comfort of my armchair.

So, back home, I unpack my shopping, pop the kettle on, slice the cake and settle down to inspect the shopping habits of my anonymous shopper.

Top of the list we have peach slices... oh wait a minute, they appear again a bit further down! Obviously likes fruit, particularly the kind that comes in tins!

When I was a child my nan used to serve tinned peaches with sterilised cream... also from a tin. The cream was thick, tasted of metal and separated slightly when dolloped on top of the syrupy juices. In the centre of the table sat a plate of bread and butter for dipping. Sounds disgusting, and it was!

But back to my shopper... there's more fruit with mandarins, plums, grapes and gooseberries. So I figure my anonymous shopper's preference for soft fruit indicates a problem biting into firm flesh... clearly not a vampire then! My suspicions are further aroused a little way down the list with the word Fixodent! Aha, thought so!

So, why do I think my shopper is female... well she likes baking; Stork margarine, bramley apples, treacle... unless the treacle is to keep her regular, hence the moist toilet tissues and quilted toilet tissues.

Moving on...

My shopper clearly likes to eat a well balanced diet; museli for breakfast with extra hazelnuts sprinkled on top... got to keep those bowels regular! Crumbed ham salad for lunch with baby plum tomatoes, little gem lettuce, radishes, red pepper and salad onions. Hold on a bit... red peppers! That's a bit exotic isn't it!! Afternoon tea... or rather percolated coffee...with a mince pie and dinner of Branston beans on toast (white sliced bread) or maybe broad beans, frozen peas and something from the freezer?

The trolley had been left next to the disabled parking bays, so I reckon she's got walking difficulties, probably on account of her arthritis. She really should lay off the acidic mandarins, they won't do her any good at all... neither will all that coffee (double purchase)... plays havoc with the rheumatism!

Age wise, I reckon she's in her mid 70's, possibly single, comfortably off, but makes her pension go further by doing most of her own baking, and cooking everything from scratch. Bet she drives a little Noddy Micra!

I would have loved to have found something a bit racy on her list, like an Italian ready meal, or a Vindaloo... that'd make her go faster than the treacle! Maybe a steamy paperback or CD of rock anthems. She could have made it a bit harder for me... I almost feel cheated!

So, what does your shopping trolley say about you? I daren't list mine. I'm having a comfort eating week, so lots of naughtiness; cake, choc and wine... with a bit of food chucked in for balance.

When I grow old I'm going to leave someone a really racy till receipt in my trolley! :D

Friday, 6 November 2009

Another First

Don't you just love first time experiences... providing they're good ones that is! But even bad experiences can teach us such a lot. In fact I'd go so far to say that it's the bad experiences in life that offer the most valuable lessons. I've certainly found I've had my biggest growth spurts during times of adversity!

But enough of bad experiences. This experience is a good one, and one that I hope will yield a growth spurt for my Etsy shop, because I've just discovered that I've been featured in my very first Etsy Gift Guide!

This particular gift guide features freshly emerging shops that have been open for six months or less and/or who have less that thirty sales. It was AMIdesigns who first brought it to my attention by telling me she had suggested me for it. Thanks Alison! I then popped into the gift guide thread and rather cheekily suggested myself too! I think one or two other UK members might have mentioned my name as well. So thanks to anyone who did that I haven't mentioned. They're a great bunch over on the Etsy UK thread, always supporting and promoting each other!

In fact we're having a special UK promotional push in the run up to Xmas where we are promoting two UK Etsy sellers every week, and the current lucky seller is none other than AMIdesigns so please do drop into her shop and take a look at her wonderful range of jewellery, not to mention her new line in Xmas decorations! They really are fab!

So, Etsy get to choose which particular item they feature, and they have chosen my Ruby Tuesday Red Czech Glass Bellflower Earrings:

You can also check them out here along with the other lovely items featured in the Freshly Emerging Shops gift guide.

Thursday, 5 November 2009


I am having a sale of 20% off everything in my Etsy shop.

Sale ends Monday 9th November. Why not do some Xmas shopping and grab yourself a bargain! Pay the full purchase price and I will refund the difference through Paypal.

Happy shopping! :)

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

My first Custom Order

This week saw another first for me, a custom order! It came about as a direct result of my earrings featuring in a treasury on the Etsy Front Page. The customer wanted me to make a pendant necklace using the same beads. I'm delighted with the way it turned out!

Vintage Powder Blue Lily

In other news, I have had another pair of earrings featured on Etsy's Front Page. This time it was for my Dew-Kissed Blue Lampwork Earrings which were included in this gorgeous treasury.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Playing Catch Up

I've neglected this blog recently, so had better do a quick catch up of recent events/activities. First off, I finally made the Front Page of Etsy! A pair of my earrings were featured in CreamRose's treasury. I had been an alternate but she very kindly swapped me in at some point, and it made the front page. Thank you CreamRose!

It was my Maia - Vintage Green Lily earrings that were featured. I hadn't realised the impact a brief spot on the front page could have. I had an extra 560 views 17 shop hearts and 65 item hearts (25 for the lily earrings) and two enquiries about possible custom orders.

It took me a few minutes to make sense of the sudden increased interest. Admittedly, I hadn't been awake long and was on my first black coffee of the day. Then it dawned on me that I must have been on the front page. My Google Analytics visitor graph looks really weird; there's a little wavy line running all along the bottom of the graph, and then all of a sudden a witches hat appears as the line spikes upwards to the very top of the graph in a sharp point, and back down again to continue it's amble along the bottom.

I thought the witches hat rather apt... not because we're fast approaching Halloween, but because I had been moaning to fellow UK Etsian MoaningMinnie who is always on the front page, that I had never been on the front page. So she said she'd cast a spell to put me there. Low and behold that very night I was on the front page! How spooky is that!! MoaningMinnie makes hats by the way, not witches pointy hats, but beautiful vintage inspired cloche hats. Check out her amazing shop and see for yourself why she's so popular!

But enough of Minnie... this time it was my turn to be in the spotlight, albeit briefly, when the world and his wife was in bed.

Here is the treasured treasury:

In other news, recent items I have made include:

Vintage Plum Wine Bracelet

Chestnut Bracelet

Harvest Bracelet

Enchanted Whisper Necklace

Harmony Blues Bracelet

Monday, 12 October 2009

Front Page Treasury

Wahey!! My Etsy Treasury "You Red it Here" made the front page whilst I slept. Hope all those featured received lots of views and hearts, and possibly a sale or two!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

WARNING: Chainmaille is addictive

Did I say I might not try making chainmaille again because I found it really difficult? Yes... but I also said I love a challenge! Guess which won!!

Actually, it should come with a health warning, because it's really addictive! But in contrast to last weekend's frustrating attempts, it's also proving to be really quite easy and very relaxing. I've jumped up a notch to a more complex design with the Full Persian weave. The trickiest bit is getting started, but once I get into the swing of it, there's no stopping me. It's really satisfying watching the intricate pattern develop and grow.

So this week's offering is a pair of earrings in a contrasting copper and bronze finish that I embellished with Apollo Gold Czech Bellflowers:

I also made a bracelet with the same contrasting copper and bronze weave which I further enhanced with Czech melons in a gorgeous rose gold and marbled olive gold:

I'm now keen to try my hand at other weaves and experiment with various combinations of materials and colours. So watch this space!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Weekend Offerings

I thought I'd try my hand at something new this weekend, and as I've always admired chainmaille, I decided to give it a try. I love the intricacy yet simple form of chainmaille, but the more complex weaves leave me baffled, and my poor arthritic fingers aching before I've even picked up my pliers! So as a beginner I felt it would be sensible to walk before I could run, and start off simple.

Am I glad I did! I don't think I have the mind for chainmaille, even with a very basic link I got confuddled and kept having to undo it and start over again. I'd say there's definitely a knack to it. I'm surprised I didn't find it easy because I have a very logical and analytical mind that loves solving puzzles... but this was way too frustrating for my brain.

This first pair of earrings were easy as it's just straightforward linking. I alternated brass and copper for a more interesting look, hung them from Celtic knotwork, and added a little bunch of hearts to finish off.

Cross My Heart Earrings

The second pair were much trickier, and although a simple pattern, I kept getting in a muddle trying to get the links to lie in the right direction. It looks really simple, and for some it might be, but my little brain really struggled with it. Mind you, it was late at night, so maybe I was too tired. I hung these from Celtic knotwork too, and finished them off by threading small ribbed brass beads along the bottom edge.

Guinevere Earrings

I'm undecided whether or not to try again with something more complex. My heart tells me not to, but my head is stubborn and loves a challenge. But I'm not noted for my patience, so we shall see!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Autumn Collection

I've finally made a start on the autumn collection for my Etsy shop with a couple of necklaces and a pair of earrings. I'm awaiting delivery of new beads and findings before I can really get stuck in, but yesterday's creative session went well, and I'm very happy with the results. One necklace is made with an antiqued brass filigree pendant to which I've wrapped bellflowers in Czech glass. I also made matching earrings but added a bigger central flower for the pendant. For the other necklace I've used vintage lucite in a gorgeous amber and these will pair beautifully with a pair of amber teardrop earrings I made recently.

Vintage Amber Lucite Necklace

Vintage Bellflower Filigree Necklace

Matching Earrings

Monday, 14 September 2009

Chinese Lanterns

I've had a bumper crop of these Chinese Lanterns (Physalis) this year. The plant itself isn't particularly attractive, until the small white flowers turn into these beautiful bright orange lanterns; that's when it really comes into its own! For that reason I haven't planted it in the border, but have it in a large terracotta planter on the patio. For most of the year it's behind other more showy plants. But in autumn when things are beginning to look a little drab I bring it forward to steal the show.

Mind you, they soon fade; the tissue paper thin cases deteriorating to leave a veined skeletonised structure containing a small orange fruit. So before they are past their best I like to collect them for the house. I've displayed some of them here in a cream ceramic bowl of winter potpourri, but may collect some conkers as I think they would make a lovely pairing!

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Topsy Turvy Seasons

Browsing the internet for autumn colours for 2009, I came across Under the Loupe, a blog by jeweller Annette Piper, and in particular an article concerned with selecting stones and beads to compliment this years autumn fashion colours. This piece was written way back in March, and I was impressed by her forward thinking, wondering perhaps if I should have been planning this seasons designs and ordering supplies many months ago.

It was only when I saw her most recent post, concerning spring shows, that I realised she was in Australia and her March piece about autumn colours would have been written as they were entering autumn!

The reason I mention this is because I recently went through my Etsy shop collection changing and updating my tags to reflect the upcoming seasons of autumn and winter and deleting all references to summer. Bad mistake! I have potential customers in Australia, and have sold to someone there already. It must be really frustrating for them to be constantly bombarded with references to seasons months ahead of theirs and offered jewellery that is totally at odds with the colours they are wearing.

So, I shall pay a little more attention to my tags and promote some of my more summery colours, because many potential customers will be looking forward to the lazy hot days of summer while we're heading into winter, not to mention those who choose to spend their winters in warmer climates.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Creature of Habit

Carrying on from my "Oh what a beautiful Day" post... it hasn't escaped my attention, and no doubt all of those who know me, that I am very much a creature of habit! I am very fortunate in that I have the freedom... if not the money, nor the energy, to do pretty much as I please with my days. Yet they rarely vary much from day to day. Health problems (fatigue and pain) prevents me from doing too much that's physically taxing, but that aside, there is a constant inner voice nagging me about not living life to the full... not packing in as many experiences as possible before I expire.

And yet, hand on heart, I can honestly say I love my life. I feel so incredibly content with my lot, and take enormous pleasure from simple things, such as my daily morning walk (pain allowing), reading, writing, music, creating jewellery... I'd like to say gardening, but my little patch of land is looking sadly neglected of late!

In the past, life has often felt such a struggle; family and kids... head down, trudging along on the treadmill of life, lurching from one crisis to another... and now it's simple, uncluttered, unfettered, peaceful and contented. I'm not in any particular rush to do anything... if only my inner voice would stop nagging me!

However, I am becoming increasingly irritated with one aspect of my daily routine. I love mornings, am definitely a morning person... but I hate getting going in the morning. All that palaver of showering, straightening my unruly mop of hair, applying moisturiser and just a hint of make-up to tone down my ruddy outdoor complexion. Basically I am sick and tired of looking at the same face in the mirror every single morning, tweaking it till it looks reasonably presentable... and I fear I am fighting a losing battle as the ravages of time catch up with me.

It takes me an hour before I am ready to go down for hour I tell you, a whole bloody hour!! I hate it, it is an hour of my day wasted, when I could be contemplating my navel instead of a face I barely recognise these days, even though I stare at it for a whole bloody hour every morning!

I put myself through this punishing routine every day before I go downstairs, because it'll more than likely be late afternoon before I go back up again. I've just been up now and realised I haven't been up there since 8 o clock this morning... not even for a wee. That's a total of 8 hours!! I must have a very strong bladder... or maybe it's the commode in the corner!

So, where is this all leading... well, I'm going to set myself a challenge to make some small changes to my routine... and who knows, tiny steps might lead to some mighty adventures!

Watch this space!

Oh What a Beautiful Day

Such a happy day today! The sun is shining, and I managed to forget I was in pain as I drove along singing:

There's a bright golden haze on the meadow,
There's a bright golden haze on the meadow,
The corn is as high as an elephant's eye,
An' it looks like its climbin' clear up to the sky.

Oh what a beautiful morning,
Oh what a beautiful day,
I've got a wonderful feeling,
Everything's going my way.......

Until that is, I got out of the car and had to start walking. Ouch! I hobbled round the woods with my dog Bailey, sat on a wet bench and got a damp bum (I was that desperate) and hobbled back to the car. I think it's an inflamed sciatic nerve, but nothing that could wipe the smile off my face for very long. :)

On arriving home the postman brought me another little present... a most exquisite bracelet designed and made by the lovely Alison of and my smile widened to that of a child on Christmas morning!

I fell in love with this gorgeous bracelet and bought it, even before Alison had time to list it after she previewed it on Flickr! It is absolutely dripping with dainty flowers and melons in an array of autumn shades. Every which way I turn my wrist, the light catches it and the beautiful iridescent colours change magically. I'm wearing it now, the tiny glass beads tinkling as I type. I will have to take it off before bed... or I could just stay up all night admiring it! :)

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Look What the Postman Delivered

What better way to brighten up a miserable grey and rainy day than for the postman to pop these little beauties through my letterbox!

I've had my eye on these earrings ever since I first joined Etsy and discovered Rachellucie's jewellery shop, and I have to say they are even more beautiful in person! I love them so much they are now my No1 favourite out of all my personal earring collection!

Rachel is celebrating her first Etsyversary, and is currently running a month long promotion offering free worldwide shipping and at least 10% off everything in her shop. In addition to her Etsyversary promotion, Rachel is donating 20% of the proceeds from the sale of selected items to Etsy project Embrace, set up by Etsy artisans to raise funds for the American Cancer Society in honour of fellow Etsian Laura Slocum of The beautiful earrings above were one of the items Rachel included for this wonderful cause.

So what better time to pop along to Rachel's shop and treat yourself to a little something to brighten your day.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Yes! We Have No Bananas

Not being one to be beaten... and a glut of over ripe bananas festering in the fruit bowl; I decided to have another go at baking a banana cake, as my first attempt was most unpleasant... when is a soggy bottom anything but!

My banana purchases are very specific. I buy them at the weekend in readiness for the start of the Monday morning diet. But my good intentions rarely proceed beyond Monday lunchtime, so the fruit bowl doesn't get so much as a cursory glance for the rest of the week. Until, that is, pesky little black fruit flies flit around my head attempting suicide by drowning in my glass of wine, which alerts me to the presence over ripe fruit.

Not wanting to waste the black skinned bananas, I Googled a recipe for Banana cake, and the top result was this one, which everyone seems to rate very highly. But sadly, mine was very disappointing. It was heavy, with a dense texture that was so moist towards the bottom it looked uncooked. Needless to say it went in the bin. Would have been a lot cheaper and less wasteful, not to mention time consuming, if I'd just chucked the bananas in the bin in the first place!

So, realising how futile it was, I didn't add bananas to my shopping list this week. Instead, I came home from the supermarket determined to put the over ripe fruit to good use and bake a banana cake to be proud of... well one that was edible!

Having thoroughly researched the subject, I discovered this isn't the easiest cake to bake and get good results, which made me feel a little better. Believe it or not, there are probably more disgruntled banana cake bakers out there than happy ones. I also discovered that I had probably over blended the mixture, as I used a food processor instead of doing it by hand.

Anyway, always one for a challenge, I decided that this time I would follow the recipe exactly! Well, when I say exactly... I didn't have self raising flour, so I used plain flour with the addition of baking powder and a pinch of bicarb and salt for good measure. Neither did I have enough castor sugar, so I substituted half with demerara sugar. But that apart, everything else was exactly as stated.

One hour and 10 minutes later I removed it from the oven.

Looking good...
Eager to see what it was like inside, it wasn't long before I cut into it to check the consistency.

Not a soggy bottom in sight!

But it was still a little warm, so I served up a couple of slices and left them to cool while I made a cuppa.

It was at this point I think I was going a little bananas as I surreptitiously glanced around the room in a suspicious manner, and announced to the dog that I hoped there weren't any cows in the kitchen. Yes you read right, I said cows, when in fact I meant flies! Why this should be I have no idea, bus I suspect it might have something to do with a fellow Etsy member called Cow who loves cake and is always on the scrounge for it. After a quick search under the table, behind the fridge and in the pantry I was satisfied Cow wasn't lurking, and my cake was safe to be left unattended while it cooled.

Never turn your back for a minute...

Spot the difference

I am happy to report my banana cake was delicious! I say "was" because it didn't last very long... possibly on account of a couple of slices going walkabout! It had a lovely crunchy outer, moist but light centre and was bursting with flavour. Although by morning the outer had lost it's crunch and become slightly moist, which I actually think I preferred. So to my mind it improves with keeping, very much as Parkin does.

'Tis Monday tomorrow, I need to start my diet and I have no bananas!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Pondering Self Esteem and Seeking Approval

Self esteem - not to be confused with self confidence and self love... although closely related, is something we all need in varying amounts in order to feel we are doing okay. It's fed by our personal achievements, but also hinges precariously on the approval of others. A reasonably high level of self esteem provides us with a feeling of accomplishment, acceptance and self worth. A low level leaves us feeling we're of little worth, and in extreme cases, unlovable; as anyone who has ever been in an abusive relationship can testify.

Clearly some need more of this fodder than others in order to happily flourish. We've all met those self effacing, modest types who hate the spotlight, but are nonetheless content with their lot. But it's the self effacing ones who hog the spotlight; the ones who claim to suffer from low self esteem, yet appear to display a self love bordering on narcissism that intrigues me.

I know quite a few of these folk. They tend generally to be considered attractive, even beautiful individuals, who appear to adore showing off their physical beauty while protesting they are anything but. They are very hot on self promotion, their personal websites often displaying hundreds of self portrait photographs. Yet when questioned on this apparent contradiction, stress in elaborate detail how much they despise their appearance. But their behaviour belies their protestations. This can manifest itself in a variety of ways; dressing to be noticed, always striving for perfection in their physical appearance, often by a combination of extreme diets, grueling workouts and resorting to cosmetic surgery... yet they never seem satisfied with how they look, whilst displaying it for all the world to see.

Many, if not all the ones I know have suffered from an eating disorder. Perhaps they are deluding themselves, or maybe deep down they know they are physically attractive, because the compliments come thick and fast, when prompted... and their perpetual self promotion accompanied with self effacing put downs ensures a constant supply of reassuring compliments. They clearly need this reassurance to keep their levels high.

Self esteem is a fragile creature... starve it and it rapidly becomes emaciated... feed it and it thrives. There's no doubting we all need it, but why do some need it more than others? Is it constant over feeding that triggers an almost addiction like craving? There's no doubt beautiful people attract others, are generally successful and appear to lead charmed lives compared to the rest of us mortals who were less fortunate in the gene pool. So why do so many of these beautiful people feel unloved, insecure and lacking worth? Do they come to rely on the approval of others for their feelings of self worth?

Not that I'm suggesting for one minute that we shouldn't be generous with our compliments. I think most people would agree that praise fosters healthy growth far more than criticism ever did. It could be argued that we subconsciously expect more from beautiful people, or they themselves perceive that more is expected of them? Or is it that compliments were kept to a minimum because it was a given that they were beautiful, so deemed unnecessary... but clearly was necessary? We've all heard of the beautiful girl who was never asked out on dates because everyone assumed she must have a boyfriend.

I possess a high level of confidence, a fair degree of self love, and reasonable self esteem... but it hasn't always been the case. Abandoned by my mother as a baby, discriminated against by my childhood peers, a marriage devoid of affection and emotional support, and ultimate rejection for a younger more attractive model; knocked my confidence, my feelings of worth, my perception of my lovability, and fed my fear of abandonment.

My reserves all but depleted, I eventually recovered, fueled by a single comment from my childhood. I lived with my nan... we were very poor and living in an affluent neighbourhood, and because I was different (I was the one with no mum and dad), I had few friends. One day after being rejected once again by one of the neighbouring kids, I ran home and sobbed in my nan's arms. She took my face in her hands, looked me in the eye and said "they're only jealous because you're so beautiful". That one sentence must have planted itself deep inside me to carry me through, despite all the knock backs life had in store for me. Let me assure you, you would not consider me beautiful, not in the conventional sense, but I do believe I am beautiful.

Something similar happened to Dawn French (I could be her body double). When she was a young girl her dad asked her to come and sit down as he wanted to talk to her. He then proceeded to tell her how beautiful and special she was. All these years later, despite her weight gain and fading looks, she still radiates an inner confidence that translates into real beauty.

I'm sorry to disappoint those who were hoping for a conclusion... I don't have the answers. I am just curious why some people seem so contradictory in their behaviour and what they claim to feel about themselves.

But if you'd like to enlighten me, I'd be interested in your views.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

New Necklace

I made a new necklace for my Etsy shop today... the first listing I've made for a couple of weeks. I figured it was time I got my finger out and actually made something rather than just re listing existing stock. I'm really happy with the result; a gorgeous vibrant poppy button adorns a reto styled hoop strung on a mix of red vintage glass and black seed beads.

Retro Red Poppy Pendant

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Recent Sale

I was honoured last week to sell these art deco style earrings to a lovely fellow Etsian AMI

AMI also makes the most gorgeous hand crafted jewellery and very kindly blogged about her purchase Here

Here's a taste of some of AMI's beautiful work: Why not check out her shop... I'm sure you'll find plenty there to delight you!

More Improvements

The makeover of my Etsy shop continues....

I've been working really hard at improving my photos. This is something I'm striving to perfect. But just when I feel I am happy with them, I tire of looking at them... and perhaps others feel the same? I think it's important to keep a shop fresh, not just by adding new items, but by sprucing up the display to keep the browsers interested.

I think my photography skills have come quite a way since my earliest attempts. My first attempts were awful:

But I soon started to learn about lighting and began to take them on a windowsill.

Then a lovely man, photographer JimJuris advised me to download GIMP and very generously and patiently guided me through the basics. I'm slowly learning how to use the various functions, and although I am improving, the results are still very hit and miss. But I have him to thank for getting me started, otherwise I really wouldn't have a clue about editing photos.

So after much experimenting, I improved. But I became complacent, opting for plain black or white backgrounds, an overhead shot as the main picture, and a few shots from various angles.

I was taking photos with the prospective purchaser in mind, making the pictures clear... but not very interesting. My views were low, bounce rate high, and Treasury inclusion virtually none existent!

It was the very talented artist Illusio who came to my rescue. She provided links to some excellent articles on photography, and suggested I check out other successful Etsians... the ones who always seem to be in Treasuries, and compare my photos with theirs. To do this I used a Poster Sketch; a very clever and useful tool for making Treasuries, but also ideal for making side by side comparisons of similar items.

I decided my photos looked boring, and although essentially telling the viewer everything they needed to know, it also gave them an excuse not to click on them which would effectively take them to my shop. I liken it to the jacket of a book providing a detailed synopsis and telling you how the story ends... giving you no need to turn the pages to find out!

So I decided to have a go at using props to "dress" my photos... make them more inviting! I searched the house for suitable props.. small trinket boxes and visually interesting objects, and composed an old fashioned letter on cream card in a fancy brown font to add a touch of vintage style romance! I actually enjoyed that bit... but that's the writer in me!!

Using props isn't as easy as it sounds when photographing tiny objects such as earrings, as there is the danger the prop will dominate. I'm still not entirely happy with some of my shots... too much prop showing in some, not effectively marrying the prop to the item in one or two, and terrible lighting in others. The latter hasn't been helped by the recent awful weather, so I've had to make do with a windowsill and more editing than I would have liked. I tried to construct a lightbox, but found its use far too fiddly and restrictive. I plan to re do some when the weather improves so I can take them in natural daylight, which is my preferred light source.

Here is a selection of some that I feel are OK'ish:

It's been a long, hard slog... I'd much rather be spending my time working at my bench making jewellery than taking and editing photos, but it's all a part of the learning process and hopefully improves the look of my shop. I've recently been included in some lovely Treasuries too... not sure if it's due to the new photos, or my bribes of cake that did it... but I am very grateful! :)

You can check out the rest of my photos in my shop here.