Tuesday, 14 July 2009

First Etsy Treasury

I made my first ever Etsy Treasury! For anyone not familiar with treasuries, they comprise of twelve of your favourite items that are currently offered for sale by other sellers on Etsy. I really enjoyed compiling mine, although limiting myself to black and cream made choosing hard work, because there are so many lovely things to choose from. I'm really pleased with the result... not bad for a first attempt, even though I do say so myself! I think I might just have to make another one!

If you want to see it you'll have to be quick because it ends tonight.


Just in case you missed it, here is a screenshot in two parts 'cos my laptop screen is too small to show it all in one.


What's Left of my Garden

I've really neglected my garden this year (and last), so I finally got my act together and did some work on it at the weekend. It's looking a lot tidier but really needs some tender loving care lavishing on it to bring it back to its former glory. There's not a lot in bloom at the moment (looks best in spring) so I took a few shots of what I could find before they all shrivel up and die on me.




Moth eaten Clematis:


The fence needs painting, as does the chair and bird table (what's left of it), and I desperately need a new shed. The old one is dilapidated! Although the weathered look does possess a certain charm...


Saturday, 11 July 2009

Vintage Buttons

My buttons arrived today, the ones I bought from www.SpareButton.etsy.com
Here is a selection... mostly vintage, and I can't wait to incorporate them into my jewellery designs. They might look dull to some, but I LOVE them!!

Just look at the size of those two glossy brown buttons.... more like dinner plates! My mind is racing with ideas for those two beauties; and those cute milk chocolate buttons look good enough to eat! Who said brown is boring! I love the trio of nutty nuggets, such an unusual texture, and they nestle so snugly into the deep bowls of the lush green buttons, it's as if they were made for each other. But I've not made my mind up what I'm going to do with them just yet.

They are all so gorgeous, but the stars of the show have to be the little coppery coloured diamonds! As soon as I saw them, I just had to add them to my collection. They have a lovely metal shank on the back with "Made in England" printed on them. I haven't a clue what I'm going to use them for, but I will have such fun experimenting with endless possibilities.

My love affair with buttons is growing at an obsessive rate. I am officially an Internet button stalker! I actually think I adore buttons more than I do beads... and that is saying something! I think I was born with my sister's share of button love, because she has a phobia about buttons... absolutely hates the things! They really make her feel quite ill, and I'm not even allowed to mention the word "button", let alone talk about my obsession. I always thought it was a rare phobia to have, but I've since heard it's quite common. I'm just glad I don't share her phobia... imagine a life devoid of glorious shiny buttons!! No, give me a phobia of blood any day... although a life devoid of blood would be, well... pretty lifeless really!

Anyway, enough of blood (yuck) pass the smelling salts!!

I am a hoarder of all things shiny... a typical Magpie. I love them for their individuality and often just enjoy looking at them in all their simple beauty. But I also love creating beautiful jewellery with them. Yet I have a confession to make.... I rarely wear jewellery myself, even though I own enough to fill several trinket boxes. As I say, I am a hoarder... but only of jewellery, beads and buttons! The rest of my little world is very ordered, neat and tidy, and I love nothing better than a good clear out... no clutter for me, thank you very much!

I'm really quite a plain person for a jewellery designer; I don't go in for fussy patterns, bright colours, garish outfits or lots of bling bling... except for my little treasures stashed away in pretty boxes that are for my eyes only... oh and the little treasures I love designing for others to wear! Maybe there's a secret exhibitionist inside me screaming to get out, because much of my personal collection is loud and brightly coloured. But it's rare I give them a day out. I'm much more likely to be totally naked "jewellery wise" or just wearing a simple, understated pendant or earrings, or bracelet... very rarely all three together!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Techniques, Materials and Improvisation

It's been a mixed day weather-wise. It started out really quite chilly, almost as if it was autumn, and I walked Bailey with my fleece on. No Bailey didn't have my fleece on, I did! Bailey's got his own fleece. We went to the woods... not so many flies about as there has been of late, so for once I enjoyed a walk without getting bitten by horseflies! I've lost count of how many bites I've had this past week while it's been really hot and humid, and they don't half itch!

By mid morning when I had a hospital appointment, the weather had brightened and the sun came out to play.... just because I'd decided to wear black, so I looked really over-dressed! Well, I wasn't over-dressed for long, because I hadn't been at hospital 2 minutes before I was told to get undressed!

Then as I was driving home this afternoon the sky suddenly darkened dramatically. It looked like the end of the world was nigh. For a second there, I was in two minds whether to switch the radio on to hear if someone had pushed the button! On reaching home I was just going to run inside and grab my camera when my friendly neighbour called me over for a chat. Reluctantly I exchanged a few pleasantries, as you do, then blurted out "sorry can't stop I want to take a photo of the sky".

She must have thought I'd lost the plot as I hurried away casting my eyes heavenward! Anyway, through the front door, I grabbed my camera and sprinted upstairs (believe that and you'll believe anything!) and I managed to get this photo from my son's window (after scaling a mountain of clothes on his bedroom floor)! But it's not nearly as dramatic as it had been on the drive home.

I've had an evening of experimenting with various new materials and techniques. I've been working with copper wire and decided to try my hand at oxidizing it. I'd read somewhere that Rock Sulphur from the pet shop (used in dog's drinking water to supposedly cool the blood in hot weather) has the same effect as very toxic Liver of Sulphur, when oxidizing metal. Personally, I wouldn't add anything to my dog's drinking water, but please don't confuse Rock Sulphur and Liver of Sulphur, they are two entirely different things. Liver of Sulphur can be very toxic and you mustn't even breath the fumes, so NEVER ADD IT TO DRINKING WATER, YOURS OR THE DOG'S!

Anyway, I digress. I wanted to see if there was sufficient strength of sulphur in the Rock Sulphur to oxidize copper, but alas it didn't work! So tonight I tried the environmentally friendly method of using a hard boiled egg. I boiled the egg for about 20 minutes, and whilst it was still hot and with the shell on, I put it in a zip lock bag, and smashed it up with a rolling pin... after first making sure I hadn't yet added the earrings! Then I popped the earrings inside, rolled it up to expel any air and sealed it.

It's my first attempt at making hoop earrings. I fashioned the hoops on a wooden dowel... I actually used the wooden spindle on my kitchen roll holder, but any cylindrical household object would do.

Making the hoops was quite simple. I cut a length of 22 gauge wire, filed the ends smooth, then made a small loop at one end with round nosed pliers. After wrapping the wire around the dowel to form the hoops I slid them off and hammered them to work harden the wire. I don't have a nylon hammer, so I improvised by placing the hoops on the bench block and covering them with an old plastic transparent Tupperwear lid, then hit them with a hammer. Needless to say I won't be using the lid on my butty box anymore, 'cos it's a bit battered!

Not content with plain oxidized copper hoops, I embellished them with beads interspersed with tightly coiled copper in 26 gauge. This was the fiddly bit... threading the beads on was plain sailing, but wrapping the wire around the hoops made them lose their shape and the hoops were really difficult to re shape with the beads on. So I slid all the beads and copper coils off, straightened the wire with nylon jawed pliers, re did the loop fastener and re-fashioned the hoops on the dowel, and then very carefully threaded the beads and coils back onto the hoops. I then tweaked the straight end with flat nosed pliers to make a small hook to push through the loop to secure them.

The oxidizing worked quite well, and because I placed the hoops in the bag whilst the egg was still very hot, it only took about half an hour to turn them dark. But then I had to wash the eggy mess off the earrings, and polish them up which removed most of the oxidization, which kinda defeated the object. But they're still gently oxidized and less bright than they originally were. If you want a darker finish, leave them for longer, perhaps overnight

It's not a very good photo, you'll need to click to enlarge it in order to see the coils, but it's the best I could do at this time of night. As experiments go, the hoops aren't too bad, but they're way below the standard for selling, so I'm keeping them for myself and will keep experimenting and practicing until I'm satisfied with the result.

Oh, almost forgot to mention... I ordered some lovely vintage buttons. Watch this space!

Friday, 3 July 2009

The new slimline Bailey

My handsome boy Bailey has now surpassed his goal weight of 36kg and is now a trim 35kg. We had intended that he try to maintain his weight this month, but even an increase in calories by adding a daily sardine or mackerel to his diet and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on his dinner and tea still saw another 800g loss when we visited the vet's weight loss clinic on Tuesday. We had decided to increase the calories with oils and oily fish because his coat was dull with severe moulting (even worse than usual) and dry flaky skin when I brushed him. His coat is now in super condition, but in order for him not to lose any more weight I am increasing his food and taking him for fortnightly checks until we find the ideal amount to feed him. I'm sure he must feel a lot better in this scorching hot weather than he did last summer weighing almost 42kg.

Anyway, I thought I'd let you all see how great he looks now. :)

But before I do, here are a couple of before pictures:

This was taken last autumn just as he started his diet, weighing 41.9kg

In his couch potato days!

Doesn't he look so much better! Far younger than his 9 1/2 years.

Showing off his new trim tummy. He could barely roll onto his back before!

What a pity I'm not as disciplined where my own weight's concerned! Mind you, I'd look a right tart adopting some of Bailey's poses! That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it... the excuse that is, not the diet!

Thursday, 2 July 2009


Yay! My Etsy shop has registered exactly 1000 views. Here's to the next 1000! Why not pop along to see my designs and help bring that 2000'th view closer. :)


Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Busy Busy Busy

I've been keeping very busy this past few days designing new earrings, taking photos and making listings. Here are three pairs I've recently added to my Etsy shop.