Sunday, 28 November 2010

Split peas and Lentils!

All this icy weather has promted lots of soup-eating. I'm sure this culinary delight inspired at least one set of beads! In glorious split-pea and lentil colours, here is Daal;

I made this next set when there were still a few golden coloured leaves on the trees. Looking outside today, they've all since dropped. This is Turning Leaves;

Moving to warmer climes, these beads are called Cherokee;

Here is Rivulet;

And finally, night sky inspired Bootes;

Stay warm!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

New Beads

I think I picked up a bug this week, as I've been feeling a bit bleurgh. I did manage to make some simple beads sets though, and here they are;

I hope you're managing to keep one step ahead of the bugs that are doing the rounds at the moment.
Have a great week!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Reflecting on Glass

So... glass...

Clever isn't it!

I mean, it's solid, watertight and strong and yet it can be completely transparent.

But not always.

It can be liquid, and bendy and fragile and opaque.

It can be ice-cold, or furnace hot.

It can be rounded and smooth, or razor sharp.

It can start off clear and end up red. Or yellow. Or orange. Or.... well, I think you get the picture.

It magnifies, and in doing so allows us to see into the far reaches of the solar system.

In short, it's pretty amazing stuff, and I just like to reflect (see what I did there?) on this now and again.

So anyway, I took some of this ice-cold hot liquid solid stuff, and made some beads! Here they are;

On Golden Pond;

Over the Rainbow;

Forgotten Garden;

Coral Blush;

A Touch of Magic;


I hope you like them!

Have a great week.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

I made beads!

And here are some of them........

I've also made myself a bracelet, using some of my orphan lentils and one of George Harper-East's fabulous toggle clasps.

That's all for now!

Have a great week.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Venice Revisited

It's been a while since I blogged, but not because I've had nothing to say. I've just been too busy to say it! But this Sunday afternoon finds me with a kiln satisfyingly full of beads, made earlier today, an empty ironing basket, and 10 minutes on my hands.

Where to start?

In May we made a return visit to Venice. You know how sometimes, after the perfect holiday, you're almost afraid to go back in case you're disappointed? Well, I was feeling a little bit like that as we'd had a completely perfect time there two years ago. I shouldn't have worried, Venice was just as perfect as I'd remembered it. The weather was just as beautiful, Murano was just as inspiring, and the icecream was just as delicious.

We'd had a fairly frantic start to the holiday. Remember the weekend where the volcanic ash cloud made an unexpected reappearance? Well, that was the weekend we were due to fly to Venice! Our flight was delayed by one day, so we missed one night of our holiday, but at one point we thought we wouldn't get there at all! It was a real rollercoaster of a weekend! We'd heard stories of passengers reaching the runway and then being told their flight was cancelled, so until I saw the familiar sight of Venice from the aeroplane window I wasn't quite convinced we'd actually get there. But despite Eyjafjallajokull's best endeavours, we eventually made it. I'd rather hoped our return flight might be delayed and we'd have to spend longer in Venice than anticipated, but Eyjafjallajokull wasn't on our side that week, and sadly we departed right on time. Typical!

We spend a beautiful day island hopping, visiting Burano, famous for its lace, and of course Murano, glass capital of the world. We found this spectacular glass sculpture as we were strolling through Murano. Just gorgeous.

We also found the Effetre factory, where most of the glass I use in my beads is born. It's a real pity they don't have a retail shop there, as I'm sure it would do a roaring trade as Murano is a mecca for lampworkers worldwide. Effetre used to be called Moretti's, and you can still just about make out the old signage.

I loved these blown glass balloon animals.

and this fabulous glass paint and brushes art piece. The pretty blue hat you can see just in front was stunning too.

On Murano we visited Andrea Giubelli's studio again. Andrea makes fabulous hollow glass beads, which are blown. Despite the fact that I speak no italian at all, and Andrea speaks very little english, we managed to have an lengthy and in-depth conversation about glass beads. He pronounced my beads 'molto bella', which completely made my day!

I bought this enormous hollow lentil. It measures 6cm across and is about 2cm deep.

I like the neat clear sticky labels that Andrea uses to sign his beads.

So, would I return to Venice again? You bet! The gondaliers alone are worth the trip, but the glass/gondalier combo is an absolute winner! On reviewing my holiday photos I discovered I'd taken rather a lot of the gondaliers. I wonder why...

So, looking ahead, there's Art In Action to look forward to on 15-18th July, and then in August it's the International Festival of Glass. Having attended both in the past I heartily recommend them.

If you're a National Trust member you can get two tickets for the price of one for Art in Action if you book before 11th July! That's a saving of £14. I love a bargain!

I will shortly be visiting Cornwall, and there's an exhibition I'm particularly keen to see in Falmouth at the Here and Now Gallery.

With thanks to Dolly Daydream for alerting me to this.

Well that's all for now folks. As I mentioned at the beginning, I have a kiln full of beads today, so check back soon to see what I've been making.

Enjoy the sunshine!

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Hip Hip Hippo-ray!

I can't recall when I first decided that I needed to knit a wild animal. It's not the usual kind of craving, granted, but once the notion was in my head I knew I wouldn't be able to settle until it was done.

So here it is. It's a hippo and I knitted it.

Now it's finished I feel a sense of relief, and I'm wondering what I will next feel compelled to produce. It's very odd how these ideas come to rest in my head. If I was a regular knitter having a sudden yearning to knit an animal may not seem too out of the ordinary. The truth is that prior to the hippo I had knitted nothing more than a couple of scarves in my entire life. And one of these ended up being turned into a cushion cover when I got bored of it! The last scarf I started got no further than about 3 rows before I unpicked it and handed it to my Mum to finish - and what a brilliant job she did of it too. But, it bothered me. It bothered me that I'd been beaten. I was disappointed with myself for giving up.

When I was little I had a few violin lessons. I hated them, but I really wanted to succeed. The violin teacher decided that the violin really wasn't my forte and 'let me go' from the class. He was completely right to do so, because it was never going to happen for me, but I was so cross that I'd let a stupid little violin beat me.

A couple of years later, at a different school, the teacher asked if anyone would like to learn to play the cello. I didn't hesitate. My hand shot into the air as I realised this was the perfect opportunity for me to redeem myself, to myself. I'd show that stupid little violin a thing or two by learning to play it's bigger relation! I was never that good at it, but I played in the school orchestra. I was probably rubbish, but I didn't care. I'd proved to myself that I could do it.

Years later I still need to prove to myself that I can 'do stuff'. Although it can be inconvenient at times when these compulsions take over, I wouldn't change it at all. If I'd not given in to these notions, I would never have made a glass bead. Or abseiled from a water tower. Or knitted a hippo!

So I'm feeling nicely calm now and can tick the "Knit a Hippo" box. The desperate obsession to knit passed the moment I sewed the tail on my hippo and declared him finished, but I will definitely be knitting more regularly now.

I wonder what my next challenge will be!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Fossils Revisited

Long-time followers may remember my exitement at finding a tiny but perfect fossil on a trip to Charnmouth a couple of summers ago. This is it before I was brave enough to clean it up;

This fossil inspired my fossil bead series and I have been harbouring ideas of making some silver jewellery from my ammonite too. This weekend I finally got around to it. Silver clay is not my most favourite medium to work in as I am by no means a perfectionist with it, but I wanted an organic finish to the pieces, so my rougher style was for once an advantage!

First, I made a mould of my fossil from a flexible alginate-based compound.

Then I filled the mould with precious metal clay.

I popped the moulded ammonite out and left it to dry completely. Then I made another! I attached some fine silver earring posts to the back of the earrings with clay paste, and left them to dry again. Then I sanded the pieces to neaten the edges and fired them.

Once they had cooled I brushed them with a brass bristle brush to reveal the satiny silver surface. Then I burnished the earrings with an agate burnisher to bring out the shine and popped them in my tumbler for a couple of hours. Finally, I polished them with jeweller's rouge. This is the end result.

Then I decided to make an ammonite charm too, which I have used in a necklace I made for myself. I used some of my organic lampwork beads with some citrine, smoky quartz and crystal quartz briolettes, and hung them of a silver ring which I hammered to texturise. I don't often make jewellery for myself, so I'm realy pleased with my matching necklace and earring set. I've also made an extra charm which I've just turned into a simple pendant.

I'm off out to lunch today to celebrate my parents' Golden Wedding Anniversary, which is the perfect occasion to wear my new jewellery!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Elephant Fundraiser a Trumpeting Success!

You may remember that I was asked to make two pieces of jewellery to be auctioned at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's Elephant Gala Fundraiser in New York.

The first one was dedicated to Turkwel. I made some lampwork beads with lots of silver in them and paired them up with some smoky quartz.

The second piece was dedicated to Chaimu. This time I made some organic cream and amethyst beads and wired them up with some amethyst briolettes.

I am pleased to report that the event itself was a resounding success, and the evening raised $70,000! The pieces I made sold for a total of $750, which I am really pleased with.

The picture below was taken by Beth Dietz, a DSWT supporter who attended the event, and has kindly allowed me to use her picture of the Turkwel piece as displayed in New York. Thank you Beth!

Kristin Davis, of Sex and the City fame, was the guest speaker for the evening.

Kristin gave a brilliant account of how she was involved in the rescue of little Chaimu when she was visiting Kenya. Kristin is a fabulous supporter of the Trust and has seen first hand the incredible difference that it makes to the lives of the elephants, who are orphaned often as a result of poaching or other human intervention.

By the wonders of modern technology you can watch Kristin's speech on Ustream.

I learned today that the person who bought the Chaimu necklace presented it to Kristin as a gift and I am told that she loves it! I hope it serves as a reminder of the part she played in Chaimu's rescue, and that she wears it often.

If you would like to support the work of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust you can foster your very own elephant orphan.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Moon Flowers look like this....

If there were flowers on the moon, maybe they would look like this;

I rarely combine silvered ivory with florals, but I quite like how my MoonFlower bead turned out.

The promise of spring has definitely affected my bead designs, and this is one of the many florals I have been making recently. I called this one 'Peace'.

And now a couple of sets. The first one is stepping stones over a babbling brook;

And the second sets inspired by a packet of lentils!

Inspiration can come from the oddest places...

Have a great week!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Dad - this one's for you!

Having just got off the phone to my Dad, who has observed that I haven't updated my blog lately, I thought I had better rectify that!

Despite treating myself to two long weekends away from work specifically to make beads I managed a pitiful amount. The reason for this was two-fold.

On the first weekend I managed just three beads before, for some inexplicable reason, plunging my left index finger into the flame. Ouch!

My finger smoked, and my nail baked to a black crust and the smell of burning flesh filled the room. My head told me I needed to abandon the bead I had just spent the last 15 minutes on, and which was nearly finished, and head to the cold water tap. My heart told me to ignore the agony and finish the bead. Almost without exception my heart wins the day in these circumstances, but this time, because I could tell it was a big burn, I did the sensible thing and sacrificed my bead to save my finger.

So for the next 30 minutes I held my finger under running water, and for the rest of the day whenever the wave of agony resurfaced I ran to the freezer and grabbed the peas. Being sensible paid off, and I avoided a blister, but I wasn't able to feel the tip of my finger until Thursday when the hardened end of it finally fell off! Eew!

Other beadmakers will know that once you've had a burn there is little possibility of making beads for about a week, as every time the burn gets warm again it hurts like heck. So that was that for my first beadmaking weekend.

So it was with a significant amount of eagerness and expectation that I approached the following long weekend. I finished work on Wednesday evening and had an entire four days with nothing much planned except beadmaking. Imagine how fed up I was when I came down with the lurgy on Wednesday evening, only to feel human again in time to return to work the following Monday morning! Urgh! Why do these things always happen?!

Well, I did manage a brief session at the torch, and the two sets below are the result of that.

This first set is called 'Agateous' on account of it reminding me of Moss Agate. I've used a lovely, deep clay-red glass which I heated until it was soupy and blended with ivory, black and silver. The black has webbed through the other colours which gives the agatey feel.

The second set is called 'First Frost' and I've used a lovely opal glass in sky blue, which I've decorated with silvery fronds.

I have another day off work next Friday, but you know what? I'm not going to plan a beadmaking session at all, and I'll just see what happens.

This week I ran a couple of giveaways. So congratulations to Julie H-B and Janet (JayeSpangles) who both won a set of ring pellets to try out. If you would like to try these yourself take a look at my Etsy listing where you can read the full instructions on how to use these clever pellets to ensure your precious metal rings are a perfect fit.

Thats all for now. Have a great week.

(See you soon Dad - love you xx)

Monday, 15 February 2010

Spirograph Art

When I was little my Spirograph was one of my best ever gifts. But why should something as fabulous as the Spirograph set be reserved for children? I have dusted off my set and had great fun creating these Spirograph Art cards.

You will find them in my Etsy shop. They are not printed reproductions. They are the genuine article, drawn by hand, individually, in ink. I am selling them in sets of five, wrapped in ribbon and cellophane, so buy them for yourself or as a unique gift for someone else.

Spirograph was invented by Denys Fisher, a British Engineer. It is made up of plastic cog wheels, with rails and circles for them to run along and around. The Spirograph’s wheels are of different diameters, with holes for the pen tip at different distances from the centre. With the turn of the wheel, the pen traces out hypotrochoid and epitrochoid curves. I don't understand what that means at all, but it sounds very clever and I can pretend I'm actually doing something deeply mathematical instead of just making pretty patterns for fun!

I remember that there was a version of spirograph for younger children, called Spirotot. My sister had one of those and I wish we'd kept it!

Spirograph is still being made today, but unfortunately it is nowhere near as good as those produced in the 60's and 70's. There is also a pretentiously named "Hypotrochoid set" available in a nifty tin, and while it does the job it's still nowhere near as good as the original Spirograph.

Oh they don't make things like they used to!

I'll be listing some more sets in various colour schemes shortly, but I have to say that I rather like the classiness of the monotone set.

I have a set of beads to list too, just as soon as I've wrestled them from the mandrels and cleaned them. Now if only I could produce a spirograph design on a bead. Now that would be cool....

Saturday, 6 February 2010

New Beads & Other News

I have new beads to show you this week at long last!

This first set is called "Andromeda"

and the second set is one of my favourites; "Lyme".

I plan to be producing beads a little more often than I have managed over the past few weeks, so keep checking my site and my gallery for new beads.

Despite the lack of beads, I have been busy making beads and jewellery for a very exciting fundraiser event in New York. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust are hosting an Elephant Gala Fundraiser at The Wild Horses of Sable Island Gallery, and I was asked to make two pieces for the charity auction. So I have made pieces for two special orphan elephants; Chaimu and Turkwel.

Now this is the exciting bit! Their guest speaker is Kristin Davis, of Sex and the City fame, and she is (hopefully) going to be wearing one of the pieces for the evening. Gulp! Kristin was involved in the rescue of Chaimu, a male baby ele when she was visiting Kenya. I'm hoping Kristin might like the Chaimu piece enough to place a bid! Well you never know ;)

I will post some piccies of the pieces I made once the auction details are in the public domain, which should be soon.

I was asked to send a copy of my Bumpy Beads logo for them to add to the event Sponsors page, which I duly sent. It is quite bizarre to see my little logo displayed against some big brands, particularly the iconic Vespa brand. I think I could get used to it though!

I was wandering around the website of Making Jewellery magazine yesterday evening when I stumbled across some pictures of my beads and jewellery. These particular pieces featured in a recent edition of the magazine, but I didn't know they were online too! My beads are the ones at the bottom of the page, on the left. I'm sharing the page with some of Laura Sparling's delicious cupcake beads.

The other thing I have to tell you is that I went all sequins and sparkles a couple of weeks ago and went to see the Strictly Tour at the NEC. (Gon on, click the link - you know how you love THAT music!) It was fab!

I am a massive fan of the show and was in my element with Len, Arlene, Craig and Bruno. Kelly Brook is stunningly gorgeous, and the dancing hobbits, Chris and Ola were cute! Ali and Brian were in love, Ricky Groves was funny, Natalie Cassidy did a brilliant quickstep and Austin Healey displayed a marvellous chest, which justified the ticket price all by itself ;) Mark Ramprakash won the trophy the evening I went. I haven't enjoyed a night out so much in ages.

I'm back at the NEC again tomorrow, but this time to visit the Spring Fair International. It should be fun!

Have a great weekend :)