Thursday, 25 December 2008
Last night my choir was singing at the Midnight service, which is always magical, and helps me to keep Christmas in perspective. Today we had our Christmas dinner dinner over at my in-laws, they are so lovely and dinner was very relaxed. So often this time of year brings stress and frayed tempers as families try too hard to have a good time. We've purposely kept everything very low-key this year, which has been great as it means there's nothing to get stressed about, lol. I'm now back at home with my Christmas tree lights twinkling, chilling out in front of the BBC's Christmas day programming ~ looking forward to the new Wallace & Gromit and the dramas in Eastenders ;) I love Christmas Day as for me it is absolutely not a day to be doing anything other than enjoying family and food and certainly not a time for doing any work!
I'm lucky enough to have a couple of weeks off work, so and will be catching up with all the jobs I've been meaning to do at home. I'm doing some reorganisation of the upstairs in my house to give my other half's son a bit more room when he comes to stay, so we are moving his bed and toys into the larger of our two spare rooms, and the box room will be my jewellery-making space. It needs decorating, so last week I bought laminate floor and paint and yesterday I started work... Watch this space!
Wishing you all a very happy & peaceful holiday, wherever you are and however you are celebrating ;)
Sunday, 23 November 2008
And in the true spirit of blog awards, this one must be passed on to seven others whose blogs inspire me (luckily there are many to chose from ;), so without further ado, here they are:
Brandi for her 'brandi-girl' blog - her blog is through provoking and inspiring, she is so good at promoting other artists and she never fails to make me smile :)
Felicia of Fluffy Flowers - a fabulous photo diary, the most adorable plush creatures and a dog called Slashables!
Mandie of Jewellery Craft - a blog about jewellery and the ups and downs of real life, Mandie has been the source of some great tips as I've been experimenting with jewellery-making techniques for which I'm very grateful.
Nia of GemwaithNia Jewellery - I loved that she took us on her holidays this summer with her blog ;) and Nia's jewellery is really lovely.
Caroline of Crafted Gems - the most amazing lampwork beads and some great chocolate cakes along the way ;)
Laura of Beads by Laura - more fabulous beads (and I've just won my first set in a prize draw, I'm so excited!) and a love of Star Wars and Lego, lol :)
Izzy of Adventures in Glass - my first set of lampwork glass beads were made by Izzy (I made a bracelet for myself ;) and I think her beads are beautiful. She encouraged me to get involved in this online community of beady people and I am very grateful for that - her blog is a lovely showcase of fab beads and beady creations.
Thank you ladies all very much :)
So I've been pretty busy at work and have not had enough time to make jewellery (as per usual) and I also have a job interview tomorrow morning, the preparation for which has been taking up a large chunk of my weekend. I'm happy with the work I do where I am, but I've been there 7 years now, and I'm thinking I should at least see what else is out there, even if I don't actually change jobs. This is probably not the smartest time to be jumping ship either with a recession looming large, but I guess I should start somewhere. Although my job can be pretty manic quite a lot of the time, if I'm honest I am still pretty comfortable with the work and I get this little voice that says I should be challenging myself now, which means working for someone new... I have a 3 1/2 hour interview which is a bit scary, but hey, I wanted a challenge!
Last weekend I did a craft fair, and my goal was to make enough money to cover my phonebill, which I did, so I was happy (it doesn't take much ;). I met some other lovely artists too, including one lady (also called Alison) who makes jewellery with real flowers, sealed in resin / acrylic, which she has got from Thailand. Her creations are lovely (checkout her website The Flower Jewellery Shop here). She recommended some other possiblities for craft fairs too, so I'm hoping to cross paths with her again.
And at the craft fair I had a bit of time to sit and make some jewellery. I have finally taken the plunge and split up my beautiful string of Sunbaked beads by Julie of Lush Lampwork, and here are the initial results - a bracelet with Thai silver and Swarovski crystals (I think the Swarovskis are a perfect match for the sunbaked colours).
And finally ~ I made my first sale through Etsy ~ yay! I've had an Etsy shop since the spring without many things in it to be honest, but I recently stocked it up a bit more and this seems to have done the trick (lets hope it's the first sale of many ;). I sold a pair of earrings, very simple design made with a pair of beads by Caroline Cash, very similar to the pair below. These beads are a pair by Java Bead on Etsy which I need to get listed this week I think.
Sunday, 2 November 2008
The dish in a couple of my pictures is my newest attempt at adding some interest to my photos - I went on a day trip to Bath with my friend a couple of weeks ago, and although I was not extravagant with my shopping, this was one of my finds. I also got a bag I just couldn't resist and the teal wheel beads I've used in the top photo.
I'm hoping to have another go at some oxidising with some of these earrings, so far I've only used my liver of sulphur once, on a bracelet I made myself, but I'm thinking these beryl and iolite earrings are prime candidates... all I need now is some dry weather so I can get out in the garden to do it, rather than stink out the house with the smell of rotten eggs!
I've been experimenting with making earwires recently too, they don't always come out quite right but I'm quite please with the ones that have made it onto jewellery so far ;) Just as with earrings themselves, I'm finding the hardest thing is to make both sides look the same and hang the same length...
And finally, I just wanted to say how much fun the game of tag has been, very enlightening and and definitely a good way to get to know my online friends a little better. I hope you all have a good week ;)
Sunday, 19 October 2008
- I love singing, I sang at school and now I sing in a small church choir - we don't really sing anything too challenging, but it's fun all the same. Christmas is coming up and singing the descant parts to the traditional carols is one of the highlights ;)
- I did a degree in American Studies which involved a year at the University of California, where I took a year of the Native American Studies course at Berkeley (and came away with a 4.0 GPA too ;) My accommodation was a student co-op which (I discovered after I moved in) was the cultural centre(!) of the North California Punk scene - the year before I moved in The Offspring played a gig in the kitchen and Green Day played in the garden apparently - I was clearly a year too late!
- My favourite singer/songwriter is Tori Amos, who I have seen in concert at least 10 times in 3 different countries. (Apart from that I mostly like rock and metal).
- I used to be the theatre manager for a Victorian Music Hall, The Players' Theatre in London, (underneath the arches of Charing Cross station) which had its moments! One of my best memories of being there was organising a wedding venue licence for the building so one lady could have her dream victorian style wedding on the stage.
- I'm a qualified Aromatherapist and love to give massage with blended aromatherapy oils. Alongside making jewellery, if I thought I could cover all the bills doing that rather than my day job I would.
- My family moved to America when I was 15, but I stayed behind to finish my GCSEs & A-Levels. After school I lived with them for a year in Florida, but came back to England to go to university. I even had a Green Card for a while, but gave it up because I was working in the UK (I should have held on to it really as we've got a long term plan to move over there. Mum now lives in Minnesota and my sister is married and living in Orlando, so at least I have some great holiday options (when I can aford the plane tickets ;)
- My most exciting holiday destination was Bogota, Colombia. I went about 12 years ago with my best friend to the wedding of someone she knew from college. We got to stay in the appartment of some friends of the bride who were away for the week, and the family's chauffer to take us out and about, which was an experience - not being able to speak much Spanish made communicating with him interesting though!
- Rachel - Earth & Fire Beads
- Tina - So What's New Today?
- Clare - The Makings of Crafty Clare
- Nicky - Sparkly Treasures
- Manda - Mango Beads
- Laura - Beads by Laura
- Felicia - Fluffy Flowers
The pics I've posted today are two necklaces I made yesterday. The top one has a focal from Izzy Anderson of Flame & Glass ~ I just love this bead ~ and I've put it with kyanite, amazonite, blue goldstone and my favourite, labradorite. This one is going in my shop, although it's going to be hard to part with it. The bottom picture is a one I've made for myself, to show off one of Julie Fountain's fabulous focals (Lush Lampwork). My lovely boyfriend bought this for me at the Midlands bead fair back in August, on the condition I make something for myself, and this is the result. I've wired FW pearls, rubies, amethysts and beryl morganite to make the chain, and I'm really pleased with it ;)
Thursday, 2 October 2008
I chose a paisley design in shades of blue/violet which I really love, and Sharon is such a sweetie as she also made it up in a second colour-way to match up with the aqua / turquoise colours in my Jewellery business cards - so now I can pick and choose as the mood takes me. I've got the blue version here on my blog and aqua version on my website and Etsy shop.
I'm off now to work, but I'll be stopping on the way to collect my silver order from the post office depot. This means I can finally finish off a number pieces that I've been working on for a while now!
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
As you can see from the picture there's an ulterior motive for posting about her site ;) But it's also got me thinking about getting myself a new and exclusive banner too, I checked out Sharon's Etsy store earlier and there are at least a couple of designs that are definitely catching my eye - so watch this space...
Sunday, 10 August 2008
1. Summer in Australia, 2. Monte Cristo., 3. Project: Hertfordshire - St. Albans, 4. lavendar skies, 5. Johnny Depp, 6. Hot Chocolate, 7. Zig zag your way to paradise !, 8. birthday cupcakes, 9. Elephant in Temple, 10. Family Portrait, 11. Thoughtful, 12. Rainbow Sunset
The idea is to use the answers to the following twelve questions for flickr searches, pick one picture from the first page of results for each search and use them to create a mosaic using the fd's Flickr Toys - Big Huge Labs tool.
The 12 questions (and my answers) are:
1. What is your first name? (Alison)
2. What is your favorite food? (Monte Cristo Sandwich)
3. What high school did you go to? (Ancaster House)
4. What is your favorite color? (Violet)
5. Who is your celebrity crush? (Johnny Depp)
6. Favorite drink? (Hot Chocolate)
7. Dream vacation? (Thailand)
8. Favorite dessert? (Meringue)
9. What you want to be when you grow up? (in charge!)
10. What do you love most in life? (Family)
11. One Word to describe you. (Thoughtful)
12. Your flickr name (All About the Beads)
Some of the pictures were quite unexpected, but I like the results. The 'thoughtful' picture looks a lot like my littlest cat too, which I thought was cool.
The only jewellery piece I have actually finished in the last couple of weeks is this charm bracelet, which is a commission piece for my other half's auntie's 50th birthday. I hope she likes it, we'll find out tonight as we've been invited to the do. I'm quite pleased with how it's turned out, I haven't made bracelets like this for some time, but when I started making jewellery again last year I made a whole series of charm bracelets with silver plated chains and a variety of glass beads. My original bracelets tended to have one or two multi-bead charms per link, but for this piece I was asked to make something smaller and more dainty. I really love the way Jo (of Gemheaven) packs her charm bracelets so densely with lots of little beads, so the inspiration for this one has come in part from her work.
I've used fossil coral, bronzite, Picasso jasper, tiger's eye, freshwater pearls, Swarovski crystals and a few Karen Silver leaf print beads, and I made my own headpins too. I think I might make some more of these bracelets with different combinations of stones...
And finally I decided recently that I needed some cards, so I used a website, GoodPrint, to design my own and had them printed. They match the blue boxes I also got recently too (I feel almost professional!)
Hopefully next time I post I'll have some more jewellery to show you (I have a couple of projects in progress so you never know!)
Tuesday, 8 July 2008
And they are:
Rachel of Earth & Fire Beads makes beautiful lampwork and has recently started making polymer clay beads with striking effect. I especially like her 'organics' beads, the colours are wonderful (bring on payday ;).
Brandi (among other things an artist, designer & bead-hoarder and therefore a girl after my own heart) started a new blog last month: 'Brandi-girl' which is a definite pick-me-up and some days a laugh out loud read. Her jewellery is fabulous too - I love the way she uses colour.
And last but not least Hannah of Kuutu, who makes beautiful and original silver & gemstone jewellery. If my other half ever pops the question I'll be sending him Hannah's way for a ring ;0)
This week has been something of a nightmare, my car failed its MOT last week, and my BF's uncle had promised to help us fix the problems. We bought a scrap version of the same car to get the bits we needed to fix mine (engine / exhaust / door handles... believe it or not it was cheaper this way) and I was supposed to be going to take my car back for its re-test today. Uncle was due to do the work at the weekend, but cried off due to the bad weather (and a friend dropping by for an unexpected visit). The original plan was to change over the engines and exhausts and do a bit of welding under the bonnet. So last night BF took the car over to Uncle's for him to do the work - he decided to leave the engine but just change the carb instead, exhaust is still not fitted and in the process of welding a small hole Uncle has managed to burn out the indicator wiring and catch BF's hand with the welding torch! So now he has a badly burned hand and is not in the best of moods! Needless to say there will not be an MOT retest today and becuase BF is incapacitated, I'll probably have to get my hands round the wiring loom - not exactly the kind of wire I was hoping to be working on this week! Wish me luck ;)
And finally, a picture of a bracelet I made as one of two possibles for a commission, in the style of some previous bracelets I'd made - she chose the other alternative which was silver, peach and pearly. The original version of this one had some ruby quartz and amethyst Swarovskis, I'd made it one evening under artificial light, and when I looked at it in the daylight, the colours just weren't quite right. So I remade it exchanging the quartz for some beryl morganite rondelles that just arrived from Hong Kong - (thanks Deb if you see this blog), and some garnets and garnet Swarovskis which I think make for an altogether more pleasing colour combination. Hope you are all having a good week :)
Friday, 13 June 2008
The girls had also agreed to run a kids workshop making bracelets with pipe-cleaners and beads, so I did a stint at that too. I sold a few pieces of jewellery, and gave out lots of cards, so there may be some follow-up from those. The weather held too, which was great - several people there told me how this time last year the park where it's held was distinctly waterlogged - I'm very glad the same scenario was not repeated this time around :o) I've been feeling totally knackered this week at work but it was definitely worth it.
Becasue of the festival I had a big push last week to make up some pieces that have been going round in my head for a while. The first two pictures are of bracelet and matching earrings made with another set of Caroline's beads, some glass pearls, glass discs and some swarovski crystal hearts and butterflies - very girlie ;0)
I had a couple of amazonite with pyrite / tourmaline inclusions left and decided to make one of them into this bracelet, the cubes are amazonite, the rondelles pyrite and the little pillows are labradorite (one of my fave stones). I just love the colours in this one - I've called it From Grey Skies to Blue :)
The last two pieces, a bracelet and a necklace both use some freshwater pearl nuggets. The bracelet focal bead is coffee bean jasper, which has some great markings. I've used vintage rose Swarovski crystals, garnet rondelles and African opals along with the pearls.
This necklace is freshwater pearls with blue goldstone rondelles and Thai silver. I like how this one has turned out, quite chunky :)
Monday, 2 June 2008
So today I've ordered a few display items which I'm hoping will do the job, and I've found a company that is apparently the only UK company that supplies only recycled gift and jewellery packaging - called The Tiny Box Company. I've gone for bright blue boxes :)
I've made three new bracelets over the last week, all using sets of Caroline Hannon's beads. The first one is my first attempt at using silver wire instead of beading wire - you can probably tell the inspiration for this comes from Jo at Gemheaven - I have long been admiring similar creations she has made and wanted to see if I could recreate the wire effects. This was also my first attempt at wire-wrapping briolettes - the hole was too small for my smallest gauge silver wire, so I had to get a bit creative with beadalon and crimps underneath the wrapping. I just love the colours in these beads (luna glass I think) when I first saw them they reminded me of sunsets in Spain when we were there earlier this year.
I've had this second set of beads for absolutely ages, and have been waiting for the clasp to arrive - this is one I think I'm going to keep (I purposely made the one above too small for my wrist so I am not tempted to keep it for myself - I can't justify keeping them all!). This bracelet is made with citrine rondelles and amazonite chips.
The last bracelet is another using Caroline's beads - very neutral and organic, but with a few specks of pale blue colour, which i think really pops out when the aquamarine rondelles are with them. The tiny creamy coloured beads are African opal, and I have used Picasso jasper rondelles as little charms, as the colouring is very much like the glass beads (without the blue).
I'm really on a roll at the moment, I have another bracelet and matching earrings in progress, pinks and purples and butterfly crystals, which I'm hoping to finish this week if I get some time - watch this space...
Monday, 19 May 2008
Anyway, here are some of the things I made during my last bead session - all using lovely lampwork beads. This first piece is a bracelet made with Izzy Anderson's beautiful 'Deep Space' beads - I love the mix of blues and the grey base some of them have - I thought they would work well with some smoky quartz rondells and two colours of Swarovski crystals. This is one of those pieces I'm tempted to keep for myself, lol.
This piece is a pendent made with one of Clare Scott's beads. I had a set from Clare, and three beads have gone into a bracelet (unfinished as yet as I'm still looking for the perfect clasp...) I decided to make the fourth into a pendant - my first go at this type of thing . I just love the colours in this one too - like a swimming pool with deep blue tiles...
The last piece is something I have made for my Mum (and my second ever pendant :). I bought a set of four of her 'beach pebble' beads from Mary Parker last year to make a bracelet for Mum, and she commented that she's quite like a pendant with a similar but larger bead. I asked Mary and she very kindly agreed to make me a similar focal, which is just gorgeous. Mum loves earthy, natural colours, so I'm hoping she'll be equally pleased with this piece. I sent it off last week (she lives in America, so for her it was Mother's Day last weekend), and am now just waiting to hear that it has arrived safely.
The last three pictures are just a bit of fun - Fuzz my 9-month old kitten gets very excited when my bead tray comes out, and he was getting his paws into everything last weekend! The pictures are slightly blurry, as Fuzz hardly ever sits still long enough to take a clear picture :0)
Saturday, 26 April 2008
At last I feel like my time is once again my own, the exam that I've been spending all my time studying for for the last month was on Thursday, and I think it went OK. I've got a couple of months to wait until I find out how I did, I feel like I'm 17 again waiting for my A-level results - I've even been dreaming about the management models I've been studying - I can't wait for my brain to shift down a gear!
For the most part I've been very good and haven't picked up my beads for the last couple of weeks, except for taking a little bit of time out last weekend to make this bracelet. I had four of these lovely Amazonite with Black Tourmaline beads left, and when I saw these freshwater pearls online I thought they would be the perfect accompaniment.
I can't wait to get back to some serious beading again, I took advantage of the fact that it was Payday yesterday (Caroline knows us so well...) and bought a couple of new sets of lampwork beads too. My beads from Caroline (faux boro - really lovely ;) arrived today - I'm really impressed with the turnaround time and the Royal Mail. I have a second set coming from Izzy next week too, my first from her in a while so I'm excited. Of course I still have a stash of little sets that I haven't done anything with just yet, although I have ideas... I'm waiting for some new wire and crimps to come, and then I can really get going.
Just today I've registered with Etsy and set up a shop. I haven't put anything in it yet, but I think this bracelet may be the first item. It seems like Etsy is a good opportunity to reach a wider audience so I've taken the lead of some of you guys who are there already. Wish me luck! Hopefully I'll be back soon with more...
Sunday, 6 April 2008
It looks so magical when the snow clings to the tree branches. It was all gone by this afternoon, but it's snowing again now, so maybe we'll be treated to another winter wonderland in the morning. It's been such a beautiful day here, shame I had to spend most of it with head in books - I've got an online revision school going on this weekend, so have been hard at it - but keeping myself same with a bit of beading in between ;0)
I managed to sneak the time to make two bracelets last night and today, the first is quite a simple one, using Madagascar Leopardskin jasper beads, black agate and Swarovski crystals. My sister has been selling some of my jewellery for me at her hair salon in Orlando, and between us we have been working out what sells best. It seems that the things that sell first are pieces with more neutral or conservative colours, especially with black or brown beads. I love to experiment with colour combinations myself, and although the more flamboyant pieces sell eventually, I do try to make some pieces in more neutral or classic colour schemes, hopefully without losing my own style in the process.
This second bracelet is made with another set of Caroline's beautiful beads, which she called 'Sunset Pillows' I love the combination of colours that are in these, from opal white to topaz to deep amethyst. I've put them with some amethyst rounds and clusters of pearls, rainbow moonstone and Swarovski sparklies. I think pillow beads may be my favourite shape for lampwork beads :)
I'm off to do some more studying before calling it a day. It's 8.15 and the snow is coming thick and fast outside, so maybe we'll get snowed in an not be able to go to work in the morning - I can live in hope!
Saturday, 29 March 2008
So here are the things I've been made: I've had these labradorite pillow beads for a while, I got them as a free gift with one of my orders from Lima Beads in the US. Although it's pretty difficult to capture it on camera, they have lots of lovely aqua and blue flashes. I have been making lots and lots of bracelets lately, and as I had a longer strand of the labradorite I thought I should make a necklace with these. I've put them with onyx rounds, Karen Hill silver spacers and Swarovskis in Montana Blue - I really love this airforce blue colour.
The other piece I made yesterday was another bracelet, I've had this in progress for some time now, so thought it was time to finish it off. The large beads are Magic Agate, which I thought was a really unusual stone, with yellow, blue and white colouring, and holes that look like little geodes. I'd never heard of this stone before I bought these beads. I've mixed them with faceted citrine rondels, tiny blue goldstone beads which have a bit of sparkle to them, and my usual Swarovski crystals and Karen silver.
The last bracelet is another one I made some time ago, but I've only just got around to taking a picture of it today. It's a bit more delicate than my usual chunky beaded pieces. I've used two kinds of amethyst beads, Cape Amethyst faceted coins and some deeper purple rounds. The 'focal' bead is not very clear in this picture, but it's a Karen silver lentil with a floral pattern.
That's about all from me for now, I best get back to studying...
Monday, 24 March 2008
It's been great to have a four-day weekend and good to finally get some time to spend with my beads (and its still not over yet :). It's been a pretty busy one all in all; I've been 'Auntie Ali' for the weekend, as we've got my other half's 8-year old son to stay. We try to have him come whenever there's a long weekend or school holiday so he can be here for more than just two days; he now lives in Ely which is quite a way away from us, so we can't have him as often as we would like. I have been supervising artistic creations with spirograph and glitter glue this morning ;0)
My day-job has been keeping me pretty busy the last couple of weeks, and I'm also taking an Open University management course which work has sponsored me to do. Up till now all the tutorials have been online, and all my assignments have been submitted electronically. The scary part is the final module is a real life 3-hour exam, which is exactly one month from today - I'm a terrible procrastinator when it comes to things I'd rather not be doing, but luckily I'm pretty good at working under pressure so when I have deadlines for work or whatever I tend to use the adrenaline rush to pull it all together at the last minute. In this case though I think I will need to do some serious revision in advance and not leave it all to the night before, lol.
The final piece I've got to show you today is a necklace, also made with a set of Caroline's beads, which I've had for months, lol. I love this peridot-green colour (not least coz peridot is my birthstone). Although I wouldn't usually wear clothes in this colour, I love it for accessories. These beads were originally going to be another bracelet, but on second thoughts I decided they should be a necklace instead - more scope to add more beads, lol. I've used some beautiful Canadian jade beads, glass pearls, Swarovski crystals, tiny peridot rondelles, rock crystal and sterling and (surprise, surprise!!) Karen silver ;) I've called this one 'Meliai', which in Greek (or possibly Roman) mythology is the name for the dryads of ash trees , on account of its greenness.
I think the rest of today will have to be devoted to serious revision - allowing of course for breaks for part two of 'The Colour of Magic' and 'Lost' which I missed last night to watch 'The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency' - not that I'm a telly addict or anything! Hope you've all had a lovely Easter.