Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Damask Dragons

Now this was my final jewellery project of the year. And actually probably the most difficult one. Maybe not the most technically challenging, as that honour belongs to my tiny crash helmets, but certainly the project I had the most trouble getting my head around.

As you may have noticed, I rather like baroque style and vintage wallpaper, and have been basing a lot of designs around this. Having promised a friend that I would make some earrings as a Christmas present for his girlfriend in return for hooking me up with a pro photographer, I duly emailed him my designs. He came back with "Oooh, like that but a bit more dragony please". "Hmmm, interesting..." I thought. "Dragons..."

Now, I kind of suck at making things look like other things, hence my trepidation and slight procrastination of this project. I needed to find a way to keep the feel of the original design, and also make it look a bit dragony without looking, well, crap really.

So, armed with my sketchbook and pencils, I set off for a distraction-free weekend chilling out with my mum. After many hours of drawing and squinting at swirly shapes, I managed to come up with something I thought looked kind of cool, and happily the friend agreed, so I set to work. And this was the result:

I think they actually turned out pretty awesome. This is my favourite kind of metalwork to do, starting with a blank piece of sheet silver and slowly piercing out and carving the edges of the design. I can happily sit at my workbench for hours merrily sawing away. Some days you can go through corners and points for ever without breaking a single sawblade, other days you can break five of them in two minutes, just sawing a straight line.

Again, I've been indecisive about the photography style and have also done one on an earring bust just to show the scale.

So, I guess the lesson learned was that sometimes it's good to be dragged begrudgingly from your comfort zone, as what you end up creating could well be one of your favourite pieces...

Saturday, 26 December 2009

New Shiny Things

Hello! And a merry Christmas to everyone :)

Now that presents have all been opened, I can share with you my newest shiny things, made for the boy's mother and sister as Christmas pressies.

First, some rather nice damask wallpaper inspired earrings, set with opals and finished off with some fab blue topaz teardrops that I've been wanting to use for a while...

I'm still rather indecisive about which photography style I prefer, so I'm just taking photos of everything in different ways till I make my mind up. Maybe I'll wind up using both anyway, so I can have a bit of variety on the eventual website...

And a little detail shot here for a better view of the opals, as the colours were so bright and lovely. I actually rescued the little opals from a quite hideous shiny thing I made a long time ago. They were just too pretty to be trapped in something so alarmingly ugly. I felt they deserved a better life...

Also, a lovely birthstone charm for the boy's sister, as he bought her a silver charm bracelet as a present when we were on holiday in LA last summer and wanted something she could add to it.

I figured I'd do a shot of it on a chain, as I already have shots of another birthstone charm I made on a bracelet.

So, what with the little shiny things above, the engagement charms and another pair of Christmas pressie commissioned earrings (more of which later) I had a bit of a mental December actually. My fingers went numb many times, my random right-hand eczema went bonkers and I had a few pretty late nights where my neighbours probably did not thank me for the hammering. I shall look upon it as revenge for their child's obsession with tunelessly wailing High School Musical songs for hours on end whilst I was working.

Anyway, December generally ended up with me having mainly forgotten about Christmas until, well, Christmas Eve really. You know those people that lead you to wonder "Who on earth does their food shopping for Christmas on Christmas Eve...?" That would be me. Ooops. But, mainly by fluke, it all turned out okay, and we had a lovely chilled out day of champagne, food, TV and snoozing on the sofa. And, to be honest, there's not much more you can ask for on Christmas day than that :)

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Engagement Charm

As I have a lovely boss, who always gets me really cool presents, I wanted to make her something nice as a Christmas present.

She mentioned a while ago that she has a gold charm bracelet and, helpfully, she has very recently got engaged, so "aha!" I thought, "I shall make her a lovely gold tiny engagement ring charm for said bracelet" Then I added a little gold heart for good measure...

Ta da!

It turned out super-cute I think :) I bought the tiny crown part that the stone sits in, but the rest of it I made from scratch out of gold sheet and wire, like a proper jeweller and everything!

And, with the magic of Lightroom, here's what it would look like in silver:

I hope she likes it and doesn't think it's totally cheesy...

I Has a Tree!

Well, amidst the general chaos that has been my life this week, I have managed to put up the tree. Flatmate managed to move his arse off the sofa for just long enough to get it out of the loft.

We first moved into this house at the end of November three years ago, and decided to throw a Christmas party on the first weekend in December, figuring it would give us motivation to build furniture and stuff.

So, we acquired a tree, but decided to make our party a "Bring a Bauble" party. So, all of our friends brought us a random bauble each to put on the tree and by the end of the party it was full. I love the fact that it's the most ludicrously mismatched tree ever :)

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Now How Did That Happen...?

It has come to my attention that today is December 20th. DECEMBER 20TH!!!! How can December have possibly snuck up on me like that? Not even snuck, actually, but merrily legged it past me waving tinsel and blowing rasperries!

I have done nothing towards Christmas at all. Eek! I've been so busy this month with making shiny things and flat hunting that Christmas hasn't even really occurred to me. Although thanks to my mother, I have had mince pies and she even made me a Christmas cake :)

I am now going to put up the Christmas tree, then I will feel slightly better. Maybe I will make mince pies too...

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Christmas Cupcakes

Wow, busy week!

London Rollergirls had their season opening bout on Saturday. We gave it a Christmassy theme, just because it was December. Sadly, my favourite team lost the game, but I did get to make some rather yummy Christmas themed cupcakes.

These were mince pie cupcakes with brandy butter icing. Sounds weird, totally works.

And a less alarming sounding lemon and blueberry flavour with sugarpaste snowflakes:

I love cake :)

Silver Essex Necklace

This has been one of my favourite projects! Silver “Essex” name necklace, custom designed with the triple sword logo from the Essex flag incorporated.

So, I think it turned out really well and I was really happy with it. It’s always difficult to let the shiny things go after spending so many hours with them, especially this one, but sadly I had to wave goodbye. Can I please move to Essex so I can make one for me...?

Anyway, here is the finished shiny thing:

And a detail shot of the tiny swords:

I messed around with some different setups for the photography this time, using blue/green acrylic stars as props. I like the effect, but I’m not sure whether it makes the picture look too busy...?

I also found a new and exciting icon in Lightroom, which seems to allow you to drag a gradient of different colour or exposure across the picture. I’m not really sure what I’m doing with it, or it’s proper purpose, but I’ve been playing with it anyway :)

Oh, and I also got another commission for a name necklace, which I was working on at the same time. This font was an absolute arse to cut out, but it ended up being really pretty, so I forgave it.

There are still unfinished shiny things on my workbench, so I'll try and get some pictures of them before they leave me for their new owners...

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Tea at the Ritz!

Poor little neglected blog. I have been ludicrously busy over the past few weeks and have sadly not had time to write about stuff.

So, what have I been doing? Well, firstly I must tell you about the rather marvellous time the boy and I had at the Ritz a couple of Fridays ago. We had been given an afternoon tea there as a lovely Christmas gift from the boy’s mum and finally found a date to book it. Friday afternoons off work are always nice, but for this one I got to wear a posh frock, potter down to Green Park and enter another world.

The decor is amazing, completly my style with lots of gilt baroque swirly things (interior design terms not my strong point I’m afraid...), beautifully upholstered chairs and sofas and more chandeliers than you can shake a stick at. Check it out:

Now, on to the important bit... the cake obviously! I love cake. I may have mentioned this previously. Anyway, they give you this fab three tiered cake stand thingy, with adorable little sandwiches (crusts cut off, obvs) on the bottom and little confectionery works of art on the top. Oh, and there were cucumber sandwiches! I can now say I have eaten cucumber sandwiches at the Ritz :)

Then, to fill the middle layer, you are presented with warm scones and a pot of jam and fresh clotted cream. Now usually, I am a bit “meh, whatever” about scones, but these were a revelation! The ones I make you could break windows with, but these were all light and fluffy and marvellous.

So, all in all it was a super-fun Friday afternoon. We took a walk up Bond Street afterwards and looked at all the amazing sparkly things in the posh jewellers. I did want to take some pictures, but the giant black clad bodyguards with the earpieces didn’t look like they’d be overly impressed. So I didn’t. But, I did manage to get a picture of this little fellow as we passed a window, as he amused me:

What is it? Silver chicken/dragon hybrid? I have no idea what it’s for but it’s kind of cool in a disturbing kind of way.

Anyway, must dash (again) but with promises of new shiny things very soon.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Shiny Things! ...Work in Progress

As my boyfriend abandoned me this weekend for a lads day/night, then subsequent hangover, I actually got to be super-constructive! More lads nights please guys :) So, I spent pretty much all weekend making jewellery (save for a break to watch X-Factor, obvs...).

I had a lovely time with tiny saw blades and hitting things with hammers and didn’t want to come back to work this morning. I wish making jewellery was my real job...

Anyway, I thought I’d share a couple of pictures of my work in progress.

First, a very cool Essex name necklace in silver for one of my favourite Essex girls from LRG:

I was really excited to do this one, as I love the font she chose, and also, I really wanted to be able to work a triple sword logo charm from the Essex flag into it somehow.

I think it’s going to look awesome when it’s finished and will be a good portfolio piece for my (eventual) website if I can get some good shots of it. Sadly, my fabulous new camera is currently still at coveting stage, as renovating a bathroom and moving house is kind of expensive. Booooooo.

Anyway, my second project of the weekend was a name necklace commissioned as an Xmas pressie. I really like this font too, even though it was a bit of an arse to cut out, as it’s so fiddly. It’s looking good so far though, just needs a polish and chain added.

So, that's mainly what I've been doing. Design stuff is going pretty well too, just need some time to actually make it now...

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Spooky Goings On...

Just for a change, I’ve had a mental busy week. Had a rather fab Halloween, which involved going to my lovely friend Amy’s wedding reception, then off to Torture Garden, which was pretty fun. Totally amazing decoration, including one room that had been turned into a massive forest in the middle of the club, complete with twinkling stars overhead, leaves underfoot and even a proper foresty smell. Awesome! I want to dress as a vampire every day please.

In jewellery news, I also started work on a couple of name necklaces, which are looking really good, and have done a ton of designs for new earrings. So much to do in the next few weeks though, eek!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Halloween Cocktail Hats and Fascinators

Right, back to making stuff now...

I've been so busy with work and other randomness, shiny things have rather fallen by the wayside. However, a thing on my do-to list was to learn how to make fabric roses and, inspired by Halloween, I made some little hats as kind of an experiment. As experiments go, they turned out pretty good :)

First one was a little white satin and spiderweb lace creation, with some black and white feathers and black satin roses...

The fabric roses took a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it, they're pretty easy. I made a red one too, thought I'd get a bit fancy, and covered the roses with the spiderweb lace too...

I also randomly purchased a little hot glue gun from John Lewis whilst I was buying sewing needles, which is possibly the best thing ever! It made attaching the feathers and roses sooooo much quicker than stitching them all by hand, and seeing as I stitch the rest of the hats by hand, I think I'm allowed a little time saving every now and again ;)

Happy (Very Belated...) Birthday to Me!

I have been super-busy, hence not much posting recently, but I took a couple of well-needed days of work and pottered off back to my little island at the beginning of this month for my birthday. It was lovely, actually, as I can never normally be bothered to do anything for my birthday. This year, however, I got a perfect day of walking by the sea in the sunshine, going to the zoo (meerkats and fruitbats... squeal!!!!), then lovely mum-cooked roast dinner and some awesome cupcakes that mum bought me. I did take a picture, but only after we'd scoffed most of them :)

I also got to meet mum's gorgeous new cat, Pudding, who is like a big fluffy teddybear. She also turned out to be somewhat camera-shy and refused to show me her cute little face. Booooo. But here she is...

I WANT A CAT!!!!!!!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Lori Earley - New Art Crush

Obsessed as I currently am with all things baroque, I accidentally stumbled across an artist by the name of Lori Earley yesterday. She paints beautiful and strange portraits and, excitingly, has an exhibition opening on October 16th at Opera Gallery in London, so I can go and look at the art close up, yay!

Check out more of her work here, as she is awesome:

Friday, 18 September 2009

Strange Dreams...

This week I have been mainly having dreams where I am getting my roots done. Apparently, even my subconscious thinks my hair is horrible...

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Silver Christening & Birthstone Charms

I have only made one so far, but have been playing with a rather lovely new computer program called Lightroom, which I discovered allows me to select small areas of a photograph and "paint" new colour over them. Amazing! And so much easier than Photoshop.

So, this here is the original photograph, with a ruby for July:

Some deepening of the colour gets us to this, which is garnet, for January. Still red, just a little darker, so not that impressive, you might think...

...but check this out! Desaturating, upping the exposure then painting layers of semi-transparent purple colours gets us a pretty accurate rendering of an amethyst, birthstone for February:

And so on. We have aquamarine for March...

Diamond for April...

Emerald for May...

Sadly, June is still missing, as the birthstone is a pearl, and even the fabulousness that is Lightroom can't turn a faceted stone into a smooth and even coloured pearl. Booooo.

But, we have peridot for August...

Sapphire for September...

Opal for October...

Citrine for November...

And finally, blue topaz for December.

Sadly, Adobe will only let you have a 30 day free trial of Lightroom. Booooo. Something to do with them wanting you to actually pay for the program or something...

But, I love it so much that I may well do that. Maybe. When I have some spare cash...