Friday, 31 December 2010

A Belated Merry Christmas

Well, that was a bit mental! I ended up frantically making things right up until just before Christmas - eek! Added to which, my job was also frantically busy and my body did it's usual end of year shutdown, presenting me with an evil cold just when I didn't have time to get sick. Boooooo.

Had a lovely Christmas with the boy's lovely family in the snowy South West. I was still pretty ill, so everything was a little bit of a daze, but it was nice to have some enforced rest.

Having just started to feel less ill, remembered we had agreed to hold NYE party. Bum. We are, however, dividing the party with our friends who live round the corner, which will be fun. They are hosting drinks and nibbles, then it's over to ours for giant buffet. How terribly grown up.

Spent most of yesterday prepping and cooking, so hopefully it will be okay. First ever attempt at proper pastry making about to go in the oven, so fingers crossed...

Wherever you are and whatever you're doing, have a lovely New Year.


Wednesday, 29 December 2010

A Small Shiny Roller Skate

I have finally finished my silver roller derby skate charm, hurrah!

This was a project I started way back in 2009, as I wanted to do a skate charm that looked like my Riedell 265 skates.

You may recall that my initial attempts at sculpting the boot in silver clay were somewhat disastrous and looked like this:

Which is rubbish, obviously.

Attempting to sculpt the trucks and axles was even worse, as silver clay is far too brittle to do anything delicate with.

So, I decided to ignore it for a while instead. Obviously, this wasn’t helpful to the overall getting it finished plan.

Finally, defeat was admitted and a modelmaker specialising in sculpting tiny things was called in.

And so over to the very talented (and also terribly patient) James Freckingham of Robotic Industries, who deciphered my scribbly pictures and paragraphs of wittering about wings and delivered me an adorable little replica of my skate. Hurrah! Here it is.

I decided to shorten the wings a little, so it looked like this:

Then off to the caster! Who may have wanted to kill me... Apparently it was terribly difficult to cast, many moulds were made, but finally my little silver castings arrived. Tada!

And, after cleanup, soldering, polishing and attaching wheels, my little silver skate finally looked like so:

Which was exactly what I wanted, yay! A small silver roller derby skate charm, which looked just like my 265s. Except my skates sadly don’t have wings...

A few different angles:

It turned out much heavier than I had thought – the charm weighs around 15 grams, which is a big old chunk of silver!

I also did a couple of special ones with sparkly gemstone attachments to represent league and team colours.

I think they look rather nice...

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

OMG December!

Another year, another December sneaking quietly up behind me and shouting "Boo! Here I am!" at the top of its little tinsel-festooned voice.

So, I haven't posted in a while, as I've been ridiculously busy the past month. Trying to get the website finished, ordering business cards, repeatedly chasing up my fancy boxes, which slightly alarmingly still haven't arrived. The UK rep for Dahlinger Boxes with whom I have been dealing initially told me that I would have my boxes within three weeks of ordering - that three week deadline being up today - but seen nowt of them yet, and with my emails going ignored and promises of telephone calls being returned coming to nothing, I have a feeling that they are not going to turn up.

Also, my little silver roller skate charm has caused many headaches for the caster and much expense for me, but the silver castings should be turning up by the end of the year. Exciting! But sadly I will have to charge a lot more than I wanted to for them, due to the insanely expensive casting costs. Booooo. It's also going to take me a while to get them ready to sell, as a lot of work needs to be done on the castings when they come back.

I've also been hard at work on some new shiny weather jewellery to add to my collection and, as I really hate to do a post without any pictures, here they are.

A super-cute little cloud pendant with blue topaz raindrop:

Some rather nice dangly ear wires, as I've made a pair of earrings in this style for each collection I've designed since some time in the year 2000:

And, as the boy pointed out that very few of my collections contain rings (I rarely wear them as they annoy me greatly when I'm cycling), I've actually gone and made some that I really like! A charm ring with an adorable little silver cloud dangling from it and a rather nice band ring with a cloud and a lovely deep blue topaz pear shaped gemstone. Tada!

As I really liked the way they turned out, I think I may make rings more often.

And now I must return to the workshop, where it is currently so cold I can see my breath poof out in little clouds. At least I can tell I'm still alive...

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

A Halloween Weekend

I do love Halloween. How could you not? There are ghosts and pumpkins and bats and dressing up and much silliness.

This year, we had a bit of a dinner party on Saturday – it wasn’t an actual Halloween party, but obviously this didn’t stop me from adding pumpkin lights and spooky candles and dancing about in a sparkly spider necklace and glittery bat tights. Apparently one of my dinner guests described me as a cross between Kylie Minogue and Marilyn Manson!

Anyway, here are my pumpkin lights:

I actually want to keep them up all winter. Could I get away with putting them on my Christmas tree I wonder, in a Nightmare Before Christmas inspired fashion? Maybe I’ll sneak them on and the boy won’t notice...

My ludicrous bat candles:

My fabulous sparkly spider necklace:

There would also have been some Halloween inspired cupcakes, but sadly my mixer suffered a rather dramatic death half way through dessert making. I had made some rather distressed looking sugarpaste ghosts that were going to hover on spooky graveyard cupcakes, but sadly it was not to be.


All in all, it was rather fun. We made Spanish food, drank wine and played on the Guitar Hero game that had been delivered that morning. I discovered I am very bad on drums, but much, much worse on vocals!

So that was Saturday and then on Sunday night we went to see ALICE COOPER!!!!!! Amazers! He was doing a 2 night Halloween show at the Roundhouse, which is such a small and lovely venue. It was brilliant fun.

Usually my weekends are spent quietly ensconced at my work bench or watching Come Dine With Me, so it was all a bit hectic and I am sleepy today.

Much work needs to be done this week though. I have two orders for silver crash helmets from the US, plus a further enquiry this morning, so I need to get making things. Exciting!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Oh Dear...

I have been accidentally buying expensive things again. Having finally just about saved enough money to purchase the shiny new camera I've been coveting for the past year, Canon have only gone and brought out a new model. Drat. Which, of course, I decided that I must have.

I maintain that I cannot be held entirely to blame for this slightly rash and impulsive purchase. The Jessops website tricked me by claiming I could pay for it on 6 month interest free credit. "Hurrah!" I thought, until it asked me if I would like to collect the camera in store, I told it that, yes, that would be lovely thanks, then it concluded my order and smugly informed me that the balance would be payable in full on collection of the camera. Bum! I guess the interest free credit option and the collect in store option were not compatible.

Consequently, I now own a rather expensive but quite lovely Canon SX30.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Fancy Box Design

I think I may have finally made a decision on my endless packaging dilemma. I have been reading about how, as a jeweller, how you present yourself and your brand is super-important, which is something I've been giving more thought to as I've been messing about with my website. I've been looking at some quite nice pink and black boxes, but when it came down to investing in logo printing on them, I just couldn't quite commit, as I wasn't 100% happy with them.

After much dithering, I decided I was going to get some custom made leather boxes, but after pricing it all up, it was just way too expensive and I couldn't quite justify the cost.

Some more dithering has finally brought me to the idea of having the design I use for the background of my banner and website foil printed in high gloss black onto a matte black box, with a little gold keyhole printed on the front of the box.

I have faffed about with photoshop and come up with this not terribly professional mockup of how I want them to look:

And yes, I am aware that graphic design is not one of my strengths, thank you...

But hopefully this will give the nice box people a visual idea of what I'm after, as I'm rubbish at explaining stuff without pictures. Hopefully they can do it...

Monday, 4 October 2010

UK Jewellers Collective

I have recently joined this rather amazing forum, which can be found here. It is full of very, very helpful and lovely people and much advice on all things jewellery making related.

One of the members of the forum recently organised a charm swap, which I signed up for. It was much fun, and involved receiving the name and address of another forum member, for whom you would make and send a charm. The recipient of your charm would not know who made it, and in return you would receive an anonymous charm from a different member. I decided to do a little birthstone flower and asked the organiser for my person's birth month.

And here it is - Emerald birthstone charm for May:

And with some playing around in Lightroom to make the stones change colour:

The charm I received was rather fab, with an amazing leaf texture on the outside and gorgeous vintage style photograph inside. Very me :)

Here it is:

Watching all the photographs of the charms appear as people received them, and trying to guess who had made each one kept me glued to the forum for days, and at the end all the pictures were put in a gallery and it was eventually worked out who made what.

Fab idea, no?

Sunday, 3 October 2010

New Commission


So, it appears I have been awol from my blog for the past couple of weeks, partly due to exciting shiny thing making, but also partly due to a much less exciting stressful time at work trying to clear my desk before my week off next week. Yep, I get a WHOLE WEEK OFF! Actually, it will be the first time this year that I get a week off, as I've mainly just booked the odd couple of days here and there up until now. I think I'm due some downtime - the boy stated that I am currently lacking in both patience and a sense of humour, both of which he deems necessary in order to put up with him! Bless.

Right, less of the boring work stress, more of the exciting shiny things!

I've been asked by some friends to make another pair of creative wedding rings, a sneak preview of which I gave you in my last post. We based the design on a tattoo one of the couple has - here are my original sketches (stop giggling at the back there, I am fully aware that drawing is not really my thing)

And this is how they turned out:

The back of the winged heart ring has a tiny skull, and the back of the winged skull ring has a tiny heart. So the rings aren't identical, but complimentary, see?

This was yet another design, where I went "Oh, that won't be too difficult..." Pause "...oh, wait". But, it actually turned out to be really fun to make, rather than the nightmare I had predicted, due to my amazing new saw, but I'll save that for a whole tool geekery post all of its own.

In other shiny things news, an exciting new roller derby project will be coming your way shortly, plus some more shiny weather. Watch this space...

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Can You Tell What It Is Yet?

A sneaky preview of my latest project...

Friday, 10 September 2010

I Have Been a Bit Naughty...

I have always struggled somewhat with jewellery photography. Whilst I do have a lightbox, kindly built for me by my former flatmate, it’s not ideal. Nor are my motley collection of spotlights, with their random wattage bulbs, some daylight(ish), some not.

Added to this is the fact that I’ve not a clue what an f-stop is or what it might do, so I usually end up taking around 200 shots to get a couple that are usable after much faffing around with Lightroom.

So, I have been a little bit naughty and invested in one of these lovely jewellery photography setups from Tabletop Studio:

T’was rather expensive, which means that I can’t get my roots done for the next couple of months, but I think I can probably put up with the trashy blonde look in the name of better photographs :)

And better they are! The lights are so very, very bright and the light tent diffuses them perfectly, so there’s no evil shadows.

If you compare this shot, which was the best of about 100 shots taken with my old setup, and looks like this after many hours in Lightroom...

... to this one, taken with my lovely new Tabletop Studio, and having only spent about 5 minutes on it removing some dust specks in Lightroom, the difference is definitely visible, no? The light is just more even, with no pesky shadows or reflections, and the colour of the stones really pops out.

So yes, it was definitely worth the money, and the having to deal with horrible hair for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Silver Cloud Jewellery

I have now finished turning the small pile of weather from my earlier post into actual shiny things, hurrah!

We have some tiny cloud earrings:

Tiny clouds with some rather nice sparkly blue topaz raindrops:

The boy says they are too dangly, but I likes my earrings very dangly. Perhaps I shall shorten them to a slightly more manageable length when I sell them though. They are admittedly quite long, but are definitely my new favourite earrings.

We also have a rather lovely two cloud necklace with more dangly raindrops. It's quite chunky, so has a nice weight to it and is lovely to just play with whilst wearing it.

And my favouritest bit of shiny weather, which I have worn every day since I finished it, is the cloud and sunshine. I'm calling it my rain or shine necklace. Tis reversible, see? So, if you're in a good mood, you can wear it with the sunshine obscuring the cloud:

But if you're feeling like a bit of a grouch, you can wear it the other way, so the cloud obsures the sun:And here's another couple of shots of them, as I was playing with my exciting new studio lights, more of which later...

All in all, I was super happy with the way my shiny weather turned out :) I have a proper little collection and everything. I have designed a ring to go with it, but I need to make some silver settings first, as I would want the raindrops to be slightly different. Making settings is very, very dull, so the ring may not make it's little shiny appearance for a while yet though.