Friday, 20 August 2010

Folksy Friday...Highland Fling

I decided on a Scottish theme for my Folksy Friday post this week since I am currently on a week long break in a lovely rural village where my boyfriend's parents now live. Hope you enjoy this week's picks as much as I am enjoying a holidau in some beautiful countryside!

Chris Anderson Art Sophie Martin Illustration
Hole in my Pocket Aileen Clarke Crafts
SpoiltPig Paperbound Notebooks

1.) Some beautiful artwork first in this wonderfully wintery print featuring the iconic Edinburgh Castle by Chris Anderson Artwork 

2.) I love this little highland cow card fantastically rendered in pen and watercolour from Sophie Martin Illustration

3.) This funny Scottish take on the well known 'keep calm and carry on' poster by Hole in my Pocket made me smile

4.) This beautiful cuff by Aileen Clarke Crafts takes it's inspiration from the Scottish seas and also uses local handspun yarn
5.) I adore scottie dogs so I just had to include this very cute little scottie tartan brooch from SpoiltPig

6.) And lastly and unsual little notebook with a cover made from a jigsaw puzzle - I particularly like how Dumfries and Galloway (where I am staying) has a sheep on it - there certainly are a lot of them around here!
Happy Friday!



Monday, 16 August 2010

Too many jewellery makers?

After finally getting myself organised enough to open and actually start listing my jewellery on Folksy, the next thing on my creative agenda is to take the plunge into craft fairs. I have been trawling away on the internet looking for fairs to apply to, with the aim of doing some around the Christmas period so I have time to actually make enough pieces up so I don't turn up with a very bare looking table. In addition to the trouble of finding fairs which I could get to reasonably easily by public transport (I don't have a car) of the listings for several potential fairs I managed to hunt down, several popped up with what is probably an oh-so-familiar phrase to a lot of crafts people - "no more space for jewellery."

I know that there are a lot of people out there who make jewellery as a hobby. The UK Beaders forum where I am a member has 2600 members (although not all of them are UK based), we have had several new jewellery making magazine publications arrive in the last year or so and jewellery making worshops seem to be popping up all over the place; clearly, making jewellery is very popular. I can understand why people take to this area of crafting more so than others; you can start making pieces with a few basic, cheap tools and online bead shops offer a wide range of choice of all things glass, crystal, ceramic, metal and wooden to create your own wearable piece of art. However, this success seems to be a problem when it comes to jewellery makers wanting to sell the fruits of their labour. It seems to be the case that you often either have to get in very, very quickly with your application, or have already had a stall at a particular event and therefore be 'known' to the event organisers to stand a chance at getting a place as a jewellery maker.

So what is the solution here? Some fairs do seem to be trying to accomodate as many jewellery stalls as possible by actively looking at potential vendors' work in order to make sure that of those they accept, they end up with a range of stalls - after all, there are so many different jewellery making styles/fields: beadweaving, wirework, stringing, precious metal clay, polymer clay, ceramics, textiles, silversmithing etc. I know I would not mind having a stall if I knew there were a fair few other jewellery makers there, but that they had different styles used different materials to myself. I would hope that this would be appreciated by those visiting a craft event too, it would, after all, go some way to ensuring that there is something to suit every budget and indeed, a variety of different tastes.

Another potential solution, and one that I recently Tweeted about whilst I was trawling for events, was this - why not have craft fairs soley for handmade jewellery?

I attended the Treasure UK event as part of London Jewellery week, which was an exhibition of jewellery - mostly contemporary or fine jeweller showcasing new and established designers for trade buyers to scout out potential new talent to stock or to talk commissions for special pieces, in addition to jewellery being on display and for general sale. It was a fantastic event with a wide variety of work and it seemed to be successful for many of the designers too.

So, my fellow beaders, why couldn't we have something like this for small-scale handcrafted jewellery designer-makers? We women do love our jewellery, so I see no reason why people would not want to attend a totally jewellery based craft event, especially with all the different styles and techniques we have to offer. If it can work at Treasure (didn't hear anyone complaining about there being "too many jewellery stands" - and me and the boyfriend were there for a good few hours looking and talking to the people behind the designs!) then I really believe we could make it work for us too. I have heard of a few of these kinds of events taking place in Northamptonshire with reasonable success, so I think it would be fantastic to have one in London. With UK Handmade and Handmade and Fabulous launching a campaign to get Queen of Shops, Mary Portas on the side of all things handcrafted, the handmade movement in general could do with as much promotion and publicity as possible, and I think a jewellery fair has the potential to really be something quite special.

Any volunteers?!

In all seriousness, I would love to hear peoples' comments, ideas, feedback etc on the subjects raised in this blog so please feel free to post in the comments area or if you want you can contact me via email at

Handmade Needs You!



Friday, 13 August 2010

Folksy Friday - Monkey Business!

Following a trip to the fantastic Colchester Zoo today, which has a large variety of primates from tiny tamarins to their incredible 42 year-old male orangutan, I have decided on a monkey theme for my Folksy Friday today.

Nell Cute Designs
Honest Fabrication Katie's Corner
Squiggly Monkeys Minifelts

 1.) Something for your little monkeys to wear by Nell...I love the heart shaped nose of the monkey print on this kids t-shirt.

2.) Amigurumi cuties like this wee blue monkey from Cute Designs make me really wish I knew how to crochet.

3.) A sock monkey with an original twist - this skeleton monkey from Honest Fabrication is definitely a cute rather than a spooky skeleton

4.) Need a home for your jammies? Harry the monkey from Katie's Corner needs your PJs to fill up his empty monkey tummy!

5.) Another adorable sock monkey, this time from Squiggly Monkeys - in a funky shade of bright green stripeyness, and he has a scarf on too :)

6.) And last, but certainly not least, a lovely little felt monkey brooch to wear on your jacket/bag/anywhere else you like to show your love of all things ape

Hope you enjoyed all the monkey business and remember, if you enjoyed the blog, please click follow - I will be having a giveaway once I reach 50 followers so spread the word!



Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Being teacher and student...all in one day!

If you happen to be a follower of mine on Twitter, you might have noticed a few tweets about me doing some jewellery making teaching lately. I replied to an ad that popped up on my Facebook page that was looking for part time jewellery trainers and after attending a trial session I've now been involved in a couple of beginner's jewellery making workshops showing people the basics of using headpins, chain and of course, plenty of beads, to make simple necklaces, earrings and bracelets as well as teaching some jewellery making at a hen party. It's been great fun so far, although sometimes a little hectic - 4 hours seems like plenty of time but before you know it there's only 15 minutes left and you really want everyone to leave with finished pieces of jewellery that they'll love to wear (or maybe give away as gifts).

Last Saturday, having already been 'teacher' in the morning at a beginner's workshop, I then headed off to Kingly Court (just off Oxford Street) to spend a few hours being 'pupil' instead at a horsehair weaving workshop run by the Micro Techniques Horsehair Jewellery pop-up shop. This craft originated in Chile, and the shop had brought together Chilean artisans and jewellery makers to create some beautiful contemporary pieces showcasing the amazing weaving skills.

Now I am used to fiddly/small things being a beadweaver, but horsehair weaving beats beadweaving on the fiddliness scale...trying to get the base right and then making sure you don't miss bits and mess up your over-under pattern is tricky stuff!

Doesn't all the brightly coloured dyed (although personally I'd love to think of horses this madly coloured trotting around somewhere) horsehair look fun?

We started off learning the simple 'circle' shape...but my version is nowhere near as fantastic as the one our tutor whipped up whilst she was teaching us. Appologies for the rubbish photo taken on my mobile....proper camera batteries decided to run out.

We also made a start on the 'butterfly wing' but I haven't had a chance to try and finish that off's a lot harder than the circle as the base fibres seem to want to revert to the circle base shape constantly the whole time you are trying to weave around them!

I enjoyed myself, despite the high difficulty I think I could potentially incorporate some of the technique into my jewellery work replacing the base fibres with wire. 

If you want to find out more about this craft then check out their website There's a great video on the website showing you the craft as done by the experts :) The ladies at the pop-up shop are hoping to come back for another spell sometime in September potentially so keep your eyes peeled if you fancy a go.



Monday, 2 August 2010

Buying handmade...and selling it too!

As a crafty person I have a great love and appreciation for others who make things...and not just for other jewellery makers, but all walks of crafty people. I would far rather buy a handmade item than something off the high street that you'll see loads of other people wearing/using and support talented designer makers in the process. As such I've made a few purchases from other crafty types that I thought I'd show off because I am soooo happy with all of them.

Firstly, I ordered some lovely lampwork glass beads from Julie of Lush Lampwork that look almost good enough to eat! The frosted hearts I want to use to make another "Heart to Heart" braclet and a set of matching earrings...and the litle blue dotty bead is actually a button, which I am hoping to be able to use as a clasp for either a bracelet or a neclace, haven't decided which yet.

Another recent purchase was one of the fab denim bags created as a collaboration between Bonbi Forest and Custom Made. I love the print and it works really well with the denium, plus there's a lovely blue lining inside it too. Think I might have to save it for evenings out though as it's far too pretty for me to overfill with my day-to-day bits and bobs (there is so much random/useless stuff in my current day handbag!).

And last but not least, despite being a jewellery maker myself I can't help but treat myself to jewellery from other maker's from time to time, especially if they use techniques that I myself can't do. Hence the purchase of this funky laser cut acrylic goldfish necklace and "Team Jacob" wolf ring from the lovely Leese of Cup of Sea. Have worn the necklace a fair bit, but since I can't really wear rings day-to-day (and I fear clumsy moi would manage to break wolfie's head somehow) I am going to incorporate the ring into a bracelet instead - and I shall of course post photos to show you all the finished result.

So that's the buying handmade what about the selling part? Well, after having a shop there for, erm, rather a long time, I have now actually gotten around to listing some of my beadwoven jewellery on Folksy. Would very much appreciate people taking a look and any feedback on the items/shop design etc would be gratefully received. You can visit my Folksy shop by clicking here.

Til next blog!