Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Made-It Market Cambridge and Other Christmassy Things...

It has been rather hectic at Hollybird Beads HQ in the past few weeks so once again, the poor old blog has gotten neglected!

Early on Saturday 27th November, myself and my parents set off to walk from our flat into the centre of Cambridge carrying bags of display stands, tissue paper, paper bags, float and of course, a whole selection of my handmade jewellery. I'd booked a stall at the Made-It Market being held at the Cambridge Guildhall and had spent weeks furiously beading away in every spare moment to make my stand look as full as possible.

We arrived to find the hall already filling up with lots of other crafters setting up their stands and I hastened to do the same, hoping I could manage to lay out everything as I'd practised. My parents departed to explore the city and check out the exhibitions that were on at the Fitzwilliam Museum, leaving me and my boyfriend to man the stall. I'd brought beads and thread with me so I sat merrily beadweaving away, whilst people came and browsed. I was pleased to see that the fair was very well attended, with a steady flow of customers from the word go.

I'd only done one craft fair previously (and a very small one at that) so I didn't really have much to compare it to in terms of my expectations of sales - I just hoped I took enough to cover my stall fee at the very least. I was thrilled then to do far far better than that, and also to receive lots of lovely compliments about my jewellery from shoppers and have a chat with some other fellow crafters.

A friend came along with her mum and took this photograph of me behind my stall - I apologise for my slightly mad looking smile! - this was taken after the fair had been open a few hours so you can see there are already some gaps where I had sold some pieces.

It was a great day, although I was absolutely exhausted by the end of it (and promptly started coming down with a cold that evening!).

In the past few weeks I've been busy beading custom orders that have been placed recently. These have included an adaptation of a design that someone saw through my Facebook page and a commission to create some matching jewellery sets for bridesmaids which has had me beading in some beautiful shades of silver and aquamarine.

I've almost finished other peoples' orders, so next on my beading list is making Christmas gifts to give my own family and friends. I shan't mention what I'm making yet, just incase any of the intended recipients stumble across my blog, but I'll show you pictures after they have been given (and hopefully well received!)

There are still lots of lovely sparkly things in my shop if you are still shopping for Christmas gifts - I've added a few suggestions at the bottom of this post just to give you an idea. I'll be staying open over the holiday period too...so if you've come into a few pennies over Christmas you can treat yourself to a piece of handmade Hollybird Beads jewellery.

Just one of several flower rings I have left - these would make great stocking fillers at just £5. I have silver ring bases too so I can custom make you one in your colour choice if you'd like!

A sparkling silver and purple 'Nova' pendant. This piece has a wonderful 'ruffled' texture.

My favourite new design - the 'Pearl Starflower' bracelet...this black and silver version is just so classically elegant.

I've also made the 'Starflower' motifs into pendants - another great stocking filler, available in several colours in my shop, just £7.

Hope all your Xmas preparations are going smoothly - I am looking forward to a very festive day this Friday when I'll have my work Christmas lunch and then I'm off to the Olympia Horse Show for the evening which always feels very Christmassy!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Folksy Friday...favourites!

Haven't done a Folksy Friday for a couple of weeks and my 'favourited items' section on Folksy has been filling up with lots of lovely things that have caught my eye.


1.) Narwhal brooch by I am Kritch - having only seen an internet based cartoon about narwhals, my boyfriend thought they were a made up animal until I showed him evidence otherwise! I love this cute little brooch that would be fab to pin on a nice wrap around scarf.

2.) Silver Kisses necklace by Natalia Lovat - I love the fluidy of this silver necklace...and it looks so wonderfully tactile too I want to reach out to the screen and touch it.

3.) Daisy Storm clutch bag by Beledien - a cute grey bag with a nice floral print...and I like that it has a wrist stap you can attach (if clutch bags didn't have these I would lose them!)

4.) Christmas Tree Present Bag by Ritzy Swish - beautifully made and I love the personal story behind this little gift bag. It's so nice to have things to keep in the family, particular when they relate to Christmas. My brother and I have had the same woollen stockings for as long as I can remember!

5.) Sheep Earrings by Maggie Jones enamels - I can't look at these wonderful earrings without grinning! The beautiful enamelling work, plus the fun dangly legs made these earrings gorgeous and whimsical.

6.) Sequin Flower Bunny by Oddly Enough - how cute is this little fella? I love the colour and texture created by knitting with jersey, and the sweet little sequin neck bow is just too adorable!

Hope you like my picks for this week


Tuesday, 8 November 2011

It's That Time Of Year...

Yes folks. It's been my birthday...it's been Halloween...it's been Bonfire Night....and yup, you guessed it, shops everywhere are in full swing Christmas mode (I went into my local John Lewis the other week and they had all their decorations up...mince pies have been on sale in Tescos for even longer [although I am ok with this as I LOVE mince pies].

So what's in store for Hollybird Beads this Christmas? Well, firstly, I shall be attending my first big craft fair. I did a small one when I lived in London that was in a library, but it really was small (and there were several stalls where, shall we say, there hadn't been much crafting done by the stallholder *cough*bought-in-children's-toys/bought-in-jewellery*cough* but I digress). 

The fair that I am signed up to do is the Made-It Market, which is being held at the Cambridge Guildhall on Saturday 26th November. The organisers of this event have been fab to work with so far, sending out regular emails packed with helpful info as well as postcards to give out to help advertise the fair. I'm really looking forward to the big day itself, and fingers crossed, it will be successful for me sales wise! So if you are in the area or fancy a trip to a beautiful city for a change of scenery and some Christmas shopping, it would be great to see you there :)

This has meant that I have been spending every spare moment elbow deep in seed beads, glass pearls and crystals in order to build up stock to fill my table with. I'm really nervous about it looking empty, so I really have been beading my fingers off, and there are several new designs that will be available to buy on the day, as well as the rest of my range. Here's a few photos of some of the jewellery I'll be taking with me to the market. I also have a photo album on my Facebook Page, to which I'll be adding more photos in the next few weeks to whet your appetite. After the fair, any pieces not sold will be going into my online shops.

'Ice Queen' bracelet - seed beads, Czech fire-polished rounds, pressed glass flowers & Swarovski crystals

'Pearl Starflower' pendant necklace - seed beads and glass pearls.

'Flower Rings' - seed beads, glass pearls and Czech fire-polished crystals.

Custom orders are also starting to build up (plus I have Christmas presents to make for my own family/friends!) so if you are thinking of ordering a customised gift for a loved one, please contact me to discuss your requirements. 

That's all for now folks


Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Big Bead Show, October 2011 Report

Bringing the blog back from a short spell of silence to give you a report of one of the best events of any bead lover's calendar...the Big Bead Show! 

This October was my third visit to Sandown racecourse for the show and it was an extra special visit, since my necklace, Flora Argenta, had been selected as a finalist in the show's British Bead Awards, in their 'Crystals' category. I'd been invited to the awards ceremony and so just after the show opened, myself and my 'entourage' (aka my boyfriend and parents) headed in to the display. 

I wasn't fortunate enough to win anything with my piece - but I was just pleased to have made it to the final and have my work on display to all who came to the bead show. The standard of entries was amazing; my favourite pieces included Rebecca Anderson's gorgeous turquoise and red floral necklace and a fantastically detail seed bead depiction of 'The Owl and the Pussycat' - complete with £5 note in their boat! I didn't have my proper camera with me and my phone camera wasn't loving the light so I only have this really poor quality photo of my necklace actually on display.

See, I really did make it to the finals! Not bad going considering this was the first time I'd entered the competition and that I had to bead some of the final components on the train on my daily commute to work because otherwise I wouldn't have had time to finish the necklace (note: beading on the train gets you strange looks, particularly from commuter businessmen-type men in suits!) Here's a couple of photos that I have of the necklace to give you a better idea of what the finished piece really looks like.

I have no idea how many crystals are in the whole piece...perhaps I should have a proper count up? There are 9 sparkling Swarovski light vitrail rivoli stones, with the addition of bicones in violet and silver and some wonderful Czech fire-polished crystals rounds too.

 The necklace also uses Miyuki long magatamas as the 'petals' of my rivoli flowers. These beads are quite hard to work with as they seem to be quite variable in size and thickness, but I also like this about them as they make for more naturally 'imperfect' ruffled petals.

I love the clasp on this piece...it might even be my favourite part of the whole design.

Once the awards ceremony was finished, we headed for the trade stands. It was quite busy by this point so I found it a bit hard to have a proper look at some of the stalls, but I did make a few purchases; some more 4mm glass pearls in several different colours from Anita's Beads, some 'champagne' gold plated findings from Bead Time (which I already love as they compliment the rose gold galvanised seed beads I've been using recently) and I treated to myself to a beaded bauble kit from Spellbound Beads which I'm itching to start.

 It was a long day, but well worth the trip; it's so nice to get to see and touch beads before you buy them, since, like a lot of others, I tend to buy most of my beading supplies online. 

In other news, I am currently in the process of re-jigging my website and transferring it to a new web provider. Whilst I'm waiting for the technology to sort itself out, there's a chance the website might not be visible. Please do bear with, this should only be a temporary thing whilst the domain is switched to my new provider, and there will be a brand new look to the Hollybird Beads website (complete with it's own online shop) very soon.

Ta ta for now


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Wax Carving Workshop at the London Jewellery School

As you may remember, if you are a regular reader of this little blog, my Flora Metallica necklace recently won 2nd place in the annual London Jewellery School student competition. My prize came in the form of a gift voucher for their jewellery making classes, and after scouring their website, I managed to decide on taking their beginner's wax carving course.

So last Saturday I presented myself at their Hatton Garden studio at 10am sharp, ready to learn a completely new jewellery making skill. Our tutor for the day, the lovely and talented Sima Vaziry, introduced us to the medium of wax, demonstrating how to start on carving out a basic ring shape - making it look very easy! Although I would have loved to try something more complicated, I instead settled on creating a simple 'domed' shape ring; sawing, filing and smoothing away for several hours. It is quite therapeutic once you have gotten the basic shape to sit and file and smooth the wax - I can imagine doing this whilst half watching TV of an evening! We also learned how to hollow out the inside of our rings with a pendant motor (I now really want one of these - not sure if my boyfriend would appreciate the noise though!), very important if you don't want to end up with a really heavy (and expensive) ring when cast. Here's a photo of my ring...it's not a great pic, my camera seemed to be refusing to take photographs on macro because it was too sunny!

After a much needed lunch (concentrating hard really works up an appetite!), we learned various different techniques for adding decoration and embellishment. We were using heat from a simple tea light candle - I say simple, but when you have never smoked in your life, a cigarette lighter is like an alien creature, and so I had to embarrassingly ask for help to light my candle! Candle lit, I was able to play around with adding textures to the wax, and used this to create a teardrop pendant. 

Six hours of workshop time flew by, but it was very worthwhile and I'd now feel confident to continue working on my wax carving skills at home. All I need now is to buy some wax and a few tools - good job I have a birthday coming up soon! I'll be sure to post photos of my creations from this workshop once I have had them cast into silver too.


Monday, 5 September 2011

Latest Work - 'Serafina' bracelet

It's the start of a new month, and we are drawing ever closer to it being Autumn (and even having to start thinking about the C-word that involves the 25th of December - eek!)

Expect to see more Autumnal offerings starting to appear in my online shops - I spent Saturday morning going through my boxes of beads pulling out colour combinations I want to work with in the upcoming few months. I've a craft fair on the 26th of November to start building up stock for, and after some early September sales, I want to add to what I already have listed in my Folksy and Etsy shops.
Which brings me to my most recent piece, a silvery beadwoven bracelet which is related to my 'Halo' necklace pendants, which I have named 'Serafina.'

This bracelet features some fantastic galvanised silver grey seed beads and is embellished with Miyuki magatama drop beads, dark grey glass pearls and Swarovski crystal bicones. All the findings on this piece are Sterling Silver. 

I have plans for a gold version of this bracelet in the making, but I am waiting on some beady post to deliver me some more of Toho's gorgeous galvanised rose gold seed beads (I am usually all about silver, but this rose gold beads are such a beautiful colour, even I can't resist them!).

You can find 'Serafina' listed in my Folksy shop here. As always, if you like this piece, but would like it in an alternative colour scheme, I am always happy to make up custom orders, so do get in touch.


Friday, 26 August 2011

It's Folksy Friday time again!

Two weeks running and I've managed to get a Folksy Friday post done - how long will this continue? Your guess is as good as mine! Once again, no theme here, just things I've favourited recently on Folksy that I think deserve a blog shout out for their fabulousness.


1.) A cute wee highland cow card by Aileen Clarke Crafts - aside from it's total adorableness, I love how the felt texture has transferred so well as a print
2.) A heart necklace by Alison Moore designs - I think the silver and copper look fantastic against one another in this piece
3.) A mini yarn skein necklace by Max's World - a great gift for a knitter, a teeny weeny little skein of yarn pendant
4.) A resin bird ring by Cassiopi - I love the the 'brushed' effect of the blue colour in this ring, which makes the little flying birds really pop
5.) A cat necklace by Jings Things - A cute and fun little kitty necklace in acrylic, with the sweet little addition of a bow around it's neck
6.) A pair of cufflinks by Fortune Favours The Brave - these Scottish themed cufflinks made me smile with their 'aye pod' slogan - and who doesn't love a man in a kilt, right?

Hope you like my picks for this week. As ever, click on the photo to be taken to the Folksy makers' shop. I am off for a Bank Holiday weekend back in Essex with my family, so my Etsy and Folksy shops are now closed and will be re-opened on Monday. Hope you have a nice holiday, however you choose to spend it!


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Success for Flora Metallica in the London Jewellery School Student Competition!

I attended the London Jewellery School last year to take one of their evening classes in silver jewellery (fab little studio, a fantastic, inspiring tutor (Michael Milloy) and I came away with two pieces of jewellery which had tested and educated me in several techniques) and was thus eligible to enter their competition for current and present students. 

I was extremely excited to be nominated in the final five, packaged up my entry, my 'Flora Metallica' beadwork necklace, and awaited news of the results, which were to be decided by a judging panel made up of tutors from the London Jewellery School.

The result? Flora Metallica was awarded 2nd place! 

I am so proud of this necklace - it is my first really big piece of beadwork and challenged me in new ways whilst I came up with a way of beading the necklace I had imagined and sketched out. Winning a prize for Flora is the icing on the cake! 

My 2nd place prize is a gift voucher for the London Jewellery School - so I will have to look through their website and try and decide what course I want to take next (they have so many to choose from!) I am also looking forward to having Flora back...I have missed having her sparkliness sat on my chest of draws as a reminder of what I can achieve in terms of my beading.

My congratulations also go to the other winners and finalists in the competition; you can see the full results page here. There were some fantastic pieces, and all very different from each other.

I'll try and remember to blog and let you know what workshop I decide to take and how I get on - I think my choice is between wax carving and enamelling at the moment!


Friday, 19 August 2011

Folksy Friday...yet, yet more favourites!

Apologies once more for the lack of blogging - a wee holiday and PhD woes have kept me from keeping on top of things. I will try and be a good blogger (but don't throw stuff if I fall off the wagon again, please?)

 So here's a Folksy Friday for you; no theme really, just things I have favourited recently.


1.) I love the mood and subtle colours of this illustrated locket necklace by Bonbi Forest; there are a range of different designs too, making it hard for me to choose a favourite!
2.) Two of my favourite colours in one lovely floral hair pin from Wychbury - perfect for summer hair (if we get anymore sunshine!)
3.) A beautiful set of silver butterflies featuring gorgeous etching and patina in this fab necklace by Artigiana Jewellery.
4.) A fun, vibrant necklace created from vintage fabric by Gemma Nemer - there are lots more fantastic florals to choose from in her shop too.
5.) I love the use of stained glass to make a 'scene' with these lovely dragonflies flitting in amongst the bullrushes created by Raven's Stained Glass.
6.) A beautiful bridal bag embroidered in seed beads and crystals by Rococo & Co - so much work has clearly gone into this piece.

That's my Folksy Friday picks for you, hope you enjoyed!


Friday, 8 July 2011

Not Done One of These For Ages...Folksy Friday Returns!

I'm going to try and be a good blogger. Last weekend, I relocated from North London, to Cambridge, to move in with my boyfriend (yup, I now have to live with a boy!) and so now all the pre-move organising/packing/panicking etc is over and most of the boxes have been unpacked at the new flat, I hope I can keep a more up to date blog.

To kick things off, we have a Folksy Friday - no particular theme, just things that have caught my eye whilst browsing around the Folksy listings and forums. Hope you like my picks :)

Nicola Reed Jewellery SHOP NAME 2

1.) Rose Drop Earrings by Nicola Reed Jewellery - I love the elegance of these earrings and there's something a little bit Rennie Mackintosh about them too

2.) Axolotl Earrings by Squishy Arts - Seriously, how cute are these polymer clay sculpted earrings? I want a pet axolotl now!

3.) Love Birds Print by CowBag - if axolotls aren't your thing, then how about this gorgeous lovebird print...I adore the expression on the face of the one on the right

4.) Rainbow Butterfly Necklace by Carols Crafts - these vibrant butterflies have all been hand created from polymer clay...this would be a fab piece to wear to a summer festival 

5.) Lily Border Bracelet by Lynwoodcrafts - what beautiful embroidery work has gone into this bracelet...the orange lillies remind me of the ones my parents grow in their garden

6.) Great Crested Grebe Ring by Sally Ayling Jewellery - I really like the simplicity of this silhouette ring and the use of oxidisation to complete the effect...there are several other versions of this ring, each with a different kind of bird on it too

Thanks for reading


Monday, 20 June 2011

London Jewellery Week...My Visit to Treasure 2011

The blog has been a bit neglected of late...my excuse? Well, in less than 2 weeks I shall be moving in with my lovely boyfriend and we are heading away from London and off to a cosy flat in Cambridge, so I have been spending my evenings/free weekend time having a big clearout of all the clutter I have magically accumulated over the past year. But on with the real subject of this blog post, my visit to the Treasure exhibition, which was part of London Jewellery Week.

After going along last year (with my bf in tow, who also enjoyed it) I was very keen to make the trip to Victoria House again to see what would be on display in 2011, despite it being a horribly wet drizzly day. We had been very kindly offered tickets to the exhibition by Chris and Joy of CJ Poupazis and we had a nice chat with Chris over at their stand. Chris was particularly pleased with this ring which he had created after getting the opportunity to use CAD. He was aiming to create something that was very organic and natural looking, despite being designed with computer technology and I think this gorgeous ring definitely achieved that goal.

Again, this year, we saw a huge variety of work using many different techniques and materials, so here are a few of my favorite designers from the visit. If you click on the images you will be taken to the designers website for more of their work to drool over!

Daphne Krinos' large, bold flowers really stood out on her stand - I love the subtle graduation in colour on these.

Atelier Michael Berger's kinetic rings had everyone who visited his stand enthralled and wondering 'how do they work?' Very cleverly designed...the tops look like they might slip off at any moment as they spin smoothly on their ring base, but they are attached (and not magnetic as my bf and I initially guessed).

I also loved Alexandra Raphael's stunning cloissone enamel work - combining beautiful dream-like enamelled pendants with semi-precious gemstones.

And, last, but certainly not least, was Milena Kovanovic's fantastically named 'Superman Rocks' collection - I was very interested as she explained how she had wanted to feature gemstones in their natural, uncut state...she had so many gorgeous rings with different stones 'growing' out of the ring band. 

 There were so many more wonderful pieces of jewellery on show, but I haven't the time or space here to mention them all. If you enjoyed this post then I definitely recommend a visit to Treasure 2012!

That's all for now...if you don't hear from me for a while then I may have got lost amongst all the boxes during my packing!


Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Beadwork To Be Proud Of

For the past few weeks I have been quietly beavering away on my biggest beadweaving project to date. At a rough estimate, at the very least 20hrs of beading went into this necklace...probably more as I haven't accurately recorded all the time I spent in the evenings after work and on weekends when I had time to spare. Add to that 1000s of seed beads, over 200 Swarovski crystals (including 3 gorgeously sparkly crystal rivolis, to which I am now hopelessly addicted!) and a whole lot of patience.

I have learnt a lot in developing this design from an original rough sketch into the finished article - and if I make another I will certainly do a few things differently (namely to attach my linking loops BEFORE adding any embellishment - this took me hours just to add a few loops on to each flower because it was so difficult to stitch back into the beadwork with the magatamas and crystals included). I am hoping I can make a few slightly less labour intensive pieces based on this work, so if nothing else, it has been a big challenge and learning experience for me as a beader.

I hereby present, Flora Metallica.

However, this piece is also a competition entry. E-beads, is hosting the competition in conjunction with Swarovski, and the task was to create a piece featuring Swarovski crystallised elements which embodied the theme 'Urban Beautiful.' My necklace features beadwoven flower motifs with an urban edge. My colour palette of dark metallic gunmetal grey and metallic purple was chosen to reflect a city landscape. And of course, the sparkle of the Swarovski crystals was intended to help with the 'beautiful' side of the theme.

If you like my work and would like to vote to help it progress to the judging stage, the link to the entries gallery is here. You may have to flick through a few pages to find Flora Metallica depending on how many entries have been added since this post was published (it was at the top of page 2 last time I checked). There are 3 voting buttons, 'good effort,' 'like,' and 'love.' Each button gives a different number of rating points - good effort = 1 point, like = 2 points and love = 3 points. Obviously I would love it if you'd click 'love' for my entry...but feel free to peruse the rest of the work and vote for some of the other very impressive pieces on show. Your support will be very much appreciated!