Sunday, 27 January 2013

Experimenting with "memories" bracelet design

I liked the bracelet design I'd used for the Memories and Thanks blog hop, so I have been doing some experimenting with the same design using different beads. The results are very different!

Here is the first one. I found it hard to get the seed beads to sit properly, because they're not quite regular in shape. Also, the green seed beads were quite big, so even having the small black seed-beads at the end meant that they didn't want to sit next to each other very happily. Still, it has a rustic sort of feel, which I like.

So for the second and third one, I used smaller, more regular-sized seed beads. I also added crystals and chose colour-schemes that would suit the people I had in mind to give these to. I was pleased with how these turned out, and so they did actually end up as presents!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Muddy English winter

This is the last of the sunny photos. Here, I wanted to make a more subtle necklace that would Go With My Stuff, especially with the higher necklines that it's nice to wear in this cold draughty weather.

I have a lot of blue-themed necklaces (probably because I am always drawn to blue colours when buying beads) but nothing that goes well with warmer colours. I was also thinking about the thin, watery light we are getting now, and the muted colours and bare earth of a muddy English winter.

So here, I paired green glass with picture jasper, and with white and blue wooden rondelles. The simplicity and symmetry of the overall design is complimented by the individuality of each jasper bead. The findings (clasp, crimps, crimp covers) are all tarnished-copper tones.

I can't show you the whole thing because as originally photographed here (on that sunny day) I wasn't quite happy with the finishing around the clasp area. So I have re-strung it today, with improved end-sections, and am now pleased with it.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

On essential journeys, and some ways in which we are not like picket fences.

Well, I don't know about how it is where you guys are, but round here it is snowy. Driving back from work tonight, through snow-flurries lit up by my headlights, it was almost impossible to see the road properly. I took the long way home rather than cut down the tiny country roads as usual. Listening to the radio presenters debate at some length what constitutes an essential journey, I felt somehow despondent at hearing my own job listed among the long list of jobs which meant one's journey into work was "essential" - and very thankful for my winter tyres.

I still have some pictures left from that single sunny day before Christmas, so today seemed a good day for posting them. This one here is of the necklace made for my lovely middle sister, based around a purple-spots-on-white bead which reminded me of her. On either side of this are two beads that once adorned the very first handmade necklace I ever bought at a craft fair, when I was almost exactly the same age my sister is now. Recently I took that necklace apart, because so much has happened to us all since then that I almost get vertigo looking at it. But I do still like this pair of beads for their interesting shape.

Then, there's a lot of moss agate stones, and a collection of different purpley-pink glass beads of various different sizes - and different shapes, too, because a lot of them are handmade. The result has a knobbly, irregular, slightly folky feel to it, which I am coming to prefer to the pristine, machine-made look. The asymmetry in the shades of moss agate make the greens seem to shimmer, which draws the eye and gives some life to the design.

In this picture, the necklace appears longer than it really is - because people are not in fact shaped like picket fences. The perspective is a bit screwy, too: all the silver spacers in this necklace are actually the same size, so that the purple beads at the top are quite small really. I need a better mannequin than a wooden fence! Maybe I could get one of those vintage-French-style papier-mache dress-forms, if I can finally clear out the spare room (one of my New Year's resolutions that has sadly gone as yet unrealised).

Monday, 14 January 2013

Family ties

My mother has three daughters living away from home (well, it's recently become two-and-a-half for a while, but that's another story!). So I made this necklace as a Christmas-present for her, using beads sourced from where each of the three of us are based.

There are some large glass beads, recycled from a necklace that I bought second-hand in my local town; there are moss agate and silver-coloured spacer beads, from my youngest sister's city; and there are green glass beads and butterfly beads, from where another sister lives in Australia.

Over the three weeks in the run-up Christmas, we seemed only to have had about 10 minutes of sunshine, total. The rest of the time, it rained. Just rained. I complained a lot. Now it's icy-snowy, and I want the nice mild rainy days back again!

Anyway, during those brief few moments of sunshine, I took these photos.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

(Blog Hop) - Thank You From The Bottom of My Bathroom Basin

This blog hop is supposed to be about someone in your life who means a lot to you. But I found it really hard to decide who to choose. You see, there are so many people in my life whom I love dearly and admire greatly. I can't even list them, because that would involve putting them in some sort of order and I didn't want to do that, it just felt so wrong. What I really wanted to do, in fact, was to find some way of mixing them up and figuratively pulling a single name out of the hat, that didn't involve some mechanical procedure such as literally pulling names out of a hat.

In the end, I decided to solve this problem by focusing right down on the moment I am living in now. When I decided this, I was walking to collect my son from the house of the amazing lady who collects him (and a few other children) at the end of the school day, and looks after him until I get home from work. He is so happy there, and our lives are by far the richer for knowing her and her family.

Besides all this, she has even got him eating lasagne at her house and demanding second helpings!!! I have no clue how she does this, besides being a pretty incredible cook. Last time he ate my lasagne, he was a little baby who would eat everything, even paper: perhaps I need to work on those culinary skills a bit more.

So how do I make something that describes her personality? She is organised and calm; so I chose a regular, symmetrical design. She loves nature, so I chose a mottled green ceramic focal, wooden spacers and handmade black glass beads. She also loves the vintage/antique look so I included some glass pearls.

As you will see from the time of this posting, it's night-time here at the moment, so after some experimentation I have photographed this in the whitest, lightest area of the house (drum-roll....:) Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Our bathroom basin.

You can find the rest of the blog hop at Lori's blog.

Friday, 4 January 2013

1000 page views + Blog Hop 12 Jan

Whew, I have now had over 1000 page views! (I have set Blogger to not count my own page-views, also!)

I know this isn't a lot by some standards, but still, it's a lot more than I expected when I set this up. It is nice to feel part of a community.

So, talking of that community thing, I've finally plucked up the courage to sign up for my first ever blog hop - eek!

The blog hop is going to run on the 12th of Jan. You can read more about it here. I am still not sure what I'm going to post for it. Watch this space.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Terror in the midst of splendour

Yesterday I took my son to visit the National History Museum in London together with my parents.

For those of you who don't know, this is essentially a chance to see a whole load of fantastic dinosaur exhibits in a Romanesque setting. The word "dinosaur", my son knowledgeably informs me, means terrible lizard, and he freely admitted to being terrified by the life-size animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex. The dinosaur section was completely overrun with small boys (parents in tow). Tip: definitely see the dinosaurs first, before the queues to enter that section get too long.

The architecture is splendid (German Romanesque), and the museum cafe is one of the best I've ever been to - worth a visit just for that.

Terrible lizard, splendid architecture
As well as the famous dinosaurs there are loads of other really great sections. We visited the Ecology/Earth sections, which explain important concepts (many of which I struggled to understand as a teenager) in a way accessible even to my non-reading, four-year-old son. I'm not saying he acquired a deep understanding of biological principles, but he understood it on his own level when I talked some of the exhibits through with him. And I learnt things too!

Lastly, we spent a long time in the cetacean gallery (=whales and dolphins), finding out more about these incredible animals, many of which are highly vulnerable or endangered species, and listening to recordings of the sounds they make to communicate with one another. Fascinating, sad, moving, unmissable.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Good luck to my sister in her new job

My sister has a swanky new job, starting tomorrow! (well, technically today, the 2nd of Jan.) Yay!

For Christmas, she asked for "thin bracelets she could maybe wear for her new job, but that would stack and co-ordinate" so this is what I made for her.

Swarovski crystals + Czech glass + seed beads + silver-plated beading wire
 Good Luck!!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

My Word (And Motto) of 2013

I have been inspired by other bloggers I follow to choose "a word for 2013".

My personal word, then, is:  

Reflecting back on 2012 I was often challenged to go outside my comfort zone and, yes, sometimes (often) I have made mistakes. But we often learn and develop more when we are challenged than if we are given an easy ride. I think I've learnt most when I've been able to talk things over with others, so that is definitely something to focus on for next year.

I also have a motto for 2013, which is complementary:  
 it's ok to use what you have. 
It applies to the beading work, and also to a whole lot of other things too. Our inner resources are often a lot stronger than we think.