Sunday, 12 June 2011

Vat of Acid

A vat of acid is my new favourite toy :) Technically it's a small plastic tub rather than a vat, and the acid is ferric chloride, which is pretty mild but it sounds suitably cool so I will continue referring to it as a vat of acid.

I've been etching copper. Which is suprisingly addictive. And the number of potential ways to finish it grows every time I think about it. Here's a few pictures - all etched copper, some oxidised, some painted with alcohol ink (and layered with resin although the resin pictures aren't great - these are all snaps-in-progress which tend to not be great photography!)

Oxidised and polished

Single colour alcohol ink with resin glaze

Oxidised with Liver of Sulpher and polished
Heavily oxidised with Platinol which gives a fabulous gunmetal finish

Coloured with multiple colours of alcohol ink and resined (below is before resining)

I'm really happy with the effects I'm getting, and have more techniques still to try - specifically I want to try colour patinas (have the neccessary stuff here, just need time! and I want to try blowtorching etched pieces.
Obviously the above need holes drilled into them before I can make them into actual wearable jewellery but give me time!

It's been a while since my last update and will probably be a while until my next - sadly hubby is working 200 miles away this month (usually he works from home so I'm kinda used to his constant presence!). This means I have very little playing time this month - he usually does the lion's share of kids and daily chores whereas this month I get them on top of my job. So I forsee very little playing / blogging / fun stuff before the end of June!

Take care and have fun!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

More steam than I can handle...

I said I'd be working really this week to make up for not really getting enough done while the kids were off school for Easter. I didn't realise just how hard that would be when I wrote it, or rather just how hard I'd be working. Sometimes life just throws one at you and I really need to.. oh, about triple my income for June and July. Which are usually quite quiet months for me, especially July. So full steam ahead became exploding boiler ahead and I haven't stopped.

For starters I've picked up 6 project commissions for the July and August issues of Creative Beads & Jewellery magazine. Six is quite a lot, especially given that my deadlines are end of May/beginning of June for the respective issues. I also quoted a friend on some web design work. I'm no pro, just significantly more able than she is. It's only the work of an afternoon or so, but it still needs squeezing in. Oh and either the fall or winter issue of Stringinghas a deadline in June as well, which I really ought to submit things for.

I've also spent the last few days really looking at what available stock I have. Amazon is the most sales-effective platform I use, so I've been getting an awful lot of my in-house stock ready to be shipped off to amazon fulfillment centres. Which, while quite time intensive in the short term, tends to be really quite good for me. I love my amazon store.

Vintaj lovers can probably look forward to Vintaj multipacks at some point in the very near future too - I carry an awful lot of Vintaj stock and while I stock it on both my components website and in my eBay store, I need it to be moving a little faster which should mean some multipack bargains soon! I could also really use adding more of my own Vintaj design ideas to my website, and writing up some Vintaj tutorials.

Added to that, I've got some new lines coming in for my manufactured costume jewellery on amazon, and I'm still awaiting over 100kg of gorgeous lampwork beads to arrive (which will then need sorting and putting on sale!) it looks like a busy month or so ahead. On the plus side, I should have my husband available to help out - he's a contract engineer without much contract work for the next couple of months.

So to deal with all that, I have literally scheduled the next 3 weeks, in approximately 2 hourly slots, from 6.00am to 8pm (and at 8pm I usually go for a run). Which admittedly is not new, but this is all extra in addition to what is usually on my generic every-week schedule. I have to admit after a week of it I'm feeling very accomplished but also very, very tired.

I'm thinking of taking August off to recover. Except my Augusts are usually spent preparing for the Christmas season. No rest for the wicked, or even the slightly naughty!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Back to normality!

Tomorrow my 3 school-aged kids go back to school after what seems like forever. They all had two weeks off for Easter break, then were back at school for two days (one day that week was an inset day - teacher training kind of thing!), then the entire country ground to a halt for the Royal Wedding, and finally today was May Day which is another holiday here. So the kids have been off for almost three weeks straight which plays havoc with my working schedule. But tomorrow they're back at school and it's weeks before they have half term which means I can get back to normal.

I haven't been idle for that time, just desperately trying to keep up with the essentials. I had a craft fair I'd forgotton about last Saturday so spent Royal Wedding day frantically putting together some new stock for it. While I sold plenty at said craft fair, none of those brand-new pieces went so I got to bring them home to photograph and show you. Nothing too fancy - I was REALLY trying for quick makes due to the time constraints but they are pretty and unusual. Firstly some bracelets.

This one is a Czech glass button wrapped in Vintaj filigree with brass beads and Swarovski crystals to make a really rather pretty bracelet. Most of the Vintaj components I use can be found on my princess-jewellery website. There's even a page which links to the various Vintaj worksheets on how to do stuff - including how to use filigree for wrapping stones and making bails.

 This one is rhodochrosite with a Vintaj brass art deco swirls centrepiece and more Swarovski crystals.

Finally this cute charm bracelet is a mix of peridot and Swarovski crystals with Vintaj charms.

I made a selection of new necklaces as well, all with more filigree-wrapped Czech glass buttons.

This one combined a lovely lilac organza with brass chain and Vintaj filigree. I love the colours in this button.

Next up is this lovely green & gold button teamed with serpentine and freshwater pearls.

Next is a blue button with lapis lazuli and freshwater pearls.

And finally, a filigree-wrapped titanium coated druzy agate pendant. This one isn't new, I wrapped the stone a while back but forgot I had it until I was hunting desperately for stock to sell on Saturday. I really love the titanium-coated druzy cabs, they are stunning.

As I've now got no craft fairs for about 2 months, this lot will be packaged straight up to go to amazon. Amazon hold and dispatch an awful lot of my inventory and I have finally kicked myself into getting an organized, browsable display which can be viewed (and shopped) from anywhere I put it - purchases are all through amazon and items are all dispatched by amazon. Hopefully this will work, I've yet to test it in a blog post, but here is my shiny, new, organized amazon shop (opens in new window/tab). Technically I can make it display as part of the blog post but sadly that cuts of half the menu items down the right hand side so I shan't do that!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Time is ticking away...!

It's been a good 10 days since I last wrote on here. In my defense, it is Easter break and my three school-age kids are all home. I've also been making up new jewellery destined for my amazon store and as it's all silver - and as I live in the UK - I find it far mor sensible to make up a fair amount as I have to send it off to be hallmarked at a British government assay office. Speaking of which, when they received my order, one of the ladies who worked there rang me up to ask how I'd feel about her taking a bracelet and sending the cash back with the rest of my hallmarking. Given the thousands and thousands of pieces of jewellery which go through my assay office every week, I was immensely flattered.

This is the coveted bracelet, in Sterling silver with freshwater pearls, amethyst and Swarovski crystal. I love the imperfections you get in dyed freshwater pearls - to me they really add a taste of 'unique'. They are rather lovely and should hit my amazon store in a couple of weeks (we have 3 public holidays in the next week, including today so things aren't moving quite so fast as they usually would!)

 I also spent a couple of DAYS sorting our all my beads and focals into fabby compartmented storage boxes. I did have them sorted by colour or type before - so all my blue gemstone beads were dumped in one box, all my pearls were dumped in one box and so forth but now I can see exactly what I've got. I am not the most organized of people so sorting through everything felt like a major achievement. I reduced the space used for storing my jewellery-making stuff drastically and also weeded out all the redundancy in my stock-keeping area, freeing up some shelves and storage boxes for a large shipment of pretty lampwork beads I expect to arrive soon - they were ordered about a month ago and I always ask the manufacturer to take extra care with making sure they're kiln-annealed properly so the lampwork doesn't break - this means my goods take a little longer to arrive but they're better made than might be the case if I didn't specificy my need for high quality.

While sorting through my beads, I found some awesome petrified wood beads (essentially, fossilised wood) and thought it was high time I made something with them. This necklace, and it's brothers were the result.

It's pretty and stylistically, very me. I love the rich colours of the pearls coupled with the freeform slabs of petrified wood. I made three of these and still haven't decided whether to steal one.

Finally, remember the Vintaj challenge I entered with my pretty Woodland Blush necklace? I came in 4th, which I was fairly ecstatic with given the quality of design talent featured! I am probably not going to find time to enter the next one but hopefully subsequent ones can be scheduled in.

Finally, tomorrow I have a craft fair. It's a while (as in months) since I've done one - I usually prefer not to do them as the time involved in sorting stuff, spending the day away, and unsorting stuff on my return isn't usually worth it for the return, given the time lost on my regular work schedule but I was asked to go along as a favour to the organiser (my sister!). So today I'm pretty much dedicating to sorting out stock and pricing for that.

Take care!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

My favourite places!

I follow quite a few blogs within the jewellery making and beady world. As I'm mid making stuff and have yet to photograph anything I thought I'd share a few of my favourites with you and tell you why I find them so enthralling. This is only a very small selection of those I read but for various reasons I think they're my favourites. There's a little bit of a lack in pictures on this post for which I apologise. I'd love to use a picture from each blog to illustrate what I love about them but its not really very good form to steal pictures without asking (and I'm too impatient to wait for permission!). Schedule says 'write blog post' NOW!

My resolution for this week is to comment on more blog posts. Sometimes I read the blogs I subscribe to and just ASSUME that because these are all fabulously talented people who are mainly well known and established within the niche of beady-worldness that another randomer commenting on their blogs isn't something they'd want. Then I remember we're all people and everyone likes comments :o) I don't comment enough when I'm blown away by something or have an opinion on a post. I should do it more.

A Bead In Time
I couldn't do a blog list without mentioning A Bead In Time, the blog from, partially because I work on a freelance basis for them but mainly because they are a super source of low-cost and very cool beads and findings here in the UK. The picture is of glass ready to go into one of their fabulous hotpot microwave kilns - amazing fused glass jewellery from the comfort of your own kitchen!

Earthenwood Studios
The blog from the supremely talented Melanie at Earthenwood Studios. This is probably the blog I read that I've been following the longest - I first started reading a good couple of years back when Melanie was developing and researching her line of Steampunk ceramic beads and components. I love her style and her vision and have a gorgeous rainbow pendant from her that I really must incorporate into something at some point soon! More of Melanie's components are available in her etsy store and on the Earthenwood website.

Jennifer Jangles
Jennifer is another very talented - but very different to Melanie at Earthenwood - ceramic artist with the added bonus of designing fabrics and ribbons in her own very unique style. I love this blog because its so much FUN. The bright colours and designs really appeal and looking at Jennifer's posts always makes me smile. I'm also insanely jealous of her studio space which is amazing! Jennifer's beautiful beads, components and some of her ribbons and fabrics are available in her Jangles etsy shop.

I've literally only discovered this blog from Shannon LeVart in the last week and promptly spent about 3+ hours reading all the back posts and marvelling at the pictures of her work. Shannon creates the most extraordinary aged-metal pieces with patinas to cover all the colours of the rainbow (she has her own line in patnia colours as well and I want some! Next time I have some spare cash, that's where I'm going :o). More than that her personality and outlook on life really shine through her blog making it an absolute delight to read. Missficklemedia's etsy shop is here (currently closed for a short period but due back later this month!).

Sigaliot Designs
This blog features the most amazing polymer clay beads from Sagit at Sagaliot designs. The colours and contrasts are just amazing and I fell in love with Sagit's beads when I saw them. they have a wonderful psychadelic feel to the patterning and colour use. This is another on my list of absolutely must-own-some!  Go look at the pretties - you won't be disappointed. You can find Sigaliot Designs etsy shop right here!

Daily Dialogue... with Jess from Vintaj is always absolutely stunning. I love Vintaj components and Jess is one of their fabulously talented designers. It's always both fun and inspiring to see what's going on in the Vintaj studios. Its also the home of the Vintaj monthly challenge which I've entered for the first time this month!

Sea of Glass
Blog from Melissa Rediger of Sea of Glass. I saw Melissa's beads online and against my usually mantra of 'look don't buy PLEASE look don't buy' had a very weak moment and went shopping in her fabulous store. Her beads arrived to me from the USA in an impressively short span of time and they are STUNNING. Absolutely gorgeous and I don't regret my little splurge in the slightest - all I'm concerned about is my ability to do them justice in the jewellery I make. Go look, they will knock you out!

Finally Good Quill Hunting is an absolutely stunning blog on jewellery seed bead weaving/embroidery. I am constantly stunned by the level of detail and brilliant mixes of colours and bead sizes in these designs and eagerly await new posts detailing the latest works and works-in-progress. She's amazingly talented, I could look at these pieces for hours.

Take care,
Stephie x

Saturday, 9 April 2011

I'm a little nervous...

The entry stage for the Vintaj monthly challenge closed yesterday and I have to confess to being a little nervous about voting opening on Monday. I've been entering design competitions, designing for jewellery magazines & beading websites and selling my work for years - but I've never submitted any jewellery to a challenge with a public voting mechanism and the thought of complete strangers - many of whom are superbly talented in MY field - judging my work is a little nerve wracking. Will my design be the one sitting there with no votes for the duration? Will it look silly and amateurish alongside truly stunning designs? Just as a recap this is what I entered.

I was happy with the end result, but is it good enough? We shall see.

I've had a busy week this week, mainly creating what I tend to call my 'commercial' jewellery - thats jewellery which can be made up in multiples to be sold from my website or my amazon store. I prefer one-off designing at several hours per piece but multiples of simple designs is how I pay my bills - from an economic point of view it makes a lot of sense. There were a bunch of earrings - some new, and some of which I was remaking existing sold-out designs. New earrings have yet to be photographed so I shall save them for next week. I also made up a bunch of bracelets in two designs.
This one is a mix of freshwater pearls, amethyst and Swarovski crystals and is really quite pretty. I love the colour mix and each bracelet has 75 beads individually wired and attached.

This one felt really summery with its mix of citrine, shell pearl, sunstone, rhodochrosite, yellow jade and ruby. This particular style looks fabulous worn but I always find it difficult to photograph well. I may need to redo the pictures before selling them.

As I'm in the UK, all those bracelets need to be sent off to a British government assay office for metal testing and hallmarking before I sell them - legally in my country we can't sell anything as Sterling silver or gold (or platinum) above a certain weight without first getting the items assayed and hallmarked. For silver this is 7.8 grams  - so my earrings and pendants are usually fine without, bracelets and necklaces usually need hallmarking. It makes more financial sense to send a bigger lot in for hallmarking so I really want to get up to at least 20 pieces in the package before I send it - I currently have 10 so it will be another couple of weeks before I can sell these - and I have a load more bracelets and necklaces to make up!

I finally got one of my decorated Vintaj art pendants, made with a beautiful 40mm Bamboo Bezel, to my beading table. I made this batch of pendants in (I think!) January and have been particularly terrible at finding time to turn them into wearable jewellery that I was happy to make (I could have stuck it on a chain at any point of course, but I wanted to make something a little more special). This was the end result:


There's a lot of design elements in there. I'm not 100% about the pearl clusters - whether they should be there at all, whether they work as they are or whether there should be a second set of clusters on the next bit of chain up. I shall continue to think about that! I loved the way the 16mm Filigree Bead Caps fit my lapiz lazuli so nicely - I often have problems getting bead caps to work for my but the Vintaj ones are so soft and mouldable around my stones that they tend to work perfectly. The 21mm Diamond Filigree worked very well curlyed over as a decorative bail to the pendant drop - much nicer than just using the jump ring to attach!

Until next time!
Stephie x

Monday, 4 April 2011

New VINTAJ items now in stock!

Dear all

My new supplies of Vintaj finally arrived! As always they are absolutely superbly detailed and very beautiful/ I am totally in love with the Mythical Wings embellishments - I look at these and see massive potenial for sanding off the highlights and colouring with beautiful alcohol inks or acrylic paints, and just a couple of seconds with a mini drill turns them into fabulous pendants. These are definitely my favourites of the new items, although all are stunning.

Is it just me or do you see it too? I think that definitely has to be my 'play' item for this week!

There is, of course, more than just beautiful fairy wings. I love the tiny, sweet Nouveau connecters which Megan Sharkey of Vintaj incorporated into the necklace below:

Wendy Mullane of Vintaj used the gorgeous diamond filigrees as a clever wrap for enhancing stones in earrings. I also see great potential for these filigrees to make beautiful and unusual bails.

Have a browse through my Vintaj products at, or if you prefer ebay, at my ebay shop.

Take care!
Stephie x

Photos and designs pictured are copyright VINTAJ Natural Brass Co. Used with permission.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

I LOVE it when I finish things!

I am the queen of unfinished projects. Jewellery, scultpure, fabric art, wirework, you name it, I have an unfinished piece lying around somewhere. Which is why I'm so happy that I've finished not one but TWO challenge pieces this week. One is too late to count, the other is well within the submission date (and the latter is an actual potential-to-win-something entry as well :o)

First off, this was done for Andrew Thornton's challenge LAST week. Which is too late but I'm sharing it anyway. I like to have low pressure things as an excuse to play. In this instance, I was trying out painting a brass keyplate with alcohol inks and glazing it (I used diamond glaze from which has worked well. Usually I'd use resin but I was in a hurry! I also needed to practise fringing. I'm not entirely happy with the result but I suspect that's because I used size 11 seed beads and I prefer size 15s. I loved the dark rainbow effect though.

And a closer view at the centrepiece:

The second piece was for the Vintaj Natural Brass March Challenge which has a deadline of 8th April - plenty of time left for you to enter too. I really loved the end result here - there's a beautiful Czech glass button from Pavi Yarns wrapped in a Vintaj filigree Passion Flower as the centrepiece and loads and loads of dyed freshwater pearls. The challenge title was 'Woodland Blush' and this piece reflects the current spring-ness of the woodland I walk through every day.

And a close up of that beautiful button:

Until next time!
Stephie x

Monday, 28 March 2011

Busy, busy week!

I have such a busy week ahead! I'm still awaiting my shipment of beautiful Vintaj Components to sell from my princess-jewellery site and sorting them will be both fun and time consuming once they arrive. I also forgot I have all day Sunday on a craft shopping trip with my Mum and so didn't have time to finish the piece I was working on for Andrew Thornton's weekly word challenge - its a just for fun challenge that I particularly like simply because Andrew's choice of words always mesh very well with my mindset! I will finish that piece, hopefully this evening, even thought it's too late for that challenge!

I have got a few pieces left over from last week to show you. I have a few craft fairs coming up so sat and spent a day creating some one-off pieces specifically for the fairs.

This bracelet was very quick and easy to work up - it's three different colours of Sof-Suede (bought from with the ends caught in Vintaj tube beads and copper charms added. It's really quick and easy to make.

I also did a beautiful copper and teal necklace using copper beads and glass pearls from Mad Cow Beads with a delicate filigree focal from Fire Mountain and some sparkly Swarovksi crystal dangles. I really love how the colour combination turned out in this.

Another simple necklace above in a lovely, almost ancient-feeling Serpentine and antuque brass combination. Again, I really loved how this came out. Most components and beads came from Fire Mountain.

And finally, a cute and quick pair of earrings featuring jade and Vintaj Fern Valley Fastenables. They're super quick and easy but so elegant and distinctive. I really adore these.

Take care!
Stephie x

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Exciting Times in Stardust Land!

I am excited!

Partially I'm excited because the clocks go forward this weekend, meaning more light in the evenings (I can understand reluctance on those of you that consequentially have to leave for work in the dark. However, I don't :o). Partially I'm excited because I'm really, really trying to get myself organised. Sometimes I feel like I'm juggling an impossible number of things at once. I run two websites and sell on eBay and as well. I do craft fairs and have a family. I try and stay fit and walk and run every day. And it's nice to relax and sleep sometimes too. This all adds up to my running around in a non-productive, panic-stricken frenzy on a regular basis. but that will change for I have Organised my Life.

This all adds up - in the context of this blog - to my having new shiny stuff to show you!

Firstly this, which doesn't have a name but will probably include the word 'Atlantean', as in Atlantis, as it reminds me very much of exquisite treasure being lost beneath the vastness of the ocean. It was my first try at... pretty much anything at all I did with this. It's basically a Paua shell cabochon with a peyote stitch bezel on a felt background. The felt border was freestyle embroidered with tiny size 15 seed beads, Swarovski crystals and larger baroque pearls, then a shimmering fringe was added and an Ultrasuede backing glued then stitched on. The necklace part is fairly straightforward stringing.

Secondly, I've been playing with my new line of findings. I stock Vintaj Natural Brass components over at (new shiny things due in next week. Another reason to be excited!). The Vintaj site has loads of suggestions on working with Vintaj, some of which I've borrowed, adapted or altered to make my own stunning and unique components.

Firstly here are some butterflies. The matching pair were coloured with alcohol inks and given a coat of resin to seal. The Black butterfly is on a small Bamboo Bezel which has been coloured with alcohol inks. The butterfy itself is Vintaj Arte Metal with a coat or Markal Paintstick and a little sparkling gold Pearl-Ex powder, once again all sealed with a coat of resin.

This pendant was made with a large Bamboo Bezel, a swallow charm and a flower fastenable, and is coloured with a combination of alcohol inks, Pearl-Ex Powder and Markal Paintsticks (all the colourings were bought from Rainbow Silks). Similarly, the sunset flower pendant below and the waterlily border have been treated with the same materials to stunning effect. I hope to get some of these components made up into jewellery to show you next week!

For my final Vintaj showcase, I took a 2.5cm Czech Glass button (A truly amazing and extensive selection are available at Pavi Yarns) and snipped the back fastener off (it had a wire loop for stitching onto garments). The bottom was then wrapped in a Passion Flower filigree - I'm midway through making a necklace with a similar wrapped button and it's looking truly stunning. More on that soon!

Finally, thanks to Melanie at Earthenwood Studios for some inspiration. I've been obsessively hunting down interesting escutcheon pieces after Melanie blogged about her beautiful antique and vintage key and keyplate finds. Sadly I have neither the time nor a great location to go hunting down old pieces, but you can buy some very interesting new ones if you hunt - I found loads at Here's a selection of fun things for me to experiment with: