Thursday, 29 November 2007

Lesson Number Two

OK... so strictly speaking I should be working my backside off at this time of year. I'm working certainly but really not to the extent I should be. Although I'm trying harder. But I'm also very aware of the danger of getting completely overwhelmed by Christmas sales because I've had mass stress and depression every December for the last 4 years. So I'm consciously keeping myself doing 'normal' things like the drawing. Not that thats normal in itself but I'm doing it in a normal way. Anyone who knows me is aware of my frightening tendancy to throw myself completely into any new interest to the exclusion of life, the universe and everything. I'm deliberately keeping the drawing down to a couple of hours a day (a lot of which is reading, not drawing).

So yesterdays exercise was to try looking at outlines as a series of interconnected angles which can then be smoothed out, the idea being accurate shape reproduction and as yesterday, training myself to see what is really there. I then added the shading/shadowing stuff from my first lesson (when I say 'lesson' what I mean is what I gleaned from an hours reading and rereading of various tutorials condensed down to what I felt comfortable trying. I also read a lot on shape form, head construction and drawing roses yesterday. But settled for the basic angles practise with my thumb (because its a multiple angle shape and, well, it was there). Ignore the pen, its a leftover on the same sheet from lesson 1!

Eventually I'll manage something interesting. But I want to do this properly and slowly and really focus on the techniques a little at a time.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Drawing 101

OK as noted previously, I've always been vaguely disappointed that I can't draw or paint. But having put a little thought into it, I'm sure I could learn. So Step One in Stephie's Learn to Draw project came last night. I spent about half an hour flicking through how-to for beginners articles on last night before doing a very simple exercise at 1am - the 'pick something random but simple and draw it' exercise. The point being to focus on seeing what something really looks like (because your brain compensates for things like perspective and shadowing - try doing the optical illusions app on facebook!) and developing hand-eye co-ordination. And 10 mintes later I'd produced a reasonable facsimile of my pen. Its not perfect my any means, its fatter than the actual pen, the point where it joins stem to nub isn't quite right and the tapering is out - its wider at the further away end making it look flat, when it should be getting ever so slightly narrower towards that end - but as my first attempt since probaby 2nd year high school at drawing an object from sight I'm still reasonably pleased with it (and for those who did high school with me - do you remember drawing the cheeseplant in art? Or the one where we had to do a self portrait half human, half machine?)

Either way I figure with regular practise I could become OK. Then its fairy time! I wonder if I own a sketchbook... Tesco Value printer paper perhaps not the best surface.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

First thing to make me laugh all day

Stephie: Why is my brain not working properly today Geoffy?

Geoff: Because sometimes your brain doesn't work properly. It goes a bit 'wheeeee'

Stephie: 'Booooooo'

Geoff: It does that to

Stephie: 'Booooh' and 'wheeee'?

Geoff: Yeah your brain has 'Boooo' chemicals and 'wheeee' chemicals fighting a battle over clusters of neurons. Today the 'booooo' chemicals are winning.

*recorded for posterity*

Monday, 26 November 2007

Maybe if I took lessons...

OK I'm trying to be objective. And its still awful. But this is the first thing I've even attempted to draw in about five years. I don't have the natural talent that some people have - but I think I could learn to draw. I'll scan it properly when I've finished it. Its not finished yet. The cat demon incidentally came from hallucinations the other night. Purely mind induced hallucinations that is, my brain is quite weird all by itself without adding external substances. I was stroking my cat and her face kept morphing into demon boy down there. It was kinda freaky. Why did I draw it? Erm at stupid o'clock last night I wondered if I could. So I did. It was a bit weird. It also inbued me with a desperate need to do a 'this is why you're wonderful' post... for people in my life that I appreciate in one way or another. OK its sappy and possibly stupid but I reserve the right to both those states so thats at the bottom.

Because you're wonderful....

Geoff - Who else could I start with but my husband? An anchor to my chaos, a lifeline to my madness, a balance to my flightiness. You're the other half of my soul and I love you completely.

Dax. Because you're you. Because you understand and don't judge. Because you help without complaint. Because even when your world is imploding you still have time to keep mine stable.

Georgie - You're my best friend and a welcome oasis of total sanity. Because I'm a difficult person to be friends with and you just accept that sometimes I don't want to talk or keep in touch. For accepting me completely even while completely failing to understand the why of me. For putting up with my cockups, insanity and occasional paranoia without letting it ruffle your fur in the slightest.

Phil. For managing to put up with my sister and not once strangling her and burying her beneath the patio. For incredible patience, tolerance and acceptance joining the utter chaos that is our family. For being a wonderful father to my nieces.

- For loving the worst friend in the world. For knowing I don't mean anything by it when I ignore you for months. For being the most beautiful woman in the universe.

Jan - . For being a giver when its so very evident you need to take as well. And for a journal post that described how you thought illness was not something to be ashamed of. That made me think.

Andrew - For being an embodiment of calm and rationality and letting Geoff know he's not alone.

- - Because you make me laugh. For trying to make me feel included. For supporting Geoff and not judging me despite what you know.

Fiona M.
- You make me smile. I'm glad I found you again. We should have been friends 20 years ago.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Something is missing....?

I have a vague feeling that I've missed something I've finished recently when doing these photos. I KNOW I forgot to photo my Vintage Lace (or possibly Rhapsody in Lace) necklace - the cake part of my Coffee & Cake sets but I'm sure there's something else missing. No clue what though.

Either way. I don't usually make earrings as anything but an afterthought - I'll make them up to go with a necklace or bracelet, but this week I felt like making some relatively quick projects and opted for earrings in 9k gold (partially because I needed to make up the numbers for hallmarking - I only had a couple of pieces in gold and given that I have to pay for a minimum of 10 IIRC, I may as well send that many in for hallmarking)

Today however I have earrings to show you. And the Coffee part of my Coffee & Cake necklaces

Hoop earrings made with 9k gold wire, Swarovski bicones in Capri Blue and Swarovski crystal pearls in Gold Pearl.

More hoop earrings in 9k gold wire with assorted colour Swarovski bicones. Kind of dreamcatchery. Wish I had some little gold feathers to hang off the bottom.

Emeralds and golden shadow Swarovski crystal cluster earrings with 9k gold wire. The spirals at the bottom are a direct result of my being unable to get hold of headpins at a remotely sensible price in 9k. Mainly I just wanted to play with green and gold. I like the colour combination.

Long chain drop earrings in fire colour crystals and 9k gold. I adore these (and am halfway through making a matching bracelet - unfortunately I forgot that I'd sent the relevant 8mm Swarovski round faceted fire opal beads to my mums for counting).

Cute butterfly earrings. I wanted to see if I could do exact replicas/matches in bent wire so I did the wing shapes on these and added rose and 9k stardust beads and light rose Swarovski butterflies.

And the coffee part of my coffee and cake necklace and is called Autumn Cascade. This is - as my pal Andy would put it - an blatant exercise in fanwank. Not that I'd use such a crude term, but it WAS inspired by a very beautiful character for which the costume dept managed a perfect and meticulous detail to her jewellery at all times. Prize if you can guess the character :p. Hint - TV.

I have - finally - finished the cake section which is probably called Vintage Lace but potentially Rhapsody in Lace. Feel free to vote :p You can also vote for 'naming your jewellery is the most stupidly pretentious thing I've heard in a long time' if you must. Be nice about it though, I appear to be somewhat oversensitive at the moment.

Sunday, 11 November 2007


Well I managed the hour of listing in my ebay shop yesterday. Then did an arrghhh I don't want to be here any more and spent large parts of the rest of the day sleeping or moping. But by 2am my drive had returned and I spent 5 hours or so making my sister's birthday pressie. With barely a bent bit of wire in sight (note its not that bent wire is WRONG. Its that its my method of choice for 90% of what I make. So occasionally producing something none-bent-wirey is cool)

Necklace, bracelet and earrings set. I'm particularly pleased with the bracelet - I don't generally do beaded strung bracelets and I'm pleased with the result. They're made with a mixture of Swarovski crystals and glass seed beads from my friend Georgie at madcowbeads.

Saturday, 10 November 2007


I am going to be good. I've been seriously up and down all week and frankly have done nothing at all in the way of useful stuff. But right now I am going to spend an hour listing some of the stuff thats on my desk and then I'm going to go and play with pretty things. Conscious target practise :p... I've been buzzing so much this week and its been wasted on random internet stuff or worse, just making me frustrated that I wasn't doing anything with it. So today I'm going to try some structured targetting. It won't work while I have the babies to myself as well - that creates conflict and I don't do well at conflict - so I'm going to wait until Geoff gets back, then spend an hour listing, then spend an hour playing. Thats just two hours and two things which shouldn't be too much to handle. So... forget about all the other stuff thats outstanding and just do those two things. Great. Go Stephie.

I might even get back to the point of this journal and post some pics of my creations later :p

Sunday, 4 November 2007


OK... as a jewellery maker, I don't do chunky, I don't do asymmetry, I don't do rectangles and I don't do wire wrapping. Which could be why this piece is confounding my usual philosphy of 'part of being good is knowing when you're not'. I don't know if I like this. I don't know if its any good. I think it stops just short of chaotic mess - but am not 100% certain.
I do like that its very tactile - its heavy and a mix of sterling wire, smooth glass beads and faceted Swarovski crystal beads and its also quite motion-y - there's slight movement in the wrapped beads and a tremulous jiggle to the beaded rings on the botttom (they look fine when its hung by the way - not so good flat which is how the photos were taken).

So am posting it here. Not that anyone reads this journal other than my OH who is quite capable of commenting when I wave it under his nose (anyone else is more than welcome to comment - but most of you who are likely to see this ain't going to have any interest!). I've done it on two separate chains. And again, am not sure which I prefer. I'm leaning towards the crystal linked chain.

So... Attempt Number 1 at a framed wire wrap type pendant. My wire wrapping experience before this was limited to wigjig components and wrapped loops so there's plenty of scope for improvement!

Saturday, 3 November 2007


I suppose I'd better do a proper introduction post. I almost feel like I'm starting over with this journal - realistically, opal work is not something I have the time or the equipment to do at present, so for the time being it's being shelved.

I’m Steph Hall, 30-something years old and I made my first piece of real jewellery when I was 17. I so wish someone had introduced me earlier! The short bout of metal work we did in school would have been so much more interesting if it had been jewellery focused and 3 years of secondary school art classes would have been far less excruciating if someone had explained you don’t need to be able to draw to be an artist. Because I can’t draw for toffee. I totally suck. I still enjoy it on occasion but my 12 year old son is significantly more talented than I!

!Artist.... Am I pretentious? Of course I am. I call my work 'art', my workshop a 'studio' and see 'inspiration' everywhere :p I'll get around to putting up a 'gallery' soon to 'showcase' my 'portfolio' as well. I've even got my very own fashionable mental illness to explain away my 'eccenticities'*. Just be thankful I'm not churning out crap poetry anymore!

*As an aside I did try getting my husband and best friend to refer my wierdness as 'endearingly quirky'. Their responses were 'Nucking Futs is more like it' and 'No, you're completely insane' respectively. I love them :o)

Jewellery making first came about because my parents decided their latest get-rich-quick scheme (or at least earn some extra cash scheme!) was to be making jewellery. So armed with plated wire, a pair of round nose pliers and semi-precious beads I set about making jewellery which went into local shops, libraries and such for sale. It stayed interesting for a while but I was significantly ‘handicapped’ by my parents’ cost awareness. If I used a bead too many or tried something a little too ornate it was too expensive to make. Eventually, my mum left and the jewellery making died and it was a good 13 years before I picked up a pair of pliers again.

Can't Paint...

Can't Draw...

Can Sew a Little...

In the interim I’ve flirted with a lot of crafts. I became reasonably good at my style of digital art & modelling, painted (badly!) and wrote a lot of poor short stories and poetry. I’ve also done a reasonable amount of sewing. For a while I had a stepdaughter for whom I enjoyed making pretty-girly dresses (I had two sons then – I’ve since had two more so there’s a lack of girlyness in our home!). I’ve also done a reasonable amount of costume making for amateur dramatics (I always particularly enjoyed panto and have performed in a number of shows – always with my hands firmly dug into the costume and makeup design as well). I also spent three years designing and selling ballgowns before selling off the business due to a lack of space.

Finding my Mediums
Digital Art

Ballgown Design

Wire Jewellery

So through a very roundabout route, I ended up selling jewellery, beads and jewellery findings for a living. It started when I thought it might be nice to try making jewellery again and I discovered I enjoyed it. I do seem to have ‘caught’ the cost awareness aspect from the parents however instead of limiting myself, I made a business from selling the components needed to make jewellery and have established a lot of wholesale and manufacturing contacts around the world. So I use whatever I feel like using for a piece – I just buy at very low prices in bulk! Its not unusual for me to buy 1000+ identical beads because they gave me an idea for a necklace. I just sell off the excess – which fortunately I’m quite good at - my ebay shop pays the mortgage and the bills so its reasonably important!

Colour is my main motivator. I find inspiration in all manner of things – from art to nature to people but what I see will always be related to the colours I can use in a piece. I’ve zero interest in the very intricate and beautiful art of chain maille – I can appreciate it as an art form but it doesn’t hold the allure of working with colour for me. I frequently look at other artists’ jewellery and sites – not to copy, I’ve never replicated anything in my life – but because their beauty stimulates my creativity – sometimes I look at the same styles as I make, sometimes I’ll browse through sites showcasing the wonderful art of glass beadmaking or polymer clay, or silver & goldsmithing none of which I’ve ever tried and all of which I’d love to be able to do and I do of coursed have my own favourite artists whose work I will never tire of looking at. Alas, I’ve had to put measures into place to severely restrict myself – I’m quite bad for getting worked up about something new, spending way too much money on it and finding myself without the time to work at it.

Jewellery is exciting. There are so many methods and techniques that I’ll never get through them all, and if I start to even consider it my mind takes off on wild flights through my imagination so I do try and keep myself grounded to one or two things at a time simply because I’d never get anything done otherwise!

And the point of this... *shrugs* do blogs need a point? Its a visual and literal diary & scrapbook of my play-time :p