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.