Tag : jewellery

The Crafty Lass does… Jewellery making!

It’s certainly been a crazy few days in our little nation.

And, amongst all this craziness – it is calming and restorative to return to think about crafting.

The calm before the politics storm – last Thursday 23rd June – I had a wonderful trip out to ‘Nude Jewellery’ in Reigate to meet the lovely Nikki in her small, but perfectly formed studio. And, actually more importantly (sorry Nikki) to meet her very little, and very cute bundle of fluff puppy, Gizmo – who also came along for the day. Heart meltingly beautiful!

The day didn’t start well. I hadn’t slept too well, but actually – as I was up early (5.30am early) I thought I would make sure to leave in PLENTY of time to get down to Reigate. Google maps estimated around 2 hours – and watching the morning news with my brekkie and morning cuppa – it was saying how bad the weather had been/still was, and to allow extra time for your journey. With my early start I was envisaging getting there serene and ready to nip into one of the lovely little boutique type cafes on the high street for a chill, and an early snack (cake basically), before on with my lovely day.  So, 3 hours should be enough – right? Wrong.

I can honestly say, it was quite possibly the most stressful drive I have ever done in my quite little-driving-experienced life. The weather was as bad as the BBC had advised – which meant traffic accidents and slow-going areas a-go-go. I was diverted off the M25 by my sat-nav to go literally around all of the houses, small villages and towns across South-West London and Surrey borders. The diversion, I can handle – you almost start to feel like you are making progress – but, I couldn’t handle it almost being just as bad traffic on this new route too involving the SatNav changing its mind approximately every 5 mins, so – on to the M25, no – actually go this way, oh no hang on – I reckon try the M25… Basically, the traffic was so bad everywhere it couldn’t make up it’s mind – it didn’t really matter which way I went! I also couldn’t handle being nearly 6 months pregnant and being stuck in traffic… eventually one Esso garage later me pleading with their staff to let me use their facilities later, semi-calm was restored – but it was touch and go for a while!

Four hours and twenty minutes, very late for the course, later – I did eventually get there. Oh, and then trying to park in a multi-storey I somehow manage to also graze one of The Husband’s car alloys. You can imagine I might have been abit tired, weary and stressed. A few (several) choice words may have been muttered.

However, who could fail to be calmed by then making something beautiful and a cute puppy dog?? All was ok in the world.

When I left my full time employment role back in October of last year, I was very kindly given a gift of going on a silver jewellery making workshop. I was all ready to schedule in going as soon as possible! However, Christmas, one studio move for Nikki, and various other life related plans later – we didn’t manage to get anything firmly into the diary until this date in June! So, although late – we quickly got going, and Nikki very nicely let me know, not to worry about time and that we would still get everything required taught, practiced and made.

We started with a piece of brass to practice with and a little saw – gently cutting out lines – starting out straight, then wavy, before progressing on to zig-zags – which is harder than you’d imagine as you have to very gently turn the saw and the metal at the same time whilst still cutting! The saw blades for the metal are ever so delicate – and no surprise for a beginner – I broke several of them. However, I soon learnt how to re-attach the new blades and the gentle techniques required to implement your ideas.

Now for the fun part – what did we want to make? I was given a small square of silver, and needed to think about designs, the size, whether a pendant, a necklace, a brooch… A few sketches and idea changes later, I settled on making some little cloud earrings, and a lightning bolt pendant! The weather was certainly apt… I liked the idea of a ‘silver lining’ cloud.

The design ready – I drew around the square of silver on to paper to give me an idea of how I would lay everything out, drew in my shapes so I had a visual point of reference, before then replicating the same on to the actual silver. Drawing on to the silver with a pencil – just provided a gentle marked shape to cut towards – which we followed up with a permanent marker for extra guidance. Now we were ready to go!

Starting with my new found gentle cutting techniques, it didn’t take long before I was well on the way to everything being ready for the next stage – filing the errors I had made!! It isn’t that simple to cut in EXACTLY straight lines, or exactly on the pen lines (unless you are Nikki of course, an experienced jewellery maker!) Luckily, I had followed Nikki’s advice, and in most cases had managed to cut outside the lines to allow a bit of wiggle room and adjust accordingly with the file. Eventually ready and semi-happy with the finish, we now needed to solder on some jump rings/earring backs.

Nikki – blowtorch and solder at the ready – did the first earring, and I followed up with the second. Gently heating up the metal/solder until a glowing orange and everything was seemingly-magically-stuck together. Next into a cooling liquid to bring back to a temperature we could actually handle, and a quick ‘wiggle check’ – e.g. – has it worked, can I move the earring back? Nope, all good. They then moved into some acid to ‘clean’.

As the lightning bolt was abit fiddly to attach the jump ring to (due to the ‘pointy’ nature of the design) Nikki kindly and expertly took over attaching that for me. I used the opportunity to nip out for a quick break and finally into one of the lovely high street cafes for some lunch. No cake surprisingly, but a lovely bagel with avocado, mozzarella and sun blush tomatoes – delicious! Anyway, it was a quick pit stop before back to the studio as time was cracking on…

The cloud earrings were out of the acid, and now ready for polishing. A few filing adjustments to still be made, and a quick use of the ‘buffing stick’ (basically a wooden triangular shaped stick with the equivalent of fine sand paper on) – it was ready. However, I decided that the ‘brushed’ look enhanced the cloud design – and maybe it didn’t need to be polished to a shiny silver? Whilst Nikki still worked on the lightning bolt – I continued to buff in little circle shapes on to the clouds, and the more I did this, the more and more I loved and actually became very proud of them! Nikki then provided the earring ‘butterfly’ backs, and a lovely little box to keep them in. Dare I say it, all packaged up – they perhaps even looked professional?? Well, maybe not if you study them too closely… they’re not perfect – but I would actually wear them and be excited to say ‘I made these’. I suppose the whole point of the course had succeeded 🙂

Time had inevitably ticked away, and with more to be done to the pendant (it was now sat in the acid, cleaning) we decided that Nikki would kindly finish this for me and post on to me when cleaned, buffed, and polished up. The bolt will look great with a shiny finish! A lovely contrast to the matt finished clouds.

A quick goodbye to Nikki and Gizmo – and back to the car-park to the scuffed-alloys car, and a hope for being home within a shorter time than on the way here. I’d reached a lovely point in the day where despite the horrid journey, I had actually learnt something, achieved something and left with something beautiful (to me)…

The journey back did not go to plan.

The weather had improved, but the roads – had not. Two huge diversions, eventually stopping off via a friends house for a rest stop, a well-needed cuppa (and finally!) some gratefully received and well-earned cake, a chat and a Google searching-BBC traffic checking plan of action for the rest of my journey.

Just under FOUR hours later, and stopping to make the EU Referendum vote – I was home.

The Husband, despite the aforementioned car issue, had even kindly planned dinner (a delightful idea of and delicious Indian takeaway!) and again after another stressful journey, calm was temporarily and briefly restored.

Thank you Nikki for a great experience, and one I will cherish. Thank you to everyone who contributed to buy me the gift as a leaving present – it was a well thought out and brilliant choice!

Categories: General Craft, Places to Go & Things to See, The Crafty Lass does...

Top 5… Nautical Crafts!

Yesterday was the first day I had the pleasure of being a mobile Crafty Lass – meaning, I was not working in my little office in Brackley, Northamptonshire – but a rare visit to the beautiful Isle of Wight. I sat working at a lovely big oak table, with the bright sunshine pouring in through the window and the sounds of seagulls in the not too far distance. I had only been here about an hour – and already had a very English start to my visit with some lovely tea and some sticky ginger cake; in the evening a BBQ, and the promise of a ‘trip out’ somewhere later today. Delightful doesn’t even come close!

The ferry crossing over was lovely, the sun warm and a lovely gentle breeze. For those of you who haven’t been to the Isle of Wight from Lymington to Yarmouth, and for those that have been will know – it’s so peaceful, you can feel all your troubles and worries disappear from the moment the captain of the ship ‘welcomes you aboard’.

So, inspired by my little trip to this island, here are my Top 5…Nautical Crafts!

1. Make a Paper Boat!
An oldie, but a goodie – but, this from ‘Big Dot of Happiness is a lovely tutorial – and with plenty more fun ideas for the same paper craft – from kiddies party hats, to little boats on straws, it is a great one for plenty of nautical themed ideas! 🙂

2. Make ‘Sand Bowls’
Just how beautiful are these? Tel aviv student Leetal Rivlin has created these sand and glue masterpieces – why not give them a go yourself? There is a tutorial as to how to do – here at Serendipitous Discovery. They’d make lovely little jewellery dishes, or filled with some shells as a decorative feature!

3. Rope vases!
What a lovely idea! You start out with a plain glass vase – and basically weave the rope around them – glue, and voila! You can even go one step further by adding some dye to make a colour wash effect. The full tutorial is over here at Style Me Pretty. You could even do this around empty glass jars, or tins to keep the cost down. Lovely!

4. Knot Jewellery!
Another rope craft here – but just how cool do these bracelets look? This tutorial from Etsy takes you through ‘how to’ step by step – looking forward to making this as an accessory!

5. Clay Pot Lighthouse
This is a lovely tutorial how to make a little Clay Pot Lighthouse. This would look lovely in the garden with a little tea light inside. All you need to make this is some clay/terracotta flower pots, glue, paint and some time and patience! 🙂

Categories: General Craft, Top 5

The Crafty Lass does… Glass Bead Making (Lampworking!)

Now this, is a well overdue blog post… a couple of months ago – towards the end of May, I had the wonderful experience of going ‘Lampworking’ – that’s glass bead making in case you were wondering!

This was actually a gift from myself to one of my oldest and jewellery loving friends, Hayley. However, the workshop was for two people, so I was luckily allowed to be involved too!

I went along with no preconceptions of what the day would be like – but did wonder …would it be glass ‘blowing’ to create the beads? Would there be a choice of colours? Would we enjoy it?

BeadsI tell you now…what an excellent day learning a new skill. The workshop was held by Helen White of Tiara Tiara in her lovely and light, and airy kitchen. We spent approximately 3 hours there, selecting the coloured glass (that did take a while…so much choice!) seeing example creations, and learning that you don’t blow the glass as expected! You get the glass just molten, then you almost ‘draw’ with it, whilst twisting the ‘mandrel’ (the bead stick Beadsthat allows a hole inside to thread on to whatever you like!) Eventually we created little perfect (well, we tried!) spheres of coloured beauty. Helen was thorough, patient, inspiring and helpful – showing us each step, and talking us through whilst we created our own. We ended up making 5 beads each, and after the workshop they needed to stay with Helen in a very hot oven to then be gradually, slowly cooled overnight. If they cooled too quickly, the glass would crack, ruining the bead. However, it wasn’t long to wait and Helen posted them out to us first class the following week. She had polished them all up and had also made some additional ‘spacer’ beads to allow us to have a complete bracelet!

I would highly recommend this workshop to anyone who has a love for jewellery, or just wants to try something that little bit different! It was such a therapeutic and exciting morning! Hayley and I have a wonderful and very personal bracelet to wear and have as a keepsake forever – now that is special. 🙂

Contact details for Helen and Tiara Tiara can all be found through her blog HERE or the CraftCourses website.

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Categories: General Craft, Places to Go & Things to See, The Crafty Lass does...

Milton Keynes Handmade and Vintage Fair

Well, what a treat I was in for yesterday.

I nipped into Milton Keynes to pick up a few birthday surprises from good old reliable John Lewis. I expected to be parked, into the shops, and out again within 30 minutes. Little did I know that the Milton Keynes Handmade and Vintage fair was all set-up ready to go IN FRONT of John Lewis. I couldn’t miss it! I wasn’t expecting it, and neither was my bank balance…

There were a true array of stalls – from old vintage fabrics, to sumptuous and ever-so-tempting cupcakes, handmade ceramics, plates made of out of old records, handmade bags, skirts, the list goes on…wpid-wp-1425238380411.jpeg

There were lots of stalls that I spent a considerable amount of time perusing (I had to top up the car parking meter, twice) however, there were two stalls that really had my attention. The first was Grace Face Boutique – a wonderful mix of inspirational quotes, ditsy fabrics, fab and fun vintage inspired clothing and cute-as-a-button homemade jewellery. To top that off – they were a fun, friendly mum and daughter combo who I discovered (happily for me!) live locally to me in Northampton – and I hope to visit their studio soon!

Silver Cake Fork RingThe second, was the most amazing jewellery stand – Stapleford Silver. She put up with me for an hour (yes, a whole HOUR) trying on thumb rings. These aren’t just any old silver rings – they are upcycled. The particular one I bought in the end, was an upcycled cake fork. Just how perfect is that. I can now happily go around with a cake fork as a ring – which to me symbolises pretty much everything I stand for. It’s beautiful, it’s vintage, it’s baking related, it’s classic and stylish, and do you know what? It’s now mine.

 

PS Very happy that by absolute chance I had a manicure yesterday at Beau Ideal. What are the chances of then finally starting a blog, and wanting to write about your latest jewellery purchase – that just so happens to include a photo of your well manicured nails. Winning at life right there. (It’s the simple things!)

 

Categories: General Craft, Places to Go & Things to See

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