Tag : weather

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… Summer Crafts for Kids (and Adults!)

Well, it finally looks like we might actually get a proper summer this year…we even had the hottest July day on record last week! And, with the school holidays just around the corner – I have scoured the internet for some great crafts to get stuck into – that take advantage of the glorious weather and the great outdoors. Here are my Top 5…Summer Crafts for Kids (and Adults!)

1. Giant Paper Pinwheels

A simple, but very effective crafty activity – making some paper pinwheels! Mix and match endless colour combinations, to then have hours of fun watching them twirling in the summer breeze. The template is included and as the link suggests:

“– Invite your kids to paint, stamp, draw on the craft paper to add a gorgeous individual art patterns to each pinwheel. – Layer rows of washi tape or duct tape on the craft paper to add your contrast side.”

 

2. Suncatchers

Now THIS is effective! Making your own ‘suncatcher’ out of melted beads! Imagine how beautiful these would look hanging in the garden to catch the light! Or, make lots of small ones and turn into a mobile to hang up in a window. You could even go one step further with stringing the beads on to thread, before arranging and melting to spell out words or shapes!

 

3. Secret messages!

Not entirely a ‘craft’ but certainly some good fun in the sun! How about writing your own secret messages in ‘invisible ink’ (lemon juice!) Just hold up to the sunlight when you are ready to ‘reveal’ your message or artwork. 🙂

 

4. Let’s go fly a kite!

This does take some time and patience – but look how fabulous these homemade kites look! Lots of fun making it, and then all you need is a lovely windy day to then also have lots of fun flying it! A real whole family project to get involved in.

 

5. Go Hawaiian!

Make yourself a homemade Luau! That’s a flower garland before you ask… 😉 All you need, is some crepe paper and thread! Et voila, one lovely garland. Just add a trip to the beach or a paddling pool, some c/mocktails and you could close your eyes and pretend you are actually in Hawaii!

 

Happy crafting!

 

Categories: Crafty Kids, General Craft, Top 5

The Crafty Lass does… The Brackley Community Carnival and The Bake Off!

Well…it rained. And it rained. And it rained. And, Oh! Cleared up a bit!… And then rained. To say it was ‘damp’, would put it mildly.IMAG1970

However, what a wonderful day! The event, although slightly marred by the weather, was brilliant. It was very quintessentially British!

We were very lucky in the ‘Craft and Bake Off’ marquee… it was inside, warm and dry for a start! But, we had the luck to see ‘Titan the Robot’ up close and personal with not one, but two performances – the ‘Pre Hee Men’ paid us an uplifting ‘bake off – cake demanding’ visit, and, we all ‘bonded’ over our love for our crafts and how rubbish an English June could be!

IMAG1958My day started off well, I actually entered the Brackley Bake Off… And WON! Yay, go me… I even had a little prize giving and certificate presentation from The Mayor in the ‘main arena’ later in the day! Marianne’s Cakes and Waitrose and had kindly sponsored the Bake Off and my prize was a lovely selection of baking goodies, and equipment to fuel future bakes! 🙂

I know it is very British to keep talking about the weather, but, in the rain that we had on a SatuIMAG1940rday, in the middle of June – the grit, determination, and smiles that were still ever present from the organisers, the volunteers, the wonderful people all in the soggy but brilliant carnival procession, were just fantastic. One particular volunteer was physically shaking from the wet and cold, but was still happily chatting to me about the map he was trying to show me of the event, what other things that there were to see and do on in the other fields… it just summed it up for me. Just a pure happiness to be IMAG1939there! He, as did everyone – deserved a warm cup of hot chocolate (or perhaps something stronger!) last night! I personally indulged in a well deserved snooze under a warm blanket, and later a celebratory glass of vino with my upbeat and happy to get involved ‘assistant’ and well-loved friend ‘dearest’ Jenny!

There were so many people involved, I would love to mention everyone here – but, I would just like to say it never fails to amaze me just how brilliant Brackley is at these kind of events. I have only lived here for 3 years, but it has very quickly become home and mainly due to such a great and wonderful community spirit! So, a BIG thank you.

PS Despite thIMAG1952e aforementioned (many a time!) weather, I did sell (quite a few actually!) greeting cards, and chatted to many people who were interested in my ‘craft, and creative workshops’! I know I keep saying it – but the cards are coming online SOON… It just takes longer than I thought to get organised… !

PPS I can’t wait for next year’s Brackley Community Carnival AND Bake off (I surely HAVE to enter to challenge as reigning champion…!?) and this time – I plan on packing my sunglasses and sunscreen… (fingers crossed!) 🙂

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

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