Saturday, 30 July 2011

Big beading day (followed by curry)!

It is not often that I feel the need to talk about food, however, this evening has been such a culinary delight, that I thought I should share with you!
After a rare Saturday spent beading with my recently acquired kilo of cabochons, and £30 of Toho beads, my lovely boyfriend and I decided to go out for dinner.  Tim had spent the afternoon in bed with a nasty cold, leaving me several hours to bead my little heart out, and newly refreshed, we decided that a curry would be good (as Tim would actually be able to taste it!).  I knew just the place to go to... it's not the closest, or most convenient area of town to get to... in fact, it's in a little shopping area in a housing estate called St Andrews Ridge.  The restaurant is called Abbey Meads Indian Restaurant and Take Away... I'm sure it's actually one of the smallest restaurants in the UK - it has about 5 tables.  
It's worth the drive though - the food is incredible!  It's one of those places where you can tell the food is cooked completely from scratch from the freshest ingredients available... they'll even cook you things that aren't on the menu if you ask.  
As soon as you walk in, you know it's going to be a special dining experience, you're guaranteed a warm welcome by the immaculately dressed and well spoken waiters... I've eaten there more than a few times in the past, so one of the waiters knows me by name.  After a couple of poppadoms, I had a chicken roshni, one of the most garlic filled curries going, and I accompanied it with a garlic naan (no chance of me being attacked by a vampire tonight!).  Tim had chicken korai, served sizzling hot, with rice and a naan.  
Not only was the food it's usual high quality, the chicken was succulent, and plentiful, in fact, I've come home with a little take-away box with some left over roshni and naan for dinner tomorrow!
I know that food is technically off topic for my blog, but it was such a great meal, I had to share it with you all!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Handmade Swindon

Yesterday was the re-launch of HandmadeSwindon, formerly The Handmade Market.  It's run by a group of local artists, designers and craftspeople, whose aim it is to promote all things handmade.  Instead of being at the postmodern, the old post office in theatre square, we took over one of the vacant shops in the Brunel Arcade, the main shopping centre in Swindon.  
Hannah did an amazing job of organising things, and when I arrived at 8am, I was one of the last ones to be there to set up.  I was given the spot by the door with the words "we wanted to put beautiful jewellery by the door to entice people in."
This was the view of our shop from the other side of the shopping centre, that's me, in the white trousers!   There were 11 of us selling our wares; three of us were selling jewellery, two artists, three textile artists, two paper-crafters, and a lady who sold sock-monkeys and was painting faces.
My little stall was by the door, next to Sarah-Jane, who was selling her art.  
I think I did pretty well, I sold 3 bangles, 3 bracelets, 2 pairs of earrings two necklaces and took one commisssion.  I've no idea how many cards I gave away either... hopefully that'll generate some income too!
I'll keep you all posted on the date and location of the next market!!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Frustrations of a Beader

Recently, I've been working on a new piece of bead work, it is comprised of various elements which need joining together.  Today I have been joining two of these elements, and one of my beads broke.  Needless to say this is frustrating, but it wasn't in the element I had just made, it was in the element that was already joined to other parts.  Normally, I wouldn't let this sort of thing get me down, but it takes about an hour to bead each element, and due to the way I've connected them, I now have to take 3 of them apart (and when you consider I've only made 4, this is not good!)
I suppose that as I have a real passion for tiny beads, this sort of thing is inevitable.  And seeing as I have recently pondered on facebook if it is possible to get beads smaller than size 15/0, I imagine that it's a problem that I'm going to suffer from in projects to come! I really should invest in some finer needles!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Westcoast Beads

Yesterday I got a package of beads in the mail... I was very excited, I'm always interested to see what sort of goodies will arrive from a new supplier that I've not bought from before.
Westcoast beads and jewellery, have this brilliant idea - they sell a selection of beads, grouped together called 'Beads of the Month'.  It's not a subscription thing, you don't have to buy them every month, but it is a collection of beads, gemstones etc that go well together.  They even come in a lovely plastic pack, with some design ideas to go with the beads.
I decided to buy the July beads of the month, and was lucky enough to get the last pack!  They're lovely shades of pinks, reds and greys, and included:
8mm Pink Aventurine rounds, Oxblood and bamboo coral rounds, 4mm firepolish crystals (pink and blue-grey) 3.5 mm Garnet glass rondelles, 20 pink Lucite flowers, and 30g each of silver lined clear and grey Toho Triangles 8/0
The triangles totally lead themselves to some herringbone beading, but tubular, spiral, or flat, I'm not sure yet.  The larger gemstones I may well just thread... I've not done any stringing for a long time, and it'll be good to have something like that in my jewellery box (yes, I do occasionally bead for me!).
But what I'd really like to say about these beads is how great the quality is!  They are totally beautiful!  You know how sometimes you order a strand of gemstones on the internet, and what arrives is really not the same quality as was photographed... well this did NOT happen on this occasion.  They are all just lovely, and the service was great too.  I was emailed to let me know there would be a delay of a couple of days with posting, and they even sent me a strand of haematite rounds for 'liking' their facebook page (although I can't promise they'll do that for everyone!).
In summary, this seems like a wonderful way to build up your stash and to experiment with beads and gemstones you wouldn't usually turn to for designs.  August's beads are amber and green colours, they look beautiful, but the tumbled chips and nuggets just aren't my style, so I won't be buying them... but I will be going back for more, probably very soon!!

A Retrospective Part 4

Several exciting things have happened in the past couple of days... I sold my first tutorial on Etsy, I finished Alot v2.0, I managed to get the promise of free beads, just because I liked a company's facebook page at the same time as placing an order.  Unfortunately, I didn't win the EuroMillions jackpot, but seeing as I didn't buy a ticket, I haven't lost anything either!

So in October 2010, I went to France with my Mum for a week to learn some wirework and chainmaille techniques at a little place called LaVidalerie, and I was asking Karen Sarll, the owner, how she went about getting her jewellery designs published in magazines.  She told me it was easy, and all I would have to do was send a prospective email to a magazine, and they would say yes or no depending on whether or not they liked my design.  I was so sure it couldn't possibly be that easy, but it turns out I was wrong! Either that or I was actually quite lucky.

Now I'm not usually one for making new years resolutions, but I did this year, and I decided that I was going to try my hardest get get one of my designs published.  After spending quite some time perfecting a technique for making beaded bezels for pretty stones, I sent a photo of a piece to a magazine called Beads & Beyond, asking if they would be interested in it as one of their articles.  To my absolute astonishment, they were interested, and they would actually pay me too!!

Well, the time has come, and the August edition of Beads & Beyond magazine has been published, and not only is my design in there, but it is mentioned on the cover!  (oh yes, I rock!!)  I've not seen the magazine yet, but the front cover is available to view here.

The design that can be found in Beads & Beyond is for my beaded bezel ring/pendant... these are pictures of the pieces I sent them for their professional photographers to play with (I'm sure their photos will be better than mine!).
The "seeing stars" part of today's missive is in relation to a tutorial I bought yesterday, by the amazing Jean Power.  She's a beader extraordinare, and we share the same love of geometric shapes in beadwork.  I bought her Geometric Stars tutorial, the design actually won awards when she first entered it into competitions.  So I had a go at making a couple of these beauties, one in silver and black, the other in red, pink and crystal. 

A Retrospective Part 3

Today I finished a piece of crochet that I should have finished 5 months ago (sorry Tim... I'm a bad sister-in-law).  It's amigurumi, and it is a fictional creature called an Alot.  It was the first real piece of amigurumi that I designed, it is based on a picture from someone else'sblog...  
To understand the whole principle behind the Alot, you're best off reading her blog... but it's a creature created to get over people's bad usage of the term "a lot" making it into one word "alot".
So, my brother-in-law asked me to make him one (well, 3 actually), but I had to design it first, as strangely, figments of peoples imaginations don't come with crochet patterns.
So, Alot number 1 got made just fine and went off to his new home.  Alot number 2 stalled... all the pieces had been made, but they sat in a bag for 5 months when I moved house.  Last night they all got put together, and today the Alot was posted on it's way to Tim for his
friends birthday.
This was the first attempt, which I love... I am so proud of him.
And this is Alot number 2.  I am still not happy with his head, I think it's too big, but I will get it right for v3.0

A Retrospective Part 2

Hi there again, today I want to talk about new poncho I'm making.  I've got quite carried away with poncho making this year, it was all inspired by pub lunch one sunny day, sitting in the beer garden of the Sun Inn, was a lady wearing a beautiful black granny-square poncho.
I found a pattern online:
and me being me, I made a few changes to it and finished it off over the weekend.  It was made from beautifully soft bamboo and cotton.    
I loved it so much... I decided to make one for my little sister for her birthday.  That one I made from a gorgeous sock weight yarn with different shades of blue running through it giving a stripy effect.  I also decided that I'd do it in triple crochet rather than double... it was a great idea as the shape was more pleasing and practical, with the point at the front not being so low.
Poncho number 3 was the same as number 2, only made with turquoise and grey acrylic yarn.  I have worn it so many times, it's great for walking to work on a cool morning.
So, I've decided to make another, using the same yarn as number 2, only a completely different pattern.  This time, it's going to be two rectangles sewn together to make the shape.  It is going to be all sorts of shades of red and orange, in a ribbed effect... I will post photos once it's done! 

A Retrospective Part 1

Hello, and welcome to my blog.  A long time ago a good friend of mine asked me if I had ever blogged, and I said no, I hadn't really thought about it.  Since then I've started Tweeting, and my creative life has become more interesting (in my opinion), so I thought I'd give it a go.

This week is gonna be a tough one, I've got a kidney infection, and my creativity seems to have been thrown out of whack too.  Last week, I did finish a new design though, my planetary meniscus bracelet.  It got a great reception on facebook, but now it's on Etsy, no-one seems interested!  Typical eh?  Anywhoo, here is a link to the bracelet if you're interested:

So, during my time off work, I decided to investigate all the channels available on FreeSat (I've always been a FreeView girl in the past) and I discovered a channel called The Jewellery Making Channel... what a load of rubbish!  Ok, so primarily it's a shopping channel, selling lots of gemstones, findings etc, which is cool, but they do 'demonstrations' the worst of which was how to make a wire spiral... the way they showed was so cack-handed, and would have left tool marks all over the wire.  It does make me wonder where they get their ideas.  Could I do better?  Possibly... but I don't want a TV career!