Sunday 30 December 2012

Jewellery round-up

 As I have made a few pieces of jewellery in the run up to Christmas, I thought I'd create some montages for your perusal.  From the top: a polymer clay and macrame bracelet, made for someone called Robert (you probably realised that!), to replace one his girlfriend had bought him from Turkey and which he'd subsequently lost.  Chris made the polymer clay beads (very cleverly) and I added the macrame.  Next is a bracelet that I made for my best friend in Canada, using Botswana Agate and labradorite.  Under that is one I made for her daughter, our god-daughter, using pink banded agate and black rutile quartz.  The brightly coloured one was for a colleague at work's son, who just wanted bright colours but no beads.
The next photo montage shows a Tiger's Eye bracelet made for a friend who is visiting from London, and then the two finished polymer clay pendants, one with a glitter bead, made for Mum.  The final photo shows a red wood bead bracelet set to a friend who lives in South Africa.
I also made a little something for me, using polymer clay and glitter. I was SO excited to find that there was a special glitter that could be used with the clay and couldn't wait to receive it and start playing.  The beads were made out of scrap clay and then rolled in the glitter, baked and then varnished (so that the glitter will stay where I want it to).  I made the earrings to match and wore them on Christmas Day (and I love them!).  I predict that glitter will feature quite a lot in the jewellery I make in 2013.  Here's to another creative year ahead.

Monday 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas

 It's nearly upon us.  I have been wrapping presents while listening to Christmassy music and have also baked some biscuits and am now waiting for a cake to cook.
 The pictures are of some quirky decorations we have had for a few years (I particularly like the angel's mad sticking out hair - like mine, first thing in the morning!).
The star I made for the top of the Christmas tree about eighteen years ago.  The material was really tricky to sew, I remember, but it has lasted well.  I got Mum's necklaces finished which I hope she'll like, and I also made some glittery earrings and a bracelet for me to wear tomorrow.
Chris has just gone out to the supermarket (is he mad?!) as he was getting a bit stir crazy here, and I'll need to be standing by with copious amounts of tea on his return, no doubt. 
My Christmas wish is that it stops raining, to give those people affected by the awful flooding some respite from the misery - not too much to ask for, especially at Christmas, I feel.
I would also like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and happy New Year.  Here's to better weather in 2013.

Saturday 22 December 2012

Christmas making and baking

 Like many other crafting people around the country, I have been busy making and baking for Christmas.  Above are some polymer clay pendants ready to be made into necklaces for my mum for Christmas, in her choice of colours - turquoise and orange.
 Star biscuits made for a vegan friend who called round yesterday for a chat.
And lo and behold!  My Christmas bunting is up on the mirror, looking very lovely and festive.  (The eagle eyed amongst you will notice that yes, there are two of the same material next to each other, which couldn't be helped, because even though the two bunting strips are double sided, this still happens whichever way you turn either of them.  And I thought I had managed to avoid this issue...Ho hum!)  I still love the cheerful effect of the bunting though. I have now got Mum's necklaces to finish and more baking to do before the big day, but there is still time.

Monday 17 December 2012

Christmas Crib Construction

 As it is fast approaching Christmas, I though I would put some Christmassy photos on my blog.  These are photos of the Nativity scene in the Chapel of the University where Chris and I both work.  Chris works on the maintenance team and is used to being asked to fix a radiator, put up shelves, mend doors, rod out drains (UGH!), paint windows and all the mundane things that maintaining old buildings usually require.  However, now and again, he is asked to do something more creative and he relishes these opportunities.  The Chaplain asked if he could make a simple crib to go in the Chapel and you can see what he came up with.
 It is a simple, contemporary but very effective design and highlights the figures rather than overshadowing them.  (I made a polymer clay star which Chris covered in glitter).  The figures have quite a contemporary look to them so the whole thing is very pleasing.
He has had a lot of compliments, not least from the Chaplain, who was thrilled!  Who's a clever chap, then?

Friday 14 December 2012


 I treated myself to two strands of these very pretty haematite stars recently as I thought they would be perfect for Christmas. 
So far, I've only used eight of them to make myself two pairs of starry earrings and I love them!  They sparkle when they catch the light and are very pretty.  I wonder how many other star based designs I can come up with?

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Lovely things

 I was very lucky yesterday as two lovely things arrived in the post.  First was a blog giveaway that I entered and was really lucky to win!  I think the book is a little beyond my current knitting skills (as the only thing I can knit is a scarf) but it may well inspire me to greater things. My sisters and my mum are very good knitters, so the book may well be passed round so that we can all benefit. Many thanks to the lovely Joy at Welcome to Daisy Row for this prize.
The second lovely thing to arrive was this gorgeous little felt sculpture of Scruffy, from Robyn in America who was my Peacefelt receiver (you sign up and are given the name of someone who will send a piece of felt work to you and the name of someone who you send a piece of felt work to.)  Robyn received my felt landscape and sent me this to say thank you (which isn't part of the PeaceFelt process, but was extremely kind of her).  She said she used my blog photos of Scruffy and here he is!
 The real Scruffy would never stay still with a bird on his head!  The figure has lovely eyes and white whiskers and a little metal collar tag.  There is also some of Robyn's dog's fur incorporated too.
So, what did the real Scruffy make of his namesake?  He sniffed at it very intently and a second after this photo was taken, he tried to bite it.  I hurriedly rescued it from his clutches.  So, thank you very much, Robyn, from big Scruffy, little Scruffy and me!

Sunday 9 December 2012

Winter sunset

 Living in a city, surrounded by houses and at the bottom of a hill, we don't usually manage to see much of a sunset.  We occasionally see the pink clouds or some orange spreading across the sky.  However, Mum and Dad's house faces west with the most beautiful uninterrupted views across the countryside.  We were there yesterday, and the sunset was wonderful.
 The colours in the sky were beautiful... were the colours in the clouds.
Even after the sun had set, the most lovely striations of oranges, pinks, reds and golds could still be seen.  I'm so pleased I remembered to take my camera with me as these may become felt pictures in the future.  I think the colours would translate really well into felt, especially the last one.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

New reading

Chris and I decided to treat ourselves to some new reading material recently (not that we need any really, but we just can't help ourselves). When we have done our shopping, we usually end up at the magazine aisle and this leads to much reading and normally, much purchasing too.  In the past, we have gone for various gardening magazines (although I now subscribe to the three I want, but I may need to amend that next year, I'm not sure yet), and a plethora of home style/aspirational living magazines, including Country Living, Period Homes, Homes and Antiques, and many others that I can't remember.  Needless to say, it had all got a bit out of hand.  So, after a bit of research and leafing through and trawling on the internet, we have finally settled on one which I think will meet all our needs.  Pretty Nostalgic seems to have lots of quirky British things and we both love the way it looks and the layout of the pages.  It is bi-monthly so hopefully we will cut down on the accumulated magazine mountain that is threatening to escape from the corner into the sitting room.
The books in the photo are the Pretty Nostalgic book (we looked through it and kept saying "We've got one of those"  and again it is beautifully put together. It was also half price at WH Smith - how could I resist?) 
Homespun Style is from the same kind of background - using what you have and making the most of what you've already got. 
Yes, it is still aspirational living, and as we are inveterate hoarders, I don't think our house will be as beautiful as some featured in the magazines or books, but we have definitely got a quirky and eclectic mix of things and books like these might help us to see them in new light.
This post isn't for advertising purposes, and I am sure that lots of you would look at these and decide they weren't for you, but that is the joy of all the books and magazines out there - there is something for everyone!

Saturday 1 December 2012

Latest projects

 Here's what I have been up to lately, when I have had the time.  Above is a fluorite and amethyst bracelet that I made for a colleague's birthday.  She loves purple, so hopefully she'll love this too.
Here is the Christmas Bunting, which Joy's fabric, included in the Christmas Cracker swap, had inspired me to make.  It has turned out a bit long to appear all in one photo, but I like it so much, I am in the process of making some more so that we can have a double bunting effect. 
I am really pleased with how this has turned out.  I made it up while getting into a suitably Christmassy spirit, watching 'White Christmas' with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye.  You can see how well Joy's fabric fits in with the green and red theme.  Thanks, Joy!  It will hang across a mirror eventually and I think it will look great.
On another note, I have also had inspiration about incorporating the little floral buttons (also received in the Christmas Cracker swap) into some jewellery.  It is on my 'to do' list, so watch this space...

Tuesday 27 November 2012

The oddness of English seasons

I took advantage of Sunday afternoon, when it wasn't actually raining, to have a brief tidy in the garden (not that you would realise I had tidied anything!)  There was a clematis (I think it is Etoile Violette) in flower and with buds coming too.  I had cut this one back hard at the end of the summer because it had gone brown and horrible, and I was hoping it hadn't got some nasty disease.  This must have either sent it into shock, producing more growth and  flowers, or made it think it was next year and time to flower again.  Yes, it was lovely to see, but the sad thing is that it will more than likely get another shock from the frosts.
 A hardy geranium still flowering, despite the rain.
Rose Molineux also with lots of buds.  This isn't all that unusual, as roses often do flower into winter.  It is still a wonderful thing to see and lifts the spirits.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Christmas Cracker Swap

I have just taken part in Tracy's (from Mad about Bags) Christmas Cracker swap and I was partnered up with the lovely Joy from Welcome to Daisy Row .  We exchanged a few emails and looked at each others' blogs to get a few clues and then got going on making/buying things to go into the cracker.  I thought it was a lovely idea because we all had to use the inside of a kitchen roll, fit as many things inside as would go and wrap the cracker in some Christmassy material and tie the ends with ribbon.  So, not only would we get all the goodies inside, we would also have ribbon and material to add to our craft stashes.  Above is Joy's cracker which arrived yesterday morning.  Mine to her arrived on Saturday.
Here are all the goodies.
 A bag full of lovely flower shaped buttons that I am going to use in a jewellery project (but don't know what yet), a knitted rose and pink gingham ribbon.
Shiny sparkly ribbon, lace, a red knitted rose, chocolate lollipops, a tape measure, and two reels of cotton.
 The organza ribbon (which was on the ends), some multi-coloured paperclips, a pen and post-it notes and a bookmark, together with a lovely flower card. Oh, and not forgetting the lovely fabric, which is going to become part of some Christmas bunting that I shall be attempting to make over the next month.  All perfect things for a bibliophile, stationery hoarding, crafter like me.  Thank you so much, Joy!
 Here's my cracker for Joy.
Cosmos seeds, a felt heart, earrings, a key ring, ribbons, chocolate, stitch holders and stitch/row counter, red heart decoration.
It was a lovely swap to be involved with and was great fun to decide what was small enough (or pliable enough) to fit inside.  To quote Brucie (yet again - I really need to find some new quotes), "Didn't they do well?"

Saturday 17 November 2012

In the Garden

 I have finally been able to get into the garden and finish planting my tulips this afternoon.  They are all in pots, except Little Beauty, which I have popped into a border.  All the tulip photos below are from Peter Nyssen's website, which is where my tulips came from this year (the first time they have been sent in proper paper bags!)
 Above is Carnival de Nice.
 Here is Black Parrot (and the bulbs in the first photo are this variety).
 This is Little Beauty, which was sent to me in my Cosy Autumn Swap.
 Triumph Double mixed.
 Ballerina, which is supposed to have a lovely fragrance.
 Finally, Blue Parrot, another gift from the Autumn swap.  I think the garden will be a riot of colour next Spring and I am really looking forward to seeing it in all its glory.

In the garden now, just a few colours remain.  Above is the blueberry bush about three weeks ago - with fiery red and orange leaf colours.
 Here it is this afternoon, with just a few leaves remaining and if you touch the stem, the leaves gently fall off.
I still have some roses flowering, despite the rain and cold.  This one is New Dawn and looks beautiful with the raindrops still glistening. 
I have also started the annual wrapping of pots with bubble wrap, because it won't be long before the frosts start in earnest.  Every year I say 'I'm going to get rid of some pots', but somehow, during the Spring and Summer, I seem to end up with several more.  The bubble wrap may not look very elegant but it does give the plants some insulation and protection.  I still have about fifteen  more to do, so I had better get on with it!

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Latest Jewellery

Here is the latest jewellery I have been making, for my work colleague, Leanne's birthday, last week.  She likes dramatic jewellery, so this gave me a challenge for my polymer clay.  I made a large pendant on wire, and two bracelets.

Above is a close up of the pendant, made using polymer clay in black, white, red glitter and silver.  As you can see, I had fun using the extruder tool again!

 I then made some polymer clay beads using the same colours and made them into a macrame bracelet.
 I told Leanne that this was a complete original because no-one in the world would have one exactly the same.  I wouldn't even be able to make one exactly the same.  I love that about polymer clay.
The final macrame bracelet is made using black rutilated quartz (also called rutile quartz and apparently the black flecks in the quartz are tourmaline).  Leanne immediately put this one on and wore it for the rest of the day.  I think they were successful gifts.