Tuesday 4 October 2022

Autumn '22 Necklaces

Here we are in Autumn once again - and it's my 1 year anniversary of moving out of my home studio and into my shared work space! My desk is messier fuller than ever(!) and whilst I do occasionally feel like a bit of a sore thumb, I can usually manage to simply plug my headphones out, tune out everyone else and get in the zone. There's so much that has happened recently that I'd like to document here - primarily a return to craft fairs which has rejuvenated both my confidence and my desire to create - a house move at the beginning of the year - falling in love with dance even though I am filled with far more enthusiasm than ability or natural talent! And a return to silver-smithing (I can't quite believe I used to have a bench in my flat, I feel like a total beginner!) with an amazing teacher Jacqueline Bell. But today has been a long one, and so I am going to content myself with a post full of pictures rather than words. 

Recently, I have found myself creating necklaces - new bracelets and earrings are still very much in the works, but necklaces are appearing at a rate I don't think they ever have before, in over a decade of being in business. I've always found them a little bit more challenging - perhaps because I rarely wear them myself? - but I've been creating necklace after necklace and I am loving the process. Here are my September and October (so far!) necklaces. Which one is your favourite? 

Twilight (sold)

Boo! (sold)



Thursday 7 October 2021

Autumn 2021

Maybe its Autumn's inescapable 'back to school' vibes, but I almost always get a renewed burst of creative energy at this time of year. Did it happen in 2020 when time became distinctly shaky?! In all honesty I can't quite remember, but it definitely has this year. There are a number of additional reasons behind this - and the main one is that I have moved into an out-of-the-house workspace with Songbead! We are planning on moving house next year, and the new flat will not quite have enough room for a home studio, and so my wife and I took the decision that it was time for Songbead to spread her wings and leave the nest. Initially, I'd hoped for a self-contained studio but the venues local to me were full, and so I've taken a desk in a co-working space - not quite what everyone else based there does, but I'm not the only creative there. We have a writer, an interior designer and web designer amongst others - but still, I definitely feel I have the most densely packed desk, even after a week! 

So far, so good, but the rent is a month by month rolling contract so if for whatever reason it doesn't work out in the way I want it to, there's nothing lost. It feels full of potential and low risk and I'm enjoying having to GO to work, rather than merely step into another room in our flat.

There are other 'new' things happening which I won't list here, but suffice to say, Autumn 2021 feels back to school-ish plus plus plus! And so with this renewed sense of purpose, I have turned to my beads and created a few new pieces, with my head and heart full of the colours of Autumn. I am a little out of practice listing items on Etsy, but I am slowly getting them into my shop. I'll share the few I have managed to get up and listed today, and the stories behind them. (Aren't stories the best? Don't stories just make everything a bit better, and a little steadier, and make a little more sense? It's strange how often fiction can ground us more than reality.)

One of my favourite things about the changing seasons is how the light changes throughout the year. I admit, I struggle with the short, darker days of the colder months - but when the sun shines, it is at its most beautiful. The long, low light of Autumn is bewitching - a sunny walk home from school, a blustery yet bright walk along the coast of even a cosy coffee in town, looking out over the granite-toned buildings of the old town of Edinburgh. The light infuses everything with a little magic and its little wonder that special hour before sunset is called the 'golden hour' by photographers - nature's own filter. The handmade glass boro lampwork beads always put me in mind of this time of day - the deep, swirling colours within seem to hold so much. I have paired them here with some of my own handwoven glass rounds in a peachy lilac golden frosted tone, and a striking statement clasp, handmade and cast in bronze. The double strand of gold rondelles are faceted Czech glass, and the other metal elements are made from my favourite nickel-free brass with a hand-finished deep patina. This is a OOAK special piece, perfect if you want to carry a bit of golden hour magic around with you. 

A beautiful, burnished copper is a thing to behold! I adore these stamped solid copper oak leaves, complete with a rich, burnished hand-finished patina. They lend themselves to so many different colour combinations but here, I gone with the classic autumn leaf tones of glowing umber orange and a rich and vibrant aquamarine, in lovely Czech faceted glass rondelles. Long, light earrings that will sway and move like their real-life counterparts. The earrings hang from my own hand-formed oxidised sterling silver earwires, perfect for sensitive ears. 

I always love making some jewellery inspired by the changing seasons;  I believe you can and should wear whatever colours and items make you happy all year long (I certainly do!) but as an artist, I can't help but be inspired each year by the changing of colours and light surrounding me. I also find it helps me to deal with the bit of me that struggles with the rain and the cold that sets in for a good while when the Autumn arrives here in Scotland. Here is one of my new Autumnal offerings. Inspired by the vibrant colours of my local park - one of my favourite places in the whole world - Starbank Park in Newhaven, Edinburgh. My children and I talk about the changing colours of the leaves and my daughter insists on collecting a bag-full each time we visit - I love to seek out the extra-vibrant ones and the orange beads here amplify their vibrancy even more! They are vintage glass beads which I have had for a number of years now, and they seemed the perfect pairing for the tiny white cottage, complete with a sweet green roof. This also echoes the park-keepers cottage within Starbank itself (which must surely be my dream home!). To pick up on the green roof, I added a handmade ceramic bead in a verdant green just above the cottage, and a few of my favourite stick pearls for good measure. The bracelet closes with a nickel-free lobster clasp and is adjustable due to the short extender chain. 

So there you go. Just a few new pieces in the shop today - but more will follow, hopefully tomorrow. And there are lots of older pieces, sitting in the shop, ready for their new homes. Will one of them speak to you? 

Tuesday 11 August 2020

The West End Fair goes virtual

Yep, it's been a while (what's new?!) but I am, as ever, determined to get back into this space and share more here. Now seems as good a time as any, as I can tell you all about this year's West End Fair which, like so many other things, has been detrimentally affected by the dreaded 'Rona. New owners took on 3d2d (the company that run this fantastic event) at the end of last year and I must say, I really feel for them - what a year to start! Nonetheless, they have been absolutely stellar, turning the cancellation around and transforming our physical fair into a virtual one in a matter of weeks. I'm very grateful for all of their extremely hard work!

I've been working hard to get as much new jewellery into my West End Fair marketplace as possible and I wanted to hop in here to share in with you. Here are some of the new and exclusive pieces of jewellery you can find in my fair 'stand'. 

I hope you'll stop by the fair and take a look at all the other incredible artisans exhibiting too. Like so many, designer-makers have been heavily hit by 2020 with shops being closed and now (understandably) quiet, and all of our summer (and beyond) events cancelled. Amazon has turned a gigantic profit during this global crisis - I fully admit I have called on their services for emergency Paw Patrol stickers, window pens and such like during the past few months! But I hope you'll agree that where we can, we need to support small, support local and make sure that we are all still here, able to make and exhibit physically next year - and without customers, that simply isn't possible. Shop if you can, cheer on, like and share if you can't! 


Wednesday 16 October 2019

New larger beaded beads

Something new has landed in The Curious Bead Shop!

I've been selling my 10mm handwoven beads for sometime now, and I love playing around with the different colours of seed beads available (you may have seen my new Crunchy Leaves Autumn collection which I launched last month). Recently, I was approached by a customer with a request for larger beaded beads, which is something I do in fact already make for my own jewellery - so I have decided to make them available in the shop. I've started with a small range of 8 different colours - inspired by sea view sunsets - most of these colours are already available in the 10mm size but Frosted Mauve is a brand new tone. 

These chunky beads are made using 3mm glass seed beads rather than my usual 2mm beads, and measure approximately 16mm in diameter in comparison with my standard handwoven beads which are approximately 10mm. You can see the two sizes side by side above for comparison. I really love the rustic, colourful character they bring to a piece - there's something incredibly fun and playful about them in this size. I also think they work really well with larger ceramic and lampwork glass beads - not just aesthetically, but because the centre of them is wood, they aren't too heavy. 

Don't worry if you are not a jewellery maker - below are a few of my designs featuring these larger beaded beads, so you can get your hands on them ready to wear. And if you are a jewellery maker, hopefully these will give you some inspiration for your own pieces. I've just shared bracelets here but I think they would also look fab in a simply strung necklace and could be a real statement piece! 


Golden Glow

Tuesday 1 October 2019

FLASH SALE at The Curious Bead Shop!

Just a very quick post to say I'm having a FLASH SALE in The Curious Bead Shop today - it's the first of the month so why not? 25% off (almost) everything today - sale will run until 10.30am tomorrow morning (UK summertime). Head over to The Curious Bead Shop now!

Thursday 12 September 2019

September Song - a new mini-collection

A new mini-collection has hit the shop! I don't always work in this way - creating themed collections of pieces - but for the new month and new season, I decided to have a play in this way, and I am pretty pleased with the results! 

I began by collecting together a selection of my beloved handmade art beads - ceramics, lampwork glass, polymer, even a few metals thrown in there too. Most of these beads have been in my collection for years, and so it is a real treat to work with them - and about time too! I haven't really added to my art bead collection at all since the end of my pregnancy, but rediscovering these pieces is just as wonderful as discovering new pieces. 

Within the collection, there are definite groupings although there is of course some overlap between them all. Firstly, a soft, Summer-turning-gently-to-Autumn collection of tonal greens, bronze and topaz. Perfect for the new season, but fresh enough to be worn all year round. (I am a great lover of ALL the colours ALL year round, but I know many folk enjoy having special pieces for each season.) These are playful yet gentle, soft yet fresh and I love the simple, natural feel that they have. 

Autumn Walk


September Song


Woodland Wander

Next came the metallics. Only a few pieces here, and I am still working on a couple in this palette as it's one I adore. Warm, slightly oxidised coppers tone perfectly with deep, steely-grey silvers and warm rusts. These dive straight into the heart of Autumn and the earlier nights we are already having - the low light of a dusky evening, and the steely grey mornings we are often having here in Edinburgh. This palette will take you right through Winter and keep some warmth with you in the coldest months. 


La Vie Boheme


Lastly, a summer throwback - perhaps our traditional Autumnal Second Summer? Here's hoping - I like all the sunshine and heat that Edinburgh can throw at me, which isn't always much! Just along the sea path at the front of my house there is a slightly untamed grassy area. We only moved to our new flat in May and the walk along the sea front is one of my favourite things about living here. At one of the corners I pass daily grows a beautiful Buddleia, which has bloomed all summer in a glorious range of purples from lavender and lilac through to warmer, pinkier shades. It smells glorious and attracts a lot of beautiful butterflies and I have enjoyed passing it often over the past few months. Even on the coldest of current days, it is a shot of summer whenever I walk past it. These pieces are inspired by this tree and the summery feelings it invokes, whatever the weather.




Which piece is your favourite? Which colour palette are you drawn to most, and do you go for seasonal colour changes or embrace them all, all the year round? 

Tuesday 13 August 2019


Just stopping in very briefly to let you know that I'm having a sale in both my shops! 15% off at Songbead and a huge 20% off at The Curious Bead Shop. Childcare is expensive (spoiler alert!) and as I'm still not able to do any craft fairs at the moment, my sales options are limited - so hopefully a treat for you with some money off, and some extra support for my family. We really appreciate it! I know we just have to get through the next 18 months and then when they can start nursery with state-funded childcare, things will be a little less tight. My wee family and I thank you gratefully! 


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