Saturday 28 July 2012

The Folksy Fair

Nice to see you here after a fairly long hiatus on my part! Despite the fact that the singing teacher part of my life is now on school holidays, the jewellery designer and singer parts of me are definitely not and life stays busy, just without the added inconvenience of having to go over to Stockport 3 days a week! Ok, that is pretty cool, but it's been a busy week nonetheless. Not least because the very first weekend of the holidays contained this.....

'Folksy? What's Folksy?' I hear some voices saying....well, it's a British online marketplace for handmade goods, showcasing the work of British makers and designers. It is open to buyers from all over the world, but currently only British sellers. I do like this about Folksy - Britain is really a small island and it's good to have something homegrown like this, alongside it's transatlantic friends. (You can find my Folksy shop here.) Folksy decided to organise a fair to co-ordinate with the folk stage of Sheffield's free music festival, Tramlines.

Back to the fair itself....I am quite an old eeyore at times, and although I was thrilled when I found out 2 weeks before the event that I'd been accepted into the Folksy Fair, during the week before I was plagued with doubts; new issues sprang up seemingly every day in relation to the event and I threatened to pull out more than once. You know, the knee jerk reaction of 'Fine! I can't do it...I'll just pull out then...!'. Oh, you don't? Just me being an over-emotional pessimist then...

In defence of my brattish-ness, I was in the middle of a horribly busy and stressful 3 week period, including a school trip by coach, to Italy in the middle week. A wonderful week in many ways, but full-on as I am sure you can imagine. We arrived back to school late afternoon on Friday the 13th, having spent 75 hours on a coach during the previous 7 days, to a Saturday consisting of a morning of beading teaching, and an afternoon of 10 individual singing exams - my pupils, mainly aged 8-11, and I was accompanying them all....Sunday 15th was a craft fair, Monday into school for teaching, Tuesday private pupils at home, Wednesday was my secondary school exams - only 5 this time, but still...and follow this with a primary school concert, Thursday secondary school concert, Friday back to beading teaching with a full day beginners' workshop....and then Saturday and Sunday was the Folksy Fair! If you consider that the week prior to Italy was very similar in its packed nature to this one, then perhaps you can understand now that my nerves were a little tattered....and that week also left little time to make any kind of preparation for the fair itself!

Somehow I missed in the application process the fact that each seller needed to have their own shelter. I spotted this the weekend I returned from Italy and had a little panic. I am NOT a happy camper, and we do not have any kind of tent. Nor had I put one up since going to guide camp in approx., oh, maybe 1994?! Apparently, camping equipment has moved on since the 40s tents we used back then, but I still had to get one (threat to pull out no.1)- and not just a tent, but a whole bloody gazebo! Miraculously, our lovely friend Jane came to the rescue as she did indeed own a gazebo, which she duly lent me. And it couldn't be too hard to put it up between Helen and myself? Threat to pull out no.2 came when Helen (who had swapped her weekend shift (she's a doctor) so that we could tackle the fair together)found out that she was going to have to go into work on the Saturday anyway as part of an extra theatre list. I was going to have to not only (wo)man the fair by myself on the Saturday - not too bad, I've done plenty of craft fairs by now, it being a new venue only ups the ante a little - but more scarily, pitch the gazebo myself. And threat no.3 when we realised that because Helen was on-call on the Friday, we weren't going to be able to leave Manchester until 11pm on the Friday night, to drive through to Sheffield. I don't drive, and with the gazebo poles and extra panels we had purchased, along with all my jewellery and props, the train wasn't a viable option.

However, despite all my stresses and threats, we made it through to Sheffield, arriving at 12.30am, crawling into our friend Sarah's house (away on holiday but still opened her house to us - a true friend). We got up at 6am so that Helen could get back to her hospital in time for work, and I taxi-ed it over to Endcliffe Park, where the fair was taking place. 

Here I am, just arrived at Endcliffe Park at 9am - open to vendors from 9, fair starting at 12. Although as it's a public park, there were folk around from the start. Looking fairly exhausted and make-up free! But look at that sunshine behind me....
hmmmm.....what do I do with these again...? With a little help from my next-door neighbours, I put the gazebo up and set up my little stall.... 

Finished setting up at the skin of my teeth! A little dark due to my dark green gazebo (beggars can't be choosers, but if I do more of these I'll hopefully invest in a white one). I moved the LH table forward about half an hour in, but due to the tree roots that were on the RH side of my stall space, it couldn't come too much further forward than this.
The lovely Kirsten from Love Felts even gave me a cup of tea when I was setting up. A life-saver! 
My view of the stall.

Day 2, and the sun was still shining on the Folksy Fair! We were so lucky with the weather - there has been a monumental amount of rain in July and so the ground was fairly muddy (good for my gazebo pegs!) but the sun shone throughout the weekend. 

Very glad to have Helen join me on the Sunday. We almost lost the gazebo several times due to the wind but thankfully it stayed put with a little help from park workers - thank you! We changed the set up slightly for day 2 as you can see below....

The two tables pushed together; I think this works better in many ways, and it allowed us to sit alongside the stand. I had a theft on the Saturday and we thought this would allow us to keep an eye on the stall better, without the customers feeling they were being watched. Sadly, it didnt' work as we had a second theft on the Sunday - vigilant were the security of Tramlines however, because they caught the two girls at the end of the Sunday! Just silly teenagers, probably on a dare. Thankfully neither of the thefts were expensive items and neither contained handmade components, which I was extremely thankful for.

A couple of final shots before we took everything down. We even made a few sales as we were packing up though!

And it's back to tables and fabric. Phew! A long weekend, but a thrilling and rewarding one. 

A brilliant weekend for Songbeads. Folksy organised a fantastic event, and it worked perfectly to piggy-back onto the folk music element of Tramlines. I met so many lovely people, both customers and other vendors. I should also say a big thank you to Andrew and the others from Folksy who were there throughout the event. It was great to touch base with the people who work behind the scenes at Folksy - great to put faces to the computer screen, so to speak. I'm going to share some of the lovely goodies that I bought over the weekend in further posts - I was pretty good for once, but there were a few items I couldn't resist! I'm so glad that Helen ignored my threats to pull out and gave me the support and the push I needed to see it through - it was so worth it. I've come away feeling inspired and motivated and with lots of germinating's amazing how making contact with customers can do that for you. Thanks so much to everyone involved. I can't wait to do it all again next year!

Thursday 19 July 2012


a topic i return to often here is how much i struggle with designing necklaces. never quite sure why, i persist in trying and although they do get taken apart more often than earrings or bracelets, i do sometimes come up with designs i'm happy with, if i persist. here are three such!


all available in my etsy shop right now :-)

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Brit Pack Beaders

As I teach beading on almost a weekly basis, including a number of classes for beginners, I often get asked how long I've been beading for, or what got me started in beading. If you click on the 'about me' tab above, you'll see that I've been playing with beads since I was a wee girl back in the 80s - introduced by my embroiderer Grandma, who had me stitching beads (some of which I still have tucked away in precious little tubs) onto curtain offcuts to make book covers. Like my Mum, who is rarely seen at home without a pair of knitting needles in her hands, I have a slight obsessive-compulsive need to be doing and creating, and after having tried a few other things growing up (a little embroidery, knitting, cross stitch) I settled on bead weaving as my creative outlet of choice. Bead weaving soon developed into beading of all varieties - wire work, stringing, bead embroidery, a little silver clay, knotting. I started teaching at my local bead shop, and submitted some designs to beading magazines - I've loved every minute of the journey, and beads do - literally! - bring me a wee bit of joy every single day. I know that anyone reading this who isn't a beader or creative soul may not quite understand and quite possibly think I sound a little strange, but if you're reading this, you are probably like minded, or will at least understand where i'm coming from.

One of the best and most fortuitous parts of this part of my life, was signing up to Lori Anderson's Bead Soup Blog Party back in 2010. I had started this very blog the year before, but hadn't really written much, or found many followers. I was very much a blurker, and still felt a little uncomfortable with the whole blogging thing - whoever would want to read my ramblings anyway?! That all changed with my first BSBP - via the wonders of the internet, I made new beading friends, found followers, started to find my blogging voice, felt more confident in commenting on others' was the start of something that has become a really wonderful part of my life. I have friends all over the world, particularly in America and Canada, but Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, Finland....I love all of my international connections! I also discovered art beads but that's a whole other story for another post, another day...

But one of the most lovely things about the internet side of the bead world is making friends closer to home. Lesley Watt of Thea came up with the idea of bringing together a group of British beaders - the Brit Pack Beaders she has named us - and we are going to bring you a bi-monthly challenge blog hop. 

Here's Lesley's description of her brain child:

'For each challenge, one person will choose a theme based on anything they like - could be music, literature, film, visual images anything at all that inspires that person. Each of us is then allocated one of five design items - clasps, focal beads, accent beads, decorative embellishments and stringing material, and must send each team member a different one of those items that has some relevance to the theme. Ultimately, we will all end up with a different bead soup created by 5 different people with which to create a piece of jewellery inspired by the theme. 
As well as choosing the theme I have sent all the pack members a slightly different clasp, Rebecca {that's me!} is providing the focals, Claire the embellishments, Bo the accent beads and Jo the stringing materials. For the next challenge we will rotate so that we get to send different items.'

And here is the inspiration that Lesley selected for us all...
Tangle, by Carolyn Saxon - check out her etsy shop here

from l to r: Lesley, me, Claire, Jo and Bo

Sounds good, eh? I can't wait to get started! So pop back next week to see the ingredients that we've each been sending out....

And until then, check out the other talented British ladies' blogs and see what they have to say about being involved :-)

Sunday 15 July 2012

Simple Truths Celebration Blog Hop

So, better late than never I hope! I was meant to post this on Friday but life here I am, two days late - I hope you can all (and especially Erin!) forgive me :-)

I have been a member of the Simple Truths sampler club since Erin established it last year. (is that right? 2011? Time flies....) and I, like many of those good folk taking part in this celebratory hop, am a total hoarder. Although I have no plans to leave - I love getting my little surprise packages though the post each month - I was shocked to discover that I have only used ONE of the simple truths I have been sent since joining up. Shocking! What a waste of Erin's beautiful and original work. I feel truly a little ashamed of myself. So I thought to myself, I've got a school trip to Italy the week before the blog hop, I'm bound to have time, as both musical staff and house staff, to sit down and make some jewellery using the gorgeous charms I have. Hmmm. Slightly over-optimistic of me! And ten, our return of Friday was delayed so I didn't get back until 4pm, and after a 30 hour coach journey, creativity was on a low ebb!! So I decided to leave it until I had time to create. Despite going straight back into 2 full work days - a morning of beading teaching and an afternoon of accompanying 10 students in vocal exams and then a craft fair today - last night I managed to come up with a couple of designs to share with you today:
Firstly, I reached for one of the most personally challenging pendant - a square joy pendant in goldy yellow. Firstly, yellow, secondly silver frame (neither colour i work with very often) and thirdly - and this is the really tricky one for me - it is square. Oh yes, I find squares and rectangles very difficult to work with! I can't cope with corners. I know this about myself and I just generally avoid buying things in these particular shapes - my creative self simply cannot get it's head around them. My partner thinks it's weird; I know it's weird but there you go! So I thought, reach for the true challenge and go for the yellow and silver square.
I personally find great joy in colour. So I reached into my art bead stash and pulled out a couple of elements featuring the colour yellow. These are not made by the same artist - not even in the same country can you believe? Enamelled copper head pins from jade scott and a stunning and unusual lampwork bead from beads by Laura. 
These go together so perfectly it's almost uncanny. And aren't they happy? A simple design - another huge challenge for me, with a pendant that size, it really had to be a necklace - something else I struggle with a lot! - but one I feel quite happy with.

This next one is going to be a long chain necklace for myself. Music - a songbird - a pair of quavers (the musical notes) - turquoise - just perfect for me.
So I hope you don't mind this post coming to you a little late. If you're not already familiar with Erin's beautiful work then do hop over to her etsy shop and blog for some wordy and colourful inspiration. You won't w disappointed! 

Check out the other participants here:
Erin Prais-Hintz
Sharon Misuraco
Tanya Goodwin
Alice Peterson
Melissa Trudinger
Lori Bowring Michaud
Rebecca Anderson
Chris White
Cherrie Fick
Rosanne Garvison
Shelley Turner
Marlene Cupo
Mary Harding
Lola Surwillo
Michelle Burnett
Kirsi Luostarinen
Paige Maxim
Kristen Fagan
Cynthia Riggs

Friday 13 July 2012

Simple Truths Blog Hop - DELAY!

If you are here for the Simple truths Blog Hop - you are in the right place! I am just going to be posting a day or so late. I got back from a school music trip from Italy to UK today and we got held up and missed our ferry early hours of the I've not had the chance to sort my post out as I'd hoped. Please do come back later and in the mean time, check out the other participants on Erin's blog!

Tuesday 3 July 2012

a new humblebead bracelet

last week i got a wonderful package in the post from heather powers of humblebeads - one of my very favourite bead artists. amongst other things, it contained six - yes, SIX! - of heather's beautiful new house beads. i had been lusting after them for a while and went a little crazy when i placed my order.....good crazy though, clearly ;-) here are the beads i bought; two of each:

willow house bead

tree house bead

bird house bead

and here's what i came up with with one of my precious house beads. a plethora of art beads - alongside the humblebead, a sweet porcelain button from hodgepodge arts and two enamelled flowers from a custom order from gardanne beads. i am slightly obsessed with those enamelled flowers; you'll see them popping up all over the place in my work at the moment....

i had a photo session on this a few days ago but i didn't get enough shots that i was happy with to list quite yet - watch this etsy shaped space - if you'd like this though, it's £32 (about $48) so just leave me a comment and it's yours :-)pyrite, czech glass, amethyst, antique brass and copper, and waxed linen cord. 

Monday 2 July 2012

and the winner is.....

Jane Knaub!

shoot me over your address Jane, and I'll get your earrings sent out to you posthaste. thanks to everyone who commented - I hope those of you who have managed to get your hands on a copy of the book have found it as inspirational as I have.

Sunday 1 July 2012

a new gardenia bracelet

so, I'm at my parents-in-law's on the north yorkshire coast for the weekend. I made this bracelet last night. 

sometimes when i come up with a design, i have to work it through my system, developing it, moving through different colour schemes.....just look at the bracelet that kicked things off:

which i'm still really proud of. for once, a title came easily to me - gardenia. 

i don't feel i'm through with this style yet, let's see where it will take me next....


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