Tuesday 25 March 2014

Song-ing followed by Bead-ing

Dear oh dear - here I am again, feeling like it's been far too long since I last blogged. It is an all-too-familiar feeling it seems! I always have plans for blog posts, but time runs away and I lose track of everything.....sounds like the rest of my life too! This time, I have a slight excuse - I have been preparing for and performing in a concert over in Glasgow, in the beautiful University Chapel, which was this past weekend.

Now, it wasn't a huge concert and my part in it was fairly minor. But, it was the first time I had sung in a long time - and I don't just mean in a concert, I mean not along with the radio, not in the shower; practically not a single note has passed my lips since I moved to Belfast. I seemed to lose my voice along with the move back in September. I have felt somehow silenced for the past 7 months - as if I had my throat stopped up. But a friend asked a couple of weeks ago if I was free for a concert he was fixing, he was in a pinch for my voice-type, and so I decided that a fairly low-key event would be something I could do. 

Of course, my stamina was at a literal all-time low, and the prospect of singing in public after so long was daunting enough in itself - coupled with my usual nerves! But I practiced, and I went and I sang, and god-damn it if I didn't do ok after only a minor psychological melt-down the morning of the performance. It felt like a real achievement for me at this time, and (dare I say it) I was proud of myself for taking even a small step out of my void of silence. 

So that has taken my mind slightly away from blogging and suchlike. The Curious Bead Shop has to continue, as do custom jewellery orders, so the things that fall by the wayside, albeit it temporarily, are often social media-based. I know, I should really figure out an automated system....but I haven't yet. One day....

Anyway, I arrived back in Belfast yesterday and spent the day packing up the weekend's orders. I then gave myself the evening off (that's allowed, right?) and did what my brain likes to zone out to - made some bracelets. Here are the spoils of my mental unwind ~ 

I'm pretty pleased with them. I can't tell you just how happy I am to have more of these gorgeous flower beads back in my life. Just in time for summer fair preparation. I have a few new colours on the way too and I am very excited to get my hands on them. I'm writing this up on my phone, on the bus (why am I incapable of organising my time?!) so I will add full links later, but for now, the art beads come from ~ 


and the flower beads are of course available at www.thecuriousbeadshop.etsy.com. 

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Something for me

Sometimes beads arrive, and you just know you are going to have to make something just for yourself. Yesterday, these polka dotties arrived from Beads by Laura, and I just knew that I would have to use some of them for myself. Yes, they are simple lampwork rondelles, and perhaps don't seem as exciting as some of the more elaborate pieces that I sometimes use. But they are the *perfect* earring bead, and that's what these have become for me. And I knew they would go just perfectly with my polymer roses from Beady Eyed Bunny. Into my ears they go....

In other news, my rescheduled hair appointment is today. Wish me luck...

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Sunshine and Roses

Ok, so I don't technically have a picture of the sunshine, but trust me - today, it is *here*, with me, in Belfast and that makes me smile more than I have in a good while! I love the sunshine. British and Irish winters are not good for this soul....wet, dreary, dark and generally dreich.....I know it seems unfair to complain when people over in N. America have had such a very cold and vicious Winter, but....well, I'm going to anyway! And I am now rejoicing that there is sun. I know that this rejoicing means that clearly, the sun will now disappear until June, but even if it does, today is glorious. 

Even though I didn't have that much new jewellery to photograph this morning, I still took advantage of that moment when the sun's in the right place for me to snap some good shots. The more I learn about photography (really, my knowledge bank is very, very little but still, it's edging forward, one grain at a time), the more critical of my own photos I become. I was speaking to a crafty friend of mine (Alex from Studio 9 Ltd.) who is rather more expert with a camera than I am, and she's given me a couple of tips that I need to put into practice. Much as I think this photo's not too bad, I can see that the light source is clearly coming from the RH side, and I need to try and balance it a bit more. Alex suggested white paper to bounce the light, so I need to try and set up a way wherefore I can position that easily and securely. 

Having nit-picked at that, I am rather pleased with this bracelet. I love it's primary-colour-ness and the playful textures and imagery it evokes. It's bold and fun and yet still pretty - and it makes me smile. Just like the sunshine :-) Bird from Blueberri Beads and lampwork rounds from Helen Chalmers

And here are the roses. Handmade polymer roses from Beady Eyed Bunny no less, in a gorgeous peach shade. I've had these vintage acrylic ovals for a while, and absolutely *love* them, but they are so large I'm not always sure what to do with them. They make quite a statement on their own. But the little peach rose section works for me, and their rustic vintage-ness, and the soft bohemian edge that the leather lace bring here all harmonise well for me. I'm going to be listing both of these pieces in my etsy shop shortly. 

I've been thinking a lot about jewellery design, and my own jewellery designs in particular of late, and what I want my jewellery to be and 'say'. I've noticed my designs are somehow becoming somehow simpler, and with cleaner lines.....I guess I perhaps have a clearer vision in my head of what I want to achieve. Perhaps I have more confidence in the strength of my own design (perhaps...!), and I can make things simpler and more straightforward. I want my jewellery to speak to the wearer. I like using clear visual elements within my work - birds, flowers, houses, keys - rather than simply abstract ones. I want my jewellery to tell stories, but not necessarily the same story for each person. I want it to feel rustic and elegant and playful and grown-up and timeless and whimsical, all at the same time. I want people to want to wear it, because they look at a piece and feel a connection in some way. Am I managing that? I am trying. I am striving towards this within my jewellery. I want it to be more than 'just' pretty, although prettiness is something to absolutely not be undermined or dismissed as shallow or unimportant. (I mean, do you want to wear ugly jewellery?!). 

There have been so many changes in my life over the past few years, a shifting of certain priorities....emotional struggles; highs and lows....I feel almost like there is a separate part of me, standing to one side; sitting on my shoulder - watching my journey, interested and curious to see where and how it will go...

Sunday 9 March 2014

Friday 7 March 2014

A blighted Friday, and some bracelets

Today I had an exciting (for me) afternoon planned - booked in to get my hair cut and highlights put in (first time for almost a year; I know, I am *awful* at getting it done with any kind of frequency - I think that because I have curly hair I can get away with it...!). My highlights are currently half way down my head and my hair is definitely not in the best of conditions, ahem.....so I was really looking forward to getting it done. I'm always a bit unsure of new salons, as I really hate the way/style a lot of hairdressers dry my hair (again, it's the curly hair thing - if you have curls too, you'll know exactly what I mean, I'm sure), but I found a Toni and Guy salon, and as that's where I last got my hair done in Manchester, I would take a leap of faith on a new place. 

I set off in plenty of time - beautiful day here, I thought a 45 minute walk would be a pleasant and healthy was to start my afternoon. But, unfortunately I got extremely confused with my Maps app and got lost on the way - that's ok, I thought, I'm still 20 minutes ahead of my appointment, I'll just ring ahead to let them know that I am running late. No problem, we'll let the stylist know. Up the hill I tramped, thinking that perhaps my wooly gloves were perhaps not really needed for such a sunny day...at the top of the hill, again my maps app foiled  me and I ended up walking round and round a block, looking for a turn off that DID NOT EXIST. Took a different route. Had a fight with my very long, very cosy wooly scarf trying to pull the thing off as I was now rather on the warm side. 

So, eventually - puffing a little and definitely red in the face - I made it to the hairdresser, 15 minutes late. Only to discover that they had only booked me in for my highlights and not a haircut. And that they couldn't possibly fit me in for a haircut after the dye. Aaagh! I don't really know why, but things like that get me soooo worked up. Partly because I'd taken the afternoon off work, with the concession in my head that I will work this evening instead. 

So, instead of having a nice relaxing haircut, sorting out my shocking two-tone dry-as-a-bone hair, I'm sitting in Cafe Nero writing this blog. Had a lemon and poppyseed muffin just to counteract any good that the walk may have done me, and I will probably miss the bead delivery that I was expecting today, and have to go and pick it up from the depot later instead. *Sigh* Anyway, I think I will go and buy another cup of tea and then go home. 

Anyway, so as not to simply bore you with my non-exciting non-haircut(!), I will share some of the things I've been working on lately. These simply cord bracelets have proved very popular, and I'm thinking they will be a great thing to have in stock for my summer fairs. They still have my trademark handmade element in them - beautiful handmade buttons from Bo Hulley or handmade lampwork discs from Helen Chalmers. A simple and pretty way to wear handmade! There are a few available in my shop just now, but most of them don't even last long enough to get into my shop - they are snaffled up straight from my FB page here

Thursday 6 March 2014

New Beads at Curious!

Shop Update a few days ago and I have New.Beads. in the house! Hop over and check them out. I am particularly in love with the new large leaves.....


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