Saturday 13 July 2019

Earrings earrings earrings

Playful Days

Do you love earrings? I really, really, really do. It's definitely the item of jewellery which I have the most of myself, and if I am buying jewellery from another maker, 9 times out of 10 it's a pair of earrings which I gravitate towards - not least because the price points are often smaller - statement earrings are definitely easier on my purse than a statement necklace, understandably!


As my going back to Songbead work happened just after a house move, it will probably come as no surprise to you that it was hard to find various things in the first few weeks. (Let's be honest - it's still quite hard to find various things even though we've been here almost 2 months now!) 

Tropical Treetops

One of those things was the little stand I use to photograph my earrings. It's nothing fancy - a solid wood flooring sample from B and Q which I have painted and drilled holes in, and strung some fine thread across to suspend earrings from, but it does the trick nicely. 


Anyway, it was one of the things which disappeared - until this past weekend, when we were sorting things out for my wife's 40th birthday party, and in going through a couple of boxes, it was unearthed. Quite a relief as I had a fair pile of earrings stacking up which I hadn't been able to take any decent photos of! 


That said, in looking through my earring shots from a few days ago, I think it may be time for a new photography set up. Getting all the parts of each earring to line up and the earrings to hang parallel nicely is not easy when they are merely suspended from thread! 


So I am on the look out for something slightly different - where the earrings can hang more as they would from ears - in mid air, so to speak, and each earring to hang straight up and down, rather than leaning towards each other. Watch this space! 

Silver and Gold

All of these earrings are now available in my etsy shop so hop over there now if you're as addicted to earrings as I am! 

Disco Inferno

Wednesday 10 July 2019

Firth of Forth or Whale Watching 2019

Back in 2014, I designed a bracelet using one of Kylie Parry's beautiful whale beads. (You can see and read about it here). Upon starting my jewellery work again, and routing through my bead stash, I stumbled across another of these precious handmade ceramic pieces and remembered my old blog post so looked it up for a read through - only to discover these words:

"The sea is amazing in all its guises, and I do have dreams of one day having a coastal home, somewhere around Edinburgh. I just have to look at the sea to feel a sense of inner-calm wash through me. Ok, we don't have the weather of the Californian coast, but Scotland's not so bad-looking either!"

How fitting to reread this post at this time, only weeks after we moved to Newhaven, in one of the coastal prongs of Edinburgh's northern coast, right on the water. Of course, I knew I had to revisit and revamp my original design. 

A medley of pressed glass rondelles with a smattering of lampwork glass and a few of the 'original' Indonesian drawn glass beads, and a full strand of dramatic stick freshwater pearls, making a bolder statement than the original individual keshi pearls. 

The Firth of Forth is wild - and whales are occasionally seen there too!

 Like the original bracelet, it closes with a beautiful handcast pewter clasp in the shape of a starfish. I hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane, and the funny synchronicity of life.

You can find Firth of Forth here

Monday 8 July 2019

A Drop of Gold - or Grellow

Some of you reading this may or may not know that I am, as well as a jeweller, a fairly passionate knitter. I fell in love with the craft a few years ago - actually as a response to being self-employed and needing to have something to do in the evenings rather than work! It turns out knitting is a whole world of its own with styles and celebrities and trends - and part of that, of course, is colour trends. 

A couple of years ago, yellow really had a moment - specifically, yellow and grey, or Grellow. I'm not sure that moment has properly died down but when I started knitting, Grellow was one of The Things that everyone was obsessed with. There were Grellow cardigans, Grellow socks, Grellow mittens, I made a Grellow get the picture. 

Here's the thing though: I'm actually not always a massive fan of grey and yellow together. Yellow, yes. Grey - hmm, sometimes (it can be a little dull....sorry not sorry...). Together? They really do have to be the right shades otherwise they're just too harsh for me. Edging towards bumblebee status. But it is undeniably a classic colour palette that really works and when I stumbled upon this stunning handmade porcelain pendant from Round Rabbit in my work stash:

I knew that I wanted to try my jeweller's hand at Grellow with it. Not least because I knew it would be a challenge. Firstly, the pendant itself is such a gorgeous contradiction in terms - the intricate nature of the detailing, the delicate almost formality of design and the bright, sunny cheerfulness of the bold yellow. I wanted to keep this feeling - the delicate playful formality that the dragonfly exhibits - and it was very possible that that delicacy could be squashed by putting a bold yellow and grey spin on it. Bear in mind that this pendant is all the more special as Nancy of Round Rabbit no longer makes beads and components. This one is a rare breed. But I think (I hope!) I did her justice:

Of course it's the high contrast between the grey and yellow that can make the colour palette in general work so effectively, so in order to keep this I knew I wanted to soften it with an ombre fading effect (another big knitting trend, coincidentally!). I had a string of variegated grey gemstone faceted rounds (I can't for the life of me remember what stone they are but they are extremely lovely!) that would work well in creating a fading band. I gathered a few other beads - handmade lampwork rondelles in grey, frosted semi-transparent white and deep yolk yellow, vintage German glass rondelles and some of my own handwoven glass {song}beads. They are a really unusual grey - they almost seem to be a shadow grey to me, if that makes any sense. They are frosted and very slightly transparent and extremely lovely. 

I've used them between the larger beads in the main band as well so you can see how subtle they are. 

You can see here the depth of the yellows I have used - the lampwork glass rondelles are very slightly deeper than the pendant itself, a rich yolk yellow, and bring such a warmth to the soft and more subtle, delicate greys. There are a couple of flashes of soft but steely pewter - a hand-cast cap and a hook clasp, allowing the necklace to have an adjustable fastening for different length options.

You can find A Drop of Gold here

Monday 1 July 2019

Return to work and life

So here I am, back after rather a gigantic hiatus! I've been busy, growing and raising tiny humans which has been, I am sure no parents will be surprised to learn, hard and wonderful and unexpected and impossible and incredible and mundane and utterly life-changing. If you follow me over on Instagram or Facebook, you will have seen a few snaps of my twins (now coming up for 20 months, both crazy and also, how are they not older already because they've been here forever...!). I don't share tons because of course, they can't tell me whether they want me to or not yet, but I can't resist a few here and there. 

Here they are, enjoying some Scottish sunshine and sand last week.

We've also somewhat unexpectedly move house in the last 2 months. In April, our previous landlord (who quite frankly, has been fairly rubbish since we moved into our old flat) gave us notice so they could do 'major renovations'. Whether or not this is a metaphor for 'put the rent up significantly', we had to jump ship and find somewhere new pronto. Happily, we have for once landed well and truly on our feet, and now live in a flat which is not really bigger as such, but is laid out in a much better way for us as a family of 4; has an extra bedroom, open plan kitchen/living room space (which is really great for cooking when it's just me and the babies), outdoor space for playing and most wonderfully of all, an incredible sea view. Like, cross the very small road and there is, in fact, the actual sea (you can see it just behind both of the twins in the photos above). Thank goodness because the moving process itself was fairly grim! We are getting settled - the obligatory unpacked boxes still remain but we'll get to them. Probably. 

Another big change that has happened in the last couple of months is that we have finally got some formal childcare in place. We are not amazing for childcare in the UK in my opinion. I don't know all the ins and outs exactly - I definitely do know know the finer details which I very much should do - but there's basically no government funding for childcare until the children are 3. Entirely what you are meant to do as a working woman for the 2+ years once your maternity leave ends, I'm not sure. If you are fortunate you can go down to part-time hours, take a pay cut and use your salary to pay for childcare. Or you can keep your full-time hours and use your salary for full-time childcare. Or you can give up your work, and stay at home with your child or children. Or bribe various family members and close friends to step in and look after your children for free. Hmmm. None of them are exactly amazing options really! And yes, this does affect men too but I think it's safe to say after 20 months in this world that the majority of primary carers (especially after maternity/shared paternal leave is over) are still women. 

I am incredibly excited to get back to work (honestly!) and am doing a combination of family and friend childcare and a nanny (somewhat surprisingly, a significantly cheaper and easier option for twins than nursery, at this stage). Our nanny works 5 hours a week and that will go up to 9 come August. It doesn't sound a lot but oh my gosh, those 5 hours are wonderful! I'm still getting into the swing of it as she's only been coming to look after the twins for 6 weeks but it really is a lease of life for me - and therefore for the rest of the family too. Whether they quite realise it or not!

And that extra bedroom in our new flat? It's become my studio. Lots of books and my yarn stash as well, but it mainly houses The Curious Bead Shop (currently on pause whilst I find my feet in our new set up) and Songbead. And when the nanny is here, I make jewellery again! It really is so, so bloody fantastic to be back creating. I've knitted my way through the past 20 months and it has kept me just about sane, but oh my, it's so wonderful to be designing and making and weaving and photographing again. (I'd probably palm off that last one if I had a spare photographer to hand but until that happens, it's down to me!) I can feel that bit of my brain that's been dormant for almost 2 years leap back into action. A bit rusty at times for sure, but it's still there and fair raring to go. 

So here are some of my new pieces, most currently listed in etsy, some on their way. It's damn hard to keep any kind of pace - the whole process of selling OOAK (one-of-a-kind) anything is slow and laborious and labour-intensive - no stock pictures here - so I am frustrated that I have pieces of jewellery that don't get photographed for weeks after being made (never mind the editing and listing process which is desperately slow and drawn out at the best of times) but I am getting there. I'd love for you to check out my new work! It has been a true labour of love, each and every piece. 


Sea View




Golden Hour



(The real question is, have I been influenced by my new sea views or do I just love turquoise...?)


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