Sunday, 21 September 2014

Marketing and All That Jazz!

I think I may be blogging about the writing side of things more often than the jewellery side of things in the near future, so do bear with me.

The next stage to publishing a book is of course to tell people about it. I am not a marketing guru, I don't really know the first thing about marketing, and find it really hard to sell myself.

However, I have had to learn, and learn fast over the last few days. I've already made lots of mistakes, though I'm happy to say none that have cost me any money so far. It's more about the words I use to get my book 'out there'.

But one thing I did this week, and something I'm proud of. It's not perfect, not by any means, but it's pretty darn good with what I have available to me, and I did it all by myself...all that is, except the soundtrack, which is Darklight by Davy Spillane, and one of my all time favourite chillout tracks. It seemed perfect for my video. Now I hope to be able to link you to it.

I may blog in more detail about my experience with CreateSpace next. I can't say yet if it was worthwhile indiepublishing, it's too early, and I have seen mixed reviews, but I can blog about the overall experience.

See you soon :)

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Belated Post, Beads and Book

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I updated my blog, but alas! It has really been that long. There is a very good reason for that though. I’ve been a little bit busy.

You see, I’ve really enjoyed writing the tutorials, and sharing them with you. I love beading, I love designing jewellery, I love everything involved in working out a new design, making the method as intuitive as possible, working on diagrams, writing the instructions, laying them out in an attractive (I hope) form and sharing my passion with you. I don’t set out to teach grandma to suck eggs, but I do set out to share what I know and love, and hopefully inspire you to new ideas and designs of your own.

Over the last year or so, I have written quite a few tutorials now, and I’m getting quite a following. They’ve all been tried and tested, and all passed muster, although some mistakes have been pointed out by readers, for which I am grateful, and those same readers have come back for more so it’s all good.

Really encouraged by this, I decided that once I had put together 20 tutorials using SuperDuo beads, I would compile them into a book. I’ve now done it, I have a book that I have written, with designs I made. I look back on the time it took to write this with some sadness that it’s now done, and some joy that at last I’ve achieved a lifetime ambition, to have that book with my name on it. I’m proud of my first book; I wrote it to share my love of beading with you, and that is what I’ve done.

So here it is, Beautiful Jewellery with SuperDuo Beads. 20 detailed projects with step-by-step instructions, clear diagrams, and photos. Each and every piece is open to your own interpretation, you can add, embellish, change the beads around a bit, or just make them as they are. I want readers to use the book as a platform for their own creativity, in the same way we tweak a recipe to our own tastes or diets, change the milk to soya, use apple instead of pear, beef instead of pork…with my projects, use crystal instead of pearl, bicones instead of round, change the bail on a pendant. Play with your own creativity.

As time goes by, I’ll go over some of the project in the book, but for now here’s a taster.

By the way, it’s available on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback.

Here are two of the necklaces in the book. the Calendula, a pretty flower necklace which also has a matching bracelet and earrings, and the Louisa, which is open to all kinds of adaptions, with colour, beads, shape and so on. 


Sunday, 16 February 2014

Shop of the Week no. 18 JOYfilled Designs

This week, Denise from Hanover Merry Makers has chosen this treasury as her favourite.

I ambled in to Jennifer's shop and felt like a kid in a sweetshop again. The beautiful colours, and appealing designs are simply gorgeous. It made me want to get hold of every item and hang or pin it up somewhere in the house...I'd have them everywhere.

So let's find out more about Jennifer and her shop JOYfilled Designs.

   Tell us a little about yourself and your work
I can never remember a time when creating was NOT part of who I am. I grew up in a creative family with both my father and grandmother being artists in their own rights, and happy to keep me supported with any and every medium available. From yarn and thread to charcoals and watercolours, I took to all of them with equal enthusiasm. I work full time as a licensed artist and in my spare time, I enjoy crocheting, embroidery and crafting with felt, which is what prompted me to open JOYfilled Designs. Whether in my art of in my crafting, I am most drawn to creating whimsical pieces in bright, cheerful colours. Aside from art, I am desperately in love with my ‘mountain man’ husband, 2 grown sons, and the Lord.

2.    What inspires your work?

Inspiration comes to me in a multitude of ways. Sometimes it’s from a passage in whatever book I am currently reading, sometimes it’s colours and patterns I’ve seen throughout the day, sometimes inspiration comes from the funny stories my 6 year old niece likes to tell. I then like to put my spin on it and try to come up with something that will make others smile!

  What are your favourite colours? 
Right now I am obsessed with the combination of orange and pink together, but mainly I love all colours.
4.    What is your favourite medium/material?
Wool blend felt is my new favourite medium in my crafting. I just love the way it feels in my hand and how beautifully it stitches up!

What is your favourite holiday destination?

I love the beach and I love the woods – wherever I can sneak away to for a few days with my husband is my favourite place to be.

6.    What other artists work to you admire and aspire to?
I love the work of Mary Engelbreit, Debbie Mumm, Pat Yuille, and here on Etsy, I greatly admire Gingermelon Designs and her whimsical characters.
I only aspire to learn what I can from those around me and be the most authentic ME I can be.

  What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my children and the wonderful young men they’ve become. I am proud to be the wife of Eric and thankful for his continued love and support of my creativity. And I feel blessed to be able to work at what I love – creating things to brighten the days of others.

Thank you Jennifer, for taking part. To visit Jennifer's shop and see for yourself, click HERE.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Beading and Storms

It’s been so long and I’ve been so busy posting about our etsy All Handmade by Me Team shop of the week, that I’ve neglected to tell you what’s been going on here too.

So here’s a short (hopefully) catch-up for you.

I’ve been busy with tutorials, as I want to eventually get them together in a single book, hopefully self-
publishing either through Amazon or Lulu. First I need to have enough projects to put into said book.
So, first of all I had a look through some of the beading books I already have, written by others, and took some inspiration for a new design of pendant, based on an existing design by Diane Fitzgerald in her ‘Shaped Beadwork’ book. I fully adapted that design and shape to use Super Duo beads and pearls, and this is the result, the Regal pendant.

Then I sat for a while staring at these pendants, wondering if I could make a bangle using the same design, as it is stiff enough to hold up without a clasp, yet flexible enough to be able to get over the hand. (Have you ladies with larger hands ever nearly dislocated a thumb trying to
squeeze solid bangles over it?) I began work right away, knowing it would have to be done in sections to provide the right angles. So I made small sections to experiment with the angle between each section. Then I wondered about the size. Well my partner has a resin bangle mold…perfect! So I played around with the size of each section, and lady luck smiled on me, I got it right first time.  So now we have the Regal Bangle to go with the pendant.

I began chatting to a customer in my jewellery shop, she wanted some custom orders, and had ordered a pair of the leaf earrings in her own colours, (bronze and cream). She asked if I made any shell
shapes. So again my designer brain started ticking over, and a sleepless night later, I jotted down a possibility, and fell asleep. In the next afternoon, I looked again at my rough sketch and worked out if it could be done, and set to work. In just over an hour I had a new bracelet. The Cascara Bracelet. According to google translate, cascara means shell in Spanish. I thought it sounded rather nice.

Then my lovely customer, who bought one, asked about a pair of earrings, no longer than the leaf earrings she had, but nice and dainty that would go with the bracelet. I came up with these…the Cascara Earrings. These are so quick and easy to make up, and they really are very pretty.

A few days ago a lovely lady who bought two of my tutorials, the Cascara Bracelet and the Star Flower Pendant, combined the two to make this beautiful necklace, which she sent a photo of, and kindly let me us it. Isn’t it exquisite? I love what she has done with the two patterns, and the alternating pearls. I just love it, and feel so honoured that my designs gave her inspiration. What a compliment!

If you would like one of my tutorials, you can find them here

I have to mention at this point the number of people experiencing flooding from this current conveyor belt of storms we’ve been experiencing here in the UK since December. The rivers are full to bursting, some already have, great swathes of prime agricultural land is under water in Somerset, hundreds of homes flooded near the Thames, today the river Itchen in Hampshire has burst it’s banks, and the river Test, which is where my maternal family come from, is about to do so, the armed forces are out in

Photo courtesy of ITV News
numbers helping with sandbagging, evacuation, shopping and generally helping wherever they can, and we are about to feel the full force of yet another storm any moment. Currently as I write it’s pouring with rain, and with the run-off from the surrounding land, and overflow from already full underground aquifers, there are going to be many more areas suffering in the next week or so, even if we get some respite from these storms. Out shopping this morning I chatted to a lot of people and we all feel so very lucky here in Norwich that we haven’t suffered the same fate, being a known wetland and low-lying farming county. As my butcher said, that’s the useful think about living in the middle of the North Sea at times like this, unless our weather is coming from Siberia, then we’re the first to get it.

My heart goes out to all the people affected by these floods, in any way, I cannot imagine what it’s like to have your home filling up with dirty sewage filled water, and I hope and pray that we get a long enough dry spell in the weather to allow water levels to go back to normal.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Shop of the Week No. 17, HanoverMerryMakers

This week’s Shop of the Week was chosen by Elizabeth from FairyFlowerDesigns who was shop of the week for the second time last week. (Apologies for not writing a second post fo you Elizabeth.) Here is the winning treasury.

I love to browse through Denise’s shop. Her jewellery is very different to mine so we are in no way in competition with one another. It’s just as well as she lives in the same city as me. I love the way Denise uses gems, her style, the colours, and the beautiful photography in her shop. It’s just nice to step away and browse in her shop, and there is always something new to see.

So let’s find out a little more about HanoverMerryMakers.

Tell us a little about yourself and your work.

I have crafted all my life starting at school. I’m a pensioner as of last week. I began making jewellery a couple of years ago and was teaching and sharing with a group of ladies in the area. It’s the same answer as a lot of people, you have to have an outlet for all this jewellery.
I started with beautiful glass beads, but then discovered semi-precious gems and it was love at first sight. I start with the gems I have chosen and play with them on my bead board until I’m happy with the design.

What are your favourite colours?
I adore teal, followed hot on it’s heels by purple.

What is your favourite medium/material?
I’m a silver gal, and love creating with silver.

What is your favourite holiday destination?
Being a Yorkshire girl I love going back to Yorkshre. I love North Wales and the mountains. I mustn’t forget Scotland’s highlands too.

What other artists work do you admire and aspire to?
I don’t have any one jewellery maker I admire, I admire lots of them and just enjoy looking at their work. I must say those that make beautiful beadwork cuffs are a favourite, I just wouldn’t have the patience to bead like that.

What are you most proud of?
My family and being so close to my grandsons.

Thank you Denise for taking part. If you would like to see more of Denise’s beautiful jewellery, just click here.


Monday, 27 January 2014

Shop of the Week No. 15 IroquoisDesigns

It's second time around for this week's shop of the week, Iroquois Designs. Here is the winning treasury chosen by Lisa from HiGirls. 

Now I know this is second time around for Jessica, and I loved writing about her before. This time I have been completely stuck for something new, but decided that elaborating on some of the cultural designs Jessica uses in her shop would be a good place to start.

One of my favourite items in Jessica’s shop are those with the double curve designs. Not just because of their aesthetic value, though they are just beautiful, but that they are reminiscent of some of the ancient native British art forms. The lines, colours and form is simple yet fascinating in its simplicity.

But how to begin writing about it? I know little or nothing really about American Indian culture and art, as much as I love it. Jessica does, so who better to ask than someone who is actually part of that culture?

Here is an extract from Jessica’s own blog, which explains it perfectly…

Double curves are Eastern woodland designs typically found in bead work. Today you can find them on leather, drums, clothing, baskets, pottery, jewellery, and of course on
various beaded work. If you go to a pow wow here in the North East you are sure to come across them at some point. When I was a kid, (and even now) my mom used them on the breach cloths of her scale cornhusk dolls. Back then, I didn’t realise they had a name or meaning.

The basic design symbolises balance, give and take, teaching and learning. There is a center point, at which a flower usually grows, and it branches to the left, and it branches 
the same way to the right. The left side is the female side, 
which is for giving, teaching and nurturing. The right side is
the male side for the strength to take in, and learning.

You can see some wonderful examples of Jessica’s work in her Etsy Shop, Iroquois Designs, and also on her blog, 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Shop of the Week No. 14, HiGirls

I'm late with the Shop of the Week post this time round, we've had a bit of a problem with some 'repair' work the telecoms engineers made outside, leading us to be cut off for a few days. 

This week's Shop of the Week was chosen by Patricia from TheButterflyQuilter. Here is the winning treasury.

As someone who works with polymer clay myself, I just love what Lisa of HiGirls can do with polymer clay. I have worked candle holders and some photo frames in the past but I never even thought about teapots. This shop is full of colour and a delight to browse. Let's find out a little more about the owner, Lisa.

Tell us a little about yourself and your work

Born into an artistic family, I have always dabbled in various arts. I learned to sew, knit and crochet as a child, and although I did not major in art, I always took a variety of art classes through college and beyond. For many years I owned and operated a picture framing shop/art gallery. Making bags and working with polymer clay became passions of mine around the same time and as my children were growing up.  I have a tendency to go back and forth from fabric to clay, which keeps me engaged.

What inspires your work?
My work is often inspired by trips to an art gallery, or a walk in the park. There are endless sources of inspiration in the world around us. I am also inspired by the many fabulous clay artists I have met online.

What are your favourite colours? 
Choosing a favourite colour is like asking a mother who her favourite child is! I refuse to answer that question!

What is your favourite medium/material?

I love working with polymer clay and can get lost in the process for many hours. I also love fabric; you should see my huge fabric stash! Finding ways to combine the two is something I am always on the lookout for. (And then there is yarn…)

What is your favourite holiday destination?
For many years, my family has owned a cottage on the coast of Maine – north-eastern coast of the US. It’s a very peaceful place to be. My dream vacation however, would be a trip to Europe.

What other artists work to you admire and aspire to?
There are so many talented polymer artists to choose from, but I am currently fascinated with work by ArtyBecca and Carol Simmons. Mostly I’m inspired by all the great polymer artists who I have come to know in the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy.

What are you most proud of?

Rather than one project of technique, I am most proud of my ability to move forward in new directions with my art. I have currently added embellished teapots to my shop, and plan to do more of these, until I find something else that captures my attention!

Thank you so much Lisa for taking part, and sharing your talent with us. If you want to look at more in Lisa's shop, just click here.