Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Hello, and other ramblings...

 Hello there! It's been a while since I carved out a little spot of time for blogging - even though I frequently think to myself "I must blog about this or that", somehow the time slips through my fingers like so much sand. I am now feeling like my blogging muscle is a little rusty, so I am just going to do one of those rambling posts; lots of pictures, telling you a little bit about the pieces and what else has been going on, in no particular order. Ok? 

If you follow me over on Facebook, you'll have seen that I recently returned from a fab surprise holiday in Tenerife. I know a lot of people are a bit snotty about the Canaries, but I absolutely love them! Sunshine, gorgeous coastal climate, great food, lovely people - what's not to love? We stayed in the north-east of the island, doing the Air BnB thing, and this meant we were in a totally non-touristy thing too - an added bonus, as far as I'm concerned. As usual, I packed up a shit-ton of beads (I have problems...!) so that I could sit in the evenings, and make away to my heart's content. All accompanied by a glass or 4 of local Sangria! I say local in that way that local somehow makes it classier, but what I really mean is local i.e. from our local supermarket. Like a glass of local Lambrini here in the UK. (Although I'm sure you will agree, local Sangria over local Lambrini EVERY TIME.)

Sometimes when I go on holiday, I must admit, my eyes are bigger than my bead belly, and I end up coming home with a pair of earrings and half a bracelet, but not this time. I was seriously productive! We were in a lovely wee apartment, complete with a mountain-view balcony (we were very lucky - right on the edge of the capital, Santa Cruz, which is all industry and skyscrapers, but the from the block of flats we were in you would never have known) and so we ended up eating in most nights - fresh veg, fresh bread, local (ACTUALLY local) cheese and the occasional Gambas Pil Pil (a long-standing family favourite), all washed down with the aforementioned Sangria. Slurp. 
Anyway, this wee bracelet is one of the first pieces I made on holiday. I've made a few of this design lately, and I do love it - the combination of the larger elements with the double-stand of more petite beads - artisan elements here from Soul Silver, Something to do with your hands and myself, along with a heavy helping of freshwater biwa petal pearls.  I'm really enjoying using those teeny tiny seed beads more in my work - linking my handwoven {song}beads with the rest of my designs in an organic way. 

Another holiday piece here - a really easy-to-make, easy-to-wear piece. Birds, flowers, artisan quirky beads and my favourite red and turquoise palette.  
I bought a whole bunch of different sterling silver clasps from a new favourite findings supplier, TH Findings, as I'm finding with my own metalwork, I'm using silver more and more. I still love my patinated copper and brass, but it's great to have silver as an option too. This is such a simple bracelet, it would be easy for it to be a little nondescript, but I think that wee heart clasp really makes this piece work. 

 As you may be picking up, I'm going through a bit of a bracelet-y phase. I know, I know - what's new?! - but I'm just going with it. The bead shop, it's fair to say, had a fairly slooooow start to the year, but things started to pick up in March and April, and so my time for making became a little limited. For that reason, I'm just going with my gut when making at the moment, rather than imposing my brain upon the process too much - must make more necklaces! must make more links and earwires! - and such like. The ebb and flow of Curious is back to a bit of an ebb again, and so I am anticipating having a little more time over the next week or so - which is always the silver-lining of a bead shop ebb :-) This bracelet is one I've made since getting back from holiday, but I feel it's got some of the lightness that a good holiday always leaves you with. 
That cool bottle bead is one I snagged from Lorelei Eurto's recent destash. No idea what Nehi is but I love the colour and design of the bead nonetheless! Again, you can see those seed beads doing multiple jobs here - my beaded beads, spacers between the larger beads, and forming a wee extension chain. I can't tell you just how long these take compared with popping a bit of chain or a few links on the end of the bracelet, but I love the visual texture of them, and how they keep the colour going within a piece. 

I know on the other side of the pond - and Australia too, I think? - it was Mother's Day last Sunday. We had ours a while back, but Sunday *was* my Mum's birthday. Mum is a great supporter and wearer of my jewellery and whilst she of course has a great deal of patinated pieces (which is own my preference for most of the time), she is a shiny silver girl at heart. It was the push I needed to get back to the torch - sadly neglected by me this year, despite the acquisition of a proper bonafide jewellery bench. The torch came out, the hammer and block came out, the pickle was switched on - the tumbler did its magic, and so Mum ended up with some shiny shiny earrings and a shiny shiny necklace. 

 A break from my bracelet addiction....
More beads acquired from Lorelei here - I just love this soft Spring colour palette. I made those tiny peach {song}beads just for this necklace - just the write shape and colour to go with these sweet pink/purple freshwater pearls - as well as that gorgeous bouquet on the ceramic pendant. 

 More pearls here - I go through phases - quite long phases(!) - with pearls, and this phase shows little sign of waning - more peachy, subtly textural pearls in this new bracelet below.

Another bonus of the holiday was the amount of swimming I did over there. Ok, not all swimming, there was a lot of obligatory bobbing around in various pools in the sunshine, but also swimming. I made a point of starting the day by having a bit of a lie-in, but as soon as I was awake, getting into my costume and hitting the pool attached to our apartment block. I really wish my flat here in Edinburgh had a pool out the back! Although I think indoors would be vastly preferable here in Edinburgh. I did a short blast of 20 lengths each morning, but the routine of it reminded me just how much I enjoy swimming. Believe it or not, when I was in primary school, I went swimming 4-5 times a week with Heart of Midlothian Swimming Club . Over the past fifteen years, I've tried again and again to get into running, going to the gym, yoga, pilates etc. and all without real success i.e. being able to stick to them. (I actually really enjoy yoga and pilates, but find that I am a quite intimidated by the idea of joining a class - I imagine everyone else will be lean and beautiful, and live off green smoothies and little else - you get the picture. The type of class where I'd stick out like a sore thumb, in my mind at any rate!). I don't know why, but I've never really given swimming another go - not properly. But on the Monday after our return, I went along to some local swimming baths and joined up for a month. Not cheap, but not too pricey - and since then, I've gone every day but two. Slowly but surely, I've been building up the distances I've swum - I'm now doing a mile every day. A brilliant thing about the membership I've bought is that it allows me to use any of the ten council swim centres we have here in Edinburgh. So the past two+ weeks, I've been working out where these pools all are in Edinburgh, and fitting my swims into whatever I'm doing on a day - the pool near my acupuncture clinic, the pool near the parcel office, the 2 pools near my wife's work where I can get a lift to in the morning if I'm feeling like a super-early morning dip! I am not making any promises to myself - I don't want to let myself down and feel all the guilt that that leads to - but right now, I'm really enjoying it being part of my day to day routine. Which pool today? How many lengths today? Sadly, I'm not a size 8 already (what? Two weeks of daily swimming - WHY NOT?!) but I am feeling really good about it - and *actually* enjoying it. Long may it continue!

The last little piece I have to share with you today is really a pair. One of my lovely regular customers wrote to me and said that these two would go well together, and of course when I looked at them I knew that they would. I am never sure what I think about sets though. I like jewellery collectors to be able to pick and choose what they wear together - but yes, I would definitely wear these two as a pair. 

As you'll see, I'm continuing with my love-affair with gemstones, as you may have spotted from several of the pieces above. A couple of weeks ago, when I was in the throes of a horrible throat infection which floored me for several days, I scraped myself out of bed and onto the bus to the Knitting and Stitching Show, which I knew from my Mum's visit the previous day had several bead stands. Including a really, really awesome gemstone stand - Ilona Biggins - and, well....let's just say I went to town a bit there! She had very kindly passed on a free entry ticket to my Mum for me (otherwise entry would have been £16 - outrageous!), so she'd saved me a fair bit of cash already, PLUS I got a wee discount - probably because I spent so much it would have been rude not to. Oops. But just look at all the beautiful gemstones and pearls I snaffled! Well, you can't most of them - but have a look at those you *can* see! The gorgeous agate above, but more than that, the rough-cut amethyst. SO AWESOME. It is part of a mixed strand of amethyst and citrine (you can see a spot of that in the necklace above) and I could NOT leave it behind. Could I?! 

Just look how fantastic they look with the ceramic shards in these earrings! They came as part of a small set from France, with the bird in the bracelet above. Oh, and I should mention another bead in that bracelet above - the amazing lampwork disc beneath the bird. Look how *glowy*. How magical and otherworldly. All from the subtly wondrous hands of Julie Wong Sontag of Uglibeads. Seriously, if you didn't notice it a minute ago, take a wee scroll back up and have a peek. Yep, see what I mean? 

Anyway, you've made it through this epic post! Well done, if you're still with me. I'll be back SOON with slightly shorter posts, when I don't have approximately 2 months so gallop through! Thanks for sticking with it and I promise, I'll see you soon. 

Thursday, 17 March 2016

A few new pieces...

A few new pieces from me....

Sea and Sand

Be True

Golden Shores

Honey Pot (these have a bit of a story to them - more about them in another post!)

Perching (link to this coming soon - I haven't got around to listing it quite yet!)

As you can see, most of these are available in my shop now - hop over and check it out.

Monday, 29 February 2016

And the light poured through - the story of a bracelet

A couple of weeks ago, I snagged a few bundles of lampwork glass in a sale. Who can resist a good sale? (Not me.) One of the bundles was the set pictured below Rachel aka Puffafish had created a beautiful and unusual set of beads, with raku frit (tiny pieces of crushed glass) on a black background, encased in a thick layer of crystal clear glass. The raku reacts with the heat and beautiful colours are brought out to create unique and sightly unpredictable (in a good way!) results. The set immediately leapt out at me - I'm not usually drawn to black for some reason, but these were just incredible - a combination of the colours set against the dark backdrop, and the way light moves through clear encased beads, made this set extra special. 

Rachel had entitled this set 'Fireflies' and you can see why - the flickering lights captured within perfectly mimic those tiny creatures (determined to see them in the flesh some day!). But they immediately reminded me of another beautiful form of light - the light that falls through stained glass windows, and specifically of a trip I made to Paris a few years ago, and an afternoon spent sat in L'eglise Saint Eustache

Can you see what I mean - light falling on the stony ground, dispersed and softened by centuries-old stained glass windows? 

I am lucky enough to have visited Paris a few times (although it has been far too long) and L'eglise Saint Eustache is one of my favourite places to visit. Built on as epic a scale as its more famous neighbour, Notre Dame, but not nearly as touristy - or quite frankly, as fancy - it has a quietness and a reflective, peaceful quality that I've always found incredibly moving. I'm not religious, but the solitude and peace one can find in a religious building is a remarkable thing. Last time I was there, I was by myself in the city, and I sat, taking it all in. I (discreetly!) took a bunch of pictures with my phone, and played around with instagram afterwards, trying to draw out the qualities I'd found within this huge, ancient building whilst sitting there alone. 

It's this last photo here that Rachel's beads reminded me of - I still remember sitting by myself, looking at the lights on the ground, and thinking how amazing they were, and how lucky I was to be there at that moment to take in the solemn yet playful beauty of it all.

And it's that combination of the solemn and the playful that I wanted to capture within this bracelet. I knew I wanted to use several of these beads in one piece for impact, and the same day the lampwork glass arrived, I also had a small delivery from Vintaj Brass - a small company who create nickel-free brass components for jewellers, and who are known for the beautiful, naturally developed warm bronze-brown patina which they develop on their pieces. A new component to me were these decorative bell caps - the perfect component to pair with my stained glass light beads:

Playful handwoven glass {song}beads in matte coral, and some pressed glass rounds in hyacinth and turquoise completed the band, offsetting the black backdrop of the lampwork and bringing out the glimmering raku flickers. I added a simple beaded extender and a heavy sterling silver clasp, which I oxidised to tone with the patinated brass bells. 

You can pick up And the light poured through over in my etsy shop now

Thursday, 25 February 2016

A Sale!

Ahoy there! I'm having a wee sale. It's leap year, February is almost over and Spring is just around the corner - all things to celebrate in my book! 

You can take 20% off all items in my shop with coupon code LEAP20. Click here to jump straight into my shop! 

Here's a few of the pieces you could snaffle if you are quick about it, including some *new* pieces that I loaded into the shop this morning:

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Pictures, not words - some new jewellery

Oh hey there!

 It's late here, and I'm about to go to bed, but I just wanted to stop by with a quick post before slinking off to bed. I have been having a browse through my blog this evening, clicking through those links at the bottom of each post (if you like this, you'll love this post etc!), which seem to take you on a bit of blog time-travel. It's nice to remind yourself where you've come from and what you were doing and making 4 or 5 years ago. I also enjoyed the variety of types of posts which I have written over the years, and it made me think of the very lengthy ones I've been writing this year. Yes, I've been really enjoying them - but I want to mix things up with some shorter, more picture-heavy ones. So that's what this is - just sharing a few things I've made recently. Because sometimes you want to read all the words - but sometimes, you just want to look at the pictures, right? 

I NEED to make more necklaces over the next couple of weeks/months/years. I'm always behind with this task! Here's one I did manage to make, which I'm pretty pleased with...

Another thing on my to-do list FOREVER has been to reshoot pictures for my 'Home is where the heart is' necklace. A long-standing Songbead classic/favourite, it's fair to say that my previous photos were a little, well, rubbish. Pleased to say that I finally GOT THAT DONE. Tick!

I've become a little obsessed with turning Sally Soul Silver's new puffy triangle beads (swoon!) into bracelets. Here's my latest one. Retitled Nature's Bounty because, well, I just kept imagining this as a well-stocked cupboard and that didn't quite cut it somehow...

I have a long-standing love affair with pearls. Like any relationship, we have hot and cool periods, but we're definitely going through a hot one right now. Just look at the sheen on these....This necklace is one of those carefully curated yet seemingly slightly random ones creations - a bit like messy hair that's actually taken you an hour to perfect before leaving the house, the layout of this rather special necklace took me AGES, until like Goldilocks I felt I had got it just right. 

Looking back through my blog, I came across the posts from when I was visiting Paris a few years ago. My reactions were a) I want to go back to Paris, b) I need to take more photos and instagram them when I'm travelling around, and then blog them and c) I really, really want to go back to Paris. This is one of my favourite moments from that trip.

I met up with a dear friend Anna today, to whom I gifted a pair of my new handwoven glass button studs. Here she is modelling them. Pretty cute, huh? 

This earring design became one of my favourite over the summer - birds, flowers, handwoven glass {song} it any wonder I love these? I came across these beautiful but stashed away porcelain birdies last week when searching for something else entirely, and I'm glad I did.

On my work table this evening. Handmade lampwork lentil from Helen Chalmers, I used that as my jumping off point and whipped up a bunch of coordinating {song}beads. It's now a bracelet which I'll photograph tomorrow, sunshine permitting. 

Last for now but not least, a new pair of earrings in the shop. I am a little bit in love with this mixed-metal colour mix which I've created for these earrings. Copper + Silver = much gorgeousness. Find them here

Hope you've enjoyed this little photo trip! More posts like these to come, for sure. 

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Songbead...2016 so far...

A quick post from me today rather than one of the lengths scrawls I've been dishing out recently! Last year I did one of these collages at the end of January, featuring what I'd made that month. This time, I decided to do one showcasing the pieces (or most of the pieces, not including made-to-order or custom work I've done) I've sent off to new homes this year. A pretty colourful bunch, each with their own story to tell.

Here's looking forward to rehoming many more Songbeads in 2016. 

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Stacked Earrings Challenge - Chapter 4

Hello! It's time again for our little creative group challenge again, and my goodness, it's been a while since our last round. Hands up, it's all my fault! I had such a lot on over the summer - multiple craft fairs, working down in London for several weeks and the continuing saga of the poorly sick bunny rabbit, that it took me until DECEMBER to get my little bead selection out to everybody. When checking through to see when my last blog post was from this series, and I'm ashamed to say that I've held us up since last May. Eek! So sorry guys! 

This exchange is the brain-child of Swedish jewellery designer-maker, Malin de Koning, who invited Heidi Post, Leah Curtis and Claire Lockwood and myself to join her. Here's the lowdown in Malin's own words:

"The idea is that I give each of us the same set of beads. Beads that I believe would be nice to use in earrings. Nothing exclusive, and no art beads. Just a group of different beads that I myself believe can be used in fun and interesting ways in earrings in a stacked style.

I am longing to see how we all use the same things but in different ways. I am thinking we could all make at least one pair of earrings, but hopefully more. And that we are free to add our own extra beads and/or other components, if we at least use three (3) of the beads from my set in each design."

Since Malin began this challenge back in January 2015, we've taken it in turns to send out little curations of beads, and all turning them into our own creations. Here's what I selected for the group:

Photo curtesy of Leah Curtis - please note the super-cute bunny plate!

We're a pretty diverse bunch of designers, all working with beads and found objects, and so it's been fascinating seeing what everyone comes up with each time, from exactly the same selection of beads. I have to say, I had a great time digging through my bead boxes to make this little collection - some beads I'd totally forgotten I owned (the rubber rings on the rh side) and some which I use all the time (ceramic rondelles and pressed glass flowers). When I'd finished gathering everything together, I did feel a little like I should perhaps have included a few neutrals and darker tones in there - you might need your sun-specs for this vibrant a selection! But then again, I adore colour and so it's pretty indicative of me, this little bunch of beads. 

And so without further ado, here's what I turned this little lot into:

I did have one more pair which I started on, but I had used one of my handwoven {song}beads and didn't have enough time to whip up another before photographing these (and it was a rondelle - one of the more time-consuming styles to make), so 5 pairs will have to do. And all in all, I'm pretty pleased with these! Especially because on completion of this collection, I realised that all I'd added to my original bead selection were my own handwoven {song}beads, and findings (the metal bits and bobs!). 

Spice Trail - a true stack of beads here, Czech pressed glass, nickel-free brass, Greek ceramic discs, vintage carved acrylic, handwoven {song}beads and handmade sterling silver earwires. 
These might be my favourite from the set of five. Stacked high with an eclectic mix of beads - ceramics, pressed glass, carved acrylic and of course, some of my own handwoven {song}beads, these are long and luscious. Just look at those vintage carved acrylic rounds! I am so glad I rediscovered these when hunting out beads for this round's little collection.  

Mojito - handwoven {song}beads, Czech pressed glass, handmade sterling silver pins and earwires and vintage acrylic rounds.
This pair also contain some awesome vintage acrylic rounds, and I've paired these with some of my handwoven {song}bead rondelles, and a stack of Czech pressed glass, topped and tailed by my handmade oxidised sterling silver. These are a bit of a departure for me colour-wise - lime green or chartreuse, as we are calling it these days (yep, I know they're technically different but chartreuse sounds so much nicer than lime, doesn't it?), isn't necessarily my go-to green, but here I've paired it with dark silver and teal to tone thing down a bit and it works! (I hope!) 

Favorit - Czech pressed glass, antiqued copper, vintage acrylic rounds, handmade sterling silver earwires.

There's a bit of a story behind the title here. Long-time readers may have noticed that 'Favorit' is a name I tend to use/borrow again and again - and yes, there's a reason behind that. In my late teens/early twenties, I left Edinburgh to go and study down in England, but when I returned to Edinburgh for the holidays, my friends and I always used to meet up in a late night cafe, Favorit. Despite it serving alcohol, we always opted for teas and coffees, and the occasional humus and pitta bread, which I'll freely admit, given the option of wine was unusual for us - even if we stayed there until the wee hours. I have some of the BEST memories of nights there - being silly and daft and laughing, laughing, laughing - Favorit is no more, but I'll never forget the good times had. It has a slight 'retro dinner' feel to it, and so whenever I see my favo(u)it(e) colour-scheme of red and turquoise (pretty retro in itself), I always think back to those good old days. I think this title will keep repeating on me! 

Moon Landing - Peridot, rubber, bone, handmade sterling silver earwires.

These beads were a bit of a wildcard in the selection I sent out. I love gemstone chips, but I must admit, I don't always know what to do with them. And those tiny rubber rings - I'd completely forgotten that they were something I had in my collection, so they were almost like new to me. The craggy surface of the peridot remind me of the rugged landscape of Harris, an island in the outer hebrides which I visited a couple of years ago. My host compared the rocky, barren landscape of part of the island which we were driving through with the surface of the moon, which has really stayed with me. It's a tiny island, but so full of contrast, as so much of the Highlands and Island of Scotland are. The idea that some of the landscape of this tiny island was comparable with the moon blew my mind! So the connection here is an other-wordly one. These earrings are some of my favourites out of this little bunch - perfect for those who like really dainty earrings.

Spring Meadow - handwoven {song}beads, Czech pressed glass, Greek ceramic discs, rubber, handmade sterling silver earwires.

Last but not least, these stackers are fairly classic Songbead. Light bright Spring colours, topped off with some of my handwoven {song]beads, I feel like these earrings are guaranteed to make you smile. Step out into the countryside in a month or two and you'll see these colour popping up everywhere! These are the happiest earrings from the bunch - I'm definitely tempted to make myself a pair of these too. 

And so that's it for this round! Please hop over to my friends' blogs and check out what they've created with exactly the same materials. Looking forward to the next instalment already!


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