Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Bead and Button Show, Milwaukee 2013

I am currently in Milwaukee, USA, I flew from Manchester to Heathrow (because I just had to fly Virgin) and landed in Chicago, picked up my car and drove up to Milwaukee.  It's 6 hours behind the UK, and it's hot and humid here. It may only be 7.15 pm here, but I have jetlag and I just have to sleep!

Arrived in Chicago last night and got caught in a torrential storm with some of the scariest thunder and lightning I have ever seen. Saw the Old Navy Pier and the 'magnificent mile' before staggering back to the hotel soaked to the skin...and what's more, managed to navigate myself all this way across the world on my very own - so brave! Back in 17 days (or maybe more if the summer doesn't get going properly in the UK!)
My main reason for being here is that at long last I am attending the Bead & Button Show, held annually in Milwaukee, not so much for the beads but for the tuition and I have around 20 classes scheduled over the next two weeks plus with some of the best and most famous jewellery tutors in the world.  Can't wait.  

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Olly Bobs

A quick update on Olly the (now ex) stable cat....he's doing so well - he has been talked down from the top of the kitchen cupboards (well, ok, bribed) and he seems no longer to want to eviscerate anyone which was quite a problem to start with.  

Of course, he had never seen things like a TV before, or a human in a bath (which was of quite a lot of interest), but he soon cottoned on to the sleeping on the velvet chair or on the most coveted spot of all, my bed.  I am absolutely delighted to have Olly as part of the family - he has been very loved at the stables but he now has a forever home, and he is slowly integrating with Mia, Harley and Charlie.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Cats, the Musical

Just been to see 'Cats' at the Opera House in Manchester.   I confess to having cried four times.  I never knew that a central part of the story was a cat dying.  Not so much what you need when one of your own cats has recently died.  I could hear a lot of people snuffling as well.  Oh well, its not just me then.     What an amazing performance, the costumes were astonishing and we were lucky enough to be near enough the front to see every little detail.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Lambs in Wooly Coats

Hall Hill farm in Lanchester, County Durham, have invested in hundreds of wool coats to keep their Jacobs lambs warms during the prolonged snow in the UK.  Cute and cuter!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Patricia Heirloom Tiara

 This is a tiara I made today using a vintage (1950's) crystal and Bohemian glass necklace - it was a lovely colour but over the course of time had lost part of it's original clasp and this is just the sort of piece of jewellery I love to upcycle into something new and fab.  The greens in this tiara are gorgeous - and I can't seem to capture them, no matter how much I fiddle with the settings on my camera.

I love the bi-colour of the Bohemian glass/crystal - it's so unusual - and the original crystal in the necklace is a very unusual green/gold colour.  I made the band (as I do with 95%) of my tiaras, it makes them exceptionally comfortable.  It's always difficult to decide which way to go with a vintage piece - what to add, what not to.  I always, always find myself stumped for a brief period of time once I have the initial components sitting together in front of me - the band made, the piece of donor jewellery.   Then its just rumage and think and accumulate potential beads and components on my desk until I have that 'aha' moment. Sadly this CAN take ages - not always, but it does on occasion.  What I would hate to do would be to rush the process and then decide I hate it at the end.  Its rare that I do, but it sometimes happen and then I have to take everything apart once again and restart.

I had these lovely minty-green Czech glass daggers sitting in front of me.  I'd had the vintage piece sitting on my desk for ages.  Maybe it was because they'd come in proximity of each other that my head started to consider seriously what was going on with this piece.  It still didn't gel until I added the Swarovski crystal pearls, and it wasn't right until I added the blue Swarovski crystal along with the various shades of green.  And then I was having getting the Czech glass daggers to stand upright until I made little 'cups' of gold plated wire.  

Eventually, at just after four in the morning (seriously!), I realised I'd finished.  The first thing I always do when I complete a piece is tweak it, then trot down the stairs from the studio to find a mirror - plonk the thing on my head and pretend I'm not as old as I am!  Who wants to see someone as old as me in a tiara!  But it does give me a good idea of what the fit will be, if there's anything else that needs doing to it - whether there are any stray little 'poky bits - no one wants poking in the head when they wear their tiara.   

I love this - I didn't think I'd like that colour on my head at all - but hmmmm....strangely it brings out just a little red in my hair  which I never knew was there and overall the piece looks fab - it's a bit 'midsummer night's tale' - and I fell into bed quite happy with my nights' work.  Now I'm looking at making a red tiara....maybe...

This tiara is now for sale at my Etsy shop - here's a link - Patricia Heirloom Tiara

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Nuno Felted White Scarf

This is a nuno felted scarf which I made using silk organza fabric, merino wool, silk and lace.   When you 'nuno' felt you encourage the wool to make it's way through a layer of fabric in order that the two bond to create one whole.   

This was a bit of an experiment to see how I might be able to incorporate lace into a piece - so I laid the silk organza down with pieces of lace over that, then laid a layer of shining beautiful creamy-white silk with a layer of merino/silk mix (50/50) so overall a huge amount of silk in this. 

The difficulty was trying to get the lace to bond to the wool and form a close fit between the fabric and the wool - there are areas where I have managed to get the three (fabric, lace, wool/silk) to bond very well, and other areas where I've not managed this - and I like both - the complete bonding looks very neat - on the other hand, the areas where this hasn't happened, the lace sits inside a little pocket which has been formed between the fabric and the wool - quite interesting - this was a reflection on how much effort I put into working on the bond, and clearly in some areas, I didn't work as hard as others.  

Once I'd got as much bonding as I felt I could, I threw the scarf down onto my work surface, hard and repeatedly (wonderful for working off any grumpiness or bad temper!) and this created a wrinkled effect where the wool shrunk against the silk fabric.  I love this piece. And I'm keeping it.