Friday, 30 April 2010

Another Felted Wrap, piles of pink...

Just finished this piece - its Merino wool and silk and its large and soft, soft soft.  Took around 7 hours to complete and I am soooo tempted to keep this, but no, it will go in the pile for the website.   I adore the colours - can't quite decide - is it pink? peach? blue? yellow? ochre?   A wrap of many colours, then.  The feel of these pieces is beautiful - I can't get over how tactile the wool is.    One thing I didn't expect as a result of working with so much water and soap (albeit olive oil soap) is how soft my hands are after felting - and wow, my nails grow like mad too - must be something good in it then!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Foaling Around...

You have to love this this little chap, who was born on my stableyard less than a week ago - he's all legs and cuteness.   He was a big surprise as his Mama, Velvet arrived on the yard already expecting him but no-one knew until two months or so ago (a horse pregnancy is around 11 months).
He's fascinating to all the other horses on the stableyard - my Merlin can't stop staring - the first time he saw him he shook all over for several minutes which is weird because my boy is King of the Herd - maybe he thought someone would try and pin it on him and come after him for child maintenance! 
This little baby hasn't got a name yet (I suggested calling him 'BOGOF' - Buy One, Get One Free), but he is already loved to bits. 

Tessa Heirloom Tiara

This is a piece I've made for the site - its been sitting on my desk waiting for me to finish - I made a comfortable wired band, then used a 'sieve' type fitting to wire in some good stuff - I've had this English bone china cornflower brooch for ages, and used lucite flowers and leaves, Czech glass flowers and leaves, Swarovski crystal , Swarovski crystal pearls, goldtone wire, seed beads, freshwater pearls, and some old and collected beads, fittings and findings from my bead boxes - the asymmetric style is very popular with brides who don't want a full-on tiara and this one makes me think of Engish summers.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The World's Smallest Horse...

This is Einstein - possibly the smallest horse in the world. Born in New Hampshire, USA, this tiny coloured stallion measures 14 inches tall and weighed only 6lbs when he was born. That's smaller and lighter than an average human newborn baby.
Einstein was so tiny that his owner thought initially he was dead "I've been at this for 20 years plus but I've never seen one this tiny or even close to it,".
Unlike many miniature horses Einstein shows no sign of dwarfism – as does the current claimant of the world's smallest horse title, Thumbelina.
Einstein's co-owner Dr Rachel Wagner said  "Most of the horses that are really tiny are what we call dwarves and they have some sort of dysmorphic features, or features that aren't really normal or healthy. This little guy is like all horses - he's almost all leg.'  The Guinness Book of Records lists the smallest newborn horse as weighing just 9lbs.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Freya Orchid Combs and Pins

Here's a recent commission finished for a bride who is getting married in the Carribbean in July....the design will be up on Tiaraonline soon; it was lovely working with these summery colours and imagining the bride wearing a beautiful dress, looking radiant and happy on a sunlit beach....

Freya Comb and Pins; 'Silk' Orchids, silvertone wire, silk covered wire, Swarovski crystal and Swarovski crystal pearls, Freshwater pearls, satin ribbon.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

St. George's Day...

Its our National Day today, the day that St. George slew the dragon (or didn't, as the case may be!) - here's a quick picture celebration of England...
All these pictures are of the lovely Derbyshire countryside which I love more than any other part of the country - top is a photo of one of the dams, middle is Wynnatt's Pass near Castleton and bottom is Chatsworth House - if you've ever seen the film 'The Duchess' then this is where Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, lived.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Upcycled Necklace - Beau Belle

I finished this a few days ago.   Sometimes, when I go to an antique fair I get so excited I almost faint - finding this gorgeous marcasite-set enamelled brooch was one such occasion.   It doesn't seem like vandalism to me to take off the back of a brooch and make it into something else, especially as everyone is wearing bows at the moment - I went down to our local shopping mall (the huge Trafford Centre) to see everyone, the world, his wife and their sister wearing great huge drippy trails of outsize faux pearls and bows, I know, its been in for ages.  I don't really do outsize jewellery all that much - with all the fashion in right now, the colours, the shapes, its so reminiscent of the 1980's when I was a kid - and I've only just got over that.  

Anyway, I digress.  I've had this piece on my desk for ages, and I knew exactly what I was going to do with it but just hadn't got round to it - mainly because I was having difficulties locating the right shade of green freshwater pearls for it - having said that, trawling through my bead boxes turned up these, and I thought I was going to use dark metallic Keishi pearls but ended up using this softer grey instead.   The piece is made to be worn asymmetrically - that is, with the bow to one side and with the clasp showing - why put on a great expensive sterling silver and marcasite clasp if you're going to hide it at the back.

Amazingly, the bow stays exactly where it was put - I know this because I couldn't resist test-driving the piece whilst down at the Trafford Centre and I near enough got mugged for it in Monsoon and Molton Brown, though its always nice to have pieces admired.    The lady in Monsoon was telling me she made clothes -- its a pity we don't all wear t-shirts saying what we like to do, because I'm sure we'd make some great friends....anyway, hope you like the pics.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

'Gentle' Felted Scarf

This is more of a conventional scarf size and shape rather than the huge wraps I've been making recently - its so contemplative making up these pieces, and although I struggle to listen to music whilst I am making jewellery, I can do that or even listen to audio books whilst I am felting, must be a different brain process!   Made with merino wool, silk, cashmere and collected fibres. 

Monday, 19 April 2010

The trip that never was....

Here's a sad story of someone who'd booked to go to Venice tomorrow in an aeroplane, only to be thwarted by a big bad volcano in Iceland.  I'm sure everyone's heard the joke that we asked Iceland to return our cash, not send us ash, but there you go.  
There's nothing I can do about it (though in a mad moment I seriously contemplated driving there until reality bit me) and I feel for all the people all over the world who are stranded, missing the white cliffs of Dover and tea and jam and scones and watching Eastenders on the telly.   At least I've got all that, all they've got is extra sunshine and duty free.  

I know its being claimed that we can't actually SEE the ash - but how come my black car is covered in something that looks suspiciously like talcum powder mixed with grit?  How come the skies are cement coloured?  How come?

My naughty horse has refused to come in to his stable tonight, preferring to spend a romantic night in the moonlight with his 38 year old 'girlfriend' called Fergie.  (And 38 is going some for a horse...); it seems when you've got it, you've got it, even when you're a scruffy old strawberry roan with arthritic legs (no, I'm not talking about myself)...

Now, where's that map?

The Ultimate Traveller

Some cats like to roam and others like to travel the world, like Charles the tabby, who went on a 1300 mile adventure.

Charles, who lives in New Mexico, USA, made the astonishing journey to Chicago when his owner Robin  had to go away to work, and left him in the care of a friend.
She said: "I found out (he had wandered away) while I was away volunteering. I was so upset because I was in New Orleans and there was nothing I could do."
Luckily for Charles, he had been fitted with a microchip, so the rescue shelter in Chicago traced him to his human - eight months after he went missing.
Not content with being a four footed wanderer he's on his way home via American Airlines who are giving him a free flight home (presumably he'll not be grounded by ash like us!).
The rescue shelter's director said: "He's in good condition though needs a good brush, he's got a bit of  an upper respiratory infection but otherwise he's fine."
His owner Robin said she had no idea how he could have made the journey to Chicago. "I've moved around a lot. It seems destined that my cat would also be a traveller."

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Lisa Hair Vine Commission

This is a recent commission - a man in the States had me make a hair vine up for a friend - he was such fun to work with; we worked through colours until we came up with this hair vine.   I put loops on either end so she could thread some ribbon through and also wear it as a choker - its made in sterling.

I love working with customers, especially ones as fun as this one - he made me laugh so much - I hope his friend likes it!  

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Win A Necklace....

Hi All,
I've just updated the site and I've got a new competition on until the end of the month - one customer will win this handmade necklace - made with sterling silver, Murano glass, antique and contemporary crystal and glass beads, freshwater pearls, Mother of Pearl, Aquamarine and Czech glass.  
Simply purchase any item from my jewelllery site ( between now and the 30th April and you'll be entered into the draw - the more times you buy, the more times you get to enter.  I'll announce the winner on May the 1st.  Thanks so much for looking in!

Terror Strikes The Post Office

Posties have stopped delivering mail to a house because they are afraid of being attacked by an elderly family cat of 19, though his age hasn't stopped him terrorising the local post office staff.
During the last month the cat is said to have attacked 3 postmen after lying in wait behind the cat-flap. 
His owner stated "Royal Mail said they will not come near the house because the cat is dangerous. It was funny at first but it is going a bit far now - Tiger is 19 years old. When he sleeps he dribbles, he snores in his sleep and he sleeps for 20 hours a day. If he climbs up a tree he is done in for the rest of the week. I find it really hard to believe."   It begs the question whether they are men or mice, and whether mice would have an easier time of it with Tiger.

The owner has to collect her post from the local sorting office.  Perhaps it is all the postie frightening that has him so worn out.   I'm going to have to say it, aren't I? The great big soft jessies, scared of a pussycat - they'd probably be braver if they were mice, because I can't believe men would be scared of a cat.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Something to make us all smile

Now, if my cat could do this, I'd be impressed.....
I adore the way his little paw waves in the middle of the film. 

Thursday, 8 April 2010

New Wrap!!

My latest felted wrap - made from Merino Wool and Silk - as with many felted projects, each side is different  - always a source of astonishment to me - it depends what colours I layer in (I can see that would be obvious now I think about it), I get so excited as I am making it because I never quite know exactly how its going to turn out, which is half the fun....

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Murano Glass....

I'm back off to Venice and Murano; I used to visit twice a year to see my suppliers but since the advent of them all joining the current century and getting e-mail its not been necessary to keep travelling there (unfortunately!) but now and again its good to call in to them and see how they are  doing, especially as I've had some new suppliers recently.  I'm a terrible hoarder of beads...often I'll buy something and then hang onto it until I think I've admired it enough...

Published Project

Just a quick heads-up!! I've had my Murano Sautoir project published in the first edition of Creative Beads & Jewellery Magazine!  Its sort of weird being suddenly world famous (hah!)
Copies are available from WH Smith and from Hobbycraft, and kits for the project are available from my bead website, by following this link - there are three colourways to choose from.  I've even done a step-by-step tutorial available as a PDF download from the same page which is easy to follow and should make the project achievable for just about anyone.

Currently Reading....

New York by Edward Rutherfurd - what a fabulous book.  A huge thumping read making the city of New York the central character, starting when Manhattan was a swamp, taking us right through to 9/11 and onwards and linking New York with a series of families and characters that fascinate and interest the reader just as much as the place...generations of the city, generations of families, with layers and layers of engaging history (though the section about the American Revolution did go on a bit..) that cannot fail to interest and entertain; the amount of historical research the author must have undertaken must have been astonishing - the accounts of the Draft Riots, the building of New York's skyscrapers, the great depression, the diversity of the population of the city - Poles, Germans, British, Italian, Irish, and the contributions they all made to the place. 
The only criticism I have is that the book does have a character list which runs into the (seemingly) thousands...fair enough, considering the book spans hundreds of years, but I found this - having said that, this has been researched well and the characters are engaging - I am sure I will read this again in a year or two and enjoy it just as much.  Highly recommended.
Riders by Jilly Cooper...this book has one of 'those' reputations.   Its set largely in the 1970's which was a bit of a historical exercise for me because I was only pea-sized during that decade, and of course it was the horses that attracted me.   I have to say that in terms of 'that' reputation I found it tame - maybe we're just used to more shocking stuff these days.   I did get to the end of the book, and its fine as a beach read though dated...the characters are overblown and larger than many of these people would you actually meet in a lifetime, let alone meet in one book?   Moderately entertaining, with the horses being the stars.  I only wish my rear end looked as good as this woman's on the cover.....

206 Bones by Kathy Reichs....I always have high expectations of Kathy Reichs, mainly I suppose based on the TV series 'Bones' (which to be honest has taken a nosedive recently) but I am often disappointed.   I can't really put my finger on it.  Maybe its in comparison to Patricia Cornwell's 'Scarpetta' who goes the other way and often shocks and revolts all in the one paragraph.   Somehow Tempe Brennan is a bit warm and fuzzy and Reich's characterisation and storylines are often weak.  It does not however stop me from reading her books because they are unchallenging and don't leave nightmare tracks across your brain before bedtime.    OK on the understanding its not going to make it onto your '100 books I most loved' list.

The Courts of Love: The Story of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Jean Plaidy.....
This is the story of the mother of Richard the Lionheart, who was so much more than that.  I'd already read the book by Alison Weir (Eleanor of Aquitaine: By the Wrath of God, Queen of England) - its interesting how much detail one author can fill in over another - I can't say that Jean Plaidy's style is as beautiful as Alison Weir's, or that the story is any better for the historical fiction treatment and the narrative in the first person sounds distinctly un-queen-like; fairly entertaining but not a book I'd probably read again though I'm glad I did for the background atmosphere on the subject.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Citrus Wrap, Spring and Baa-Lambs.....

It's Springtime...
Its my favourite time of year....
As usual, there's lots happening...

I'm absorbed in this whole felting thing,  I'm planning on doing some pieces for the site eventually, but as we are now coming into spring and summer (hopefully!!!) I think I've got a bit of time on this.
Shown is a wrap sized piece made from Merino wools and silk in citrus colours - no, not that picture below, those are daffodils.

found the wool from various sheep breeds is very different - I like using Merino which is what much