Saturday, 29 December 2012

Another Sad Festive Season

I have to tell everyone that today I lost my darling, darling Harry cat - he was killed by a car today.  I'd been calling and calling him all night, and in fact went out driving around the neighbourhood twice during the night and could not find him - he was always one of those cats who would come when he was called.  And he never came home.
Then in the morning, I went looking for him with Mark. I just knew. Then I found him by the side of the road, and someone had killed him with their car.  Harley has lost his brother, and I have lost my baby and I am desperately, deeply sad.  Mark took him away when I collapsed after I found Harry, and a very kind lady looked after me.  I never saw her face, I was crying too hard.  This is the second Christmas this has happened - last year it was Bailey on Christmas Day, today it is my sweet boy.  

He was an adventurer, a brave boy, a clever boy, with the longest tail on a cat you could ever imagine - he would always be in the studio with me when I worked, he would have this funny way of stretching all the way up to the kitchen surfaces when I was cooking - he'd put his front paws on my legs and s-t-r-e-t-c-h and then ask me for something to eat.  He'd always wait for me to tell him to eat his dinner before he began eating - so polite.  He seemed to walk on his toes all the time - so I used to call him Harry Tippytoes. He and Harley would wash each other every night, and he and his brother would follow me around everywhere.  He got into all sorts of scrapes with Harley, but we never thought he wandered as far as the road.  Naive, perhaps, but there you go.  Its terrible because we bought this house believing our cats would be safe.  Too awful for words.  Just heartbroken.  Again.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Happy Christmas One and All

Wishing everyone a lovely Christmas and a very Happy New Year - hope your festive season, however you celebrate it - or not - is wonderful for each and every one.  Peace and tranquillity to all.

We are planning a quiet christmas with the cats and my Mum and Dad and my good friend Yvonne coming for Christmas dinner - I do this every year, but its just about one of the few things I really enjoy about Christmas - I love wrapping presents, I love having the cats around to 'help' and I love putting the tree up.  All the rest is just just 'blah'.

Sending you love and kindness, good health and happiness.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Handmade Felted Bag

I have been making this felted bag for my mother in law, Simone, for Christmas - a lot of sweat and tears went into this piece - it is nuno felted - using a thin layer of silk overlaid with merino wool which was embellished with silk, wools, sparkly angelina and vintage bits of lace and ribbon - I made the main body (took ages!) followed by the rope for the handle.   

Once I'd wet felted the body of the bag and shaped and allowed it to dry, I needlefelted it with swirls and circles before wet felting and setting into shape again, then put small holes in the side and pulled the cord through on each side before knotting.   
I then made a small felted wool loop for the clasp and used a vintage button as the closure - these were both stitched in before I ironed on thick interfacing over the top of the felted clasp loops to ensure it stayed where it was supposed ti.

The bag has three internal pockets, all made of silk and embellished with beads.  Once the felting was finished and the bag was to all intents and purposes completed I embroidered it using metallic and silk threads.  A labour of love.


Friday, 7 December 2012

A Felting Class with Angela Barrow

I've just come back from a wonderful felting class with my tutor, Angela Barrow.   My Mum and my friend June from across the road also came with me, and there were two other ladies attending as well.  We were making felted fingerless mittens, as I'd asked Angela a while back to run a course doing this.  Everyone produced something fab, and we all had a lovely day (as always, on Angela's courses).  
We started by making little 'scarflettes' as a practice and then moved onto making mittens - these are mine as they were when I left Angela.

Later on at home I needlefelted them with a swirly design and then wet felted them all over again to refine the fit - and this is the final result.  They're ever so warm and cosy!

It was a lovely day out, not least because Angela's studio is full of cats (like mine!) and her home is full of things she has made and collected over the years - so interesting, so inspiring and so original.
My Mum hadn't done any felting previously and both she and my friend June produced something to be proud of. I always look forward to Angela's classes and have signed up for several next year already...can't wait.  Just in case you are interested, here is her website and blog.

We met with some very wild weather on the way home, and I was quite concerned that we weren't going to make it over the hills between Yorkshire and Manchester - trucks were stuck on the motorway and it was quite scary, especially as I have a new car which I still feel like I am learning to drive!   Hopefully next time I go over there I'll have 'passed' the new car test.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Sorry for the Long Absence

I'm so sorry for having been absent from my blog for so long - where does time go?  I've had various people who apparently actually read the blog (imagine!) ask me why I'm not blogging - no real answer, perhaps I had bloggers burnout!  I seem to have missed the fabulous Olympics and the Queen's Jubilee, both of which were wonderful.  So I'll try and keep up with it a little better from now on.  Fingers crossed.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Harley and his lama

This is Harley, with his lama teddy - I'd said I wanted an alpaca for my birthday, and this is what I got.  Or rather, what Harley instantly adopted as his own.  Sweet!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Share the Love

Happy Valentine's Day! XO, Etsy from Etsy on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The story of the cat and the mouse at two in the morning..

Clearly, Harley cat is feeling better....because I have just woken up to a nightmare scenario (at least for one of the parties, a mouse) where Harley cat was encouraging his new friend to do acrobatics for his Mummy on her bed.  I woke up Harley feeling better then?  Only to have this confirmed by his having caught me a live present and bringing it to me to play with.   Sadly, by the time I had gained control of the situation, I had a dead mouse and a still very very excited cat.   Dealt with the mouse, spoke to the cat, reminded him I am a vegetarian, changed the bed, hoovered the carpet - lots of groaning from the other occupants of the house, explained the severity of the situation.  Nodded.  Quite normal.  Back to bed.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Mia, Harry and Harley

Well, I've been tending to three poorly pussycats this past week - Mia started with calicivirus, shortly followed by Harley and now by Harry - imagine a bad dose of flu - the worst you've ever had, and you're close to how they've been feeling.   The boys seem to have recovered much faster than Mia who is a little delicate girl who had a terrible hard life before she came to us.   So, its been feline painkillers and warm spots for them to sleep in, and for once they have all enjoyed being wrapped up in old towels and snuggled up all warm - not that I blame them with all this cold weather.

I drove down to Birmingham to see some of my suppliers - I like Birmingham very much anyway, and know it much better than I do Manchester, though the weather was not good and I drove back in a horrible scary fog on the motorway; ever since a petrol tanker drove over the side of my car several years ago I've been a bit of a scary mary with big vehicles next to the drivers side of my car; somehow it just scares me to death, which is a shame becuase other than that I am a brave driver.

I've just taken delivery of some fab new silver components and some gorgeous delicate blue zircon drops in a swiss blue topaz colour which I can't wait to use, and having horrid weather outside makes me want to be cozy and creative inside. to work and back to nursing the kitty cats, I am sure they will be up and about causing havoc again soon!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Mia-Cat, and More New Stuff...

I thought I'd do a new post about more new work to find Blogger have changed everything around in terms of posting so - um - aaaaargh, I hope I don't make a total mess of this.  

Anyyywayyyy...I'm just endlesly editing photos right now both for the website and my Etsy shop, and I am sitting with my pussycat Mia who seems quite unwell tonight - she has a chest infection, Mark took her to the vets for her annual check-up and injections and the vet said she needed antibiotics, but I've been giving them to her (its only me who can do this, because she's a very sensitive girl) and tonight, she really does not seem well at all - I am taking her back to the vets tomorrow morning.   She's limping quite badly and is very grumpy and I am wondering if she has a dose of feline calicivirus because Bailey, who we lost to an accident at christmas, was a carrier, and although we had done everything we could to try and isolate him whilst he was infectious (weeks and weeks of him being at Mark's Mum's house), it seems the main cat family still got it in the end - I had not noticed Mia showing any signs though, but she is really not herself tonight, so I am going to sit up with her a while and take care of her. 

In any case, I will update the blog tomorrow about what happens, but in the meantime, here is some new jewellery, shortly to go on the site...

These little 'Gifted' earrings have been so popular, I made some more..

 Earrings made using my new Murano glass in a beautiful deep shade of purple...

Again, these beads above are the only ones I have left of these - gemstone inlaid beads with sterling silver, the earrings also feature Lapis Lazuli and Turquoise - they remind me so much of much of the jewellery I saw in Arizona.

Gorgeous Zircon hearts, from my trip to Arizona last year...this is a rare and beautiful colour.


 I'm having a bit of a love affair with my Murano glass cubes right now, which to be honest, I have been hoarding for years...then I thought - hmmm, what am I actually saving these for?   So I made some jewellery with them, which is very liberating suddenly!

This beautiful sterling silver enamelled bead came from a trip to Minnesota several years ago - again, something I have been hoarding for no other good reason other than it's the only one I have - now a pretty necklace in sterling silver and Swarovski crystal.

Murano glass heart pendants - simple, beautiful, practical and gorgeous.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Italian Jewellery Collection

I've just launched my new Italian jewellery section on the website, not to fly in the face of the rest of my jewellery being hand-made, but to complement it - I went through a lot of prospective supplies before I found this company who makes the most beautiful crystal-encrusted jewellery in Italy; it's lovely quality with excellent credentials - hypo allergenic, with Swarovski crystal elements, the metals are either rhodium plated or high carat gold plated, and normally I'd shy away from plated jewellery but I am convinced of the quality of this collection - so - intially a relatively small selection, just to see how it goes, but hopefully this will be something that will grow as people get to know about it (fingers crossed)...and here's a link to take you to it....

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Cake Class

I just took a cupcake decorating class - it was supposed to be part of my Mum's birthday gift but she couldn't make it, so I took my sister-in-law Clare.

I've always shied away from 'that icing stuff' (especially considering the 'nervous breakdown cake' I made for Mum's birthday) but we had a short demo and just got on with it - granted my first - the yellow one on the far side of this pic, really wasn't that beautiful but I was pretty pleased with the rest of them - weird how when I got them home both Mark and I peeled off the icing and mostly just ate the cake!   The class was lots of fun and involved around 25 people circulating round the room making up four cupcakes and then us all having afternoon tea, which was basically an awful lot of cake with cups of tea.  Yummy.

For this one (above) I made roses and leaves out of royal icing and piped the top - I'd mostly been terrified of piping but really, after I'd seen it done, it was soooo easy...and I loved making the roses and leaves - there is a new product - edible paints - which we were playing with, and boy, was that fun!

What the class mostly taught me though was what it was like to be a beginner at something - sometimes, with the work I do day to day, I can lose sight of that and I always refer to jewellery making and the composition of work as nothing difficult or special - when someone has a special talent - like cakemaking or making jewellery, it can be difficult to identify with someone starting out and understand just how much like a fish out of water they can feel.  Well, I know now, and I'm humbled.  

Thursday, 5 January 2012

New (and Green)...

Just made this...

Murano glass cubes, Swarovski crystal beads and sterling silver...

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Cake - "Always Have Back-Up Butterflies".....

I'm really into making cakes right now...and this one is a special one.   It was Mum's birthday today (it was a 'special' one but we won't mention which one) and my brothers and I had organised a surprise birthday meal for her.   All well and good, and then I said I'd make a cake, because a shop bought one just wouldn't do.

When Mum and I were in NY last year, on my birthday we had Red Velvet cake, and it was scrumptious.  I've made it a few times since we got back, so I decided on a four layer red velvet cake with a cream cheese frosting.   The cakes came out beautifully, just popped out of the oven, no trouble at all, and they looked fab.  I made the icing and then the trouble started, because you know, (and I didn't at the time) when you try and put four cakes together like a skyscraper with cream cheese frosting in between, then the layers start to move apart like techtonic plates gearing up for a major upheaval.   Quite a lot of cursing later we got to stabbing the entire four layers right the way through with skewers, and the layers stayed put.

Now we've got the icing, and when I think of hell now, it involves icing/frosting.  No way could I get that stuff to stick to the outside of that cake.  It just slid downwards, like a river washing over the cake.   There was no way it was going to stay put.  I nearly threw the lot through the kitchen window - but seeing as it was New Year's Eve and there were now no shops open to save my life, I took a step back and put the entire lot, cake and all into the fridge.  I really couldn't stop myself tinkering every half hour to see if it made any difference, to which the answer was 'not a blind bit'.

I decided I'd add half a ton of icing sugar to the frosting to try and get it to be thicker.  It didn't work. 
Mark came into the kitchen and he thought I'd turned into the devil.

I went to bed and obsessed all night.   Got up at four and somehow managed to get the stuff to stick.  Must have been the superglue.

Next morning, never mind feeding the cats, getting dressed or having breakfast, straight off to that fridge to sit and sob in front of it.   Got the cake out, didn't drop it.   Plastered some icing that was melting off and then....the genius stroke.   I'd bought these fab rice paper edible butterflies for this very cake...sprinkled the thing with anything pretty I could find out of my cake decoration drawer...and stuck the butterflies on.   Topped off with the pretty candles I'd found in Waitrose...and Mark came down the stairs, saw the cake and said 'wow'.

Life saved.  One lovely, lovely cake, only leaning about 30 degrees (like the tower of Pisa) and it got a rapturous recption at the party.

Lesssons Learned
1. Don't be a smarty pants...don't do four layers when you could have done two, you banana.
2. Always anchor the cakes with skewers.
3. Don't make up your own recipe for frosting.
4. Don't make your cake up on New Years Eve for New Years Day.
5. If it can go wrong, it probably will.
6. Always have a back up plan.  
7. Always have back up butterflies.

The cake...