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...