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. 


Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A Felting Commission for Sharon B.

Sharon is a customer who has had jewellery and a couple of my ribbon scarves in the past - she wanted one of my felted scarves and after chatting to her and my casually mentioning a colour scheme to her of green, grey and yellow, she decided that is what she wanted - the rest of the brief was to have some lace and silk in it and that was it.   It took me a day to lay out the piece, which I then left overnight, dry.  I often do it this way - everyone knows I take ages to lay out my felting, and I find it less exhausting to do the wet stuff the next day.

I felted it using merino, huge amounts of silk, vintage organza which I cut into leaves, lace, collected threads and fabric including some sparkly angelina, wensleydale locks in both the body of the scarf and at the ends of the scarf. I love that it's so different on each side - one side is quiet and muted, the other bright and vibrant.
Once I had the first lot of wet felting done, I spent quite some time needlefelting curls and waves with a solid green colour (merino) wool before giving the wrap another wet felting to give the piece a 'final polish' before ironing the piece.   I mailed it out in an embroidered silk bag. 

Sharon later called me to say she was utterly delighted with the piece - which of course I was delighted about!


Saturday, 26 January 2013

Moving - and an Adoption....

I've just spent the day moving Merlin from my old stableyard to my new one -we'd been very happy at the old place, but I was tempted away by a lovely yard with fabulous facilities.  Sadly I had to leave behind many friends including Martha and Sheena, Susan and Amy, Kim, Kelly, Leila and various others, and we had to drug Merlin absolutely off his face in order that we could get him onto Sheena's truck to make the short journey to the new place.  
Merlin will just about do anything at all for me apart from get on any form of horse transportation - we all have our little foibles I guess.   So my dear friend and equine vet Vicky prescribed Merlin a drug which virtually put him out. I think in actual fact I was supposed to take it, because once I had got it into the horse (no mean feat) he was fairly unaware of what was going on.  It took seven of us to get him up the ramp and ready for travel - not because he was drugged, but because despite being drugged, he still wasn't going up that ramp.
When we got the other end I was absolutely convinced he was going to fall down the ramp and was ready to jump for it but he managed to stay on his wobbly little legs.

Several hours later he woke up in a new stable with a new view with look of amazement on his face (trust me, horses can do amazement), not quite sure how he got there.

At the same time, we have now adopted Olly, who was the cat we had been taking care of for some time at the old stableyard - we've loved him as long as we've known him - about 3 and a half years.  He's coal black from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail and is a prodigious hunter, but he's going to have to get used to living in a house rather than a stable now - fingers crossed that our cats Harley and Mia will allow Olly to become part of the feline family without too much difficulty.  Olly's previous owner, Grace, had given him to me last year - before my darling Harry was killed on the road at Christmas, so he was a planned adoption - and I am glad of this, because I don't feel I am trying to replace one cat with another, which would never be the case.  The loss and the heartbreak doesn't get any easier and Harry is missed every single day.  

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Florida, USA

It was a long time since we had a proper holiday (that is all holiday and no work), and we'd planned this break long before Harry the cat died, though had I actually been able to cancel, it was definitely the way I was feeling.  As it was, my parents stayed at the house as usual to serve the cats in any way the cats desired, and I was bundled out of the house feeling very unlike wanting to leave home and my precious cats....especially as we were moving stableyards on return from holiday.
For some reason, we expected poor weather and we got everything but - it must be 12 years since we were last in Florida and I noticed that many businesses and malls appear to have gone to the wall, and in many places an air of tumbleweed blowing down the main street seemed to prevail.

Despite being far from home and in theory away from the stress of Harry's death, I'd just start crying randomly....thank god for dark glasses, because I think I had these horrible haunted eyes most of the time.  Blubbing would just erupt at any moment my heart wandered to what has just happened.
But there were moments of brightness, and the heat seems to have done my bones and health a lot of good.  We landed at Orlando and immediately took the rental car down south towards the Keys, our old haunt without much of a backward glance, though we pinged from coast to coast as we did it - we stayed at Captiva and Sanibel islands, both world famous for magnificent shells that wash up on the beach (the only shells I found were in shops!) - before driving further and further south and ending up at Islamorada in the Keys, and later took a trip to Key West which is a bit like Disney world with performing cats and drunk transvestites
dragging passers by into bars.  Clearly I have actually never been to Disney, but I think stuff like that would surely liven it up.

These cockerels were strutting their stuff all over Key West. There doesn't need to be a reason for it to be so in this place, it just is.

We stayed at Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada, somewhere we have been before and I was able to just sit and drink tea and be as miserable as I wished, which was a lot miserable some of the time.  I was able to raise smiles for the massive Iguana who leapt out of the bushes and scared the living daylights out of me and made me shriek the first time which was only because he surprised me as I have met iguanas before and I know he meant me no harm. Sadly, no camera at the time but I did see this fab green creature lurking around my favourite lagoon pool several times.    Cheeca Lodge has marked itself in my memory
as the hotel with the outside got to close curtains round you (or that was at least the idea in order not to frighten the rest of the world) and sit on the balcony in a massive round tub - bathing is listed as one of my hobbies so that made me happy.
Although we travelled together I have been spending a lot of time on my own because I am probably the worst type of company in the world....Mark would go off diving or swimming and I would feel totally free to stick my sunglasses on and just stare at the sea, or go and take another bath.

Rheumatology had given me my 'Christmas Dose' of steroid which I always feel compelled to beg for just before Christmas hits so bone-wise I was doing pretty darn well, despite the stress of what had just happened at home.  
It was a lovely trip but badly timed, though I was not to know that at the time of booking several months before.  We were saddened by the hardship that people are obviously going through in keeping businesses, jobs or just body and soul alive and were astonished by the number of people who seemed to be begging on the streets, it must be quite awful to be in such a situation and I hope life is able to pick up for them in the future. 

There are no miserable faced pics because I wouldn't have any taken....I don't want to look back in a few years and say 'oh yeah, that was that really sad holiday'.   We returned through a town called Sarasota which was just fab and Mark started dreaming about buying an apartment.  Dream on, we need to eat instead!   Enjoy the sunshine in the pics xx