Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves!

So in the interests of being fair,  I have decided to post this personal opinion, which contrary to all my other posts is not favourable towards Jewellery Maker, but I chose to speak my mind, I sing the companies praises when they do things right, and I have deliberated over a more negative review for a week or so, but I need to get this out of my head and on “paper” so to speak!

I, as you may of read have long been a fan of Jewellery Maker, whom are part of the Gemporia group. Normally I am gushing with praise for JM, the jewellery and the customer services, however in the past weeks I have been let down, not just the once but several times and each occasion increasingly disappointed with the customer service.

My mum is a home shopping addict, being partly disabled I can understand this, so after coming in to a small amount of money again after spending most of her life watching the pennies I can completely understand her new found joy of spending. She is most likely the companies target market – rather like that episode of American Dad!

Utter rubbish " professional jewellery"
Utter rubbish ” professional jewellery”

Regardless of your opinion of home shopping channels, my mum is a regular shopper on Gemporia & Jewellery Maker. (and the rest!)  I for example now am the proud owner of a Ruby Sterling Silver ring, (its a rock literally!!) a black spinel silver ring, a whooping Tanzanite flower stunner and topaz one, not to mention the cultured pearl stud earrings, the Garnet studs, the Topaz studs, the moonstone drops, the Tanzanite dangly earrings yes I have a growing collection of stunning jewels.

However, more often than not lately some of the jewellery I have have less pleased with, take for example the image of the Black Spinel Silver Bracelet, which was part of the Silver set of 10 pieces of Jewellery with an ATGW of 204.6cts the “trace” chain bracelet was badly tarnished, the Black Spinel drops where appallingly attached (and I use that term loosely) to the chain, with the worst wrapped loops I have seen in decades (they certainly needed some classes in this simple technique!). The chain wasn’t even suitable for a drop bracelet, any competent jewellery maker could see that. In fact a couple had broken off, obviously I complained pleasant as the people who answer emails are they aren’t overly helpful, just return it and we will refund. (wasn’t what my mum wanted but it was that or keep a broken piece!)

The some of the other items in the surprise pack were just as tacky, tarnished and clearly not worthy of being worn, but there was a couple that mum actually wanted to keep.

I wasn’t looking for any real opinion other than some form of acknowledgement that the quality simply wasn’t there, but no nothing, just a standard return them and we will refund so I suspect the items will just get resold at a later date.

Other pieces of jewellery she has ordered recently,  stretched the truth a touch, the necklace was choker on me, not a lengthy piece as the presenter had led the audience to believe, toggle clasps that don’t remain closed with wear owing to poor functional design, I could ramble on but I do feel the quality has gone downhill.

I also had a poor experience the last time I shopped with JM, not only was half a strand of the gems badly cut, with obvious floors in the beads, the edges were rough, too rough for anything other than wire without extensive filing, let alone the ones that had crumbled everywhere. I  had also upgraded the postage to the faster service for the first (and last time).  I didn’t hear anything other than seeing a despatch notification on my account, I called the courier, was on / off hold for over 45mins  the end result, the parcel was lost. It could be out for delivery, or not they weren’t sure as it hadn’t been scanned, I emailed JM, the response was the courier will deliver in the time frame they have given you, clearly missing the point that the courier had actually lost the parcel – A very riled response was instantly sent but customer services couldn’t of cared less, obviously I haven’t placed an order since,

The metal stamps I purchased are dreadful in quality, the packaging on the surface appears excellent but in practical use the elastic is too tight (it will loosen in time but then I suspect it will be too loose) The stamps are difficult to use as they haven’t got an image indicating which way around to hammer the stamp (as in premium brands) so you need a bluetac or clay blob handy prior to each wack of the hammer, I am utterly disappointed & have in all honestly loss confidence in JM’s ability to deliver quality items in a timely fashion.

This utter lack of confidence in the companies ability to deliver quality items to me is coupled with my utter displeasure at the current “Designers” they have on air. Cher’s 1980’s  “Gypsies Tramps and Thieves ” springs to mind, whilst they obviously aren’t gypsies tramps or thieves to my knowledge they certainly are an odd line up.

What with the camp chappies who haven’t a clue what a real woman would wear, the pig tailed lady (seriously WTF was she doing on there?), some other random woman who was tongue tied the other evening (there is nothing wrong with that) but seriously get your roots done if you are going in tv!! Couple that with last nights eager “Designer” who felt she had to fake orgasm at each strand, I was screaming at the iPad “get a grip woman its only a strand of gemstones”, we all get you are excited to be on TV but seriously it needed toning down, & I only flicked it on at 8.52 til 9pm!! I am also puzzled by the bright and bold outfits that some designers wear, customers on the Sunday Experience are specifically instructed to wear unpatterned, plain clothing as patterned items can interfere with the broadcast I can only assume that memo bypassed some of the Guest DI’ers!

I will go on, I need to get it off my chest, The woman who riles me the most is the business “expert” who in reality knows very little, clearly has no formal business qualifications  & gets by on TV by being rude to those selling on Facebook, (a significant portion of her target audience) as she offers “advice” whilst sniggering, &  giggling  to herself & belittling her audience, the west midlands accents ring out, whilst spouting utter rubbish about selling items for £20, £30, £40, £50 pounds each, I have experience of craft fairs NO ONE ever goes with the view of buying an expensive piece of jewellery at a craft fair, school fair, market stall or anywhere in my opinion, I certainly wouldn’t so why convince the audience it happens, speak the truth am certain sales wouldn’t decline because of it.

So going back to the “designers” the token Indian lady to replace the previous one who has been “let go”, the wire work gang who appear daily, if not thrice daily pushing the same patterns & designs day in day day out, the patronisingly dull Clay “experts” couple that with the recent “let them go” disappearance of some other guest designers has resulted in the same old repetitive designs using different gems day in day out I have to confess I have given up on my daily addiction.

All that said, I do however love 1 designer, she is outstanding in her field and on so very rarely its refreshing to see her, Rachel Norris, now she is lady with true talent.

I always understood the best designers to have specialist areas, effectively masters & pioneers in their respective fields of craft but no they all do wirework, kumi, macrame, letter writing, silver / polymer clay, work with lace, chainmaille you name it they all are master of everything but master of none if you look closely at their work on screen I personally feel its lost its direction. A quality piece of jewellery takes time to design, time to create, time to perfect it shouldn’t be rushed, or it will look rushed.

I also deeply saddened that Sheila, a co-founder of the channel whilst being a  fan of the most basic beadwork (right angle weave which she calls ladder weave, and discovered that she can create hearts & beady beads out of with ease) seems completely disinterested in beadweaving. Obviously everyone has their own opinion this is purely mine I am sure many would disagree, and its obvious that my passion lays with beadweaving not the basic beading they get “designers” in to demo on screen, what saddens me the most is that her sole reason to me for dismissing beadweaving is the time it takes to complete a piece, by not having time to air it, yet they can demo in stages wire wrapping cabochons, and other equally time consuming pieces without question?

Heyho, rant over at least Jenny Cleary is back on screen (according to FB)! and on a positive note I am beading a horned bangle ….out of size 11 delicas in peyote stitch & loving every minute of it :)

Happy Birthday Mummy!

Citrine & Moonstone strands
Citrine & Moonstone strands, rondelles and disks

So, its my mums birthday!

I wont mention her age but she loves long necklaces.

This was a JM Kit, purchased on the 1st April, 2015 on the Late show in which Fleur Hastings had a similar style necklace on air, my mum liked it so I got the “mini bundle”, coupled it with some wire left over from the Laura Binding Kit and made it more “friendly & wearable”, so less imposing, and easier to slip on and off without the need for a clasp.

Personally I prefer choker style ones, but given she has arthritis in her hands (and virtually every other part of her body) she does struggle with clasps and chains.

So whilst I know this creation would look amazing with a clasp on the end of the Moonstone & Citrine mix instead of the Gold Plated chain she wouldn’t wear it if I hadn’t added the chain!

IMG_5577
Jasper leaf, with Citrine & Moonstone 0.25mm Bronze wire for the Tiara weave, on 0.8mm Bronze coloured wire frame to make it more leafy, and Autumnal (ok its kind of out of season)
IMG_5598
Tiara weave on the Jasper leaf, with a bronze wire frame, Moonstone & Citrine necklace, and additional Gold Plated chain to make the piece a slip over your head instead of a clasp & hook piece owing to my mums struggle with arthritis

82cts of Gemstone in a Bracelet

So on Saturday I received a message, could I make 10 bracelets, to be sold in aid of a cancer charity. Well of course I could, instead of glass beads, or plastic I decided to give the charity a sporting chance I elected to use Gemstones.

Its hard, incredibly hard to be given a palette of colours to work towards & interrupt a logo into real beads. The issue encountered is that tablet, tv, computer screens all distort colour slightly, couple that with the camera, whether that be a phone or uber high tech digital or SLR camera used to photograph the beads for sale, not to mention the lighting conditions used to view & originally photograph under and you can start to see why selecting beads remotely is difficult.

Its also worth remembering that on the colour spectrum there are also variations of a colour, a purple shade has an entire spectrum of colour from a pale lavender through to almost black purple so even one strand of beads dyed purple, may not be exactly the same shade as the next strand of purple beads dyed purple. To illustrate this point, compare the 2 photos below, of the same beads but under 2 different lighting conditions, they give off different hues.

IMG_5469

Obviously the Gemstones are all unique, but a lapidarist has made them in to 8mm rounds (not perfect but then they are gemstones not factory mass produced glass from moulds or plastic)

I set to the JM website, and selected a few strands:

Fushsia Quartz, Purple Dyed Quartz, Lavender Shaded Quartz and a strand of Purple Magnesite.

Each strand was roughly 160cts, 35cm in length, and contained approx. 49 beads – this is useful to know, because it enables you to calculate exactly how many strands are required to make a set number of bracelets, at a predetermined length.

10 Gemstone Bracelets, Fushsia, Purple & Lavender colours
10 Gemstone Bracelets, Fushsia, Purple & Lavender colours

Here’s the maths bit! Each bracelet contains 23 beads, I had 5 strands of beads, in 4 colours. 23 is an odd number, so obviously symmetry wasn’t going to be easy to establish, but I did decide to try and make them colour graduated, from light to dark, or dark to light depending in which way you wear the bracelet.

The great thing about gemstone bracelets is the weight, and cool sensation of the cold stone as it touches your wrist. They don’t feel or look flimsy, they have a lovely clink about them!

Crafty Betty also wanted a tag, or charm with the name on, attaching to the bracelets. Well on Sunday morning, Debbie Kershaw, stamping guest designer was on, so I did, I confess treat myself to a new set of stamping letters (lower and upper case), and a kit. Crashing Waves, check back another day to see what I actually create with it, but that was my birthday treat to me.

With CharmsNow the number of letters in the name “crafty betty” is significant, as it really doesn’t make stamping easy! I did order some large tags from JM, flower shaped but these just look ridiculously large against the 8mm gemstone bracelets, so I used some older (not silver plated) tags I already owned. These do look, “handmade”, and I think have a certain charm about them, however for my own personal taste they are too cluttered, too many letters on a small tag.

DESIGNER TIP!

Use an ultra fine black permanent marker to mark the centre & edges of where you want the letters to be stamped.

Then use the ultra fine permanent marker to colour in the letters, this means you don’t need to worry about patinas etc.

This is the clever bit ….. Your stamp probably looks a mess after being coloured in and doodled on, but a simple wipe over with nail varnish remover on cotton wool (wearing gloves if you have gel nails like me) will remove the surface pen marks with ease. Do leave the pen to dry for a short period of time before wiping off, otherwise the pen marks in the letters may lift out too.

Adult Colouring ?

Well I was in W H Smiths this morning grabbing my mums paper (the Daily Mail) simply because they are giving away a lego kit every day this week. This involves me purchasing 2 papers, so that my nephew and son both get lego :)

But whilst I was also grabbing a permanent, fine tipped black marker for my metal stamping i spotted this display. A display of colouring books for adults! I so want to buy them all !

colouring for adults

Lets Hubble

Hubble I hear you say, what on earth is that?

Well, the fabulous Melanie de Miguel has launched her first book, Let’s Hubble, £24.99 from Amazon or Melanie herself @ the BeadSchool

I have met, and been taught by Melanie several times, and not only is she a fabulously creative person, she is truly an inspirational teacher.

I first learnt hubble stitch (without realising it) when I took a Beadworkers Guild class several years ago to formulate 3D cross, it was my first adventure in beading three dimensionally.

Cross
Size 8,15 and charlottes with some Rivoli’s

The pieces are all assembled separately, then pulled together at the end. One major benefit is that if one piece comes undone the rest of the structure will remain solid. I stitched this using fireline.

Beaded Cross
The final piece

So the fireline was tricky to use, normally I am a nymo girl, but the fireline being fishing wire is stronger, and with some sharp edges  & many passes through the beads I didn’t want to risk the needle piercing the nymo or it coming unthreaded.

 

 

Hubble Stitch Bracelet
This bracelet is amazing to wear, so sensual as the dagger spike beads catch your wrist, the sparkle is amazing.

 

This was different class, around a year later again using charlottes (japanese size 18 seeds or the equivalent of) I simply love this bracelet. It took a couple of hours initially to bead one unit, I think there are 7 units and a sliding clasp to make up the complete bracelet. Again constructed in fireline for added strength it has stood the test of time!

 

 

So, unwitttingly I can hubble, I just didn’t know it. The basis of hubble is to make those pesky picot’s perky instead of them slipping back in to the general design of the beadwork.

The book I confess I have only flicked through, but on first impressions I love it!

To start with it feels tactile, a  soft outer skin neatly disguises the spiral spine. The colours are pastel in tone, hues of green, lilacs, blues with crisp clear photography and clear instructional diagrams.

A spiral spine  in case you haven’t heard me rave about one IMG_5454previously (Kate McKinnon Geometric Beadwork Vol 1 & 2) is an absolute must for any kind of beadwork work book. If its not a spiral spine then to use the book as intended (as a pattern / stitch guide initially then as an inspirational guide for your own designs) you need to be able to lay it flat in front or at the side of your work, the last thing you need is to be fighting with a book which constantly closes shut whilst balancing a lot of beads on a beadmat!

So, instead of me continuing to ramble on, the book contains 12 twelve projects, including several twists on the basic hubble, loads of inspiration and plenty of excuses to go buy beads (lots of beads) but  I don’t want to give the game away anymore of the projects inside so if I have teased you enough to go buy a copy I can guarantee its money well spent.

Happy Beading!

 

JM Sunday Experience 19th April 2015

This was my second Sunday Experience at Jewellery Maker, and it was just as fun as the first time, click above and whizz to the end, you can see me on TV!

I wandered in to the workshop room blurry eyed, clutching a paper cup of McDonalds tea to see what delights Sheila Davies had managed to grab for us. (Sheila I have met many times, she is so lovely if you do ever  get the chance to go on a workshop with her, do it!)

Also on the experience was a lovely lady called Scarlett, (she had hair to match her name, lush flowing locks of scarlett wavy hair), I sat next to her. Opposite us, a mum & daughter team who had literally spent the past week at the studios, they had taken a few workshops and driven over from Hull on a mini break (now thats my kind of mini break if only I had the time (and the money)!)

Sheila, looking lovely as always gave us a selection of beady treats to chose from, I ended up with a lovely variety of shell pearls. Now I have to confess shell pearls don’t grab my imagination normally so I guess thats why the Sunday experience is such fun, the challenge is to create something in the 4 hours, with just the items provided, and these probably won’t be to your taste. The best part is, its free!

Shell Pearl Necklace
Shell Pearl Necklace

For some reason I suffered from a creative blank, my brain just didn’t want to function that morning, normally I am simply buzzing with inspiration, too many ideas that I never really know where to start! Sadly because of my creative block I wasn’t too impressed with the items I made, this necklace I do love though. It was designed with my mum in mind, she struggles to fasten necklaces up so this slips over her head with ease.

Its simple, elegant and took hardly any time at all to whip up! The sections of 3 pearls are faceted shell pearls, the singles are more a mulberry colour but with a smooth finish. The chain is silver plated, and the pearls are attached via headpins with the end snipped off & a simple loop in its place.

On air that morning was Carol, she was a fab fun presenter & host, really easy to talk too, on and off air, along with Fleur, the chainmaille expert. Going on air was more relaxed this time around, it wasn’t as scary because I had done it previously, I actually quite enjoyed the experience but just wish my brain had engaged that morning and I could of created something awesome :(

Mid Morning I met Rebecca (Beccy) she is truly lovely, unbelievably  was wearing the most fabulous pair of shoes with gems hanging off them! The lovely Laura Binding was waiting in the wings to go on air in the afternoon, for DI show so let the Sunday Experience peeps touch her designs. They were stunning (as always for Laura) I also got the opportunity to show her my piece inspired by her (via photo I didn’t have the piece with me sadly) but still she showed a generous amount of appreciation in support of my amateur efforts :)

I am going to make more of an effort to purchase kits, and review them, this Laura Binding Bangle was a kit (I reviewed a couple of months ago) as I am always intrigued how far a kit will go, this kit I ran out of the lower thinner wire gauges (0.25mm & 0.4mm) but had plenty of the 0.8mm left on the reel. I barely touched the pearls, but used half a strand of the pyrites. I find watching, and pausing the videos back on youtube helps significantly too! Am getting an expert at that :) but in the meantime, i am back on the bead weaving with my beloved seed beads …. watch this space its the Beadworkers Guild annual gathering this weekend @ Daventry who knows what I will create!

IMG_5268

 

Quick Tiara – Wall of Fame JM

Woohoo I got on the Wall of Fame (again)  fingers crossed for a win one day …..

With this quick make, inspired by the amazing Gemma Crow (JM Guest Designer) although mine is slightly different, this is the basis of my darling daughters easter bonnet (aka easter princess tiara) for the school competition.

I created it using 2 rose gold hair combs, a rose gold tiara band, copper wire (as it goes really well with the rose gold colour) and some shell pearls, 10mm in size, peach in colour so the entire hair piece is co-ordinated.

It appeared on the JM wall of fame Facebook page on the 23rd March 2015, it made me so smile :)

Pearl Tiara
Pearl Tiara

IMG_5280

Suffragette Pendant – Auction Fever!

An Edwardian Suffragette pendant brooch recently sold at a local auction house for almost 4 times the estimate, a whooping £1800.

The brooch, whether worn or not, was a symbol of support for the suffrage movement, in a time when Gentlemen who opposed the right of votes of women on the basis amongst others that women were too emotional and therefore not logical in their thinking to hold something as powerful as the vote.

Just imagine how those suffragettes would feel less than 100 years later when we have experienced a Lady Prime Minister, Women in key cabinet posts, many women working who are also married, with children. The world has most definitely moved on, but I think this is stunning piece that carries so much history with it, I can’t imagine why the owner sold it, but the new owner I hope will hold the piece in high regard.

Brooch
An Edwardian Suffragette pendant brooch, set with diamonds, emeralds and amethysts, of pierced form centred with a bow, the oval set central stone surrounded by small emeralds, above a further bow and a drop stone, with a chain back, white and yellow metal backing, unmarked, 8.5cm high, fitted in C A Barrington case.

I can’t enlarge the image very well without it being distorted, but isn’t this a fascinating piece of history. A Pendant which is also a brooch, sold at a local auction house for a whooping £1850, nearly 4 times the estimate  @ GoldingYoung Auction House in Grantham, Lincolnshire.

The Suffragettes fascinated me, the extraordinary lengths these originally society ladies or ladies of leisure, many of whom were highly educated took on “the establishment” and effectively won was inspirational.

Its almost ludicrous to think how these ladies starved themselves, chained themselves to railings, threw themselves under horse drawn carriages and even died in order to get a vote which sadly these days many people (and not just women) fail use. The extreme lengths they went too, and sheer press coverage they got, given the lack of internet (not even the ZX Spectrum was in existence in those days, and motor car was rare) was admirable.

Emmeline Pankhurst is the name many remember from history, in fact I have been to the cemetery in London where her gravestone stands proud. It was a very calm, quiet, peaceful spot to enjoy a walk from my hotel to the tube, (not the nearest tube I might add) but was an escape for a hour from the hubble and trouble of the big smoke.

The lack of women’s rights is incredible, I was shocked to discover (as one example) that a married woman was the “property” of her husband, thus this gave him the right if he chose to dress her in her Sunday best, tie a rope around her neck and take her to market to sell to the highest bidder should  he feel  he wanted to dispose of her. It’s interesting to note that whilst these markets were technically unlawful, owing to the acceptance that a husband owned a wife very little was done to bring these auctions to a halt.

Bizarrely women were not permitted to leave the home unaccompanied unless it was for charitable purposes, and  let’s  not forget that in in the early 1800’s Negro Slaves were also socially acceptable, many of whom were women, this point was used in many flyers & was fundamental in the ladies who  were heavily behind the anti slavary organisation, to the point that campaigns were driven by women, they petitioned parliament to abolish slavery, they lobbied ladies to boycott groceries who sold products from the West Indies (sugar) which enhanced and encouraged slavery.

Just incase you are interested in the Suffrage movement, there is an excellent wiki page on the subject!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suffragette

In the meantime I am adding this brooch to my items I am inspired by, and will attempt to reproduce (one day!)

Wirework Cuff with Pearls

Wirework Cuff #jewellerymaker kit
Wirework Cuff

This is my finished cuff, inspired by Laura Binding, a JM Guest Designer, and using the kit.

The kit contained Bronze coloured copper wire, bronze coloured Pyrite, larger pink cultured pearls and some seed bead style tiny potato pearls.

10 Pyrites on each strand of wire, so 40 in total for the bangle portion, these are just threaded

I have lots of the kit left, and a strand of pearls that I haven’t  opened, so I may make a ring next, I will say the wire is lovely to work with, and really soft in your fingers, plyable to, but I did find it tricky not to mark it.

Using 0.6mm wire to criss cross wrap the bangle frame to add strength and then enabling the wire excess to form the hook and loop.