Tag Archives: Gemstone jewellery

Weddings in the Air

Wedding Tiara
Wedding Tiara

What is a wedding without a Hen Party?

Well, the Great British Sewing Bee is back on the TV, Celebrity Great British Baker too, why not combine the two and book a Crafternoon Hen Party at one of several beautiful venues? You can learn to sew, make a tiara, make jewellery using precious gemstones or pearls, combined with afternoon tea, and then add on a spa trip, or overnight stay to make your weekend complete.

Do contact Michelle @ CraftyBetty for more information including how to book.

Crafty Betty
Crafty Betty

Fireline and tiny Gemstones

Fireline & 2mm Gemstones
Fireline & 2mm Gemstones

So, a quick glimpse at my beading board….notice I use a foam beading mat not a macrame board, or any other kind of board – the reason is that this beading mat at a cost of less than £1 holds the beads perfectly, quite how the “expert designers” on JM manage with a macrame board I have no idea, because when I try using on for basic beading my beads fly everywhere!

Anyway, I have drifted back to bead weaving, and really fancied using up some 2mm and 4mm rounds, so have a combination of quartz & jasper in various sizes on my board.

I decided to do a Cellini Spiral as this stitch looks amazing and is incredibly easy to learn, it’s basically a tubular peyote stitch but uses different sizes of beads so the end result is absolutely stunning.

To start the peyote, ideally you need 4 different colours of bead, ideally at least 2 of these are graduating in size, hence I used 2mm and 4 mm, the effect of this is that as the tube grows the beads appear to spiral.

The basic steps are to load 6 A beads, 2 B beads, 2 C beads, 2 D beads, 2 C beads and 2 D beads, take the thread back through the first 2 A beads and then step up, so the golden rule is quite simply which bead you are exiting, pick that up for the next stitch, so it’s a standard peyote. Go through a bead, pick up a bead, miss the bead and go through the next, thus producing an almost brick work effect once a couple of rows have been stitched.

Once you get round to the beginning, don’t just go through the next bead, but also go through the first bead added on the row you are just finishing, i.e. the step up, then continue adding beads as you spiral around. The pattern will commence quite quickly, but pay attention as it will be obvious if you get the wrong bead!

So I was busy beading away,  my fireline snapped 🙁 beads fell everywhere ……..I needed the chocolate orange to console myself.

This was quite unexpected, as fireline is quite hard to cut – in fact I have a special pair of scissors just for wildfire and firemen. It will blunt normal snips & scissors as it’s quite a tough thread to use. These threads are thermally bonded,  traditionally used by fishermen but my gemstones cut through the firemen …… so I have no picture to show you – however I won’t be defeated I will get some larger gemstones, and do the same but with a wire threading material. The end result won’t be a dainty, but should still have some impact, depending on how tight I can get the tension on the wire.

Watch this space!

 

HOT TIP ALERT!

When using wildfire or fireline you may find it tricky to get through the eye of the needle, if this is the case, use your flat nose pliers to squeeze the end of the thread, it will make it go flat which you can then turn on its side and slide thorough the needle eye 🙂

Frozen!

It’s a tad cold outside, in the mornings the frost is on the rooftops of the car, the window ledges, the window panes everywhere. I do love the frost, it leave a sense of clean as everywhere you look is shiny sparkly and white, some mornings it can be like looking out of the window at little gems or even diamonds twinkling.

Pavement Frost
Pavement Frost 

I look for inspiration for my jewellery making everywhere, and whilst walking to work this morning I noticed that as the morning progressed the sun came up, and what was a chilly frosty white glaze over the pavements was rapidly disappearing under my feet.

I noticed, that whilst the frost & ice was dissolving it was leaving behind the most amazing patterns in the pavement – the image you see is nothing special, just simply the pavement under my feet as I walked to work, the ice melted away leaving behind a damp imprint of what clearly had been ice crystals on the ground. It’s so Lawrence Llewlyn-Bowen isn’t it !

The design reminds me of a mug I have as designed by Lawrence, but also a Fern Leaf pattern, the intricate stems, and leaf designs created by nature. Every pattern completely different. Its something I am attempting to replicate in my next jewellery challenge.

Craft Fairs

I have visited lots of craft fairs, I find them full of inspiration, and buzzing with creativity, I tend to associate them with tea and cake, being a summer time affair generally, but obviously there are the Christmas versions (still with tea and cake), the Easter ones (tea and chocolate cake) but I do find them frustratingly difficult to sell at.

So, the basics of a craft fair are that the seller is registered with HMRC, if not then there could be undeclared income issues to deal with, and trust me its really worth registering as Self Employed if you are looking to make money because the fines simply weigh the meagre amount of tax you would be paying ten, twenty fold.

You need Insurance, public liability, you don’t want anyone to trip up and fall on your table leg, break a finger nail & then put in a claim against you.

Contents / Stock insurance, sadly there are people in the world not as honest as others, not to mention should the heavens open and it rains on your parade, or the Earth develops a huge fault and your table vanishes in a crater before your very eyes!

Table layout needs to be eye-catching, multi layered and not cluttered. Pricing should be clear, as should a little information about the items you are selling, its pointless selling Genuine gemstones if the potential customers don’t know they are genuine, they could just think they are overpriced plastic or glass beads.  Or perhaps its a hand crafted lampwork bead design, exquisite and totally unique.

Packaging should be simple, elegant or beautiful also, especially if the items are to be gifts, but not excessive – there is also the small chance you could charge for gift wrapping or you could throw that in as a deal clincher!

I am a huge advocate of the personal approach, smile, greet people, engage in banter and chit-chat, stand at the front of your stall proudly displaying your wares, have a story to tell about them so that a passing potential customer can form an association with the item to the point that they simply must buy it – whether it be the stone of their birth month, or that it matches the colours of their jacket. The story can include a tale of how the feature gem is only mined 2 months of the year, in freezing conditions where the miners struggle to mine enough stone to make them enough money to survive the sub-zero temperatures for the remainder of the year. How the stone is only mined from one mine in the entire world and that its drying up, or the story could be something as simple as how the design was featured in Tatler, or Tiffany’s blue book or its inspired by the necklace worn by the Mona Lisa – the physical item is only half the story in clinching the sale the balance is about the memories you can create around the piece. I can waffle forever if I need to, its easy because I am passionate about the Gems I own & collect, and the pieces I am inspired to make whether they be out of gemstones or seed beads.

I also find that a stallholder can have a huge amount of interaction with potential customers by demonstrating at their stall, but also by allowing the customer to have a go themselves, or request a custom piece. It’s truly satisfying to teach someone a new skill, I love demonstrating techniques, and discovering new techniques, stitches what works and what doesn’t with different types of beads and stringing material.

I found last year that loom band craze lent itself really well to this, and at spare table a couple of children soon had a crowd around them ooo’ing and aaaah’ing at their looming skills!

But now we come of to my big big huge massive bug bare, the big issue I have with craft fairs is that people love to look, touch, hold, gossip, but rarely part with any money.

Lets face it, the real draw of doing a fair is to make some money, now whether that be to reinvest in stock or treats for yourself at the fair or the sole source of your income without money is there any real point to exhibiting at a craft fair ?

I get constantly frustrated with guest designers on JM and the presenters when I hear the constant oooh ahhhh ooooh at the fantastic designs demonstrated on the inspiration (and the other shows) there is absolutely no doubt they are amazing, beautiful pieces of jewellery, but oooh that necklace could be sold for at least (with real emphasis on the “at least” part of that sentence) £50 what a bargain, or the banter where each piece of agate on a strand could be sold for at least £20 each making a profit of £160 come on buy them, why wouldn’t you its ridiculous not to purchase them …but seriously would you, go a craft fair and buy a necklace or any piece of jewellery from a stall holder for that kind of money?? I wouldn’t and I can see the value in the gemstones and the time taken to create the piece.

My point is not to be negative at all, it’s just that I have visited as buyer, and as a seller a variety of craft stalls, I have made many friends whilst at these fairs but each time I have done them I have barely covered my costs, certainly not if you factor in my time or effort involved in setting up, paying for the stall, paying the insurance, petrol, food / drink at the fair and asking around most sellers I have met do it for the social side, and rarely make money. I am sure they all have really good days, but in truth I think anyone who believes you can make a good consistent reliable living selling at craft fairs must be living in a cardboard box or on fantasy island, however if you do manage it please do share your selling secrets and best stall locations!

Christmas Presents from Mummy :)

For Christmas my lovely mummy got me a selection box, now these are I know, very common around the festive season but, my mummy didn’t get me a chocolate selection box she got me a Jewellery Maker Selection box, which she selected herself! #jewellerymaker

Here are a few examples of my treats ….

165cts Black Onyx Nuggets #jewellerymaker
165cts Black Onyx Nuggets #jewellerymaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amethyst & Citrine Nuggets
Amethyst & Citrine Nuggets #jewellerymaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prehnite 310cts
Prehnite 310cts #jewellerymaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burnt Orange Agate Carved Flowers
Burnt Orange Agate Carved Flowers #jewellerymaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amethyst Rondelles
Amethyst Rondelles #jewellerymaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green Onyx
Green Onyx #jewellerymaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elongated Amethyst Pears 130cts
Elongated Amethyst Pears 130cts #jewellerymaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

80cts Bi Colour Opal Graduated Rondelles
80cts Bi Colour Opal Graduated Rondelles #jewellerymaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Opal Rondelles
Blue Opal Rondelles #jewellerymaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Multi Dyed Agate Rounds
Multi Dyed Agate Rounds #jewellerymaker

 

 

 

Wall of Fame!

Wow, on Sunday morning I was just experimenting in the kitchen with a Davina McColl reduced sugar cupcake recipe, using Spelt Flour, Ground Almonds and Maple syrup …. I added cocoa powder, and coated the finished product in 85% chocolate …taste well I was apprehensive at the start but they taste amazing …. well worth the effort

So whilst I was whipping my butter, adding the eggs and flour I put Ed (Jewellery maker) on the iPad and my necklace appeared on the wall of fame!!!! It was shown at 11am, the video is on YouTube, but I can’t upload as the file size is too large for wordpress, so here is the picture again 🙂

Garnet Necklace
Garnet Necklace

Christmas Presents ….

Fabulous Kit - treat to myself
Fabulous Kit – treat to myself

Christmas is all about giving and receiving, but lets face it we don’t always receive everything we really wanted ….sometimes its worth taking out a little “insurance” and getting yourself a little pre-Christmas treat.

Well I did just that, and this was the result, I ended with a kit from Jewellery Maker, I got around 7 reels of wire in various autumnal colours (browns, oranges and gold) in various gauges, 0.25mm, 0.40mm, 0.60mm, 0.80mm, 1.00mm and 4 Cabochons. I can’t remember the exact price I paid but am certain it was under £20 delivered to my door 🙂

One of these Cabochons is Amber! Not strictly a gemstone in my humble opinion as Amber is clearly created from tree sap, over many  many years, often with micro creatures embedded in the centre, still very pretty and quite small, I have yet to decide what to do with it, but I may have a play around with some Silver PMC (Precious Metal Clay) perhaps make a pendant or a ring for myself, and then with the  other pieces of Jasper which are quite sizeable I may get my seed beads out and peyote stitch a nice band around the edges.

I know the concept of the kit is to wire wrap the cabochons, but I do feel that when I have a go at wire wrapping it always looks a touch messy, I do like neat & tidy, thats why beadweaving is my staple I find the stitches organised, structural, am not a fan of freeform peyote!

Christmas Gifts

Well, we are well in to January now, traditionally quite a depressing month really. Its cold, wet, windy, foggy outside, the days are short and worst of all I am back at work with no days off to look forward too for literally months.

On the bright side, I did receive some amazing gem stones as gifts this Christmas from my amazing Mummy.  (she is a home shopping addict)

Before I share my ever growing collection, I thought I would share my latest beading mat. On JMtv all of the guest designers seem to use a macrame board to work off, now I do love my macrame board but I find it virtually impossible to use the macrame board with small gems as they tend to roll off in all directions for me! I use a thin flexible foam mat, the issue with the foam mat is that it isn’t very sturdy nor very portable.

So to resolve my tiny problem I invested in a kindle / tablet case, a nice multi-coloured leather case, with a zip around 3 sides. Inside I fitted a bead mat, which means that I have a stable, none roll work surface to work off, and I don’t need to pack my designs away as the bead mat holds the gems & findings securely in place.

Tula Jewellery Design Case
Tula Jewellery Design Case
Beading Mat in Kindle case
Beading Mat in Kindle case with a headpin wrapped Cabochon I have been working on. 

The great thing about this case is that my work is totally transportable, so I can take it out to the cafe @ Belton House whilst my children play, on train when having a day out, or simply to fold away projects at home waiting to be finished, but keeping all the component parts in one place.

The kindle case has elastic attached to each corner internally, so it has been easy to secure the foam beading mat inside the leather bound zip case.

Christmas Makes

What do you make a man? Especially a man who has everything,  one who never wears jewellery as a Christmas present?

Well the answer is you don’t make them anything! but I was completely  surprised when I was asked to make a pair of cufflinks because the new shirt, purchased for the formal night on the 10 night cruise required them.

Cubed Agate Cuff Links
Cubed Agate Cuff Links

Using some rose gold-plated findings (the toggle clasp ones, but obviously just using the bar portion) a few jump rings, a flower headed headpin and a couple of cubed black agate gemstones from Jewellery Maker and within 10mins they were completed.

 

 

 

Now, pre-Christmas I whipped up a pair of earrings for my Grans hairdresser, and rather excitingly they appeared on JM tv wall of fame on the TV! I do have a clip but sadly I can’t seem to post the link   as the file is too large, so a picture will have to do instead.

Amethyst Earrings
Amethyst Earrings

So, I took a piece of silver plated chain from a JM findings pack, snipped it in to 6 pieces, attached a Amethyst from a JM bead scoop and a couple of silver plated earring findings and hey presto another quick 10 minute make.

 

 

 

Other makes include;

Bead Scoop Charm Bracelet
Bead Scoop Charm Bracelet

This bracelet was again whipped up using a bead scoop from JM, I have said it many times, the bead scoops of a mixture of gems stones are my absolute favourite buy at the moment, the sheer excitement of seeing what is in each bag, it so much fun! So for my friend in Canada I made a charm style bracelet, using 6 gems, of different cuts & colours but perfectly toned just by adding a few headpins, chain and clasp.

Memory Wire with Daggers!
Memory Wire with Daggers!

Using memory wire I threaded on some dagger gems similar to these on JM to again make a necklace in less than 30 minutes, the longest time was taken threading the gems on the wire!

 

 

Leather Effect Macrame Bracelet - Mens Make!
Leather Effect Macrame Bracelet – Mens Make!
Mulberry Pearl Drop Earrings
Mulberry Pearl Drop Earrings on Rose Gold Plated findings from a JM findings pack

 

 

 

 

So these are my other makes, hopefully they were well received!

Opal & Pearls
The opal bracelet is uber chunky, I added the chain because the internet is full of next seasons trends this piece is definitely on trend! 

 

Viking Knit with a Lazee Daizee

So, I decided to try my hand at Viking Knit …. As you may of realised I love learning new things, and experimenting with different types of handmade jewellery using seed beads, chainmaille, gemstones, clay, cord etc etc I normally drift back to bead weaving as it is my favourite of all the different methods and styles I have attempted over the years, and more recently started to document via my blog.

My latest attempt at something new is Viking Knit, now I first saw some viking weave on a class I took maybe 6 years ago with the awesome Jean Power she occasionally takes classes in London, I took a chainmaille class with her, and the next class she was doing was going to be the viking weave. It looked spectacular, stunning but something I felt incapable of even attempting.

The reasons for that were quite set firmly in my mind, basically I am left handed, with a right handed mother – a mother who I might add can knit, crochet, sew skills she tried to teach me but failed to get me beyond a simple chain stitch on a crochet hook and I can kind of knit so long as I just keep going the same way wrapping the wool over the needle and moving the other needle in sequence …….I do own a scarf which is kind straight, kind of long, and only has a few holes (aka dropped stitches) despite my constant counting,  so the thoughts of knitting with wire which isn’t as fluffy as wool filled me with dread, all my mistakes would be visible, no where to hide hence those thoughts were parked for then next  years.

Fast forward to Jewellery Maker …. a few months ago I caught a glimpse of Lazee Daizee creator Stephanie Eddy & her husband doing a demonstration on tv (am sure its on YouTube JM channel), now what is a Lazee Daizee you might ask ?

Lazee Daizee 1/2" tool
Lazee Daizee 1/2″ tool

Well the crafty lady in question, from the US of A is called Stephanie Eddy she designed 2 sizes of what she branded the Lazee Laizee, in its most simplest form a stick of plastic with flat sides, a cone at one end and a detachable flower shape at the other end with loops in the “petals”. It also has a diagonal hole through the “stick”, which is the point at which you start knitting.

The point is, its simple, basically  you feed your wire through the stick, and secure with your thumb, then thread the other end of wire through a petal, forming a loop, then through the next petal, and the next holding each loop in place as you move on to the next. Once the first round is done, the process is exactly the same on the next row, and it really is that simple – I got it in less than a couple of minutes. Now, am not saying that I am suddenly an expert on the process, nor the neatest viking knitter but I definitely “got” the process without the implement being relegated back to my beading box of UFO’s (un-finished objects)

I am using the 1/2″ version, with 0.6mm wire.

 

So after using copious amounts of wire I pulled it off the lazee daizee and this was what I had weaved, I was a touch disappointed because it looks such a mess, not neat, not even, just a solid mass of uneven twisted knotted wire ….

part worked viking weave
part worked viking weave

 

 

I assume that the Stephanie Eddy obviously had similar issues to me as she also created as part of the range something called a conditioning cloth, and a draw plate.  I wasn’t impressed when I purchased the items but as I had seen them demonstrated on JM but  just see the effect they had on my uneven, higgledy piggly weave after a quick roll in the conditioning cloth, and roll through several holes of the draw plate.

 

through the draw plate
through the draw plate

 

 

 

 

 

See how much more even the weave has become, so on I went continuing   through the draw plate, starting at the thickest widest hole, moving down to the next smallest hole once the weave was sliding through easily.

 

See the change in the texture, and malleability of the wire after a roll in the conditioning cloth, and then several tugs through a draw plate – amazing 🙂

The wire & the lazee diazee + conditioning cloth, and draw plate are all available from Jewellery Maker – so if you are a bit of a wannabe knitter but end up with more holes than stitches maybe you should give the Lazee Daizee a go 🙂

Final first attempt at viking weave
Final first attempt at viking weave