Tuesday 30 March 2010

UK Handmade Spring Edition

The Spring edition of UK Handmade is now available. For someone like me who likes to try all sorts crafts it's a fantastic and inspirational read. 

This months makes include some beautiful mini Easter cakes - which I'm going to have to attempt. Not sure mine will look quite as gorgeous. 

There are finds, reviews, and scene articles - a fab way of finding out what's going on in the handmade world. Plus some great business tips (this month how to promote your online business...handy!) and as ever some interviews with inspirational makers and artisans. 

This month I even joined in, and put together an article on Poppy Treffrey, and how she grew her business from a tiny one woman and a sewing machine, to her latest book deal.

It's all well worth a read!

Monday 29 March 2010

Listing Club

I've started a little club - I'd thought it was going to be just a very small group, but its grown to a size where I'm sure we need a special handshake and possibly membership cards.

(Bird Gang by Petit and Cute Design)

I put a call out on the forums of Folksy and Etsy, where I run my shops, to see if anyone would care to join me in my challenge to list a new item every single day throughout April. I keep hearing that this kind of frequent and regular listing is a great way to really boost your presence in these big online marketplaces (and obviously would boost the number of items I have in the shop which can only be a good thing too).

It seems like there are lots of others who also wanted to get their act together and needed a little push too - which is great - nothing like a little peer pressure to help get you moving.

So the plan is that each day in April we'll be logging into the forum to show what we've listed, those of us who blog will be running posts and features using fellow listing club members goodies. And on twitter we'll be using the tag #listingclub, or #folksylistingclub to find each others' items and retweet. I'll give you a round up each week on the blog of how it's all going.

Two days to go and I've got about 10 items made, and took some pictures over the weekend. I'm thinking it's going to be hard work to get the rest of it sorted - thats five new items a week to make, photograph and list - what have I let myself in for...... wish me luck!

Leave a comment below if you're going to be involved!!

Saturday 27 March 2010

My new addiction

It was my birthday at the beginining of March, and one of my birthday pressies from my lovely hubbie was an silver clay course.

Lovely, you might think. Thoughtful. But no, it's very very dangerous.

I have a tendency to get a bit addicted to new crafty things, and was a bit worried about starting with silver clay and I was sooooooo right to be worried. 

My tutor was Paula who runs her courses near Haywards Heath, so not too far away from me. I definitely had worskhop envy - her place is brilliant. Take a look at her website: http://learnsilverclay.co.uk/

The day was 10 to 6, and I learned lots and had lots of time to practise using lots of her 100s of different cutters, moulds and texture mats. 

Here are some of my makes. I've made the leaf shapes into stud earrings now, and the butterfly is on a chain. 

Had a really lovely day, it's amazing what you can do with this magic stuff  I'm itching to make more...but just waiting for my PMC3 delivery to arrive. Expect to see stuff in the shops soon....

Friday 26 March 2010

Folksy Friday

This week I've been very lazy, and it's been fun. 

So instead of doing my usual shop feature I've gone with a lazy folksy friday feel to suit my ongoing lazy mood...

Patchwork Butterfly

Poppys Picnic

 Stuffed Nonsense

Stitcher Scribbler

Tea and Crumpets   

Widgets and Friends 

I'm hoping next week will be less lazy but until then I'm going to kick back.....zzzz

Friday 19 March 2010

Folksy Friday

Yay - I love Folksy Fridays.This week I've been questioning Granny Ruth! I asked her if I could feature her because her shop is just so beautiful and bright. It makes me smile just looking at it.

So lets clear up a little something first - she is NO granny and her name is Nichola.
"Granny Ruth's is named after my mum and my Grandma (who are both grandparents, and called Ruth) the people who taught me my skills and gave me my love of crafting. People think I am Granny Ruth, but although my middle name is Ruth, I am a few years off being a grandparent yet! My kids are just 8 and 5." 
 So, how did it all start...?

"It probably sounds twee, but I can't remember a time when I wasn't creating things. As an only child I entertained myself by drawing and make things with paper and glue. I had a couple of craft books which were very well used. I spent a lot of time with my grandma who taught me to crochet and press flowers and to bake. My mum taught me to knit and how to sew. 

At school we were fortunate enough to have an amazing textiles dept in the art studios where I learned weaving, screen printing and batiking amongst other things. At college I discovered ceramics which I love and then went on to study ceramics and glass at university, but my love of textiles has always stayed with me.

Over the last 15 yrs crafting took a back seat as full time work and then children became the centre of my life. I started to make presents for people in recent years out of neccesity but they where always very well received and my friends and family encouraged me to sell what I made. 

I started selling on Folksy last October after a friend set me a deadline (I'm no use unless I have one!). I started off selling Christmas decorations which surpassed my hopes, and I was so busy making them to sell that I nearly didn't get any Christmas presents made!

Folksy is brilliant! I have made some great friends through Folksy which help me quite a lot. In normal life I feel quite isolated in some respects as non of my friends are at all arty/ crafty, so it is great to be able to spend time talking to other crafts people and learning from them. In the future I want to concentrate on getting the branding of Granny Ruth's sorted out, and as I recently bought a kiln and a potters wheel I want to open another shop selling hand thrown ceramics.

I work at my table in the corner of the kids play room. It is a complete bomb site, much like the rest of my house Who'd be tidying up when they can be crafting!  I generally get settled down to making in the evenings when the house is quiet. I stay up far too late and don't sleep enough, but the evenings are when I'm awake and when I get my second wind! "
Thanks Nic for letting me feature you here, and good luck with it all.

Tuesday 16 March 2010

Featured Etsy Seller - Dizzy Dragonflies

This month the featured etsy blogger is Vicki of dizzydragonflies. I've never been any good at knitting or crochet, but I do love these colours!

Makes me wish I could knit.....maybe that'll be my next craft fad.

Vicki has a great blog - take a look http://knittingdragonflies.blogspot.com/

Monday 15 March 2010


WARNING: When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple
with a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
and satin candles, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired
and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
and run my stick along the public railings
and make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
and pick the flowers in other people's gardens
and learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
and eat three pounds of sausages at a go
or only bread and pickles for a week
and hoard pens and pencils and beer nuts and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
and pay our rent and not swear in the street
and set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Some picks for anyone else who would like to practice...

Earrings (by me!!!)

scarflette (by hooked yarn)

Amethyst twist necklace

Friday 12 March 2010

Folksy Friday - The Buddist Musician

Yay another Folksy Friday. 
This week I've been talking to Sarah aka the Buddhist Musician. Always a lovely helpful person in the forums, and her shop is fab. I wanted to feature Sarah's stuff because I love her origami stars. 
They are really different and unusual.

So I asked Sarah to fill me in, on how she got started with it all...

"I've been making jewellery for about 5 years on and off.  I started experimenting with origami stars last year and now make a range of jewellery items using them.  As well as using traditional chiyogami paper I also like to print my own designs for the stars.

Last year I started to crochet and got very interested in amigurumi.  
I am now making Daruma dolls and am designing a Maneki Neko (a lucky cat) and a Buddha amigurumi.  

I've been selling on Folksy for just over a year now.  I've also been writing a blog at the same time.  It features recipes, what I've been making, stories about my two dogs and other crafty bloggers.

My work space is the sofa!  As you can see from the photo it is sometimes occupied by the four legged residents.  It seems a shame to move them sometimes so I end up sitting on the floor."
Thanks Sarah for letting me know a bit more about you, and see where you work! 

I love seeing the people behind the shops, and where they do their making.

Thursday 11 March 2010

Playing around with my camera - 2

Sorry to those folks not obsessed with talking photos of small shiny objects, BUT....

following on from my earlier post about playing with my camera. My next experiment was to change the white balance (WB) settings.This is one of the top tips I'd come across in the forums.

So with the lightbox out and the exposure upped slightly, I looped through all the WB settings.. and here goes:

Sunshine setting - (above)

Auto WB setting

inside light setting (cripes!)



Personal setting

I think I like the personal one best,(but still not bright enough). To set the personal option I just had to point the camera at the white card, click set, and it figured it out for me.


 Anyway the matt black agate on sterling silver almond earwires are in the shop now...(click on the pic)!

I'm sure everyone else knows this  camera stuff already, and I'm really sorry to bore people who don't have there own shop, and will never need to take pics of their handmade jewellery....but it's been a useful lesson for me!


Tuesday 9 March 2010


I'm really excited that I finally got around to making some stud earrings (or ear posts - call them what you will). 

I find them so much easier to wear than dangly earrings for everyday - I got scared of wearing any earrings when the girls were tiny, and Eve who is 2 still likes to fiddle with my ears when we're having a cuddle so dangles are generally still out for me.

(These black onyx and sterling silver ones are in the etsy shop now)

They're fun to make, especially conisdering my current soldering obsession. I'll definitely be making some more. Maybe some more irregular shaped ones, and different styles of bezel wire in the future.



Going to load these moonstone beauties up later! I love moonstone.

So what's the verdict - do you like studs or dangles?

Monday 8 March 2010

Playing around with my camera - part 1

Grrrr taking photos of my jewellery drives me mad!

I've been reading up lots of different tips on various forums, etsy, folksy etc.. but my trouble is that unless I actually have the camera there and try it out (which obviously I never do) I just never remember what I'm supposed to be doing (and to be honest, just can't be bothered to play around - too much to do, and too little time). But I know photos are one of the most important things, and so I decided to take some time to figure them out.

I know the key for good lighting is natural sunlight, and that has been in short supply until recently, so now that the sun is actually out I thought I'd have a play with my camera and show you what I came up with. The theory is if I write it down on my blog, I can refer back when I (inevitably) forget what I did!

A tutorial I would really recommend is Boo's Digital Photography Tutorial - especially useful for me as Boo also makes jewellery.

The key issue I have is the light, and so that's what I focused on. I want a really bright pic, BUT (and it's a big but) not overexposed which changes the colour of the gemstones, and makes the silver look white. When you're buying online you really need to have as accurate a picture of the item as possible.

I tend to use a plain white background because I like a simple, clean look. BUT I've heard that the best colour background to use is grey. Honestly, I've been looking around for a nice simple grey "thing" to take pics on for weeks now, and can't find anything that I like - where do you get a lump of slate? I tried the DIY stores, but nothing quite right. So I'm sticking to white for the time being.

I thought it was about time I actually used the DIY lightbox I made ages ago (last time the sun was out!) I know natural sunshine is the best thing for photos, and to be honest I love the shadows that it makes, but it can make it difficult to see the item properly. I must admit it hadn't occured to me they were a problem until I read discussions in the forums on it. So I did a comparison....

This picture above is just in sunlight without a lightbox..

And this one is in the lightbox. (Obviously I'd crop it etc.. for the real version, but this is just to show the light!).

Hmmm..... I think I know which one I prefer.  Doing this comparison and seeing things side by side is really useful for me.

I'm really glad I made the lightbox now! And it really didn't take long to do. I also had a old cereal box and put crinkled up silver foil on it to reflect light back onto the earrings. Takes seconds to do, and I think it really helped.

Final trick - on this second picture I also changed the exposure setting (so easy to do - I moved it up to +1) Makes a huge difference!

The next experiment was to play with the White Balance.... pictures of this to come in part 2.

Friday 5 March 2010

Folksy Friday - The Homebirds

Thought it was about time to get a Folksy Friday feature up and running, and what better place to start than with The Homebirds.

Although new to Folksy, Jane and Becky have been creating and selling fab homewares for a while now, selling at local craft fairs, and holding parties - and their stuff is just lovely. Look at these gorgeous russian dolls.

I've known Jane for about 12 years now, (crikey that makes me feel so old!) we worked together at Hallmark Cards many moons ago, and she like me is a complete stumble crafter - but seems to have found her niche now!

Always my first port of call for new baby gifts (look out on the shop soon), Jane is a bloomin' genius with her sewing machine! I caught up with her recently as she was in the midst of making this cute owl cushion....

(She did stop eventually and make me a cuppa)

Becky makes really lovely notice boards with ribbon to keep all your bits organised, and with really original fabric. I love these birds.

So, a highly recommended folksian - do go take a look, and say hello, and as today is Jane's birthday - show some Folksy love! Happy Birthday Jane.
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