Wednesday 30 June 2010

I love my tumbler...

One piece of equipment which makes my life so much easier is my tumbler. I admit it's a luxury rather than a necessity but do I love the shine on my jewellery after it's been in there for an hour or two.

I'm not sure how much you'll be able to see in a very hurridly taken pics, but here is the "before" shot of that reef knot bangle I started many moons ago, and which has been sitting in my W.I.P mountain ever since....

and here is the "after"...

I know it's tricky because the photos are taken in different light, but I assure you the difference in real life is HUGE.

My tumbler, my beautiful, lovely tumbler, which saves me HOURS of cleaning was a very cheapo one from Manchester Minerals.

(which is incidentally a fab site for lots of other bits and bobs.)

You basically get some stainless steel shot which is a variety of different shapes of stainless steel, put it in a plastic barrel and fill to two thirds full with water - add a squirt of washing up liquid and away you go. Yes I know you can use other shot, and I know you are recommended to buy fancy barreling soap and allsorts, but this does me just fine for now. The tumbler basically just rolls the mix round and round until the little bits of shot have cleaned up all the little corners of the jewellery.

Just be warned, the time saved in polishing and cleaning by hand can be spent trying to find your little  shiney silver items amongst all the little shiney silvery coloured shot.  I must admit I've had some recycled silver studs in there for over a week now, which I can't find - I need to seive it out and replace the water, but that can wait.

Tuesday 29 June 2010

Can you see what I see?

I get a lot of inspiration for my jewellery from nature.... and I could spend hours on a summers evening just sitting in the garden watching the birds flying around from tree to tree, and listening to their song. If only I had hours to do that!

We're really lucky to have loads of trees around here and we have a gorgeous (but huge) silver birch in our garden, which gives us lots of dappled shade on sunny days (as well as sucking up all the moisture so the grass near to it has none and has a brown tinge for most of the year!)
As much as I love our tree, our next door neighbours seems to get more approval from the more exotic birds in the area...

Can you see it yet....

Look closer...

How about now?
Apparently we have quite a big flock of wilds parakeets around here, and have done for nearly 100 years - they seem to be thriving. If you take a stroll down to the river on a summers evening you can see loads of them.

Anyway, I'm working on a few more tree inspired pieces at the moment - more of which later, but in the meantime here's a few from my shop...

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Been buying again

So, after having the picture of that gorgeous dress on the blog for a while, I could resist no longer and eventually gave in to the persistant "ooooh mummy I like that dress" hints from my littlest. I guess I should be pleased they were hints as opposed to outright demands - she's learning how to work me.

Well it arrived this morning from Birgitta designs, and it's a HUGE success. She even kept her hair up for the whole day in the matching hair bobbles which Birgitta thoughtfully sent along with it. If you have a little girl, I'd definitely recommend one of these dresses. Perfect for summer days as they're so cool, light and airy. Just perfect..... so a massive thank you to Birgitta we love it.
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Monday 21 June 2010

Lisa's lovely giveaway

I've decided it's about time I entered a few giveaways.... someone wins, and you never know one day (maybe if I keep all my fingers and toes crossed) one day it might even be really it could happen.

Anyway, one of my favourite shops on etsy is Lisa's lovlies and she just happens to be having a giveaway right now...

take a look on her blog where you can win this gorgeous ring,.


Sunday 20 June 2010

Surrey Artists Open Studios

Last weekend was the Surrey Artists Open Studios. It's been running years, but I somehow have never quite made it (probably child related issues!).

Anyway, this year I made it to 3 studios:

The first was the Art Matters studio in Redhill which is part of the Richmond Fellowship

"Art Matters exists to provide support, space, materials and an atmosphere for those experiencing mental health needs. Creative activity has long been recognised as beneficial to those experiencing mental health issues, promoting relaxation and reducing stress. The opportunity to interact with like minded individuals in a safe and calm environment like Art Matters, can also help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness." The studio space was full of inspiration, and showed examples of painting, wood carving, sand pictures, and book folding amongst others. The girls even got their own folded brochure...

The second studio was in an artists home; Jon Spencer is based in Leatherhead and paints fantastic landscapes in oil paints, thickly applied with a pallette knife. Some of them were just stunning and we would love to buy one. In our little cottage they just wouldn't work though, so maybe the next house....

My final visit was the Ranmore Common near Dorking to visit another jeweller - Victoria Phillips. How green was I when I saw her fantastic self contained studio in her garden, overlooking a beautiful valley.....and her work was pretty darned lovely too!
I found all 3 studios completely inspiring. As some of you know by now I'm fascinated by where and how other people work, and seeing all these amazing creative spaces was a great experience. The kids loved it too, and unprompted ran in and got their paint set out as soon as we got in the door. I'd really recommend it if there are Open Studios near you!

Saturday 12 June 2010

Featured Crafter - "Birgitta Designs" and a GIVEAWAY!!

Today's featured crafter is the very lovely Birgitta, of Birgitta Designs. Birgitta makes the most gorgeous little petticoats and dresses. I've made the girls a couple of dresses, and I love it when they choose to wear them instead of the local uniform of "hello kitty" tops. But to be honest it took me a long time to make them, and they weren't perfect so I'm always on the look out for clothes for the girls - handmade by someone else!

Birgitta's folksy shop is lovely, read on to find out a little bit more about Birgitta, and to enter our fantastic, and super generous giveaway! (Thanks again Bx)

Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Birgitta, I was born in Delft, Holland and moved to England when I was 7 years old. I’m 36 and have 2 sons, Connor aged 10 who is high functioning autistic and Sam who is 8 and we live with our black cat Mr Sox. Since Connor’s diagnosis I have deferred my last year at uni so as to be available more for Connor and spend time as a family.

What do you make?
All sorts, I started off doing mixed media textiles at College 4 years ago, so pieces of abstract art using water soluble fabric ,wire etc. I’ve designed a range of wallpaper and rugs at uni as well as a kitchenware range. I've also done up-cycling jeans into bags for Oxfam and made fabric wrapped wire bird cages. Now since deferring my last year at uni, I’ve progressed to aprons, bags, pillows and in the last 4 months children’s clothing. People ask me can you make this? I always say I'll have a go but I don’t always know for sure that I can, and I waste fabric trying stuff out as I go but I love the problem solving as I work and it’s such a great feeling when I realise I’ve learnt something new.

Why fabric ? I love being creative and fabric lends itself to so much, textile art, practical things, pretty things. But  I also love design, colour and new ideas and  fabric design is to me art, I appreciate the art of Fabric.

When/ how did you start crafting? To be honest it was a coping mechanism after suffering a miscarriage 4 years ago, so although very very sad, it also brought me to this place in my life without the miscarriage I wouldn’t have gone back to college to do Visual Arts and then gone on to University and Uni did change my life, it gave me the confidence to see I am talented and that I have potential. It taught me the design process and how to go about starting a project.  I could never have imagined 4 and a half years ago that I’d be sat here now  making clothes etc, starting my own business, blogging and becoming part of this amazing online arts & craft community.

When did you start selling your stuff
I 1st started selling online in December 2009 after much encouragement from family and friends I opened my shop on Folksy and by sheer luck had my 1st sale within 20 minutes of opening. Its slowly but surely building.

Do you also have a day job, or is this your main job?This is my main job, I don’t feel as though I can commit to a full time permanent job as Connor will soon be moving up to Senior School and that transition is going to be especially difficult for him with his autism. Since his diagnosis I’m waiting for support and have to go to lots of different meetings so working from home just makes life much simpler and I can fit work around being a single parent. I can always work at night if needs.
What do you love about your medium, what do you hate?
The only thing I hate about my medium is that I can’t buy more of it haha  and I'm constantly bemoaning the lack of funky contemporary British based fabric especially designs for young boys, so I may have to bite the bullet and design my own. I am a real fabric addict always hunting out new designs and new colours, I collect it.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
I’m mainly inspired by techniques, different ways to manipulate fabric and I love my gadgets, different sewing machine feet, like my bias-binding foot, or my gathering foot, so often I’ll be thinking how else can I use this? What will happen if I do this or that?
I’m a keen photographer so I tend to always be looking, watching. I’m a very tactile person so I do literally stop and smell the roses, hear the birdsong.  I also love people watching, what are they wearing, how is the bag they are carrying made, could I make something similar, what fabric have I got that would suit that.
What is your favourite music to craft to?
It has to be upbeat or I’ll just fall asleep, so Faithless is a favourite, or the Black Eyed Peas, or anything from Glee my taste is very eclectic.
What is your favourite piece of your own?
Probably Frankie ( so called because when I started she resembled the Bride of Frankenstein) my first doll I made last week from a fab pattern in SewHip magazine. She’s very cute but she was also a success and as my 1st ever doll  I felt very chuffed with myself.  I’m keeping her for myself for now though my niece may get her eventually.

Where do you do your crafting? I gave up my bedroom for Connor as I was advised he needed his own room and I do now actually sleep on my sofa bed in the front room, I’ve had a temporary partition built in my large front room so as to make a room for me but I’ve turned it into my workroom rather than a bedroom.I love it and as long as I have a space that is mine  I don’t mind where I sleep. Though I would love that nice man off the telly George Clarke to weave his magic on our living situation I’d love to see what he’d do with it. All in all I feel very lucky I love what I do and I do what I love and I can fit it around what my children need.

Birgitta has very kindly offered this lovely purple bunting for one luck giveaway winner. How perfect would this be in your garden this summer for a lovely summer party?
Click the picture to find out more information about this purple gorgeousness!

- To be eligible for entry, you must be a follower of my blog through google friend connect or through your preferred RSS reader. -
- Make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you win. -
- Please leave separate comments for each entry. -

First entry (mandatory):
Head over to Birgitta Designs and tell me your favorite item!

Extra entries (optional):
- Become a Facebook fan of Birgitta Designs
- Become a Facebook fan of Red Bird Jewellery
- Follow @redbirdjewels on twitter and tweet the giveaway
- Follow @birgittadesign on twitter and tweet the giveaway
- Blog about this giveaway and leave me the link.

Good luck everyone!!! This giveaway closes at midnight (UK) Sat 19th June.

Tuesday 8 June 2010

I'm back

..and we had a brilliant holiday.

I've never been to Greece before, but I'd love to go again - it's just beautiful. This was our nearest beach for goodness sake...

how gorgeous is that?

The girls had a fantastic time mainly because the villa had a pool and they spent at least 2 hours every day in it.

Plus they got an ice cream pretty much every day. Who could ask for more in life?

(me and littlest)

But we're back,and need to get back into to real life now. Today has been very rainy and I'm already behind what i'd planned to do in the etsy and folksy shops, but it's great to be home, and I've got LOADS of new ideas for the jewellery (and a hundred other crafty projects) on the boil. I'll keep you posted....
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