Welcome to my blog. I hope you'll stay awhile, leave a comment, let me know what you think.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Craft Fair - 'Post Mortem'

I had a stall last Saturday at the Green Party's Christmas fair in Lancaster.  I have done several and always do reasonably well.   I don't ever sell my more expensive items but this year I had lots of older jewellery reduced to rock bottom prices and sold a lot of it.  I was very pleased to do this though it would have been nice to sell a little more of my full price items. 
However when I looked at two photos a friend took of the stall when I had just set it up I was horrified.  
This is the result of setting up a jewellery stall when you are in a state of total fatigue and with very few functioning brain cells (That's me behind the stall trying not to be in the photo!):

It looks like a jumble sale!  A huge redesign is needed for any future fairs I may do.   Next year I'm planning to go to my daughter's in the USA in the spring instead of the autumn which means I won't be jetlagged and exhausted  when I do this fair.  I'm hoping to be better organised and get a couple of other fairs booked for next year too.  

Saturday, 29 October 2011

A Few Photos

I promised I would keep blogging whilst here in the USA but I've not so far kept that promise. I've not really done much of the sort of thing that's interesting for people who don't actually know my family - mostly day to day stuff like laundry and shopping.  We've been to one child's birthday party and hosted another, taken the dog for walks and I've been fishing with my granddaughter.  Tonight we are going to a Halloween party with friends I've not seen since I was here last year so I'm looking forward to that and may have photos to share later.
I also have a jewellery party booked next Friday and hopefully a trip to some botanical gardens nearby.  I hope the weather improves at the moment it's pouring with rain and snow is forecast...  though 'they' say it will be sunny again next week.
So for now here are a few photos, mostly taken in the park behind the house.
Common Buckeye butterfly, wonderfully co-operative, it stayed on this flower long enough for me to get several photos

Vapour trails - we are fairly close to the airport.  Some of the planes are low enough to see the logos on their tails!

Emily fishing in the lake. The autumn colours are really beautiful at the moment

Sunlight through a maple tree.  

I realised when uploading these that most of my photos have been saved as tiffs which won't upload so I need to do jpeg versions of some more.  Hopefully I'll manage another blog post before I go home.  
Time is now speeding up alarmingly and I have just 12 days left here. As always I don't want to leave my lovely family though I do miss Monty and my friends at home.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Little Big Shot Close Up Camera Lens

I recently bought an amazing little lens from an Artfire seller, David, called the Little Big Shot.
This is what arrived
I had told David which camera I have and the measurement of the lens area.   Two lenses are in the case but the smaller one fits best onto my camera.  It's very easy to set up, there are precise instructions via videos on David's blog.
The lens goes onto the camera using a piece of click lock tape (a bit like velcro but it snaps together rather than having hooks and loops).  You get a good sized piece so if you need to replace it you have plenty.
I watched the videos on the blog and went out to try it out.  The first attempt was a dismal failure. I couldn't get the camera to focus at all.  I've no idea what I did wrong, I thought I'd made the alterations to my camera settings that are recommended but in the process I must have done something wrong.
I was feeling very unwell at the time (regular readers or FB likers will know I had a wisdom tooth removed) so decided to put it all away for a while and try again another day.

In the meantime a friend took me to Southport flower show (see the earlier blog entry) where all my photos came out with a dreadful red cast.  I reset the white balance (don't remember setting it wrongly but I must have!) and my camera now functions normally again.

I duly watched the video with the operating instructions again.  David recommends using the 'P' setting on the camera which I'm familiar with from my previous Canon camera.  My Ricoh doesn't have this setting but on reading through the camera manual I found I can indeed change the ISO.  
so having got the settings right - it's really simple, right, so how did I manage to mess up the white balance and render the camera unable to focus???
My problem now was purely physical.  The camera needs to be held really steady, more so than in my usual macro mode, which is challenging for me.  I don't have a tripod and it isn't always practical to use one to get to what I want to photograph anyway.
My next set of photos were all blurred.
Third time lucky, I have some rather fuzzy and some reasonably in focus shots so I've decided to share them.
Red lobelia, not perfectly focused but I like it, the colour is amazing and shows better in the next photo
This was the best of the lobelia photos, all the rest were very blurred, but as I had to hold the camera quite high (they are really tall) I'm pleased I got this one.
The first of the alchemilla (ladies mantle) photos.  This is a very old scruffy leaf but the idea was to get the water droplets. I've had fairly good macro shots of alchemilla before but was hoping for something better.
Here I've got in closer using the zoom with the lens, a bit fuzzy though.
This is looking more like it but still not good enough, I'm still not holding the camera steadily enough to hold the point of focus as I click the shutter.

Finally this is the sort of shot I've been hoping for, getting the little hairs at the edge of the leaf and the reflections in the water droplets. 
Well 'they' say practice makes perfect, so I know I've a lot of practicing to do, but I will enjoy it and am confident I'll get better.  My wrists aren't going to get any stronger but I'll find ways to keep the camera steady and just keep clicking away until I get what I want.  Fortunately plants don't move much if it isn't too windy, getting insects etc will be more challenging as they don't tend to keep still and pose for the camera!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Southport Flower Show

Last weekend was the Southport Flower Show.  I've never been before, in fact I've never been to any of the flower shows, so I was delighted when a friend asked me if I'd like to go along with her.
We started out by looking at all the gardens that had been made, some were just amazing.  

The path to the cottage is made from potatoes!
I had a problem with the photos which all had a hideous red cast on them.  I spent some time on Photoshop trying to correct it but they still aren't as good as I'd like.  I later discovered that while playing with some of the camera settings earlier in the week I'd accidentally changed the white balance!
After looking round most of the gardens we went on to the various marquees to check out flower displays and lots of stands with amazing plants arranged.  There were plenty of plants for sale too and I could have spent a fortune and filled my garden three times over but I managed to resist the temptation, coming home with two plants and some bulbs for my alpine rock garden in a sink.  Some of the original plants have died and others have become rampant so I need to revitalise it.
I'm thinking next spring I will carefully remove all the plants and remake it completely.
We also found some amazing alpine displays using all sorts of containers.

Most of the time I was too enthralled by it all to take photos so this is all I have.  My friend plans to try to replicate some of these lovely mini gardens, they are certainly inspiring.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Polymer Clay Lizard Earrings

I bought a set of two little stamps recently, each has the same lizard but pointing in opposite directions.  I made my first pair of earrings with them and am sending this pair to the shop in Leeds which is taking some earrings and brooches in November.
I love them so much that if I could wear earrings I'd keep them!

I've decided to make more of this design.  I plan to do them in different colourways, with different beads, different wires etc, they are just too cute not to repeat!
They will cost £14 and will be put on sale in all my shops.  If you would like a pair let me know and we can discuss the colours you'd like.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Polymer Clay - Finished Work

Here are the two brooches and a ring, out of the oven and finished off.
This is my first attempt at a ring.  I've just bought some filigree metal ring blanks from treasuresinmeasures so I'll be making some more soon.

 These two brooches are probably going to a shop in Leeds in time for Christmas, they've asked me to send 6 brooches and 6 sets of earrings and I need to get them made before the end of September when I go to the USA.  
The buttons, 3 sets,  are available in my supplies shop AverilpamEtc on Folksy.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Polymer Clay - Into the Oven!

Here's a quick pic of my latest oven batch.  Three sets of matching buttons, 2 brooches and the top for a ring.  I found a tutorial for making a simple ring base using rubber cord, and as I've never made one before decided to have a try. I don't know if I'll ever make them to sell, but Polyform (they make Premo polymer clay) have monthly 'make it your own' contests and August's is big rings.  You can enter as often as you like so I may do some more.  Textures and metallic/mica finishes are my fascination at the moment so I'm indulging myself and I've ordered a couple of new texture sheets. 
The heart brooch needs some work, I put too much silver on it so the texture lost some definition but I can sand some of it off and bring out the black/purple base colours.  Sorry the photo isn't brilliant but I only took one quick photo before they went into the oven. Once the jewellery is finished I'll post some better photos.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


Does anyone else find these acronyms confusing - there are so many around these days my poor fuddled brain can't always cope!
In this case I'm talking about Work in Progress and UnFinished Object.   I'm wondering when the former turns into the latter.  How long does a work in progress need to sit around before it becomes an unfinished project that may never be picked up again.
I've quite a few sitting around. Firstly a half made scarf on the loom. 

I got part way through and realised I didn't like it so folded the loom up and put it away and got on with other things.  Now I'm thinking I may never weave again on that loom unless I decide to cut my losses and cut it off the loom.  Such a waste of wool I think but actually a worse waste of a loom if I hide it away and don't use it!  Part of me still thinks I should just get it finished...
Then there is the rug sitting in a carrier bag behind the couch.  I've not done much but like the scarf I've 'gone off' the fabric I used for most of what I have done.  I know I should throw it out and start again with fabric I like better.  Part of the problem was that the fabric frayed so badly that every time I worked on the rug everything around including myself ended up covered in bits that clung stubbornly to my clothing, the couch and the carpet. At this point there should be a photo of said partly made rug but I can't find it!
There is a fair amount of jewellery that I made early on in my jewellery making enterprise and which needs taking apart and remaking - or just taking apart so the beads can be used for something else or sold on.
Then there are various little pots and bags with polymer clay projects that are either waiting to be finished off and made into jewellery or - well, just sitting around because they didn't come out quite as planned. 

I will probably finish most of these off someday but I'm not sure about the pink beads, basically I don't really like them so I'll leave them sitting for now.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Works in Progress

I bought a lovely new book recently - Patterns in Polymer by Julie Picarello.  I had pre ordered it from Amazon some time ago and was delighted when it arrived last weekend.  It was really inspiring and helped to kick start my ailing creativity.
She shows some really interesting techniques as well as really good tips on mixing colours.
I made up four colours, a deep red, lighter pink, pale blue and buttery cream.  They look good together and had enough contrast for Makume Gane which is a technique which works best with plenty of contrast. 

The large piece is made using the mokume gane I made,  I wasn't very happy with most of the slices and ended up using it to make the beads which I think will make a necklace.  The left over stack of colours I sliced with a wavy blade which gives a nice zig zag pattern.  I used leftovers to make what Julie calls a lizard tail which I flattened out and used for the bottom piece in the photo.  I haven't decided yet what to do with these.
I made some earrings with the zig zag patterned clay:

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Squirrel Antics

One of the squirrels came back to my garden yesterday.  Well I choose to believe it's one of the same squirrels but it may not be!
He climbed up the narrow metal pole with no trouble and first of all made for the fat filled half-coconut shell.  I was on the phone to a friend at the time and was describing the scene to her.  She told me to put the phone down and get photos for her, which I did.   By this time he had given up on the fat and was raiding the sunflower seeds quite successfully by hanging upside down.   

Unfortunately I will have to disappoint him if he returns as I usually have a plastic lid taped halfway up the pole to stop rats climbing up. 
The plastic lid recently fell off, due to pigeons standing on it to feed on the seed that drops onto it from the niger and sunflower seed feeders.  The only way I've found to attach it is with brown parcel tape, not very pretty and far from permanent, but effective!
A squirrel has, in the past, jumped onto the top of the pole from the slate slab which stands upright nearby, so I may not have spoiled his fun.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Keyrings, a New Line for Averilpam

I'm trying a new line in my Folksy shop, I've listed one so far and have 2 more to go in soon. The first is made with a gorgeous agate slab. It's dyed purple, which shows up round the edges.  In the centre you can see lovely golden brown markings, the photo unfortunately doesn't do it justice. The other two use slices from polymer clay canes with metal charms.


Monday, 6 June 2011

June Bugs Listing Club

This month the Folksy listing club is the June Bugs so I've been trying to list an item a day.  I have opened a second Folksy shop, AverilpamEtc selling off some of my excess stock of beads etc.  I'm selling them very cheaply as it is stock sitting around that I'm very unlikely to use since my jewellery making style has changed radically since I started using polymer clay.  So I've not managed to list much in my Averilpam shop, but am getting a fair few beads listed, and I'm glad to say they are selling quite well.
Here are some of the listings from the June bugs today,  click on the titles below each picture to go to the shops.

This lovely ring is from Chicita Gimme That Thing. I like the mix of metals.
This beautifully painted aceo is from Wellydog Gallery, I love the colours.
This is a great nautical cushion from Ticketty Boo.  Don't you love that anchor motif?
This is a really pretty flower brooch from Juniper Spools (what a brilliant shop name!)
I hope you like these as much as I do, or maybe you'll find something else you like in one of these Folksy shops.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Squirrels on the Bird Table!

I know lots of people consider grey squirrels to be pests but I love them.   I rarely see any in my garden, so I was surprised a couple of days ago, hearing a clattering and thumping sound, to find a squirrel in the garden.  The noise was presumably from it hurling itself from the roof onto the greenhouse roof and from there via a small table to my doorstep.  The table is Monty's favourite place to sit and watch the birds, it's a bit rickety so rattles when he jumps up.   I'm just waiting for it to collapse one day, along with the greenhouse - Monty likes to snooze on the roof!
Today the squirrel was back, with a friend, to investigate the bird table.  There wasn't much food up there and they didn't seem interested in the sultanas that the birds relish, so they didn't stay long.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

New Bag Designs - Disappointed!

I blogged recently about my new bag design - I've been brewing it for ages but only recently got around to making the prototype.   I wasn't entirely happy with the shape and made another but I'm still not happy with it.  They are lightly padded and machine embroidered and have small pockets inside. The felt is made with my embellisher using merino wool and some raw silk, then machine embroidered. Each has a hidden magnetic catch at the top of the bag just beneath the handles.
Here is the original prototype
I decided that this one was too long and narrow, and the felt handles were too soft, so here is number two
 I like this one better but it still isn't how I visualised it originally.  I feel the handles are too big in proportion to the bag.  I have also decided I would prefer the bag wider than it is high.  I'm planning to try a different, curved shape, with curved shaped handles.
In the meantime I can't decide whether or not to put these up for sale. I love the fabrics, linen with lovely silk fabrics for the linings and I'm quite happy with the felt I made. They just aren't quite what I planned.  I'd appreciate some honest feedback.
Related Posts with Thumbnails