Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Last Day of the Earring Challenge

If you follow my blog (what do you mean, you don't?!  Click on that 'follow' button right now, or you'll miss access to all my inane fascinating ramblings, and then where would you be?  Having a life, you say?  Oh, okay, then) you'll know that I set myself an April challenge to make a new pair of earrings for every working day of the month.

The Serpent and the Apple

One pair of earrings a day - shouldn't be too much of a trial, I thought.  Well, I was right and wrong at the same time.  There were days when I was so busy, I didn't know how I was going to fit in creating even something as quick (ha!) as a pair of earrings, and they were the days when the execution was less complex.

But I'm so glad I did.  An important part of my job is coming up with new (to me) ideas.  I'm not saying many of them haven't been done somewhere in some similar way before, but I don't look for other people's work to copy (you know how I feel about that!), so the ideas were fresh to me.  And that not only keeps me interested in my work, it also fires my imagination.

I made an effort to make more wirework earrings for the challenge, and that took me in a new direction.  I also finally gave some woven backdrop earrings a go - featuring the sheepsies, of course!

So am I glad I added to my workload in this way?  Of course.  It was fun to do, and as making things to order is also an important part of my job, it was a good exercise, too.  How did any of you do with your own challenges? :)

Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Beauty of Buying Handmade

I love being part of the Handmade community.  I am among like-minded individuals, who understand the time, effort, heart and soul that goes into a handmade piece.  Since I started making my own jewellery, I have come to have a much greater appreciation for items that have started in someone's imagination, and grown as if by magic from their fingers.  It's not that I didn't appreciate handcrafted items before, it's just that having imbued each of my own pieces with a portion of my own heart and soul, it is to me a little humbling to own such a piece made by someone else's hand.

Beautiful work by Vicki Foster of VF Designs
I also have great appreciation for the sheer diversity of imagination and skill that is out there.  I cannot sew.  The nearest I get is applying a needle and thread to a simple beaded bead, and that is not very close at all!  So I'm in awe of anyone who can take a piece of material and turn it into something useful and/or beautiful.  There are a few things I can do, and many more that I can't - and for all those things, there are craftspeople out there with beautiful items to fulfill my needs.

 Whimsical hoops by Emma Granton of Wordy Sew and Sew

I'm part of a lovely group of sellers who are getting together to showcase their wares on a regular basis now in One of a Kind Market Events on Facebook.  The next one is on Sunday between 6pm and 11pm - here's the link to the Market Night Event.

Stunning silver-smithed pendants by Joanna Reilly of My Turquoise Queen

The wonderful thing about being part of something like this is that there is such a varied array of artisan work to see all in once place.  Granted, there are only a few special items available per seller, but every single one has their own page for you to hop over and drool over their photos.  And every one is happy - as am I - to discuss custom work with you.  Which brings me to the other reason why handmade items are so special.  Where else could you contact the seller and have something custom made just for you, something truly unique?

Adorable pincushions by Jo Porter at Crafty Jo Designs
Made to order colouring books by Alice Cook Designs

Handmade cards by Jan Colbunn of Agape Crafts

This is just a tiny fraction of the eclectic work that will be available on Sunday - here is a link to the Market Night Album, which will be full to bursting by then!  I would love to share a picture by each one, but I'd be here all day - and so would you, waiting for the page to load!  So here are all the links to their pages - if you get a moment, please do pop by, I have found some truly beautiful pages while taking part in these events.  Hope to see you all there on Sunday night! :)

The LFStudio
Sewing Circus
VF Designs
Lady H
Little Crescent Moon 
Card Bubble
Sun N Sparkles Bags & more
Crafty Jo Designs
Wordy Sew and Sew
Wrap It
Lily Rose
Jim Jim Designs
Mallory Bags and Journals
Waggy & Babbits
Alice Cook Designs
Agape Crafts
The Book Vandal
Mad About Bags
My Turquoise Queen
Bit On The Side - Vintage Inspired Fascinators
Fuzzy P's Crafts
Em's Little Cake Stop
Molly rose gifts
Louise Goodchild Designs


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

A Fixation with Filing

This is a subject about which I feel very strongly.  I don't often concern myself with how others execute their wirework - it's a personal journey, and I'm happy to plod on in my own sweet way without presuming to judge the skill level of anyone else.  There are MANY people who have far greater skill than I, and if I worried about that too much, I'd crawl into a hole, start rocking gently and never come out. ;)

But the one thing that really upsets me is when I see wirework that hasn't been properly finished.  I don't mean the odd nick that you just can't get to with the file no matter how hard you try - I mean working ends of wire that are going to make contact with skin, in particular earwires.  When I see an earwire that has not had the end smoothed properly, I wince, imagining it tearing the earlobe of the unsuspecting person who's about to wear it.

To my mind, there's no excuse for not finishing an earwire properly.  There's no great skill involved - just time.  My earwires are filed, filed and filed some more, then rigorously tested with my fingertip to check for any sharpness.  I spend a long time getting the finish right - this is why you often have to wait a few days when you order findings from me.  And I never use coloured wire, as the only way to retain the colour on the ends would be to leave them unfiled.  (I should mention that this applies to handmade earwires only - proprietary ones will have had the colour applied after the earwire has been made.)

Anyway, I'll step off the soapbox now - I'm not suggesting for one moment that my work is perfect, it's just that earwires with sharp ends really make me cringe!  And I do sometimes buy earwires from other handmade artists, which are beautifully made, and thankfully give me no cause for cringing.  Does anyone else have something that sets their teeth on edge in the same way?