About Me

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North Somerset, United Kingdom
My parents were worried when I ran around with scissors – now I play with fire and (intentionally) break glass! Based in the beautiful South West of England, close to the sea and often the scene of beautiful sunsets, I am inspired by the countryside around. Working with sea glass collected from remote beaches, soda lime glass from Murano, Italy, Europe, USA and beyond, I create artisan beads, for use in my own jewellery or for you to enjoy in your own creations. But I couldn’t stop there; continuing the theme from round rods to flat sheets, mostly from the USA, I break large sheets of transparent, opaque, multi-coloured and dichroic glass into much smaller pieces to make a kiln-formed range of bright, colourful jewellery and home decoration. Each piece I make is individually designed around the shape, size and beauty of the materials and intended to be unique, wearable, usable and affordable. All my glass work is kiln annealed for strength and durability and designed to give pleasure for years to come.

Monday, 22 February 2016

New news!

New website coming soon!  I know I've been saying that for a while, but it is happening - just taking me a while to grasp Wordpress but I am well on the way - two steps forward and only one step back.

With the new website will be my blog - I had someone transfer over my old posts from this blog, but obviously got too excited on that one as I should have done when I was ready to go live; hey ho!

It will still be my usual web address - www.blueboxstudio.co.uk but everything in one place.

Meanwhile why not keep up to date with me on Facebook

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Where did the year go?

 Well, what can I say?  I'm not much of a blogger?  Oops. I've ignored this?  Well, I have my reasons.

Some of you follow me on Facebook so will know.  I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease in September after a particularly harrowing 3 months, much of it with my Doctor screwing up his nose and saying things like 'I' think this needs urgently checking out' then leaving me to the mercy of the NHS who give me an 'urgent' appointment for 6th February 2016.  In the end I emptied out the piggy bank and went privately to see a consultant who, after a lot of prodding, probing and biopsying, gave me the 'good' news that I have Crohns - the other option of 'bad' news was not for the faint hearted which is why I went privately!  If you have no idea what Crohns Disease is, look it up - it is not a laugh a minute; it is nothing like IBS, it can't be cured, it isn't 'something [you] ate, it will not go away with Aloe Vera juice and yes I am sure your best friend's aunt's dog's 3rd cousin's father-in-law was cured of it when he drank jingo berry juice standing on his head and whistling Colonel Bogey.  Since I 'came out' (well, who likes to admit they have painful gastric ulcers anywhere between their tongue and their tail) I have had them all.  I know people mean well, but forgive me when I don't laugh - it might cause me pain.
red christmas balls
 So, that's where my last 6 months have gone, along with the holiday we had to cancel 2 days before travelling because I was not fit to travel - and the resulting 2 month wait for a travel insurance handling company to pull their finger out and deal with a simple claim (each spurious request for information that they had not earlier requested meant we went back to the bottom of the pile, I kid you not).  In the middle of this I have had to deal with (and still am) an elderly cat who might have stomach cancer and certainly has pancreatitis that is not responding well to antibiotics.  Our cats are much loved and we love them, even when they are ill.  So to be facing an unexpected diagnosis of  '1-2 weeks' then pancreatitis, inconclusive biopsies (thank heavens I pay all that money out each year for pet insurance (and better than travel insurance!)) it has been gruelling alongside my own pain and other issues.  So there it is.  It's been wearing to say the least and it ain't over yet!

What plans for 2016?  Hopefully better health!  I'm now taking a chemotherapy drug (not just for cancer it seems) once a day for probably at least 5 years which should get me in remission in 3-6 months - a long time but I'll take it, it's shorter than 'forever'.  Some days I am 'normal', as normal as I ever am :) other days I can hardly get out of bed.  So some days you will see me posting new work, making new work, talking about new work ...... and other days you will wonder just where the heck I have gone.  Sometimes the good days come together, sometimes the bad days come together.  I am just thankful to have a good husband who doesn't mind cooking dinner, going to the Post Office to post orders, will walk out into the cold and wet and turn kilns off and not criticise when he comes home to find me (and usually the cats) reclined on the sofa watching non-brain-taxing programmes on TV.  I am wondering whether to move into property development or the antiques trade?  But then moving to another country seems quite attractive..........

I am planning another 2 week selling event on AHandcraftedMarketplace.co.uk   from mid January (not sure of the exact dates, follow my Blue Box Studio Facebook page for up to date details.... but I will be making the video that accompanies my work on the 12th of January so must be around then.  My theme for the early part of the year for this and my Etsy shop is Valentine's Day on 14th February and Mothers Day (UK) on 6th March.  I will also be making glass beads which, if I don't get time before, will be for sale on UK Lampwork Bead Showcase on 28th January. 

My Etsy shop will not be closing over the festive period, although I might be a bit slower to respond than usual - especially during the final ever Downton Abbey on Christmas Day - there are some limits to my attention and even my husband won't get much sense out of me when that is on.  I love period dramas, I will miss this one.

So, that's it, Merry Christmas, wishing you whatever you wish yourselves. Thanks for sticking around this year, I hope you stick around next year, I'll try and do better then.

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Thursday, 15 October 2015

Time to get back on the road again - and other stories


 This weekend sees the beginning of my fairs season

I will be in 

The Winter Gardens, Weston Super Mare

Saturday 17th October
9.30am to 5pm

 I have been asked to take part in an online event, selling items exclusive to to one particular venue - more of that later (not sure how much I am meant to say before it goes live)
It will be a totally different experience for me, but going occasionally outside of my comfort zone is good for the soul, and I promised myself in 2002 that nothing would ever stop me from trying anything new again.  Other than anything to do with heights, I don't do heights.

For the new event and new experience I need to offer work not available elsewhere, so
will be offering necklaces and earrings in a new style, coasters in a new colour and (hopefully) these gorgeous tea light or trinket dishes - I have just three of these on offer but will be trying to get more of this design as I think it is rather gorgeous.

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If you are also on Facebook, why not follow me there as well, just click the link in the word Facebook :)

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Who do you think you are?!


I was only thinking the other morning, I have a lot of new 'friends' and customers and they are probably thinking 'who is she?  Where did she spring from?  So I thought I would share my journey with you.  Obviously it's not my autobiography, even I'd glaze over after the first few pages - this is more 'edited highlights'.  I am available for 'Who Do You Think You Are' and 'This Is Your Life' but I doubt a book will follow, even if they say every one of us has a book in us.

I've been making 'something' since I was 5, but you don't want to hear about all that! I luckily had practical parents with a ‘can do’ attitude.

What about now, how did I get to now?!

In a nutshell? I got bored at a quiet craft fair. I was running a stall for someone else, and had nothing to do. Everyone around me was making something, I didn't 'make'. So I changed that and started making simple bead jewellery. That was way back when in the last century. 

If jewellery was work, then I needed a hobby. A book on Shibori dyeing allowed me to splash dye around with no one tell me I was doing it wrong – deep joy. Now I had both textiles and jewellery to make and sell. And no hobby!

Long walks along beautiful beaches, collecting sea glass, can I make jewellery from this? Yes I can – if walking along a beach, with the sun on my back and only the cry of the gulls for company constitutes a day at work, then that’s the job for me! Sea glass jewellery it would be.

Collaborative work with another artist led to rolls of velvet moving in – she had the know-how, I had the sewing machine. She moved onto other things and I camped out in the library reading anything I could on devoré and decolouring techniques on velvet. By now it was clear I could not do all this in the kitchen – if nothing else it’s too easy to stir the dye spoon in the pasta, so I decamped outside to a garden studio. And then another studio. I’ve had to stop at two – no garden left!

This one is the original Blue Box Studio - it is tiny!

Knowing I would try my hand at most things arty, friends asked me to make up the numbers for a glass bead making day. Four of us sat down to see what this was all about, two of us then signed up for the short course and only one of us, me, actually settled down to make beads. There are more colours of commercial glass than sea glass. And sitting over a hot flame is warmer than a windy beach in winter. That’s my excuse.

 And, with my love of keeping warm, I decided, with a heavy heart, that rising fabric costs and competition from cheap imports flooding even the 'handmade' market, I would, for now, discontinue getting dye everywhere. Now I had spare space which I needed to fill. Not for long! I had wanted to try fusing glass for a while but my little kiln limits what I can do, so when a kiln was offered for the right price (ignore size, what has that to do with it?) I bought it, then some glass and started working with glass sheets instead of rods. We named her Delilah (after the Tom Jones song - 'why? why? why Delilah?!'), she disliked the long car journey home and died, thankfully we managed to resurrect her but she has her 'moments' of non-co-operation.

On the whole she is well behaved - we have 'understanding talks' and 'meaningful discussions' and she rewards me with beautiful things worthy of any home.  Some of my items are seasonal and 'made to order'  repeatable items, but largely, with all my work, what you see is what I have.  How many of us have said 'I wish I got that when I saw it'?  I'm still saying it!!

These gorgeous Christmas coasters (although I think the fairy princess has a job throughout the rest of the year, what little girl wouldn't love her?) and the Christmas themed decorations are limited short runs, limited by the amount of materials I have and my time, once fairs start and orders taken, to fill the kiln with more.  

I think the hearts make wonderful love tokens, or perhaps something a little different for wedding favours? 

So, that’s it in a nutshell. I work with sea glass, glass rods and glass sheet to make jewellery, beads and home accessories. Have a look in my Etsy shop and see what takes your fancy. 

I believe that even handmade work, with added passion from the artist, needs to be a sensible price for the item - I collect art glass perfume bottles - but even I stop at times at say 'how much?' There is a finite limit to all budgets.  My ethos is  'making the unaffordable affordable........', but remember you are paying any artist for their time, a life time's expertise, their imagination, and in return you get a little piece of their soul and passion.  And your car mechanic / electrician / decorator (examples - other trades are available) charge a lot more per hour than most artists - we are all experts in our field and yet artists are more likely to hear 'I could do that' (I expect you can. but it wasn't your idea it was mine) and 'I could make that for far less' (perhaps you can but are you going to and do you have access to the £000s materials and equipment needed to do it?).  I can paint a room, but at the end of the day it will take me longer than my decorator, and for what he charges I could be more gainfully employed and less likely to destroy the carpet with painted footprints.  With the right tools, anyone can have a stab at most things, but do most of us have the right tools to do the job?

And for those who will go ahead with a plan to DIY - I do have 'Round Tuits'!  It might help get the job done?


Friday, 2 October 2015

Whoa, stop the world I want to get off!

What a week!  One minute it is Sunday, and here we are at Friday - I'm not sure where the days in between went? I had a bead Showcase on UK Lampwork Showcase on Sunday which was very busy, followed by a couple of busy days selling in a few of the Facebook groups, so by Wednesday the bead box was looking very depleted.  Just the oomph I needed to get back out there making beads, a bit of motivation always helps when you aren't feeling 100%.

Continuing my participation in the Craft Pimp 52 things Challenge 2015, and with everything else going on at the moment;  this week is week 40.  First was an order for 4 robin coasters, now on their way to warmer climes, and because I had the glass and a spare space in the kiln, 2 more small tea light / change/whatever dishes, this time powder printed in purple.  These will be in my Etsy shop shortly, priced at £6 each + postage.

Robin coasters, as well as Santa, Rudolph and the Fairy are available to order at £7 each + postage, again from my Etsy shop.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

According to plan - and the things that don't!

So, berating myself for not actually doing anything with my blog since August, I find that the blog posts I had done and scheduled to publish were just sitting there, glaring at me with that malevolent look that says 'go on, I dare you!'.  So, that didn't go according to plan.

Oh well, one published, another ready to go later and this one under construction.  

And what else didn't go according to plan?

Well, there was the holiday that never was.  I should have been putting my feet up in Scotland for a week, but all those hospital appointments came to something.  In the 2 days before setting off I saw 2 consultants (they move faster when you cross their palms with silver, a lot of silver) and was told getting in a car and driving for 2 days to a remote part of Scotland a long way from possible hospital care was not a good idea.  My GP said 'are you really going?'  closely followed by 'bring me in the travel insurance claim form and I'll complete it for you (in return for 25 pieces of silver crossing his palm).  Seems I have Crohn's Disease.  Google if you like but it is a bit gruesome, very painful until under control, chronic, as in stuck with forever, and probably not for discussion around the dinner table.  I'm glad we didn't go, I'm on a mega dose of steroids and my brain is thinking it is back in the psychedelic 1970s.  Also not going to plan is moving from the consultant's private to NHS list - I can't get past his Rottweiler of a secretary - she insists he doesn't mean what he said in the letter he wrote me and 'shall I tell you how this will work?' No, love, you've picked the wrong one to talk down to.  The consultant wants me to have a fast-tracked MRI and be in his clinic in 4 weeks (this is week 3) and the NHS has given me an MRI date for 9th February 2016.  Let's do the time warp now?  This could turn into a Rocky Horror for someone.

Image result for free clip art stomach pain

As one who is big on 'brick bats and bouquets' can I just say that all bar the holiday cottage people  insisted that we have refunds or not pay in the circumstances.  How lovely is that?  Even the holiday cottage owners have said they will discount our next holiday when I am able to travel and will discount further if the travel insurance don't pay up.  I'm sure they will, but if they don't I shall be having words with Benenden Healthcare who sold it to me, seeing as they funded some of my private medical care and tests!   

As a thank you for my wonderful 2nd home from home for my merry moggies, a bouquet - made by a new Clevedon florist Peony & Rose- aren't they gorgeous?  I was tempted by a bouquet I saw at our local country market yesterday, but it was vegetables or flowers and the veg won.  Perhaps when business picks up in the autumn, I can treat myself?

I've had 3 household 'disasters' - a leaky radiator, the loo packed up and the vacuum cleaner died on me, thank heavens for extended warranties and heating and plumbing care plans.  We've more than covered our costs with those this week.

Then there was a kiln 'diz-ast-er dahling' moment, said in my best Craig Revel Horwood voice - everything came out with luminous spots and ruined an entire firing - problem solved and lesson learned.  They're quite pretty but not what the customer ordered, so will be in my sale bin at a fair.  They should have looked like these, not radio-active measles after a Sellafield staff party!

And just as you think it is safe to come out of the kitchen ............... I have a steroid induced brain fog disaster!  I made some pendants.  I used some transparent frit on the base layer. What attribute does 'transparent' have?  it's not opaque    Bench full of pendants that will not hide metal bails.  OK, let's think about this.  After several cups of coffee I worked out that I would have to make glass bails, so armed with a metal one, some thin strips of compatible glass and another cup of coffee I made some bails that I first kiln annealed so they didn't fall apart, then tac fused to my pendants so they won't fall off.  Whilst I am not sure this is a new way forward, I am pleased with how they turned out seeing as it was a 'wing-it' plan and design.   It's those at the top of the page - what do you think?  They are week 38 in my 52 things in 2015 year long challenge. 

So, what to do?  I'm thinking sit down and don't move, less can go wrong that way?

Saturday, 19 September 2015

And then life takes over

Or rather women!  So, this week's 'makes' have been 'a mess' - yes, that's what I've made so far!

I'll have to work twice as hard next week, but this week I've

  • ordered a bedroom carpet, twice, as the manufacturer has now discontinued the colour I wanted, which matched the other bedroom.  
  • organised for a painter to paint the lounge and
  • a plasterer to re-plaster the aforementioned bedroom, after the carpet goes down - we have paying guests arriving, 
  • arranged for the painter to come back after the paying guest, after the plasterer plasters and the plaster dries
  • bought rather a lot of paint tester pots and narrowed down my choice to two colours
  • bought assorted shades of paint - Homebase had an offer on, get it whilst you can!
  • popped along to the hospital and calmly awaited my test results (slight exaggeration, it was very stressful) - but at least we now have a diagnosis, and a new life living with Crohne's Disease - it could have been worse, they did start mention words starting with C.....
  • collapsed in a heap and declared the rest of the week cancelled. 
Damn!  Just remembered, I need to get curtains cleaned and altered (to match the new carpet) - a woman's work is never done!