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.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Little things please little minds ....

and I'm easily pleased. I came across the little the little goldfish when I was searching for blog related things. I can't have goldfish in my garden pond, my cats will think they are a game with a tasty reward, so this is the next best thing!

These gold fish will follow your mouse around the 'pond' and if you click in the pond, it releases food which they'll head straight for.

I was going to have more fish and change their colour but that just generated an error message so I've gone for the default. I know my technical limitations. When I've had another play I may increase my fish stocks!

Go on, play, you know you want to.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Custom made from Etsy

I thought I'd mention a lovely Etsy shop I found called Dainty Pretty Crafts.

I recently made some sea glass bottle stoppers after requests from people for more masculine type gifts in sea glass. I guess men don't wear dangly sea glass earrings? I found these by chance on an American website and ordered a few to try and they are listed in my on-line shops.

Anyway, having made them I searched through my usual supplier's catalogue for a box to present them in. No joy. Nothing was deep enough for the sea glass. I looked on Etsy and my other sites for ideas and came across this wonderful shop. I contacted Mary, the owner, asking whether pillow boxes would meet my needs and she suggested making some customised boxes for me. She even made them for me in "less feminine" card. So, I'm delighted. I've some pretty boxes in which to package my sea glass bottle stoppers and, they are a useful addition to my display; people like to see what they will be getting, including the packaging.

Do have a look at Mary's shop as she has some really lovely boxes and cards - http://daintyprettycrafts.etsy.com . This busy lady also has a jewellery shop http://daintyprettythings.etsy.com including some pretty tiaras - I wish I'd known about these when I got married a few years ago.

I have a special stand for displaying the bottle stoppers but I am hoping a friend will use a tool she has to cut down a few bottles to make another display, as well. I'm not sure what she's got or how she does it but I'll let you know when I find out!

Meanwhile, if you are interested in the bottle stoppers here are the listings ... (I'm sure there's a way to reduce all the link down to a single word, but perhaps that's on page 2 of the bloggers' manual!)

http://www.folksy.com/items/16603-Genuine-English-sea-beach-glass-wine-bottle-stopper-brown-and-green?shop=yes
http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=20708162

Ideal for anyone who drinks wine (but obviously not the whole bottle) or likes something a bit different. We have Father's Day coming up and most people have at least one birthday each year. Useful also as gifts for the person who has everything - not everyone has a sea glass bottle stopper! And, of course, they are beautifully gift packaged in my lovely boxes.

Shibori dyeing techniques kits and workshops

One of my most popular items at craft fairs and open studio events are my shibori dyeing technique kits. Shibori dying is a Japanese technique where the fabric is rolled, folded, stitched, twisted and tied before being dyed. When the fabric is unravelled, exciting patterns appear.

I've made silk scarves using shibori dyeing techniques for a number of years but increasingly I was being asked how I did it. I decided to make up a few kits and see if they would be something that would sell well. I started by writing down my
instructions, photographing each stage and then tested my instructions on my 'no practical skills at all' husband. I figured if he could follow them and make a scarf, then anyone could. It also meant that any bits that were not clear could be sorted before they went on sale. I was surprised how hard it was to write down something I can do without thinking so that someone else could understand my technique. I managed it and DH made a great scarf which he planned to give to his Mum for Christmas; until I forgot and sold it!

I mix my own colours from commercial dyes, which can be fixed in a microwave. It's a lot quicker than steaming something for 2-3 hours. I don't steam Christmas puddings either! Having produced and tested my own instructions and thought up some names for my colour ranges, I made up just 10 kits and took them to a busy 2-day craft fair just before Christmas. Although I have samples of what the colours will look like when dyed, the beauty of shibori is that everyone's scarf will turn out different so everyone will have made their own original. People seemed to like that idea and I found the 10 kits I'd made sold out in the first 2 hours. I'd still got a few more hours before I could go home! I spent the rest of the evening printing, bottling and making up kits ready for the 2nd day of the show, thinking that 20 kits would be enough. Amazingly these also sold out in a few hours. We had to take orders after that, which kept us busy for some nights to come.

The kits are a great introduction to shibori dyeing techniques and, because you are making a scarf, you not only have the fun of learning something new but also have the end product as well. For this reason they make lovely gifts for 'arty' friends. I also sell my kits on my on-line sites or by mail order, follow the links from my blog or from the home page on my website www.blueboxstudio.co.uk .

I also run 1-day workshops on shibori dyeing techniques from my garden studio. These too are great fun. My workshop can hold between 2 and 4 people so everyone gets lots of individual attention. We work through 4 to 6 different techniques and then, choosing their favourite, or a combination of favourites, everyone dyes a silk scarf. Lunch is included as are the fabrics to work through the examples and the scarf. More is available if people want. If the weather is kind and there is time we sometimes also cover heliographic dyeing, where the dye is fixed by sunlight, or indigo dyeing. Everyone works at their pace and there is no pressure on anyone to perform. The only skill needed is the ability to think that you can make something lovely by the end of the day. Again, there are more details on my website http://www.blueboxstudio.co.uk/Workshops.htm .

I am planning to 'design' if that is the right word, some basic
devoré velvet scarf kits, so people can learn how to texture velvet using devorant and then double dye to again make an individual item. More on that later.

New velvet scarves for my shops

I've been busy screen printing and block printing velvet for velvet scarves this week, and at last have finished making them. I think my favourite is the black with multi-coloured spots. I hand dye the velvet black then use a vintage Indian block to print on the discharge paste (isn't that such an ugly word!) to make the spots. Once the colour is removed I patiently hand paint each spot a different colour to its neighbour. I usually do the last bit when there is either a good play on the radio, or with classical music playing - it aids my concentration. My scarves are then sewn double sided to make a luxury accessory.

The nice thing about printing one at a time is that you always finish with something that is original. There may be similar but never two the same. I mix my own dye colours too so, never making a note of what I'm doing I can never remember just how a colour was made.

These scarves will be listed in my on-line shops, I hope you like them. Each is made with beautifully soft silk/viscose velvet and is washable so not a difficult item to care for.


Thursday, 12 February 2009

On the street where I live ...

Well, not quite. By way of a bit more introduction I thought I'd mention the beautiful town where I live.

Clevedon is the 2nd largest town in the county but most of the locals still refer to it as a village. I'm not sure when a village becomes a town or a town a city. It's on the Severn estuary and, because it doesn't have a beach to speak of, it's not become a bucket and spade resort like Weston-
Super-Mare, a few miles away. We're about 15 miles from Bristol and I was amused when I first moved here to find some people think taking their children to the sea side is to come to Clevedon! To me the sea side is Bournemouth or Weymouth, where I used to live, with miles of golden sands. Not a Victorian watering hole with stony beaches. We do have a wonderful Victorian pier though.
I believe it was made from some spare bits of metal from one of Brunel's projects, but don't quote me on that. Find out more about it at http://www.clevedonpier.com .

We also have
oldest purpose-built, continually operating cinema in the world. The original building opened in 1912, and films have been presented on this site ever since. The Curzon is now a community cinema, operated as a registered charity. If this interests you then have a look at http://www.curzon.org.uk . We love it; a multiplex it is not, the main film cannot start until the ice cream kiosk has drawn its curtains! If you are ever in this area, do take the time to visit - they even run tours of the building and the old projectors etc. A film buffs delight. It would be wonderful to see it restored to its former glory and they are fund raising for this. I've no idea what they were showing when this picture was taken - it is a popular venue for the locals! For a tiny cinema they show many popular films, not an easy task for a community cinema with limited funding.



We all have to start somewhere!

So, at last I have got a round tuit. A blog that is. I've been reading other people's blogs for a while now, fascinated that other people have such interesting lives and such creativity. Hopefully my ramblings will be of interest to some and no doubt I'll soon find out if they are not.

As time goes by I hope to share some of the things that make me tick, make me happy and amuse. I'll also be sharing some of the things I make and sell on several internet sites and also the things I've found on these and other sites that are so beautiful as not to pass without recognition.

I'm not sure I have this quite as I want, I'm not the world's most technically minded female, so over time the layout and appearance of this blog will undoubtedly change.

Enough of an introduction. Time for another cup of tea whilst I think where to go from here.