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.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Marching to the beat of a different drum

Well, here we go - full time self employment!  It's been approximately 12 years since I've last had this pleasure and a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then!  I've divorced, moved several times, remarried (just the once), had major surgery several times, changed jobs several times and completely changed what I make several times.  I loved the freedom it gave me then and am sure will relish the freedom it will give me now.

Where once was gemstone and silver jewellery, then dyed silks and velvets, now I will be concentrating on glass bead making and a little jewellery.  Where once I supplied upwards of 20 galleries (with high commission rates and tardy payments) I am now master of my own destiny and now only sell through my own outlets.

I don't look much like I did back then either!  I'm older, wiser, fatter (that coat does me no favours) but happier.  Oh, and more focused and able to say 'no' when 'no' is required. I learned along the way that you cannot be shy and retiring to successfully run your own business; you have to see your goal and go for it, it won't come to you.

You've no doubt followed my 52 in 52 challenge - did you see my article in Creative Life magazine? It's on pages 14 and 15.  I have had several comments from readers who said they could relate to it, lovely to know I am not alone.  My picture in the magazine is one many have not seen before - so here is the whole picture, me hugging a passing cat on the gardens at RHS Rosemoor - apparently it lives nearby and comes in for the attention and with mine being pampered in our local cat hotel I had Feline Withdrawal Syndrome.  This one was a real little dribbler and totally adorable.

New for this year are my pretty stud earrings. These are made directly on to the surgical steel ear posts so nothing to fall apart - no glue is used.  These can be found in my Etsy shop and from me at fairs and are £10 a pair.  

My next fair is at the Winter Gardens in Weston-super-Mare on Easter Saturday and Sunday.  It's on the sea front so handy for a walk along the prom - and has a cafe so handy for lunch too.  So far I am booked for fairs in Weston-s-Mare, Portishead and Clevedon.  Sadly missed will be the fairs I did in Ross-on-Wye, the prettiest journey to a venue award goes to the trip up the Wye Valley.  Not so sadly missed is the 5am start to get to Salisbury Guildhall in time to set up; sorry Salisbury, you really didn't make the early start and 180 mile round trip too tempting to miss.

Amongst my challenges for the next few months will be, in no particular order, sorting out my website - sorry, it's not something I find easy to master so fell by the wayside as did a lot of things over the past few months. I'm also changing merchant account providers (they who sort me for taking credit card payments) so need to get to grips with using a tablet - I thought they were things you took for a headache until a few weeks ago, but now I find I have a mobile computer in my bag!  I suspect I'll still need the other tablets when this tablet gives me a headache, I'm not good with technology.  Fortunately I have a Man Who Can.  No, not my husband, he's the Man Who Can't when it comes to technology so is quite happy I have other men in my life to fix the angst-ridden screams of 'why doesn't this thing work?' 

Then my office could do with a sort and tidy.  Whilst I perfected the art of organised chaos many years ago, it's currently not even up to my 'standard'; nothing a quick blitz can't sort, it's just getting A Round uit.  And beads - I need more beads for my stock box after the plot-lost period of the last 3 months.  I've made a few new focal beads, above, now I just need to make some more smaller beads as well to be back on target.  This style is number 10 in my 52 in 52 - you can keep up with my travels to 52 on my Flickr photostream.  

I've already made the decision to discontinue making my silk and velvet scarves for the foreseeable future, there are a few left in my Etsy shop at discounted prices - maybe they will return one day, when I think I have the right market for them.  I love making them so will miss those sunny days in the summer, prime scarf dyeing and drying days, when I pull a scarf  from the dye pot and realise I forgot to put my Marigolds on first!  My silk scarf dye kits will also be discontinued once stocks run out, so if you are looking for a really unusual gift for someone (or yourself!) why not try one of these, they are great fun and no previous experience required.

Also missing from this year's stock will be sea glass cufflinks, sea glass bottle openers and sea glass bottle stoppers - apparently real men remove crown caps with their teeth or the edge of a table and most wine bottles now have screw caps and 'one rarely leaves wine in a bottle so why would one need a bottle stopper?'  One won't make them then.

Squeezed in amongst all these things, I also intend to take some time out to tame my garden, catch up with friends, as well as indulge my love of coffee and cake!

But there will be new things, apart from the stud earrings, I'm just working out what.  The 'what' will largely depend on what people want to buy and whether my markets are the right places for these.

Watch this space!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

What's it all about Alfie?


I started off the year talking about changes and challenges.  The changes would bring challenges and the lack of changes would be a challenge themselves.  Thank you to all the people, including complete strangers, who have messaged me to ask if I am OK.  I’m fine.  Had an attack of the Big Black Dog, but I’m OK.  I’ve lost the plot a bit, but I’m fine.

So then, what’s all this about Mrs?

Please bear with me and I'll explain everything.  Just like a fairy story, there is a happy ending!

I have split my life between running Blue Box Studio, having a life and going out to a day job - and not one I enjoyed a lot.  So when in October my employer offered me the chance to apply for redundancy for the end of March, I applied.  I was assured I was in with a good chance; this was my challenge for change. 

At this point I need you to recall Jim Trott from the Vicar of Dibley who was usually saying ‘yes, yes, yes, no’ or ‘no, no, no, yes’.  In this case you need to remember the former – lots of ‘yes’ and ending with a ‘no’.

In a positive mood and planning for change, I signed up for an on-line 4 week marketing course which I really enjoyed and (hopefully) learned a lot.  This took my mind off January and gave me a focus to concentrate on growing my business, after all, I was getting lots of ‘yes, yes, yes,' hints from my employer ……..

Christmas came and went.  Extreme flooding events came and finally went (they were relevant to the organisation I worked for).  Time scales came and went again because of the flooding events that came and went.  My patience came and went, along with the hints of ‘yes, yes, yes’, at every meeting which started to sound more like ‘no, no, no’ hints.  Colleagues around me were leaving from as early as Christmas, yet a couple of us hadn’t heard a thing.  No, no, they cried, you are imagining all of this, no one is leaving yet!

 Cue Panto.  Believe me this has been like a panto, but with less laughs! 

‘Oh yes they are’;

'Oh no they’re not’

‘Oh yes they are’ – we’d been invited to the leaving do!!
The lack of information and transparency was stressful, and just getting through the lack of change and still doing my job was a challenge, one that sapped all my ‘out of the day job’ energy.  After January, February came and went.  March!  They have to make some kind of decision in March if people are leaving at the end of March? Don’t they?  What about notice – I’ve been employed for 8 years?  What do you mean you don’t know?  

Hello Black Dog!  

If the Black Dog visits you, then you will know what this is like.  Thankfully he doesn’t come often, but when he does he brings his bed and settles down for a holiday chez nous’.  ‘Snap out of it’ and ‘Smile, you’ll be fine’ just do not help!  Fortunately no one said that to me, else I’d have had a problem getting the patio slabs level again.

Early March, the phone rings, bad news; it’s ‘yes, yes, yes, no’!  Or May be.  I speak to a colleague, seems it is just me; she’s leaving at the end of the month.  Honestly, I am happy for her, I did try to match her excitement. But the job I did would end at the end of March.  So it’s was both change and challenge to find further work inside the organisation.

Since Christmas, I’ll be honest, I’ve struggled with balancing life and 2 jobs.  I lost the plot.  I didn’t want to make beads, I’ve not kept up with friends, in person or on-line, my outlets have been neglected, nothing seemed to work right, ideas didn’t flow and technology died on me; The Black Dog moved in and took over my life.  But I am not one to give up, I had to go on. And go on I did.  I made a few beads, baked a few burnt cakes, outwardly smiled and inwardly wished I could curl up into a ball and sleep forever. 


Click on the picture above for a little music that explains how I feel about all this - 'Artificial' by Martha Tilston and The Woods - a very talented British folk singer song writer.

Fast-forward a week later, when the phone rings as I am about to go on holiday.   The ‘yes, yes, yes, no’ lady is on the phone, should I sit down?  The Black Dog sits down next to me and tells me that the ‘no, no, no, may be’ has just lost its last word.  Bad Black Dog.  But no, she is saying ‘no, no, no’ has turned into ‘yes, yes, yes’.  Perhaps they had a recount of the votes, perhaps someone forgot to put the black ball in the sack this time.  I'd been given a second chance, and a chance to change.

So why didn't I say all this at the beginning?  Tempting fate!  Share a secret and it won't come true.  Not dare to hope.  Disbelief that Lady Luck would give me the chance to do what I really want to do in life - not work in an office but work for myself.

Big change – Blue Box Studio will now be run full time.  
I’ll soon be back on track for my 52 in 52challenge

Big challenge – it has to work!  It WILL work!!

Thank you to everyone, for their support during this, sometimes challenging, time, you know who you are.  Thank you for reading this far, hopefully we will all go far this year.