Monday, 19 December 2011

Silver Clay Workshop

I just posted this over on my other blog, but I thought readers of this blog would be pretty interested too...enjoy!

I recently treated myself to an early Christmas present - a silver clay workshop! I have played with silver clay before but quickly learned that it is not the same beast as the air-drying clay I am so used to working with. So I figured a workshop with someone who really knew what they were talking about would help. I found Charm School in Beckenham through a google search and booked myself onto the one day "Fingerprints in Silver Clay course".

I arrived just before 10 on a very autumnal day and found myself on a pretty South London street. Gill runs the workshops from her converted garage, a lovely little space filled with all the tools and materials necessary to create silver clay jewellery.

Workspace on silver clay course
My workspace

After a cup of tea and a chat we got started. I was very excited! Yes, I am a geek. Gill explained the different types of silver clay, such as slow dry, paste, syringe etc. and the different types of tools we would be using. Then we got started on our first piece - a charm with a fingerprint on it.

Fingerprint charm drying
Fingerprint charm drying

It became apparent to me very quickly that what I had been doing when I previously used silver clay had been waaaaay off the mark. I had been getting myself into a real pickle by using too much water and handling the clay way too much. When I make my air-dry clay creations I tend to make it up as I go along - add bits here and there, change things, work with it as I go along. But with silver clay a little planning is necessary - it dries out pretty quickly so you need to have a clear plan of what you are going to do before you start.

Whilst our fingerprint charms were drying we moved on to create a charm with a stone set into it. This wasn't something I had given much thought to before the course but I think it was my favourite! I loved picking a stone and setting it straight, cleaning it up and putting the whole thing together.

Charm with stone - drying
Stone-set pendant drying, before cleaning and finishing

Although it is technically possible to fire a charm set with stone on a hob it's probably not the best idea, fortunately Gill has a proper grown up kiln :) Can you see my little charm firing away?

Firing charms in kiln

The kiln takes about 30 minutes, so in the meantime we fired our fingerprint charms on the hob...

Firing charms on a gas hob

Whilst the charms were firing I had a little clay left in my packet to play with, so I made little charms for my girls. A 'L' for Lillia, and a 'P' for Phoebe, plus a tiny little textured heart to go with each. We then fired these on the hob too.  In this picture you can actually see the binder burning off in a little plume of smoke...

 Firing charms on a gas hob

And the rewards for my efforts?  Four solid silver charms (well, six if you count the fact I made two mini hearts too)!

Silver clay workshop 

Silver clay workshop

Silver clay workshop

Silver clay workshop

And I still had a little blob of clay left in my 7g packet! Not bad for a few hours work and one small packet of silver clay.

I was really pleased with my creations and thought the whole day was brilliant and really good value for money.  I was especially pleased with my stone set charm, especially as in the weeks following I had loads of comments on it and I enjoyed being able to casually say, "Oh this? Yah, I made it..." Hee!

I have a head full of ideas now, I can't wait to try them out!  Whether or not I shall sell any silver clay creations I don't know yet, jewellery is a competitive and saturated market and I am not sure yet if I want to join in.  I would very much like to develop my silver "Pow" charm that's for watch this space!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Crochet headband, goodies and...a swap?

Just nipping in quickly to share with you pictures of my first ever Crochet A Long! A Crochet A Long, in case you didn't know already, is where you choose a pattern and all work on it at the same time but at your own pace.

This one was on the Hooked for Life group on Ravelry and seemed nice and simple and useful. I didn't have the correct yarn or hook but I just plunged straight in anyway...luckily it came out beautifully and the size is perfect...

Ravelry December CAL - headband

The pattern is the Cozy Flowered Headband and it's available for free, woo!

Ravelry December CAL - headband

I grabbed the photos whilst the light was semi ok, which meant the only model available was me, hence why you get to see my trusty Nikon too :)

Ravelry December CAL - headband

I enjoyed doing this, the CALs are monthly so there's always plenty of time to have a go and it encourages me to try patterns I might not have looked at otherwise.

I've been having other fun via Ravelry this week too as my Secret Santa box arrived from my Spoiler over the pond in Florida!  Here's a glimpse of the lovely items I got...

Ravelry Secret Santa - all my goodies!

Ravelry Secret Santa - yummy yarn!

I also got this beautiful hat and scarf set...

Ravelry Secret Santa - hat and scarf

(another self portrait..ahem)

Just look at the detail on this quilted bird decoration, amazing...

Ravelry Secret Santa - Handmade decoration

So it's been a good week what with finally feeling better, completing a project and getting some lovely gifts in the mail.  I love snailmail, in fact I feel a swap coming on.  Anyone fancy a little swap for new year?  To brighten up January?  Anyone interested leave me a comment and I shall organise it!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Anniversary gifts - Cath Kidston mad!

I am actually feeling better, thank GAWD.  There was a point where I actually thought I would never feel well again, so when I woke up this morning not feeling sick and actually feeling hungry I could have danced a little jig of fact I am doing that right now...jig jig!

So with my new found energy I have managed to snap some pictures of my anniversary pressies from hubby, at last!  I took plenty so there's a lot of CK eye candy in this post.

Now, hubby does not have a reputation for being that good at present buying (the year of the paper mache making kit springs to mind...) but every now and then he surpasses all my expectations and comes up trumps, this year was one of his glory moments! 

First there was the anniversary card....

Cath Kidston anniversary card

This was one of two cards, the other being more wordy, and as you can see I have a lovely badge to use now that my anniversary is over! It shall be pinned to one of my many bags.

Cath Kidston anniversary card

Next there was my Little Book of Pins....

Cath Kidston "little book of pins"

Cath Kidston "little book of pins"

I love the CK "little books", which are actually useful and very decorative tins.  I have one for my threads and sewing bits and another for my buttons, I was delighted to add this diddy little pin tin to my collection.

Cath Kidston "little book of pins"

But what is that underneath the Little Book of Pins...? Hmmm?  Well that would be my CK Crochet Book....!

Cath Kidston "crochet book"

Eeep!  A CK tin that is not only gorgeous in all its chintzy loveliness but is also full of all the necessary ingredients to make a granny square cushion!

Cath Kidston "crochet book"

Cath Kidston "crochet book"


Cath Kidston "crochet book"

How utterly cool is that?!  And that's not all, no no!  I also got some cute little heart shaped buttons too...

Cath Kidston buttons


The boy done good.  He also bought me a chocolate orange which I couldn't seem when I was taking the photos, it must the fridge...yes that's it, in the fridge....

Monday, 12 December 2011

Lillia's School Hat

Oh my good grief I am SO ill.  As soon as one virus goes the next one starts...I have had a bug, I have had a rotten cold, I have had pharyngitis and now I seem to have flu. Jeeeeez.  I have had ENOUGH. This latest episode started on Thursday night with me and both the girls being sick ALL night.  It was so bad that by 2am we ran out of bedding for Lillia and she slept in our bed with hubby whilst I took the sofa so I wouldn't wake either of them when I had to keep getting up to be sick. It was a truly horrendous night.


I have an ever growing list of things I a desperate to share here; my Cath K anniversary pressies from hubby, "the gregoires", which can only be explained by showing you, my first Ravelry CAL (Crochet A Long), my latest Happy Hooker project, aaaaaaand the very slow progress of the Big Happy Blanket.  But of course I have been too damn sick to take the necessary pictures.

I did however manage to snap a few pics of the hat I crocheted for Lillia!  I grabbed the camera and got a couple of photos as she left for school one morning last week.  She needs to wear a dark hat for school so I made her a black one using this pattern on ravelry...

I added a pink trim as she has to have a touch of pink of everything!  (Just look at my girl's enormous dark brown eyes...!)

I really loved this pattern and I am working on one for Phoebe least I would be if I wasn't feeling so blergh.

Right, writing this has pooped me right out so I am off to lie on the sofa and ignore the growing piles of laundry and housework...

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Happy 1st Birthday

One year ago today at this very time I was in a whole world of pain. 

Having driven two hours through a blizzard to get to the hospital (usually just a ten minute drive) and having enlisted the help of the police to get us through, I was about four hours away from meeting our beautiful second daughter, Phoebe Elizabeth. Phoebe was born not long before midnight one year ago today.

Phoebe's 1st Birthday

The world today looks very different with blue skies and sunshine and not a hint of snow to be seen.  But we will never forget the blizzard of 2010 when our little podge decided it was time to make an appearance regardless of the weather.

Celebrations have been relatively low key - a family meal, a sing-and-story class, lots of playing and singing, some presents and a ton of lovely cards. I made a few things, which I shall share with you later in the week when I have had the time to take piccies :)

Phoebe's 1st Birthday

Hubby and I will toast our little Phoebe with a glass of champagne shortly, it's been quite a year and there were times I thought I might not survive it!  But I did, we did, and here we all are remembering that snowy day a year ago when our lives changed for ever...again!

Happy birthday Phoebe-be-be, our hilarious, happy, funny little chubby girl xxx

Phoebe's 1st Birthday

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Eight Years

 Eight years ago today I got hitched :)

kissing in the rain 

Yesterday hubby presented me with my anniversary presents, which are fabulous and I am dying to share them with you!  However what with work and running about like a loon I have not had a minute to take pictures.  I will do though, in the meantime lets just say they are along the same theme as a couple of years ago.

The last eight years have been brilliant and very hard at times, I think we have been through more in our first eight years than many face in a lifetime, but we are still here together :)

Happy anniversary Dan!


Thursday, 24 November 2011


There are preparations under way...

Works in progress for Phoebe's birthday

It was 51 weeks and five days ago that we had that massive snow storm here in the UK.  I know because 51 weeks and five days ago I was in labour and stuck on the motorway for two hours whilst trying to make the usual ten minute trip to the hospital. 51 weeks and 5 days ago Phoebe Elizabeth arrived.

Today she is wreaking havoc by emptying out my handbag and attacking Lillia's Sylvanian Families house...I am glad she is at school or there would be hell to pay.

Phoebe feet

Lillia has chosen what Phoebe's handmade present should be, something from our old favourite bible of ridiculous toys...

Curious Creatures book

Of course I need to make two, as Lillia couldn't be without :)  A creature is slowly forming, but it is causing me some requires bias binding, I've never used it before and it's all getting rather messy.  Hopefully he will be ready by Wednesday...

Works in progress for Phoebe's birthday

It is difficult to get these things all completed with Phoebe crawling about the place investigating every nook and cranny...

Phoebe feet

...and I have still to package up my little birdies for my swap parcels, so many things to do!

Crochet birdies and jars

I have a couple of fun crochet bits nearly completed for the Big Day...

Works in progress for Phoebe's birthday

But they require the addition of an old enemy...
Pom pom maker

Yes, I need to make Evil Pom Poms...poms poms and me just don't get on, I just never seem to be able to get them right, but I am willing to give them another go with the help of my new Pom Pom maker, I shall let you know how I get on.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Making time to make it - November 11!

Hello hello!  *cough splutter* I am still an infectious germ machine I'm afraid to say, as are both the girls, and now my mother too, we are all so ill.  Every time I think I feel better I suddenly feel worse again, it's very waring after a while. I am looking forward to just feeling better and rejoining the real world.

In the meantime...for my Making Time to Make It this month I am killing two birds with one stone, so to speak, with some cute birdie decorations.  The pattern is from the Attic24 blog and it really is incredibly easy to do, makes me wonder why I've waited so long to give them a go...

Birdie decoration

Birdie decoration

I'm rather pleased with the colours of these birdies, though I admit they were chosen more as a result of what I had in my yarn bag than any artistic thought!  Came out well though didn't they?

Birdie decoration

I still need to add little wooden beads to the ends of their dangly legs, then they'll be finished!

Birdie decoration

And they are all destined for new homes!  I am taking part in a couple of swaps and these will make great little additions to my parcels being sent out to foreign lands.  Plus I have a couple to give as presents to people.  I am thinking I might stuff a couple with crushed cinnamon and cloves so they give off a Christmassy scent.

So, what are you making time to make this month?

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Loving handmade - Accidental Vix

Hello there! 

Well the weather here has finally turned and we have that crisp wintery feeling at last, not quite frosty but definitely nippy...that's more like it :) 

With the cold air though comes the cold weather germs and I have the flu.  Pffft.  It's been almost eight years exactly since I last had it I had forgotten how hideous it is.  I've had a pretty dire few days but I'm feeling a little better today, my head no longer feels like it is trapped in a vice and I can drink tea without feeling sick, a definite improvement!  I am under strict instructions from everybody to REST.  So although I am itching to do the washing up and tidy the bedrooms I am instead sat on the sofa with my feet up, a perfect opportunity to blog...

I wanted to start sharing more about my love of handmade.  I am such a big believer in buying handmade, second-hand and antique (of the cheap variety) as well as reusing and upcycling things. Recently I am falling more and more out of love with the mass-produced, I just find the handmade things I buy are always more unique, better quality and better value. 

So, I thought I would share with you some of my recent handmade finds.

First up - Accidental Vix.

I came across Vicky's shop on Folksy and started following her blog quite some time ago.  She makes cards using her beautiful and unique illustrations...

Rainy days and Mondays Must be love
(Click on image to be taken to original images - all courtesy of Accidental Vix)

She sells these in her Folksy and Etsy shops.  I especially love the Anonymity range.
When I saw on her blog that she had been working on creating a new range of handmade baby booties and needed some little volunteer testers, well, I knew just the girl to help!  Phoebe was delighted to offer her services as Bootie Tester!

Phoebe testing Accidental Vix's baby booties!

Phoebe testing Accidental Vix's baby booties!

Vicky sent two pairs to try and they are so well made. Phoebe has chubby feet but not much of a heel so booties and socks are a nightmare to get to fit her, but these booties stayed on perfectly...

Phoebe testing Accidental Vix's baby booties!

She gave them a good run for their money - crawling about the house in full destruction mode, balancing, rolling, walking with her walker...

Phoebe testing Accidental Vix's baby booties!

Phoebe testing Accidental Vix's baby booties!

She was very pleased with them, but not as pleased as me as I didn't have to follow her around putting booties back on her :)

Phoebe testing Accidental Vix's baby booties!

Plus one of the other advantages of buying handmade is that you will never, or rarely, bump into somebody with the same item.  So you will always stand out from the crowd.

Vicky isn't selling her booties yet, but I am hoping she will or what will happen when Phoebe grows out of these ones?!

More Loving Handmade posts will follow from me in due course, now I must get back to resting...Serendipity or You've Got Mail...?  Hmmm...