Friday, 25 November 2011

The news

There's a lot of jewellery to make around here. Pictured above is a floristry-themed bracelet wip (the 3D watering can was a challenge. It does hold water, but doesn't sprinkle).

It's so lovely to have orders and commissions but it eats into blogging time. I feel a little out of touch. I thought I'd pop by for a summary of the news.

The arrival of the Christmas fair season means that I need packaging. Lots of it. I use little buff envelopes and oval boxes on which I draw the little bird motif that seems to have become my logo. My Grandad used to draw a very similar bird on little notes he wrote to me.

Recently Ali made the very sensible suggestion of a rubber stamp to save time. She asked me to sketch the bird in her notebook when Tracy, Ali and I grabbed lunched at Raystitch a couple of weeks ago .Then she proceeded to carve one for me. I think it's perfect and I've been using it alot - visit Pomona's blog for a well-lit image of the resulting boxes and of her poorly wrist. 

Thankyou so much Ali. (Excuse the terrible dark photo - it's been hectic here today).  

                              Image from Pick N Mix Makers Market blog

Tomorrow is the Pick N Mix Makers market in Holt, Norfolk, organised by Lisa of BoboBun. It's always such a fabulous event - a very tempting mix of handmade and vintage and an excellent Christmas shopping opportunity. If you're nearby it would be lovely to see you. Celia and Penny will also have stalls there tomorrow.

The Selvedge Christmas Fair is in just 2 weeks' time on Saturday 10th December. The full lineup of exhibitors is here. It's hard to describe the feeling at seeing my name up there alongside Emma Lamb and Julie Arkell. I am rather nervous but hope that all will be well. 

I have ordered some Moo business cards for the first time.

I will be holding some new silver clay workshops in the New Year, both here at my cottage and at The Make Lounge in London. Click the links to find out more. Above is a mosaic of the silver charms made by attendees of my recent Make Lounge classes. In the middle is Kristina's beautiful charm bracelet made by imprinting vintage buttons into the silver clay.

The silver clay kit and Kirstie Allsopp 'Craft' book giveaway will close at midnight tonight. Juliet and I will draw the winner next week.

The next Making Winter week will start on Monday 12th December rather than Monday 5th. Apologies for the change of plan. The flickr pool is looking beautiful. Here is the premise of the Making Winter project if you'd like to join in.

...and finally, next week I will be making monkey cake pops with chocolate button ears for a small someone's sixth birthday party.

Amongst the playlist for her party is this song:

which is a firm favourite around here and feels quite Friday-ish.  

Friday, 18 November 2011

Giveaway: Kirstie Allsopp 'Craft' book AND a silver clay kit

I mentioned a giveaway recently. This is a very exciting one. I have joined forces with my main supplier of silver clay and the woman who taught me how to make things from it, the lovely Juliet of Spoilt Rotten Beads.

Silver clay is the medium I use to make my jewellery. It is a ceramic with particles of sterling silver and an organic binder that can be modelled, dried and fired on a gas hob to create beautiful fine silver pieces.

I'm thrilled to say that that Juliet has offered a silver clay starter kit for the giveaway alongside my extra copy of the new Kirstie Allsopp book!

There is only one exclamation mark there but truly, this is fabulous. Huge, huge thanks Juliet.

The kit contains 7g of silver clay, enough to make about 8-10 beautiful charms or two or three pendants, and all the tools you need to get started.

So, not only could you browse through fifty lovely tutorials (including my silver button tutorial) and beautifully-styled images and see pictures of Kirstie learning things but you could begin to make your own fine silver jewellery too as the winner will received both.

I plan to begin posting silver clay tutorials in the coming weeks, so that more people can discover how ace this special clay really is.

You may have seen Kirstie Allsopp using silver clay to make a beautiful key and leaf pendant on Wednesday evening's episode of Kirstie's Handmade Britain. If you missed it there is a video here and a tutorial here.

So, to the nitty gritty of the giveaway:

If you would like to win this giveaway prize (the book plus the kit, worth a total of around £59) then please leave a comment here telling me:
  • What you would most like to make using silver clay
  • Four of the items in the Artclay silver starter kit*
The giveaway will also be posted on Spoilt Rotten Bead's facebook page for Juliet's customers to enter.

If you would like an extra entry then feel free to grab my button and link back here or mention it on your blog:

This giveaway is open to everyone, not just UK readers.

Juliet and I will put all entries into the random number generator and draw the winner in a week's time.

Best of silvery luck! (Oh and please check the nitty gritty above for entry requirements, many thanks).

Monday, 7 November 2011

Making Winter:November mosaics

No knitted knickers, Me, The Quince Tree
Peeriemoot, Miss Red Riding Hood, Thrifty Household
Peeriemoot, The Quince Tree, Me

This first week of the Making Winter project has been wonderful and it has begun to work. I've only scowled at the grey sky once or twice, I've got my finger out and made wintry things and got out into the woods to take more walks. The range of seasonal creativity and images of cosiness, crafts and comfort foods appearing on blogs and in the flickr pool has been fabulous. Thankyou so much to everyone who has joined in.

Sue at the Quince Tree has introduced me to a new word: hygge. It's a Danish word that means to embrace winter with good food, good company, snuggling in and lighting candles.  It describes this project perfectly.

Mrs Thriftyhousehold and I noticed that light has been a strong theme this week. As the clocks changed back to GMT we have had less light during the day, pumpkins lanterns have been carved and lit, we made pinecone firelighters and flowerpot candles and of course we had bonfire night here in the UK. I thought this week could be summed up by light-themed mosaic from the flickr pool (see above)

There has been a good deal of beautiful yarn-based activities too. One of my resolutions as part of this project is to gain some yarn skills.

Green Rabbit Designs, Little Cotton Rabbits, Forestpoppy
Little Cottage Comforts, Greenteacomfort, Green Rabbit Designs
Hoola Tallulah, Knitsofacto, Little Cotton Rabbits

I'm going to be continuing with the hygge activities over the coming weeks and continuing to add pictures to the flickr pool:
  • Our willow wigwam has lost its leaves. It's a good time to start using this year's growth - I have potato sieve trivet and wreath plans.
  • Not So Granny lives in the next village and is holding a beginner crochet session in a couple of weeks. I'm determined.
  • Sunday 20th November is Stir Up Sunday. Mrs TH shall be tutoring me in the ways of making mincemeat 
  • We shall be sampling her homemade hedgerow liqueurs. 
Next month's Making Winter week will begin on Monday 5th December. I expect there will be homemade decorations and festive baking. I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Flowerpot candle tutorial

I came home with a fantastic haul of tiny terracotta flowerpots from a car boot sale a month or two ago. I often stick a lit candle or a tealight in a flowerpot but I fancied taking it one step further with my little collection. Here's a quick tutorial for making flowerpot candles.

You will need

Flowerpots or other small containers of your choice
Wax. I bought some with added stearin (hardener) from here. Here's another online option.
Container wicks. I bought mine from the same online shop as above.
Double boiler (bowl placed over a pan of simmering water)
Scoop or small pot to transfer wax to pots (I used an old sippy cup)
Duct tape or sealing tape
Sharp knife
Baking tray or plate
Foil or greaseproof paper

If your pots are secondhand like mine, then wash them out. I was impatient to get going so I dried them on a baking tray in the oven at 100 degrees C for ten minutes or so.

Once the pots are dry (and have cooled) seal the drainage holes with a piece of duct tape or sealing tape.

Cover a baking tray or plate with foil or greaseproof paper and put the flowerpots on it. If your pots are of different sizes like mine then place a container wick in each one and cut them to size so that the top of the wick is about 1cm above the top of the pot. Remove the wicks from the pots and set aside.

Melt the wax in a bowl over gently simmering water.

When it has melted completely, scoop some into each pot until the level is about 1 cm below the top of the pot. I had a little extra wax so grabbed our kitchen penny pot, an old bovril teacup, and made an extra candle.

Let the wax cool for a few minutes until it has a skin on the surface and is a soupy consistency. Use the knife to pierce a hole in the skin and insert the wick.

As the wax solidifies you can move the wick slightly so that it's in the middle of the candle.

As the wax is cooling tap the pots to allow any bubbles to rise to the surface. Allow the wax to solidify completely before lighting.

Having a small candle-lighting session each evening before nestling under a quilt is a good thought. I'm glad I made these.

I was at a bonfire-themed Underground Farmers' Market in London yesterday. It was a fabulous event but it means that I'm running a little behind. I'll make a mosaic or two from the Making Winter flickr pool for tomorrow and draw this lovely week to a close.

Meanwhile this week's bloghop is here. There's so many ace seasonal projects - do go and take a peep.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

An interruption to our scheduled programming...

A couple of weeks ago Liz Rhodes from BBC Cambridgeshire came to sit and chat with me about my jewellery-making at the bottom of the garden. Then we fired a silver clay button. It was fun. The dog was there too.

Liz's interview with me was broadcast today and you can hear it on the iplayer here dated 03/11/2011 (available for six days). The interview starts 22 minutes in.

Making Winter week will resume tomorrow and continue until Sunday 6th.

If you're blogging along and would like to join in this week then the linky list is here.

There's lots of seasonal loveliness to peep at over in the Making Winter flickr pool.

(The images are of some new designs using vintage dolls' house doilies and bright 1950s Czech beads. I've been making things for Ms Marmite Lover's Underground Farmer's Market in Kilburn this coming Saturday).

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Making Winter bloghop

I admit to a state of semi-hibernation during winter. I often hide indoors, stuff my cheeks with cake like a slightly mopey hamster and long for March. Part of the aim of this wintry project is for me to get outside more. I live in a rural village - there's a wood behind my house for goodness sake. I've got no excuse.

I have good intentions for this part of the project and this morning youngest, the dog and I pulled our wellies on and walked the 400 yards or so up the farm track into our village wood.

I'm so glad we did.

In the last few days the leaves have turned.

The colours are astonishing.

It's a cliche, but some of the trees look as though they're on fire.

This walk was no chore - it left us feeling elated.

It will be tougher to take the same walk when January arrives. By then the predominant colours will be grey and brown, but I'll know that under the soil there are seven or eight bee orchids and at least one pyramidal orchid. I'll also know that a nightingale will return here in April. These are good thoughts.

I was excited to see Mrs TH's Andy Goldsworthy-inspired woodland sculptures. I'm going to try a spot of this.

If you like to blog along with Making Winter week (continuing until Sunday 6th November) then pop your link in the list below - then we can all hop over to visit.