Wednesday, 29 September 2010


If you read the title of this post quickly it could almost read "randommess", which is actually a rather good description of my head at the moment! I still don't feel as though I'm in a decent routine at the moment, which I suppose isn't really that surprising as it's only a few weeks into the new school year, this is B's first week at school full-time (he's enjoying it but getting very tired as he gets used to the longer days), and my college classes only started last night! I'm feeling rather restless and finding it difficult to settle down to any one thing, which is unusual for me at this time of year. Usually in September I feel organised at the start of the school year and generally very productive. I guess I'll have to keep reminding myself that we've got a lot of changes going on at the moment with B starting school, T's role at his school changing this year, new college classes for me, and , oh yes! a new baby on the way! I keep having to remind myself that there is a good reason why I can suddenly feel very tired - as if I could ever really forget with my ever-growing tummy and lots and lots of kicks. I think this one's going to be kick-boxer!

So, as I can't even get my mind to settle onto one, or even just a few, topics for this post, here, in no particular order, are a few of the bits and pieces I've been doing this week!

Apologies for the lack of a tutorial this Tuesday - I spent the day preparing for my new college classes. I've got two classes on Tuesday evenings, each with 14 people ready and willing to get addicted to jewellery making, if indeed they aren't already! The first class of the evening is an advanced class with people who have made jewellery before. Some have been to classes at the college before, either with me or another tutor, some have been on intensive courses, some are mainly self-taught so far. The second class is advertised as a beginner's class, but there's actually a mix of mainly beginners who are either brand new or who have been to classes for a term or two and a few more advanced students who can't make it to the early class. Neither class follows a syllabus, so last night we had a chat about what everyone wants to get out of the course, what techniques etc they'd like to learn. I now have a long list of techniques for each class to sort into a programme! One of the things high up on my list, however, is cleaning out the college tools and ordering some new ones. Many need replacing as they've been around and heavily used for so long, and everything is generally so disorganised - and you know how I hate things being disorganised!!!

The other thing I've been working on that took up the tutorial writing time is the new pages that you can see at the top of the blog. I've been trying to tidy up the layout of the blog as the list of tutorials and links on the left hand side was getting rather long! The pages also allow me to list more information for my students as I refer them to my blog quite a lot - of course, they are there for those of you that I don't teach as well!

Most of today's work time has been spent preparing for Artisan. I am looking forward to this weekend so much! I know I'm going to be working, but I feel as if I'm going away on a bit of a girly fun weekend as I'll be meeting up with Michelle and Becky (editor and deputy editor of Beads and Beyond) and also meeting Kerry Bogert who's travelling over from the States, and there are going to be so many beads!! I can't wait! The image above is the page that they put in this month's issue of the magazine to advertise who was going to be demonstrating at the Beads and Beyond stand. I definitely need to get a new picture done - Kerry's is great, mine (down in the right hand corner!) is five years old, taken when I was pregnant with B!! Mind you, the description that they wrote of me is exactly right - I am completely addicted to designing and making jewellery!

I've been knitting lots too this week. I can't show you anything at the moment though as they're all Christmas presents! I'm trying to knit as much as I can from my stash of yarn and doing fairly well at the moment. I've knitted three presents so far, which isn't bad going!

There are lots of other bits of randomness floating round in my head at the moment, but I'm getting too tired for them to make much sense at the moment, so I'll leave you for now. I'll be back again with some photos of new pieces of jewellery tomorrow!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Fairisle Spinners

There are only two of these necklaces left now! Thank you for the new "likes"!

I've just finished editing all the photos for these fun new necklaces and adding them to the website. I made six necklaces with Mindy's beautiful colourful beads, but only five are going on the website - sorry! I wanted one too!

Each bead is different, with a slightly different pattern, but all are such a beautiful mix of colours, and Mindy's control over the glass is amazing. I more or less decided on the design I wanted to use them in while they were still on their way to me - rings formed from sterling silver sheet with two holes drilled through, through which the beads are suspended on silver wire. The wire is then wrapped onto a silver chain - this bit was a slight change to the original design as I had thought I'd hang the rings and beads from a chain, but I changed my mind at the last minute to make them into necklaces instead. I just prefer the way they hang this way!

You may have noticed that I've put a Facebook link on the left. Friends had been nagging me to set up a page on Facebook for ages - so I did during the summer! However, I haven't really done anything to promote it, so I thought it was about time that I did! So......if you would like one of the necklaces above with a rather nice discount  then "like" my Daisychain Designs page, let me know that you've done so when you check out on the website and I'll refund you £5! Of course, if you have already clicked "like" then just remind me of this and you'll get a refund too. The offer only applies to these five necklaces, although I'll have more Facebook offers later!

Oh, and the name for the design? Mindy named her beads Fairisle as the patterns reminded her of Fairisle jumpers, and they spin on the wire inside the rings - so Fairisle Spinners!

Friday, 24 September 2010

A quick preview

A quick preview of one of the pendants I've made with Mindy's beautiful beads - I was going to show you them all tonight but Blogger insisted on turning all my photos round the wrong way and a ten minute job turned into an hour long one! Anyway, more photos coming tomorrow!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


I doubt that is really a proper word - but it describes these beautiful beads perfectly! They were made by Mindy of Moogin beads and they were delivered by our lovely postie this morning. I've started to use them in a new design, and if you come back later in the week I'll be able to show you what I've been doing!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Tutorial Tuesday - soldering tips

It's only a week until this year's college classes start - just a week until I'll be teaching two nights a week, two classes on Tuesday night and one on Wednesday night. One of the Tuesday night classes is advanced, but the other two classes that I'm teaching are a mix of beginners and those who have been coming along for up to a year. One of the first things that the beginners have to learn, and the rest have to perfect, is how to solder. Turning on the torch and then turning it on a piece of silver that you've spent ages preparing can be pretty daunting! I've been preparing a couple of information sheets for students to take away with them, so I thought I'd share them with you here too.

The theory!
When silver is heated to near melting temperature its crystals move apart, opening up microscopic spaces. Soldering uses an alloy that melts before the silver does and then flows into the spaces in the silver, so that the solder actually becomes part of the piece of work.

What you need for soldering to work.
First of all, you need a clean piece of work (dirt will stop the solder from flowing) with a good fitting join. If there is more than a very thin hair-line gap between the two pieces of metal then the solder will flow into the two pieces and not hold the join together.

Secondly, you need flux, a chemical that makes the solder flow when it's melted. If you don't add flux to your work then the solder will just ball up rather than flow into the join.

Thirdly, you need the right sized flame. Solder is melted by the heat of the piece of silver, not by the heat of the flame. If you don't use a torch with a big enough flame then the piece of silver won't heat up to the temperature needed, but then again if you use a torch with a flame that is too big on a relatively small piece of silver then you risk melting your work! I've got two hand torches that I use in classes - a small butane torch that I use for small pieces of work, and a larger butane/propane mix torch that I bought in from my local B&Q that I use for larger pieces of work. I've also got a more professional torch that runs on propane gas bottles, but I don't need to go into that one here.

And of course you need some solder! Use just enough to fill the join. It's quicker to cut a new smaller piece of solder than to file off the excess solder afterwards!

When you heat the silver the flux will first of all bubble up - the piece of solder may "jump" off as the flux dries. If it does (and it does it to everyone!) just turn your torch off and move it back again!

The flux has dried and bubbled. The solder is inside the ring and the heat will draw it through the join.
As the silver gets hotter and closer to soldering temperature the flux will start to take on a glassy appearance and the silver will glow a cherry red - if the glow becomes a brighter, orangey red then take the flame away immediately as you are getting too close to melting!

Nearly at soldering temperature - the flux has taken on a glassy appearance
 If your solder doesn't melt and flow then take a deep breath, remember that it happens at times to every silversmith, no matter what their experience, and try again! You will need to quench your work, clean it in safety pickle and apply more solder and flux as needed.

The flame was on the outside of the ring. As the solder flows towards the hottest part it flowed through the join to the front. If I can see a line of solder on the front of the work I know that the join is strong.
Oxidisation forms on sterling silver when you heat it and this needs cleaning off in safety pickle - it will then take on a white-ish appearance.

A couple of trouble-shooting tips for you:
  • If the solder has jumped to one side of the join rather than through and across the join then you have probably heated up that side more than the other as the solder will flow towards the hottest part of the metal.
  • If the solder has balled up rather than flowed across the join then you have either directed the flame to much onto the solder itself rather than onto the silver or have not used enough flux.
Good luck - and have fun! Soldering opens up a whole new world of jewellery making!

Monday, 20 September 2010

A proper jewellery post at last!

Our internet connection has been playing up again over the last few days, which has been very annoying. I know I've said it before, but it's really quite frightening how much we rely on computers in general and the internet nowadays! Anyway, now that I've been able to post on here again I thought it was about time I showed you some jewellery photos!

I've been really conscious over the last couple of weeks that although i've shown you photos of my knitting and of students' jewellery I haven't shown you any new pieces for far too long. I have been making lots of things, honest, but due to not being able to work in a proper space for much of the summer most of what I've been doing is made-to-order pieces from website and notonthehighstreet orders. Lots of lovebirds (both pendants and earrings) have flown out of the door, some as travelling as far Washington State and Queensland and a couple staying very close to home, and my bangles, especially the charm bangles, have been very popular too. But now I'm back working in a wonderful workshop (thank you again T!) I've had the space and, to be honest, the inclination, to create properly again.

I've got several pieces lined up to show you next week that are waiting for bails or earwires to be soldered on or for stones to be set, but I finished this piece yesterday. I hope that you like it! The pearl in the middle is from my friend Brenda who has now set up her etsy shop Iced Hot Rocks and I've cut the flower by hand from sterling silver. The pendant has two bails on the back with one half of the chain attached to each, and I decided to lightly oxidise the whole necklace to really highlight the pearl. The flower was inspired by a pattern on a piece of Japanese fabric that a friend has made a bag out of - I didn't have my camera with me when I saw it, so I had to make do with a quick sketch. I think it turned out well though! The necklace is on my website here.

Brenda has some lovely gemstones in her shop - go and have a look! The pieces I've got to show you next week use her stones too.

A quick note about hallmarking - as any of you who have used letter stamps on your metal jewellery will know, stamping creates a "bruise" on the other side of the metal. This means that I have to carefully design a piece of jewellery to decide where the hallmark should be so that I can either file and sand the bruising back down without damaging the shape or texture of the design or, as in the case of this necklace, ask for the hallmark to be stamped on the back of a section that will be hidden by another piece of silver or a stone. 

Japanese Pearl was sent up to Goldsmiths Hall (the London Assay Office where I get my hallmarking done) in bits - the flower (flat to make it easier to stamp), the jump rings for the bail and the chain, and the bezel for the stone. This way everything could be assayed (tested to make certain that it was definitely sterling silver) and the hallmark applied without causing damage to the piece, and everything could be put together when it got home to me!  

And a bit of info for those of you who aren't in the UK or the EU, over here every piece that is 7.78g of silver or more (or 1g of gold or more) has by law to be assayed and hallmarked before it can be sold.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Tutorial Tuesday - T-shirt yarn

I've been sorting out my old clothes over the last couple of days - not that I've got so many old clothes that it takes a couple of days to do the job, more that I hate doing it so I've been doing it a little bit at a time! Clothes that I'll wear again at some point in the Spring are going up into the loft, some are now waiting to go to the charity shop, but I've got some t-shirts that I'll never wear again that I'm planning to recycle into yarn. I know, I know, I've probably  definitely got enough yarn to see me through to this time next year, but t-shirt yarn is something I came across a few months ago, and it looks like fun!

The photo above is from a tutorial on Craft Passion, a site full of tutorials on all kinds of crafts, and you can find the tutorial here if you fancy making some t-shirt yarn of your own. I'm hoping to have a go at it later in the week while B's at school - I'll let you see the results!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Picture Weekend

First of all, thank you so much for all the lovely comments that have been left on my baby post last week, and for the emails I've had too - I was really touched that people took the time to write on my little old blog! The baby is definitely making his or her presence known, kicking hard, usually as I'm trying to fall asleep, but isn't that always the way?!

We had a lovely time this weekend, making the most of B's last few days before starting school. It's been a while since I did a Picture Weekend post, but I'm trying to be a bit more organised and regular in my blogging, so here goes!

T was out all day Saturday and the weather wasn't great so B and I spent most of hte day at home doing things that we'd been meaning to do for ages - baking cakes (sorry, they didn't last long enough for a photo!), finishing off a box he had to decorate for school and printing out the photos to go inside it, watch Toy Story curled up together on the sofa before Auntie Katie wants her discs back.
I also got out a pack of hama beads that I'd bought ages ago and put away until B was big enough - he couldn't get enough of them, and I am amazed at the patience he's got with them! A shelf in his bedroom is now full of patterns and pictures he's made. I helped him find the centre of the star above, and then, I promise you, he filled in the rest all by himself.

We met some friends for Sunday lunch at a pub in the New Forest, something we haven't done for ages and really must do more often. 
We went geocaching afterwards - and if you haven't heard of this game of treasure hunting using GPS then go and visit this site - it's brilliant fun! T has set a few caches up for other people to find, but again, it's been ages since we'd done any. 

The Forest was particularly beautiful yesterday. Even the fallen trees were homes for new life.

 The moment of discovery!
Each cache is hidden away, sometimes with a series of clues to help you find it. Some complicated geocaches can take half a day or more to solve! You have to be careful when you find it and especially when you hide it away again that Muggles don't see what you're doing.

 I just love the look on his face in this one!
This cache was a particularly good one with lots of treasure inside.
The idea is that you leave a note in the log book to show that you've found it and take a piece of treasure, leaving another piece in return. The pieces of treasure eventually travel all over the place, and there are geocaches in both towns and in the countryside.

These are travel bugs - I've never seen so many in one geocache before! If you take one of these you have to move it to a different geocache, you can't just keep it. They are registered on the main site so you can track their progress. Some have specific missions, for example to travel as far away as possible from their original site, to visit as many countries as possible or to visit geocaches that have a particular theme to them.
Our friend Dawn took the bicycle chain travel bug - who knows where it will eventually end up?!

All grown up!

How does his hair grow so fast?! Time for another haircut!
It's a day of mixed feelings today, as any mother will understand. Part of me is so sad at the thought of my boy growing up so quickly, part is excited about the new experiences he is going to have, and part (the part that's feeling guilty!) is excited for me at the thought of the extra jewellery making time - and, you never know, the time to put my feet up for an hour or so each week!

Yes, today is B's first day at Big School - he's there just in the mornings for the first couple of weeks, and then full time from then on. We walked down there this morning - or rather, I walked, he skipped! - actually got to the playground early, and then when the doors opened he merrily went in to be greeted by his new teacher. They are really well organised and welcoming at his new school, and he's already used to the building as his old pre-school is only next door and they share some of the same facilities. Once B saw the toys and a couple of his friends he gave me a quick kiss and he was off! I've been very good - I didn't cry once despite going down there with plenty of tissues, just in case! In fact the morning has been a whirl of cleaning the kitchen, writing emails, magazine work and packing up new orders - and now it's time to go down and collect him!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Our latest 'project'

It's time to let you into a little secret - or rather, a secret that has grown rather big. Some of you that I know "in real life" or chat to via email or I have taught recently already now, but now that everyone who needed to know first (including my boss at college who I finally told yesterday before term started!) knows, I can share it with the rest of you....

I'm five months pregnant!

And I am so excited - and little scared, but a little less so each day, as, you see, something else that I haven't mentioned here on my blog before is that I've had three miscarriages between having B and being pregnant this time, all three of them within a year of each other. The first was May last year, and I posted here that I'd had to have a stay in hospital but didn't really go into the details of why because this blog is supposed to be about nice things like beads and jewellery and so on. So why am I mentioning it now? Partly because you won't be able to understand why we're so excited but still so nervous otherwise, but also because I know just how many women are affected by miscarriages.

When I was pregnant in May 2009 I was very aware that out of the ten family and friends that I knew who had had their second child in the previous year, only one of them hadn't had a miscarriage between their first and second successful pregnancy. That statistic was very much in my mind when I had my first midwife appointment back then, and was definitely one of the reasons that we told family relatively early into the pregnancy - I knew that if the worst came to the worst, I would need their support - and I definitely needed (and am so grateful for) their support. They eventually found a reason for the miscarriages - "sticky" blood that was too thick for a young fetus. The solution has been to take a low-dose aspirin pill each day to thin my blood a little bit. I'm not saying that that would work for everyone, and it's only something I did after long chats with my doctor, but it's worked for me.

So, I promise not to turn the blog into nothing but maternity posts, but expect to see some baby related posts in the near future! The baby is, in theory, due on 15th January, but B was 12 days early, so we'll see!

And now I'm going to have to go and get a tissue as I am just so happy to be able to write this news!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Tutorial Tuesday - Risk Assessments

The latest issue of Beads and Beyond magazine has just popped through my letter box, reminding me that I needed to upload a new pdf file to my website. This issue included the third in my series of Focus articles on the legal issues of running your own small craft business, and the topic this month is Health and Safety - the last article was on the different types of insurance a business needs, and there's no point in having insurance if you don't do all that you can to minimise the risks in your business otherwise if you do need to claim on your insurance the insurance complany may not pay out!

The pdf file I've uploaded onto the website is a section from the Risk Assessment I have written for my craft stall. Risk Assessments, as their name suggests, are a way of looking at all of the hazards associated with your business and working out what you can do to minimise them. For example, one of the hazards of my craft stall is the electrical cables for the lighting. Minimising that risk is easy - I hide the cables under my tables where possible, or tape them down so that members of the public don't trip over them. The file can be found in the Tutorials section of the website here.

I've also got a silversmithing project in the magazine this month that shows you how to make large oval textured chain links for a necklace - I forgot (again!) to take a photo of the finished necklace, so you'll have settle for a photo of the magazine page instead!  I love the project on the front cover of the magazine too - it's one that I immediately thought "I wish I'd come up with that idea!". The Swarovski flowers are a very effective but very simple idea.

Monday, 6 September 2010

A lovely Sunday's work

Yesterday was my first day teaching in the new workshop. Fiona and Hannah came out for a day's silversmithing tuition to celebrate Hannah's birthday, and despite the fact that neither of them had made any jewellery before they both made some really beautiful pieces of jewellery - just have a look!

They both made bangles from square wire - Hannah's is round and Fiona's is an oval bangle. Square wire is harder than oval or round wire to file to form a really neat join, and they both did great jobs. And they both decided to texture their bangles with my favourite hammer - old and dented to give a gorgeous texture!

Fiona spent the afternoon making stud earrings- one pair that I've had sketched out as an idea for ages but never got round to making, and one pair made by melting scrap silver. I think she got rather addicted to the fun of melting silver!

Hannah made a stunning necklace. It uses the same wire as we used for the bangles formed into five rings, two of them textured to match the bangle. I couldn't get all of it clearly into the very quick photos that I took before the girls left, but trust me, it looks even more stunning worn!

Friday, 3 September 2010

New tuition dates!

New tuition dates are at last on the website and you can find them here!

I've been through my diary and blocked out dates in September, October and November for tuition. December dates will be available later in the autumn. Most Tuesdays and Thursdays are available for either half or whole day tuition, some Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are available for half day tuition in the mornings, and there are some weekend dates available too. B starts big school this term which has meant that I can offer more tuition dates than before during the week. I've been trying to find more weekend dates but as we've got family visiting, I'm teaching at Artisan, I've got craft shows before Christmas and I'm teaching another stone setting workshop too (more details on that later this week!) there are only a few weekend dates available - so grab them quickly before someone else does!

The news that I'm really excited about is that, thanks to the fantastic space in my new workshop, I can now offer one-to-two tuition. This is something I've wanted to do for ages, and something that I've had many requests for, so I am really pleased  to finally be able to do it! A whole day private tuition for two people costs £190, compared to £120 for one person, so if you'd like to spend a great day with a friend or sister (or anyone else you'd like to bring along!) then you can save yourself some money as well as make some unique jewellery, learn some new skills and have a lot of fun!

To book a tuition date please email me on or use the contact page on my website.

The photos above are of jewellery that students made before the summer holidays:
1. Kate made this gorgeous ring for herself as a graduation celebration - isn't it beautiful? The stone is a deep green tourmaline, and, believe it of not, it was the first piece of silversmithing Kate had ever done!
2. Linda made her beautiful flower pendant as part of her most recent tuition session. Linda has been for classes a couple of times now.
3. Debbie has been over for tuition a couple of times as well, and made her lovely daisy pendant set with a sodalite.
4. Adrian came to make a special ring for his girlfriend - and thankfully she loved it! I always get nervous when students make something special as a gift as I feel responsible for the outcome, but everyone always loves what it made for them, at least in part because it is made just for them. This was the first piece of jewellery that Adrian ever made, and he designed it himself.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


We've been having fun in the garden this afternoon, taking advantage of the sunshine!

Getting ready


What a mess!

It's amazing how much fun you can have with leftover wall paper, paints, pieces of old sponge and a couple of old kitchen utensils!! It's a good job the paint is washable though as some of my bushes have very odd coloured leaves.....

Tutorial Tuesday - Toggle Clasps

Our internet connection went down last night as I was trying to up load my new tutorial to the website - typical! Oh well, here it is now, the first tutorial photographed in my new workshed!

I've been meaning to write up a tutorial on how to make your own toggle clasps for ages, ever since I started teaching them to the beginners classes at college. I find it useful to be able to direct students to my website to download a free tutorial to remind them of the techniques if they lose their notes or miss a couple of lessons. And, of course, I like to have a variety of tutorials available for the rest of you to download too! This tutorial shows you how to make your own simple toggle clasp from silver wire, and gives you some ideas on how to adapt the design to suit your own jewellery. It's free to download - all you need is a pdf reader such as adobe acrobat reader which you can download for free here. The tutorial itself can be found here!

I've got a couple more tutorials photographed as well. They're projects rather than techniques this time, and will be available as soon as I've written up the instructions.


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