Saturday, 24 December 2011

and a..

Very very happy holiday to everyone

may it be filled with laughter and love


Monday, 19 December 2011


Exhausted! These last 6 weeks have been probably the hardest work of my life. Harder than when I was working full time, doing a part time MA plus 5 evening shifts at the post office over the Christmas period!
I've sold more pea pods than I could ever have imagined, the thought of making anymore at this moment is not one I wish to think about for a week or so - I love them dearly but we have spent a little too much time in each others company of late.
I have been coming home from the day job at 6 ish, turning the comp on, checking emails and printing out orders, packing up and making more stuff, and getting to bed most nights after 1. Usually eating around 11. Then weekends have been 18 hour days with 4 am nights. Ridiculous!
But... I now have three glorious wonderful complete weeks off work. I have ideas that have been brimming and swimming round in my head and I have the supplies waiting for me.
The final package will arrive tomorrow, and then I can really get on.
But for now.. maybe bed.. or maybe just a small last glass of wine (to help me sleep you understand).

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Organisation Agh!!

Why is it when you have stocked up on just about everything you think you might need, you have more supplies than you can shake a stick at, you go and run out of the things you thought you had loads of!!
I keep a very close beady eye on supplies, on fittings, on chains, on boxes I am a reasonably well organised person in many areas of my life. But... the things you can't see a level of are the things that jump out and take you by surprise. Ink for the printer (how do I get through so much when I do everything on fast draft and even grey scale many times. Padded envelopes, you think 50 would be enough at a time but oh no, and then gas for your torch, you have a spare and then find that that has been run down as well.
So bang goes my Sunday at home 'doing' gotta go and get the car and go 'getting' instead.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Beautiful New Presentation Boxes for Cufflinks

I have just managed to get a limited supply of these gorgeous red wood presentation boxes, so I decided for the gift giving period I would give buyers the choice of the traditional black cufflink box or these lovely satin lined wooden presentation boxes. I can't stop stroking them they feel so lovely!!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Most Romantic Proposal !!!

About three months ago my lovely gorgeous friend asked me to make a ring for him and his partner. He wasn't really sure what he wanted so we sat down and talked around the houses for about two months! The original design was made (many times) and I just didn't like it, so came up with something else. It was easy enough to get my friends ring size but the partner? tricky! He only has one ring and wears it all the time so we couldn't 'borrow' that to size it. I tried posting a random post on Facebook asking for people to tell me if they knew their men's ring sizes... even though he is an ardent FB poster, he didn't bite! So I started carrying around my ring guages and tossed them on the table while we were having coffee one day and asked if he could tell me his, I was starting a new range and wanted to know the 'average'. Finally we had a size. The new design was a goer, a thick silver band with a solitaire diamond in a flush set, with a heart inside and a secret message engraved!
Moving on one month to the proposal.
A short holiday in Marrakesh, a hot air balloon ride and my lovely friend, apparently gripping on for dear life, popped the question. And the answer was yes, as the picture shows - by the pool with a Morrocan tea.
I am so happy!! Will get more details when they get back.
Just wanted to post this, to show romance isn't dead!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Where it all began!

My father came in from the garden (from his workshop) and told me to close my eyes and hold out my hand. He dropped the most amazing jewel in my hand that I'd ever seen. It was the clearest crystal and a huge blood red ruby ring and he'd made it for me. I was the princess with the crystal ring.

Of course it wasn't really anything precious, it was glass and perspex, but try telling that to an awestruck 6 year old (1964)

My lovely dad, who was away at sea for many of my young years, was able to do anything. He was taller than anyone else's dad (and I used to stand on a chair to try and show people how tall he was ;-) and he could do anything at all. I suppose I idealised him, and then used to get a bit shocked when he came home from sea and would swear - he would say 'bugger' and 'bloody' but - well I supposed all men did that didn't they?
(When I grew up I realised he wasn't really that tall, and although he did swear he only used mild words).
Thing was, I grew up in a world where you were judged more by what you created than by what you knew. We didn't have any books in our house, save for a set of encyclopeadias and a few Denis Wheatley novels. Both my parents were incredibly creative. My mother was an amazing seamstress, knitter, painter, flower maker and very entrepreneurial. My father was an incredible carpenter, and could fix any and everything.

I miss the man, the honest, straight, honourable man, stiff upper lip English to the core man, but I also miss like hell the man who could tell me what I needed, how to fix it, where to start man, the man who would always sort it out. We called him 'daddy fix it'.

Anyway, I digress, I just wanted to show this ring, this was the thing that made me fall in love with jewellery, and now that I make it, I so often think back to this ring and would so love to show him that I still have his ring, and to show him the rings that I make now.
Yes, this is the most precious thing I have I suppose, it's lovely isn't it.

(By the way, yes that is a monkey on his shoulder - a great holiday we had as a family revisiting a part of the world where I spent some years growing up)

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Semblance of order among the chaos

For a brief moment yesterday, my bench had some order to it. The photo on the right is only showing one end of the room of course, where most of the chaos reigns, and doesn't show the bunk to the left which has trays of stuff all over it plus supplies, or the other end of the room which has all the packaging materials, but I am pretty please with how clear it looks. I have a week coming up soon where I can spend a lot more time in here than I have been able to lately, I am so looking forward to that.
What I really want is a ten foot long solid bench, but this room is upstairs and it wouldn't fit, so I will have to make do with my two work stations at the moment, but I have to say it's much better than what I used to have to make do with.
Anyway, just thought I'd show the world where I live at the weekends.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Diamonds are a girls best friend

I have decided to up the game now. I have just received some diamonds, not rocks - it's true but diamonds nonetheless, and what sparkly little blighters they are too. Sapphires and rubies as well. I have so many ideas, and the weekend to get started on them, so watch this space.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Fire, spinning, rolling and balls!

While it is true to say that my silver pea pods are the mainstay of my jewellery business, and without them I probably wouldn't have half the tools I have been able to get, I do love to experiment when I have the chance. So here is what I have been doing; rolling (with the mill) flame throwing to make the lovely little mercury balls (which I have to say for the last 20 years I have had a thing about - what is it that fascinates me with granulation??) and redesigning a ring I made over 15 years ago into a spinner ring!! I would like to have put a gold spinner round but as it was an experiment - gold is an expensive experiment, so maybe next time. Anyway - here are the weekends spoils.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Been playing today

I should have been doing other stuff, but let myself play for a bit! Had the idea of a reversible pendant for a while but wasn't sure it would work with what I wanted on the front and back, but it's turned out just how I hoped.
The ring is a mix of all sort of bits and pieces from my bench, a truly recycled piece. Recycled fine silver and recycled sterling, patterned in the rolling mill. Doesn't fit, so gott find someone to give it to now ;-)

Sunday, 18 September 2011

New Projects - splashing the colour!

I have been so caught up with new sprojects I have been a bit lax on here, which is a bit of a shame. Anyway, here is one of my projects, I have been playing with sterling and cold enamel, and having just the biggest blast. Playing with colour is just amazing, and I adore how well it goes with silver. I don't think my neighbours can be too happy though as I've been banging and hammering away like a mad thing, but I'm pleased with the results.

Of course, now I have to get all the photos done and uploaded etc etc, but I have a date in mind and I still have time, so that's ok.
The summer has been mad with new ideas and projects started, but my work room looks like a bombs hit it, I wish I could sit down and make one thing and finish it at a time - just never happens though! Ah well. More to come!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Bank Holiday but gotta work

Nothing much to report at the mo, been too busy with all this nonsense on etsy lately, and changing all my listings. I will return and write something of great insight later this week (like pics of new rolling mill and new resin and silver items - lol

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Excited! Made a Video!

Well it's a slideshow, but I'm pleased with it. It shows my new silver leaf range. I can't really take videos at the moment to do any 'how to' clips, but this is the next best thing. The lovely Al (or Big Al to most people) wrote the music, as I presume you can't use anything original. I've added a youtube video bar on the side (-----> )
Yeah - ok, I know it's a bit crap, but - it's a start!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Introducing the new Brocade Range

Ta Dah!!!!

I have finally uploaded my new range of Silver Brocade. Very difficult to choose a name as I loved all the ideas; Brocade, Damask, Jacquard etc etc. You know those gorgeous black and white satin waistcoats some men wear at weddings, this design conjurs up the same elegant feel. The background is a deep sumptuous rich charcoal, and the silver is hammered and highly polished, the contrast is lovely. I am completely besotted with it!
I showed it to a gorgeous little shop in a local town and they want to showcase the entire range!
So I know what I'll be doing this weekend.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Time on the net is expensive

The rub! As I've said in earlier posts the cost of silver has flown through the roof this last year. It's been said it has risen 270%. So you can imagine, what was priced up last year has no resemblance on this years prices.

At the moment I have a project on to increase ranges. I did some searching round and found a brilliant spreadsheet for jewellers, (Chris Parry's Famous Pricing Sheet) its quite popular in the jewelling community, but oh my gosh, it opens your eyes. I used to have a formula that I had gotten elsewhere, however, this particular spreadsheet takes into account a trillion other things which had been forgotten. The hardest one for me was the time aspect. You need to calculate how much time you acutally spend making and how much time on admin etc as of course these aren't accounted for in the making process. Which got me to thinking. How much time do I spend on the net. And it woke me up with jolt. Nearly 75% of my 'jewllery' time is spent on the net, photos, descriptions, uploading etc. Now that is all good time, you can't get round it, but what of all the other time? I realised that I am so attention challenged that I am wasting so so much time, checking on facebook to see what's going on, answering comments, then going off and looking at other posts (time lost). Go to Etsy forums, check back on posts I've posted in, catch up, respond (time lost). Have a quick check in the activity feed, go off looking at what has been hearted, who has been added, who has added me to their circle (time wasted). Check in on twitter - go through and look at posts regarding who knows what (time lost). Website... let's tweak that, and it just goes on and on and on.
So, I have done an experiement with myself this week. I write a list of the things I need to do, sit at the computer and tick them off as I go through, and there is a time limit. Gosh it works. I have cut my time right down and am actually getting stuff done.
What I am starting to think, is that a lot of these sights, their popularity in google ranking is based on clicks, and the more we click through all the forums and news feeds, the more clicks they are getting, so I am just selling someone elses idea when really I want to sell my own. Anyone else got any good ideas for controlling this dreadful addiction?

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Internet Marketing and me - getting seen

The holy grail of internet market:

If you want to see an amazing example of SEO then do this. Type in google search the word 'duster'. (Bearing in mind what you are expecting to see) and then do a google image search. See what comes up? Is that not incredible!

I was lucky enough recently to spend some good quality time with the designer of that product, and when he showed me I was blown away. So, how on earth.

Now I am not going to even start to say I have any clue how to become that successful, what I do know is that if you aren't careful, it can take over your life, as it has been doing mine for about a month so far.

What are some of the thing you can do? well from what I can garner, any image you upload should be tagged and named, not just have the camera ID numbers. For me? well I have over two hundred products uploaded, over about 7 or so odd sites. Each item has 4 or 5 photos with each item, therefore that is ... loads of bloody photos. So, you are right, I am not going to go and completely re-do all my photos, but what I did do was take the first photo of the more popular products and add a tag and rename them, and re upload. Now if I go and do an image search on some of my items mine are on the first page of images. Not saying that is the only reason, but it all helps. (And google is making us all work like stink at the moment)

Now if you have vista or more recent, its quite an easy process, you'll see in the viewer that you can add a tag eaily. However in windows 2003 and below I can't for the life of me find where you can do it, so I have to put my memory stick of pics on another comp and do them. Of course it goes without saying - although I will later, that your photos have to be top notch, but that's another post.

Loads of other things to add, but this is getting long, so will add more posts as I get round to it. Again, anyone have anything to add please do so, the more the merrier and any suggestions shared are always useful.

Monday, 27 June 2011

I've found all my followers!!

So they were lost and now they're back! Yay!! reckon they were all hiding.
I have heard since from lots of people that this just seems to be an issue with blogger. Oh well! Lovely to see you all again!!

New Links

Well I just did that scariest of things, and changed some links on my website. All in the name of SEO but I am very worried that a load of the links I had before pointing to my website will now be as dead as the cat that is jumping all over the computer will be in a minute!.
So while this looks like I have just added a bunch of photos for the heck of it, in fact it's to try and check the links.
I have also bought the domain for me and it should also point to my website - we'll see.

Well - that I didn't know - copy a bracket from a url and it will turn into a percentage sign and add numbers to it!! Glad I checked!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

I've lost all my followers!

Looks like I have lost all my lovely followers. No idea what is wrong, when you do a search it looks like many others are having the same problem. In my dashboard, it doesn't look like I have any at all left, so unless they all went south, I think there is a problem with blogger... I hope.
I started a new blog, and since then...

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Internet Marketing and Me! - Twitter

I am not here going to claim to be an expert, or even astute at either social networking or marketing - however I have some observations, and I thought I'd get them out there. If you have anything to add that would be great.

I'll start with:


When I first started trying to sell online I kept reading that twitter was the way forward. I love all things computery, so decided to join that weirdest of worlds that is twitter. I read that to be successful you needed to follow as many people as possible and to have a gadzillion followers yourself. So night after night, I would try and find relevant people I thought would be useful to follow, and strangely enough the oddest people started following me. It took a month or probably longer and I eventually had 690 followers, I was following about 450 or so. I would diligently tweet my new uploads and hey presto I would get an extra 30 odd 'views'. I quickly discovered these views were not real views but 'bot' views. (bot being short for robot) .

Slowly I realised what a bore it was just to see page after page of adverts for random garbage I wasn't interested in by people I didn't care about.
I read that you shouldn't just post links but comment and tweet interesting facts and that people would find you more interesting.
I did this, it made no difference, I was shouting in the wind, no one ever responded, they just posted their links and ran.

I went through and unfollowed those that look like obvious robots, still the same thing happened.
I left for a while, my followers went up, more random people followed, and then more marketing drivvle followed. I started to not particularly like it and only used it once in a while to post a link to get some views. No one liked me either ;-)

So, a couple of weeks ago, I lost it, and realised what a complete and utter waste of time it was and just unfollowed nearly 400. I now follow about 40. These 40 are people who have interacted with me or are friends. Suddenly I am enjoying it again, I post something, someone replies. I see posts that are fun or quirky or interesting.
I have to say in a year of having nearly 700 followers I never made a sale from it (as far as I know). I know many others have a different take, but I have honestly got very little except a tiny bit of fun from it. I have tweeted many times 'is there anyone out there?' and no-one responds.

I am sure if you are Calvin Klein or Victoria Beckham the world awaits your tweets, but if you are thinking that having hundreds of followers that you have never interacted with and who only ever post links is going to get you anywhere, then I wish you good luck. I suppose it's worth bearing in mind, how many of those links do you follow? if the answer is very few, then that is probably what will happen back unless you are very engaging.

So I read somewhere that if you go to a party and just go up to random people and say 'look this is my product' buy it, you'll become very unpopular very quickly. And it's pretty much the same. So, I have stopped looking at it as a way to sell or market my items (except rarely just to get bot views up) and have now decided to try and make connections with people.

Just my thoughts. And you? what have you found?

Sunday, 12 June 2011

On a lighter note

Getting royally naffed off with all the SEO, so decided to write a more upbeat blog today. For the longest time I fancied making a silver bird, however they aren't exactly rare in the handmade market and I didn't want to be seen to be copying. So for weeks if I had any time to play in the studio I would be trying things out. Man I got through so much silver (must send it in to be reclaimed at some point).

This is what I eventually came up with. The body is suggestive of a bird, made in sterling silver and hammered, and the wing is pure silver and detailed with a skeleton leaf. It was then soldered on. I then found the optimum balance point and drilled a hole for the link, so that it continually swings (unless it is resting against something of course!).
I made a mother and baby however they both seem babyish so have called them both baby birds.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Is this the Moral Payback??

I was musing this morning and realised that the statement I made on the second to last post, was in fact brought home with a thud by the post before this!

“there is a price to pay for 'cheap' often in human terms, and that skirt for 5 and crappy pair of boots for 20, should really not be on our high street, not now that we belong to a global village, we should all take responsibility for what cost these things really have in the big picture.”

How so? Well let’s look at it a bit shall we. Some years ago I took a break from making silver jewellery and was making beaded jewellery. I shopped around all over looking for the best value beads that I could find. I was trying to make very affordable but beautiful items that could sell for a cheap price. I went on ebay, I went all over. At that time I was looking for ‘tibetan silver’

I came across a site in China that sold for a very very good price the loveliest of beads. I bought them in bulk, as I knew many had, and used them in my jewellery (and also sold them as supplies). Yep, so who in the beaded market hasn’t done that?, either from ebay or some other site, but a bead with a lot of detail for a dollar or two.

Right, so where did that design come from? See this is the rub. To design, create, finish, market and sell a product takes a lot of time and effort, we all know that. To sell online takes an inordinate amount of effort, sometimes you question whether it is worth it for the returns (see previous posts).

Now imagine – you are poor, you want to make money, you have a skill of being able to recreate things? What do you do? Go to the original designer and ask if you can licence their product? Unlikely that they will say yes! So what you do, as we have all seen, is look at the item, copy it in a much cheaper material / fabric and sell it. If you are able to save money by not having to design, not having to take the photos, not having to translate or even create descriptions so much the better, more profit for you. Make one as similar as you can, maybe even buy one and then make a caste, then you can remake as many times as you like that item for a fraction of the cost, oh yeah and pay your workers a fraction of a decent salary as well.

One of the items that this company has copied of mine, I was able to get hold of their quotation for buying 50 and 100. They quoted between $3 and $4!! (It costs me at least 18 times that in materials alone). (Trust me if they were silver I’d buy from them myself!!) So, the only way that can be is if they are mass produced using a casting and some ghastly alloy, and the operator was being paid peanuts.

That must be the answer for all those things that we like to buy cheaply, all the clothes that we buy in Primark / Wallmart, all that stuff available at the market, those cheap earrings, that copy copy fake Gucci bag, same principle.
As I said before, if the skirt that I bought over 40 years ago costs the same as today, when my salary has multiplied by a gadzillion, something somewhere is very wrong, and this is where it has gone wrong, allowing ourselves to fool ourselves into thinking that it is possible to buy that item for such a stupid price, a price that we know very well in our heart of hearts does not cover design, creation, materials, marketing, a profit for the seller and a living wage. One or more of those requirements is going to go out of the window. Well, looks like it’s the design, material and the living wage, cos you can bet your bottom dollar that the profit is still there for someone.
So, yes I am royally pissed off with my design, photos and the rest of it being stolen, but somehow in my heart, I can’t get too angry about it, I, in many ways, feel I deserve it a little bit, its my wake up call, maybe it should be all our ‘in the west’ wake up call, these beautiful beads, this lovely skirt, that fab bag, those lovely leather boots, how can they be created for such a low price? They can’t, someone somewhere is paying the price, and now it’s hitting home who.

A great read from Time magazine here

Of course the implications for sellers of handmade goods online is this, which is very worrying, will a buyer who sees the item listed often with the original details of the shop some how believe that they are buying from that shop? Is there a chance of the originators reputation being rubbished? but also is the problem with google searches. Since February Google have changed the way they work the searches, and doubled up copy drops way down in the rankings, so with one fell swoop, these copyers have slightly ruined our google rankings, as well as nicked our stuff!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

When blatant copying is not flattery

So what you can see on the bottom is what made me spit my tea out all over my desk this afternoon!
I was doing a search (as you do) to see if my items had been syndicated by etsy, and to see where they came on a search. The peapod cufflinks are always a good one to check as there are almost no others around. You can imagine how shocked I was to see this site in China selling silver pea pod cufflinks, made in China, minimum order 30 pairs! MINE!!! If you look closely you can see that there is nothing that hasn't been copied, not a single thing left out, even... (this is the funny bit) my copywrite statement

On further checking, I could see many many many, (maybe all of them) other etsy seller cufflinks. I posted a post in the etsy forums and I have to say was blown away by the support and suggestions from the other sellers.
(etsy forum link)
I have linked the pictures to the relevant sites so you can check it out for yourself (and if you are a cufflink seller I suggest you do, you may well find your items there.)

So what is it? I have no idea, it seems that if you follow the links to twitter or facebook you start getting led a right song and dance and keep finding yourself on yet another site (same colours and logos, slightly different version of the name) always selling rip off items that they don't make. Is it a scam site just waiting for the money to come in? will they get on and make them up quickly if they get an order? Who knows. I wrote to the Huffington Post to see if they wanted to do the story and am waiting to hear back. I also (;-) wrote to the site and asked for a quote for 50 pairs, and am waiting to hear.
So, looks like I have been 'syndicated' after all, just not in the way I was hoping. I'm sure I will be adding to this story in due course, but this is as much info as I have at the moment. Would love to hear your comments.

This lovely person fineheart has written a much better worded post on her blog - do have a look

Since Saturday: They took down my description and just had the photos. Then a very badly written description went back up. Then when I checked today (Wednesday 1/6/11)the original description was back up minus my details. I'm so mad I could spit, it's like they are just sticking the finger up. I wrote on Saturday to htem, again on Sunday, then again on Monday and then my lovely Chinese friend gave me some further information, and I wrote giving them 3 days to take it down before I reported them to the Chinese Government department dealing with this sort of thing. And since that letter they have put back the original description, so they are obviously not going to do anything.
The worst thing in all of this is that I wrote to etsy administration asking for help, as did many of the other sellers affected. Did we hear anything? did we bollocks, not until tonight when they shut the thread down, because some daft tart mentionned another shop on etsy - suddenly we are 'calling out' and that's that. Not one single word of help, comment or advice from admin, I am so shocked. Etsy has been good to me in the past, I have sold many many items on there, but I have made the mistake of seeing it as a community, whereas it's obviously not, the other lovely lovely sellers are great, but when you need help?

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Come on people - time to re assess

It's been bugging me for a while and I have to say something now.
I saw a post in the forums on Etsy the other day
'people need to price their things more realistically - they are too expensive'

Okay fine, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but ....
on the whole the items on etsy, the handmade items, not the resellers who are sourcing their bits from the third world, are mainly underpricing themselves.
I have reevaluted my pricing structure three times now, and still I find I'm at near enough zero at the end of each month once I have taken into account supplies, packaging, tools, bits and pieces, paper, ink, electricity, fees, postage, equipment etc etc, and that has not taken into account my time.

I today got the shock of my life when I went to buy some silver wire. As I've said before, the price of silver has gone through the roof, and for me to make the ring that I wanted with the stuff that I bought, using the pricing structure that I do, would mean I would have to sell said simple bloody stacker ring for about £40. Yeah right, and there are stacker rings on etsy selling for $10. (Sure they are not the same thickness, and so not as expensive to make). People are selling items for cost plus a dollar or two. Items that take maybe an hour to make, when you take into account all the steps, from the cutting, soldering, sanding, polishing, tumbling, buffing, and that is the simplest ring you can make.

Now look, I look for bargains, I like things as cheap as the next person, but when something is handmade, there are other factors to take into account, like the making!!

People, can we just get things in perspective. When I was 12 (roughly 40 years ago), I bought a school skirt for 4 (lets forget the currency, it will make sense anyway) . My father at that time was earning 8 a week. Our house had cost 8,000. A few years later I left school and started work and earned 12 for a week. A couple of years after I bought a pair of boots for 17.
Today, I earn more than 12 an hour. That house now costs 150,000 - yet I can still buy a skirt for 5 and I could still find a crappy pair of boots for about 20. The only way that is possible is because some poor soul in some third world country is living a life of subsistance for $1 a day or in some cases a week. When I got married over 30 years ago a television cost 100. I bought a television last year for 150.
So, when someone in the west makes something with their hands, why are we expecting them to accept the same wage as a third world person?
For myself, I use silver. Silver will last a lifetime, what I make could well last a person their entire lifetime and if they like it could be an heirloom, I spend a lot of time making sure it has a finish that is worthy of it and expect it to look good for a long time. I take a lot of care and maybe spend longer than necessary on making it as good as possible. However, I live in the west and have to pay for a house that costs a small fortune, pay fuel charges that 20 years ago would have made people choke with laughter in scorn. So, no, I will not be dropping my prices. If someone wants to buy something that has been slaved over by some poor wretch, who will work 20 hours a day, 7 days a week and live on a bowl of rice if they are lucky, in order for it to be 'cheap', that is fine by me, but I am not that person. I slave over my things as well, but when I buy something, something that I really like, I know that I will forget how much it cost the minute I put it on, and will value it for itself, and be happy that I have found something that is unique. I make my items as economically as I can, I certainly don't charge an hourly rate, but my items and the other items I see on handmade sites in general are very fairly, sometimes too fairly priced, and I think it's high time all of us realised that there is a price to pay for 'cheap' often in human terms, and that skirt for 5 and crappy pair of boots for 20, should really not be on our high street, not now that we belong to a global village, we should all take responsibility for what cost these things really have in the big picture.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

A collection of beautiful things by stunning artistic types!

Just felt like doing a treasury of my favourite things on etsy - enjoy!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Finally - My Hallmark!! (or sponsor's mark)

Okay, so this doesn't look that impressive, but hey - I am very very proud of it. It cost me about £180 ($280) to get it registered!!

Here in the UK, you can not by law sell anything made in silver that weighs more than 7.78 grams unless it is hallmarked by one of the four assay offices in the UK.

Online of course, you can sell what you want to outside of UK, but I have plenty of items that I have only been able to sell to outside the UK and not to the UK. Mainly it's the larger rings and chunky pendants, but they have been available just not UK side.

So the process goes like this a little: You have to register a stamp, this can be with your initials. You start by thinking 'oh that will be great I'll make a word', then you realise each letter costs about £40 and quickly come down to just the minimum initials.
You then choose the type of stamp, swan neck (for rings) or straight and where you would like it kept (either with you or at one of the halls).

It them takes about 3 or so weeks to be ready.
You eventually get sent a bunch of paperwork which almost tells you how to get your stuff stamped ;-) The more you send off the cheaper, so you don't really do one or two things at a time, and sending off a whole bunch is quite worrying! But there is a minimum charge, so even though I sent off 12 initial pieces I still had to pay the minimum charge. But you send no money. They get in touch and after you have registered you can check on line to find out how much you owe, and then pay online. A few days later (it is a quick turnaround) your lovely items arrive home with their new little marks.
When I say little marks trust me they are really small, I couldn't find them to start!
So, I then discovered it has been mooted by the government to do away with this tradition. At the moment it is in the discussion stage. I have to say I hope they don't do away with it. The point being, anything you buy in England that has this stamp on it, has had the tiniest piece scraped off and tested for quality so you know when you hand over your money, that this is truly authentic. I have bought things abroad, where the sales person has told me it is real and I have paid over my hard earned money, and later got home and found it wasn't. It's just one of those quirky British traditions that I really like - and anyhow, I've paid over all that money now!!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The Widest Range of Silver Peapod Jewellery on the Net

As I was falling asleep the other night it suddenly dawned on me that.. as far as I can tell I have the widest range of silver pea pods available online now. I have searched and searched, and while others do have a few pendants, or earrings, no one else has pendants, charms (with three different types of attachment , earrings( three different types), cufflinks (two different styles), rings and charm bracelets, always available in twos and threes and always open to commissions.

See what this means, if I'm not mistaken, is the widest range in the world. Me - Sue - Sue from somethingxtraspecial has the 'est' in the world. Of course I haven't been all over the world and verified this, but my avid research online appears to back it up. So, I am jolly pleased with that. Thought I'd share!!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

New arrivals in the pea pod family

These are the latest editions in my pea pod range. I originally put leverbacks on the pea pods as a friend always asked for them, however, someone recently asked for hooks, thinking they would be smaller and it seemed daft that I hadn't put studs on them before. So, along with the rings, which are just the cutest things, made to order of course, I have added studs and hooks to my earrings.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Total Art Soul

Total Art Soul is a lovely web site for artists to show off their stuff. You can browse various types and styles and there is such a diversity of stuff. I've been lucky enough to be featured on their front page this week. They are starting to move over to being a selling site if that interests anyone, not sure how successful it will be but if you want to get in somewhere and be one of the first this would be a great place to go I think. I am too spread out being on 3 sites already, etsy, folksy and my own, I just don't have enough time in my life to service another one, but thought I would put it out there in case anyone else fancied it. I could well kick myself in the future, but then again may change my mind!! ;-)
Click on the title link to go and have a look.
(ps my item is the second from the bottom left - eggs in a nest)

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Victorian Swirl Padlocks

Once again the copiers are out, something that drives me to distraction, but in the end what can you do. And once again it has just made me determined to combat the feeling by trying to do something new. This is my new range, it ties in with the tear drop rings in design, but compliments rather than matches. The two pendants on the right are made totally in pure fine silver, forged, hammered, polished, shined and fussed over to the enth degree!! The one on the far right is a little twee, however in person it looks quite eye catching. I particularly like the central one and this led me on to make earrings that match. I prefer long danglies, so I have also made these hanging on double rings that are caught up with a single ring hanging on an ear hook.
The earrings on the left are the simple version. I call them Victorian swirl padlocks. Back to that oh so fancy pretty yet uptight time.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Absolute last chance to grab a half price sterling silver bargain

Just a quick heads up and reminder that today is the very last day of the half price sterling silver sale. Just so’s you know, I paid 50% more for my silver from my supplier this week than last week – it’s ridiculous. So if you want to grab a bargain, maybe get your Christmas Presents early, today is the last chance. Sterling silver cufflinks, sterling silver and gemstone bracelets, and sterling silver and gemstone / lampwork necklaces are all included in the sale. Half the price you pay will be refunded via paypal.

But whatever – hope you have had a brilliant weekend, and made the most of the beautiful weather.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Half Price Sterling Silver Sale

The price of silver has shot through the roof, as the table (from the wiki site shows)

In 2005 it was $7.31` dollars an ounce
2009 $14.67
2010 $20.19
2011 $40.17

Now if that doesn't show it, I don't know what does, but silver keeps its value.
My supplier just last week wrote to let me know that prices are set to increase hugely. I know that I am going to have to increase my prices very soon, but just before I do I thought I'd give my lovely customers a chance to treat themselves and grab a bargain in the meantime, so until 25th April (midnight gmt) I am having a HALF PRICE sale on selected sterling silver items. These include the sterling bracelets, necklaces and cufflinks. (The fine silver is not included). So if you want to grab yourself a bargain, click the link. Be quick the stuff is going quite quickly. These prices can never be repeated (unless of course silver goes back to 2005 prices!!)

To see details click the post link.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The New Teardrop Ring Design

I am very excited with my new design. I just love the front, its like the bottom of a heart, and looks like a perfect teardrop when flat. These are so comfortable to get on, because the angle allows for the nuckle and then they are turned, where the disc can then swing. Perfect for fiddling, and who doesn't like fiddling! Loads of designs done just takes time uploading all the photos - I need a secretary!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

My life in pets

I have this weekend gotten my house back to myself. Life has changed!! yay! I have been able to move all the junk and rubbish into the junk and rubbish holders, and it is now an organised tip. I think the cats have summed up exactly how it feels, serene and safe!

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Masterclass with Kate McKinnon

Ah!! Where do I begin? I bought Kate's book Sculptural Clay a while back, and it totally changed the way I deal with my stuff. I was just so blown away by the information, that when I came across a picture online I followed the link to her blog and sent her a mail thanking her for the information. To my complete surprise she wrote back immediately! I went on to read some of her blog and discovered that she was going to be doing a masterclass about 150 miles from where I live. Even more surprising there was still a space on the course. I then (as I do) ummed and ahhed and decided I just could not justify the cost. Wrote and told all involved. Got a lovely message back saying I could come for a shorter period for a cheaper rate. Still in my head had decided against it, working out how many tools and books and supplies I could buy for the equivalent. Slept on it, woke up and apparently in my sleep had decided to go!!
The lovely BF suggested we make a weekend of it.

Saturday morning: Hadn't been able to make the get to know you meal the night before so made sure I was well early so as not to be the last 'billy no mates' to arrive. Was very pleased BF came with me as the directions said turn left at the substation. I had no idea what a substation was!!

Anyway, I was the first to arrive and met Kate. Exactly how I imagined her. Also a tall lady (which I really liked), funny, warm, generous. We had name places round the most wonderul studio, and I was sat right next to her. She had brought us each a double DVD of hers as well as a few little items that she knew we weren't able to get hold of easily in this country.

So, it started at 10, and I sat there totally enthralled for 3 hours while she demonstrated the things she thinks are most important. Then we went for a wonderul lunch, again I was sat next to her and again she was just the greatest company. You know what it's like when you meet someone and think 'yep - I really like you'!

Back in the studio in the afternoon and again she demonstrated more bits, components to make, different ways to use the clay and I think if I was going to pick out just a couple of things I have really taken on board, (since reading the book) it would be the way to cut and dry without leading to all that bloody sanding. I had always questionned the sanding thing and the logic of breathing it in, and here was someone saying, just don't do it, get it right and you won't need to.

I had tried putting her techniques into practise from watching her DVD but when you actually see someone do them it just all falls into place.

What I love about the clay, is the full firing, and now I just adore hammering the silver into oblivion - I mean submission - sorry I mean into a nice solid strong piece. The same way that you get with sterling. I am finally proud again instead of being slightly worried that I was taking an easy way out, that is just not true, I am working with a very pure material, that when treated properly is every bit as good, if not better than sterling with bits of copper and nickle in it.!!

Am I rambling? mmm

So, eventually we got down to making. Now to be honest, that was the bit I wasn't really looking forward to, I am not someone who can do things like that in front of others, I just become all fingers and thumbs, and hey presto I made the most rediculous mistakes ;-)

Lovely BF was supposed to collect me at 5, but the class continued and continued and eventually I made my apologies and left an hour and a half later.

I had the best experience, I have no funny stories to tell, I was just enthralled all day, and that isn't really that amusing!

(The only amusing thing actually was that in that gorgeous part of the world, in the village / town we were staying on a Saturday night, the BF went hungry, all we could find to eat were two packets of crisps!! - amusing for me maybe not so much for him).

This is my proud attempt at a rivet spinning ring - I have no idea what it is actually called, but it's a beast and I love it!