Last week, apart from getting the final remaining (post) Christmas orders in the post, I also had a wedding commission to make - a wild roses tiara! (And I can't help but hear my father's voice saying boomp-see-ay after that word!)
I took some dodgy photos as I went along and here they are....
She's getting married on the 2nd of January so hopefully I'll have better photos to post after that!
I'm sorry for my lack of blogging, but it has been work, work, work for the last month or so, with only the occasional day off at the weekends. I do finally feel like the end is in sight, with another 25+ orders leaving fig on Wednesday when the lovely Eva will be back to pack and post. What a godsend she's been!
It's been an interesting month or so as for the first time I've been able to consider a different future for my business. I'd always imagined that I would merrily plod along making a little bit more - money and items - every year, hopefully charging a little more for my work, and selling, in the main, direct to my customers via the shop. The success I've had with notonthhighstreet has given me an alternative vision - perhaps I could have two strings to my business bow; the range of names, initials and charms, and the less populist collections that sell well in the shop. If, and it's a big if, the necklaces remain popular, I will need more help next year keeping up with demand. It's something to ponder when I've a few spare minuted to rub together....
And finally I'm rather excited that I'm in Red Magazine/Red Direct his month! Page 129. AND, thanks to Folksy, I'm also on the Channel4, 4Homes website as one of their top ten craft buys!
I can highly recommend it, naturally, and if you see how much pressure I put that poor table under, you'd feel just a little sorry for it!
Meanwhile, I'm half way through the 70 pre-Christmas orders, but today Red Magazine came out, and my initial pendants are on page 129, and I've already had three orders. Gulp…. then at lunchtime I found a tweet from folksy that led me here….
With something I made myself. I know that sounds daft, but much as I like my work, and adore making it, I rarely fall for one of my own pieces in quite such a fashion. By this ring is gorgeous! It came out of a customer request that I couldn't make work in the way she wanted, so I created this instead. And she loves it too! Sadly, perhaps, this one didn't fit her, but strangely it does fit me.... It's in the cabinet, for now.
I love fireworks but I have to men in the family who aren't happy with loud noises, or crowds for that matter, so in general fireworks are seen from the comfort of out bedroom looking out towards the cricket ground - beyond the row of houses opposite. So not a great spectacle it must be said. But this year we went to my sister- and brother-in-law's house and had sparklers and garden fireworks, baked potatoes and a small bonfire. Lovely! And I took these photos - what I adore is the way the sparklers are caught by the camera. I have tried making designs from this sort of random explosions before, but can get it right. Not even close!
I've had an idea buzzing around in the back of my head for several weeks, and today I had the time and space to actually make a few prototypes. Two people have seen it so far - one loved them and one said 'I don't do novelty jewellery'. My sister is always so honest. What do you think? I'd love further feedback... below or on FB is you prefer.
If you've read my blog before, you'll know that I'm busy making loads of name necklaces, and a few have come up more than once - Sarah, Ellie Olivia - and I've had a couple of more original ones - Mrs.O, MrsBowles (I like to think that's Camilla), RoRo (LOVE this as it's what my children call my sister Rosie!), but over the weekend I received a more unusual one. Er.... or odd. Well, I thought so at least, but it turns out I'm just old. The name I've been asked to do is Spaz. Uh huh, you read that right. Well, after much uhmming and ahhing, I rang notonthehighstreet. Was I over-reacting I asked? It turns out I am apparently, as it's a nickname from Anna. Anna Spanner, shortened to Spaz. Really? Oh well. Clearly it's a generational thing.
Today I had a mild panic. Or was it really that mild? The North Bristol Art Trail is just a month away and am I ready? Am I hell. So once I'd got all my parcels to the Post Office (and bought a delicious coffee to fortify myself) I made a list. A very long list.
This year I'm showing at my friend Kate's house, rather than at fig. I've exhibited at fig two years running and I've never shown in someone's house, so it seemed a good idea to try it out. Naturally, I didn't think of the ramifications - like the fact that I might be ridiculously busy with notonthehighstreet work, now, when I would normally be making stock, or that I might still want a small amount of work at fig. So now the reality has dawned, I realise I need to have extra stock so that I have cabinet of goodies at fig, along with some stock to top up anything that sells, plus full collections, and stock at Kate's. That's a lot of pieces.
So tonight I have bitten the silver bullet, so to speak, and ordered nearly £500 worth of silver - argh! That's a lot of silver, or pieces of eight maybe. Then there's the cost of packaging yet to be ordered, paying for a mobile card payment terminal, paying people to look after my cabinet at fig.... gulp. Oh boy.
I'm really, truly lucky, blessed even, to have a bunch of loyal customers. They are supportive, interesting, they set me fascinating challenges/commissions and it genuinely cheers my day to see them walk through the door of fig. And then there's some others. And we are lucky that they are few in number, but this week I have been chasing one such customer. Over two months ago she ordered one of my name necklaces. She was friendly and we chatted in the shop before she decided to order the necklace and we measured to get the right length, and discussed whether to have a capital first letter. Such was our pleasant conversation, I (foolishly) decided not to ask for a deposit. Since I finished her personalised necklace six weeks ago, I have texted her, emailed and called her mobile. I can only assume she's changed her mind, but why not call me? It's not an expensive item in the grand scheme of things, and she knew the cost before she ordered it. And she knows I've carried out the work, and that I can't just sell it on like an item that's not personalised.
Anyway, I will end my rant with a photo of a commission from last summer, for one of my polite, friendly and interesting band of commissioners - and I thank you lovely peeps from the bottom of my heart!
Talk about busy! I've been making non stop names all last week, and the stream of orders has yet to abate - there's another four today following the seven over the weekend! I think my piercing and cutting is speeding up slightly but the designing of them is what can take the time. Who would have thought that a capital T would be my nemesis? Try joining any letter to a capital T - go on, give it a go! It's quite hard not to make it look like a backwards J, or an F. You can see several tries here, and the final one is upside down, top right.
Some interesting Irish names ordered today, which I'm looking forward to - lots of lovely vowels together. I love doing 'o's in particular!
As I'm deep, deep, deep in name necklaces (another 3 today to add to the other 6) I thought I'd show off a few pieces form the new collection which are proving fairly popular. I've sold one of each of the top two (they're two of the most expensive pieces) and lots of the others. Can't wait to get making them again, once the name necklace tide goes out!
I have to make a brief mention of our GLORIOUS window this month. Jane and Chitra screen printed directly on to the glass to create the swirling leaves - amazing. They show up better in real life (come and have a look!) and in the evening rather than first thing this morning.
I got the first batch (see below) polished and packed - tomorrow the final p - posted! Hooray! And then the next batch starts. We have Sarah, Georgia, Eleanor, Mrs.O (love it!), Lisa and a couple more I've temporarily forgotten. It'll come to me I'm sure.
Yesterday was considerably more productive, and all the names were cut-out.... filed, and then attached to their chains.... and finally soldered securely. They are now ready for polishing, packaging and posting.
And then on to the next batch - I'm looking for to making Mrs.O!
Hmmm.... well maybe not. Here is a picture of my unreconstructed desk. And this is NOT at it's worst, though it may be close. I MUST tidy up before too long - my name necklace is in the notonthehightstreet catalogue arriving today and tomorrow, and already I had three orders at lunch time, so it might be getting a little busy next week. Or it might not. I wish I knew.
Meanwhile I brought sketch book and tracing paper home so I can at least sketch out names this weekend (after all there's no room on my desk to do it!). So far this week we have Penny, Lucy, Olivia, Chloe, Maye, Ellie and Elen. I'm looking forward to repeated names to save me a bit of time!
No coincidences today, but more feathers! Isn't it strange how when you are busy the ideas just seem to spill out, with little time to do anything about them, but when you've time on your hands.... Anyway, I thought if I ordered the feathers, and a little bit of time came up, I'd be ready to go. I also ordered some other teeny, tiny items, but no more on that just yet.
I can now upload a photo of the recent commission I had from Ann, a customer who likes to set me interesting commissions - the last one was the word pomegranate! I designed and made a cuff for her using copper and silver, and a stylised pomegranate. Below is a non commissioned piece that her husband bought for her for their 25th wedding anniversary. I loved making it, and must get around to putting it on notonthehighstreet.
It's silver and brass, but because both metals are mat they seem to me to have the appearance of silver and gold. I loved making it!
As anyone who's known me more than 10 minutes knows, my life is a series of mini, and major coincidences. How I met my husband is a good one, but far too long to go into in detail, though I do love the fact that the tiny pub in the middle of nowhere where we met was the scene of my sister and brother-in-law's first meeting too, a few years later.
Meanwhile, yesterday I had a great one, that also meant I spent much for the rest of the say saying 'ain't modern technology great?'. While listening to Radcliffe and Maconie on Radio 6, there was a piece in the pop news about an artist in residence in Manchester's Islington Mills doing a music night with his turntable rigged up in reverse so that all the tunes where played backwards. Then they ran an interview with him, and it turned out to be an illustrator who I had worked with back in my days as an art director in children's publishing. He is a lovely man, who I spent far too many evenings getting a bit merry with, and also dancing wildly (though in forward motion on the whole) resulting in lots of bruises. Since moving to Bristol nearly 10 years ago we had rather lost touch and he had moved to the States.
So there I was listing to the wonderful David Wojtowycz and I thought I'd email him on the
spot. Well why not? Less than half an hour later I had one back from him, all the way from Chicago! Dontcha love it?! Modern technology huh?
Here are some of the books we worked on together, and that my kids adored. I even wrote one of them! Ain't life grand?
Today I finished off the last few pieces for one of my gallery stockist, atelier, in Barnstaple, and boy will I be pleased to get them in the post tomorrow, all 30 of them! I'm dying to get started on a new idea I've got brewing, but I've got a bit of a list of commissions that need to be finished before I can. Also tomorrow the notonthehighstreet catalogue comes out, with my name necklaces featured in it, so perhaps things will be too busy to start anything new soon.
Meanwhile, I thought you'd like to see the work of another of my colleagues. This is the amazing work of Chitra Merchant, which quite simply glows. It's absolutely stunning and we get to look at it every day. I would also like to see the one one the left every evening in my bedroom, and one day I shall! Just got to earn a few more pennies.... In front of her work you can see glass jewels by Robyn Coetzee, and felt mice by Kate Tarling, both of whom I will show you more of soon.
nickynackynoo! A fellow folksy shop owner - you can see her shop here.
Thanks so much for all the entries - I shall be running another giveaway very soon as I've enjoyed this and have found some new followers in the process! And thank you too for all the kind words and compliments, it's been a tonic!
This is a photo of my new boxes, just arrived from Finer Packaging, who, as always, have done me proud! I ordered these on Monday morning and they arrived on Wednesday evening! Amazing huh? These wild pink boxes are just for my feather earrings and necklaces which look incredible in the boxes. Very chuffed indeed.
Meanwhile, don't forget to leave a comment below if you want to be in the draw on Sunday evening to win the wild roses stud earrings. With the likes on FB and the comments here I'm nearing the 100 mark, at which point there will be two pairs available to win, so tell your friends too!
I'm in a generous mood! It's been a great month in the shop, I've had some lovely commissions, and now we've got gorgeous weather, so I'm going to give away a pair of my new wild roses stud earrings. Just leave a comment below so that I have your name and email details and if you want to follow my blog, then sign up, but that's not a requirement. If you also 'like' my facebook page, or this page, you'll be entered twice into the draw. I will pull a name out of the hat on Sunday 2nd of October, at 8pm. Pass on the word because if I have more than 100 entries I will draw two names out of the hat, both will receive a pair of earrings.
Today was a day of chatting! Much of it illuminating, like the fact that we will have new neighbours at fig from the beginning of October. In the shop vacated recently my Charlie Boots, will be a pop up shop selling lovely crafts, by Button Karen and Quilt Mim. You may have realised that I don't know their surnames, so for now I shall call them Button and Quilt. Or Karen and Mim to their faces. Both do gorgeous work, so we are very excited, and Button had on an AMAZING silver ring made by someone who will join them in the shop, for now known as Silver Lynne. Though I don't feel sure her name was actually Lynne....
Meanwhile I got a smidgen of work done, but also took on a rather exciting commission. An acquaintance
from the school playground back in the day when my son was at nursery, has commissioned 5 pieces of jewellery for her editors who worked with her on her latest book, the jacket of which you can see on the left. She's asked me to come up with something inspired by the jacket, and I love the curlyquews (sp?) all around the cover, but particularly under the VIII. So far (in the time between nattering) I've come up with this...
I think I may use the curly bits bottom right (they are on their side in the image), cut out of sheet silver, and have chain coming from either side as a necklace. Got to remember that I need to make 5 of them! Remeber the budget Lumley!
On the way to work this morning, bright and early, this is what I saw.....
I do love living here, and even after nearly 10 years, I still enjoy the site of the balloons you suddenly see drifting over the skyline. The photo makes it look like it was sometime around dawn, but I really don't get up that early, well not for the amount I earn at least!
Now, a little nearer dawn I was lying in bed reading one of my favourite customer's blog, Ann Rippin. Her blog is always interesting, and this morning's words on patchwork have set me off again. Just the sight of the first photo took me back to working in a children's summer club, called Stop Gap in Barnes, London, where there were two huts, the messy hut and the clean hut. No one who knows me will be surprised to learn that I was generally assigned to the messy hut where we made batik, tie-die, painted, made giant junk models and so on. Every so often I would hear the dreaded words 'you're in the clean hut today Jemima', and I would sigh loudly, and sit all day making peg dolls, and embroidery and patchwork. These days that sounds pretty much like heaven to me (apart from the tidy aspect of the work of course).
So this evening I have taken out my 'stitch and bitch' bag, where lies two sets of 'charm squares' (pre-cut squares of lovely, mixed pattern fabrics) that I bought last year to make a patchwork. And, gawd-dammit, that's what I'm going to start doing right now. Well, once I've reacquainted myself with how to do patchwork of course. Here I come YouTube (and a glass of cold beer obviously).
On second thoughts I have just unearthed my 1970's crafts bible. Perhaps this is more me....
Today was spent trying to tackle the long, long list of items wanted by one of my galleries. It's called atelier, in Barnstaple, and is run by lovely Tracey Benton. I've been (legitimately) putting off starting, let alone completing this order, as I've had lots of other big jobs to work on, but now I can procrastinate no longer.
Meanwhile, in fig, everyone else has been very creative and today I'm including an amateurish shot of Jane Ormes's print, which is stunning. So even when I'm struggling to feel creative, I can look around and see loveliness. Lucky me! More fig colleagues work soon.
This morning was spent photographing a couple of new pieces, which I promise will be on here and blogged about soon, but this afternoon I was on duty in fig. My lovely friend and paperwork sorter-outer extrodinaire, Juliet came in to have a good old gossip, and she has introduced me to Domestic Sluttery! Genius!
I also created this cute new charm which was ordered by a very stylish young lady, who has just started at secondary school, for her charm bracelet. I love it, and I hope she will too.
Today I made another Mrs...... name necklace, so that the lovely Clare Swayne of Snappy Families can photograph it for me tomorrow, along with the the shhhhh.... big project I can't mention yet. The amateurish photo that I've taken with my camera here, is to give you a little idea, but I'm hoping that good humoured men, with a keen sense of irony, will flock to fig to snap them up for Christmas. I would love to see lots of lucky ladies around the place wearing them - more's the pity that my (married) name is far too long to have one myself. Officially I'm triple barrelled, don't you know!
Meanwhile I prepared a quote early this evening for a five letter name in 9 and 18 carat gold. Given that these necklaces in silver are £59, I worked out that in 9ct I would have to charge £240, and in 18ct £450! The world's gone bonkers.
I have promised myself for months now, that I would start blogging regularly. And somehow it never quite happens. So my new promise to myself (along with taking more exercise and eating less chocolate) is to blog, now and then, about new work. Of course, I've chosen a week when the two exciting pieces I'm working on are surprise gifts, and I daren't put them on here just yet, just in case. So instead here are photos of the new 'value for money' collection! Feathers!
Lots of 'em. I've always loved feathers, and there are images, and sketches of them all through my sketch and note books, but I could never turn them into satisfactory silver pieces. So I just bought some real ones! These are hand dyed (not by me) goose and chicken feathers. I've made silver tube attachments for them and then 'chemically bonded' (read glued!) the feathers into the tubes. Very 80's style, long and luscious, and remind me and my (younger!) sister of our teenage-hood, though then I wore peacock feathers.
Prices start at just £15 for the earrings, and £25 for the necklaces. Only available from fig at the moment, or you can order on the phone if you want to let me know what colours your'd like.
Meanwhile I realise that I also haven't posted any images of my newest silver collection, which is called Wild Roses. These gorgeous photos have been taken by my friend and regular photographer, Clare Swayne of Snappy Families. Her work just gets better and better and I'm soooooo pleased with these images. I designedand ordered new gift tags this week using some of the images from this collection (though not the ones here!).
I'm hoping that these will be available on my own website soon (webdesigner's time permitting) but meanwhile you can find them on notonthehighstreet.
That's it for now, I'm dying to post about the new pieces, but it will have to wait till next week. I will say though that one of them is a version of this piece here, but instead of a woman's name it says MrsSmith (though I've replaced the real name with Smith!) - what a great idea! Really made me chuckle. The other piece is a rather fabulous stand out piece from my Wild Roses collection destined for one of my favourite customers for her rather special wedding anniversary. So no photos until she's received it!
After almost 20 years as a designer in children's publishing a short silversmithing course in 2006 prompted a change of direction. The following year I enrolled on a part-time jewellery course, and found a local studio where I could make and sell my work.
Together with five other crafts people in 2009 I found a space to rent on our busy local high street. Open 6 days a week, 9.30am - 5pm (except August).