Monthly Archives: June 2012

Heritage

Inbetween being a research scientist and becoming a silversmith, I spent a few years as a travelling sales rep, selling engineering components to manufacturing companies. I loved the buzz you get when a client actually wants what you have to offer, and you thrash out an arrangement you’re both happy with.  It was a little performance, in a way.  I’ve had a nine year break from the world of sales, marketing and generally getting dressed in something smart (let’s face it, as a stay at home mum, getting dressed at ALL, some days!) to do a day’s business, so last Friday’s little outing to flog my wares was quite nerve wracking.  Did I still have “it”?  Luckily, marketing Spiny Sharkly Things and myself as an artisan designer-maker means I don’t have to hit the power suit, and I can wear something suitably eccentric and creative-looking! With a mad hat, obviously.

So I pitched up at the Heritage Park Hotel in Trehafod (just outside Pontypridd – it’s the biggest and most prestigious hotel, wedding and conference venue in the Rhondda) on Friday morning with a box containing samples of three of my collections to meet the hotel’s general manager, and felt the old familiar buzz kicking in.  The response was enthusiastic, to say the least! I showed my “Vintage Buttons” in silver collection, the “Cariad is Welsh for Love Collection” and of course, my “Made in Wales: Made FROM Wales” collection.

She loved my silver and slate pendants in particular, and the button rings in copper and silver were a huge hit too. I wondered if I should chuck one in as a sweetener, as she wasn’t the chatty type…. No need.  I was offered the entire display unit in the main reception area next to the health club entrance. Boom! Adrenalin!! And then…. the possibility of a unit within the health club as well. So it goes without saying that it couldn’t have gone any better.  Looks like I still have it! 🙂

We were committed to a school fete on Saturday, so I went down to the hotel yesterday armed with everything I could think of to create an attractive and enticing shop window for my work. A lot of the jewellery featuring hearts that I’d planned on including in the “Cariad” section had sold over the weekend, either online or at the fete, so I’ve added the stunning Shamballa bracelets I’ve been havimg huge fun with, and will build on those to create a “Something Sparkly” collection and add some of my spiky rings to that. And get busy making more love-themed jewellery this week!

I think I spent about six hours in total putting it together, I was in my element, to be honest, it was one big scale craft project, as far as I was concerned!  Lighting was provided by a bank of halogen spots on the ceiling, so really brought out the sparkle and shine.  Anyway, enough of the talking, here’s the photos!

Finished dressing my shop window, just need to add some shinies!

My finished shop window at the Heritage Park Hotel!

One bizarre thing came to light yesterday…. See the purple fabric on the left with the black vines and silver flowers? I found it in a remnant bin at a Cardiff mill shop the other weekend – it’s exactly the same as all the soft furnishings in the hotel bedrooms. Coincidence, or just meant to be?

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Cooler than a polar bear’s frosty bits

I’m not one to share secrets, but this one is just too good to keep to myself!

If you are using silicone moulds for polymer clay or PMC, do you find it can get a bit squished when you try to get it out? I do, especially with deep moulds, like Lego bricks. The answer is so simple I could slap myself. Put your clay in the mould as usual, and freeze it. Then it goes nice and hard and is easy to get out. Once it’s defrosted, you can add surface details. And then fire as usual 🙂 Who knew?


Nasty, sticky mess

I won some red, white and blue Fimo this week in one of Cookson Gold’s Jubilee competitions 🙂 They wanted suggestions for a new National Anthem, and I cheekily suggested the theme to BBC Radio 4’s The Archers. It was tempting to suggest Beardy’s own composition, nattily entitled “F**k the Jubilee”, but I demurred.

So what to do
With red, white and blue?

Simple. Get some green and make Welsh things instead 😉 I used my sparkly red to make some little Welsh dragons, they will become earrings and pendants with a green and white background. The blue makes a very nice background to my skeleton cameo, so I shall be making some more of those too. These will all become affordable, school fete priced trinkets for next weekend’s summer fete at one of the local infants’ schools.

If you plan on using Fimo with two-part silicon moulds, use talc or baby powder as a release agent. I tried Badger Balm initially and got a nasty, sticky mess…

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Getting myself out there

One of the annoying (or is it brilliant?) things about being bipolar is that you feel invincible one day and totally overwhelmed by everything the next. When I’m invincible, I’ll walk into random (but appropriate) shops, galleries, hotels etc and try to sell my jewellery, services or whatever. I can deal with any question about what I do and come across as really confident and go-getting. As anyone who has worked in sales will tell you, the deal rarely gets signed in first meetings, and you need to be diligent in following up promising visits with phone calls and further face to face conversation. Unfortunately I’m a bit rubbish at this when I’m in a low part of my cycle and put it off until I’m feeling invincible again, by which time that red hot lead is stone cold. So today I have given myself a veritable kick up the arse, made some phone calls and now I have got a Spiny Sharkly Things stall at a school fete in ten days time (and at their Christmas bash), a good spot at the Roath Craft Market next month and a foot in the door at a nearby hotel where they showcase and sell work by local designer-makers such as myself. All I need to do now is follow up a visit I made to a shop in Treorchy and I’ll have tied up my current loose ends. I should have called in when I did my banking yesterday, but I chickened out 😦 Again. Still three out of four isn’t bad!


Bike Rally #1

Well, we’re home and dry. Literally rather than figuratively! Friday’s wintery storms delayed us to Saturday, and we arrived at the Welsh Coast MCC’s rally site at middayish. It took a little while to work out whether/where to set up and we decided that as the few people that had made it to the rally had decamped to the local pub, that we’d do our thing there. Once we’d got the permission we needed, we were up and running in a couple of hours.

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Being the first time we’d set up our own self contained unit, it took a little longer than we’d hoped, but this should get quicker with practice. We came up with a few ideas to make it quicker and better, but I won’t bore you with them here! My biggest issue is the sheer volume of stock I now have, and being jewellery it’s lots of small items, which takes AGES to lay out. I’m thinking about ways to speed things up, perhaps by making some pre-loaded display things that just need placing on the day. Any ideas would be hugely welcome!

There were probably around a hundred people at the pub, and less than half that number in the beer garden, where we were set up. But of all the folk that came to see us, nearly everybody bought something. All the other traders that were due at the rally had abandoned ship because of the weather, but because we didn’t even ATTEMPT setting up on the Friday, we benefitted hugely from that. We donated a pair of lovely solid silver Celtic rings as a raffle prize, so I hope they’ve found a good home.

The really good thing to come out of the weekend (apart from making money, of course!) was that people from other bike clubs were there, and we were asked if we’d like to do their rallies as well. So we’ve got three pencilled in this summer already. We’re gonna need a bigger car…

A huge thank you to the Welsh Coast MCC for having us, a nicer bunch of folk you couldn’t wish to meet. Looking forward to the next one!


New dawn, new day.

It’s not blowing a hoolie this morning, so we’re taking the show on the road. We were due at a bike rally yesterday but the gale force winds on the Gower meant it was prudent to set up today instead! So we’re all up disgustingly early, throwing breakfast down our necks, and getting the shop packed. Beardy reckons I have too much stuff. I giggled quietly as I hid yet more things in my seemingly bottomless handbag…


Detox

I’ve had a major prune of my friends and acquaintances recently. It’s been rather cathartic, a couple of relationships had become utterly toxic. It could be me, it could be them, either way it’s no good for either party. I now find myself with a lot more time on my hands, which since my recent brush with death, I’m determined to appreciate every last minute. I’d often joked that I had no time to work, as I had so many commitments elsewhere. Well, now I have.

I appreciate that this doesn’t exactly reach millions of readers, let’s face it, the numbers are more in the tens than hundreds even. But if you take one thing away from my blog, let it be this. Life is too short to waste on people who are just using you for what you can do for them. Be it for your car, your time, or just a listening ear. Compassion is a valuable commodity and must flow in both directions to avoid a build-up of resentment. You can only give so much before you are utterly drained.

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It is quite amusing, however, to see that you are being ever-so-slightly stalked online. From people trying oh-so-hard to see what I’ve been posting on Facebook, to Googling my name to see what I have been saying elsewhere and even tracking my movements in the real world. People really should use their time far more productively. The great joy of being moderately tech savvy is that I can easily identify from where and whom enquiries originate. It seems that in certain quarters I’m rather interesting. Who knew?


Post-Near-Death-Experience

Well, it’s Friday and I’m indulging in a couple of G&Ts to celebrate completing my first whole week at the helm of Spiny Sharkly Things 🙂 I had managed just one day after registering my company before being rushed to hospital in a pretty precarious state… So this is a little milestone!

So this week I have made seventeen slate pendants, set them with gemstones and made solid silver fixtures and fittings for them and strung them on satin cord. I have made a personalised Lego pendant in bronze, slate and silver bracelets set with opals, delivered three commissions and got my accounts up to date. Oh, and removed lots of horrible orange varnish from a charity shop pine mirror, ready for lime waxing. With a couple of hospital appointments to throw into the mix, it’s been rather a busy week! And I feel GREAT. Knackered, but great.

We’re getting stuff ready for the bike rally we have a stall at next weekend. Not just making things to sell, but shop fittings too. I have four pine shelves (rescued from a skip) to sand, paint and attach hooks to, tables to acquire, and some signage to make. I have been advised by fellow designer maker jewellers that earrings sell best, so I’ll be making a fair few of those over the holiday weekend. Miniature slate and silver dominoes, Victorian style drop earrings in silver and bronze, set with labradorite, amber, opal, spinel and garnets, and some art nouveau ones set with white CZs and garnets. And if I get chance, some striking silver rings boldly set with marquise CZs for extra sparkle. Jay is also bring his designer and vintage clothes shop, Pirate Genes, so it’ll be a lovely family weekend away.

We’re donating a raffle prize too, a matched pair of solid silver Celtic rings. They’re currently in London being hallmarked by the Assay Office at Goldsmiths’ Hall, but I’ll post a photo when they come back, hopefully tomorrow.

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