Displaying the Goods

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The Made in the Valleys Autumn Expo is almost upon us, this weekend in fact! I’ve decided to revamp the stall a little, since we are now emphasising the work of our crafters as individuals a little more. Seirian will have a specific section to showcase Mel’s mantra and handwriting range, and Pauline’s Wovenstone collection will take centre stage. So we’ve been busy painting props, making labels, and generally tarting it all up 🙂

Of course, we have to be careful, this is NOT how we’ll display our rings…

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Follow the fun and games at the show on Twitter (@spinysharkly), we’ll be tweeting all weekend! Want to help? The graphic at the top of the page is the precise size of a Facebook cover photo… Would you use it on your Facebook for a few days? Every like, share and post helps spread the word about local artisans and makers.


It’s been a while…

Well, it’s been a while since I wrote anything on here, well, this is my first blog of the year. Happy New Year!

Basically I’ve been far too busy actually living my life than writing about it…

We’ve restructured Spiny a bit, pulled back from some market commitments that weren’t really making us money and are concentrating more on our online business. While we are still very much the collective of loony old bints, we are also going to be featuring the work of other makers. We’ve each developed our own brands a bit, as we all have our solo careers as well as the band!

I’m going great guns with Seirian, and Pauline is developing her Wovenstone collection of wire wrapped minerals and semi precious stones. Sally has the sense to use her own name… Her macrame work is just fabulous.

Our next big show is at the end of this month, Made in the Valleys at the Rhondda Heritage Park. We’ll be upstairs in the Conference Room, right by the cafe 🙂

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Twenty Twelve. See ya. Part One.

2012 has turned into a year of big changes and developments for me, both personally and professionally.

There have been major losses. Some of these hurt like hell at the time – I got dumped by a supposedly close friend when I was desperately (as in my survival was touch and go) ill in intensive care. Apparently taking care of my seriously ill husband wasn’t a good enough reason for not being available to take her shopping. And as for warning her that she was being taken for a ride by a conman, well that’s the worst thing you can do to someone you love, isn’t it? And to really twist the knife, she wrote to my mum telling her that I deserved to be in the ICU. Talk about picking your moments. But thank you, Elizabeth. Your absence in my life has given me the time, resources and faith in myself to not only start my own business, but for it to succeed. Your negativity held me back, but now it has gone and there is no stopping me now.

The murder of an old friend back in the spring will always leave a hole in my heart. Alan was such a support to me when I first got diagnosed with diabetes, and always had good advice about looking after myself. He did used to tell me off for riding my motorbike too fast, but I always said it was only cos he couldn’t keep up! Or maybe it was because he couldn’t touch the ground with both feet when he sat on my Speed Triple? We had some hilarious times, and I’ll miss him always.

I cried buckets over both. They happened in the same week. In retrospect some people are best remembered with great fondness and others best forgotten. My own very-near-death experience in May has made me much less tolerant of users, bullshitters and insincerity. I even told my nasty bitch of a sister in law where to get off today. Her only input into my life was negative, snide, bitchiness and generally being horrible. So I got rid. Bye.

I have made some wonderful new friends since the nearly being dead thing. We all inspire each other. They give me as much as I give them – and that’s a new thing for me. They support me in such practical ways, like having my son for an hour or two to enable me to get that commission finished, or pitch up with a bottle of wine and a box of Maltesers. Or just take the piss 🙂 Sal, Mag, Esther & co, what can I say?

This new confidence in dealing with what life has thrown at me this year (there is loads more, but how much more do you wanna know? I mean REALLY?) has made me feel pretty much unfuckingstoppable. I have approached people I would never have dared to before. I have pitched business ideas to rock gods. Done work for film. Basically thought “what the hell”, felt the fear and done it anyway. I have faith in myself and my ideas… Almost certainly some of them will fail. But I reckon enough of them will succeed. And that’ll be the next bit…


Sign your name…

I went to the Welsh Entrepreneurs 2012 conference in Cardiff a couple of weeks ago, it was sponsored by the Welsh government and held in the very beautiful City Hall. I have no idea how they found me to invite me, but I’m a sucker for a free day out! And when I spotted a certain Mr Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden was speaking, that made it a definite 🙂

So I got my funkiest suit on and schlepped into Cardiff with the masses on the train. The conference was very good, especially Dan Sodergren’s social media workshop, and Bruce Dickinson’s talk about Cardiff Aviation, Iron Maiden and the idea of 360 degree marketing really got me thinking. I just happened to have a bangle sized strip of brass and a marker pen in my enormous weapons-grade handbag, and as the session finished was first in line to nobble the poor bloke. Anyway, he very graciously signed my bit of metal with a rather bemused look, having not being asked to do THAT before, by all accounts. He had quoted William Blake in his talk, so I asked him to scribble that on there too, and explained I was going to make it into a bangle. I gave him one of our Mantra bangles in return, it has an Einstein quote on that reads “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds” – the three of us here at Spiny each have one.

In the meantime, I have engraved it, polished and now silver plated it, I’m just thrilled with it! It has given me the idea of offering the chance for any of you to immortalise your own handwriting on a piece of jewellery that will last forever and be worn every day. You can get yours in my eBay shop 🙂

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Spiderlicious

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The three of us have been having a great time making these pretty spiders, they look fabulous lurking on a shelf or mantlepiece, or clipped to your bath chain! We can’t claim that they’ll scare real spiders away, but they are so pretty that maybe the real ones will be too embarrassed to come out… From just six pounds 😱


Six weeks…

The school holidays are nearly at an end 🙂 It’s quite hard keeping a very inquisitive nine year old entertained and he really needs the stimulation of being in school. He’s done quite well this summer, a week in Tenerife with his dad, a holiday in the Lake District with my parents plus lots of days out with Beardy on the motorbike. Fingers crossed for nice weather at the weekend, so they can have a big day out before term starts.

I haven’t achieved a great deal in the last few weeks, but I have a bulging sketchbook and a million ideas whizzing around in my head. We’re planning on launching our Autumn collection very soon, can’t say what just yet, but it’s inspired by nature…

I have a big batch of new work currently at the Assay Office being hallmarked, so that will be ready for Made in Wales on the 8-9th September, I can’t wait!

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Trepidation

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I see blue flashing lights behind me in the car, I always think it’s me they’re after, even though I’m doing nothing wrong, and despite being quite shabby, my perfectly road legal car has dropped some vital part half a mile up the road.

I get the same sinking feeling when a business contact rings and their name appears on my phone. Today it was one of the hotels that sells my jewellery in Reception. Disasters flashed through my mind in the few seconds it took to fish the phone out of my handbag. That they’d changed their mind about working with me, or that some scumbag had broken into my cabinet and nicked all my stock. You know, cheerful things like that!

So you can imagine my delight when they asked me if I could come in ASAP because they’ve sold lots of things, and I have a fair wodge of money to collect 🙂

I wonder, will I ever have enough confidence in my skills to not imagine the worst every time the phone rings? I do hope so…


On holiday

The last day of our holiday in the lovely Lake District, back down south tomorrow. Well, only relatively down south, as I’m stopping off with Mum and the family for the bank holiday. And hopefully jailbreaking my iThings 🙂

We went to the Cumberland Pencil Museum in Keswick today, having been a bit obsessive about stationery from an early age, I wanted to see how you make a pencil. I’ve always wondered how you get the lead down the stick! And now I know. There was a filmcrew from ITV there, making a programme for the afternoons presented by Rory Bremner. A very nice chap, he seemed quite happy to pose for a photo and sign random bits of paper. My son has spent the evening watching clips of him on Youtube, and was very impressed with his Gordon Brown voice. Think he has a new fan!

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Big. Mad. Rush.

Gah! Time is going fast, it’s a sign of age, so they tell me. I turned 38 just last week, surely it’s too early for such middle aged truisms… The school holidays haven’t helped either, not only do I feel more ancient than ever, but I just haven’t had the shed time I need to get stuff done! The joys of being self employed and being the childcare, I suppose.

Anyway, the mad rush is to get my new collection ready for the “Made in Wales” show on September 8-9th, at the Rhondda Heritage Park, organised by the very wonderful Melissa Warren. This has to be the most prestigious showcase in the area for Valleys (and further afield in Wales) designer-maker artisans, and I am delighted that Spiny Sharkly Things will be exhibiting. As an added attraction, there will be a vintage clothes and accessories market running alongside, can’t wait to have a good mooch around that one! Beardy will be there with his Pirate Genes stall too. If you’re local, please feel free to print off a poster and spread it around – and if you’re not, would you share it on Facebook?

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So rather than blogging and fannying around on Facebook, I’ve been full time mum, but yesterday I got chance to really crack on in the shed, getting new pieces ready to go to the Assay Office for hallmarking, as I’m lucky enough to be off to the beautiful Lake District for a week with Scoticule and my parents. I’ll have a week’s break from metalbashery to let my poor hands recover (had a flurry of minor nicks, scrapes and burns, but I fared better than my bench, which has a big charred hole in it) and catch up on some knitting and reading. I hope. I plan to get busy with polishing, stone setting and final finishing with some fresh skin when we get back 🙂


Angels and Bugs

As some of you may have seen on our Facebook page, we’ve been leaving little beaded angels and bugs around the place for people to pick up and adopt. No ulterior motive, other than to make people smile 🙂 There’s some pictures of them here.  Have you found one? We’d love you to tell us what you named it, and where in the world they end up!


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