Category Archives: Made in Wales

Displaying the Goods


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…


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.


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 🙂





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 😱


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!



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?



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 🙂


We’re up in North Wales at the moment, enjoying a few grown-up days away while Scroticule is in Tenerife with his dad. We’re staying in a lovely B&B called Felindre Farm at the southern tip of Bala Lake, a really charming place with stunning views and even better hospitality. At the landlady’s suggestion we took one of the mountain roads, which had the most spectacular views. I’ll post the photos when I can find a bit of wifi!

We went to the Centre for Alternative Technology today, built in an old slate quarry in 1974, and has been developing ever since. A really tranquil and inspiring place to wander around, not to mention an epic bookshop! Beardy went back in the early eighties, when it was in it’s infancy. We try to live a fairly low-impact life, so it’s heartening to see that they at CAT and we at home seem to share similar ways at looking at things. I shall start knitting my own yoghurt out of beards next.

We ended up in Barmouth after, so I’ve been collecting pebbles for a new collection which will be part of my Made in Wales: Made FROM Wales range. But more on that another day. Just need to get the sand out of my handbag now!

We’re in our way back to the farm now, while digesting a very nice Indian meal. One thing puzzles me, a couple came into the curry house while we were there and both ordered… Scampi and chips. Now, there are a lot of places in Barmouth where you can get all sorts of deep fried fishy delights – so why go to an Indian restaurant? Bizarre.


I am very lucky. In that I have a network of wonderful people I can count as my friends. I have outed some users, some abusers. Still, life goes on.



Had a lovely morning down in Roath at the craft and farmers’ market, sold lots of pretty things, gave loads of nice cakes away, caught up with a lovely friend that I’d lost touch with, spent some time with my mum and drank lots of tea. Job’s a goodun.



I’m nearly thirty-eight. Which makes it my silver jubilee of being an Alarm fan. I vividly remember hearing “Strength” on my Walkman on holiday, aged thirteen with my family in North Devon and I was completely blown away. Over the years, I’ve bought the albums, been to the gigs, worn the t-shirts, met the band and spread the word. My nine year old son is quite a fan, he stood no chance, really. Despite a mad crush on Mike Peters, a lot of their lyrics have had quite a resonance with me, but none more so than this, from “Spirit of ’76”:

“I will never give in
Until the day that I die
Get myself some independence
Carve out a future
With these two bare hands”

It’s with these words at the back of my mind that I have attempted many things in my life. But it’s with starting Spiny Sharkly Things that it’s really come to the fore. While my lovely Beardy is happy to be the main breadwinner in our little family, I want to carve out my own niche in the world, with my two bare hands. And a hammer. And a blowtorch.

So I made this bracelet, to remind me of the words that have meant so much over the last quarter of a century. I can make one for you too – what’s YOUR mantra?



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