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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!



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!



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!


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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That’s a Wrap

Just got home from another lovely day’s workshop at Lemon Blues with Melissa Warren, not knitting this time but making yarn wrapping landscape pictures.  A very relaxing pastime that requires very little by way of equipment – just some thick card, double sided sticky tape a huge collection of various yarns!  The one with the boat is my dad’s birthday present, and the purple one? Well, obviously that’s for ME.

Simplicity – ish.

Like many jewellers in the UK, from professionals of many years standing to hobbyists, I buy a lot of my silver, gems, consumables and tools from Cookson Gold. I get a lot off eBay too, but that’s for another day.  Cookson recently launched a range of cast ring shanks and settings called Simplicity – basically you can pair up a shank with a setting and make whatever ring you like. They do them in silver, various golds and platinum, but being a bit skint I tend to stick to silver!  I ordered a couple of the heavy shanks, a 6 mm and a 5mm setting and as usual, they arrived the next day, together with some 2mm precious stones for another project, but more on that another time.

I’ve not done any casting, or used cast silver before, so it was all a bit of an experiment.  Rather naively I assumed all I’d need to do was solder the setting to the shank, pop a stone in, give it a polish and Bob’s your auntie’s live-in lover 😉 Once I’d wired the ring together with binding wire and soldered it together, I spent quite a bit of time tidying things up – polishing out casting marks and giving the rings a nice satin finish.  The crossover shank was a lot harder than the D-section one to assemble, and took me a few attempts to get it to stay together – that’s most likely down to my own inexperience, as I tend to stick to rubover settings made from scratch. Still, got there in the end!

I didn’t realise I’d need to cut grooves in the claws for the stone – and never having done it before was stumped for a few minutes.  A needle file was too big, so I used a 0.8mm engraving burr on my Dremel’s flexishaft to cut some grooves and that worked well. After some polishing (to a satin finish), the CZ stones clipped neatly into their settings, and it was just a case of bending the claws into place and tumbling.

The white 6mm CZ ring I made for myself as a replacement engagement ring – my previous (also homemade!) one had got too big after I’d lost six stone, and I’d got a bit bored with it anyway – not as heartless as it sounds, Beardy and I have identical heavy twisted silver bangles that are our real “commitment” jewellery – my silver wedding ring was 10p from the local charity shop!  So I make myself a new one every now and then 🙂  The turquoise 5mm CZ is for a designer craft show we’re doing next month in Hereford – really looking forward to that.  Although if you’d like to buy it, it’ll be listed in the eBay shop tomorrow!

I really enjoyed using these very reasonably priced ring components – will definitely be making more! Although I’d LOVE settings for different shaped stones – how about it, Cookies?

Blogging Bug

Beardy is now keeping a blog of his own, in the hope that it may help him recover some of his memory’s indexing system. Do pop on over if you have a few moments, it’s a great insight into a man who is terminally baffled!

Meanwhile, on the spiny sharkly front, I’ve bought some of the silver I need to get cracking on Christmas presents 🙂 What do you mean, you don’t want something shiny? Pah!

Beardy is Back in the House

Just to keep you up to date, Beardy was sprung from the hospital on Thursday evening, and is now comfortably back in residence on the sofa.  His arms are quite sore from all the failed IV lines, looking a bit like I’ve been using him for archery target practice!  Hopefully having him back home will trigger more memories as he is in familiar surroundings.  I have used this as an excuse not to tidy up too much in case he didn’t recognise the house 😉

Obviously, not much jewellery has been made recently.  The craft market last weekend was very quiet, but we made a couple of sales and had lots of compliments on our stuff – hopefully things will pick up as our faces become more familiar!

Well, that went surprisingly well!

Mum and me went for our pampering makeover today, with all the trepidation you get when going to the dentist… A couple of drinks and an inadvertently garlicky lunch later and we were much more chilled out at the prospect.  A hour or so being plastered in polyfilla and lipstick while wearing heated rollers, and it was time to get shot.  And….. it was huge fun!  So here we go…

Hoping for it NOT to be Grim Up North.

Well, I’m heading north for a few days to see my mum. One of the aunties very kindly gave us a voucher for a pampering, makeover and photoshoot day, so we’ve finally plucked up the courage to go.  It’s not that I’m scared of cameras, I just never know how to arrange my face! So I’ve chosen my five outfits (with the help of the very marvellous Liz), picked as many Spiny Sharkly Things to go with them as I can, and added a significant proportion of my shoe collection.  Watch this space!

The very marvellous Liz, taking a break from cackling.

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