Tag Archives: Spiny Sharkly Things

Fabulous Fluorite

I bought this flourite cabochon a little while ago but it’s taken me a little while to come up with a way to set it. It has quite intense colour striations, especially the purple, and I was concerned it would look dark and muddy once set.  So I put it to one side, got on with other things and kept it on the back burner.  Luckily it didn’t fall down the back of the cooker!

I came up with the idea of putting a gap between the stone and the back of the setting, to allow light to enter the stone from behind, and figured a shiny surface would act as a mirror as well.  I’d textured an oval with a leaf skeleton using the rolling mill, and soldered an oval to the rear of it for strength.  Initially I added a cross of wire to the back, bent up around the oval to form claws which would be soldered to the bezel, but it looked a bit too Heath Robinson, even for me! So I took that off, and cut small lengths of 2mm sterling wire to use as upright posts.  I soldered these to the base oval, squared them off and added a ring of reticulated silver to the top post before soldering the bezel (also leaf textured) on top.  A few hours in the tumbler while I went out for lunch, a quick dip in liver of sulphur to oxidise it, and then the polishing begun! Once I had a finish I was happy with, I set the fluorite into the bezel and gave it a final polish, before hanging it from a black satin cord with sterling silver ends and a twist of fine wire just above the pendant to stop it from slipping.

Time to test the theory and emerge squinting from the shed… I’m delighted with it, it worked really well.  I’d love to know what you guys think!

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Welsh Grand Slam, Triple Crown and Six Nations – Oh Yes!

As an adopted Welsh (with some Welsh blood), I’ve been watching the Six Nations avidly, and was biting my nails last Saturday in the hope that Wales would win not only the Six Nations but the Grand Slam as well – on top of the Triple Crown.  For the uninitiated, the Six Nations is an annual rugby tournament between Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy.  It is a BIG thing here. The Triple Crown is awarded if one of the UK home nations beats the other three – and the Grand Slam is if a team beats each of the other five.  Wales have now won three Grand Slams since I moved here 🙂 So with this in mind, I made these…  Just £12 each, and with the option to have “Grand Slam 2012” or anything you like engraved on the reverse, click the picture to go to our shop.


A real live shop!

We’ve got our first ever proper stall at a craft market! We are pretty excited about this, it’s one thing selling online, but quite another fronting a shop and selling to people face to face.  We’ve done a couple of little table sales at things we are already involved in, so they should be good practice for the real thing.

I’ve been reading up on the new Welsh carrier bag charging  system, and I think I’ve got it worked out… Little paper bags (sort of greetings card size) are OK, but anything bigger and with handles attract the 5p charge, which we will donate to Help for Heroes.

We’d love to see you there, it’s free to get in, and under cover, so the Welsh weather can do what it likes 🙂


Back to Beading

For those who don’t know (I moan about it often enough!), I am a slave to back pain, and have been for the last twenty years. It’s been especially bad the last few weeks, so I haven’t been able to get much done in the shed 😦 So without access to hammers and blowtorches, I’ve been playing with beads and made these bracelets. Something I can do on a tray on my lapped while propped up by lots of cushions!

These ended up being a bit weather related – I’m lucky to have a big picture window which gives me a wonderful view up the Rhondda Valley, and we often just sit and watch the weather roll in.  By weather, I usually mean rain, this is Wales after all!  I had recently acquired some lovely hand made glass beads, so decided to make these pretty bracelets…

Grungy Monochrome Black White Grey & Silver Beaded Bracelet

Droplets of glass hang from this pretty silver plated chain which measures 18cm (7") plus an extender chain. The beads have a grungy monochrome colour scheme, off-whites and cloudy greys contrast with distressed blacks and metallics highlighted by bright flashes of shiny silver. Thunder and lightening for your wrist, perhaps?

Just £12 with free postage, you can buy it here:  Grungy Monochrome Beaded Bracelet

Pretty Hippie Boho Rainbow Festival Beaded Glass & Silver Bracelet

Sunshine on a rainy day gives you a rainbow 🙂 Just in case the weather doesn't oblige, why not wear your own personal flash of brilliant colour? Lovingly handcrafted in a purple shed in the heart of the Rhondda Valley, each individual glass bead hangs from a high-quality silver plated chain which measures 7 1/2" (19cm) plus an extender chain.

Just £12 with free postage, you can buy it here: Rainbow Beaded Glass & Silver Bracelet

I was lucky enough to find some very pretty lace when I was out and about with Liz in the week, so I thought I’d share that with you too!  Some will be incorporated into a couple of Steampunk projects we have on the go, so do come back and see just what we do with it!

Quite an impressive array of vintage lace!


Back to the Coal Face

I arrived home last night after a lovely few days with my mum to an impressive pile of boxes that had arrived while I was away…

Mostly from Vistaprint, I’ve been making the most of the free offers they keep sending me, and as a relatively new enterprise, we can certainly use some stationery!

I’ve been using the shed as a bit of a dumping ground over the last couple of weeks, so I had nowhere to create, sit down, or stand up, if I’m totally honest.  Add to that the three tons of banners, posters, cards, t shirts, magnets and other stuff, and SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE.  So I did it.  Beardy will be expecting me to do the same thing in the house at this rate…

Ready to MAKE STUFF!


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.


When shall we three meet again?

20110628-195704.jpgThe three of us got together today for the first time in ages, and spent a lovely sunny day making things.  Pauline on wirework, Sally on beading and Mel on silver clay monograms.


Discovering Silver

Being a crafter for more years than I care to recall, and a magpie to boot, it was only a matter of time before I turned my hand to making jewellery. I just never really got round to starting, except for a day’s silversmithing that I did with some close friends in lieu of a hen night three years ago. We learned a little about wirework, making balls and some simple soldering, and I made a pretty ring and a slightly less elegant pair of earrings!

I was adopted as a young baby, and recently got in touch with my bio-mum, Pauline.  Turns out all my crafty tendencies were inherited (who knew there was a gene for that???), as well as most of my other traits, and we’ve been getting on like a house on fire.  We thought it would be nice to go away for a mother-daughter weekend, to get to know each other a bit better, and booked a course in precious metal clay at Zantium Crafts in Derbyshire for February this year.  Precious metal clay (pmc) is basically very fine silver particles mixed with water and an organic binder which you mould and shape like any other clay, than fire it at very high temperatures to burn away the binder giving you solid silver.

It seemed like a great idea to do a course in a craft neither of us had tried before, but neither of us could wait until the February and we were both kitted out and producing silver by Christmas! Mirror, mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all…  Still, lots of the rellies had handmade silver jewellery for Christmas, so it all worked out.

The course itself was great, taught by the lovely Xuella Arnold.  We both learned a lot, drank a lot and laughed a lot.  Mum showed a real talent for making leaves and birds, while I had fun making bugs.  We met some very interesting people and bounced lots of ideas around the studio.

I actually found it quite hard working in a big open studio with other people watching me and coming to see what I was doing.  Quite a few of my projects broke apart after firing in the kiln, which was so frustrating, convinced it wasn’t firing hot enough, I repaired them and refired using a blowtorch.  That seemed to do the trick, and has really put me off using a kiln.  I definitely work better without trying to have a conversation at the same time.  Luckily Mum and me can work in virtual silence together.  My studio until recently has been the breakfast bar in my kitchen, and my firing and soldering was done with a blowtorch on the cooker!  My husband got a bit fed up with scorch marks on the worktop and swarf in his coffee, so now I work in a shed.  Maybe I’ll get a kitchen revamp now I’ve ruined this one 😉

Since the tsunami in Japan in the spring, prices of pmc have doubled, so I’m spending more and more of my time working with traditional silversmithing techniques, with both silver and copper.  I love using a wide range of stones, from locally found sea glass to stunning black opals, via big sparkly CZs and semi precious amethysts, labradorites and moonstones. Mum and me, with our friend Sally formed Spiny Sharkly Things as a collective to showcase and sell our designs.  There is a link to our eBay shop at the top right of the page if you’d like one of our shinies for your own.  The gallery post below this one shows some of my earlier work, and there’s a lot more to come!


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