Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year!


2009 was a great year, living at May Cottage with R and really starting my self employed adventure. As we welcome in 2010 I'd like to thank you all for visiting my blog, for the comments, advice, encouragement and chuckles over the last year, here and elsewhere in cyberspace!

All the very best to each one of you for a happy and healthy 2010,

love Laura xo

Monday, 28 December 2009

Gifts

We were all spoilt with splendid goodies this year and I thought I'd share one of my parents' faves - scraperboard portraits of the dogs from R. He got such a good likeness of both and my parents were delighted, the photo shows Dad looking a little stunned! If you are interested in pet portraits you can get in touch with R though his website.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Holiday

I'm officially on holiday! It all started on Wednesday afternoon, after my last ever jewellery making session with the lovely ladies in Rugeley it was Christmas Eve number One! R and I had a lovely evening full of twinkly lights, carrot cake making and mulled wine sipping. Then Thursday was Christmas Day number One which was splendid, Santa even knew we were having Christmas early and left us some goodies! R treated me to a fabulous gift which I'm very much looking forward to watching!


During the morning we went for a dander on frosty Cannock Chase, captured some new textures and even enjoyed a few whisps of snow then returned to create the feast and it was mighty! Whilst the festivities were rolling at May Cottage some people were still at work and we got news that the solicitors are looking at an exchange date late January so our move is progressing! Some super freecyclers had given us a host of boxes and R has started packing, me, not so much! Am pleased that we have a few weeks after Christmas to get ourselves sorted and so relieved and excited that it's happening, we're moving to Scotland in a month!
But first, sssshhhh, we've got Christmas number Two swiftly approaching and I'm now back on the mainland that is Northern Ireland, it has been snowing steadily through the night and is getting rather heavy now, early morning photography tempted me but no further than snapshotto in the garden, it's just not the same without R!
I hope you are all enjoying the approach to Christmas,

love and blessings,

L xo

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Christmas is Coming

Yesterday was our last fair of the year and it's nearly time for a holiday! I'm heading home to Northern Ireland on Friday 18th December and will be closing up shop then too so if you've got your eye on anything for a Christmas gift you've still got time!



As some of you may remember we are planning to move North and have now sold May Cottage! We're still awaiting the survey to be done but can now instruct our Scottish solicitor to go ahead and make an offer on the house we saw during half term, then there will be a survey and missives and hopefully we'll come out the other side of Christmas with a moving date. It's very exciting, although much more stressful for R as it's his house, so when I witter on about 'we' technically it's all down to him, poor man!


I am very much looking forward to living near the sea again but first there will be a break, time to relax with the family and start planning for 2010 which will bring the move, the return of my sister, a verified Artfire account, my website, further adventures in sea glass and semi precious stones, painting, actually showing people my painting again, photographing and lots more besides.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Handmade Arts & Crafts Market 12th December

We'll be at the C.O.W Handmade Fair tomorrow at the Custard Factory in Birmingham from 11am - 5pm, click on the flier to see the full list of 17 artists who will be there with an array of beautiful handmade wonderfulness.

Florence Friday


Santa Croce
well it is nearly Christmas!
boom and indeed boom.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Monday, 7 December 2009

COW @ Kings Heath Christmas Party

It's been a busy couple of days and despite the very chilly weather and slightly underweight Santa Kings Heath Big Christmas Party went well with fair sales at our Creative Open Workshop stall. The dancing Christmas trees who would stay so still until jiggling at some unsuspecting passers by kept me chuckling for quite some time.
There was a range of handmade gorgeousness from COW artists and I was joined by Sally Pepper who makes beautiful silver and gem stone jewellery and of course, COW supremo Francine Schokker who spent the morning running another fabulous workshop, this time aimed at kids who made glittery masterpieces to decorate Santa's grotto.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Florence Friday

After posting this image on redbubble someone suggested a crop and I agree, the tyre was distracting and although I liked the original balance of the image size, I do think this version is better.

Kings Heath Big Christmas Party

BIG Christmas party tomorrow, Saturday 5th December, loads on including crafty workshops to get Santa's grotto decorated before he arrives, hope to see you there! Click on the flyer for further information.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Colours of Christmas - Red


1. Little Robin Red Breast Silver Pendant - Ali Bali Jewellery
2. Santa Tea Cosy - Truly Scrumptious
3. Christmas Napkin Rings - See The Woods Designs
4. Red Button Hanging Heart - Thistledown
5. Christmas Robin Decoration - Claire Hurd Design
6. Christmas Bunting - Handmade by Sarah Howarth
7. Reindeer Rudolph Clip - Gingy Snapz
8. Felt Star Christmas Decoration - Granny Ruth's Gift Emporium
9. Little Robin Ornament - Lupin Handmade

Friday, 27 November 2009

Florence Friday


A quick snapshot from the evening we spotted more interesting graffiti. The entire shadow of the window grille had been outlined in pen on the wall! It must have taken ages!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Hair Pin Tutorial

The ladies on my course expressed an interest in making some hair decorations and this week we will be making hair pins and slides. If you fancy having a go at making one of these:

you can find the tutorial here. Enjoy!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Creative Open Workshops

Florence Friday

Following on from the tenuous links of yesterday's green post, Florence Friday features lovely Florence Mouse:

Florence is being sold in aid of Cancer Research UK along with a load of other cool items donated by Folksy sellers and if you fancy supporting the fabulous Children in Need today then go get your Christmas shopping well underway at the Crafteroo for Children in Need Shop where you can buy these:

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Colours of Christmas - 'Green'

On Sunday our pastor spoke on Amos and I felt so challenged about the way I live, ashamed that my frugality seems to have sprung from not earning much rather than compassion for the world around me.

From the first musings of planning my self employment I wanted to my work to be ethical, to use re/upcycled components and that is still a determination to introduce more of that aspect into my work. Currently I use recycled packaging from Eco Craft, use found sea glass and pottery, recycled silver in the form of Art Silver Clay and I recycle a small amount of beads and buttons. I really want to go further. I need to go further.
Folksy is packed full of ideas and clever upcycling with the Upcycle Christmas Competition in aid of Sue Ryder and even this morning I spotted a
forum post encouraging the exchange of unwanted household items which others use in their work. The selection below is a tiny speck of the re/upcylced gorgeousness you can find there.

So, whilst today's selection isn't all green in colour, it certainly is in ethos, as all the items have been upcycled into gorgeous new pieces allowing you to continue and enjoy the tradition of gift giving in a more environmentally friendly way.


1. Christmas Recycled Envelopes, Swirly Arts2. Recycled Christmas Wreath, Garbage2Gifts
3. Recycled Envelope Christmas Gift Tags, Wrapped Up With String
4. Vinyl Record Angel Christmas Card, Sisily Love
5. Snowflake Lantern, Blossom Fair
6. Driftwood Reindeer Christmas Card, Kirsty Elson Designs
7. Red Father Christmas Furoshiki (fabric wrap - reusable alternative to wrapping paper), Myfuroshiki
8. Yellow Love Heart Brooch, Once Upon a Tin
9. Winter Girl, Through the Round Window

I know not everyone has the time to make their own decorations and gifts but I urge you to think about the environmental and social impact of what you buy this Christmas. Make it a happier Christmas for everyone!

Thank you.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Tweaking & Things That Make Me Laugh #3

I can't seem to leave my blog alone, tweaking bits and bobs around, I know what I want but do not have the coding skills to do it! Thanks to many fabulous tutorials I'm having a go and learning as I go, my computer whizz brother would be so proud - or shamed that I'm so rubbish!

So, I've gone back to the white template, I really liked the notebook style but whilst having a go at the wonderfully helpful Haptree's link bar tutorial I messed up and needed to upload my saved code. There were a few from previous changes and seeing the white again I thought I'd stick with it and explore potential tweaks. I couldn't work out how to adapt the notebook template so it's gone, for now.

The changes are few but I like them:

Link Bar - at the top, hopefully handy and an effort to save trawling through page after page of bloggage. I've kept the label link bar on the right hand side for the more curious browser! I've added new 'about' and 'shops' posts and buried them with a 2008 date.

Folksy mini - thanks to Haptree again, a linkable slideshow of work available in my Folksy shops

New Header - still working on this as I'd like it to be wider, once I get it sussed (or someone points out the obvious to me) it'll be good to have the option of changing this as and when.

That's it so far, maybe one day I'll be able to code effectively. Or maybe not. If you, like me, need lots of help with all this blog, code, web, design stuff you might find the following links useful:

http://tips-for-new-bloggers.blogspot.com/
A dummies guide, blog tips, tricks, help for all new bloggers on Web templates, Blog templates, designs, widgets, layout, JavaScript, HTML codes, SEO, Google AdSense, gadgets, diagnostic tools, and how to monetize Blogger or Blogspot blogs.


How to create a menu bar, from the Real Life Blog.

I'll leave you with a dramatic representation of my long suffering brother trying, again, to explain coding to me as interpreted by Fathers Crilly and Maguire.







Friday, 13 November 2009

Florence Friday



A peek at my Florence in Colour 2010 beautifully printed by redbubble and yours for just £14.95. Above is the frontpage, and below shows December 2010 and the backpage with all twelve images.
Ahhhh, Florence!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Projeto Gallery November 2009


Charm bracelets, memory wire bracelets, a memory wire necklace and some earrings now available at Projeto Gallery, Silsden.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Colours of Christmas - Naturals

Woke up to the first foggy frost of winter this morning and so I'm now allowing my thoughts to turn towards all things festive, it's on its way! Yay!

With all the beautiful colours of Christmas starting to weave around us I thought I'd bring you a few colour themed festive selections from Folksy over the next few weeks.



First up the lovely fire lit, rustic naturals:

  1. Christmas Star - Prim Chick
  2. Ceramic Heart Decoration - Prince Design UK
  3. Heart Shaped Fire Lighters - Rainbow Fairy Dust
  4. Clove Soap - Sarah Harper Simple Living
  5. Christmas Gift Set of six rustic wood candle holders - The Log Basket
  6. Driftwood Christmas Tree - Driftwood Designs
  7. Rustic Angel - Julie Pritchard Arts and Crafts
  8. Mouse - Northfield Primitives
  9. Magical Christmas Heart Hanger - Helen Jane's Designs

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Go Handmade

This morning brought a super surprise, not only was it the first day this week of being able to get on with work at home, but I discovered my 'A Satisfied Mind' charm bracelet has been included in issue 3 of Go Handmade the online magazine showcasing UK designers. The magazine is created by the fabulous Leanne of See the Woods Designs and this issue has some excellent gift ideas, recipes, festive wrapping tutorials and much more.Check it out!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

House Hunting

Last week we were both on holiday from our teaching jobs so pootled up the M6 to stay with R's parents and do a bit of house hunting. We saw some interesting properties and even though we aren't ready to make an offer through the Scottish system as we haven't sold up here yet it was a very worthwhile trip.

We got back to the Midlands on Monday, I sold two bracelets through Folksy, R had a tax rebate and a lady come to view our house today all of which made for a very
positive welcome back! Yesterday and much of today though, I've been in a bit of an anxious tiz with not least because even though it was me who reported the whopping error by the county council overpaying me for my last teaching job I got a rather unpleasant letter hinting at "further action" if I didn't repay the money! It was the first response I'd had from them telling me where to send the cheque. Grr! And trying to sort out my tax self assessment and discovering that the same county council has attached me to three payroll numbers over the year for teaching and yet only provided a p60 for one, hmph. Trying to sort payslips I discovered that they had put THREE different addresses on various payslips making me wonder where on earth the personal details on the other p60s they owe me have ended up.

So this evening, after a day of dental wah (the fourth and final appointment for this treatment) and a busy jewellery teaching session I've had a pleasant evening making and eating nice food and flicking through photos from last week. One of the most fabulous days was spent at Dawyck Botanical Gardens - I cannot recommend a visit highly enough, I'm looking forward to going back again to see what the changing seasons bring, I read tales of blue poppies. . .

Autumn though was breath takingly beautiful at the gardens, plenty of photos to come but, you can tell by the dazed look on our faces (I know I look dim) that the fabulous red acers were quite something to behold!

Beautiful place, have already bookmarked for a possible visit for when the parentals get the wagon out on the road next season!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Beautiful Foggy Morning

Early fog this morning, taken by R as I was still snoozing.
I'd like to move now please.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Tower House Pottery

We're having a wee break up North, visiting and house hunting. It's been lovely to catch up with R's family but all a bit frustrating looking at properties, waiting for others to go on the market, waiting for ours to sell when we just want to get going! Have seen some interesting things and many possibilities are out there for us, we just have to wait.

Apparently I'm not as good at the whole patience thing as I once thought! In fact I am becoming intolerably impatient and today has been a wonderful distraction from the house search.
Up and about early to keep an appointment with a crane and a low loader to lift R's Dad's boat out of the harbour for the last time as it's being sold. With it successfully moved to temporary dry storage we went into Berwick to visit a friend of R's Dad, local potter Peter Thomas of Tower House Pottery.

Peter and his wife Margaret create the most fantastic, highly decorated sgraffito ceramics, among my favourites from the gallery were the iris designs above, the townscapes and the fabulous fish.
We had a great time looking around the studio and exhibition gallery before a chat about our ideas for the move and setting ourselves up with work and exhibition space. Very encouraging and, as ever, we are both very excited and keen to get out of this strange moving limbo!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Florence Friday

Detail from the intricate wood carving on one of the huge doors into the vast Franciscan Church, Santa Croce.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Things That Make Me Laugh #2

I've just finished an unexpected day of supply teaching and am warming up with a cup of tea, a blanket and a Dara O'Briain dvd. Funny, funny man.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Creative Open Workshop's Pop Up Market

It's been a good weekend with a fun double baby shower on Friday evening followed by the COW Handmade Fair at the Custard Factory, Birmingham on Saturday. It's the second time I've done this fair and was really pleased to see how much it has grown since starting up just a few months ago thanks to lots of hard work by the organisers. We were moved into a larger gallery space and you can see my stall below.


Bit disappointing on the sales front but lots of people asking whether we'd be back so hopefully November will be more successful. I had my sea glass pendants on show for the first time and am looking forward to getting these listed in the shop and working on some more wire wrapped pendants.

There was so much talent on show and you can check out some of it at the links below:
Magpie Jewels
Helen Woodward
Kate Thornton Design

Judith Williamson (who we used to teach with! Small world! Lovely to see you!)  
Jaccylee Jewellery
Gill Bourbage

Rachel Warren
Silver Queen
Handmade by Tigerlily
Peewees (Michelle Witcombe)

Peeko Crochet
Said LabelDenise from COW and Peeko Crochet mesmerised a young guest at the wedding party, who had their drinks reception at the rear of the gallery, by spinning plastic bags into yarn (plarn) which she uses in her accessories range.

The COW ladies have been running all sorts of creative workshops and if you are interested in learning a new creative skill do check their blog for further details. For those of you with children there is now a whole host of children's workshops planned for October half term, sounds ace! Come on midlanders, get yourself to the Custard Factory and check out all the fabulous creative happenings! I'll see you back there on the 21st November!

Friday, 16 October 2009

COW Handmade Fair

I'll be at the Creative Open Workshop's Handmade Fair tomorrow from 11am - 4pm, with lots of jewellery including the mulled wine charm bracelet which has sneaked onto the flyer above, hope to see you there!


Florence Friday


Archways of Pitti
Laura Cameron

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Rich Johnson

I've been showing Mr Richard Johnson's new website off over on Folksy, I think it is beautifully done. Rich's photographic interests are clear to see with gorgeous images of cathedral interiors, moody woodland and striking macro flowers and seeds with texture and light abounding in his still life and landscape paintings. Finally his drawing is being shown to a wider audience than English Department meetings at school and I hope you enjoy having a look round as much as we enjoyed watching the minutes becoming ever more elaborately embellished!

Gorgeous work Mr Johnson!


Thursday, 8 October 2009

Inky Fun

Last term I did some work through my old school with Erasmus Darwin House in Lichfield and helped develop a writing activity to draw in some cross curricular links within the historical and scientific interests for students visiting the house. This morning I worked with two groups of year 6 students trialling the activities and it was so much fun, I was delighted when one little boy wanted to show me his work and found out later that he struggles desperately with his handwriting - his calligraphy was so good, ink pot and feathers might be the way forward for him! I am still ink stained and can only apologise to the parents of the young lady who managed to cover both hands in ink during the session!

Schools who visit are provided with some materials to take away so they can build upon what the students learn during their visit. I provided a tutorial for students to make their own nibs so they could continue with their very impressive calligraphy skills and thought you might like a look, lots of fun and pretty effective if you can't get your hands on feathers and steel nibs.



snip a drinking straw in half


make a mark with your felt tip about 1cm from the end of each half


cut from the pen mark diagonally to the end of the straw to create a pointed nib


cut the second half at a wider angle to create a broader nib tip

Now all you need is a bottle of ink to dip in and some paper to write on, enjoy!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Top Ten Craft Fair Essentials

In the run up to Christmas we're attending a few craft fairs, so far the essentials list reads as follows:

1. Jewellery - labelled and priced
2. White tablecloth
3. Wooden bowls, mirror and boxes for display,
4. Business cards, sign or banner saying who you are, where to find your work after the fair and accepted payment details
5. Gift wrapping bits - pillow boxes, tissue paper, raffia, tags and brown paper bags
6. Cash box and float (coins and notes), calculator
7. Receipt book and order forms
8. Stationery - pens, scissors, sellotape, blu tac, notebook for recording sales, customer / contact details
9. Camera
10. Refreshments

What else is on your craft fair essentials list?

Sunday, 4 October 2009

For Sale

Evening, hope you are all having a pleasant weekend. It's been rather a dramatic week, but generally in a good way. I've finished my temporary teaching contract and our house is officially up for sale, driving home from work to see the sign for the first time did make me gasp and feel a bit sentimental but it's ok. The thought of moving and our new home (whichever one it turns out to be) is always on my mind in a whirled up mixture of excitement tinted, ever so palely, with anxiety over finding a buyer.

Naturally our thoughts and conversations have been peppered with the things, people and places we'll miss from here: friends, lovely May Cottage itself, our wee neighbour and his dog, Cannock Chase, my church, the trees we've adopted. We are so glad we told our neighbour we were moving when we did as the sign went up the next day and that would not have been a nice way to find out. He didn't say much but when we chatted to him this evening as the autumn sun was making the fields glow he said "I don't think you should be going anywhere, I've got used to you now." Such a lovely man and, as a girl who cannot, under any circumstances, hide her emotions, I felt a bit sad.
Last weekend we went for a dander on Cannock Chase and a squirrel let me take his photo! I've yet to upload them but it reminded me of the quivering excitement with which I took this photo of two dear on the Chase in June. Unfortunately, I've yet to master the 'stop shaking even though you're excited so you can hold your big lens steady' technique which is a must for wild life photographers and so all my deer photos are a bit blurry, but look, we saw deer! I always keep an eye out when we're up there and rarely see more than a flash of fur in the distance but on this day we saw eight deer! And yes, ashamedly, this is the best photograph!

So this week there will be no school, unless I get a day's supply (yay), lots of making, tweaking, painting, listing, the penultimate jewellery session of my WEA course and a day with year 6 at Erasmus Darwin House on Thursday getting covered in ink teaching some calligraphy.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Florence Friday

Last Sunday there was a collision of favourites: Kevin McCloud in Florence. Let me add to that Kevin McCloud in a Fiat 500 in Florence! Kevin McCloud's Grand Tour is on Channel 4 at 9pm on Sunday evenings and last Sunday we were treated to the wonders of the gorgeous Tuscan countryside, Florence and Rome.

What blew my mind was seeing the Vasari Corridor, something I had never heard of before. Built by Giorgio Vasari in 1564 at the order of Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici the corridor is a secretive, covered walkway through the air. It stretches for over a kilometre from the West Gallery of the Uffizi, towards the river Arno, across the river over the Ponte Vecchio (on top of the shops!), through the interior of the Church of Santa Felicita, along the tops of houses and gardens, into the Boboli Gardens and then finally the Pitti Palace.

View from the Corridor out onto the Ponte Vecchio
check out more at Museums in Florence

An extaordinary construction, the corridor provided the Duke with a private walkway from his home, the Pitti Palace, to his offices at the Uffizi. An incredible thing! We've been looking over our photos and tracing the corridor on satellite maps and enjoying the excitement of another little bit of Florence being revealed. R's painting shows the corridor clearly and yet when he completed it neither of us knew about this fabulous passageway!

The "floating" Corridor emerging from the Uffizi and running along the Arno to cross at the Ponte Vecchio

Within the corridor are housed a grand collection of Art and, by arrangement, the public are allowed to visit, now can we afford to go back to Florence next year and have a look?

Let's hope so!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Things That Make Me Laugh #1

In no particular order but starting today with Eddie Izzard's Death Star Canteen . . . in Lego

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Artfire - Holiday Special

Art Fire are generously having a holiday special allowing all members, both free and verified account holders, to list an unlimited number of items in their shops with no commission or listing fees during the month of October. Superb! If you had been thinking about selling on Art Fire now seems to be a great opportunity to try it!

So, for the next month I'll be listing and listing! After last week's jewellery course where the students made memory wire bracelets, it put me in the mood to make some more, one of my favourites is this lovely grey glass pearl number, all misty and wintery, with black plated earrings to match.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Florence Friday

The Cancer Research UK shop is filling up thanks to the lovely Folksy sellers and we've already had one sale! This morning I've added this trio of Florence prints:

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Selling Up and Teaching Jewellery

On Monday we had the valuation of our lovely house and it will be up on the market, officially for sale within the next ten days or so! I think if we could take it with us we would! So that is exciting, although, admittedly a little stressful, but let's focus on the exciting!

Yesterday, I ran the first of a series of jewellery making sessions and it was fabulous! There were eight ladies who were all lovely and so interested in the work and even asked me to tell me more about myself, makes a fabulous change from, um, less fun teaching experiences! After the session each lady had created a multi strand memory wire bracelet and a pair of earrings! I'm really impressed with the Workers Educational Association and so glad to be working for them! They offer a huge array of courses including literacy, numeracy, English as a secondary language, painting, creative writing, gardening, poetry, history. . . the list goes on! If you fancy having a go at something new or refreshing some dormant skills do check them out as they are all over the country. R starts teaching his Romantic Poetry course for them in Wolverhampton tomorrow so we're all about the WEA in this house at the minute!


More exciting news is that I made a sale through Facebook the other day, somebody spotted the 'A Satisfied Mind' Charm Bracelet and got in touch to say they'd like to buy it! I do love the tones in it and am going to make a second, similar one to keep in my Folksy shop. The bracelet is inspired by a chapter in Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain which is packed full of sumptuous Autumnal descriptions of apple picking, burning brush and evening skies, gorgeous!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Vespa

I love this photograph! And no it's not Friday already as, whilst a very common sight in Florence, this little beauty was in amongst a whole host of stuff at the Chain Bridge Honey Farm! We're sitting at home twiddling our thumbs waiting for somebody to come value the house, not enough time to start anything new, everything is tidy and I can't think of what to do! Have finally packaged up the print for Amanda over at Kitschy Coo! Have handed over the resources for the Calligraphy session I've planned for Erasmus Darwin House, bought all the beads and tools for the first day of my jewellery making course and, once the valuation is done, I'll be completing the lesson plans and paperwork for the course. I'll let you know how day one goes tomorrow . . .

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