Tuesday, April 1, 2014

 Daisies; on the Kaikoura
Having lived in Australia for several decades, these is one thing I had forgotten. In New Zealand, daisies are large and snowy white (opposed to little, bent and sometimes brown). The daisies here caught my eye.
Driving the Kaikoura coast.

New Zealand

Lake Wanaka, Southern Alps overlooking the lake. New Zealand.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turquoise ... blue and green

Turquoise, one of my favourite semiprecious stones, has been prized for thousands of years. It appears that the stone first found it's way to Europe, from Turkey. Thus the name 'turquoise' was derived.

Turquoise is available in a number of finishes. Some of these are a result of human intervention (e.g re-constituted turquoise) and some are natural. While I like the earthy turquoise stones, sometimes a splash of brighter colour is a great addition to a piece of jewelery. The Turquoise Guide (http://www.turquoiseguide.com) reports that this 'reconstituting' method involves grinding turquoise 'trash', mixing it with a powder, pouring it into a mold and drying it. The resulting material is cut into slabs, and then used for making jewelery (or whatever else the buyer wishes to do with it). This material is of lower value than other turquoise. The Turquoise Guide reports that natural turquoise is hard to aquire, and very expensive.

I am currently making a bracelet, in which several different turquoise types are used. These are mixed with lapis lazuli (because with this bracelet I am taking a tilt at the old 'blue and green should never be seen' mantra... the natural world is rich in the blue and green mix, and I find it very pleasing to the eye).  Finally, here are some pics... turquoise, aventurine, African jade, lapis lazuli, faceted opalite, blue fresh water pearl and a few beautiful, aqua coloured, faceted Czech crystal cathedral beads.  Blue and green are beautiful together!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Gift for a Friend

This simple necklace features a beautifully multi-coloured agate bead framed with antique copper beads, wire wrapped with oxidised copper to a fine, copper chain. The piece clasps with hand forged, hammered hook and rings.  The reds in this bead are amazing!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Simply Beaded

These are simply beaded, using some of my favourite semiprecious beads, enhanced with Czech glass, three simple necklaces. These are designed to sit neatly with a t-shirt neckline, thus can be worn either inside a collar or on a more casual day!  Find them at Natural Candy on Etsy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ocean Blossom
This amazing bead came from Beadoire, a little shop in Bayside, Brisbane. There, glass artist Maureen Nugent, creates her gorgeous selection of beads.  This one, like a splash of water catching the sun, hangs from silver plated chain on a handmade paddle pin. Tiny, bright lapis beads repeat the deep blues of Maureen's bead.

Visit Beadoire at http://www.beadoire.com/

Find this necklace listed for sale in my Etsy store at:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Jasper, a stone that's available in an astonishing range of colours (from naturals to forest greens to bright, oceanic blues and the captivatingly named 'dragon blood' jasper which contains patches of bright red) is the bead of choice on these sterling silver/silver plated pieces. Matched with sterling silver and Czech crystal these are eye catching indeed.

SOPA to wait

According to posters in the Etsy world, U.S president Barack Obama has signalled that he will veto both the SOPA and PIPA bills. This means that for the moment we users of the digital world, will not be saddled with responsibility for any (even inadvertent) breaching of copyright law.  Shutdowns have been planned all over the Net world, and these include such major players as Wikipedia. I don't know whether or not they will go ahead but to my mind it might be wise to continue watchful and be ready to take action where possible.

Well done, activists and freedom lovers everywhere!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Summer Cherry

These are the last of my stock of faceted, agate beads, in a necklace and matching earrings. I have used oxidised copper chain and findings for these beads. I like the rich colour of copper with the glowing translucence of red agate.  These are available for sale in my Etsy shop today.

Friday, December 30, 2011

All Strung Out

I don't often string beads, unless I plan to attach them to something handmade with wire. But after making a stylish, long necklace and having it quickly sell,  I realised that a simple string of beads makes a great base for jewelery. With that in mind I did a quick search on Etsy, looking for jewellery that featured the VW. And there it was! Fun and funky, short, long, bohemian, classic, it all works, depends what we like. Perhaps that's the limit, what we like, what we like to wear. It can usually be strung.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fruit of the Vine

Beautiful fluorite beads, ranging in colour from deep purple to soft green are wire wrapped with sterling silver and suspended from hand crafted sterling silver ear wires. These are listed in my Etsy store.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Begin Again

Following a long, hard year, it's time to return to the handmade part of my life. It's been a year full of learning, about the difficulties people face in life and about that part of the world which fascinates me most, the political part. This year I've begun to realise that there is little, perhaps nothing in life that is not political. The political reaches into our lives and shapes us in fundamental ways. It reaches us in our mother's wombs, and continues to manage and shape us until the day we die. At times I find this overwhelming. But there is little time to be overwhelmed, life is short. We need to live life as fully as we can, the best ways we can. And we can. Human spirit is amazing, it clings, it struggles and it survives. We continue to live, sometimes in pain, but living none-the-less.

This Christmas I salute those who suffer and continue to live. I have the deepest admiration for you, you are the people I would like to be. Have a blessed, peaceful Christmas.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Juile Ann Twigg

Several weeks ago, a care flight crashed in Victoria, killing both the pilot and one of its passengers. Since then the worldwide hand-made community has watched and prayed, while Julie Ann Twigg, the only survivor of the crash in which her teenage daughter died, struggled to live and recover a little. Her sister in law, Shirley, kindly published and regularly updated a Facebook page that she used to inform Julie's friends world wide, of Julie's progress.

Early this morning, Julie Ann passed away. She was known to be a feisty, creative woman, a leader in the Australian team of Etsy artisans, and a friend loved by many. She leaves these communities in shock, thankful that she is no longer in pain (her injuries caused a great deal of pain some of which would likely have been life long) and no longer without her daughter. But heartbroken for her family (she leaves a husband and three other children) and friends.

Julie Ann was important as a leader amongst Australian Etsians, and in that capacity she encouraged me with jewelery making from time to time. Her work was also beautiful, an inspiration to many. I kept pictures of some of her creations in my own 'inspiration' file. I am struggling with the idea that there will be no more of her work. More, I struggle with the pain expressed by Australian Etsians who knew her well and valued her. God bless and comfort you all.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Acushla-a tribute to my Mother

Acushla is a remarkable woman. Equal Dux at school, she went on to train as a teacher. Following teacher training she studied at a Bible College and became a missionary. As a missionary in the Middle East, Acushla taught English in schools in Lebanon and Syria. She recalls teaching in class- rooms while bombs were flying. She recalls night-time blackouts and sheltering from possible bombing. Whilst overseas, she travelled, visiting Gibraltar, the U.S and England where she fell in love with Dorset, and was fascinated by historical London.

After returning home, Acushla continued teaching. She met and married Graham and they had five children. Acushla was not only an enterprising, adventurous woman for her time, she was an artistic, creative woman. I remember her in the school playground, supervising lunchtimes with a knitting bag on her arm, knitting sweaters for her children to wear in the snowy chill of the New Zealand winter.

That life is behind Acushla now. In the late 1970s the family migrated to Australia. At the age of eighty, Acushla continues to be remarkable. She has learned to use a computer and keeps in touch with friends all over the globe. She travels both inside Australia and overseas to visit friends and relatives. Her children grown, she has time to develop new artistic skills, making beautiful quilts and glorious tapestries. She teaches her grand-daughters how to sew. She body builds (and in fact reversed bone density loss, to the surprise and interest of her doctors.) She delights in her grand-children and great-grandchildren.

Not too long ago, Acushla, cleaning her study, offered me a set of books, the Stitch by Stitch Illustrated Encyclopedia of Sewing, Knitting and Crochet. With the help of these books I have learned to design hand knits and to crochet edgings. My three daughters, having learned various techniques relating to arts and crafts they admire and enjoy (for an example go to Pink Lizzy Sews ... Pink Lizzy is Acushla's granddaughter. Also see Paperino on Etsy.) I can't express more highly my respect and gratitude to this amazing woman, my mother, for imparting her attitude to life and her gift to create, to her children, to me.

Thank you, Acushla.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Beethoven or Mozart

How many jewelery artisans are like Beethoven? Throughout my childhood and much of my adulthood too, I studied music. I learned that Beethoven was an artist who agonised over each note. Like a writer who experiences anguish over every word, planning it with care to make a piece say exactly what the writer wants to say. I am by no means like Beethoven!

When I make jewelery, I ruminate (a lot!) and then finally begin and put the piece together quite quickly. The components just fit, as if they are meant to be. I can hear the logician sniff at that, but that's the way Mozart wrote music. He heard it in his head, it just was. The way it was meant to be. That's why Mozart seems predictable, easy to listen to.

I wonder how other artisans make jewelery? Like Beethoven? Calculating and planning each part? Or like Mozart ... staring at it for ages and then getting it down. Either way, there are some amazing, wonderful jewelery artists on the internet. If you check through my list of Australian Etsy sellers, you'll find some of them there. Although I have particular favourites they all inspire me.

Monday, July 12, 2010

New shop on the Bayside, Brisbane

Beadoire at www.beadoire.com recently opened in Bay Terrace in Wynnum (Brisbane, Queensland). I found it thanks to a newspaper article, but waited to visit whilst savouring the experience of anticipation! Temptation and a need for a few supplies sent me there last week, and what a delight Beadoire is, to see, to walk inside and shop in. It's a delightfully pretty place, specialising in Czech beads and other delights (like vintage lucite). It's themed to all things French and beautiful, walking inside made me want to immediately re-vamp my shop and update my stock to 'pretty'. The owner, Maureen Nugent, is a glass artist and jewelry maker, her work reflects her passion. I treated myself to one of her lovely beads and have yet to set it, I'm busy savouring looking forward to using it! The necklace above was made with a strand of gorgeous, topaz picasso crystal rondelles from Beadoire. Well worth a look!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The wire wrap I coveted Most

This is the wire wrapping I most longed to do. The wrapping of a length of wire, on either side of a bead, so as to make bead units with wrapped loops. I found a tutorial by Eni Oken, in which she teaches the way to make a wrapped bail for a briolette. I used the techniques she presents in that tutorial, to learn how to wrap the loops for this Tiger Eye and Jasper bracelet.

I love the way these wrapped loops (and the wrapped bails) look. The addition of the wrap adds a texture I find very pleasing, particularly as it repeats the silky lines you can see on the tiger eye beads. I can see this technique would be useful for wrapping wire for pearls, so as to strengthen the wire (only quite fine wire will thread through pearls generally.)

This piece also used a knotted head pin (Donna Spadafore). The bracelet is available at the Candy Store

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wire makes an amazing medium for fitting gems and beads to a pendant or necklace. I've been inspired by that lately so I'm making necklaces. These are two of my most recent designs. I've had a long term weakness for large amethyst beads, so I repeat their use fairly often. The brown tourmaline briolette is a beautiful thing I've been waiting to use. Here is it as a pendant on copper. I wanted to avoid over-embellishing this bead ... I hope I succeeded!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How are we inspired?

Where do our ideas come from? Some people are deliberate in seeking inspiration. I admire those people who take a quiet space, and fill it with things they find inspiring. Music, art, books, fabrics, natural artifacts. I know several people who keep a file in their computers, of pictures of things that are inspiring, from the internet (I do that too).

But when I'm planning to use a set of beads, often I sit them with my work things and just wait. I've been waiting to do something with the Czech glass melons in this bracelet ... wondering what they might be. They're a lovely bead, a mix of greens, some with a bluish haze, some lean toward a pink. Some of the green moves toward yellow. Since they arrived I've wanted to blend them with silver. Today, for some reason, I turned some of them into this bracelet. The focal setting is an aventurine nugget, hugged between Balinese style caps. I also used a couple of large, rhyolite beads (rainforest jasper). I think these Czech beads would be wonderful with greys and blues also but today I simply put them together. As if the inspiration had been in the back of my head lurking, waiting to take action once I stopped wondering what to do with the beads. Like a small thunderclap.

I wonder how it goes with other jewelery makers?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Balance, rush, crafting and business

Is it perfectionism? I think it's perfectionism with a splash of eager rush. These earrings appeared in my Etsy store with the small cloisonne beads hanging beneath the large, Czech cathedral beads. They're all beautiful beads. However, generally beads balance best if the larger beads are at the bottom. After days of looking at the original earrings, I decided that the beads deserve to be balanced, and balance will do them justice. I wish (yet again) that I'd balanced them this way around at the first manufacturing! Oh well, here they are. Skyflower earrings, the way they need to be. :) I hope this will be the last major edit of a listed item in my shop!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Autumn leaves in the garden of Ithilien

These earrings are the first in a series of pieces inspired by Peter Jackson's amazing Lord of the Rings movie series. The garden of Ithilen, lying along the border of Mordor, is a place in which the natural beauties of the gardens of Gondor and the old Elvish kingdoms, are left in dim reflection. Like the final leaves sifting from trees before winter frost, the garden of Ithilien is depicted in a kind of grieved, autumnal state, waiting for the evil that blights Middle Earth to be vanquished.

These earrings can be found at the Candy Store.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Value and the hand made Movement

Angelene Fay, Etsy seller and artisan, offers what I think is one of the best explanations I have read, of the value of hand made goods. Hand made goods are valuable, she says, because of the person involved in their creation and the love that contributes to their production. Love of mastering or seeking to master, each step required to create an object. Of the artistic satisfaction that is obtained by the creator in the act of creating. Of being so contented with the act that one is in a 'happy place' while working. The joy of doing something that one excels at, and of sharing that achievement with others.

Angelene Fay offers wonderful tutorials, relevant to the wire worker-beader-jewelery maker. They can be found at her Blog address linked above ... just click on her name!

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Orange Cardigan

The orange cardigan was the only thing I won in school. A local wool shop had arranged with the primary school I attended to have a story writing competition. The prize would be a bag of Patons Totem (I still like to use Totem.) The older kids at the school must have been involved. In New Zealand (where I went to school) primary school began with 'primers'; 'primer one', 'primer two' and so on. I was either in 'primer three' or 'primer four'. I was about 10 years old. Anyway, I digress. I had to write a story that advertised the value of pure wool, for school. So I wrote one.

Our house was full of stories and books, and lots of them told heroic tales of people who were mountaineers and sailors. Adventurous people. Real life heroes and heroines. So it was easy to think of a context that let me herald the wonderfulness of wool. Being a kid who never won, I also had no thought, let alone expectation, that this was more than another story writing task. I had had stories read out to classes when teachers wanted to demonstrate what it was they wanted us to do, but that's not the same as winning, that's more a bullying offence. Anyway, I wrote a dramatic thing about how someone had been caught out in snow, wind, hail, ice etc. on a mountain, and had just made it, thanks to his pure wool garb! Because pure wool breathes, and traps body heat so keeping us warm and so on. I shudder when I think, now, of those early mountaineers in, say, the Himalayas, who were clad in layers of wool, canvas, cotton and more wool. Manifestly inadequate. However from a 10 year old in a primary school way down in tiny New Zealand (a mountainous place itself) the theme was popular and it was the 1960s/1970s when we still didn't have all the wonders of man made fibre for safety gear in harsh climates. So I thought I was writing something that was factually accurate and I do recall feeling quite proud of that.

I thought no more about my story. Heck! This was me! I still did times tables on my fingers (with admirable speed and secrecy as I do it now, in my head) but still, on my fingers. I forgot about it so thoroughly that when a day came to find out the result of the competition, I had no idea what was going on. My class, and several others, were taken to the school hall to hear about ... I knew not what, having been day dreaming while our class room teacher explained what we were doing. I think I hoped we'd be shown another Disney cartoon movie, a thing that happened in the school hall and was absolutely delightful, much better fun that learning. We'd just seen Alice in Wonderland and I'd been enchanted by it.

We all shuffled in there, I with vague hope in my breast. We positioned ourselves variously according to whether we were teachers' favourites, or kids who attempted to hide from the teacher (me) or trouble makers, or people who encouraged trouble makers (me, sometimes.) As phrases I recognised as being mine were read out to the assembled school, I recall experiencing my first ever feeling of complete disorientation. My head actually went fuzzy! I recall wondering momentarily if I was in trouble. Then wondering if this meant I had to stand up in front of everyone, which I would hate and do almost anything to get out of. At which point, of course, I heard my name and had to actually do it, with my head still buzzing and confused. I had won a bag of Patons Totem, I could choose the colour, and my mum would knit me something with it.

She knitted me an orange cardigan. I'm not sure why I picked orange, because it makes me look like a sick cat. But I do love the colour, its spiciness and heat. Mixed up with reds and pinks, or blues and turquoise. Perhaps that was why I picked it, perhaps I loved it then too. I went on wearing my cardigan until it was far too little for me, and I wish I had it still (that would make it about 35 years old!), or at least a picture of it but, alas, it is no more. I'm still attracted to orange things,although they never get to sit near my face, because they really don't suit me.

It's funny how, as we get older, memories from our childhood seem clearer, more numerous. I take them as a gift, like a perfume recalled from the past and enjoyed. And so the orange cardigan stands in my memory, a pleasant perfume, a speck of my life that is nice to have, and a long lasting liking for all things orange, and for Patons Totem, pure wool. Excellent for the manufacture of clothing to be worn in cold climates...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Making it myself; viable, ethical, sustainable living:

I hesitate to introduce a serious note to a place that's intended to be relaxing, quiet, peaceful and above all, pleasurable to visit. But one of my strongest characteristics is an enduring concern with the political side of life. I believe that politics underpins every aspect of our lives, from the moment we get up in the morning, to the moment we go to sleep at night. In the night, it affects where and how we sleep, with what comfort and for how long. I don't want to spoil the light hearted atmosphere of the Lollyshop with too much of my political interest. But I do want to acknowledge that it exists, and now and again, admit that it influences what I am doing when I make things and show them on my blog.

When I was a young mum, making things for the household, from baked goods to clothing, to bedding and other soft furnishing, was cost effective. We could buy those things, if we wanted to. But the cheaper stuff, the affordable stuff, was not as good in quality as things we made ourselves.

At the time, Indonesia was over a decade into the process of becoming one of the first world's cheap goods factories. In the 1960s, with help from the West, General Suharto flattened and emptied self-sustaining villages and misplaced thousands and thousands of people. He killed over a million people who disagreed with his actions. He also took massive loans from the World Bank. To get the loans, he agreed to give western companies access to Indonesian workers, property and resources at low prices. Because of this, those companies could produce the things we love to consume, at minimal cost, with minimal probability of the resulting human rights abuses being seen by consumers in places like Australia.

Some people think that such workers are better off than they used to be, because they have more dollars than they used to have. We westerners tend to measure well-being in terms of dollars. But before the western economic machine came to their countries, those workers had the things they needed, and needed no money. Now, they not only have little that they need for a decent quality of life, they will never have enough to buy the things they are slaving to produce. On that measure, a few dollars each week has not made these workers more wealthy. I think that they really are a slave labour force, co-opted by wealthy countries (like ours) because without them we won't be able to afford all the 'stuff' we think we should have.

These days, we are more aware of the issue of 'sweat shop' labour. It happens in Australia, we know that it happens all over SE Asia and in Africa. That's a particular problem for the Lollyshop. I love my chocolate. But much Cocoa for chocolate has been farmed by slave labourers in Africa. Worse, those workers are sometimes children! What to do? There's only one solution for me. I can locate child-labour free chocolate if I choose to. In general, I can avoid using brands that are a product of sweatshop labour. And, I can return to making it myself.

Making it myself is, once again, quite cost effective. When I wear something that I made, or use something I made, or eat something I made from scratch, I know that at least at some point in the chain of production, I have interfered with the plundering of resources and labour from other countries. That's another satisfying result of having made an effort to produce the things that I and my family need and like.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wire wrapping and Jewelery making

I began reading about wire-wrapping last year, the same time as I began making my own ear wires. I found heaps of useful information on the Net. Some generous artisans publish tutorials about wire wrapping, and they're fabulous. If there's one thing they each do, it would be encouraging the would-be wire-wrapper to practice, practice, practice. SIGH. I shrink from practice!

So I practiced. And was very bad at wire wrapping. But I'm the kind of student who examines material for ages, and then suddenly 'gets' it. Yesterday I was fiddling with some wire ... and when I had done fiddling I found I had fiddled together a very respectable, faceted cloudy quartz ring. I don't have photos of it yet, but I'm really pleased that all the information has finally begun to work in my head! I'm looking forward to incorporating this new skill into jewelery making!