Wednesday 31 July 2013

Happy 1st Birthday to Curling Stones for Lego People!!

I knew I'd been having a busy few weeks.

It's been so busy that I've accidentally missed the 1st Anniversary for Curling Stones for Lego People!!  So, a'hem, a few days late...

Happy 1st Birthday to my blog! 
(Which technically was on Friday in case anyone was wondering)

I really couldn't have imagined a year ago how much the blog, my jewellery and my lovely group of friends and readers would have grown in just one short year.

So thank you to everyone for reading and commenting on
and in some cases writing for Curling Stones for Lego People
and thanks to all my trollfairies, friends and trusted retailers for making
my wrists and now my neck so sparkly!

Now where's the cake??

Monday 29 July 2013

Red leather bracelet with a very special bead - 2 tone Planet

Initially starting out as just an enabler for others in the July sales, I soon ended up joining in myself, I just couldn't resist those bargain prices!

Despite 2 failed attempts, six months apart, to buy Daisy(the 2 tone bead I have been trying to source at a rock bottom price), I had better luck with my 2nd choice of 2 tone bead in the recent sales - Silver and Gold Planet.

Now I had it though, I wasn't 100% sure what to do with it, it's still quite hot in the UK so I really didn't fancy wearing a full silver bracelet and I wasn't getting any inspiration (yet) on a bangle combo.

I really enjoy looking at different ways to wear my leather bracelets and as I'd picked up a red leather recently in the same sale I thought I'd try to do something a bit different with it to showcase my new bead. 

I decided to try wearing my bracelet with a ribbon necklace I picked up at a craft fair earlier this month, it has 3 ribbon strands with a simple clasp and will wrap around my wrist 3 times if I'm careful.

Red leather and ribbon bracelet: includes Snow, Silver and Gold Planet, Sparkling Stars
Endless, Brew of the Moor, Taurus

I love the look with red leather and ribbons and I think the different reds really show off the gold in the bead without it being too in your face.  I've seen a really great combination using 2 tone Planet and Space showcased by Trollbeads Studio so I think I know what other 2 tone bead I'd like next!

I haven't forgotten you though Daisy, you will be mine one day! 3rd time lucky?

Saturday 27 July 2013

My Live-in-Geek comes over to the Dark Side

Now it's not often I post about my live-in-geek, indeed he normally remains a shadowy figure in the background of my blog getting the odd mention when it's relevant to the tale of my jewellery adventures.

However he gets his very own post today as during the mad July sales I bought him a brown leather trollbeads bracelet on the spur of the moment.  I had no idea of his size, but like me he has small wrists so I took a punt on the 34cm one.

He was presented with this in a "if you don't like it it's not a problem, but if you want it - it's yours"  I had ordered a plain lock to go with it but like many sales, there were a few issues with cancelled orders, so I lent him a lock from my collection so he could at least wear it, he chose a Freya Knot Lock.

I also gave him the run of my bead box to see what he would like to wear on it.  This is what he came up with initially...

After a while he decided that he quite liked the look of just the Midgard Serpent between the 2 stoppers as he already wears 3 single strand bracelets.

I have got to say I love this bracelet and not just because it's attached to my live-in-geek.

Friday 19 July 2013

Summer Stones Collection

I LOVE these stones.

My full Summer Stones collection currently - all 13 of them!

The Summer Stones Collection is a kit of 6 stones released on 31st May this year, initially sold as a complete kit but many retailers were prepared to break them up and sell individually.

From left to right in the photo above, I have 3 each of the African Amethyst, Canadian Jade and Rhyolite.  2 Red Mud Jaspers, and 1 each of the Dalmatian and Zebra Jaspers.

I'd been eagerly awaiting this release ever since Victoria over at Endangered Trolls had first broken the news.  So much so that I'd asked Lizzie at Beaverbrooks to see if she could get hold of any for our Trolldate, she could and she did (3 Kits!!) and my first haul included all bar the African Amethysts and the Red Mud Jaspers.

I quickly started to use them in combinations, starting with the 3 Canadian Jades and Rhyolites.

I started to experiment with a twisted leather combo and my bangle

Naturally as I'd just got the bangle and was researching for my "Bangle for the Medically Challenged" blog post there were a lot of bangle combos!

The African Amethysts and Red Mud Jaspers took a little longer to source and came from the US, along with a lovely purple OOAK and my first trollbead critter!

They were quickly put to use with more bangle combinations!

The other 2 stones in the first bangle are a Jasper on the bottom, and Ruby Rock in the middle.

I don't wear all 3 at once but until last weekend these were my 3 made up bangles, shown together just for ease of taking a photo!

Top: LE Jasper, Lucky Knot, Ruby Rock, Lucky Knot, African Amethyst
Middle: Rhyolite, Red Mud Jasper, Rhyolite, Red Mud Jasper, Rhyolite
Bottom: African Amethyst, Canadian Jade, Three in One, Canadian Jade, African Amethyst

The photo below is the one I'm really pleased with as the light yesterday was just right to show you some of the lovely variations within these stones, did I mention I *really* love this collection?

L-R: 3 x African Amethysts, 3 x Canadian Jades, 3 x Rhyolites
2 x Red Mud Jasper, 1 x Dalmatian Jasper, 1 x Zebra Jasper

For those of you who like them (as do I) here are the side shots of all the stones, please excuse the untidy composition of the photo... with my phone camera it's been incredibly hard to capture just how beautiful these are and I hit a sweet spot during the weekend where I got off 2 or 3 great shots that show this - I did try for "tidier" photos later on but the end result was just not as good.

I need to use what photos I have so far... or I'll be blogging this kit just in time for Christmas! 

The 3 African Amethysts I have can look everything from dark purple to the palest of the purples depending on the light... these really are the same stones in the photo below!

I'd asked for dark examples but with lots of inclusions/cloudiness all the way around the bead so when the strong sunlight hits them they look very very pale.  The reason I asked for this is the other amethysts I'd seen all had the natural inclusions, but where it was the odd spot on the bead, in my eyes, it looked more like a flaw.  However, all over the bead, in my eyes, it shows the variety and beauty in the stone.

The Canadian Jades are the other translucent bead where appearance is affected by the light, although not as strongly as the amethysts, I have one Jade that is far more milky in appearance and it's just stunning, you can see the difference best in the photo below.

Canadian Jades - the first bead is more milky green with black strands,
whereas the other two are translucent but slightly different shades of green.

I adore the variety in the Rhyolites and Red Mud Jaspers both of which are very striking, I've also been exceptionally lucky that I've had such great examples of these beads to choose from.  Although to be honest I don't think I've seen a Rhyolite stone that I haven't liked yet; with the Red Mud Jaspers I opted for the chunky, starkly contrasted versions, rather than the smoother more subtle terracotta shades that flow from one shade/shape to another.

The Zebra and Dalmatian Jaspers are the two beads I only have 1 of.  It's not that I don't like them (or clearly I wouldn't have bought any) but more that I saw amazing versions of the others that I really wanted and chose the ones I thought I would get the most use out of - plus, as usual, it also came down to budget... in that I couldn't have 3 of everything!!  I have since seen some stunning dark chocolate versions of the Zebra Jasper and think I may need to swap mine or at least buy one of those later on if they're still available.

For anyone who hasn't yet indulged in the Summer Stones, they were incredibly popular with collectors and created quite a buzz in the community, if you haven't found your beads yet, but see one you like then my advice would be grab it now as these were Limited or Special Edition (that's not to say they won't reappear again in some future incarnation, however there are no guarantees they'll still be available).  Judging by the stock levels on a handful of websites, unsurprisingly it seems the Amethysts were the most popular where retailers were prepared to split the kits.

I will leave you with one final photo as I rejigged one of my bangles whilst I was taking photos... to include the some of the new preloved stones I bought this week...

More on those another day but they are beads 2 & 4 on the front bangle with the 3 Rhyolites!

Thursday 18 July 2013

All Amber Bracelet

It had been a busy bead related week at home when these two preloved amber beads dropped through my letterbox, along with a few other random bits and pieces but more on those later!

For now I just wanted to rework my dismantled Amber bracelet into an all new amber combination without any silver beads.

The two ambers that arrived were quite big and would fit nicely towards the centre of the bracelet.

Unfortunately I forgot to add in my craggy amber as it was in another bead box (having previously dismantled all my former bracelets even my big bead box is bursting at the seams) and I've now run out of space on this bracelet... I tried to imagine replacing a bead on this one but I like it too much as it is.  Perhaps I should start another?

My All Amber Bracelet

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Aurora beads ~ Trollbeads and Artisan

Thanks to Trollbeads decision to only sell the Aurora bead as part of a bangle set I've been able to pick up two "orphaned" bangles from sets where the bangle was surplus to requirements and in an opposite twist I picked up my Aurora bead that was "orphaned" from it's own bangle set... I'm positively the Trollbeads equivalent of a beads orphanage...

Well not quite, but it's not a bad idea, right, please send all your orphaned jewellery to me, I will give it all a home - apart from the sunglasses charm, I still can't bring myself to love it.

I digress, I was really excited to pick up an Aurora bead that my friend kindly sold to me, she had 2 and only wanted the 1, I had to ask her 3 times if she was REALLY sure she wanted to sell it (I would happily own a bracelet full of these) but I stopped asking after the 3rd time because I really really wanted one!

Unsurprisingly it found it's way onto a bangle (reuniting orphaned bangles and beads since 1st June 2013)

So I had my Aurora bead, the following day I had the opportunity to purchase an artisan version of this bead, well I definitely wanted more than one and I do like the artisan version just as much.

L-R: Trollbeads Aurora and Artisan Aurora

Top - Artisan Aurora
Bottom - Trollbeads Aurora

These two look great on... you've guessed it - a bangle combo, double stacked this time!

I hope no-one is getting too bored with bangles, as the Wash'n'Go choice (trademarked by Kay) I fear you may be getting even more bangles to come... perhaps I'll try to blog a bracelet next to give you some respite!

Sunday 14 July 2013

Critter Crawls & my Garden Bracelet

Critters, as they are fondly known amongst Trollbead collectors, are those glass beads that commonly feature any form of animal.  Some collectors are critter mad, but I've not previously dipped my toe into the Trollbead market, generally preferring the artisan versions of these types of beads.

Turtles were the most common critter when I started collecting, but "common" is a misnomer, as they were more rare at that time and therefore harder to get hold of and often accompanied by a hefty price tag on the preloved market.  Roll forward by 18 months and now I could reasonably (via the Internet) pick myself up a Trollbead turtle straight from a shop and as a result they are now seen for much fairer prices on the preloved market.  Currently there are turtles, fish, ladybirds/ladybugs, bees and butterflies that are becoming more readily available in a much bigger variety of colours and types.

Personally I prefer the Luccicare turtle beads, one of which featured in my first critter bracelet and was my first critter bead.

Luccicare Turtle Bead

Christa at Luccicare is also responsible for my second critter bead, a fish that arrived last month and went straight onto my bangle!

Luccicare fish bead on my bangle

The fish is a beautiful two tone orange with yellow and the background is a sparkly glitter purple and green that includes a gorgeous galaxy swirl that you can see above between 2 of the fish.

The one Trollbead critter that I have been looking for is a ladybug (or ladybird as we call them in the UK, but I've started to call them ladybugs in relation to the beads).  I knew what I wanted, a red ladybug on a green background, preferably with a glitter line down the middle to denote the separate wings.  I was quite happy to wait as I knew I'd eventually find the one I wanted...

Trollbead ladybug, red glitter on green from Trollbeads Studio

My ladybug arrived almost a month ago, and it was exactly what I wanted, so pleased with finding this one, but I had yet to use it on a bracelet!  This is mostly due to it arriving on the same day as my second delivery of Summer Stones (review coming soon I promise) that have barely been off my bangles in the last few weeks.

So I now had a turtle, a fish and finally a Trollbeads critter, my ladybug.

I didn't intend to add to these anytime soon.

Famous last words.

I blame my holiday.

I'd booked a week off work, a mix of days out, new things to try, nights away and some boring domestic tasks... unbeknownst to me when I booked that particular week - it also happened to be the week of special Trollbead events, 24hr flash sales and a major retailer liquidating their entire Trollbead stock.  By not having a holiday and trying to save some money by staying at home, it sincerely would have been cheaper to have booked that holiday!!  Admittedly I now wouldn't have such awesome jewellery but I might have come back with a tan.

So, er, back to the story.

Goldmine Boutique held a "Critter Crawl" on their website so I thought I'd pop in for a look, it was late, I got a bit carried away... I saw a lovely yellow bee on a yellow background, bees being the other Trollbead critter that I wanted acquire.  Trollbeads Bees come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and to some extent colours, I'd not seen any artisan ones and like the ladybug I was waiting for the right one.

Goldmine's website doesn't "hold" your bead when you put it in the cart so they'd helpfully suggested buying the beads one by one to ensure you got the one you wanted.  I bought Bee No.1.  Then I saw another bee on a yellow background.  I bought Bee No.2.  By now I was wondering what I was going to do with 2 yellow beads, as I have no yellow beads at all in my collection... I know... I need more yellow beads... (it was late, I was tired, it made sense at the time).  Bead No.3 was a red ladybug on yellow and Bead No.4 was it's twin.  Bead No. 5 almost went  into the mix too (it was the twin of my original ladybug on green) but by now I'd got a bit panicky over the cost so took it back out of my cart.

Trollbead bees and glitter ladybugs on yellow

When they arrived I was so pleased the yellows matched, because once each one had been "bought" and having been removed from the website it couldn't be viewed again, so each subsequent bead was bought without being able to reference the colour and I'd spent the week worrying I'd have lots of different yellow beads that just looked mismatched...

To show my friends and as a sneak preview on Twitter I put them on a bangle with my original ladybug in the middle.

Trollbead critter bangle

By now I had an idea of what I was going to do with them, inspired by my friend Trish who had made a magical garden bracelet with troll babies and all sorts, I wanted to make a garden bracelet with critters.

I've been fiddling with this bracelet for the last week, but have finally settled on the arrangement of beads...

My critter garden bracelet

In my lurid imagination, I have a fish pond in my garden where 3 fish swim in the greeny blue water, a snake nestles beside the pond, the green glitter python bead showing it's markings.  There are bees buzzing around their hive and honey (faceted amber) and lots of flowers and ladybugs both glass and silver.  I wore this bracelet yesterday in the brilliant sunshine at a local festival for a day out, it's definitely a bracelet that makes me smile when I see it! (Probably because I think I'm slightly nuts in that I can "see" the garden in my imagination when I look at this bracelet)

Friday 5 July 2013

Torch Talk - Don't set yourself on fire!

The start of the new month, a few days booked off work and time to treat myself to something new... a class in lampworking!

I'd booked 2 hours of 1-1 tuition, the minimum recommended for a complete beginner and my aim was to not set myself on fire, anything else was a bonus!

The Studio was about an hour's drive away in a lovely rural setting and I was made to feel immediately welcome when I eventually arrived, as my Sat Nav decided I really wanted to go to the Vicarage instead!  Luckily knowing how quirky my Sat Nav and village postcodes can be I'd set off early so I wasn't actually late.  I'm told that the Vicarage are quite used to directing folk up to the Studio!  Cup of tea in hand and safety glasses on (after throwing them under the bench, I hoped I wouldn't remain this clumsy for the rest of the session) we got straight to work!

The session was organised so a bead would be demonstrated with my lovely tutor explaining what she was doing stage by stage.  Then it was my turn to either replicate this or do something very similar, we started off with just the basics of wrapping the glass around a mandrel.  This is akin to rubbing your tummy and patting your head... as you have a mandrel that you're turning in one hand, and a rod of glass you're melting in the other whilst trying to remember which bits need to be in the flame, and when, and also where... it was GREAT!

The 2 hours just whizzed by and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, time to clean the beads off and see what I'd made - for this session we cooled them in cooling bubbles so I could get some instant feedback on how they turned out.

The results?  Well you can see for yourself below, mine are on the bottom row...

The neat beads on the top row are my tutor's, the slightly messy ones on the bottom row are mine!

The first two beads on the bottom row are actually the last two that I made and I'm so pleased with how they turned out.  They both have larger holes so will fit on my troll bracelets, although they are not cored yet and have been flame annealed rather than kiln annealed but I had to try them out to see how they would look!

I definitely want to do this again, not only was it fun, but working with the glass and the flame was incredibly relaxing.  If you get a chance to ever have a go yourself or watch it being done I'd definitely recommend you try lampworking!

I did intend on taking some photos as I went along as I've always intended to blog about this experience... however I did book the class primarily for the pleasure of learning something new.  When I arrived, I realised I didn't want to lose any of my tuition time taking photos, or indeed miss anything my tutor was showing me because I was too busy taking a photo!  Maybe next time...

Thursday 4 July 2013

Beads, budgeting (revisited) and bangles

It was the start of a new month, one that should have seen me both step onto that Bead Wagon & try out a new skill (more on that later)... well that Bead Wagon must have been going way too fast to stop to allow me to step on it, as I succumbed before breakfast with a big purchase (but great bargain naturally - see photos below) and I finished the day with Goldmine's Critter Crawl... oops!

1 bangle!
2 bangles!!
3 bangles!!!

A'hem... my only saving grace and escape from eating beans on toast for the rest of July is I also scored a bargain on my car insurance renewal, so my beads & bargain have at least been paid for without resorting to raiding my boiler fund - my favourite back of the sofa place for unexpected bead indulgences!

So given I've had a narrow escape on a month of eating beans... how is it all going on the budgeting front?

It all started with this post and as I blogged the progress of the May bead embargo I set myself some very challenging goals.  Given a bit of reflection, and a bit of spending, I've figured out that those goals were a bit too challenging... time for a rethink!

As comic timing would have it - Victoria over at Endangered Trolls just alerted us all to a UK retailer sale as I was writing this... go here for details!

So for the next 6 months, including all the unplanned/unexpected spending I've done for the "didn't get back on the wagon" in June and the "the wagon didn't stop long enough for me to get on it" in July I'm aiming for a total spend of around 5% of my net income, from my originally rather harsh target of 1.5% per month!

Although as I've spent a lot of that already, ironically what's left is about 1.5% per month - it's going to be a tough year!!!