Sunday 26 July 2015

Happy 3rd Birthday Curling Stones for Lego People!!

It's been birthdays all round this month; it was only last Sunday that I had this delicious cappuccino cupcake to help celebrate Oresome Gallery's 4th Birthday, and it suddenly dawned on me that a certain blog had been going for nearly 3 years!!

Roll forward one week and yes my hazy memory had served me right, however no time to bake a cake as I've been away on the bus this weekend... I did, however, manage to squeeze a little big pastry on board at the last minute...

Eagle eyed readers might notice that there were actually two of these lovely custardy, chocolate thingies (I have no idea what they were, but they were very nice) and, yes, I did share.

Whilst the night was dark, a bit windy, with lashings and lashings of rain in the early hours, we did at least wake up to a nice sunny day

Time to come home and just in case you were missing out on some birthday bead photos, I've saved something VERY special to show you for such an occasion...

A sneak peek* at my all time favourite set of silver beads from Trollbeads... yes, this is an entire set of the Limited Edition Silver China Beads from 2009, and they're mine!  I've paired them here with my turquoise and striped turquoise agate sets which is how I'm currently wearing them.  Still pinching myself that I'm not dreaming this and I have actually found and acquired the full set.

I will no doubt write about these in more detail at some point; but as it's my Blog Birthday I'm going to enjoy the rest of my day with my feet up looking at the pretties on my wrist.

Happy Birthday
Curling Stones for Lego People

Thanks to everyone who helps to make this such a pleasure,
it's always lovely chatting, at events, via email, private message,
forums, directly on here or any other way I meet you...

Enjoy Your Day!

*okay if you were paying attention I had shown you a side shot earlier this month... this is my sneak peek front/bracelet shot... now I'm wondering how many sneak peeks I can do before they are no longer sneak, or a peek? Answers in the comments...

Monday 20 July 2015

Trollbeads Newport aka Jeffries Jewellers Event Saturday 21st March 2015

I seem to be developing a habit of being fashionably late with event posts at the moment... however this is the last one, so definitely a case of last but not least!

Invitation from Trollbeads Newport

This was an event I'd been looking forward to for several months, way before I even knew what the Trollbeads Easter 2015 Release would be - back then like many others I thought it would be another variation on bunnies & eggs, so I was far more focused on the trollbeads community side than the actual beads.

Trollbeads Bag owned by a lovely collector,
please can we have some of this in the UK?

I've been writing about Trollbeads Newport aka Jeffries Jewellers for a while now, they were brought to my attention by another collector who was singing their praises and I've featured them a few times since... I've always been impressed by the lengths they go to for their customers and my dealings with them have always been exemplary.

Trollbeads Easter Collection 2015
Photo credit: Trollbeads Stock Photo

So, given that the Easter Release was finally revealed as Dragon themed and I was going to Wales to buy Dragons and meet people I've "known" for a long time but I've never met in real life; I was super excited!

There was only one snag... the dreaded Bead Budget, now I had been saving up for this trip as I knew Jeffries would have some special deals, and I *really* like dragons, so I had set aside quite a stash so I could plunder the booty - actually I'm quite well behaved so read "plunder the booty" as "legitimately buy in a legal sense some pretty beads".

However, I also really like my Bus... and she was misbehaving at the MOT station at the time and with plans for the Summer I had to divert the majority of my stash to steer my ship, er, I mean, my bus!  So with reduced budget, but enough money to make the trip itself, I set sail for Wales! In the car.  As the bus was in the garage.  Do keep up!

Pirate Cake

I have to say upfront that I have very few photos from the day itself, when I arrived, super early I thought, the shop was already heaving with customers... apparently they had been queueing outside for half an hour before the shop was due to open!!

Serious business of choosing beads by a collector

So after a chaotic start, I kid ye not, I had to fight my way to the till!  I was able to choose my own beads, take part in the Lucky Dip, pick up a unique and also received my half (lock and silver) of the Good Luck starter bracelet from a Trollbead friend - despite my lowered budget I did come away with quite a haul!

My treasure from the day!

My bracelet was free as part of one of the many promotional offers that Jeffries were running that day as I had bought the Dragon lock from the Easter Collection - buy a lock get a bracelet free.  I also picked up the lovely little Dragon as I had to choose between this and the egg due to budget constraints.

My second lock and silver were from the Good Luck Starter Bracelet that I had split with a friend earlier that month, (pre MOT) but we decided it would be fun to try and meet up to exchange rather than do by post, so glad we did!

Some of the booty... aka the Lucky Dip!

I picked up a black armadillo bead in the Lucky Dip (free Lucky Dip bead with any purchase) and bought a rather nice peacock unique... I'd no intention of buying anything other than what was on my list, but I'd wanted a second peacock bead for a while and this was such a nice example!

Tea anyone?

There was time for tea and lots of chatting, and of course we managed to get in a wrist shot or two, I did mean to borrow some photos from the day, as others were far more efficient at photographing the event, even bloggers sometimes have an off day ;)

Wrist Shot!!

After all that shopping we nipped out for a spot of lunch and managed to catch the Rugby game which the rest of the pub had come out to watch, the group got split up for lunch but this gave me a chance to catch up with Kay, who I've known for years but only "met" in person at Cambridge and ditto Tracy who I was "meeting" in person for the first time, as Tracy and I keep missing each other at previous events (sometimes by minutes) so it was really nice to get the timing right this year!

Time for cake!

Back at the shop it was time for a bit of last minute shopping for some, browsing the beads whilst it had got a bit quieter and of course, it was time for cake and fizz!

I said my goodbyes and ran to catch the train from Newport Station, yes, yes, I drove to Wales, but then got a lift to Newport and the train back... I think I was seeing just how many forms of transport I could shoehorn into one blog post!

I had a fabulous short weekend in Wales, many thanks to Jeffries Jewellers for hosting the event and in particular Liz for all her fab organisation, and of course Scott for opening up early!

Lastly thank you to all the lovely Trollbeads aficionados who were there on the day, it was so nice to meet so many of you and I really enjoyed chatting with you all, especially all the Forum friends from Trollbeads Gallery... so much so, I forgot to take photos for the blog!

I'm curious, is it just me who gets carried away when I'm enjoying myself?
What have you enjoyed so much that you forgot to do the obvious?!

Monday 13 July 2015

Rebel without Tomato Sauce!

Like many others I was really intrigued, and rather excited, when Trollbeads announced they were going to release a copper version of the very popular solid silver bangle at the end of April.

I love the use of different metals in jewellery and as I don't normally react to copper (I'm quite lucky on the metal allergy front) I couldn't wait to receive my bangle and stoppers.

Copper Bangle & Stoppers from Trollbeads (bead my own)

This is my bangle as it arrived, the background is actually the tissue paper it was wrapped in!  I started wearing it straight away and Yay no reaction - not that I was expecting to have one, but it's nice to know I still don't!

I've made very few changes since it arrived, I liked the copper next to the green bead so much that I've actually not swapped the bead at all; I've just added a couple of silver stoppers to the mix.

Copper Bangle from Trollbeads paired with
Bronze & Silver Links from X Jewellery 

One aspect I was really curious about was how it would age as there was lots of chatter on the Internet about this element of using copper in jewellery.

On purpose, I've followed none of the guidelines for keeping it shiny; I've deliberately left it out all the time (ooh you rebel), just over 2 months now, so that it would get as "aged" as it possibly could.

Prompted by a question on the Wednesday Twitter #Trollbeadschat (8pm GMT if you're interested?) I tweeted a before and after pic of my bangle for comparison.

Left: Bangle on the day it arrived, Right: Bangle 2 months later after no care

It's gone a lovely deeper copper colour which I quite like!  I left it another week but then decided it was time to try out some of the methods for cleaning it.

Me, being me, didn't bother to look them up... so I tried vinegar as I had a vague recollection that was one of the possible, find it around the house, cleaning products - not so great, it was much better on my chips!

The one that bead friends seemed to swear by was Tomato Sauce, oops having just had some chips I'd run out of Ketchup!  So I turned to the next best thing...

The cleaning power of HP

Really I should have taken a pic when the bangle was half clean to show the difference... the black marks still on the bangle have actually come off the inside of my silver stoppers; I haven't been able to remove those yet!

Although I forgot to take a pic of the bangle halfway through, I think this next pic might demonstrate the difference between the before and after quite well!

Left: Stoppers before cleaning     Right: Stoppers after cleaning!

It's very simple, just put a tiny blob on some kitchen towel, rub your bangle and stoppers with it and voila!  I washed them in mild soapy water afterwards to remove the food smell, dried them very thoroughly and I was good to go.

Personally I'm very happy with the colour that develops over time with my bangle; for now at least though it's back to shiny!

My Copper Bangle, shiny again thanks to HP Sauce!

Next step - test it on my bronze X Jewellery links!  Now, for some reason I'm craving a bacon sandwich...

Would you wear copper jewellery and other metals?
What do you currently use to clean your jewellery? Share your tips!

Monday 6 July 2015

Unblogged Bead Challenge: 37 beads & 13 bangles later...

Picture the scene: Sunday afternoon, dabbling in a bit of gardening, but then the heavens open and the rain starts in earnest... so back indoors I go...

Then I got one of those crazy rainy afternoon ideas... why don't I challenge myself to put all my unblogged beads in a big pile, all 37 of them as it turns out, and make up some bangles!

To make it more tricky, I would NOT allow myself to use any other beads from my beadbox - 'cos I'm sometimes mean like that, and besides it's supposed to be a challenge!

Some of these beads date as far back as July 2013, so that's 2 years I've had them without ever mentioning them on Curling Stones for Lego People, well apart from when I did U is for Unblogged Beads - and I have included those two beads today as I figured it would be cheating otherwise.

So several head scratching moments and some thunder for that atmospheric background music and here are my results!

Some of the photos are a bit dark, as this was a "Yay let's do this whilst it's raining on Sunday afternoon" post, so it was a bit spontaneous, a bit dark at times and I didn't get out my light tent either... rebel without a cause thought!

1.  Trollbeads Grey & Pink Glass and Stone Bangle
The focal is a second Ruby Rock stone bead that I bought preloved back in August 2014, matched with 2 grey prisms, one of my A-Z unblogged beads and a striped bead from July 2013.

I really like this combo, if I'd been able to choose from my bead box, I would just swap out the striped bead for something else as it's pink is a little bright - I would have gone for something that's a bit more muted to match the others.

2.  Elfbeads Strawberry Dewdrops and matching LE Trollbeads Armadillos Bangle
When I put these together, if I didn't know they were two separate brands, I would have sworn they were made as a set; the colours match perfectly.

There are quite a few armadillo beads coming up, I am still a bit confused as to why I buy them as, apart from my retired green ones, I don't wear them nearly enough... probably that's why there are so many in my Unblogged list.  These purple and red ones were an impulse buy because they are LE, I'm working on curbing this impulse!

3.  Trollbeads Small & Beautiful Ridged Beads with Engraved Fuchsia Bangle
I acquired my first pink ridged bead, preloved, after quite a search for one in August 2013, and it took me until March 2014 to find a second one when a batch of them started to reappear with retailers again.

The Engraved Fuchsia is from September 2013 as it was part of the Fall Collection from that year, it's been worn a few times but never seems to make it to the blog!  I like this bangle so much it's stayed on my wrist all afternoon.

4.  Trollbeads LE Armadillo, Unique & Beadmaker Bead Bangle
Much like bangle No.2 I would have sworn these 3 were made as a set.  The pink & black unique I've had since July 2013, I've no idea why it's an unblogged bead because I *adore* it and I'm sat here wondering how on earth it's been left out for 2 years, shame on me!

My gorgeous Trollbeads Beadmaker Bead is a new addition that I've only had for a few months, it was made for me by the wonderful Julie from Lush Art Glass (formerly Lush Lampwork) whilst she was at Sizers Jewellers in Scarborough on behalf of Trollbeads.

Readers may remember that I really disappointed that I couldn't attend the Sizers Event back in March as I was off on a prearranged weekend with friends in West Yorkshire, Sizers had a great event and kindly arranged for me to receive my bead, even though I couldn't attend in person on the day - thank you so much!!

P.S. - Sizers have another Trollbeads Beadmaker Event planned for 7th November with Julie, so I hope I can go and get another bead from her in person later this year.

5.  Artisan Carved Amber Starfish, Trollbeads Critter, Unique & Matt Orange Agates Bangle
Some new beads!! The orange agates are from the recent LE Sunbeam Kit last month, I would have loved some green agates to match but I wanted to wait to pick my own stones and I missed out as they disappeared so quickly.

The artisan carved amber starfish will eventually find it's way onto my carved amber bracelet but I think it suits being paired with the agates for now.  Originally this was a 3 bead bangle, but as I was playing I thought the orange in the fish and the blues on both the beads made a nice contrast to the orange.

6.  Artisan Carved Amber Snake
This was my other artisan amber, it's a snake, not that you can see that very well on the photo, my bad!

The weather had taken a turn for the worse at this stage, it was very dark, plus for some reason my phone camera was having problems focusing... like I said in the intro, this was a spontaneous post and I had a lot of work to do, so I still didn't get the light tent out and just carried on, thankfully it did get a bit lighter after this!

I placed the bead on it's own, as it didn't really play well with the other unblogged beads in a combo, although the plan was to use all 37 beads I was still trying to make bangles I'd wear and not just for the challenge!

7. Trollbeads Small & Beautifuls with Elfbeads Silver Everstar
I've had both these small and beautiful beads since 2014 but the Everstar is bit newer from February of this year.

With a lot of the small and beautifuls I love the patterns but find that I don't always use them as much as I thought I would as they are quite distinct.  Hopefully I'll learn to make much smaller beads myself and be able to rectify this in the future - I think if I make some plainer beads that might help me use more of the small and beautiful ones on full bracelets, and not just on bangles.

8. Elfbeads Darkness Fractal Nets with Trollbeads Armadillos
I did mention there would be a few more armadillos coming up didn't I?  I bought my first black one back in July 2013 but I haven't used it at all; at the time I had very few black beads and it never seemed to make it onto any of my bracelets.  I began to feel that I really should get a second one for bangle combos!

My Elfbeads Darkness Fractal Nets are unworn since I bought them last December and  I've been contemplating selling them.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't seem to do anything with them and thought that perhaps they are just not for me...  I might have to have a rethink, as I really like them in this combo!

My pink armadillo was bought as a multiple to match my other pink one (I think I see a pattern emerging), however I have a little and large thing going on with them as, unfortunately, they are completely different sizes.

9.  Redbalifrog & Heidi's Klimt Bangle
This is a special limited edition bead that was a collaboration between Redbalifrog and Heidi's Trollbeads (a shop), it was one of two beads created in 2012 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Klimt's birthday.

The bead depicts The Tree of Life and has Homage a Klimt written across the top and 1862 - 2012 along the bottom of the bead.

I loved this at the time it was released, but back then I was a very new Trollbeads collector and hadn't ventured into trying other brands, so I was delighted to discover it (preloved) back in May last year, this is another "I can't believe I haven't told you about this yet" bead!

10.  Trollbeads 3 Monkeys and Artisan Glass Unique
I originally bought the glass bead to match a black and yellow jasper stone but unfortunately they didn't match in the slightest... looking at the two beads in my beadbox I can't imagine why I thought they would, creamy yellow on the glass and harsh yellow on the stone!

The glass bead is unusual but I do like it in it's own right, the buds are a lovely metallic coloured glass which blend nicely with the details on the silver bead next to it.

I picked up 3 Monkeys in a closing down sale in May last year, it was on my wanted list of beads and I must admit that the clearance sales are usually somewhere that I tend to pick up a lot of older wishlist beads.

11.  Elfbeads White Jade and Everscale with Trollbeads Howlite Bangle
These 3 are some of my newer beads from this year, although I've had White Jade and Everscale from Elfbeads for a while, my gorgeous Howlite from the Trollbeads Sunbeam Kit has been with me only a few scant weeks.

My plan was to use Everscale on a dragon bracelet, and it still is, but I love how this sits between the two stones that are both different.  I wouldn't have paired these two stones or everscale deliberately, but I think doing Challenges like this forces you into combinations that you might not obviously make.  I think we all can be guilty of going to our "usual" combination ideas - I think this one might be together for a while!

12.  Trollbeads Shadow Flower and Winter Jewel Flower Stalk Bangle.
I picked up Shadow Flower way back in March 2014, tried it on a Fantasy Necklace which it's designed for, didn't like it, and put it back in bead box.

When I went to the Hugh Rice Blogger Event back in April this year, I was trying out various bangle combos and made a Shadow Flower bangle with a "red bead flower stalk" worn off centre on the bangle.  Since then that's been my default way of wearing Shadow Flower!!

Winter Jewel is a new addition for me, picked up in a clearance sale and I "stole" my pink ridged beads off Bangle No. 3 to match - it's the only time I've used beads on 2 bangles in the Challenge but it looked so cool I couldn't not blog the bangle this way!

So please excuse my "cheating" - at least they weren't out of the beadbox!

13.  Trollbeads Brown Desert Bangle
Brown Desert, last but not least, but sadly on it's own!

Although it was possible to pair this with some of the other unblogged beads, the fact that I wanted to showcase other combos meant this one ended up by itself today.  It's my second brown desert though and I don't think it will be my last.

I hope we'll be getting some new darker sparkly beads in the upcoming Trollbeads Collection, if so, I can see a darker sparkly bracelet in my future!

This could just as easily be done with Unworn, Forgotten or Barely Worn Beads as a Challenge, if you find yourself making the same old combos, why not give it a go?

What are your "unblogged" beads?
Or is it only me who doesn't always use their beads straight away?!

Wednesday 1 July 2015

New Year's Bead Resolutions - are we nearly there yet?

For the last 3 Januarys I've set myself some New Year's Bead Resolutions for the year, as a way of focusing my bead collecting and to some extent how much I spend on shiny things!

As 2013 & 2014 were rather successful in shaping my bead collection, I only set 2 resolutions in 2015 as a result - overall I was quite happy with how things were going.

July seemed like a good time to look back at the first six months to see how I was doing...

Resolution 1 - Book another lampworking lesson

Lampworking Taster Session with friends

I've achieved so much from this resolution, without actually booking a lesson... What I did instead was book a taster session and as a result of this I'm on a voyage of self discovery in glass.

Glass Rods - waiting to be turned into beads!

Since that session I've been booking workshop time (literally renting a bench) and experimenting with glass.  I now own a "rejects" jar, a rod of "love them but can't core them" beads as well as a couple of rods of cored beads.  As each session comes along, if I take my time, there are less beads going in the rejects jar and more that I can, and am wearing myself.

Trollbeads Bangle & Silver Beads with Glass Bead by Me!

I'm really enjoying working with glass, it's a fascinating material to work with, I think of it as art meets chemistry and I absolutely love it!

Resolution 2 - Spend less in 2015 than 2014

I surprised myself when I looked at the figures for the first six months, especially as I stumbled upon my dream wish list silvers last month, took the plunge and bought the whole set in one go!

I'm on track with resolution No.2 despite these lovelies!!
Limited Edition 2009 Chinese Silver Set

But it's true, adding it all up I've actually spent less so far than I had by this point in 2014, I'm sure this has been helped tremendously by the money that I've spent on my bus rather than jewellery, but the fact remains I'm well on track with this one too!

Let's just see what happens over the next six months shall we? I fear Alex Cramariuc may be my undoing for the next 6 months....

Did you make any promises to yourself this year?
What has caught your imagination (or your pocket) so far this year?