I’ve got (almost) all my commissions in the post / collected and today I wrapped some of the gifts I’ve been buying from small independants.
I felt it was time to make the draw from my celebratory giveaway, which, if you recall I started on the 2nd November.
Blimables, how this year is flying for me. Anyway, I wrote out all the names of anyone who commented on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or WordPress and Mary-The-Magnificent has just drawn the winner of the £50 DGD gift voucher (either for them to spend or for them to give away)
And the winner is….
Donna Robson, please send me a message and let me know how you would like your voucher – electronically or in a more traditional paper format
This weekend we’ll be bringing in our tree and starting the decorating.
No this isn’t my Dalek, but I might make some like him this year 🙂
Whoop-whoop and wowsers, I can’t really believe it. November 2020 marks my 6th anniversary of my Etsy shop and also my 800th sale. I’ve now sold to every continent, and almost every country (west of the Black Sea, that is!). My World Map Of Domination is looking smart
As usual, with a milestone I like to do something to mark it, and as this year is particularly challenging for just about everyone I know* I want to offer a way for us all to feel a little more empowered – I think the lack of autonomy is where most people I know feel hit the hardest.
Bear with me, this is likely to be a long and rambling post, and there are fewer photos – please stick with it 😉
Rather than offer a piece of my jewellery to win, I’m going to ask everyone to give a shout out to a small business / artist / craftsperson / independent that they love who they know could do with some support so that we can all go and visit their social media pages and see what we can do to give them a boost at this time.
Not all of us will have any money to spend on gifts this year and most of us will have less cash and fewer spending opportunities – but the upside for many is that reduced socialising often comes with a small saving of time and money, so perhaps you could utilise that for good and feel as though you are being supportive in the process.
Look though my suggestions, and those of the comments made by everyone else. Look at the pages / accounts I follow for ideas and inspiration, I can’t put everyone I love into this post, because it would be far too long. Visit my Facebook and Instagram accounts to see other creatives I love who are amazing artists and allow yourself some fabulous glass / ceramics / art / embroidery / jewellery on your screens
Visit the websites and social media pages of the people and small businesses mentioned. If you see something that you love, or that resonates – you don’t have to buy it, you could just put a comment on the page / post so that the person running it feels a little bit of support. I promise you it will give them a lift and will really cheer them. If you’ve used them in the past and have been meaning to get around to leaving a review – now is the time to do it. Go on, you know you want to 😉
If you can share their shops / blogs / businesses online with your friends, even better. Bookmarking them for when you do have occasion to make a purchase? Awesome. Making a purchase? Outstanding. Thank you
Think laterally about your gifts this year – perhaps your favourite therapist can’t open for treatments, but they offer gift vouchers (Tola Health is mine).
My hairdresser (Fika Salon) had only just opened for business on her own, after having cut my hair for years (AshSalon). I’ll be asking if she’d like me to prepay for my next cut that was due during November
Have you thought about what you are planning to do about Christmas and birthday cards? Here are some of my go to sellers (some of you may have received a #CheeryUppy card made by them over the past year)
Local delis and favourite suppliers will be offering deliveries, as will many florists (I haven’t forgotten the surprise and delight of a bottle of Northmoor gin that appeared at my door earlier in the year) Here are some of my locals: Bon Gout Deli in Magdalen Road, Daisy Cafe Fore Street, Heavitree
Perhaps you could you give something similar to someone you love, or perhaps they could organise one for you.
If you feel you need to shop with one of the larger chain stores, that’s fine, don’t beat yourself up – after all, they have staff employed too and will be paying business rates, tax etc, which we need, but do, please, choose wisely. Are they an organisation you feel cares for their staff, paying them properly, with decent working conditions, or are they only interested in their bottom line?
Finally – Please, Please, Please share your favourites and your recommendations in the comments below. I’ve only listed UK small businesses, but don’t let that stop you doing this for your local favourites. At a later date (after this current UK lockdown) I’ll put the names of everyone who commented into a draw, and I’ll send them a virtual gift voucher they can spend in any of my shops – on something shiny for them, or if they want to regift the voucher they can do so.
In the meantime, stay cheery and stay safe.
*I’m particularly thinking of those working in the NHS many of whom are close to collapse, physically and emotionally; teachers finding it close to impossible to balance the demands placed upon them; people home-schooling; furloughed staff no longer with employment or wages; small business having to close, with minimal or no support and that’s before I even think about those people who are finding the enforced isolation beyond challenging. Hugs to you all, I hope that this helps you find a way of creating some positivity
I do very little cross posting here, on WordPress – I mostly prefer to use Twitter to shout out about other people’s work, but this super-short story popped up in my feed today, and I thought the beautiful prose and imagery could justifiably be shared – especially as I have a customer coming round today to pick through some gemstones for her next project. Follow the link below to go to Kat’s page and her exceptional talent.
‘Go anywhere,’ you said, ‘but not there. That’s all I ask.’ The door was unvarnished wood. Tucked under a stairway, slightly too small to enter straight-backed, locked with cast iron. You kept the plain key in your pocket, always. I wondered, of course. Sometimes I thought of little else, my mind swirling with possibilities, bright […]
You might have noticed (if you catch my social media occasionally) that recently I’ve been boasting sharing the reviews I’ve been getting from recipients of a #HookerRing
The most popular options are stamped with a metal punch, to give a repeated design over a strip of silver, that I’ve previously sawn, filed and sanded to size
I had a photo of all of the variables on my hand to share with you here, but it must have looked dangerously saucy; WordPress has blocked it !
Here’s one of the variants instead:
Well, I’m still not as good at stamping metal as I’d like to be, which often means that I miss-hit a punch when I’m trying to stamp the pattern in. Especially if I sneeze at the same time as trying to hit it (note to self, keep fewer flowers in my studio and do more dusting)
I’ve also been crocheting since May*, making my first proper project, which has been FABULOUS. Slow, and often I’ve had to redo a square 4 times, and I redid all of the first 8, but oh, I’ve enjoyed it far more than I thought was possible. So much so that when I finished it yesterday, I began a cardigan for #MrG.
I’m in the midst of developing some stitch markers to add to my gadget range (I had a request from a customer) and the first batch have been very successfully beta tested by a couple of people, so I’m now about to adapt the design to try and accommodate their super constructive feedback.
One of the drawbacks of prototypes is the potential waste. Of course, the drawback of not making and testing a prototype is greater waste 🙂
Although silver has increased (and continues to) in price massively this year, it’s still my time that is the most costly part of a small item, so I hate to waste anything and I often make my prototypes in silver because that is easier for me to recycle successfully than copper.
I learned from my crochet that a stitch keeper was essential (for people who don’t crochet; when you set it aside the working stitch is effectively a very loose loop of thread that’s easy to catch and then undo all your earlier stitches) I had been using using a plain, large jump-ring to catch this, but when I created a shadow stamp again on one of my pieces, I had a light bulb moment, and made a stitch keeper to match my hooker ring.
It works really well, and so I’m going to add them to my shops in the next couple of days.
The stamped bit is made from the rest of the ruined hooker ring blank – I stamp all the way down the strip, filing then sanding either end, sawing the design off, filing and sanding the new end again, and then once I have all my tiny pieces, I grip them in my pliers and do some more filing and sanding. This is far more cost effective than tossing the whole 7cm of waste into the ‘melt it down’ pot
Then I take any long left over and thick wire ends from other projects, file and sand (there’s far more filing and sanding involved in jewellery making than you might think!) and hammer one end to flatten, finally soldering on the design. That then anneals the piece, enabling me to coil it.
A bit of pickling and a trip in Betty, and boom.. Stitch keeper 🙂
*I’ve been making the Natures Walk blanket using the Open Fields colourway, with the addition of some purple ( I wanted it to pick out all the colours in our front room) and some extra squares from Elle. I found the combination of charts, and the traditionally written pattern, in conjunction with Bella Coco instructional videos and my books incredibly helpful. Links to all these resources here:
Black Sheep Wools (where I ordered the pattern and yarn)
Well, it’s not really September’s. I’m cheating a little
September’s theme was ‘New’. I’ve used this challenge to incorporate something new every month so far, and I had intended to continue my journey into flush setting with a simple, stacking ring band, flush set with tiny, tiny 1mm stones, but as sometimes happens, life got in the way and I was fabulously and surprisingly busy with commissions and orders. Yay!
So, I’ve cheated slightly, and used a ring I remodelled in July for a customer who’s become a good friend. This conversion from customer to chum has happened a few times, and is a wonderfully unexpected and joyful bonus of doing what I do for a day job.
Anyway, she had a ring that she never wore because it came as part of a set. It was always too large and ‘too catchy’. It can be classed as new in September because:
it was the first time I sold a piece before sending it away for assay (the law was temporarily relaxed due to C-19, permitting UK makers to make and sell pieces without Assay – provided we then sent them off later) this was sent off for assay in Sept, in accordance with the relaxed legislation
The brief was to remodel it into something wearable, and uniquely DGD-ish
I have a number of ways I try to understand what a customer wants, depending on
a) how well I know them
b) if they are local or if we are doing all the designing remotely
c) how keen they are to use technology
Sometimes we will create a shared Pinterest board, so they can pin everything they like that’s in a similar vein to it, and also stuff they hate (I’ve learned that’s really useful!), sometimes they’ll email or message me photos, and sketches and doodles, sometimes I get a doodle in the post, and sometimes we can arrange a face-to-face where they can pick through my stones etc and see what they’d like.
In this instance the ring was dropped off, and I dismantled it. Foolishly I didn’t take a photo of it before removing the glass (I wasn’t planning on writing a blog about it then!)
But here’s a photo of the setting and the band after I removed the glass. It was an interesting method of setting, not one I’d considered using myself.
Then I made a new band as we’d agreed, wide using one of my texture sheets from my favourite supplier Jewellery Bench Cafe she’d chosen
The piece of Roman glass was really quite large and deep, so I needed to make a bezel that would curve round the ring band, which I did treating it a little like a top hat.
I knew we were stacking some little stampings (thanks to Deborah at Cold Feet Studio for her blog that has inspired me since the beginning of my silversmithing journey) around the setting, so I used little sticky dots (I use and reuse these all the time, they are fabulous for holding a stone to the top if a box, or for pulling one from a setting, or or positioning the components whilst I decide where best to place them) to position the stampings, and then soldered them to the bezel base.
Finally, once I’d ensured the solder had taken properly and everything was secure*, I sawed the excess silver off, and soldered it to the band.
*I find the absolute best way to test this is with a trip in Betty-The-Barrel-Polisher. If everything is still on after 30 mins of being battered with steel shot, then it’s secure
It went for another tumble in Betty, and then I set the glass.
At every stage I sent WiP-Pics. I love to do this, even though it does add a little time to the process – I find it helps to prevent ending up with something that’s not what was envisaged at the outset, makes my customer feel involved and also gives an insight into why hand made is costlier than off the shelf.
Here’s the finished piece.
If you have something you’d like remodelling, do get in touch.
NB – First blog post using WordPress’s new edit options. hope it’s legible!!