Monday, 19 December 2011

Merry christmas and thanks

Just wanted to say, while I remember and have the chance, many thanks for visiting my blog over the past year.  Special thanks for those who've taken the time to leave comments - most have been very lovely and supportive, and that's what's great about blogging.  The opportunity to find lots of like minded souls, get crafty ideas and have fun!

Hope everyone has a very merry christmas and a wonderful new year.  Hope 2012 is better than this year for everyone.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Handmade Monday: Christmas wreath

Looks like we won't be having our tree up this year as OH's refusing to get it out of the roof...too unsafe with a nearly one year old (boo hiss to the pantomime villain).  However, a few weeks ago he did produce lots of holly for me in case I wanted to make decorations.

So i decided to try and make a wreath.  The hardest part was finding a frame (we seemed to have no wire coathangers to use).  In hindsight I should have paid the extra and got hold of a moss-type frame, but instead eventually found a wire circular wreath frame.

As well as the holly (I used 24gauge craft wire to attach), I had some silver fir cones and coloured bells which I filled in some gaps.  Then hung it over the door using one of those brilliant hangers (discount shops rule!).  I'm really pleased with it for a first attempt...looks great from a distance, although there's a lot of gaps and wire showing up close.

I have to say I don't think I'll make another one in the future - shredded my hands far too much, and I'm not sure how long it will last.
Check out the other Handmade Monday posts here, the last until the new year.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Pearly queen

I am so loving pearls at the moment.  Any really...rice, potato, round, coin, but particularly the potato (especially when they're the little nuggety shape).  I also love the coldness when you first pick them up...proper ones obviously, and that applies to gemstones. It's a gorgeous thought to feel them getting warmer in your hands.

I've got quite a few different colours of pearls in my stash at the moment and that's the beauty of them.  You can mix and match to any outfit.  Classic off white or ivory, or rich chocolate, or funky peacock blue.  I love them all.

My favourite makes are simple single strand necklaces or bracelets, although I do fancy getting round to making an assymetric multistrand necklace.  I have to plan for that though as usually I only buy a strand at a time so would need to buy more than one to get hold of enough beads if I just wanted one colour/shape.  Although I do have a current bugbear - why are gemstone/pearl strands just that little bit too short to make a necklace?  Or do I just have a fat neck?!!!  Sometimes you just want to use a strand and restring it to make the most of the gems, but I never seem to have quite enough beads.  Grrr.

Anyway, here's a couple of my recent pearl makes.  I've glitzed them up a bit for Christmas because it's nice to have a bit of sparkle.
Ivory potato pearls & green/blue Swarovski crystals - necklace
Ivory rice pearls with crystal rondelles - bracelet
Blue potato pearls with blue lace agate tumble chips - necklace

I definitely think I'm a bit of a pearl convert...or maybe I'm just getting older.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Christmas bazaar completed

Phew, the Christmas Bazaar was yesterday, and yet again was a good experience with lots of tips & ideas for the next one.  Realised that the organiser and myself had worked together at the NCT Nearly New sale (small world), and also recognised a few people on stalls as well.

I was pleased with my displays, although I do think maybe next time I'd not put so many things out.  Although I put price tags on items, there are a few (like earrings) which are harder unless you put them on earring holders. This time I put earrings on display stands in price rows, but think I'd put stickers on the displays so people wouldn't have to ask (and I wouldn't have to remember which was what price!).  Oh, and note to self, put up my banner!  Durr

I was quite surprised at what sold - I was expecting to sell similar items to those I'd sold at a school fete in the summer (afternoon event, in aid of local school/pre-school) ie earrings, memory wire bracelets etc, but no earrings went at all.  Yes, it was bracelets again that were more popular (relatively so, as didn't sell very much - thankfully stall was 10% of takings for fees, so I still made a profit after all the expenses/cost of items sold (quite a few other stall holders said they'd not done as well as most of their other fairs so I didn't feel quite so bad).  I had decided after the summer event that as it was kids there who liked the sparkly jewellery, but couldn't find items in their price bracket, that for anything where there'd be children, I would make some more child friendly items.  So my miracle bead elasticated bracelets at 2 were great.  They looked really amazing with their shine & 3D-ness against the black holder they were in, and people were definitely interested and drawn to them.  Obviously when they sell, as they're cheap I need to sell a lot compared to gemstone necklaces or the charm bracelets, but it does get people looking.

I'm relieved I made a profit, and I did enjoy it (although it was only 2 hours), but I do think there were a couple of things that went against it...too many jewellery sellers (although most were different, at a small event having 3 jewellery stalls plus another mixed stall which also sold jewellery was a bit too much for people to spread their money around).  The layout had stalls round the outside and then on the inside old style fayre games like tombola - people were going straight for the tombola opposite me to speak to the stall person they knew and spend 25p.  Maybe having more of a zig zag layout with fun game stalls at the end so people need to talk past the 'shop' stalls to get to them?

Oh, and the hardest one to change...people attending need to take cash with them and have a facility to get rid of their children!  So many people said they didn't have enough cash (although one lady made me laugh as she scrounged money off her husband to buy a bracelet off me, and then more money off her stepdad to pay for something on the next door stall!), but they advertised the bazaar as having Christmas gift buying opportunities; the sort of stalls going to a local pre-school bazaar I would alway presume would only take cash.  And children do inconvenience selling opportunities.

Note to self if I do any more local christmassy fayres next year - only do them in November, as they seem to go better than December ones according to several people I spoke to at on Sunday.  Makes sense as that's when people are planning more for Christmas, by December they're all spent out.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Bazaar preparation

I've managed today to fit in some time to get really prepared for my stall on Sunday.  My display stands are ready to go, I've done a mock table set up, and have reordered all my jewellery.

I tend to use the takeaway type clear boxes & lids purchased from pound shops to split my jewellery into sections.  So, earrings dependent on price, my good for you bracelet range, gemstone necklaces, long necklaces, lariats, chain necklaces, memory wire bracelets, charm bracelets etc.  When I arrive, I can clearly see which jewellery type goes where and it's easy & quick to get everything set up and grouped together.

I've now just got to put price tags on my new pieces and get the earrings in order.  At the last fete I did, I made earring holders using business cards on make shift photo frames/ribbon stands, but this time I've got some proper display units, so I may actually put them on the stands and pack them up like that to take so it's quicker than doing it when I get there.  By having proper stands as well, it means I can price by display rather than having to write on each of the cards.  It should be clearer for customers to see what the prices are...I know I hate it when items aren't priced at fairs, so I want it to be clear for people rather than them being embarrassed to ask.

My stock list's been updated so I need to print that off ready to take - I remove the price tags as items sell, then I can mark off what's sold on my stock list.  Although this time I do have some cheaper items like my angel earrings and miracle bead bracelets aiming for teens who don't want to spend too much money; these are all priced the same so will need to find a way to note how many of those are sold so I make sure my admin's up to date afterwards.

Hopefully by tomorrow it'll all be ready and packed up, so there's not a last minute panic on Sunday morning.  The last thing will be to iron my tablecloths - they're a lovely pale blue colour, but annoyingly are cotton so crease really badly.  Hopefully if I iron them at the last minute and store on or near the aga, they won't get creased too quickly again until they're used.

Oh, and of course to sort out a float...mmm, that's always the thing I forget and I know I've got no change in my wallet.  That'll be a trip to town to sort that out.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Handmade Monday 45: Christmas gifts - personalised magnets

I've not really been up to many different crafts recently (just making lots of jewellery for next week), but when browsing on ebay for other craft supplies, I found packs of magnet cases at a bargain price.  I decided that I'd get some and use them to create some fridge magnets which I could then give to family for Christmas (and of course keep some for myself).

Luckily I managed to get some brilliant promotional offers from Snapfish at just the right time, so ordered a few wallet size prints, did some trimming once they arrived, and here are the magnets I made.  Perfect for grannies and one for us to keep.
Now, I just need to decide what I'm going to make with the other 7 that were in the pack.  I have some ideas, they just need a bit of sorting out on the sizing front (and getting my printer to work again).

Check out who's doing what on Handmade Monday this week over here.

Crimp Covers

Grrr, I hate them.

I want to make my jewellery look finished (although let's face it, crimp beads crimped properly look neat anyway), and so try and get on with crimp covers, but blimey they're a pain in the backside.

I'm almost finished a gorgeous pearl &blue lace agate chip necklace, finished it off with sterling silver findings, completed one end with a neat crimp cover, and then....failure on the other end!  5 times failure.  And then to top it off, I've chopped off the clasp by accident.  So I'm going to have to start again.  Waste of several sterling silver crimp covers and 2 crimp beads.  Expensive mistakes.

Think I may have to go up a crimp cover size - won't fit in the design as well, but if they're easier to keep hold of, then it's worth it.

Anyone else got any hints & tips, or alternative neat finishing?

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Ooh gemstone beads

I love beads.  Just the thought of the colours and textures, different sizes and glittery nature of them just makes me smile.  Going into a bead shop, I'm like a child in a sweet shop which isn't great for the budget.  Just buying a few can really add up, especially if you don't buy to order and just like to browse and buy what you fancy (the latter being me!).

Near me there's very few, if any beadshops (my nearest one's over an hour round trip), so I have to make do with the internet.  That's fine, although it's always a shame when you get mixed up with the size of beads even though you think you've double checked what size you want to order.

The last couple of days I've ordered quite a few new gemstone beads as I wanted to try some other beads.  Here are most of the gorgeous strands...yummy
I've already got quite a few ideas of necklaces I want to make, I just don't really have the time to do it all.  Hopefully I'll get a couple made at least in the next week and then uploaded to the website if they don't sell at the bazaar.

I've also finished my raffle prize.  I was planning on putting in my Christmas wine charms, but have given them to a friend for Christmas, so decided that as it was a daytime bazaar and there may be children buying raffle tickets it might be more appropriate to have some jewellery.  So have done a sweetie style charm bracelet with a gorgeous Swarovski star on it.  Really simple, and not a bracelet base I'd usually use, but thought it should work for children, teens & adults alike.