Monday, April 30, 2012

The Difference is in the Detail 3

details on back of button pendant by Handmade by Amo'r

 Another look at detail that you will only find in handmade items. Here are some pieces from fellow Irish and Irish-based crafters:

Brigitte of Purls of Colour always surprises with those little extra details in her beautifully knit pieces. Having previously purchased a gorgeous purple scarf from her, dotted with tiny seed beads, I can vouch for the quality of her stitching and materials.

I'm always mesmerised by the painstaking detail in handwork by Mary of Queen of Cuffs. This piece is a fine example of her stunning work.

Where would you get the patience of Eletrra of Elettrarossa for this fabulous beading?  It takes well thought-out design and then concentration to get the detail right when stringing either a pattern or abstract style.

Click HERE for more in this series focusing on detail

Sunday, April 29, 2012

How to Clean Seaglass and Beach Worn Pottery

So you've collected some gorgeous pieces of seaglass and/or beach worn pottery from the shore. I hope you gleaned some nicely frosted pieces in pretty colours!  Now you want to clean it to get rid of the smell of brine, the little bits of grit and sand and perhaps in some cases, evidence of pollution.

Cleaning beach glass and pottery is very straightforward. After all, this is simply glass, porcelain or earthenware that ended up tumbling in the sea for decades. So you can use mild detergent, washing up liquid or soap flakes in water. You could even use baby shampoo! 

First give the pieces a rinsing in plain water. Then fill a bowl or plastic basin with lukewarm water and add the mild soap or detergent, frothing it up a little. Forgive me please, I'm about to state the obvious...but it's best not to use a sink, basin or bath as you might lose your precious treasure down the plug hole.

Place the seaglass and/or pottery in the suds carefully to avoid scratching. Give each piece a gentle rub with your thumbs to help loosen the grit, then leave to soak for a couple of hours. 
seaglass and beach worn pottery from Ireland
Transfer to a sieve or colander and rinse under the tap or in a fresh bowl or plastic basin of clear water. Pat dry with either kitchen paper or a soft, lint-free cloth. Lay the pieces out flat on an old towel or cloth to dry for several hours, preferably overnight.

When thoroughly dry use a soft toothbrush or nailbrush to carefully brush away any remaining sand or dirt. Carefully avoid leaving scratch marks.

Rinse in water and again, pat dry and leave to dry again.
lavender oil is good for black marks on seaglass
You could also use a drop of baby oil or lavender oil on seaglass to remove stubborn dirty marks before rinsing and drying. Lavender oil has a pleasant fragrance but is also anti-bacterial.
wet-look achieved with baby oil or lavender oil

If you like your seaglass to have a wet-look sheen with a more intense colour, just blot the excess oil off with kitchen paper instead of rinsing.  Oil, however, is NOT recommended for sea pottery, especially terracotta as it can clog the pores.

A beach comber I know once told me he used diluted bleach on seashells etc and asked if it is OK to use on sea glass.
Unisex white seaglass pendant,'Water Bean'
 As a general rule, you should avoid using strong chemicals. But on very dirty, pieces, particularly white glass, I sometimes use a drop of Milton (baby bottle sterilising fluid) in plenty of water first before proceeding with my usual cleaning method. Milton is good for sanitising, but also getting rid of unwanted stains. (I regularly give my teacups and coffee mug a soaking with it.)
white seaglass Celtic ornament from Ireland
 However, Milton can lighten or bleach colours so I do not use this at all on porous, terracotta earthenware and preferably not, on any beach finds in rarer, or exceptional colours. Regrettably, a couple of years ago I faded a piece of terracotta pottery I found on a Normandy beach in France. Oops. However, I have used dilute Milton on common brown and beer-bottle-green glass as an experiment with no problem.  But on your own head be it if you want to try it on your beach finds. Mild detergent and patience is always best. 

You can now use your seaglass or pottery for art projects or to display simply in a bowl or dish. (Follow this blog for ideas!)

click HERE for seaglass jewellery, ornaments and accessories
click HERE to learn how to clean seaglass jewellery

Friday, April 27, 2012

Etsy Treasuries April

Here is my latest treasury featuring fellow Irish crafters, artists, suppliers and sellers of vintage; Marshmallow Home. I hope you like the shell pink, cream and golden tones. 

Time to share some of the treasuries kindly made by international Etsy peeps. Thank you for feauturing my items in these beautifully curated collections.

Sea Sprites and Mermaids by Silver Crow Jewellery

It goes to prove that curating treasuries is an art form in itself, not to mention, fun to do!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Wooooah, the rainstorm has come! We got away with a pretty mild Winter and Spring so far in Dublin. But it looks like Mother Nature finally let go of all that rain and wind she's been holding onto a bit too long.  It's pretty nasty out there today. Stay dry and warm people! Whatever other woes I may have of late, I am grateful to have a roof over my head.

A Burt Bacharach song my Dad used to sing to us is circling in my head. I won't quote all the lyrics to 'Raindrops keep falling' but will share a few lines from the popular 60's song. It was written by Bacharach and Hal David and sung by BJ. Thomas in 1969 on the soundtrack to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It got to number 1 and was obviously a hit with my Dad. I remember him singing it for yeeears whenever it rained. (Ha, it was frequently on the soundtrack to my childhood so!) You may remember it from the soundtrack to Forrest Gump in 1994.

'Raindrops keep falling on my head
And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed
Nothin' seems to fit
Those raindrops are falling on my head, they keep falling...'

'...So I did me some talking to the sun
told him I didn't like the way he'd got things done...'

Blue Chalcedony drop earrings

'...Sleepin on the job
Those raindrops are falling on my head, they keep falling..'

'...But there's one thing I know
The blues he sends me wont defeat me
It won't be long till happiness steps up to greet me.......'

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Away With The Fairies. A Tale of Inspiration

I've had this dainty piece of drilled beach glass for at least a year. It's a little small for a pendant. And as white seaglass is common enough and I have plenty of bigger, more exciting pieces to work with, this little fella was lost and forgotten in my bowl of beach finds. I didn't feel inspired to do anything in particular with it.

Maybe it was my hike to Fairy Castle in Ticknock (which may look like a big pile of ordinary rocks, but is apparently the remains of an ancient cairn or tomb.)

Or perhaps it was this pretty fairy village I found in my cousin's garden? ( How cute is that?!)

But most certainly, it was my 5 year old niece who took me fairy-watching in the park over the Easter holidays and filled my head with stories of goblins, witches and fairy princesses....ok, maybe it was me who was telling the fairy tales, but all that magic had to go somewhere didn't it?!  TADA! And so appeared the Blue Fairy:

Thank you to Alannah, for sprinkling a little magic dust and inspiring me to create something pretty. Oh to be a child who believes in fairies again.....

Friday, April 20, 2012

How to Care for Seaglass Jewellery (Tips 5)

Continuing with my series on jewellery care, here are a few tips for looking after seaglass jewellery and accessories

*The characteristic frosting on genuine seaglass can fade with wear. This is caused by contact with oils in the skin. Clean your beach glass jewellery regularly to keep it looking well.

*You can wash your beach glass jewellery in mild soapy  water. A small drop of gentle washing up liquid or soap flakes in a non-metallic bowl of water will do the trick. You can use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub any marks or grime. Be sure to dry thoroughly after rinsing to protect any metal components in the jewellery from further tarnish. You can use kitchen paper and/or a piece of lint free, uncoated cotton or felt. Leave the jewellery to dry thoroughly overnight on a clean towel before storing.

If you polish silver parts of the piece with a soft cloth for jewellery cleaning, avoid rubbing the glass with it as it may cause black marks.

*Seaglass wrapped in un-laquered copper wire or silver plated wire can be dipped for a few minutes in a solution of water, lemon juice and a shake or two of salt. This will remove tarnish from the metal and will not harm the glass. Rinse and dry as above.

*Do not dip  beach glass wrapped or set in pre-oxidised silver into cleansers or solutions as this will remove the beautiful patina yet may not brighten up the silver fully, leaving you with something that looks more like gun metal. It may also transfer black marks to the glass.

*Avoid silver cleaning pastes, gels etc as they can get caught in and under the wire or settings. Rinseable foam cleaners meant for silver (eg) should be fine.

'Celtic Myth' Aquamarine Seaglass pendant

*To restore or intensify the colour you can use a small drop of baby oil or lavender oil on a cotton bud. Dab it on the glass and blot dry with a piece of kitchen paper after a few minutes.

(Note: none of my pendants are enhanced with oil for the photos. This kelly green pendant was held up to the light for this photo.)
Seaglass enhanced with lavender oil

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Difference Is In The Detail II

Last week I  blogged about the quality and detail found in handmade items: The difference is in the detail. The post spawned the idea of a regular spot for my blog, honing in on fab little details in work by fellow Irish crafters, artisans and artists.

A natural place for me to start is with work by talented friends, fellow Irish Etsy peeps who have shown me kindness and some of my super duper blog followers! (Oftentimes these are one and the same.)
 Kitty cat detail on child's tufted coat by HeliMG

 Oyster shell detail on wire-wrapped pendant by Balanced

Crystals and flowers on baby girl card by Good Moments
Button details on heart wreath by Quirky Apple

Researching items for this post was such fun and very inspiring.  I hope you enjoyed this close up of the wonderful little details you wont always get in mass produced goods.  
To be continued.......

Monday, April 16, 2012

Inspirations II. Ticknock Forest & Hill walk

 View of Dublin Bay from Ticknock, April 2012

I took a few days off over the Easter break to spend time with my sister, who is home from abroad for a couple of weeks. I feel like I've just been far away myself. It's always good for the soul to catch up with loved ones and have a laugh. It's also great to take a couple of days off, away from work routine and even, dare I say it, from crafting. Like everything, absence makes the heart grow fonder. And a break certainly refreshes creativity.
courtesy of Google Maps

We didn't have the glorious sunshine of previous weeks, but at least it was fairly dry so we managed to get in a hike in the Dublin mountains - which, I've humorously been reminded by my dear Spanish friends, are not mountains at all! Well, yes, there's a reason we call it hill walking I guess. But as I am not long back in my hiking boots after several years absence, the Dublin Mountains feel plenty high to me! In fact, when I first hit the steep forest path, my lungs wanted to kill me then and there.
Rest stop, Ticknock

When we were kids, Ticknock was one of my Dad's favourite places to bring us for a Sunday walk. It's still one of my most loved places in and around Dublin. It's handy to South Dublin, with a choice of easy to moderate trails and offers diverse terrain through shady forest paths, up rough and rocky hillsides (my fave) and over wild and open moorland.
'Fairycastle' Cairn, Two Rock Mountain
Moorland trail leading in the direction of Three Rock Summit
Rolling hills

There are several trails branching off the main forest path. last Wednesday we chose the rocky path up to Fairy castle, atop Two Rock Mountain and did part of the loop, descending before we hit Three Rock mountain, as we thought we felt rain and it was already a bit marshy after recent showers.

Turns out it didn't rain, though we did see some spectacular rain pockets over the city below. Sorry about my photography - I'm so used to using macro for shooting my jewellery up close, that I haven't a clue how to capture distant scenery yet. But I've had fun editing my worst photos to try get something out of them:
Close Encounters on the Moorland?

Even the traditional, post-hike pint by the fireside in nearby The Blue Light pub, inspired me to get arty.  Now, it's time I logged off and used all this inspiration to do some actual crafting......I'll be back with the results before long.

click here to see photos of previous walks and the jewellery they inspired