Sunday, June 29, 2014

Recycling Project. Candle Holder with Small Seaglass Pieces

Small pieces of colourful Irish seaglass
 What do you do with those little tiny pieces of frosted seaglass that wash up on the shore? I have a bunch of them that are way too small for wire-wrapped jewellery and ornaments. The colours are beautiful and it's a shame to waste them. Most of them are fully frosted so they have probably been tumbling in the sea for decades and it's lovely to be able to recycle them. Here's one very simple idea as to how to display them by making an eye catching candle holder.

(To learn how to clean seaglass  firstclick HERE)

As this is a recycling project, I decided to re-use this small, glass, ramekin dish that came with lemon souffle in it. (Yummy!) At just over an inch high (c28mm) and slightly more than 3 inches in diameter (c78mm), it is the perfect size for displaying a tea light candle.

First I put the small tea light in the centre of the ramakin. After placing the small seaglass around the candle, I carefully filled the dish with water, falling short of the top of the candle by about half a centimetre.
The colourful pieces of sea glass remind me a bit of those sugary, jelly sweets small kids love.
The fluted design of the dish throws gorgeous patterns of light. The candlelight picks up some soft colour from the seaglass in the water. Three of them would make great centre pieces along a table. Only two lemon souffles in a pack...I'd best go and get some more so.

To learn how to clean seaglass click HERE
To learn how to clean seaglass jewellery click HERE

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tuesday Treasuries

Treasuries are showcase lists of Etsy goodies from various shops. They are artfully put together by members of the Etsy community. As always, I am grateful to be included in a beautiful list this week.
 Lynn Corrigan of Lynn's Creative Crochet has a good eye for something a little bit different. 'Wee Whites' is no exception. Thanks so much Lynn for including my 'Roaring Twenties' earrings in this interesting list. My Mum would love that squirrel!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Keep Your Earrings Together.

Earrings can be a bit like socks. Pairs have a sneaky habit of parting company, so you end up with a bunch of useless odd ones. Seriously, where do the other ones go?
own earrings, not for sale
 Here is a great tip for keeping your stud earrings together in the jewellery box when travelling or simply for pretty display purposes.

Button down the hatches cos these babies aren't getting away! Just pin them through the holes of a button to keep them from splitting up. If you are travelling, I'd then wrap them in a bit of thick paper tissue or  perhaps some felt.
keeping earrings together with a button
Fastening the studs through a button is also a lovely way to display your stud earrings on your dressing table! You could even try joining a few buttons together to make a cute decoration.
button hook for displaying earrings
I did a quick little experiment and threw together this button hook with some pink craft wire. It's not for sale, I was just playing around with the idea, but you see where I'm going with it.

The bottom button serves as a holder for dangle earrings too. If you don't work with craft wire, you could try this at home with thick thread or chord perhaps. Why not give it a go and see what works?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Jewellery Inspired by Irish Bog Landscapes

Lough Tae (aka 'The Guinness Lake') Wicklow Own photo

Much of my jewellery is inspired by Irish landscapes.  Though we are famed for the lush green of our countryside, for such a small country, we do have a wide range of scenery to lift the soul. Much of the midlands and East of the island are covered in bog made of peaty soil. Peat is mostly rain water mixed with solid material: ancient bark and plants that decomposed over thousands of years. The result is a reddish, cocoa brown earth, often dotted with colourful plants including white bog cotton, purple ling heather and moor grass, green and brown mosses and a variety of hardy yellow flowers.

Here are a few typical examples of my jewellery together with the places that fueled the passion to make them.
Ticknock, Dublin. Own photo
Ticknock on the outskirts of Dublin was the inspiration for this scenic jasper and copper necklace:
'Dublin Hills' scenic jasper and copper necklace
The smooth jasper evokes the rich hues of the countryside. The stones display a stunning array of shades in cocoa bean, russet, coppery reds and chocolate. There is even a touch of sand and grass in the mix. 

bog water river, Bohernabreena, Dublin, own photo
'Nature' jasper gemstone necklace
'Nature' necklace was also inspired by the peaty soil of the Dublin and Wicklow hills where I go hiking, and especially by the chestnut brown water of the bog streams and lakes.
The sterling silver wire work represents the flow of a river. This was done freehand with a simple round-nosed pliers, not with a jig. Then I hammered the silver to make it rigid.
Lough Dan in Co Wicklow, own photo
peat-stained water of Lough Dan
The water in many of our lakes is as brown as a pint of good ale, or even as dark as a Guinness. The water is clean, just stained by the peat in the soil.

'Chocolate drop' earrings were also made with the bog in mind. The rich cocoa of the mahogany obsidian stone is very peaty. When I was making them I remembered the big bags of peat moss my dad used to buy as a soil conditioner for his vegetable patch. 

Let's not forget though, that Ireland is the Emerald Isle and you will usually find a lot of green, Connemara marble in my collection too.
Powercourt waterfall
'Landscape' Connemara marble and silver pendant

The green wilderness co Wicklow, just south of Dublin, inspired 'Landscape' pendant in a soft sage specimen of Connemara marble. The wire work emulates the flow of  the waterfalls found in this 'Garden of Ireland' county.

Read more about nature-inspired pieces by clicking HERE

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tuesday Treasuries, Simmering Summer

Treasuries are showcase lists of Etsy goodies from various shops. They are artfully put together by members of the Etsy community. As always, I am delighted to be included in some beautiful lists this week. Thank you!

June always brings with it, some beach pastels to get you in the mood for that annual vacation. This pretty  treasury, titled 'I'd like to be beside the seaside' by Mary Johanna of Johanna Crafts   is full of enticing jewellery and other goodies from Ireland. Delighted to see my sea pottery pendant in the mix.

Perhaps you are holidaying in Ireland this year? This list of Irish  crafts should get you in the mood. Thanks go to Sharon of Fabric Girl Designs for including my Connemara marble pendant (or ornament) in 'Everything Irish.'

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Crafty Bottle Chandelier, Caught My Eye No. 30

Caught My Eye  is a series of blog posts showing scenes I found interesting, odd, curious or beautiful. I am artistic and therefore an observer but I am not a photographer by any description. So if you expect top quality photography I'm afraid you will be disappointed.  But please do enjoy a snap shot glimpse of the world through my creative eyes. 

recycled bottle chandelier, Tullamore Dew Centre
I love any crafts that involve recycling. This chandelier in the tasting room of the Tullamore Dew visitors centre really caught my eye for the clever re-purposing of old whiskey bottles. It reminds me of a lamp my very talented Mum once made out of a milk bottle. 

On a not too dissimilar vein, the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin boasts a very unusual, industrial chandelier in one of its private function rooms. It's a little hard to see in the website photos, but above the table is a huge light fixture made from original pipes and fittings of the building. I'm afraid I don't have a photo of my own (though I worked there for several years) but the chandelier is re-purposed, industrial chic at its best.


Friday, June 6, 2014

F is for Findings

Welcome to part 2 of the letter F in my ABC of Jewellery. The series is a not-so-comprehensive guide to jewellery, materials and techniques I use, inspirations and design. The letter F proved to cover quite a lot, so I divided it into two posts. Part 1 covered Fluorite, Feldspar, Fan necklaces and Fairies. Part 2 introduces you to the group of craft supplies called Findings. It so happens, I have a small bank of previous posts to help me here.
examples of jewellery findings
Findings are those little components used in jewellery making to connect, secure, enhance or hang either the other components (beads/stones etc) or the entire piece. Examples include earring hooks, charms and clasps but they encompass a long list of other small supplies from headpins to crimps and are mostly made of metal. All good jewellery craft suppliers will sell a wide range and the larger online suppliers often have clear explanations for usage.

If you have some experience in wire work, you can make many findings yourself quite easily from craft wire. I took a findings master class at Dublin store, Beads & Bling a few years ago, but you can find tutorials online. I include links in this article to any relevant tutorials I have written to date myself.

The simplest of findings is the humble jump ring. This is a basic ring of wire that can be open or soldered shut. If you are not a jewellery maker you can use an open jump ring for repairs such as re-attaching a clasp if you know the correct technique to ensure the ring closes tightly. I previously posted this insider tip How to open Jump rings & Loops You don't have to own a pliers to do this if you have a strong tweezers.

If you do have the basic tools, you can even make your own jump rings with a hard craft wire, such as gauge .80mm (20ga) or 1mm (18ga) and, when adept, in super hard 1.25mm (16ga). I don't do this often, as I prefer to wire wrap links instead but I do make the odd ring to use as a hanging bail for a pendant.

For full instructions on making jump rings please refer to my recent post How to Make Jump Rings...

There are several ways to finish a beaded string but my method of choice is to use metal crimps and covers. I previously wrote a tutorial on How to Use Crimps  which may be of use to beginner beaders or of interest to those who have only ever used knotting techniques.
tiger eye pendant with spiral charm detail

Small metal charms can also be classified as findings. These are tiny pendant-like motifs that you can attach   onto  extender   chains,  charm  bracelets,  flat stones  and  to  other  findings  for decorative purposes.

A typically Irish symbol that only requires the same basic pliers set and wire to make is the Celtic spiral. For instructions please refer to my previous post How to Make Spiral Charm. 

It is preferable to hammer most of your handmade findings and charms to make them strong and rigid. Again, here's one I made earlier: How to Harden Charms and Findings with a Rubber Hammer. A chasing hammer (middle photo) can also add texture.

Other basic tools required if making your own findings are a set of metal files for softening sharp ends of wire and an agate burnisher for finishing the job by smoothing. A burnisher is also useful for polishing and for smoothing little nicks and bumps in metal.

F is also for have a good one and a fun filled weekend!



or by letter:
A  B  C  (plus C for Crimping D E F

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tuesday Treasuries, June Jumps In

Treasuries are showcase lists of Etsy goodies from various shops. They are artfully put together by members of the Etsy community. As always, I am thrilled to have been included. Thank you!

By chance, a couple of my creations have found themselves in 3 very Irish treasuries this week. 

Thankyou to Lucie of Lucie's Fantasy Glass for this eclectic mix 'Auld Irish Artisans', and for including my Connemara marble pendant with these wonderful picks. I love the melding of the traditional with more modern designs. If you need a dose of cuteness, check out those swans with their fluffy chicks!

It;s not quite the same thing as a treasury, but the same 'Landscape' pendant also made it into this Celtic list, 'Irish Celtic' on the Auld Irish Team's page.  This is a group of Etsy sellers who are either Irish or simply lovers of all things Irish.  I appreciate being included in this celebration of Hybernian heritage. 

Nancy of Nancenet Designs has clearly been inspired! Thanks for including my clear quartz, Edwardian style earrings with local items from the Etsy Ireland team in 'Clear the Green.'  Clever title!

Monday, June 2, 2014

E.T. Stone Home? Caught My Eye #29

Caught My Eye  is a series of blog posts showing scenes I found interesting, odd, curious or beautiful. I am artistic and therefore an observer but I am not a photographer by any description. So if you expect top quality photography I'm afraid you will be disappointed.  But please do enjoy a snap shot glimpse of the world through my eyes.

I use Celtic spirals a lot in my jewellery. I spotted this lovely carving on the seafront in Greystones, Co Wicklow. Without meaning any disrespect, this caught my eye for another reason too. Is it just me or does any one else see ET here?

In the meantime, here are a few of my own spirals, definitely of a terrestrial kind....
Connemara marble                        Sea pottery                 Agate slice

Sea glass                            Honey agate                        Tigers Eye