Thursday, 29 December 2011

Spring at xmas

We may still be in the middle of the festive season but I've been stepping into spring over the past 2 days.

These designs are destined for 'a Passion for Fashion' in Maldon and 'Glass from the Past' in Billericay. What shall I make tomorrow?

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas creativity

It's so nice to have time away from school to really think about new designs. I had so many ideas the other night I couldn't get to sleep for thinking about them all.... Maybe sketching in bed isn't such a gd idea after all! :)

Until I've tested my new ideas I'm going to continue with a few I'd been testing in the run up to Xmas that flew off my stall. Stock is so low that I need new things quite quickly ....and to replace the Xmas themed pieces I have in shops!
So here I am a few days after Xmas and the kiln is on firing testers and new pieces too.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award

Tonight I was reading one of my favourite blogs by Love from Lynne and saw that she has nominated me for 'The Versatile Blogger' Award. It was such a nice surprise and has made my evening.
I try to blog when I have something extra specially interesting to say and am hoping to get time to do it more from mid Aug....I am going down to 4 days at work to spend more time crafting. I can't wait :o) I love reading blogs by other likeminded crafty people and hope that other people enjoy my ramblings too.

So now I need to tell you 7 interesting things about me and then nominate 7 of my favourite blogs to pass the award onto.

1)  I like growing my own fruit and veg in the garden so that I can pop out and pick exactly what I need for my dinner. I get fed up buying pack of things in the supermarkets who don't cater for singles like myself and throwing food away is such a waste!

2)  Although I am now a glass crafter I actually trained in Theatre (Design and Technology) at Bretton Hall University College up in Wakefield, Yorkshire. I loved it but the reality of working in theatre I'm afraid just isn't me so teaching beckoned.

3)  I hate cooking but for some bizarre reason am turning into a jam-maker-a-holic this summer. If its fruity and not being used for something it get turned into jam!! I am finding it quite theraputic and have decided to have a 'making as many presents as possible' type of get your jam flavour preferences in now ;)

4)  I also hate clothes shopping. Going into cramped changing rooms to try on clothes that just happen to be in fashion but don't suit your body type in my idea of shopping hell. I'm afraid to say I end up in a supermarket far too often.

5)  I love animals and have a cat and budgie- yes that does make for an interesting arrangement. The budgie is 10yrs old and his cage is suspended from the ceiling so that Annabelle (my cat) doesn't get him for dinner!!! but in her defence she rarely eyes him up and is more interested in the ones she thinks she can catch in the garden.

6)  I am a member of The Guild of Essex Craftsmen. I applied around 6 yrs ago and was lucky enough to get in straight away. I can proudly say I was the 1st glass fuser in the Guild! I regularly go to their craft fairs and can often be found demonstrating how to work with glass.

7)  I've recently come to realise that without art and craft in my life I don't feel whole somehow. I love learning new crafts and carrying on with what I do at home too. If I start feeling unhappy I need to get crafting and then start to feel more human again :o) I'm trying a needle felting workshop in Aug and am in the middle of an Emily Peacock 'Hug' x stitch cushion.

Right so now for another 7 blogs to pass the award onto....mmm....who to choose?!?

Hope you enjoy seeing some new blogs

Saturday, 9 July 2011

new designs

This week I had my new business cards and sticky labels delivered. I love the daintiness of the design. Sometimes it can be difficult to fully appreciate whats on the screen shot when you order things like this.

While I was demo'ing at Horndon on the Hill Feast and Fayre 2 weeks ago I made lots of card toppers. Tonight I finally found the time to sit down and make up the card designs. Once there's daylight I'll take some better photos and set up an etsy shop to sell the cards.

What kind of home do you live in? I've got bungalows, houses, town houses and flats in the designs.

Its wedding season so I just had to do some wedding designs too.

I also got a little carried away with the new baby cards. These are backed with felt rather than special papers like the other cards. I wanted a softer feel for new arrivals.

Its also the end of term when we all like to thank our teachers for all the hard work they do all year (ok so I'm a teacher, but in secondary school its very rare to get thank you cards/prezzies. The exception would be my 6th formers who bought us 2 goldfish and everything we needed to look after them too. How lovely is that?!)

We always seem to know someone with a birthday coming up. I don't know about you but I'm partial to a slice of cake at celebrations.

If you would like any of the cards above before I list them on etsy please leave a msg here or email me They will be priced at £3.50 and postage will be worked out asap.


Sunday, 12 June 2011

orange and apricot loaf

For some strange reason the non-chef that I am decided to make strawberry jam and an apricot/orange loaf today. Yesterday I'd gone strawberry picking with a friend and she'd shown me how to make jam. I'd never realised it was soooo easy so today was determined to make some of my own too and now I have several jars of warm jam sat in the kitchen. With todays miserable weather they make perfect handwarmers ;o)

How yummy do all those bits of strawberry look mmmmm. Went lovely on a croissant earlier.

The strawberries were huge, see how big they are compared to an orange.

My 2nd make of the day was an apricot and orange loaf. Unfortunately the tin liners I'd bought were too big for my loaf tin so I ended up using them in a flat tin instead hence the squashed looking loaf. I don't mind though, it'll taste the same.

So here's the recipe for it-
100g dried apricots
an orange
100g self raising flour
100g soft margarine
100g soft light brown sugar
2 eggs

1- pre heat oven to gas 4, 180c or 350f and line your 2lb loaf tin
2- chop dried apricots into a bowl
3- grate the rind of the orange into the bowl
4- Sift the flour into the bowl. Add margarine and sugar.
5- break the eggs into a cup and add them to the bowl.
6- Beat the mix until its light and fluffy.
7- Pour mix into the tin and cook for 40mins

icing ingredients-
100g icing sugar
2 tble spoons of orange juice

8- Mix the icing sugar and orange together until its the consistency of runny glue.
9- pour over the loaf once its cooled.
10- most important.....Eat your yummy cake :o)

Happy cooking

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Trialing a craft kit

A crafting friend of mine, Claire from Beautiful Things by Claire Mackaness (look her up on facebook/twitter) has decided to start making craft kits. Before selling them though she asked for volunteers to trial the kits and give her a review so I volunteered to try out her tote bag kit.

I loved coming home on Thursday to find a little pink package on the mat. I know it’s only a small thing but it was the start of feeling like I’d got something special. As soon as I opened it I thought it looked very professional in the packaging and quickly opened the kit.

I have to say that I did find 5 pages of instructions a little daunting and wondered what I’d let myself in for but started to follow them step by step, running up and down the stairs to keep ironing various pieces of fabric, then coming down to sew them together.

It was simple to follow the instructions, so I needn't have been worried, and time flew by.

I also had a little hiccup adding the felt squares that covered the handle joins when it said ‘press the square for 10-15 seconds until the glue melts’. I literally pressed it and nothing happened. As someone who’d never seen sticky backed felt I didn’t realise straight away that it meant to press with an iron, oops! I felt very 'blonde' but I reckon Claire will not amend this before the kits go on sale.

I had another little mishap when my stitching didn't quite go straight- not due to my poor sewing skills obviously, there must've been something going wrong with the machine!!!!  or perhaps I was getting distracted by this going on near my feet.....

Around 75 mins after I started I had a completed, gorgeous tote bag.

So if you were to ask if I’d buy other kits the answer would be yes, as I found it easy and fun to do.  I reckon the kits will be a top seller in no time at all.
Good work Claire :o) Feel free to add a link to your etsy shop in the comments so people can easily buy them.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

fusing workshop

A few months ago I was contacted about running a workshop for 5 friends. This quickly grew to 7 friends and then to 9!! At this point I had a minor panic wondering how on earth I was going to fit 9 people into my house to teach them at the same time. I looked up hiring the village hall and thought about hiring extra tables to have a home but however I planned it out it wasn't going to work. I was also worried about being able to teach 9 people well enough so that they had individual help with their work. The only answer was to teach in 'shifts' with a group of 5 and then of 4 which thankfully the group were more than happy with.

The day started with tea, coffee, lots of chatter and a reunion with an old friend from down under. You could tell straight away that they were going to be great fun and were here for an enjoyable day whilst learning something new.

The coaster making went pretty smoothely but by the time they were onto suncatchers the making group were being 'helped' by their friends who couldn't resist giving suggestions on their designs. I guess it should have been predicted once they all had a basic understanding of working with the glass. It was quite nice really although they often joked about being in competition with the opposite group or telling them to stop heckling them- all good jesting :o)

Some chose to chill out in the garden reading some of my glass books and we all popped out to see the impromtu air show over head. I've never seen planes doing loop the loops over my house before today! Southend have their airshow in 2 wks so perhaps we saw their practice.

Friends 'helping' each other out.

The kilnful of glass created today. 9 coasters of varying design and glass cutting.

Gill who made the beach huts very nearly bought a piece like this last week in Burnham and was chuffed to bits to be able to make her own one.

At the end of the day I felt like I'd spent the day with my friends and was feeling about as chilled as they were and then came to shock of a clap of thank that's not something you get everyday :o)

Monday, 25 April 2011

peacock eyes

Nothing like leaving things til the last minute is there!
My leaded window design has been coming along nicely but so far I've managed to do the 2 easiest of the 6 sections and haven't got round to fusing the eyes of the peacock's tail. In tomorrow's eve class I'll be doing a bit of soldering on panel 2 but will then be ready for the tail and the challenge of the century!!! Now that I'm ready for the tail parts I really need the peacock eyes done and there for leading into the design. (See what I mean about last minute now!) So today was the day for getting it done.

I'm using lead crystal glass that I've been using for my castings as having done a few flat experiments with it I realised it would be perfect for what I envisaged.
I set myself up on the table in the conservatory with the leading design, peacock images, bags of glass, a kiln shelf to position the glass directly onto and was joined by a hot and bothered cat stretched out under the table!

But then disaster struck!!!! I ran out of glass eek!!! (ok I know I'm being melodramatic but I am impatient!) Luckily Glass From The Past, where I get my glass from, is pretty local so I jumped in the car and bought another 8 bags which should keep me going for a little while.

So disaster averted and I finished all the 'eyes' on the left hand side of the design.

When the come out of the kiln tomorrow morning I'll be able to pack them into a bag ready for the eve class when I'll cut and grind them to fit into the design perfectly.  

But before then I've got lots of 16yr olds to prepare for their final GCSE Art exam on Weds/Thurs....I'll need another 4 day wkend to get over this chaotic wk :o)

Sunday, 24 April 2011

new casting sculptures

What a gorgeous bank holiday weekend and school Easter holiday. For days now I've been able to enjoy eating every meal al fesco on the patio and have had 2 bbq's which is just amazing for April. I could get used to this :o)
Today I decided it was time to take my crafts outside so spent a few hours this afternoon making new casting sculptures.

Last week I went on holiday to Norfolk and visited Southwold which was full of seaside inspiration (ok so perhaps I am a little preoccupied by seaside themes but we can't help what inspires us can we?!)

These will be used to make a plaster mold at a later date so that I can turn the design into 3d glass.

Which is your favourite?
What other items should I add to the seaside collection?

Sunday, 20 March 2011

glass casting results

So I managed to restrain myself from turning the kiln on for 6 days!!! Are you as impressed as I am?! I'll admit I was going to put it on sooner but on Tues I bumped into Sue Chalk and she said she'd recommend leaving the molds to dry out for about a wk so I sensibly listened to her advice.

After 30hrs in the kiln I broke open the molds and this is what I found. Some of the edges were a little sharp, especially on the lagoon green shell which was the one that had got buried in the plaster, so I had to start grinding off the edges.

I love the level of detail that remains in the glass after its cast.

Last week I experiemented with fusing the lead crystal glass into flat shapes and was quite pleased with the results. I'm now wondering whether to use shapes like this as a base to put my sculptures on top of. What do you think?

What colour combinations/contrasts do you like best? I think I prefer the green shell on the bluey base, do you agree? mmm decisions decisions.....and what shall I get making next?....oooh the possibilities are endless.

glass casting 1

Back in October I went on a glass casting workshop with Sue Chalk and have finally started to experiment with it at home now. All it took for me to get going was discovering that the gorgeous lead crystal glass I needed was on sale at Glass from The Past in Billericay and I was away :o)

Last weekend while I sat on a craft stall at Hylands House I spent several hours making mini sculptures. Using plasticine, shells, a pencil and a craft knife I began to create the 3d forms I wanted to cast in glass.

Now anyone who knows me won't be surprised to hear that I was far too keen to see how they would come out to wait for too long to make the molds. By sunday evening my kitchen looked a bit of a mess with plastic pots, a jug, bags of glass, newspaper, plaster, weighing scales and various other bits n bobs cluttering the worksurfaces.

Some of the castings worked perfectly....
...but the one with the air bubbles didn't look quite so good....
...the plasticine had come unstuck from the base and moved inside the mold but armed with a handy craft knife to dig the plasticine out happiness was restored :o)

By the time I went to bed on Sunday evening the glass was secured in the molds ready to go in the kiln

All that was needed was patience in waiting for the molds to dry out before I could turn the kiln on....and that's not something I'm too good at when something this new and exciting is concerned. How long will I be able to wait before I programme the kiln?