Sunday, 14 December 2014

Handmade Monday Long Necklaces

Apologies for the gap in blogging. I've been busy, both with crafting and with other less fun stuff including poorly relatives. I always find crafting relaxing, though, so even if I'm a bit stressed, the Blue Forest Jewellery production line is never quiet - in fact, it often gets more efficient!  There is so much jewellery in our house now, I have to look through my photos before I make something just to check I haven't done the same thing before!

One thing I really love is a long, tassel necklace.  So I've made a lot, but it always seems wasteful to be using so much chain. I've tried to solve that now by using a large textured ring on a long chain and adding the bar of a toggle clasp to the dangle so as to make that bit interchangeable.  I made a long version of the chain, and then an even longer one so I've got a choice to suit whatever neckline I'm wearing.

It took a while to convert all the ones I'd already made...

And some of them are not quite tassels either...

And a slightly different toggle clasp used on some of them...

Anything that saves room in my clutter is a good thing, IMHO. This one is my favourite...

And it's nearly Christmas.  How are your preparations going?  I haven't done as much as I should, probably because I've been messing around with necklaces!!

Here's a link to see what other crafty folk have been making this week.

Happy Christmas in case I don't get chance to blog again before.


Sunday, 2 November 2014

Handmade Monday: More poppies and Autumn colour

As it gets closer to remembrance day, I keep getting new ideas for poppy jewellery.  This week it's chain maille again.  The little poppies that make up the links take a while to do, so getting seven together for the length of the bracelet and earrings was quite a challenge.  In a way, it's a good job it was quiet in the shop this week, despite me listing a few new bag charms.

Apart from that, we've had this stunning Autumn weather, with the colours so fabulous and the sun shining on them like the middle of the summer. The park looked amazing the other day.

 Christmas themes are starting to creep in to my makes:

Isn't he cool?  I added the little daisies because the contrast between his size and theirs just seemed right!

and the stars always remind me of singing children's carols at school.

I've been working on my website too.  All will be revealed soon...

Here's the link to see what others have been making this week.

Have a great week,
Alison x

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Handmade Monday: Poppy

If the clocks have gone back, then it must be close to Poppy Day and a really special one this year. I love poppies, but I did struggle to convert my chain maille flower into a poppy, as I couldn't find the right colour in 6mm beads and had to use rondel crystals instead which meant adjusting the weave a bit. Are all us crafters a little bit perfectionist?  I must have undone this a good few times, but I think I'm happy with it now!

A short post this week, but do hop along to  to find out what other crafty people are doing this weekend.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Handmade Monday: lovely beads and lovely customers

Since I last blogged, we've had the pleasure of my nephew's wedding at which my homemade jewellery was admired. You might remember a slightly anxious post about whether I should whip up a fascinator or not. In the end, I made one but didn't wear it. Good choice, I think, and I did notice some of the ladies were removing theirs as the day wore on!

Last weekend I had a visit from a regular customer to my Folksy shop. It's always great to know people like your jewellery enough to come back for more, and this particular lady shares my love of bronzite. A while ago, she bought a little delicate bracelet with drizzled glass beads in deep blue, gold and red, combined with bronze swirls as connectors round each bead. 

It took quite a lot of time and effort to make those connector links, so when the lady came back asking if I could make a matching necklace long enough to wear as a double strand, I was kind of glad that the nights are drawing in,and there are stacks of TV programmes we watch which you can still follow whilst shaping wire! I have to admit to having sore hands from gripping the pliers,and I won't be rushing to recreate this one in a five strand version, but I'm quite pleased with the result. 

This time I added other glass beads with different combinations of the same colours.  The effect is a bit Venetian, I think, don't you?  It's been delivered now and hopefully being enjoyed.  We had a lovely sunny Autumn day today, perfect to see these colours at their best.  

Visit to see what other crafters have been up to this week,  


Sunday, 28 September 2014

Handmade Monday: Wedding jewellery

This week I've mainly been making some jewellery for me to wear to a family wedding.  I can't reveal the pictures as it's a family secret until next weekend, but I'll just say that my dress is bottle green and the statement necklace involves deep green and purple glass bead chain maille flowers, there's a lapel brooch, a bracelet and some tiny bead earrings. 

I started, and then stopped, making a fascinator, as my OH said it looked like a helicopter propeller, and I have to say, he is always an honest and very good critic and I could see the resemblance myself as soon as he said it.  So no fascinator, or hat, or tiara - just bare hair! The other pieces do meet his approval, but I'm not sure whether I should wear all of them together.  Hopefully, I won't be looking back on the photos in a few years time and wondering what on earth I was thinking!

I thought I'd show you my other wedding pieces in the meantime.  These always sell well in my shops, and it's lovely to have something, in some cases personalised, to celebrate your special day. 

This one has all the elements I think you need for the special day and the marriage afterwards - luck, love, a posh dress, the right shoes, and the key to your beloved's heart.  Have I missed anything?

There are some couples who, dare I say it, need a bit more luck (!), so this one has a four-leafed clover and a guardian angel too. 

This one is personalised with a rustic style stamped charm, and has a traditional pearl for the wedding - and a bird, as the person receiving this one has a particular love of them. I hope they had a lovely day on Friday.

This one was intended for wedding favours, or bridesmaid's gifts with their initials.

I was once the bride, but a long time ago now, and before I made jewellery myself.  I would probably choose pearls if I was a bride now, and this necklace is my favourite piece of wedding jewellery.

It's a metre long, with luscious vintage faux cream pearls and rock crystal cubes.  It would be great for a twenties, flapper style wedding.  The camera doesn't really do it justice.

Necklace white coin pearl leaf charm sterling silver chain UK seller

This one was bought by a lady for her daughter's wedding.  It was lovely and delicate with the coin and potato pearls, and I think a surprise gift.

Which do you like best?  What is your favourite wedding jewellery?  When have you successfully pulled off the fascinator/big hat/no hat/tiara/discreet hair comb look?!  Share with us.

Have a great crafting week.  Here's a link to see what others have been making.

See you soon,
Alison x

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Handmade Monday: Chain maille flowers tutorial

What a lovely week it's been since the weather got over itself on Monday.  We had a great walk yesterday at Wixford, followed by a delicious lunch at The Fish pub there.  It's been a good week for sales in the shop too, especially for bag charms, and I've made some progress updating my web site so people can design their own charm bracelets and necklaces.  The wild flower strips in the Coventry parks make you think you're in Italy!

They are actually not sunflowers but loads of these lovely flowers. Do you know what they are called?

They've inspired a tutorial this week.  Partly because I've not done one for a while and partly because I find it so easy for me to forget how to do things these days, it's handy to write them down on my blog. Also, unlike the other chain maille designs I've done, I'm not sure if anyone has done this particular flower design this way before. You usually find there is nothing new in the world of craft, so apologies if I am unwittingly copying!  Here's a daisy version of the watch style bracelet.

You'll need 11 beads and 51 jump rings for this design.  The tutorial is just for the flower - if you want to turn it into a watch style bracelet you'll need a few more jump rings in different sizes and to learn the butterfly chain maille weave.  I can cover that in another tutorial if you want. I'm using 6mm beads and 50 5mm jump rings, and one large 12mm jump ring for the centre. You need a bit of fine gauge wire too (0.4mm is good) and some beading thread. I like to use very strong jump rings, the ones I'm using here are 1.2mm gauge - Fabfifi50 on EBay is my favourite supplier for these.

Start with the 12mm jump ring. Close it and use the fine wire to wrap one of the 6mm beads in the centre, then add 10 of the 5mm jump rings to either side of the bead. 

It looks a bit messy at the moment and the centre bead will be quite loose. Don't worry about that - it will all tighten up soon.  

Next add 10 jump rings to link up in pairs the jump rings you've just put on. 

This is a very easy design but the next bit is where you could do with counting out 10 of the remaining jump rings and making sure you keep stopping to check that you're adding the jump rings on the same side of the flower.  This time you link two of the original jump rings again, but alternate ones from last time so that the next layer of jump rings lays on top of the last one. It's hard to explain, but hopefully clearer in the photo. 

The design will be really loose at the this point, so watch out for naughty jump rings trying to flip over and confuse the pattern!  The next step is to tighten the whole thing up with jump rings linking the last two layers:

Use 10 again and make sure you always link two jump rings but never go through the same jump ring twice. 

Now it's time to add the beads. Put one as a stopper bead on a long length of beading thread and then begin to sew them on, picking up one jump ring from the last layer between each bead as you go:

I find I need to go around with the thread several times to get the flower really rigid. The advantage is that you then don't need to tie or crimp the ends of the beading thread, they can just be cut.  You can see the beading thread a little but I don't think it detracts too much from the flower.

Once finished, you can add further connector jump rings as you need them.
There you go. 

Here's a link to what other crafty folk have been doing this week. 

Alison x

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Wordless Wedneday: Wild flowers

The parks in Coventry have a new initiative this year to designate an area to wildflowers.  The results are stunning.  I hope the idea lasts.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Handmade Monday: Getting the big cats mixed up

I love my charms, as most of you know.  It may be that outside of actual shops that sell charms, I have the world's biggest collection of bronze charms.  They are very popular in my online shops.  I'm thinking of putting a facility on my website for Chritmas so that people can design their own charm bracelet by choosing combinations of charms - do you think that would work?  It will take a lot of organising and I haven't started yet, although I have discovered a lovely little app (Framemagic) that lets me make collages like this really easily.

So browsing charms a couple of weeks ago I came across a lovely leopard head.  Great, I thought, it will make a pretty bag charm with a glass animal print bead I've already got.  So the charm came, I put the bead with it.  This is the result:

Spotted the deliberate (not) mistake (excuse the pun)?  Do leopards have stripes?  No, they do not.  Should I have thought of this before?  Yes.  Am I going to change it?  No.  It will have to be the big cats bag charm instead... Doh!

Here's a link to what other crafty people have been doing this week.

Alison x

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Handmade Monday Flowers and more flowers

Perhaps it's something to do with the lovely sunny weather? Some of you might know I often demonstrate a bit of obsessiveness in my crafting life. At the moment, and for about eight months now, it's been chain maille that I've turned to in every spare moment, and for the last few weeks, since discovering the inspirational work of Scott David Plumlee, I've been making chain maille  flowers like there is no tomorrow. Some of them are quite dainty like these Celtic flowers:

Some are more robust like these Byzantine flowers:

And then there are real whoppers like these 11 bead flowers. When you put them together in a bracelet, they are a real statement! 

Some might prefer just one in a watch-style bracelet:

I'd love to know iwhich you like best?

Here's a link to find out what others have been crafting this week

Hope you're enjoying this lovely summer,

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Handmade Monday: mostly chain maille but some bag charms too

I'm still obsessed with chain maille (is there treatment available?!) but I did take a bit of a break to post some new bag charms in my Folksy shop.  It's been a good week for sales, and people seem to prefer the multiple purse charms without beads, so I've concentrated on that.  Now which do you like best...

This one is for when you need a bit of luck...

For lovers of emo, goth, steam punk etc,

For lovers of shoes, handbags etc,

For anyone with a dog.

Is that almost everyone covered?!

And this one is chain maille and a bag charm.

Here's a link to see what other crafty people have been up to this week over at Handmade Monday.

See you soon,

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Handmade Monday: Right angle weave

It's been a lovely day here - the first day of the year I've been sitting out in the garden to bead which is always a treat. I've been experimenting with bead stitching and had a go at a simple right angle weave (or RAW) bracelet. 

The bracelet is made of crackle glass beads which are half purple and half brown, and the beads pivot on the string so it never quite looks the same twice!  It's actually the second version because rather-clumsy me dropped the bracelet on the floor and smashed quite a few of the delicate glass beads in the process!

Being challenged in not being able to tell left from right, it was quite a task to find a tutorial I could follow. So I'm recording some pictures here of how I constructed the weave, using different coloured beads to record the steps. 

I found that if you remember you are always making a diamond of four beads, that helps in knowing how many beads to add and what direction to weave in.  

The needle here is getting ready to form the next diamond, this time adding two beads...

...and going through two existing beads. 

One more diamond takes me to the end of the row....

Then it's starting again with another three beads. 

Will I ever go beyond basic bead weaving?  Not sure, it's a bit fiddly and I need more sunny weekend days when there's plenty of natural light to work by. Here's hoping!

Look, I've made the dog yawn!  He would rather I was paying him attention than working with beads. 

Here's a link to what other crafty folks have been doing this week:
 Alison x
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