Stuff for people who are still a bit untamed, young at heart and full of dreams.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

The Winner of My January Give-Away has been Drawn and a New Draw for February is up!

Congratulations Karen!

A cold and rehearsals for our local Drama Festival had me a bit in their grip, so I'm running with the January draw! The wee necklace with a stacked sea glass and Swarovski crystal pendant goes to Karen Valentine. Congratulations!

Karen runs a beautiful blog under the title of "My Desert Cottage".

Her blog is a must for everybody who loves shabby chic, rustic cottages, country living style and making things. It's brimming with lovely finds, interesting articles and lots of tutorials to make your own lovely piece of interior decoration. Karen is one busy woman and has also a business which helps people to create beautiful blogs. In 2012, she launched a blog called "Where Bloggers Create". It's a place where you find an amazing number of women who are all creative in one or the other way. They let you have a look into their studios, workshops or set aside working corner and by doing so, you are immersed into a whirlpool of creativity. I find it encouraging to see so many different skills and resulting products! Definitely inspiring.

February Give-Away Draw
I saw the first snowdrops and croci today. The daffodils are pushing their stems up too. That makes me think that it is time to stack up with colourful and light spring jewellery. So why not adding a few small bracelets to an already existing stack?

This months draw will gift the winner with three stacking bracelets in spring colours!

I've just begun to produce my spring collection of jewellery and there will also be quite a few more of the stackable variety. To win, all you have to do, is to comment and follow this blog. Of course, those who are already following have only to comment. After that, all that's left, is to wait until the end of the month. Good luck!

Monday, 28 January 2013

European Etsy Members Join in Solidarity

Orange and turquoise statement necklace  Spring trends 2012
One of Sandra's ceramic pieces at
Although many of us self-employed artists and crafts people are merely staying in business by having complimentary jobs or depending on a second income within the family, we can hardly imagine, what it means to live and work in Greece, Spain or Portugal. Life in those bankrupcy countries in Europe is hard at the best of times, but when personal tragedy hits, it can become unbearable, as in the case of etsy member Sandra. Then it is good to know, that an etsy team can be more than just a place where people attach likes and hearts to your work. Sandra is member of the European Street Team Spirit, and her fellow member star of the East came up with the supportive idea of a raffle.

Read, what Star of the East wrote in the blog that started it all, and maybe the etsy members among my readers might like to get a raffle ticket or donate a prize. Or, and that will help Sandra to get her legs grounded firmly again, buy something form her shop Likes, shares and hearts will help too! News on the raffle are to be found on Star of the East's blog .

And here the story:

"A few days before Christmas, our Etsy friend Sandra lost her husband to cancer. It was discovered in an advanced state and he was gone in a matter of months, forty years old.

Sandra and her husband were self employed as restorers of historical tiles, where their country, Portugal, is famous for. When a town has a project, restorers make offertes and the cheapest get the job.

An uncertain living in the best of times, seven or eight months before his death they weren't able to work. He, too ill, she, taking care of him. They have a five years old boy.

In those hard months they depended on the income of Sandra's Etsy shop, , where she sells lovely ceramic pieces. With all the extra costs related to the illness and burial, we know that Sandra is in big financial trouble, although she hasn't complained once. When this adds to the pain of loosing a loved one, is too much for a person to go on.

She is now trying to get an allowance from the government for her small child, but Portugal is a country in bankrupcy, so thus far she has only met a wall of bureaucracy.

Life is so fragile, and so is the web of dreams that we depend on. Everything can be taken from us in a moment. It can happen to any of us, and then we badly need the kindness of strangers.

Sandra's Etsy team, EST spirit wants to help her, and so we are organizing a raffle to collect money. There are more than FIFTY prizes to be won, all of them donated by her team members. We will run this raffle for ten days, and at the end of these ten days, more than FIFTY WINNERS will get a prize.
There are items for women, men and children, for every taste. To win, you can buy here tickets for 5$.
Buy as many as you can, the more tickets the more Sandra will get help and you the opportunity to win one of the amazing prizes. You can get an additional extra ticket if you blog about this raffle, tweet or share it on your Facebook page, just leave the link here at the comments.

If you don't feel like participating in this raffle, please do buy something from her shop, . We all know how every sale counts and gives courage.
See the raffle here!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Just a Stone

Picture from Atlantis Hotel in Wyk, Isle of Föhr
Pebbles from the Isle of IonaAdd caption
"Can you make me a necklace?" I held my hand out to my auntie Erika; on my palm a wet pebble was glistening in the sun. I was six, and we were spending our holidays on a beach at the North Sea. Auntie was sitting in one of those roofed wicker beach chairs and reading some women's magazine while I had been combing the beach for coloured shells. There weren't many rocks and stones among the shells, but I had found this beautiful white pebble. "No honey, I can't make a hole into a stone." said my aunt, but I had something entirely else in mind. "I don't want a hole. I want it like your necklace." I said. Auntie was wearing a pretty silver chain with an amber pendant set in sterling silver. I loved that necklace. It looked as if someone had captured the sun it. My aunt chuckled. "Darling, this is just a stone. One doesn't make silver necklaces with pebbles. When you're older, you will have your own silver necklace with a beautiful gemstone." I didn't want a gemstone, I wanted my pretty pebble. So I went into a huff. 

Doodling, sketching, finding ideas
 Times change. Several decades later, I have seen many beaches and collected a bounty of stones. Different shores are covered in different pebbles. For years, our mantlepiece showed stones and shells in the most amazing colours. And then I started making jewellery. That was when I remembered that once, I had wanted a pebble for a pendant. So I started wire wrapping my first stones. I liked the result, but there was still a difference between showing off a piece of stone, ceramic or glass wrapped in wire and having it set in metal. Sometimes, I wanted the stone to be the centre piece without being overshadowed by artificially wrapped wire. I think, that was the moment, when I decided that I had to learn how to set stones.

The copper and silver trays
I'm still learning, I realised, when my friend Nici brought me a collection of beautiful stones from Iona.

There were gorgeous serpentines, snow white round chips and lovely grey and white patterend pebbles. Immediately three of the grey stones with intricate patterns caught my eye.

Ready to be filed into submission
Seeing and feeling them in my hand was the same experience like years ago. At first I was pondering of 
turning them into rings or single pendants. I started doodling and eventually, I thought of combining them into a single pendant: Three simple bezel trays joined together and complemented by a silver tube for a bail. As I wanted to show the connection between water (where the stones were found), earth (where they came from), fire and air (the way in which I work them), I decided to make the bottom of the bezels from copper which for me is very much connected to the earth and the bezels from fine silver. Considering the history and the many legends connected to the Isle 

of Iona, I thought the healing properties of copper would show that connection as well.

More filing and polishing to do
Making the trays involved a lot of filing and sanding on each single tray but also on the
joined setting. But in the end, the tray was ready to take the stones. That was the moment, when I learned a lot!  A cut stone is usually even on the bottom and around the edges and once you've mastered the making of a bezel, you will be able to get it to sit nicely where you want it. Not so my three beauties. As smooth and even as they had looked when I started to work, as much resistance they put up when I finally wanted to smooth the edges around the stones. They were definitely trying to escape from their encasement.

I didn't want to grind or cut them; it would just not have felt right. After all, the idea was to turn the pebbles into a pendant just like they were. This meant another round of hammering and filing on the bezels, and - I have to confess - a dab of jeweller's glue on the smallest pebble, just in case, although I'm sure it was not entirely necessary.
The final piece

But in the end, decades after I had longed for a silver and pebble necklace, I had one made!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013


I spent this morning tidying up, dusting and dreaming of being able to wield a magic wand. No, not for the dust. I would love to expand the size of our living room. Or rather, I would love to add a library to our house. A bit like in Harry Potter, where a tent seen from the outside is pretty small but once you enter it, it is a big palazzo. No doubt, having these skills would help with the overflowing book shelves and the invasion of literature into every single space of the house.

No, don't say it! I know, I could get more books stored in an e-reader than I would be able to read in my whole life. But there is something about the feel of a book, its weight and smell. Not to speak about the atmosphere within walls full of books. No, and I don't like the other solution either. I'm aware that second hand shops and antiquarians like books. But I have a hard time parting with my volumes. With many sighs and groans I have started carrying books. which I'm not going to read a second time, to our local charity shop. Only, I hand six in, peruse their shelves and bring eight new "old" books home. Somehow the maths involved does not create space on my shelves!  And yes, I tried the library too! I regularly have to pay fines for keeping books too long. And I only keep them so long because I like to re-read them, and then I miss the deadline. It seems also, that I am a very possessive person when it comes to books. When I like a book, I want to own it.

This home library seems to be the way to go. Although, I would want a comfortable couch and a writing desk too. After all, even the nicest scented water gets cold with time. Or is that bathtub heatable? Anyway, I want a choice and additionally a stunning view (all right, I got that one already!)

It seems that, when properly maintained, the reading bug can be handed down to one's offspring, because my son's walls are dressed in book shelves which overflow just as spectacularly as mine.

Figures say that young people don't read anymore. I'm lucky to know quite a few very young people who love to read. Sometimes I wonder what it is that set's the reading bug free. I only know the approach we had in our family. As far as I can remember, there have always been books in our house. My mother was as keen a reader as I am nowadays. I was always allowed to borrow her books. And of course, even when money was tight, the one thing I always got for my birthday or Christmas, was books.  Story telling was a part of it too. I don't think, I ever went to bed as a child without someone telling me a story or reading to me from a book. No wonder I got curious about those picture books, paperbacks and table top volumes! Reading just came to me like a virus which I could never get rid of. I used the same methods of contamination on my own child, and hooray! It worked. There was only a year or two at the begin of his puberty when books were less interesting than his X-box. But that passed rather quickly.

Someone, who reminds me very much of myself at the age of 15, is a young friend I have in Michigan. She lives with Shakespeare, Wilde and Poe at the time. I'm sure Dickens makes an appearance as well, and her greatest dream would be to have them all gathered around the table for a literary evening. At the same age, I had an obsession with dead and alive Russians, and I would have died for an evening with Gorky, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Gogol, Lermontov, Bulgakov and Solzhenitsyn. Seeing that there are still kids around who love literature and are not afraid to bite the bullet and read a piece of writing that does not consist of three- word-sentences, swearwords and cartoon language, is a great pleasure.

And because, I love to make treasuries on etsy, I decided to make one especially for my friend Kaila:

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Buying Handmade and Being Unique

 Going off the High Street

I don't know how it is with you but I find shopping on the High Street rather boring. It's always the same chain shops, no matter whether you are in Glasgow, Liverpool, Hamburg, Zurich, Lyon or Moscow. Most of the products are made in big factories somewhere in a country with low salaries; much is produced in a sloppy way, even when famous labels are attached to them.

That's the reason why I love to look for the little hidden quarters in the big cities or venture out into the country side to find workshops and boutiques in smaller towns and villages. Places, where you get to know the people who produce what they sell or who at least know the artist, crafter or designer.

Christmas on Arran is a good time to observe shopping behaviour. There are many who make a hasty dash to the big shopping malls. Thank God, we still got a decent amount of people who love to buy unique pieces, who like to buy something that has been made with inspiration and love. Those are the ones who come into our galleries and workshops. And I am grateful for every single one of them.

Selling Online to Keep Local Crafts People in Business

Many crafters, particularly in rural Scotland have taken to selling their products not only in local shops and markets but also on etsy (or from their own websites). One of the reasons for this is the fact, that many of us are living in areas which are strongly dependent on tourists.  Sales often happen between Mai and October; the rest of the year is too quiet to make a living. No wonder, many of us have more than one job.  Further, we all know, in times of austerity, tourism figures tend to go down. 2012 wasn't a particularly good year for some Scottish regions. Therefore, the sales on the internet are becoming more important for many a crafter.

Etsy is a sales portal for crafters world wide. It has also regional and local "sub-market-places". Scottish artists and designers e.g.  meet on mcetsy. So, whether you live somewhere in Scotland and would love to buy locally, or you live abroad and just love all things Scottish, type "mcetsy" into the search line on etsy and you will find what you look for.

This morning, I found this lovely bird brooch by Louise Baird on mc etsy. I love Louise's

 Jewellery. She comes up with some really fabulous ideas, like this little pearl pendant:

It's worthwhile having a look at her shop on etsy.

January Give-Away Draw

All new followers and commenting readers in January will be ending up in my monthly Give-away draw. The lucky winner will get this lovely sea glass necklace. It's made with three sea glass pebbles from Blackwaterfoot Beach on the Isle of Arran and four 4 mm Swarovski crystals.

Winter Princess - Sea Glass and Swarovski Crystals

More sea glass jewellery can be found in my shop on etsy.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

A Hub of Creativity

Nici, Carol (Kez) and I are really inspiring each other. Experimenting, doodling and creating - that's definitely us! Particularly, since Carol got her kiln and Nigel made me a proper jeweller's bench.

My friend Kez the Ceramic Artist

 I love the organic forms of Kez' ceramics and her sheer endless imagination. There is hardly a week in which she doesn't create a marvellous new piece.

 This bowl is one of her latest creations. I find the combination of smooth glaze and seemingly rough and "broken" edges very intriguing. The addition of glass on the bottom of the bowl is just one of the many lovely touches Kez comes up with.

 Majestic Vessels is the name of these pots with their lids influenced by Pictish designs. They come in beautiful dark and rich colours like this mix of dark grey and teal.

Fused Glass Rings
 Kez' glass work is always bright and full of light. I would wear every single one of these rings!

If you're interested to learn more, send a message to Carol Faichney Mchale on Facebook.

I love to come back into the shop after a few days off. The aromatic smell of leather permeates the air and is omnipresent (wow, what a word!). Leather is such a sensual material. My friend Nici has a lovely stash of soft leathers in all colours.

Nici works with small swatches of leather which means that every bag will be an unique piece. 

Baby Bliss Bag
 These little bags are called Baby Bliss. They are the softest leather you can imagine and have contrasting leather lining in an exciting colour.

Serendipity Bag
 I have my eye on the second from the left. But it's amazing in what colours and prints cow hide comes.

 This little quirky bag is mine. I use it when I go for a meal down the road and don't need much more than my purse and my lipstick. I had hard time to decide which one of the Adelinas was going home with me since they all came in gorgeous leathers, patterns and colours.

Body Bag
 Another one which is now mine. It has become the mule among my handbags since it is big enough to hold my notebook something to read and write and all the other things I tend to cart around with me.

 I'm definitely saving up for a pair of Nici's cushions. I have my eye on a pair in soft greys, red, orange and lilac.

There are many more pictures on Nici's facebook page Pooch by Nici Boni .

True Arran Gems

It seems that all beaches seem to have their own gems. When I was little we used to spend our holidays either at the North Sea or at the Baltic Sea. From Holland, Belgium or France I would always come home with a beautiful collection of shells and pebbles. Spending time on the shores of the Baltic Sea meant hunting for Amber. On an early morning after a storm you could find some lovely pieces which looked like golden honey.  The beautiful Isle of Iona conjures greenish Serpentine and black and white patterned pebbles among others.

And Arran has started my love for sea glass. They come in a beautiful range of turquoise, white and green. Brown and blue are already pretty rare colours, and I definitely jump with joy when I discover a red, orange or purple piece of glass among the pebbles. Arran sea glass doesn't come as smooth pebbles like the sea glass in Seaham, California or Hawaii. Most pieces tend to be rather flat and angular. But they are nevertheless lovely. For years I have simply collected them. They were gathering dust on the mantelpiece and about four times a year they were introduced to a soapy shower. A few years ago I started wire wrapping them into pendants which I sold at craft markets.

The first wire wrapped sea glass and beach ceramic pieces in 2009.

At the end of 2011 I learned how to drill sea glass without breaking the drill bits or the glass. And that was the beginning of unlimited possibilities. It came with the introduction of ear plugs and safety goggles. And restricted drilling times to keep my company sane.

Sea Glass and Driftwood Necklace

Sea Glass Pebbles

Aphrodite's Key