I have here the two necklace and earring sets ready to send to the winners who entered the draw at ‘The Cat’ magazine, it was tricky to know what colour ways to make them in, so, in the end, I chose my two ‘best’ cats and made spacers to go with them. I must have had a transparent lilacy/pink day, because they are pale and pretty. I have been quite worried that the recipients will be disappointed not to have red, or bright blue…I do hope not.
I have been seduced…it’s taken some time, but I have finally succumbed…I bought a big hole bead bracelet. You know the brand names, Pandora, Troll, Amore & Baci, Chamilia, and so on. ‘What’s the big deal?’ you ask…well…for a time, UK lampworkers got hot under the collar about big hole beads and quality, and mass production and bad working conditions for the makers in foreign countries and the prices charged for a bead over here compared to what people got paid for making them ‘over there’. They can be found for ten a penny on eBay, which suggests that they were not properly annealed and may therefore crack, they can be unlined, or lined in base metal, and I recently sat mouth agape at the prices of sterling silver lined beads straight from China – cheap, I tell you! And of course one can find them beautifully presented in shiny stores in malls where prices are higher and overheads need to be met, which is fair enough. There is the tricky business of charging a sensible price for beads made in the UK, one must take into consideration UK fuel costs (gas and electricity go into beads) actual glass, time, and then there’s skill and artistry. There are many people who appreciate the lampworker’s skill, and then some who expect everything practically free, ‘I could get these at Claire’s Accessories’ was one memorable comment I had at a fair, ‘umm…no you couldn’t’ I thought to myself, it was almost funny. I mean, it would be wrong to correct someone who doesn’t care about seeing the difference, because to them, the beads are the same as from the high street, they don’t care if they are made from plastic or glass. Leave them to it I say, if they are happy, life’s too short. Just as long as they don’t waste my time telling me nonsense while I’m trapped behind my fair table obliged to be nice.
Anyway, my mum had one of these bracelets, she wore it without beads on it, and I thought it was lovely on her. So I followed her lead, and bought the same brand with a basic lock thinking that eventually I might buy a beautiful fancy lock and change it. I had considered making myself a bracelet thereby avoiding buying into the branded market (some sort of snobbery going on there, bad me) but, I happened upon a sale online and knew I couldn’t match the quality if I made one from scratch, especially as I am a complete novice at silversmithing, even if I do have the tools and very basic skills. When I unwrapped the bracelet I was so delighted and impressed with the quality and workmanship, it felt like a real present to myself, I’d have been happy to have paid full price for it, I almost felt guilty for not doing so. Initially I had thought getting one was mainly for taking photos and testing out the things I make to go on them, but I find it is so much more than that.
I totally get the charm collecting thing, I think it is very sweet that people will go out and treat themselves or someone else to a bead, a charm, or receive one as a gift on a special occasion, the whole concept of these jewellery systems is brilliant. I loaded my new shiny toy with all the big holed beads I had made, and showed my husband, who pulled a face and shook his head,’no, it’s not you’ he told me, and my heart sank a bit because I wanted it to be ‘me’, but I’m one of those ‘less is more’ people unfortunately, and I had to agree. It did look a bit like a weapon on me, I’m not exactly sylph like as it is. I kept them on most of the day to see how much of an encumbrance a giant bangle would be, and I found that it wasn’t at all. I made a small pink cat bead up into a charm, took all the lovely rattly glass beads off, and popped it on, and I love it. I really like seeing the light catch the glass, it is jewel like, I keep looking at and admiring it, slightly surprised that I made it. I don’t really experience my beads made up into jewellery, and I’m enjoying it.
Where am I at right now?
Good question. My shop is depleted, I do not like to see it in this state – well, I do, but I also like there to be something for people to look at when they visit, so I need to get onto that pronto. Meanwhile, I’ve been making necklaces and at last, sending them out to my patient customers – thank you all! I managed to have a vile migraine yesterday, and it hasn’t quite gone today, but I’m functioning (sort of) with the aid of medical science which has made me very thirsty. Hopefully I can start tying up the loose ends now and then get back to the shed to start making some of those specific orders. I really don’t like to keep people waiting.
One of the reasons for opting for the more personal approach to presenting what I do is that I will never ever manage a glossy impersonal image with slick photography and prose, I get nausea inducing migraines/sinus and have ‘low level’ M.E. neither of which aid a supremely professional and disengaged image. Anyway, I figure that behind companies that are able to appear untouchable are real people who also get ill or hormonally challenged on occasion, I’m just not trying to hide my madness. I would need Elves scurrying around on my behalf, and I don’t have any of those. They’d only get in the way.
The draw for the necklaces in ‘The Cat’ will take place soon, how exciting! What an honour to be a part of that.
Amazing how fast that date comes around again. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment, but if ever there was a date that reminds us that small quibbles are exactly that, it is this one.
So, I had a lovely write up in The Cat Magazine. Rebecca Evans interviewed me over the phone, it was great fun, and she did such a fab job of writing up everything I had told her, I was impressed by how she managed to get my ‘voice’ to come through in the piece, and I love the little quip at the end. As a result of the magazine I have been pretty busy, to the point where I have been worried that I might forget something I have been asked for. I wasn’t ready at all, and the shop wasn’t as well stocked as I would have wished, so I’ve been rushing about making and listing, and trying not to forget things. Yes I write them down, but one also has to look at the lists…oops. Upshot is, I am not catching up with myself, but, it won’t last forever, and meanwhile, I am grateful, and delighted too. I just have to remember that I have to take an evening off sometimes and not keep going until I fall down, useless. Anyway, unless I take a little time out and rest at the torch, I’ll be no good at making anything for anyone, so I think I might go and do that now, I might even come up with something good. I’ll make jewellery tomorrow.
I’m delighted to say that I have a mention in The Cat magazine, I didn’t know exactly when it was coming out, so have been caught slightly by surprise as I’ve had few enquiries already and am now rushing to get more into the shop for readers to see. I am giving two necklace and earring sets towards the giveaway taking place at the end of September. If you have ideas for a cat you would like, of course I am happy to see if I can make one to your requirements, meanwhile my shop usually has a few stalking around, and I will be adding more cat beads over the coming days.
Thank Goodness for Etsy.
I’ve done it again, I’ve cancelled a fair. I won’t be at Stourbridge, wail! I’m not taking part in the Glass Festival, oh, the agony! I wanted to be there, it’s wrong not to be.
It took me ages to make a final decision because I don’t like letting organisers down, Head and Heart battled it out and then Gut Feeling had enough and stepped in and sorted them out. I only hope that GallowGlass has a waiting list and someone hopped into my place quick smart.
‘If it causes that much pain, why aren’t you going?’ you may question, and fair enough too.
Well, it’s so far to travel from Scotland and I can’t do it with this fickle illness called M.E without long reaching consequences (and mine is not the worst case by any means). I simply can’t guarantee that I’ll be on top form in August (I keep having to sleep in the daytime, it is such a monumental bore) and the worry about being ready for a big fair is not an aid to getting better now.
I was looking forward to seeing fellow makers, I really was. I have two more fairs booked this year, both much closer to home, and then that’s it for me, I’m not attending any more in the foreseeable future.
A weight has lifted, what a lovely feeling! I am not giving up lampwork, I enjoy it too much, but the element of stress around money, ideas, display, travel, somewhere to stay and sales just wasn’t acceptable anymore, it was not fun. I spend far too much time on it for it to be another source of anxiety, that’s just silly.
Announcement –I have had to make the unhappy decision not to attend the Nor’East of Scotland Cat Club show tomorrow at Caird Hall, Dundee, I am Not Well. I don’t cancel fairs lightly, the last time I did was because I had broken my ankle.
I am so upset to be missing the day at the cat show. Not good.