15 Jan 2015

I really am going to try harder

I love this particular walk, where there's  a patch of sweet chestnut trees.
I love this particular walk, where there’s a patch of sweet chestnut trees.  I enjoy taking this kind of photo too – a wide angle macro from a low position, showing the scene behind and therefore context – I call them macro landscapes.

It can’t have escaped your notice that my blogging has been sporadic of late, despite the fact that I usually love doing it.

I don’t think my tardiness is entirely my own fault – I think I must lay some of the blame at the door of Blogger, my previous home.  I don’t want to rubbish it too much as it has served me well over several years, but I’ve found it increasingly difficult and problematic to post.

I’ve abandoned several recent posts because I either just couldn’t get a photo to appear on the page, or because it repeatedly appeared in the wrong place on the page.  It got old pretty fast, so ended up totally sucking the joy out of the process.  Hence I never posted some earlier photos from my holiday in September, so I’ll pepper some through my ramblings here.  Just because I now can!

We had some fabulous glorious weather in the Lakes in September.  We rarely see the Langdales this clearly.
We had some fabulous glorious weather in the Lakes in September. We rarely see the Langdales this clearly.

I’ve had reason recently to install a WordPress blog into some hosting for a client and having not tinkered with it for many years, suddenly found it significantly easier to use – possibly because it was loaded directly into the web host server and the same location as the image files etc.

Because I have the same hosting for my own site and found a plugin to import my entire Blogger content, I’ve decided to move it here onto my own site.  I’ve had to iron out a few wrinkles and edit a lot of links, but it’s now in a reasonably complete state.

Once within posts, any links to other recent blogs, are still likely to take you back to the Blogger version of the site, but I’ll gradually try to correct these as I find them, so apologies if it appears a little disjointed at the moment.

I love this tree lined walk, especially in autumn and even better when the sunlight filters through.
I love this tree lined walk, especially in autumn and even better when the sunlight filters through.

If you want to find an earlier post and have some idea of the title, I’ve added a site page called Index of Posts that lists all of the posts I’ve made, linked to their new copies here on the site – it’s also listed at the top of each page and in the side widget.

 

Blea Tarn in the English Lake District
Blea Tarn in the English Lake District on a gorgeous clear, still autumn day.

So, what else have I been up to:

I don’t think that I have that much new to show you, the run up to Christmas involved making a lot of the good sellers for seasonal sales and re-stocking the shop – not much pure design or tinkering time unfortunately.  I’m itching to get on with some new pieces, my sketchbook is overflowing and my head bursting with ideas.

Leaf-set pendant featuring my own faux jade polymer clay cabochon.
Leaf-set pendant featuring my own faux jade polymer clay cabochon.

I did manage to fire and finish a new cabochon pendant, which thankfully went out as a Christmas present.  This features a cabochon I made myself in translucent polymer clay as a faux green jade stone – with lots of sanding, polishing and layers of varnish to give it a deep gloss.

The cab has been leaf-set to a thick copper base, each leaf being individually cut and textured and carefully added to the base, interspersed with tiny copper balls.

The back has an appliqued design featuring several gently curling tendrils accompanied by lots of tiny hand cut leaves and more of the tiny copper balls I find myself rather obsessed with making.

Back of the cabochon pendant, decorated with slender sinuous tendrils and tiny leaves.
Back of the cabochon pendant, decorated with slender sinuous tendrils and tiny leaves.
Side view of the pendant showing the leaf prongs and back decoration.
Side view of the pendant showing the leaf prongs and back decoration.

I do have two new techniques I’ve been tinkering with – when time allows – and which will work well together.  Low temperature enamelling and my family gave me a Silhouette cutting machine for my recent birthday.  I’ve been interested in using enamels for adding colour to copper and although I have a kiln, the high temperatures required do give me the willies.  I have the option to kiln fire, torch fire, or work with low temperature powders.

Enamel designs on stainless steel sliding lid pill boxes.
Enamel designs on stainless steel sliding lid pill boxes. I made these as stocking filler Christmas gifts.

I decided that due to the low cost and ease of use of the efcolor powders that I’d at least start with these to see if I like the results, as I had some ideas in mind to try.  If I do find I want to pursue it, I can then perhaps step up to something more robust.

Although having said that, I’ve found the results to be pretty substantial – I had one piece that I didn’t like and wanted to remove the colour, so that I could do something new with and I actually found it very hard to remove – so I’m hoping that they might withstand a decent amount of wear.

Sliding lid pill box tins with enamelled decoration.
Sliding lid pill box tins with enamelled decoration.

These ideas tie in nicely with the Silhouette cutting machine.  I had in mind several ideas where this would allow me to make things I couldn’t achieve any other way – one of which was making my own stencils and texture plates as well as the possibility of cutting thinly rolled clay too.

I’ve only had it just over a week and already have a hard drive full of files, lots of saved design elements and a desk covered in tiny bits of cutting shrapnel, that no matter how much care you take removing it, ends up everywhere.

It’s been a while since I did any vector drawing (and it was only ever small amounts), but it has been enormous fun getting to know it again.  I haven’t even started on importing designs to make cutting files, or scanning any of my own sketches, everything so far has been drawn from scratch in the supplied Silhouette Studio software – they describe it as having basic drawing tools, but I’m already finding it pretty powerful.  I love taking a simple shape and manipulating it into something entirely different – then merging shapes into complex geometrical designs, welding them with lettering etc.  You have to think differently of course, shapes overlapping don’t necessarily work and shapes stranded in open space don’t either, so you have to start and think in . . . guess what . . . silhouettes!

I've been creating vector drawings for stencils and making photo polymer texture plates.
I’ve been creating vector drawings for stencils and making photo polymer texture plates.

I’ve already decided after one post that this WordPress blog is going to work better for me, it addresses all of the things that frustrated me with recent changes to Blogger, so I hopefully will feel inclined to post more often.  I still have several tutorial ideas I wanted to post, so maybe now that will be possible.  I’m also thinking that little and often might be better. 😉

24 Nov 2011

Anniversary, the last few leaves and new puppies

As I wrote a note this morning and went to date it, I realised that today was actually my on-line selling anniversary – I have no idea how that snook up so quickly. 4 years under my belt now as a proper on-line self-representing seller.

Please click on any of the photographs for a larger version.

I just love the colours of sunshine on beech leaves on a crisp autumn day – against clear blue sky. It would have been criminal not to get out and appreciate it.

I think I probably actually started selling in the spring of 2007, but I spent a long while faffing about trying to settle on a system for selling – whether to try and develop my own shopping cart, just use PayPal buttons or to make life a little easier and use a third party selling venue. In the short term, I settled on selling through Etsy and set up my shop there, embedding it into the page of my own web site, whilst I sorted out a proper cart behind the scenes to replace my initial shambolic efforts.

So the day I opened my Etsy shop became my official anniversary as it’s a line in the sand that I can identify with as a corner turned and the date is there in my shop as a reminder. I now have over 520 items in my own shop and those first scary efforts feel like a lifetime ago.

Who wouldn’t want to walk down this path. I passed more people in hiking boots than I think I’ve ever seen in the area – everyone obviously felt the same way that I did about not wasting the opportunity.

So I decided to hold a short-notice 48 hour sale to celebrate, so I have 20% off everything in my shop and coupon code ETSYVERSARY20 will secure you the same discount if you prefer shopping on Etsy.

We had a couple of gorgeous days last week and I took myself out for some fresh air whilst it lasted and I suspect that I got to enjoy the last decent showing of autumn colour for 2011. One tree that I had photographed in absolute glory only 9 days previously was now almost bare, so the wind we’ve had over the last few days is sure to have seen many more leaves off.

I fear that the next time I walk this path it will be devoid of leaves and will feel much more bare and wintry. So I shall let you enjoy the photographs before we have to face the on-coming winter.

Last weekend we visited with family as it was my Mother’s birthday and my sister has just given a home to her new Miniature Snauzer puppy Klara – who is just over 9 weeks old – she’s been waiting for this since before she was born, having put her name down with the breeder after the Mum’s pregnancy was confirmed.

She’s absolutely adorable; cute as a button, full of energy, affectionate, very bright (learnt to sit on command over a weekend) and full of beans and extreme cheekiness. So I’ll leave you with an “ahhhhh” moment which should warm your heart on this cold November evening.

And a Happy Thanksgiving to all of our Stateside chums.

It’s not obvious from the shot above, just how tiny she is, until you see her with Mr Boo. He’s not that keen on dogs apparently, but he always seems to have one on his lap and they always seem to want to be there!