26 Oct 2015

A slight diversion for me

[…] getting rid of clutter gives a disproportionate boost to happiness. 

Gretchen Rubin

One of the most visited pages throughout my blogging history has been the template for a cardboard necklace display stand and the smaller version for earrings added later.  I was asked to make some earring stands recently and wondered how easy it would be to adapt the design template I already had, in order to cut them on the Silhouette.

Earring display stands cut from my original design, now available in the shop.
Earring display stands cut from my original design, now available in the shop.

I found that I was easily able to make the basic cutting shape from what I already had and thought it was an ideal opportunity to make some design adjustments I’d had in mind.

Having done that exercise and made a batch for a friend, in a quest to reduce the amount of materials I have accumulated, I have made available some pre-cut stands in the shop.

As I have plenty of ivory coloured card of a nice quality, I am offering a dozen in a pack of that one colour or a mixed dozen in random colours, depending on what card I find of the right weight etc.

My earring display stands are an inexpensive alternative for craft fairs. Supplied flat to assemble.
My earring display stands are an inexpensive alternative for craft fairs. Supplied flat to assemble.

I am charging £6 for the 12 stands, which come cut out, pre-scored and flat ready to crease and glue yourself – this saves a big chunk in the postage, to keep the price down.  I supply assembly instructions, but I doubt that’s necessary, they’re very simple to do.  The price includes second class postage.

One of the modifications I made was to cut a tab into the bottom corner of the stand to allow easy placement of a price ticket.  In the past, I cut out my own printed prices and used Blutak to place the price on the stand.

Earring display stand - available to buy, supplied flat and in packs of 12.
Earring display stand – available to buy, supplied flat and in packs of 12.

But cutting a little tab allows prices to be added easily and the stands can be re-used for different earrings that bit more easily by just changing the price ticket.  A card with details of the materials or other information could just as easily be placed under the tab.

I also have an alternative version which could be supplied on request with a little circle tab cut around the earring hole to accommodate closed earwires like lever backs.

You are of course still very welcome to download the original template and make your own, it will remain available.

I’m having a clear out, so bag a bargain:

In line with my current thinking to try and make some more storage space, which I’m getting very short of, I decided that as I now do very few fairs in person, that my range of lower priced designs that I kept especially for events could be cleared to make some space.  So I’ve re-packaged a lot of pairs of earrings and am offering 10 pairs in a Lucky Dip pack for £15.  They could be ideal as stocking fillers, Secret Santas, cracker fillers or just as a treat for yourself – and who needs any particular reason to do that.

I do have a quantity of pairs featuring better materials, such as Sterling silver, freshwater pearls and Swarovski Elements, so will ensure that at least 3 pairs in each pack come from this category.  The savings with these Lucky Dip packs, over the original ticket prices, is considerable.  You can’t choose your own designs, they’re selected at random, but I’ll endeavour to choose a good variety of styles and quality.

Use them for fundraising:

Lucky Dip earrings, 10 pairs for £15.
Lucky Dip earrings, 10 pairs for £15.

I’ve re-packaged these earrings on plain cards and in zip-sealed bags with silicone tube backs to keep them in place, so you could use them for your own festive charitable fundraising events.  Granting this permission and removing my own branding does not infer any rights to the designs or to take credit for the work.


My work this week:

I don’t have much new to show for my time of late as I’ve been re-working older designs, which often requires them to be re-photographed and the details modifying, working on commissions and re-stocking the shop, along with my aforementioned clear-out, both on the site and in my stock.

I did however get some nice new beads to make bracelets and earrings with.  I have some designs that are perpetual good sellers, all using 10mm diameter beads, so I’ve been working on some new variants, including some gorgeous faux amber beads which as you can see in my header image above, are a glorious colour and have lovely light-catching inclusions.  I suspect that they must be a resin that when cooling has created plaques or fractures.  Whatever, they’re very pretty indeed.


11 Dec 2010

All tied up in knots

I’ve blogged several times in the past about how working on one thing takes you down a particular design path – how one idea leads to another and you produce a series of related pieces, often on a theme. Thus it was this week. A returning customer asked me to make a pair of earrings for her that were an amalgamation of two designs already available in my shop – she liked one element of each design and wanted them combining.

Thankfully, with my recent discipline of keeping a detailed journal of my designs with sizes, gauges of wire used and the tools and methods I’d used to make a particular shape, I was easily able to re-create the elements in question, faithfully to the original design and without the very frustration that led me to that practice in the first instance.

Please click on any of the photographs to see a larger view.

The custom earrings I made this week – using the double looped rosebud knot, but with rosy buds at the bottom, where the originals had a wrapped stone dangling.

Once you’ve torn your hair out trying to re-make an old design and not been able to get it quite the same as the original, you realise the real value in disciplining yourself to maintain such records religiously. It was with some degree of smugness that I first flipped the pages to find my design ‘recipe’ for something I needed to re-make and a practice that has proven itself time and time again. The fact that my husband gave me a lovely leather bound book for just this purpose last Christmas has made it a particular pleasure to work in.

When I work, I always jot down the length of wire I cut and the diameter of any turns or loops and if I find I have too much waste, or struggle to finish the shape with too short a piece, I make the adjustment in my notes too. If I find that a particular method doesn’t work and I find working from the back, or anticlockwise, for example, cures a problem or gives rise to a better shape, then this is also noted.

Whilst fiddling with my double looped knots, I wondered how well they would work as a single loop with a rosebud knot at one end and I rather liked the results.

We’ve all done it, had problems making something, found a solution, then come to remake it some time later, fall into the same initial difficulty and can’t remember what we did to cure it the first time around. So my journal is used to note all such details, with sketches and diagrams where appropriate. I even note which tools I used if I found that one item worked better than another.

Having made a single loop pair of earrings (above), I wondered how heavy I could go with the wire and made this pendant in 1.6mm (14 gauge) copper wire. The loop is just over an inch (27mm) in diameter.

I’ve got into the practice of making scribbles on scraps of paper or in my sketch book as I work, which I treat much like we did with a ‘rough book’ at school – I do all my working out in that, then transpose my final version (which may have been amended or adjusted several times by the time I’m done) to my neater finished journal – so that it’s hopefully easier to make sense of at some time in the future.

The matching set of rosebud knot loop pendant and earrings. I’ve oxidised the copper pieces and then tumbled them extensively to get a nice gunmetal colour on the dark areas, then polished just the rosebuds back to highlight them.

I tend to sit down after breakfast, whilst I finish my coffee, before the day starts to veer away from my intended plans, and transpose all my scratty notes into the journal before I lose them, or lose my train of thought. The investment of time in doing this has proven well worth it on many occasions. I also have this thought in the back of my mind that at some time a long way in the future, my great-grandchildren may find it a fascinating treasure the same way that I do my grandfathers old sketch book – a little glimpse into my life at this time.

Now I was on a roll I wanted to see how they’d look in Sterling silver. I didn’t have the same gauge of wire, so these are a little more delicate than the copper version of the earrings, but I decided to leave these as shiny silver, rather than oxidise them.

And so it was this week with these custom earrings. I consulted my design journal to make the same knotted loop element again and once my fingers had remembered the technique required to get a nice even knot, I set about making several other pieces using the same elements, as above. Once you start with something, your mind just takes you where it will and I still have ideas left to try using the same techniques.