Monday, 26 December 2011

Sneak Peak

Just a really quick post, in between Christmas and New Year, with a sneak peak at a few pieces that I will be listing in the next couple of weeks.

Stay safe. 'Til next time.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Vices - well not so much

I have relatively few vices - I don't really drink and I gave up smoking a few years ago (oh, how I miss you nicotine).  I do, however, have a serious addiction to handbags.  My closets are full of them.  Occasionally, I add up how much I have spent on handbags over the years  and then I feel so depressed that I have to buy another one to cheer myself up - it's a guilt spiral.  Every time I buy a new bag I tell myself that this will be the last one, knowing full well that this is a lie - the quest for the perfect bag can never be satisfied.    I remember looking at the bargain bins at the David Jones Sale a few years ago and the woman next to me saying to her friend 'buying a new bag is like going on holiday, it's so exciting' - I know exactly what she meant.    But, I've never really tried my hand at making bags, until a couple of weeks ago. Behold my first effort:

I found some great tapestry fabric at Spotlight and then used thrifted materials for all the embellishments and the lining and an old leather belt for the handle .  I wanted a raw edge but, given the fray factor (even though I used a zigzag stitch and fabric glue) I think I'll go with a good old fashioned hem next time round.    It's a good size too (about 18" across).  I'm pretty happy with it.  It's certainly not good enough to sell in my shop and I'm not sure if I should add bags in any case, I'll have to ponder.

All this sewing hasn't completely got in the way of jewelry.  Here's a sneak peak at a necklace that I will list after Christmas:

It's a little stuffed piece of embroidery, framed with lace and suspended from a suede necklace with some sweet little found object dangles.  It's assemblage meets shabby chic I think and I'm really rather pleased with it.

I've also got a couple of necklaces that I'm going to rework and list in January so keep an eye out.   Happy holidays ...

Thursday, 8 December 2011

May you live in interesting times ...

Well it’s been an interesting couple of weeks.  I didn’t think Christmas was going to have any effect at all on etsy sales. Then, three sales in a row with my vintage textile wrist cuffs proving to be the most popular item in the shop.  

Things have quietened down now – we’re past the date for posting to the USA safely in time for Christmas so it’s to be expected I guess.

Talking about wrist cuffs, they are an exercise in perseverance.  They take an enormous amount of time and energy (much much more than you can realistically charge for in the price) and you are never really sure if they are going to work until you are about ¾ of the way through.  I got a lovely convo from the buyer of one of my cuffs today to say how pleased she was with it.  It’s always nice to get positive feedback.   I know it sounds a bit schmaltzy, but etsy really is a great community to be part of.

I've been trying a few new textile techniques such as using heat to distress fabrics (see the holes in the chiffon) on the cuff below.  I have to say (even though I’m biased) that the finished piece is much nicer in real life than in the photo.

Lately, I’m finding it hard to make anything other than bangles, bracelets and cuffs.  They are a such a good vehicle for experimenting with different techniques and combinations of colours.

This stack combines painted metal, crochet and fabric.  I found my little yoyo maker when I was cleaning up and put it too good use (for some reason I can't rotate these pics so they are the right way up - sorry)

Not sure what I’m going to add to this stack – I was thinking maybe a leather bangle,  charms and other embellishments??

These are little polymer clay discs that I've painted to resemble enameled metal

It’s been busy on a non jewelry front too.  We’ve been relocating my mother-in-law.  Whilst we’ve been fortunate not to have done it all on the one day, the downside of ‘bit-at-a-time’ moving is that it drags out the process which is exhausting for everyone.    
Cricket season is taking its toll on my husband and son – both have pulled up with muscle aches and strains (see, I knew sport was bad for you)

Oh and I meant to say hi to my first commenter Anabela Joana on my last post.  It was very exciting to get something other than a 0 in comments report. 

Til next time ...

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Fiber rules ...

I've been getting back to my roots lately - using fiber (mostly wool) in my jewelry.  I've also been experimenting with painted metal and, weirdly enough, these two hard and soft mediums work really well together.

I recently got hold of a copy of Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry by Barbara Lewis (it only took about 8 weeks to arrive, even though I had it on pre-order for ages).  She has some lovely ideas and projects, I highly recommend it.  Whilst this book is really about using proper powder enamels, I wondered if I could approximate the enameled look using paints.   

Surprisingly, it was easier than I thought.  Takes a lot of patience, building up layers and sanding back to get a subtle effect but the results are great and the finish is pretty tough too.

I tried using my husband's air compressor at first to spray the paint on.  After much cursing and blocked nozzles he suggested I go and buy some spray paint (the sort graffiti artists use) from the local hardware.  I'm going to give wire bangles the paint treatment next - I'll need to field test them to make sure the finish is tough enough for wrist ware before listing.

I also got my crochet hook out this week for the first time in ages and knocked up these bangles by covering vintage metal bracelets with yarn.  I discovered some hand painted handspun wool in a local yarn shop. The beautiful colours of the different skeins (one of them is called 'clown vomit) worked so well together I wanted to find a way to use them all in the one piece.

The last bit of good news is that I discovered (or rather my daughter did) - an online photo editing software.  It's much better than Picasa, so I've given my new (hated) digital camera a reprieve ....

'til next time ...

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Excuses, excuses ...

So lately it feels as though I need to start all my posts with an apology for being remiss in posting - sorry!!!

We've been pretty busy here though.  My mother-in-law has, cross fingers, finally sold her house so we've been helping her organise herself. She's moving to a smaller place and it's not an easy task sorting through a life-time of stuff,  working out what to keep and what to cull - lots of hard decisions to make.

It's spring here in Australia and the weather is picking up the pace. After what feels like an eternity of dreary cold and wet, we've been treated to a couple of glorious sunny days. Yes, indeed it does get cold here in Oz, although I didn't realise this when I moved here - I thought it was hot all the time and everyone had pools - terrible mistake.

The appearance of the bright sun inspired me to try something different with my jewelry this week and be a little bit brave in the use of colour and textures.

I love the free form crochet work of Prudence Mapstone and have always wanted to try my hand at it .   It's not easy getting decent yarn out here in the country so, a couple of years ago, I bought a free form hand bag kit which came with lots of different fiber, yarn and textiles.  Of course, I never got round to making the bag but I've used some of the bits and pieces in this piece.  I also dug out my old wool tops and needle felted a couple of beads (I reckon I stuck myself at least five times - those barbed needles really do hurt, I almost had to put blood on the materials used list, just kidding).  

For a complete contrast I also made a really simple bracelet from heavy gauge copper wire.  I was worried that it wasn't going to be robust enough, but I've worn it around the place and it's absolutely fine.

My favorite piece is this:

Dangling charms off a tube or central horizontal piece is becoming something of a signature for me. In this piece I used rubber tubing and covered it with some lovely vintage fabric I found in Brunswick Street in Melbourne.  I used mod podge to keep the fabric in place and it's dried hard as a rock.  I found the lovely little brass bell in a thrift shop and I covered the little wooden cotton reel with some variegated 4 ply yarn I have in my (enormous) stash.  Do you like the little felted heart?  I was worried it might be a bit twee, but I think it works OK here.  I'd really like to explore felting a bit more - both wet and dry. 

Sales are very slow on etsy.  I'm considering opening a shop on  There doesn't seem to be much in the way of alternative jewelry on the site though.  I know that Australian etsy sellers are generally finding it difficult to compete with the US sellers.   I've booked some show-case ads on etsy so I'll wait and see if these have an impact I think.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Life gets in the way of Art...

So, I haven't posted anything for a little while - things like the day-job and migraines got in the way.   I'm hoping, over the next few days, that I will be able to work on the pieces that are sitting on my workbench in various stages of completion.

One thing that has surprised me since opening quisam for business (as opposed to just pleasure) has been the challenge of taking decent photographs of my pieces.  

For the first few weeks I used my iPhone to take my 'pack-shots'.   Whilst being great for on-the-fly portraiture, the iPhone camera isn't up to delivering the sort of shots needed for etsy.  It's pretty good at close-ups but very limited at mid to long range.

(I love this photo of my daughter being carried by my husband - soft focus is great for this type of shot but completely useless for etsy product photography).

(And dark, contrasty black and whites aren't exactly gonna show the rich colours of quisnam)

Piers, my husband, has a super-duper digital SLR.  But, seriously, who can be bothered changing lenses to get a decent close-up.   Having tried using my daughter's cheapo digital (crap) I bit the bullet and went out and bought a reasonably decent Olympus.  The brief to the sales clerk was 'must take a good macro'.  I have to say I have been bitterly disappointed in my purchase.  It is unbelievably hard to get something in focus, let alone get a decent range of shots needed for etsy.  I have no idea what the solution is. There is some great advice online (including really helpful info from fellow etsian sparrowsalvage)  but still the magic eludes me.

On a lighter (much less whiny note) look a this little darling purchased from etsian  Isn't she sweet.  

And the naked lady theme continues.

Actually, I want to cut the hands-off and use them as charms (sounds like serial-killer stuff).

Oh, and these photos were taken with my iPhone, of course.  'til next time.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

School holidays sap your strength (and everything else)

Don't get me wrong, I love spending time with my children ( I mean some time - not all the time) but school holidays sap the creativity right out of you.  It's not that I haven't had time, it's just that I haven't had the inclination to do much of anything.  I haven't been completely idol though.  

It's my sister's 40th birthday in a few days time and I wanted to maker her something special. This is about the fourth version of this piece.  I had disaster after disaster so ended up starting afresh and I'm pretty happy with the finished article. Of course it won't make it in time for the big day (but then my presents never do, I'm hopeless).

I also found time for shopping (of course):

The bits in the middle tray are an old ink bottle and some vintage lipstick cases.  Here's a closer look:

I've also continued experimenting with resin.  And by experimenting I mean ending up tearing my hair out in frustration at my ability to pour just up to the top rather than over it. Here are some bits that actually worked OK.

The bezel in the middle is filled with tiny screws. I know there are lots of air bubbles but I like the effect in this piece.  The  bezel at the back right has a picture of a bug I found in an old encyclopedia (just had to use spell check to get encyclopedia right, doesn't it have an a before the second e though?).

Now I just need the children to go back to school ....

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

It's not a found object but so pretty ...

I do use a lot of found and salvaged objects in my jewelry, including beads sourced from thrift stores and the like.    Sometimes though you just gotta go new,  especially when they look like this:

This is a grab bag from  I've bought from them before and they don't disappoint.

And  these from  They are a Sydney based supplier so, hopefully, the goodies wont take too long to arrive.

Nothing can compare to the heart stopping/can't breathe excitement of finding something wonderful in a thrift shop or on the ground (yes, my children hate going out with me as I have a tendency to stop in the middle of the street and pick up some discarded object saying 'ooh look at this').   But, opening up a pack of new lovlies from your favorite etsy supplier comes a pretty close second (if you can stand the stress of waiting for it to arrive of course).

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

It's not always about jewellery

If you take a look at the list of blogs I follow (over on the left of the page) you will see that they are definitely not limited to jewelry.

I love blogs.  In fact, it's got to the point where, rather than reach for a book at night, I reach for my iPad and indulge myself in a bit of blog perusing .    I think it was the Bloggess ( that got me hooked.    I recently joined the Etsians of Facebook Team and was encouraged, via one of their discussion threads,  to peruse the blogs of fellow team members and, by doing so,  discovered some real gems.    

There are some amazingly talented, funny and creative people out there and I guess one of the things I love about the online world  it is its accessibility (OK, I know lots of people don't have computers or broadband connections).  The internet is a  marvelous playground.  Just like any playground it has its fair share of bullies, stalkers and flashers, but it's still a pretty great place to play.  

It's also really heartening, and this brings me back to blogs, is how entertaining and richly rewarding it is to read about other people's (and I mean average people, not celebs) daily lives, to hear their stories and get a glimpse into their world.  The very best blogs, in my opinion at least, are authentic and, although they may be be riotously funny, have a note of truth.

Anyhow, that's enough rambling from me for today.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Makers Block!

I haven't posted anything (here or on etsy) for a few days. I've been  wondering why I have succumbed to 'makers block'   - perhaps it's a case of being too busy elsewhere (doesn't usually stop me) but I think it's a case of P.E (Post Etsy) syndrome.  

Before I started my etsy shop I made stuff when I felt like it and, even though jewellery is still not my day job, I think the self-imposed pressure of making, photographing, describing, posting (and blogging) put a dint in my creative spirit.  Rather than being an 'outlet' it became a chore.  So, I took a few days off and reminded myself that, unlike most everything else in my life, when it comes to quisnam, I call the shots and it's supposed to be fun!

With this in mind I made a couple of things.  First a present for my niece's birthday.   

The charms include a polymer clay bell and resin filled bezels with photographs of my father and mother (my niece's grand mother and grand father).  My mother is very much alive but my father died a few years ago. This is a way of keeping his memory alive for his grand children who were very young when he died.   I hope she doesn't think it's too creepy!!

I rediscovered the fun of making jewellery with this piece.  I was going to keep it for myself to remind me not to get too serious, but I decided to list it.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Scavenger Hunt

Went on a bit of scavenger hunt this weekend and found lots of goodies.  

Check out these lovely old tea tins.  I particularly like the one on the right as it's already quite distressed.  The lid is white and I think I will use it to frame one of the people from the side of the tin.

The little picture frames are a dark pewter colour - they are metal, probably cast.  Found these and the Port Douglas souvenir spoon at Vinnies.  The dark orangy red beads in shadow at the bottom are polished stone.

Some hardware supplies - love wondering around hardware stores although my eclectic selections often result in strange looks from the staff at the checkout.

Then I found the MOTHER-LOAD.  A stall at a local Sunday market was selling old and broken watch parts  - $10 for as many as you could fit in one hand (shame my hands aren't bigger).  Also bought this beautiful old cake tin (there's no way I'm cutting this one up, it's way too pretty).

Of course all these things then resulted in major panic because I had no where to put any of them. Three hours and major re-organisation later ...

Dada ... clean work bench.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Playing with clay

This week I've been playing with polymer clay.  I've wanted to try this medium for a while now (bought the pasta machine and toaster oven ages ago).  I made a piece last week for geek e chic which I was happy with, but this week it's a different story. I've been through packets of the stuff and most results have ended up in the bin.  

This is the only piece I'm happy with - I love the way the vintage tin patterns work together with the beads. It's super colourful which is quite unusual for me.  

I made my first etsy sale (yay) also this week.  I have sold pieces before, but a first shop sale is very exciting and incredibly nerve wracking.  The buyer made some lovely comments but I'm biting my nails waiting for her feedback once she gets the actual piece in her hands.  I can't believe how stressful this is!!!   All the things that could go wrong - it could get lost in the mail ... crushed ...etc ... etc.  

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Steampunk and Sun

The weather has been absolutely beautiful for the past few days - such a change and, hopefully, a harbinger of spring which is only a couple of weeks away (thank god).

On the down-side, sunny weather means that our dogs decide my studio (and in particular my chair) belongs to them:

A little over a year ago I helped found a social enterprise for Lifeline Gippsland.  Geek e Chic is sustainable jewelry made by volunteers from old and unwanted computer parts and other salvaged and donated materials (broken jewelry, textiles etc). The enterprise formally launched in June this year and pieces are on-sale in a few outlets around Gippsland.  I aim to make and donate at least a couple of pieces a week for Geek e Chic. All proceeds from the sale of the jewelry support Lifeline's counselling and suicide prevention services.  Because the salvaged  materials we get are quite industrial they do led themselves to a 'steampunk' look.  I love steampunk, but think its gotten a bit overdone and so have been reluctant to use this theme.  However, the pieces I made this week for Geek e Chic just naturally took on a steampunk vibe.  The pendant uses polymer clay for the disc focal - it's the first time I have used this medium and I must say I loved it.  I used a rust base and oxidising patina to give it an aged look.

The bracelet is made from an old hose clap which I have wrapped with bits and pieces.  I wore it for a day just to make sure it didn't irritate my skin.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Work in Progress

I had to change the background to this blog after having a look at it on my ipad. The black watermarks, which were nice and arty on my pc, looked like my ipad screen had the plague.  Hopefully, this works a bit better.

The patinated tin (some of it anyway) is slowly transforming itself.  I have remade this piece about three times so far and I'm still not sure where it's going.  I've also got an idea for a fabric bead choker necklace - I've been accumulating lots of textile bits and pieces and am dying to use them.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

A New Space

My jewelry making has found a home at last.  I have taken over the fire room ie. the space used to house our wood fire.  Great in winter, but a little bit dusty and I have to share with damp clothes drying on the clothes horse.

Here's a bit of tin which has been patinated (I do love rub'n buff) awaiting transformation.  Not quite sure what it will turn into.

Here's all my bits.  I have developed an obsession with old tins as storage.  You have to unstack and open them to find out what's inside, so not so pracitcal, but I love the different colours and patterns.

I've just added my first four items to my new etsy shop.  I've discovered that I find taking the photos and writing the descriptions a bit of a chore.  I guess it's a learning curve.    I will try and find out how to link this blog to my shop.  Can't be that hard.