Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Kids' Party Ideas

My seven year old daughter had some friends over last weekend and they soon found a stash of trays and epoxy stickers that I had hoped would have been a well-orchestrated surprise at the next birthday party.  They are all crazy about My Little Pony and Hello Kitty and I had some images that I knew would be great for making pendants and then taking home as part of the party bag.  

So whilst the cat was out of the party bag, making these necklaces kept them quiet, focussed and entertained for a good long while:  

(Incidentally, images of these and other popular characters are all copyrighted and as such you really should not make them up for sale, though I suspect a small bit of making for personal use may be allowed?)  

Next time I won't wait for a birthday - they are all asking to do it again!  But it would be a great crafty activity for a birthday party.   We have plenty of slight seconds that are cheap as chips and perfect for letting the kids loose on their creative adventures.  Get some magnets in also and some superhero images for the boys - they will all enjoy it!  

I mean really, who cares about cutting a perfect circle when the lovely Rainbow Dash is smiling at you?

Monday, 27 May 2013

What Would You Put in Yours?

As you will have realised, we love jewellery that displays little worlds and tiny treasures.  We have been playing with a few ideas for our fabulous glass vials - but we wondered, what would you put in yours?  Answers on a postcard, or leave a comment below, far easier.  The best idea will win a set of one of each of our glass vials (that is one sphere, one tube and a glass heart).

Here are some of our suggestions:

Not sure if you can see it very clearly, but there is one single dandelion clock in that tiny tube!

Teeny no-hole beads in pinks and reds

A little lock of hair - this my daughter's!

It doesn't look particularly appealing and perhaps I should have let it dry thoroughly before popping the lid on - a bit of earth from a place that I love.

What are your ideas?   Closing date for suggestions: Sunday 2nd June.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

How to Make a Glass Tile Pendant with a Bail

We realised recently that in all the blog posts we have written, there wasn't one on how to make a glass pendant using a bail instead of a tray.  This can be tricky sometimes as the back of the glass isn't always very attractive after you have glued on your image.

The simplest way by far is to cover it with something more attractive.

Here I will show you how I do it.

I had a beautiful little bird image that I glued onto a cabochon and let dry for, oh, about a year... not intentionally, I just had lots of these from a previous project!

I got some Glossy Accents, E6000 glue, some glitter and a bail.

The birdie cabochon was nice but a bit rought around the edges, and the paper was obviously too big for the cab, so a bit of cutting and tidying was in order.  The dried glaze that had oozed out of the glass cracked as I cut it but as it would be covered again with more glaze, this did not bother me.  You can find it easier to use a nail file to tidy up the edges.

It bothered me more that the edge of the paper was so bright white, so I painted it with a purple pen to match the glitter I had.

So far so tidy.  No sharp edges, no visible paper, no ink onto the image.  All good!

Next, I glued the bail onto the back using a smidgen of E6000 and ensuring it is nice and straight.

E6000 will leave 'hairs' so I used tweezers to remove these.  You will see in the picture below a good blob of E6000 that doesn't look so good if left uncovered.  If that is your intention, then you can always apply the E6000 with a tootpick onto the bail - just a small amount and none will seep out.  Of course I didn't do it so elegantly here, but it doesn't matter as it will get covered up.

Once the E6000 was dry, I applied a layer of Glossy Accents....

And immediately sprinkled it with glitter so the entire glue surface was covered. Blow gently onto the piece so the excess glitter cleans off.  The bail looks covered in this picture but it cleans up nicely when dry.  You don't want to handle it too much at this stage as it will be very wet. I let this dry straight (aided by the tweezers!) for a good long while.  A day or two is good.

When completely dry, apply another coat of Glossy Accents on the back.  You don't really want to have bare glitter next to your skin or clothes.  Again leave to dry.  As this will be your top coat, look out for bubbles - keep a watch as they may not appear initally.

And there you go - a beautiful pendant, with a smooth glossy and professional looking back!  The coat of glaze over the top (we used Glossy Accents again here) makes the glitter become more of a shimmer, a little more subdued. We like this effect a lot!

Other methods you can try for finishing the back:
- using ModPodge, cover with a decorative paper, and when dry, file the edges and apply a layer of glaze
- paint it
- try using a fabric covering instead of paper
- coat the back with a funky nail varnish
- decoupage the back with pieces of paper and ModPodge
- instead of glitter, try flocking material
- use a stamp and embossing powder
- if you sell these pieces, it's a good place to add your own signature, your logo or your website details

Show us how you make yours on our Facebook page @!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Time for Tea!

Today we thought we would share with you a cute little project that can be ready in - literally - five minutes.

Grab your kit - here we have a 25mm round bezel ring in antique bronze finish, a wooden tile to fit, a Sharpie pen, a couple of bronze plated charms in the shape of a teapot and a cup and some E6000 glue.

Start by painting a simple criss cross pattern on the tile which sort of resembles a gingham tablecloth.

Then glue on the charms

And pop into the ring bezel.

Et voila!  A very simple piece that is certainly worth more than the sum of all its parts!

Bank Holiday Freepost Offer

We thought we ought to celebrate the Bank Holiday weekend by having another freepost offer.  The offer is for free delivery to our UK customers by standard post (does not apply to upgraded post options), and our international customers can apply the same code to receive a £2.50 discount towards any purchases. No minimum order!

Simply use the code BANKHOLIDAY at checkout.  Valid until midnight Monday 27th May.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Fabulous Domes

We can't keep our hands off these wonderful domes!  The fishbowls are just amazing.  They are great as a simple display container, mini-terrariums, snowglobes and um, fish bowls!  Not that we'd recommend keeping any *real* lifeforms in there, but it would be fun to try with a bit of resin...  We will bring you that tutorial when it's ready!

For now we have popped these on rings and dangled them from button lids.  The main thing to note is the opening size, as you will need settings of the same size as the opening.  The fishbowls are available in three sizes:

- 20 x 12mm (that means the orb measures 20mm across and the opening is 12mm so this one will be great for our 12mm rings and earrings)
- 25 x 16mm (perfect for our 16mm rings and earrings and button lids)
- 30 x 20mm (rings of this 20mm size are coming soon, but we do have button lids)

The button lids look like this:

All they need is a jump ring and a chain, and you will have a fab dangly bowl.

The most difficult decision will be what to put inside! We have been seeing a lot of dandelion jewellery lately and love its flowy ethereal quality:

But ahh, confetti from a memorable day!  Poppy and bright and in your face and just perfect.

In the coming days we will be experimenting with liquids so keep a look out for new projects and ideas!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Glasses Chain

If you are anything like me - myopic and astigmatic to a T - you probably won't have a need for these.  I never can take my glasses off, all hell would quite possibly break loose if I did.  But if you are an occasional glasses wearer, say for reading, you will understand the value of a chain for your glasses, that you can hang around your neck, always keeping your specs at hand ready to be put on at a moment's notice.

We now stock the handy little rubber bits that connect the chain to the glasses, so we thought a trial was in order.  We got together some chain, jump rings (not shown), some fancy bow connectors that have just arrived in the shop, two 10mm connector blanks and a set of epoxy stickers to fit - as the connector blanks are double sided we used four stickers.  We picked a piece of scrapbooking paper with a sweet little rose pattern for our inserts.  All the metal pieces are vintage copper finish.

We started by making the little connector blanks, first stick the epoxy domes onto your patterned paper and cut around this, then ModPodge the little pieces onto your connector blanks, allowing them a bit of time to dry.  If the glue is too much and overspills (like it did here!), it's not a big problem as it cleans up nicely when dry.

Then lay out all your pieces so that all your bows and your flower images are facing the right way up.

Attach to your chain, pop your rubber connectors on with a jump ring and model on your glasses.  Result!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Shrink Plastic Jewellery

We have now started selling amazing shrink plastic.

Here are some quick instructions on what we do:

  • choose the right product for your purposes: Shrinkles Shrink Art will be good for stamping and drawing; Shrinkjet for printing from an inkjet printer
  • use permanent inks (thin lines work best) or coloured pencils (not soft or waxy).  For the black shrink plastic, metallic pens work well

  • cut your artwork around the shape of the design.  The plastic may not shrink evenly so you may not get a perfect circle or square, even if you use a craft punch, but free flow shapes will be great
  • make any holes you may need for jump rings at this stage (a standard hole punch 7mm away from the edge is good for this)
  • preheat your oven to 175oC, 350oF, Gas Mark 3
  • prepare a flat and smooth baking tray by lining it with foil and a layer of baking parchment.  High walled baking trays will not work well here.
  • the makers recommend a book but we like to warm up a pan a little bit and have another piece of baking parchment nearby.
  • pop your piece onto the cool baking tray and in the oven.  You will see it curl up and then flatten. 
  • once flat again remove the baking tray from the oven, immediately cover your piece with parchment paper and press the warmed pan over it.  If the pan is hot it could burn your piece - keep it warm only - the idea is that your piece will be kept warm enough by the pan to flatten completely.
  • carefully remove the piece and leave to cool
  • at this point you can tidy up any sharp edges or uneven shape with a file
  • use a couple of coats of ModPodge to seal the image
  • we also like to apply a top layer of glossy accents onto the image for a glossy, resin-y look
  • glue/thread onto the jewellery of your choice
We will add some photos of the process soon - in the excitement we forgot to take any good ones!  Now we have to have another making session all over again.  Ah, well.  A perk of the job. :)

Sunday, 19 May 2013

New Hollow Bowls

Hello Inspiration! Good to have you back! We know you only went away momentarily as we were fretting and faffing with taxes and pricing and all unexciting things, but then in came these beautiful hollow bowls and there you were! It is good to have you here again!

So you will have already seen these amazaroola new hollow bowls.  They are delicate, they are fragile, they have a lovely handmade feel about them.  They will serve to encase your precious mementos, your artistic little sculptures and a myriad miniature worlds.

We have come up with several ideas for them already, but we must pace ourselves. So we bring you just one little idea, nothing particularly new about it, it simply revolves around the idea of picking a simple concept and converting it into a small (very small) representation of the life-size one.  In this case, I had been sitting in the garden and thought I would try to encapsulate my garden into a pendant tray.  Yes I could have taken a photo and set it under a cabochon, but I really wanted a diorama effect.  So I gathered my materials:

and went about the making of the piece.  I had:

  • ModPodge
  • a pendant tray
  • a hollow glass dome
  • a piece of backing paper from a scrapbooking set
  • a detailed scrapbooking paper sheet
  • scissor, brush, pointy tweezers - and not in the photo, but they were nearby, a set of colourful Sharpie pens
Firstly I glued the blue backing paper into the tray.  I had traced around a bigger piece using the glass dome and cut it to size so it would fit the tray. As it had a slight wave pattern and I wanted it to sit straight, it needed a bit of gentle manouvering into position.

I then applied glue to the bottom border and glued on the nicer and greener bits of moss I found.

With another coat over the bottom of the moss itself I was able to add a second layer for depth.

I had picked the larger scrapbooking paper because it had some teeny tiny butterflies and ladybirds that I could cut out - easier said than done!  It might have been better to use an X Acto knife here as the detail was just too much for my huge ploddy scissors.  Alas, we did what we could.  These tiny paper insects were then folded slightly for a slight 3d effect and glued into position in the tray.  

Hmm, not quite right.  The insects looked washed out and the paper could be seen through the rim of the glass. Resort to Sharpie help.   Coloured pens gave the insects the extra burst of colour I wanted, and a quick go around the edge of the background paper with a black pen meant any paper showing would not be visible around the edge of the glass.  Of course I needed to push the moss into the tray a little bit to allow the glass to sit nicely at the very edge.

Let everything dry for a good day or so.  As all the bits of glue dry, if you pop your glass top onto your piece too soon, you will find droplets of condensation form soon after. 

When dry, I dabbed a little ModPodge on the rim of the glass - this glass is very fragile and so it won't be subjected to many knocks and bumps.  I believe ModPodge will be strong enough for the job, but if in doubt, you can use E6000.  Place it gently onto the piece, ensure there are no stray bits of moss escaping and there you have a cute little diorama piece.  


Thursday, 2 May 2013

VAT and a 20% Bank Holiday Discount

We are now VAT-registered which means we have to charge VAT on all our products – this will entail a price increase in a number of items as standard rate VAT (20%) has to be added onto the product price.  Nobody likes a price rise really, hence we will try to absorb as much of the increase as we can and bear the costs ourselves.  Regrettably we don't have a lot of room to manoeuvre on this, so for some of our items you will see a little increase in prices. 

For the moment, our website and checkout system will not change (though we are working towards a funky new website!). So for now, your shopping experience will remain the same.  If you are a VAT registered business however and require VAT invoices please get in touch and we will be happy to issue these accordingly.

Whilst we set the wheels in motion and update the current website with the new prices we thought you would appreciate a little bit of a discount.  So from now until midnight on Bank Holiday Monday (6th May) you have a chance to get a 20% discount across all items in the shop!   If you are quick, you can get the discount on our pre-VAT prices too!  The code to use at checkout is SPRING20.

And just to explain, only a small number of items will increase by the full VAT rate of 20% as we will try to minimise the impact where possible - but even if the full 20% has been applied, a 20% discount on an item with VAT added will always be cheaper than the pre-VAT price - that is to say, imagine a £1 item needs to have VAT at 20% added, so it then costs £1.20.  But with our 20% offer this Bank Holiday weekend, the price you pay is £0.96.  Or if you snap it up before the VAT increase, you only pay £0.80!  

We do apologise again for the bare appearance of our blog and FB – we are busy with the new website and grappling with new-found taxes, but promise we will be back to full creative flow soon with some fun projects and exciting new products!  Ok, here’s a clue:

Yes, they are here!!

Have a wonderful Bank Holiday weekend everyone!