It’s not Friday, but better late than never. Pearls are much more than a string around your neck, here’s some pieces from Folksy illustrating the versatility of pearls.

Jasmine – Swarovski Pearl tiara by Hint of Elegance

Pearl baby shoes – by Buzybee

Lavender Mist Pearl and Crystal Boutique by The Patchwork Bride

Silver and Pearl Leaf necklace by Alexis Southam Jewellery

Freshwater pearl nest pendant by Lillibets

Freshwater pearl and silk wrap by A Very British Affair

You’d better get over to this week’s shop quick, the Shop of the Week promotion is going so well Carrie’s almost sold out! And it’s not surprising, the Natural Bathing Co makes lovely soaps, lip balms and bath bombs from natural ingredients. Here’s a selection: firstly organic dragonsblood soap. Don’t worry no dragons are harmed in the making of this soap, it’s a mixture patchouli, vanilla, rose absolute, orange and jasmine.

Handmade Organic Soap Dragonsblood Glycerin Soap SLS/SLES Free

Now how can I resist, chocolate lip balm. It’s made of cocoa flavourings, natural yellow beeswax, sweet almond oil, and shea butter.

Chocolate Lip Balm Flavored Slide Tin 0.5oz Natural Lip Balm Lip Salve

and finally an unusual lime, mandarin and basil bath bomb, good enough to eat!

Fizzing Bath Bombs, Lime Mandarin and Basil Organic Bath Bomb

You can read an interview with Carrie here, and visit the shop here

Here’s a question that has been puzzling me, what counts as handmade? With clothes it’s simple: an item sewn together by a person, probably one-off, but you wouldn’t expect that person to have made the fabric too. With jewellery it seems a bit more complicated, if you take some beads or charms and make them into a necklace, it’s handmade, right? Or not? In my travels around Etsy I’ve seen a few necklaces and bracelets that seem more and more familiar.

Birds on a Branch Necklace, Kissing Bird Necklace, Love Birds Necklace

Sweet Blue Bird Jewelry ($18)

lover bracelet---golden love birds on the branch pendant love bracelet  & antique bronze chain

Lightenme ($4.99)

SALE - Love Birds on Branch Necklace - 14k GOLD Filled - anniversary gift, mom, daughter, sister gift, cute gift

Sweet Melody Shop ($19.55)

Love Birds Necklace Sterling Silver Chain Kissing Birds on a Branch Pendant Isn't it Romantic by RevelleRoseJewelry

Revelle Rose Jewelry ($23)

Love birds on Branch Necklace, kissing birds, by balance9

Balance9 ($21)

Bird branch necklace, rhodium plated love birds, 14K gold plated leaf, sterling silver chain

Sevenstarz ($20)

Birds on a Branch Necklace, Bird Branch Necklace, Love Birds Necklace, lovebirds, sparrow, birds jewelry, silver pendant, plain chain

Roberta Valle ($15)

Gold Birds (love birds) necklace with gold filled chain - birds on branch

A Box for my Treasure (€26)

Gold Bird and Branch Necklace, Kissing Lovebirds

The Bonny Boutique ($14.99)

Love Birds on Branch Necklace - Sterling Silver Chain

Cellas Creations ($20)

Sterling Silver Two Little Love Birds in a Branch Necklace

YMCDesigns ($20)

So what do you think? Handmade?

Spinning Streak is this week’s Shop of the Week. As you can tell from the name Spinning specialises in hand spun, and hand dyed wool, and woollen items. She spins and dyes using both professional dyes and natural plant colours too. Here’s a selection of lovely things from her shop.

This is a gorgeous pink, blue and purple hand painted new wool skein.

Hand painted wool yarn 50g pink blue purple

These are cute baby booties and mittens in warm tones, colourful enough to keep anyone cosy.

Baby booties mittens set - unisex booties and mittens 6 to 9 months approx

And this hand knitted stole in blues and lilacs.

Wide wrap stole ultrasoft knit smoky blue lilac

There are more of Spinning’s lovely yarns and handmade goodies from gloves and scarves to bags and tea cosies, in her shop here, and you can read an interview with Spinning on the Craft Britannia blog here. 

My Small World is this week’s shop and it’s the small world of Katie in Chester. I’ve already learnt two things from her shop, the first is freemotion embroidery, which is freehand embroidery on the machine. It’s a lovely flowing style which Katie uses on felt patches.

As well as felt patches Katie’s shop is full of  handmade bears, sewing cases, card cases, brooches, button badges and jewellery.  Here are some of my favourite things, a felt owl brooch…

Hand made red and green felt and fabric owl brooch

Meet Alfie, a handmade mohair bear with just one twin brother, he’s a unique and cute bear.

Alfie hand sewn mohair bear Ltd edition number one of two

and finally, because I love sakura, a scrabble tile necklace with Japanese blossom.

Japanese cherry blossom. Glazed Scrabble tile pendant, with handmade ribbon necklace.

The other thing I’ve learnt is about Blythe dolls, which are Katie’s passion, and she also has Blythe accessories in her shop. Visit her shop here, and learn more about Blythe dolls and read an interview with Katie here, on the Craft Britannia blog.

Affectionally known as Axe, this week’s shop is Axevictimus, run by Tony in Worcestershire. If you’re looking for some unique jewellery, Axe’s handmade wood and metal pieces really stand out. He uses a range of woods, but exotic hardwood is his favourite. Here are three of my favourite pieces. This one is an ebony pendant with sterling silver and a gold rivet and it’s a limited edition.

Wood pendant personalized monogram.

This is a gorgeous wild olive wood pendant with a sapphire cubic zirconia

Wood pendant sapphire cubic zirconia in wild olive.

and jatoba (that’s Brazilian cherry to you) and aluminium dangly earrings.

Wood dangle earrings jatoba and aluminium.

Visit Tony’s shop here and find more of his contemporary designs and the new brass range, and read an interview on the Craft Britannia site here.

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Folksy Find – Paisley.

Paisley hare by Rachel Eliott Glassworks, Paisley Brooch by Buttercup Boutique, A6 notebook with handmade fabric cover by Green Grass,  Purple cuff bracelet by Made by Daisy, Wash bag Paisley hearts by Ritzy Swish, Paisley sterling silver pendant by Alison Moore Designs, Brass paisley cuff by Mel Bandeira Jewellery, Paisley cream and black letter by Roseberry Boutique, Large white button earrings by My Vintage Designs, Gold paisley hoops by Misskukie Fine Handmade Jewellery, Large turquoise cushion by For Alice With Love, Handmade Vintage Cushion by Paisley Fox, Paisley the Bear by Barley Bears, Paisley stretched canvas by Higgledy Piggledy Homemade, Turquoise paisley clutch by Not Just Handbags, Paisley catnip toy by Molly’s Mice, Mosaic garden bird bath by JoSara, Baby booties by Accidental Vix.

So when you’ve made your shape with the metal clay, textured it and dried it, you need to sand the edges and make sure everything is smooth and tidy. It’s a lot easier to do this when it’s clay, rather than after firing.

Now it’s time to fire your piece. You can do this in a kiln, but it’s much more fun to do it with a blow torch. The clay needs to get to about 700oC or more, so you’ve got to have a real blow torch, a candle or something is not going to cut it. With PMC3 or Art Clay 650 the firing time is really short, about two and a half minutes. The clay produces a flame when you first turn the heat on it, it can be a surprisingly big flame, but don’t worry that’s the organic binder burning off. Once the flame has died the sintering begins and it turns into metal.

Image

Sorry about the blurry photo, but you can see the process here. On the left is a dried piece of unfired clay. The middle heart is a fired piece, see it has shrunk a little. The white residue is the natural state of silver. After a scrub with a brass brush the silver colour shows through, as you can see on the right. Magic huh?

Rachel Elliot runs this week’s shop – FlyingCheeseToastie. Rachel is a glass artist based in Edinburgh. She makes uses different techniques to make her items, ranging from jewellery with enamel, like this lovely pendant…

Glass Flower Pendant Purple Black Enamel on Cotton

to this lead crystal taxi, which  is a limited edition, made by lost wax casting

Glass Taxi Cab Sculpture Crystal London Black Cabby

and Rachel’s famous hares, which are kiln-fired and come in all colours, patterns and nationalities. My favourites are the paisley ones, like this…

Paisley Hare Glass White Sculpture Animal Screen Printed Enamel

The hares also have competition from the foxes, and there’s also brooches, cufflinks, earrings and dishes. Check out the interview with Rachel on the Craft Britannia blog and learn about different glass types here, and the shop here.

It’s taken me ages to do this. I had the idea to make initial necklaces about 3 years ago, and I’ve finally got round to making them.

This is my desk, playing cards are essential to use, first for rolling out the clay so you get an even thickness, and then secondly for drying the clay, you can pop the shapes on a card and move them around more easily.

Once the clay is rolled, textured, and cut it needs to dry. I leave it overnight to ensure it’s completely dry, before I fire it.

It’s also useful to remember to put a hole in the piece before you fire the clay, as it’s easier to make a hole in clay than it is in metal.

Next time I’ll tell you about blow torching stuff in my kitchen, as long as you don’t tell my landlord.