Tuesday, 30 November 2010

What Is Your Name?

I've got this idea about these little creatures. They are beads, of course, (what else?), I've made several today. What to call them? The funny (or weird) thing is, it follows you with its eyes! The colours didn't come out very well because I've used a really awful lighting from a natural light bulb in the kitchen (hence the horrible bright blue background - sorry, not my choice of decor!), but you can see the eyes! I'm going to part-etch it as I always do with these: the sparkling dots and the blob of the face are going to be left shiny (together with the hearts, there are two of them - one on each side), the rest will be my fav matte. I don't think these are for sale. They are not terribly commercial, but then they were not intended to be. Just something that had to be got out. I'm sure you know what I mean! :)

Friday, 26 November 2010

Working Again! Yippee!!!

Just as I was about to do a blog on how I bought myself a new table which was going to be my bench in Derby - mind you, that was probably not going to be terribly exciting! - which is picture 1, I actually had a very busy day yesterday.

The morning was so bright and sunny, the garden and the village looked so gorgeous in the sparkling winter sun, that I thought it would be a good idea to unpack all my bead making stuff. OK, it was cold. The conservatory I am in doesn't have any heating. Well, there is underfloor heating, but as we are renting this house, I am not sure how to programme it, so I just put on many-many layers of warm clothes. My Russian valenkis (felt boots) are handy too. So I managed to take everything out of boxes, Rod fixed the station on the wooden surface, and everything is working! (picture 2).

I've managed to make some beads today, and sadly the cold isn't the main problem. It's ventilation, as always! So now I'm thinking how I am going to fix my extractor fan. You see, I thought as it was a conservatory, the air would be floating in and out through the open windows. Nope, it doesn't. If I keep the door open it's more or less OK, but not perfect. I can still smell the gases, so tomorrow I'll try out some ideas.

Another quite upsetting thing is that I am soooooo out of practice :( . I tried to make my "Sparkling" beads, and putting those dots in a very precise pattern proved to be quite a challenge. You can see what I mean: dots are all over the place! It didn't help either that I picked out the wrong Double Helix - this is Clio, but it should have been, I think, Aurae. Never mind. As Ellen in "Gone With the Wind" used to say, tomorrow is another day! :)

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Website Update and Other News

The work on the updating of my website is going on. I haven't expected Nigel (http://www.nigelrobinson.com/), who we've been working with on the design and development of my website as well as the Demi-Monde website, to come up with all these ideas - last night!

This is a little preview of what my new opening page is going to look like. As Nigel very rightly commented, the bit in the middle of the stylised N is very important as it is the thing which sets this particular N from others. So he was reluctant to put the words "Nelli Rees Lampwork" across it, and now I know why. These four examples are very pretty, but again, as Nigel commented, although the big stylised N works, the lettering doesn't as it is too small and can't really be seen very well. So Nigel also prepared a couple of other options, and they are gorgeous. The problem is, one of them has lettering on the black background, and the other - on the cream one. So now I have this dilemma: black or white? Difficult.

I have finished work on the article for the Making Jewellery mag which should be in the April issue. They obviously want it to coincide with the release of my book in the States which is scheduled for the 5th of April 2011. It is actually good, because if I book a stall at the Flame Off on the 8th-9th of April 2011 it will give me something to display!

I've also finished my article for the GBUK Autumn-Winter Newsletter. It is called "Book or not 2 Book", but I am not sure if they decide to call it something different. Sabine Little, who sadly is not going to remain the Newsletter Editor, very kindly accepted it for the issue that she is going to put together before she leaves this post :( . I mean, :) for being accepted! I tried to make it funny, I hope it'll come through.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Visit to Yorkshire

Friday was the loveliest day!

We had to go and see Nigel, who is a designer and who has designed both Rod's and my websites. He lives in Driffield, so we thought as we were going to drive all the way up North, we would take this opportunity and visit the Cooper Gallery in Barnsley where some of my jewellery is sold. This was a very good decision. Barnsley is only literally 5 min away from the M1, so one second you are on the motorway, and the next - you are in the town centre! Barnsley is a lovely place. The day, when we were leaving Derby, was foggy, cold and miserable. But as soon as we drove into Barnsley, the sun was shining, the air was crisp, and I even got too hot in my usual winter coat! And the Yorkshire accent! I think I miss it all.

We had a cup of coffee and a bacon roll in a pub and then found our way to the Gallery which was right in the centre. It is a great place, with lots of ceramics, silver, knitted things, framed photos - anything you like! The jewellery set which is going to be the top prize in the Friends' of the Cooper Gallery's Christmas event (www.barnsley.gov.uk/friends-of-the-cooper-gallery) is displayed right at the entrance together with a signed copy of my book. In fact, all jewellery by all artists is displayed really nicely, well done guys and girls in the Gallery! We bought a couple of lovely things for our daughters' Christmas stockings. After that we went around the town centre and did some more shopping (there are some very good shops there, including fashions for men which is always difficult to find). I even managed to buy this lovely purple wool for a sweater (I don't know when I'm going to have time to knit it!) plus some wool for decoration around the neck and on the ends of the sleeves, which is also purple but it has big fluffy blobs here and there, I've never seen anything like this before, so it will be a challenge to knit something out of it. In other words, if you've never been to Barnsley it is well worth a visit, and it's easy to get to!

Then we drove on to Malton near York to get our "Yorkshire Pot" from Derek Fox the butchers. It has been several years now that we have Yorkshire Pot for Christmas, even though now we don't live in Scarborough, and it takes us some time to go and get it. Mr Fox was his usual grumpy self, noting that I should have picked the Pot up the day before etc, etc. (I wonder who is the customer here!). But I was determined to be pleasant and happy, so I just missed what he was saying!

Then to Driffield. Nigel had moved into a new house, and it was great to see them all there. We had a few things to discuss. As I am becoming better known in the lampworking and jewellery making community, my website needs to be updated. It has been dormant for some time now, as I find it easier to sell beads from ebay. One of the reasons is that it takes me time to put stuff on the website, especially the formatting of the photos. So this needed to be addressed. Also I had to think long and hard about a new image and my new logo. I love my little heart in the logo, but the decision was taken that it would be better to have just one image, which needs to be strong and easily recognisable. Of course, I've always had my special N which I designed out of two Nordic runes: "laguz" and "laguz" reversed. This was decided to become the main image from now on. I will also be incorporating it into my jewellery, as I have always planned. I have to investigate how much it would cost to make it into clasps for bracelets and necklaces. The cost of the silver Art Clay is ferocious, so possibly I could make it out of copper clay. There are other possibilities as well, but I need time to look into every one of them. I think it will be really cute to have my N on a clasp or even as a simple charm. So... lovely day, but lots to do!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Winter is Here! (And It's Only November - What to Expect Next?!)

Winter has officially arrived in Derbyshire! I took these pictures yesterday morning, and it was even worse today! -3.

But I found out that my book was No. 24 in the 100 best-selling books on Amazon yesterday (in Books > Home and Garden > Crafts > Jewellery and Beadwork) and No. 51 today! This was really extremely good news indeed! To make the top 100 is unbelievable! Especially that I am competing with such popular things like metal clay and beading. So I was very chuffed!

I also treated myself to buying one of the beads by Michou Pascale Anderson. She lives in Germany and makes colourful designs. There isn't a lot of depth, but the colour combinations are lovely. When I received the bead in the post together with a little leaflet about the designer I learnt that she is half-French and half-Jamaican, which could explain the designs she favours. We all must have some sort of a pre-memory in our brain - is it all pre-programmed? When Diana East saw me wearing those beads I made on the last bead-making day in Norfolk, she thought they looked "very Russian"!
Going back to my topic on photography, I was a little disappointed to see that the bead I fell in love with from a picture wasn't quite as bright in real life after all... Ahh, there is still a LOT to explore with glass colours!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Realistic or Pretty?

Sunday morning... Usually there is lots to do, and I never get to the computer until about 11 o'clock, but yesterday it was my daughter's eighteenth birthday party, and Rod and I went away; now we are back, but people aren't up yet, so what a perfect chance to do one's blog!

I've always wanted to write about photography. Everybody knows how important it is, especially to show your beads to people who want to buy them. The beads should look good but realistic. A lot of bead artists use very strong lighting for their shots, or take photos with a flash. What I found is that all this changes the colours a lot - or is it just my camera? So I usually opt for either very soft and "peaceful" (as I call them) shots of beads on my window sill, or in the sunlight - for a much stronger sparkly effect.

For example, when I was preparing this shot for my book, which in the end didn't make it, I laid out this "Mermaids' Eyes" bracelet on the window sill and just had to wait for the right light. It happened in the end, but this was one of the most difficult shots I'd ever taken. The reduced Double Helix Triton dots have a lot of colour in them, and it changes depending on the angle at which you look at them. It was important to capture this incredible change.

This other photo shows more amazing colours you can get from Double Helix. It was taken in the open, but not in the sun, as I was worried about "overcooking" the colours - you can get a whole rainbow effect from these, but I always leave this to the customer: when they open the parcel and discover beads which look even better in real life than on the photo, I should imagine they are going to be very pleased!

Friday, 12 November 2010

Etching, Etching

As I have been unable to make beads, I have been looking at the ones I made long ago. The truth is, I love etching. The effect of this unusual matte finish on glass fascinates me. Of course, you can "get rid" of the shine and sparkle if you put some baking soda on your creation at the end, but while I'm making a bead I never actually know exactly what I'd like it to be. So there is always a choice when you get them out of the kiln: to etch or not to etch.

Full etching is easy. But, of course, now I like the idea of combining the matte and the shine, and this is where it becomes extremely time consuming. I remember, several years ago, when I was only starting, Clare Scott wrote about a set on her website how it took her ages to create this effect covering the dots with nail varnish and etching the background. Now not only I cover things, then, when they dry, I go round with a magnifying glass (no, not really, only kidding!), inspecting all the areas I want etched, cleaning the bits which were accidentally covered with varnish, or adding more nail varnish on the tiny spots and lines if I want them left shiny. Ridiculous, I say to myself. But what can I do - I'm addicted to it!

This bead is only just over an inch long (28mm), with Effetre Cobalt Blue transparent base and various stringers and twisties made with Double Helix Triton (I believe, as I made it literally ages ago!). Not a difficult bead to make, just takes time to prepare :) The "ribbon" effect in the middle is a simple twistie of white and Periwinkle Blue. I liked the "ribbon" being uneven, it adds a certain character to this pattern, it also echoes the asymmetrical effect the mirrored Triton twisties turned into. Here is a close-up. I have to say I am very pleased with the result.

I've got this very dotty bead which I now decided to etch too, so I'll show what happened later!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Becky's Blog, 111 stars and Taking Photos in the Rain :)

Becky Fairclough of Chameleon Designs, being an amazing glass artist and making amazingly beautiful beads and things, also is a truly beautiful person. Whenever I see her at fairs and meetings, she always smiles, always happy, always has a chat with her numerous friends and acquaintances. I was really happy when she told me that she ordered my book; now she received it and wrote a whole blog about it! :) You can read it on http://www.chameleonsdesigns.blogspot.com/ . I am feeling so fluffy inside! :) :) :)

Yesterday I realized that now I have 111 feedback stars on ebay! I thought it was a pretty cool number. It shows that you are not a novice, and you have sold a considerable amount of stuff, and that customers care to leave a nice feedback about what they bought from you. I always thought that once I have over a hundred of these stars I will be very pleased indeed (you see, some customers don't leave anything, and it isn't because they are dissatisfied, but they might forget or be busy). But now, of course, I am dreaming of, say, 500 stars! I don't know if I'll ever be able to produce as much as feedbacks for a 1000 items! But you never know...

Also yesterday I was very clever and I took photos of the beads I was going to put on ebay in advance. I usually list items on Friday, and usually Friday is a very hectic day: choosing and additionally inspecting beads (lots of noise, I tell you!), cleaning (for a 10th time) and polishing (for a 20th time) the beads which would be ready to be photographed, taking photos, choosing photos, tagging and naming them, ooooh! busy. Then the actual writing of the descriptions, measuring etc. When I woke up I saw a lovely sunrise, which was surprising as all night it was raining. Remembering where we live now (it rained a LOT LESS in Norfolk) I used the sunshine for these great photos of my beads. Here's one. I should have called the beads something like "Lunaglow", but this great thought only came to me this morning, so they'll just have to be simply "Lentils"!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

What an Exciting Day! Mood: Busy

Yesterday was an amazing day!

First of all, the day before I received a message from this lovely guy, Kevin Clark, who got my book, which apparently arrived at his place last Saturday (wow! - 10 out of 10 to the GMC for organising themselves on time!), and he wrote a lovely note to me about it! But yesterday he allowed me to put it on my blog, so here it is:

"I received your book through Amazon on Saturday, love it. It's really well laid out and for a newbie in the lampworking field (well 4 months) makes a lot of sense. Love the fact that you can make a bead then for the jewellery makers carry on and make your piece."

Wheeee!!!!! I was thrilled!

Then all of a sudden the Making Jewellery team came back and said that they would publish this "10 Questions" thing about me in their Issue 25. Hooray, at last! One would think that as GMC Publications own the Making Jewellery mag, there would be a lot more connection between the editorial teams - well, not so! I've been nagging for ages about an article, so yes! yes! yes!!! OK, issue 25 is a long way away, it's the April issue, if I can count correctly, and this 10 Questions feature is a bit boring - the questions are all the same for everybody, they don't really fit very well with a lampworker, but never mind, this is the format - what can you do? I'm just so glad that they'll do it! So a sneaky preview of one of the photos I'm gonna use in there:
These are my "Gaillardia" beads, I make them from time to time, I just love the goldstone middles, and this green background is also one of my favourite greens. I start with white (any white really) then encase it into my favourite transparent emerald green which, I think, is now sold as "mid dark green" - I just love this shade! - so it comes out this lovely bright green with the added bonus of the following: if you decorate the surface, then you can see the shadows on the white, so it looks extra mysterious!
Next I received the actual 10 questions so I can now buckle down, which I have done actually. I sat at my computer all day, dilidently choosing the photos - only max 8. It's a real pity that I can't do any lampworking at the mo, as I've got soooo many ideas, so I'll have to use the old pix of the stuff I made in the summer. Hey! never mind! :) :) :)
Then I also approached the GBUK Newsletter team, and Sabine Little came back and said "yes" to my plan of writing a piece on how I did it with the book etc, so this was just really great news too! You never know how people might treat your contacting them: they might think that you are too pushy. But the book is out there, and I need to promote it somehow - you know what I mean!
It was raining yesterday, but I didn't notice - I was soooooo busy! Lovely-jubbly! xxx

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Holiday!!! in Hurghada :)

Ahhh, we went on holiday!!!!!!!
This is the Alps!

Not that I've never been to Switzerland, but, let's say, it was some time ago, so even seeing it like this, from the window of an airplane, was very exciting.

We went to Egypt, to this interesting place called Hurghada. One of the activities was to go snorkelling to a beautiful island the name of which escapes me, but you can see our Flotilla (well, just about!), sorry the photos have to be small!

Here you can just see lots of people snorkelling. I love the colour of the sea! So much like my beloved Effetre Light Turquoise Transparent!

Rod said that this way of snorkelling wasn't very fun. There were too many people coming from too many boats, so all the wildlife, whatever had survived the noise from the boats' engines, had hidden away.

I tried some snorkelling too. Now you have to remember, that I am not a natural swimmer, but if Rod says I can do it, I will at least try! This was the scariest of my experiences in life! Even when I was going to have a baby, this wasn't so scary. I just couldn't master this "breath through the mouth" thing at all. I think, you either can do it, or you can't. Luckily for me, Rod was nearby. We had been promised dolphins, but it wasn't a dolphin who saved my life, it was my husband! I don't have a pic of me snorkelling, the children got too worried about me to take pix!
This is a happier situation - Nelli Rees is relaxing in a lovely Asian restaurant (at the resort) with a glass of wine! This was on Saturday. It was very nice indeed!

I love the sea! When we lived in Scarborough, we would often go for a walk on the seafront. People used to say, we take it for granted, but I never did. If you are born in Moscow, or, I should imagine, in any other enormously big city, with heat, and dust, and millions of cars, you never take the sea, or hills, or forests, or fields for granted. You just know how special they are.

This sea, Red, was very warm.

Up to about the day when we had to go back to England. All of a sudden a fresh wind started blowing from the sea, and everything changed. This photo was taken on our last day there, and you can see there aren't a lot of people swimming. (Lots of them were swimming in the pool, but I am not a great fan of pools - sorry!). :)

And this is the last picture of my Egyptian adventure - check out those skies!
This is "Sunrise Mamlouk Palace", booked through Thomas Cook.
The best part of it was the rooms. They were huge and, most importantly, ABSOLUTELY sound proof! I've never been at a resort with that level of sound-proofing.
We got what we wanted: to be away, in the sun, near a warm sea, to get tanned. There were some minor things, but overall it was great! This was our first holiday in five years.