In Praise of Robins

If you ask most people in the British Isles if they like robins they will say ‘yes’ – the very word robin conjures up the iconic picture of a little bird sitting on a garden spade … the gardener’s friend.

But it is the robin’s song that endears these little birds to me. They are one of the few birds that sing all winter long. Often have I leaned out of my window and, in the grey light of an early winter dawn the clear notes of the robin’s song cascade through the darkness, bringing light and hope. It is a song of piercing sweetness and so I tell myself that since these brave little birds sing …. then so can I.

Until next time ….


Art – v – Commerce – the Designer’s Dilemma

I have been designing and making jewellery for a long time and like many others try to sell my work. A few years ago, prompted by a newspaper ad, I decided to try my luck at an annual craft fair held at a popular venue on the North Norfolk coast. My family and I made the hour long trip with a car load of jewellery I had made and we set up our stall outside a friend’s coffee shop. We were glad to get this position as we thought that a lot of people would pass the stall and take a look on the way to get some refreshment. It was a blazing hot day and setting up the stall was not easy. Parking was limited and we had to lug all the stock plus the table quite a long way from the car and that was before we had even set up. Well it proved a three ‘P’ day … that’s shorthand for Pick up, Put down and Push off (and that’s putting it politely) …. Midday passed and I hadn’t sold a single thing. By mid afternoon we decided to pack up and go home.

When I got home I spread out all the jewellery on the table and took a long hard look at what I’d made … the result of many evenings sitting in front of the TV with the beads, thread and findings on a tray putting it all together. I’d made chunky necklaces with bracelets and earrings to match. I’d made delicate necklaces with bracelets and earrings to match. I had tried to please everyone and in the end pleased no one – not even myself. I was so dissatisfied with what I’d made that I took the whole lot to the charity shop.

You see I had failed to listen to that still small voice inside me which said ‘Listen to your heart. Follow your instincts. Don’t just make something because you think it will sell. Make what comes out of your imagination’.

It was a tough learning experience but now I do listen to that still small voice. If people don’t like what I make that’s fine as jewellery (and for that matter all art forms) are a matter of personal taste; but of course I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t hope that someone somewhere will look at one of my creations and think ‘Yes, I like that’ and maybe even want to buy it either for themselves or as a present for someone.

At least I know that each piece of jewellery I make is an honest piece and I put my best efforts into making it wearable and as well put together as I can make it.

I would be interested to hear whether anyone else has had a similar selling experience and how they reacted to the ‘Art – v – Commerce’ dilemma … or indeed whether, in their view, the dilemma exists at all?

Comments invited please!

Until next time ….

How to Make Hoar Frost pendant – or something similar

Below are instructions for making the fabric/bead pendant featured in my last blog. This method can be used to make a pendant in whatever colours you choose.

You will need: two squares of plain fairly strong fabric (I have used calico); Stazon ink; a stamp such as those used for card making; some sequins; some rocaille beads; some iron on interfacing; some thin cord (I have used hemp cord); some metallic thread; two lengths of fairly strong silver wire; two calotte crimps; necklace fastenings.

Method: Iron a piece of plain fabric on to some iron on interfacing (such as can be bought in haberdashery shops) placing a piece of greaseproof paper between the fabric and the iron to prevent scorching.  Cut the fabric plus interfacing into two squares approximately one inch by one inch – one for the front of the pendant, one for the back.   Stamp one of the squares (which will be the front)  with Stazon ink in your design and colour of choice;  Sew sequins on to the square that has been stamped;  Sew the two squares of fabric together using the metallic thread – blanket stitch is best.  Once the squares have been stitched together sew some rocaille beads around the edge;  Make two holes in the square a little way from the top and an equal distance from each side. Put the lengths of silver wire through the holes and make wrapped loops on each side. 

Then take the two lengths of hemp cord and put them through the two loops of wire one on each side – double. To estimate how much cord you will need measure the length of the necklace and double it.  The cord is then knotted with beads. Make one knot close to the wire loop joining the two strands of cord together. Thread 3 small beads on to the left strand of cord. Make a knot to join the two strands of cord together. Then thread 3 small beads on to the right strand of cord. Make another knot to join the two strands together. Continue until the cord is the desired length and tie a double knot at the end to join the two strands together. Cover the knot with a calotte crimp. Do the same on the other side of the necklace, again covering the end knot with a calotte crimp. Attach necklace fastenings to the two crimps.

This is a good way to use up left over scraps of fabric and also beads. The pendant is light and comfortable to wear.

If you have any questions please let me know.

Until next time …..



Hoar Frost

Inspired by the cold frosty weather we have had recently I finished this little pendant at the weekend.  It combines the silver of hoar frost with the dark outlines of the trees. A little green flower is stamped on the fabric as even in winter there is the promise of coming spring. HF3HF8