Sunday, 22 January 2012

All copper and earth tones this week

I don't seem to have been able to get my teeth into much new lately, all of my orders have been for re-makes of existing designs. Absolutely nothing wrong with that whatsoever, but you do get the creative itch to be doing something for the first time and my head is always bursting with ideas wanting to take form.

Lovely translucent oval Jade beads spiral wrapped in antiqued copper.

A young couple who have been my son's closest friends, for what must be something like 10 years, asked me to make a necklace for his Mum (and she's my friend too) for her birthday this week and wanted something in 'earth tones' for her. I showed them some designs and we honed it down to close to what they had in mind.

A smaller version of my spiral coils necklace - the coils are a slightly smaller gauge and shorter too - we thought that she might not suit the heaviness of the other ones I'd made, so I scaled it down a little. This one may well remain with me, I was promising to make myself one with some of these gorgeous blue green Indian Fancy Jasper lanterns.

But we were a bit up against it time-wise, so I suggested that I should make a few new pieces that fit their brief, from which they could choose the one they like best and the rest would simply be new stock for my shops.

Whilst digging through my bead stash for 'earth tone' beads, I found several that I liked but were too small for the designs I had in mind, so I fancied the idea of one with leaves and berries, so this necklace features a random toning selection of copper and earth green leaves and berries. I intended it to be a short length in the centre of a collar length necklace, but wondered if a heavier central feature bead might cause it to fall into more of a V at the neckline, so added this large Rhyolite coin in the centre with some rosy copper buds above it.

I've found that it's often quicker to work that way than try and thrash out all of the details before picking up the tools - just depending on the nature of the piece they want and how fixed the customer is in their ideas - and how many ideas I have!

Once I got into the zone for the colours and style they wanted, the ideas quickly flowed and I ended up with the 4 designs shown here for them to consider, which thankfully they liked well enough that they were stuck to decide and did indeed go for the one I had placed my little personal wager on.

The necklace they chose; with Indian Fancy Jasper lantern beads spiral wrapped between hammered copper washers.

They thankfully stated their preference a couple of days before they came to collect it, which gave me the opportunity to make a matching pair of earrings as my gift for her too.

The earrings I made to go with them. She doesn't often wear long earrings, so I wanted to keep them as short as possible, yet match the design, so I put them on a hammered paddle pin which allowed me to continue the spiral into a couple of wraps below the bead.

Talking of jewellery gifts reminds me to include a bracelet that I made for a Christmas gift - it was a variation of one of my standard and regular selling designs; a solid copper double wrapped link antiqued bracelet - which I normally close with a large hook clasp. In this case, I felt the recipient might struggle to fasten the clasp on her own, so opted for a toggle clasp instead.

There's clearly more time and work in making the toggle, which would certainly increase the price, but I think I might add this variation to my shop too. In fact, when I am more flush and can justify using the materials for myself, I'd like one like this in Sterling silver, I think it would make a good everyday 'go with anything' bracelet that would be easy to wear.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Frost and blue sky - perfect for a walk

First of all, may I wish everyone a Happy New Year and I hope that it will be kind to you.

I'm pretty horrified to see how long it is since I blogged - I hadn't realised it had been so long over the festive holidays. Mr Boo and I have both been laid pretty low with a bug - not sure how to describe it, it was a severe cough with flu like symptoms. Not a cold as such, just a rotten, exhausting cough. I came off pretty lightly in comparison, but Mr Boo had a pretty miserable Christmas - it's tricky to manage a very robust, spasmodic cough when you're waiting for surgery for an abdominal hernia.

Thankfully, he suddenly seemed to improve over the weekend, so when we saw how good the weather forecast was for today, we put together our stuff yesterday evening so that we could get out for the day today and we managed a walk and in-car picnic at one of our favourite places; Beacon Fell in Lancashire.

I suspect half of Lancashire had the same thought too and for the first time ever, we couldn't find a space in any of our favourite car parks, so settled for a roadside spot we've used before, a little off the beaten track and walked a slightly different route - which worked out perfectly and proved to be a blessing as it was a smidge quieter.
Please click on any of the images for a larger view.

There was thick haw frost in the shade near where we parked, so we wrapped up warmly and set off in lovely winter sunshine and I took my camera along, as always. Unfortunately, whilst I had all the right equipment with me, I seemingly failed to engage my brain. I didn't take many photos, for a variety of reasons, from the bitter cold on my hands, to meandering children within the frame and those photographs that I did take ended up lacking in technical competence, like totally failing to notice the very slow shutter speeds and consequent lack of sharpness. So this is all far from my best work, but the best I have to offer just at the moment.

I think I've almost certainly shown similar scenes to these before as I just love sunlight through trees and as we walk the same paths often, largely for this reason, I've surely taken these same shots before, although I'm pretty sure that I haven't done them with this particular camera, so I'll treat them as new images.

This is certainly a favourite spot as the shadows falling across the path always give rise to lovely curvy abstract shapes and even at this time of year, the sunlight is a deep golden colour as it dances through the trees.

I was also grateful for the nice spell of weather before the weekend when I managed to get out for a decent walk at lunchtime, having been held inside for a few days by the ferocity of the cough and an indecent amount of wind and rain. I had my camera with me then too, but the shots I took were specifically to test something out we'd been discussing on one of the camera forums, so this was as interesting as it got.

The camera I was using is the Fujifilm HS20 EXR - the EXR designation refers to the 'extended dynamic range' feature - one that I really do love and one which works well for the type of photography that I do. It allows you to capture a good range of tones in contrasty scenes like this. Most non-EXR cameras would burn out the sky and that white house if you exposed the foreground in the same way. This shot doesn't look anything unusual, as this is what your eye saw and it just looks right, but the range of tones captured in an image like this is pretty fabulous and I love that I can get results like the two below with minimal post processing and confident in knowing that I'm unlikely to blow highlights like white cloud detail. Even the examples above with the trees show the same feature at work - one I'm becoming very fond of.

Apologies for the lack of worthy content in this post, I'll aim to do much better next time.


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