Gah! Time is going fast, it’s a sign of age, so they tell me. I turned 38 just last week, surely it’s too early for such middle aged truisms… The school holidays haven’t helped either, not only do I feel more ancient than ever, but I just haven’t had the shed time I need to get stuff done! The joys of being self employed and being the childcare, I suppose.
Anyway, the mad rush is to get my new collection ready for the “Made in Wales” show on September 8-9th, at the Rhondda Heritage Park, organised by the very wonderful Melissa Warren. This has to be the most prestigious showcase in the area for Valleys (and further afield in Wales) designer-maker artisans, and I am delighted that Spiny Sharkly Things will be exhibiting. As an added attraction, there will be a vintage clothes and accessories market running alongside, can’t wait to have a good mooch around that one! Beardy will be there with his Pirate Genes stall too. If you’re local, please feel free to print off a poster and spread it around – and if you’re not, would you share it on Facebook?
So rather than blogging and fannying around on Facebook, I’ve been full time mum, but yesterday I got chance to really crack on in the shed, getting new pieces ready to go to the Assay Office for hallmarking, as I’m lucky enough to be off to the beautiful Lake District for a week with Scoticule and my parents. I’ll have a week’s break from metalbashery to let my poor hands recover (had a flurry of minor nicks, scrapes and burns, but I fared better than my bench, which has a big charred hole in it) and catch up on some knitting and reading. I hope. I plan to get busy with polishing, stone setting and final finishing with some fresh skin when we get back
We’re up in North Wales at the moment, enjoying a few grown-up days away while Scroticule is in Tenerife with his dad. We’re staying in a lovely B&B called Felindre Farm at the southern tip of Bala Lake, a really charming place with stunning views and even better hospitality. At the landlady’s suggestion we took one of the mountain roads, which had the most spectacular views. I’ll post the photos when I can find a bit of wifi!
We went to the Centre for Alternative Technology today, built in an old slate quarry in 1974, and has been developing ever since. A really tranquil and inspiring place to wander around, not to mention an epic bookshop! Beardy went back in the early eighties, when it was in it’s infancy. We try to live a fairly low-impact life, so it’s heartening to see that they at CAT and we at home seem to share similar ways at looking at things. I shall start knitting my own yoghurt out of beards next.
We ended up in Barmouth after, so I’ve been collecting pebbles for a new collection which will be part of my Made in Wales: Made FROM Wales range. But more on that another day. Just need to get the sand out of my handbag now!
We’re in our way back to the farm now, while digesting a very nice Indian meal. One thing puzzles me, a couple came into the curry house while we were there and both ordered… Scampi and chips. Now, there are a lot of places in Barmouth where you can get all sorts of deep fried fishy delights – so why go to an Indian restaurant? Bizarre.
I am very lucky. In that I have a network of wonderful people I can count as my friends. I have outed some users, some abusers. Still, life goes on.
Had a lovely morning down in Roath at the craft and farmers’ market, sold lots of pretty things, gave loads of nice cakes away, caught up with a lovely friend that I’d lost touch with, spent some time with my mum and drank lots of tea. Job’s a goodun.
Well. Things of the Spiny Sharkly variety have taken off better than I could have hoped for. I’ve been officially in business for twelve weeks now, and I’m happy to say that Spiny is turning a profit Sales are good at the Heritage Park Hotel, online and on the stall when we’re on the road, so I’m glad I jumped in at the deep end and started the company.
When I first started, I wasn’t sure it would work anywhere near this well, so for business cards I just picked one of the free Vistaprint designs, white with purple flowers and butterflies. Cos it was free. But having been out and about, I count maybe a quarter of the cards I have seen have been the same design, so it was definitely time to change to something different. Still purple, still got butterflies, but unique to Spiny Sharkly Things this time. I’ve gone for a vintage-y look, as it goes with the stall’s “emporium” like feel, and I hope you like it as much as I do. And I’d like to say a huge thank you to Maggy Corkhill of mecreative for coming up with our new motto, “Turning Art Into Metal” – genius!
I’ve not really had chance to blog for a little while, it’s been rather busy! Most of my time the week before last was getting my cabinet at the Heritage Park Hotel just right, by adding some mirrors to the dark wood shelves I managed to bounce some more light into it, which really makes things sparkle!
Then, of course, I needed to get ready for Bloomin’ Women! I had a really successful weekend at the show, met lots of interesting people and bought myself a purple rose bush. It’s called Rhapsody in Blue which is one of my very favourite pieces of music. The fragrance is so heady, I shall plant it right by the shed door, I think.
I was really pleased with the stall layout, with practice it’s getting quicker to set up and take down.
I ended up in hospital again, not quite as bad as May’s episode, luckily. Now that I knew what symptoms to look for, I managed to get to hospital before the pH levels in my blood started dropping too far. So I have a fresh set of IV marks, just as the others had begun to fade Still, all is well now, but I’m pretty wiped out.
We were doing the Treorchy Festival last Saturday, but Beardy confined me to the sofa and took a selection of my stuff to sell alongside his. He set up my table pretty well, I reckon! And even sold some stuff, so it was an easy day’s money for me
I’m working on a few interesting projects this week, all a bit top secret I’m afraid. But if they come to fruition, I’ll be plastering it all OVER the interweb
I won some red, white and blue Fimo this week in one of Cookson Gold’s Jubilee competitions They wanted suggestions for a new National Anthem, and I cheekily suggested the theme to BBC Radio 4′s The Archers. It was tempting to suggest Beardy’s own composition, nattily entitled “F**k the Jubilee”, but I demurred.
So what to do
With red, white and blue?
Simple. Get some green and make Welsh things instead I used my sparkly red to make some little Welsh dragons, they will become earrings and pendants with a green and white background. The blue makes a very nice background to my skeleton cameo, so I shall be making some more of those too. These will all become affordable, school fete priced trinkets for next weekend’s summer fete at one of the local infants’ schools.
If you plan on using Fimo with two-part silicon moulds, use talc or baby powder as a release agent. I tried Badger Balm initially and got a nasty, sticky mess…
One of the annoying (or is it brilliant?) things about being bipolar is that you feel invincible one day and totally overwhelmed by everything the next. When I’m invincible, I’ll walk into random (but appropriate) shops, galleries, hotels etc and try to sell my jewellery, services or whatever. I can deal with any question about what I do and come across as really confident and go-getting. As anyone who has worked in sales will tell you, the deal rarely gets signed in first meetings, and you need to be diligent in following up promising visits with phone calls and further face to face conversation. Unfortunately I’m a bit rubbish at this when I’m in a low part of my cycle and put it off until I’m feeling invincible again, by which time that red hot lead is stone cold. So today I have given myself a veritable kick up the arse, made some phone calls and now I have got a Spiny Sharkly Things stall at a school fete in ten days time (and at their Christmas bash), a good spot at the Roath Craft Market next month and a foot in the door at a nearby hotel where they showcase and sell work by local designer-makers such as myself. All I need to do now is follow up a visit I made to a shop in Treorchy and I’ll have tied up my current loose ends. I should have called in when I did my banking yesterday, but I chickened out Again. Still three out of four isn’t bad!
Well, we’re home and dry. Literally rather than figuratively! Friday’s wintery storms delayed us to Saturday, and we arrived at the Welsh Coast MCC’s rally site at middayish. It took a little while to work out whether/where to set up and we decided that as the few people that had made it to the rally had decamped to the local pub, that we’d do our thing there. Once we’d got the permission we needed, we were up and running in a couple of hours.
Being the first time we’d set up our own self contained unit, it took a little longer than we’d hoped, but this should get quicker with practice. We came up with a few ideas to make it quicker and better, but I won’t bore you with them here! My biggest issue is the sheer volume of stock I now have, and being jewellery it’s lots of small items, which takes AGES to lay out. I’m thinking about ways to speed things up, perhaps by making some pre-loaded display things that just need placing on the day. Any ideas would be hugely welcome!
There were probably around a hundred people at the pub, and less than half that number in the beer garden, where we were set up. But of all the folk that came to see us, nearly everybody bought something. All the other traders that were due at the rally had abandoned ship because of the weather, but because we didn’t even ATTEMPT setting up on the Friday, we benefitted hugely from that. We donated a pair of lovely solid silver Celtic rings as a raffle prize, so I hope they’ve found a good home.
The really good thing to come out of the weekend (apart from making money, of course!) was that people from other bike clubs were there, and we were asked if we’d like to do their rallies as well. So we’ve got three pencilled in this summer already. We’re gonna need a bigger car…
A huge thank you to the Welsh Coast MCC for having us, a nicer bunch of folk you couldn’t wish to meet. Looking forward to the next one!