Saturday, 29 January 2011

A card with some history............and a Pay it Forward!

After all the excitement of Christmas  the dull winter weather of January can make us all feel a little flat. We are very lucky that in this gap until spring are ALL our birthdays, yes my Hb, mine and both children.They are nicely set out - one each month in January, February, March and April! How convenient is that? Each birthday allows us more celebrations, laughter, parties, presents and of course food. By the time my birthday has arrived we are in spring with longer days and usually warmer weather. Some years though I can have four seasons in one day, I have had hot sunshine, snow, wind, rain, hail, thunder........on different birthdays.

Thursday of last week was my dear Hb's birthday and I thought I would share with you the card I created for him.  For family birthdays I try to do something very different if I have the time. Some time ago I managed to buy some very old postcards and amongst them was a wonderful card showing the ancient church of St. Bartholomew the Great in Smithfield, London. The writing at the bottom of the card on the left says "Oldest London Church".

It was founded in 1123 as an Augustinian Priory and has been in continuous use as a place of worship since at least 1143 There is a lovely link to it here

 Now this church has a link to us for a few reasons........

Firstly my Hb has worked very near to this church for the last 7 years. His office in Farringdon actually over looks Smithfield market. It is such an interesting and often not visited part of London. During the summer I sometimes take the train up to London to meet him from work and we walk from Farringdon, across to St Paul's and's fabulously historical.

Secondly St. Bartholomew the Great has also featured in some very famous films, including one of my all time favourites, "Four Weddings and a Funeral". It was used for the inside shots.

Some years ago my husband was looking out of his office window on a windy day and noticed the flag flying unfurled from the pole above the church, just as it appears in this old postcard. He and some other staff members in his office were intrigued as it flies quite a unique flag, resembling the Royal Standard. On the spur of the moment he sent an email to the rector of the church, not really expecting a reply. Within 30 minutes he was amazed to find one arrived . This is the email;

Dear St Barts,

Can you help with our question?
We can see your roof from our office, and the flag. Three gold leopards/lions on a red background (looks a bit like the arms of Richard I) .
Why do you fly this flag whereas most other Anglican venues appear to fly a different flag?

And the reply; (delivered in 30 minutes!)

you for your enquiry. We fly the arms of St Bartholomew the Great -

two lions - called leopards heraldically - and two crowns. The lions are

those of Normandy, as we were founded by Henry I. The vast majority of
churches do not have their own arms but ours date from the Middle Ages.

Rector, The Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great

How interesting is that and what an interesting piece of English history! Henry the 1 no less, not even near the time of the more famous Henry V111.  My Hb has kept this email for some years and never thought at the time that one day it would surface on his wife's blog!

The final link we have is that my daughter trained at St.Bartholomew's (or Barts as it is more commonly know) medical school. Barts hospital is one of the oldest hospitals in England and it's origins go back to 1123....yes that long ago. Although Barts medical school merged with The London and Queen Mary's Medical schools in 1995 there is still an ancient " stand alone" ceremony  called "The Rights of passage" which  Barts holds for it's graduates before the main graduation at Queen Mary's in London. We attended this when our daughter graduated in July 2009. It is one of the few remaining ceremonies where the Hippocratic Oath is still taken and the setting of the ceremony in a marquee on the green of Charterhouse was magic, right out of Harry Potter!

I am not going to embarrass my daughter by putting on a photo of her here so I have deliberately found a "no family members" photo to show you some of these amazing ancient buildings which are not usually visible to the general public. They just ooze history and you could feel that you were part of the chain of history. It was quite an experience. I don't believe in ghosts at all but there was a definite "presence" of  doctors who had gone before. It was one of the most memorable occasions I have had the pleasure to attend. It was also one of the only hot,dry sunny July days we had in 2009, we were very blessed that day.

So to find this lovely old postcard, with so many personal connections,was such a  delightful discovery that I knew I had to use it to make my Hbs birthday card. Here is what I made.

I chose some gold linen card
and some swirly backing paper.

I then mounted the postcard using photo corners onto a piece of  gold card stock. This was so that my Hb could remove the postcard when he had finished with his birthday card and use it as a bookmark etc.
I also used a heart punch to punch into the backing paper so that the gold from the card base could show through.

I also repeated this inside with a larger heart punch.

So here above is his completed card. I deliberately kept it very simple as I wanted the card to be the feature. I added some black star peel offs and some words too. I am pleased to say that he was totally delighted to receive it.

So sometimes when we have birthday cards on our mantle piece they include a little bit of history...............and a lot of pleasant memories.

Bye for now,

Jane x

***************P.S  N.B  this is an edit added this afternoon .................have a look at my friend Shirley's blog...
I will be taking part, it's a lovely idea!

Here’s the concept: “Pay it forward” is the idea that random acts of kindness are given without expecting anything in return. It’s passing on a kindness hoping that your recipients will do the same, and forming a never-ending chain of goodwill, that’s what this is about. But it isn’t only kindness, it is also a means to connect and share instead of just keeping it to ourselves.

Here’s how it works: You’ll have to comment on this post and the first three people who comment will receive an original “Pay it Forward” gift from me within the next few months. But those three people will also have to post the idea on their blog and commit to creating something for the first three people who comment and so on and so forth.

SO, the first three people to comment here will get something made by me, but you have to do this on your blog as well. I’ll be reading your blog to make sure that you have posted something about your “Pay it Forward.”


PPS If you don't want to take part in this and would still like to leave a comment....just let me know you don't want to be in the "3" to pay it's not compulsary at all and I appreciate for some of my reader's it's not possible to do this and a  few readers who leave me lovely comments don't even have blogs!! I still love to receive all you kind comments and don't want to miss them!
UPDATE: Monday 31st January; There are still 2 Pay it forward spaces free......some of my comments have been my lovely normal  "chats" so don't be put off as there are more than 3 comments, just scroll on down! Please indicate when you comment if you would like to join the gift to you is going to involve not only something from my card creations..but my jewellery too! Keep watching! ;0) Jx

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

And the winner is ........................

Hello everyone and thank you everyone who entered my giveaway. It closed at 4pm yesterday afternoon and I then wrote every one's names on to the same sized pieces of paper....
I folded each piece of paper into 4...

Put them into a tin...

Put the lid on and gave them a really good shake..................
I then waited for my son to return home from work and asked him to dip in his hand and pull out 2 pieces of paper....

The first out was (drum roll....)

The 2nd out was...

So congratulations to Nelli (n4princessbead) and Bethanie!

Nelli wins necklace D and card A.

Bethanie wins cards A and C.

As I mentioned in the giveaway as Bethanie's 1st choice card is the same as Nelli's I have re made something very similar. I have actually made 2 new versions so that Bethanie can choose her favourite.They are shown below. I will put the other one in my Etsy Shop if any one else is interested in buying it .

Card A
Card B

Nelli and Bethanie I will try to contact you via your blogs/emails but if you have not heard from me in the next day please can I ask you to contact me via my Etsy shop...there is a direct link from this page on the left and a link in the paragraph below. I need your addresses to send your prizes to you.

I would also like to thank everyone for their very positive and kind was also interesting to see that different necklaces and cards were liked by different people. As a thank you for all your  feed back I am going to offer my blog readers a special free UK postage offer for any piece of jewellery that is bought before 14th February and/or for any 2 or more cards  bought. For any of my lovely friends aboard I will charge only half the normal shipping costs, just email me for a quote, I do ship world wide. I will be putting some new items into my Etsy shop, simply click here for the link! Just contact me via my shop and I will revise the postage charge for the item/s you are interested in. If you do not have an Esty shop I am quite happy to sell via my blog here, just let me have your email address and I can send you a paypal invoice.

Thanks again everyone and well done. I really enjoyed my 1st giveaway and it will certainly not be my last ;0)

Bye for now,

Jane x

Saturday, 22 January 2011

A term of silversmithing

I was so busy with my Christmas blogs that I did not have time to update you on my current silversmithing projects. I wrote this post last September when my silversmithing class returned after the summer break. As I promised  I will now share with you what I got up to during the autumn term. Our class returned 2 weeks ago , it was good to get back to the bench.

I still had my locket as piece of work in progress from the summer term last year. This has probably been the most challenging piece I have made at class as it involved making the domed front, a matching flat back, etching it with a design and then hand making a hinge. This has all been created from a piece of flat silver sheet.

This is the front and the back before I finished the hinge. It is hard to see the front but the design is actually an etched deco line pattern.
It is really hard to photograph my silver work, the reflection is very strong.

On the back I have soldered two half rings so that I can attach a chain behind the locket. My plan is to hand make the this space. I have made chains before and they are very challenging but very interesting to make.

You will be pleased to hear that I finished my locket.

This hinge was one of the most challenging things I have attempted. I am not sure I will be  making a whole series of lockets!

I am pleased though that I kept going as there were so many silversmithing skills I gained from making it.

The next project our tutor set us was to teach us some new skills in shape making by press forming using the bench press. This is a very mean, heavy looking piece of equipment.
 We looked at various hollow shapes to get some inspiration.

Here is the bench press on the left. We were told to decide on a hollow shape we would like to form.

I chose to make a bean shape as it would test my skills more that making a symmetrical one. I had to draw an outline and then cut it out in perspex.
This then had to be carefully filed and then a brass template was also hand sawn...mmm sawing is never easy!

The brass  templates was then stuck to the perspex template and the 2 had to be filed smooth together so that when the piece was formed in the press there would be no sharp edges. I spent some time filing away until the shape was ready for press forming.

A "sandwich" was then formed with the pieces put either side of a piece of flat copper together with some padding. It was put into the press, the handle was screwed down and out came................

A press formed bean

You could make a reverse of this, cut them out and then solder them together to form a hollow shape but this was more an exercise of a new skill rather than making something

Another new technique we were introduced to was cuttle fish casting. Yes honestly you use a cuttle fish to cast with. This is one of the oldest forms of casting and was used way back even in Egyptian times. Luckily one of our students had recently been on holiday and had picked up lots of cuttle fish "bones" from the beach so we did not have to buy them.
Cuttle fish have a soft texture on one side and you are able to carve into this to form a shape. You then bind  this tightly to a flat piece of wood and carefully pour in molten pewter (silver can be used but is obviously much more expensive).

This carving I made created a pretty flower shape. I may at some point make it into a brooch.

This is the shape I carved to create some cuff links for my Hb. The spiky lines out at the sides are air vents to allow the molten metal to "flow" and any air to escape. The brown area is where the molten metal poured in burns the opening to the mould. It is pretty interesting handling bubbling metal, not for the faint hearted!

I had to make 2 castings and then filed the shapes carefully to remove all the surplus pewter.

I then bought some cuff link backs which I attached them to. I
 put the finished cuff links into my Hb Christmas cracker. He really thought they were great and of course quite unique!
Here they are in their finished polished state.

They are quite hard to photo but they almost have a primitive effect which I really like.

Our next project (Spring Term) is to create a setting for an usual shaped stone. We have used rub over settings in the past, Liz wants to stretch us a little further this time.  This is the stone I have bought, a very pretty piece of agate with a flat back.
So now I need to put on my creative thinking cap and start to think of an unusual setting for my stone. This is work in progress again so I will come back and show you when my design is in place. At my slow pace of blogging about my silversmithing  that may well be Easter ;0)

Bye for now,

Jane x

(P.S please remember I have a free giveaway running at the moment with 2 prizes.  To take part just look at this post. Remember to leave your comments there by this Monday, 24th January, this will be my last post before it closes. Good luck!)

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Time to buy a stronger mantlepiece?

I am lucky enough to have received 2 more awards in the last few days..what a fortunate girl I am.
First the talented and very kind Vivienne awarded me a rather unusual award called the

Thank you Vivienne, and please do go to visit her blog, I love reading it. I met Vivienne last year and we have become great blogging buddies.
This award is slightly different and  as it is given to crafty-blogs, which have less than 300 readers, to encourage more people to visit you and see your handmades. You are asked to then pass it on to 3-5 other crafty blogs.
Vivienne and I both have little Etsy shops and I am thrilled that she included me in her choices to pass the award on to.
Normally I ask all my blogger friends to take my awards and pass them on. Awards are great way of  showing you  new blogs. I agree that the Liebster blog is a little different so this time I will actually name a few bloggers who do fulfil this criteria i.e not the "big guys!"

They are...drum roll!

Laney of Izzy beads Laney and I have been Internet friends for the last 3 years and she makes some beautiful glass beads, do pay her and her shop a visit. I am hoping to actually catch up with her in the flesh this year at one of the bead fairs.

Teresa who is a recent new blogger friend of mine out in the States and is a fellow jewellery maker and also loves to crochet. Her posts are very interesting as she also volunteers at a local historic beauty spot in Oregon.

Teje who is the most energetic delightful blogger out in Crete. Teje is also is  wonderful crafter who has opened her own little on line shop too.


The delightful  Denise out in the States who again makes such sweet glass beads. Please check her out and her lovely Etsy shop.

I also want to thank a great friend of mine over in the states, the lovely Linda for nominating me for another Stylish blogger award.

That's so kind Linda.Thank you so much. Please go and check out her blog, I love her wonderful artwork and also the way she comments on life. She is one very interesting girl and I never miss a post!
I really think that most of my blogging buddies have been already nabbed for this kind award so please excuse me for not passing it on but if anyone reading this would like to take it please is lovely to get some recognition and also to visit pastures new. There really are some wonderful blogs out there and some even more wonderful people writing congratulations to everyone!

Now the one thing I will can do as part of this award is to tell you 7 random things about me. I think everyone enjoys reading this bit!

1.I have always kept pets. My first cat was a cat called Cilla, named after Cilla Black if any of you are old enough to remember her!

2. I kept guinea pigs as a little girl, my first was an unforgettable boar called Gulliver, he was such a larger than life character and still makes me smile when I remember him now.

3. Although I am very much a "cat" person I did once own a dachshund called Heidi. She again was some character and enjoyed eating everything including my homework on several occasions (I joke not!)

4. I love the Art Deco style and live in a 1930s house which has a few original fittings (including the mantelpiece-which may now need strengthening-LOL).

5. I trained as a physiotherapist at King's College Hospital, London.

6. My favourite city in the world is London, 2nd is Rome.

7. I love bananas but only when the skin still has a green tinge to it otherwise I hate them.

I hope that was random enough!

Thanks again everyone for reading my blog, even my "silent" readers.....hello!  I really get a lot of pleasure from it. Do remember that my giveaway ends really soon, have a look here if you would like to enter. The closing date is on Monday.

Back soon,

Bye for now,

Jane x

Monday, 17 January 2011

Colour in January and the very first Snowdrop

It has been quite a dull January weather wise. After the spectacular, and I must admit very magical snow we had in December,  it has been just...dull. I have seen some lovely colourful posts by my other blogger friends over the past few weeks friends so I thought a little more colour here would  be perfect for this post.

Last week I visited my favourite garden centre in Kent when I went over to see my parents.
It was lovely to see so much colour on such a dreary day. I spied lots of boxes of violas. I always enjoy growing violas. There are so many colour varieties and they are such plucky little plants which seem to survive through the coldest winters. They actually seem so much more hardy that the so called "winter flowering pansies"- many tend to give up the ghost in really cold weather.

There were also striking varieties of primroses.

There had been a new delivery of my favourite pots.

These terracotta pots, made by Willow Pottery, have the advantage of being frost proof. They bring out new designs on a regular basis and we loved the new cat design of the pot in the middle. My parents bought me a Willow Pottery pot for Christmas with a sweet hedgehog on the rim. I am so looking forward to filling it with some plants when the weather improves.
It was also so cheering to see tubs planted up with my very favourite flower...the dearest daffodil. I particularly like this miniature "tete a tete" variety and have a small pot indoors myself.
But what cheered me up the most that day was when we returned to my parents' home my Mum mentioned that she had found her first Snowdrop in flower in their garden. They are very late this year, my Mum has had Snowdrops in flower before Christmas some years.  I had to go out to photograph it, here it is...

So despite our harshest winter for many years and the Snowdrops very late arrival this year, the first bulbs are even in bloom out in the garden. I have never had much success growing Snowdrops, but when I returned home I had a look outside in my raised bed. I was delighted to find  that my bulbs, although not yet in flower, are coming along nicely! There are green tips beginning to emerge from the very cold soil.

Now I don't need to add who also felt he had to check this out, do I?.............

He does not like to miss out on anything!

Thank you Billy! It appears there are more signs of spring approaching and even the days are getting very slightly lighter now..what bliss.

Remember it's the last few days to enter my giveaway here. There is some colour to win, so don't miss out!

Bye for now,

Jane x