Friday, 27 December 2013

Free Print - Keep Calm and Write on

I've been expanding my photoshop skills and part of that is to create some simple wall art.  I know keep calm and carry on posters have been done to death but I couldn't resist creating some inspired with vintage images.

I've done a range of these and I wanted to share this one with you for free.  Designed for writers whether you're writing a book, a blog post or school work, keep yourself motivated with this classic vintage inspired print.

Feel free to pin, share, download a hi res image to print and add to your wall, resize it and create your own artwork with it.  Credit is not required but if you use it please leave me a comment so I can see what you created. 

Right click to save an image you can use online, or to download a hi-res image for printing please click here.

I've also created a keyring using this image, you can purchase it from my etsy shop, Glass Charmed.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Featured with the best

I sell a lot of my work on Etsy, if you've not heard of it, it's a place where crafters and artists and those who support them selling supplies like to sell their wares.  It's nothing like Ebay, the mentality is very different.  Here is about creating something personal, being able to buy from real people instead of large corporations, finding unique things and asking for personalisation.

I just received an email from a fellow Etsian letting me know that she featured one of my glass pendants in her latest treasury - a treasury is a curated collection of items tied together by a theme.

Here's part of the treasury

There's lots more to look at to so hop over and take a peek Orange and White Treasury

I wanted to also give a shout out to the curator of this treasury too Margarita she create her own style of art and you can check it out in her shop.

Have fun on Etsy, don't get lost on there, there is so many amazing things to look at :)

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

A grateful Attitude - My little experiment

Its been busy these last few weeks running up to Christmas as my Etsy shop Glass art Dreams has seen an influx of customers looking for stocking fillers for their friends and family.

Wedding and Gems is always quiet this time of year, not many people are focusing on Weddings so my fingers get a break from making more complicated things.  I have made a commitment to myself to post regular blog updates on there though.  So far I'm blogging every Wednesday and Friday.  I've even sent myself up some systems to take the hassle out of doing it too.

I really struggle writing when I'm not in the mood, so I have a habit of writing at random intervals.  Hopefully for Wedding and Gems at least I can put a stop to that, here - well here you get my random thought processes, so you only get them when I'm in a inspired mood.

So why am I feeling so inspired?

Well it's a bit of a longer story so I'll skip over some of the details.

A few weeks ago I found an amazing website where I get to watch a lot of workshops for free. So far I've learnt so much that has really helped me in changing my perspective on the world and help me figure out exactly what I want to do with my life.

I was watching a course with Sue Bryce - she's a photographer with an amazing outlook on life.  Really down to earth doesn't sugar coat a thing.

She shared an old book that she had read - The Science of getting rich.  It's out of copyright so you can download the pdf for free.  I'm constantly on the move, so I decided to listen to someone else read it for me on youtube.

It's written in the 1910, so the language and examples given are dated but the principles behind them are the same.

The one thing that both Sue Bryce and the book that really resonates with me is to be thankful.

Yes I say thanks to people holding the door open, or letting me past them with the pushchair, but I mean to really stop and find something in your day to be really thankful for.

Sounds so wishy washy doesn't it - apparently my life will be so much better if I start being more thankful.

So I decided to give it a little test.  Because I am lazy, I needed to find the easiest way to make me stop and find something to be thankful for.

Sometimes I need a little nudge so I decided to use a website called Idonethis and set up a daily email to ask me to list the things that I've been thankful for that day.

When it arrives, I hit reply, enter everything that I can think of being thankful for, then I think of anything bad that has happened and put a positive spin on that.  Then just hit send.

I've only be doing it for a few days but here are the things that I have noticed.

I am much more likely to realise that I'm thankful for things that I take for granted.
I am less likely to be in a bad mood, I'm not allowing myself to dwell in the negatives but force myself to find the positive within it.
I feel better generally, more perky, more creative and productive.

Not bad eh,

I'm going to carry this on for at least a month and how else having a grateful attitude affects my life.

Why don't you join me in the challenge? Let me know your results below.

Monday, 2 September 2013

New Gemstone Jewellery

Just a couple of things to share with you today.  I've been working on a new line of gemstone jewellery but I haven't had chance to photograph much so there are currently only 2 pairs of earrings available in my etsy shop.

I've been obsessing over the photo's as I want them as perfect as they can be and thankfully photographing coloured gemstones such as the blue chalcedony and yellow topaz below is much easier that clear Swarovski crystal.

I've taken quite a few photos so here are just a few of them.  I picked up the wood and pebbles on our recent family holiday to north Wales and I love the contrast of the rustic natural feel to the super polished gemstones.

I'm still experimenting with photo backgrounds so if you've got any suggestions I'd love to hear them so leave me a comment below.

Here are the natural beauties I created recently.

Blue Chalcedony Earrings

Calcedony Earrings

wire wrapped Calcedony Earrings

Yellow Topaz Earrings

sterling silver yellow topaz earrings

yellow topaz earrings

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Latest Designs and New Products

So I've been on a creation mission since I came back from my camping trip to Wales - Towyn to be exact which is a tourist town in north Wales.

I arrived back on Friday at dinner time and quickly got back to work.  I had a bride in America who needed 4 sets of bridesmaids earrings asap, so they were made and posted out the same day.  Since then I haven't stopped.

I've listed my new gemstone earrings on Etsy.  I just started working with real gemstones, my background is with Swarovski crystals and pearls but I wanted to use more natural stones.  Even though Swarovski products are amazing quality, there's something about these yellow topaz gemstones that are breathe taking. Here's one of the photo's I took this afternoon.  There are more on my etsy page.

I've also added a few more pendants to my other etsy shop.  These aren't my own designs but those of amazing digital artists that allow their art work to be bought and used in various other crafts.  I turn these into pendants and key rings such as these.

So that's my 2 etsy shops taken care of, but I've been busy on Zazzle too.  If you don't know what Zazzle is - it's a print on demand company that allows you to customise lots of different products so you can get exactly what you want or personalise a gift for someone else.

My Zazzle store tends to take a back seat with the majority of my time being taken with Wedding And Gems but this week, while I'm on a roll, I've created lots of new products.  Such as this.

Green, Blue and Cream Flowers and Butterflies iPad Mini Case
Green, Blue and Cream Flowers and Butterflies iPad Mini Case by kezan98

I've been focusing on updating my ipad, ipad mini, and phone cases with new and previous designs.  Many of them aren't yet showing up in my store, but they will be there soon.

So that's been my last 2 days, well actually 1 and a half.  I've been busy but busy productive and not just seeming busy.  

Now on to do some research for the batch of gemstones I've ordered from the US while I was camping in Wales.

Come meet me on google+

Monday, 8 July 2013

My Job Description

So do you work?  Its a question I'm asked a lot, you see I'm on of those mums who you'll spot walking through my home town, nipping to the post office and the supermarket, dropping in for a catch up with friends so you'd be forgiven for thinking that I don't have a day job.

But when people ask me do I work, I feel a little awkward saying, I own my own business, it makes me feel too pretentious.  So over the last year or so I've been really struggling how to answer this question without sounding that I think way too much of myself, but still explaining exactly what it is that I do.  In the business world this is known as the elevator pitch, as you probably can guess the term was coined in America, lift pitch, just doesn't have the same ring to it does it?

Basically an elevator pitch sums up what you do and what you have to offer in 2 seconds. It's supposed to enlighten and intrigue people to ask you more so you can use it to promote yourself everywhere you go.

So I guess I'll start with what I do, as you know I make bridal accessories.  I'm slightly different than most people in the same niche as they tend to focus on just one type of accessory such as jewellery, veils, shoes, garters, ring pillows, etc you get the picture.  Back in 2007 I started with tiaras, no business planning, I just jumped right in, then it progressed to jewellery and in the last previous years it's moving to veils, garters, ring pillows and shoe clips.

Previously I used to tell people that I made wedding jewellery. I know not the best elevator pitch.  So now I'm on the look out for a new one.

So what is it that I do?  I design and craft a range of bespoke bridal accessories.
What I can offer?  A full design service working with your budget.

Let's make this sound a little more interesting

I'm a bridal accessories designer, creating bespoke designs that allow brides to get what they want for the budget they have.

This seems a little long

How about

I'm a designer, creating bridal accessories for brides who know what they want but can't seem to find it!

I'm liking this a little better, but it's still a work in progress.  I think I'll use it for a little while and see what response I get.

Wish me luck.

If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments section below, I'd love to hear them and you never know I might even use it.

Monday, 1 July 2013

So many tools, too little skills?

I have a wide array of interests, jewellery, photography, and digital art, just to name a few.  Without a tutor or a plan to follow I dive into these areas and learn as I go along.  I wander aimlessly from one topic to the next.  Last night it could be creating a tiara, today it's creating cool effects on Photoshop.

I still find Photoshop mystifying.  I've used it for a number of years for my bridal accessories website and general playing around with images.  I probably understand or even know about 1/100th of it's capabilities and sometimes I find the power contained within this programme a little intimidating.

So about an hour ago I came across a great beginner tutorial (I say beginner but you'll need to know how to access filters, change brushes, understand layer opacity and blending modes or at least know how to change them.  It may sound complicated but it's not - check out this video that should you the very basics of photoshop, I mean basic as in the first time you've ever clicked on the icon and opened it.

Anyway back to the tutorial, you can view it here, it's by Troy Packer and he's even kind enough to supply you with the original image so you can follow along.

Here's the original

The tutorial (which can be found here) shows you in clear steps how to get to this image:

I mostly found the tutorial easy to understand but I didn't complete the last few steps, I'd like to say it was because I liked how my image turned out, but in reality it's because I'm lazy.

Also I chose different colours and blending modes too. So while I used the same original drawing as Troy mine turned out different.

I've personally found this a great tutorial simply because it shows what type of effects you can get but using a number of different filters, including Chrome, Gaussian Blur and Wave, as well as various hardness of brushes, the eraser and dodge tool. 

This isn't the type of art that I'm passionate about, I did this tutorial purely to get to know Photoshop better. If you're at the same level as me using photoshop then I would ask you to seriously consider spending time on tutorials such as these just for practise.  It helps you understand what can be achieved with this programme and when you know what it is that you want to create, you'll have a good idea how to get there.

Have fun x

Monday, 17 June 2013

My Need To Create

In a previous life, (before Amy) I worked for a Local Authority (A county council) and I worked in computers, my second love.

After having my gorgeous girl a year and a half ago I decided that I wanted to spend my time making pretty things and watching my baby grow into a little girl.  And even though the thought of losing regular income and earning my own wage seemed a little daunting, I was determined to live my life my way.

An ever growing part of my new life is to create, not just bridal accessories, which is something I've been doing for years, I find myself yearning for material so I can sew, Copic markers so I can draw, and teaching myself graphic design with photoshop.

I lead more of an creative life then I ever did, it's really satisfying.  Do I feel that I could be more creative - yes of course.  I see other people's work and wish that I had the imagination to create that, or stand in awe in the amount of work and time that has gone into making something, only for them to sell it for a price that wouldn't even earn them minimum wage.

Money is no longer a huge part of my life, as long as there's enough to cover the basics, then I'm happy.  I think spending time with those who you love, creating memories that you'll always treasure and being able to follow your true passions is far more beneficial then working to make money, just to spend it on silly things.

I have been know to crave the latest Macbook or Ipad and did make a rash decision to buy an ipad mini while on my family holiday last year.  Even I'm not able to resist the draw of a new toys.

The problem about spending your life creating, is that it isn't spent cleaning and with 2 children in the house, 3 cats and a wonderful hubby, my house can get very messy.

Currently I have a huge pile of duchess satin sitting on my dinning room table from my wedding dress that I took apart last night so I can reuse the material.

My work bench in my studio is covered in a recent attempt to make my own rhinestone appliqu├ęs and my head is filled with ideas that there just doesn't seem enough time to possibly create.

This morning I created this, its not the style of wedding garter I was planning on making, but I decided to work with the materials I had to hand and I wanted something more colourful than my usual style.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Art Deco Vintage Inspired Crystal Hair Slides

Over the years my crafting supplies have taken over  half of my bedroom which I share with my ever patient husband.  I have everything from paper to material, sterling silver jewellery findings to a huge selection of Swarovski crystals and pearls in so many shapes and colours. 

I also have an every growing supply of crystal diamante pieces and it's with these that I've been doing a lot of my current designing around, especially when I've been creating products for Wedding And Gems.  

A lot of the time I'll take a something that was created originally for a completely difference purpose and make a few modification so it can be created into something else.

Take these for example.

Those round diamantes motifs actually come in a pair.  Together they form a clasp but I don't particularly like the shape that this clasp creates when it's together so I choose to use them apart.  The designs pretty simple, a round circles of crystals with a square centre, normal everyday geometric shapes often seen in vintage art deco design.

I designed this originally as bridal accessories but I can't see any reason why they couldn't be used for other special occasions.  Because they are on matching hair slides they can be placed anywhere.

Vintage is huge in the wedding industry at the moment so if you're looking for more vintage style accessories, then check out what's in stock at Wedding And Gems.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Garters and Hairvines

So it's friday and almost everyday this week I've been hoping for the postman to bring me the lace I ordered from Etsy so I can start making bridal garters.  Yes there's absolutely no craft that I won't try.  I'm assuming it's not going to arrive today either which is a little disappointing but it's ok.  I've decided to turn my crafty urges into another direction.

A while ago I decided to cull a lot of my old products that I make for Wedding And Gems as I wasn't happy with the photo's.  This meant a lot of my own hairvines got the chop.  So since I can't make the bridal garters that I desperately want to try out, I'm going to extend my collection of hairvines.  I have a small collection at the moment, most of them quite short so they can highlight different sections of the hair, but I want to make longer ones.  My idea is to make them a length that can go around the entire head like a headband, with the option of tying them with a ribbon, for that pretty look.

I can't wait to get started, I just need to get the kids organised and sent to school :)

Monday, 29 April 2013

My Bridal Shoe Clips

Just a quickie this morning.  I wanted to show you the bridal shoe clips I've been making for Wedding And Gems.  They're really simple, as that tends to be my dominant style but I think they really take this shoe from something pretty and casual to something much more dressy.

Here's the picture.

The collection at Wedding And Gems is only small at the minute and they are mainly rhinestone crystal but I do have a gorgeous purple satin flower that I designed.  Here it is.
You can see the rest of the product line by checking out Wedding And Gems here - Bridal Shoe Clips

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Physical and Digital Crafting

I'm a women with a very short attention span, I flit from one activity to another, often leaving something almost complete behind so I can move onto the next thing that caught my eye.  You like me?  Your minds wandering onto something else already?  Come back, I just want your attention for a little while.

Probably like you, things bore me quickly. So I'm not the type of person who's happy to learn just one type of craft such as jewellery making (see Wedding And Gems). I like to have my fingers in many pies, and yes I bake too ;).  So I also spend time making digital products.  I mainly make backgrounds to place on items in my Zazzle store.

Digital design is different from jewellery making in so many ways.  It's intangible, its very quick to edit, its never ending and as long as your got the software and hardware you can create for free.  My favourite benefit to my digital design obsession compared to my jewellery making frenzies is that I don't need to find space in my house to store my designs. Something my husband appreciates too.

The downside is that I can spend all day playing in photoshop and illustrator and have no physical things to hold in my hand at the end of the day.

Some days though, if I get around to uploading new designs to my Zazzle store I get to see what my digital designs look like on products, such as this kindle case.

polka dot kindle case

Of course, I personalised it with my own initial but it's set up to allow zazzle customers to customised it and put their own initial or other text in it's place.

I can't decide whether I like the font that's used for the initial is called Guest Check and I think it makes the K seem disproportionate, but that could just be me!

I'm really proud of the brown flag with the faux stitching.  I taught myself how to do that yesterday and with a little trial and error, I was happy with the results.  Really I should set up a digital file so they colour can be changed quickly.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

A Retro Wedding Favour

How cute is this bubble gum dispenser as a wedding favour?  This particular design would be great a retro themed wedding.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

How my facebook fans inspired a blog post

Sometimes I just post a wedding related photo on my Facebook page and ask the fans for their opinion.  This picture got quite a few responses and prompted me to think about how important colours can be at your wedding and how some chose to view colour from another perspective then just aesthetically.

This is the dress in question posted to my Facebook page - took a screen shot with some of the comments the fans left.

It prompted 2 thoughts, in which wedding venues would this colour not work and what psychological implications does the colour green have.

You can read the entire blog post over on the official Wedding and Gems Blog here.

If you want to influence future blog posts, products and her about special offers from bridal accessories come join me on Facebook here - Wedding And Gems on Facebook.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Wedding Tiaras - Photo Shoot

Last week was probably one of the most eventful weeks I've ever had.  I started the week by passing my driving test.  I'm 33 so I decided it was time to learn to drive so people would stop looking at me like I'm a weirdo.

This however was an non event compared to what was to come mid week with my first ever professional photo shoot for Wedding And Gems.  Usually I do my own photography but I find trying to capture the sparkle of Swarovski crystal really difficult. Plus I wanted to be able to show people what my creations look like when they're being worn. So I contacted Luke from Luke Richards Photography and he arrange for the lovely Carla Monaco to model. 
I intended to take my own camera to the shoot to show you some behind the scenes photos but I actually forgot the camera. Duhhh! 
I know we've probably all caught the odd episode of America's Top Model and have a rough idea of how photographers and models work together to create amazing images, but to see that close up and to actually have some input was pretty awesome. I really did feel honoured to be part of that creative process. 
Seeing my handmade bridal accessories being worn (and worn so well) really made me see my creations in a brand new light.  Normally I just see them as an object, nothing more than the raw materials and invested time but on the model, they became something else, something that I could be really proud of.

I'm still looking through the hundreds of photos I received from Luke and a week later I'm still looking at them in awe.  I really couldn't have found a better photographer or model.  I think I declared things as "perfect" a number of times and it was one of those days that I'll look back on in years to come and still have a big silly grin plastered to my face.

pearl wedding tiara

bridal necklace

Carla is really as beautiful as she looks. She's really down to earth, friendly and easy to chat to. It was a pleasure to meet her. I've focused a lot on Carla in this blog post but Luke deserves a mention too. He was easy and fun to work with. No hidden extras and no fuss. I don't have a photo of Luke to share, so I'll link to his website instead. Luke Richards Photography