Some new handmade jewelry shops

As promised I’ve started listing some of the new work I gave you a sneak peek of recently – and some of it is appearing in some new online stores, where I plan to sell some slightly different work, as well as some of the same pieces I sell on Etsy.com. I’ll tell you a bit about the shops now and more about the work later.

Bouf.com logoBouf.com is a sparkly new online ‘superboutique’ run from the UK which is for people wishing to buy and sell handmade, one-off and limited edition items. You can find my shop at www.bouf.com/SimoneWalsh.

mintd.com logowww.mintd.com is a site run from Australia for people to buy and sell handmade or modified items. I’ve also set up shop there and you can find me at my (unfortunately long!) address: www.mintd.com/stores/show/211-Simone-Walsh-handmade-jewelry.

And, of course, you can still find me at simonewalsh.etsy.com.

Soapy jewelry!

Now that I have lots of new pieces made and photographed (although not yet listed – but I will shortly, I promise!), have caught up with orders and have deadlines looming at me, I’m planning on spending the weekend working on a couple of one off ‘exhibition’ pieces.

I’m planning on submitting a piece of handmade jewellery for inclusion in the Contemporary Wearables awarded exhibition which is held every two years in Australia. I’ve had work featured in the exhibition a couple of times previously and it’s always a great excuse to get myself working on something more conceptual in nature than my production work.

Plus I’m hoping to make a related pendant which can be photographed for submission to a forthcoming book of 500 pendants by Lark Books.

For months now I’ve had an idea floating around in my head to do with secrets and sentimentality – and the idea of partially concealing and revealing secrets. This idea has been through several incarnations and somehow has ended up with me wanting to make a piece using … soap.

Mock up panels of two different types of hand carved soap sitting over a panel of etched silver.

My finished piece will have several panels of carved/sawpierced soap – similar to the trial pieces above – which will be set on top of silver panels. The silver will have text and possibly some images etched into it – some of my secrets, which will be partially seen through the carved out spaces in the soap, but not enough that anyone will know what they are (unless, of course, they destroy the soap panels!).

The pattern I’m using for the soap carving is one that I’ve become fairly obsessed with in recent months, as those who have been paying attention might have noticed! It’s an old ironwork pattern and I’m completely in love with it – every time I go looking for a new pattern to use for something I always seem to come back to this particular one.

I’ve found the soap to be interesting to work with – and difficult in some ways.

The white soap above is great to actually carve as it’s lovely and soft. However, unfortunately it’s cheap supermarket soap and the perfume was so strong, fake and invasive that it made me want to leave home – I found it really difficult to get rid of after I’d been working with the soap. I’ll be happy to never smell that particular type of soap again!

I also found that particularly when it’s quite thin the soap is brittle and can break easily, as you can see happened to my first trial piece. I’ve since managed to complete one which has stayed in one piece, but I’m not entirely happy with it as it’s a little bit too fragile. However, I do love the milky white colouring.

My jewelry bench with lots of scraps of carved off soap!It took me a while to work out how to more easily work with the transluscent, amber-coloured Pears soap, but soon figured it out and realised that it’s great to work with as it’s a little bit flexible rather than brittle. Plus it smells great! But unfortunately it tends to be a bit too see-through given how thin I want the panels to be. Giving both the top and bottom surfaces a scratched finish helps to prevent seeing through it too easily, but I’m less happy with this finish.

I decided to seek some expert advice to try to get just the right soap for my needs and contacted the lovely Hiromi of soap.etsy.com, from whom I have purchased some truly delicious handmade soaps from in the past. After going through my needs with her, Hiromi made a suggestion of her new Vernal Breeze soap, which is mostly white and has a lot of oil in it to make it more flexible than brittle and powdery. And the smell is lovely!

So this weekend I plan to be sitting at my bench for many hours carving and sawing little panels of soap once again, as well as etching some secrets into panels of silver – and hopefully making a start on the construction of the piece too. The deadline to have the piece finished and photographed is early May for both the exhibition application and the book.

Wish me luck! I will of course report back here once I have a finish piece or two that I’m happy with – and might even provide a report into work in progress.

Sneak peek of some new jewelry

I’ve been very busy lately either feeling crap and needing to lay down a lot, or feeling less crap and working as hard as I possibly can to try to catch up with things while I can … before I totally wear myself out and fall in a heap again! Such is the life of Simone in 2007.

However, I’ve finally managed to do several days of hard work in a row and have some new handmade jewelry finished and photographed. Yay me!

So here is a very quickly photographed sneak peak of some new items I’ve been busily making.

New handmade jewelry.

I’m planning on listing some of these items in my Etsy jewelry shop, but also in some other new outlets – I’ll share the details of those soon!

New handmade jewellery - detail.

Soon I’ll post some of the ‘proper’ photographs of these pieces, which have all been taken and are in the middle of editing.

I’m ready for my close up now

As much as I absolutely adore my wonderful Nikon D50 digital SLR camera, I recently came to the inevitable conclusion that I needed to do something to help me get better close up shots.

As someone who largely uses this camera to photograph jewelry and small objects, the standard 18-55mm lens that comes with the camera does a great job compared to other cameras, but still not quite good enough when I want to get in very close. As a result I need to rely on doing a lot of cropping in Photoshop to get in really close, which usually leaves me with a finished image that isn’t as great as I’d like it to be.

My new close up filter lenses all screwed together.I started poking around online looking for a proper macro lens and felt fairly disheartened by the cost.

So instead I decided to compromise and sought out these close up filter-type lenses which could simply be screwed onto the end of my current camera lens. Given that a set of these cost me around ten times less than what I was looking at for a proper macro lens, I was pretty happy!

Having now had a little play with them, I thought I’d share the results.

Note that these images were taken under my desk lamp or with flash so the colours aren’t accurate and they aren’t great shots by any means! However, they do show very well the difference these lenses make. I’ve cropped the original images at exactly the same size, so the degree of close up you can see really is the result of the lens filters and not the result of Photoshop!

A standard close up using my existing Nikon D50 lens on its own.

The above image was taken with none of the close up filters attached to my camera – this is as close as my existing 18-55mm lens allows me to get.

Maximum close up using all four close up lens filters.

This image was taken with all four of the close up lens filters attached. You can actually see (if you look very closely!) the marks my hammer has made onto the surface of my favourite handmade chain. And we like that!

And here’s another comparison side by side – the first using my camera with none of the filters attached and the second using the +10 macro lens filter.

Standard close up using my existing camera lens. Close up using the +10 macro filter.

I’m looking forward to taking some new photographs of my work using these lenses soon which I’ll share with you in due course. Keep your eyes peeled!

Trixie’s delicious!

A while back I came across the most delicious vintage cup and saucer on Etsy which had been vandalised by one of my favourite Etsy sellers, Trixie Delicious – an artist from New Zealand.

Vandalized vintage cup and saucer with the word 'vandal' printed on the side of the cup.

I honestly felt that I had absolutely no option but to purchase it! And as I write this blog post I am sipping tea from this very cup.

Trixie Delicious sells an array of vintage crockery from various periods which have all been uniquely and beautifully vandalised with heat fused ceramic paint. Usually this involves beautifully scripted text, but sometimes images are used.

Given that I’ve already purchased one of my favourite pieces, I’ll show off a couple of others which are currently in the Trixie Delicious shop.

'Ugly' and 'Stupid' dessert bowls.

For instance, there are these wonderful ‘Ugly’ and ‘Stupid’ dessert bowls – the perfect way to let your in-laws know how you really feel about them. Or not.

Seven Deadly Sins side plates.

And there are these perfect side plates, each one of the unmatched set of seven featuring a deadly sin. Be warned that I definitely have my eye on this set!

Trixie Delicious is good – go there now!

I hate you!

Dear blonde man who was driving a little bluey-turquoise coloured car north along Macquarie Street in Sydney in February 2003 and who decided that in order to arrive at his destination 0.3 seconds earlier he needed to swerve around the rear end of a bus travelling in the opposite direction which was turning right into Hunter Street, thereby ending up entirely on the wrong side of the road and having a head on collision with a taxi immediately behind the bus in which I was a passenger,

I hate you. Seriously, I do. Four years later I still spend time almost every day in some degree of head and neck pain, from minor to major, and requiring painkillers, from a few to many.

For a period last year I had one single headache for TWO MONTHS STRAIGHT – all because of you! When things aren’t settled I feel like my life is going in slow motion. The hassle and disruption it causes me is immense, even putting aside the pain.

Last year I was assessed to be 11% permanently incapacitated as a result of your utter stupidity. Yep, the damage to my spine looks to be permanent. Thanks for that!

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I really do hate you. And that I still think of you on an almost daily basis – even though I don’t even know your name (just your registration number). It’s almost romantic, don’t you think? Except it’s not.

That is all.

Simone