Mental health and wellness is important and the practice of creativity is a way to improve mental health #WorldMentalHealthDay
Each time I’ve lost somebody special I do take time to process the grief. I take myself off social media for a while, because for me that doesn’t feel like the right place to be and I need to take a break. But after spending time grieving I realised I needed to break the cycle and get going with my life again. Each time it has happened recently I have felt better sooner, so know that I have learnt how to heal myself without medicine. I'm not saying it will always work for other people, but it is certainly worth trying and if I can help one person feel better it's been worth sharing.
The act of creating something can be quite cathartic, however simple. When we are doing something creative for ourselves that can become our why, even if its only for a few minutes. By re-engaging our inner child, we can free ourselves and release ourselves from the fear of failure and overcome our anxiety for a short while. When you watch small children playing or even creating art work they spend some time doing the activity; they might think well this is absolutely fantastic, they might think that's not how I wanted it to be, but at the end of the session they put it aside and quickly move onto the next thing! When asked if they want their picture, very often they don’t, because it’s not about the outcome. They don’t judge what they’ve done, and we can learn a lot from that. My advice is to try to return to your inner child, and allow yourself to produce creative marks without the pressure of judging the finished product, simply to enjoy the moment. To enjoy the act of putting the paint on to the brush, mixing the paint with water, mixing the colours and enjoying how they react to one another; simply being in the moment. How does the paint react when you apply it to the paper, or mix it with another colour? Even though we’re not focused on the outcome, it can often lead to a better picture anyway! If we are able to see what happens to try things out. At the end of the day what's the worst thing that's going to happen if things don't go right? Even if it’s bin worthy, we can always make another one! Putting things into perspective it’s a piece of paper, so it's not the end of the world if things don’t go quite to plan. I think if you look at things in this way we can be freed to be more experimental and if things don't go right, it doesn't really matter. If things go well, that’s a bonus. I like to tell people in my groups and classes that moving forwards is more important than rubbing out, so if you're making a drawing and you want to make corrections sometimes it's good to forget about erasing the bits that aren’t right yet, instead just continue to draw over. This will help you to keep forming what you're trying to represent. Before long your new marks will cover up your old marks and in the scheme of things the drawing underneath generally doesn’t distract from where you're going. If you start to look at things like that, you have the evidence that you were forming your idea underneath and it shows your progress. Gradually as you draw more your ability and control will improve and so will your confidence. The final outcome generally also tends to be better, whereas if you are constantly erasing or rubbing out your drawing, its likely that you’ll keep making the same mistakes, so you feel as if you’re going backwards, or certainly not moving forwards very much. So baby steps in the right direction rather than completely starting again is what to aim for.
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Our future depends on bees and other bee related things.
I've been fascinated by the humble bee recently, so have done a bit of research into them and thought I'd share it with you.
This may sound over-dramatic, but our food supply does genuinely depend bees and their pollination of our crops. But bees are threatened with climate change and by our over use of pesticides.
Read on to find out more about why we need bees; how to provide bee friendly plants in your own garden, why you shouldn't be afraid of bees and how to revive a tired bee. Plus discover some of the reasons bees have gained extra significance to many people in a certain North-West English city and to see my new bee design necklace.
Different species of bees in the UK
The UK is home to many species of solitary bee, and believe it or not they all have different specialisms! They are experts at pollinating flowers with their own anatomy, so some bees only pollinate certain sorts of plants. That's why bees look so different. If you've ever wondered why some bees are thin and shiny, and others are plump and fluffy, it depends on their job. Nature is great at adaptation to role.
There are over 20,000 known species of bee around the world. Around 270 species of bee have been recorded in the UK. Only one of these is the famous Honeybee. Honeybees are the ones that produce the honey and most of them are in hives looked after by beekeepers.
Why not see if you can identify the bees you can see with this wonderful bee identification guide from the Friends of the Earth. They have launched their annual Great British Bee Count. So you can join me in downloading the app and counting the bees where you are. I do think there are less than I can remember in previous years, which is why I'm helping to promote this. I'm hoping that this is simply the result of our hard winter, and that more bees will soon emerge.
Bees are our friends
If you are afraid of bees, you really should be reassured. Bees rarely sting. If they are flying around you they are probably looking for pollen or water. They are sometimes confused by sweet smells, such as sugary drinks or perfume. So stay still and calm. They will soon realise that you are not what they are looking for. When honey bees sting they die, so they are very unlikely to sting you and will only do so if they are being defensive and fearful. Female bees are the only ones that can sting too, so many bees are unable to sting anyway!
Bee-friendly farming and how we can help bees in our own gardens
Famers depend on bees to pollinate their crops and already farmers in the UK are are successfully growing crops without neonicotinoid chemicals.
We too can avoid using pesticides which are damaging to bees and find natural solutions in our gardens. Biological pest control is a great way to use nature to help maintain a natural garden. Gardening organically is obviously the best thing to do, but every step taken to reduce pesticides will help to save the bees.
Encouraging bees into our gardens
We can all help by planting more pollen and nectar producing plants and flowers. If everybody planted a few more bee attracting plants, even in pots on our doorsteps, balconies or yards.
I am lucky enough to live near the RHS garden at Harlow Carr and I often buy bee attracting plants at their nursery. You can use this RHS link to see their recommended plants for pollinators
How to revive a tired bee
If you find a tired looking bee you can help them by making an energy drink using sugar and water solution. The bee pictured above enjoyed my mixture of two tablespoons of white sugar with one tablespoon of water. If you mix the solution and place the mixture on plate or spoon. This lucky bee soon felt better and flew away after their refreshing drink!
NB. It isn't recommended to feed bees honey, as this can give them viruses.
What do bees do when it rains?
If you've ever wondered what bees do when it rains you are not alone. Bees can cope with a little bit of light rain, but if they sense it's going to be very rainy they get extra busy before the rain comes, then hide out for the duration of the rains. The water actually dilutes the nectar, so bees wait in their hives for the flowers to dry out again before visiting them to collect their nectar. So if you see bees being really busy collecting nectar from flowers near you, perhaps they can sense the rain is on the way!
Can bees fly when it's windy?
Yes bees can definitely fly when it's windy, but mostly they wouldn't choose to leave the hive or to fly if the wind speed is much over 25 miles per hour. They can and do fly home though. In fact collecting pollen is what they mostly choose to do if it's windy, as it acts as a ballast and stabilises them in high winds, as its carried on their leg hairs. When they collect nectar it is collected on their abdomens, but in high winds this makes steering more difficult. So bees are clever creatures and are often making the decision which food to collect based on the conditions they find. This article from the PNAS explains more.
More specifically, the bee is a worker bee and is a symbol of the city’s hard-working past, during the Industrial Revolution. Manchester has strong links to the bee symbol and it has been used on some of the buildings, so if you are in Manchester you should look up to see some of the bee symbols there. I know there are 7 bees on the city shield and I've spotted some in King Street. Some more have been spotted on the Mosaic floor in The Town Hall, on the brick work of a building in St Anne's Square and in Lincoln Square on a bench. More recently the bees have been put on the city litter bins. Have you seen any more?
Manchester Arena Attack
Since the 2017 Manchester Arena attack at the Ariana Grande concert which left 23 people dead and more than 800 people injured, including people from my local area. It was a shocking attack, but it's great to see how people have supported each other and become stronger through such adversity.
Emma Mowbray @mowbles on Instagram has done some amazing bee tattoos and together with other Manchester tattoo artists they are raising money for the youngsters involved in the Manchester Arena attack in May 2017. I love that so much positivity has come out of such a tragic event. The One Love Manchester concert held just a month later by Ariana Grande was something to be really proud of.
For my own silver bee necklace you can click on the picture below to see a bee necklace I make using fine silver. Handmade in Harrogate, UK.
Please help save the bees! 🐝
Find out how to untangle your tangled necklace chains with this simple recipe using baby powder. It's an easy way to untangle knots in your jewellery using household ingredients. You will soon have your favourite tangled necklaces separated, untangled and ready to wear again.
If you've ever found your jewellery in a tangled mess you'll understand the frustration it causes. And no, I don't understand how they get like that either but like finding odd socks after washing, it's another of life's great mysteries!
The dreaded tangled chains always seems to happen when you're in a rush, but really want that special necklace... So please don't pull your hair out, or throw the whole knotted bundle of chains out of the window; this should do the trick.
Small or medium size plastic bag
Two pins or needles
Optional but recommended
Cup of tea or similar
- If you can remove any charms from necklaces or bracelets then you should.
- Undo any clasps if you can.
- You may wish to lay out a piece of newspaper to save tidying up.
- Use a small plastic bag and add a generous amount of baby powder.
- Add your tangled chains and seal the top of the bag.
- Give your bag a good shake until all the links are coated with powder.
- Remove the chains from your bag and they will start to unravel much more easily.
- Any tricky tangles can then be tackled using a couple of pins.
- Put one pin in the knot and shake it around.
- Use the second pin to loosen the knot.
- Work on the ends with small links before the ones with clasps if you can, as they will unravel easier.
- Repeat 9 and 10 until finished (you may need the optional drink).
- Notice I did say easier. You may still need your patience, but do recoat the chains with baby powder occasionally if you need to and remember to shake and jiggle the chain from the pin.
- Rinse your necklaces separately in warm soapy water.
- Dry with a soft cloth.
- Tidy away.
- Put on your favourite necklace.
- Enjoy your relaxing music/ go out to celebrate.
More jewellery care on the blog soon.
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I can't easily get to a jewellery store. What are my options?
I already have a ring that's the right size. Can I measure that?
Are there any other ways I can measure a ring at home?
Can I use online measuring guides?
Is there an easier way to measure at home?
You can measure a ring you already wear as long as it is still round. Note: If your ring has become misshapen, this is not the best way to measure.
Use a ruler to measure from the INSIDE of the metal from one side to the other. The diameter measurement in mm can be sent to your jeweller.
Planning a surprise purchase?
Can I get a cheap ring sizer to use at home?
Anything else I should know?
Remember your jeweller will be making the ring to the size you tell them. If you make a mistake you can't expect them to change it without charge. So make sure you double check your measurements before you send them off.
Getting your finger measured professionally is always the best option.
1909 Valentine’s Card. Credit: Wikipedia
One thing I’ve been thinking about recently is what makes people feel loved.
It seems that Valentine's cards and gifts are becoming less popular. I thought I'd find out more.
My husband and I have always sent each other cards and gifts, but recently I've been wondering about the history of the Valentine. Exactly why do we exchange cards? I had a feeling there was a connection to the card making industry, but it seems that Valentine’s Day has a much longer history.
Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine is celebrated on 14th February. It began as a religious holiday to honour an early saint or possibly several saints called Valentinius. And it wasn’t until the 18th century in England that people began exchanging cards. These were hand written love notes or ‘Valentines’. Flowers and candies were sometimes given, and keys were also sent to unlock the lover’s heart!
I discovered that women purchase about 85 percent of all Valentines. Does that mean that the majority of them don’t ever get anything back? Hallmark cards claim that 144 million people buy Valentine’s cards... Am I alone in worrying about the recycling?
If we want to make something ourselves a hand made card or gift is often even nicer. Perhaps we should go back to exchanging hand drawn hearts and messages. There are certainly lots of lovely artisan independent designers for that more individual personalised card or gift, who put a whole lot of love into what they do. I don't know about you, but I love cards and gifts that are created by people who love what they are doing.
I also began to think about people who may not be in a relationship. Sadly my Dad recently passed away and so my lovely Mum will be on her own for the first time in over 50 years. This made me think: should we feel bad if we are not in a partnership. There are so many single people for so many reasons, that I really don’t think so. I'll be sending a little something to my Mum to make her feel loved.
Update: In the end I decided to phone her on the morning of Valentine's Day and told her I loved her. This of course made her cry and I cried too, but we talked about my Dad. In the end she was really touched that I thought to phone her on V Day, and I think it really made har feel much happier than she might otherwise have been.
Singles Awareness Day 11th March
Did you know that there is a special day called Singles Awareness Day? It seems to have started as a bit of a backlash against Valentine's Day. I discovered that In the UK it's 11th March, China it’s 11th November and in America there's a National Singles Day on 22nd September. The idea is that singles gather together to have fun and also buy gifts for themselves. A treat if you like. I don’t know about you, but I like the idea of buying something lovely for myself and having fun. That’s something everybody should be able to do without feeling guilty, whether in a relationship or not!
Galentine’s Day 13th February
A more recent celebration first seen in the American series Parks and Recration (2010) is credited with starting Galentine's day. Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope said “It’s only the best day of the year”.
It seems that Galentine’s Day, despite its youth is growing fast. A quick peek on Pinterest and you'll notice just how many Galentine’s boards there are. Whether or not you celebrate Valentine’s, you may really enjoy Galentine’s. I mean who needs an excuse to spend time with your besties? So gather your friends and a good movie, a bottle of wine or a pot of tea, a few nibbles and share some laughs.
Biscuits courtesy of http://www.sugarplumbakes.com (thanks Vaani xx)
I’d like to wish you all love and happiness, whether it’s for valentine's, galantine's or singles day. Lets just try and have a happy day every day. Hopefully we can all be more inclusive and celebrate love!
Please do support artisan makers and let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Of course we need more love in the world every day and not just on these special days! We also need more self-love, so be good to those you love all year round and remember to make time for yourself too!
Sending you all love and sparkles,
How it started
When I first started making jewellery I was learning the techniques and spent many hours making things. I beavered away and obviously wore some myself, but mostly gave away the jewellery to friends and family. To be honest it took me so long to make things, and the quality was probably not the best, but I made things for the joy of making and loved the creative challenge. Soon I realised I loved the feeling of giving.
After a while I felt sure that family and friends would be fed up having jewellery as presents. Luckily at that point I was being asked often where I sold things, so I worked very hard to set up a website. And all was very exciting until I realised that after all my efforts very few new people actually came, so thank goodness for my lovely friends! I very nearly gave up... all that work for nobody to see!
Then I discovered Instagram. I have always loved it on there because it's such a friendly community. People are very generous with their comments and I've found that its a great place to get feedback about my products. Its so lovely to be able to talk to your customers when you don't have a bricks and mortar shop.
So I held a few giveaways; the lucky winners have always been very happy with their wins and I get to find out more about what people like. I have also been lucky enough to win a few prizes too! Happily I was getting found and have built so many lovely friendships on Instagram too. I’m now managing to get a steadily increasing flow of traffic to my website. It's definitely still baby steps, but its making me feel much more positive.
Positive thinking helps creativity
I first discovered the power of positive thinking by wearing one of my hand stamped rings myself. I stamped a ring with ‘I am an artist’ and it really helped me. I had previously experienced a really dry patch and couldn't really get creative with anything. I was amazed how simply having this daily reminder increased my creativity. I sold a ring to one of the lovely ladies in my adult art classes and she said it helped increase her confidence in her work. Then I began selling to creatives I met through Instagram and artists as far as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, America and New Zealand are now wearing my jewellery.
Word of The Year
I’m not a fan of new years resolutions. I've never found they work for me. Instead I prefer to set myself a more positive goal to guide me through the year. Simply by having a word to guide me helps me a great deal. The words I considered for myself this year were evolve, brave, creative, thrive, trust, joy, focus, flourish, meraki, love, magical, vision and simplicity.
I wanted a word that supports me being more visible promoting my business, but also in my personal life making sure I nourish my body with good food choices instead of junk. I also wanted to make time to nurture my creativity and not feel guilty about doing things like going for a walk in nature or treating myself to a gallery visit, or a much needed massage after lots of hammering.
So after living with a few words pinned on my wall for a while, I have chosen my main word to be ‘flourish’ and I’m loving how its helping me to be more outgoing and to feel better about nurturing myself. As a supporting word I decided to choose 'meraki' (pronunciation may-rah-kee) which means to do something with soul, creativity or love, to put something of yourself into your work. Its a Greek word and I really like its meaning because I do put a little bit of myself into every piece of jewellery I make, so need to make sure I nurture my own creativity. Daily meditation is another of my meraki choices. As a typographer I also love how the word looks and find it visually inspiring. I'll be wearing my rings daily and enjoying the confidence its giving me..
You might wonder why I’m excited about giving products away. Well it’s one of my business core values. Kindness. Because by being kind I get more of my products into the world, and more people will experience how good they are at making them feel better. A self fulfilling prophecy if you like. I have also donated jewellery to good causes, which is something I love to do.
So I'm sure you can imagine how excited I was when I found out about a project on Instagram started by the lovely Victoria from @featherandwild www.https://featherandwild.blog
With her #atouchofkind project she's started an initiative to show random acts of kindness to people and also supporting independent makers. The general idea is that makers will send out mostly handmade items of any sort to people without cost to them and without any expectations, but with the suggestion that they too might pay it forward in some way. So of course I’m going to be sending out a few of my handmade silver word of the year rings with the hope that it helps people.
I’m now looking forward to being able to pay it forward with a touch of kindness to other artists and creatives. I want to give them the self-belief and a little reminder to live their best lives. Being kind to ourselves is something we really need to do, so if I can help people to be good to themselves as well that's another benefit. Do pop over and say hello if you're on Instagram.
Obviously this isn't a sustainable business model. While I'm able to offer a few offers like this I will, but longer term I would really love to be able to give something back as a regular commitment. I'm now working on my new collection and wholesale. It would be so good to hear from other people doing something like this, it certainly feels good to give something back.
Do please let me know what you think, I'd love to know.
Grab a brew and reconnect with
The third Monday of January is officially the day known as BLUE MONDAY. This is the day more people are reported to feel fed up and blue: I really don't like that idea, so I'm giving you some creative tips to avoid feeling the blues... or at least to really enjoy the blues you create! There is no need to do all of these, just choose the ones that appeal to you.
Top tips to make your life more colourful and creative:
Splash some colour around. Painting is a great activity. Don't worry about what to paint, just let the colours do whatever happens. It's the act of painting, the process that's important rather than the outcome.
Treat yourself to doing something different such as learning a new creative skill or activity. It doesn't have to be art. Try joining a choir, playing an instrument or take a dance class. The sound of music is known to induce feelings of wellbeing, and the social side is really good for you too!
Take a walk outside. Walking is brilliant for you. Research has shown that regular brisk walking several times each week improves your overall health considerably.
Take any sort of exercise. Whether it's walking, running, pilates, yoga, football, tennis, swimming, boxing, it doesn't really matter. All sorts of exercise are good to make your blood flow and to increase endorphins.
Gratitude journaling. Begin to write down things that you are greatful for. If you are feeling really blue you may not think that you have much, but even the smallest things should be noted. Make a regular time, it only needs to be a few minutes each day.
Draw something. It really doesn't matter what! Just start with making a regular drawing every day. There are lots of word prompts on line to give you a stimulus for the subject matter. This regular activity will repay you with a steady improvement. Just don't quit after the first few days. They say that 21 days is needed to achieve results, so aim for three weeks or more.
Turn your phone and tech to night setting. On an iPhone go to Settings then select Display and Brightness and press Night Shift. You can preset the times you want to use the softer colours and it eliminates much of the harsher blue light, with the aim that you will sleep better.
This image was taken at The Hepworth, Wakefield. Steven Claydon, Like Shooting Sparrows in the Dark 3, (deterrent lure) 2016. Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London
Try to make your bedroom a technology free zone ( yes I know this is a tricky one). Save the tech for downstairs and use an alarm clock to wake you. If you banish electronics from the bedroom you won't be tempted to use them during the night. By putting a notebook and pencil by your bed to jot down ideas and thoughts, or nagging worries, make a to do list for the next day etc. the idea is that you will sleep better. If you are lucky enough, perhaps you will even be able to record your dreams in the morning... Your body will benefit from the more restful sleep you will hopefully enjoy. You may also find a SAD light is a helpful bright light to make you feel more optimistic during the daylight hours. I use one during the dark winters days and love it!
If you have financial troubles seek help. Get a credit card with 0% interest. Tell somebody and work out a manageable plan to make your repayments.
Breathe Deeply. Before you go to sleep and when you wake up treat yourself to a minute of really deep breathing. Oxygen is necessary to repair your body, so your body will thank you.
Have some FUN! Do something you wouldn't usually consider. Schedule it into your diary and take a friend along. It doesn't matter what, as long as it makes you laugh. Ever fancied archery? A night at the latest cinema release? Sledging with the kids? Yes good old human interaction!
Look at artists. Picasso was famous for his blue period and Yves Klien even invented his own shade of blue. A famously depressed artist was Van Gogh... Do you have any other suggestions?
Rose tinted glasses? Treat yourself to some fresh flowers. Really spend time choosing colours and shapes you are drawn to. I recommend going to an actual florist, as they will let you mix the colours and textures. You may even smell which ones are loveliest!
Smells... Scents and fragrances are very powerful and can be really uplifting. Try going into a department store and try on a few new fragrances. Your nose can get overwhelmed with too many: three seems a good number.
Cook something tasty. The brighter the colours the better, think blueberry muffins, beetroot soup! You get the idea I'm sure...
Wear bright colour clothing. That's sure to make you and everyone around you feel brighter.
Make a brew of your favourite cuppa. Meet up with a friend in real life, or at very least stick the kettle on, have a cuppa of your favourite brew and phone a friend. Make it a BREW Monday... (but if you have trouble sleeping make it a decaff after 2pm in the afternoon).
Please let me know in the comments below if you found this helpful or if you have any other top tips. I'd love to hear what you think.
If you have found this article hasn't helped at all please don't feel that you are alone. Depression is an illness, so if you think this is something you can no longer handle on your own please seek help. You are certainly not alone. I recommend the book 'Cheer Up Love' by Susan Calman.
If you are still feeling depressed tell a friend or visit a medical professional. SAMARITANS www.samaritans.org or call free any time on 116 123 (UK)
Friday 13th January is actually 'MAKE YOUR DREAM COME TRUE DAY' and maybe its not as crazy as it first sounds.
Do you have a dream? Well it will be likely to stay that way......
Unless YOU start making plans to make it happen. Several years ago I had a dream to start my own business. I had made jewellery for years. To be honest, at that stage it was an expensive hobby and although I did make lots of gifts for family and friends, I was sad that I had let another New Years Resolution date pass me by. I don't believe that many people ever stick to their resolutions.
Four years ago I decided it would be different. I wrote down what I wanted to achieve and started to make notes in my phone every time I had an idea. Next I decided to actually tell people what I was thinking of doing. I joined a few Facebook groups and then paid for mentoring from people I knew were really respected in the industry.
At first people told me it would never work, as jewellery design is a pretty saturated industry, but what happened next was great. I had a lot of positive feedback for my ideas. I decided that I would really go for it; after all what was the worst that could happen? If it failed at least I had tried.
The best thing I noticed about sharing my intentions, I realised the one thing I was most scared of was of failure...But then I thought, what would happen if I never tried? I guess I would never have known.
As an art teacher I often encourage people to be experimental and to just start where they are. I don't know whether you have heard of daily practice? If you keep doing something creative, regardless of the outcome, eventually you get less worried about what other people think of your work; it's quite liberating actually. So I decided that I would take this innovative approach for my business building. I have attended numerous webinars, joined countless Facebook Groups, posted hundreds of pictures on Instagram and met so many lovely people (I'm @howfinedesigns), I've been featured several times, read lots of books by inspiring authors, designed my website. I launched my website and had my first sale in November 2015. I'd like to say a very big thank you to everybody who's helped me along the way. Now in 2019 I continue to have lots of exciting plans for the future.
If you would like to order one of my hand stamped silver rings to help you make your dream come true simply click on the picture below to shop.
What will YOU plan to make your dream come true? Set YOUR intention today.
The 12 Days of Advent
Return to traditional values.... Remember the good old days? Everybody likes to reminisce about days gone by..... even small children remember when they were tiny (a year seems like a lifetime to them)! Childhood memories are precious, so finding a gift that reminds people of this is priceless, even though it needn't cost a lot. The vintage glass buttons in the picture would make a brilliant present for somebody crafty who likes to make things. In Harrogate we are lucky enough to have a fabulous haberdashery shop called Duttons for Buttons, which sells amazing array of buttons, lace, threads and all sorts of fantastic colourful treasures for the crafty friend or relation. If you have a similar haberdashery store this sort of thing makes an original present idea, otherwise Ebay is a great place to find things for creative friends and family. These glass baubles were one of my Ebay finds and I love them! Todays featured Marble Swirl necklace has been a really popular gift and is quite a fun piece of jewellery with the lovely associated memories of childhood games.
Featured here is the Marble Swirl Necklace at £30 without a chain (use your own chain) or £45 on a long silver chain (as shown above)
Advent Day 5
What do you buy for an artist or designer? This can be a tricky one if you are buying for a creative friend or a partner...... Something well designed will be well received..... Designers and artists usually like things which have been well thought out and sometimes quite minimal. Think "less is more". I have a few fabulous Alessi products which are beautiful and useful too. Google the wonderful Alessi Anna corkscrew and the Alessi Blip spoon rest which is curvaceous, wavelike and beautiful, but also useful.... Art books or vouchers are always really popular..... at least most artists I know love Art books. Another tip is to buy Artist quality materials such as these Faber Castell Polychromos pencils, something from a gallery shop, or best of all a beautifully handmade item. Artists and designers mostly LOVE other artists work!
An empowering ring such as this "I AM AN ARTIST" ring is a wonderful handmade gift to help your artist to really believe in themselves. Each is uniquely made to fit and will have the individual style of a one off piece of jewellery, meaning that each is subtly different from the next. Made of Sterling Silver and with a comfort fit band this is one ring they really won't want to take off.
Featured "I am an artist" ring made of Sterling Silver at £70 or you can add your own words or phrase (use the contact box to let us know the words you would like e.g. I am enough)
Advent Day 6
Spending time wrapping presents as you go along is a great thing to do... and I should know! Having left everything until the last minute and ended staying awake into the wee small hours on Christmas Eve when the children were small! It also saves last minute dashes to buy more wrapping paper ((yes me again)). Adding little flourishes like hand tied bows is my top tip for a creative wrap. In the image above you can see I have layered tissue paper on top of another sheet of paper and simply scooped up the present with a ribbon and tied a bow...... no need for sellotape for this one! Match the writing inside the card to the ribbon and you have a beautifully co-ordinated creative pressie.
What do you get for the person who has everything you may ask? New to my range is a leaf tie/lapel pin.
Featured Jewellery is the Silver Leaf Tie/lapel pin at £39
This Christmas get FREE worldwide shipping and gift wrapping with every purchase from How Fine Designs with the code: LOVESPARKLES
Advent Day 7
A workshop can be a great present for an artistic friend or relation. I made some of my own Christmas presents at a nearby artists workshop.
Although I currently make jewellery, I also teach art and really love to create things in different media. The glass bowl above was really exciting to make. This wasn't my first attempt I have to say.... We started out by making four glass coasters and even these were very impressive. I had so much fun that I've done several workshops now and its great to take a few friends along too. We learned how to cut the glass safely and were able to choose and make our own designs after a while. The colours are simply wonderful!
If you're in the Harrogate area why not check out The Glasshouse Studio in Knaresborough. If you do, be sure to tell the lovely Jane I sent you...... You could begin making your presents for next year and be really organised!!!
If you're getting stressed about the Christmas preparations why not go outside and stretch your legs, I picked these holly sprigs nearby. Immediately I felt much more festive and calmer. I think sometimes the simplest decorations are the very best and bringing nature inside always looks lovely. A plain bow around them looks simply timeless. Oh yes and clementines...... I simply can't get enough of them at this time of year, anybody else?
Todays featured jewellery is the This Twig Bangle bracelet made of Sterling Silver at £139.
Advent Day 8
Entertaining at Christmas can be lots of fun, but the rush of preparing for it can be quite a lot of stress. Even when you're not hosting you have to make or buy gifts for your hosts and to make sure you're the most fabulous guests. After a few days of such close proximity even with close relations sometimes people can be prickly with each other.....
Sometimes we have to remember what its all about and for me that's spending time with family and friends. Recently losing a couple of friends and a family member makes me realise that we shouldn't take each other for granted. This year I'm definitely going to try to be a great house guest and be really helpful to my hosts..... I know they have worked really hard to make things special and memorable for us. I'm also sparing a thought for elderly friends and relations who can't make it to our celebrations this year, so I'm going to send special messages and presents even though we won't be seeing them xox
Todays featured gift is the You're a Star tie/lapel pin in Sterling Silver at £43
Advent Day 9
At this busy time of the year amidst the kinetic activity of life and the social whirl of the festivities, its really important to make sure you give yourself some nurturing time and space. So make sure you schedule some me time..... light the candles, put on the fairy lights and the relaxing music, paint your nails or whatever takes your fancy and give yourself some LOVE!
And if you're doing some online shopping this week you can choose a couple of things for yourself too....... with our special code just for YOU.
The featured jewellery today is our new Queen of Hearts glass and sterling silver necklace at £85
Our gift to you today is a 20% off code when you spend £100 or more with the code: SELFLOVE
Advent Day 10
At Christmas it's the smallest things that make a difference..... fresh foliage on the table, hand written place cards, and fairy lights to make the place more magical! These really do add to the atmosphere and come in a huge variety of different styles. My preference is for a warm light. The cool ones feel rather too cold for my liking most of the time, and particularly for Christmas I do really love a cosy atmosphere. They are great for taking photographs and give a lovely warm cosy glow. Also remember to help out with the chores. When there are lots of people coming there is always another cup of tea to be made and another pan to be washed so I always get a new pair of marigold washing up gloves (as a jeweller my hands take lots of abuse already!)
When we are old we shall enjoy watching the younger generation rushing round looking after us I am sure....
Todays featured jewellery is the Shiny Heart Earrings set made of sterling silver at £29.00
Advent Day 11
When I've had enough of all the chores I love to spend a few minutes planning the fun stuff...... like how the table should look at Christmas. Usually I love to have candles and things, but at Christmas time I think its best to keep the table arrangements low down, so they don't get knocked over amidst the pulling of crackers and the refilling of Champagne glasses!!! I've been looking for something simple and came across these gold spray painted leaves. I bought these ones from M&S but may have a go at spray painting myself if I have a spare few minutes. My advice is to lay newspaper or an old sheet outside in the garden and definitely don't spray on a windy day! The cranberries and jewels just add a fun colour pop, but I'm sure you can think of your own ideas. The mince pies in my picture are from Betty's.... I do think its absolutely fine to pick and choose what to make yourself and what to buy..... After all we do want to enjoy the celebrations at Christmas, not find ourselves in bed with exhaiustion. So I'd say pick and choose now what you want to make and what you will add yourself, then add the others to your shopping list! I used to try to make everything, but I think its best to keep a balance and make the things I'm best at! Hope you enjoy creating something. Please do let me know in the comments below what you're planning to make? I'd love to know.......
Our special offer is a free gift with every purchase from our One of a Kind range
Advent Day 12
For the final day of Advent I'm going to wish you all lots of love, and a healthy and happy Christmas. This adorable gingerbread house was made by my daughter (Mary Berry's recipe, which tastes delicious by the way) and the chocolate penguins are from Betty's famous Tea rooms in Harrogate.....
If you haven't heard of hygge yet (pronounced HOO-GA) I'm going to recommend a couple of books for you. One is 'How to Hygge' by Signe Johansen and the other is 'The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well' by Meek Wiking. In essence the Nordic countries are renowned for having a superb quality of life, but we can recreate the 'cosiness' in our own homes by being kind to ourselves, and others. Nature, candles and good food all play an important part. Perfect for Christmas time hey?
Our featured jewellery is a one of a kind Star flower Fine Silver necklace at £40
I hope you all manage to enjoy time with your nearest and dearest, whether it be your family or friends. Go create some lovely memories and spend some blissful time.....
Love and Sparkles,
A CREATIVE BLOCK. As artists and designers we've all had them.......
But how do you get to be creative again? Follow a few of these simple steps to feel inspired again.
Take a break It sounds simple doesn't it..... but its not always that easy is it?
Well actually stepping away from your home or workspace is really important. I know life gets in the way, but getting some fresh air, even just going for a brief walk outside does wonders for creativity. Nature is one of the most inspiring things. So many different colours, textures, patterns, sounds and even smells..... (fresh cut grass - I LOVE that so much). Take a camera to record images. Start to really look at things. Zoom in. If you live in a city that's no excuse. Try looking up for a change. A change of perspective is always useful. There are so many ideas in every environment. Best of all it's free. Treat yourself to some ME time every once in a while and quit feeling guilty. Feeling refreshed is important. Think of it as an investment. If you're feeling washed out and tired, you won't be creative anyway!
If you really can't get out try running a fragranced bubble bath and play some music. Meditation and yoga can also work, they are both really beneficial for me.
Plan some time for yourself. Even a few minutes can do wonders......
Make a mess Yes really!
Designate an area where you can be untidy for a while and leave your work out. Whether it's a table in the corner of the dining room, an easel in the kitchen, a work bench in the spare bedroom or a shed. Just having your own space to work as the mood takes you is most important.
Be prepared to play Think about how creatively free children are......
As adults we rarely play enough to be honest. To be more creative we need to enjoy ourselves and take risks. Take time to be in the moment and enjoy the process. Commit to exploring and having fun, without attachment to the outcome. Many adults fear what other people think of them and this prevents us from being our best selves. Forget what they think and simply be yourself.
It really doesn't matter if we make mistakes. At the end of the day we want to enjoy ourselves right? We can always buy another sketchbook or a new canvas. Permission granted....... Don't worry about what other people think. Have FUN xox
Often our mistakes are a record of learning. Out of a mistake comes knowledge. From knowledge comes understanding. Have you noticed how small children aren't even remotely interested in what they have made. They are forever moving on to the next activity. Schedule your play time now and enjoy making marks instead of worrying about the outcome. You never know you may surprise yourself.
Forget the blank page That blank white canvas or perfect piece of shiny new silver can be quite intimidating.....
So begin to work over a piece of work you are already unhappy with, so that you can take risks. Nothing to lose, right? Next up try working on a different colour background from usual. That coloured ground will give a very interesting effect. Jewellers can create wonderful things from their scrap jar. If it doesn't work out there's nothing lost, because you were only playing. Besides it really is a fabulous feeing when you design something awesome out of scraps!
Change of scale Get away from your usual routine.
Work really large. This can be pretty liberating. You may try working on a huge roll of paper in the garden. Have you seen how cheap wallpaper lining paper is? Or try really tiny...... Miniature things are so cute right?
Use a different media Switch it up. You are sure to delight in using your old watercolour set. Try wetting the paper before flooding the page with yummy colours. Fun hey! Those gorgeous pastels you have unused in the box, you can open them and use them. Yes I know they look so beautiful and neat, but honestly you can always buy more if you use them up. Go on.... It's playtime x
Visually stimulate Visit a gallery or sculpture trail, look at pictures in books or make an inspiring collection of images on Pinterest. I'd love you to follow me @howfinedesigns There are heaps of amazing things out there which can spark ideas. When your mind is stimulated it will want to create. Looking at other visual imagery is one of the best ways to inspire your own ideas. Next try making a brainstorm to start your own creative flow.
The Arrival of Spring
by David Hockney at Salts Mill
Neon by Tracey Emin
Enrol in a class or workshop Go back to being a beginner for a while, perhaps try a new media. Remember the thrill of discovery when you were starting out! This is a great way re-engage and you will love to rekindle your creativity and reconnect with why you decided to be creative in the first place. You will also meet other like minded people. It's amazing how inspiring this can be in itself. Swap ideas and chat about what you're thinking. In my classes the chatter and laughter is my favourite thing! As soon as others see your work, they do not notice the struggles you had to make it just so. Talking to people who are more distanced from you can be fabulous for your ego and will inspire you on your path to creative freedom.
DO NOT DISTURB
Its worth making sure other people know you should not be disturbed while you are busy creating. Let people know this is your time and you will be unavailable. Consider scheduling a regular day or evening for your creativity. Remember to turn off social media, phones and those pesky Facebook notifications while you are creating, as these are notorious for interrupting your flow. Try putting up a sign so people know you are busy being creative. People will soon get used to the idea.
Remember WHY you want to create things....... Enjoyment?
If you can think back to why you started creative activities. It's likely that you enjoyed the activity and it made you feel good. That's what you should remember. Honestly just stop worrying about other people.
Even if you sell your work..... If you like what you make, that is so important. Don't try to second guess what other people would like. That's a slippery path. Other people are sure to like your creations too, you just need to find the right people. When YOU are CONFIDENT in your work because you have LOVED making it that really does show through.
Believe in yourself Creativity NEVER gets used up you know.....
The more you use it the more you get. Great hey?
And DO have some FUN!
Pssssst Have you seen my Empowering Rings? You can order your own words too!
"Creativity is intelligence having Fun"
Images above unless credited are by me, Sally How and the lovely artists in my classes and workshops at Rossett Adult Education, Harrogate. Please Contact Melissa or Catherine on 01423 563 768
- Please do let me know if you've found any of these ideas useful.