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.
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.