Friday, 28 October 2016

Blogging genius?

genius blogger's toolkit logo - silvermoss

Blogging is still an ever-growing field, despite the rise of other forms of social media. I still prefer blogging, the feeling of publishing my own little web magazine. But the size and scope of the medium can feel overwhelming at times, especially in terms of learning new systems and methods, and just simply trying to get people to read your blog.

I've created a few blogging tutorials in the past (and hope to do so again too) as I find understanding more about how blogs (and the web) works gives me more control over how I can say and show exactly what I want to here. Understanding and learning new things has always mattered a lot to me and my tutorials allow me to consolidate that new knowledge.

And much of my knowledge of blogging has come from other bloggers. By reading their blogs and learning how, and why, they do things the way they do, and what encourages me to return to their blogs. And also by indulging in blogging courses and books. I say 'indulging' but I've actually found the courses I've done illuminating and helpful and this is why I was a little excited when I heard about this bundle of courses and eBooks which is on sale for the next few days.

The list of eBooks and courses available is long. It includes 24 eBooks, 33 eCourses and audios, and 5 printable packs. I've linked to it linked to it here, which is where it is also available to buy, and the variety on offer seems to me to be exceptional. And the cost isn't 'giveaway-cheap' at $97 (which, at time of writing, translate to around £79 - do check currency rates before you buy though, especially if you're in the UK) although the individual cost of all the courses included adds up to something like £3,000, which, I have to say, is a small fortune. £79 is far more reasonable and is quite a saving if you're interested in a few of the courses. The list on the selling site, called Ultimate Bundles (they do a few of these type of offers throughout the year), shows the normal selling price of the courses and books, so you have a clue as to how much you could save.

None of the books or courses are about making or selling jewellery, or any other kind of craft, but several of them cover photography which is always a topic that fascinates me. The focus of the courses is more on blogging itself, how to make your blog work better whatever your reasons for having it, as well as figuring out Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat - basically all kinds of social media (which seems a never-ending and forever-changing topic in itself!) and how they can help your blog, and the technical side of blogging - HTML, CSS, SEO, all those letters that are both scary and, for me at least, quite fascinating.

If you think it might be right for you then do click through, or click on the image above, and have a look at more detailed information. The bundle also comes with a 30-day guarantee. It is only available at the reduced price until the end of Tuesday 1st November, at midnight in the USA although, if my very-rusty understanding of the time difference serves me correctly, we in the UK get an extra 7 hours till it ends. If my understanding of the time difference is wrong then please let me know!

I hope this is of some interest to you, especially if you're looking to improve your blog and social media presence to showcase your jewellery or crafts.

(PS. If you do click through then a video starts auto-playing - just a warning in case you're somewhere you'd rather that didn't happen!)

Please note, this post contains affiliate links, which cost you nothing if you click through but may make me a few coppers if the stars are right that day... For more info check out my about page.

Friday, 21 October 2016

It's a total fix


I've not made many brooches and the ones I have, have been in copper. I don't even wear brooches that often, although I do find them rather beautiful - and it's a rare type of jewellery that sits on clothing rather than the body.

The brooch that I do wear with any regularity is a gift I received several years ago, an amethyst set in silver. I've worn it on a hat for years now, and it's stayed firm, never coming loose. This summer, when I decided to wash the hat, I naturally removed the brooch. That was fine. When my hat was dry and I went to reattach the brooch... it broke.

Breaking jewellery is not a nice feeling. The pin at the back came away from the main part of the brooch and as I looked down at the two pieces I immediately assumed something had disastrously snapped, delicate and difficult soldering would be needed, I wouldn't be able to protect the amethyst and, essentially, it was game over for my brooch.

When I looked a little closer I saw that the pin, which I'd never thought to examine before, had simply pulled free from the pressure setting it was normally enclosed within. Five minutes with a pair of pliers and the brooch was fixed and I was suitably pleased.

Photographic proof above. Including wonderfully-aged tarnish on the back of the brooch...

Friday, 14 October 2016

An amber & silver pendant, plus a theory of gifts

The amber cabochon, set in silver, held up to the light

It's easy to be so caught up in the minutia of life that birthdays sneak up on us and the best gift we can find at hideously short notice is whatever comes to hand in the right price range at (gulp) the supermarket. It's not good, is it.

I'm very aware that, since I've been making jewellery, I've made a lot of it as gifts. And, as the years have passed, I've wondered how many recipients are smiling through gritted teeth rather than really liking what I've made for them. Most women will appreciate jewellery as a gift but jewellery is also very personal and, even if you know someone well, what you think their style is may not be what they really like. I think I would be suspicious that they were trying too hard if someone wore what I'd made them every time we met, but when I never see them wear anything I've made it does lead me to wonder if they ever do...

So, a combination of this apprehension and trying not to overwhelm with sheer quantity of jewellery has led me to be circumspect when I decide to make a friend or relative a piece of jewellery for their special day. But another combination of a special birthday, a hankering to set a stone (something I've not done in ages), and a bit of a tip-off came together to prompt me to make this pendant for a relative. And I planned it long enough in advance that, barring major soldering disasters, I could avoid any fear of a last minute supermarket dash.


I've not set amber before but I have used amber beads and so knew it was quite a soft substance - just 2 - 2.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, which is extraordinary for something that has survived for many millions of year. In deference to this, I bought myself more than one gemstone, just in case... plus, as I was buying online I figured I should then have at least one good-looking piece to set if I had a few to chose from.

The whole project was quite a process of remembering how to do things, and finding ways to make techniques fit the finished-item-image that I had in my mind (and doodled on a piece of paper). My favourite part was when I, finally, set the amber into the setting. Whether that was pleasure at being near the end, or just the sheer satisfaction of carefully pushing the silver round the stone, I'm not entirely sure. Despite giving myself enough time to finish the pendant, I was always aware that something could go wrong as any moment and I'd have to start over - not that I'm always a pessimist but working with small pieces of silver with a soldering torch and hammer carries obvious risks.

While I made a host of notes of things to do differently, and better, when I next set a stone, the amber survived unscratched and, perhaps even better, the finished necklace was liked and - wait for it - worn...

Friday, 7 October 2016

Book Review - Learn to Make Bead Jewellery

Learn to Make Bead Jewellery - by Lynn Davy
Published by Search Press 2016

Learn to Make Bead Jewellery - book review by Silvermoss Learn to Make Bead Jewellery - book review by Silvermoss

I think silver jewellery will always be my first love. The cool colour, the texture, the workability of it, and the fact it was how I began making jewellery, all seal my ardour for it. But even silver, beautiful as it is, can sometimes really fizz if its mixed with other materials, and in this case the materials in question are beads.

The paperback edition of Learn to Make Bead Jewellery has a bold front cover, mostly white with blue writing and a mass of blues in the necklace in the main photo. Four smaller photos show a variation of blues and this attention to detail in the colour indicates one of the features of the book - its projects are colour coordinated by way of descriptions of the natural world. So the project categories cover Ocean (blues and aquamarines), Beach (browns and creams), Meadow (bright shades of many hues, like a wild flower meadow), Woodland (browns and greens), Forest (reds, purples and deep greens), Mountain (greys) and Volcano (oranges and reds).

I'll return to these sections and projects shortly but here I'll detail the first few pages of the book. Like many others of this type it has an introduction and then sections on materials, tools and techniques. Lots of clear, colour and vibrant photographs are included and six pages cover the topic of beads themselves, including a section on how to chose beads to buy. A page each on stringing materials and findings is followed by two pages on tools and four pages on techniques, covering the basics with a series of step-by-step photographs.

 Complete Jewellery Maker - book review by Silvermoss Complete Jewellery Maker - book review by Silvermoss

The book is finished by an index and a credit page but the majority of the book consists of the 35 projects it contains. Each project covers two pages (occasionally four) and has a list of beads, findings and tools required to complete the design. Every stage of the project is numbered and has photos and brief instructions, along with handy tips and extra techniques (as is often the case with jewellery books, developing skills and adapting projects is encouraged). The instructions are concise but useful and clear, and the photographs are bright and helpful.

Whilst this isn't a book for a single-minded silversmith, it's still interesting if you'd like to extend your skills. And if you're already a bead aficionado then, at the very least, the beautiful use of colour combinations in the projects should provide something new to learn and experiment with. The techniques are, I think, simple enough for a novice to understand and such a jeweller would find the book a helpful guide - it has detail enough to assist the growth of new skills, and also to inspire the creation of original designs, which is always the sign of a good jewellery book.

Find more of my jewellery book reviews here (the latest will be right at the top, so do scroll down!)

Please note, this post contains affiliate links, which cost you nothing if you click through but may make me a few coppers if the stars are right that day... For more info check out my about page.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Jewelled Web - October 2016 - Link Love

Scotney Castle - Jewelled Web October 2016 Silver Moss
Scotney Castle in Kent, glowing in the early Autumn light.

October is here and this year it feels gentle, with soft skies, sunshine, and only a light dusting of leaves although they are now falling daily. But it's still October after all, and I know I'll have to dig out my wet-weather boots and a jacket soon. Still, the abundance of leaves always provides wonderful jewellery and design inspiration in terms of colour, shape and texture. I'm thinking of making some more silver leaves...

This is what I've been doing online this last month, and what I will be catching up with in October.

~jewellery links~

Such a sweet idea and done really well - Jewellery made from children's artwork.

Jewellery (okay, headdresses) for mermaids.

A simple tutorial for creating simple but pretty marbled polymer clay earrings.

The perils of a friend or colleague asking you to repair an item of jewellery...

These shell earrings by Tanith Rouse are just so beautiful.

An Iron Age brooch has been recreated using a 3D printer.

A handy tutorial for wire-wrapping briolette beads.

A slightly less conventional tutorial - how to make denim earrings. Fabric earrings can look so good, and can be large without being heavy.

~non-jewellery links~

I love this idea for using natural fragrances in a home in a pretty and practical way.

These beautiful examples of needle felting, along with handy tips to get started, make it seem like a wonderful craft to do while the leaves fall outside.

Living in the Antarctic, but in style.

It's the time of year when certain types of plants just appear - yes, I'm talking fungi. Here are some amazing examples.

Dinosaur planters - with Christmas coming, such oddities suddenly start making sense...

More plants, at the most dangerous garden in the world.

One of my favourite videos, a deer bouncing along the beach. And then I saw this, a young rhino playing with dogs and responding to his name. Oh, okay, a panda has a bubble bath. That's it now. No more.

Flying with swans.

~My Own Personal Book Club ~

I have been reading...

My first John Le Carre novel - Our Kind of Traitor. I totally missed this at the cinema but found myself with a copy of it on my Kindle; it's a simple story really, about betrayal and trust, with a strong humanity at its core.

We Were Liars by E Lockhart - another Kindle find, and a very readable book, although with a devastating and affecting plot twist.

Learn to Make Bead Jewellery by Lynn Davy (reviewed by me here) - wonderful photos and beautiful beads make some imaginative designs.

(affiliate links included in the books listed - please check details here for more info.)


It's been such a mild end to the summer but the signs of change are to be found at the turn of October - the leaves are slowly growing golden and falling copper and bronze, and the nights and mornings are closer together now. But, as I write this, the sun is shining and bright, and the air warm. I hope your Autumn is wholly mellow.