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Can’t stop, won’t stop!

Oh Hai Pretty purple cloche with your tie-dye lining!

Oh Hai Pretty purple cloche with your tie-dye lining!

It’s no secret that I love to create. I just can’t help it. I am currently making yet another hat with the fabulous Katty Janneh at her millinery workshop. My latest creation is a purple cloche of perfection that I’ve worn almost constantly since it came off the block. There is now a luscious leopard print sun hat in progress. It’s an addiction for which  I hope there is no cure.

At 17 I hastily dropped A Level Design and Technology after a particularly off-putting brief that involved designing a plug. Just, NO. Up until the day of reckoning I had completed some lovely projects. My absolute favourite was a resin and brass brooch in the shape of a womans pout (it was the late 70’s…shush). Yet as far as I was concerned my foray into jewellery making stopped there.

Fast forward several decades.

I have been admiring Victoria’s exquisite creations from afar and love the quirky take she has on her silver jewellery designs. When the chance to attend her new workshop in silver smithing arose I jumped at it.

I was going to make the necklace for myself. Again. But as every hat I’ve ever made has ended up on my own head I decided to make these tags as a gift for mama. *polishes halo*

Instruments of torture or tools of the trade? You decide.

Instruments of torture or tools of the trade? You decide.

So one windy weekend we descended upon a quiet unsuspecting part of South West London. After a welcome cuppa (perfect) Victoria took us gently through our paces. We learnt to use a Band Saw without breaking a blade (oh yeah), work a bow drill (harder than it looks but so soothing once you ‘get’ it) and sand pieces of silver so that they glowed with pleasure.

Heart of Copper. Work in progress.

Heart of Copper. Work in progress.

We practised on bits of copper then moved swiftly (for us novices) on to the real thing. We frowned and concentrated and giggled and chatted whilst we worked (there may have been whistling) Victoria did an amaaaazing demonstration making one of her signature love heart necklaces that made it look so easy!

Polished to within an inch of their lives

Polished to within an inch of their lives

We drank more tea and then we ate Victorias delicious homemade cake. Lots of it. Seemed a shame not to really.

My tags stayed behind so that they could be machine-polished properly into their final shiny glory. When they arrived in the post a few days later I literally gasped with delight! Not only is it a beautiful necklace but I made it – with lots of help but even so – I MADE IT!

Yep.

Shiny Happy Necklace!

Shiny Happy Necklace!

So I’m hooked on creating. Again. That sense of achievement cannot be easily beaten.

If you want to book one of Victorias silver smithing workshops contact her here.

And/or if you want to try your hand at making hats with Katty Janneh try  here.

What about YOU? What do you love creating? Is there something new that you’d like to try your hand at this year?

Do tell… *pats sofa*

Time for a celebration!

7 years ago...

I have always loved this picture. Taken of my eldest daughter en route to Notting hill Carnival seven years ago. At 14 she was too young to go alone (my opinion not hers) yet still young enough to consider a trip anywhere with her mother a real treat. This was the first time I looked upon her as a girl on the verge of being a woman. A trainee-woman, if you like. I remember that she borrowed my favourite orange head wrap, styled it with a flourish as a top, added some earrings and was ready to roll. Stunning! I remember that it was a scorching August bank holiday – that male heads turned to look at her as we worked our way through the crowds.

My baby girl.

My beautiful child reached 21 years last week. It’s difficult to express the mix of emotions I feel about this one. In my mind I’m barely past 21 myself (my body begs to differ on a daily basis unfortunately). In true style she took a week of partying to celebrate this milestone fully. I like to think that we kicked it off in a special way with female family time at Hellidon Spa – grandma, aunty, cousin and little sister. Her lovely idea and my purse – a match made in offspring heaven! Because she’s worth it.

Happy girl child!

So with those celebrations over I’m feeling a little gooey and generous! That and the fact I reached my own milestone of 250 ‘liker-lovers’ on my facebook page I feel it’s time for a little giveaway! And what could be a more fitting give away than something to break out for your own celebrations – African print bunting! *pauses for woops and cheers*

All the colours under the sun!

All YOU have to do to win this GORGEOUS HANDMADE COLOURFUL BUNTING is…(drum roll please)…

Comment below telling me what you will use my bunting to celebrate

AND

‘Like’ my facebook page with your lurrvve.

Is that all? Well yes it is actually. If you also want to hit me with some extra hugs you could subscribe to this blog (hey I’m hardly prolific)

Closing date for entry is midnight Saturday 8th October but you can continue to comment to your hearts content after that!

Oh and one more thing…Happy 21st Birthday Kareem! Love mum xx

When life gives you lemons…

Posted on

…ask for salt and tequila!

My mother is the Queen of lemonade makers. Not literally, you understand. I’ve never tasted my mum’s lemonade… although she does make a mean Ginger beer – the real Bajan knock-you-out-just-smelling-it stuff too! (great for colds apparently…with Bajan rum) What I mean is that I remember her turning every day disasters (in my eyes) into masterpieces. Mistress pieces. Whatever. The most memorable occasion involved her baking a cake. I was excited about this particular cake. Not because it was a special occasion but because it was…well it was CAKE! I was around nine or ten so cake baking was the pinnacle of my social calendar. Girls Brigade was yet to feature so heavily in my life. Anyway I digress. So mum took this cake gingerly from the oven and we both inhaled its gorgeous aroma deeply… then watched with barely concealed disappointment as it deflated in slow motion. Mum barely missed a beat. Whilst I sobbed inwardly she disappeared into the cupboard, opened an emergency tin of fruit salad (always the emergency tin), emptied it unceremoniously into the steaming concave vessel and ‘Viola’! Fruit Flan!

My daughters have inherited my mums talents in different ways. My youngest is a lover of all things baking and whips up madeira cake when she is bored. I may never let her leave.

My eldest has the ability to add a silver lining to anything. One memorable Family Come Dine With Me moment looked set to be ruined when youngest’s chocolate mousse would not set. Disaster? Mais non! Eldest whisked our guests and me into the living room whilst she helped her little sister in the kitchen quickly rectify the situation. The result? Crepes aux chocolate – pancakes with chocolate sauce to you. Delicious!

Tonight the Lemonade making mantle was passed on to me and I was truly put to the test. I was privileged enough to be asked for the first time to participate in Sydenham Arts Festival – a local event that showcases Arts and artistes. I offered my home and my creations as part of the Visual Arts Trail which this year takes place over two middle weeks of July. I chose the final weekend – Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th July – as I had also committed to another local event, Forest Fest on 2nd July and I wanted to have enough time to prepare.

When the brochures arrived I could barely contain my excitement! Even noticing that my business name was spelt incorrectly failed to completely dampen my spirits – I was IN the brochure ! Anyway, I pondered, it was far too late to change it. It was only this evening, with three short days to go, that I double checked my entry and noticed the glaring error! My Open House dates were wrong! According to the brochure I would be welcoming clients THIS weekend!

What to do?

I started and restarted an email but I repeatedly failed to express my upset and panic. I called some contact numbers but they were all out. I needed an actual solution. So I got off my backside and went to the pub. No not to drown my sorrows! It just so happened that the organisers were holding a Q & A session at the local pub. I was able to meet with the people who’d made the mistake, discuss options, come up with some damage limitation strategies and hear their (numerous and effusive) apologies. Not exactly ideal I know but at least I had done something! I left an hour later feeling a little better and a lot more hopeful. The world wasn’t going to end after all.

So I’ve added the event (with the correct dates) to my Facebook page, created a event, mentioned it on Twitter, and blogged about it. Anyone who turns up THIS Saturday or Sunday won’t see any bags apart from the ones under my eyes (sorry). What they will find is a busily optimistic handbag designer with a conciliatory drink in one hand, a reddskinbags discount voucher in the other hand and a hopeful smile on my face. It’s the best I can do – the only way I know how – with what I’ve been given.

Wish me luck!

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