Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Launch Day!

I'm excited, nervous, thrilled and 100% exhausted.
I've been working really hard for the last month or so ready to add a new section to my Etsy shop where I will be selling collages as well as the jewellery that I have sold in the past.
I guess a lot of people knew that I was going to be doing this because I have been talking people's ears off about it for weeks. The one downside to having a job that you completely love is that you want to tell everyone about it, even if they don't want to listen. My very talented friend, Anna and I have recently been talking about how different it is discussing your job when it's something so personal and creative.

I am still super busy tracking down suppliers (one of mine recently vanished), working on new pieces and trying to tell as many people as possible about the exciting new artwork side to my shop. Just in case that wasn't blunt enough - please, pretty please tell anyone that you think might be interested in having a look at the shop either for the jewellery or the collages. I would be very grateful. And I do generally show my gratitude with cookies or cakes...

A final thank you to everyone who has been keeping me sane either in person or over the net while I have been working on this venture. Fingers crossed now!


Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Collage Papers

I have been making jewellery for about seven years now and have been selling it on Etsy as well as in shops and markets. I love Etsy, as I've previously said, but I am not sure about my shop. After spending time talking to other Etsy sellers, friends and family I am thinking of expanding the shop.
My Current Etsy Products
My latest plan is to put some print collages that I have made into my Etsy shop. This is something that I have been considering for a while. And by ‘a while’  I mean roughly a week. It was a spur of the moment decision that has had meant I’ve had no sleep since I thought of it. 
Collage in a Pine Coloured Frame
I declared myself self-employed around about six months ago now and once I had made that commitment there were few decisions I took lightly. I had a little savings and very generous parents but when you’re serious about trying to make your own business work everything seems like a life-or-death decision. Which is of course, completely untrue but it’s very easy to lose perspective. One of the perils of working alone is that there is no-one to talk you down off the ledge when you start to go into headless-chicken-panic-mode.
How the Collage looks in a coloured frame
I am not going to be stopping selling, or making jewellery but instead I am hoping that collage will add another string to my bow, hopefully work well on Etsy and give me an increased chance of making this my profession as well as my passion.
I want to put a good range of collages online and also have options for custom items as well as being able to personalise (with names, dates etc.) pre-made items. They will be presented in a pine coloured frame but I'll also have an option for different coloured frames for those who want it.
I began making collages while I was in my final year at university as a way of presenting the poetry I was writing at the time. I never meant to do anything more with them and they were just wall decorations as a source of inspiration for me. As a side note, I do have those first poetry collages on my walls while I am making my current collages for Etsy!
The inspiration for most of the pieces that I am making nowadays come from some form of literature, I will do a post later on about where ideas come from. For now, I will say that most good books and poetry collections that I read make me want to create a new collage, as do occasional pieces of music.
Now, I need help if anyone out there is willing to give me some suggestions. I've got a couple of questions that I will be asking people via email, on etsy, facebook and twitter as well as here.
1. If I have a new section of my shop for collages, should I put all of my jewellery back into one section, rather than having the bracelets, necklaces and kits separate as they are at the moment?
2. Do you prefer descriptive titles (Purple Print Collage) or more decorative ones (Collage of Farmhouse Lilacs in Bloom)?
3. Does anyone have any insight into copyright issues? I have done a lot of research into this because I do not want to get into legal hot water, and more than that I do not want to be taking work from artists. I should say that people on Etsy have been really helpful on this as well. I have tried very hard to make sure that all of the collages are my own work and not recognisably from others but also they are a commentary on existing art and images so I would love input on this issue.
4. If you think this is a huge mistake, please do tell me, I will be grateful for all your thoughts!
If you want to help out please leave a comment or drop me an email!

I've already had a couple of people helping me out on this and I know they read this blog and so thank you very much!
I'll finish with a couple of pictures of my work area. I tidied it for the pictures, there are normally mugs with tea or coffee in them, a laptop and a pile of reading books as well!

My Workspace with all of my inspiration pieces on the walls

Me, working.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

This Week

This week I have mostly been eating:

Triple chocolate death cookies. Adapted from a Nigella recipe, with more chocolate added, different flour and varied cooking times.

Homemade bread. I enjoy using my parents' bread machine when I am at 'home' but I don't like the way that it cooks the bread so I make the dough in the machine and then hand shape it before baking it in the oven.

Salted butter caramel which was a complete disaster. Well, maybe not complete. It tastes great but there is an awful lot of it and it refuses to set so I have no idea what to do with it. I am going to try making some chocolates with caramel in, otherwise I'll be eating it all with a spoon. Healthy, right? I've also finally tried making a ribollita which was gorgeous and I will certainly be making that again. There's no picture - I ate it before I remembered to take one. Because of the cold weather I've been at home quite a bit which has allowed for lots of slow cooking, mainly roasting. Luckily walking around everywhere has burnt a fair bit of all this naughty food away.  

This week I've been working on:

Making Etsy treasuries. I've never done this before but they are addictive and I'll be making more very soon I feel.

Adding a page on Facebook. It's not that I didn't think of using Facebook before, but up until recently they allowed you to have an Etsy tab within your profile, so now that this has gone away I've made a page for the business.

I've also been joining groups, adding people to circles and favourite as well as just generally trying to improve my profile online. This was spurred by the snow-blockade of last weekend when I was stuck and couldn't get to my favourite craft show of the year so I decided to make the most of the extra time.

This week I've been interneting here:

The very lovely Adele and her super-hero team have put up the first edition of Un:Bound Video Editions which manages to be both informative and fun at the same time. Go and check it out, there's no 'or else...' but you will be missing out!

I've forgotten which of my friends popped this online but it's brilliant. (Possibly Emma Jane who has a real knack for finding amazing things on the web so I usually assume she found all the best links.) It reminds me of being on the beach when I was very young and went on holiday with my cousins. While we didn't manage anything like this, my genius of a cousin (not exaggerating - he's the smartest person I know) used to build sandcastles that had foundations and were structurally sound. I added the shells.

St. Kilda Football Club Luckily for me, and unfortunately for everyone who talks to me, things are kicking off over in the AFL again. This means I will be getting excited about drafts, rookies, games, analysis and how amazing these guys are. Again. Apologies.

This week I've been reading:

*The Library of the Dead - Glenn Cooper. I'm not sure who recommended this to me but it's not one I would pass on. Stock characters and too many different time zones that jumped around a lot. It's a shame because the basic idea was original, clever and gripping.
*Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick. Another one I wouldn't pass one. This time the idea was unoriginal, unconvincing and dull.
*Selected Poems - Lawrence Durrell. I've lost count of how many times I've read this but it never gets any less perfect.
*The Summoning & The Awakening - Kelley Armstrong. Enjoyed this one but an awful lot of it feels like set-ups for the next book. I love the idea and the plot keeps getting better. My main niggle with it was that the main character, who wants to be a film director, keeps stating how she would film the events if she was making a movie. Very irritating but easy enough to skim over.
*Succubus Blues - Richelle Mead. A good mix of characters and some interesting twists (you could see most of them coming but they were still intriguing and well worked out). Definitely going to keep going with the series.
I'm not putting links for the books because these aren't real reviews - I've not written this week's batch yet!

And now the snow has finally started melting so hopefully a warmer, more mobile week to come. Happy weekends to all.


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Crazy for Etsy

I love selling on Etsy, it's easy, safe and there is a great community spirit. I've been spending a lot of time on their website recently, updating my shop and finally adding some necklaces as well. The busiest time of the year for jewellery makers, and I suspect a lot of other crafters as well is the run-up to Christmas. There are a lot of markets, craft fairs and fetes about as well as people looking for interesting gifts for friends and family. Many shoppers at the moment are looking for handmade, local and individual crafts to give as gifts this Christmas which is great news for those of us who make just such products! The online Etsy community has been given a boost with the addition of 'Circles' which now appear when you sign into the website. You can add your favourite shops and sellers into your own circle and then keep updated on what they are doing and see what they recommend as well. This has taken up many hours of my time already as I click from one shop to the next playing a crafty sort of six degrees of separation. The best thing about this new way of connecting people is finding some shops that you would never have spotted before. I spend a lot of time (and money, obviously) shopping online and it is refreshing to look at sellers statistics and see 100% positive feedback all of the time. I can say with my hand on my heart that I have yet to encounter a seller, or buyer on Etsy who does not have a perfect feedback rating. This is a credit to everyone working at Etsy and everyone selling or buying there as well. I am about to re-list some old favourites as well as some exciting new jewellery pieces in my shop and I am going to be promoting them on Twitter and anywhere else I can manage over the next week or so. I've also got a couple of new Treasury ideas up my sleeve which I'll be popping online some time in the near future. The pictures in this blog are largely of pieces you can expect to see very soon - a sneak preview, if you will! Pounce allows you to look at new sellers or shops which have just made a sale. There are so many ways of finding just what you are looking for on Etsy that I cannot recommend it highly enough for people looking for gifts this holiday season. I spent several happy hours the other day looking at all of the snow-related items that came up on pounce and created this little Treasury to show them. And if you are looking for individual, local jewellery then you can always have a peek at my shop as well! Vick. @vclinde

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Stopping by Words on a Snowy Evening

I read the wonderful Blake Charlton’s blog yesterday and it reminded me of something I wrote back in 2003. Mr. Charlton wrote a poem entitled ‘The Second Book’ as homage (in his words "mash up") to W.B. Yeats’ poem ‘The Second Coming’.
Below is something similar that I wrote when I was sixteen-ish. A friend and I were emailing each other at some ungodly hour of the morning and rather than revising as we should have been we exchanged homage/parodies of well-known poems. My friend began with Poe’s ‘The Raven’ and I countered with my version of ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ by Robert Frost.
Amazingly this piece has managed to survive each computer change since 2003 and the parody method has been a staple of my writing/playing-with-words ever since.
Whose words these are, I think I know. His ideas sourced from others though; He does not sense my writing here To follow phrases he did show.
My little laptop thinks it's queer To stop mid sentence, oops, oh dear Between the comma and full stop A truly awful pause, I fear.
She gives her Windows' bells a shake To ask if I am still awake. The only other sound's the noise That nearby aeroplanes must make.
My bed looks lovely, I need sleep. But I have homework to complete, And much to do before it's light, And much to do before it's light.
And the other one I wrote that night was a very odd version of ‘Weathers’ by Thomas Hardy!
Vick. @vclinde

Sunday, 7 November 2010

weekend wanders

After traipsing around the country during the week I managed to stay close to home during the weekend but there was still much fun to be had. Saturday was the Alt.fiction/Writing East Midlands/Tor UK event - Other Worlds at the Derby Quad. There were fewer people than I was expecting and yet because everyone was so friendly there I still managed to meet lovely new friends as well as catching up with people. It was really well organised and there were many interesting discussions as well as good-humoured squabbles over whether science fiction or fantasy is better (the latter, obviously). The Tor authors were great and it was fab listening to them via workshop, panels and discussions. At the end of the day I won a fantastic raffle prize from Tor after it had been (uber-generously) returned to the pot once before. I have a year of Tor books to read which I am super excited about so a very very big thank-you to Tor! Sunday has been about Autumn. I've been working on some new pieces to pop onto Etsy (including the Venetian blue necklace in the picture) which always seems to be a big deal in the run up to the holidays. Jewellery sales have a boost twice a year, once is near Valentines Day and the other is around Christmas. Commercial - yes. Hallmark rather than real holidays - yes. Good for business - yes! I had a good potter about in the garden as well trying to see how the plants are faring and what the remaining veg is getting up to. Mostly this afternoon I have been driving around the South Derbyshire countryside, which is my favourite place to be when the leaves are turning. Vick. @vclinde

Friday, 5 November 2010

bonfire night

I've been lucky enough to spend most of my life living with a great view from at least one window. Sadly I moved to London about six years ago where I lived for most of it in a basement flat looking out at the not-quite-darkness of London smoggy nights and no stars. I'm a country girl, can you tell? I've more or less moved back to Derbyshire with a very large portion of my possessions being brought up in the last couple of days. After two days of packing and unpacking I was treated to a clear night and beautiful fireworks. Pictures below.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

after an extended absence

I've been rather absent from the internet as a whole for the past week or so. There has been a lot going on. Most of it personal and not for airing on here but I have been doing some fun things to counter-act all of the stress and I thought I would share the more pleasant parts of the past ten days. There have been a lot of great reads on the food blogs recently. I blame the fact that the nights are getting darker, the shops are filling up with wintery foods and for the Americans it is nearly Thanksgiving. So here are my favourites: 1. Every time I turn my computer on the very first thing I read is Paris Breakfasts. Whenever Carol writes about something I want to go there/see it/eat it etc. and this one is her report from Salon du Chocolat. Bliss. 2. This is not a new post from the Pioneer Woman, Ree but the thought of making this amazing baked French toast has kept the warmth in my toes these cold autumnal days! 3. One of my favourite cake shops Bea's of Bloomsbury has opened a second location at One New Change and to add to the excitement she has been keeping people up to date on the new shop via Twitter. Much fun, and cakes. 4. Not one post, but many. Cannelle et Vanille is a beautiful site which is always a joy to read. 5. I've been reading The Bitten Word for a long, long time now and I love their idea of putting all of the food magazines they buy to good use. This post is not solely about food though. Zach and Clay got married and proved that foodies do everything in style! I've also been reading a lot. There has been a lot of sitting around and waiting which is something I completely suck at! I knit, sew and cross-stitch as well as having a great knack for talking to strangers for hours. But mostly I read and at the moment this is what I've had my nose stuck into: 1. Mark Chadbourn's series 'The Age of Misrule'. These are clever and entertaining as well as being well written but the thing that always gets me are the characters, I completely love them. 2. 'The Magicians' by Lev Grossman. I had read hugely mixed reviews of this book and I can tell why after finishing it. I really loved the first two thirds but the last part just didn't grab me in the same way. Still, very glad I read it and I will certainly be reading it again. 3. The 'Gone' series by Michael Grant. These are brilliant books about a world where everyone over the age of 15 suddenly vanishes. As soon as I finished the first I grabbed the second. Intense, gripping and wonderful. 4. Not a book but an online biography. John Fugelsang being hugely entertaining as he lists fifteen facts about himself. 5. Dark Fiction Magazine. It's new. It's fab. No more reasons needed. Other things that have been in my line of sight have included the following... 1. These peacock fairy wings by Gobbolino are AMAZING. 2. My wonderful friend Anna Popovich has just released her new A/W collection and it is gorgeous. With a capital Gorgeous. 3. I really want this watch by Christiaan van der Klaauw. I will need about four lifetimes to save up for it though! 4. I've been working on my jewellery as well. (Some of it shown in the photo!) Looking at all of the fun things I've seen/read/done makes it all seem better. Hope everyone else out there is having a smashing time also. Vick. @vclinde

Saturday, 23 October 2010

generations of be-ro

The little be-ro cookbook has been the staple recipe book for baking in generations of my family. It is the alpha & omega of baking. All the best pastry, cake, bun, pudding etc. recipes have been adapted from the basic be-ro wonders. The cookbook on the left is my mother's, the maroon one in the centre belonged to my grandmother and the blue one on the right is mine. The recipes are almost exactly the same in all three and they make truly wonderful cakes. So, instead of posting the recipe I used to make rock cakes this morning I am doing a shout-out to Be-Ro who can always be relied upon to make a great cake when you cannot be bothered/don't want to make up a new recipe. You can even write to Be-Ro (at the same address as for the cookbook) and they will send you free advice on home baking. My kind of people! To send off for a Be-Ro cookbook, or send a cheque/postal-order for £1.50 to The Be-Ro Kitchen, PO Box 100, Blackburn, Lancs, BB01GR Vick. @vclinde

Thursday, 21 October 2010

green tomato jam


This is a very pic 'n' mix recipe from various sources, unfortunately from before I started keeping records so I can't attribute properly. It is slow but in a weekend sort of a way rather than a rushing around trying to finish way. The result is very sweet with a unique but yummy flavour and a great cheese accompaniment. 


Green Tomato Jam. 5lbs green tomatoes 1kilo sugar 1 lemon 1 lime 4 cardamom pods star anise Wash, de-seed and finely chop the green tomatoes. (Probably should be done in stages as it's pretty labour intensive) Pop the chopped tomatoes into a preserving pan. To de-seed the tomatoes cut them in half through the 'stalk' and then cut around the central stalk of each half lifting out the seeds with it. Add the sugar and the juice from the lemon and the lime to the tomatoes. Once the fruit has been juiced chop the flesh and place into a spice bag with the cardamom and anise and add to the pan as well. Leave for about 12 hours to infuse and for the water to be drawn out of the tomatoes.

Remove the spice bag and discard. Bring to the boil and cook on a low heat for 30 minutes and then leave to infuse for two hours. Put back on a medium-high heat and keep on a rolling boil until setting point has been reached. To check for setting point drop a little of the jam onto a cold plate, if a skin forms after 20 seconds then the jam is ready. 

Bottle into sterilised jam jars. It is ready to eat straight away.


cold day at calke abbey

This time of year I always end up spending a lot of time in National Trust properties before they all close for the winter. The closest one to where I am currently living is Calke Abbey which is a reasonably pretty house set in stunning grounds. The gardens are always worth looking around, whatever the time of year. It is well cared for and has a hugely interesting range of plants, both flowers and vegetables. My favourite part is the drive up to the house from the road which is lined with trees and varies from a vivid green to deep gold depending on seasonal changes. Oh, and they have cows! The house itself has some beautiful rooms although the pictures are rather rubbish because neither flash nor tripods are allowed inside. They are doing some fascinating restoration in the library as well. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon! Vick. @vclinde

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Today I miss: Philadelphia

I went to Philadelphia in the winter of 2008 and had such a great time I was even interviewed about it later on. I was only in the city for a few short days but I spent all of my time walking around and seeing as much as possible.

My top five things about Philadelphia.

1. Rodin Museum This is the main reason that Philadelphia was on my list of places to see while I was in America. I am a huge Rodin fan and the museum, although small is wonderful.

2. Mrs K's I had breakfast here on my last morning in the city. Great food, and more importantly, great people. I was the only tourist in the place and people were super friendly and talkative. This place can be found at 325 Chestnut Street if you're in the area.

(Clearly, I forgot to take a picture of this one, so you've got a view of the city from City Hall looking down Benjamin Franklin Parkway instead)

3. New City Hall This was recommended to me by a ranger I met at the Liberty Bell. You can go all the way up the tower and get an amazing view of the city below. It only costs $5 and when I went I was the only person up there. The guide was fantastic and pointed out all of the sights across the city. I would recommend this as something to do to start with so that you can get your bearings and see what you want to do with the rest of the time in the city. It's also right next door to the Masonic Hall which is a geometrical wonder of architectural weirdness and well worth a look at.

4. The Library This is a great building even if you don't want to go and read anything when you are there. I almost always go to the library when I visit a new city and Philadelphia was one of the best that I saw while I was in the States. The statue outside (pictured) is the Shakespeare Memorial. Once inside, straight in front of you is a stunning staircase. The whole library was wonderful to wander around and the people who worked there were brilliantly helpful. They recently survived an attempt to close the libraries to save money and so are even more deserving of support and a great example to the UK of how much libraries really matter to people.

5. Independence Hall Okay, it may be very touristy and when I was there the obligatory hoard of school-children were blundering around but I am a politics graduate. I had to go. It was in fact very interesting and all of the staff around there are great. You can easily do Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Congress Hall and the Old City Hall. The buildings themselves are much more worthy of your time than the visitor centres which were disappointingly twee and uninformative. Probably a lot more appealing if you have kids though.

I also feel that I should point out the wonderful hostel I stayed in while I was there. I met some great people and the staff were helpful and good fun. I stayed in a 28 person room and it didn't feel at all over-populated.

Vick. @vclinde