Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Bead Workshop has opened it's doors!

My studio, nestled in the heart of Merivale, Christchurch, is the first stop on YOUR creative journey! If you've ever fancied learning how to make glass beads, handmade sterling silver chain or a piece of jewellery, come and see me! All my workshops are one-to-one, with materials included. Check out for course details.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The 7.1 Collection is now online!

The 7.1 Collection has launched and is now online at

My hands, head, brain has not stopped for the past few weeks in preparation for the big 7.1 Collection launch! It has been crazy, I have had a TV crew and the local rag reporter in my workshop, meetings with retailers, interviews with lifestyle and jewellery magazines, and amongst all of this, have found time to create 26 masterpieces! (Big thanks to Linda, my mum and fellow jeweller, for sending some awesome pieces over the ponds!)

So where did the idea for the 7.1 Collection come from?
Well, on September 4th at 4.34am, I was awoken by mother nature's bumpy old fairground ride and believe me, there was no getting away from it! A 7.1 magnitude earthquake had hit Christchurch! I felt incredibly fortunate to have endured this powerful force of nature with absolutely no damage to myself or my things. However, when I stepped out of the front door, I quickly realised not everyone had shared my luck.  There was carnage, some buildings were missing roofs and many shops were in turmoil. I felt compelled to use my skills as a jewellery designer to produce a collection, not only to mark this event but to make a contribution to the earthquake appeal and help the victims of this ordeal. 7.1% from the sales will be donated to the Canterbury Earthquake Appeal.

The 7.1 Collection is symbolic of the events, emotions and changes I has seen in Christchurch since the earthquake. A  theme running throughout the collection is circles, representing the earth’s recurring tremors and aftershocks. One of the pieces in the collection is named 'After Shock 5.0' after one of the bigger shakes we have witnessed in the 1000+ aftershocks that have occurred over the last 7 weeks.

I have used vibrant semi-precious gemstones, such as Turquoise, Coral and Smokey Quartz juxtaposed with raw stones such as Lava to  represent the contrasting cityscape and the changes that have happened to it. Natural materials such as vegetable ivory, wood, shells and coconut also feature throughout the collection as well.

Christchurch Rocks Necklace
I have spent a huge amount of time making sterling silver chains, all of which have been cut, hammered, soldered and polished in my workshop, to represent the spirit and strength of the Christchurch community that have come together during this time of adversity. 
My jewellery is definitely truly inspired by my life experiences and adventures!!

On October 21st was the opening preview of the collection, held at No 4 in Merivale, Christchurch. It was a successful evening, with great support and documentation.

I would like to thank Hannah Ritchie for all her help and her photography skills at the launch, Emily Parker, a local and talented photographer who did wonders on my publicity shot and to No 4 for providing a great atmosphere and nice beer!

The collection can be viewed online at

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kumeu Art in the Garden

Chill out in a garden, listen to live music & look at ma jewels...


I will be exhibiting pieces from the Spirit Midas Jewellery Collection at Kumeu Art in the Garden, Auckland. NZ. 



Venue: Dragonfly House, 130 Muriwai Valley Road, Waimauku. NZ
Exhibition Times: Saturday 6th / Sunday 7th November 2010. 10am-4pm

This event is one of New Zealand’s leading and fastest growing art in the garden events, a festival over two days showing almost 100 of New Zealand’s fast improving, most sought after and talented Artists and Sculptors within the gallery of four of Kumeu’s award winning gardens.


Tickets are $20. Click here to buy online. 


See you there!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Mother Nature Strikes Again...

I must be jinxed (and lucky)... Firstly, I narrowly escape the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004 Thailand and now, the Christchurch Earthquake, 7.4 on the Richter Scale. Mother Nature isn't joking when she shows up!

At 4.35am this morning, I was dazed and confused as I awoke to everything in my house violently shaking,  my first thought....discombobulated, my second, earthquake!
After an intense few minutes and many more tremors, I got up!  Fortunately there was very little damage to my house but I quickly released how fortunate I really was, when I stepped out of the front door.  It was carnage, some building were missing roofs and big cracks were visible, one shop in particular had lost a whole side and many other shops were in turmoil.

A particularly distressing sight came when I peered into the window of  REAL Gallery and saw many beautiful pieces of art smashed into a thousand pieces, littered all over the floor! There were a couple of Peter Viesnik's wonderful glasses in the rubble, what a waste....

It was only yesterday that I was chatting about insurance and how I must insure my work, after all, work on consignment is not necessarily covered by the gallery.  This is a good example of what CAN happen and if your work is not insured, that's many, many hours down the drain. This is a kick up the arse for me to get on and organise insurance for my jewellery. I will post my insurance findings up here shortly!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Brand New Spirit Midas Jewellery Collection is launched today!

The new summer 2010 Collection from Spirit Midas is now available online
Spirit Midas artisans, Holly and Linda Budge, have officially launched their new range for the southern Summer 2010.

Unique and offbeat, this thoroughly modern Collection takes it's cues from the fluctuating rhythms and paradoxes of nature's  five elements - Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Space. The result is bold and independent designs that run the length of the Collection.

To receive your special 10% discount off all Spirit Midas Jewellery, simply enter the following code at our online checkout: 10launch
* This offer is valid until 10.09.10

You can view our latest Collection online at

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tear Drop Bracelet In The Press...

Thanks to the Pocket Rockets Exhibition, held this week in Dunedin, the Tear Drop bracelet from our Spirit Midas Water Collection has made it's way into two local publications - The Otago Daily Times & D-Scene magazine. The bracelet was sold today, after a man read about it in the paper and went to the exhibition to purchase it for his wife! What a nice chap!

Tear Drop Bracelet
D-Scene - 04/08/10

The Otago Daily Times -29/07/10

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pocket Rockets Exhibition in full swing!

Last night, the Pocket Rockets Exhibition launched with a bang! Over 250 small artworks, from 41 New Zealand artists are now on show at the ROCDA Gallery in Dunedin. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area!  I would love to have made it to the opening night but unfortunately Air New Zealand made me think twice about that, with a whopping $450 air fare to get from Taupo to Dunedin! What happened to last minute cheap fares??

I would like to say a big Thankyou to Tanya Dann for all her hard work in bringing the Pocket Rockets Exhibition to life. It looks superb!

I have exhibited 12 pieces from my Spirit Midas Collection (below).
The whole collection can be viewed at

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pocket Rockets Exhibition

I am very excited about exhibiting twelve of my latest jewellery designs in the Pocket Rockets Exhibition.  Over 40 NZ artists, including Isla Osborne, Peter Viesnik and Lisa-Jane Hervey will be exhibiting paintings, jewellery, sculpture, glass art, textiles and a whole lot more!

Venue: ROCDA Gallery, 73 Princes Street, Dunedin
Opening: Monday 2nd August, 5:30pm - 8pm
Exhibition Open: Mon - Fri 11am - 6pm and Sat 11am - 3pm

See you there!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The New Zealand Jewellery Show Highlights!

Last Thursday, I attended the opening gala preview of the New Zealand Jewellery Show, held in the Sky Tower, Auckland. The show, now in its fifth year, is an exhibition of New Zealand jewellery designers' work showcasing top contemporary and fine jewellery designers from throughout the country. The doors opened at 8pm to a world of stunning contemporary and fine jewellery exhibits. It was great chatting with the artists whilst viewing their jewellery.  At 10pm it was all over and I had covered less than half the room! I returned the following morning to finish off perusing. There was such a variety of styles and materials, I felt inspired but overwhelmed by the time I left! I spent most of my time in the Contemporary Jewellery Designers section and I was so impressed by some of the work, I have noted below which pieces really stood out for me.

Sophie Lewis-Smith
Claudia Jaffe
Iain Henderson

Monique Connell
Marty Jestin

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Part 2: Setting Up My Glass Studio - The Elusive Kiln

Do I need a kiln?
I spent some time deliberating over whether I needed a kiln straight away, as it was another big outlay of my hard-earned cash and I was able to make beads just fine using vermiculite and a fibre blanket.
Or so I thought... I then learn't that if I wanted to sell my beads, they would definitely need to be annealed in a kiln. The next question I faced was, which kiln?

If so, which kiln?
My first consideration was cost and my second, space. You couldn't swing a big cat in my studio, so I wanted a compact kiln, that could sit next to my workbench.  After trawling through websites and chatting with manufacturers, I decided the Paragon SC2 was just the ticket.  It was compact, affordable and has a digital controller built in. The next decision was where to buy the kiln from. I contacted the Paragon USA factory and got a quote for shipping to New Zealand. I also contacted Cindy Durant, a Paragon distributor in Australia, who had come recommended. Cindy's quote for one Paragon SC2 kiln, shipped to New Zealand was the most competitive, so I ordered through her. The NZ customs charges came to $128NZD. The total cost of the kiln came to about $1200NZD.

It was an exciting way to start the day when I opened the front door and a massive parcel was sitting on the doorstep.  I felt like a small child opening a Christmas present! I was now the proud owner of a kiln! I quickly skipped through the manual, wanting to know how everything worked immediately! That is a trait I seem to have, I always want to run before I can walk!

How does it work?
I emailed Lisa-Jane at Bord to Bead for some advice on firing programmes, after all I had absolutely no idea what temperature soft glass fires at and at what rate it needs to cool etc...
Lisa-Jane suggested the following programme's;

Programme:  #1 - Soft Glass Bead Annealing (Hot Beads)

Segment 1
Ramp Rate: FULL (999°C/1799°F)
Temperature: 515°C / 959°F
Soak Time: 3.30 hours or session duration
Segment 2
Ramp Rate: 315°C /599°F
Temperature: 200°C / 392°F
Soak Time: 0 mins

Programme:  #2 - Soft Glass Bead Annealing (Cold Beads)

Segment 1
Ramp Rate: 330°C / 626°F
Temperature: 515°C / 959°F
Soak Time: 30 mins
Segment 2
Ramp Rate: 315°C /599°F
Temperature: 200°C / 392°F
Soak Time: 0 mins

I turned the kiln on with nervous excitement! I entered in programme 1 and pressed start.
The first thing I noticed was how quickly the kiln 'ramped up' to 515°C. It took about 5 minutes!! The second thing I noticed was the smell. It stank out my whole house with a gas-like smell. I thought I was going to have to put it outside permanently. Fortunately it was only this first time that it did this, so it now lives next to my workbench. The third thing I noticed was when it reached 515°C, it turned itself off! Not ideal. I tried restarting it, changing the programme around, re-reading the manual in a little more detail, changing sockets etc... This was a very disappointing start but another lesson was learn't - Don't plug your kiln into a shared socket! (If you have two sockets in the same fitting, only use one) It doesn't like sharing and simply turns itself off. So now the kiln has a socket all to itself and works perfectly.

Another tip, don't forget to order a kiln mandrel rack when you order the kiln. I forgot!  I couldn't wait, I wanted to start using the kiln right away so I used the fire brick holders as a make-shift rack. This worked fine but not as a long term solution as they did fall over quite often and limited the amount of mandrels I could fit in. I ordered my kiln mandrel rack from Annie Rose and it does the job properly.

At the end of my bead making session, I always want to have a quick peep at my beads! I have to stop myself though or else I may end up with more cracked beads. I have been taking my beads out of the kiln when they are around 50°C. I have been told this is fine BUT they should not be put in water straight away. They need to cool to room temperature first. This may seem obvious but in the  excitement it is tempting to take them off the mandrel and start cleaning. This advice has saved me a few beads I'm sure!

If you have any kiln tips you would like to share, I would be very interested in hearing them!

Part 3: Setting up an extraction system...coming soon!

Part 1: Setting Up My Glass Studio - Choosing A Torch

After six days of lampworking, I knew I wanted to set up my own studio (below) to make beads at my leisure and begin to sell them online, as well as incorporate them into my current jewellery designs. With my very limited experience and indeed knowledge, setting up my studio seemed a daunting task! Which torch should I buy? Which kiln? Should I use oxygen bottles or an Oxycon system? What kind of extraction fan? How will I know if the air I am extracting is being replaced sufficiently? etc... etc...

I did some research in books and online, reading forum posts and various articles but I was surprised at how much time it took me to feel confident I had gained a reasonable understanding of what was on offer. I guess this is because we all have different preferences and ultimately there is no right and wrong. Anyway, I am going to share what I have learn't in the process of setting up my studio, what equipment I have brought and what I would change in hindsight.  Hopefully this will be useful to those of you starting out, facing the same hurdles as I did.

Choosing a torch

I did some extensive research into which torch I was going to purchase. I talked with several experienced lampworkers and suppliers to get a better idea of the options available to me.
This is what I found...

Single-Fuel Torch
  • Smaller start-up investment
  • Cooler flame allowing slower work pace
  • Sarah Hornik uses one! 
  • Slow to melt glass
  • Noisy
  • Uses up fuel quickly

Dual-Fuel Torch 
  • Hotter flame
  • Glass melts quicker, so faster production times
  • Adjustable flame for glass reactions and fine detail work
  • Higher start-up investment and maintenance costs
  • More complex torch, steeper learning curve
  • Harder to transport and move around with
Which torch?

I brought the Nortel Minor Burner dual-fuel torch (£175) as I was impressed at how quickly it melted the glass and as i'm a speed freak, this appealed to me. I was also told it was a great torch for those starting out in. I am using an oxygen bottle set up in my studio, which I operate between  5 to 15 psi and the propane at .25 to 5 psi. Ultimately, I would like to run an oxy-con system as it is more economical in the longer run. 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Twist of Fate...

Isn't it funny how events and meetings happen at certain times and in hindsight, it looks as though it all happened for a very particular reason. In my case - learning how to make glass beads! I have been making jewellery for over a decade, trawling through markets and bead fairs around the world to find beautiful gemstones and glass beads and creating jewellery collections which I have sold in galleries and showcased in exhibitions.

The beginning of my glass journey... 

One fine summer morning in February, I was surfing on the net in a random fashion, letting one website lead me to another, when I stumbled across this glass artist who was making the most divine looking rings. I googled her name, found her website and discovered many more stunning pieces of her work and links to other glass artists.
Eventually I discovered the infamous Sarah Hornik's website and was blown away with the quality and style of her beads. I spent some time reading through her website and felt inspired to learn how to make glass beads.

I googled 'glass beadmaking' in New Zealand and landed on the Born to Bead website, a glass studio based in Auckland. On closer inspection, I couldn't believe my luck and the coincidence of it,  Sarah Hornik was coming to New Zealand in May to run two workshops!! What a result!
I knew immediately that despite having no experience of making glass beads, I was going to sign up for the intermediate/ advanced Sarah Hornik course! I called the Born to Bead Studio and Lisa Jane Harvey, the owner and resident artist suggested I do a two day beginners course in preparation for Sarah's workshop.
Lisa-Jane is a great teacher and I was fortunate enough to have her one-on-one for two full days, teaching me the basics and more. When I had finished the course, it dawned on me just how much there is to learn about working with glass, colour reactions, heat control etc etc... It also dawned on me that I would be doing four days with Sarah Hornik in less than a month away and I would have little time to practice my new skills, as I was flying back to the UK the next day and arriving back in NZ the following month, the day before Sarah's course! Nothing like cutting it fine!

The Sarah Hornik Workshop

When I arrived, I introduced myself to the other seven ladies attending and it soon became apparent to me that they all had a minimum of two years lampworking experience! ekkk....
I shared a torch with Sarah (see below - I am in black!) , which worked out really well as I was able to see her demo's very clearly and take lots of notes! I was surprised at first how well I was keeping up and my beads were actually turning out pretty good. I thought maybe this was beginners luck... I soon got my confidence up and very quickly, I was loving it and achieving results. 

In hindsight, doing the two day course with Lisa-Jane was invaluable and her precise style and meticulous way of working gave me a good grounding. Sarah's beads and teaching style is much more organic and I soon realised this was a style I felt comfortable working in. I like the unknown element of making organic beads, especially when you take them out of the kiln and they are completely different than you expected! (Sometimes this is not a good thing!)

My brand new studio
With only six days of lampworking under my belt,  I felt driven and inspired to carry on working with glass. I decided to bite the bullet, leaving a substantial dent in my bank balance and brought a Minor torch and a Paragon SC2 Kiln. I figured if I was going to do this, I wanted to do it properly and have the best equipment that I could afford. I now lampwork everyday and already I am working on my own collection and style. Lisa -Jane from Born to Bead has been a great help and given me some good advice. 

Award-winning beadmaker! 
I joined the NZGBA (New Zealand Glass Bead Association) and recently won the Beginners category in the annual National Bead Competition, with a bead I made on my first day (below), with less than five hours torch time!

What's next?

I have been accepted as one of four jewellers to showcase my work at the Pocket Rockets Exhibition, held in August in Dunedin, NZ. 
I am going to use this space to share my personal discovery of glass. Stay tuned!