Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Velvet Onyx!

Onyx is one of the multitude of semi precious gemstones and although mostly thought of as predominantly black stone, actually comes a variety of colours, although when we mention of Onyx, most people will be thinking of the deep inky black velvety variety.
Onyx is a variety of Chalcedony and typical colours can be black, grey, white, blue, brown, yellow, red and green. Some Onyx also displays white bands or ribbons against a black or brown background and again, this variety is known as Sardonyx.
Onyx is associated with the star signs of Gemini and Leo, although this is not the official birthstone.

Onyx is often given for a 7th Wedding Anniversary. I often wonder if this is to do with the phenomenon of the ‘7 year itch’ as Onyx is thought to increase regeneration, happiness, intuition and instincts. It is also said to decrease sexual desire and to aid in changing bad habits. LOL!

On the other hand it is said to also promote vigour, steadfastness and stamina, so to sides to the coin so to speak.
Onyx is quite a hard and sturdy gemstone, measuring 7 on the moh scale and has a ‘trigonal’ crystalline structure. It can be carved and polished into beautiful shapes and makes wonderful cabochons, which is often how it is used rather than facetted, although this is not unheard of.
This semi-precious gemstone can be found in a wide variety of locations around the world and is mined in Brazil, India, California and Uruguay.
Onyx was very popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans. The name comes from the Greek word onux, meaning fingernail. The story is that one day “Cupid cut the divine fingernails of Venus with an arrowhead while she was sleeping. He left the clippings scattered on the sand and the fates turned them into stone so that no part of the heavenly body would ever perish.”
True, black isn't normally the colour we associate with fingernails, not unless you are a seven year old boy of course.  But in Greek times, almost all colours of chalcedony from white to dark brown and black were called Onyx.  Today when we think of Onyx we often preface the word with black to distinguish it from other varieties of Onyx. Later, the Romans narrowed the term "onyx" to refer to black and dark brown colours only.

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For those that believe in physical or healing properties of stones, onyx is thought to be a strength-giving stone, good for athletes or people under extreme mental and emotional stress. Onyx banishes grief, enhances self-control and stimulates the power of wise decision-making.  It encourages happiness and good fortune.
Onyx has been worn at times of mourning for this reason and if you do believe in stone properties it might be useful those undertaking exams or driving lessons.
“Onyx gives strength.  Imparts self-confidence, helping you to be at ease in your surroundings.”
It is believed to bring balance and strength to mind and body. Onyx is thought to help ground and focus your attention. A strengthening stone that can help you approach a lesson or task with greater self-confidence.

With physical healing it is used to treat disorders of the bones, bone marrow and blood.  It is beneficial for teeth and the feet! Top to tail then!
It is thought to be particularly helpful with skin ailments, healing infected wounds as well as fungal infections, inflammation and even sunburn.  As we approach the warmer weather, I checked to see what the ‘instructions’ were for sunburn an it said:

‘Pat the affected skin with onyx water several times during the day and cover with an onyx water compress at night’
Onyx water is water that has had an onyx stone sitting within it.

I am not personally guaranteeing these properties of Onyx, I just adore this gemstone for its deep rich texture and I am not the only one, on Folksy there were some prepared to provide items in this very precious stone.

If you would like a closer look at the wonderful items featured, please click on the pictures to be transported to their locations in their particular Folksy shops. Thank you.


Thank you to Natalie of NOfkants Curios for this interesting post.!

Monday, 28 June 2010

Busy Times!

I always expect that, now my children are older, the usual headlong rush to the end of the academic year will, in some way, be lessened. Incorrect - and I should now that by now.

My son has finished his GCSE's and most of his D of E silver award. However, last Friday was his school prom., he has been at World Jamboree preparation camp all week-end and in school today to set up the sound and light systems for this evening's music concert. He did manage to wear a dinner suit on Friday, and managed to work out how to use cuff-links. Quite an achievement for the 16 year old who lives in jeans or cycle shorts!

His sister had Scouts on Friday, came to a stop-over folk party with us, in the van, at the weekend, has a music lesson in a few minutes, and then plays in the concert after a head-long rush back to school ( eight miles away!). Tomorrow I have Brownies. Next week-end they are both camping with Scouts and then the week-end after my daughter leaves in the early hours for a week-long school trip to Normandy and Paris. Oh and she has a percussion exam tomorrow afternoon which means missing the sprints for sports day. I'm tired if they are not!

So, I'm afraid there is little time for blogging. Just a reminder that tomorrow's post will be another from my guest blogger Natalie of NOfkants Curios - Onyx this week!

Friday, 25 June 2010

The Big Picture - further examples, Folksy Friday No. 15

Today's Folksy Friday is a natural extension of yesterday's blog.  The items are chosen to illustrate the similarities in design between many items of mosaic, stained glass and textile work. I have been finding inspiration in both stained glass and mosaics for my recent work.

Click on any item to view it in its Folksy shop. I hope you like my choices.

Cate Taylor Mosaics Cherished Stained Glass
Diomo Glass Quilting Demon
The Mosaic Garden Dichroic Dazzle

Cate Taylor Mosaics
Cherished Stained Glass
Diomo Glass
Quilting Demon
The Mosaic Garden
Dichroic Dazzle


Thursday, 24 June 2010

The Big Picture...

... from small parts - so many similarities!

I have, for as long as I can remember, been interested in both stained glass designs (although not so much the church window variety) and mosaics. I have also had a near-lifelong ( and I'm not telling you how many years that is!) love of patchwork and applique.

In stained glass work, designs are composed of smaller pieces of glass, each framed by the 'leading', necessary to hold each piece in place. Whereas, in mosaic work, pieces are adhered to a backing, the border between the pieces provided by the grouting. Glass may be textured, coloured, opaque ( to different degrees), patterned, iridescent, in sheet form or 'nuggets'. It is immediately obvious now, to anyone who knows anything about stained glass work that I know very little - and certainly do not have the correct vocabulary - please bear with me. 'Leading' may be 'lead coloured', copper, zinc etc and may be in its original 'colour', may be allowed to age, or may be given a different appearance by the use of applied patinas. I like this example from Diomoglass on Folksy:

Mosaics may be composed of ceramic tiles produced for the purpose, or cut/broken pieces of ceramic tiles. The tiles may be textured, patterned, heavily glazed. The surrounding grout may be any colour imaginable. Mosaics may also be composed of natural materials - pebbles, shells etc.

Now everything starts to blur into one lovely continuum. Mosaics may be made of pieces of glass, and stained glass work may incorporate many other materials, as in these two examples from Amyorangejuice on Folksy:

Further examples of Amy's mixed media work can be found at www.amyorangejuice.co.uk .

The particular relevance of this to my preferred 'medium' of textiles? Patchwork is, inherently, a whole made from small parts. In general these 'parts' are butted up to each other without an equivalent of grouting or leading. However, in crazy patchwork, the seam is often heavily embellished with embroidery stitches. Stained glass patchwork involves the stitching of narrow (often black) tape around the boundaries between the pieces - simulating leading. My own recent designs, which are 'stained glass inspired' are composed by applique onto a black background. My fabric may be patterned, textured, translucent, iridescent, etc. My grout, or leading may be any colour I choose. My work will usually be 'flat-ish'. However if I want a more raised profile I embellish with - embroidery, beads, buttons, sequins, encapsulation of almost any item (shells etc) by embroidery or sheer fabrics, etc. I could also enhance the profile by the use of quilting and if I want certain areas to be particularly 'raised' the use of trapunto quilting. This is a brooch which I recently sold on Folksy:

Obviously, stained glass work and mosaics lend themselves to the production of items with a rigid structure - coasters, suncatchers and the like. Whereas my textile crafts produce soft and flexible items. There are many cross over points though. Artists in all these media produce - coasters, wall hangings, jewellery, pot stands etc. Another aspect which I appreciate - all these techniques provide a natural opportunity to recycle materials.

For me the fascination is not in the similarity of the items which are produced but in the design influences  and flavours which I can borrow from these other traditions.


Now I have described this brooch as 'stained glass inspired', beautiful bright colours against a black background:

Whereas, I describe this one as 'reminiscent of mosaic', blues and whites - from re-cycled ceramics perhaps!


Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Royal Ruby!

Ruby is one of the official Precious stones and a red gemstone variety of Corundum, which also includes sapphire, therefore sapphire which can be any colour, not just the traditional blue is always called a sapphire until it become red and is then known as Ruby.

Ruby is the birth stone for July and is traditionally given for 40th Wedding Anniversary and for 40th Birthdays, if you are very, very lucky!

This beautiful gemstone is often given as a sign of love and devotion, due to its deep red hues, and is seen as the stone of love and passion! Also said to impart courage!
Ruby is one of the hardest gemstones, measuring 9 on the moh scale, Diamonds, which are the hardest measure 10, so Ruby is very hard wearing!
This precious gemstone can be found in a wide variety of locations around the world and are mined in Africa, Asia, Australia, and Greenland. They are most often found in Sri Lanka, Kenya, Madagascar and Thailand, though they have also been found in the U.S. states of Montana and South Carolina.

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For those that believe in physical or healing properties of stones Ruby is believed to encourage passion and a zest for life, improve motivation and setting of realistic goals.  Balances the heart and instils confidence.  It is also said that Ruby encourages joy, spontaneity, laughter and courage, which all sounds wonderfully uplifting!
The believed health benefits include that it is said to promote positive dreams, help to overcome exhaustion and lethargy and calms hyperactivity. Those that believe in its romantic qualities, also say that it imparts potency and vigour, so is said to be a good stone to have with you when trying for a baby. 
In more detail the health benefits of Ruby include that it is said to detoxify the body, blood and lymphatic system.  It treats fevers, infectious disease and restricted blood flow, stimulates the adrenals, kidneys, reproductive organs and spleen. So it seems that Ruby is just about good for everything!
I am not personally guaranteeing these properties of Ruby, I just adore the stone and I am not the only one, on Folksy there were some prepared to provide items in this very precious stone, in both polished and facetted state and also where Ruby is still encapsulated within another stone such as in Zoisite, as the final two feature items show.

If you would like a closer look at the wonderful items featured, please click on the pictures to be transported to their locations in their particular Folksy shops. Thank you.

Once again Thank you to Natalie of Nofkants Curios for this post. Next Tuesday's blog will be all about Onyx.

Monday, 21 June 2010


...Beacons etc.

The end of last week was a bit chaotic. It was very hot on Thursday and the kids started some almost interminable row about something trivial and neither would give ground. It took me all evening to broker peace, by which time I was exhausted and had not prepared for our week-end. Friday was no better. OH ill-advisedly stored levelling chocks in gas cupboard on van. Cupboard jammed and we were faced with a week-end with no gas - fridge/hob etc. Crawled underneath to look for ventillation pipe (quite an imaginative thought for me), blocked with grill against ingress of rodents and the like. Tried bent coat hanger through grill on door, considered taking pin out of hinge but uncertain whether I could tap it out (or replace it). OH remembered new service centre recently opened. Took van, handed over cupboard key - it opened without a hitch - drive there must  have shaken the obstruction loose. Now why didn't I think of finding a bumpy stretch of road in the beginning? Three hours later - still no packing done!

Almost gave up on going away. However, we made it. Dropped daughter at Scout Camp at Builth Wells and continued down to near Brecon. Camped with panoramic views, visited craft fair at Brecon, walked (me - son and OH cycled) along canal at Crug Howell, cooked and ate, met some nice people, collected daughter early Sunday afternoon and travelled back up north via the black and white villages near Leominster. One or two photos of view from site:

I also took quite a few photos as references for my flower brooches:


Thursday, 17 June 2010

Duck, duck.....

.......... squirrel??

My son needed to get himself and bike to local mountain biking centre to meet some of his Explorer Scouts (last Thursday - but I've been a bit busy). I'd forgotten he was going and wasn't organised. I was in 'full-nag'  mode about 'putting the bike in the car as quickly as possible'. I was looking for my walking boots to make as much use of the petrol and time as possible.

'What do you want me to do about the squirrel - its still throwing stones at me?'

Apparently this had been mentioned before and I had been dashing about too quickly to hear him. Squirrel turned out to be clinging by its claw ends to our rendered house wall, very close to the eaves outside 16 year old's bedroom window. It had probably arrived at that point by balancing along the incoming power line. A feat it, or one of its mates, has tried, unsuccessfully, before! It was above the back door and 'throwing' bits of render at anyone who emerged. Son had closed his bedroom window as a precaution - but others were still open. I closed them, shouted at squirrel, attached hose to tap and asked son to flush it off. Insufficient water pressure was our next problem - squirrel looked faintly amused!

Our neighbour was offering helpful suggestions which I couldn't quite hear above splashing water and insults aimed at squirrel. I walked across to the fence to talk to her and nearly trod on a duck which shot into the air with a strangled quack. Why a duck I have no idea. The nearest we had to a duck-sized pond was the small lake gathering as a result of our squirrel-eviction process.

The worst was yet to come. Two plaintive high-pitched squeeks, and two tiny blobs of fluffy feathers ran straight under the shed before I could gather my wits. Mother duck was in the paddock behind our shed shouting encouragement to them. That boundary has fine grade mesh on the fence as at least a partial barrier to the rabbits. Most of our garden is reasonably tidy, but the 6 inch space between the shed and the fence is full of nettles and brambles.

Son was banging and clattering, whilst balancing precariously on the compost bay and managed to flush one out. I caught it, very, VERY cute and so small I barely felt any weight to it. I passed it to daughter who  climbed into nextdoor's garden and poked it through their fence ( no wire mesh!) Re-united with its Mum they both shouted at its brother who was in complete panic. I eventually cornered it but it was very stressed and appeared to have died in my hands. I passed it my daughter, asking her to put it down quickly -it wasn't coping. Husband came home to find lake/step-ladder/hose by back door, daughter in nextdoor's garden in floods of tears, son charging round the house looking for cycle helmet and me muttering about 'mess' and 'squirrel' whilst running nextdoor-but-one to ask for flighty mare to be held whilst we entered paddock in search of mother duck. All he could say was 'why are you still here?'


( I should reassure you that, having taken son to cycle centre I found one spot, in which, whilst balanced on one foot leaning over a fence, there was a phone signal, and phoned home to find that horse's owner had reunited duckling with mother and it had revived, squirrel had been 'persuaded' to move by prodding with long garden cane!)

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Kool Kyanite

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(Click on any image to view the item in its Folksy shop)

Kool Kyanite!

Kyanite is an amazing gemstone with amazing arrays of blues from silvery blue tones to deep indigo blue, making this a very attractive stone and sometimes worn as an alternative to more expensive precious gemstone of Sapphire. It is a stone which immediately makes you feel calm and at ease!

Blue gemstones are often said to be the most sought after and popular colour for jewellery and as Kyanite is much more affordable than sapphire or aquamarine you can achieve the look for a fraction of the price.

The name Kyanite is comes from the Greek word Kyanos meaning blue, and it is an opaque stone composed of pink orthoclase feldspar, green epidote, and quartz. 
Kyanite has a polymorphic structure, meaning that it has two separate hardness’s within one gem and like Diamonds, Kyanite has perfect cleavage in one direction, this combined with its varying hardness makes Kyanite quite a challenging gem to cut.
This unusual semi-precious gemstone can be found in a wide variety of locations around the world, the best quality Kyanite can be found in the Kali Gandaki Region of West Central Nepal and Tibet. But deposits can also be found in Brazil, Kenya and the European Alps as well as parts of the USA.
For those that believe in physical or healing properties of stones, Kyanite is said to be a cleansing stone, to induce tranquillity and calm, so physically and mentally balancing stone. It is said enhance communication and psychic awareness and those that believe in mystical properties of gemstones, suggest Kyanite should be worn close to the throat promote the ability to speak more easily and express oneself more clearly.

For more physical health related concerns, Kyanite is almost the ear, nose and throat department of gemstone world, for those people who used Kyanite in healing, it is used to treat hearing disorders, eye ailments as well as issues with the sense of smell.

I am not personally guaranteeing these properties of Kyanite, I just adore the stone and I am not the only one, on Folksy I was spoilt for choice with a variety of Kyanite items to chose from to feature, both is it polished and facetted variety and in its beautiful natural state!


Thank you to Natalie of NOFkantsCurios for this post - the second in her series on minerals as my guest blogger!

Monday, 14 June 2010

I've just spent two hours.....

...... mopping the scout hut floor and tidying up for our AGM tonight ( just found two blisters on my right hand - not too impressed - I need my hands in good condition). I had a wonderful day on Saturday, exploring our local Scout Camp site with my Brownies. Two of the little ones told me they had never been away from their mums for so log before - I felt quite honoured.

We went under/over/through on a quite large (for them ) assault course, did a Big Art Attack, treasure hunt, fabric painted designs on pockets which I will stitch onto beach bags for them (obviously my Brownies DO CRAFT!!!),  made their own supper (salad dressings - we had practised indoors, prepared salad, fruit salad, melted chocolate), my son cooked sausages and burgers for them.

They then had dampers and toasted marshmallows at the campfire. Unfortunately, I missed some of that 'cos I was trying to clear our site. I did hear my son trying to lead some standard Scouts camp fire songs - he doesn't know any Brownie ones. The Brownies looked quite puzzled (few of them have brothers in Scouts) and were so tired by then that they were all propped against each other like dominoes.

Wonderful! I have some great photos for Mum's. Obviously I can't show you. Yesterday, I was so tired I could hardly move so my blog and Folksy have been a bit neglected.

Just wanted to remind you that tomorrow is Tuesday and I have the second in the series of posts from Natalie - my guest blogger. Please pop back if you can!

Friday, 11 June 2010

Tidying Folksy Friday No. 14

I have been trying to get some sense of tidiness into our house. As usual all the 'stuff' without a home is mine - or so I'm told! Thought some of these baskets might help all of us who are in the same position. To see each item in its Folksy shop - click on the image.

Scrap Wire Coil
Storm in a Teacup
Blue Fish Handmade
blonde design
Woolly Lakes

Scrap Wire Coil
Storm in a Teacup
Blue Fish Handmade
blonde design
Woolly Lakes

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Daisies in a summer meadow

I just wanted to show you this:

May I repeat my invitation, to all of you who have not yet done so,  to read Natalie's fascinating blog on 'Unusual Unakite' (posted yesterday)

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Unusual Unakite

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http://www.folksy.com/shops/BlueForestJewellery http://www.folksy.com/shops/deelights http://www.folksy.com/shops/pebblerox

Unakite is a wonderful gemstone with amazing colours, rich olive greens, with bright pinks or orange blotches, making this a very attractive stone. It is a stone which immediately makes you feel comfortable!

Unakite is an opaque stone composed of pink orthoclase feldspar, green epidote, and quartz.  This semi-precious stone is also referred to as epitomized granite.
The Name Unakite came from its first discovery in America, in the Unakas mountains of North Carolina, Unakite has been found in other areas of the world such as Africa, China, Brazil, and other areas. 
Interesting fact: Unakite is the state gem of Virginia, as it can be found in the river valleys having travelled down from the Blue Ridge Mountains.

For those that believe in physical or healing properties of stones, Unakite is said to be a physically and mentally balancing stone. It is said to help unify the emotional, spiritual, mental, and spiritual aspects and to help us feel more centred.

It is said to help us release mental and emotional blocks that stop us from moving forward, so is useful helping people cope with stress and challenging situations, and lets face it, we all have those at times!

For more physical health related concerns, Unakite is believed to help stimulate and balance the heart and circulatory systems. It is also believed, due to its soothing qualities, to support a healthy reproductive system and is a good stone to have with you when pregnant.
I am not personally guaranteeing these properties of Unakite, I just adore the stone and I am not the only one, on Folksy I was spoilt for choice with a variety of Unakite items to chose from to feature!


Many thanks to Natalie (of NOfkantscurios) for writing this. Natalie has already sent me next week's blog 'Kyanite'