Welcome from Orchy Design

Welcome from Orchy Design

Monday, 12 July 2010

Mystery Monday

Well I'm glad to say that this Monday I have enough time to squeeze in the Mystery Monday blog before retuning to the building of our new website.
So this week I am pleased to announce our featured business is Gifts by Jenny run by Jenny Andrew.  From personalised photo frames, hearts, letters, magnets and plaques there are plenty of sweet little items that can be finished with a message of your choice.
Being an old romantic at heart (aren't we all really!?)  I just love this heart plaque that was commissioned by a gentleman for his fiancee - so thoughtful and personal I'm sure she was over the moon and what a beautiful and original love token - well done that man!

One of Jenny's latest items are these great little fridge magnets ideal as a thank you gift for a much appreciated teacher.

Jenny's decorated letters can be used for all sorts of reasons - a gift for a child's bedroom with their name on the letter, a wedding gift with the initials of the bride and groom or buy a set to spell out a word which can be used to decorate any room in the house - Home, Love, Bathe, Cook just some of the ideas I had but the possibilities are endless, all you need is some imagination.

I just love gifts that can be personalised as the recipient knows how much thought has gone into it.   So finally I would like to share this beautiful personalised photo frame which really sums up how a gift can be made really special with a bit of thought and a few well chosen words.

Show your support for handcrafted items by joining her facebook page today which also has a selection of items for sale.

Until next time, take care, Susanne x

Friday, 9 July 2010

Busy, Busy!

Sometimes it feels as if there are just not enough hours in the day!  This week I have been busy starting to build a new and hopefully much improved website.  Building a website is always a challenge when you are teaching yourself as you go.  This time I have decided to go with Weebly which is not only free but has been recommended by several other crafters with pretty websites.
The biggest problem with our current website is the size of the images in the online shop.  Unfortunately they are quite small and although you can click on them to enlarge the photo, I find that from a personal point of view I prefer to visit a website and see nice, bright, clear images of all the prodcuts for sale.
So it is back to the drawing board and the homepage is now complete and looking pretty good if i do say so myself!
I have also been busy taking photographs of our new 'Highland Colours' collection.  Thankfully yesterday was a dry and fairly bright day in Glasgow which allowed me to get out into the garden and take a few snaps.  I plan to redo a few that I'm not completely happy with but here are a couple to give you an idea of how the new designs are looking.

There are a couple of other colours and bracelets and earrings in the collection but I hope you like what you see so far.  Susanne x

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Mystery Monday on a Tuesday!

Well I know it is officially Tuesday but as I had a rather hectic day yesterday I did not think it would be fair to write a rushed blog for the sake of it as I wouldn't have done our featured business justice.  So here I am on a Tuesday with my coffee all ready to tell you about this weeks Mystery Monday, BlackCactusinLondon, run by Anna Jackson.
With a mixture of hand printed and vintage fabrics, Anna produces items that are fun and useful, always a good combination.  When I first came across BlackCactusinLondon it was when Anna was asking about feedback on her hand printed cushions covers. With such lovely colours and bold prints there was of course, plenty of positive feedback given.

These are two of my particular favourites although there are plenty of other designs to choose from in her Etsy shop.  They are machine washable and can be gift wrapped if requested which is a lovely personal touch.
If you are looking for a quirky shopper then Anna has a few for you to choose from, my attention was caught by these unusual bags using vintage McDonald's fabric.

Of course, working with prints and fabric you would expect to find some lovely items that you can wear and Anna has thought of those too!  If like me you look for something stylish to wear to the gym then Anna's speciality peeved rabbit design, hand printed cotton tank top is just the thing.

In her shop you will also find a range of buttons and corsages so there is something for everyone.  If you have not done so already, please join Anna's facebook page as she will be doing a giveaway when she reaches 100 fans.  She will be giving away this handprinted peeved rabbit design shopper to a lucky winner when she reaches her fan target.

To see more of Anna's work follow the links below.  Until next time, take care x

Monday, 28 June 2010

Mystery Monday

It's that time again when I would like to share with you another fantastic business busy making and producing lovely things for you all to enjoy.
This week I would love to tell you about Just Soaps who produce a range of hand made natural soaps and body care products free from the chemical additives and preservatives, such as SLS (sodium laurel sulphate), Parabens, Petrochemicals and EDTA, found in over 96% of commercial soaps and toiletries, 95% of their products are registered with the Vegan Society and they use the highest quality grade of oils, butters and essential oils from sustainable sources to produce their soaps and body care products.
Wherever possible they source ingredients such as Spring Water, Honey, Oats, Goat's Milk, Beeswax and Lavender buds from local suppliers.

Okay, that is the technical part and it is all very impressive but what delights can I buy I hear you ask?  Well some of the most scrumptious sounding and looking products I have seen!

Want to scrub up for the summer?  Then a slice of loofah soap is just what you need, choose from lavender and geranium or lemongrass and lime.

Just Soaps have as the name suggests many lovely bars of natural soap and if you check out the properties of each bar you should find something that suits you and your skins needs.  If you are feeling really indulgent or are looking for an unusual and pretty gift then you have to check out the cake slices which look good enough to eat, mmmm yummy!

If you want to spend a weekend pampering yourself with lots of delicious products then Just Soaps have everything you need to complete your beauty regime.  From bath and shower products, hair care, face masks, lip balm and foot care, you will feel refreshed and ready to start a new week

If like me you share your home with a four legged friend who, let's face it can sometimes smell quite unpleasant no matter how much you love them, then why not treat them too!  I will definitely be ordering a dog shampoo bar.

I love my wee Jasper and I'm looking forward to bathing him with a chemical free bar made with neem oil which is reputed to contain natural antibacterial, antifungal, and insecticidal properties. It also includes teatree & eucalyptus essential oils.
I know that Jasper will love his bathtime even more as this doggy kit includes an especially commissioned dog biscuit containing Leicestershire milled flour and eggs - Jasper says how thoughtful!

If you are looking for a present then there are plenty of gift packs to choose from, all beautifully packaged. 

 Not sure what to get?  Then why not choose a gift voucher

All products can be ordered online and delivered.

If you are looking out for a day out with a difference then Just Soaps also run soap making courses which will help you to understand the benefits of using a variety of plant oils and you will be able to formulate a recipe that is perfect for your skin.  It is suitable for complete beginners and you get to take your own handmade bar of soap home with you - how good is that!

So that is Mystery Monday over for another week and I hope you will take the time to visit Just Soaps website and find out more.  I will be placing my order with them soon as Jasper is definitely starting to give off a slight doggy odour!

Remember and follow our blog to find out who will be featured next Monday :)

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Another Giveaway - Yipee!!

I am so excited that we now have 150 lovely facebook fans and quite a few followers of my little blog.  To thank you all for your support, comments and feedback we are doing another giveaway. 
To be in with a chance of winning one of our lovely bracelets, all you have to do is choose what colour you would like to win and leave a comment on this page - simple!
They are all on sterling silver and we will adjust the size for the winner.
Choose from Pink & iridescent, Gold & green or Red & violet. Winner will be chosen at random on Monday 28th June at 8pm - good luck :)

Pale pink and iridescent sparkles
Ruby red colour with hints of violet as it catches the light
Gold and green metallic effect on a black background.

Tell your friends, spread this blog so they can enter too!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Can't see the woods for the trees!

Sometimes when you are running a business it is necessary to take a step back and review your progress.  It helps you to focus and gives you a chance to motivate yourself all over again.

Sometimes you can't see the wood for the trees!

No matter how big or small your enterprise it is very easy to get lost in the day to day cycle and forget what you are actually trying to achieve.  That is why this week my mum and I have spent alot of time reviewing and updating our business plan, reading business books and articles and measuring our progress so far.
Being half way through the year this gives us a good indication of whether we are on track or not.  Unfortunately business plans, finances and general admin may not be the most exciting of ways to pass the day but they are extremely useful and necessary for anyone running a business.

It never ceases to amaze me when I come across other crafters who have no business plan, no marketing plan, sometimes even no business cards!!! and generally no idea what they are trying to achieve.  These are the same people who then sit moaning that they have no money and wonder why they can't make a living out of what they are doing.
I'm not trying to be harsh but unless you are only planning on making and selling things as a hobby then I have no sympathy with these complaints.  I always liken it to having no map and a vague idea of a destination you want to go to and then wondering why you never get there! (Apologies all this paperwork is making me slightly grumpy!)
Anyway, this weekend we have not booked any craft fairs and we are treating ourselves with a wee day trip to Edinburgh.  Sometimes just taking a day out is enough to help you focus and recharge your batteries.
Next week we have booked into another Business Gateway workshop which are always packed full of useful advice and are a good opportunity for meeting other business owners.  Whether you are thinking of starting up or have been in business for a while these workshops will answer most of your questions and the best thing is they are free.
We have set aside next week with a list of further tasks that we need to complete and then we will have a whole new set of goals to work towards! 

Who said running a business is easy?

I just wanted to finish with a quote that sums up my week for me and will hopefully give anyone else in the same situation the motivation to keep going :)

"The victory of success is half won when one gains the habit of setting goals and achieving them. Even the most tedious chore will become endurable as you parade through each day convinced that every task, no matter how menial or boring, brings you closer to fulfilling your dreams."

Monday, 21 June 2010

Mystery Monday

When you spend a large part of your time meeting others that make beautiful things with so much love and care, who are nice people into the bargain, it is hard to not want to blow their trumpet for them.
My house is filled with one-off and unusual items, sourced form designers all over the world.  From jewellery to art to beauty products and homewares (and everything else you can think of), I love sourcing things that are unique and sometimes quirky.  Things that have sprung from someones imagination and then lovingly brought to life.
Therefore I would like to introduce my Mystery Monday where I will be sharing the work of some of those people.  Each week I will feature a different designer, who is busy imagining and making in some part of the world.  Hopefully you will be inspired to visit their website or blog to find out more.  It is exciting to think that in one small year I can share 52 of these people with you and it does make a change from talking about myself all the time!

So this Mystery Monday I would like to tell you about Sweet Cotton Threads run by Em Wallis.  Although I have never met Em in person, I have come to know her and her work through this virtual world that I sometimes exist in.
She has pretty shabby chic and vintage inspired fabric designs. 

For all you budding domestic goddesses there are a range of floral and gingham pinnies, ideal to keep you looking pretty next time you are baking your batch of cupcakes!  I particularly like this floral one with the pretty bow.

 When you are inviting friends round to share that lovely homebaking, make sure that you have some pretty cushions for them to snuggle in to.  Whether your home has a modern interior or a country cottage feel, Em has a range of cushions to suit every style.


If you have friends coming round, don't forget by pinning the details on one of Em's very handy and very pretty memo boards.

Em also has bunting, door hangers and bags all available to buy online in her shop.  New items available include summer bunting, picnic fleece rugs, picnic cutlery holders, light weight patchwork blankets, reusable ingredient bags.  With the perfect summer weather we are having at the moment these are ideal for stylish outdoor parties and picnics.

Visit Sweet Cotton Threads website at http://www.sweetcottonthreads.co.uk/index.htm

Sweet Cotton Threads is also on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SCTDesigns

So that is Mystery Monday for this week, watch out for another featured maker next week :)

Friday, 18 June 2010

Cufflink Update

A couple of posts back I told you that we had been asked to design seven sets of cufflinks to match the seven tartans of Houstons Traditional Kiltmakers near Glasgow.
Well I am pleased to say that the first lot have been approved by Ken and posted off.  The first lot comprised of 5 sets which I was really pleased with.
Due to technical problems! and not having suitable glass for the remaining 2 sets, they are still a work in progress although they are now almost complete.
Here is a sneak preview of a few that have been sent off, hopefully you will agree that they are a good match!

I have just completed a brown set which I had to order glass for and a red set which has been causing me great anxiety!  The colour changing properties of dichroic glass is the thing that makes it special but when trying to match colours it can sometimes be problematic to say the least.  I have now completed about 10 test firings to achieve red cufflinks to match a rather striking dark grey tartan with red stripes. 
The problem I have had is that the red glass has shown too much orange when it moved in the light and just wasn't right.  It has really been a case of trial and error and a great learning experience for the future ( I am now an expert on every variation of red dichroic glass!).
I am hesitant to say I think I have now cracked it with a great if not perfect match until it is approved by Ken but deep down I am almost letting out a small sigh of relief!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Carnival Colours

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the great things about this job is attending all sorts of wonderful events and this weekend was no exception.
We had a stall at the Glasgow Westend Festival which has now been running for 15 years!  The festival runs for 3 weeks and during that time there are lots of free performances that take place at different westend venues.
On Sunday it was the opening parade, and although it is not a patch on Nottinghill or Rio, there is still a friendly carnival atmosphere with music, costumes, performers and dancers.
Despite the on/off drizzly rain, there were plenty of beautiful colours to brighten up the day.  I thought I would share a few of my favourite outfits from the parade and if you are in Glasgow in June, I would recommend attending some of the fantastic free events.

Unfortunately my camera battery ran out at this point after much enthusiastic previous clicking and I only managed this one photo of the Chinese costumes which were my absolute favourite.  They were really beautiful with the most amazing colours.  I guess I'll just have to go back again next year :)

Friday, 11 June 2010

Free Jewellery Giveaway

I am so excited that Orchy Design now has over 100 fans on facebook - 109 at the last count.  To thank all the lovely people that have taken the time to join our page we are giving away a piece of jewellery absolutely FREE!  No strings attached!
All you have to do is decide which piece of jewellery you would like if you are the lucky chosen winner.  All our lovely blog followers are invited too - if you are one of our followers on facebook or this blog, simply leave a comment stating which piece of jewellery you would prefer from these three lovely pieces.

Blue pendant, with shimmery green stripes
Candy Pink Earrings
Orange and iridescent rainbow pendant

All fittings are sterling silver.  Winner will be chosen at random on Monday 14th June at 8pm - Good Luck!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Adapting to the Market

This week we have been preparing for a big festival in Glasgow which will take place this weekend.  This is our third year there and we know there is no shortage of people desperate to part with their hard earned cash for delightful objects.  The problem is that as this is a free event people tend to arrive with little money,  enough for a burger and ice cream but not much else!
For us this means adapting from the range of jewellery that we normally sell.  We have found that items under £10 are most popular - not easy when you usually only make jewellery with sterling silver!  So we have put our thinking caps on and designed some bright and colourful pieces that we think will fit in well with a colourful, carnival atmosphere.

I have set up a temporary workspace on the dining room table just for this project.

I have been busy making pendants that are mainly made from brightly coloured bullseye glass, only fusing in a small amount of dichroic to keep the cost down, yet enough to give them that extra sparkle.

To sell these at under £10 sterling silver isn't an option so we decided on silver plate chokers.  We thought that even when the choker starts to tarnish they will still have a lovely pendant which can be hung on another chain and kept for a lifetime.  Of course we will still have our sterling silver range with us.

We think they have turned out rather well and will be just right for a colourful festival crowd.

The first batch is ready, and here are the next lot cooling in the kiln.

We have decided to sell them at £8 each which will even leave enough change from £10 for that ice cream Now we just have to hope for good weather!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

What is dichroic glass?

On an almost daily basis I am asked what is dichroic glass?  It would be very easy to start rambling and boring people with the scientific ins and outs and history which I don't claim to even begin to understand anyway! The answer isn't exactly straight forward and widely debated and it has taken me some time and research to come up with a definition which is easy to explain and understand (and doesn't cause customer's eyes to glaze over!). 

The simple answer is that 'dichroic' is defined as the property of having more than one colour, especially when viewed from different angles or in varying degrees of light. This term is frequently used incorrectly, even in the scientific literature. There are two common uses for the term:
(1)Dichroic glass has the appearance of different colours when it is viewed from different angles in white light. There are very early examples of this, for example Chinese glass which in transmitted and reflected light takes different colours.  Another is the Roman Lycurgus Cup - see below.

(2)Dichroic glass is the term applied to glass coated with thin layers of metallic oxides which transmit certain wavelengths of light and reflect others. This causes a sparkling rather than a truly iridescent effect which changes with the angle of observation.

Many dichroic glass designers will tell you that it was invented by Nasa and although that is partly true, it is not strictly correct, as this is a only a type of dichroic glass.

The better way of phrasing it is that Nasa developed the technology to manufacture a certain type of dichroic glass and this technique is now used to mass produce sheets of glass, making them accessible and affordable to those working and designing with glass.  Although, this method was in fact first invented over 100 years ago and then developed by the space industry.

So going back to the fact that 'dichroic' simply refers to having more than one colour, the earliest complete example of this glass dates back to at least the 4th century AD as seen in the Lycurgus cup, a Roman glass beaker in the British Museum.

The glass cup, which dates from the fourth century A.D., is opaque green which turns to a glowing translucent red when light is shone through it. The glass contains tiny amounts of colloidal gold and silver, which give it these unusual optical properties.
There are further examples of Roman dichroic glass that have been discovered but as yet no-one seems to have come up with an explanation of how they achieved this effect.  If you want to read more about the Lycurgus Cup I would recommend reading this research article http://www.goldbulletin.org/assets/file/goldbulletin/downloads/Lycurgus_4_40.pdf.

The technology used to produce dichroic glass now widely used by glass workers and jewellery designers was in part developed by NASA for use as face plates for space suits and space vehicles, which needed transparent mediums which filtered out unwanted light spectrums such as harmful infrared or ultraviolet rays.

Dichroic glass used in my designs contains multiple micro-layers of metal oxides and quartz crystal (these thin layers of oxides have a total thickness of three to five millionths of an inch) which give the glass the ability to show two different colours when looking at it from different angles. It also appears very sparkly and vibrant when viewed up close.
With the play of light, together with its vibrant colour, dichroic glass is a perfect medium for creating beautiful and unusual pieces of jewellery.

These are examples of sheets of dichroic glass prior to them being fired in a kiln.

Working with dichroic glass can be challenging as you often get unexpected results once the glass is fired.  Depending on what colours and textures you layer together, which way the glass faces and even which part of the kiln you heat the glass in can affect the end result.  It is no wonder that throughout history different civilisations have found ways of developing their own forms of dichroic glass as the results, even when unexpected, are always interesting and beautiful.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Hot Marquees and Winter Boots!

Well I hope you are all enjoying the warm weather while it lasts!  On Friday and Saturday we were selling our jewellery in a craft marquee at a local flower show.  We have done many marquee events before, from sub zero temperatures until we couldn't feel our fingers, toes, noses or in fact any body parts to damp and windy conditions with leaks and dripping ceilings!  This weekend was a first for us as we were actually too hot.  I don't just mean warm, I mean we were actually baking from the inside out!
In fairness on Friday I was not suitably dressed for the summer weather as from past experience I was fully prepared with big boots and a woolly top so it's no surprise I was over heating.
On Saturday I was better equipped with summer clothing and a bottle of water which went some way to helping. As the day went on and the heat built up we had to open all the vents in the marquee to actually get some air.  One of our display cards also made a handy, improvised fan.
However, we couldn't have wished to be in a lovelier location on such a hot day.  Although only a short distance from where I live in Glasgow, I had never been to Viewpark Gardens before and was pleasantly surprised.  It is an oasis of foliage and wildlife in amongst houses and busy roads.

Before the crowds arrive!

It was wonderful strolling around the many themed gardens and finding a quiet bench to eat my lunch.  From wildlife and eco-friendly gardens to contemporary and sculpture gardens and many, many more this is a really beautiful spot which I can't believe I've never been to before.
Even with all the crowds there were some peaceful spots just to take some time out and enjoy the surroundings.

One of the many themed gardens

The festival encourages local families to come along and experience the lovely greenery on their doorstep.  With entertainment, a tea room, craft tent and children's rides there was plenty to keep everyone busy.

Statue in one of the hot houses

Almost every weekend we travel around Scotland to many beautiful locations to sell our jewellery which really is one of the highlights of this job.  One week we can be in the centre of a major city, the next week by the coast and the next week in the mountains (not to mention medieval and Viking festivals!) and of course it is a delight when you find a wee gem like this on your doorstep. 

Cute copper frog sculpture!