Friday, December 1, 2017

Cabochon crazy...

One of the ways I've found to deal with my anxiety right now is retail therapy. For me, that doesn't mean designer handbags or shoes or anything new for the house. Nope, for me that means shopping for gemstones and jaspers, agates, etc. I've added two new strings of pearls to my collection and I've added nearly a dozen new cabochons as well. 

As many of you know, I am pretty watchful about my sources - always trying to assure that my stones are not only genuine, but sourced and cut with care. I very happily came across a small UK-based family business that carefully sources and meticulously hand cuts truly remarkable jaspers and agates (along with some other stones - but not gemstones). And while these cabochons are bit more expensive than those I've purchased in the past, I think you will agree that they are worth it.

Many of these jaspers are considered "collector" pieces. These are often from mines that are no longer active, some as the stones have simply been mined out. I can't wait to start making new designs with these stones - while many are ideal for pendants, I can imagine some of the smaller ones being showcased in statement art rings. Those that I am sharing here are just four of the many I have added to my collection. Just wait and see - we are all in for a treat with these beauties.

So, to the stones themselves - and please remember that if you see a stone here that you particularly like, we can always discuss a commission using that particular stone. These stones, by their very nature, are completely and utterly singular. There is only one of each - and they are so, so special.

Bruneau Jasper - this jasper comes from near Mt. Home in Idaho. The colours and striations remind of creme brulée or creme caramel. I love this cabochon - incredibly "soft" and romantic.

Morrisonite Jasper - this jasper comes from the Owyhee Mountains in eastern Oregon. This is a blue Morrisonite and the colours and patterns are mesmerising. This jasper will make a stunning pendant.

Willow Creek Jasper - How beautiful, feminine, and elegant is this jasper? This jasper comes from the Boise, Idaho area and is considered one of America's finest jaspers, with almost a porcelain china look to it. Again, a pendant will be the perfect way to showcase this stone. I intend to buy more of this particular jasper. So pretty. Some of the jaspers they have in stock remind me of Clarice Cliff china. 

Septarian Nodule - Septarian nodule (also referred to as Dragon Stone) is a perplexing stone to geologists, who aren't completely sure how they are formed. The name comes from the Latin word septum, for partition, referring to the partitions that form in the "cracks" of the stone. This particular septarian displays a perfect square of pyrite that shows through on the surface.

These will probably start appearing on the website in early January. Keep an eye out. And, of course, I will share the new designs as they emerge from the studio.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Forgive my lateness...

I am so sorry I was not able to get this blog up on the 1st of the month, as I usually do. I have been seriously busy with getting my fine jewellery site transactional and published. That happened today. Unfortunately, events during the month of October has impacted on my work. I will explain more of that later.

Firstly, dates for this year's holiday purchases. For any orders in the UK, I would ask that orders be placed no later than December 20th. This will give us adequate time to get the package to you by December 25th. For any international orders, if you could please place your orders by November 20th, that would give the international postal service plenty of time, once again, to get packages to their destinations by Christmas.

Secondly, I hope to add some additional bracelets - in both chained and bangle style - to the offerings by mid- month. I am also working on some gem set rings and some pendants. Hopefully, they will be online and ready to go within a couple of week.

Finally, just to let you know what is going on so you can understand my situation. After nearly three years of remission, my husband's cancer has returned. While the original cancer was located in his bowel, it has returned and has shown up in several liver lesions. This is not an ideal place for recurrence of the cancer. Chris has had two additional scans - scheduled within days of the news - and we are now awaiting a letter from the surgeon so we can find out what happens now. Any wishes or prayers of support will be most welcome.

That's about it for this month. I will have the newsletter out to you within the next few hours. If you are not amongst my subscribers, please do take the time to subscribe by clicking HERE. The newsletters not only offer news on what is happening and events that are occurring, but provide subscribers with discount codes for their purchases. It costs nothing to subscribe and you only receive one newsletter a month.

Thank you for your interest in The Selkie's Haunt. I appreciate your support.

Sunday, October 1, 2017


I’ve had many requests over the past month or two for stud earrings to join my dangle earrings in the collection for the Selkie’s Haunt. I am happy to introduce a full collection of stud earrings.
Bronze heart studs
With the exception of earrings that include gemstones or pearls, these earrings come in at £20 and under. All stud earrings have sterling silver posts and backs, so that will give you additional confidence in comfortable wearing of these little lovelies.

I’ve also added some more rings to the current offerings and I hope to start creating some more metal-centred bracelets, such as links bracelets and bangles. Continue to keep an eye on the website, because I do expect that I will be adding pieces fairly regularly between now and Christmas.

Yes, I did. I went there. I said Christmas! Let’s face it, it is not that far away and each day brings it closer. For the months of October and November, I will make shopping a little less expensive by offering discounts and free postage. But to take advantage of those, you will need to subscribe to The Selkie’s Haunt newsletter. You can do that here. In addition to discounts and offers, you will see designs before anyone else and know about upcoming events. It only drops into your inbox once a month (almost always on the first) and I won’t be using your contact details for any other reason. Only emergencies would require any communication other than the newsletter, and I honestly can’t think of a situation that would require that. So, please do join our happy little group. And once I’ve reached 150 subscribers, I am going to pull a name at random to receive a piece of bespoke jewellery. Pretty fab, huh?

So, that’s it for now. I have work to do. Thank you so much for your interest in my work and my passion. It really is very much appreciated.

Friday, September 1, 2017

New Brooch Designs

As the days are getting shorter – and cooler – I find that the attention of visitors to my market table often focuses on my brooches. I am even thinking about crocheting myself a lovely, chunky shawl in preparation for the colder weather – one with which I can wear a statement brooch. I do love these brooches. With the only limitation on design being the ability to manipulate the central pin correctly, the options are pretty infinite. And as I’ve become more comfortable with playing with fire, I have realised that heat can create amazing colour play on copper and bronze.  My new brooch – “Relic” – shows the various colours that can be achieved – from striking red and purple to softer hues of grey and lavender. Beautiful.

These brooches would make ideal gifts for Christmas. And I am happy to take on commissions. I can incorporate cabochons (as in this design that includes a stunning green tourmaline) and could even incorporate a faceted gemstone if that were desired. If this is something that would interest you, please get in touch. I am limiting the number of commissions I am taking on this Autumn as I need to be sure I am not overbooked. But I would welcome the opportunity to create some amazing brooches on a bespoke basis.

I shall be creating some more bronze and copper rings and earrings this month as I need to replace stock that has sold. So keep your eyes peeled for more additions to the website as the month progresses.

And, as mentioned above, Christmas is beginning to have some influence on my business at this point. I have the dates for the Poolewe Christmas Markets and will share them as soon as my participation is confirmed. (I am almost always one of the first to get my paperwork back, but always need to be sure that I am able to reserve a table.)

As always, thank you so very much for your continuing interest in The Selkie’s Haunt. It is very, very much appreciated.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Where does the time go?

Catching up with some issues left dangling after last month's blog:

Alice Elspeth Borland arrived safe and sound and is now queen of the castle. She is adored by all - especially her big sisters - and is growing and thriving and we are totally besotted. While visiting a couple of weeks ago, I told her I was Nana, and I would never say no. I'm quite sure she smiled. 

Returning to the problem of solder and copper/bronze, I tried the methods suggested to me to make the solder turn to a more copper colour and it didn't work. Or, if it did, not to my satisfaction. So, I will do what I can, remembering that solder seams will be visible. It is such a pain, though. I want invisible seams. I have made a lovely multi-link bracelet, but I can see the solder. Would that bother anyone else? Or would the veins of silver colour be seen as an accent? I'm so frustrated!

Now, on to what is going on and what is going to go on. I've not been able to complete any more jewellery (at least not that I have liked enough) to add to my current offerings. However, I have set aside several days this week for creating more bangles and rings. I am also going to work on some pendants. As I said before, I have some stunning cabochons that I want to include in some pieces, so they will be first in line to be used. I have four straight days of events this week and I need more copper and bronze. So I will be doing all that I can to create some more before the events. (Nothing like leaving things until the last minute - but I'm really good at that.)

Regarding cabochons, my biggest conundrum is what to do with this particular turquoise cabochon. This is a natural turquoise, with some green/yellow bits and it is gorgeous. So, do I do combine it with silver or copper? I just can't decide. I also have a lovely round amethyst cabochon. I think - seriously think - I am going to create a copper ring with that stone. But then amethyst goes so beautifully with silver. I suppose there are more troublesome things that could be bothering me! But, I seriously can't decide what to do with these particular cabs. I also have an opal mosaic, a rainbow fluorite, and some jade. So many beautiful stones to use. It's just getting the settings to work. I think most of these cabs will be part of rings. But the turquoise may be part of a pendant. Natural turquoise is a fairly soft material and a ring would easily chip. The fluorite is the same. So a couple of pendants and some rings and then I will use some smaller cabs in rings. Then I can check them off my list as I complete them.

I hate to even mention it, but we have to start thinking about (in a hushed voice) Christmas! It won't be that much longer until people will start buying for friends and relations. One of my best clients always buys in last August. So, another reason to have more stock made.

It's going to be a busy month. My elder granddaughter's birthday is at the end of August, so we will be making the trip down to where she lives to spend time with her and Alice and her stepsister and mum and dad. We are so looking forward to it.

So, that's all from me this month. Look for some additions to the website in the weeks to come. As always, I thank you for your interest in The Selkie's Haunt. Don't forget to subscribe to the newsletter for a chance to take advantage of subscriber discounts and the chance to win a piece of bespoke jewellery! The link is here on the website. Or you can connect straight from here!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Rings and things...

I said there would be new pieces, and there have been. But still, I need to do more. So, this coming week, the first full week of July, I will be spending my time creating more bronze and copper jewellery. I will have finished my fine jewellery commissions (for the time being) and can concentrate on more pieces for The Selkie's Haunt. If you've checked out the website lately, you will see I've given it a slightly new look and added more pieces to my current offerings. Including...

RINGS! Finally and at last, I made some rings in bronze and copper. My hesitancy in the past has always been that solder simply isn't invisible when you make bronze and copper jewellery. No matter the solder you use, it never quite matches the colour. So, the rings I created are not soldered. This also means that they are adjustable. Well, almost, because while copper is a very malleable metal that can be pliable even when work hardened, bronze is an incredible tough metal, even when it has been annealed (softened). I am hoping to create more bronze and copper rings in the weeks to come. I have been given some tips for getting the solder to more closely match the colour of the metal, so will be doing some experimenting to see what happens.

I am also going to create some new bracelets - both bangle and chain. And I am hoping to do some more metal work to create brooches and necklaces that are more about the metal and the design than any stones. That being said, I have some lovely stone cabochons that I am looking forward to including on some rings and brooches, so stay tuned.

Of course, July is also the month that my new granddaughter is expected. In fact, we a fewer than two weeks from her due date now and I am getting so excited. But I've been very remiss in getting the baby's new blanket made (and some hats), so I best find time to do that as well. As they say, no rest for the wicked.

Thank you, as always, for your interest in The Selkie's Haunt.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

New pieces soon - I promise!

I always start each month with the best of intentions. This month I will create more bronze and copper jewellery! This is almost a mantra, but every month my poor copper and bronze sits to the side, waiting patiently for its moment on the bench. This month, however, I am going to actually do it! I have finished all commissions that need to be done RIGHT NOW and I can concentrate on building up some new pieces for The Selkie's Haunt. I don't even remember the last time I added new pieces to the website. I really need to totally revamp my offerings. So many things now showing are actually sold (and noted as sold). And I have so many new designs I want to get out there! This week I will start on the new pieces - starting with some new brooches for Céard in Ullapool. Of the original lot I sent to them, I believe there are only one or two remaining. Time to stock up again (and add some silver brooches in to the mix). See, there I go with the silver again. I promise, bronze and copper is not my least favourite child!

Summer has arrived in the Highlands and I welcome the longer and brighter days. We had a couple of days of very high temperatures and because of the position of the ceiling light in the studio, I had to abandon working in there in the daytime - it was just too hot. So my work couldn't even start until after 3. But with the night's remaining light until well past 10pm, I have plenty of time to work. I am going to make some copper and bronze rings this month. I've got some gorgeous cabochons to set as the focals of rings and I look forward to sharing photos of these pieces as they are made. With cabochons of green agate, amethyst, and turquoise, the choices will be amazing. Some will go to the Aultbea Hotel to join the other pieces in their lovely display. And others will be placed on the website and will be exhibited during markets. I intend to add bangle and chain bracelets and some lovely larger art-centric pieces as well.

I am so grateful for the support I get from so many of you. I look forward to reading your comments on the Facebook page and receiving your emails. Please always feel free to get in touch. And if there is something you would like to see that I currently don't offer, please remember that I am happy to take commissions.

Until next month...

Monday, May 1, 2017

Summer is coming...

Loch Maree

At last, some blue skies and sunshine. At the end of April, the northern Highlands were experiencing all four seasons in one day, but it appears that perhaps the better weather might be here to stay for a while. I love it. Not only do I find that I naturally rise earlier (it is usually daylight by about 5 this time of year), but the sunshine, green trees, and blooming flowers give me a new-found energy. So, let the fun begin!

My fine jewellery has occupied most of my waking hours over the last month, so I'm afraid I've nothing new to show you. Hopefully, I will be able to return to my bronze and copper jewellery making this month. I have so many designs and sketches that I've prepared over the winter. But commissions and getting jewellery ready for stockists and my new displays have taken over my time. I love my new displays for both the lines of jewellery. I will take some new photos of the tables this Tuesday at the market so I can share them. Instead of one large table, I now have two half tables, and I position myself between them. So each now has its own identity. Given the vast difference in the two lines of jewellery, I think this is the ideal solution. 

Over the next month, I will be adding rings to the Selkie's Haunt collection. At first I did debate whether or not people would buy copper (and bronze) rings, given that people are always questioning whether or not the copper will turn their skin green (shouldn't, unless it reacts with their distinct chemistry in that way). But I have so many lovely design ideas that will work best with the base metals. So, hopefully you will begin to see those appear on the website before the end of May.

As always, thank you so much for your continued support for The Selkie's Haunt. It means more than I can say.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Sneak peak (of sorts) ...

I have been very busy with commissions, and it has kept me from increasing my stock. A recent wholesale order has drastically reduced the stock of bracelets, so they will be next on the list of makes for The Selkie's Haunt. In addition to the stone designs I have done in the past, I will be creating some wonderful bangles for your perusal. And, amongst the new designs, you are likely to find a lovely set gemstone cabochon.

Cabochons from my rapidly growing collection.
I love cabochons and some of the stones shown here in this photo - labradorite, amethyst, lapis, bloodstone, peridot, amongst others - complement the tones of both bronze and copper. I am looking forward to creating more pieces using cabochons. My supplier in Hatton Garden has a huge choice of high quality gemstone cabochons from which I can choose. My collection is quite large already - I can only imagine how many more I will add over time. I must admit that I have little resistance to beautiful, colourful stones. And it always amazes me how much they add to a piece of jewellery. While I love the uncomplicated look of simple bronze or copper jewellery, there really is something so special about that little flash of colour.

I have come to realise how very much my artistic pursuits mean to me. As I find myself edging closer and closer to retirement age, I wonder what I would do if I now longer was able to make jewellery. Truth is, I couldn't do without it. It makes me look forward to getting into the studio and creating little treasures. Unfortunately, I have not had as much energy to give to my work lately.

If you follow my fine jewellery website or Facebook page, you will note that I recently closed my commission book due to health concerns. I've never believed in beating around the bush, so I will let you know now that I am currently undergoing investigations for cancer. My next appointment is at Raigmore Hospital on April 4 and I am hoping that we will know more after this appointment. And what will be, will be. But I will not allow ill health to keep me from the joy that creating jewellery gives. It may simple mean, for the time being, that I have to cut back on the amount of time I dedicate to my work. I am just so very, very tired. But, hopefully, we will discover the cause and take care of it and I can get back to having the energy levels I had before. So, if you could send your most positive wishes my way, I would be most grateful.

I hope to be sharing new designs with you over the weeks to come. One commission is in the final stages, the next will take no more than a couple of weeks, and two pairs of earrings commissioned at the first market of the season will take a day to complete. Then it's time for me to have some fun designing for myself and for my stockists!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Better get busy!

I have been so busy with my fine jewellery that I haven't created one new piece of bronze OR copper jewellery. Obviously, this is something that needs to be addressed. My new season of markets begins on March 28, and one of my stockists (my best stockist) opens for the season on March 12! I have some work to do. My other stockists are waiting, too, and soon I need to be sure to have the pieces ready for them to display and sell. I'm also collaborating with a felt-work designer to provide her with some small brooches to display and sell with her scarves. I'm very much looking forward to that, as well.

I am still working on my fine jewellery commissions, with one to complete and three waiting in the wings. The piece I am finishing now is one that is very complex and has given me the opportunity to learn and practice new skills. I am currently awaiting the arrival of some hard solder so I can move forward with the job. Once completed, I will be moving on to my next commission - a beautiful sterling silver pendant for a special anniversary. After that, a bridal necklace. After that, a lovely ring to celebrate a change in life.

But, I must get back to the bronze and copper as well. My work has given me so many new skills that I am anxious to try with the bronze and copper jewellery. I remember bezel setting stones last year and thinking it was so difficult - it is now something I can do in my sleep. I have learned to rivet jewellery, and that look is going to be perfect with bronze and copper. I'm really looking forward to doing more.

And, in addition to all this, we are happily awaiting the arrival of our new granddaughter in July. Another little girl who, I hope, will be enchanted by my work. Hopefully, like her big sister, she will love playing with my beautiful beads and will grow up loving the creative process. After all, I need someone to pass my work onto when I am no longer able to do it myself!

Happy Spring to you all and thank you for your continued interest in The Selkie's Haunt.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

So much to do and so little time!

I shouldn't complain. Finding myself answering the phone and someone requesting a fine jewellery commission on the other end is amazing. There are times I have to laugh and think, well, it's only taken me eight years to get to this point! But I am so grateful. As I've changed my fine jewellery business to a more exclusive business (no transactional website and an emphasis on commissions in my advertising), I've been pleased to have the commissions. And they have kept me busy. In fact, they have kept me so busy, I haven't had time to make any new jewellery for The Selkie's Haunt. But I promise I will! I need to get some new pieces for my stockists and some new pieces for the website. But first, I need to make these gorgeous commissions!

Time management in running my own business has always been a bit of a challenge. I always meet deadlines, but sometimes it is a bit of a sprint at the end rather than a leisurely stroll to bring to the end of an assignment. In the Autumn and run up to Christmas, I had three commissions; since the New Year, I've had three more, plus two that are now waiting in the wings for me to open the schedule up again. And somewhere in there I will find the time to make new pieces for stockists, get the new display pieces for those same stockists, and somehow put together a presentation to take to potential stockists. Phew!

The end of March and the beginning of the market season will be here before the wink of an eye, and I must get ready for that, too. All in all, I'm going to be a very busy lady for the next three months or so. Long may it last!

I thank you for your interest in my jewellery designs and I hope to soon present you with more choice on the website. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!

The new year has come. And now we just have to sit back and see what it will bring. I am looking forward to this year - my business is going well and I have wonderful plans to expand both the designs and the reach of the business in the new year. But, more importantly, in 2017, I shall be a Nana again. We are all so excited about a new baby. Just 27 weeks to wait! It is going to be a glorious July!

This past year was a good one for The Selkie's Haunt and Ailleas Designs. I am so pleased with how things have progressed. And I am looking very much forward to creating more beautiful jewellery in the year to come.

Not long ago, I had the occasion to look back over photographs from the beginning of this journey. My goodness, how my designs and skills have evolved during the years. I get so much joy from what I do, and I look forward to doing it as long as I am physically capable of doing so.

I am currently busy with two fine jewellery commissions, so my time in the studio is being used to finish up a stunning sterling silver and chrome diopside bracelet and will soon be starting on a sterling silver, 18 carat gold, and 14 precious/semi-precious gemstones ring for a couple from Sweden. It's going to be a very demanding piece, but I can't wait to get started. The bracelet is nearly finished and I anticipate it will be completed by the end of the week. Once I have both of those done and I've made some more fine jewellery, I will be returning to the bronze and copper to see what creations will emerge from my workbench!

I've cut back on the number of excursions I make and will be limiting my market participation to just the Poolewe Tuesday Market this year. I do hope I will be able to take part in more exhibitions/shows as I did this past year in Dornoch. And, of course, I am always on the lookout for more stockists. (If you know of any stockists who might like to stock either my bronze and copper jewellery or my fine jewellery, please do let me know. I am planning some day trips for March during which I will visit potential stockists.) It's all about expanding my reach this year.

I do hope you have a lovely holiday season. And I wish you - and all of us - a new year of peace, love, and joy.