Stuff for people who are still a bit untamed, young at heart and full of dreams.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Sorting Out Wardrobes

I spent this morning sorting out my wardrobe. You know all these cardigans, dresses, skirts and t-shirts you keep because you got them from X, Y or Z, you want to wear them when hiking, gardening, painting or cooking (yeah, and then I just splatter one of the new ones instead) or those were just that bit to expensive to be chucked out last year.

So I decided that I'm definitely going to bring everything I haven't worn for a year to our local charity shop. I felt, I deserved a good cup of tea to celebrate my courage. I had it, looking through the latest blogs of the Cloth Paper Scissors magazine (one of the best when you like mixed media in any way). And on their website was this little project which made me getting one of my discarded sweaters back out of the charity bag.

With a few cuts, some zig-zag seams and two buttons they were transforming a rather boring and non-descriptive sweater into a pretty fashionable piece of clothing.

Picture Cloth - Paper - Scissors Magazine by Jen Mason, editor
To read up how to do it, go on their blog:

I'm sure this basic idea could be taken further and followed up by many variations. I will spend an hour or so on it next weekend!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Let's Beat the Credit Crunch! - Let's Recycle, Let's Upcycle, Let's Get Creative!

Arran Gem's February Give-Away

Switching on the radio or TV is simply frustrating these days! At least here in Britain. It doesn't take five minutes until you will be reminded of the recession, the government's spending cuts and all the sad and frustrating things which come with it. Not to forget the bleak outlook for little businesses, artists and crafts people! As frustrating as it may be at times, I think we need to preserve ourselves a bit of optimism if we want to get through these times as unscathed as possible!

Considering, that buying crafting materials doesn't get cheaper and that our products shouldn't get over-expensive in these times, I'd like to invite you, my fellow hobby and professional crafters and artists to this month's give-away action:

 Even a broken spoon can still be a jewel.

Produce an item from recycled, upcycled, repurposed or whatever-you-would-like- to-name-them-materials. Anything is welcome: cards, ACEOs, bracelets, bags, whatever! Don't be too serious about it! It doesn't have to be something you want to win an art prize with! It's about having fun and proving that we all can be creative!

Take a picture of your object and send me the jpg (not over 1000 pix) to my e-mail address with "Assja's February Give Away"as subject. Please, add whether you consider yourself a professional or a hobby crafter. There's a give-away for each category. 

I will then upload the pictures and on the 1st of March I shall let the family chose the two they think are the best. The Give-away are two sweet necklaces. To have a look at them, go to my shop on etsy and have a look at them. They are listed as "Reserved February Give Away for Arran Gems' Blog Readers".

Let us show the world that we are not going to be so easily beaten by the economic downturn. Let us show that we can help ourselves to materials and that we are doing something for our environment too!

And now, happy crafting!

By the way, yesterday morning I realised that the birds were having a field day in the hedges in front of our house. There was so much singing, chirping, tweeting and jubilating going on! The days are definitely getting longer. And the wee beasties are enjoying. I thought, singing is something upbeat and delectable! So I made a little treasury on etsy with the theme of "song"!

Monday, 24 January 2011

New Chicken in the Yard!

Today I discovered some new chicken in my neighbour's yard! One of them has a head like a particularly stubborn punk. A bit like Mimi, my little Appenzell hen who got featured in a lovely treasury!

Thank you to the Dolphin Lady!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Hunting and Gathering

I enjoyed a trip to the mainland. Quite an experience since the ferry had to sail through dense fog for about an hour. It felt like sitting in a vacuum. Just some white mass outside. All you could see was nothing. Even the machines seemed to make no sound. Only the vessel's foghorn produced its eerie sound with the precision of a metronome.  No way to say how long you had already sailed or how far the coast was, unless you checked your watch.

Glasgow itself seemed much less busy than before Christmas. I made it into a fair amount of second hand shops, always hunting for some interesting pieces of jewellery or ornaments which held the promise of having some parts I could salvage and integrate into my "found object" or "upcycled" jewellery. I didn't find as much as I wanted, but I came home with a few metal flower brooches and some nice chains.

And of course, there was the book shop. That's always my downfall. At least financially. I simply can't resist the lure of books. Among others I found a wonderful book about mixed media jewellery. There are some techniques I'll have to try out within the next few weeks. No doubt, you will see them here.

It's unbelievable but tomorrow I'm going to Glasgow again. Having a look at the Scottish Trade Fair. I'm not sure whether it could be something  to go with my stuff. I'm not yet convinced. But then, I've never been and maybe it's not all about wholesale and large scale production... Have you experience with trade shows? I'd love to hear about! Anyway, I will have a fine day gathering information.

When I came home, I found some of my pieces on etsy in treasuries.

I fell soooo in love with that hairy Highland cow!

And this one, don't you think it's a very glamorous treasury?

Yessss! Jewellery! I love this treasury. There are quite a few pieces I'd like to have!

Saturday, 15 January 2011


Last week I found a couple of old watches in a drawer. I couldn't even remember that I ever had them. While I was debating with myself whether I should bring them to the local charity shop or just chuck them out, it occurred to me that I could actually use them to make jewellery. I always thought that steampunk is an art form which is incredibly interesting. I read H.G. Wells' Time Machine when I was twelve. And after that I was utterly obsessed with Jules Verne. The Nautilus was intriguing, as was The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I was pretty much reminded of those times this year at Christmas time when BBC broad casted the latest episode of Dr. Who which was very much along the steampunk line. So why not fiddle a bit about with a first piece? There is something about the brassy shine of an old watch. A mechanical movement is something incredibly intricate and beautiful.

It's almost not understandable why those little miracles are hidden inside the watch. The idea of showing them to the world is actually almost like showing them the respect they deserve. I spent quite a few hours taking the watches apart, cleaning some bits and then arranging them on filigree parts which I had slightly aged with alcoholic inks and a kitchen blow torch. I'm sure there are more professional ways to go about producing a piece of jewellery with old watch parts, but I enjoyed trying to figure things out. And I quite like the result. I have already quite a few ideas to follow up this line of jewellery making. Beware second hand shops, bric-a-brac places and antique fairs!

And just about half an hour ago when I was checking what's going on in my etsy shops, I came across this lovely treasury by Jay. I love the bright blues and glowing oranges. And the exploration of complementary colours. Thanks Jay!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

No Gobbledegooks

                              Picture taken from the wonderful selection of

In my former life, when I was working in the corporate world, visiting marketing, motivation, coaching and god-knows-what-else trainings was part of the business culture. It used to amuse me how much of what was passed down could simply be described as a deluge of big words, jargon, gobbledegooks. Looking around, I had the strange feeling that many of the participants had zoned out before the trainer got past his personal introduction...

A completely different affair is the piece I read this morning on the etsy blog while I had my first cup of tea. Clear, precise, no hot air balloon at all. But very clearly and simply worded advice. I think this piece is a must to read for anyone who starts out with an on-line shop on etsy (or folksy or anywhere on the worldwide web). And it's a good reminder for all of us who have already started out to have a critical look at what we're doing. There is nothing in it which is not doable. I add the link. Have a read and let me know what you think:

and while your reading, here is another one which I personally think is so brilliant because I can see myself very much in it. If you sometimes suffer from (maybe just perceived) creativity block, then that's what you should read to get inspired:

Do you like seaglass as much as I do? See what Jenevieve from Button, Ribbons and Other Things does with them! You may even win a pendant, if you follow her blog.

So, have all a wonderfully creative and imaginative day!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Phewww! I had a 9 to 8 today!

Just now I feel pretty exhausted but at the same time absolutely thrilled! That I paint is nothing new to all who know me but with the nudge of some friends I finally decided to open a second etsy shop for my art work. I spend the last two days with designing a banner, taking decent pictures of my art work and formatting it properly on Gimp (the open source version of photoshop). Five minutes ago I was finally finished. Have a look at it under

Of course, I didn't have much time to do anything creative. But did some marketing for me with a lovely treasury! It's all about environmentally sound craft items! I love that. Have a look at the treasury and at her shop!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

And Just Another One

I felt like spring this morning. I don't know whether it was the sunshine or simply wishful thinking. But I had the urge to do a treasury with items which are bright and fresh...

Valentine's Day is Coming up!

Are you still hunting around for a Valentine's gift? Or do you want to give your hubby, fiance or boyfriend a little hint? I made an etsy treasury up. And for all those who live local: Every item on the list was made in Scotland!
Let's boost the Scottish economy into a spring high!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

The Art Of Procrastination

I just realised, today I seem to circle my working table like a predator its prey. Only I find every single excuse not to approach it and sit down on the chair. After all, there is some dusting to do. Oh, and the dog looks as if it needs to go out. And did the child not just say something about hunger? Oh, and there is this pile of ironing to do... Hang on, ironing? Since when do I see that as something urgent?

The truth is, I'm procrastinating. I do this every time when the market season and Christmas are over. I do it when I need to sit down and put all the ideas for the coming season into an organised form of working plan. 

There are all these sketches and notes in my journal that need to be sort of prioritised (big word!). I need to plan what I'm going to put into the local shop, what goes on etsy and what I will sell at the craft markets. And then I need to think about supplies, time and prices. Not to forget all the wee things like business cards, paper stuff etc. Or the exciting bits like buying beads and things without going over board. Which happens when it's not organised. I made the experience in the beginning.

And for some odd reason, these organisational and administrative stuff always shows up when all I really want to do, is being creative with beads and paint and glue! Which, of course, is always the case, when it turns up.
Therefore, I guess, I better start tomorrow (it's already Sunday evening after all) a week in which I will use the morning for all the thoughts and plans I need to have and make, while the afternoons will be dedicated to continuing my steam punk exploration. And maybe, by end of the week, I'm ready to plunge into this year's creative work. After all, St. Valentine, spring and weddings are approaching slowly but surely.

 I'm a member of the McEtsy clan!

The picture belongs to
It shows a Siberian Tiger, a mostly solitary and territorial animal which can reach 13 feet in size and weigh up to 700 lb. Unfortunately, it is estimated, that there are only about 8'000 of them left.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Back to the Work Bench

Amazing, how fast the holidays are over. It was a brilliant time. Lots of fun with the family. Time to read books, meet friends and see people... A few days ago, I started becoming restless. And today, I gave in to the urge, postponed the big house cleaning session, declared dinner a one-pot-affair and hid in my room, having an outbreak in steampunk activity. I really like experimenting with filigree, watch parts, old keys and pictures. Didn't get as far as I wanted, but it's a good start after all....