Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Just a quick one ...

This really is a quick one today, mainly to say that I have finally got my head around doing a Newsletter (and, I think, without blowing up the internet) - if you'd like to sign up for it, you can do so here.

Synergy, at the Spa Hotel in Saltburn on the 6th October, was lovely.  It's wonderful to be part of such a friendly group of people, and Dragonrat will definitely be at the next one in the spring.  We were right next to an open window, looking out over the beach and headland - all very distracting!  I'll leave you with a couple of photos from the day.

Our stall

The top room, where all the cool people were.

The main room - absolutely swimming with people.

The view out of our window - from the surrounding countryside ...

... to the people on the beach.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Losing the Plot

When I first started Dragonrat, I had in mind that I'd be doing more specialized items around Pagan, Wiccan and Gothic themes.  One of the things I wanted to stock was cards.  Having the artistic ability of a brick, I knew I couldn't produce these myself, so I found a supplier of lovely New Age and fantasy cards.  I'm still with them, and today I had a small delivery of some new designs.  Many of the cards cross categories.  The Three Hares, shown above, is one of two new designs by the artist Dashinvaine.  Hares abound in Celic mythology, and are associated with the Celtic goddess Eostre.  One of Eostre's bailiwicks was  the moon, and the hare is often depicted gazing at the moon.  The way the hares are arranged on the card also fits with the Pagan/Wiccan Wheel of the Year, showing the eternal progression from one season to another.

 Anyway, back to cards.  The problem with getting deliveries of these cards is the packaging.  It drives me up the wall.  Each card is packaged in its own cellophane sleeve, and a batch of the same cards are then packed into another, slightly larger, cellophane sleeve.  Both types have seals, which are basically sticky strips.  I'm sure you know what I mean.  New cards tend to be especially annoying, as the envelope is invariably inserted in a way that it covers whatever is written inside, and always at the far end of the sleeve.  I then descend into a time of despair, as I try to see what's inside each one without breaking the sleeve or sticking an open sleeve to the card itself.

If it was a case of once this was done that was it, and the only time they had to be touched again was when someone bought some, I could probably cope.  But the cards come with me to most of the Fairs I do, and have to be unpacked to go into the card spinner, and then returned to their packages at the end of the day.  I gave up on that rather quickly, and got some grip-seal envelopes that fit most of them.  It's still very fiddly, but at least I haven't got bags sticking to sleeves sticking to cards.

I tend to stick (no pun intended) to a few specific artists.  My favourite is the fantasy artist Anne Stokes.  Her art is so believable that it feels like it has been drawn from a live subject - hard to do when many of your subjects are dragons, unicorns, angels and faeries.  Linda Ravenscroft is another.  My favourite of hers is Emerald Heart, a faery card with definite Art Deco overtones.  Then there's Briar, and his mainly mythological themes.  Probably my favourite of all my cards are the dragon Yule cards, by Anne Stokes.  I can't say what it would have meant to find a dragon in my stocking.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Guest blog - A Shameful Case of Neglect

Greetings, humans.  My name is Venus (I'm the pretty little blue girl in the photo with my hulking brother, Mason).  I'm doing the blog this time, and I wish to lodge a complaint.  Apparently our slave, your so-called 'Dragonrat' person, is going to leave us alone on Sunday while she goes to play in the forest at the Guisborough Forest Festival.  This is not acceptable behaviour - what happens if there's an emergency, and all the food goes away?  What are we supposed to do; just wait until she decides to come home?  The least she could do is take us with her.  We wouldn't take up a lot of room, and I'm sure no-one would mind!

Actually, it does sound quite interesting.  There's going to be "heavy horse demonstrations, coracle making, bee-keeping, craft stalls, music and entertainment, food and refreshments plus lots lots more!"  I don't really understand why anybody would want to see fat horses (they've probably eaten too much, just like Mason),or why you'd want to keep bees in a cage (wouldn't they just fly out?), but I'm good at wood-carving, and I really, really like food.  Music's good, too.

Anyway, as if this wasn't bad enough, she's doing it again the weekend after!  Inside, this time, at the Chris Cave Foundation Summer Fair.  So you can see that we're in serious danger of starving here.  It's just not good enough.  I'm going to discuss the situation with the others; maybe we'll go on strike.


This is Leigh here.  I will indeed be at both of these events.

Guisborough Forest Festival is on Sunday 9th September at 10am. to 1pm, and the Chris Cave Foundation Summer Fair is on Saturday 15th September at St William's Church, South Avenue, Dormanstown, Redcar.

No animals were hurt in the production of this blog, although some might go without their yoghurt drops for complaining.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Guest blog - Moon

Hi, my name is Moon.  I've only just come to live with Mam and Dad, but in the week or so that I've been here it's become pretty obvious that Mam struggles with this 'blog' thing.  I can't believe none of the others have helped out before, and thought I'd step up and help out.

This is me.  Moon.  I may have already said that, but I'm a rat, so you have to bear with me.

My reading isn't all that good, and I tend to prefer to chew on reading material rather than actually read it, but I don't think Mam's explained where the name of her business came from.  I even heard her and Dad talk about how people get the name wrong, and call it DragonART instead.  So I thought that I'd clear that up today.

Even though Mam lives near Redcar now, she's actually from South Wales, from a village called Caerleon.  They had lots of Romans there ('a long time ago', which means later than last week) and King Arthur was re-crowned there and had a round table, or something.  Because she's Welsh, it's a rule that she has to like dragons, and this is why she's been obsessed with the since she was little (not as little as me, though) and has them all over our house.

So, that's the 'dragon' bit out of the way.  Now for the rat bit.  Not 'art', but 'rat'.  That's very important.  You must not forget this.

What Mam doesn't know is that all of us rats speak to each other - it's too high-pitched for her or Dad to hear,but we have long conversations when we're not being played with, eating, sleeping or teasing the black-and-white thing that's called a dog.  There's a myth that, long ago, before Mam and Dad moved here, they didn't have rats, but I don't believe that.  The myth says that their dog, Fudge, went to the Rainbow Bridge and they were too sad to have another dog, so they got a rat instead.  Then they learned that rats should never be by themselves, and got some more.  They learned how clever we are, and how much love we have to give, and that really we're just like little dogs (that's wrong - we're not like dogs, dogs are like massive rats).  As their rats grew old, and went to the Rainbow Bridge, they got more, and eventually started rescuing abandoned and mistreated rats, and rehoming rats who couldn't stay in their original homes.  That's how I came here; I was rehomed from a wonderful place called Rodent Refuge with my sister, Sun, and big fat brother, Mason.  We were lucky, but there are a lot of rats out there who don't have their own forever home, which is very sad.

So, anyway, the myth says Mam needed a name for the jewellery business - something that was a bit different, like her jewellery.  I haven't seen the jewellery yet, as it's kept somewhere else, but I'm sure it tastes very nice.  So she put together her two favourite things,and came up with Dragonrat.  Not 'art', 'rat'.  Then she drew a little rat, and gave her dragon wings, and that became her logo and business name.

Right, I have to go now.  This typing thing is difficult when you only have tiny hands, plus I haven't eaten for at least half an hour.  I might write again, but I might make one of my brothers and sisters get off their lazy bums and do it instead.

Can you close the cage door on your way out, please?  We don't want the dog getting in here and stealing all the good bits of food.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Not everybody wants to be holey!

Something us jewellery-makers often seem to forget is that not everybody wants holes poked in them.  Whether by choice or necessity, some people don't have their ears pierced.  I remember, back in the day (it can't be that long ago, surely?) before I was allowed to have my ears pierced, being offered the option of clip-on earrings.  They were all hideous, and were aimed at women my grandmother's age (she can only have been in her sixties, but that was so old back then), and they pinched like mad when they were on but they were better than nothing.  Then came the heady day when I was allowed to finally have my ears pierced (which went hideously wrong, but that's another story) and clip-ons disappeared into the murky past.

When I started making jewellery, I had a look around for clip-on earrings, but they weren't exactly thick on the ground.  So, remembering how uncomfortable they were, I ordered a couple of different types of clips and set about testing.  The general rule of thumb is that they are either comfortable but too loose and fall off, or they are secure but pinch like nobody's business.  There was a screw type that could be tightened just enough, but you had to keep screwing and unscrewing them, and it was fiddly.  Then I found a combination of the clip and screw, and have used them ever since.  You set the screw to the tightness you want, but then use them as clip-ons from that point forward.  You may have to occasionally adjust, but they're nowhere near as fiddly as pure screws.

Since then, I've tried to make as many of my designs as possible in both a pierced and unpierced option.  Not all, because sometimes a charm is too heavy to allow a clip to stay on, or sometimes the charm physically won't fit.  I've also got to think of how it will dangle, as the charm part will rest against the lower loop of the clip.  Sometimes it's not possible because of colour; I've yet to find a reliable stockist of bronze or black coloured clip/screws at a reasonable cost, but I'm still looking.  But the majority of designs are available for pierced or unpierced ears.  So, if you know someone who doesn't want to get holey (or isn't allowed to!), point them my way.  I should be able to help.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Button mad

I knew writing these posts was going to be awful.  I've been putting this off for weeks, wracking my brains for a subject.  I was going to do a post on Hallowe'en, but I've decided to save that for next.  So I'm back at buttons.

The reason for having so many buttons in the first place is that I use them in making earrings.  My favourite are the little 8mm four-holed matte ones, which come in a massive range of colours.  They're the mainstay of my button stud earrings collection, and I nearly had a heart attack a couple of years ago when they stopped producing the purple ones.  I do use other sizes of this type of button, but 8mm seems to be the ideal.

From there it was a logical leap to using the wide variety of character buttons that are available.  You can get a themed button for almost anything these days, and some of them are just too cute to pass up.  (See how I managed to casually fit Hallowe'en in there?)  The seasonal studs are perfect for office wear where you want to have a bit of fun but rules prohibit dangly earrings, and they're very popular with children, too.  I'm currently trying to source the little magnets, so that kids without pierced ears can have them as well.

Buttons come in a variety of materials; you'd expect plastic, ceramic, metal, even wood, but what about Swarovski crystal, or coconut shell like the one used for the brooch above?  This one's quite large at 40mm, and I've used matching but smaller ones to make earrings.  They come in all shapes and sizes, so it seems silly just to sew them on clothes.  They deserve to be showcased; they may be utilitarian, but that doesn't mean they can't look good at the same time.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

A slight addiction

I have to admit that I have a problem.  I seem to be addicted to making bracelets.  I make far more bracelets than I sell, but I can't stop myself.  A bracelet is the ideal compromise when jewellery-making.  Earrings can normally be done pretty quickly, and often I don't feel like I've really accomplished anything.  Necklaces are either just a case of adding a pendant to a chain or cord (in which case, see the problem with earrings) or they're more complicated and take me longer than I can comfortably sit in one session.  Bracelets can usually be done in one session, and involve enough work to make it feel worthwhile.

The theme for this week has been buttons.  I've got a box of reclaimed (for 'reclaimed', read 'painstakingly cut off clothing' , 'begged and borrowed from friends and relatives' and/or 'bought from charity shops') buttons of all shapes and sizes, plus spares that were bought for dress-making and knitting patterns but never used.  I also have two boxes of brand new specifically bought buttons, again of all shapes and sizes.  A few times a month, I dump these buttons out on my bead mat and rake through them, trying to decide what to do.  I invariably sit there for half an hour, picking through them, before sighing and putting them back in the box.

This week, I decided, would be different.  No more pawing at them, action would be taken.  Not only would action be taken, but action would be taken with the buttons I had deemed most boring - the white shirt buttons!  I had loads of those.  It was only when I started to separate the white buttons out and pile them together that it became evident just how pretty they were.  Most of them were pearlescent.  Some of them were even natural shell. 

So the decision was made: instead of using some, I would use lots; and to satisfy my bracelet craving (I hadn't made one for days!) I would make a button charm bracelet.  So I did, and liked it so much that I decided to make more: first a white-silver-grey-black graduated one, and then a more colourful one with my favourite 8mm four-hole buttons.  I currently have a tentative order for a much darker version, which I really should be doing now.  So, goodbye for now ...

P.S. I figured out how to put photos in - yay me!!!