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Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Converting our shed into a bar

Well, it is more of a summerhouse than a shed, but we affectionately call it the ‘shed’ (so not to sound too posh). We purchased this summerhouse during Spring 2016, and I began work to convert it into a family bar over the summer months.

Construction of our home-made bar

The basic structure for the bar was to install a length of shelving around two internal sides of the summerhouse with a central island that drinks could be served from.

Summerhouse to bar conversion
Summerhouse to bar conversion

So off I went to B&Q and purchased shelving, and various pieces of wood for the central island/bar. The shelving was quite straight forward to install. The vertical support struts to the Summerhouse making convenient locations to attach the shelf supports. The following picture is taken internally to show how the shelving was attached.

Bar conversion - internal structure
Bar conversion - internal structure

The central island was achieved by firstly constructing a wooden frame which was clad with pine cladding. I extended the above shelving to form the bar surface and additionally to form an overhead beam. I also included a pine turned newel post to complete the look of the bar area, as well as providing some support. All very straightforward to make, and it took me a couple of weeks off and on to convert the summerhouse into a working bar.

Decorating the home-made bar

Now the fun stuff starts, decorating the bar! Firstly, for the optics, I purchased a wall mounted spirit drinks dispenser from Amazon and a lovely bar mirror, advertising my favourite tipple, Newcastle Brown Ale. I also sourced bar drip towels, bar mats and a Carling ice bucket amongst other things.

Home-made bar - decorations
Home-made bar - decorations

My greatest expense by far was an Angram beer pump, complete with beer tap and engine that I purchased directly from the manufacturers.

Home-made bar - Angram beer pump
Home-made bar - Angram beer pump

I asked a fellow crafter to make me a bar-sign to hang on the outside of the bar, and he did a fantastic job! The sign read 'The Cluley Tavern Est 2016'.

'The Cluley Tavern' home bar sign
'The Cluley Tavern' home bar sign

Connecting a bag of Ale to the pump

I managed to get some real ale from my local micro-brewery 'The Elliswood Brewery', and the Ale was supplied to me as a bag in a box, with the Ale was aptly named 'Just One More'!

Elliswood Brewery Real Ale
Elliswood Brewery Real Ale

I removed the bag of Ale from its box and placed it within a cool box, drilled a hole into the cool box lid and fed the hose from the beer pump to the bag of ale.

Real Ale bag connected to beer pump
Real Ale bag connected to beer pump

Several ice packs were placed around the bag of Ale, and I even included a simple temperature monitor so that I could ensure the temperature of the Ale remained suitable. 

The grand opening of our garden bar

I arranged July 10th to be the Grand opening of our bar and invited close family to attend. My Mum and Dad were asked to perform the task of cutting of the ribbon, I even tied balloons to the corners of the shed, I mean bar!

The garden bar grand opening
The garden bar grand opening

Everyone had an enjoyable time, and it really did feel like a real bar inside the shed, and I had fun pulling pints!

Home-made bar - me pulling pints
Home-made bar - me pulling pints

Many thanks for reading about our home-made family bar and if you want any information about how I made the bar, please ask in the comments below.

Mick

Monday, 13 June 2022

Earring studs containing hair - smallest hair keepsake?

I made these earring studs containing horse hair recently and they were very fiddly to make! The sterling silver earring studs containing the horse hair measure just 10mm in diameter and each individual strand of hair is meticulously positioned with resin inside the circular setting. This makes the earring studs one of the smallest items of jewellery that I currently make!

Horse hair earring studs
Horse hair earring studs

Another example of the horse hair ear studs can be seen below. Individual strands of the hair have been set within the earring settings, forming a criss-cross pattern.

Ear studs containing horse hair
Ear studs containing horse hair

And for completeness, here are similar ear studs containing a loved ones human hair.

Earring studs for a loved ones hair
Earring studs for a loved ones hair

But the circular horse hair earring studs above are not the smallest item of jewellery that I make, this honour is awarded to my rope edged silver earring studs that can be made as small as 5mm in diameter. The example below contains the smallest curls of hair that I have ever seen, also demonstrating how the resin setting containing the hair can be coloured to any colour.

Rope edged stud earrings for hair
Rope edged stud earrings for hair

And here is a picture of similar earring studs containing pet hair.

Earring studs containing pet fur
Earring studs containing pet fur

Slightly bigger, measuring just 6mm in diameter are these bead-edged earring studs. The hair or fur is again encased in resin within the circular settings and is surrounded by a single row of silver beads. 

Bead-edged earring studs for hair
Bead-edged earring studs for hair

The earring studs can be made larger to accommodate larger locks of hair and therefore creating a statement piece of jewellery. These teardrop shaped earring studs are approximately twice the size of the above, measuring 10mm x 7mm and the locks of hair are encased within resin inside the teardrop or pear-shaped silver setting.

Teardrop earring studs for a lock of hair
Teardrop earring studs for a lock of hair

I am not sure if there is a world record for the smallest piece of jewellery containing a lock of hair? Although very unlikely, but if I ever make anything smaller than the 5mm setting, I will let you know!

Mick

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Musical Themed Hair Keepsake Pendants

 I was contacted recently with a request for me to make a hair keepsake pendant with a musical theme. I was asked to make a resin heart shaped pendant containing a small lock of hair. In addition to the hair, I was asked for the pendant to contain a small message and a musical reference such as a musical note or cleft.

So, this is what I made; a resin heart shaped pendant containing the lock of hair a small message and a musical clef placed within the top corner of the heart.

Musical themed hair keepsake pendant
Musical themed hair keepsake pendant

Inspired by making a musical themed pendant (I also had a small sample of unused hair that I could use), I decided to make another pendant as an additional gift to my customer. This additional pendant is sterling silver in the form of a musical note and contains a small lock of hair, encased with resin within the sterling silver setting.

Musical note shaped hair keepsake pendant
Musical note shaped hair keepsake pendant 

If anyone could let me know if this musical note symbol has a better technical term, please let me know?

In 13 years of making jewellery, these are the first musical themed hair keepsake pendants that I have made, and I am incredibly pleased how they both turned out.

Mick

Monday, 25 April 2022

Paw print pet memorial jewellery

Understandably I am often asked to add a paw print to my pet memorial jewellery for pet hair and ashes. This is usually a single silver paw print inside the pendant and is often accompanied by a silver name or initials. An example of a pet hair keepsake pendant that I have previously made containing a single paw print can be seen below.

Pet hair keepsake keyring with paw print
Pet hair keepsake keyring with paw print

I was recently contacted by Kathryn who wanted to preserve some hair from her much loved pet within a resin keepsake pendant. Kathryn supplied me with a sketch for her personalised design for the pendant and said "I attach a photo of a basic idea of what I am thinking about - the main question is do you think you will be able to get the four paw prints in as I've drawn? I was just thinking I like the idea of the four as if he were walking / standing there!"

This is the first pet hair pendant that I have made to contain four paw prints, and it is a lovely idea!

Pet hair pendant with paw prints
Pet hair pendant with paw prints

After receiving her pet memorial keepsake pendant, Kathryn sent me this lovely message:

“My jewellery has arrived safe and sound - I absolutely love them they are exactly what I wanted and just perfect. I cannot thank you enough for your amazing kindness in sending the additional pendant and charm - I was overwhelmed! For the first time in so long I cried happy tears...

Thank you so, so much. Now he will not only be forever in my heart but physically close to me as well. I miss him so very much - knowing I have a little part of him with me all the time helps. 

Once again thank you...

Kathryn"

I have been making pet hair remembrance jewellery for many years and I love how the designs keep evolving. Also receiving lovely messages like this after people have received their keepsake jewellery means the world to me. 

Mick

Friday, 1 April 2022

Jewellery Containing Hedgehog Quills (or Spines)

Did you know that the hedgehog quills are made from a protein called Keratin, the same protein that can be found in your nails, skin and hair? An adult hedgehog has 5-7 thousand quills over its body, and the hedgehog sheds the quills over time, with new quills growing back to replace them...just like your hair!

In 2015 I made my first resin pendant containing hedgehog quills (or sometimes known as spines). The lady had sadly recently lost her pet African pygmy hedgehog called Orinoco and sent me the quills so that I could form them into some remembrance jewellery for her. I received the quills and set them within a resin heart shaped pendant (after handling the quills very carefully). I set the quills fanning out from the centre of the heart shaped pendant and included silver lettering for the name of the hedgehog across the centre of the pendant.

Hedgehog Quill Pendant
Hedgehog Quill Pendant

Since making this pendant I have been asked many times to make similar pendants for people (I did not realise how many people kept pet pygmy hedgehogs, with the UK African Pygmy Hedgehog Facebook Group having over fifteen thousand members at the time of writing this). The following example resin pendant was made for the owner of a pygmy hedgehog called Milky. Fewer quills were sent to me this time however as you can see the effect is just as lovely.

Hedgehog Spine Necklace
Hedgehog Spine Necklace

And finally, a sterling silver circular pendant containing a small selection of hedgehog quills; even though very few quills were incorporated into this sterling silver pendant, they create a wonderful effect.

Silver Necklace with Hedgehog Quills
Silver Necklace with Hedgehog Quills

Many thanks for reading about my jewellery incorporating hedgehog quills. Quick question, do you refer to them as Quills or Spines?

Mick

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Setting white hair in resin jewellery

Some customers mention to me that they have received advise that white hair or fur does not work within resin jewellery. This simply is not true. Depending upon the texture (and whiteness) of the hair, sometimes it may become less visible within the jewellery, however this is not always the case. White hair or fur can be just as visible as coloured hair within the resin jewellery, which is why I always ask people who want me to preserve white hair within resin to email me a photo of the hair so that I can advise further.

Where two colour tones of hair are required to be preserved within resin jewellery, where one of the colours is white (i.e., white/brown hair or white/black hair), there is sufficient contrast in hair colours that the white hair or fur will be visible. Here is an example of white pet fur being displayed against the brown fur within a resin pendant. As you can see, the white fur is clearly visible due to the contrast in colours when set against the brown fur.

White and brown fur resin pendant
White and brown fur resin pendant

When there is no contrast in hair colour available, for example if the hair is only pure white, the resin behind the hair can be coloured to any contrasting colour to allow the white hair to become more visible. Here is an example of quite fine white fur being displayed within a resin pendant that has had a black colour applied to the resin behind the fur.

Coloured resin pendant with white hair
Coloured resin pendant with white hair

Similarly, white horse hair will be visible within resin jewellery if the pendant is coloured to a contrasting colour, here is an example of white horse hair set within resin pendants or charms that have been coloured blue behind the hair. Any suitable contrasting colour can be used to create this effect.

Coloured resin pendants for white horse hair
Coloured resin pendants for white horse hair

Setting the white hair within a sterling silver pendant bezel can also improve the visibility of the white hair. here is an example of white (or cream) hair set within a sterling silver backed pendant. As you can see, the sterling silver backing of the pendant provides sufficient contrast to allow the hair to be visible.

Silver backed pendant for white hair
Silver backed pendant for white hair

And lastly, here is an example of three hair colours (cream, black and white) from a brindle-coloured pet, set within a sterling silver and resin pendant.

Resin pendant with brindle coloured hair
Resin pendant with brindle coloured hair

Many thanks for reading about my methods of setting white hair within resin jewellery and I hope that it gives you confidence that it can be achieved.

Mick

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Horse Tooth Paperweight

I recently blogged about the items that I made in the past for preserving teeth (both human and animal) within resin keepsake jewellery and paperweights. Since writing about this subject, I have recently been asked to preserve a horse tooth within a resin paperweight, so I thought I would show it off.

I was contacted by Janet who had a horse tooth that she wanted preserved within a resin paperweight. Sadly, she had lost her darling horse at the grand age of 30 (which is approximately 85 in human years), and the tooth had fallen out just prior to him passing. As you can imagine, the horse tooth was incredibly special to Janet, and she looked forward to having it displayed on her desk.

Horse tooth paperweight
Horse tooth paperweight

Horse teeth is not something that I have worked with before (it is the most unusual equine object that I have made), and I was quite amazed at the size of the tooth once I received it. To give you an idea of scale, the resin paperweight containing the tooth measures approximately 1.25 inches high and 3.0 inches in diameter; and the tooth almost fills the entire paperweight!

Equine paperweight containing a horse tooth
Equine paperweight containing a horse tooth

Many thanks for reading about my horse tooth paperweight, if you would like to read more about the types of jewellery and paperweights I have made with teeth, please visit my resin keepsake jewellery for teeth blog.

Mick

Monday, 21 February 2022

Keepsake Jewellery for Bird Feathers

I last blogged an article about resin jewellery made with bird feathers almost 10 years ago to the day. So, I thought I would show you some recent examples of jewellery made with preserved bird feathers.

I love incorporating bird feathers into my jewellery because the resin not only enhances the natural colours of the feather but has a magnifying effect upon the barbs that make up the feather. Fun fact: Did you know that a bird's feathers are connected to muscles that are attached to the skin. This allows the bird to move their feathers independently and not just by flapping them!

Helen contacted me recently who sadly lost her Green Amazon Parrot. Helen wanted the tip of her Parrot feather set within one of my resin heart shaped pendants; this is the selection of pendants that I made for her, containing different sections of the feather that was sent to me.

Resin Parrot feather pendants
Resin Parrot feather pendants

The resin really does show off the beautiful colours that make up the Parrot feather. Here is a keyring that I made containing two bird feathers, side by side.

Keyring containing bird feathers
Keyring containing bird feathers

And a similar teardrop pendant containing black and white budgie tail feathers.

Budgie tail feather pendants
Budgie tail feather pendants

And I am not just limited to preserving the feathers into items of jewellery for keepsakes. Here I have encased the feathers into a resin paperweight. 

Paperweight containing bird feathers
Paperweight containing bird feathers

Finally, proving that it is not just feathers from domestic birds such as parrot, budgie or canary,  here is a feather that was sent to me from an incredibly special chicken!

Chicken feather resin pendant
Chicken feather resin pendant

Many thanks for reading about my items of jewellery containing bird feathers. If you would like to read how important my jewellery is for the owner of a bird, please read my Mangos Last Feather blog post.

Mick


Monday, 14 February 2022

Preserving Aircraft Rivets & Swarf

On two separate occasions recently, I have been asked to preserve rivets and swarf that were taken from the restoration of aircraft. I was contacted by a gentleman whose mother and father used to work on the Vulcan Bombers. He wanted me to preserve a small selection of rivets from the last flying Vulcan, serial number XH558. The Vulcan Bomber XH558 is currently in a museum and looked after by the Vulcan to the Sky Trust.

I received the rivets for preserving inside a resin paperweight and these are the labels that were displayed on the box containing the rivets. Firstly, an image of the Vulcan Bomber XH558.
Vulcan Bomber XH558
Vulcan Bomber XH558

And on the reverse side of the box there are details of the rivets that were from the Vulcan Bomber XH558, including the 1965 packing date.

Vulcan XH558 Rivets Packaging
Vulcan XH558 Rivets Packaging

I incorporated several rivets from the Vulcan Bomber inside a resin square paperweight, along with the artwork from the box.

Vulcan Bomber Rivets Paperweight
Vulcan Bomber Rivets Paperweight

The second item that I made recently contains original swarf from a WWII Hawker Typhoon that is being rebuilt to flying standards. The Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group are rebuilding the Hawker Typhoon. They are currently in the process of rebuilding the rear fuselage based on the original metal from the plane which crashed in April 1945. As a result of this work a member a member of the charity sent to me some original swarf and rivets for encasing inside a pendant.

And here it is, the original swarf and rivets from the Hawker Typhoon preserved within a resin ad sterling silver pendant.

Hawker Typhoon Rivets & Swarf Pendant
Hawker Typhoon Rivets & Swarf Pendant

Many thanks for reading about how I preserved this historical aircraft metalwork inside jewellery and paperweights.

Mick

Monday, 31 January 2022

New Range of Keepsake Jewellery for Hair and Ashes

 I thought I would highlight my new range of keepsake jewellery that is suitable for both hair and ashes. These are sterling silver and resin pendants, and they are beautiful. The pendants have curved edges to them, offering protection from daily life but these edges also provide a frame to the enclosed hair or ashes from a loved one or pet.

The first example is a sterling silver circular keepsake pendant. This example pendant measures 17mm in diameter and contains both a lock of hair and a small quantity of ashes sealed within resin. The pendant would be suitable for just a lock of hair, sample of ashes or a combination of both.

Silver circular pendant for hair or ashes
Silver circular pendant for hair or ashes

The second example is a sterling silver oval keepsake pendant. This example pendant measures 26mm x 13mm (other sizes available) and can again be used to display hair, ashes, or a combination of both.

Silver oval keepsake pendant for hair or ashes
Silver oval keepsake pendant for hair or ashes

The third example is a  sterling silver heart shaped keepsake pendant. This example measures 21m m x 18mm. Other items can be added to the pendants such as small flowers, colours, and initials.

Silver heart memorial pendant for ashes or hair
Silver heart memorial pendant for ashes or hair

This new range of sterling silver keepsake jewellery is also available in teardrop and rectangular shapes. All pendants can be used for preserving either hair, ashes, or a combination of both. With all these pendants, the settings can be left clear or coloured to any colour of your choosing.

Many thanks for reading!

Mick


Thursday, 20 January 2022

My poem about the life of a train

I have been reading my previous blog posts and discovered that it has been 10 years since I last drafted a poem (back in February 2012), titled Hello Mr Snowman, a poem about our snowman that melted away.

So, I thought I should share a poem that I wrote when I was at high school. 

125 mph the train sped by
Like a hawk falling from the sky
Through the bushes, rivers, and trees
Not stopping to catch the midnight breeze.

High Speed Train (HST)
High Speed Train (HST)

But in the future, it will start to die
No longer will it fly
It will fall from a breakers hammer
Oh boy will there be a big dilemma.

Decommissioned High Speed Train (HST)
Decommissioned High Speed Train (HST)

I authored this poem about a train for a high school project about 40 years ago (I was a train spotter at the time). It is quite memorable for me because of the grade that the teacher gave me... C+ (which was quite upsetting at the time); poetry and art is so subjective, and to grade a person's personal poem is wrong, what do you think?

Mick


Tuesday, 11 January 2022

How to care for and protect resin jewellery

I am often asked how to care for resin jewellery and the ways to prevent wear and tear or even discolouration to the resin.

Resin jewellery is prone to discolouration or yellowing if exposed to sunlight for extended periods of time. I always ensure that the resin I use is an industrial type of resin, containing UV inhibitors and is therefore UV stabilized to minimise such damage. Most craft resins and home project resins are not UV stabilized.

Resin Jewellery
Resin Jewellery

I always supply customers with care instructions with their completed jewellery. If these simple instructions are followed, the jewellery will last a life time. I have items of resin jewellery that I made over 10 years ago and they still look as new.

The following summarise the methods used to care for resin jewellery:

1) To keep the shine to silver jewellery and findings, use an excellent quality silver polishing cloth, such as Goddard's silver polish cloth that can be purchased from most supermarkets.

Silver polishing cloth
Silver polishing cloth

2) Avoid exposing the resin jewellery to unnecessary chemicals or products which may cause damage to the silver or resin. e.g., Sun lotion, bleach and other related products can damage silver and resin.

3) Regularly polishing the resin jewellery with a small amount of carnauba wax will prevent scratches and wear to the resin. I use Meguiars Deep Crystal Step 3 Carnauba Wax that can be purchased from any car maintenance shop such as Halfords.

Resing care - Wax
Resing care - Wax

4) Resin jewellery can be cleaned with lukewarm soapy water if required, but bathing, showering, and swimming with resin jewellery should be avoided to prevent over exposure.

5) Resin jewellery should not be exposed to extended periods of sun or heat as this can cause unnecessary bleaching and damage to the jewellery

6) When the resin jewellery is not being worn, it is best to keep it in its original packaging to help keep it in optimum condition.

I hope these care instructions for resin jewellery are helpful and enables you to have many years of enjoyment from your jewellery.

Mick

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

Bespoke Paperweights Containing Medical Vials

So, this is my first blog post of 2022 and a Happy New Year to you all! This is likely to be the last thing you would want to see after the difficult couple of years we have had; however late last year I was asked to make several bespoke paperweights containing medical vials (yes you know the sort!).
Bespoke paperweights containing medical vials
Bespoke paperweights containing medical vials

The custom-made resin paperweights containing the vials are to be given as Christmas presents for the clinicians and admin staff of a primary care network (who have given up so many weekends over the past year to get them delivered).

Custom made paperweight gift for a Clinician

Obviously, the vials were empty (and sterilised) before they were sent to me. I encased the vials within bespoke square resin paperweights, and they turned out great

I am sure they made great gifts however the recipients may not want a reminder of the past year! I do hope this year is better for all of us and we manage to get back to the things that we love.

Mick