At last ……. Whew!!!

Its been both exciting and exhausting fitting out and moving into our new shop …

At last, the last box is unpacked, the floor is swept and its time to get back to work again. Its been both exciting and exhausting fitting out and moving into our new shop at Calodyne in the north of Mauritius. Its a 25 minute drive from our old studio at Roches Noires, where we live, and I must say that its quite nice to separate home from work.

From just a shell when we first looked at the shop, its is now fitted out with lovely showcases, some of which were modified and moved from the old studio; lights and plugs have been installed; a new toilet; a kitchenette/bead washing and cleaning area and its very comfortable.

Unfortunately Jean Claude cannot fit his big fusing kilns or cutting table or all his glass painting equipment into our new shop, so he will be working from the old studio when necessary.

Its great to have our stock control and our costing in the same place as our stock at last which makes for much easier and quicker costing for new designs and easier stock control.

All in all, we are very happy and relaxed. The only item which needs to be completed is the connection for my oxygen to the two torches. We have now been waiting for one month for this to be done and today is supposed to be the magic day !!! Lets hope it comes true!!!

I will post two photographs of the new shop. The first will show where it is in relation to Intermart Supermarket and the second will show the front of the shop. Its very convenient for people living in this area as there is not much here in the way of a place to buy good quality gifts for occasions – birthday, wedding, anniversary. We are proud to have been awarded the much coveted trademark “made in moris” which guarantees both the quality of our products and the percentage of local content.

Hope to see you for a visit if you are in the area at any time. We would love to have your feedback on what we have done and perhaps even how we can improve the set-up.

Enjoy your week!

 

 

 

 

 

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The disappearing blog ?

The Festive Season is over and its time to be creative in 2016!

Well, perhaps my laptop is a safer bet when it comes to writing blogs. I just completed a long blog this morning and tapped the incorrect icon on my iPad and whoosh it has disappeared into the ether!!! Infuriating to say the least. So, let me have another go ….

Thank goodness the Festive Season is over. I ate far too much of the nice fattening goodies and have gained 3 1/2 kilos. So, this morning it was down to serious business with brown toast and an egg for breakfast.

The weather here at Roches Noires on the north east coast of Mauritius is beautiful today. Jean Claude, my husband, enjoyed an hour long walk along the coastal road, bordered on one side by beach bungalows such as ours and on the other side by a forest. I did 40 minutes of cycling on my exercise bike – hope the message got through to the fat cells that their lives are going to be short-lived. This year I made a Christmas Pudding – my big sister’s recipe, crammed with whole cherries, fruits and nuts. Eaten with a brandy sauce – yes, lots of brandy please! – it is hard to resist. One piece of that each day is probably sufficient to put on weight. Well, sad to say it almost finished. Perhaps I will leave the rest to Jean Claude to enjoy.

The thing I enjoy most on the exercise bike – after all who likes to exercise!?! – is that I can read my digital lamp working magazines whilst I cycle. I am usually sad to hear the ring of the timer saying I have completed the course.

Its really hot in Mauritius at the moment. Luckily on our coast we get the breeze. On the west of the island they are just melting in the hot, humid, sticky conditions.

I started recently playing around with silver glass and silver itself. One of our new additions to the range is a 3 piece choker which sits beautifully on the neck. I do a focal bead with silver glass and silver and just the one bead with silver spacers on either side is very pretty. You can see some of them on our Facebook page and also our website. https://www.studio44mauritius.com. Facebook STUDIO44MAURITIUS.

With the start of a new year – its always exciting isn’t it? – I have been thinking of new designs and new products to design in our silver-plated upmarket range of jewelry. I love working with wire and this year I must really try out some new earing designs using silver plated wire. Or, perhaps even go the whole hog and buy some silver wire to try out the tourist market and see if they are willing to pay for silver.

We had so many shows in November and December that we were exhausted by 24th and have taken it a bit easy since then. Lots of reading, relaxing, swimming in our beautiful crystal clear lagoon and yes, unfortunately eating lots of good things too. Well, I think its good to have a break from routine. It kinda charges our batteries and get us in the mood for the new year.

I certainly am ready for some exciting projects this year. We need to find export markets for our products; find one or two more select stores in Mauritius in the south and the north of the island to stock our products; and I need to discipline myself to be serious about my blog and post something interesting every week. There is so much to learn with Pinterest, Instagram, twitter, etc and its not always possible to find the time to learn how to better connect with the world digitally.

I thank you for reading my blog and wish you and yours every success and happiness in 2016.

 

 

 

 

New meaning to the term CHOKE HOLD!

Exciting jewelry trends for the new season – I am off to my torch to lamp work!

Its interesting to browse through the sites to see the jewelry trends for the new season. The new CHOKE HOLD designs will hopefully not have the same effect on the wearers! Some of them are so wide that only those women with beautiful long necks will be able to carry off the look. Perhaps to make a statement at a gala event or on the red carpet? Chanel has a beautiful wide bead choker in blue and grey beads. The Christian Dior asymmetrical chain choker is also interesting. It gives me an idea for chain with a nice focal bead on one side. 

I’ve been busy lamp working some intricate bicone beads with matching spacers, for our recently launched 3-piece chokers. The first batch of chokers sold out very quickly and the beads on the new batch will be in the new season’s colors.

I love the versatile single-earring trend. Whether asymmetrical in shape or length, the beauty is in the irregularity. I have a client who has been doing this for years – she is usually ahead of the trend! I love making earrings with silver-plated wire and my lamp worked beads and crystals, so this is exciting.

The richly hued brass, the metal of the moment, goes beautifully with the Africa animal beads I love to make.  Now I need to find some interesting brass pieces. Lately I have been considering starting to do the metal work myself. The new magazine, Artisan Jewellery Times http://www.artisanjewelrytimes.com has tempted me. It would be nice to design the piece from scratch, instead of relying on what is available commercially.

I am designing some wire wound rings to showcase my beads in which I use silver foil, murrini and silver reactive glass. They take a while to make but with the different layers and elements are fascinating.

For those addicted to seed beading, the chunky, earthy pieces ideal for retro-fit babes are a dream come true. There is so much one can do with seed beads.

The bracelet by Derek Lam on the harpersbazaar.com site is particularly interesting. Its a simple bangle with a very large bead hanging on it. My creative juices are flowing and I have a couple of versions in the pipeline with different materials.

I am also pleased to see the return of the charm bracelet. We have silver-plated ones with a nice variety of charms typical to Mauritius. It bring back vivid memories of sitting on the couch as a little girl holding my older sister’s heavy silver charm bracelet. That was a treat for me. The charms were so beautifully crafted.

Well, there is lots to plan so I had better get started!

Until next time

Spring, please come quickly ………

After an unusually cold winter in Mauritius – cold, rainy and windy – I look forward to the first signs of Spring. Yes, its still at least 4 weeks away, but its a good time to look at the spring colors and think about designing some jewelry to go with those lovely pastel colors. I cannot wait to pack away my warm winter woollies, used during my recent visit to South Africa and used again after my return in early July and to shop for some light filmy dresses in the new colors.

From the top ten color trends for Spring revealed by Pantone to the other colors predicted for spring and summer, ideas are starting to develop for some new color combinations. With Aquamarine, Scuba Blue, Lucite Green, Classic Blue, Toasted Almond, Strawberry Ice, a lovely warm Tangerine,  Custard good enough to eat and the rich Marsala and Glacier Gray there is much fun to be had!

Others have mentioned Dusk Blue, Tree Top, Woodbine, Sandstone, Titanium and Lavender Herb.

On the ecolorworld.com (Albena Radeva) site the trends for summer are the rainforest’s vivid colors with a photo of the feathers of a brightly colored parrot clearly conveying the tropical feeling. To summarize, its a combination of luscious greens, bright corals and fuchsias, bright turquoise and earthy brown, which, as Albena suggests, binds the colors to give a more organic appeal. I really love the Colour Combinations Inspiration Board on this site and I am now a “Follower”. I look forward to future posts.

As a lampworker, I am inspired firstly by color. In the morning when I sit down at my torch, unless I am making beads for a specific order, my inspiration comes from the beautiful colors of Italian glass rods in my stack. I will look at the colors and one or two will attract my attention. That is my starting point. The design comes afterwards and develops as I work the colors in the flame. Sometimes I will have an idea from the colors what I am going to do, and once I start melting the glass, that idea changes completely. People often ask me where all my designs come from. When one follows bead making sites, one is obliged to pick up ideas. The way a dot has been placed, the way a flower petal has been formed, or just a combination of two colors can lead to a completely different design. As it is unethical to copy another bead makers work, one has to come up with one’s own designs and style. Although, as you can imagine its not impossible for two people to make the same bead at the same time. It happened to me recently. I made a new design and a few days later on one of the bead making sites, saw exactly the same thing posted by someone else. And it was not a design which I had ever seen before. I had not posted a photo of mine, so there could not have been any copying there. Its inevitable that once in a while this will happen. The bead making community is a very friendly and helpful one. Its rather like belonging to a worldwide family with the same passion. And its a real treat to see the incredible beads produced by the top artists!

So, I now have some searching to do for some new glass colors which will hopefully echo the colors for Spring and Summer.

Talk to you again soon. Enjoy the weekend.

Beads for Africa …

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Yes, these are actually going to Africa on our newly designed swizzle sticks with the big five. They were lots of fun to make and exciting to take out of the kiln this morning. We love to innovate. It’s important, in my opinion, to ensure that there is always something new to see in the showroom or on our on-line shop.

Time to take out the winter woollies …

Well, the temperature certainly has changed over the past week. Electricity consumption in the country has dropped drastically according to the survey by the Central Electricity Board. Amazing how much power all the air cons on the island require.

We have had an anti-cyclone with strong winds and lots of rain. In fact its been like August weather, certainly not June weather. Its the strongest winds we have ever had with an anti-cyclone. The earth is definitely suffering and the weather is upside down!

We are looking forward to the coming months. We have new designs in our silver plated range which are being developed for probable launch in September in time for Spring. The three new designs which we recently launched have sold well and its a special feeling when one sees one’s designs being appreciated. Jean Claude has done well in that respect. I have added some new designs of lamp worked beads and the result has been gratifying.

Its Thursday already and the weekend is around the corner. Hopefully we will have some sunshine so that we can warm up a little and enjoy a good swim in the lagoon. So, this is wishing you all a great, safe and happy weekend. Until next time …

Hearts galore!

I have had such fun during the past week.  Bead presses are a wonderful way to get some variety into one’s range of bead shapes and its been fun this last week to make a few from each bead press – I purchased 5 bead presses – and to make them up into some bracelets which are totally different from anything we have made to date.

The bead presses are made of brass and come in two halves. The bottom has pins to enable one to fit the top of the press exactly onto the bottom to get a perfect shape. It takes a bit of practice to be able to wind exactly the right amount of glass onto the steel mandrel before inserting the glass into the press and pressing. Too little glass and the shape lacks some form; too much glass and it oozes in the middle and gives an ugly ridge around the bead and spoils the footprint (the holes on either side of the bead).

I love the 5 Zoozii’s presses which I purchased in December. I have the Itty Bitty Trio’s. There are two of them which gives me 6 shapes of very tiny beads to use in bracelets. The shell duo gives two different sizes of shells with the hole running from top to bottom and the heart duo gives two dainty flat hearts suitable for bracelets. The one I have probably used the most however is the Nugget press which gives three different sizes of nuggets – they look a lot like curved pillows.

Now I am after some lentil presses and will most likely go for the straight sided lentil, which, as I have read on the internet, is an easier shape to wear than the curved lentil. I will go Zoozii’s again as I have really enjoyed the accuracy and ease of use of their presses.

I don’t have photos on this blog but you can see the different bead shapes if you go onto our STUDIO44MAURITIUS Facebook page or our website https://www.studio44mauritius.com.

Its quite daunting when the first presses arrive. One tends to think “Oh my gosh, will I be able to manage this?” But, after making plasticine molds using each shape in the presses, I got used to the feel of them and realized that it would simply be a case of PPP -practice, practice, practice, just like everything else in lamp working. I was pleasantly surprised as to how quickly I got the hang of it.

One problem with using brass presses is that the glass is “shocked” by being pressed and it introduces enormous stress into the glass which can result in the bead breaking into pieces when one takes it out of the mold. The secret is to reheat the glass immediately it has been pressed so that the strain is removed an then to “anneal” it in the tip of the flame for about 4 seconds so that the outside of the bead stays warm and it cools slowly from the inside out.

The other day I was using the baby square mold on the Itty Bitty and I took it a pressed bead out of the mold and it broke and flew all over the place – in fact it simply exploded. Not realizing that one piece had descended onto my chair between my legs, I suddenly felt some heat on my leg and looked down to see the towel which I use to cover my chair was burning! That certainly made me move quickly! After 8 years of lamp working and many many burn marks on my lower arms, I now wear a long sleeved blouse made of pure cotton and it helps because the glass does not stick to the cotton when it flies all over the place and I don’t get burnt any longer. If one heats a glass rod too quickly when getting the glass to the molten stage in order to wind it around the stainless steel rod (called a mandrel), the rod tends to shock and little pieces of glass can fly all over the place. I even had a piece on my lip one day!

It was a thrill yesterday morning to open the kiln (the oven I use to anneal the beads) and to take out a dozen beautiful little hearts which will go into bracelets for Mothers’ Day which is on Sunday 31st May here in Mauritius.

Wishing everyone a Happy Mothers’ Day here in Mauritius. I know that South Africa and Australia have already celebrated this important day. Mothers are such extraordinary human beings and I know that this year I will dearly miss my mother who sadly passed away on 26th January this year. She was 97 years old and had a wonderful life but sadly since her 97th birthday on 24th August last year, her health declined very fast. She was a kind, loving, generous and loved by everybody. She was one of those souls who loved to render service and help especially when people were alone and did not have someone to help them. She taught me the important values in life and above all to show respect, tolerance and unconditional love to everyone. God Bless you Mom. You were the best!

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