Thursday 31 October 2013

The Jewelled Web - October 2013

It's Hallowe'en... and the end of October, month of falling leaves, gales, and surprisingly warm temperatures this year.

Life has got a bit hectic towards the end of this month but I've made a little jewellery, and also pushed on with some alterations to my blog design, so I'm pleased enough. I've also spent time browsing around the net in search of goodies to look at, and read, and share...hope you enjoy too.

Velcro necklace? An intriguing make-your-own-jewellery idea...

How to clean gemstones without destroying them.

On the subject of cleaning, how to clean silver without any really scary chemicals. An old post but a good one.

Wear the universe (OK, a galaxy) around your neck. Another make-your-own-jewellery post.

Fantastic youtube silversmithing tutorials (link via K S Jewellery Designs - thank you!)

A fascinating list of the top 100 jewellery sellers on Etsy. It may be over a year old now but it's still guaranteed to make you feel inadequate!

Yet another make-your-own-jewellery tutorial. This time a ring. I'll stop now.

And now a few non-jewellery links...

On the subject of blogging, a great set of simple design hints.

Some beautiful photos on a beautiful looking blog, from Folksy sellers

Wonderful desktop calendars are found here each month, although November's has yet to be revealed as I type this...

Speaking of desktop wallpaper, these floral Vera Bradley ones are stunning.

Also, via the same blog, a wonderful idea for creating a kind of pinterest for an individual museum.

More free desktop wallpaper? Okay!

Fancy a new font? This llama one (yes, you read that right) is quite the most unique I've ever seen...

Amazing styrofoam cup art. I thought it was a hoax at first...

Sweet (and reusable) gift tags tutorial.

Want to kind of spooked and entranced all at once? Go to the Land of Oz theme park, open for one day a year only...

More spookiness at a Bolivian witch market.

And one of my most practical finds so far. If you run Windows Vista then follow this simple tutorial to remove red eye on photos - so, so simply. Also, try this neat online gadget which does the same thing. Masterful.

Hope your month has been good. Feel free to leave any excellent links in the comments below.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

How to add a background to your blog

how to add a background to a blog - silvermoss
As part of a currently ongoing redesign I'm doing of my blog I've been working in a test blog, but I am also making some changes in my blog here.

I've added a new background to my blog, replacing the plain background I used to have. Now it may not seem amazingly different or remarkable but, as part of the overall new design, it should look just right in the end.

I think it's important to remember that it's a background and so is meant to be subtle and not draw attention away from the main point of any blog, which should be the content; what you write and the images you include.

For this simple background change I’ve used the system Blogger has in place. And yes, this is another how-to for Blogger. If you’re using Wordpress then check this tutorial out, and for Typepad look here. For other platforms, do some googling, read through a few tutorials, and always back up your template before doing anything.

Here's how I started.

Finding a background image

After working through a design for how I want my blog to look, I did some hunting for a suitable background image online. Yes, it is possible to make your own image, but the resources available on the web are incredible, and it’s fun and inspiring to look through them. Of course, I found lots of images I loved but I managed to be good and stick to my original plan...

Blogger itself offers images to use as backgrounds so if you don’t feel confident enough to download images from the net then you can still change the way your blog looks - see note 3 below for more information .

You can use an image that spans the width of your blog (or rather, the screen size it’s displayed on) but do bear in mind that such a large file will will slow down the time your blog takes to load. If you use a lot of photos/images on your blog anyway, it might be wiser to chose a small image file that is repeated - this tiling of images is commonly used to allow a seamless background without a large file size. It makes everyone happy.

The website Subtle Patterns is a wonderful resource, has over 300 images available, and is a real goldmine for blog backgrounds. They’re all free to use, although the site does like credit given, which is fair enough. This is where I found the image I’m using at present. Browse around until something catches your eye and then preview it to see what it looks like full screen. Do bear in mind the colour and design of your own blog may make it look different when in situ.

Here's what I did, after downloading my image of choice.

Changing the background image

1. First, I backed up my template. Just in case... Then, in the Blogger dashboard, I went to Template, and clicked on Customize.

2. I clicked on Background, and then on the little downward pointing arrow set to the side of the Background image box.

3. A pop-up then opened with a whole host of blogger backgrounds on offer - you can use one of these if you'd prefer; just click on it, click Done, then Apply to Blog and that's it, it's your new background.

I had the image I'd downloaded from Subtle Patterns already saved on my computer so I clicked on Upload image.

4. I browsed to where I’d saved the image to on your computer. Make sure you save it somewhere that’s simple to find, like your desktop - you can move it later. I then clicked on Done and the image uploaded.

5. Check how the image looks on both the miniature in the screen preview shown under the Background image heading, and further down the page, where a mock up of your blog is shown, with your new background.

The Alignment button doesn’t matter too much if your image is abstract and a small one. If it has a right way up, then make sure it’s displaying that way, and adjust the alignment if you need to by clicking on the tiny downward arrow next to the word.

My image was a small one that I wanted repeated/tiled so I chose Tile to ensure it tiled across and down the entire background of my blog.

I’ve kept Scroll with page checked as I find background images that remain static while the content moves can be a little distracting, but feel free to uncheck the box or to experiment and see what you prefer. Scroll with page means the background will move as the page scrolls down.

It's as simple as that. Click on Apply to Blog if you’re happy, and check your blog out to see the finished effect.

I experimented a little with some other background images to see how much changing it can affect how a blog looks.

The green background image, below, was one I found on the wonderfully named Squidfingers site -

The purple background image shown here, below, was created by me at BGPatterns, which is a clever site allowing you to adjust colours, symbols and transparency, amongst other variables -

Both these backgrounds are small images that take very little time to download from the net, and are used tiled.

As I say, I wanted something pretty neutral in both colour and pattern, but it’s still fascinating to see how different images can alter what a blog looks like, and the perception of what it’s about. So do experiment, but do back things up so you know you can always go back if you need to!

More Info - 

Sites for backgrounds used in this tutorial - 

Subtle Patterns

Squid Fingers

BG Patterns

Also, do some googling for backgrounds, and check out Pinterest too.

And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can also check out this tutorial about how to change the colour or transparency of images found at subtle, to personalise them and make them suit your blog even more.

Blogger's own brief tutorial about backgrounds.

Let me know if this has been any help, or you have any queries and I'll do my best to help. And do leave a comments if you follow the tutorial - I'd love to see your revamped blog!

Friday 11 October 2013

Pendants plus cords equal necklaces

A little while ago I wrote about having a heap of gemstones, some threading materials, and not yet having put the two together in a logical manner... well, that's changed.

I've still some gemstones that aren't strung, but now, more than not, are officially necklaces...

pendant and cord equal necklace
rose quartz and tiger eye

I've also begun the slow process of working through my extremely-badly-put-away silver-smithing gear and trying to to turn it back into a functioning set-up... stay tuned!

Monday 7 October 2013

Pretty my blog

Image from one of my Pinterest boards, via The Graphics Fairy

I've decided to embark on a redesign of my blog. I want to change the way it looks - colours and fonts etc - and the way it works, to allow things to flow more smoothly and to make them easier to find.

I did a course or two in web coding and design a while back and have done a couple of redesigns of other people's sites, but haven't paid much interest to my own. So now I think it's time.

I'll be staying with the Blogger platform for now, partly because it's free, but also because, despite the rise of Wordpress, Tumblr, etc, it's still managed to hold its own, perhaps mainly because so many people use it, but that in itself means innovations keep happening, and I still see some wonderful designs on blogger blogs, not just on other platforms.

So that will hopefully explain some of the changes you'll see around here, and may also make the little blogging tutorials that keep popping up a little more understandable - I figured they'd help remind me of things I'm doing, and changes I'm making, and if I'm going to record that information, then I might as well share some of it as I go along.

I hope you enjoy the changes...!

(linking up with Handmade Harbour's Handmade Monday)

Friday 4 October 2013

Buying handmade when you also make...

Sometimes a cake just isn't right for a birthday. Muffins won't do. It has to be cookies, or biscuits if you're more traditional, in the UK, and just prefer that word. Last week I baked a batch of cookies twice (no, not the same ones twice, new ingredients the second time...), refining the recipe for the second batch, and then putting the survivors (freshly cooked biscuits always seem to make the kitchen an attractive place) into a sturdy parcel and dispatched them to the grateful recipient.

cookies - buying hamdmade when you also make
Yes, I did feel good about myself. I'd made the effort, and helped make someone's day a little more special. And that made me wonder what it is about handmade things that make people feel pleased when they've created them, and does that feeling also translate into buying handmade gifts for others...

I have to say, when I buy homemade and give them away, I feel happier with myself than when I buy mass-produced from the high street (or worse, a supermarket). I feel like I've tried harder and haven't gone for the easiest option.

So even though I haven't made the item myself, my appreciation of the time and work that's gone into it, the fact that it wasn't created on a machine, along with hundreds of others that look identical, means that the handmade 'magic' rubs off on me as well.

I can't deny that I do sometimes feel the tiniest bit guilty that instead of buying handmade, I should have made it... I must confess to having a list of crafts, as long as the scarf I've not yet figured out how to knit, that I'd like to learn how to do...

But for now I'll muddle through, dabbling every now and then in other creative pursuits, but trying to focus on the many-faceted medium of jewellery... as I say, for now...

ps. The cookie recipe was this one. When I adapted it for the second batch, I added a little more flour and used both dark chocolate chunks and white chocolate chips. They're not massively sweet biscuits, but they are very mmmm...