Thursday, May 31, 2012

Monday Bank Holiday: Christ Church Cathedral Craft Market

A wee reminder to pop into Christ Christ Church Cathedral this bank holiday Monday, 4th June and say hello to me down in the historic crypt.

Christ Church Cathedral Craft Market, Dublin

The 12th century, medieval crypt is Dublin's oldest surviving structure and well worth a peek. Enjoy browsing the stalls filled with handcrafted goods in this wonderfully atmospheric setting. Find me, Handmade by Amo'r sharing a stall with Heli of Heli's Creations.  If you're an Etsy seller, just having a look-see, please do introduce yourself!

(The entrance to the underground crypt is hidden by that fir tree)

See you there!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Natural Aftersun Remedy for Mild Sun Burn

As an alternative to commercial aftersun lotions, here's a natural remedy for mild sunburn that you will find in the kitchen.
Cloudless Blue sky, Howth, May 26th 2012. Photo by Anne-Marie O'Rourke
 After a fabulous few days of wonderful sunshine, I've seen a good few red faces around Dublin. Irish skin is known to be one of the most delicate in the world. But as the weather is so unpredictable in Ireland, we greedily soak up the sun whenever it shines lest that's the last we see of it all summer.  And oh, how we burn!

Prevention is of course, better than cure. Click here for the Sunsmart Code from the Irish Cancer Society
photo of tea from Wikimedia Commons
However, if you have spent a little too long in the sun this weekend, try soothing your mildly cooked skin with cold tea! (Note: If you are badly burned, best ignore this altogether and get thee to the doctor, especially if you have symptoms of sun stroke.)

I picked up the tea trick when I lived in Spain in the 90s. Even though I used sunscreen, I often slapped on a factor that was too low and then I'd spend hours swimming in the sea, washing it all off. Though I have sallow skin that tans pretty well, I spent many a summer's night with a face like a baboon's bottom while my back burned like a furnace. Then a friend shared the secret powers of tea with me. 

Black tea found in your kitchen works just fine on mildly affected skin. The tannin in tea will cool the skin and allegedly help your tan along too, much like commercial aftersun lotion with a drop of fake tan in it.

Stew a teabag in a basin of water or even in the bath - though be warned, the tub will need a good scrub afterwards. When the liquid cools down, dab it on the sunburn with cotton wool or bathe in it. Do not apply hot water to your skin!  Let the cold tea soak in and dry into your skin as best you can.  Use an old towel if you are drying the excess off and put on dark coloured clothing in case of staining.

Chamomile is great too. It is known for it's use in calming minor skin irritations. Bathing in cold chamomile tea can even soothe itchy eczema.  Apparently, it has anti-inflammatory properties and will help take the sting out of mild sunburn. You can even transfer the cooled tea into a clean spray bottle and use it as a natural face spritzer to keep you feeling and looking fresh!

However, I'm going to leave you with a wise reminder from Baz Luhrmann. Use Sunscreen.

'Sunscreen' recited by Baz Luhrmann

Useful links:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Only In Dublin

On my way back from Howth, where I had been walking on the cliffs with my Etsy friend, Heli, yesterday, we came across this scene on Lower Abbey Street.
Talking Heads, Lower Abbey Street as seen on 26 May 2012, photo, Anne-Marie O'Rourke                       
Only in Dublin would some idiot plonk a half-eaten ice cream on one of the 'Talking Heads'. Yes it's a travesty, a 'two fingers up' to Dublin society, so explain to me, why did we find it oddly funny??

Just as well we Irish don't take ourselves too seriously.
The grouping of three heads is said to represent a reflection on Dublin life. Well, the temporary embellishment is certainly that. And don't you find the facial expressions incredibly apt? His companion raises his eyes to heaven while 'the victim' looks totally fed up, yet resigned to his fate. When I uploaded the photos to my computer it struck me that I've seen this face a thousand times since the recession hit us hard.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Difference is in the Detail 4

 It's that time again where I get to highlight some beautiful detail in the handwork by fellow Irish or Irish-based crafters and artists:

I've been a fan of BottleHeads Craft since it opened on Etsy. When I give these hand-sewn cards to friends they appreciate that they've been given something a little special. They are great for popping vouchers or even scratch cards into too!

It was hard to pick just one single item from Traban to show that when it comes to handmade, the difference really is in the detail.  You can feel the love of craft that goes into every item.

You'd be forgiven for thinking these apples by Scent Cosmetics were real. I can smell these glorious soaps from here. Look at the simulated bitemarks. Love it!

Well that was fun.. Hope you enjoyed it too. For more appreciation of the little details click HERE

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Recent Treasuries on Etsy

It's that time again when I share recent Etsy treasuries either made by me or featuring one of my items.

Here's my latest treasury made up of local, Crafty Ireland Team members:

And here are a few beautiful lists made by fellow Estians around the world who kindly featured my work. Thank you!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Christ Church Cathedral Craft Market. See You There!

If you are in Dublin city on the bank holiday Monday, 4th June 2012, please do drop into Christ Church Cathedral Craft Market and say hello. I'll be down in the very atmospheric, medieval crypt. Please come along and find Handmade by Amo'r sharing a stall with Heli of Heli's Creations.
Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

I'm plenty busy with an almost full-time job, my Etsy store,  my wee   Fondelifair shop and a pretty full life so I generally don't do markets or fairs. But this one is a must for me as a lover of heritage and with a background in tourism. The venue is simply amazing.

Originally founded circa 1028, Christ Church Cathedral is a must-see for visitors to Dublin. The medieval crypt below the cathedral is one of the largest in Britain and Ireland. Built in the 12th century, it is the oldest surviving structure in the city. It is well worth a visit in itself, whether you are a tourist or a local. If you love handcrafts and art, browsing the craft stalls on the bank holiday Monday will be the icing on the cake - and you can have your cake in the cathedral cafe too! 
Blue Butterfly Fairy Bookmark
Though I will be bringing some of the jewellery, bookmarks and accessories from my Etsy store, I am busily making new gifts and home decor including Connemara marble hanging ornaments, pretty fairies and angels and 1 or 2 hanging mobiles for my stall.  I hope to share a glimpse before the fair. Please do pop back and check!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How To Open Jump Rings, Loops and Eyepins. Repairing Your Jewellery.

This tutorial is especially for those who cannot bead but would like to be able to do simple repairs on their own jewellery and for absolute beginners in jewellery making. 

jewellery findings

The most basic skill you need to learn is how to open a jump ring, wire loop and/or an eye pin properly. You can buy these basic findings in jewellery supply stores, craft shops and online. Once you know how to open and close them professionally you can put this skill to good use for a number of projects including re-attaching clasps etc. If you don't have jewellery pliers, strong tweezers will work for this basic repair job (not for making jewellery though!) You need two pairs- one to hold the finding steady.

I am afraid I only have two hands (please forgive me) thus limiting how much I can photograph to get the points across. A little imagination will be required.

First I will explain the WRONG WAY:
overstretched wire
It is tempting, and seems logical to just pull the sides of the ring or loop away from each other laterally. Pulling to the sides will overstretch the wire and damage the integrity of the loop. It is usually very hard to get it back together perfectly flush and tight or in the same shape again. It can ruin an evenly rounded loop in more pliable metals such as sterling silver or thinner gauges of wire.
jump ring that wont close fully

Even if you manage to keep it rounded, you will probably find that the edges just don't meet in the same way as before, rendering the loop or ring loose, weak and prone to opening. 

correctly opened jump ring

THE CORRECT WAY is quite simple, but maybe not very obvious to the beginner. With a pliers or strong tweezers in each hand, gently pull the two sides of the ring away from each other, one forward (towards you) and the other backwards so it looks something like the photo above.
opening a loop

 In the case of eyepins and loops on earring hooks, just tease the open side forwardly away from the rest of the wire. (Please imagine my hand or a second pliers holding the earring hook  in the photo above) No need too over-pull it. Open it just enough to get the link or charm on to it. I've opened the loop a tad further than I need for clarity in the photos.

This does not overstretch the wire so it wont have lost shape or integrity when you later squeeze it back to the original position. (Careful not to pull it too far though.)

Now link on whatever you need, e.g. the clasp that fell off, a charm or beaded dangle.
closing the loop

Close up the loop or jump ring by gently pressing it back down into place and squeezing with the pliers or tweezers. It shouldn't require much effort to get it as tight and perfect as before.

With a little practice you'll find you get a professional, reliable finish quickly and easily! Watch this space for future easy projects where you can put this skill to use.


Click here to learn How to Make Jump Rings

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Mystery Guest

Time to reveal my not-so-mysterious, expected guest...
If you are not already acquainted, allow me to introduce Simon, the travelling gecko. Simon is the 'ward' of the wonderfully talented, Carrie of Cherry Blossom Tattoo. However, he set out from her home and has been travelling around Ireland and further afield, for several months, visiting Etsy artisans and artists to see what they are up to. Among the places he's visited are London, Finland and the USA.

Yes, I hear you. He's made of cloth and filled with who knows what. But that doesn't undermine his amazing ability to discover and promote artists, photographers and artisans. Think of him as the Simon Cowell of the handmade world...but a little gentler methinks.

And I'm the next lucky hostess, honoured with a visit from this crafty fellow. I await his arrival all the way from the USA. He will be observing my work while enjoying a stay in Dublin, and reporting back to Carrie's blog. Watch this space....

Monday, May 14, 2012

New Designs in Connemara Marble Earrings

Here's a little glimpse at new, exciting designs in Connemara marble coming to my Etsy shop this month.

Today I listed the tear drops in the centre:

Want to know more about this rare, Irish gemstone? Click HERE for a little info on Connemara marble.

Update, 16/05/2012: just listed the Silver Celtic earrings: 'Mists of Time'

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Have You Guessed Who's Coming to Visit?

A crafty visitor 
is coming to stay
On his journey so far
He's come a long way

From Ireland to the States
and now back again
He checks out our crafts
and sleeps in the den
Who is this being?
 You'll find a big clue
 on the arty blog of

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Who's Coming to Visit?

Something crafty is afoot....yesterday I got word of a special Etsy visitor who is coming to stay with me...Who ...or what...can it be?  Members of the Etsy Ireland Team might guess from the get-go....and that's a clue! All will be revealed....

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Treasury Time Once More

Time to share a few more treasuries made by me or featuring one of my items again. Treasuries are collections of Etsy items curated artistically by Etsy members in order to showcase and promote each other. They are an art form in themselves. 
 I've been yearning to get away on a holiday and made a treasury to suit the mood. This collection I put together over the weekend showcases work from the Top Treasury Team, of which I am a member.

As April turns to May, colours are becoming softer or more vibrant and there's a definite hint that Summer is on the way.

Spring Favourites from Europe by Ramona of  KnitAndRide

You get to choose your Friends by  Lynn's Creative Crochet

But Black and White is a always in style, all year round.

A Night Out by Marie Michelle's

Thank you all of you for featuring my work in your beautiful treasuries.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Shades of Green Seaglass

Irish Connemara marble is not the only local material that comes in 40 shades of green. Though seaglass plucked from the shore is most often found in bottle green or kelly  green, it also comes in a variety of rarer shades. Some of them are truly beautiful. Here are some examples of what can be found. (Tones may vary slightly from monitor to monitor.)

Bottle green seaglass

 Bottle green is fairly common alongside kelly green. Both these shades mostly come from old wine and beer bottles. Coloured glass was and is still used to filter out light that can deteriorate beer. Green was used less often for beer bottles from circa 1930 as it was discovered that brown glass does a better job of keeping out the light.

Kelly green seaglass pendant 'Emerald of the Sea' (sold)

 Nowadays, beer doesn't generally stay in the bottle that long (and we have better storage and refrigeration) so green and clear bottles have made a comeback. Though common, kelly green can be exceptionally vibrant and makes beautiful jewellery. (readers from this corner at least should understand when I say..Probably the best green in the world....)

Irish sea glass pendant, Ocean Moon 
This dark, forest green piece is one of my favourites. The colour is exceptionally deep and rich and the glass itself is highly frosted. This tells me it is probably one of the oldest pieces of beach glass I have found. It can take 100 years for seaglass to develop a thick frost with decent white speckles.

Pale lime seaglass pendant 'Lime Jelly' (sold)
  Lime is one of the rarer, more valuable colours in seaglass. This one is a pale, citric shade but I have found deeper lime and more yellowy versions in the past. This one really does look like lime jelly.

Olive Seaglass
 Olive seaglass is less common than bottle or kelly green but not as rare as lime or teal.
Teal seaglass pendant 'Wave' (sold)

Teal is my favourite colour. Teal seaglass is a fairly rare find. It can come in dark or paler tones.
sea foam sea glass pendant, Seascape
Seafoam isn't an obvious green. Bluer versions can be found. This piece, Seascape, has a hint of pale apple in in it, though it is technically aquamarine.

Here are a few more samples. right to left: 2 x blue-green teal, yellow lime, bright kelly green, neon lime, dark olive and in the centre; forest green. (There are alternative names for some of these shades.) Blue and blue-green shades are rarer than most greens, though the neon lime and yellowy lime are prize finds indeed. If you find a specimen in either shade, lucky you!

To learn how to clean seaglass click HERE
To learn how to clean seaglass jewellery click HERE 
For a crafty idea for small pieces of seaglass click HERE

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Handmade for First Communion

Handmade, First Holy Communion bracelet
 For many Irish children, May is the month for First Holy Communion. I remember my own, at the age of 7. It was possibly one of the most important days of my young life, next to losing my first baby tooth.

Yes, I was heavily schooled in the religious significance and cultural meaning of the ceremony, but for many a young Irish girl, the social implications are not to be ignored either. We all know too well the pressure that kids can be under to have the right look, the right dress, the right accessories.  And of course,  the pressure is on the parents too then.

Though I felt a bit hard done by at the time, thankfully, my pragmatic parents would not enter the race for the most extravagant outfit or lavish gifts and celebrations. My Mum, adept with a sewing machine, made me a simple, knee-length, white dress. I yearned for a maxi so I could be a princess for the day and I wished I had tonnes of relatives living in Dublin so I could visit and collect 'Communion money' like my schoolmates. My dress may have been simple but it was in fact, very pretty and my mother hand-sewed little white flowers on the end of my veil. It was more than enough. In fact it was very special, even if I didn't fully appreciate it then. I did get a special silver charm bracelet though, which I treasured forever.
Simple seaglass pendant from Ireland
 I'm proud that I grew up with handmade. I'm lucky that my mother in particular, nurtured our creative side and sometimes ignored our desire to have 'the latest big thing'. (click here for a blog post about my handmade childhood posted on Etsy Ireland Blog in 2010).