Sunday, 17 February 2019

Journal Planner Charm Tutorial

Planners seem to be a big thing this year. Big ones, small ones, red ones, blue ones. OK, I'm starting to sound like Dr Seuss. But they do seem to be everywhere on blogs, YouTube and Facebook. Not to mention every kind of accessory you can imagine - and yes, I have been caught up in it all. I have not only bought several journals recently but I have been making them too. More on that in a future post.

However, among the accessories I am seeing is 'journal jewellery' - planner charms that hang from the elastic of travel journals. When I saw the cute little charms I knew that my paper beads were ideal for the job - and so this little tutorial was born.

Paper beads (available in my Etsy store)
Silk cord (also available in my Etsy store)
Lobster clasp (or other clip for attaching the charm)
4mm jump ring
Thread (roughly 10-13cm (4-5 inches)



1. Cut a length of silk cord roughly 20-25cm (8 -10  inches) long. The longer the thread is the easier it will be to tie the knots in it. Fold the length of cord in half.

2. Place a piece of thread between the fold of the cord so it can be folded in half too. You are going to use it like a needle to thread the bead onto the cord.

3. Push both ends of the thread through the bead hole until they come out of the top. Then pull the bead onto the silk cord.

4. Tie a knot in the top of the cord where the fold is leaving a small loop to attach a jump ring onto.

5. Pull the bead up to the knot and tie a second knot underneath the bead.

6. Take the two loose ends of cord and tie one knot in each tail. Make the tails as long or as short as you like. Trim any excess cord from the ends.

7. Use pliers to attach a lobster claw using a jump ring.

8. That's it! Clip the charm into your journal. You can also use them on bags or as knitting and crochet stitch markers too.

Please excuse the not-so-brilliant photos this time. It has been dull, grey and blowing a gale for the last two days and I could not get outside to take decent sample photos. Roll on Spring!

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

More mini harvest watercolour paintings

It has been a yucky few weeks with illness in the family so my memory is a bit all over the place but it occurred to me that I never showed my harvest paintings. I was overtaken by the need to use some bright colours and came up with three little watercolours. The bright yellow came from quinacridone gold. It is the most wonderful tube of paint - the colour of sun dried tomatoes in the tube, fabulous orange with a little water added and golden yellow with a bit more water. It has to be one of the most versatile colours I have used. Mine was Schmincke brand but other paint manufacturers make it too. Magic in a tube.

As always, they are available to buy on my web site, Etsy and Folksy

Monday, 17 December 2018

A couple of cuties

I thought you might like to see a couple of items I sold recently. I found a couple of mini frames lurking in my craft drawer and thought they would work really well as double sided miniature paintings. So I got to work painting a moon gazing hare and a foraging badger. The final outcome pleased me and I was so pleased when they went to a good home. Sadly I cannot find these mini frames anywhere now but I do have some square ones that might work nicely.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Landscape paintings for a snowy winter

As it is now early winter my thoughts have been turning to snow. It is time to paint some snowy landscapes in the hope that real life will mirror fantasy and we'll get a good snowfall this year.

As always, they are available to buy on my web site, Etsy and Folksy

Saturday, 1 December 2018

The great delay of the paper beads

At long last, only two months late, I have new bead designs on Etsy. To say it is a relief is an understatement. The prototypes sat in my 'to be made' pot for months after printing them out but due to work and personal issues they never got finished. They looked sad sitting naked, without their coats on. Anyway, they are done now - just in time for the festive season.

The first set is called Elven Crown. They reminded me of the fine craft work in the Lord of the Rings movies with swirls and scrolls.

I went a little nationalist with the next lot - Flame of Scotland. These have mustard coloured thistles alongside turquoise thistle leaves on flame orange backgrounds. For some reason they remind me of New Year.

Then I went all garden inspired. These beads are called Midnight Garden and reminded me of the garden late at night when the bright colours of the daytime flowers became muted and ghost-like.

Then we have some Marigolds. My Mum planted marigolds in the garden every summer when I was growing up - that is until she got fed up with the insect life that took up residence in them.

Then we have a Rainbow Garden. Swirls and flowers in multicolours. They will certainly cheer up a winter craft project.


And finally, Tribal in neutral colours with a pop of colour. Phew!

Monday, 26 November 2018

Proof of new bead designs

Proof that, at long last, new bead designs are being created They should have been released in late summer but due to some personal issues (which I hope to blog about soon) I never got around to finishing the prototypes. These ones are all prototypes so there is no guarantee that they will all be made available as sets. Sometimes they just don't work as designs and end up in 'The Pot of Shame'. I will 'announce the winners' soon.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Harvest paintings in watercolour

There have been some paintings on my board over the last couple of weeks. The light and the colours of the fields have been hypnotising. The really hot weather has passed and now we are getting heavy skies with rain interspersed with sunny spells. That's a great combination when the fields are golden. The contrast between the bruise coloured skies and the golden fields make some great images. The first five paintings are of the fields around my home. The rest are of other parts of Scotland.

Scottish Borders harvest landscape at sunset watercolour painting

Scottish Borders harvest landscape watercolour painting

Scottish borders harvest hills watercolour painting

Scottish landscape watercolour painting with loch

Scottish landscape watercolour painting with sheep

Scottish watercolour landscape painting with sheep #2

Scottish watercolour landscape painting with loch #2

Miniature Scottish watercolour with sheep

As always, they are available to buy on Etsy or on my web site.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Silk cord and paper bead bracelet tutorial

Some time ago I wrote a tutorial for a bracelet kit I produced - then stopped selling the kits. I also stopped selling the small paper beads as they were too fiddly to work with but the instructions work really well with my longer beads too. So I thought I would share the tutorial here for anyone who has bought my paper beads or silk cords. If you are interested, I have another plain silk cord bracelet tutorial which you can find here. It doesn't use beads and makes a really nice stacking bracelet. I hope you will give them a shot.

These little bracelets evolved after I discovered how to make silk cord. I had been asked to make some tiny paper beads years ago and thought they would be ideal for making some simple jewellery. I hope you will enjoy using this tutorial and find it straightforward and fun.

Tools required:

Scissors (any scissors that can cut silk cord are fine)
Crimp pliers (also called crimping pliers or a crimp tool) and ordinary pliers for opening jump rings


1) Threader x 1,    2) Lobster clasp x 1,     3) 5mm jump ring x1,    4) 4mm jump ring x 1,

5) 3mm crimps x 2,   6) 4mm metal spacer beads x 2    7) 1 inch long paper bead x1    8) Silk cord x 1

All these items can be found in my Etsy store:

Silk cords in a variety of colours
Paper beads

Method for a 8 inch (20.5cm) long bracelet: Tips are included for making a longer/shorter one.

 1. Put the end of the silk cord with the knot between the two legs of the threader. You can also use a piece of sewing thread in the same way as I use the threader.

2. Thread a crimp onto both legs of the threader.

3. Pull the crimp onto the silk cord so that a small loop forms. Don't pull the crimp all the way up to the knot. You will be trimming the knot off later. Leave a 'tail' of roughly half an inch (1cm) between the crimp and the knot.

4. Use your crimp pliers to squeeze the crimp closed. Trim the knot off of the short end of the silk cord leaving a short tail. You don't want the tail to pull out of the crimp at any time so make sure there is enough left. Three eights of an inch (8mm) should be plenty.

5. Measure three inches (7.5cm) along the length of the cord from the end of the loop. Tie a knot. If you have a thicker or thinner wrist then make this measurement longer or shorter, e.g. 2.5 inches (6.5cm) for a 7.5 inch (19cm) bracelet or 3.5 inches (9cm) for a 8.5 inch (20.5cm) one. These measurements were worked out using a 1 inch long bead, two 4mm spacer beads, a 4mm jump ring, a 5mm jump ring and a small lobster clasp but if you use different size beads you will need to adjust the measurement accordingly.

6. Treat the un-knotted end of the silk cord with a stiffening agent to form a makeshift needle. I apply PVA glue to the last half inch (1cm) of the unused end, squeeze it firmly and roll it. Leave it to dry for 10-15 minutes then cut through the glued part at a 45 degree angle to get rid of the knotted end and make a point. You can also use nail varnish, Diamond Glaze or Glossy Accents to get the same effect. Then thread one metal spacer bead on the cord followed by the decorative paper bead and then the other metal spacer bead.

7. Tie another knot to secure all the beads on the cord.

8. Place the long end of the silk cord through the legs of the threader as you did in step one. Measure three inches from the second knot (next to the beads) and move the threader to that spot. (Remember: if you used a different measurement in step 5, make this measurement the same, e.g. 2.5 inches (6.5cm) for a 7.5 inch (19cm) bracelet or 3.5 inches (9cm) for a 8.5 inch (20.5cm) one.) Pull the crimp onto the cord leaving a small loop. Squeeze the crimp closed with the crimp pliers.

9. Add the 4mm jump ring to one of the end loops and the 5mm jump ring to the other. Attach the lobster claw to the 5mm jump ring and you have finished your bracelet. Wear it with pride.

Copyright © 2015 Gillian McMurray. Please do not reproduce any part of this document without the express permission of the copyright holder.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Photos from Scotland's heatwave

As I may have mentioned before, it has been very hot here. Up to 33 degree Celsius, which for Scotland is not normal. However it has meant a lot of really nice sunsets and an opportunity to play with my camera. Although we have not had much rain, we have had some wonderful skies and the colours of the landscapes have been stunning. So, while I have been melting into a greasy spot over the last few weeks, there have been some bright spots too.