Monday, 22 December 2008

22 December 2008 b

I was recently asked if I would take on the engraving for NATO, a great honour which I gratefully accepted. so the first job I did was a presentation for MCC Northwood Staff Member of the year 2008. You can see the full script HERE on Nato's website under the above title. Presentation photograph and permission to publish courtesy of NATO, for which I am most appreciative.
I have also been busy engraving all the Suffolk Football Association awards for Women's, under 18 and under16 men, and long service. It is a transition, I believe, to a more modern glass award as opposed to the more traditional ones of ties etc. At least they can be personalised too!

A while back I had spent another day at Darsham teaching glass engraving, a fantastic day once again and well done to all my star pupils (some becoming regular and quite accomplished!) They all succeeded to create mini masterpieces as usual.

22 December 2008

Another excellent day was spent in the company of beautiful people and beautiful aromas of Harrods Cosmetics and Perfumes department on Saturday. Being the last weekend before Christmas it was packed and I did not stop engraving practically all day, working much longer than I intended and still turning customers away with one offering to pay double! It really is a lovely idea and I want to thank Harrods for coming up with it and asking me to make it happen over the last 3 weekends. I was so well looked after and much was done to encourage the staff of all the perfume houses to make the service known to the customers who may not have seen me.

Once again a great selection of perfumes, some very challenging bottles, but most challenging were 2 Russian gentleman who had to give me a micro lesson on Russian letters. The bottles were challenging as well, sadly I simply did not have time to take a photo. They were very successful and the gents were very happy.

I will be back again when it is a time for giving again....Valentine's Day seems to be the next in line. It would be good to get there more often but business is as usual during the week and pretty busy it is too. My last Harrods day involved 6 hours travelling and 8 hours is quite challenging but so worth it.

Till next time......

Friday, 19 December 2008

19 December 2008

Quick note to tell you all that I will be engraving perfumes in Harrods once again tomorrow Saturday 20th December, the last time before Christmas. From approx 10.30 am to 5pm.

Prices will be the same as before, £15 for a name and little flower/heart/jewel/feather or £25 including an additional short message. Alternatively I will engrave a name with a small floral bouquet for £25.

Make your Christmas gift to that special person not Just a bottle of perfume but a totally unique personalised surprise for them.

Please note that these prices are a special for Harrods ONLY.

Happy Christmas everyone

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

16 December 2008

Once again Harrods was an experience which words cannot describe, it is so much fun, whilst being very concentrated work, and the people are just gorgeous!! The setting, the aromas, being in one of my favourite departments of cosmetics and perfumes of course! I worked both Saturday and Sunday staying over night in a fabulous hotel a short walk away who decided to upgrade me to a luxury suite...!!?? I was so exhausted it was hard to take it all in, but what an absolute treat with my lounge and staires down to the HUGE bedroom, 2 TVs, bar and snacks, too much to mention!! So I am very grateful to them! It will be sad to have to stay in a little single bed room next time ;-)

I had a grand selection of perfumes to engrave, some quite challenging. But there were usually ways and means...I had one Arab lady who wanted some arabic writing engraved, so I drew up some lines on the bottle for her and got her to write as neat as she can with my pen onto the bottle, I then engraved over her writing and added a couple of hearts as requested, it looked amazing! It is always a delight to see the customers faces when they see the bottles completed.

It is still to be confirmed whether I will be there again this weekend as I have still so much work to do in my workshop.
In the mean time it has been a week since my son left, I simply cannot believe it! They are now in Zimbabwe for a short visit, that is hard to believe too and hard to stomach so I try not to think about it. I don't think it has actually hit me yet that he is not going to come strolling into the lounge in the morning any more....luckily I have been too busy to get a chance to.

Happy Christmas everyone!!!

Friday, 12 December 2008

12 December 2008 - Harrods again

Just a quick one to say I will be back engraving perfumes in Harrods, London, both Sat and Sun (13/14 Dec).
Pricing structure will be different to the last time.

See you there ;-)

Sunday, 7 December 2008

7th December 2008

Wow, what can I say, that was an awesome and surreal experience. I would like to thank Harrods for asking me and all the customers who bought perfumes to be engraved. It was non stop all day in fact. I had to escape to an office for a quiet bite to eat and a bottle of water for 10 minutes and then practically escape again to pack up at 5pm, and catch my trains... and what is up with London?? There are SO many people and what credit crunch??. I have very kindly been asked if I will do the same again next Saturday, this will be confirmed during the week.

Otherwise, today I await the arrival of my son Shane and his girlfriend Sian back from their farewell tour, and they will spend tonight with us before heading off to a destination nearer Heathrow to fly off to Africa, and then back home to New Zealand. I have clearly been distracted from feeling too sad, with being so busy in my work, it has been such a dream to be so close to Shane again . Now I have another exciting visit to look forward to, my youngest, Gavin, who will be coming around next April. Life is so precious and I am eternally grateful for all the wonderful things it gives me.

I know I have said this before , but I really wish that all moms who don't see their kids for one reason or another could experience what I have in the last few months.

Life is a journey...enjoy the ride

Friday, 5 December 2008

5th December 2008 - Harrods 6th!

Well I wasn't going to mention am going to be engraving perfumes etc in Harrods Perfume department, London, for customers tomorrow, Sat 6 Dec. This is a first and quite a challenge, but should also be quite entertaining, a very surreal experience. The cost per item will be £25 for a name and/or very short message , depending on space available on the item the customer wants engraved, also a short name or initials £15. All engraving done will be completely freehand while you wait...or walk around the shop.
Whatever next!!!??? ;-)
I should be starting around 11am (engineering works on the track as per usual) and packing up around 5pm.
Come on George Clooney.... just pop in....

latest news.....we have just agreed that another option we will offer is to engrave your OWN handwritten message on the item. I will give the customer the a suitable pen and they can write / sign the bottle afterwhich I will hand engrave their message/signature forever into the perfume bottle. How about that!!!?

Sunday, 16 November 2008

16 November 08....exercise routine

It has been a very hectic but succesful week and I am finally getting on top of things. So it is Sunday and I am going to mention another very important aspect of my life.

A glass engraver spends a lot of time sitting on one's behind, whether it is at the PC doing artwork/quotes/ordering/website/photographs/emails...or sitting at a desk sticking masks or hand engraving. I stand up when sandblasting or packing parcels or waiting in a post office queue! This all would be very bad for my health if I didn't have a regular exercise regime and healthy diet. It is not a glamorous affair, there is NO make up involved so believe me this is a first for my photos!!

DO NOT FOLLOW THIS ROUTINE UNLESS YOU ARE EXPERT IN THIS AREA AND KNOW YOUR BODY AND ITS CAPABILITIES. I am only sharing this for fun and have not included specific precautionery details.

Apart from playing golf whenever I can (at the moment only about once every 2 weeks) I go to a gym 2 - 3 times a week (more when I can) for an hour of vigorous workout. If I don't then I do some of the basics before breakfast.

This does not necessarily mean high energy/high impact aerobics, far from it, but I make sure my heart rate goes up in a 5 minute stint on each of the following: bike/ treadmill/ rower/ cross trainer = 20 minutes. I do not jog on the tread mill , I have never been one for jogging, but I walk at a very fast pace on a very steep incline.

I then move on to every other muscle I can possible think of and work it until it burns. I come from the days of pain no gain etc....I have been doing my gym since I left school in 1979, prior to that I did ballet... something I believe every little girl should do, from the age of 7 I was taught posture and grace whilst at the same time respect and decent discipline and how to work hard to achieve the best that you can be.

Back to my routine. ... I next "pull down" behind my shoulders 25kgs, 2 or 3 x 12 reps, then "peck deck " 12.5kgs same reps. Onto the tricep pull down 25kgs, same reps.

I then move on to a pair of dumbells, where I do a routine of arm exercises whilst standing. It should be taken as read that whenever standing everything is taute, tummy tight and good posture.

Next it is off to the thighs, inner and outer on the abductor, I squeeze 40 kg inner and then 45kg outer, 3 reps of 12.

Off to the mat where I begin with tummys. I don't have a name for my first exercises, basically balancing on the butt and lifting top half and legs at the same time. I do this 15 - 20 times, then I grab 2 3kg dumbells and balance again and twist from one side to the other15 times. I then work the upper tummy with the dumbells followed by "the plank" for 30 seconds. I have been trying to get up to a minute, but by this stage I am usually struggling. I turn on my side and lift my upper body 20 times each side.

I then do 20 "ladies" press ups, then lying on my tum lift my arms and legs symultaneously for my back. Then I stretch the **** out of the muscles I have used to this point.

Next I grab a 7kg dumbell and do 50 calf raisers whilst holding the extra weight. Then I streeeeeetch them out.

Finally I do my last lot of stretching back on the mat, finishing with my neck, gently.

During this whole process I am drinking a lot of water.

I always feel alive and ready to take on what this life tends to throw at you where you need to be strong, mentally and physically, a bit like some prisoners do when they have a long sentance to serve (well like they seem to do in the movies, a lot of weight training), in some way, many of us need to have the same attitude.

So, I had better carry on my quiet Sunday, next week has a lot of engraving to accomplish, beginning at least 3 of those days with my gym at 7am!!!


Friday, 7 November 2008


NOVEMBER FULLY BOOKED, taking small orders only for December/Christmas still.
(all emails and quotes received will be fine for Nov, even if you are awaiting prices from me)

Many thanks haste
Keep well and safe

Monday, 3 November 2008

3rd November 2008

Well the art Glass Fair seems like a life time ago already, I have not had a moment to post anything since then. Demonstrating is exhausting but people were very interested to see how it is all done...and no one asked me "where are you bringing these in from...." which I usually feel pretty miffed about!

My demo piece for the day was the set of optical crystal book ends pictured here, "King and Queen" This is now available for £280.00. One off.
A huge hug and kiss to my Brian who helped me , he is very special!
I have been madly busy...still...and thank goodness....and recently completed a rather prestigious order:I am looking at a long list of orders to get on with right now so I really must get on....but not before saying once again how fantastic my life is, to be able to still have my boy with me for another month. It has been a very special year of healing.
Always believe in your dreams....and well done Lewis "Hammie" !!!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

18 October 2008

A lovely pic of my eldest son Shane and me after a game of golf! Such a special time we are having. Anyway, thought I would share that before I dived into my work and packing up for tomorrow's glass fair. Would love to meet anyone visiting the fair who reads my blog ;-)
have a great weekend everyone. x

Saturday, 11 October 2008

11th October 2008

It is a lovely sunny day and for the last week it has apparently been the same but I have not even seen, late yesterday afternoon I managed to sneak out with my son for 9 holes and then played 18 with a very good friend of mine this morning. It is really important to get out in the fresh air especially when busy..I have decided! When I thought I was busy before I was mearly strolling in the park, and I keep saying that. How much busier can I be? But really there is always room for more somehow.
One area I have been sacrificing for some months, is the answering of many emails I get from fellow budding engravers around the world. I apologise once again, it has been impossible to allocate time to this as yet. All emails are neatly in a folder waiting patiently to be answered and will eventually.
One of my latest commissions (for a Christmas present) is a HUGE crystal vase which will have a collage of the family pooch, all over it. This one is due to come for her portrait photos soon. It is always important to take photos of the dog at the same level as them so there is no forshortening. Dogs are always a popular subject and I really do enjoy engraving them, I have a lovely old bloodhound on an optical crystal plaque, waiting to be collected. Can't show you as yet . Also recently completed all the awards for a London College, such a different type of order and that is what makes my job so interesting.
Just about to tackle 40 beer tankards for an "Oktoberfest" right now, although a beer now after a hard game of golf sounds a much better idea.
Next Sunday is the Art Glass Fair at Dulwich College, London. I will be demonstrating hand engraving all day, and of course selling my wares.

I will leave with this little note for any woman out there who is feeling low, and especially those under control of a misogynist at this moment :

Inside of you is a smart, powerful, dynamic, capable, self confident, alive, alert, fabulous woman! Let her come out and play, the world is waiting for you!
Louise L. Hay

Thursday, 2 October 2008

2nd October 2008

Today was a difficult day for me as I had to say "goodbye and good luck my boy" on Skype, to my youngest son , who I have not seen for 3 years, and who lives in New Zealand and is leaving for his 6 month tour of duty in Afghanistan. How do you do that?? I need to be giving him a big hug! Instead there were just tears and a snotty tissue on a poor quality live stream on a computer. Then again, at least I could see him and tell him I love him.

I am so so proud of him, and to be more positive, he will be much closer on the planet to me than he has been for the last 7 years. A huge blessing as well is that I have my eldest son with me still until December, he does not realise how special this time with him is to me....(would probably cringe as all boys would at a soppy mom).... but I am truely fortunate, as this time for me could have been much more difficult. I love you boys more than words can say.

I really have so much to be greatful for, including a fantastic amount of work coming in....what credit crunch??

So I had better get on with it, and keeping busy is the best way to stave off negative feelings.

I know I have said this before, but today it is important....Keep your face to the sunshine so you cannot see the shadows.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

24th September 2008 - Cambridge Glass Fair

(Photo by Kim Thrower)

Cambridge Glass fair was pretty hectic, a glamorous and sparkling affair, I wish I had more time to browse around the many beautiful stalls and exhibitions and in fact demonstrations, do you know they had a glass blowing demo all day, with huge furnace (on a trailer) and all!!! I did not get to see more than a couple of minutes....I had to make sure I didn't miss anyone at my stand. It was a quiet day for me, although I got to see loads of oldies ....;-)....and met plenty of interesting new people. I just love it! I had a visit from an old friend of mine, Helen J from Zimbabwe, it was great too see you Helen!!
Here is my stand including the demonstration area, yes I was engraving practically all day. I hope that this at least intrigued the people who watched.
It was lovely to see Kim Thrower there again, with his pretty floral engravings on one of my favourite crystal names, Dartington!...well what else?!! Check out his blog HERE.
Here is another photo of the showroom, it will be in our local newspaper with a feature in a couple of weeks.

Friday, 19 September 2008

mouse mat or mug! have 3 mugs and 2 mousemats to give away to the first 5 customers (1 item each) who buy from me at Cambridge.

However if you spend over £150 and I have both still available you will be classed as "2" customers and receive a mat and a mug ;-)

Oh and here are a couple of the pieces I will have for sale at Cambridge, a Dartington Crystal wine decanter featuring Fritillaries and a crystal candle holder with a fluffy cat looking up at possibly the candle (not in the picture), but if you look carefuly there is a little mouse too.

Then there is Gerry Giraffe, some will recognise him , but I have decided to feed him as he was looking a little hungry, so if you want to take him home he has an endless supply of his favourite thorn tree to chew on at the back of the vase!! A VERY TALL Bohemia crystal vase.

And something for the guys, a Pike, on a lovely Dartington Crystal beer glass.

I will have a number of other pieces for sale including some of the oldies and a few new small items including the ones that I will be working on during the day. I have brought down some of the prices of the "oldies" and will consider reasonable offers. ONly those who read this blog will know that!

Here's to a great fair, it usually is!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Cambridge Glass fair

REMINDER...Cambridge Glass fair is THIS SUNDAY 21st September...I will be selling and demonstrating engraving at this fair.
My Stand is number C7 in the Contemporary hall.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

16 September 2008

It is already mid September. Business has been absolutely frantically busy and so it was decided that a weeks quick holiday to the west coast of France was necessary....that was last week, it was fantastic, stayed in Houlgate, played the golf course have to be a mountain goat for that...and therefore I feel fitter than ever. We also explored Honfleur, what a lovely place!

Just before we left one of my commissions was of African wild animals, the Big 5 to be precise, what an absolute pleasure. When I have a moment....sigh...I will get proper pictures on my website. It was a Dartington Admirals decanter with the big five in a collage all around with the couples monogram on the front.

So now it is back to work, just so much to catch up on and more coming in all the time. On top of this I have the Cambridge Glass Fair on Sunday. This is an AWESOME event for glass lovers, 300 years of glass and crystal in one day, around 85 tables of it in a superb location, Chilford Hall, Linton. They have asked me to demonstrate my glass engraving this time so, as well as having my normal stand selling, this is going to be quite a busy ol' day. I also demonstrate at the Art Glass Fair in London , that will be next month again.

Please have a peep at the Cambridge Glass Fair website for more info.....have to dash.....
Always do the best you possibly can and never ever give up

Thursday, 21 August 2008

21st August 2008

Last night I gave my very last WI (Women's Institute) talk. I have been giving talks to the WI and a number of other organisations over many years both in Zimbabwe and here in the UK. In the last 6 years here I have given well over 50. It was an excellent way to get not only the service I am offering out and about, but also the art of glass engraving itself. Often my talks would entail a very long drive sometimes an hour or more, in the depths of winter in the middle of a blizzard in the a tiny hall in a tiny village which I often got lost trying to find (should have got satnav!) Then I would set my table up with an array of engraved glass, with a nice black velvet background and some good lighting. They would have their business meeting first then I would talk, usually at about 8pm. After this there were questions, tea and cake and the ladies would come and chat and ask more questions and even buy if they wished (I always gave 10% back to WI). Then it all got packed up and there was the long drive back home. As time has gone on, and I have got busier and busier in my business, it has become very tiring. Last night was a typical example where I was hard at it all day, engraving right up till the last 30 minutes, quickly brushed the dust off me, put on a smart jacket, packed the glass, lighting etc etc and off I went, only to return home very late at night and completely exhausted.

The ladies are always very welcoming and often quite a laugh. I have judged many a competition where they have been asked to bring along a piece of glass they own, engraved or otherwise, for me to judge 1st 2nd and 3rd. Based on...well, whatever I think really. I have seen some delightful glass, some absolutely stunning pieces, and some really strange stuff. Remember if you own lovely engraved glass/crystal, don't forget to wash it!!!!
I have also munched through plenty of home made biscuits, cake, flapjack and I would just hate to add it all up in calories.

Some of the meetings have been enormous, like Aldeburgh for example...that night I will never forget as I had not been in the country for very long and was still pretty much traumatised. There was a lady from Zimbabwe in the audience and I started the talk by sobbing my heart out for 10 minutes.... honestly!! Other meetings have been very small and friendly, the one had only 6 ladies and the trip was thankfully not too far from home because it was in very thick drifting snow on a tiny rural road.

Some sing the traditional hymn Jerusalem, some with a piano, some with a scratchy old tape and some with no music, many don't sing it at all. But all seem to have enjoyed hearing about engraved glass and that is the main thing. I was paid a small fee plus mileage, as are most speakers.

So there we are the end of another little era in my life. To all the ladies and gents (well I did do other talks too, Probus, Hard of Hearing, Gardening clubs etc etc) Thank You for having me.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Monday 11th August

It has been an eventful couple of weeks with some urgent orders and quotes to get through, I also finally put all the emails waiting for answers (yes I know there are some of you who have been very patient, thank you) in a single folder for my special attention. There are loads of you wanting advice and several who I officially call "fans" and I am flattered on a daily basis by you all. It really can lift my spirits sometimes when they are struggling to cope. I think I have it all under control now, the showroom is done and I have put in some lighting at last even though I am waiting for some electricians to do some magic with the plugs, so I have made some temporary measures. At least I have light on the glass now and it makes such a difference. To be honest, these are just cheap little clip on lights so hopefully customers see the glass and not what lights it up perfectly adequately. Do you know I am really looking forward to putting Christmas decorations up....ok ok I am sorry....

I played a golf match for the club yesterday and whilst playing just had the joy of spring in my step. My mixed partner and I (apologies for those who do not play golf) played greensomes and after leading just about all the way lost on the last hole. We had to give away 4 shots, shooting 81 gross against our opposition who shot 80. C'est la vie, but what a game!!! We all played under handicap. I play off 18 now, my lowest handicap was 13, long back in the good old days in Africa, when we used to play on average 3 times a week, sigh, in the sunshine, with caddies, sigh. I have decided that is not even a challenge, here is where you really learn to play golf!

It is coming up to Cambridge Glass fair time again, gulp, so little time, lots of ideas in my head, 21st September is the date. Get there if you can it is an awesome event.

As you can see by my little "ticker" on the left there, I am doing ok in my GI diet. I do not feel weak which is always a good sign. It is an excellent diet and really works. One thing for sure.....I have been SOOOO hungry. I spread my allocated food across the day for when I am desperate and go to bed as soon as I start feeling a little too hungry after supper, because basically there is NO MORE to eat until tomorrow. We really do eat too much and it works to be a grazer of good things. So don't put anything in your tummy that was not recently growing or breathing...honestly.

I will leave you with a picture....a recent commission of a Kudu on a crystal ice bucket. The Kudu is on the front and the Msasa tree on the back, completely hand engraved. Total cost to customer £150.00 for those who may like something similar.

Keep well, eat properly (no more than one glass of good Aussie red each night).

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

29 July 2008 - new showroom

Yesterday, the 28th July 2008, I had my first customers through the new door into my new showroom. What a triumph. For 23 years I have envisaged what I see in front of my eyes today.

Endless uphill, against the grain and wading through thick treacle...that is how it has been, but I have always seen this little picture in my head. Not too big that I can't handle it myself and not too small to go un- noticed.
Difficult marriage, divorce, losing my home, losing my kids (for that story see HERE), having my life threatened, having to leave my home country and my belongings to come to this strange country with nothing, leaving friends I love behind, dealing with bizarre and hideous behaviour of certain much loved people who I thought I could count on for moral support, (never do that!) ....the one picture I had in my mind never faded, I never lost faith in myself and my goal.

I started engraving in a tiny corner of a spare room, then into a very very tiny room added onto our house(our bathroom was bigger), after my divorce I moved the business into a large garage on an industrial park...then I left Zimbabwe and waitressed for 18 months whilst engraving once again in a tiny corner of a room, this time Brian's dining room!! Then my first rented UK unit was without water or a was the 2 small rooms I still rent in an industrial park alongside my 3rd office - the new showroom.

I have not put in the lighting as yet and there are a few pictures to put up and a couple of dabs of paint here and there, especially outside, and a little doorbell needs to be added. In time I will upgrade the display cabinets too. All in good time and as and when I can afford it, which is my golden rule!!

My children and my Brian have been too precious for words and I could not have made this happen without their love.

My customers have been awesome, right from the very first one ever, back in 1983, I will forever be grateful to you for your confidence in me and how this in turn helped me build confidence in myself. So many lovely helpful people on the way too, from the friendly forums to those who just pass by like angels, leaving me with sometimes the tiniest of gems, sometimes just a valuable comment. And my dear friends, who have stuck by me and encouraged and made me laugh when I just wanted to cry, offered me a shoulder (even by email) when in the depths of despair, thank you.

Whatever you do in life, never give up and strive to do everything yourself so that you owe no one. Unfortunately you will ALWAYS get the miserable characters who do not want to see you succeed, but they are put in your way to help you to fight on. Nothing is supposed to be easy otherwise you wouldn't appreciate it. A wee butterfly has to fight its way out of it's cocoon so that its wings are strong enough to fly.

I have added a few photos of the showrooms last few days of progress . Next time I will add pics of the new little kitchen/storeroom (which was the old showroom) and the finished workshop...a very important area where it all happens! Also of course, a picture of the outside.

Just to prove my point about the struggling to make one strong...oh yes...we had another storm last night which overwhelmed the drains, which were full of moss which had broken off the roof...and which should not have been there if it had been maintained properly!!!...and my brand new showroom carpet is completely soaked across about a 5th of the room. C'est la vie! My old showroom was flooded only 2 months ago. Such minor problems in the grand scheme of things.

Always count your blessings!

leaving the little old showroom
..and heading for the room away

Shane and Sian who grafted so hard decorating