Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Somewhere over the rainbow...

Had a lovely time at the Gairloch Market yesterday. It was a very lucrative one, as well. I may have discovered the secret to Ailleas Designs' future success - matching necklaces and earrings! I sold a necklace and the lady has commissioned me to do matching earrings to collect this coming Monday. Another lady looked at a gorgeous sterling silver and fluorite necklace, but decided against it because there were no matching earrings. Next week, earrings to match each and every necklace, along with new display pieces. I am going to make this business a success. Chris sold another matted A4 print to a woman who bought two prints last week. A gentleman came to his table and bought five cards, saying as he left, "You are an artist, you are a real artist." I don't know how proud Chris was, but I thought I was going to burst.

The best part of the market was seeing an old friend and his family. I had met with them when I was back in the States to help them plan their trip to Scotland. I was thrilled they stopped by (I told them they would find us there on a Monday) and to hear that their trip had been really lovely and they were so happy to have had my input. That made me smile inside and out - I love telling people about this beautiful country and all the hidden gems that are off the beaten track.

As we headed home, we decided to go by the coast and along Little Loch Broom. But, it was interesting to note that we were looking with the eyes of my friends, who would have travelled this same route perhaps just an hour or less before we did. With each changing view, we commented that we hoped the light had been this lovely when they passed through, knowing that whatever the light, the views are just phenomenal. As we reached the part of road that heads inland and we rose higher, heading toward Braemore Junction, we looked to the left to see a rainbow - below us! I've never been over the rainbow before, but now I can say I have.

We so enjoyed our day yesterday; we enjoyed the drive, we enjoyed our new friends at the market and we loved seeing my old friend and his family. I know he and his wife and daughters are having a wonderful time. I suggested they travel to Ullapool and then up to Assynt and along the loch to the village of Lochinver where they would find many lovely B&Bs (they are traveling in the wonderful way of not making any plans or reservations but letting each day take them where it will) and a marvelous view of Suilven rising up from the deserted and gorse-covered land. (We also told them about Smidge - a wonderful repellent to keep the little biters at bay - they are quite "out and about" right now here in the Highlands.)

We have several days until our market at Culbokie on The Black Isle. Another market we love and enjoy. Last month they had a classical guitarist playing during the market - I wonder what it will be this time? Whatever the day may bring, we will be doing what we enjoy and meeting more people. Last month a pastor from Texas came to my table - bought a pendant for his daughter. You never know who you are going to meet!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Back again!

I just read that my last post was April 29. I am seriously overdue for another post. So, without any further delay...

We've been very busy since our return from the States at the beginning of April. It's the season for craft fairs and markets to take off. So, we find ourselves, nearly every Monday and Saturday, loading up the car and taking to the roads of Easter Ross, Wester Ross and the Black Isle. We are having the best time. Chris is now selling at most of the markets and he is doing very, very well. Our last market was his best - selling three A4 matted prints along with a dozen or so cards. I am so proud of him. He was incredulous when a woman bought two of the prints, announced that they would be framed and placed in her study and topped off with her referring to Chris as an artist (she is also an artist - painting). He was dumb-founded. I was just very proud. I am sharing a gorgeous panorama he did of the view of Little Loch Broom with the hills beyond. This photograph was taken this past Monday afternoon. What a glorious day.

The view north across Little Loch Broom
Speaking of day, our days are getting longer. It is now light until nearly 11pm and never really goes completely dark - staying twilight until the night gives way to morning around 3:30am. Fortunately, we have fairly thick curtains in the bedroom. This does not mean the birds are immune to the changing hours. The dawn chorus is often in full swing by 4am. But that is fine with me - I love listening to the birds singing. And in the evenings, the woods across from our front door are full of pipistrelle bats flying through the air as the light begins to fade. Add that to the sounds of the owls and it is blissful. By the time the solstice arrives on the 21st of June, our nights will be even shorter. But it is only fair when one considers the length of our days in winter. The sun doesn't rise until 9am or so and sets around 3:30, making for a very short day indeed. But, just as Scotland enchants me despite the weather, it also enchants me despite the presence or lack of sunshine.

Today we journeyed over to Aberdeenshire and Fyvie where my jewellery is being showcased in a lovely little gallery. A friend from the States has been longing for a certain pendant and I fetched it from there so that I would have it on hand when she is ready to purchase it. It was a pleasure seeing my creations in their lovely little glass case. More delightful was being handed some money for the jewellery that had sold. Not a great deal, but it's a start. Every sale is one more affirmation of my decision to try doing the design work for my job. It is early days yet when it comes to the life of a small business. I have no doubt that things will improve. I've even put the writer's hat back on for that part of my life as well. The second of two articles I've written for the Guild of Jewellery Designers was published on line today. I am really thrilled to be able to do this for them. Here is the link - http://www.guildofjewellerydesigners.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1121%3Athat-certain-sparkle&catid=27&Itemid=70.

Our offspring are doing well - my daughter has been accepted by the University of Dundee to start their BSc degree in adult nursing starting this September. I am so proud of her. Granddaughter Catherine is growing like a weed. She will be three in August and I find that hard to believe. They are moving into a new house next week and we will be traveling down to Kirkcaldy to see them at the end of the month, weighed down with pressies that have been used as bribes to encourage Catherine to forego the nappies. I am proud to say that the nappies are now a thing of the past. They do grow up so quickly. Stepdaughter Lucy has joined forces with a very talented classically trained vocalist and they are now known as Con Amore and are hoping to do gigs at weddings, funerals, corporate events, etc. Stepson Olly has completed his studies in Newquay, Cornwall and will be starting his degree at the University of Plymouth in the autumn, where he is majoring in Ecology. Being in Cornwall has been an advantage, as he has spent quite a lot of time volunteering at The Eden Project.

I have recently taken up crochet, which gives me something creative to do when I'm not making jewellery or writing. I've become quite addicted to it, I'm afraid. I tried knitting, but didn't get on with that at all. Too much time. I am, I blush to admit, one of the least patient people in the world. I want something to become evident much more quickly than knitting allows. My reason for wanting to do either was down to being seduced by the glorious colours and textures of yarns. I found some beautiful variegated yarns on a website and ordered three skeins. A scarf pattern I had seen seemed the perfect use for the yarn and I spent two days crocheting away, but I was very pleased with the result:

Spiral scarf using variegated yarn

So, that's a bit of a catch-up on all we've been up to. We are happily involved with a great group of artists/independent business owners called Highland Traders. We are busily trying to establish ourselves in the area and are currently holding markets one Saturday out of the month. Chris and I are also participating in several Highland games events and are most looking forward to the two-day event at the Castle of Moy, south of Inverness. It promises to be a wonderful event and we are sharing a tent with a lovely lady called Mary, who bakes the most delicious cakes and scones, etc., and her husband Mike who does enchanting wood carvings. It is not an inexpensive event in which to participate, but a veteran of the event has told me to double my current stock. If that is a true evaluation of the business to be had, I will be very pleased indeed.

I will do my best to write again soon. I hope you are all enjoying the summer, wherever you are. (We do miss the lightening bugs of Virginia and come August will miss the evening song of the cicadas...)