Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Diving Loch Creran Marine Conservation Area

A couple of weekends ago The Boy was scheduled to perform PADI Dive Master duties for the Aquatron Diving School.  As they were going to be diving in Loch Creran, which is a conservation area, I decided I'd tag along.  Loch Creran is a bit of a trek for us and would normally mean getting up at 5:30am to arrive in time for a 9:00am dive.  This time, The Boy suggested a nice, leisurely drive up on Saturday, a night dive and a stay in a B&B so that we could stay in bed longer on Sunday morning.  I couldn't begin to describe how happy I was at the thought of someone else cooking breakfast and making packed lunches for a change.  The Boy found The Loch Creran View B&B and I booked us a room.

On Saturday we drove to Glasgow to fill our air tanks at Aquatron's shop then we headed up the road to Loch Creran.  The sat nav took us straight to the door of the B&B even though it was pretty much in the middle of nowhere overlooking the Loch.  I was well  impressed at how clean and fresh everything was, especially the en-suite. We got ourselves settled into the room then changed into our thermals and headed off to the dive site.

It was starting to get dark when we arrived and the tide was out so we had a slightly longer walk than normal to reach the water.  Look how calm it was:

The water was perfectly clear once we got in and, unsurprisingly, we had the place to ourselves.  Loch Creran isn't too deep so we had a nice, long, fluffy dive taking photos of the assortment of aquatic life along the wall next to the shore.  As usual The Boy kept possession of the camera so the credit for any decent photos on here is his and his alone.

First we came across this pretty normal looking harbour crab sitting on the bottom.  I couldn't say whether it was responsible for all the shells around it being empty or not:

A little further on we met this velvet crab sporting what looks like a pretty, pink fascinator:

The wall was alive with Leachs Spider Crabs from teeny ones to fairly big ones.  Some of them were very hard to see until you got up close with a torch.  Here are a few:

You can see how they can blend in with the plant life, the way they are covered in pieces of sponge, etc....

Then there were gorgeous Sealoch Anemones like these ones:

Not sure if this humpty looking harbour crab, covered in barnacles is The Bad or The Ugly.  What do you think?

We were amazed to see a couple of these worms.  Normally, at the slightest hint of movement they suck all their flower-like tentacles into the tube below and hide so we must have been doing something right:

Ok, so if the barnacled harbour crab was The Ugly (I think it was) then these must be The Bad - a pair of moody looking, double decker crabs perched next to a Sea Orange.  The mood was provided by uplighting from The Boy's torch:

And here is a Long-Legged Spider Crab sitting above a Sealoch Anemone:

This little bloke here (a Spiny Squat Lobster) looked like he had furry legs and claws through my mask.  Isn't he a colourful wee chap?

There were also tons of scallops skipping about, opening and closing like wind-up false teeth and lots of little fish, ordinary squat lobsters, hermit crabs and Scampi.  I haven't mentioned all of the sea squirts and other marine life we saw as well.

After 45 minutes of diving we ended the dive with loads of air left and headed back to the Loch Creran View.  We changed back into our clothes and drove to the Hawthorn Restaurant in Benderloch, as recommended by our host, where we had a lovely evening meal to round off the night.

In the morning, we had the luxury of sleeping in until 7:30 (I used to think that was the middle of the night).  Our hostess, Edith, made us a full cooked breakfast and a huge packed lunch then we headed off to the loch again to dive with the school and experience more of the same stuff as the night before.

Towards the end of the day, these two swans appeared and came up to see what was going on.  I finally had control of the camera but, sadly, this was the only photo I managed to take before the batteries in the camera died.

Oh, I nearly forgot.  On the way back to shore after his last school dive (without a camera to record it because I was using it to photograph swans) a Thornback Ray swam underneath The Boy and his buddies.  Everyone except me seems to manage to see Thornback Rays.  One of these days.....

We had a great weekend, bliss for me as it involved no cooking whatsoever.  Will we be back? Yes I think so.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Visiting sad old ladies

Firstly, I have to apologise for not being around much lately.  I started a new job a couple of weeks ago and I've hardly had time to draw breath since between one thing and another.  One of those things being a diving weekend in the Sound of Mull organised by Martin at Ace Divers.  "So what does that have to do with sad old ladies?" I hear you ask.  Everything because most of our dives were exploring ship wrecks on the bottom of The Sound.  I had never dived a wreck before and what an introduction it was!

It took us around 3 hours to drive from central Scotland to the Lochaline Dive Centre and that included our ferry crossing and 20-odd miles driving up a single track road.  The Corran ferry must be the shortest ferry crossing ever. You barely get parked on deck and turn off the engine before it's time to drive off again.

We were meeting friends and staying in the bunk house at the Lochaline Dive Centre.  I had never stayed in a bunk house before so I was expecting something pretty basic, maybe just a step up from a tent.  I was pleasantly surprised when I stepped into our compact but bijou room.  It was very small but looked as if it had been freshly decorated and was very comfortable with it's tiled floor (with under floor heating), two bunks and en-suite toilet / shower room.

We arranged with the owner to have dinner later and headed out for a night dive at the West Pier.  The customers in the Lochaline Hotel were probably traumatised at the sight of a bunch of divers stripping off and getting kitted up outside their windows.

As you can see we had typical Scottish weather.  We had a nice, leisurely swim along a wall covered with all sorts of aquatic life then headed back to the bunk house.  I think we all expected burger & chips for dinner but we were treated to chicken breast stuffed with smoked bacon followed by cheese cake for dessert.  It wouldn't have been out of place in a high class restaurant.

The next morning we drove down to the harbour and loaded all our gear on board the Brendan, a dive boat that takes 12 divers.  David, the skipper, took us out to visit our first sad old lady, the SS Hispania, who was launched in 1912 and met her end in the Sound of Mull in December 1954.  She is thought to be the best Scottish wreck for diving outside of Scapa Flow.  We all changed into our drysuits and connected up our scuba gear then sat around the back of the boat until we arrived at the site.  It took a little longer than expected and we ended up doing a few Mexican waves with our fins while we waited.  More challenging than it sounds when you understand how little room there is to move once we're all kitted up.  The Hispania should only be dived on a slack tide to avoid the strong currents that can be present around her.  David, our skipper got the timing just perfect.  As The Boy and I were doing our PADI wreck diving speciality over the weekend the others let us go into the water first before anyone kicked up any silt.  We descended the line from the marker buoy and the first old lady came into view, much clearer and more spectacular than I had imagined.  A huge, green and yellow body started appear out of nowhere and seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see, covered in over half a century's aquatic life.  This is me following The Boy around the wreck (he had control of the camera , as usual):

The PADI skills for the first dive weren't too complicated - swim around the wreck identifying potential hazards, maintain neutral buoyancy, navigate back to the ascent point, avoid touching the bottom.

We met a few Ballan Wrasse like the one in the photo.  They are very curious and will usually come up close for a good look at divers. When I got home I read up on the Hispania.  The author described what happened to him when he got the tides wrong.  When he exited the wreck the current nearly ripped his mask off his face and he had to grip the funnel and shimmy up it to reach the ascent line to prevent himself from being swept away.  Thank goodness our skipper read the tides perfectly.

David had the kettle on by the time we were all back on board and while we had lunch he set off to find our next sad, old lady, the SS Shuna.  She was built in 1909 so it wasn't long until she met her demise in May 1913 after hitting rocks in a storm.  It was looking a little overcast by the time we started our visit:

Things soon brightened up below the surface when we came across some of the old lady's friends, local wildlife:

That crab was huge - about a foot across (30cm in new money).

Ok, so the last photo is not so local wildlife.  Guess who? :o)  That looks like Martin's white mask below my arm.  I hadn't appreciated how much I look like an ad for ScubaPro. :D

PADI skills this time included swimming around the outside of the wreck identifying and avoiding potential hazards, mapping a wreck and marking points of interest, surveying a wreck for a penetration dive and evaluating possible entrances then navigating back to the ascent point.  David had the kettle on for us again when we reached the boat.

For our last dive of the day we had a nice, 'fluffy' dive along the wall at Calve Island.  We saw a couple of seals swimming along the shore as the boat approached the drop-off point but they hid from us once we were in the water.  This was my 50th dive so it was nice just to have a gentle, relaxing dive without having to demonstrate any skills.  There was long wall with lots of crevices hiding aquatic wildlife.  I did feel a little bit like a sheep dog by the end of the dive as we had been in buddy teams of 3 people all day and my 2 buddies (The Boy and Martin) both had cameras and kept wandering off trying to catch 'the' photo.  Thankfully The Boy is quite hard to lose as he has white fins that glow underwater.

After our last dive we headed to Tobermory where we were booked to stay the night:

After a good night's sleep and a decent breakfast it was back down to the harbour to board the Brendan again.  Our first dive of the day was a visit to the third old lady, the SS Rondo.  She started life in 1917 as the War Wonder (1), was renamed the Lithopolis, then the Laurie and in 1934 became the SS Rondo.  Ironically, in 1935,  she grounded on a lighthouse rock in the Sound of Mull then eventually slithered off the edge to land almost vertically in the water.  I was slightly worried about my encounter with her as the lowest part of her bodywork is at a depth of 50 metres, 20 metres deeper than I'm allowed to dive but I was worrying for nothing as she was extremely kind to us.  As dive number 3 in our PADI Wreck Speciality The Boy and I had skills to demonstrate - deployment & retrieval of a penetration line, for practice, on the outside of the wreck, swim along the penetration line without kicking up silt using a dive light and maintaining contact with the line, navigate back to the ascent point.  We also did a short 'swim through' in a gap between the vertical hull of the old lady and the rock face to practice following a penetration line.  If you look closely you can just see the penetration line on the right.  The air cylinder apparently wearing a fishnet stocking is mine.

Because of her vertical position in the water the Rondo is a very easy wreck to explore.  After we surfaced, David took us to a quiet bay while the air cylinders were refilled.  The sun was out and we did a spot of fishing and caught half a dozen mackerel.  We had lunch (not mackerel I hasten to add) and enjoyed the stunning scenery for a while then headed off to visit our last old lady, the SS Thesis.

The Thesis was launched in 1887 and a short time afterwards, in October 1889, she ran aground.  There is a section of the ship where the outer plating has been removed and the 'ribs' are exposed.  An ideal place to practice our last set of PADI skills, planning and performing a wreck penetration, laying and following the line without disturbing the silt and using a dive light.

After we'd done our skills I followed Martin out of the wreck and up a slope.  When I looked up to see where he was I was amazed to see a huge shoal of fish (probably saithe) swimming past right above us.  That was my first encounter with more than a handful of fish at one time.  As we explored the rest of the wreck, The Boy found a couple of Sea Hares and a conger eel poking it's head out of a pipe. To the untrained eye, ie, mine, the Sea Hares look like little pieces of curled up, red seaweed.  They are also tiny,

While we were photographing the Sea Hares a Ballan Wrasse came over to see what we were up to and hung around for a while having a good old look.  Here I am apparently doing a little underwater ballet:

We said goodbye to the Thesis and ascended the line to the boat.  That was our last dive of the weekend and were all tired, happy bunnies.  We had a slight detour on the way back to shore thanks to Nicola (aka The Dancing Queen and the only other female on the trip).  During her attempts to remove Lion's Mane jellyfish tentacles from her diving boots she dropped one overboard.  To his credit, David turned the boat round and went straight to the stray boot so it was reunited with its owner.

Afterwards David dropped us off at the pier in Lochaline so that we could pick up our cars and start the 3 hour drive back home.

Don't ever let anyone tell you it's not worth diving in Scotland.  Yes, there are times when the visibility can be bad but that can happen anywhere. And, yes you need to wear a full drysuit due to the water temperature but if I can cope with that anyone can.   I am in awe of what I see every time I dive.  When you're standing on the shore it's hard to imagine how much is going on under the surface of the water.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Busy, busy, busy

I had really intended to make new designs to add to my shops but it didn't quite work out.  I have been busy making things though, just none of them are for sale.

First I realized I'm going to a wedding on 9th July.  I didn't have time to go dress shopping so I decided to wear a dress I wore to another wedding a while back  Totally different set of guests so who'll notice?  As you can see it's a bit RED!

I still have to try the shoes on to make sure they still fit since I broke my foot. Better get a move on with that. I realized that I broke the necklace I was wearing with it that day, which is a shame as I really liked it.  My mum bought it for me a few years ago.  My first job was to make jewellery to match the frock so here it is - a necklace, bracelet and earrings made using the new Chinese crystals I bought:

Next it was my friend Mo's birthday.  She likes green and it just so happens I have a whole lot of green sparkly things.  I also have some pretty gold coloured chain so I thought I'd break from my usual tradition and use gold chain instead of silver.  This is the finished article, made with more Chinese crystals mixed in with Czech rondelles.  I actually like it better than the one I just made for myself.

What next?  Oh yes, it was my daughter's birthday as well (missbaah). Now very often she's pink and frilly (with Doc Martens of course) but she's equally likely to be spotty, stripey and multi-coloured.  Her wedding dress was black and white and I noticed she had another black and white outfit so I thought I'd be less predictable than usual and go for monochrome, which is apparently "in" at the moment.

Her husband hates dangly earrings so I suspect these ones won't too popular with him but I'm certain it won't stop her from wearing them.

After all that I started thinking about the wedding again.  Now I'm not the kind of girl who tends to wear hats or hair decorations but weddings are a bit special so I decided to make something to tart my hair up a little.  This morning I finally got round to making myself a sparkly hair band.  I decided to keep it simple and used more of my new Chinese crystals.  Here it is:

That's me all set to go now.  Birthdays done & dusted.  Maybe now I can actually make some jewellery to sell.   Or..... maybe I should make something as a competition prize for WowThankYou?  I'm off to see if I can find some inspiration.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Drift diving at St Abbs

A little later than intended I'm finally updating my blog.  Where did the time go?

Anyway, the awful, torrential rain finally cleared up a bit just in time for Bank Holiday Monday at the end of May.  That was good news for The Boy and me because we had arranged to go scuba diving at St Abbs on the south east coast of Scotland.  We arrived early and watched the boats taking other divers out for their own adventures:

We had decided to do our PADI Drift Diving Speciality as part of the trip so there was some studying to do the week before.  We had a couple of trips booked on the Tiger Lily out of St Abbs harbour.  We'd been out on her before so we knew it would be a good day out.  St Abbs is also a Marine Conservation Reserve so we knew there would be cool things to see under the water.

We started off at a site called Black Carrs. The Boy and I descended to the bottom and while we were waiting for the others to join us we had a visit from a Ballan Wrasse:

It was hard to say who was more curious, it or us.  It swam right up close and stopped just in front of my face and just hovered there staring at me.  Then it went and had a stare at The Boy while he took it's photo.  It went back and forward between the two of us like that until everyone was in the water and ready to set off.

A little further on The Boy stopped and seemed intent on taking photos of a rock.  I went to take a look and I still couldn't understand why he was photographing a rock.  Then it moved and I realized that there had actually been a tiny, well camouflaged fish sitting on top of the rock.  I only saw it as it swam off.  Can you see it?

By this time I was wondering what had happened to the drift (current) we were supposed to be diving in.  Just then, the dive leader turned in a different direction and there it was.  All of a sudden I was aware of being carried along by the current.  What a fantastic experience!  No finning required, just become a passenger in the current and enjoy the scenery and, obviously, don't lose sight of the rest of the group.  The downside of drift diving is that, if you want to take photos, by the time you've spotted something interesting to photograph the drift has swept you past it. So, no more photos for the rest of the dive.  After a while the dive leader inflated the surface marker buoy so the boat could find us and we all surfaced.

The great thing about diving off the Tiger Lily is that it has a lift on the back, oops, stern so you just have to stand on it and be transported on board in a single smooth motion and hobble onto the deck instead of trying extricate yourself from gear and clamber aboard in an ungainly fashion.  The skipper also provides hot tea/coffee and biscuits. What a star!

For the second dive we were taken to the Tye Tunnel. Fortunately the sea was flat calm or the entrance to the tunnel would have been tricky.  Here's one of the group about to enter the tunnel:

You have to swim over a rock then dive head first down between the walls to the bottom.  It opens out at the bottom but the initial entry is fairly narrow.  I managed to contain my claustrophobia while we did that part.

When we came out the other end of the tunnel the dive leader spotted something on a big rock and drew it to our attention.  What was it?  Only a cute looking lump sucker:

It looks like something you'd see in a Walt Disney cartoon, not at the bottom of the sea.  It wasn't even remotely put out by a group of divers surrounding it, staring, making bubbles and taking photos.

Just after that we found the drift.  It was a much more gentle drift than the first dive and it was a very relaxing end to the day to be carried gently back to the rendezvous point with the boat.

What a great day.  A huge thank you to Ally for arranging it.  We'll definitely be back.

Monday, 18 April 2011

A ring is born

This is the story of Stoo's ring.  Stoo is one of The Boy's friends.  He saw the silver ring I made at my silver clay class last year and asked me to make him a thumb ring. That was a while ago.  It's not that I haven't wanted to make his ring.  I've just been putting it off because I only had one pack of silver clay and I didn't want to mess it up.

At the end of last week The Boy asked when I was going to make Stoo's ring & I figured I didn't really have any excuses so I should just get on with it.  The main reason for my reluctance is that there are so many standards for ring sizes.  I learned using Japanese sizes but only have UK & US ring gauges so I knew I was going to have to do some calculations to work out shrinkage before I started.

So I got out all the size conversion charts I'd downloaded and tried to work it out in UK sizes. Stoo's thumb is a size Y so what size do I need to make the unfired ring to allow for 8-9% shrinkage?  After checking & triple checking I convinced myself it needed to be Z+4, 5 whole sizes bigger.  I was a bit worried that the guidance for US sizes was to go 2 sizes bigger and for Japanese sizes to go 3 sizes bigger.  Then I realised that UK sizes are a lot closer together than US or Japanese and relaxed a bit.

First I decided to prepare my ring mandrel.  Challenge no. 1 - even the thick end of my mandrel was too small for size Z+4.  Solution - tape paper round the mandrel to pad it out:

Challenge no. 2 soon followed - the ring papers were just too small to join around the mandrel.  Solution - use a teeny piece of sellotape to stop the paper pinging off.

Now I was ready to get the clay out and make the ring.  It took a few attempts & some extra clay before I actually had enough to go around the mandrel enough to join it properly.  And that's when I found out that there was sellotape somewhere it shouldn't be and I couldn't move the paper.  The ring fell apart and that was that - back to the drawing board again.

Brainwave - I fetched the greaseproof paper from the kitchen and wrapped the mandrel again:

That helped so I was finally able to construct the ring on the mandrel.  I slid the whole lot down the mandrel slightly and left it all to dry overnight.  I checked it with the ring gauge to make sure it was was still sitting at size Z+4.  Here we have a not very good photo of the ring, all dried and ready to be sanded and filed and inspected:

There was a disappointing number of fine cracks in the pattern but I suppose that's only to be expected considering how many times I had to start over and that the clay seemed to dry out very quickly even though I was working it inside cling film as much as possible.  For the next few hours I kept coming back to check it under the magnifying light, carefully dabbing a teeny amount of water or slip on any cracks and leaving it to dry.

I took my time about sanding the edges and the inside and carefully bevelling the inside edge so that it wouldn't be sharp against Stoo's delicate skin. :o)

Finally I felt ready to fire it.  I laid it on a piece of firing blanket on top of the kiln shelf and cooked it at 650 degrees for 30 minutes.  I plunged it into cold water then took it away and gave it a first polish with a brass brush:

That doesn't look too bad does it?  I checked it with the ring gauge again it measures size Y - result!  My calculations were correct.  Just need Stoo to try it on his thumb now to be sure it fits.  Then I have to send it to the Assay Office to be hallmarked before he takes possession of it.

I've been going back to it now and then throughout the day with sand paper, the burnisher and polishing papers and I'm happy with how it looks.  I hope Stoo likes it too.

If making rings for boys is going to become a habit I need to buy a bigger mandrel.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Digital Underwater Photography

On Sunday The Boy and I had an assignment at Loch Creran (near Oban) to do the open water part of our PADI Digital Underwater Photography course with Aquatron.  We already completed the classroom and swimming pool sessions a few weeks ago but our first attempt at the open water part (at A-frames on Loch Long) was scuppered by visibility so bad that we could hardly see each other under the surface, never mind anything we were supposed to be photographing.

We had two dives.  During the first dive the objective was to photograph our dive buddy.  We had to take a head/torso shot then a full body shot.  This turned out to be a bit tricky as, when I looked at the screen on the back of the camera to line up my shot, all I could see was my own pink mask reflected in the camera housing.  I had to cheat a bit and look over the top of the camera as well to make sure I was pointing the camera the right way. Sh! Don't tell.

Here is my head shot of The Boy:

Full body shot:

During dive #2 the objective was to take photos of the aquatic life using the PADI SEA method (Shoot, Examine, Adjust) to get the best photos.  It went like this:

Shoot (a common starfish):

Examine: with my eyesight I could not see at all that this was blurry, :o).  However, I was able to see enough to decide that the composition and angle could be better so I adjusted:

Better!  If nothing else, at least this one is in focus.  I really need to get prescription lenses for my mask.

Here are another couple of adjusted photos.  I won't make you suffer the pre-SEA ones.

Some sea squirts (don't know what kind - I might even be wrong about them being sea squirts):

And here we have a Sea Toad aka Spider Crab that kept running away from me:

I also took a photo of a Sea Lemon but I won't inflict that one on you.  I took it by the light of the instructor's torch.  If he hadn't spotted it I definitely wouldn't have seen it.  It looked like a big white slug in the silt to me.  I really should get those prescription lenses for my mask shouldn't I?  When The Boy tells me about all the things he's seen when we go diving I'm convinced we were in different lochs as I never see half of the things he does.

The Boy and I were sharing a camera so while he was shooting, Ally, our instructor, was giving me tips and trying to improve my buoyancy.  Good buoyancy is crucial when doing underwater photography as you need to be able to hover above the bottom so that you don't damage any of the aquatic life.  I'm getting there I think. My buoyancy during the second dive was definitely better than the first.

And, to round the day off, after two dives my drysuit had lived up to it's name and had actually kept me dry.  That is a record.  It's the first time diving in Scotland that my suit hasn't flooded. So I'd like to thank the amazing Eric at Aquatron for taking my neck seal in enough to keep me dry without choking me. :D :D :D  Even the came out and gave us a bit of heat while we were on the surface.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Can brooches be left or right handed?

I have never been a brooch kind of person.  Even as a child I never wore badges.  A friend asked me if I ever made brooches so I thought I'd have a go.  I did actually buy some commercially made brooch backs months ago with the intention of investigating brooches but when I looked at them I decided that using them would be cheating in some way.  So I decided to have a go at making the whole thing from scratch.

I have loads of copper wire in different thicknesses and, as I would be hammering and filing it, plated wire wouldn't do.  I opted for 1mm copper wire in the end as I wanted something that would be firm enough not to bend once it was finished but not so thick that it would make noticeable hole in the fabric that it would be attached to.

The first and most important step was to hone the end of the wire to a point.  This is done in stages.  First of all, hammer the last few centimetres of the wire on a steel block or anvil to taper it:

To be honest, I'm not sure a ball pein hammer is entirely right for this job but it's the only hammer I have at the moment so it had to do.  A flat hammer would be more suitable I think.

Next job is to file the tip to a neat point.  I started off with a mini file for this and then used different grades of sand paper to smooth it off.

I have to confess to needing a magnifying light for doing all of this as my eyesight is just not good enough on its own to see if I've polished it up to silky, smooth loveliness.  And here we have the finished product, a brooch pin that is sharp enough to pierce fabric but not puncture skin.  Though I suspect with enough pressure the skin wouldn't stand a chance either.  Yes I know it doesn't look a whole lot different from the last 2 photos but I can assure you we have progressed from the blunt, cut end of a piece of copper wire to a honed brooch pin.  :o)

Next step, which I forgot to photograph, silly me, was to decide how wide to make the brooch and use the widest part of a pair of round nose pliers to turn a spring at the bottom of the pin.  Now the world is my oyster.  I have a piece of copper wire just asking to be decorated in an awsomely creative way.  But it's my first attempt so I have decided to keep it simple as this is still a learning experience.  I have some cloisonne beads that go really well with copper so I added a few Preciosa beads and made this:

I decided to keep the clasp simple as well.  I tried it on but not being a habitual brooch wearer I wasn't entirely sure what way to put it on.  You are probably wondering what on earth I'm on about but when I showed it to The Boy he told me off for having it on the wrong way round.  I was wearing it with the catch showing at the front but he insisted the catch should be hidden at the back.  I think that is a matter of personal taste and depends on how aesthetically pleasing the clasp is - or is it?  Anyway, when I turned it round to keep The Boy happy I realised I was now having to put it on left handed.  This made me wonder - do brooches come in right or left handed variations?  Is this something you have to bear in mind when creating your work of art?

I kept the brooch on for a while to make sure it was sturdy enough and soon had it pointed out to me by my daughter and her friend that I was totally ignorant of brooch wearing ettiquette.  I was wearing it attached my my top, which apparently is not the done thing.  It is apparently supposed to be attached to a coat or jacket.  I know I'm not an expert of brooches but can someone tell me when the rules changed?  In my day you could attach brooches to all sorts of things, blouses, jumpers, scarves, waistcoats, jackets, coats.....

Anyway, no-one criticised the actual brooch, only the way I was wearing it, so off I went to make more.  I got a bit more adventurous with the next one and made some loops on it so that I could attach dangly things from it.  Here is brooch number 2 with coloured chain hung from the loops and wrapped with tiny metallic beads:

And I didn't stop there.  I carried on playing with the chain and made another brooch without loops.  I still haven't made one with the standard, kilt pin type clasp, the shepherd's crook fastener.  That's on my list to do, as is getting more creative (fancy) with the decorated part of the brooch.  Here is what I've made so far:

I think I'm getting the hang of brooches.  Does anyone have any requests for my next creation?