The sun has got it’s hat on

Hip hip hip hooray!  So I thought it was a good time to take a photo of Little Beach Boutique in the sunshine (and show off our new sign).  You can also see some of our gorgeous wedding gifts, such as our Mr & Mrs Garland and our handmade personalised children’s room signs, made in Brighton.

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And this is Dylan the dog sun bathing. He comes down to the shop with me every day and loves to greet each customer.  He also likes chasing the seagulls when there’s a discarded bag of fish and chips on the beach.

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Let’s hope the sun lasts this time!

Suzanne x

Suzanne blogs from her shop and workspace, Little Beach Boutique, in the Artist’s Quarter on Brighton Seafront.  You can see more of her handmade gifts from Brighton and beyond here:

http://www.littlebeachboutique.com

Making Fused Glass Boat Tiles – a short demo

This week at Little Beach Boutique I have been making glass Sailing Boat tiles and I thought I’d show my readers how they’re made, using this piece (pictured below) as an example.

Framed Fused Glass Boat Tile

Fused Glass Boat Tiles – Layering Glass to go into the kiln

I love seaside hues and pastel tones and think they are perfect for a bright and breezy piece like this.

I use Bullseye Glass, as their colour range is fantastic. For these boats I have chosen Turquoise and Lilac ‘Opalescent’ Glass, which is opaque, holds it’s colour well and stands out against any background.

First of all, cut out the boat shapes with a glass cutter- – it can be a bit tricky as the glass is brittle. I’ve gone for quite simplified geometric shapes but you can be as elaborate as you like!

I have used a clear piece f 3mm ‘Tekta’ as a base and I’ve cut this piece to 6 x 4 inches. Straight onto this piece, I have placed a piece of Copper leaf. It is very thin and quite fiddly, but cut it so that the edges don’t quite meet the edge of the glass.  When it is fired it goes a beautiful blue colour and produces small bubbles for a wonderful watery effect.

Now – the magic dust! Sprinkle small amounts of bicarbonate of soda carefully. I use this loads in my glass, as I love bubbles – it adds texture and tactility and continues the watery theme. Tiny pinches will produce lovely bubbles, but too much will cause the bubbles to burst, so use no more than about 2mm lumps.

Then place a second piece of clear tekta glass straight over this. It will trap air which tries to escape when the glass is heated and expands to cause bubbles. On top on that, layer the boats, as shown below.

How to Make Fused Glass Tiles
Making fused Glass Sailing Boats

Once the boats are arranged where you want them, you can add detail and texture to the glass. Here, I have  cut curves into a 2mm piece of turquoise glass, to form ‘waves’ ad then sprinkled a mixture of fine frit and powdered glass which I have mixed up with broken ‘stringers’ and dichroic glass for added sparkle. The colours I have used are Opaque White, Turquoise and Clear Dichroic frit in various forms. Just sprinkle freely on top.

You might want to add some detail to your boats – I have used an enamel pen to draw on them. You could add names or number if you like.

Then, FIRE it!! This piece has been fired to 780*C. You’ll get a lovely effect in areas where there are slightly larger amounts of bicarbonate of soda, with white frit scattered on top, like this picture….

Made from fused glass – sailing boat wave panel

Framed Boat Tile

When it has finished cooling, you can use this tile as a coaster, slump into a dish, or make a beautiful piece of glass wall art by framing it. You could also stamp it with your favourite phrase, like I have done here.

That’s it for now!  I’d love to hear about your experiences if you have tried to make something like this.  All pieces can be viewed in my shop or on my website  www.littlebeachboutique.com.

Bye for now!

Brighton Festival is in Full Swing…

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Brighton festival is in full swing this month, and the city is bursting with activity;  from dancing in the glorious Spielgeltent to browsing brilliant local art and chomping on cake in one of the Open Houses, there are street performances,  art installations and pop-up venues  every weekend in May, with the weird and wonderful (and everything in between) filling each corner of the city,  and something to do from the moment you wake until well after the sun goes down.

The highlights for me this weekend started with the Swing Ninjas playing at the Warren on Friday.   The Warren was a surprise treat – tucked behind West Street, but feeling a world away from it, the atmosphere seemed to be more like a country fair, complete with tepee , hay bails and barbecue,  than a city-centre festival venue.

The Swing Ninjas were amazing as always.  Regulars at the awesome Mesmerist, the ‘Quintessential Gentlemen of Swing’ played their set of New Orleans Swing and Parisien Jazz in front of a blissful crowd of toe-tappers and swing dancers (nobody stood still),  with a strong contingent from Brighton Lindyhoppers doing some dazzling dancing.

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 Yesterday I went on a trail of Open Houses, walking in the wind around the Beyond the Level and Fiveways exhibits.  I was so inspired by the  art and craft on show, showcasing Brighton as an incredible city for creativity.  My favourites were 8 Rosehill Terrace, showing some stunning canvasses by Tina Davies (www.tinadavies.eu), and the Dragonfly House, where I bought a beautiful vase by Alison Milner (www.spellermilnerdesign.co.uk)

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There was plenty of time to sit in the garden and eat cake before it started raining completely, but I also left lots more to see next weekend!

If you get the chance, try to squeeze in a  few open houses before the festival is over.   I’d also really recommend New England House, Glass in Fusion, David Williams and Guests, A Family of Artists and Friends for their atmosphere as well as their collection – but there are so many more!

You can also visit here for more information visit www.aoh.org.ukwww.aoh.org.uk

For further info on the Brighton Lindyhoppers, visit – http://www.brightonlindyhoppers.co.uk/

And to find out more about the Swing Ninjas, go to – www.theswingninjas.co.uk

Bye for now x

Suzanne blogs from Little Beach Boutique, a shop and workshop on Brighton Beach, specialising in handmade glass, craft and personalised gifts –   www.littlebeachboutique.com

A Hen Party Beside the Seaside

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Back in January, I was honoured and terrified in equal measures to be asked to organise my friend’s hen party in Brighton.  Brighton is fast becoming the capital city of hen parties and I was slightly dreading becoming one of the groups  that I have spent several soggy Saturdays in Little Beach Boutique slightly smirking at- groups walking past in the rain with banners, inflatable penises and learner plates flapping around in the Brighton Breeze.

 Brighton Sign low

I was spoiled for choice over what to plan for Kim – I could have taken my pick of the numerous burlesque lessons, ‘Beyonce’ boot camps, buff butlers and craft mornings to choose from – and that’s not to the exclusion of the kayaking that floated through my mind, or a morning learning to wind-surf in Hove lagoon.

But, mindfully aware of people’s budgets, and under a strict brief of no strippers or dance lessons, much to my relief, I decided to make the most of what we have to offer in our amazing city and show off what I love about this place.

So, we hired a house in the gorgeous Clifton Hill area, with plenty of space for a party on Friday night and views of the sea as soon as we walked outside.  We made cocktails, played games, danced and gossiped for the first night, then made our way to Hove the next day for a morning of pampering at Real Beauty with Allie – a new salon on First Avenue.
Allie was amazing –  we all had fabulous massages and some had their nails done- perfect for the ‘morning after’ and, as the weather let us down, we had our intended picnic of coffee and pastries in the relaxing surrounds of her salon instead.  We had a gorgeous lunch in the Bandstand Cafe – really good value and tasty snacks in what is, to me, the most beautiful building in Brighton.

Obviously we had a bracing walk on the beach  – no hen party would be complete without being ill-equipped and under-dressed for the weather – despite it being May Bank Holiday.

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We had drinks, told stories about Kim and wrote ‘wishes and words of wisdom’ in a a jar of pebbles from the beach before going to her favourite restaurant in Brighton – Oki-Nami. She loves Japanese food and it didn’t disappoint; as always, it was so friendly – and delicious.  They’ve got a contained conservatory area there which was perfect for a big group like our’s.

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And the master stroke for the evening was taking a gamble of one of Brighton’s newest clubs – The Funfair Club,  decked out in all that is nostalgic, eccentric and fabulous about Brighton.  We were able to book a booth for free entry before we arrived and had the mirrored room – a perfect size for our group to spread out and relax in, but near enough to the dance floor so we could make the most of the music, which, I might add, was a triumph!  A mixture of anything from Amy Winehouse to the Strokes, from Whitney Houston to Pulp,  I think it’s a testament to how much a danced, laughed and sang along that I have lost my voice for the last few days!

On Sunday, we had our day on the beach, as the sun came out and so did the rest of Brighton.  It was the first weekend of the Brighton Festival, and festival fever was in full force, with the seafront bursting with people eating, drinking, dancing and sunbathing.  Brighton at it’s best!

Of course, I should have known better, as while the others went home, I decided to go to the Mesmerist for some live music and dancing…no Brighton weekend would be complete without it!

As a lover of craft – the hen party wouldn’t have been complete without a few personal touches, so here are a few ideas…

  • Personalised Tea-light holders; stamped with the names of all the hens – something for everybody to take home. You could do this for photo frames or keyrings as well.

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  • A jar of pebbles of ‘Wisdom and Wishes’ for their life together, labelled with the initials of the couple – a perfect Brighton keepsake – people loved writing down their pearls of wisdom on these!

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  • I also bought a Polaroid camera – there are no re-takes with one of these! And a memory book so that we could stick them in and make an instant keepsake for Kim, with personal messages from each hen written underneath.

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  • Personalised Party Bags for each hen as they arrived, complete with pick and mix and a hen-do survival kit!

And of course-the groom’s head on a stick…why should he miss out?…

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Treatments: Real Beauty with Allie – www.facebook.com/Realbeautywithallie
Restaurant: www.okinami.com
Dancing: www.funfairclub.com
Gifts:  www.littlebeachboutique.com

Blogging from her gift shop, Little Beach Boutique, Suzanne writes about art, craft and making glass, running a small business and living by the sea.

Making images in glass using silkscreens – a little tutorial

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I’ve been asked by lots of visitors to Little Beach Boutique how I make the glass silk screen coasters that have been new to the shop this year, so I thought I would show you here, with the aid of a few photos, which I hope will help.

Using silk-screens is a great way to add a personal touch to your fused glass – you can create a silk-screens from your own drawings and have a completely unique range.  All you need is a bit of inspiration – and living by the sea gives me plenty of that.

So, for my recent range of Brighton-inspired coasters, I have made silk-screens from my favourite landmarks, first taking images of Brighton Pier, the Royal Pavilion and the West Pier and drawing them onto acetate paper.

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I bought some blank silk screens from a local supplier which I found online. To transfer the image onto the stretched silk, you need a dark-room to expose them, which, like most people, I don’t have.  So, my hand-drawn images were sent with the screens to a local screen-printing workshop who do it for between £12-14.  Much cheaper than building a dark room.

After a few days I had my silk-screens with the images that can be used again and again…

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Ready for printing,  the next step is to choose and cut the piece of glass you require, depending on what you are making, and lay it under the screen.  I usually choose 2mm enamel glass for the base.

TOP TIP – smooth down the edges and corners of each piece of glass or it will slice the silk immediately!  I have bought a grinder for this purpose – they are frequently used by stained-glass artists and can be bought via a stained-glass supplier online.  It was a bit of an outgoing to start with (£80-£100) but definitely worth it, as it saved me the pain of destroying my silk-screens every time I went near them!

So – mix the enamel powder of your choice with an oil-based medium.  It needs to be a treacle-consistency.  Spoon it over the top of your image, before pressing over the full image with a ‘squeegy’, which is tool not dissimilar to what you use for wall-papering.  This squeezes the enamel through the holes in the screen and transfers the image onto the glass below.

Repeat this process 2-3 times to ensure an even coverage, like this …

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Make sure the whole of your image has been evenly transferred with enamel, lift the screen carefully…

Et voila!

…A piece of glass with Brighton Pier on it…

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Let the enamel dry before dusting with a layer of fine crystal clear glass powder and cover with a layer of clear sheet glass.  The layer of powder prevents bubbles from surfacing, which can happen frequently when fusing two pieces of glass. I have chosen to use a 2mm piece of ‘driftwood grey’ enamel glass under a 3mm piece of clear base tekta glass.

I fire my coasters to 773*C – that seems like enough for a lovely smooth edge and soft corners, while maintaining the shape.

Open the kiln, take them out and fire up the kettle as you now have some fabulous coasters!

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So, your shopping list:

2mm opalescent glass

3mm tekta base glass

Fine Crystal Clear powder

Enamel

Oil Based mixing medium

A squeegy

A silk-screen

and some of your favourite images…

I hope this has been helpful.  You can find the whole range of glass coasters and dishes here http://littlebeachboutique.com/collections/handmade-glass

Do contact me if you would like to know more, at littlebeachboutique@googlemail.com

Enjoy!

 Suzanne x

Blogging from her gift shop, Little Beach Boutique, Suzanne writes about art, craft and making glass, running a small business and living by the sea.

First Post from Little Beach Boutique

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I thought it was a good time to start a blog today. Spring is in the air and crisp sun shines on Brighton Beach. The first school groups of the year are pacing the pebbles with ice cream, teasing the seagulls with their discarded cones and packed sandwiches and are daring each other to dip a toe in the sea. The carousel has just been reassembled after a winter of attentive maintenance. It always signifies the start of summer and it always seems to rain when they do it.

I’m sitting in my shop in the Artist’s Quarter on Brighton Beach. It’s a former fisherman’s arch that I opened as a shop with my friend Alice nearly two years ago. I am a crafter- a glass maker mainly. It happened quite accidentally. For years I worked as a support worker for women fleeing domestic violence and abuse. Glass was a lovely distraction and suddenly it seemed an option to turn my hand to it full time.

So for nearly a year now, I have been self-employed as a shop-keeper and glass maker. I had my doubts at first about the sanity of the decision to walk away from a reliable income to pursue a career based on a hobby, almost totally reliant one the the most unpredictable of forces – the weather – to bring footfall, during a period of seemingly endless economic gloom. But a year later I am sitting here looking out from my shop onto the beach on this spring day thinking it was exactly the right thing to do.

The shop is called Little Beach Boutique. I’ll be writing all about it in this blog, alongside all the things I love about living in Brighton and being by the sea.

View our gorgeous range of products and buy online at our website

www.littlebeachboutique.com