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  1. I know some of you may still be working on your tax returns. Here's a tip to make it less frantic for next year...

    stopwatch-janecameron

    Take your lovely new shiny 2017 diary and put a note in for 2nd week in April to say "Start doing my tax return". If you have children who are home for the hols then maybe put this in for the first week of the summer term instead.

    Returns are so much easier to do when they are fresh in your head (and you haven't mislaid your box of receipts!), and you will find that HMRC (and your accountant if you have one) are far less busy and have more time available to answer your questions. You still don't have to pay your tax bill till the usual time!

    You'll also find next year's return easier because you've only just done this one, so the process will be fresh!

    From a business perspective, it's better to know how you did last year asap as then you have some concrete information to inform your planning.

    Go to it, and good luck!

    PS If you need your P60 from your day job too, then get the self employed stuff done first and you can just add that in when it arrives!

    (Thanks to Freepik for the image!)

    EDIT 17/1/17: Thanks to the lovely people over at Which for getting in touch to let me know that they also offer a new simple (no jargon!) calculator (officially recognised by HMRC) for filling out your tax return (small fee to submit to HMRC). If you're interested, this can be found here: www.which.co.uk/money/tax-calculator

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    new calculator

  2. This question has been coming up a lot recently on some of the glass fusing communities I'm on, so thought it would be good to do a post about it with my way of doing it and also links to some other people who have other ideas.

    THREE WAYS TO WEIGH YOUR GLASS, WITHOUT MATHS!

    These are my 3 top ways of making sure you have the right amount of glass for your pot melt, screen melt or other melt. You can also use the "fill up with water" method for glass casting.

    1) Cardboard Box Method: This is my favourite method because it's so simple! Use a piece of cardboard box, cut out the shape of your melt and then cover it in layers of glass pieces to make the depth you want. The good thing about this is you have a permanent "template" to go with your mould. Just add a bit for the pot!

    For a "normal thickness" melt you probably want 2 layers of 3mm glass (6mm), or 3 layers of 3mm glass, (9mm). If you don't have enough glass then your ring won't fill up enough, so if you want a perfect circle it's best to slightly over-cater with the glass.

    (You could use paper for your template, but I find it tears when I try and tip the pieces into the pot.)

    (Note: If you're just dripping on to your shelf, your melt is likely to come out as a circle and will spread so it is approx 6mm thick, so it's always a good idea to put a barrier or ring around the glass to make sure it doesn't run off your shelf!)

    2) Weigh It Method: Weigh a 3mm piece of glass the right size for your melt. Write down the weight. If you want to end up with a 6mm piece (using the 3mm circle as a base to drip on to) then put the same amount of glass in the pot, plus a bit (as some always stays in the pot). If you want a 9mm piece put twice as much plus a bit in the pot. If you're not using a circle of glass on the bottom then put more in the pot to compensate. Note: This is the most accurate non-maths version!

    2) Fill It With Water Method: Another way, which is really helpful for weird shaped melts like fish and stuff, or for glass casting, is to put plasticine all round your metal melt circle, in a deep tray, fill it up with water as far as you want to have your glass, pour into measuring jug and then use the same volume of glass (not weight as glass is heavier than water) plus a bit for your melt. (This assumes you are melting into a stainless steel casting ring. If you are then you don't need to add extra for the pot as the circle will be a bit smaller once you have lined it with fiber paper so you'll have a bit spare to leave in the pot).

    THE "MATHS VERSION"!

    Square melt: length x width x depth.

    Circular melt: 3.142 (pi) x half width squared (r squared) x depth.

    Then multiply by 2.5 for weight of glass, and add a bit for the pot.

    (e.g. 10cm square melt x 6mm deep would be 10 x 10 x 0.6, which would be 60, x2.5 for weight of glass = 150g plus a bit for the pot)

    (e.g. 10cm circle melt x 6mm deep would be 3.142 x 5x5 x 0.6, which would be 47g, x2.5 for weight of glass = 118g plus a bit for the pot.)

    LINKS WHICH CALCULATE IT FOR YOU

    There are also several pot melt online calculators and tutorials out there, which can help you with this:

    Got a favourite link? Used this method to work out your pot melt? Please do show me pictures / comment below!

    (You could use paper for this, but I find it tears when I try and tip the pieces into the pot.)

  3. First I must thank the lovely people who came and saw me at The Lightbox Christmas Craft Fair on 19-20 November in Woking. It was great to be able to catch up with you all and show you my latest creations!

    xmas fair lightbox 2016

    If you missed the fair but are looking to do some shopping from lovely local makers, I also met some fabulous stallholders and thought I would share them with you.

    First up, the lady next to me, "Twinkle Twinkle Jewellery". She hand makes all her beautiful jewellery from sterling silver and Swarovski crystals, and it's so sparkly! You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TwinkleTwinkleJewellery/

     twinkletwinkle

    Across from me were the ladies from "Sew Crafty" who run an online haberdashery store. My friend Victoria Tay - Stylist, who popped along to give me a hand with my stand, got very excited about their zips with lace edges, so they might interest you too! They can be found here: http://www.sewcraftyonline.co.uk/

    sewcrafty

    Down at the other end of the room was the lady from "Chunky Row", who had gorgeous chunky yarn made from real shetland wool. She had the cutest little sheep bag pompoms too! http://www.chunkyrow.co.uk/

    chunkyrow

    Diane Staniforth Jewellery was also there with her lovely handmade and wire wrapped creations made from silver and gemstones. https://www.facebook.com/dianestaniforthjewellery/

    diane staniforth

    The very friendly PepperPots Pottery Painting (try saying that three times in a row!) were opposite me too, with a great array of pots and other homewares all painted up and ready to take home. They also run pottery painting parties and are based in Bagshot. http://www.pepperpotspp.com

    pepperpots

    It was also lovely to catch up with Caroline Thomson hand made silver jewellery, and to see her fabulous work. I've been in the same room as Caroline in previous years and it's always a pleasure to look at her stand as it's beautifully set out and really shows off her jewellery. You can find her at http://www.carolinethomson.moonfruit.com

    carolinetomlinson

    A couple of other highlights from around the fair were:

    My colleague Linda Banks Stained Glass https://orchidstainedglass.co.uk/. I bought a little peacock pin from her, which I'll post a picture of once I've picked it up from her.

    I'd also like to say hello to my colleagues at Ochre Print Studio who were just down the corridor. They had some gorgeous prints and also some beautifully finished items made from reclaimed wood. I now have a lovely stand for one of my glass pieces which was made from an old skirting board! You can find out more about their work and screen printing workshops at http://www.ochreprintstudio.co.uk/

    ochreprint2     ochreprint1

    Also new on the scene was the lovely Bear Clause Designs, who makes lovely designs composed entirely out of triangles! https://www.facebook.com/BearClauseDesigns/

    You can also find out more about my work and my silk painting workshops at http://www.janecameron.co.uk

    Thanks to all my lovely colleagues and visitors for a great weekend at The Lightbox. See you again soon!

    Jane :)