Meet the Mudlarks

Mudlarks is the meeting off two minds that are equally obsessed with the infinite possibilities that working with clay (or mud) provides. One of those minds in mine and the other belongs to my good friend Caroline Dewison of Blueberribeads.

Caroline and I recently attended a bead show together and during the run up to this we got to talking about bead shows in general and how difficult and expensive it can be to find good ones. We don’t really have the equivalent of Bead Fest in the UK but we do have a big one day event called ‘The Big Bead Show‘. This show is very much geared to commercial bead sellers and is not cheap to attend so very few artisans exhibit there. Somehow though, in the course of one conversation we managed to find out the cost of the show and convince ourselves that if we pooled our resources and exhibited together we could hopefully do well enough to make it cost effective. Continue reading “Meet the Mudlarks”

Art Elements Component of the Month – August Reveal

Well that’s it then…summer (such as it was) is all but gone and Autumn is ready to take the over the reins. August has been a manic month devoted almost totally to shows and unfortunately left me very short of time to do anything else including create something epic with these wonderful lustre glazed star beads that Caroline so kindly created for us. So my post this month is a very flimsy work in progress. I hope to work on my piece in the next month although that to is dedicated to shows… no peace for the wicked! Continue reading “Art Elements Component of the Month – August Reveal”

Turning Tides – Art Elements Design Challenge

I swear someone is stealing days from the months…I can’t believe it’s time for another Component of the Month design challenge reveal already! But it is and the pretties we were give to play with this month come in the form of these gorgeous lampwork focals by Jen Cameron. True to form I forgot to photograph my particular bead but it looks similar to the one back left in this image. Continue reading “Turning Tides – Art Elements Design Challenge”

Welcome To My New World…

Yes, it’s true…after announcing twelve months ago that I was planning to rebrand my business and launch a new shop I’ve finally got my act together and done it!

Six years ago I gave up my day job and launched my jewellery business.

Naming the business was no easy thing but while I was searching for inspiration online I came across this description of the Greek goddess THEA:

THEA was the Greek goddess of sight and the lights of the sky as personified by her children Helios, Selene and Eos – goddesses of the sun, moon and dawn. She also had dominion over gems and precious metals and their inherent light.

Continue reading “Welcome To My New World…”

Belle Armoire Jewellery Debut…

I’m not usually one for getting my work published in magazines – mainly because I’m too disorganised to get myself together for the submission deadlines but,when you get an invite from the beautifully put together Belle Armoire Jewelry, well you have to give it some careful consideration.

So that’s what I was doing around Christmas and today it’s safe to say that I’m just a little bit excited as I make my debut in Belle Armoire with seven pieces featured in a technique based article and a piece in the boutique section. You should have seen me run when the mail dropped this morning!

Metal clay and mixed media necklaces

Bronze clay and art bead earrings and bracelet

Wire macrame and bronze clay earrings

Wire macrame bangle

Fortunately I just about remembered to take some photo’s of the jewellery (apart form one pair of earrings) before I sent it off for consideration…

For this necklace I adapted a wonderful mixed media technique I was taught by by my good friend and AJE colleague Jenny Davies-Reazor at Bead Fest last year…

Mixed media necklace adapted for a technique by Jenny Davies- Reazor

These next pieces show case bronze clay and art beads..

Bronze clay, turquoise and Ebony necklace with ceramic focal by Karen Totten

Bronze clay necklace

Bronze clay bracelet

Bronze clay wire macrame earrings with lampwork beads by Puffafish lampwork

Bronze clay earrings with ceramic flowers by Karen Totten

And finally a spiral wire macrame bangle – unfortunately I’ve had the lovely lampwork beads so long I don’t remember who the maker is…

Lampwork and wire macrame bracelet

I hope you like the pieces…I guess now I might have to get myself a little more organised to make a few more submissions….watch this space!

Have a great weekend all.

Lesley

AJE Component of the Month – February Reveal

It’s the end of another month
(already?) and that means it’s time for another AJE Component of the Month (COM) reveal. This months
components were these beautiful copper clay pieces byMelissa Meman featuring one of her own  textural designs and the I got  the rectangular pair to play with.

 
My original intention was to split the pair and  make to separate items but time and energy have been against me this month so in the end I opted to stick with earrings. I always love the combination of turquoise and copper so I used a pair of lampwork headpins from Maryse Fritzsch Thillens to create some drops for the bottom of the earrings.

 I
then added some tiny turquoise beads to some ear wires for a little
extra lift and that’s it – job done. Very simple but I think the
embellishments set of Melissa’s charms, which are and should
be the star of the show very well. Apologies for the colour on this picture which seems to fade during the uploading process no matter what I do.

Many thanks to Melissa for providing these lovely pieces to work with. To see what the rest of the AJE team and our guest designers have made just use the links below:



AJE Team
Guest Participants:

AJE Component of the Month – November Reveal

The components for this months challenge come in the form of these lovely beaded hoops from the seriously talented seed beader Kristen Stevens. Once again I forgot to photograph my own beads but they were the same as the purple pair in the centre of this picture.

Since they came in a pair I decided pretty quickly to make earrings but I wanted to try and do something a bit different. They’re very light and quite flexible so I began by looking for something that might give them a little more rigidity and structure. Whilst rummaging I came across my pot of copper washers and found some that the hoops sat quite nicely inside and I started to think about ways to attached the two elements – a little wire wrapping seemed in order.

I decided I wanted integral ear wires so I began by soldering some copper wire to the washers. I then had a bit of a ‘what if’ moment and used some solder paste to give the washers a more grungy, industrial look by dotting it around, melting it and then hammering it for a more battered look… I like this look a lot and I wish I’d thought to take process pictures but I always forget when I’m experimenting. I also punched a hole in the washers opposite the ear wire.

Next I had to attach Kristen’s hoop and this proved a little tricky. Because they didn’t fit snugly to the washer so it was difficult to keep them aligned – I kept wrapping too tightly and pulling the hoops to one side. Eventually I managed to get a more even and relaxed tension which held the hoops centred where I wanted them. Some ‘messy’ wrapping took care of the excess wire and created a contrasting accent.

For a little flourish I found some crystals that matched the colour of the hoops and added them to the bottom of the washers as dangles. Finally I formed the integral ear wires and here we have the finished product…

Because it took me a few attempts to get the wrapping right I did take a
bit of the surface colour of the hoops but in actual fact I really like
the effect and I think it works well with the grungy theme.

Many thanks to Kristen for providing up with such great beads to play with. Please use the links below to see what the rest of the team and out guests made for this challenge.

Lesley 

Cindy Martin Shaw
Shai Williams
Karen Martinez

Linda Landig

Caroline Dewison
Francesca Watson
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Lindsay Starr
Jennifer Cameron

AJE Component of the Month – June reveal

This months challenge components have been supplied by Linda who has very recently started working with clay and lovely pieces they were too…

I chose this pair of blue stoneware rose charms thinking that I would probably make a pair of earrings. However, they’re quite large charms and I felt that to avoid making them too heavy my design would have to be quite simple – nothing wrong with that of course but it wouldn’t make for the most interesting post for this challenge. So I decided instead to work with just one piece and create a necklace instead.

One of the things I liked about these pieces is the natural colour and texture of the stoneware. It’s been quite warm here in the UK over the last couple of weeks and I’m one of those people who, as soon as the weather warms up breaks out the loose, natural linen clothes and Linda’s charms are a perfect complement to that look. I also like to keep my jewellery quite streamlined and easy to wear in summer – nothing too fussy or heavy.

So the piece I made is a long beaded necklace that slips straight over the head and has the charm as the focal of a layered pendant section.

The necklace is strung on waxed linen with stone coloured farfalle beads, dark blue Czech glass saucer beads with a picasso finish and tiny brass spacers all from Smitten Beads. I’ve also used the brass spacers in the loops which attach the necklace to a lovely stone coloured lampwork hoop from Outwest.

The rose charm is suspended from the hoop along with two of my own bronzclay leaves on brass chain and finished with little blue Czech glass drops. I love the cool feel of this piece and it somehow seems quite calming.

I did try to work both charms into the necklace but couldn’t get it to balance satisfactorily so I went with my default ‘less is more’ approach and I’m happy with the result.

You can see what the rest of the AJE team and our guests did with their challenge components using the links  below.

Thanks for joining us.

Lesley

AJE Members

AJE – 7 Days of Giveaways…!

I just wanted to give you all a heads up about a very special event that will be starting over on the AJE blog tomorrow…a whole week of giveaways!!!

The AJE facebook page recently sailed past 1000 likes and as a team we decided we wanted to celebrate and share that celebration with you. So we’ve all put up one of our own handmade art jewellery elements and each day 2 of these will be up for grabs for one lucky winner… which of course means you can have seven attempts to win one of these great prizes!

You can find full details of the event here…just make sure you set yourself a reminder to pop by each day and. On behalf of the AJE team I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who follows the blog and shares with us on our Facebook page for making this such a great community.

Good Luck!

Lesley


AJE Component of the Month – December Reveal

Welcome to another AJE Component of the Month reveal which is a few days late as this is actually the last of the 2013 challenges. The components for December were these gorgeous organic swirl beads intricately decorated with tiny dots from Rebekah of Tree Wings Studio. I chose one in russet red like the one in the centre of this picture.

What with everything that goes on it December I didn’t actually start my design until right at the last minute so I had to come up with an idea that was going to work first time. While I was pondering what to do I was staring out of the studio window from where I can see a bit of the woodland that surrounds the area. The sky was that heavy pinky grey colour that promises rain (we’ve already had a ton of the stuff), the branches of the bare tree were stark against the backdrop and a few birds sat huddled together against the elements.

The earthy tones of Rebekah’s seemed to work with this image so I starting picking out some beads that I thought would work with the theme. I settled on a little grey bird by fellow AJE team mate Caroline Dewison along with some Czech glass flower beads. I made a focal pendant by wiring the focal and bird bead together with stainless steel wire and a russet crystal accent bead and hanging it from an antiqued silver ring. I wire wrapped the flower beads and added these to a length of chain attached to the bottom of the focal.

I was really happy with this and finished the necklace very simply by adding a length of leather lacing from Smitten Beads wrapped with more stainless steel wire. The necklace is extra long and slips over the head without the need of a clasp – very casual and very easy to wear.

I love the contrast of the flower beads – they give a watery effect to the piece and the stainless steel has that rain grey feel. I think it captures those wintry colours really well. What do you think….?

To see what the rest of the AJE team and our guests have designed with their component just click on the links below.

Happy hopping!
Lesley

Guest Designers:
Ann – Bead
Love
Melissa – Bead Recipes


AJE Team:
Karen – Starry Road Studio
Kristen – My Bead Journey
Susan – Sue
Beads
Rebekah – Tree Wings Studio
Caroline – BlueberriBeads

Autumn Design Challenge Reveal

Welcome to the Autumn Design Challenge and Blog Hop hosted by myself and Caroline Dewison of Blueberri Beads. Today’s participants will be showcasing designs made with a selection of THEA Elements and Blueberri Beads, beads and components that Caroline and I liberated from our own beads boxes and of course, we are playing along too.

So then, this is the set of Caroline’s beads I kept for myself – a lovely chocolate brown puffy heart and co-ordinating beads in shades of pecan and pistachio…

 

I wanted to pull the heart pendant out of the group and find a bronze component to complement it and since the aim of the challenge was to use our older components I had to have a good rummage in my rather large collection that is a mish-mash of things that may be a bit flawed, a little bit fugly, experiments that didn’t quite work first time around and quite frankly – some things that I have no idea as to why they are there!

I had a vague notion about doing something layered and in a single colour and eventually dug out a couple of text connectors I made way back last year and rejected because once oxidised, the text wasn’t really clear enough against the textured background. It occurred to me that if I clean them up and just left the patina
around the wording they might be OK… why I didn’t think this at the
time I don’t know…maybe I did and just got distracted.

The text comes from one of my favourite poems “He wishes for the cloths of heaven” by W. B Yeats…

Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim
and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

This seemed an appropriate sentiment to combine with a heart so I cleaned one up and it did indeed come up sparkling so I attached it with linen cord so that it would act as a kind of bail. I made a beaded bronze chain with some gorgeous Czech glass beads that have a gorgeous matte bronze sheen (hard to see here but they look like rough Pyrite nougats) and finished it off with a bronze wire clasp and this is how it finished up…


I like the fact that it seems to feel quite delicate but at the same time has a sense of solidity…

So that left me with the set of beads…I was thinking that a bracelet was the way to go but I couldn’t find any of my own pieces that seemed to work well for that. What I did find was a couple of last seasons leaf clasps that I thought I could maybe put to a new use. As one was green and the other orange I patinated them both in an antique bronze and strung them on waxed linen with the beads along with one of Caroline’s birds and a matching bead I just happened to have in my art bead stash.

I had a hank of tiny aged seed beads that were a perfect colour match so I threaded strands of these through the clasps and plaited them together to create a loose rope. I finished off with brass bead caps and another bronze wire clasp.

The result is a lovely soft autumn hued necklace and I think the leaves look pretty good as connectors…

I had just two ceramic beads left which obviously meant the making of a pair of earrings…I found a couple of flat flower discs and dapped then into bead caps then and added a pair of dagger charms to hang from the bottom. Pretty simple but effective none the less…

So that’s my offering and I hope you like the designs and will join me in visiting all the other participants using the links below… I can’t wait to see what everyone’s done. Many thanks to everyone who has taken part in this challenge and of course to Caroline for hosting with me and providing such lovely beads to work with.

 

Janet Bocciardi –
http://www.honeyfromthebee.com/

Pine Ridge
treasures – http://www.gratefulartist.blogspot.com

Melissa Trudinger –
http://beadrecipes.wordpress.com/

Lesley










This Weeks News…

Finally! The news I’ve been waiting for…planning permission for my garage conversion was granted on Wednesday and I now have a start date of May 27th, just ten days away – yippee! Which means of course that I will be spending part of the weekend sorting out this mess although, having had a false start it’s not as bad as it was.

I’m quite conscious that under those empty boxes are a lot more full of perfectly usable household items and clothing which have ‘somehow’ accumulated but which I just don’t need. I don’t have the time or resource to deal with this myself at the moment but hate the thought of it going to waste so I’m using an local ‘Eco Clearance’ company who aim to recycle and redistribute as much as they can to the most appropriate area which will leave me with a clear conscience at the same time. Then we get get down to the business of turning it into something a bit more like this…

I’ve still got lots of decisions to make about things like flooring, wall tiles and paint but I think I need to get a feel for the space before I can do that properly. Needless to say excitement is mounting.

I’ve been building  a log list of things to I need for the new work space when it’s finished but I haven’t been able to resist buying a couple of new toys already, the first being this Silhouette Cameo Die Cutter. It’s widely used for sign making and paper crafts but thanks to some very inspirational people in the field I’ve discovered it can also be used to create beautiful jewellery.

Caroline Dewison of Blueberri Beads has designed some beautiful etched pieces using vinyl cut on the Cameo  which achieves a much crisper edge than many other methods.

And Wanaree Tanner, doyenne of the metal clay world has developed a process for using it with sheets of dry metal clay to produce gorgeous cut out work. Check out their work and you’ll see why I just had to have one of these.

Photo by Wanaree Tanner

I’ve also treated myself to this little bench polisher. I’ve always done a lot of my finishing by hand but when I was preparing for the Big Bead show I started getting pains in my hands from the sheer volume of repetitive work and I’ve noticed that I can’t do as much now without my hands beginning to twinge. Obviously it would be a disaster if I couldn’t work because of this so it seemed that this would be a sensible investment.

I haven’t tried either of these gadgets out yet but the Cameo will be trialed on some display cards I need to make for a consignment of components I’ll be sending off to a Bricks and Mortar bead shop in the next few weeks (more of that in a future post) – cheaper to practice on card than clay methinks!. As for the polisher, I’m sure it won’t be too long before that gets a spin…I just need to find it a temporary home.

Something else I’ve been doing this week is making a bit more jewellery and I’m really enjoying it since I’ve been so consumed with the component side of things it’s great to have a bit of a change. My jewellery shop has also been a little neglected of late so I’ve been trying to make some new stock and use my own components more…not always easy when you have a huge stash of other peoples gorgeous goodies.

I will also be concentrating on jewellery whilst the building work is being done as it’s going to be difficult to do much component making. This means there will be no major THEA too updates until after the studio is complete but the shop is well stocked so there is still plenty to choose from. Likewise I won’t be able to make custom orders but am happy to take them for completion in the latter half of June.

Another little bit of excitement for me will be the publication of my first project piece in the June edition of ‘Making Jewellery’ which hits the shops on May 30th. I can’t show you what it is yet but of course I’ll post some pictures when it’s published…It’s a bumper issue with 100 project so worth a look.

Well that ‘s my news for the week..things are about to get a little hectic as you can see but while the building work is going on I will be writing regular posts to show you how it’s progressing so watch this space.

Have a fantastic weekend.

Lesley

AJE Component of the Month – January Reveal

This month’s components were dished up by Karen Totten in the form of these delicious Pithivier style beads. Gorgeously crimped and puffed, it was very hard to pick just one but in the end I chose the lovely verdigris one top centre.

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As soon as I got my hands on it I new I wanted to team it up with a bronze piece I’d been working on and create a double focal pendant for a necklace. My piece has a very organic feel to it and not only does it pick up the brown tones of the bead, there is also an echo of the leaf motif in the structure of the bronze element too.

I had some heavily veined turquoise nuggets that I thought might be a good match and indeed they were. I love the contrast of these two colours and decided to stick to this limited palette.  I’m having a bit of an affair with wooden beads at the moment and picked out some of my favourite tiger ebony twisted facet and rounds to add some contrast.

My initial thoughts had been for a long necklace with chain but I ended up stringing the beads on linen cord with some tiny bronze cube spacers. The design is fairly simple as I didn’t want to detract from the focal and asymmetrical patterns seemed to do just that. A simple hand forged bronze hook clasp completes the piece.

I played around with the length for a while and eventually settled on quite a
short piece by my standards with the pendant sitting just below
the collar bone where it has maximum impact. I really like this necklace – it’s so wearable and I love the colours and yes… I’m keeping it for myself! Thank you Karen!

To see what the rest of the AJE team and our guest designers have created just use the links  below.
Happy hopping.

Lesley