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”

AJE COM Reveal – April is for Amulets

Today is reveal day for the AJE Component of the Month challenge for April and the pieces we had to work with this month were these wonderful polymer clay Amulets created by Jenny Davies-Reazor. I was lucky enough to get the gorgeous green swirly one at the bottom left of this image.
When my amulet arrived the first thing that struck me was that the swirly textural design and the colour palette were reminiscent of the ocean so that was going to influence my theme. I also decided I wanted to add some sort of stopper to create a little vessel – maybe for hiding secrets or special treasures in. My initial thought was that I could do this with a little round bead but I couldn’t find anything that would stay put but then, while rummaging around looking for inspiration I came across my Tracey Seder-Donoughe bead stash and this one leapt out at me. Not only was it a perfect colour match but its ‘waisted’ style made it a very secure fit – perfect.

I was also keen to add some sort of accent to the bottom of the amulet so I drilled an extra hole in the bottom and set about wiring it up along with the bead which I attached with a length of brass chain…so far so good.

 
Working with the ocean theme I added one of my own bronze shell charms to the bottom of the amulet and gave this a little accent bead that picks out the darker teal tone of the piece.

For me amulets tend to call for long necklaces and I decided to go with bronze chain but to give it some more depth and interest and to support the theme, I went for one of my favourite techniques and wove waxed linen threaded with tiny pearls through the chain.

At this point I felt I needed to add some embellishment for a bit more impact. I was thinking of this necklace as something a mermaid would wear to keep her treasures close so I added a cluster of dangles made up from bronze charms, pearls, Citrine, Ocean Jasper and Czech glass, all of which pick up the subtle tones of the amulet. I’m still thinking about what to put inside the amulet…

And that was it – job done and ‘Mermaid’s Treasure’ was complete! It’s not the easiest piece to photograph well and personally I think it looks much prettier in real life.

Many thanks to Jenny for supplying such a fun piece to work with – I got fully immersed in this challenge and thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. Please do now join our blog hop to see what the rest of the AJE team and our guests created.

Enjoy

Lesley
Guests: 
Marsha of Marsha Neal Studio
Alison of Alison Adorns
Jess of The Copper Cat

AJE Team: 

Ravens – AJE October Themed Challenge Reveal

This month our usual Component of the month makes way for a themed challenge chosen by Karen Totten. The symbolism and mythology surrounding Ravens is broad and varied and crosses many cultures. If you would like some more insight Karen’s original post looks at the Native America perspective while Jenny’s recent post looks at Ravens in Celtic mythology.
I hadn’t intended to follow any particular cultural viewpoint but I did revisit the Edgar Allan Poe’s poem ‘The Raven‘ before I started…I had several ideas for challenge pieces and they do all seem to have something of a Gothic feel to them. Most of them are also works in progress rather than the complete article.
My first piece came about through the fortunate Bead Fest purchase of this gorgeous porcelain cabochon by Joan Miller which I decided to bead bezel. To really make the beautiful bird pop I kept to very dark colours with matt beads to reflect the matt black glaze, highlighted by beads with that oil-slick appearance you see on the plumage of black birds and red beads to pull in the background. The result was this ‘cameo in negative’ like appearance which I am really pleased with. I’ve called it ‘Nevermore’ from the poem.
I’ve been trying for a while to turn this into a necklace but as yet I haven’t been able to decide how to do it. I love how these blood red pearls work with the pendant but it seemed somehow too simple to use them alone. Ribbons, silk and chain came out and I still couldn’t come up with the right combination. Black lace has been in at the back of my mind all along but I kind of discounted it for being too obvious… but now I’m thinking I might have to go get some and give it a go if only to prove myself right! Otherwise it will sit in its project tray until the perfect idea strikes.
I’d just started my foray into felting when this challenge was launched and when I found this next pendant by Jenny Davies-Reazor in my stash I thought it would be a good subject for a non-jewellery piece. I love the shape of the pendant and the way it evokes the view from a castle window or some such. I bead bezelled the pendant onto beading foundation and then did a little experiment by needle felting directly onto it. This is a very small piece – maybe three inches square and the technique seemed to work although I’m not sure the foundation would stand up to the needle felting on a larger scale.  A few beads for added interest, a silk string to hang from and a backing of ultra suede completed my first miniature art piece.

Ravens (who will feed on carrion) are often depicted sitting on human skulls and have associations with warrior goddesses and battlefields in Celtic and Irish mythology (see Jenny’s post for more info). While this may seem a little macabre skulls are actually symbolic of courage, death and rebirth and amongst the many ideas the Raven symbolises are birth and freedom.

I wanted to have a go at interpreting this aspect of the Raven in ceramic clay but haven’t had a chance to work in this medium of late so I decide to try it out in polymer clay. I don’t have the greatest skills as a sculptor so this pendant is a little naive and clumsy but it’s a starting point and I may well pursue it in porcelain where I find it easier to achieve a more detailed finish.

    Last up is a mixed media piece called ‘The Night Watch” which combines wet and needle felting with polymer clay and bead embellishment. I’d recently completed a piece using these materials and it got me really fired up so this was the ideal theme to explore it further. The rather dramatic backdrop of the moonlit sky silhouetted by trees was created by wet felting and then defined with needles. The moon and sky are embellished with seed beads and the Raven, made from polymer clay is embellished and attached to the backdrop using tiny seed beads. The beads are actually a dark oily blue rather than the silver they appear and are an absolute nightmare to photograph! This piece is not quite finished yet…the trees need a little something extra to lift the texture but I’m liking where it’s going thus far.

    So there you have my interpretations of our Raven theme and I hope you enjoyed them…now you can use the links below to see what the other AJE team and guest participants have come up with it…I know there are some great designs to see.

    Art Jewelry Elements Team:
    Jenny Davies-Reazor
    Phantasm Creations
    Caroline Dewison
    Linda Landig
    Niky Sayers
    Jen Cameron

    Our Guest Bloggers:
    An Ordinary Miracle Day
    Linda Newnham
    Michelle McEnroe
    Sarajo Wentling
    The Copper Cat
    The Paisley Lizard

    Thank you

    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:

    All About the Beads…



    So yesterday I arrived home very tired but very happy after an amazing holiday in the USA which gave me the chance to meet a whole bunch of awesome people as well as to attend Bead Fest. If you were one of those people be it friend – old or new, customer, social event organiser or vendor then thank you so much for making me feel so welcome and contributing to me having such a great time – I really am grateful to you all.

    I have plans for a number of blog posts in the near future inspired by my visit but since I am still suffering a little from ‘plane brain’ this first post is all about the beads… heavy on pictures and short on words. There are beads I bought as well as numerous beads that other artists and vendors were generous enough to swap with or gift to me and as you will see – I was very much in my element.

    I’m going to start with the beads of my lovely hosts without whom none of this would have been possible. Diana Suburban Girl Studio Ptaszynski and her lovely hubby Colin met me at the airport and put me up for the first few days of my stay. Very generously Diana also offered me the opportunity to sell my own beads from her booth which of course meant I had more money to spend on buying beads – thanks Diana and everyone who bought my beads.

    photo courtesy of Kathleen Lange Klik

    Considering I had access to trays and trays of these beautiful beads all day I was
    actually very restrained but if I’d had a bigger suitcase and higher customs
    limits it would have been a whole different story…

    Jen Cameron was hosting me for a road trip straight after Bead Fest but as you can see she was having a great time at the show… I think maybe the strain of making inventory while recovering from a broken arm finally got to her though!

    Jen makes gorgeous lampwork headpins and I managed to bag a good selection along with some cute little beads…

    The last leg of my trip was spent with Jenny Davies-Reazor – an artist and teacher who has inspired me to many new things during my stay but that’s definitely for another post.

    Again I was  reasonably restrained and could have got completely carried away looting Jenny’s huge and wonderful range of ceramic and mixed media pieces…

    Don’t worry that I had to limit myself though – these lovely ladies have all been warned that I will be making a return visit next year to stock up further!

    Before I even left the UK I’d made a list I things that I had to have and at the first opportunity I headed straight for Staci Louise Smith’s booth to snag this little (well not so little actually) bronze clay and copper Sugar skull… Staci’s work is so unique and original I just had to have it.

    I was also extremely fortunate in being paired with Staci for Diana’s annual art bead swap and just look what she gave me…lots of her own beautiful polymer clay and bronze beads plus pieces by Marsha Neal Minutella and Ann Gardanne – the bead mother load or what! Thank you so much Staci.
    And as if that wasn’t enough I also got this lovely white copper ring which I’ve worn constantly since.
    I did the bulk of my shopping on the last day of the show and headed straight to the Green Girl Studio booth and found everything was heavily discount so yes, I got a little carried away but who wouldn’t…isn’t this all just heavenly? I have to keep getting it out and stroking it.
    Next stop was the lovely Diane Hawkey to pick up some of her fabulously quirky ceramic beads…I just love these little gems and have a feeling they may be staying in my personal collection.I’ve certainly been inspired to create by this trip so that bead is definitely staying close to my heart.
    I’ve long been a fan of Gardanne Beads enamelled flower caps so it was wonderful to be able to meet Ann in person and lose myself in the vast array at her booth but I really did have to force myself to leave to make sure I had money to spend elsewhere!

    Another must visit vendor on my list was Hands of the Hills and if it hadn’t been for the sheer weight I would have spent a lot more time and money there…lovely vendors and all sorts of beautiful things to be had.

    Heather Powers of Humble Beads was vending at Bead Fest for the first time this year and I was so excited to able to meet Heather and shop ‘in the flesh’ for her wonderfully creative beads. Hard to choose when you’re faced with so many lovelies but I think I did a pretty good job…

    I’m also a really big fan of etched lampwork and soda beads so I was very happy to be able to do some swapping with Genea Crivello-Knable and get these wonderfully earthy, crusty beads and headpins – just perfect for autumn designs.

    One of the biggest hightlights of this trip was meeting so many of the AJE blog team who have become such good friends and supporters online. No less than 9 of the 13 members made it to Bead Fest and I had such a great time with these lovely ladies…


    From left to right: Karen Totten, Melissa Alford-Meman, Sue Kennedy, Me, Diana, Kristen Stevens (back) Jen, Linda Landig (back) and Jenny. And of course there was much swapping of lovelies among the group…

    Gorgeous totem sets from the uber talented Karen



    Melissa’s amazing mixed media pieces including polymer clay, metal clay and a resin set hand made bezel…

     The sweetest beaded beads and gorgeous headpins from Sue Kennedy

    Great pieces from Linda’s new line of ceramic – who’d know she was new to this…

    And always fabulous – Kristen’s beaded hoops and beads. Kristen also made me some beautiful beaded jewellery but I’m saving that for another post.

    Kristi Bowman couldn’t make it to the show but Linda bought some of her work along and I snagged myself these cool copper earring charms…

     I also managed to get my hands on a few Basha Beads courtesy of Cooky Schock – love the ancient rustic feel of these…


    Although there may seem to be a lot of beads here… there were in fact a number of vendors I never made it to just through being somewhat overwhelmed and exhausted. Although we met at the show one of these was Marsha Neal Minutella so I was absolutely delighted when I got to Jenny’s and found out we were going to visit Marsha who lives close by.

    Marsha is one of the first ceramic bead makers I came across, an absolute force of nature and an all round delightful person so I can’t tell you how excited I was to find myself actually standing in her studio – when I grow up I want a work space like that. She is also incredibly generous and had I been there earlier in my trip and had more space my pockets would have been loaded with a lot more beauties like these. Can’t wait to meet up again next year Marsha…

    And if all that wasn’t enough, I also met my online friend Jan Onipenco while I was staying at Diana’s and she gifted me an incredible lampwork ammonite bead and some of her lovely shrink plastic pieces…another very generous lady that I hope to meet again.

    So as you can see I had a pretty good time increasing my bead stash but I do feel a little greedy keeping everything for myself so, I am planning to do a little giveaway or two once I’ve sorted myself out a bit so keep an eye out for that. A lot of the artists featured here will also be listing Bead Fest inventory in their shops so do check them out using the links in this post.

    My own beads are being shipped back later this week and as soon as they arrive I will be doing a big shop update but this trip has left me feeling hugely inspired to make some jewellery so until then I think this little lot will keep me more than busy!

    Happy beading!

    Lesley