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


Exciting Times…

Well here we are on a bright and sunny Autumn Saturday morning and I find myself with a little time to catch up with some blogging. My posts have been a bit few and far between of late for which I apologise…I have so much on my to do list at the moment it’s hard to fit everything in but, I must try.

It’s almost 4 months since I moved into the new studio and I can safely say getting that done has proved to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s just so liberating to have the space to work on different projects and in different mediums concurrently. I have a low boredom threshold so I’m much more productive when I have several things on the go and there is so much cross pollination that my head is buzzing with ideas. I’m even thinking of abandoning my note book and using one of the big blank walls for writing my ideas down…creative graffiti if you like!

My studio Manager Cleo at her work station…

 If you follow me on Facebook or the Art Jewelry Elements blog you might have seen my debut ceramic pieces earlier this week. I’ve wanted to have a go at this for ages but was limited by space and so I thought, a low temperature kiln. But my AJE team mates put me right on this and persuaded me to give it a go and I’m so glad I did – it’s just so much fun and I’m completely hooked and now want to try so many things in this medium…

First firing of ceramic beads…

Because my kiln limits me to low fire clays I went a bit mad and splurged on a new higher temperature one that will allow me to work with porcelain and stoneware and so I’ve been told, get some really exciting glaze effects. Even better – it comes with an enameling collar so that’s another technique I can do more with. Only problem is I have to wait 2 weeks for it to ship from the US which is going to drive me nuts!

Paragon Caldera A

I’ve also been doing a bit more traditional metalwork lately, practising my long neglected soldering skills and trying out some fold forming…

Fold formed earrings available in my ETSY shop

You’ll probably have seen that I got myself set up for etching a few months ago too and that’s also so much fun with so many possibilities.

Etched copper vintage illustration pendants

So what you may ask, am I going to do with all these new found skills. Well as I mentioned I get bored easily and need variety to keep me focused so I’d really like to do more original and one off work with less reliance on commercial tools. I will of course be continuing with my metal clay work but will be selling other mediums alongside it and am hoping to come up with some combined offerings too. And of course, I want this to feed through to my jewellery design…I’ve not done a lot of that lately either but it would great to have mixed media pieces with everything made by me.

Recent bronze component work…

It’s very early days yet but I’m very excited about the possibilities that lie ahead and I’m looking forward to having something to share with you here.

For now though I hope you have a great weekend in the offing with lots of creativity in the mix…

See you soon,

Lesley

Come Up and See My Etchings….


I’ve been a poor blogger of late… the summer seems to be flying by at a rate of knots and at times I’ve felt like I haven’t really achieved much since the studio conversion was finished. This last week though, that seems to have changed as the last of my ‘stuff’ has finally found its way into the new studio which is now looking far more like a workspace – yes, it’s a mess!
You may remember that last October I went on an etching course and I’ve been itching to give it another try ever since. Well this week I finally managed to get all my kit together and set too…

I’ve been working with copper sheet and using ‘Edinburgh Etch’ which is a mix of Ferric Chloride and Citric Acid. As it’s been a while since I did this I decided to just repeat some of the things I’d done on the course to refresh myself on the process, before trying anything new…as always I have a myriad of ideas in my head!  
The first technique I used was PNP (press and peal) paper which you laser print your images onto and then use an iron to heat transfer them to the metal. As you can see here the printed element adheres to the metal and creates a resist.

Even the left over paper is pretty and I can’t help thinking there must be way to use that rather than just consigning it to the rubbish bin…any ideas?

The second method I used was a simple craft sticker which the etchant can’t penetrate…

I covered the backs of the pieces with tape to stop them being etched and then suspended them face down in the bath of etchant. There are number of ways of doing this but the way I use is to stick a piece of packing foam to the back with double sided tape which then makes the metal float on the surface of the etchant and also doubles up as a handle to easily lift the items from the bath to check progress or remove.

As I had a bit of a production line going I wrote the times on the foam so I could keep track of each piece. When they came out of the etchant I dropped them into a solution of Bicarbonate of Soda to neutralise the etchant and then removed the resist – the PNP comes off with Acetone and the stickers simply peel off. And after a good clean up this is what they look like…

These images are from french Art Deco book plates and becasue they are old they have a certain amount of staining around them which creates and interesting border and texture to the background which I really like. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with these pieces yet but here I’ve given them a wash of alcohol ink so you can see the designs more clearly…


And this is the finished butterfly cuff made with the craft sticker which has been oxidised and polished… works really well  doesn’t it?

This is another Deco design which I’ve made into a pendant with an integral bezel…

 And some more cuffs…

I had great fun doing this and it’s always energising to do something different and get some variety into your routine. I have lots more images I want to work with and will be listing etched pieces in my shop very soon so I hope you like them as much as I do.
In the meantime it’s Friday so I hope everyone has a great weekend and I’ll keep you posted on the new work.

Lesley

Bead Shop Liverpool – New blog and Jewellery Challenge…

My friend’s over at ‘The Bead Shop Liverpool’ have just started a new blog and they’re  kicking things off with a Jewellery challenge. So if you fancy creating something inspired by this beautiful fairy tale illustration by Janie Grohman why not pop over to the BSL blog and take a look… You’re welcome to interpret the Fairy Tale Theme in any way that you like so you can let your imagination run wild!
At the end of the month all the entries will be shared on the blog and one winner will be chosen at random to receive a £15 voucher code
for The Bead Shop Liverpool’s new website. There will be a new challenge every month so it’s well worth signing up to the Bead Shop Liverpool blog to make sure you don’t miss out – you can find out all the details here.
I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone interprets this lovely illustration later in the month!
Good Luck!
Lesley
 

Brit Pack Beaders – We’re Back…!

Well actually we’ve been here all the time but everyone on the team has been so busy this year that it’s taken us until now to all be able to take on our next challenge – where did the last 6 months go that’s what I want to know!

If you’re new to the BPB’s you can find out more by visiting the page tabbed at the top of this post but the basic premise is
that we are a group of 5 jewellery and component designers (Claire Braunbarth, Jo Tinley, Rebecca Anderson, Bo Hulley and myself) who take on Bi-monthly jewellery Challenges. For each
challenge, one person will choose a theme based on anything they like –
could be music, literature, film, visual images anything at all that
inspires that person. Each person is then allocated one of five design
items – clasps, focal beads, accent beads, decorative embellishments and
stringing material, and must send each pack member one of those that has some relevance to the
theme. Ultimately, everyone will all end up with a
design kit put together by five people with which to create a piece of
jewellery inspired by the theme.



For this challenge it was Bo’s turn to decide on the theme and she chose this painting by
Dante Gabrielle Rosetti…

Oil on canvas, dated 1870, 109.2 x 90.5cm, Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums Collections

The painting depicts Jane Morris, the wife of William Morris posed as Mariana from Shakespeare’s ‘Measure For Measure’ a women deserted by her betrothed (click link on picture for more information). It’s a rich and sumptuous painting and the team has once again put together some wonderful components for the challenge…

Along with choosing the theme Bo was responsible for providing the clasp and sent me this lovely floral button clasp…

Focals were down to Claire and she commission Pippa Chandler to make these lovely Polymer Clay flower beads which perfectly match the key colours of the painting…

Jo has supplied a lovely selection of lampwork and Czech glass accent beads which again pick up the rich tones but also add some balance with some lovely neutrals…

String materials were down to Rebecca and she sent me this gorgeous silk string in graduated shades of peachy pink and some dark blue waxed linen…

My job for this task was to provide embellishments so I made some little bronze links and charms influenced by some of the motifs in the painting – Mariana’s hair decoration, the tapestry…and the tiny heart is perhaps a little nod to the heart break of her desertion.


 

I think you’ll agree this really is a lovely collection of components to work with…

If you’d like to see how we all do with this challenge then join us back here on Wednesday 31st July when we’ll be revealing our finished designs. You can also check out what the rest of the team think of the challenge by visiting their latest blog and Facebook posts…
See you back here n the 31st.
Lesley

Changing My Shop Name…


I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I’ve decided that the time has come to change the name of my component shop THEA too. When I opened the shop 15 months ago I decided on the name ‘THEA too’ as it seemed appropriate for an extension of my jewellery shop ‘THEA jewellery’. Little did I know that it would take off the way it has and actually become the bigger part of my business so that now, the ‘too’ doesn’t seem quite so fitting.

I also think the link only really works within the confines of Etsy and is somewhat abstract as a standalone name. Since I may be doing more shows and will shortly be shipping my first consignment to a bricks and mortar store I feel the name needs to work in the wider market.

So with this in mind I have changed the shop name to ‘THEA Elements’ – still with the link to my jewellery shop but hopefully more self contained and descriptive.

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been playing with new shop banner designs recently and as part of this change, both shops have new banners in the same style and format but with a different colour…what do you think…? I hope you like them..

I’m not planning to change my avatars since these are widely used and recognisable across many social media platforms and for the most part haven’t been linked to my banners anyway.

It will take me a little while to phase out business cards (I didn’t want to put off the change any longer) and I will be redesigning my blog badge shortly.

Don’t worry if you have THEA too bookmarked on Etsy as all links and favourites will automatically carry over and redirect to the new shop url…I made sure to check that with Etsy first and I have it in writing!

At this point I would just like to say a very, very big thank you to everyone who had supported THEA too and I look forward to sharing my new designs with you in the guise of THEA Elements.


Lesley

Studo Conversion Day 1 – We’re Off…!!!

 Yes – the time has finally arrived and work started on Studio THEA today which is great as I was beginning to think I was dreaming it all! Nothing very interesting to show at this point though. This is how things looked when I woke up at the crack of dawn – Christmas has nothing on this you know…

 And this is how it looks at the end of the day…

Much the same but with some tools I hear you say. Well, yes but there has definitely been some activity – I know because my ears are still ringing from the pneumatic drilling that made the entire house shake. The cat has taken refuge in a padded cell in the wardrobe and I might just join her if there’s any more of it to come! As a result of all that drilling we now have the footing for the new wall…

And a big bag of waste – not the last I’m sure.

I was quite surprised when the electrician turned up but is seems he has a busy week so we had to grab him while we could even if it was day one – no argument from me as there’s nothing worse than coming to a halt because you’re waiting on a specialist. Consequently there are also now lots of holes in the ceiling (more drilling!) and lots of cables waiting to be run behind plaster board and under floors.

So as you can see we are well and truly underway – the bricks are coming tomorrow and the window arrives on Thursday and then it will begin to look like something is happening. It won’t start to look like a studio until well into next week but I will post regularly to show you what’s going on. I’ll also set up a dedicated blog page so that all the posts can be read together.

OK – I’m off to remove a film of dust from the kitchen so I can prepare an edible dinner!

Back soon.


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 Reveal – March

The components we had to work with this month were these lovely little hollow copper lentil beads made by Joanne Tinley of Daisy Chain Extra fame.
The fates seemed to be conspiring against me for this months challenge though…I always knew I was going going to struggle for time with all the things going on but this was exacerbated by the fact that the first bead Jo sent me never arrived and the second only made it here late last week…all a little frustrating when you think that Jo only lives about 25 miles from me!
The upshot of this was that when I finally set to work yesterday I had no option but to keep things simple to make sure I got the piece completed but, in the end that turned out to be no bad thing. Jo’s bead is fairly small and as I wanted it to have some ‘presence’ I felt the piece need to be quite delicate. 
Since I’ve been working with bronze clay I’ve not used copper very much but after rummaging in the depths of my bead stash I found this pretty patinated copper pendant from Leann Weih of Summers Studio that I’ve had for years. It’s quite light so I thought it would sit well with Jo’s bead without overpowering it.
Jo also sent us some tiny charms with our beads and I combined these with the bead and the pendant to form a long focal element which I hung from a simple fine copper trace chain. I actually liked this just as it was but while I have no qualms about keeping things simple, I felt I hadn’t really done much for a challenge piece. So after staring at it for a couple of hours I decided to add some light embellishment to the chain in the form of tiny turquoise rice beads and this was the final result.

I think there is a nice balance to the focal section which gives each piece equal prominence and I love the continuation of the chain with the heart dangles..

The necklace is actually quite long but I’ve pulled it back in this last picture to get a better perspective.

All in all I’m pretty pleased with it – it doesn’t break any new ground but it’s light, comfortable and eminently wearable and most of all, it think it does show of the beauty of Jo’s bead. I hope you like it too.

You can see what the other participants made using the links below.

Carolyn (Carolyn’s Creations)
Jess Green
Niky Sayers
Jo Tinley

Jennifer Cameron
 Jenny Davies-Reazor
Susan Kennedy
Linda Landig
Melissa Meman
Kristen Stevens
Francesca Watson
Lesley Watt



Lesley

Focus on Life Week 5/52 – Capture a Heart

This year I am taking part in a photo journal challenge set up by the lovely Sally Russick of Studio Sublime
who, in addition to creating beautiful jewellery is a talented
photographer. Each week Sally sends participants a word prompt and the
following Saturday we all post our photo interpretations on our blogs,
Flickr or Instagram
.

This week our task was to capture an image of one of the many heart motifs that pervade our daily lives but perhaps go unnoticed much of the time. I was hoping to get out and about for this one and find some natural formation to fit the bill but it has been cold, wet and windy here all week, the most miserable of conditions for walking and taking photos. However, while pondering what to do I was looking out at my garden (as I often do when in thoughtful mode) and spotted a solution right under my nose. Not only does this plant provide mounds of pretty blue flowers all summer long, it also manages to survive the most inclement weather and always has an abundance of fresh green leaves in the shape of a sweet little frilled heart. I definitely love my Campanula Carpatica…

And in case you’re wondering, this is what it looks like in bloom…

So having braved the weather briefly to get my photo I sat down on the sofa to edit it and Cleo, my feline design assistant decided to come and join me. She got bored very quickly though, curled up for a nap and promptly gave me an unexpected bonus shot…

How cool is that…?!

If you’d like to see where everyone else found their hearts pop over to Sally’s blog now.

Have a great weekend everyone.


Lesley.