So that’s another Christmas over and here we are on the verge of the new year – I hope you’ve all had a wonderful festive season and are full of excitement about what 2017 will bring…
Although 2016 has not done anything particularly horrible to me personally (other than the fact that I will be seeing the new year in from the sofa and toasting it with cold remedies!) I do feel like many of us are carrying the weight of the seismic changes we’ve seen in many areas and sometimes find it hard to stay positive. I have no answer to that other than to say I retain my own sanity through my creative work and interaction with associated communities that are so important to me.
This months Art Elements component challenge was a little different as out components were contributed by a guest designer Kristie Roeder, who provided this gorgeous selection of ceramic and glass pendants. I managed to snag the lovely aqua green one top left.
I really wanted to bead embroider this but it’s a rather large piece and I knew I would get carried away and end up with it being unwearable. So I either had to treat it as decorative art or pare it down somewhat – I chose the latter.
The pendant itself is so stunning it really doesn’t need very much to make it shine so I’ve kept it really simple. The pendant has a loop attached but I decided I wanted to create a beaded bail so I started off by flipping it and adding a lampwork headpin by Jen Cameron to the loop. I then threaded some very fine wire with seed beads and wrapped it around the loop.
The bail was created by threading seed beads onto Fireline and wrapping it around the pendant three times. Add some toning 3mm leather cord, choker length and there you have it…a simple but striking statement piece.
Huge thanks to Kristie for sponsoring this challenge and for the opportunity to design with her work. I hope you will use the links below to check out the designs made by the other participants.
Whenever you make things for a living or even as a hobby, it’s inevitable that eventually you’ll end up with an over-abundance of ‘stuff’ that takes over any available space in your home. Unsold stock, test pieces, supplies you couldn’t do without but have never used. This has long been a topic of conversation amongst the team over at Art Elements, so much so in fact that we’ve recently launched a Facebook Destash group called Art Elements Extras.
So now that I have this lovely new website I thought I’d better set to and start filling the shop up a bit. This past week has been a marathon of glazing, firing, photographing and listing and I’m completely pooped! It’s been a very busy couple of weeks getting this project up and running but it leaves me with a nice sense of achievement and feeling pretty happy. Now I’d like to share some of that ‘happy’ with you so I’m having a little giveaway…
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.”
This months Component of the month comes to you courtesy of Jennifer Stout-Cameron who provided the Art Elements team and our guests with these super funky sugar skull beads. I love these beads and wanted to do something fun in keeping with their quirkiness but, the bright colours are not usually something I would work with so it took some thinking. Much of said thinking revolved around flowers and dangles but I didn’t have quite the right colours and then an idea struck me while rummaging around in my jewellery box.
Welcome to the 2016 Art Charm Exchange and Auction organised by the talented and indefatigable Jennifer Cameron in support of ‘Beads of Courage’ a charity providing innovative, arts-in-medicine supportive care programs for children coping with serious illness, their families and the health care providers who care for them.
‘The Program is a resilience-based intervention designed to support and strengthen children and families coping with serious illness. Through the program children tell their story using colorful beads as meaningful symbols of courage that commemorate milestones they have achieved along their unique treatment path’.
This month’s AJE monthly design challenge is hosted by Caroline Dewison and is all about trees. The image above is of a historic avenue of beech trees at Kingston Lacy in Dorset and is one of my favourite places. Originally 365 trees were planted (one for each day of the year) and they cover a two mile stretch of road which is pure joy to drive at any time of year. Some of the old trees are now beginning to show signs of distress so the National Trust are planting new trees to the side of these beauties so that they failing trees can eventually be replaced.
So today is the reveal day for the latest AJE design challenge and this month it’s all about headpins. I have a good collection of these little pretties and it seems I’m not the only one who is enamoured – just take a look at the participants list below…
Needless to say I did my usual trick of forgetting to take a photo of my own pieces so I’ve had to crop them out of the bigger image. Since I had a couple of spares I decided to have a go at two designs and fortunately the two were sat next to each other.
This months AJE design challenge is inspired by the theme of summer – something that is sadly lacking here in the UK as I sit here in a fleece at the end of June! However, my garden is still managing to live up to expectations and that’s where I’ve chosen to draw my inspiration from. I love that time in the garden when most of the hard work is done and you can sit back and enjoy the abundance of your labours…for a couple of months At least.
I decided to go with a beading project this month and since I was short on time I just went with the flow and let the beads take me where they would. I started with one of my own cabochons with a floral motif and created a bead bezel in matching colours. From there I added Czech glass flower and leaf beads and I was thinking at this point it might turn into a brooch. But as the shape developed I started to think more in terms of a pendant so I added some loops to the edging.
This was all feeling a bit heavy and solid so i added some fringing along the bottom edge to give some sense of movement and airiness…much better I think.
As the bead work is so detailed I’ve kept the necklace part very simple with watercolour chiffon silk ribbon and the final result is this necklace which I’ve called “Garden Party”. Quite a different style for me but I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.
Please use the links below to see how our summer themed challenge inspired the other participants.
So as May draws to close another AJE design challenge rolls around and this month it was the turn of Sue Kennedy to provide us with components to work with and she chose these cute little lampwork heart and star cabochons…
These are the selection Sue sent me – aren’t they cute…?
Whilst I had originally thought to use all three of these together time escaped me and I didn’t get to start the challenge until the very last minute so I decided to concentrate on one piece. The coral coloured star reminded me of the starfish I used to go searching for in rock pools and caves as a child so that was the one I chose to use in an ocean themed piece.
Using one of my hand made molds I made a polymer clay urchin focal and before baking impressed the star into the clay to make a setting for it. Once baked I painted it with acrylic paints and then sanded it back to expose some of the clay and glued Sue’s cab into position.
I’m not usually once for using glue as a connection but I didn’t want to obscure the detail of the star with a metal setting. In this context and with these materials it’s very secure and I think it works.
I love layered or stacked pendants so I added one of my copper clay shells and a tiny coral and seed bead charm to add further depth and interest…
For the necklace I picked out some beads that reflected the colours of the focal and copper wire wrapped them – recycled glass, lampwork pumpkins and ocean jasper accented with mottled sandy seed beads.
A pretty copper chain with another tiny charm, an LOS (Liver of sulphur) bath for the metal/bead elements and a quick tumble and the design is finished. Now I want to head for the beach and get my toes into some sea and sand!
Many thanks to Sue for providing us with these lovely pieces to work with. Please go and visit the rest of the AJE team and our guests to see what they did with their components – links below.
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.
Today is reveal day for our monthly AJE design challenge and this month it’s a theme based challenge hosted by Lindsay Starr. Lindsay chose eyes as her theme and you can find out more about the subject on her original post.
The past month has run away with me somewhat so I didn’t manage to get around to making components for this challenge. Instead I picked out this lovely Milagro pendant of Jenny’s and decided to work with that.
Milagro is the Spanish word for miracle and ‘Eyes’ are a popular subject for these folk charms symbolising the concept of watching. They are often attached to an image of a deceased person as a representation of the spirit of that person is watching over and defending others from spirits from the land of the dead, or pleading their case before the saints and the angels.
In my stash I also had one of these prettty angel charms by Green Girl Studios and I thought that combined with Jenny’s pendant this would depict the ‘watching’ concept well. Both pieces carry legends and the words ‘strength’ and ‘safe’ seem very appropriate.
So here we are again…another month has flown by and it’s time for another AJE component of the month reveal. This months we were challenge to work with these lovely ‘Phaedra’ chain maille and crystal components made by Diana Ptaszynski – very bling!
Now I have to say these were quite a challenge for me since bling is not really my thing. I tend much more to the earthy and subdued and my inclination for anything sparkly is to treat it very simply and just hang it from a chain where it speaks for itself…but that didn’t fell quite right for a challenge.
So I was trying to thing of something that would better fit my aesthetic and still showcase Diana’s component and decided to try something with leather. I remembered a tutorial I had saved that involved loosely weaving leather cord into a necklace and decided to have a go at that. As the weave is quite loose I wasn’t sure if it would work but being made from aluminium jump rings the Phaedra is very light and it did work a treat. So in the end I did simply hang it from a necklace but I think it has a bit more impact than a chain!
I was fortunate to have a number of Phaedra’s in different colours and I chose to go with red because it worked best with the very dark blue of the leather. The combination wasn’t the easiest to photograph to get both elements captured accurately either so my apologies for the less than brilliant photographs.
I’m really keen to see what the other participants have made this month so I hope you’ll join me on our little blog hop via the links below:
For this months AJE challenge, instead of working with a specific component we were charges with getting into our bead stashes and designing with something we already have. This is a good way to to get yourself going after the new year especially if like me, you creative motivation has gone into hibernation!
I bought these beads from Tracey Seder Donoughe at Bead Fest and I absolutely adore them. So much so that when I go to my stash I invariably spend time just looking at them still amazed at the incredible detail with each one like a tiny little vessel. They are also extremely tactile have the most wonderful feel to them that just makes you want to touch them.
It suddenly occurred to me that if I turned some of these into a bracelet then they would be there to see and touch whenever I was wearing it…almost like worry beads I guess. I pulled out half a dozen of the blue cream beads because they pair well with my daily uniform of jeans and would therefore get lots of wear. It’s a fairly simple design with the beads wire wrapped and linked to each other and I’ve interspersed them with labradorite dangles to give some fluidity and movement to the piece.
I’m pretty happy with it and am keen now to do something with the rest of Tracie’s beads.
I also managed to whip up a quick pair of earrings using some of my AJE team stash. I have a whole flock of Caroline’s bird beads and I recently acquired some egg shaped lampwork headpins from Jen Cameron in a beautiful mottle glass – a perfect match for these cute little earrings.
I wash also hoping to have a third piece finished for this challenge but life intervened so this beaded piece with a wonderful focal by Birgitta Legonkou is a work in progress. The theme for this is serenity and I’ll come back and share it when I do get finished.
In the meantime I hope you will take a little time to follow out blog hop and see what our guest designers and the rest of the AJE team have created for this months challenge – just use the links below. Happy hopping!
It seems like an awfully long time since I launched this winter AJE design challenge and I have to say I would like nothing more than to see some sustained sun right now… so far winter in the UK has be unrelentingly grey and wet! But never mind – a blog hop of designs with a sun theme is a pretty good substitute and if you missed the original post you can find it here.
I have to admit that although this theme was my choice it did give me something of a challenge in that I struggle to work with yellows…a bit of a hinderance when it come to the sun. The first thing I did was make some ceramic pendants to put in my shop and made myself break out some yellows and golds for the glazes. Although though I didn’t use any of these in my own design there may be one or too appearing in the blog hop.
For my next design I turned to bead embroidery – my favourite past-time of the moment to create this brooch. I used one of my own cabochons featuring the spiral symbol often associated with the sun, accented with beads in shades of gold and bronze and with a picot edging to give the effect of sun rays.
Next up is a pair of earrings featuring a tribal sun design which I’ve etched into hand cut and domed copper discs. The beaded drops feature faceted Citrine and Labradorite beads – simple but pretty.
For my final piece I wanted something a bit more substantial so I decided to make a necklace using a technique I learnt from Jenny Davies-Reazor which combines a cold set bezel and polymer clay. The focal of this piece features one of my own porcelain face charms set in a bezel formed from two Vintaj flower blanks. The bezel is attached to a textured polymer clay pendant which has been painted with acrylic and sanded back to create the effect of sky, clouds and the sun’s aura.
Because the focal is quite detailed I wanted to stay fairly simple with the necklace so I chose to go with inky blue/purple pearls interspersed with gold seed beads to pick up the hues in the pendant. Little brass sun discs add accents at each end of the necklace.
A crescent moon cut from sheet bronze and a Hematite star charm hanging beneath the sun signify it returning to the dominant position and another star charm hanging from the end of an extension chain completes the piece. It took me a while to get this one the way I wanted it but I’m really pleased with how it turned out in the end.
Please excuse the less than brilliant photo’s – I like to take them in natural light and it’s been in very short supply of late! I’d just like to thank everyone who has taken part in this challenge and I hope you now join me in visiting the rest of the participants to see what they’ve created – just click on the links below.
The first half of the year saw me really finding my voice with my ceramic bead designs and having jewellery designs published in the wonderful Belle Armoire magazine. Then after a fabulous and creative summer break with good friends in the USA I’ve been trying my hand at some new things and have found several new passions – not least bead embroidery, felting and mixed media decorative art.
So what’s in store for the coming year…? Well hopefully much more of the same. I really want to immerse myself in these new activities and see what comes of it but that doesn’t mean I’ll be giving up on bead or jewellery making. In fact I’m hoping for some cross-pollination that will allow me to come up with some original ideas for my own jewellery and bead designs.
For practicalities sake though this is going to involve some reorganisation and re-branding to make everything a bit more cohesive. To this end I am planning to spend the next few weeks creating a new standalone shop as a single outlet for my beads, jewellery and decorative art. It’s early days yet but I’m very excited to get started on this new venture.
In the interim both my Etsy Shops (see links at the top of the blog) will remain open but there will be minimal listing of new pieces. Since I don’t want to be transferring stock from one shop to another I’ve decided to end 2015 and start 2016 with a clearance sale in my bead shop and everything is now available with a whopping 40% discount – just used coupon code CLEAR40 and the discount will be applied at check out.
I’m also planning to have some jewellery destash events in January so keep an eye out here and on my Facebook page (or sign up for my newsletter using the link at the right of this page) for news of that…and there may be some beady goody bags up for grabs at some point – who knows.
So those are my plans for the early part of 2016…what about you – what exciting things do you have planned? Whatever they may be, big or small I hope your New Year celebrations are full of joy and that the coming year finds you healthy, happy and wise – and creative too of course!
Welcome to this months AJE design challenge which gave us the opportunity to work with these gorgeous lichen inspired organic ceramic components from Caroline.
To feed my current addiction to beaded bezels I chose the purple cabochon on the bottom row. There is thin line of seafoam on the cabochon where the glazes have reacted and I wanted to use this as my accent colour in the beading. Fortunately I had the perfect beads and partnered with a mix if matt and gloss purple beads I was really pleased with how the bezel came out.
As the cabochon is so organic I had to manipulate the rows to secure it so that the beading is heavier at the bottom of the piece which balances it out and stops the bead work looking to orderly.
I jumped straight into the beading and didn’t give any thought to what I was going to do with it until it was finished. I felt it needed something to contrast the soft natural lines so I had a rummage around in my silver stash to see if I had anything that might work. I found this Hill Tribe Tube and decided to use it as a yoke to suspend the focal from by sewing closed jump rings to the back of it and making a decorative link section.
I managed to find some colour matched organic lampwork beads and mixed these with silver dipped Greek ceramic cornflake beads and haematite seed beads to pull everything together.
I added black leather cord and decided that’s all I was going to do because when I tried it on I loved the way it looked and knew I was going to keep it – a simple silver clasp and job done!
Many thanks to Caroline for giving us these lovely pieces to work with and I’m very happy to have a second one to play with too. To see what the rest of the team and our guest designers did with their component join us on our blog hop using the links below.