AJE COM challenge – February Reveal

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:


Guests
AJE Team

AJE ‘Use Your Stash” Challenge Reveal.

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!
AJE team:
Lesley Watt – you are here
Guests: 
Melissa – Bead Recipes
Tammy – Paisley  Lizard
Sarajo – SJ Designs
Kathy – Bay Moon Designs
Lola – Bead Lola Bead
Samantha – Wescott Jewelry
Mona – Bijoux Gem

Suntsa – Suntsan

Lesley

Re-birth of the Sun – design Challenge Reveal

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.
Guest Designers

AJE Team
Lindsay Starr

Lesley

Clearing the Decks for a Creative New Year…

2015 has been a pretty good year for me…

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!

Happy New Year my friends

Lesley

AJE Component of the Month – November Reveal.

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.

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

    Creative Rejuvenation…

    Yes – don’t faint…I’m actually writing a blog post for the first time in over 2 months! Considering my aim to post more this year I’m heading for a pretty epic fail by year end. It’s always difficult over the summer months with preparation for and enjoyment of holidays which occupied me for most of August and early September. Then the minute I got back from a fantastic trip to the USA I went down with a particularly nasty virus that laid me low for two weeks and I’m really only just back to fighting fit.

    I’ve also been doing some thinking about where I’m going with my work over this period as I’ve reached a bit of a hiatus and have had the feeling for some time that I need to pep things up a little… I still love making beads and jewellery but I do feel a little stale.

    My summer vacation was spent with creative friends and we spent a lot of time playing with new techniques and trying activities I’ve done little or none of before.

    My good friend Jenny Davies-Reazor taught me how to bead embroider cabochons and I’ve taken to this like a duck to water. These are the pieces I did while I was away…

    Cabochon by Lisa Peters-Russ

    And these are pieces I’ve done since I got home, this being the one thing I was able to do while I was feeling poorly and something which I find extremely relaxing – not to mention addictive.

    Cabochon by Joan Miller Porcelain

    Cabochons by Diana Ptazsynski, Sue kennedy and Caroline Dewison
    Wooden tile by Marie-Noel Voyer

    Wooden tile by Marie-Noel Voyer

    I was also lucky enough to have a needle-felting play date with the lovely Marsha Neal where she taught us to make these suer cute pumpkins.

    Marsha also works at Serafina Fiber Art and needless to say I came home with a big stash of beautiful wools to play with at home.

    The best thing about learning these two techniques is that I’ve been inspired to combine them to create some mixed media pieces which I’m really excited about. I used to do some traditional embroidery in a past life and like these idea of adding this into the mix too…

    Embroidered cushion circa 1990

    These pieces are mostly non-jewellery and I’m not sure where I’m going with them but I’m having fun exploring the possibilities…

    Beaded and felted brooch made with a pendant by Tree Wings Studio

    Ceramic cabochon by Jenny-Davies-Reazor

    This is a work -in- progress depicting my interpretation of an autumn goddess and will be one of a series of seasonal goddesses…

    Ceramic cabochon by Jenny Davies-Reazor

    Another work-in-progress test piece waiting to be embellished with beads…

    Polymer clay pendant by Roberta Warshaw

    For the time being I’m happy playing around with these ideas to see where they take me but then of course I need to think about what I’m going to do with the. Both my Etsy shops need overhauling and probably moving to another platform altogether so there is a lot to do in the coming months. I’ll still be working on beads and jewellery too but you might be seeing a lot more experimental work form me. I will also make a concerned effort to blog more frequently and keep you posted on developments.

    Until then – enjoy the rest of your weekend and enjoy the glories of this beautiful autumn season.

    Lesley

    The Rook and the Wren AJE Component of the Month.

    Welcome to the July reveal of the AJE component of the month challenge. This months art components were these cute little buttons and clasps made from old UK coins by Niky Sayers.

    Niky sent these out as a surprise package and I was happy to receive one of the beads which feature a pretty little wren motif.

    When I got my bead I had a vague recollection of an old fable about a wren and after digging around a bit online I managed to find an obscure copy of it and it’s called ‘The Rook and the Wren’. After reading it through I decided to use it as inspiration and try and put together a design where the elements would represent certain motifs within the fable. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do but after pulling out some art beads that fit the bill a bracelet seemed to be the obvious choice. Some of the components have pretty clear links to the fables, others are more evocative…it’s strung on waxed linen and all in all I’m pretty pleased with it…

    Rather than go into great detail I thought I’d let you read the fable for yourselves (please excuse the strange format but this is the only copy I could find) and then see what what you think of my interpretation…

    Pewter heart and nest charm by Green Girl Studio
    Rook and flower bead by Starry Road Studio
    Branch bead by Marsha Neal Studio
    House/tree bead by HumbleBeads
    Czech glass beads from Smitten Beads

    Many thanks to Niky for providing us with such a lovely piece to work with – if you would like to see what the other participants made with Niky’s components please join our blog hop using the links below.
    Guest bloggers

    Lesley

    Preview – 13th July shop Update…

    Well it’s taken a little while but I’ve finally got the first batch of goodies from my shiny new and very large kiln finished and listed in my Etsy shop. It’s been quite an adjustment from the little kiln I’m used to but everything seems to be coming out as I’d hoped and I’m very happy with the kiln. Here’s a little preview of what’s to come in tonight’s (Monday 13th July 7pm BST) shop update…maybe something will tempt you…
    Organic focal sets
    Floral focal sets
    Lunar hares…
    Bead Sets
    Charms and connectors
    I’m off to The USA for a holiday next month so this will be the last big update I do until after that so the next one will probably be late September. I will also be closing my order book to commissions shortly so don’t miss out if you see something you fancy.

    Hope to see you later.

    Lesley

     

    AJE Themed Design Challenge – Fireflies

    Today is the reveal of the second AJE themed design challenges and this months event is hosted by Jen Cameron and the theme she chose was fireflies.  This did turn out to be quite challenging for me since the last tie I saw a firefly was probably way back in my childhood. We do have them in the UK but more in rural areas that I don’t tend to frequent after dark!

    So I had to turn to Jen’s photographic images for my inspiration and it took me a while to come up with a plan.

    I was struggling to come up with a way to capture these masses fireflies in ceramic that was different from the other teams ideas so I decided to for silver clay instead. I used a stamp to create a grass design and then set lots of tiny 2mm cubic citrine zirconium into the clay – a bit of a race against time to do before the clay dried out. Once the piece was fired I gave it a heavy LOS patina to help the CZS stand out…it’s a bit of a pig to photograph so apologies for the less than brilliant image.
    I’ve not yet had time to make this up into a piece of jewellery but I have an idea in my head to rivet it to a copper back plate that will be etched with the legend ‘fireflies dance’. I’m thinking a chain of hand coiled links interspersed with citrine or yellow quartz beads to pick up the stones on the pendant but knowing me that may well change.
    Then last week I was finishing up a clay session and decided to have a go at doing an individual firefly like this little chap…

    It got a bit tricky when it came to the legs and antennae so I decided to use nichrome wore for these instead of clay…not exactly the elegant creature I had in the back of my head but a bit of fun none-the-less!

    So there you have my attempts at creating fire flies and if they’ve sparked a flame (sorry!) for me then you can see what out guest designers and the rest of the AJE team created using the links below:
    Guest Designers:
    AJE Team

    AJE Component of the Month Challenge – May Reveal

    It’s the end of another month already which means it’s time for another AJE Challenge reveal and the components we had to work with this month were a pair of these pretty beaded beads from Susan Kennedy of Suebeads. 
    I have a little stock of these beads and am very fond of using them for earrings because they are small and light but always pack a punch in terms of colour and textures – so that’s the route I took with his challenge.

    This first pair are very simple but Sue’s beads were such a perfect match for a pair of ombre ceramic drops by Diana Ptaszynski of Suburban Girl Beads that I really didn’t want to add anything more than a little wire wrapping and some simple wires.

    The blues of the elements work so well together and are such a natural pairing with copper.

    For my second pair I picked out a pair of Polymer Clay heads pins by Heather Powers of Humblebeads. I fed the wire of the headpins up through the beaded beads and bent them round bail making pliers to make a loop and then fed them back down through the bead wrapping the wire around itself a couple of times. I then wrapped the tails of the wire around the tip of my round nose pliers to create a little coil and then stretched these out to create tendrils

     These are super light, really comfortable to wear and perfect for colours for summer.

    Many thanks to Sue for the chance to work with these lovely fun beads. You can see what everyone else designed using the links below.

    Next month’s AJE challenge is another themed event and this time it’s all about Fireflies with the chance to win one of Jen Cameron’s lovely beads so check out the this AJE post for all the details but do hurry – the winners will be chose tomorrow, Monday June 1st.

    Guests
    AJE Team

    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 March Hare Challenge Reveal.


    Back at the end of February the AJE team announced that we were changing our usual monthly Component of the Month event up a bit by introducing 4 seasonal themed challenges. For the first of these Jenny chose Hares as her theme representing spring and if you missed her great post about these fascinating creatures you can find it here.

    Today is reveal day and it’s certainly been a hare raising month for me (sorry couldn’t resist)! Hares are a popular icon for jewellery design and as soon as Jenny mentioned that she wanted them as her theme I started thinking about how I could develop something original. I don’t often sketch ideas for beads but in this instance it seemed the best way to get the ideas out of my head and after much scribbling I came up with this idea. I’m not good at realistic representations so I wanted to keep the form fairly simple and use the different mediums I work in to add interest.

    I made my first pieces up in a rustic stoneware clay using a layering technique. I cut the hare  and moon shapes out of a sheet of clay and then laid them onto another sheet of clay to create the background and then cut out the final shape. I wasn’t sure about these at first as I thought they were a bit dark but they grew on me and in the end I fell in love with the rustic feel.

    So I made some more up in a white porcelain stoneware clay and used some more colourful glazes.
    While I was making the ceramic pieces I started thinking about how these hares would translate to metal clay…typical of me to be always thinking ahead o myself. The eight and cost of bronze clay meant that I need to do something a bit more economical so I decided to make pendants the shape of the hare and add loops that would allow for embellishment. I a spring flower texture mat for some of these and made them in both copper and bronze, the latter with Cubic zirconium set in for the eyes. I also make some moon connectors to go with the pendants.

    Then I went on to make some up in silver which I love. The foot broke off the one in the middle so I have an idea to solder him onto some copper sheet with his own moon…when I get time.

    I also played around with combining metal clay with sheet silver and adding a pretty gemstone and fine silver heart drop to the bottom.

    While making this piece I also managed to tattoo a hare on my trousers when I sneezed and the hot hare leaped of the solder block! Fortunately I moved fast enough to avoid getting burnt but the studio floor didn’t fare quite so well!
    In the last couple of weeks I’ve been revisiting the ceramic hares and making some tweaks to the designs. The first batch where quite large so I wanted to make some more compact versions and these little fellows silhouetted against a full moon were the result. I love the way the bloom on the cream glaze looks like the moons surface.

    You’d have thought I’d have had enough of hares by now but no…I had an idea to separate out the the elements and make some sets that would give give people more to play with in their designs. I made some clay hare figures and moon faces up similar to the forms I’d used for the metal pieces and also made some tiny stars. When I showed these as a work in progress on my Facebook page someone suggested a crescent moon might look nice too…and they were right. These were great fun because I could mix the sets up to combine different glazes and give different effects. I think these are definitely my favourite so far.

    I was hoping to make some jewellery for this challenge with some of the hare beads I have in my stash but sadly I just haven’t had the time but I will still try and get them done in the future as I think hares are here o stay. I did just manage to finish  this very simple necklace for myself though…

    Speaking of which, if you are a member of the Facebook group Ceramic Art Bead Market you will know that we have a regular giveaway and from later today and for the next week this pendant will be up for grabs. You need to be a member of the group to enter but  the group is open to anyone with an interest in ceramic beads so if you haven’t already do come and join us to meet some great artists with some beautiful beads.

    So I hope you enjoyed meeting my little bunnies and will visit the rest of the AJE  team and our guests to see how this theme has inspired them.

    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 ‘Use Your Stash’ Challenge Reveal.


    Instead of our usual AJE component of the month we decided to change thing up this month and challenge ourselves to break into our art bead stashes and design something around a piece (or two, or three…) by one of our team mates. We also gave away some pieces for guest designers and we are joined by some of our readers who have also raided their collections for AJE beads.

    My original plan was to make something for every member of the team but what with the madness that January has been that turned out to be wishful thinking but, I did manage to make five pieces. I’m going through a bit of a ‘less is more’ phase at the moment and I’ve kept all my design fairly simple to let the focal pieces shine.

    First up is a necklace using a mixed media focal I got from Melissa Meman in a swap at Bead Fest last year. This handmade copper bezel is set with a vintage butterfly illustration set in resin with silver loops and I think it’s utterly charming.

    A good rummage turned up some lampwork and Czech glass beads the matched
    perfectly some metal dipped Greek ceramic beads to continue the mixed
    metal theme. These were all put together with my favourite double link
    chain from The artisan Bead Company, some silver jumps and a little
    silver clasp I made. A Thai silver flower charm and some Czech leaves
    suspended from the bottom of the focal add a final flourish. I’m really
    happy with this as it’s just the sort of thing I would wear.
     

    My second design is a pair of earrings using beads made by Jen Cameron, very simply wire wrapped in sterling silver with chain fringing and hand made ear wires. I patinated these with LOS (liver of sulphur) and left them quite dark to give a cool, steely and elegant appearance but they’re a bit of a pain to photograph.

    Next up I chose a ceramic feather focal set by Karen Totten. I love Karen’s beads and usually all I want to do with them is hang them on a simple leather cord or chain because they convey so much on their own. In this case I wire wrapped the set in copper and suspended it from a necklace strung with toning seed beads interspersed with textured copper beads and finished with a hand forged clasp.

    There is an added bonus with this piece as it can be worn standard
    length with a double strand or long with a single strand and the round
    bead has a different pattern on each side – four for the price of one!

    This next pair of earrings came about from a fortuitous meeting of beads while I was pulling things out to decide what to make. Kristen Steven’s beaded beads landed next to Sue Kennedy’s lampwork headpins and perfectly accented the reactive glass striations. A bit of wire wrapping and some hand made ear wires and job done.

    Last but not least is a longer length necklace using a ceramic vessel bead by Caroline Dewison. I’ve started designing with this a couple of times but never got it to work properly. I think my current mood for keeping things simple and streamlined helped with this one as this focal really does speak for itself. I wrapped copper wire around the neck of the vessel to create a bail, wrapped a couple of toning lampwork beads and attached these to some ball chain.

    Just to add a bit of textural variation I added what I thought were solid
    copper crimp covers at points along the chain but after tumbling I
    discovered these were fact copper plated brass. Hey ho – these things
    happen.

    So there you go – I got six of my team mates in and I’m aiming to pay tribute the rest of them in the near future – thanks to each and every one of you for your awesome talent. I hope you’ll now join me on our little blog hop to see what everyone else has made using the links below.

    Lesley

    AJE team: 

    Guests winners
    Lee – Strega Jewellry
    Samantha- Wescott Jewelry
    Kathy – Bay Moon Designs
    Nikki – Silver Nik nats
    Yvette – Blue Kiln Beads
    Extra guests

    GIVEAWAY WINNER….

     

    Thanks to everyone for yet another wonderful response to my giveaway and to everyone who signed up, followed and left such kind comments.

    I’m delighted to announce that the winner of the component set is….

    Kathleen Lange Klik

    Congratulations Kathleen – I’ll be in touch shortly and look forward to seeing what you create with your prize.

    And thanks once again to everyone else.

    Lesley

    Late But Great…Giveaway

    Phew! it’s been a manic start to 2015. I had all sorts of new ideas in my head I wanted to start on early in the new year but a last minute  request before Christmas and a looming deadline saw me head down for a couple of weeks concentrating on a possible project for later in the year. That done, I had to tackle the annual tax return – a job I hate and never get properly organised for. But now that’s done and dusted and I can concentrate on getting the new year and my creative ideas of the ground properly.

    There is however one other thing I need to do first and that’s to say a big thank you to everyone who helped my Facebook page fly past the 2000 followers mark by the end of 2014 – being visible on Facebook is getting harder and harder so I’m very grateful for this. Just before Christmas I said I would have a giveaway if I could achieve this milestone and I’m always true to my word so here it it is…a great little collection of ceramic and bronze components that are just perfect for spring designs.

    For a chance to win this collection all you need to do is leave a comment below and if you would like to share this post on your own social media you can leave another comment telling me what you’ve done for another entry. You can also get an extra entry by signing up for my newsletter (see sidebar of this blog) which will make sure you get an early heads up on shop updates, events, and special promotions just for newsletter subscribers.

    The giveaway will close at 8pm GMT (UK time) on Sunday 25th January 2015 and I will announce the winner shorty afterwards.

    Thanks again and good luck…

    Lesley

    AJE Component of the Month – December Reveal

    Happy New Year! I hope 2015 has started well for you. I did my celebrating in Edinburgh this year and got home just last night so I’m feeling a little groggy this morning having slept in rather late to catch up on missed sleep. I finally had to drag myself out of bed to put together this post for the reveal for the last of the 2014 AJE COM challenges…these lovely snow flake pendants from Diana Ptsazynski of Suburban Girl Studio.

    I chose a white matt glazed pendant and found my main challenge was deciding where to go with colours. I didn’t want to use anything that would make it specifically Christmas themed and I don’t actually have many white beads. Those that I do have were a very bright white which made the pendant look very grey and do even less for my skin tone! In the end I decided to stay very neutral but went for an off white which seemed to blend the colours of the glaze and the clay – maybe not everyone’s cup of tea but I liked it.

    I started with some open linked antiqued bronze chain which I jazzed up by adding some pearlised seed beads to alternate links.

    Now I quite like the pendant simply strung from this and that’s how
    it sat for a while but then, I did begin to think it was a bit simple
    for a challenge so I added a couple of frosted Rivoli beads for a little added interest. I still felt a little unfinished so I cut some shorter pieces of chain and made some wire wrapped seed bead dangles to create a tail beneath the focal like falling snow or even a falling star.

    I used single links from the chain to keep it in place and sitting flat at the back…

    Here’s how it looks altogether, rather understated but that tends to be the type of jewellery I wear so I’m happy with it.

    Many thanks to Diana for supplying such lovely pieces to work with – you can see what the rest of the team and our guest’s made using the links below and we look forward to bringing you more challenges throughout 2015.

    Lesley

    Guests

    AJE Team

    Happy Holidays and a Little Gift for the New Year…

    Well Christmas is almost upon
    us now and I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all the very
    best for the holiday season.

    2014 has been a pretty good year for me and I hope 2015 will continue in
    the same vein. I have lots of ideas brewing in my head including the continued
    development of my component offering and a complete overhaul of my
    jewellery range. I am also hankering to have a go at some new creative projects like larger,
    ornamental and functional clay pieces and hand made books.

    The only reason I will be able to put these plans into action
    is because of the support of you, my friends and customers and as a little thank
    you I will be offering a 10% discount in both my Etsy shops throughout
    January. Just use coupon code HNY10 when you check out and your discount
    will automatically applied.

    THEA elements
    THEA jewellery

    I will also be offering a number of special discounts to my Newsletter subscribers in 2015 so if you’d like to take advantage of these don’t forget to sign up using the link in the sidebar of this blog or via my Facebook page.

    In the meantime enjoy your festivities, recharge those creative batteries and I will see you next year.

    Warmest wishes,

    Lesley

    Christmas Ornament Swap 2014

    I am very happy to be taking part in this annual event organised by Sally Russick again as I missed it last year having fallen and broken my ankle and not got myself together enough to participate. This year however I’m fighting fit and delighted to have the lovely and talented Erin Prais-Hintz as my swap partner. You know you’re in for a treat when you’re gift arrives packaged like this…pretty enough to grace any tree itself!

    And what was inside certainly didn’t disappoint…Erin sent me this adorable botanical bird with a juniper berry pattern in the polymer clay and resting on a beautifully beaded branch of berries – I love it!

    She couldn’t have picked a better subject for me since both my Christmas tree and my soft furnishings share a similar feathered theme…

    And here’s the ornament nestled happily near the top of the the tree…

    Erin also sent me this beautiful ‘Call me Rosebud‘ pendant which I’ll be turning into a piece of jewellery for myself as soon as I get a chance…

    Erin thank you so much for your beautiful gifts and your generosity – both very much appreciated.

    So what did I send Erin in return…? Well after much debate I decided I wanted to make something in ceramic that was jolly and fun. The result was this happy little snowman with his own decorations and a little birdie friend to keep him company.

    The holly decoration was applied with china paint after the glaze firing for an added flourish. To where he is now and Erin’s beautiful Christmas themes pop over to her blog at the link below

    If Erin likes her snowman half as much as I love my bird I will be more than happy!

    Many thanks To sally for organising this lovely event again…it’s been great fun to participate and now I hope you’ll join me in a little festive blog hop to see what everyone else has made.