As always I left this until pretty much the last minute and very stupidly forgot to take pictures of my individual beads…how many times is that now…?
Anyway, for my first piece I decided to work with Caroline’s focal pendant set of a pretty china painted bird and leaf. I started by trying to think of a way to use them independently rather than the set they came as but they really are made for other and look so good together I decided to just go with it. I wired the bird onto a large disc bead to act as a kind of bird table and wired another loop underneath. To this I added the leaf element together with one of my bronze flower charms and some Czech glass flower dangles.
I wanted this to be a long necklace and my natural instinct for this style is to let the focal group do the work and keep the rest very simple but as the host just using a chain for a challenge piece felt like a bit of a cop out so some sort of embellishment was needed. In the end I decided on purple Irish linen woven through the chain and threaded with pearly seed beads.
I love the finished look – subtle and elegant but a bit more eye catching than chain alone would be.
The necklace is completed with hand forged brass ‘S’ clasp and a couple more Czech glass dangles.
|Ceramic bird and lead focal beads by Caroline Dewison, Purple disc bead by www.marlasmud.etsy.com, Brass chain, Irish linen and pearlised seed beads from Smitten Beads|
Another of Caroline’s birds has found it’s way into this necklace along with one of my bronze flower connectors which acts as a focal clasp.
The focal elements are accented with ivory lampwork glass, Czech glass and rustic seed beads. I love the earthiness of this and think it could actually be worn at any time of year.
|Ceramic focal, bronze connector and clasp by me THEA Elements, Ceramic bird bead by Caroline Dewison, ampwork beads by Pebble Dreams, Seed beads from Smitten Beads|
I also ran out of Sari silk but I was determined to use all the elements of the challenge so raided my own silk stash to find something suitable. I couldn’t find any sari silk that fitted anything like a spring palette so I picked some pretty hand dyed silk strings instead and used these to create some simple macrame wrapped bangles…
As you can see, I have quite a stash of Caroline’s bird beads so I sat a couple of these in the centre of hoops of 14gauge bronze wire. Starting from the centre and working outwards I worked a square knot around size 5/6 seed beads.
The wire hoop is connected with simple loops and the silk strings tied of and left as tails to give bangles with a fresh fun look… I think I could get addicted to making these!
|Hand dyed silk strings by Diane Turton, Ceramic birds by Caroline Dewison|
So there you are then…I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing how this challenge inspired me. I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has taken part in this challenge and made it so much fun, and to Caroline and Claire for joining me to make it happen in the first place. I hope now you’ll join me on the blog hop to see the rest of the wonderful designs…just click on the links below to see more.
All these pieces will be available in my Etsy shop shortly but please let me know if you are interested.
I have to say I was a little intimidated by this lovely fella as he is rather large and I was terrified throughout that I was going to drop and break him. Now, he is obviously intended for a necklace…unless you’re really into statement earrings and have very strong ears – and I decided that for me it needed to be a short one, again for safety reasons.
At first when I starting looking for accents I was struggling to come up with anything that seemed to either complement or match but, after a good rummage I found this lovely beaded bead by Malin De Koning…
The purples and golds matched my moth perfectly and I liked the way the blue beads added a little pop of contrasting colour so I decided to try and build on that. Eventually I found a selection of art beads I liked and wired them in bronze to form to different but hopefully complementary sections.
Here you can see ceramic beads from Marsha Neal, polymer clay beads from Rebekah Payne and one of my own patinated bronze rings and hooks. I also found some lovely hand dyed ribbon strings from Sowzere Designs in just the right colours which I plaited and added to the linked elements to complete the necklace – not the easiest piece to photograph but here it is…
I wasn’t sure about how the lovely turquoise flower sat at first but it’s kind of growing on me so I’ve it as is…what do you think?
Maryse told me she had never worked with ceramic jewellery components so I decided to build my soup around that to give her a little bit of a challenge. She also said that she loved flowers, sea greens and muted colour palettes so, after a little thinking I came up with a ‘Seaside Daisy’ collection…
The ceramic focal, bead set and bronze clay heart toggle clasp are my own creations and the bronze wire spiral connectors and twisted wire jump rings were hand made by Lisa Quinn. The sea green crystals and hand dyed chiffon are from Smitten Beads and the little bicone beads are Czech glass but I can’t remember where I got them from.
I really like this mix as it reminds me of walking along the south west coastal path where I
live in Dorset with its sandstone cliffs, deep green sea and abundance of
And now to the soup mix I received from Maryse – oh boy is it beautiful..? Well here it is see for yourselves…
Just look at this fabulous selection of lampwork all made by Maryse herself…isn’t it glorious! I am totally in love with those little organic rocks lower left and as for the beautiful silver focal and clasp…how spoilt am I!
Now anyone who knows me will be aware that I am more than a little infatuated with the ocean and beach (clue in the picture above) as a source of inspiration for my work. So I am absolutely delighted that Maryse’s soup gives more than a passing nod to that theme in both it’s colour and texture. In fact, I think she may secretly have been in England looking out over the Dorset coastline when she made some of these beads…
Happy with my soup..? you betcha! I already have some ideas buzzing around in my head and can’t wait to clear the decks and sit down to play. Maryse, thank you so much for your wonderful gift and your generosity – If you find the soup I sent you half as inspiring I will be very happy.
See you back here for the big reveal on May 3rd.
I made most of this mix myself so I do hope she likes it…
Maryse makes the most wonderful organic beads and I can’t wait to get my parcel from Luxembourg and see what she’s sent me. If they’re half as beautiful as these examples of her work I’ll be more than happy…
Once my parcel has arrived at its destination I’ll be back to show you what I sent Maryse and maybe give you a peek at the beads I received before I start working with them.
See you then.
It’s been a pretty tough winter for many of us in all corners of the globe including incredible storms and floods here in the UK and severe and lengthy snowfall in the US and Canada. I usually like the cooler months but even I’ve had enough now and can’t wait for the arrival of spring. So I had a little chat with my mate Caroline from Blueberri beads and we decided it was time to host a ‘Spring Fever’ Design Challenge to help nudge it along it’s way. This is your chance to get some beautiful spring themed beads at a great price and
then show us what you can do with them at our blog hop.
Participants in the challenge will each receive one of these colourful layered ceramic flower focal and accent bead sets made by me…
And an adorable painted bird ceramic bead set from Caroline…
I’m also delighted that the lovely Claire Braunbarth of Smitten Beads is joining us for this challenge and is contributing these gorgeous lengths of sari silk.
I’m sure you’ll agree with me that these are pretty cool challenge packs and they’ll be available at a cost of £12 GBP plus shipping (£2.50 GBP UK/ £3.75 GBP Overseas) per set to 20
lucky people who will be randomly selected from their comments on this post and Caroline’s challenge post. If you win a spot in the challenge you will receive a surprise package containing one flower focal set, one bird bead set and a length of sari silk which you can use with beads from your own
stash to create as many pieces as you like and then join us for the blog
hop on Wednesday 16th April.
It’s as simple as that so good luck and I’ll see you back here on the 28th and hope you’ll be with us for the big reveal.
Oh, and I’ll also be adding some similar pieces to my shop in the near future so watch out for announcements about that.
Having been nursing a broken ankle since early November I haven’t done most of the things I would normally do in preparation for the festive season. On the upside I didn’t even have to consider braving Bricks and Mortar shops – that would just have been silly however, not getting out and about much and being preoccupied with the healing of my ankle has also meant that Christmas spirit has been a bit thin on the ground.
Not any more though – I had my cast removed last Wednesday and replaced with a fracture boot which means I can walk again – Yay! I am also able to walk without the boot although it’s rather stiff and a little sore but I’m doing my exercises and it’s improving every day.
This is a great relief because I’ve been invited to spend Christmas with friends in Edinburgh and I was dreading the travelling if I’d still been in a full cast, but now I am busy getting myself together ready to fly up there on Monday and I’m so excited I can’t wait!
All the time I’ve had on my hands has not gone to waste though and I have a head full of all sorts of bead and jewellery ideas that I’m eager to get to work on after my break…so much time to make up.
Until then though I would like to say a very big thank you to all my friends, customers and followers who’ve supported me through the good and the bad this past year. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season however you spend it and look forward to seeing you back here before the new year.
Take care and have fun!
I find it really interesting to see how the same glazes can vary from item to item and I’m assured by those in the know that there are no end of factors that can influence the firing outcome. I guess this would be really frustrating if I were trying to match the pieces of a dinner service but for beads I kind of like it…I’m something of a haphazard person and don’t like to be too regimented in anything I do.
This little Physalis pendant was my first attempt at simple modelling, something I don’t think I’ve done since I was a child and not in any big way even then. I do a fair amount of repetitive work with my other mediums so with clay I would like to spend a bit more time doing one off or small groups of work to keep it fresh. I’ve got a whole lot to learn about the basics before I start going down that road but that’s the long term plan.
These two are staples of my Bronze Clay inventory and I wanted to see how they would translate to glazed clay. They’re rather rustic and the owl does look a little dishevelled poor thing… that’s down to my over-ambitious use of multiple glazes. I have to remember that they don’t blend in the same way as metal patinas do but then again nothing ventured… He also seems to have been born with Heterochromia Iridum – different coloured eyes, but he shares that with David Bowie so that’s no problem for me.
On these last two I used underglaze with no top coat of gloss – mainly because I forgot to order any but also because I just wanted to see what it did as I’m a big fan of matt or etched finishes. I think the fir cone might be better glossy but I really like the flower pendant and the effect created by wiping the glaze off the raised areas.
So whilst I may not be going about this in the most scientific manner I’m having a ball and I can’t believe that it’s only two weeks since a discussion with my AJE team mates sent me hurtling headlong down this path – thanks guys!
Now, I have bronze and silver work I have to get back to for a couple of days but I don’t think it will be too long before I’m back with this again…especially since today was rather a good post day…
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,
Welcome to the Autumn Design Challenge and Blog Hop hosted by myself and Caroline Dewison of Blueberri Beads. Today’s participants will be showcasing designs made with a selection of THEA Elements and Blueberri Beads, beads and components that Caroline and I liberated from our own beads boxes and of course, we are playing along too.
So then, this is the set of Caroline’s beads I kept for myself – a lovely chocolate brown puffy heart and co-ordinating beads in shades of pecan and pistachio…
I wanted to pull the heart pendant out of the group and find a bronze component to complement it and since the aim of the challenge was to use our older components I had to have a good rummage in my rather large collection that is a mish-mash of things that may be a bit flawed, a little bit fugly, experiments that didn’t quite work first time around and quite frankly – some things that I have no idea as to why they are there!
I had a vague notion about doing something layered and in a single colour and eventually dug out a couple of text connectors I made way back last year and rejected because once oxidised, the text wasn’t really clear enough against the textured background. It occurred to me that if I clean them up and just left the patina
around the wording they might be OK… why I didn’t think this at the
time I don’t know…maybe I did and just got distracted.
The text comes from one of my favourite poems “He wishes for the cloths of heaven” by W. B Yeats…
This seemed an appropriate sentiment to combine with a heart so I cleaned one up and it did indeed come up sparkling so I attached it with linen cord so that it would act as a kind of bail. I made a beaded bronze chain with some gorgeous Czech glass beads that have a gorgeous matte bronze sheen (hard to see here but they look like rough Pyrite nougats) and finished it off with a bronze wire clasp and this is how it finished up…
I like the fact that it seems to feel quite delicate but at the same time has a sense of solidity…
So that left me with the set of beads…I was thinking that a bracelet was the way to go but I couldn’t find any of my own pieces that seemed to work well for that. What I did find was a couple of last seasons leaf clasps that I thought I could maybe put to a new use. As one was green and the other orange I patinated them both in an antique bronze and strung them on waxed linen with the beads along with one of Caroline’s birds and a matching bead I just happened to have in my art bead stash.
I had a hank of tiny aged seed beads that were a perfect colour match so I threaded strands of these through the clasps and plaited them together to create a loose rope. I finished off with brass bead caps and another bronze wire clasp.
The result is a lovely soft autumn hued necklace and I think the leaves look pretty good as connectors…
I had just two ceramic beads left which obviously meant the making of a pair of earrings…I found a couple of flat flower discs and dapped then into bead caps then and added a pair of dagger charms to hang from the bottom. Pretty simple but effective none the less…
So that’s my offering and I hope you like the designs and will join me in visiting all the other participants using the links below… I can’t wait to see what everyone’s done. Many thanks to everyone who has taken part in this challenge and of course to Caroline for hosting with me and providing such lovely beads to work with.
I mixed some more of Diana’s beads with some carved ebony beads that I have a passion for and accented them with tiny brass spacers that echo the texture of the pine cone. On one side I added one of my bronze acorn caps and on the other one of LeAnn Weih‘s gorgeous ceramic birds. The beads are strung on waxed linen attached to a couple of textured bronze ring connectors. and finished with a hand forged bronze wire clasp.
I was thinking of using some sari silk at the back but whilst I was rummaging I came across this lovely printed cotton ribbon from Smitten Beads and it was such a perfect match I decided to go with that instead – I really like the folksy feel it gives. I used a double thickness and a simple capped rivet to join the ends on the underside at the back.
And this is the finished design…
Since the Beatles song ‘Norwegian Wood’ just happened to come on the radio as I was finishing the piece I took it as a sign and decided to make that the name.
To see what everyone else has done with their components just use the links below to visit their blogs:
The second prize is a pair of my wire macrame earrings featuring lovely etched lampwork beads by Sue Priest, accented with Czech glass and oxidised copper wire and hung from hypo-allergenic Niobium ear wire. I love the soft muted colours of and have called them ‘After the Rain’.
First of all, many thanks to everyone who took the time to enter for this challenge…Caroline and I were both delighted with the response and can’t wait to see what the winners design with their THEA Elements and Blueberri Beads loot!
So I won’t keep you waiting any longer…the 20 lucky winners are…
Gay Messander – http://gaysiemay.blogspot.co.uk/
Made By Jules – http://madebyjulesblog.blogspot.co.uk/
The Moon & Seven Stars – http://moonandsevenstars.blogspot.com
Heidi Post – http://expostfactojewelry.blogspot.co.uk/
Janet Bocciardi – http://www.honeyfromthebee.com/
Alice – http://alice-dreaming.blogspot.com
Dolores Raml – http://craftydscreations.wordpress.com/
Lucy Haslam – http://faerystone.blogspot.co.uk/
Pine Ridge treasures – Grateful Artist
Shirley Moore – http://beadsandbread.blogspot.com
Tracy Collins – http://travelsintimedesigns.blogspot.co.uk
Elizabeth Beads – http://elizabethbeads.blogspot.com
Mags – http://magsinhelmet.blogspot.com
Pepita – http://pepita-handmade.blogspot.co.uk/
Jo-Ann – http://itsabeadifulcreation.blogspot.com
Toltec Jewels – http://www.jewelschoolfriends.com
Judith Johnston – http://www.judith-johnston.com
Janine Lucas – http://www.esfera.me
Madeline Bunyan – http://madelinebunyan.com/mlj/
Chic and frog – http://www.chicandfrog.wordpress.com
Congratulations to you all…I will be sending out Paypal requests in the next day or so and once payment is received and confirmed your surprise beads package will be shipped. In the meantime please check that your blog link above is correct and don’t forget to put October 2nd in your diaries.
I know it’s still summer in theory but I’m already thinking about autumn (my favourite time of the year) and since it’s been rather a long time since I hosted anything on my blog I’ve decided that this would be the perfect theme for a design challenge. What’s more, my friend Caroline of Blueberri Beads is of the same mind so we’ve joined forces to give you the chance to get some great beads at a bargain price and then show us what you can do with them…
Caroline has kindly contributed 20 sets of her lovely ceramic beads and I have added a couple of pieces of bronze to each one – all ready and waiting for someone to turn them into a beautiful autumn themed design. They will available at a cost of just £10 GBP (inc. shipping) per set to 20 lucky people who will be randomly selected from their comments on this post. If you win you will receive a surprise package containing one of the bead sets pictured here which can be used with beads from your own stash to create as many pieces as you like and then join us for a blog hop on Wednesday 2nd October.
It’s as simple as that so good luck and I’ll see you back here on the 19th and hope you’ll be with us on October 2nd.
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…
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…
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…
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.