Sunday, 31 January 2016

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: 

Lesley



Sunday, 10 January 2016

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

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

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

Sunday, 29 November 2015

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.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

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

    Sunday, 4 October 2015

    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

    Friday, 31 July 2015

    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