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 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


    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.


    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'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


    Monday, 13 July 2015

    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.


    Tuesday, 30 June 2015

    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'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

    Sunday, 31 May 2015

    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.


    AJE Team