Friday 27 May 2011

Art Bead Scene monthly challenge May 2011

Cache-cache (Hide-and-Seek), 1873
by Berthe Morisot
Oil on Canvas, 18 1/4" x 21 3/4"

I did indeed find this months artwork quite a challenge to interpret. It's not the kind of a painting I would normally tend to engage with and I think it's harder to draw inspiration from something you don't connect emotionally with that much. That said, I do love the colour palette and if anything, had far too many options when it came to choosing components - it's like having a very long menu in a restaurant...after a while you lose your appetite! On the up-side, I knew what I wanted to use as my focal pieces so I set to and did some serious bead elimination and this was the final result.

The focal element consists of a lovely ivory lampwork dove by Lori Lochner and a lampwork brick by Helen Chalmers  (to find out more about these bricks check out a previous post about Helen's beads). The brick is intended to represent the buildings in the background and link them with the natural environment through the flower decoration. The dove represents the harmonious relationship between the mother and child.

I then used a selection of beads to draw out the colour palette. Ivory lampwork beads by Outwest, coral coloured Howlite pumpkins and wooden beads represent the centre panel of the painting with the tree and the dresses. The slightly acid/earthy yellow-greens are brought into play with yellow opals and Czech Picasso glass beads. All the beads are linked with oxidised copper wire and the piece is pulled together by the hand dyed silk strings from Diane Turton which combine just about every colour in the palette and were in fact my starting point.

All in all I think it works... and since it was very much outside my comfort zone, It did stretch me and that after all, is what a challenge is supposed to do.

To see how other people interpreted the challenge pop along to the Art Bead Scene Blog .

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Currently sitting on my bead table is...

Meet Fyren Stonegate. He is a Short Eared owl and he was made by the lovely Clare Scott. Now, not only does Clare make wonderful beads but she is a very talented wildlife photographer too so when it comes to owls, she knows her Short Eared from her Snowy's!

To make sure he has somewhere to sit and pontificate (that's how they get to be wise) I've made him a little branch to sit on moulded in bronze clay from a cast of a real twig. I think he looks quite at home - don't you?

He's a beautiful little fellow and his plumage is just as lovely on his back feathers.

Fyren has some cousins dotted about and you can see the family album on Flickr and it's well worth it as Clare's pictures are so much better than mine!

You can also see more of Clare's beautiful beads and photography at these links:
Photography by Clare Scott
Beads by Clare Scott
Craftyclare on Etsy

If you like owls and cats you might want to take a look at this too: The owl and the pussycat.

To see what other people have on their bead tables today click here.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Back to nature...again

It seems like forever since I last posted - time goes so quickly these days which must mean that I'm having a good time.

I've got lots of projects on the go at the moment as the old brain seems to be quite active in thinking up ideas just lately. It's unlikely to last so I scribble them down in a note book for when the grey matter inevitably fails me.

I've been playing around with metal clay again this week and have been inspired by the burgeoning growth in my garden (which translates to untended!). I've made silicone texture plates to create a couple of new necklaces:

This Bronze clay pendant was made from a mould of the flower buds and leaves of a Pieris Japonica (picture above) and I'm really pleased with the way it has taken the texture. I've formed a bail with bronze wire and hung it from a 5mm red (slightly metallic) leather choker. It's quite a large bold piece, but the same could be said about me really!

For this pendant (also bronze clay) I made the mould from the leaves and tendrils of a Passion Flower (picture below)  - it's finer in detail than the Pieris but still works well. I 'ummed' and 'ahed' (how do you spell that?) about how to present this but in the end decided a simple chain was best so as not to distract from the detail. I've added just one single plump garnet to set it off...I guess it should have been an amethyst really to complement the colour of the passion flower but unfortunately I don't have any.

I'll share some more of these 'naturalistic' pieces when they're finished.

Please leave a comment  and let me know what you think - it's always good to hear other people's opinions good, bad or indifferent I don't long as they're polite!

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Time to reflect...

Last Friday it was two months since I opened my Etsy shop and started the Goddess off on her gossiping adventures. I've also just hit 100 likes on my Facebook Fan page of the same age. So what? I hear you say - not exactly a major milestone in the grand scheme of things and normally I wouldn't disagree. However, it has made me pause for thought and take a quick look back.

Quite frankly two months ago I was more than a little nervous. Despite having been a confident career woman for many years, it's a whole different story when it comes to laying part of yourself on the line. In business you learn not to take it personally if people don't like your ideas and concepts, but my jewellery is personal - I couldn't do it if it wasn't. Yes, I know it's still business but now it's my business!

And as for this blog, I didn't think anyone would be interested in what someone like me would have to say - who am I to comment on anything anyway?

Well, I'm pleased to say those fears have (mostly) quickly dissipated.

I have received such positive feedback from people within the jewellery and craft community (artists and customers alike) about my work that my somewhat jaded faith in human nature has been restored. Likewise the blog. It's a fantastic feeling when you see someones excited reaction to something you've written about them - I'm one of those people who gets more pleasure out of giving presents than receiving them. That said, I sometimes come across things that people have written about me, just little things but it really makes my heart soar and my confidence rise.

I love being part of a community where artists are so generous in the way they share their work, ideas, resources and countless other things; not to mention the motivation and support on tap when you need it. I have 'virtually' met people I now consider to be friends and it makes me smile to think what a great party it would be if we all got together in one place! Thank you all.

There are of course the more difficult aspects still to contend with - like actually making some money! The forums I researched before I opened my shop where largely of the opinion that it could take months to get your first sale. Fortunately for me this was not the case and whilst I'm not exactly tripping over orders I feel I have reason to be positive.

There is still a mountain to climb and so much to learn and I do wonder how those people who are so obviously successful manage it all. Sometimes I feel like I need to be surgically removed from my laptop. And, lets not mention my neglected housework and garden!

But the main thing is that as I face this now the strange feeling in the pit of my stomach is excitement not fear. Two months is not a long time but it feels like forever - in a good way. If nothing else, I've learnt a huge amount about myself and I'm so glad I took the plunge.

So however small the milestone might seem, maybe take a little time to reflect on it - the good, the bad, the indifferent...they can all help focus going forward. 

I'd love to hear how other people felt when they were starting out or, if you're one of those people who have everything sussed - how you do it? so please leave a comment and share your experiences. 


A great Blog and a great giveaway...

Melinda Orr is a fellow jewellery designer and blogger who creates fabulous pieces using metal and gems and, well whatever fires her imagination.

She also creates fabulous components for other jewellery makers like the patinated clasp used in this leather cuff design of mine:

Melinda has just reached her first 100 followers for her Blog - a great achievement (believe me, as a newbie to this business I know how hard it is trying to get there!) and to celebrate she's giving away one of these fabulous Peace Creek Bangles - the name alone makes you feel good:

Check out Melinda's Blog (great soundtrack btw) and find out how you can enter the Peace Creek Bangle giveaway.You never know, it could be your lucky day.

Melinda is not just a great designer. Since I met her 'virtually' through the  social networking world of jewellery design, she has been incredibly generous in her sharing of information, ideas and techniques and I for one wish her every success in reaching her next 100 followers...


Wednesday 11 May 2011

The Postman never has to ring twice...

Bead Table Wednesday - 11 May 2011

Why is it that I get so excited when the postman arrives with a bundle of bead or jewellery goodies? It's not as if I haven't paid for them (well mostly anyway) but it still brings on behaviour that most women would reserve for the acquisition of a pair of Jimmy Choo's!

I had planned to make today an earring day and dedicate by bead table pictures to the work in progress, but said postman arrived when I was only 1 pair down and I am now completely distracted. So in the probably vain hope that it will get it out of my system, I've decided to share today's haul with you good people.
If you look closely you can see one pair of complete earrings...!

A stash of lush leather from Cords and Wires (left) and Beads, findings 'n' things - not sure about the yellow... (much brighter in reality) It's supposed to be beige!

Frosted Rock Crystal pebbles, frosted Ice Crack Rock Crystal rounds...these are so tactile and feel like velvet to the touch. Rock Crystal faceted cubes and twist rondelles and Chalcedony faceted trillion briolettes, all from Uncommon Beads.

Horn rondelles, hand carved Howlite pumpkins and faceted jasper beads all from Excellent Gem.

And last but not least, two funky sets of handmade lampwork beads and a 'Thank You' trio from        Jelly Beads Art

Well, hopefully I will now be able to make myself a cup of coffee and concentrate on the work in hand. And in case you're I don't own a pair of Jimmy Choo's. I do however, have a rather nice collection of leather handbags...

Click here to see what's on other people's bead tables today.

Happy BTW


Sunday 8 May 2011

Top this for an ingenious idea...

In addition to my passion for jewellery in general and lampwork in particular, I'm also quite fond of collecting certain things. Let's face it what jewellery maker doesn't - it's all part of the fun. So I'm particularly giddy about a recent discovery I made that's going to allow me to feed all three passions at once.

 Lampwork artist Sabine Little of Little Castle Designs has developed a range of interchangeable jewellery called Alcazar which lets you mix and match your jewellery to suit the occasion, or indeed your mood.

The range comprises sterling silver ring and pendant bases with optional decorative sterling silver discs, which are attached to stunning handmade lampwork tops by means of a simple stainless steel screw fitting. How ingenious is that?

Ring Base
Ring bases, discs and tops
Pendant base, disc and top

And as for the tops, well what can I say...there are beautiful roses like the one at the top of this post (all mine!!!) and poppies, sweet little hearts and fun seaside themes. There are even funky tops for special occasions like Halloween and so much more...

A romantic liaison maybe...
Or a beach party...
Or just some summer fun

Sabine has also starting selling the fittings to her fellow lampwork artists which means we'll have even more lovely tops to choose from.

Julie Fountain of Lush Lampwork has launched a range of ring tops in her own fabulous styles to ring the changes (pardon the pun):

Invited to a garden party perhaps...
A day on the high seas...
Or maybe a  day at the races.

I've already added one of Julie's ring tops to my (small but with oh so much potential to grow) collection with this lovely soft moss green and cream design.

If you haven't already guessed, I'm a big fan of both the concept of interchangeable jewellery and it's interpretation and implementation by Sabine and Julie. I could fill this post with lots more gorgeous pictures but instead I would urge you to visit their websites and see for yourselves:

So now I have Sabine's gorgeous big blue rose for special occasion wear and Julie's fabulous fun little number for everyday how many events and outfits are there in between those two points? just let me think...

Have a fantastic week all :0)


Saturday 7 May 2011

Get some colour in your life with Lori Anderson's fantastic book giveaway...

The lovely Lori Anderson of 'Pretty Things' is hosting a very generous giveaway on her Blog right now.
You have a chance to win a fantastic Colour Palette book just by visiting Lori's blog and leaving her a

Look at this necklace of Lori's - she obviously knows how to work it when it comes to colour and I know I could do with some tips.

To find out more just click on the link below and keep your fingers crossed! :0)

Lori's super-generous book giveaway

Tuesday 3 May 2011

Etsy Treasury Collection: Best of the Zest

My favourite Etsy treasury is being featured in the 'Handmade Gift Guide' right now. I love this treasury, it makes me feel wide awake and ready for anything!

Etsy Treasury Collection: Best of the Zest