Saturday 31 March 2012

Colours of Spring - Challenge Reveal and Blog Hop...

A little while ago Sally Russick of Studio Sublime sent out a challenge to design a piece using set of ceramic beads which she would enamel in a colour from the Pantone Spring 2012 colour palette.Always up for challenge I threw my hat in the ring and chose 'Tangerine Tango' as my bead colour. I'm not sure why since it's not a colour I can wear myself nor one I would normally design with but hey, that's what a challenge is all about isn't it?!

So when I got my beads from Sally my first thought was to pick complementary beads that would calm the the orange down a bit but things didn't quite go to plan. As soon as I delved into my bead stash the first things that hit me were some gorgeous poppy beads by Moogin Beads that I'd been hoarding for the longest time, The splashes of orange picked up the tone of Sally's beads perfectly as well as having shades close to solar power, Magarita and Cockatoo in them and, since the poppy designs are created by using enamel on lampwork glass they seemed entirely appropriate. But not much calming down though!

At this point I decided that if I was going to go down the brightly coloured route I was going to go all the way and make the entire piece just sing. So here it is then - My Spring Colour Challenge Necklace which I've call 'Carnivale' - you may just want to reach for your sun glasses at this point...

Because the colours where so strong I didn't want to complicate the structure of the necklace so I started by simply stringing the beads on some bright turquoise leather. This didn't seem enough somehow. So I created a bail by wire wrapping the leather, looping the wire under Sally's lentil bead and wrapping it again on the other side. The lentil is flanked by the poppy beads and then accented by Sally's enamelled rounds, toning Greek ceramic spacers and silvered ceramic spacers to lift the colours.

I really wanted to make this colourful piece fun so I added some Candy Jasper and Czech glass beaded leather dangles to the bail which pick up all the colours in the poppy beads. The necklace is finished with a simple bead and loop fastening.

So there you have it, something of a departure from my usual style and overall probably more of a piece for high summer than spring but it makes me smile!

You can check out the creations of all the other participants here:

Happy hopping!


Wednesday 28 March 2012

Bead Table Wednesday - Tools of the Trade...

This Wednesday finds my bead table set up with all the paraphernalia for a Bronzclay session...

The blue striped box holds all my commercial texture plates plus anything else that takes my eye including wallpaper, fabric and lace and an onion net! In front of that are moulds that I have made myself. The blue ones are made from 2 part silicon gels - very expensive but much the best for moulding soft (or bulky) materials like plant matter which I'm very fond of using in my work. The green ones are made from polymer clay which is much cheaper and suitable for harder materials.

The tray contains all my lotions and potions and my tools. The 1 Cal Olive Oil spray never got used when it sat in the kitchen cupboard so I moved it into the workroom. It's a godsend as I'm a bit of a klutz and have knocked over oil bottles countless times as I never put the tops on while I'm working. 'Gloves in a Bottle' is a barrier cream which helps me avoid the horrible brown stains metal clay can give you and the lavender oil is for conditioning the clay but also makes the room smell nice.

Tools include commercial  shapers and cutters but are supplemented with more cost effective bits and bobs like knitting pins, cocktail sticks, emery boards... just about anything that comes to hand really. The little black box with the white balls contains cocktails sticks with cheap plastic beads glued to the top of them - I use these as forms for bead caps which I then poke into a block of florists foam to dry - necessity is the mother of invention as they say!

The little white artist's palettes are also used as forms to create domed pendants and clasps as they cost just a fraction of the price of the commercial forms like the copper one you can also see here. They're also great for holding tiny items I'm working with and mixing slip. For larger pieces I also use dead light bulbs again stuck into florists foam!

The coloured strips are the spacers I use to get an even thickness when rolling the clay and these are one of the commercial tools that I do prefer. I was taught metal clay using playing cards as spacers but these come in graduated depths, are easier to clean and I've had much more even results since using them.

I love, love, love silicone baking sheets for rolling metal clay on. I cut them into small pieces and then I just move the sheets to a drying surface with the pieces in situ and they just slip off when dry. Not having to move clay from one surface to another avoids the risks of distortion or marking. And finally, to the left is my tin of cutters - again an assortment of clay and cookie cutters mixed with bits and bobs that I've picked up along the way. I've yet to come across a commercial tool that you can't find some sort of substitute for around the home or garden.

I can guarantee you that within half an hour of me starting work, this scene will be unrecognisable and look more like a small bomb site - bit of a messy worker me. But hopefully it's all worth it when I end up with lots of goodies ready to go into the kiln like these that I made yesterday...

There's bit of a nature vibe going on here and I'm starting to think beach themes too - must be the week of warm sunny weather we've had here in the UK. These will going into my components shop  THEA too later this week.

So, that's what's on my bead table and you can see what other people have on theirs here


Monday 26 March 2012

Destash Jewellery Sale Underway...

The unseasonably warm and sunny weather we're having here has had me in the mood for a bit of a spring clean today and the number 1 target was my Etsy jewellery shop.

I have lots of new ideas and jewellery designs whirling round in my head that I want to get to work on but I need to make some space for them first so, I'm having a destash sale in my jewellery shop with 30% of selected items. There are some great bargains to be had and I've already marked everything down so no need for coupon codes. The sale will run until Sunday April 1st so feel free to pop along and have a virtual rummage :0)

Many thanks.


Friday 23 March 2012

Full of the Joys of Spring...

The sun is shining and the temperature in my sheltered south facing garden is in the low 60's and remember  - this is the UK in March we're talking about here! Yesterday I was in fleece and socks, today it's shirt and deck shoes and do you know feels great.

British summer time starts in the UK this weekend so I ventured out with my first cup of coffee this morning to see whether the garden was aware of this and boy, is it ever. All sorts of life burgeoning forth to meet the sun. To be fair it's probably been doing it for a while now but on a day like this the blinkers fall from the eyes as you start to feel the weight of winter fall away.

Yellow flowers always herald spring for me and this one is a stunning specimen that fairly drips these big, bright yellow trumpet flowers. I can never remember the species name but it's appropriately called "Sun King' and it's a native of Chile. 

The Camellias are past their best now but this one is enjoying a little early morning sun warming its petals.

"Choysia Ternata' or Mexican Orange Blossom is this colour all year round but with the low sun on it's fresh young lleaves it's just so gloriously vibrant.

A tiny Alpine Strawberry in a sheltered pot makes a start on the growth that will lead to the most delicious little fruits ever!

Blue is another favourite spring colour and these Grape Hyacinths add a splash long before the English Bluebells that fill the woods around the house have woken up.

Acid green Spurge with an early morning visitor - hope it's a friendly one!

And finally, the new growth of 'Photinia Red Robin' is a fiery red normally more prevalent in high summer but in my garden it permanently has new growth and is always making a bid to take control but I tolerate this behaviour because the colour is so glorious.

How can you fail to be full of the joys of spring with this in your own back yard?

I hope the sun is shining on you too.


Sunday 18 March 2012

And the Double Giveaway Winners are...

First of all can I say a huge thank you to  everyone who took part in this giveaway and for all the kind things you had to say - what an amazing response, I am genuinely humbled.

But without further ado let's get down the the nitty gritty... I'm delighted to tell you the two winners are:

Bracelet - GRACE NEFF of Grace Elements

Silk Bundle - Shannon Chomanczuk oFor My Sweet Daughter

Congratulations ladies - I'll be in touch shortly.

Thanks again everyone and have a great Sunday, especially all you mums - I hope you get thoroughly spoilt!


Wednesday 14 March 2012

Double Giveaway Time...

Well I promised that I would host a giveaway to celebrate THEA's first birthday and here it is, all-be-it a little late. Not only is there a piece of my jewellery up for grabs but also a bundle of gorgeous Marsha Neal silks.

The first giveaway is this lovely bronze and lampwork bracelet which I will adjust to fit the winner. I've called it 'Neptune's Garden' - I just adore turquoise with bronze, the two colours seem to set each other off perfectly and here they bring to mind idyllic Aegean shores (sighs audibly). The bronze urchin focal and charm are made by me and the lampwork beads are by (from the focal out) Kaz Baildon, BB Art Glass, and Rachel Dawes. The links are solid bronze wire and the bracelet is completed with a hand forged bronze clasp and a little bunch of Czech glass flowers because every garden needs flowers, even underwater ones.

There are lots of ways you can enter to win the bracelet, just be sure to leave me a separate comment with a link for each thing that you do with an e mail contact address. You can...

Share this post on Facebook, Twitter or your preferred social network.
Share an item from my jewellery shop THEA Jewellery on Facebook, Twitter or your preferred social network..
Share and item from my components shop THEAtoo on Facebook, Twitter or your preferred social network.
Pin an item to Pinterest
Follow my blog
Like my Facebook page

A bundle of silks up for grabs too...

As you may know know I'm taking part in the first round of Marsha Neal's 'Silk Color Palette Challenge' which gives you the opportunity to create your own palette from Marsha's silks using a photographic image as inspiration. It's good fun and a great way to get those creative juices flowing plus participants have the chance to win fabulous goodies. So, as a second giveaway I'm offering a bundle of silk in my own 'Souks of Marrakesh' colour palette to one random winner who shares Marsha's 'Silk Color Palette Challenge' blog page which you'll find here on their own blog or facebook page. Please make sure you leave a separate entry for this indicating that it is for the silk bundle draw.

Each method you use will qualify you for one entry into the giveaway and 1 winner for each prize will be randomly chosen using the number generator.

The giveaway will close at midnight GMT on Saturday 14th March and I will announce the winners on Sunday 15th March.

Good luck everyone.


Sunday 11 March 2012

What happened to the weekend...

Where did it minute it was Friday afternoon next it's Sunday bedtime!

Most of today has been caught up with listing lots of new components in my THEA too shop and it's really quite tiring. I just have some new headpins to list tomorrow and that will be it for a little while. I'm looking forward to a couple of lazy days and then getting down to some jewellery making - now that I've got my head around the components shop I'm hoping I can start to balance the two better and have plenty of time for both.

And besides... I've got to make something for THEA's birthday giveaway haven't I?

Hope you all had a great weekend.


Saturday 10 March 2012

Happy Birthday Goddess...!

It's party time... The Gossiping Goddess and THEA Jewellery are celebrating their first birthdays!

How did that happen...? It only seems like a few weeks since I wrote my first post and so much has happened since then and I've met so many wonderful people along the way - It must be true that time flies  when you're having fun.

I'm a little tied up getting new stock ready for an update to my second shop (who's have thunk it!) THEA too right now but don't worry, I won't let the occasion slip buy without a little celebration - what do you think...a little Goddess giveaway maybe...?

I'll find something lovely and come back and give you all the details soon. In the meantime I'd like to give a big shout out for all you lovely people who have joined me on my journey over this past year and I hope you'll stay with me for the next one - thank you one and all.

Have a great weekend everyone.


Thursday 8 March 2012

THEA too Baking Day...

It's a baking day Chez THEA today...

No edible goodies I'm afraid but plenty of new components to go into the shop. I've been making some naturalistic pendants using moulds and texture plates I make myself from plants in my garden. I've also been using old textile printing blocks, bisque stamps and vintage buttons to create some of these pretty earring pairs and charms.

This is a naturalistic pendant I've used in my own work - the mould for this came from the flower buds and leaves of a Pieris.

These head pins and bead caps need a final clean up before that get fired later today - they have to look their best!

Once they're cooked I'll start to photograph and list items so look out for shop update announcements here and on Facebook over the weekend.

Hope to see you then.


Tuesday 6 March 2012

Tell Your Girlfriends about Bronze...

Have you met my friend Cilla..?

You may know her as the design force behind the fun and fabulous jewellery creations to be found at the Etsy shop and blog 'Tell Your Girlfriends'. Cilla and I 'met' early last year when she won a stash of beads in one of my very first blog giveaways. Ever since then we've been following each others progress and when I've been trying out new techniques or styles she always has some positive words of encouragement.

Cilla was particularly interested in some of the bronze work I started showing on my blog and although I wasn't selling components generally at the time, she bought some of the pieces I was making for my own use and I think it's fair to say she got hooked on bronze. So, when I started thinking vaguely about opening a second Etsy shop to sell bronze components I just happened to mention it to Cilla and she was both delighted and excited. 

Since then she has given me non-stop encouragement and has come up with numerous ideas both for designs and ways to help promote my work. It can be quite daunting starting out on a new venture and having someone to bounce ideas off has been invaluable to me and without her infectious enthusiasm  I doubt I would have got things up and running quite so quickly. So thank you Cilla, I really do appreciate everything you done.

But now lets move on to some eye candy shall we...

Whilst I was working on pieces for the new shop, I sent some to Cilla for her to play with so that I didn't focus too much on things that suit just my design style. When I saw these photos of her beautiful creations I was 'chuffed to bits' as we Brits say. I didn't realise just how much satisfaction I would get from seeing how other people use my pieces in their work - I love it!

Anyway, I'm going to shut up now and let Cilla's designs speak for themselves.

Bronze tulip earrings with vintage glass bead, Czech glass and Vintaj findings

The flower beads on these earrings are a work in progress for me and after seeing these they  are definitely a design I want to develop.
Bronze focal, square polymer clay bead by Gabriel Studios, blue patina chain
by Miss Fickle Media, turquoise and resin beads and vintage brass chain
I think this bracelet is really harmonious and balanced and I love the way the shape of the focal is mirrored in the chain links. The pretty square bead adds contrast and texture and pulls together all the elements perfectly.

Bronze donut beads with leather and lampwork beads by Outwest
When I made these beads it was as standard 4 hole connectors but Cilla has laced them with little pieces of knotted leather - very original and so effective.

Bronze heart connector with lampwork beads by Silverfish Designs
Another very pretty bracelet with a soft romantic feel to it and as I'm not a big user of pink beads myself, it's great to see how well they work with the bronze.

Bronze bird charms with lampwork beads by Clare Scott and Vintaj accents
Aren't these fun? the charms are a perfect match with the earthy iridescent tones of the lampwork beads.

Bronze script connectors, ceramic beads by Jean Christensen,
blue rock crystal and vintage brass chain and findings
This is a great bracelet which I think has a sort of 'ancient relic' vibe about it with the unusual ceramic beads the little scraps of writing on the bronze...ever the romantic me!

Bronze heart headpins with Czech glass and gold accents
And last but not least... the cutest pair of candy pink earrings made with a pair of heart headpins. I am really intrigued to see how people use these headpins and these are a great start.

Thanks again Cilla for bringing my work to life in your lovely designs!

You'll find some more of  Cilla's work on the gallery page of this blog and of course her Etsy shop Tell Your Girlfriends has lots more lovely jewellery too so do please pay a visit.

If you have made jewellery using any of my components and would like to have it featured in the gallery you can find details here. I am also hoping to do a regular round-up post showcasing some of these designs so keep your eyes peeled for that.

In the meantime have fun!


Sunday 4 March 2012

Silks, Souks and Sumptuous Prizes

Marsha Neal Silk Colour Palette Challenge

I'm sure you all know Marsha Neal for the gorgeous ceramic jewellery components she makes and you may know that she also sells the most glorious silks to go with her components. Well Marsha is currently hosting a 'Silk Colour Palette Challenge' and I am delighted and honoured to be one of the the first group of 12 to be taking part. So what does this involve...

Well, using the image above as inspiration the 12 of us chose up to 12 silks from Marsha's collection to create a unique 2mm silk ribbon knot bundle and this is my bundle...

The vibrant but slightly earthy palette reminded me of pictures I've seen of stalls in Moroccan markets selling herbs, spices, leather and textiles in a glorious array of colours so I named my bundle 'Souks of Marrakesh'. And guess what's now at the top of my must 'visit' list...

You can see the individual colours in more detail below:

This is a great way to get your creative juices flowing and Marsha will be hosting the second round of this challenge starting on May 3, 2012 (click for details) and anyone willing to come up with a new palette and post a link is invited to participate!

Now obviously we would like to help Marsha sell some of these special bundles and she's come up with some very tempting treats that might make you want to get involved with the fun and buy some silk...

1. You can help me and the other 11 designers reach milestones of silk knot bundles so that that we can get free stuff! And if you come up with a colour palette and get voted into the top 12 next round the same will go for you.

2. For every 1 palette that you purchase in these 12 finalist palettes during this 1st round (ends May 2 2012) you'll get 1 entry for the chance to win a $50 Marsha Neal Studio Clay Pieces Gift Certificate - how cool is that!

3. Marsha will host design challenges on her blog themed around the inspirations from these silk knot bundles and inspirational photographs for anyone purchasing these palettes, using them in their designs and then entering the design challenge posts. Winner's prizes will be determined as the events are scheduled.

There will be some blog post tutorials about how to use these in some basic ways to create jewelry so if you're not used to using textiles in your work don't worry - I'm quite new to it too.

Extra ways to win before midnight (EST) tonight (4 march 2012)
To help promote this event Marsha has added some extra ways for you to win goodies until midnight tonight.

1. Add the 'Silk Colour Palette Challenge' button to your blog sidebar or website - you can get this  here.

2. Tweet, Share on Facebook or any social media platform you take part in.

3. Leave a comment here on Marsha's blog detailing each action you take. Every comment you leave for each action gets you one entry into a draw for a free (10) 2mm silk knot bundle of your choice from the 12 finalist palettes.

4. Vote here for your favourite palette(s) (you can cast up to 10 votes) and then leave one comment once you have voted (one comment per person please) and you will be entered into the draw to win a 2mm silk knot bundle of your choice. The "12 palette finalist artist" with the top voted palette gets to select a 2mm silk knot bundle for themselves too.

5. For any of the silk knot bundles of the 12 finalist colour palettes you purchase from March 1 to 
March 4 you will get an entry to win an additional 2mm silk knot bundle of your colour choice AND a free pair of Marsha's new porcelain clay beads in your glaze colour choice (you pick round, chevron inspired, or shard inspired). Purchase must be made by Midnight EST on March 4, 2012.

Sounds pretty good to me but don't forget, these options are only available until midnight tonight (sorry I was late posting this) so don't miss the opportunity.

Oh, and if by any chance my silk bundle should turn out the favourite...then I will be hosting a little giveaway myself - I'm counting on you...

If you would like to find out more about this and the background to the challenge just visit Marsha's blog. The colour palette silk bundles can be purchased through Marsha's Website or Etsy shop.

Have fun and I hope to be visiting some of you for the next round!