Thursday 31 May 2012

Challenge of Literature - Reveal and Blog Hop

Welcome to the Challenge of Literature blog hop hosted by Erin Prais-Hintz. Erin challenged participants to create an accessory which draws inspiration from a favourite literary work which is great for me as books are a passion of mine. I thought it might be difficult to choose something at first but after a quick scan of my book shelves one book jumped out at me as being perfect for this task - "Wide Sargasso Sea' by Jean Rhys.

Written in the 60's, Rhys's book in effect creates a back story to the 19th century classic novel Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) by giving a voice to Bertha, the mad woman and wife that Rochester keeps locked away in the attic at his home at Thornfield. I studied Jane Eyre at school and can't say I was ever a fan of this genre of writing but then, 7 or 8 years ago I started studying humanities with the Open University and Wide Sargasso Sea was part of my course - and I loved it! Not only that, it made me go back and re-read Jane Eyre with a completely fresh eye.

Set in post colonial Jamaica, Wide Sargasso Sea deals with themes of oppression, slavery and entrapment and the complexity of identity, drawing parallels between racial and gender enslavement.  You can read a plot synopsis here. The novel draws its title from the Sargasso Sea, a vast area of the northern Atlantic Ocean that is legendary as a place where ships are becalmed or ensnared in tracts of floating seaweed and is a metaphor for the way the protagonists become trapped in their own worlds.

The reason I chose this book as inspiration is because of the intense imagery that Rhys creates with her writing. Themes of madness, oppression and dangerous passions pervade the novel and the setting itself becomes a metaphor - a hot, lush, overgrown tropical island with a palpable and growing tension between the classes of inhabitants and individuals within their relationships.

The particular imagery that inspired me for this piece is that of the garden at Coulibri, the family estate of Antoinette (Bertha in Jany Eyre). There is a sense of intense and voluptuous tropical beauty but one of excess that assaults the senses with its colours, perfumes and tangled growth that's going over into wildness and decay:

"Our garden was large and beautiful as that garden in the bible - the tree of life grew there. But it had gone wild. The paths were overgrown and a smell of dead flowers mixed with the fresh living smell. Underneath the tree ferns, tall as forest trees, the light was green. Orchids flourished out of reach or for some reason not to be touched"

So, whilst I had some reservations about using a reference to  'death and decay' in a jewellery design...I decided I could work around this without being entirely literal and so here is my creation - a necklace which I've called 'Coulibri Revisited'.

Up front and centre on this necklace are three huge, glossy ceramic buttons that I think create that big, blousy feel of tropical flowers. I had only intended to use one of these with other beads but as I shuffled things around they just kept coming back together so I took it as a sign. The stamens have been made by knotting thin leather cords through the button holes.

I've tempered the reference to death and decay by adding the lovely ceramic leaves - the yellow colour  suggesting they are perhaps on the turn and hanging as if about to fall, without being too sinister!

At another point in the book the house at Coulibri is burnt down during an attack by the island's slaves and I've oxidised two bronze flowers to try and give the effect of charred remains.

The necklace is fabricated on a curling wire yoke or bib to represent tangled roots and vines and I've continued this theme by stretching the cord ends up and around the leather cords.

I have to admit this is not finished and doesn't have a clasp yet. I'm also not sure whether it needs anything more added...whilst the imagery I've used is of excess and the overblown I'm kind of thinking enough is enough here - or does it need more of a 'tangle...?

Ceramic flower buttons by Poppy Valou
Ceramic leaves by Marla's Mud
Bronze flowers byTHEA too

So, I hope you enjoyed my interpretation...I would have liked to have gone into more detail about the book but it's just not practical when you have so many other blogs to hop of and investigate but, I would thoroughly recommend it as a good read. 

You can get to the other participants blogs using the links below.


Friday 25 May 2012

New This Week...

Well the weather that took me of to the beach has continued all week which means that I haven't got much done. It's not that I've been spending all my time sunbathing - I'm just less productive in hot weather. I'm prefer my work environment to be on the cooler side even in winter so when the thermometer hits 82Âș I tend to slow down a bit.

I did get a few things made so I thought I'd share them with you here.

I love the gorgeous shapes and colours of the lampwork beads in this bracelet. They're from Julie at Outwest, one of my favourite Etsy shops for earthy, rustic or organic glass. I wanted to do something a bit different so I wired them together to form a focal section and then added some cotton strung Czech glass and Greek ceramic beads. The addition of a hand forged bronze toggle allows one of the lampwork beads to function as the clasp. The bracelet is finished with one of my bronze sunflower charms and a couple of tiny lampies from Pinocean.

This necklace is so simple, bright and bold which makes it a perfect summer go anywhere piece. The gorgeous floral ceramic pillow beads are by Golem Studio and the lovely etched turquoise lampwork beads are by the Kaz Baildon. Greek ceramic beads add accents and they're all strung on some funky 'tangerine tango' leather. I can just see this with a white shirt or Tee...

And finally, today I made this pretty necklace featuring one of Marsha Neal's signature porcelain butterfly pendants in a lovely soft etched green glaze. I've added a couple of my own bronze flower links and some very pretty orange Czech glass and Impression Jasper beads. The necklace is finished with a decorative Vintaj ladder chain and brass clasp. I'm pleased with how this came out - I've had the pendant for a while and was just waiting for the right inspiration.

I'm hoping for some more bead time over the weekend - looks like the good weather is here to stay for a while so it will be early morning creating before it gets too hot. Hope you all have a great one too.


Tuesday 22 May 2012

All work and no play...

Is not a sensible concept when the sun comes out and you have this on your doorstep...

Actually, it's about 7 miles from my doorstep but when you're born and bred in a town like I was that's nothing for the chance to get some sand between you toes. These pictures where taken today at Mudeford Spit which forms part of the boundary to Christchurch's natural harbour on the south coast of England.

The whole place is just beautiful with areas set aside as  nature reserves and SSSI's (sites of special scientific interest). To get to the spit I had to walk down this lovely sun dappled track...

Past the wildfowl reserves....

With a view across the harbour to Christchurch Priory.

The spit is dominated by pretty and colourful beach huts in a mix of ice cream shades and brighter tones - such an inspiring colour palette don't you think?

These huts face into the harbour whilst others look out over the sand dunes and the Solent towards the Isle of White...rather hazy but you can just see it.

I think beach huts like these must be a very British tradition, Victorian in origin I think - I don't recall seeing them anywhere else on my travels but I may be wrong. It must be said that Mudeford beach huts do stand out above the common or garden variety.

I'm really feeling the one below and think it would make me an ideal summer studio...beach outside the window, bar and restaurant a few flip-flopped feet away and all the facilities you need close by - perfect. I even did a little online research on the idea when I got back - sharp intake of breath. Beach huts here rent out at around £950/$1499 PER WEEK in high season, or you can just buy one for just £145,000/$228,000!!!

Oh well, maybe when I'm rich and famous...but I can still pop along for a visit whenever the mood takes me so that'll do me for now.

Hope the sun is shining in your world.


Saturday 19 May 2012

Bronze component sale...20% off

Well I've been just a little bit profligate with my bead spending this week - so many lovely things being created by so many talented artists what's a girl to do...

Anyway, to make sure I eat for the rest of the week, I've decided to have a little flash sale in my components shop. Just enter coupon code SPREE20 and 20% will automatically be deducted from your bill at checkout. The sale will run until 8am GMT on monday 21st May 2012, which gives everyone a full weekends shopping wherever they are.

I hope you're all having a great weekend and that you'll pay THEA too a visit! I'll show you some of the things I've been buying in my next post.


Wednesday 16 May 2012

Motley Owl Mini Blog Hop

Welcome to the mini blog hop hosted by Lorelei Eurto and featuring ' Motley Owl' pendants by Erin Prais-Hintz. Erin created these pendants with the idea that the owl world must have it's share of fools, exhibitionists and anti-establishment characters - not what you'd expect from an owl but lots of fun. Historically motley was the name give to the traditional mixed colour costumes worn by court jesters and professional fools which distinguished them as different and outside of the normal social hierarchy and Erin's owls have their own motley plumage.

There is a foolish owl in one of the "Oz' stories who is also distinguished for being outside the norm:

"Is the owl so very foolish?" asked the boy."Extremely so", replied the donkey."notice what vulgar expressions she uses. But I admire the owl for the reason that she is positively foolish. Owls are supposed to be so very wise, generally, that a foolish one is unusual, and perhaps you know that anything or anyone unusual is sure to be interesting to the wise."

The Patchwork Girl of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Well, I'll take interesting every time and my little owl is definitely that. I see her as one of life's flamboyant characters with her pink plumage and her bright eyes darting around...her head's in the clouds and she's a little bit ditsy. No dark woods for this lady, she loves bright colours (especially pink), blue skies, and sunshine - she's a hippie chick and flower fledgling of the owl world.

I'm in two minds about this piece as it didn't quite go in the direction I expected - not that I had anything as grand as a plan. I knew I wanted to incorporate some lovely pink polymer clay beads I had and some gorgeous rose pink silk from Marsha Neal but that's about it.

I started at the front with the beaded section of mixed blue Czech glass beads with brass accents and after much fiddling about with silk and chain, (I'm neither good or fast with textiles) I finally came up with this 'chain within a chain' style which I quite like.

I added a second layer of brass chain with a Vintaj clasp and linked the wrapped polymer clay beads by Pippa of Pips Jewellery -  aren't they great...?  A final flourish from one of my own bronze sunflowers makes sure the the sun is always shining down on my flighty feathered friend...

In hindsight, I'm not sure about the blue beaded section and I'm thinking maybe it would look better with the silk chain all the way around...but then I didn't have enough silk to do that anyway so I'll have to ponder and maybe purchase...

So there you have my little motley owl - definitely not the norm but I hope you found her interesting and many thanks to Lorelei for hosting such a fun event. Use the links below to meet the rest of the motley crew featuring in this mini blog hop:

Lesley Watt:   You are here
Lorelei Eurto
Chris White :
Raida Disbrow:
Penny Young-Neville:
Tanya Goodwin:


Saturday 12 May 2012

Art Bead Earring Swap...

I recently signed up for an art bead earring swap hosted by the lovely Diana of Suburban Girl which requires each participant to make a pair of earrings for each of their two team mates. Earlier this week I was delighted to find out that my team mates were two lovely ladies - Tania Spivey of Moobie Grace Designs and Jan Onipenco of Lakeside Creations/Molten Mayhem.

Tania creates the most wonderful eclectic jewellery using a mix of media including textiles and found items. Her designs have a lovely relaxed bohemian feel to them, something I often find hard to achieve and greatly admire. The pieces below utilise textiles, buttons, repurposed cutlery and Tania's own polymer clay beads...definitely a master of several trades is Tania.

Jan's jewellery showcases her own lampwork beads which are full of colour and delightful character . She obviously has a love of nature and this comes through in her beads - just look at these little full of fun you can't help but smile.

So all in all I think I've lucked out with my team members - I can't wait to see what they create, but in the meantime I have to get my muse working on some ideas to make sure they're happy they got me too! 

Make sure you come back on June 7th to see an amazing extravaganza of earrings in the big reveal.


This weekend only....

I'm having a spring clean in my Etsy jewellery shop to make way for new stock and come monday, I'll be taking out a number of items to be recycled into new designs. However, I hate dismantling jewellery so even though these items are already on sale with discounts of 30%, for this weekend only they will also qualify for free shipping. For any item purchased from the DESTASH SALE section of my shop before 12 midnight on Sunday, I will refund the shipping charge via Paypal.

So if you fancy picking up a bargain (like one of the pieces in the picture below) and saving me some extra work you can see what's on offer here.

Many thanks.


Wednesday 9 May 2012

Bead Table Wednesday 9 May 2012

New bead goodness on the table today...

My lovely Motley Owl by Erin Prais-Hintz arrived from Lorelei this morning. This time next week she (I sense some feminine wiles so 'she' it is) will be starring alongside some of her brothers and sisters in a mini blog hop hosted by Lorelei, so make a note on your calendars.

The postman also bought some Polymer Clay lovelies from Alison Sachs from Beads By Earth Tones. I've only really started using Polymer clay beads in recent months and am developing a growing liking for them. This floral pair are so pretty and I love the more organic style of the turquoise/ochre set, a style Alison does really well.

Check out what's on the bead tables of the world today here.

Have a great day.


Monday 7 May 2012

Beautiful Design...

It's been a miserable wet bank holiday Monday here in the UK so I decided to do something I've been meaning to do for a while as a little tribute to the talented designers who've bought my bronze components and turned them into beautiful designs. After all without them, there would be no point in me doing what I do.

I've put together this little video so if you have a few minutes to spare...sit back, relax and enjoy.


Sunday 6 May 2012

Shop upate

Hi there - how is your Sunday going...nice and relaxing...?

I'm busy putting together new listings for a shop update at 7pm (GMT) this evening but I've decided that there is too much to list in one hit so I will complete the listings tomorrow. So if any of you are kind enough to buy something and then find you want something else subsequently, just send me a not with the later order and I'll amalgamate them and refund the postage from the second order. It's a public holiday tomorrow here in the UK so I won't be shipping anything before Wednesday so plenty of time.

Here's a quick peek at some of the new things on their way - hope you can drop by...


Wednesday 2 May 2012

Eye of the Storm - Bead Table Wednesday

A few weeks ago my BTW picture and blog post were about my preparations and processes for one of my bronze clay sessions with everything neat and organised and ready to roll. This week I'm in the middle of one of these sessions preparing for a shop update and it's a very different picture...

As you can see complete chaos is the order of the day today! Because I make so many batches of components and there are so many stages to the process I gradually become surrounded by trays of clay in various stages of completion...The batch to the left is waiting to go in the kiln, The pieces on the tray are for pre-fire finishing and the ones that have spilt over onto my side table needed repairing.

I don't know why I work like this (other than my work room being a small place) as it's not conducive to clay work...far too much potential for accidents amidst all this clutter. It's usually at this point - when I realise I'm working in that tiny little 3 square inches of space at the front of the table that I stop and reorganise a bit. So now that I've done my repairs and finishing this batch can go in the kiln and I can have a sort out...after a cup of coffee of course.

So what's on your bead table...? Check out what everyone else is up to here...