Monday 30 July 2012

Shop update and a bit of a rest...

The last six months have been so busy what with my components shop taking off so quickly and keeping me busy along with all the other work on the jewellery side of things. I'm so pleased with the way things have gone and incredibly grateful to my customers and friends for all the support they've given me but I have made myself a promise to work a little less during August. I'll still be around but won't be doing any major updates to my components shop although it will remain open and orders will be dispatched as normal. Instead I'll be concentrating on some new jewellery designs and getting to grips with a few things around the house and garden.

But it's not August yet and I will be having a shop update tomorrow evening at around 7pm BST which will include all these pieces amongst others:

You can still contact me regarding special requests and there may be some small updates over the next month...I doubt I'll be able to resist the call of the clay completely!

I hope you are all enjoying a wonderful summer.


Saturday 28 July 2012

Bead Soup Blog Party 6 - Today's the Day!

So here we are then, today is the first reveal of three in Lori Anderson's Bead Soup Blog Party 6 and of the pieces I've created with the soup sent to me by my lovely partner Jenny Cameron. When I first opened my parcel from Jenny I found so much and such variety that I had all sorts of ideas racing around in my head for all the things I wanted to do. Inevitably though, life and lack of time intervened and when I look at this picture now I realise I've barely scratched the surface. No matter though, the unused soup will stay on my work table and when I have a little free time (something I've promised to give myself in August) I will while it away some happy hours creating more and I'll post it here at a future date.

Now let's get back to what I did do. Although there were several pieces I would class as a focal I knew straight away that it would be the big red lampwork bead I'd choose - so tactile that I kept picking it up and rolling it in my hands. I love the organic nature of this bead and the way it looks like hot lava is slowly enveloping it. I felt it had a slightly futuristic, urban feel to it and I decided pretty quickly I wanted to use metal with it in some way eventually settling on sterling silver wire and, as far as planning goes that was it. I just sat down, cut three pieces of wire, threaded them through the bead and started bending and twisting. I've tried this before and more often that not I've ended up with a complete mess but happily, this time the muse was with me and I liked the results. So time for a picture I think - I've called this piece 'Red Nebula'...

I've used the first of those three wires to create a yoke to support the bead and the second has been wrapped loosely around the yoke. I had it in my mind to create tendrils with the third wire but it had other ideas and became a kind of frame for the bead. Jenny also sent me some glorious red silk which I've wire wrapped and suspended the yoke from using hand forged hook clasps. I felt it needed a little something extra at this point to add a final flourish and I picked some lovely dark pearls from my soup mix threaded onto silver pins - I think that little bit of asymmetry sets it off quite nicely, what do you think?

I don't find silk easy to work with and I'm fully aware that it's not very 'bohemian' of me to have ironed it, but I like it and although I wasn't sure at first, this piece has grown on me over the last few days.

So that was the focal sorted - now I had to come up with a design for my clasp, a vintage rhinestone piece that was really going to challenge me. I've never, ever created a piece of jewellery that could in anyway be said to have a vintage influence. Not that I have anything against the style, I just tend to see it as pretty and sparkly whereas I'm more rustic and earthy and consequently, I had very little in my bead stash that was an obvious choice to complement the clasp. I did think about going contemporary  with the steampunk pieces Jenny sent but these are so new to me me I realised I would need a lot of time to work something through and time was running out. Then I thought maybe rhinestone and black leather (who knows why) but I really wanted to have a go at doing something that at least nodded towards vintage and, after rummaging around in my own jewellery box I found an old pewter brooch that I hadn't worn for about 20 years and an idea began to form.

Because pewter is soft I was able to cut the pin off the brooch and drill through the mounting blocks so I could attach some jump rings without having to drill into the brooch itself. I was making this piece very late in the day which turned out to be quite fortuitous as a parcel of gorgeous rustic pearls arrived the previous day and they definitely had a look of bygone days about them. I was planning for this to be a bracelet when I started but the balance didn't feel right so this is what I turned it in to...

In addition to the pearls I've used lovely champagne Czech glass Rivoli beads and sections of antique style chain. I really like the mix of the brass and silver coloured metals here and I think it adds to the aged feel. The clasp is too pretty to be hidden away so I've offset it to one side...

I fiddled around with this quite a bit adding dangles and embellishments but in the end decided less is more - it may not be true vintage style but it's my style and even though I think it's pretty I'd wear it myself for an occasion!

To me this is the type of necklace that benefits from matching earrings so I made a pair. Jenny's soup included some lovely little brass beads and some creamy potato pearls which matched perfectly with the Rivoli beads and the chain links to make a very elegant set.

I did also manage to make two extra bracelets in a design that my regular blog readers will have seen a lot of lately (checkout the tutorial page for details); one using another of Jenny's own lampwork beads and one using the cute little bus token she sent, instead of a button. These will be going to the 'Global Genes Project, 7000 Bracelets Appeal' along with some other bracelets I've made recently.

So I hope you like what I've done with my bead soup even though there is so much I didn't use. Just keep your  eyes peeled for future posts because there will be with second helpings of bead soup. In the meantime I'd like to thank Jenny for her warmth and generosity as my partner and Lori for another amazing feat of organisation. please hop over and visit Jenny to see what she's done with the soup I sent her and enjoy the rest of the party visiting the blogs in the list below.

Lesley Watt, The Gossiping Goddess
Jennifer Cameron, Glass Addictions

Hostess, Lori Anderson,

Alice Craddick,  Alice's Beads and Baubles
Alicia Marinache,  All The Pretty Things
Amanda Tibbetts,  Amanda Made
Amber Dawn Goldish, Inventive Soul
Annita Wilson,  AW Jewelry
Beti Horvath, Stringing Fool
Birgitta Lejonklou,  Create With Spirit   
Candida Castleberry,    Spinning Spun Sugar
Carolyn Lawson, Carolyn's Creations

Cassie Donlen, Glass Beadle
Cheryl McCloud,  One Thing Leads to Another
Cheryl Roe, BeadRoe
Christina Hickman, Vintage Treasures Jewelry
Christine Hendrickson,  Clamworks
Cilla Watkins, Tell Your Girlfriends
Cindy Wilson, Mommy's Dream
Cindy Wimmer, Sweet Bead Studio
Cory Celaya, Art With Moxie

Cory Tompkins, Tealwater Designs
Cris Peacock, Cris' Page
Cynthia Deis, Shiny Little Things
Cynthia Machata, Antiquity Travelers
Cynthia Wainscott, Exotic Peru
Dana Hickey, Magpie Approved
Denielle Hagerman, Some Beads and Other Things

Diane Valasek, Dragonfly Close
Doris Stumpf, Glaszwerg
Dyanne Everett-Cantrell, Dee-Liteful Jewelry Creations
Elaine Robitaille, Too Aquarius
Eleanor Burian-Mohr, The Charmed Life
Enik√∂ Fabian, Perl-eni
Erin Prais-Hintz, Treasures Found
Heather Davis, Blissful Garden Beads
Heidi Post, Ex Post Facto Jewelry

Hilary Frye, FryeStyle
Inge von Roos, Inge's Blog
Jami Shipp, Celebrating Life
Jayne Capps, Mama's Got to Doodle

Jennifer Pottner, Rock Candy Beads
Jennifer VanBenschoten,  Jewelry, Art and Life

Jenny Davies-Reazor, Jenny Davies-Reazor
Jenny Vidberg, Shyme Design
Jessica Dickens, My Jewelry, My Life, Me
Jessica Klaaren, Beadful-Things by Jessica
JJ Jacobs, Coming Abstractions
Joan Williams, Lilruby Jewelry
Judith Johnston, Judith Johnston
Judy Riggs, Rigglettes
Judy Turner, Silver Rains

Julie Anne Leggett, The Peaceful Bead
K Hutchinson, Jumbled Hutch
Karen Meador, Dreamcatcher Ranch
Karyn Bonfiglio, Plus Size Bangles
Katherine Gale, Terra Beadworks
Kathleen Lange Klik, Modern Nature Studio
Katja Benevol Gabrijelcic, Slovonske Technobe
Kelli Jacobson, Creative Moon
Kelly Ramstack, Adventures with Kelly
Keri Lee Sereika, Pink Lemonade

Kim Bender-Hora, KimmyKat
Kirsi Luostarinen, Kirsi Luo Korut
Kitty Bozzini, Kitty Lampwork
Laura Demoya, The Bead Therapist
Laurie Hanna, Laurie's Jewelbox
Leah Curtis, Beady Eyed Bunny

Linda Inhelder, Must-Haves Jewelry

Lisa Liddy, Metal Me This
Mallory Hoffman, For the Love of Beads
Marge Beebe, Rock Creek Creations
Marianna Boylan, Pretty Shiny Things
Marion Simmons, Shade Tree Studio
Marla Gibson, Spice Box Design
Marta Weaver, Marta Weaver Jewelry

Marti Conrad, Marti C's Clay Blog
Maryse Fritzsch-Thillens, GlassBeadArt, Lampwork Beads
Melanie Brooks, Earthenwood Studio
Michelle Hardy, Firefly Visions
Mikala Coates, Maybe Just Perhaps
Mowse Doyle, HoCArt
Nancy Boylan, Snazzy Doodle Designs
Nancy Peterson, Beading From the Heart
Nicole Rennell, Nicole Rennell Designs

Niki Meiners, 365 Days of Craft
Niky Sayers, Silver Nik Nats
Norma Turvey, Moonlit Fantaseas
Paige Maxim, Paige Maxim Designs
Pamela Gangler, She Always Loved Pink
Patricia Johnson, Patricia L. Johnson Glass Art
Perri Jackson, Shaktipaj Designs
Raida Disbrow, Havana Beads
Renetha Stanziano, Lamplight Crafts
Shannon Hicks, Falling Into the Sky

Shannon LeVart, Miss Fickle Media
Sharon Driscoll, Right Turn Art Werks
Shelley Graham Turner, Fabric of My Life
Sherri Stokey, Knot Just Macrame
Shirley Moore, Beads and Bread
Skylar Bre'z, Brising Beads
Stacie Florer, Soul to Substance
Stacie Stamper, Park Avenue
Stacy Alderson, Iridal's Attic

Stephanie Haussler, Pixybug Designs
Stephanie Stamper, Rainy Day Designs
Suzette Bentley, Ellie's Bijoux
Tammy Jones, Jewelry Making Daily
Tanty Sri Hartanti, TJewellicious by Tanti
Terry Matuszyk, Pink Chapeau

Vonna Maslanka, Just Vonna

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Brit Pack Beaders Challenge - Component Reveal

Welcome (back) to the Brit Pack Beaders Challenge. In my last post I introduced you to the Brit Pack Beaders - Rebecca Anderson, Claire Braunbarth, Bo Hulley, Jo Tinley and myself and explained how our team challenges would work. Well, today is the day we reveal the components that our 'pack' mates sent us to create create a piece of jewellery for our very first challenge inspired by 'Tangle' by Carolyn Saxby.

Remember, this will be just as much a surprise for us as for you since everyone of us has been sent slightly different components by the other four  members so we have know idea what anyone else has, apart from the piece we sent. I'm not going to keep you waiting any longer other than to say that as far as what I have to work with goes, I love it and I think everyone has done a fantastic job in drawing from the image. Here it is then...

Pretty tasty ingredients don't you think...

My photo doesn't really do justice to the lampwork focal Rebecca sent me, It has lovely blue/green swirls on a sandy base which not only picks out the colours from the picture, but is also very evocative of a beach or shoreline. She also sent me a large metal ring which perfectly picks up the colour and texture of the rusty chain.

In Bo's accent bead pack I found some of her lovely hand made textured ceramic beads which pick out the brighter more vibrant tones along with some pretty, neutral pearls (very apropos), tiny seed beads and Czech glass beads. So far so good, these are working well together for me....

Claire was responsible for embellishments and she sent me lovely and unusual things including aqua knitted wire mesh and some pretty cotton wrapped rings that she made herself. I've never used either of these and plan to have some fun with them. She also sent hammered silver rings, charms and organic washers with two cute shell charms and a length of natural hemp. I love the way Claire's pieces reflect the shapes and textures of the photo.

Up next are the stringing materials courtesy of Jo and who could fail to love those gorgeous aqua and rust silk strings from, if I'm not mistaken, Marsha Neal. She also added some blue cotton cord for variation and texture. Jo won't actually be creating this time around as she is spending the summer on distant shores but she wanted to be involved from the get go so very kindly sent her contribution anyway - thanks Jo.

I should perhaps point out that we agreed not to open our packages before we'd  posted our own so that  our offerings wouldn't be influenced by what we'd already received. I was responsible for sending clasps and it probably won't come as any surprise to you or the recipients to know that I made bronze clasps for everyone! I tried to take the textural elements from the image as my inspiration and on the clasp I got I used rope to create the pattern. I won't spoil the surprise on the other clasps, you can see those when you visit the rest of the pack's blogs.

So there you go...what do you think? I am extremely happy with the items everyone sent me and when you look at these two pictures together you can see just what a great job they've done. This could easily have been a selection put together by one person for their own use and considering there were five pairs of hands in this I'm actually quite amazed at just how well everything gels - thank you ladies

Now, I'm going to dash off and check out what everyone else has got in their bead pots and I hope you'll join me using the links below. Oh and don't forget - the final reveal will be on Wednesday 8th of August so make a note to come back and see what we've all done with our goodies.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Meet the Brit Pack Beaders....

One of the things I love about the amazing community of jewellery artists I've come to be a part of is meeting people, all-be-it virtually, from all over the world - such an incredibly diverse collection of people and yet with so much in common. It still amazes to think that while I'm nervously designing a piece of jewellery for a challenge or blog hop, other people are doing exactly the same thing in the USA, Canada, Sweden, Russia, India...who knows where.

But occasionally, just occasionally, I think it would be nice to do something at a bit more of a local (by which I mean this 'little' island I live on) and intimate level and that got me to thinking...I had a spark of an idea I thought might work and put it to a few of my fellow British designers who all seemed to be up for the challenge so without further ado, may I now introduce you to the "Brit Pack Beaders' who are from left to right:
Lesley Watt, Rebecca Anderson, Claire Braunbarth, Joanne Tinley and Bo 'Peep' Hulley (she's a little camera shy).

Many of you will already know the work of these talented (modestly excluding myself from that description)  ladies from their blogs, participation in challenges and of course their shops. Now we've all come together to take part in bi-monthly challenges with a little bit of a difference.

For each challenge, one person will choose a theme based on anything they like - could be music, literature, film, visual images anything at all that inspires that person. Each of us is then allocated one of five design items - clasps, focal beads, accent beads, decorative embellishments and stringing material, and must send each pack member one of those items (preferably all a little different) that has some relevance to the theme. Ultimately, we will all end up with a slightly different design kit put together by five people with which to create a piece of jewellery inspired by the theme.

Easy eh? Well hopefully it won't be a case of 'too many cooks'  but we'll let you know when we've completed the first challenge, for which I've chosen this image as the inspiration piece:

This photograph was taken British mixed media textile artist and photographer Carolyn Saxby who draws a wealth of inspiration for her work from Cornwall, the beautiful county she lives in. Her photographs are stunning and I love the way she can make the seemingly mundane look so beautiful with such colour, depth and interest. You can see more of Carolyn's work on her blog and if you like this image I would recommend a visit to her Flickr photostream too. Carolyn also makes textile beads which she sells from her Etsy shop.

I addition to choosing the image for this challenge I am also responsible for sending a different clasp to each of the pack members, Rebecca is supplying the focals, Claire the embellishments, Bo the accent beads and Jo the stringing material. For the next challenge we will rotate so that everyone gets to send something different.

We'll be back in a week or so to share our mystery ingredients and the reveal for this first challenge will be on the 8th of August, so I hope you'll join our blog hop and see whether we've managed to cook up a storm rather than a dogs dinner! I've also set up a separate page here where I'll archive the challenges and the finished pieces from each designer.

In the meantime, if you'd like to know a bit more about the "Brit Packers' you can visit out blogs or Facebook page at the following links:


Tuesday 17 July 2012

Beads of Clay Designer of the Week

I'm being featured on the Beads of Clay blog today in their new 'Designer of the Week' feature and I must say I'm very flattered. If you want to find out a bit more about me and my love for all things 'mud' please do pop along and read the interview and see what else  the BOC blog has to offer. 

These are some of my recent clay creations and you'll find more in the interview...

Ceramic charms by White CLover Kiln
Ceramic Butterfly pendant by Marsha Neal Studio
Ceramic owl pendant by Golem Studio

Sunday 15 July 2012

Beads Of Clay Design Challenge

A few months ago I was delighted to be chosen as one of a group of people to become Design Partners with the Beads of Clay Professional Artists Team . Every few months five of those designers will be challenged create jewellery with identical components made by BOCPAT team members and I'm taking part in this, the very first challenge - so welcome!

Before we received our beads we were given a little taster in the form of this black and white photo and told that we would be required to make a necklace or necklaces from these beads.

From this picture I felt that there might be some big challenges in co-ordinating the shapes and sizes of these these beads but without knowing the colour palette I couldn't really begin to start designing - for me colour dictates so much about the mood of a piece of jewellery. I recognised the work of a couple of people and could make an educated guess at colours but not all and of course no hints to the colour palette until this arrived...

My first thoughts were that this was quite an eclectic mix of pieces and not ones that I would normally put together, nor was it one of my usual palettes but hey, that's what a challenge is all about isn't it.

Then the beads arrived and for a while I found it quite difficult to marry the softer organic elements with the chunkier, almost architectural pieces but as I shuffled them about they began to remind me of something.

I'm an inveterate collector of random objects that appeal to me from a design perspective - be that colour, shape, texture...anything really. This is particularly true when I'm out walking the beaches near my home and what these beads were reminding me of was the contents of my pockets after one of these walks; shells, stones, driftwood and all manner of miniature flotsam and jetsam can find it's way home with me.

An idea began to crystalise and my plan was to try and create a kind of keepsake necklace such as you might make from found objects on a beach or deserted island. The result was this piece which I've called 'Castaway'...

To keep within my theme I used a simple construction with natural cotton cord and knotting techniques, with the pendant suspended from a bail created by threading the cord through one of the raku oblong beads in both directions, accented with contrasting rounds and filigree bead caps. The rest of the beads are then strung and knotted at intervals as if added as they are found over time. A sliding knot closure (finished with a couple of ceramic beads form my own stash) means that the necklace can be worn long or short and the striped tube bead which sits at the back of the neck helps keep it at its chosen length. And of course, the extra length means more 'collectibles' can be added over time.

I was hoping that I could make one piece using all the beads but it would have been too forced so, having made this piece I was left with one large raku bead, one cream ribbed bead and two filigree beads caps. I spent a bit of time debating whether to use the raku bead as a pendant or to string it and in the end plumped for the pendant option. I dug a couple more ceramic beads out from my stash and constructed the same sort of bail as the first necklace, but this time I used leather cord and created tails beneath the pendant. This was the result...

The dark metallic patina and shape of the pendant has a sort of urban feel which contrasts nicely with the softer ivory beads. I wanted to keep to a minimal palette on this one and liked the idea of mixed metal so I added some brass beads to the tails and to the leather cord and finished it off with a simple lobster clasp. I've borrowed the name of one of my favourite local restaurants 'Urban Beach' for this as I think it sums it up well. 

I hope you think I rose to the challenge and will use the links below to hop along to my team mates blogs or Facebook pages to see what they've done with the same beads:

And finally, a big thank you to Marla James for organising the designers and answering our endless questions and to the following artisans for donating the beads:

Raku oblongs - Duane Collins, Elements Pottery
Cream/Aqua beads - Marsha Neal Studio
Striped tube bead - Golem Studio
Pendant - Shaterra Clay Studio
Vintaj chain and bead caps - Marla James, Marla's Mud


Thursday 12 July 2012

Blue Bead Special...

Yes it's those bracelets again...

Lots of you have been telling me how addictive these bracelets are and you can't stop making them and after catching up with some blog reading last night a thought occurred to me that might interest some of you.

My friend Patti is in the process of making 75 blue themed bracelets for a 'Global Genes Project' gala later this year, entirely at her own expense and time. How fantastic is that! I took part in the '7000 Bracelets for Hope' blog hop earlier this year but I'm not sure I could do what Patti is doing. It did make me think though, that I should be doing something now rather than wait for the next organised event to come around.

And then it hit me! wouldn't the quick, easy and inexpensive bracelets from my tutorial be perfect for this! So I dug out all my blue beads and this is a batch that I've made up in just a couple of hours this morning.

Because the recipients are unknown, I added a second loop to the closure for some of these to give some flexibility to the size.

I'll be making lots more of these and If you're one of those people who have become addicted to making this bracelet and would like to make one for this hugely worthwhile cause, just click here to find out more about the project and how to donate.

Oh and don't forget to let us see what you make of course!

Thank you.


Saturday 7 July 2012

England to Indiana...Soup's Arrived!

Well that's the nervous bit over with...the soup ingredients I sent to my partner Jen Cameron arrived safely today and she seems to be pretty thrilled. Pop on over to Jen's blog to see what she says about her soup. Oh, and of course - here's a little picture I took before I mailed it...


Wednesday 4 July 2012

Full of Flavour and Nicely Spiced...Soup's here!

I don't usually do two posts in one day but my bead soup arrived today and I just can't wait until tomorrow to share it with you. Just look at all those gorgeous little packages - I actually made myself a cup of tea and sat and looked at them for a while...and then I ripped into them!

If you don't know Jen Cameron, she is a glass artist who makes amazing lampwork beads and uses them in her own jewellery designs. She's also a very clever lady because she's put together a soup that combines items that are right up my street, with things I've never used (and in some cases don't know how to use) and are going to challenge me big time. That really excites me and I can't wait to dive into the unknown.

Unsurprisingly there was too much in those little packages to get into one shot and anyway, you'll want more than one spoon of this tasty soup - so how's this for starters...

Not one, not two, but four gorgeous lampwork focal beads and one of Jen's 'lampworkified' keys. I love earthy organic beads and these are no exception and that key, well that's a fun challenge I'm really looking forward to. Then we have a good handful of colourful enamelled beads, again by Jen, Czech glass beads, Vintaj chain and yes, some Sari silk. From our e mail exchanges, Jen and I discovered that we had quite a lot in common one of which was finding Sari silk hard to work with. We both love it in other peoples work but always think it looks awful in our own. So she's set me another challenge here and since I noticed that she used it very successfully herself in a challenge piece last weekend, I guess I'm just going to have to rise to that!

Here's a better look at those lush focals...

I somehow managed to miss these lovely little pearls when I took that first picture.

And now we come to the unknown element, the materials I've never worked with and design styles I have never attempted - Steam Punk, found objects and vintage...where these are concerned I know nothing but I'm so looking forward to changing that.

So here we have my lovely vintage crystal clasp, some big wooden buttons, a glass vial, Steam Punk gears in wood and metal, vintage Swarovski flowers, Mica sheets and washer beads, some cute little brass star beads, a Washington DC bus token and a vintage fabric measuring tape. I am a little nervous when I look at these...the only thing I've ever done with a Mica sheet is slump glass on it but as I said, there is a certain frisson of excitement at the thought of working with materials I have no preconceptions of and the freedom that entails.

So there you have my bead soup with all it's depth of flavour. This will be sitting on my worktable for the rest of the week and hopefully sparking my imagination until next week when the fun will begin.

This parcel got to me in the UK from Indiana in just 4 days and hopefully Jen's soup will arrive with her soon too. If she likes it half as much as I do this - I'll be very happy.