Saturday 21 December 2013

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas...

It's been a very strange run up to Christmas for me this year...

Having been nursing a broken ankle since early November I haven't done most of the things I would normally do in preparation for the festive season. On the upside I didn't even have to consider braving Bricks and Mortar shops - that would just have been silly however, not getting out and about much and being preoccupied with the healing of my ankle has also meant that Christmas spirit has been a bit thin on the ground.

Not any more though - I had my cast removed last Wednesday and replaced with a fracture boot which means I can walk again - Yay! I am also able to walk without the boot although it's rather stiff and a little sore but I'm doing my exercises and it's improving every day.

This is a great relief because I've been invited to spend Christmas with friends in Edinburgh and I was dreading the travelling if I'd still been in a full cast, but now I am busy getting myself together ready to fly up there on Monday and I'm so excited I can't wait!

Edinburgh Castle
All the time I've had on my hands has not gone to waste though and I have a head full of all sorts of bead and jewellery ideas that I'm eager to get to work on after my much time to make up.

Until then though I would like to say a very big thank you to all my friends, customers and followers who've supported me through the good and the bad this past year. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season however you spend it and look forward to seeing you back here before the new year.

Take care and have fun!


Monday 2 December 2013

AJE Component of the month - November Reveal

The components we got to work with for this months challenge were a pair of the beautiful beaded beads made by the AJE 'Queen of Seeds' Kristen Stevens...

I chose a pair of lovely cinnamon coloured beads but I was also fortunate enough to do a little bead swap with Kristen so I actually received a whole selection of beads in beautifully coordinating tones and, because they went so beautifully with one of my patinated bronze leaf connectors I decided to use some of these too.

The beads reminded e of hedgerow fruits in various stages of ripeness and I wanted to try and portray that sense of abundance your get when everything is coming to fruition. I decided on a double strand necklace and combined Kristen's beads with a selection of matching Czech glass, including some gorgeous vintage bronze faceted glass barrels.

The back of the necklace is made up of 2 strands of farfalle beads in a dark aubergine and olive green and a handmade bronze wire clasp. the final touch is a tiny flower bead hung from the bottom of the leaf connector.

I apologise for the photos not being the best in the world...for some reason I had great difficulty getting 'unfuzzy' photos and I can only put it down to my broken ankle...that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

I hope you'll join us in our little blog hop to see what the rest of the team and our guest artist did with Kristen's wonderful beads.

Special Guest
Alice Alice Dreaming
AJE Team


Tuesday 26 November 2013

The Best Laid Plans - and a Sale...

Well it's been a strange few weeks around here...

At the beginning of this month I'd just got my hands on a new kiln and lots of other toys and was all fired up with lots of creative plans for the run up to Christmas and then, as some of you know, I slipped down a few stairs, broke my ankle and all my plans went out of the window.

That was three weeks ago and after a week in hospital to have a plate inserted I came home thinking I would be able to get back to work pretty quickly...not so. I've never had an operation before and was totally unprepared for how wiped out I felt both physically and emotionally and it took me a good week to ten days just to be able to stay awake all day and start to feel human again. I'm feeling a whole lot better now but it's still difficult to work for any length of time when you're not really comfortable and lugging a heavy plaster around on crutches while muscles you didn't know you had ache is not comfortable, believe me.

My stitches come out tomorrow and hopefully I get a lighter plaster which should make things easier and I hope to be able to do a bit more but needless to say, my productivity has been pretty much nil this month. I'd like to thank everyone who has ordered from me during this period for their patience regarding delays in shipping and to those waiting for custom orders that I've yet to complete...I really do appreciate your kindness, understanding and support.

So whilst I can't make much at the moment I can take advantage of the the Thanksgiving holiday and the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend to say thank you to all my customers for another great year with a sale in both my Etsy shops.

From Friday 29th November through to Monday 2nd December you can get 20% discount on components from THEA Elements and jewellery from THEA Jewellery using coupon code THEA20 in both shops to bag yourself a bargain (minimum purchase £15).

Whilst I may not be able to get back into full production just yet this enforced sabbatical does give me time to think about and work on new design ideas for when I do so watch out - it could be a very exciting new year!

Finally may I wish all my stateside friends a very happy thanksgiving and a wonderful time with family and friends. Hope to see you over the weekend maybe.


Friday 15 November 2013

'Beads of Courage' Art Charm Exchange and Auction...

This year for the first time I am taking part in an Art Charm Exchange and Auction organised by the talented and indefatigable Jennifer Cameron in support of 'Beads of Courage' a charity providing innovative, arts-in-medicine supportive care programs for children coping with serious illness, their families and the health care providers who care for them.

The premise of the exchange is that each participant makes 11 charms based on a given theme and sends them to Jen, who then sends each of us a collection of 10 charms including one of our own. The 11th charm goes up for auction for BOC and you can find details of the auction later in this post.

The theme for this year was 'Love' and as I'm not much of a romantic and a bit of a free spirit I went to music for my inspiration. I decided on the Sting song 'If you love somebody set them free' because I've always been intrigued by that part of the human psyche that draws us to people and then sometimes causes us to try and change the very characteristics we found so attractive in the first place. I made my charms in the form of bronze clay doves and impressed the 'set them free' lyric across the wingspan, highlighting it with alcohol ink.

On the other side I added a tiny heart...

I felt the lyric also held a second message relating to the work done by Beads of Courage and how this can maybe set the children free from some of their pain...

So those are my charms but what about the ones I was sent...? Well what a fabulous selection in all sorts of media and here they are...

Beautiful lampwork...

Lovely ceramic...

Wonderful detailed beadwork...

Fabulous and  intricate wire work..

And last but not least, fun and colourful Polymer Clay...

You can find out more about the inspiration behind these charms by visiting the makers blogs below along with those of the other participants. All participants will have a charm up for auction so If you'd like the opportunity to get your hands on one... including my design, while donating to a fantastic cause, you can take part in the auction which starts at 7am EST today >>here<< and will be staggered 2 minutes apart. There will be further staggered starts from 9am EST Saturday am 8pm EST Sunday. You can buy each of the charms individually and the listings will be staggered through the day so keep checking back for new ones!

We’re hoping to raise $1000 dollars for the Beads of Courage project, so dig deep!

Note: I will have a few of my Dove charms for sale after the auction with the proceeds also going to BOC but having managed to fall last week and put myself in hospital with a broken ankle I've not yet managed to list them. If you're interested please e mail me at

Caroline Dewison:
Alicia Marinache:
Terri Del Signore:
Cheryl (Lee) Koopman:
Jacqueline Carlson:
Charlene Bausinger Jacka:


Wednesday 30 October 2013

AJE October Component of the Month Reveal

The components for our regular monthly challenge at AJE (Art Jewelry Elelments) this month were these lovely copper clay Ammonite cuffs by Kristi Bowman - Gruel...


This is the piece I got to work with - so beautifully detailed...

Because the cuffs are quite large and fairly weighty I felt the bracelet element needed some heft to it for balance so lampwork beads seemd the way to go. While rummaging for the right beads I came across some chunky sections of chain mail which I'd taken off another piece with a patina that was a perfect match for the focal.

 I wanted to use earthy tones to complement the ancient theme of the ammonites so picked out some gorgeous disc beads by Kaz Baildon with a stone coloured base with flashes of purples, teals and blues.

The structure of the bracelet is fairly simple with the beads wire wrapped to attach them to the chain and focal. To finish of I added one of my own bronze ammonites and some pretty Czech glass charms which pick out the colours in the lampwork beads perfectly.

And here you have the finished piece - quite subtle with Kristi's lovely focal as the very striking centrepiece.


To see what the rest of the team and out guest designers did with their components just click on the links below....


AJE Team Members

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Mud Messing Round 2...

Yes - I've been messing with mud again...After the excitement of completing my first firing last week I couldn't wait to get back to it and play some more. I'm limited to working with low fire earthenware clay until my new kiln arrives so I decided to make up some quick pendants and play with some glazes a bit more. Most people would test their glazes before using them on real pieces but I get so exited seeing the end result I just got straight to it - I'll test more with the new kiln - honest I will! So then, this is the little assortment that came out of the kiln this morning...

I find it really interesting to see how the same glazes can vary from item to item and I'm assured by those in the know that there are no end of factors that can influence the firing outcome. I guess this would be really frustrating if I were trying to match the pieces of a dinner service but for beads I kind of like it...I'm something of a haphazard person and don't like to be too regimented in anything I do.

This little Physalis pendant was my first attempt at simple modelling, something I don't think I've done since I was a child and not in any big way even then. I do a fair amount of repetitive work with my other mediums so with clay I would like to spend a bit more time doing one off or small groups of work to keep it fresh. I've got a whole lot to learn about the basics before I start going down that road but that's the long term plan.

These two are staples of my Bronze Clay inventory and I wanted to see how they would translate to glazed clay. They're rather rustic and the owl does look a little dishevelled poor thing... that's down to my over-ambitious use of multiple glazes. I have to remember that they don't blend in the same way as metal patinas do but then again nothing ventured... He also seems to have been born with Heterochromia Iridum - different coloured eyes, but he shares that with David Bowie so that's no problem for me.

On these last two I used underglaze with no top coat of gloss - mainly because I forgot to order any but also because I just wanted to see what it did as I'm a big fan of matt or etched finishes. I think the fir cone might be better glossy but I really like the flower pendant and the effect created by wiping the glaze off the raised areas.

So whilst I may not be going about this in the most scientific manner I'm having a ball and I can't believe that it's only two weeks since a discussion with my AJE team mates sent me hurtling headlong down this path - thanks guys!

Now, I have bronze and silver work I have to get back to for a couple of days but I don't think it will be too long before I'm back with this again...especially since today was rather a good post day...

See you soon for more mud messing !


Saturday 12 October 2013

Exciting Times...

Well here we are on a bright and sunny Autumn Saturday morning and I find myself with a little time to catch up with some blogging. My posts have been a bit few and far between of late for which I apologise...I have so much on my to do list at the moment it's hard to fit everything in but, I must try.

It's almost 4 months since I moved into the new studio and I can safely say getting that done has proved to be one of the best decisions I've ever made. It's just so liberating to have the space to work on different projects and in different mediums concurrently. I have a low boredom threshold so I'm much more productive when I have several things on the go and there is so much cross pollination that my head is buzzing with ideas. I'm even thinking of abandoning my note book and using one of the big blank walls for writing my ideas down...creative graffiti if you like!

My studio Manager Cleo at her work station...
 If you follow me on Facebook or the Art Jewelry Elements blog you might have seen my debut ceramic pieces earlier this week. I've wanted to have a go at this for ages but was limited by space and so I thought, a low temperature kiln. But my AJE team mates put me right on this and persuaded me to give it a go and I'm so glad I did - it's just so much fun and I'm completely hooked and now want to try so many things in this medium...

First firing of ceramic beads...
Because my kiln limits me to low fire clays I went a bit mad and splurged on a new higher temperature one that will allow me to work with porcelain and stoneware and so I've been told, get some really exciting glaze effects. Even better - it comes with an enameling collar so that's another technique I can do more with. Only problem is I have to wait 2 weeks for it to ship from the US which is going to drive me nuts!

Paragon Caldera A
I've also been doing a bit more traditional metalwork lately, practising my long neglected soldering skills and trying out some fold forming...

Fold formed earrings available in my ETSY shop
You'll probably have seen that I got myself set up for etching a few months ago too and that's also so much fun with so many possibilities.

Etched copper vintage illustration pendants
So what you may ask, am I going to do with all these new found skills. Well as I mentioned I get bored easily and need variety to keep me focused so I'd really like to do more original and one off work with less reliance on commercial tools. I will of course be continuing with my metal clay work but will be selling other mediums alongside it and am hoping to come up with some combined offerings too. And of course, I want this to feed through to my jewellery design...I've not done a lot of that lately either but it would great to have mixed media pieces with everything made by me.

Recent bronze component work...
It's very early days yet but I'm very excited about the possibilities that lie ahead and I'm looking forward to having something to share with you here.

For now though I hope you have a great weekend in the offing with lots of creativity in the mix...

See you soon,


Wednesday 2 October 2013

Autumn Design Challenge Reveal

Welcome to the Autumn Design Challenge and Blog Hop hosted by myself and Caroline Dewison of Blueberri Beads. Today's participants will be showcasing designs made with a selection of THEA Elements and Blueberri Beads, beads and components that Caroline and I liberated from our own beads boxes and of course, we are playing along too.

So then, this is the set of Caroline's beads I kept for myself - a lovely chocolate brown puffy heart and co-ordinating beads in shades of pecan and pistachio...


I wanted to pull the heart pendant out of the group and find a bronze component to complement it and since the aim of the challenge was to use our older components I had to have a good rummage in my rather large collection that is a mish-mash of things that may be a bit flawed, a little bit fugly, experiments that didn't quite work first time around and quite frankly - some things that I have no idea as to why they are there!

I had a vague notion about doing something layered and in a single colour and eventually dug out a couple of text connectors I made way back last year and rejected because once oxidised, the text wasn't really clear enough against the textured background. It occurred to me that if I clean them up and just left the patina around the wording they might be OK... why I didn't think this at the time I don't know...maybe I did and just got distracted.

The text comes from one of my favourite poems "He wishes for the cloths of heaven" by W. B Yeats...

Had I the heaven's embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

This seemed an appropriate sentiment to combine with a heart so I cleaned one up and it did indeed come up sparkling so I attached it with linen cord so that it would act as a kind of bail. I made a beaded bronze chain with some gorgeous Czech glass beads that have a gorgeous matte bronze sheen (hard to see here but they look like rough Pyrite nougats) and finished it off with a bronze wire clasp and this is how it finished up...

I like the fact that it seems to feel quite delicate but at the same time has a sense of solidity...

So that left me with the set of beads...I was thinking that a bracelet was the way to go but I couldn't find any of my own pieces that seemed to work well for that. What I did find was a couple of last seasons leaf clasps that I thought I could maybe put to a new use. As one was green and the other orange I patinated them both in an antique bronze and strung them on waxed linen with the beads along with one of Caroline's birds and a matching bead I just happened to have in my art bead stash.

I had a hank of tiny aged seed beads that were a perfect colour match so I threaded strands of these through the clasps and plaited them together to create a loose rope. I finished off with brass bead caps and another bronze wire clasp.

The result is a lovely soft autumn hued necklace and I think the leaves look pretty good as connectors...

I had just two ceramic beads left which obviously meant the making of a pair of earrings...I found a couple of flat flower discs and dapped then into bead caps then and added a pair of dagger charms to hang from the bottom. Pretty simple but effective none the less...

So that's my offering and I hope you like the designs and will join me in visiting all the other participants using the links below... I can't wait to see what everyone's done. Many thanks to everyone who has taken part in this challenge and of course to Caroline for hosting with me and providing such lovely beads to work with.

Melissa Trudinger –