Monday 31 March 2014

AJE Component of the Month - March Reveal

Time for another AJE reveal and the component we all had to work with this month was a fantastic ceramic Luna Moth made by the lovely Caroline of Blueberri Beads...isn't it stunning?

I have to say I was a little intimidated by this lovely fella as he is rather large and I was terrified throughout that I was going to drop and break him. Now, he is obviously intended for a necklace...unless you're really into statement earrings and have very strong ears - and I decided that for me it needed to be a short one, again for safety reasons.

At first when I starting looking for accents I was struggling to come up with anything that seemed to either complement or match but, after a good rummage I found this lovely beaded bead by Malin De Koning...

The purples and golds matched my moth perfectly and I liked the way the blue beads added a little pop of contrasting colour so I decided to try and build on that. Eventually I found a selection of art beads I liked and wired them in bronze to form to different but hopefully complementary sections.

Here you can see ceramic beads from Marsha Neal, polymer clay beads from Rebekah Payne and one of my own patinated bronze rings and hooks. I also found some lovely hand dyed ribbon strings from Sowzere Designs in just the right colours which I plaited and added to the linked elements to complete the necklace - not the easiest piece to photograph but here it is...

I wasn't sure about how the lovely turquoise flower sat at first but it's kind of growing on me so I've it as is...what do you think?

I hope Caroline thinks I've done her component justice and I can't wait to see what everyone else had made with theirs. You can join me on our little blog hop using the links below.

The AJE Team
Caroline Dewison – 
Jenny Davies-Reazor -
Rebekah Payne -


Wednesday 19 March 2014

Soup's up - Double Helpings...

The Bead Soup I sent to my BSBP partner Maryse Fritzsch-Thillens in Luxembourg has arrived and I've received my mix from her so now I can reveal all...

Maryse told me she had never worked with ceramic jewellery components so I decided to build my soup around that to give her a little bit of a challenge. She also said that she loved flowers, sea greens and muted colour palettes so, after a little thinking I came up with a 'Seaside Daisy' collection...

The ceramic focal, bead set and bronze clay heart toggle clasp are my own creations and the bronze wire spiral connectors and twisted wire jump rings were hand made by Lisa Quinn. The sea green crystals and hand dyed chiffon are from Smitten Beads and the little bicone beads are Czech glass but I can't remember where I got them from.

I really like this mix as it reminds me of walking along the south west coastal path where I live in Dorset with its sandstone cliffs, deep green sea and abundance of wild flowers...

And now to the soup mix I received from Maryse - oh boy is it beautiful..? Well here it is see for yourselves...

Just look at this fabulous selection of lampwork all made by Maryse herself...isn't it glorious! I am totally in love with those little organic rocks lower left and as for the beautiful silver focal and spoilt am I!

Now anyone who knows me will be aware that I am more than a little infatuated with the ocean and beach (clue in the picture above) as a source of inspiration for my work. So I am absolutely delighted that Maryse's soup gives more than a passing nod to that theme in both it's colour and texture. In fact, I think she may secretly have been in England looking out over the Dorset coastline when she made some of these beads...
Happy with my soup..? you betcha! I already have some ideas buzzing around in my head and can't wait to clear the decks and sit down to play. Maryse, thank you so much for your wonderful gift and your generosity - If you find the soup I sent you half as inspiring I will be very happy.

See you back here for the big reveal on May 3rd.


Thursday 13 March 2014

Bead Soup off to Luxembourg...

For this year's Bead Soup Blog Party I have been partnered with Maryse Fritzsch-Thillens of Glass Bead Art, a very talented lampworker from Luxembourg. I've just sent my soup parcel off to Maryse so I obviously can't show you it in all it's glory but here's a little tease just to get you thinking...

I made most of this mix myself so I do hope she likes it...

Maryse makes the most wonderful organic beads and I can't wait to get my parcel from Luxembourg and see what she's sent me. If they're half as beautiful as these examples of her work I'll be more than happy...

You can see more of Maryse's work at her Etsy shop and find out more about her from her blog.

Once my parcel has arrived at its destination I'll be back to show you what I sent Maryse and maybe give you a peek at the beads I received before I start working with them.

See you then.


Monday 10 March 2014

Image Conscious - Watermarking Photographs...

With all the awful stories about people finding their own photographic images on other peoples sites I've long been thinking that it's time I did something about watermarking the thousands of images I take. I'm a bit of a Luddite when it comes to techie things so I always put them off and when I do bite the bullet it usually turns out to be simpler that I thought - and this was no exception.

If like me you don't have existing soft ware to deal with this then there are number applications available online - many advertised as free although this generally seems to be for a trial period or with very limited capabilities.

I started of with a free trial for an application called Visual Watermark which seemed very simple to use and had everything I need - particularly batch processing, so I eventually bought the app for a one off payment of £18/$29.99 which considering the amount of photographs I take didn't see too bad. I'm not one for comparing and trying a whole host of apps - once I find one that does what I want I tend to go for it and stick with it. If you want to shop around a bit more there are a few links at the bottom of this post that might be useful.

So now I had the means to add watermarks to my photos I had to think about what I actually wanted them to look like. I wanted it to be more than just a simple name but I don't really have a logo for my brand because I dabble with so many things that it's hard to come up with a defined and representative image. At this point the lovely Caroline Dewison (who is definitely a tech head) offered to convert an image to a line drawing that would be suitable for a watermark so I started going through pictures to see if anything jumped out.

I kept coming back to this favourite image of one of my most popular lines from last autumn.

I revamped my business cards recently and used a cropped version of tis image on the back of them and, since a lot of my work is influenced by nature I thought maybe a stylised version of this would be a good representation and give me a cohesive feeling to my branding.

So Caroline got to work and came up with numerous images starting with a line drawing that highlighted the veining of the leaves in the image and then this blocked version.

However, when used in the small sizes required for the watermark they lost definition and looked a bit fuzzy so she smoothed out the edges and simplified the design to this.

I really like the clarity and simplicity of the lines so this is what I've decided to go with and now I'm happily playing with it in Visual Watermark to see how and where it works best. I personally don't think watermarks that go across the subject matter are appropriate when the image is intended to sell and can be off putting so, it needs to be positioned in such a way as to be noticeable but not obtrusive and close enough not to be simply cropped out.

As you can see the watermark can be moved, sized and rotated as required and I think for it to be most effective I might need to think a bit more about the placement of my products for photography than I currently do. I like where it's going though and will continue to play around and test fonts and transparency until I come up with the perfect fit.

If you are looking to do something similar these are a few links I came across during my investigations which as I said may be of use - although I haven't tried them so can't vouch for them.