Saturday, 31 January 2015

AJE 'Use Your Stash' Challenge Reveal.

Instead of our usual AJE component of the month we decided to change thing up this month and challenge ourselves to break into our art bead stashes and design something around a piece (or two, or three...) by one of our team mates. We also gave away some pieces for guest designers and we are joined by some of our readers who have also raided their collections for AJE beads.

My original plan was to make something for every member of the team but what with the madness that January has been that turned out to be wishful thinking but, I did manage to make five pieces. I'm going through a bit of a 'less is more' phase at the moment and I've kept all my design fairly simple to let the focal pieces shine.

First up is a necklace using a mixed media focal I got from Melissa Meman in a swap at Bead Fest last year. This handmade copper bezel is set with a vintage butterfly illustration set in resin with silver loops and I think it's utterly charming.

A good rummage turned up some lampwork and Czech glass beads the matched perfectly some metal dipped Greek ceramic beads to continue the mixed metal theme. These were all put together with my favourite double link chain from The artisan Bead Company, some silver jumps and a little silver clasp I made. A Thai silver flower charm and some Czech leaves suspended from the bottom of the focal add a final flourish. I'm really happy with this as it's just the sort of thing I would wear.

My second design is a pair of earrings using beads made by Jen Cameron, very simply wire wrapped in sterling silver with chain fringing and hand made ear wires. I patinated these with LOS (liver of sulphur) and left them quite dark to give a cool, steely and elegant appearance but they're a bit of a pain to photograph.

Next up I chose a ceramic feather focal set by Karen Totten. I love Karen's beads and usually all I want to do with them is hang them on a simple leather cord or chain because they convey so much on their own. In this case I wire wrapped the set in copper and suspended it from a necklace strung with toning seed beads interspersed with textured copper beads and finished with a hand forged clasp.

There is an added bonus with this piece as it can be worn standard length with a double strand or long with a single strand and the round bead has a different pattern on each side - four for the price of one!

This next pair of earrings came about from a fortuitous meeting of beads while I was pulling things out to decide what to make. Kristen Steven's beaded beads landed next to Sue Kennedy's lampwork headpins and perfectly accented the reactive glass striations. A bit of wire wrapping and some hand made ear wires and job done.

Last but not least is a longer length necklace using a ceramic vessel bead by Caroline Dewison. I've started designing with this a couple of times but never got it to work properly. I think my current mood for keeping things simple and streamlined helped with this one as this focal really does speak for itself. I wrapped copper wire around the neck of the vessel to create a bail, wrapped a couple of toning lampwork beads and attached these to some ball chain.

Just to add a bit of textural variation I added what I thought were solid copper crimp covers at points along the chain but after tumbling I discovered these were fact copper plated brass. Hey ho - these things happen.

So there you go - I got six of my team mates in and I'm aiming to pay tribute the rest of them in the near future - thanks to each and every one of you for your awesome talent. I hope you'll now join me on our little blog hop to see what everyone else has made using the links below.


AJE team: 

Guests winners
Samantha- Wescott Jewelry
Nikki - Silver Nik nats
Yvette - Blue Kiln Beads

Extra guests


  1. I love each and every piece, I am totally in awe at how perfectly neat your wire work always is! Every design is just beautiful!

  2. Love what you've done with my vessel, that was exactly what I imagined happening with it when I made it!
    Love all of your designs, but especially the piece with Karen's feather, it's really striking.

  3. All of your pieces are wonderful.

  4. All beautiful designs. I love how you accented the butterfly focal, and along with Nicky above, I'm just in awe of your wire work! I have one of Karen's feather focal beads, and I really need to make it into a necklace so I can wear it!

  5. Hi Lesley your less is more approach is really working. All of your pieces are lovely. My favorite is Karen's feather but it was hard to pick because I liked them all.

  6. You really made the artisan beads shine in your creations! Each piece is really lovely and unique. I especially love the necklace you created with Karen Totten's feather pendant set. Both the beautiful color combination and versatility of it being worn single or double strand is brilliant!

  7. Beautiful makes here Lesley I enjoyed doing this and hope you like what I did with one of your components :D
    Christine Xx

  8. Love it all Lesley! But especially the Kristen/Sue earrings and the vessel necklace. Fantastic!

  9. Wow. What a diverse and gorgeous collection.

    I love the joyful color harmonies of the first pendant.

    The silver on silver in the earrings was a joy to experience.

    I am crazy about the textural harmonies you achieved in the feather necklace.

    The texture play in the KS/SK piece is quite wonderful.

    The classic simplicity of the vessel necklace was a joy to behold.

  10. Wow! Less is definitely more when each part of the designs speak to you. Beautiful work. If I had to choose a favorite, it would have to be the feather necklace.

  11. Your less is more philosophy worked great on all of these beautiful pieces!

  12. Less is definitely more! All your pieces are absolutely wonderful!

  13. Beautiful work as always Lesley!! I am especially fond of both pair of earrings and the necklace you made using Caroline's Vessel. Gorgeous!

  14. Absolutely stunning work, Lesley. Every single one of these is perfect. The necklace with Karen's feather is my fav, but I really like all of them.

  15. Love the designs, all of them. I really like the design with my feather. Just stunning. :)

  16. I love your style sooo much! All your designs are so stunning. These are cute and stylish in the same time.

  17. Hmm. so many things to say. I adore the pod necklace. Boom. Adore the pod itself, and the simple chain with brass accents. Ahem.
    The Sue/Kristen earrings - perfection. I love it when a piece designs itself!
    I always want to do a double strand necklace, but if its too heavy I find in uncomfortable. I think your with Karens bead look perfect. Love it all.

  18. While I can understand the disappointment of thinking you had solid copper bead covers, I actually love the brass with the copper ball chain and that pod. Looks awesome. And I'm with you on the simplicity thing. I personally prefer simpler pieces. I totally love that first necklace with Melissa's resin pendant. Of course I love what you did with my beads. I love how you can convert the necklace using Karen's feather. 4 ways even! The Sue/Kristen earrings are gorgeous.

  19. Very pretty - you found the perfect accompaniments for each of the focals. I LOVE that Karen Totten feather pendant!

  20. Ooooo I love love all of your pieces! The 'vessel' necklace is awesome...and my fav is the butterfly necklace...truly a sign that Spring is near!

  21. I just realized I didn't get to comment on this CoM! Fantastic! Every single thing you made is perfect! The necklace with Karen's ceramic is perfect as is the Caroline vessel! Thanks for showing off my headpins with Kristen's beaded beads, and the resin pendant necklace is beautiful! As are the Jen earrings!


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