Saturday 31 October 2015

Ravens - AJE October Themed Challenge Reveal

This month our usual Component of the month makes way for a themed challenge chosen by Karen Totten. The symbolism and mythology surrounding Ravens is broad and varied and crosses many cultures. If you would like some more insight Karen's original post looks at the Native America perspective while Jenny's recent post looks at Ravens in Celtic mythology.

I hadn't intended to follow any particular cultural viewpoint but I did revisit the Edgar Allan Poe's poem 'The Raven' before I started...I had several ideas for challenge pieces and they do all seem to have something of a Gothic feel to them. Most of them are also works in progress rather than the complete article.

My first piece came about through the fortunate Bead Fest purchase of this gorgeous porcelain cabochon by Joan Miller which I decided to bead bezel. To really make the beautiful bird pop I kept to very dark colours with matt beads to reflect the matt black glaze, highlighted by beads with that oil-slick appearance you see on the plumage of black birds and red beads to pull in the background. The result was this 'cameo in negative' like appearance which I am really pleased with. I've called it 'Nevermore' from the poem.

I've been trying for a while to turn this into a necklace but as yet I haven't been able to decide how to do it. I love how these blood red pearls work with the pendant but it seemed somehow too simple to use them alone. Ribbons, silk and chain came out and I still couldn't come up with the right combination. Black lace has been in at the back of my mind all along but I kind of discounted it for being too obvious... but now I'm thinking I might have to go get some and give it a go if only to prove myself right! Otherwise it will sit in its project tray until the perfect idea strikes.

I'd just started my foray into felting when this challenge was launched and when I found this next pendant by Jenny Davies-Reazor in my stash I thought it would be a good subject for a non-jewellery piece. I love the shape of the pendant and the way it evokes the view from a castle window or some such. I bead bezelled the pendant onto beading foundation and then did a little experiment by needle felting directly onto it. This is a very small piece - maybe three inches square and the technique seemed to work although I'm not sure the foundation would stand up to the needle felting on a larger scale.  A few beads for added interest, a silk string to hang from and a backing of ultra suede completed my first miniature art piece.

Ravens (who will feed on carrion) are often depicted sitting on human skulls and have associations with warrior goddesses and battlefields in Celtic and Irish mythology (see Jenny's post for more info). While this may seem a little macabre skulls are actually symbolic of courage, death and rebirth and amongst the many ideas the Raven symbolises are birth and freedom.

I wanted to have a go at interpreting this aspect of the Raven in ceramic clay but haven't had a chance to work in this medium of late so I decide to try it out in polymer clay. I don't have the greatest skills as a sculptor so this pendant is a little naive and clumsy but it's a starting point and I may well pursue it in porcelain where I find it easier to achieve a more detailed finish.

    Last up is a mixed media piece called 'The Night Watch" which combines wet and needle felting with polymer clay and bead embellishment. I'd recently completed a piece using these materials and it got me really fired up so this was the ideal theme to explore it further. The rather dramatic backdrop of the moonlit sky silhouetted by trees was created by wet felting and then defined with needles. The moon and sky are embellished with seed beads and the Raven, made from polymer clay is embellished and attached to the backdrop using tiny seed beads. The beads are actually a dark oily blue rather than the silver they appear and are an absolute nightmare to photograph! This piece is not quite finished yet...the trees need a little something extra to lift the texture but I'm liking where it's going thus far.

    So there you have my interpretations of our Raven theme and I hope you enjoyed you can use the links below to see what the other AJE team and guest participants have come up with it...I know there are some great designs to see.

    Art Jewelry Elements Team:
    Jenny Davies-Reazor
    Phantasm Creations
    Caroline Dewison
    Linda Landig
    Niky Sayers
    Jen Cameron

    Our Guest Bloggers:
    An Ordinary Miracle Day
    Linda Newnham
    Michelle McEnroe
    Sarajo Wentling
    The Copper Cat
    The Paisley Lizard

    Thank you



    1. Wow Lesley, you have been so productive. I love and admire all of your pieces and reading about where your inspiration came from. You are a very talented lady.

      Linda x

    2. Beautiful work, I love the Victorian gothic feel to your raven cab. The beads are gorgeous, but I think the felting is my favourite of the bunch... it's stunning!

    3. Oh, wow what beautiful pieces! I love what you did with Joan Miller's cab, it's just beautiful and I think it will be such a stunning necklace! Your polymer Raven is brilliant I really it! But oh my, I am really loving seeing your felted pieces! That last one has such a dark and magical feel to it and I love how you use the seed beads!!!

    4. I what you created with the Miller cab. It is a stunning necklace! I love the colors in it and the pearls are to die for with it.

    5. You are so talented in an ever-growing array of media. The way you've combined felting with the art beads is spectacular. I have no idea why you think your sculpting skills aren't the greatest. I look forward to seeing how you finish the first piece. I do that sometimes as well - spread a bunch of possible components out and still not find what's quite right. I'm sure it will come together into something as stunning as the rest of your pieces.

    6. So much good stuff here, Lesley! I really like where you are going with your raven and skull pendant... and I look forward to seeing what you pull off in ceramic clay. That last art piece is just stunning! Thanks for sharing all that you've been up to with us.

    7. Wow, such a wonderful array of raven-y goodness! I love 'The Night Watch' so much! I'd love to try my hand at felting and bead embroidery - the effects are just stunning :) xx

    8. I love how you bezeled Joan Millers cab...your choice of beads are a perfect compliment to her design. I hope your necklace comes together, those pearls are so yummy! Your excitement in learning new techniques and combining mediums really shows in your new work, I love it all!

    9. What a treat to see your raven interpretations -- which are ALL MARVELOUS! I especially like the mixed medial piece, so expressive and evocative. I hope you do more pieces in this style :-)

    10. Nevermore shall you say tour sculpting skills aren't up to snuff.
      You know I love them all - each one more than the last. And its exciting to see your ideas evolve from this summer!

    11. Each of these are stunning and it was fun to see how your ideas developed and were influenced. I love the colors you used with Joan's cab. I didn't know about the association of ravens and skulls, so I found that interesting. Your last piece is my favorite. You really rocked this theme!

    12. Everything just plain blows my mind!!!

    13. All are lovely, I really like the raven cab.

    14. Wow - those are stunning!! What soulful and beautiful works of art you've created! Amazing!


    Don't be shy - join in with the gossip...