Monday, 29 May 2017

Art Elements Component of the Month May

I must have gad my crazy hat on when I entered for the chance to join the Art Elements Component of the Month challenge for this Month.  I am currently in the middle of moving out of my house on Wednesday and preparing to go travelling in less than two weeks!  I will be flying out to Bangkok on the 10th of June so the last month has been pretty hectic.

Just look at these delicious pendants by Lesley Watt though, they're enough to make you go a littl crazy...

I was of course super stoked to win the draw for one of these beauts, but finding enough time to get a design together was a bit of a stretch!  I went with a simple strung design in the end, playing with the delicious natural colours in the pendants glaze.  I had a half a set of lampwork beads by Judith Billig that displayed just the right tones.  Some Czech glass, carved bone and Bali-style copper came together to create this rustic, sea-side toned design.

Please excuse my poor hasty photography!

Normally I would spend a little more time finessing the design, moving beads about a bit and getting the flow right.  I'll be taking this to Asia with me along with a not-so-little travel beading kit I have put together, so I'll probably be finishing this off on a tropical beach somewhere - seems appropriate!

Many thanks to the Art Elements team for giving me this opportunity to join in with their fun challenge one last time before I head off!  I hope you will visit the other participants and enjoy seeing what they have made :)

Sunday, 19 February 2017

The Best of British Beads ~ Josephine Wadman

Sometimes being a English jewellery maker can be a little frustrating.  A quick etsy search or a scroll through facebook groups for artisan beads often brings up reams of wonderful components that I'm enthralled by, only to find they are far, far away in America.  Unfortunately this means that, at least for me, these fabulous items are more or less locked away behind a paywall!

Ridiculous shipping costs and import taxes (and an £8 processing fee? really??) combined with the recent Brexit-driven slump in the pound make buying American beads very difficult for a part-time jewellery maker such as myself.  And with the UK likely to pull out of the EU single market and customs union, it's possible that European beads will soon carry a similar tax burden.

But not to fear!  Hidden amongst the out of reach treasures are fantastic artisan components made right here on British soil.  This is the first of what I hope will be a mini series of blog posts highlighting some of my favourite British bead makers.  Over the years I have discovered many extraordinarily talented ladies working in glass, metal and clay to create miniature works of art for us jewellery designers to play with and I am very, very grateful indeed!

First up is a lampwork bead maker who fulfils my need for crustiness in my bead collection.  Josephine Wadman of Josephine Wadman Designs mostly sells her wonderful beads through facebook groups.  It took me a while to get into this method of buying beads (I'm now hooked), and a strand of orphans from Josephine was the first set I ever brought via this method. Many of those beads were used in this bracelet (the creamy coloured ones) along with further lampwork by Calisto Beads and The Fyre Faerie.  Look at the scrumptious urchin bead in the front!

Available on Etsy!
I really loved the rustic feel of these beads and soon went back for more, including the wonderfully pitted rustic ring and bicone beads in this necklace, which also sports a ceramic spike by Petra of Scorched Earth (hopefully up next in this British bead series!).

Available on Etsy! 
And finally here is a pair of earrings, made  with beautiful blue beads that remind me of the sky, accented with colourful flowers, as is my wont :)

Available on Etsy!
I hope you agree that Josephine's beads are just scrumptious!  Please go check out more of her work at the following venues:


Thank you for reading and I hope to hear from you soon!

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Art Bead Scene Challenge January

One of my resolutions for growing my jewellery business this year is to start playing along with the Art Bead Scene monthly challenges every month as far as it is possible.  This year they have made everything a little easier by producing a very handy booklet/ work book which you can find here.  Looking through the selected artwork is a pleasure, and I look forward to creating my challenge pieces as the year progresses.

January's art work is Field of Flowers by Egon Schiele:

Although this fiery end of the spectrum often has me stumped, the inclusion of some earthy greens and the floral motif gave me the starting points for my design.

Find them here on Etsy
In my art bead stash I had a pair of beautiful crusty lampwork bicones in a perfect olive green.  These are from one of my favourite UK bead makers, Josephine Wadman.  I have so many of her beads!

I created flower and leaf beaded tassels to go with them, and added some of my favourite copper bead caps to finish the look.

Find them here on Etsy

I really like this style and plan to make a couple more earring pairs pairing lampwork beads and flower tassels, so if you like this design then watch this space!

If you would like to see some other designs inspired by this bright, joyous painting, please pop over to the ABS monthly challenge Pinterest board to have a gander.  It will be well worth the visit!

Friday, 20 January 2017

Back In The Swing of Things!

So, the second half of 2016 was pretty rubbish for me.  It started with the Brexit referendum result, which I was not all too pleased with - I dislike the corporate, bureaucratic structure of the EU but don't believe this is the right time or way to leave.

I then went on to break my foot, be unpleasantly forced to move house due to my ex-landlord's incompetence and lose my grandma and a close family friend all with in a few months.  Not great and not conducive to getting jewellery work done!  Especially as I was without an internet connection for quite a while (excuses, excuses excuses ;)

I am pretty glad to see the back of 2016 to say the least!  Roll on 2017 and hopefully much brighter days.  I am resolved to push forward and make improvements in both my personal life and my jewellery making ventures.  As such I have set myself some goals for this year including:
  • Boosting my Etsy inventory to at least 60 items
  • Building my social media profile
  • Finding alternative venues to sell my jewellery
  • Developing my metal-working skills
  • Improving my photography
  • Getting a piece of work published
I have been very productive so far this year and hope to reach my first goal by mid-February.  Earrings seem to be a good way to go for this challenge, they are quick to produce and are great for experimenting with new colours and techniques.

Here are a few of my latest creations to round out the post :)

Featuring lampwork beads and ceramic decal components from Scorched Earth.
Find them on Etsy here!
Lampwork discs by Helen Chalmers and ceramic drops from Scorched Earth.
Find them on Etsy here!
Lampwork beads by Rob Johnson, ceramic decal components from Scorched Earth.
Find them on Etsy here!
Thanks for visiting and I hope to see you again soon!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Sherri Stokey's Summer Starfish Shindig

I have been a massive fan of Sherri Stokey's fabulous macrame work for years - I will never understand how she manages to tie so many perfect little knots!.  Her blog was one of the first I started following way back when I first discovered the art jewellery community.

Sherri has a wonderful colour-sense which is evident throughout her work, so when she announced a wee colour based challenge on the Love My Art Jewelry blog I was eager to participate.  Her chosen palette is one perfect for summer - a seascape of colours representing sun, sand and see.  Here is the inspiration photo she provided, don't you love those wee fish beads?

And here is what I have created for the challenge:

Apologies for the slightly cruddy photography - I snapped these in a very rushed 5 minutes this morning!
I had so much fun with this one!  The pendant is supposed to be vaguely reminiscent of a fish - can you see it?  The body is made up of a wonderful rustic lampwork oval by Judith Billig which I have been hoarding for a long ole time!  It is joined by a wonderful crusty bicone from Josephine Wadman, an aged bone disc and a funky triangular bead by Julie Burgard of Outwest for the tail.  Such a wonderful selection from some very talented ladies!

I pulled out a selection of tiny beads to match Sherri's colour palette - Czech glass, wee metal spacers and a selection of wood, bone and shell beads I have recently scavenged from charity shop finds (one of my favourite activities).  These little treasures got knotted up into a long and variegated tassel - the larger beads in the center include more Czech glass, copper, scavenged bone and a pretty agate drop bead that was a right pain to get the cords through!

I think this will be staying with me - I just can't bear to part with that bead of Judith's - it's been with me for such a long time!  I will certainly be making more pendants like though - knotting is my new love :)

I really enjoyed creating for this challenge - I hope you have equally enjoyed joining me here to read about it!

Don't forget to visit Sherri and Love My Art Jewelry to check out more wonderful creations from the other participants :)

Monday, 13 June 2016

Well why does it have to be so dang fancy?

Dear Muse,

Thank you, so much, for all the inspiration you give me.  My life would be a dismal thing if I wasn't blessed with your gift of creativity.  You song flows into my ears and through my veins and out of my fingers to create objects of beauty that have brought myself and others much joy.

But I have to ask, dear Muse, why does it have to be so dang fancy?

Seriously, the ideas you inspire me with are full of colour and movement and grace.  They are beautiful and tactile and they just take too much blooming time to make.  I mean seriously:

Do you know how long it took me to make this darn thing?  Like, seven hours, that's right, seven. whole. hours.  And yes, it was an enjoyable seven hours, though I got to sleep at two in the morning and had to get up a seven (what have I told you about school nights Muse?).  And yes, I am very pleased with the resulting necklace.

But my potential customers aren't going to be impressed with the final price, my dear.  All those hours add up to a lot of pennies, and not everyone wants to fork out a fortune on a whim!  You're giving me some difficult price points here my dear!

So please, next time I ask you for a simple pendant, a nice, humble and unpretentious recipe I can make quickly and price reasonably, don't give me a three layered fancy confection that costs more than a fortnights worth of food!


Perhaps a couple of nice, low priced, sell-able earring designs would be possible?  Or perhaps some simple, affordable  bracelets??  I'm sure your awesome creative powers must stretch that far - just strip away several dozen unnecessary steps and you'll be right on track.

You know I adore you, and I do truly appreciate all of your gifts, but reign it in a little will you?

With much love and respect,

Your Beleaguered Artist Jess

Do you ever have this kind of issue with your work?  Every time I sit down to create something I seem to come up with big fancy pieces - generally necklaces - which come out of the pricing machine with pretty steep price tags.

Now I do love creating this kind of work - it's good to have a piece you think has the 'wow' factor - but the truth is that most buyers don't want to fork out large sums.  I think my shop and sales are suffering due to the lack of more affordable items.  Earrings and especially bracelets, smaller items that are likely to cost much less, don't come all that easily to me, and if I try and force it my fickle Muse often deserts me all together.

But this is something I have to get over - if I want to have a successful jewellery business, then I need to provide goods that will appeal to people with sensible budgeting skills.  £80 or more is a lot to shell out - especially when the seller isn't very well established, like me.

So I have an aim for the next few weeks - to eschew the usual big fancy necklaces and focus on making a number of smaller pendants that can be hung from leather cord or a simple chain.  Maybe some earrings too, maybe even a bracelet - if I can get my head around bracelet sizes and the weighting or durability issues I always seem to run into.

As part of this effort I've ordered myself a spool of Irish waxed linen cord.  I've been pretty baffled by it so far - all my attempts to use it (about three) have been a bit disastrous.  However wire-wrapping does take a lot of time, which pushes up prices.  I love the wrapped look but I think knotting may give me a good way to cut costs - and I really rate a lot of the jewellery I see made this way.  That necklace above?  Totally doable on cord instead and it would probably take half the time!

So I'm gonna do it folks, I'm gonna fill that lower price bracket!

Wish me luck and watch this space!

Peace y'all ;)

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Art Jewelry Elements - April Amulets Reveal

Hello and welcome to my corner of the blog-o-sphere!

Today I am very happy to be taking part in the Art Jewelry Elements Component of the Month blog hop.  I've been lucky enough to join in with a couple of these over the years, and as always it has been a joy working with the wonderful components made by members of the AJE team.

This month's component is rather splendid and a little unusual - a rustic polymer clay amulet pendant made by the very talented Jenny Davies-Reazor:

Picture stolen from AJE as I forgot to take a snap of the bead on its own...
The amulet was waiting for me when I got back from my holiday in Portugal, I had jetted off for a week to celebrate my 30th birthday!  I also spent a weekend camping with my friends in the luscious Dorset countryside - so overall it was a very good birthday indeed.

I received the teal-y toned amulet with the yellow flowers. It's very beautifully made with lots of little details, script and the little flowers and a wonderful application of colour.  It has a wonderful feel to it as well.

There was also a little pile of bead purchases awaiting my return from Portugal.  Included was a smashing set of rustic disc beads from Julie of Indian Creek Art Glass that featured a teal that was a wonderful colour match for Jenny's amulet- I knew the two had to go together somehow...

Many beads contended for the position between the disc and the amulet, in the end I chose this lovely lampwork bicone from Angelika of Calisto.  I added some beaded tassels to finish the pendant off - the beads are mostly Czech glass but the burgandy ones are pearls - such a pain finding four pearls with holes big enough the fit the waxen linen thread!

I will admit this design need a little refinement - I'm not very experienced in working with the leather cord I have used here.  After a bit of experimentation this set up worked out best, but as you can see in the photos it's still a little wonky, so I'll definitely be working on it some more.  If some you more experienced designers have any tips I'd very much appriate them!

I hope you've enjoyed visiting me here as part of this hop. Please visit the other blogs if you haven't already, I'm sure there are many treats in store!

Marsha of Marsha Neal Studio
Alison of Alison Adorns
Jess of The Copper Cat <-you are here!
Brooke from Artistic Endeavors