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

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Art Bead Scene Challenge March

Hello lovely people!

I hope you are well and have been enjoying the first days of Spring.  The weather here in Brighton has been very typically British - rain, sun, rain, sun, rain, sun and repeat...  We had a terrific storm here over the weekend that uprooted trees and de-roofed some houses, but between the bluster we have been enjoying some actual warm sunshine!

The art work chosen for the March Art Bead Scene Challenge certainly has a hint of spring about it.  The soft warm colours and wonderful use of light suggests that first warm day when the windows are thrown open to air out the staleness of winter.  The pussy willow branches in their tall glass are full of grace and the hope for new life.

The colours in this painting, warm blue punctuated with purples, greens and yellows, reminded me of a wonderful lampwork bead by Mindy MacGregor of Moogin (aren't they always wonderful?).  I wanted to create a beaded tassel evoking the pussy willow braches to go with it, using blue lace agate and chain.  However the design didn't quite end up pussy willowish - I tried several combinations to capture the look, but it just wouldn't quite sit right!  I still ended up with a tassel, and I think it still evokes Spring and the essence of this picture.

This necklace ended up being made almost entirely from gemstone beads - the jewel tones in that gorgeous beads just matched them perfectly.  There is blue lace agate, peridot, amethyst and prehnite used here, with some copper accents and a little spotty lampwork spacer from my stash (unfortunately I can't remember the artist).

I'm pretty happy with the final result!  Not so happy with my photography skills though - if anyone has tips on photographing long necklaces I would be very grateful!

Thank you for visiting, please take a moment to check out the other challenge entries here at ABS!

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Art Jewelry Elements Raven Reveal

Hello and welcome to the Art Jewelry Elements Raven Reveal!

I have to say I love the idea of this seasonal challenge - it's a great opportunity to give your creativity a bit of a workout!  I totally fell in love with Autumn's inspiration, the raven, a bird steeped in mystery and mythology the world over.

For my raven design I decided to tackle one of by biggest beading fears head on - knotting!  I've had terrible trouble with it in the past and everything I tried turned out a bit lumpy and wrong.  But I purchased a 100 meter spool of black Irish waxed linen and practiced practiced practiced!

I made the raven pendant from copper sheet, heavily patina-ed with liver of sulphur.  I didn't realise when I was tracing, cutting the template and sawing that the raven I was basing this on had a missing feather!  I only realised when I was looking at it in my hand wondering why it looked slightly wonky - I think it adds charm though.  I also mussed up the protective spray lacquer a bit - I brought some new stuff and I am not particularly impressed with it!  Anyone have any suggestions for a good sealant that can easily be found in the UK?  Any way long story short the chap will be staying with me.  What. A. Shame :P

He's joined by a fabulous ammonite bead I purchased recently, a lampwork bead by The Fyre Faerie, a white ceramic round from Grubbi and plenty of Czech glass is autumnal reds and yellows.

I think this knotting thing might catch on :)

I hope you have enjoyed visiting me here and that you will hop on over to see what the other participants have created for this wonderful challenge!

Art Jewelry Elements Team:

Guest Bloggers:

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Art Bead Scene October Challenge

You want to know something sad?  I've previously produced two piece of jewellery inspired by the Art Bead Scenes monthly challenges, but I wigged out on posting them both times!  It was a combination of nerves an laziness I think - probably heavily weighted towards the latter.

But this month I've actually managed to complete a piece and post it!  Probably because the inspirational image was one close to my heart, this beautiful depiction of the ancient Egyptian goddess Ma'at from the tomb of queen Nefertari.

Now I luuuuurve me some Egypt!  I instantly go to thinking of the wonderful gemstones often uncovered in undisturbed tombs.  Some of the pieces of jewellery are just stunning.

I combined lapis lazuli - a stone famously prized by the Egyptians - with carnelian and turquoise to give a rich jewel-toned pallet.  To these were added some fabulous ceramic drops by the much loved Petra of Scorched Earth and some smashing lampwork beads by Pebble Dreams.  Together they form this long, luscious lariat - a real statement piece that would look fab with a long black party gown.

Gotta love those colours!

And just in case your curious, here is one of the other pieces I have created based on an Art Bead Scene Monthly Challenge.  Can you guess which month its's from?

Both of these pieces can be found in my Etsy shop.

Happy creating people and bring on the next challenge!