Monday, 31 December 2012

AJE December Component of the Month Reveal

Hello fellow blog hoppers and welcome to the reveal for Art Jewelry Elements component of the month design challenge :)

I'm not going to be able to write much as I am in a bit of a rush to get everything sorted for the party tonight (woohoo!).  As a quick reminder the December components were these awesome ceramic labyrinth pendants by Jenny Davies-Reazor:

I was really very lucky to be a winner!  And even more lucky to receive the pendant that really caught my eye, the lovely dusky coral colour piece seen center-top :)

Unfortunately my original design plans for the pendant were scuppered by a should-have-seen-it-coming failure on behalf of the British postal system.  I had wanted to try using some lovely suede strips I found, but sadly they never arrived.  It kind of set me back a bit but in the end I just grabbed some beads and some wire and this is what I came out with:

I went for an asymmetric design using picture jasper rounds, picasso jasper rondelles and some contrasting bird-egg blue Czech picasso beads.  I think those little faceted beads might be some of my new favourites, shame I used up all but two I received in the sample pack I brought!  And that sadly I have been banned from buying beads until January pay day!

Anyway, I need to go get myself ready to head off to Surbiton, so please have fun hopping around the other participants blogs to see what wonders they have come up with :)

This months guests of honour:

Jess Green (that's me!)

And participating AJE team members: 

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Give Away and a Half from The Gossiping Goddess

If you have somehow made it to this blog today you should immediately leave! 

And jump over to The Gossipping Goddess, where Lesley is hosting a wonderful give away.  You can win either this pretty smashing owl necklace:

Or these rather inspiring leafy components:

So go show your support for Lesley, and be in with a chance of winning some beautiful booty too!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Moxious Moss

Hey, haven't had a chance to write on here in a while, I guess this whole blogging escapade is getting off to a pretty slow start!  But the hectic Christmas preparations have caught up with me and I have had little time during the day to take photos, and you need daylight for good photos.  Especially if you're like me and your total lack of photo taking skills mean you need all the natural help you need.  We've been quite lucky to have plenty of sunshine around the last few days, and some absolutely stunning frost cover in the mornings.  Well, lucky if you don't count the constant biting cold!

I thought I would post up a couple of pieces I have made recently that have helped in quite severely depleting my favourite strand of beads; some cheap old 'rustic' moss agate rondelles I picked up on eBay for about £4.  They are very 'rustic' and not at all even, but I kinda love that.  I like the look of rustic, earthy jewellery.  Moss agate is one of my favourite stones, I love the rich green and the intricate organic looking inclusions often have me squinting at each individual little bead so I can marvel at their unique patterns.  Oh and I looooove rondelles, seriously, I need to stop buying them and make way for some other shaped beads!

Anyway enough waffle, here you go:

Woohoo, rubbish photography skills FTW!
This necklace is actually one of the first pieces I made when I recently picked up the pliers again, and I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.  My making frenzy was preceded by the usual bead buying frenzy, and the lovely ceramic pendant/ connector shown here is one I received as a thank you freebie from Bo Hulley Beads (thanks Bo!)  The dalmatian jasper rounds were the last few survivors of a sample pack I brought years ago.  I wanted to keep the design simple as it's really just a way to show off a fab pendant.  Oh, and to practice wrapped loops, hadn't done those in a while.  I'm sure it never used to take that long??!!

But seriously I LOVE these beads:

I don't love my messy wire-wrapping quite so much...
Second up is this bracelet I made last night:

The Leaf dangles on this are a bit wobbly.  I'm just going to call them 'rustic'.
This was basically an exercise in using brass wire.  I ordered some in recently as I've seen some absolutely brilliant pieces in brass and wanted to have a play.  From what I can tell it's slightly harder than copper, and err... it sounds more 'jingly'(?)  It's good to have another colour to play with wire-wise. I brought a few brass bead caps as well, they're from Smitten Beads who has a lovely selection.  The tulip cap dangles are very similar to the ones on my Challenge of Colour bracelet; I have a feeling those are going to crop up quite often in my work for a while as I love the look of them!  The rounds used in this bracelet are snowflake jasper and picture jasper.  Gotta love the earthy tones and intricate patterns jaspers display, they are my favourite beads to buy at the moment and I'm building up quite a collection. 

Hopefully I will have a chance to take more photos and blog again soon!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Oh My, I Do Believe I'm Hopping Mad!

Well, Erin's wonderful Challenge of Color hop is over and it was such a great experience!  Having never put up my jewellery for scrutiny by the general public before, I was quite nervous as to what the outcome would be.  What a silly sausage!  I've been following the artisan jewellery scene for a while now so I should know how lovely you all are :)

Many, many thanks for all the  wonderful comments you left me, it was really touching to have such amazing feed back from you all.  I almost shed a tear!  I feel I might have to do some kind of penance for the amount of pride I felt seeing something  I have made displayed alongside all the fantastic pieces my hopping companions produced.  I really am looking forward too participating in the community even more as I start getting my jewellery making feet under me again, and I'm sure there will be many wonderful new friends to be made along the way.

In fact I will be jumping right back in again, because I have been lucky enough to win one of five fabulous labyrinth inspired pendants over at Art Jewelry Elements!  Check them out!

My stomach did a massive flip when I read that I would soon  have one of these little bits of art by Jenny Davies-Reazor winging my way.  I have often admired her work and am truly honoured by this chance to add a little slice of her art to my own designs. I won't know exactly which one I will receive but I'm buzzing with ideas already!  Please take a moment to read Jenny's thoughts behind her choice of imagery if you haven't already - it's a lovely message that ring true for many of us as we look forward to the new year ahead.

Blog hop date is the 31st of December, I look forward to seeing you all then!

Much love!

P.S.  Does anyone else find it strange that Blogger's own spell check doesn't recognise the word 'Blog'?

Friday, 30 November 2012

Challenge of Colour Blog Hop Reveal :)

Welcome to the Challenge of Colour* Blog Hop! 

*Edit, now with new and improved photo!*

So today is the big day!  I had planned to write a proper post a bit later after work - I didn't finish my piece until late last night so I haven't had a chance to write up properly!  But looking through the list quite a few peeps have their pieces up already, so I'm going to do I half post just so anyone who pops through won't think I'm a git :) 

I'm a little nervous about this - I have never done anything like it before!

As you may know we challenge participants are given two colour palettes to chose from, which were put together by the lovely Brandi of BrandiGirlBlog, using satellite photos of our little planet from Earth As Art.  Of the two I was given I chose to use the image on the Demini River, it is my absolute favourite colour combination ever!  Purple and lime green, om nom!  I know perhaps I should have gone for the more challenging palette, but as doing a hop like this is completely new to me, I thought I had best play it safe for now.

The Demini River is a tributary of the mighty Amazon in Brazil.
I was very lucky to have brought the perfect bracelet bar from Bo Hulley Beads just before I got the palettes through, must be fate!  I teamed it with amethyst, iolite, peridot and burgundy swaros to pick up the colours in the palette, add some pretty copper bead caps, a couple of dangles and tada!

Bo Hulley's focal was such a joy to work with, it is the first hand made component I ever brought :)
Another view, I'm really happy with how the dangles turned out - was much hmm-ing and ha-ing over those.
 I'm so ridiculously proud of my creation, I've never tried to complete a design like this, and it gave me a few headaches along the way!  A bit of a learning curve but definitely worth it :)  I have been pretty nervous about today, I know some of the artisans joining in make some astounding jewellery.

Now please do visit the other participating blogs, I'm sure there are some absolute stunners waiting to be gawked at.  Hop away, and as Erin would say, Enjoy the Day!

Kris Auderer   
Iveth Caruso   
Lisa Cone   
Cece Cormier   
Kim Dworak   
Beth Emery   
Pam Farren   
Cherrie Fick   
(You are here, so strange to see my name on this list :)   
Mary Harding   
Kim Hora   
Sue Kennedy   
Ema Kilroy   
Lee Koopman   
Linda Landig   
Beth McCord   
Aimee Moisa   
Karla Morgan   
Kayla Potega   
Debbie Price   
Caron Reid   
Andrea Ross   
Annie Scherz   
Pam Sears   
Sandra Stein   
(Has hurt her wrist so cannot participate - hope you are better soon Tracy!)
Sherri Stokey   
Jo Tinley   
Emma Todd   
Pam Traub   
Lesley Watt   
Lynn White   
Joan Williams     

*I'm a Brit, hence the excess vowel!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

A Challenge I Say!

So, what better way to start the creative juices flowing than to enter a challenge?

I have been stalking following many wonderful jewellery artists over the last few months, and this mainly involves loitering hopping around their blogs.  I couldn't help but notice all the wonderful challenges that some of these wonderful ladies organise.  These blog hop challenges can provide hours of eye-candy!

When I decided I would give this whole jewellery selling thing a go, I did a crazy thing and signed up for one of the best blog hop challenges I've seen going, the Challenge of Colour by Erin of TesoriTrovati:

Erin runs these kinds of challenges four times a year, each with a different theme; colour, travel, music and literature.  How inspiring!  And every one has produced stunning results.

Erin has teamed up with Brandi of BrandiGirlBlog who produces some amazing colour palettes based on her fab photography.  I love it when a new palette from her pops up in my inbow, they really get you thinking about how colours work together.

This time round the colour inspiration comes from a collection of NASA photographs our little planet called Earth As Art.  Here is an example of the photos available:

Gorgeous isn't it?  And look at those colours!

I received my palettes last week and have chosen one to work from.  The colours are SO me!  And very luckily I made a little purchase not so long ago that will fit in with it perfectly ;).  I can't wait to get at that wire...

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The Beauty of Books

Now I'm a big fan of books of all kinds, but in particular the title of this post relates to the wonderful world of jewellery making books!  My mum brought these for me because I was being Incredibly Grumpy due to a creative lull and she was pretty sick of it.  I also suspect she was pretty sad at the sudden stop in the flow of handmade necklaces I provide her with!

The books on the subject I received were Bead on a Wire by Sharilyn Miller, Wire Style and Hand Crafted Wire Findings by Denise Peck.

Mmmmmm... Books... Nom nom....

For a while all I did was stare at the glossy images in these books blankly.  I brought more books, and then some more, all the while neglecting to actually create!

But eventually I couldn't resist the urge to tinker and out came the pliers!  I had a great time learning how to coil and spiral and create new elements to add to my designs.  I had a great creative outburst, even if it was a bit of a wonky one at times...

Unfortunately a lot of the best pieces I made during this time have been given away to friends and family.  The necklace at the bottom is one of my fav stone combinations, moss agate, snowflake obsidian and garnet, shame I failed to photograph it properly!!

I was also inspired to buy some bigger beads.  Although I drooled over the spectacular artisan lampwork and ceramic displayed on the glossy pages of my shiny shiny books, there was no way I could afford them!  So I settled for some commercial lampwork instead.

The necklace on the bottom is my favourite piece ever, I wear it all the time, can you see the little spots of verdigris where I haven't cleaned it after it got wet?  Oops.  Shame I could *not* get a decent picture.  I blame winter, and I'm going to pretend this picture is 'arty'!
But then I hit another brick wall.  This time it had to do with a pretty essential ingredient in jewellery making - tools!  I simply don't have very many at all.  I have a set of beadsmith pliers that are currently on the verge of dying that are very dear to me!  I also have a heavy duty pair of flush cutters, an assortment of random needle files, a smashing mini anvil and a battered ball pein hammer all donated by a lovely engineering friend of mine.

It's a pretty measly collection all told and it really holds back my expansion of skills.  Trouble is, I'm pretty poor, and getting together a good selection of tools will be an expensive process.  So here's the plan:  I'm going to start selling my jewellery!

I've never sold my jewellery before, I've thought about it but the plans have never really come together.

Problem is my skills are a little rusty.  The jewellery making has really slowed down over the last year, most of the pieces above are at least nine months old.  It's very difficult to create when your best ideas are undermined by lack of equipment.  And yes, this has been making me Incredibly Grumpy.

I need to revisit the skills I have already learnt, and try to perfect them.  Browsing through the may gorgeous artisan jewellery blogs out there has made me realise that by getting down some basic design elements, I should be able to turn the skills I have into some fabulous wearable artwork.

Well at least I hope that is the case!  We shall see shall we?

Friday, 9 November 2012

How It All Began

Before I get going I want to apologise for the horrendous photos here!  I took them during my 20 minute lunch break and didn't have a clue what I was doing!  Definitely more practice is needed...

I guess I should start this blog with a little bit about why I'm here.

I have always been a creative soul, colour and form are immensely important to me, and from the earliest days I have reveled in the ability to create.  Drawing writing, making music, all played a large part of my childhood.

I started making jewellery about eight years ago, simply stringing seed beads and cheap glass beads onto silk thread in patterns I found pleasing.  I loved the soothing and satisfying feeling generated by watching the patterns build up:

I used to love the methodical act of picking up these tiny little seed beads, it gave me a wonderful chance for some deep thinking!
This soon evolved into tinkering with wire.  I came home with a necklace that had caught my eye in an over priced accessory store and had a good look at it.  On closer inspection I could see that the beads were poorly formed, lumpy little things and the wire loops that joined them together were very sloppy and uneven.

And I had that magic thought - 'I could make that!'

I brought myself some cheap as chips mini jewellery pliers, looked up a few free tutorials and taught myself the basics of wire-wrapping.  I was hooked!

Haha, this photo is such a blurry mess!
Jewellery making quickly became my main creative outlet, with a few basic skills I started churning out pieces.  I didn't really feel the need to learn any more skills for a long time, I was quite happy producing pieces along similar lines, and like the simple beaded strings I made earlier the creative process for them mostly revolved around creating patterns.
I know, I know, awful photos!  But hopefully you can get some idea of what I have been producing :)

Then I stumbled upon Eni Oken's  I was amazed by the varied and fabulous forms wire could be manipulated into.  I was o gob-smacked by the beautiful work displayed there that I actually became a little bit dismayed, my work seemed pretty worthless next to all that wizardry!  I'm sad to say that at this point I hung up my pliers for a while and therefore I became Incredibly Grumpy (the Boyfriend can tell you what  I'm like when I'm not letting of creative steam!).

Luckily I was rescued when my mum, fed up with the Incredible Grumpiness, brought me some books on wire working that showed me a whole new pile of skills!  I think I will leave writing about that until tomorrow though, as this post is loooooong, and I need to take more cruddy photos ;)

A Silent Space...

So, I opened up this blog about a week ago and so far have written nothing on it!

Isn't it strange how words will wizz around your head all days yet they disappear as soon as you sit down at the screen to type?

Ah well, I'm sure the writing bug will bite properly soon!