Thursday, 29 September 2016

AJE Tree Theme Challenge Reveal...

This month's AJE monthly design challenge is hosted by Caroline Dewison and is all about trees. The image above is of a historic avenue of beech trees at Kingston Lacy in Dorset and is one of my favourite places. Originally 365 trees were planted (one for each day of the year) and they cover a two mile stretch of road which is pure joy to drive at any time of year. Some of the old trees are now beginning to show signs of distress so the National Trust are planting new trees to the side of these beauties so that they failing trees can eventually be replaced

This is  hugely inspiring theme and I had a whole host of ideas that I wanted to try in a number of mediums but September turned out to be a very busy month. A great month with vacations and visitors but somewhat short on creative time so my offerings are fewer that hoped. The ideas are still there for future reference though so that's good.

In the end I decided to go down the bead embroidery route and use the iconic 'green man' as my take on the tree theme. I chose one of my own face cabochons and matched it with some Czech glass leaf beads. After securing the cab with a beaded bezel and stitching on the leaves I added accents with drop beads and bugle beads to give the feeling of layers of leaves.

To give the pendant a sense of movement and depth I added some branch fringing at the bottom.

This is a long necklace and I used a double length of distressed leather to provide a contrast representative of the bark of the tree.

I have a bit of a thing about Czech glass leaves and love working with this sort of a design as there are so many variations and I'm happy how his one turned out.

I also managed to do a quick remake that was a good fit for Caroline's theme. While giving my studio a thorough clean I came across this multi-string beaded bracelet but it had no focal element. I've no idea where the original went but I have plenty of tree related components so I knew I could find something to finish it off. The gorgeous etched copper oak leaf is by Julie Nordine and has been in my stash for many years since I was partnered with Julie in a Bead Soup challenge.

I think it works really well with the beaded section and the lampwork beads by Glass Bead Art.

We had a lot of interest in this challenge so I hope you'll join us on the blog hop to see how everyone else has been inspired by our wonderful woodlands - just click on the links below to join in. Many thanks to Caroline for hosting this months challenge and to you for for stopping by.


Tuesday, 30 August 2016

AJE Art Headpins Design Challenge Reveal

So today is the reveal day for the latest AJE design challenge and this month it's all about headpins. I have a good collection of these little pretties and it seems I'm not the only one who is enamoured - just take a look at the participants list below

My art headpin collection

Art headpins always work really well with earrings and that's where I decide to start to get myself warmed up. With these first designs I wanted to try and use as much of the headpin as I could in a visible way. For the orange pair on the left I used some of Jen Cameron's headpins to combine the coil with integral ear wires. The green headpins are by Sue Kennedy and again feature coils this time with an added loop.

Then I came across these copper and brass cones from Hands of the Hills and thought they might be a cute combination...Again the headpins on the left are by Sue Kennedy and those on the right by Jen Cameron.

For this next piece I made up a focal with a beautiful ceramic bell flower by Marsha Neal which perfectly matched the headpin by Sue Kennedy. I used a coil of wire around the headpin to keep it proud of the trumpet. I then added a hammered and patinated copper hoop to give the it more depth.

To complete it I picked some lovely heavy weight copper chain and embellished it with seed beads in co-ordinating colours. This softens the chain and gives it a lovely sense of movement.

This is a longer length necklace and has a lovely feminine feel.

That was going to be it but while researching for a post to promote the challenge I came across these headpins by Anneli Beads and had to buy them.


I love these little tribal heads and went back to the coiled to design to make another pair of earrings that are most definitely keepers.

And finally, I was making a few ceramic beads last week and threw in a few pairs of headpins just for good measure. I've not had a chance to do anything with these yet but quite like how they turned out - especially with the running glaze.

So if you enjoyed my designs then settle back because as there are a lot more on show today - just click on the links below to see what everyone else has made. And if you're inspired to get creative yourself you'll find some headpin inspiration here.


Saturday, 30 July 2016

AJE Component of the Month Reveal - Fossilised pebbles

Today I am very pleased to be hosting the AJE Component of the Month reveal which features my fossilised pebble pendants.

Needless to say I did my usual trick of forgetting to take a photo of my own pieces so I've had to crop them out of the bigger image. Since I had a couple of spares I decided to have a go at two designs and fortunately the two were sat next to each other.

I started with the stone coloured pebble and my original intention was to do something long and earthy using beaded macrame in some way. However, when I was rummaging for beads I came across a strand of ocean jasper nuggets which just seemed to match the pendant perfectly so I shifted focus to work with those.

I loved how the striations in the jasper matched the colour of the pendant whilst the soft green/blue hues added just enough colour to give depth and interest. I used graduated ebony rounds at the back of the necklace to pick up the dark brown of the fossil and interspersed them with brass spacer beads. A single offset copper spiral bead echoes the ammonite shape.

This is a very simple and traditional design that has a very natural, serene feel to it which I really like.

The longer, narrower shape of the blue pendant got me thinking of talismans or amulets and I wanted to try and do some sort of layered or stacked rustic design. I attached some waxed linen and started playing around with various beads until I realised that I had unintentionally created a goddess form. Well who am I to argue with the signs? If she wants to be a goddess then a fossil goddess she shall be! The blue polymer clay bead is by Staci Smith and the ceramic bar is by Marsha Neal.
I decided this one was definitely going to be a long necklace and pulled together a selection of small beads that would complement the stacked pendant: Sodalite, ebony, brass, shell and seed beads all combined randomly to give a lovely textured effect with an aged feel.

I love blues and browns together and these beads coordinate perfectly with the focal.

Again it's a very simple style of necklace but I'm pretty happy with how it came out.


I can't wait to see what everyone else had created with their fossil pebbles I hope you'll join me on our little blog hop using the links below.

Lindsay Starr


Thursday, 30 June 2016

AJE Theme Challenge Reveal - Summer

This months AJE design challenge is inspired by the theme of summer - something that is sadly lacking here in the UK as I sit here in a fleece at the end of June! However, my garden is still managing to live up to expectations and that's where I've chosen to draw my inspiration from. I love that time in the garden when most of the hard work is done and you can sit back and enjoy the abundance of your labours...for a couple of months At least.

I decided to go with a beading project this month and since I was short on time I just went with the flow and let the beads take me where they would. I started with one of my own cabochons with a floral motif and created a bead bezel in matching colours. From there I added Czech glass flower and leaf beads and I was thinking at this point it might turn into a brooch. But as the shape developed I started to think more in terms of a pendant so I added some loops to the edging.

This was all feeling a bit heavy and solid so i added some fringing along the bottom edge to give some sense of movement and airiness...much better I think.

As the bead work is so detailed I've kept the necklace part very simple with watercolour chiffon silk ribbon and the final result is this necklace which I've called "Garden Party". Quite a different style for me but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

Please use the links below to see how our summer themed challenge inspired the other participants.


Tuesday, 31 May 2016

AJE Component of the Month - May Reveal

So as May draws to close another AJE design challenge rolls around and this month it was the turn of Sue Kennedy to provide us with components to work with and she chose these cute little lampwork heart and star cabochons...

These are the selection Sue sent me - aren't they cute...?

Whilst I had originally thought to use all three of these together time escaped me and I didn't get to start the challenge until the very last minute so I decided to concentrate on one piece. The coral coloured star reminded me of the starfish I used to go searching for in rock pools and caves as a child so that was the one I chose to use in an ocean themed piece.


Using one of my hand made molds I made a polymer clay urchin focal and before baking impressed the star into the clay to make a setting for it. Once baked I painted it with acrylic paints and then sanded it back to expose some of the clay and glued Sue's cab into position.

I'm not usually once for using glue as a connection but I didn't want to obscure the detail of the star with a metal setting. In this context and with these materials it's very secure and I think it works. 

I love layered or stacked pendants so I added one of my copper clay shells and a tiny coral and seed bead charm to add further depth and interest... 

For the necklace I picked out some beads that reflected the colours of the focal and copper wire wrapped them - recycled glass, lampwork pumpkins and ocean jasper accented with mottled sandy seed beads.

A pretty copper chain with another tiny charm, an LOS (Liver of sulphur) bath for the metal/bead elements and a quick tumble and the design is finished. Now I want to head for the beach and get my toes into some sea and sand!

Many thanks to Sue for providing us with these lovely pieces to work with. Please go and visit the rest of the AJE team and our guests to see what they did with their components - links below.



AJE Team Members

Saturday, 30 April 2016

AJE COM Reveal - April is for Amulets

Today is reveal day for the AJE Component of the Month challenge for April and the pieces we had to work with this month were these wonderful polymer clay Amulets created by Jenny Davies-Reazor. I was lucky enough to get the gorgeous green swirly one at the bottom left of this image.

When my amulet arrived the first thing that struck me was that the swirly textural design and the colour palette were reminiscent of the ocean so that was going to influence my theme. I also decided I wanted to add some sort of stopper to create a little vessel - maybe for hiding secrets or special treasures in. My initial thought was that I could do this with a little round bead but I couldn't find anything that would stay put but then, while rummaging around looking for inspiration I came across my Tracey Seder-Donoughe bead stash and this one leapt out at me. Not only was it a perfect colour match but its 'waisted' style made it a very secure fit - perfect.

I was also keen to add some sort of accent to the bottom of the amulet so I drilled an extra hole in the bottom and set about wiring it up along with the bead which I attached with a length of brass far so good.


Working with the ocean theme I added one of my own bronze shell charms to the bottom of the amulet and gave this a little accent bead that picks out the darker teal tone of the piece.

For me amulets tend to call for long necklaces and I decided to go with bronze chain but to give it some more depth and interest and to support the theme, I went for one of my favourite techniques and wove waxed linen threaded with tiny pearls through the chain.

At this point I felt I needed to add some embellishment for a bit more impact. I was thinking of this necklace as something a mermaid would wear to keep her treasures close so I added a cluster of dangles made up from bronze charms, pearls, Citrine, Ocean Jasper and Czech glass, all of which pick up the subtle tones of the amulet. I'm still thinking about what to put inside the amulet...

And that was it - job done and 'Mermaid's Treasure' was complete! It's not the easiest piece to photograph well and personally I think it looks much prettier in real life.

Many thanks to Jenny for supplying such a fun piece to work with - I got fully immersed in this challenge and thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. Please do now join our blog hop to see what the rest of the AJE team and our guests created.



Marsha of Marsha Neal Studio
Alison of Alison Adorns
Jess of The Copper Cat

AJE Team: