Thursday, 28 April 2011

This charmed life...

The Freemontodendron is in bloom and all's right with the world!
Much as I love bank holiday weekends they do throw me off balance a bit and with 2 in as many weeks I've kind of lost track off what day it is now. Maybe it's because I no longer work the 9 - 5 routine that keeps life running to order - not that I ever did really...

Less than a year ago, I would be up at 6am and off to work for a large corporate institution and probably wouldn't be home much before 7- 8pm. Don't get me wrong, I loved my job and was a real career girl for the xx!!! years of my working life - but then something changed. I stopped enjoying it and started to stress about it and that in turn impacted on me and my life outside of work. So, I gave it up, and now I spend my days designing and making jewellery and discovering all the wonderful things that are going on in my new world and the amazing people who inhabit it.

Now, I realise that I am extremely fortunate to be in a position to be able do this - the compensation packages are not exactly similar as you would expect!!! But for me this is outweighed by the fact that doing something creative makes me feel so much more fulfilled (even though my career was supposedly in a 'creative' occupation!) and because I have had so much support and positive feedback from other jewellery makers, I feel proud of what I'm doing again. Obviously, it's still early days and things may change - but I don't think so.

Anyway - to get back to the jewellery... I made this necklace for myself last week (a rare treat these days) using gorgeous sea inspired lampwork beads by Izzy Anderson. As the beads are so lovely I didn't want to do do very much with it so, I made a shell pendant in silver clay, moulded from a real shell and used this as the focal for the piece. I've used a few of these shells in my work in the past so it occurred to me that this could be something that other jewellery makers might like.

"fragment of the Past'
Copper clay pendant
So this week I've been experimenting with various metal clays and shells to make charms and pendants with a view to selling them through my Etsy shop and these are some of the early results.

Left to right - Proclay Bronze,  Art Clay Silver 650,  Bronzclay

More Silver clay waiting to be fired. The Ammonite is from
a bead rather than natural but still rather pretty
What do you think..?

I love the silver shells but I also think the bronze versions have a lovely rustic appeal and match well with warmer, earthy colours - I'll be trying copper clay too. It's just as well I live near the coast as I'm now on a constant search for small, interesting shells.

I'm hoping to get some of these into my shop next week. I'd also like to try and extend these to other small  'natural' items that can be moulded and made into charms, so if you have any ideas, please - do let me know. Ooh, maybe there's an idea for a little competition...!


So it's nearly the weekend again - hope it's a great one for you all and, for those of you who are fans of the Royal Family - enjoy the wedding!

Oh, and one last thing...

Cats have been featuring in Blogs this week so I thought I'd give a little mention to my design assistant Cleo, who can be seen here keeping a close eye on a photo shoot.

Lesley & Cleo

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Beauty is in the eye of the beadholder...

And I am in love!

Now it's not unusual for me to get excited over some lampwork beads... It never ceases to amaze me how lampwork artists (and artists they are) create such perfectly beautiful, intricate and delicate but strong pieces of such miniature proportions by manipulating rods of glass in a flame.

But this week I came across some beads by jewellery design student Helen Chalmers that were just that little bit different and immediately fell in love with them.

These square tile beads get their wonderful organic stone-like appearance from being rolled in silver leaf and Helen has added shots of colour with Adventurine and Murrini to create sparkling little flowers.

The beads were extras from the degree show and dissertation Helen is currently working on and she has drawn her inspiration from the urban decay and the beauty she can see in weathered buildings, textures of peeling paint and weeds. She is building a wall of beads that will represent both this decay and the growth that springs from it, drawing parallels with the fact that we all go through a myriad of changes in life but still retain an over-arching structure.

I have always found urban landscapes to be strangely intriguing and beautiful in their own way too (I have a particular fondness for roofscapes) and I think it's great that Helen has taken this as her inspiration. As designers we all draw from our surroundings and you don't have to look far to see the influence of the natural world on jewellery design. By seeing beyond this to where nature encroaches on and regenerates the man-made, I think Helen has come up with a really interesting and unusual concept - and I love it!

Helen explains this much better than I do so please take a look at her website where you can see more of her beads as well as her sketches. You can also find her beads for sale on Etsy.  Helen - the very best of luck with your degree show - I'm really looking forward to seeing the pictures.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with Helen's beads yet, other than have them at my work desk and stare at them. In fact - if they were bigger I'd probably mount them on the wall! I would quite like to continue the urban theme and I've no doubt my own inspiration will be forthcoming when the time is right.

And with that, may I wish you all a very happy and inspired Easter.


Saturday, 16 April 2011

Embrace your flaws and take time to smell the flowers

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. 
But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream.'I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.'

The old woman smiled, 'Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side?' 'That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. 
For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.'

Each of us has our own unique flaw, but it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. 
You've just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.

So, to all of my cracked pot friends out there, have a great life and remember to smell the flowers on your side of the path!

All the flowers in these pictures grow in my garden so my flaws are obviously many and varied, but effective in their own ways! x

Friday, 15 April 2011

Fancy making an exhibition of yourself?

I came across a couple of opportunities for jewellery designers this week that I thought may well be worth sharing with you.

The first is an upcoming online exhibition of jewellery primarily constructed from non-precious metals and other media, to be hosted by Ganoksin . Anyone can enter the exhibition whatever their level but jewellery must be wearable not purely 'artistic'. All entries will be accepted with appropriately qualifying images and there is also an opportunity to link to your selling site.

I'm still thinking about what to enter - maybe one of these:
Handmade lampwork beads by Kaz Baildon
Bronzclay pendant made by me
Coiled copper bracelet
Or maybe I'll design something new..?

The closing date for entries (up to 3) is 31 May 2011 and further details can be found here.

Another opportunity for UK designers is the 'Liberty Open Call" on 20 August 2011, which aims to find new design talent for the store. Designers have 3 minutes to pitch their designs to an expert panel and will be told there and then whether they have been successful. Top calibre designers could win support from Liberty and get advice on nurturing their designs and their business.

Fancy having a go at this 'softly softly' style Dragons Den to see if you could become the next big thing...then more information is available here.

If you do decide to have a go at either of these, then I wish you the very best of luck and, if you do become the 'next big thing', please remember me in your acceptance speech!

Have a wonderful weekend all!


Monday, 11 April 2011

Pretty Things: BeadFest Wrap-Up -- and Give-Aways!

Checkout Lori Anderson's latest post about her recent expedition to BeadFest and see the fab goodies she is very kindly putting up for us to win:

Pretty Things: BeadFest Wrap-Up -- and Give-Aways!: "I'm home, resting up from the many hours on my feet shopping at BeadFest. I honestly didn't plan on spending much, but I did have a pl..."

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The heat is on...jewellery for summer days and nights

It's been beautiful here this week with weather that's more like summer than spring, so much so that yesterday I rearranged my wardrobe to make access to my lighter clothes easier and hide the thicker ones at the back. I guess most of us go through this sort of ritual (unless we're lucky enough to live in the warmth all year round or have walk in wardrobes!) and while I was doing it I was thinking about whether I consciously do the same thing with my jewellery. This seemed particularly relevant as I'd spent most of the week making summer/beach themed jewellery... so I must be hoping that everyone else does just that!

On reflection, I think the answer is that I do it so naturally I'm not actually conscious of it. Simpler, lighter designs go well with summer fashions and for those of us lucky enough to sport a bronze glow, (not me - english rose skin = factor 30 and lots of shade!) jewellery that sets it off is a bonus. Summer is all about fun too so I like to reflect this in my jewellery a bit more.

Anyway - I thought I'd share some of these new pieces with you to get you ready for summer...

This is 'Sean the Seahorse' and when it comes to fun he has it in buckets and spades! He was made by Glenn Mincey . I just couldn't resist him and teamed him up with some simple copper ball chain and findings - definitely one for the beach!

'Studland Bay' pendant and earring set featuring gorgeous lampwork from Kaz Baildon , teamed with silver and leather. I named this after a beautiful beach and Nature Reserve on the Jurassic coast of 

You can see that I don't tend to embellish this type of jewellery too much - I think a lot of this lampwork can stand as miniature art pieces in their own right so I try not to over complicate things.

'Rockpool' is another fun piece with lampwork beads by Julie Fountain and so reminiscent of the english seaside - cockles and whelks anyone?

And then of course, every girl needs a little something for those hot, sultry nights...

'Dancing in the Moonlight' also features beads by Julie, this time a shell pendant with the most fabulous lustre and sweet little matching earrings that make a big impact for their small size.

Well I hope that little taster has got you in the mood for a long hot summer...fingers crossed :0).
You can see more from this collection on Flickr and they'll be in my Etsy shop in the next couple of days.  

I'd love to hear from you about your summer favourites too - do you change your style or is your jewellery full of fun all year long?!

Hope you all enjoy what's left of this lovely weekend and have a fantastic week ahead!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

And the lucky winner is....

Rebecca of Rebecca's Emporium !!!

Congratulations Rebecca -  Just let me know whether you would like the earrings or the pendant and where you'd like them sent and they'll be winging their way to you in no time. I hope you love your prize!

Rebecca is a fabric and felt artist and you can see more of her lovely work at the links below including, her quirky and adorable little creatures like this one:

Many thanks to everyone who took part in the giveaway - you're all obviously loving the arrival of spring and the advent of summer and the fresh creative opportunities they bring.

There will be more giveaways from the Gossiping Goddess so be sure to keep an eye on the blog and my Facebook page.

Have a great day and congratulations again Rebecca.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Bead table wednesday 6/4/2011

What's on you bead table today...?

Various bits of work in progress and general paraphenalia on mine so not particularly pretty - a bit like me really! :0)

Prizes for my blog giveaway are on here somewhere...the draw is tomorrow so don't forget to comment goddess-giveaway-go-for-bronze or follow me here or on Facebook. Thank you

Click BTW Flickr group to see more bead tables

Sunday, 3 April 2011

And then I took a torch to them...

I have a bit of a 'what if ' mentality when it comes to being creative and I quite often go back to 'finished' projects and have another go at them. I think this shows that your brain is working properly by seeing new possibilities after a bit of a break.

I've just been back to my latest bronze pieces to see if I couldn't jazz them up with a bit of heat induced colour. I find something strangely therapeutic about taking a torch to things...not that I want to worry you or anything! It's always a bit of a gamble as you never know what you're going to get, but I think these have come up quite well - I particularly like the square one.

Lots of fun to be had with bead matching now!

Don't forget to leave a comment on my previous post for a chance to win bronze heart pendant or earrings. I can even take the torch to your prize if you'd like me too...

Oh and happy mothers day to all mums :0)

Friday, 1 April 2011

Goddess giveaway - go for bronze...

And you could  win of one of these...

The Bronzclay pieces I shared at Bead table Wednesday last week are all cooked and cleaned and ready to be be teamed up with some beautiful beads and findings - and here they are:

Looking a bit better than on wednesday don't you think? One bit of first aid required but that's not too bad. I also managed to photograph two of the pendants upside down, but what does that matter between friends? :0)

Now I like to share my work with like-minded souls so, I'm delighted to be giving away something from this collection to one lucky winner who will be chosen at random. All you have to do for your chance to win is leave me a comment telling me what you're looking forward to in April and, if you decide to follow me or join me on Facebook as well, you'll get double the chance to win. If you win you'll be able to choose between:

This richly textured asymmetrical bronze heart to use in you own design, measuring approximately 3cm x 2.5cm at the widest points.

Or, these these cute earrings with 'tribal' effect bronze coins with Sponge Coral and Turquoise beads and hypo-allergenic Niobium ear wires. They measure approx. 4cm from the top of the ear wire and the coins are approx. 12mm in diameter.

I'm really looking forward to hearing what's inspiring you this month and I'll announce the winner next Thursday (7th). 

Good luck everyone!