Friday, 31 January 2014

AJE Component of the Month Reveal - January

January brought with it another opportunity to work with a wonderful component designed by one of the AJE team  - this time a beautiful Polymer Clay aspiration focal from the lovely Jenny Davies Reazor. Jenny created the frames for these pieces by making a mould from an old buckle. She then a added dictionary excerpts which she sealed with resin.

The word Jenny chose for me was 'explore' to reflect my current journey in the ceramic clay world - most approriate... and the design I received was the burgundy/blue one at the bottom left of the picture.

I love the ornate style of Jenny's piece but it wasn't a style I was used to working with so I was unsure as to where to start - It had holes at each corner so I was thinking a bracelet was the way to go... To get the ball rolling I pulled out some beads in the same colour palette and left them on my desk while I went off to do something else and ponder.

A couple of days later I was trying to tidy up the studio and while shuffling the beads arrange I had an idea and started playing to see if it would work. An hour later this is what I had...

I was not entirely sure about it as it's not like anything I've designed before but I do find it pleasing so I've stuck with it. The faceted bronze barrels and vintage Czech glass paired with tiny blue/grey frosted rounds.

The down side of just going with an idea in this way was that I hadn't thought through the finishing of the piece and having been through everything in my clasp collection I had nothing that I felt would complete the bracelet satisfactorily. In the end I decided it need a bespoke bronze clasp but as I don't have any other bronze ready to fire I haven't been able to finish it so my design is incomplete. But I can show you how it looks at the moment...

I decided to make a mould from Jenny's focal and replicate the frame as a toggle clasp. Once this is fired I'll try to patinate it to match the focal - maybe in one colour maybe multiples, I'm not sure yet.

Neither am I sure how I'm going to do the bar element yet but I'm thinking maybe wire wrapped with some of the frosted beads...we'll have to see.

Hopefully my ideas will work and I'll post the finished piece once it's done. In the meantimeyou can see what the rest of the AJE team and out guest made using the links below.


Friday, 17 January 2014

Birthday Flash Sale...

Yay - it's the weekend...and as it's my birthday tomorrow I thought I'd share the treats and have a little FLASH SALE in both my Etsy shops. So from midnight GMT tonight through Saturday and Sunday only (18th & 19th) coupon code 21AGAIN will get you 21% discount on all purchases...

I hope that puts some fizz in your weekend and I hope there's even more in mine...bottoms up!


Saturday, 11 January 2014

Back in the Swing, a Shop Update and A Giveaway Alert...!

Well the decorations and sparkle of the holiday season have gone and we're well into the new year which for large swathes of the UK has meant torrential rain, floods and long dark nights. Fortunately the weather hasn't caused me any real issues and this last week has been full of positivity and improvement.

On Wednesday I had a physio session for my ankle and whilst there is a lot of stiffness there I was given an 'excellent' assessment for strength which is great news as it gives me confidence to push myself that little bit more. I've been given flexibility and balance exercises and, weather permitting I'm getting out and walking as much as I can. I also got in the car for the first time just to drive to my local shops and that was fine. I still get some discomfort and that's likely to last for 12 months or more but I can feel the improvement day by day and I'm so very thankful to have regained my mobility and independence.

This has also been the first week where I've been able to get back in the studio and work on a fairly normal basis and that feels great. I've finished some bronze and ceramic pieces that were made before I was laid up and I've also managed to do a small run of ceramics from start to finish. I have a whole lot of ideas for spring sketched out and in my head and it's been great to get my hand back in before I start on those.

On the down side I now have to list all those pieces and I can safely say that's not something I've missed but, it has to be done so that you guys can see what I've been doing. It seems like forever since I last did a shop update so to put that right I will be having one tomorrow, Sunday 12th January at 7pm GMT and you'll find all the new goodies at THEA Elements.

The week was also rounded off rather nicely by my being featured in an interview with fellow designer Janine Lucas on her Esfera Jewellery blog. As well as the interview Janine is also running not one, but two giveaways... A set of my ceramic beads and a bronze pendant and one of Janine's own beautiful designs using one of my components.

They are both great prizes so don't miss out - you can find the details here.

So I'm hoping the coming weeks will be as good as this last one and maybe even the weather will's the new year treating you so far...?


Friday, 3 January 2014

AJE Component of the Month - December Reveal

Welcome to another AJE Component of the Month reveal which is a few days late as this is actually the last of the 2013 challenges. The components for December were these gorgeous organic swirl beads intricately decorated with tiny dots from Rebekah of Tree Wings Studio. I chose one in russet red like the one in the centre of this picture.

What with everything that goes on it December I didn't actually start my design until right at the last minute so I had to come up with an idea that was going to work first time. While I was pondering what to do I was staring out of the studio window from where I can see a bit of the woodland that surrounds the area. The sky was that heavy pinky grey colour that promises rain (we've already had a ton of the stuff), the branches of the bare tree were stark against the backdrop and a few birds sat huddled together against the elements.

The earthy tones of Rebekah's seemed to work with this image so I starting picking out some beads that I thought would work with the theme. I settled on a little grey bird by fellow AJE team mate Caroline Dewison along with some Czech glass flower beads. I made a focal pendant by wiring the focal and bird bead together with stainless steel wire and a russet crystal accent bead and hanging it from an antiqued silver ring. I wire wrapped the flower beads and added these to a length of chain attached to the bottom of the focal.

I was really happy with this and finished the necklace very simply by adding a length of leather lacing from Smitten Beads wrapped with more stainless steel wire. The necklace is extra long and slips over the head without the need of a clasp - very casual and very easy to wear.

I love the contrast of the flower beads - they give a watery effect to the piece and the stainless steel has that rain grey feel. I think it captures those wintry colours really well. What do you think....?

To see what the rest of the AJE team and our guests have designed with their component just click on the links below.

Happy hopping!

Guest Designers:
Ann - Bead Love
Melissa - Bead Recipes

AJE Team:
Kristen - My Bead Journey
Susan - Sue Beads
Rebekah - Tree Wings Studio
Caroline - BlueberriBeads

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Out With The Old - Well Some Of It...

Happy New year to you all...I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. Today a lot of you are probably like me mulling over the past year and thinking about what you can do to make 2014 a better year for you and yours. I find when I do this it's very easy to concentrate on the negatives, particularly as I ended 2013 with the particularly spectacular downer (down the stairs to be precise) of a broken ankle.

Fantastic tree ornament made by Kristi Bowman-Gruel
In actual fact however 2013 was a pretty good year for me. Health probably was the one area that didn't go so well since a spell with a really bad back strain also put me out of action for a while. I'm not really one for making resolutions but I have now realised that incidents like broken ankles are a whole lot harder to deal with if your basic level of fitness is as bad as mine. Now obviously I'm not planning to break any more bones but I'm no spring chicken and you never know what's around the corner so I figure that improving my core fitness can only really be a positive as long as I don't overdo it. In the immediate future this will mostly involve getting my leg and ankle back to full working order by improving strength and flexibility but then I plan to start a more holistic approach to a healthy mind and idea how yet but working that out will be part of the journey.

So what do I look back on from the last year that brings a smile to my face...Well number one has to be the conversion of the garage into the new studio. It had it's stresses at the time but I'm so settled in there now that I can't remember it being any other way and I just love it. I wander in there with my breakfast in the morning and sometimes get so completely lost in what I'm doing that I don't come out again until was very fortuitous that the garage adjoins the kitchen and other essential facilities!

 Some of the other positives have come about as a direct result of the studio conversion as I finally had the space to try out some of the new techniques I'd been itching to have a go at. Etching has turned into a firm favourite, proving popular with customers too and I'm really looking forward to developing this technique further.

But the best thing about 2013 for me from a creative aspect was discovering that I could work with ceramics with just a small kiln and as many of you will know I've become completely hooked. I don't think I can remember a better feeling than when I opened the kiln and took out that first little batch of beautiful glazed beads and I get that exact same feeling every time now.

 I'd really only just got going on this when I had my fall so it came to a bit of an abrupt halt but I've just finished the beads at the top of this post that had been waiting since then and I'm raring to get back to it now with lots of new ideas and some inspirational books I've been gifted.

In 2013 I was also blessed to have the support and friendship of some very creative people both virtually and in person. None of my new endeavours would have come to as much without the input of some very talented colleagues from Art Jewelry Elements who have encouraged and educated me, members of the various groups I belong to who've supported me and kept me howling with laughter and of course the friends and customers who support my work and follow me online  because without you, it would all come to nothing and the tough times would have been so much tougher.

There were many other good things too numerous to list so as I go in to the New Year I'm thinking that if I can avoid any clumsy accidents, achieve as much as I did last year and keep those wonderful people around me then it'll be another pretty good one that will see a few new skills tucked under the belt...and the belt a little better fitting.

How about you then...are you building on the successes of 2013 or changing course completely...? Either way I wish you every success and happiness for 2014 and hope you will continue to journey through with me.