Wednesday, 30 April 2014

AJE Component of the Month - April Reveal

This month's components for the AJE challenge were ceramic buttons made by yours truly which could be used alone or as clasps. I love button goes back to my childhood when my seamstress Grandmother used to make clothes for me that were invariably finished with the cutest fabric covered shank buttons with little brass hooks or embroidered loops. They've long been used for jewellery too and I started making them myself in metal clay early last year so, when I was looking for inspiration for this months COM, and came across my moulds I decided to make some up in clay.

The button I chose to use myself is a little round stoneware one with a shell imprint and one of my favourite rustic glazes in a lovely earthy cream with blue green marbling.

I also love ocean inspired jewellery and I knew I had some art beads that would work well with the clasp as well as a matching set of my own stoneware beads in the same glaze plus a lovely sea green. I've long been hoarding one of Karen's little whale beads and this was the perfect occasion to use it along with a cute lamp worked urchin bead from Caroline and a lamp worked soda bead from Jan Onipenco of Molten Mayhem. I also picked out some of my own bronze discs to add some texture and contrast.

I've made these up into a bracelet by simply stringing them on waxed Linen with seed bead spacers and finishing off with one of my bronze shell charms and a ceramic charm made with one of Caroline's tiny birds. I've named it 'Nantucket Sound' - I've never been there but from what I've read it just seemed appropriate.

I really like how this has come together and I think the button closure gives it a sense of continuity.

Please use the links below to see what the rest of the AJE team and our guests have created with the button closures they were given...

Johana Nunez
Leah Curtis
Perri Jackson

AJE Team
 Lesley Watt
Keirsten GIles
Caroline Dewison
Rebekah Payne
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Jen Cameron
Diana Ptaszynski
Kristen Stevens
Francesca Watson
Melissa Meman
Linda Landig
Sue Kennedy


Thursday, 24 April 2014

BEADFEST Bound...!

Since I've been part of the online beading community I've become friends with many artists and designers from the USA and every year I suffer from acute attacks of envy when they all start preparing to show at or visit BEADFEST in Philadelphia. By comparison with most UK shows this event is HUGE and unlike most UK shows attracts large numbers of artisan bead makers for the three day expo. Not only that - over five days there are literally dozens upon dozens of workshops covering just about every aspect of jewellery making you might wish to try your hand at.

Well this year there will be no envy and no living vicariously through other people's photos because, thanks to some of my wonderful friends and AJE team mates I will be heading out to the USA on 18th August for a two week trip which will include BEADFEST. I am actually going to be there in person and I cannot begin to tell you how excited this makes me!!!

I can't thank these guys enough for their generosity in hosting me and helping me organise this trip...

AJE Beadfesters Susan Kennedy, Linda Landig, (Genea Crivello-Knable photo-bombing), Karen Totten, Jennifer Stout-Cameron, Jenny Davies-Reazor and Diana Ptaszynski

Here's a sneak peek at just a few of the things I have to look forward to including my hosts doing what they do best...

Diana's Suburban Girl booth from Beadfest 2013

And some of her lovely beads...

Jenny and her booth...

And her fabulous Goddess pendants...I wonder if she has one that gossips...?

Jen at her Glass Addictions booth...

And her amazing "Nightmare Insomnia' beads...

And here's a selection of gorgeous goodies from some more artisan bead makers...clockwise from the left Joan Miller Porcelain, Staci-Louise Smith - SL Artisan Accents, Genea Crivello-Kable - Genea Beads and Karen Totten - Starry Road Studio.

Green Girl Studios are most definitely on my shopping list...but then who isn't!

Mmmmmm - pretty!

I think there may also be one or two more of my beady friends and customers around that I might just be able to catch up with in person - how fantastic is that...?! And of course, I will be taking a 'few' of my own beads with me too - you can't go visiting friends and not take gifts can you!

Many thanks to Diana, Jenny and Jen for the photographs

I'm sure you'll hear more from me about this is the coming weeks as I try not to bore everyone to death in my excitement. Now I need to go and pin a calendar on the wall and start crossing the days off...If you're going to BEADFEST I look forward to seeing you there!


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Shop Update

I'm having a little shop update tonight with new bronze and ceramic pieces before I take a short break to work on my Bead Soup and a few other projects. Pop by and take a look at THEA Elements



Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Spring Fever Design Challenge Reveal

Today's the day we finally get to see what everyone has made with the beads they received as part of our 'Spring Fever' design challenge. To recap, all the participants were sent a surprise package containing one of my flower focal sets, one of Caroline's bird focal sets and a length of sari silk courtesy of Claire from Smitten Beads. These have now been turned into pieces of jewellery and I for one can't wait to see what they've become. But first I have to share with you my own designs...

As always I left this until pretty much the last minute and very stupidly forgot to take pictures of my individual many times is that now...?

Anyway, for my first piece I decided to work with Caroline's focal pendant set of a pretty china painted bird and leaf. I started by trying to think of a way to use them independently rather than the set they came as but they really are made for other and look so good together I decided to just go with it. I wired the bird onto a large disc bead to act as a kind of bird table and wired another loop underneath. To this I added the leaf element together with one of my bronze flower charms and some Czech glass flower dangles.

I wanted this to be a long necklace and my natural instinct for this style is to let the focal group do the work and keep the rest very simple but as the host just using a chain for a challenge piece felt like a bit of a cop out so some sort of embellishment was needed. In the end I decided on purple Irish linen woven through the chain and threaded with pearly seed beads.

I love the finished look - subtle and elegant but a bit more eye catching than chain alone would be.
The necklace is completed with hand forged brass 'S' clasp and a couple more Czech glass dangles.

Ceramic bird and lead focal beads by Caroline Dewison, Purple disc bead by, Brass chain, Irish linen and pearlised seed beads from Smitten Beads
Because we put extra sets up for the challenge I didn't actually get one of my own focals from the original batch and decided I would take something from my stock. Of course, by the time I got around to it I didn't have a lot to choose from so my focal is more neutral in colour than the other pieces and I was  concerned that it looks a bit more autumnal than spring like. However, since any spring flower that wants to blossom in my garden this year has had to battle it's way through the untended remnants of last autumn, it doesn't seem wholly inappropriate...!

Another of Caroline's birds has found it's way into this necklace along with one of my bronze flower connectors which acts as a focal clasp.

 The focal elements are accented with ivory lampwork glass, Czech glass and rustic seed beads. I love the earthiness of this  and think it could actually be worn at any time of year.

Ceramic focal, bronze connector and clasp by me THEA Elements, Ceramic bird bead by  Caroline Dewison, ampwork beads by Pebble Dreams, Seed beads from Smitten Beads
I also ran out of Sari silk but I was determined to use all the elements of the challenge so raided my own silk stash to find something suitable. I couldn't find any sari silk that fitted anything like a spring palette so I picked some pretty hand dyed silk strings instead and used these to create some simple macrame wrapped bangles...

As you can see, I have quite a stash of Caroline's bird beads so I sat a couple of these in the centre of hoops of 14gauge bronze wire. Starting from the centre and working outwards I worked a square knot around size 5/6 seed beads.

The wire hoop is connected with simple loops and the silk strings tied of and left as tails to give bangles with a fresh fun look... I think I could get addicted to making these!

Hand dyed silk strings by Diane Turton, Ceramic birds by Caroline Dewison

So there you are then...I hope you've enjoyed seeing how this challenge inspired me. I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has taken part in this challenge and made it so much fun, and to Caroline and Claire for joining me to make it happen in the first place. I hope now you'll join me on the blog hop to see the rest of the wonderful designs...just click on the links below to see more.

All these pieces will be available in my Etsy shop shortly but please let me know if you are interested.


Caroline Dewison - 
Erin Prais – Hintz –


Friday, 11 April 2014

New Earring Tutorial...

I've just added a tutorial for these earrings to my tutorial page - (see tab at the top of this page) - they're quick and easy to make and very light and comfortable to wear and perfect for spring and summer.

Lampwork beads from Mermaid Glass