Tuesday, 30 September 2014

AJE Component of the Month - September Reveal....

Almost October already - how can that be? It seems like only yesterday I was planning my summer holidays and here we are charging headlong into autumn. So it is that I welcome you to another reveal for the AJE Component of the month challenge ( full details here) this month featuring these lovely copper pieces from Kristi Bowman which she calls goddess vessels.

The component I chose to work with was the white copper piece in the centre of the top row and I have to admit it did give cause me some headaches trying to come up with a design. For some reason I struggled for a while to find beads in a shape or colour that I felt worked well and then when I did find something I liked for a bracelet I didn't have enough beads to do what I wanted to - argh! At one point I got quite quite stroppy, shut the door on the studio and went off to sulk.

But then 10 minutes later an idea popped into my brain to make some chain links that mirrored the shape of the focal and after playing around for a bit I hit on something I liked using steel wire. So all I had to do was find some beads to go with them and there they were sitting on my bead table - a new delivery of Czech glass flowers from Buttoned Up Beads Extra. The lovely blue of the beads went really well with the colour of the metal  and the result of the combination is this necklace called 'Blue Steel"

It has quite a minimalist urban feel which I love... the strong  contrast of the two colours and the way the flowers, despite being very cool in colour add a certain softness appeals to me.

I played around with the positioning of the beads for a while, in the end opting for an asymmetrical format. The piece is finished with black brass chain and the focal is embellished with a little crystal and silver charm to balance the asymmetry.

I'm pretty happy with how this turned out in the end and it just goes to show that it pays to take a break when your muse isn't playing ball.


Thanks to Kristi for providing this months challenge and to you for visiting this post today - please now join me in seeing what the rest of the AJE team and our guest have made with their components using the links below.



AJE Team Members

Jenny Davies-Reazor
Sue Kennedy

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

All About the Beads...

So yesterday I arrived home very tired but very happy after an amazing holiday in the USA which gave me the chance to meet a whole bunch of awesome people as well as to attend Bead Fest. If you were one of those people be it friend - old or new, customer, social event organiser or vendor then thank you so much for making me feel so welcome and contributing to me having such a great time - I really am grateful to you all.

I have plans for a number of blog posts in the near future inspired by my visit but since I am still suffering a little from 'plane brain' this first post is all about the beads... heavy on pictures and short on words. There are beads I bought as well as numerous beads that other artists and vendors were generous enough to swap with or gift to me and as you will see - I was very much in my element.

I'm going to start with the beads of my lovely hosts without whom none of this would have been possible. Diana Suburban Girl Studio Ptaszynski and her lovely hubby Colin met me at the airport and put me up for the first few days of my stay. Very generously Diana also offered me the opportunity to sell my own beads from her booth which of course meant I had more money to spend on buying beads - thanks Diana and everyone who bought my beads.

photo courtesy of Kathleen Lange Klik
Considering I had access to trays and trays of these beautiful beads all day I was actually very restrained but if I'd had a bigger suitcase and higher customs limits it would have been a whole different story...

Jen Cameron was hosting me for a road trip straight after Bead Fest but as you can see she was having a great time at the show... I think maybe the strain of making inventory while recovering from a broken arm finally got to her though!

Jen makes gorgeous lampwork headpins and I managed to bag a good selection along with some cute little beads...

The last leg of my trip was spent with Jenny Davies-Reazor - an artist and teacher who has inspired me to many new things during my stay but that's definitely for another post.

Again I was  reasonably restrained and could have got completely carried away looting Jenny's huge and wonderful range of ceramic and mixed media pieces...

Don't worry that I had to limit myself though - these lovely ladies have all been warned that I will be making a return visit next year to stock up further!

Before I even left the UK I'd made a list I things that I had to have and at the first opportunity I headed straight for Staci Louise Smith's booth to snag this little (well not so little actually) bronze clay and copper Sugar skull... Staci's work is so unique and original I just had to have it.

I was also extremely fortunate in being paired with Staci for Diana's annual art bead swap and just look what she gave me...lots of her own beautiful polymer clay and bronze beads plus pieces by Marsha Neal Minutella and Ann Gardanne - the bead mother load or what! Thank you so much Staci.

And as if that wasn't enough I also got this lovely white copper ring which I've worn constantly since.

I did the bulk of my shopping on the last day of the show and headed straight to the Green Girl Studio booth and found everything was heavily discount so yes, I got a little carried away but who wouldn't...isn't this all just heavenly? I have to keep getting it out and stroking it.

Next stop was the lovely Diane Hawkey to pick up some of her fabulously quirky ceramic beads...I just love these little gems and have a feeling they may be staying in my personal collection.I've certainly been inspired to create by this trip so that bead is definitely staying close to my heart.

I've long been a fan of Gardanne Beads enamelled flower caps so it was wonderful to be able to meet Ann in person and lose myself in the vast array at her booth but I really did have to force myself to leave to make sure I had money to spend elsewhere!

Another must visit vendor on my list was Hands of the Hills and if it hadn't been for the sheer weight I would have spent a lot more time and money there...lovely vendors and all sorts of beautiful things to be had.

Heather Powers of Humble Beads was vending at Bead Fest for the first time this year and I was so excited to able to meet Heather and shop 'in the flesh' for her wonderfully creative beads. Hard to choose when you're faced with so many lovelies but I think I did a pretty good job...

I'm also a really big fan of etched lampwork and soda beads so I was very happy to be able to do some swapping with Genea Crivello-Knable and get these wonderfully earthy, crusty beads and headpins - just perfect for autumn designs.

One of the biggest hightlights of this trip was meeting so many of the AJE blog team who have become such good friends and supporters online. No less than 9 of the 13 members made it to Bead Fest and I had such a great time with these lovely ladies...

From left to right: Karen Totten, Melissa Alford-Meman, Sue Kennedy, Me, Diana, Kristen Stevens (back) Jen, Linda Landig (back) and Jenny. And of course there was much swapping of lovelies among the group...

Gorgeous totem sets from the uber talented Karen...

Melissa's amazing mixed media pieces including polymer clay, metal clay and a resin set hand made bezel...

 The sweetest beaded beads and gorgeous headpins from Sue Kennedy...

Great pieces from Linda's new line of ceramic - who'd know she was new to this...

And always fabulous - Kristen's beaded hoops and beads. Kristen also made me some beautiful beaded jewellery but I'm saving that for another post.

Kristi Bowman couldn't make it to the show but Linda bought some of her work along and I snagged myself these cool copper earring charms...

 I also managed to get my hands on a few Basha Beads courtesy of Cooky Schock - love the ancient rustic feel of these...

Although there may seem to be a lot of beads here... there were in fact a number of vendors I never made it to just through being somewhat overwhelmed and exhausted. Although we met at the show one of these was Marsha Neal Minutella so I was absolutely delighted when I got to Jenny's and found out we were going to visit Marsha who lives close by.

Marsha is one of the first ceramic bead makers I came across, an absolute force of nature and an all round delightful person so I can't tell you how excited I was to find myself actually standing in her studio - when I grow up I want a work space like that. She is also incredibly generous and had I been there earlier in my trip and had more space my pockets would have been loaded with a lot more beauties like these. Can't wait to meet up again next year Marsha...

And if all that wasn't enough, I also met my online friend Jan Onipenco while I was staying at Diana's and she gifted me an incredible lampwork ammonite bead and some of her lovely shrink plastic pieces...another very generous lady that I hope to meet again.

So as you can see I had a pretty good time increasing my bead stash but I do feel a little greedy keeping everything for myself so, I am planning to do a little giveaway or two once I've sorted myself out a bit so keep an eye out for that. A lot of the artists featured here will also be listing Bead Fest inventory in their shops so do check them out using the links in this post.

My own beads are being shipped back later this week and as soon as they arrive I will be doing a big shop update but this trip has left me feeling hugely inspired to make some jewellery so until then I think this little lot will keep me more than busy!

Happy beading!