Almost all of my designs feature handmade beads in one material or another. Handmade beads, or 'Art Beads' as they are known, are just what they sound like - tiny little pieces of 3d art, ready to be used by jewellery artists and included within our work. I always think of this as a silent collaboration between myself and the bead artist(s) and it really is a tremendous privilege to work with handmade components on an almost daily basis. (Oh, and if you are passionate about handmade and beads too, you will want to check out Art Bead Scene for more scoop on artisan-made beads and jewellery the features them. I am one of the editors over there and post for them at least once a week.)
The longer that one works with these miniature pieces of art, the more one learns to recognise which beads work with one's style. Sometimes when I am trawling through etsy (it's a hard life, but somebody's got to do it!) searching for new art beads, I will spot certain beads that I love but that I don't necessarily feel would work within my jewellery. Sometimes I take a leap of faith and buy them anyway, and edge myself out of my comfort zone - it's good to push yourself creatively after all - but sometimes you just know that certain art beads are not meant for you.
You also get to know that there are certain art bead artists that you have a real affinity with. There are several bead artists who really speak to me, and I will no doubt blog about more of them in the future....but vying for the number one spot must be the extraordinarily talented Kylie Parry. Her quirky animals and pictorial beads are absolutely the perfect match for my narrative, story-telling jewellery.
|Some of Kylie's beautiful beads|
Here, I have paired one of her owls with another of my favourite bead artists, Leah Curtis of Beady Eyed Bunny. Poor old Leah recently had the misfortune to have to make me thirty rose beads as a custom order - I'm sure she never wants to make a rose bead again now!
|Some of the beautiful roses that Leah custom-made for me.|
But aren't they just the perfect match for my own antiqued copper deco rose clasp?
|Country Garden set|
I don't always make matching sets of jewellery, but I had three roses in this lovely pale blue, and after I'd made the bracelet, the other two were just crying out to be earrings. Wouldn't you agree?
|Country Garden Earrings|
It's hard to see there, but I've added some handmade oxidised sterling silver earwires to these. The steely silver is perfect with the cool blue.
|Country Garden bracelet|
And the bracelet....well, anything with one of Kylie's owls is a winner for me, but I am very pleased with the warm rust, soft topaz and sky blue. A soft, soothing colour palette, perfect for the country garden theme. Definitely an English garden I feel, perhaps in spring before all the plants are out in full bloom, and the earth is rich and ripe.
And what could be cuter than this wee face?