Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Old Beads and Beyond

So, Malin told me I should blog every time I am published....which I don't currently do....I have a stack of mags, each one with my designs beautifully photographed and presented by the Beads and Beyond team. I think this is the main reason I don't blog each time I have something in their magazine - they do it so well, my photographs pale in comparison! But I thought I'd share one of my favourite pieces from last year, my Winter's Eve necklace. Loads of silver as you can see, so this one is a keeper! Lampwork from Josephine Wadman and crystal quartz nuggets from PreciousSparkleBeads. The large turquoise flower, I bought at a bead fair from Bead Spider. Never been able to find another one since. 

This is one of my favourite pieces that I have had published. I hope you like it too! 

Monday, 27 June 2011

Cupcake Challenge

The idea was to fill your muffin tin (or selection of cups in my case) with a selection of co-ordinating beads. Your job was then to make jewellery from the selected beads. No tricky bead decisions to make, just put them together in a pretty manner! 

I did a couple of switches after making up these cups - the central row, two furthest left. Bead choices made in the dark, when I checked again in the morning, they just didn't quite go....

I was surprised at just how much I liked this method of working - I'll definitely be using it again. There were quite a few benefits. 

1) I used quite a few beads that I'd been hoarding and either not been able to quite bring myself to use them, or hadn't been quite sure how to use them (such as the SummersStudios heart bead).

2) It was great way to focus on creating. On quite a few occasions, I was more than happy with exactly the beads I had selected and could see immediately how I wanted to them to go together. 

3) Putting all the pieces together has created a bit of a snapshot of my style and particularly my love of colour! And brilliantly, although there was a lot of turquoise (only to be expected where I'm concerned) I did branch out into some other colour schemes.

So I think I'll try working this way again - very productive and instructive.

Here's a collage of the art beads I used in some of these pieces. 

In no particular order, they are

turquoise egg and nest charm: Humblebeads
red heart ceramic charm: SummersStudioEtc
green polymer bird bead: Floridity
polymer roses: Elise Canning
purple willow teardrop charm: Humblebeads
lily pad patinated charm: MissFickleMedia
polymer egg charm: Humblebeads
red polka dot lampwork beads: BeadsByLaura
pink and purple lily bead: Humblebeads
Teardrop leaf clasp - DaisyChainDesigns
pale peach lamowork - Moogin

I also used hand dyed ribbon by Sowzere Designs but forgot to snap a close up. Photos not the best....the light was doing me no favours and I knew I had to get this post done quickly....looking forward to seeing what others have done!I've created:

4 pairs of earrings
1 necklace
1 pendant 
6 bracelets

Hurrah! A very productive few days. Thanks Heather!

Art Bead Scene Blog: Muffin Tin Jewelry Challenge

Art Bead Scene Blog: Muffin Tin Jewelry Challenge

Saturday, 25 June 2011

New pieces in les shops....

Just a quick post to share a few 'muffin top tin challenge' pieces which I made today! I have found Heather's idea SO inspiring and creative. I sorted all my muffin selections a couple of nights ago and today sat down and made 6 of the 12 pieces, all in a morning! Sure, I made simple pieces that were not too fussy but I'm pleased with every one. 

Here are three of the pieces I made, newly snapped and listed in my shops:

Again, I'm up to my usual trick of visiting a local cafe/pub/bar and using their happily distressed furniture and far superior availability of natural light :-) This time, I was in new cafe/bar Mary and Archie's, along on Burton Road in West Didsbury. My photo shoot was accompanied by falafel and earl grey tea, a winning combination :-) I adore the distressed old wooden table I've shot these pictures on, I think the slight texture works well as I surface for photographing. 

Here are my muffin tins, or cupcake cups as I've used instead.

 I did a quick switch of the central left hand side cup - I poured out the beads this morning and realised I must have chosen them in bad light...the blues did NOT go....so replaced them with this cup:

as my set of polka dot beads from BeadsByLaura had arrived that morning. Plus I'd accidentally spilt a bunch of these vintage crystals whilst tidying (a rare occurance - the tidying that is, not the spilling!) and immediately thought how perfect they would be together. 

How is everyone else's muffin tin challenge going? Hope you're all having fun!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The question (and price) of silver

So, I took part in my second Altrincham vintage and craft fair on Sunday. I was quite hopeful for it as I'd been pleased with the results and sales at the first one - it had been a nice mix of people, not too busy but a fair amount of folk, chatty and obviously enjoying having a mooch around. Sadly, my second one was not so good. My Mum and my sister came along (Mum was up from Edinburgh to see my sister and I take part in some recitals at college) and they saved the day by buying various things as presents for friends, but I only sold ONE piece to a stranger. She'd been to the previous market and was very enthusiastic about my jewellery and so it was lovely to have a returning customer (she's also commissioned me to make her a bracelet for her wedding!) but I was sad that nothing else sold. I'm not sure if it was a different crowd visiting the market that day - I don't know Altrincham well enough to know who to expect - but I do know that a couple of other jewellery stalls there did well that day. Which is great for them but has left me puzzled as to the dramatic difference between the two market days for me.

I spoke to my mum about it - she visits heaps of craft fairs and is always very nice about my jewellery 'habit'! - and one ting she said she would like to see is more silver. Now, I think many of us who have worked in the past, especially jewellery makers such as myself who are not established sellers, are steering clear of silver at the moment due to the heavy cost. I used to work quite often with sterling, but I have given up recently - partly because I absolutely love the patinated copper and brass I usually work with now, but mainly I've got to say, because of the high price tag that comes attached to silver.

So I've been trying to figure out how to make some pieces using silver but keeping the cost down. I've made a bunch of very simple earrings using beads such as pearls and vintage crystal(and in fact am now waiting on some more silver ear wires coming in the post) 

and a couple of pendants (also waiting on fine silver chain). 

Love this bead frame especially - I've had a couple of these in my silver box for years but never quite figured out how best to use it....I like this simple pendant.

I don't want to move away from my (still developing) style, but I do love silver, and it does give people options when looking at my work. I have quite a few friends who can only wear silver or gold in their ears so it's always good to remember that when creating.

What do other folk think about this? I know that silver isn't everyone's bag but I do personally love it, both oxidised and bright. So I'm going to try and keep some simple pieces in my stash of jewellery and see if they catch anyone's eye next time around. I hope I'm not just pandering to what I think (guess!) potential customers might want (I don't think I am, I really like all the pieces I've made) but am hopefully staying true to myself as a designer, whilst giving people options and keeping an eye on the purse strings.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad.

Giveaway Winner!

Just drawn my giveaway from the other day and (almost) very excitingly, have made the discovery that I have a programme called Grab on my MacBook which does what it says on the tin, ie it is a screen grab programme! I've only had this computer for 4 years......unfortunately I STILL can't get it to load onto blogger. This is almost certainly my fault as opposed to blogger's or grab's but still....it's rather annoying. 

But anyway, and without further ado, here is the winner......

Send me your address and I'll get posting :-) Feels rather odd to be sending beads to a bead artist (if you are not familiar with Genea's work then you really should be, she makes the most wonderful, colourful creations!) but I shall do my best to put together a fun and colourful package for Genea. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


A few small pieces on my table today.

And a simple necklace I made using one of the daisy clasps, a lovely faceted turquoise round from Barcelona, and a cool Humblebead headpin I've been hoarding for a few weeks (not long for me!)

Lastly, a simple chain and drop bracelet, made using some lovely Czech flower beads I bought last time I was in Edinburgh, from The Little Bead Shop. They now have a wonderful range of these for sale online - go check them out! I'm so glad they've got their online shop up and running :-)

What's on your bead table today?

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Bad beader!

I am a bad beader :-( last week, I ordered some of my Beads and Beyond pal Jo Tinley's new clasps. She packaged them up to me and was kind enough to include some lovely extra goodies for me. The reason I say I am a bad beader is that I didn't email her to a) let her know that the parcel had arrived and more importantly, b) thank her! I really thought I had, but no....only in my head. I do that sometimes....

Here is what I ordered:

And here's one of the extra goodies she sent me, right up my street I think you'll agree:

Isn't she beautiful? I can't wait to make something with her - after I've hoarded her for a bit of course :-)

Here's a close up of my favourite clasp:

And the back, so you can see how it works. It's about the size of my thumbnail - small and perfectly formed:

Jo makes some of my favourite designs featured in Beads and Beyond and I think that's partly because she has a completely different skill set and style from myself (well, when I say that, she can almost certainly do everything I can with wire, but I can't do anything that she does with fire and metal!). She always has something simple and striking on the go and her lovely blog is well worth checking out if you're not already a regular reader. I'm hoping to go down and have some silver smithing tuition with her at some point over the next year or so (not sure that she knows this!) but until then, I'll be buying these lovely clasps from her! Show her some love and do the same :-)

Monday, 20 June 2011

Beads and More by Lois

Look what arrived in the post a couple of days ago! Just managed to snap some pictures this evening of these goodies which Lois very kindly sent me as samples to share with you here. Lois's shop, Beads and More by Lois is one of my favourites, especially for picking up Vintaj goodies - she keeps her shop well stocked, service and delivery is excellent, and she runs a monthly coupon code for those on her mailing list - free findings, 20% off etc. It's well worth signing up for! She delivers internationally as well. Check out her blog that she has just re-started.

Lois tweeted to ask if anyone wanted a selection of goodies as a bit of a blog challenge and I of course took her up on this offer! She knows that Vintaj is my favourite so sent me this awesome selection including a really pretty buckle which I've been wanting to have a go with for ages :-) Thanks Lois! And watch this space for what I create....

Saturday, 18 June 2011

AMAZING giveaway!!

Wow. Look at this A.mazing giveaway that the very lovely Andrew Thornton is having! Hop over to his blog and leave a comment to be in with a chance of snagging this awesome stash from the Bead and Button show.

The goodie bag includes items from: Green Girl Studios, Diane Hawkey, Pam Wynn and Heather Wynn-Millican, Susan Lenart Kazmer, Raven's Journey, Lisa Peters Art, HumbleBeads, Earthenwood Studio and Amazing Porcelain. 

What are you waiting for?!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Jade Wisdom, design process and a giveaway

The lovely Barbara of Floridity left me a comment on my last post saying that she does in fact take custom orders for her sweet owls. Hurrah! I was swithering over whether to sell this bracelet or not but I've decided now that I will put it in the shop at least as I know I can get more owls when I want need them. I made this bracelet in Skye a few weeks back and I absolutely love it - the colours for me are just perfect. Pyrite is one of my favourite stones to work with but it can be in danger of looking a bit gaudy - I think I've balanced it nicely here. 

I've been reading a lot recently about folks' design process which I admit totally fascinates me; Jamberry Song hosted a song based blog hop at the weekend and although a lot of beautiful jewellery was created based on one song the thing that interested me most about hopping was reading how different people approached designing. For this bracelet I did what I often do - pulled out an art bead or focal (Barbara's owl) 

and designed around that. The pyrite gives respite from and adds a richness to the vivid green and the green in turn softens the pyrite, blending it in with the patinated brass. A simple design I'm really pleased with!

Jade Wisdom is for sale here

So here's a question, and I'll open it up into a giveaway of beads and bits and bobs - how do you design? What's your starting point or is it different every time? Do you start with colour, theme or beads? I'm fascinated by the process behind the jewellery, I hope you will share yours with me!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Some new jewellery...

Today has been a really lovely Saturday; for once neither myself nor Helen have had any work on and no hen-do or similar to set off to! A miracle, quite frankly. We've caught up with some of our friends who we've not seen for a woefully long time (months....we're bad friends!) and then went down to one of our local pubs which has lovely old weather-beaten benches - perfect for snapping jewellery in the summer - and took some pictures. Some new pieces - like this sweet bracelet featuring Gaea Cannaday clay, Humblebeads and some beautiful gemstones from PreciousSparkleBeads in beautiful Perth - deep purple amethyst and some highly unusual (and gorgeous!) Cape Amethyst smooth rondelles. 

I also made another few bracelets using some Floridity owls which I have been hoarding - some of my favourites and I'm pretty sad that Barbara doesn't make them anymore :-) Here's one of them - similar to one I sold round about Christmas. I used one in a necklace recently and I've used another in a cool bracelet I haven't decided whether to keep or sell yet.....I will share it here later on in the week. 

Wee Hootie (the II!)

And of course, the day wouldn't be complete without a turquoise bracelet....

Look at that delicious turquoise faceted round! I brought a strand back from Barcelona two years ago (two years! And I started this blog just after I got back from there. Can't believe it has been two whole years!). Love the mixture of gemstones and Czech beads I've used together here, perfectly complimented (I think!) by the Vintaj brass components. 

How's your weekend going? Sunshine with you? Fun plans? I hope so! x x x

Friday, 10 June 2011

New Beads and Beyond items in le shop!

A quick post today to say I am starting to upload some of my Beads and Beyond pieces into my Folksy shop. Just a couple yesterday (doens't it just take so long to upload into an online shop? Or is that just me ;-)?) but I have more which I will shoot and upload gradually. I've got another craft fair next weekend (Altrincham Market, Sunday 19th from 10.30) so I'm loath to load too much but just a couple of things here and there perhaps. There are some pieces I have either given away as presents, sold to friends or quite frankly, I just want to keep for myself, but there's still quite a lot left over for sale. I love getting jewellery back in the post - somehow it looks fresher and more sparkly than it did before!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Fairy tale bead swap

Hi and welcome to our magical mystery fairy tale bead swap! Those of us who are members of the bead swap party yahoo group decided to do a little bead swap amongst ourselves, this time with a fairy tale theme. I'm blogging from my phone as im away in rural England for a friend's hen do, so unfortunately I can't put any live links on this post. I will fix this as soon as I get on a computer but until then please check out Lori Anderson's blog for a list of everyone involved and links to their blogs.

My fantastic partner in the swap has been Sally Russick and she sent me the most amazing package of goodies....totally overwhelming, in a very good way! Please check out what she has made with the selection box i sent her. The fairy tale she picked for me was Little Red Riding Hood, a very good choice for me as it was one of the tales featured in Into the Woods, the musical I took part in earlier this year. She is so kind, she also through in a bunch of goodies that she thought I would like - and you were right Sally, I loved everything you sent!

I love all the colours I received and decided to pull out three of them - the lovely green shades, bronzey copper rondelles and of course, the red Czech faceted beads. I used copper wire and a hand forged copper clasp from sugar spun beads on etsy

and finished it off with a beautiful Marsha Neal focal

which I bought during the last beads of clay blog hop.

I am pleased with the result - I imagine the three red beads as little red riding hood tiptoeing through the woods on her way to her grandmother's.

I also completely fell in love with the beautiful silvery clear faceted Czech ovals Sally sent me - look at their sparkle!

Thanks Sally for providing such beautiful inspiration! I still have loads left over and will try to complete some more themed pieces using these over the next couple of months - watch this space!

Just as a small post script, I must have had fairy tales on the brain because look what I came up with last week......

Lori Anderson, Pretty Things  
Rebecca Anderson, Song Beads (here!)
Courtney Breul, Beads By Breul 
Loretta Carstensen, Designs by Loretta
Evelyn Hall, Dragon Lady Evelyn
Sandy Richardson, Sandy's Coloring Box
Tara Plote, Newbie Beader
Christine Brandel, A Hot Piece of Glass
Lisa Sittniewski, Alterity Art
Joanna Matuszczyk, Filcowe
Jenni Connolly, Jenni Bead
Geneva Collins, Torque Story
Elisabeth Auld, Beads For Busy Gals
Sally Russick, Wireworked
Mary McGraw, MK's Creative Musings
Norma Turvey, Moonlit Fantaseas
Erin Prais-Hintz, Treasures Found 
Stephanie Haussler, Pixybug Designs
Shai Williams, Shaia's Ramblings
Johanna Rhodes, Fire Phoenix Creations
Sandi Lee James, Do Be Do Bead Do

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


Look what came in the post today......

Thanks Erin! I spotted this lovely pendant in Erin's latest Simple Truths shop update and had to smile - how perfect is this for me?! Erin kindly reserved it for me as funds were low but once my pay cheque was in the bank; well, the pendant was in the post! I feel a spot of hoarding ahead but hopefully this pendant will soon be a beautiful piece of jewellery. Erin takes custom orders so if there doesn't happen to be the perfect pendant or charm for you in her shop then why not commission her to create you something lovely?


And here is something else on my bead table - a necklace made using my newly developing stamping and punching skills. I am LOVING it! Anyone else find themselves getting obsessed with new techniques on a monthly weekly basis?!

Hope your bead tables are bright and cheery today. Happy June!


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