Thursday 29 September 2011

Introducing....Jo Tinley!

Welcome to my little blog series, Introducing....where I ask some of my favourite artists about themselves and their work. It's just my excuse to be nosy, really!

This week, it's my lovely colleague from Beads and Beyond magazine, Jo Tinley. She is based down south in the UK, and I've long been a fan of her clean lines and beautifully finished work. Very different from mine, but I love it! I have made a pact with myself that at some point, I WILL make it down to her place for some silversmithing day. But without further ado, I will hand over to....

Q1.How long have you been creating, and what led you to begin?

A1. I have been creating something for as long as I can remember! I’m really lucky that I come from a family where crafts were valued and encouraged. My Mum and my Grandmas taught me how to sew, knit and crochet when I was very young and I was always making simple necklaces or bags as presents for friends. Although crafts were encouraged, the idea of making a career out of one just didn’t occur to me and I eventually ended up as a Head of Year at a large secondary school. In 2002 I had was involved in a car accident and had to have 6 weeks off work. My birthday was at the start of the 6 weeks so to stop me from going insane with boredom my family bought me proper jewellery pliers and other lovely things to replace the cheap DIY tools I had been using, and off I went! I ended up selling my jewellery at local shows, teaching simple jewellery making at my school’s summer school sessions, teaching classes at a local art gallery and, after answering an advert in a magazine, writing magazine projects. Making jewellery helped me to relax after a stressful day at school. By the time my eldest son was born in 2005 I had a small business going and we decided that I should leave my job to look after the baby and set up the business properly around him.

So, you could put my current career and way of life down to a wonderfully supportive family and a woman in a white rover in Sainsbury’s carpark who thought her accelerator was her brake!

Q2.What do you get out of creating – be that emotionally, physically, mentally?

A2. I absolutely have to create. I get cranky if I don’t! I’ve learnt the hard way that as much as I adore my family and love spending time with my two boys I also need time in my workshed hammering and soldering to make me the best mum that I can be, so that when I’m not working my attention is completely on them. I find my work soothing and very therapeutic. I can shut the shed door, put the radio on and I’m in my own piece of heaven. I do get very nervous, however, when a client comes to pick up a commission! It’s not so bad when I post commissions to people, but I find myself holding my breath when people open up my little brown boxes in front of me!

Q3.What do you find inspiring?

A3. Everything! Patterns in fabric, the colours on the trees or in a ball of yarn, everything around me. The materials I work with are also very inspiring, especially the beautiful stones and lampwork beads I’m lucky enough to use.

Q4. Describe your workspace – are you lucky enough to have a studio set up, or are you like me and work in odd corners of your house?

A4. The tools and materials that my family first bought me fitted into a small wooden box – I soon out grew that! I am now the very proud owner of an 8’ by 12’ shed, fully insulated with electricity and lights. My partner built it for me with help from my brother. It overlooks the garden, so when the boys are old enough to play in the garden while I’m working I’ll still be able to look out and see what they’re up to. It’s big enough for me and two students, and I regularly run private tuition sessions in it. It’s got everything I need set up exactly how I want it, but despite the fact that I’ve got so much space I still spread out over all three workdesks much of the time! I am a very very lucky girl. My favourite time to work in there is early evening in the summer when the sun shines beautifully in through the long windows.

Q5.What are your favourite materials to work with and why?

A5. Silver and stones are my favourites by far. I love the versatility of silver, that I can use it to make my own chains, stone settings, rings, everything I need. I have had to learn to be more economical in these times of horribly high prices though, and recycle a lot of my scrap. Pieces of sheet left over from making a pendant get sent through the rolling mill to become a larger area of thinner sheet suitable for earrings, for example, and tiny pieces of scrap are melted to become the balls that I use on many pieces, including my poppy clasps.

Many of the semi-precious stones that I use are unique, and I get a lot of inspiration from them. They quite often tell me exactly what they should be turned into! A friend of mine has an etsy shop that sells amazing stones. We originally met when she came to me for tuition, and after I taught her how to bezel set stones she became so addicted to buying them that she had to set up shop to sell some of them on. She now pays me in stones for her tuition – the perfect arrangement!

Q6. Do you have a favourite bead or supplies shop you could share with us?

A6. There’s obviously the big shops like Cookson Gold and Sutton Tools, but two of my favourites are Mindy Macgregor’s lampwork beads at Moogin Beads ( and my friend Brenda’s semi-precious stones at Iced Hot Rocks  (

Q7.If you were to draw attention to a favourite designer or artist, who would it be and why?

A7. It has to be Mindy Macgregor! Her lampwork bead are so beautiful, such a wonderful use of colour. Her poppy beads are my favourite and I was lucky enough to snap up a poppy cabochon that I’ve set in silver as the centre piece of a necklace. I love that she sits in her workshop at home and makes the beads, I then sit in my workshop at my home and make something with them! Work that I make with her beads always sells quickly.

Thanks so much Jo! I love your work and especially your new range of findings - but then, I think you knew that already, didn't you?!

Please check out 

Sunday 25 September 2011

Alpine Alpacas

I promised some pictures of Switzerland to Heidi (how appropriate!) once the Bead Soup Madness had somewhat subsided (only somewhat, mind - I'm still trawling the blogs myself! Many, many to go......Check out my bead soup post here). And whilst I am still intending to do that soon (we were staying in the alps and honestly, it is ridiculously beautiful there), here's a wee video to give you a taste of what we saw from our chalet every day. Down the mountain a matter of metres, two alpacas and two goats were herded. We never saw any people with them; they were in a pen linked to what looked like a very small chapel. We almost drove past them every day on our way from the nearest town, Illanz, back to our chalet  in Valata (really a hamlet). We exclaimed over how very cute they were and so one day, we took the minor detour to visit them. Very sweet animals and breathtaking views, I'm sure you will agree. Starring me, Helen, my Mum and my sister.

Saturday 24 September 2011

Slooooow day at the craft fair...

Haven't done one of these in a while. Chorlton's Horse and Jockey farmers' market and craft fair. It is sloooooow on the inside - it's one here, been going since eleven and only about ten folk have been round. I am on my phone as there is not a soul here. Come on people of Chorlton, come out to play and buy lovely jewellery! Please?!

x x x

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday 22 September 2011

Introducing...Jo Rhodes

If you are after my BEAD SOUP POST then click here!

Welcome to the second in my new blog series - Introducing....This week it's local (to me!) jewellery artist and all-round stupidly clever person, Johanna Rhodes of Fire Phoenix Creations. Jo was one of my first partners in a couple of Lori's bead soup swaps and I still have some of Jo's pretty lampworks, waiting to find the perfect home. Without further ado, I'll pass over to her.....

Q1.How long have you been making jewellery and what led you to begin?

A1.  I remember my grandad taking me to Lichfield when I was a little girl, and I discovered Spellbound Bead Company!  I bought a stack of beads and made a simple strung necklace when I got home later that day.  I dabbled a little bit in my youth, but I didn’t take jewellery making up as a serious hobby until my first year of university.  It was exam season, and I was getting incredibly stressed out, and needed a way to ‘chillax’.  A friend had bought me a beaded necklace for my birthday, and I thought ‘I could do that!’  And so, after another trip to revisit Spellbound Bead, I started making simple bits of jewellery. 

Q2.What do you get out of creating jewellery – be that emotionally, physically, mentally?

A2.  Physically, creating jewellery can be very painful!  I’ve sustained various injuries from jewellery making (stabbing your finger with memory wire, anyone?!).  It can also be really frustrating mentally when something just. Won’t. Go. Right.  But putting aside those couple of negatives, there are a lot of positives: Mentally, I get a lot of calm whilst creating jewellery.  It’s my zen time.  Emotionally, it gives me a great high when I’ve completed a piece, and I feel very honoured and special when people say they like my work!

Q3.What do you find inspiring?

A3.  Really geeky stuff, like science!  Having a career in science means I see patterns in all sorts of things, and wonder how they can translate into jewellery.  For example, the structure of DNA: it’s a double spiral, which is represented perfectly using seed beadweaving into a spiral rope. 

Q4. Describe your workspace – are you lucky enough to have a studio set up or are you like me and work in odd corners of your house?

A4. I am lucky enough to have my own lampwork studio – my lovely fiancĂ© converted our outhouse into a little studio for me!  However, I don’t have a dedicated space to make jewellery.  I tend to spread out over the living and dining rooms, and really enjoy making jewellery sitting on the sofa with a good film on!

Q5.What are your favourite materials to work with and why?

A5. I have a guilty pleasure for seed beads so I can do beadweaving pieces – I really like Rachel Nelson-Smith’s ‘Seed Bead Fusion’.  I find beadweaving quite relaxing to do, and the finished piece always gets lots of compliments!  I also really like using polymer clay and lampwork beads in my work, and try to make my own components as much as possible.

Q6. Do you have a favourite bead or supplies shop you could share with us?

A6.Spellbound Bead!  The staff there are really friendly.  But I do buy a lot of my supplies online: Bead Sisters for basic components and a recent find,

Q7.If you were to give a shout out to a favourite designer or artist, who would it be and why?

A7.  Ooo definitely the delightful Rebecca Anderson!  I am in awe of all of your creations!  I’m also a huge fan of Lori Anderson, for making stunning jewellery and organising the Bead Soup Party; Erin Prais-Hintz, who makes amazing polymer clay components; Julie Fountain, a lovely lady who introduced me to lampworking; and Andrew Thornton, who always seems to effortlessly create amazing jewellery.

Thanks so much!

Thanks so much Jo for taking the time to answer my questions, I've loved finding out about you and your jewellery! And those pretty lampworks....Check out

If you have enjoyed this post, why not check out my original with New Orleans jewellery artist, Heidi Post. Or last week's inteview with Malin de Koning. 

And if you are interested in taking part in my Introducing....series, then just drop me a line here.

Saturday 17 September 2011

The Big Reveal!!!!!! and a giveaway.

So here it is, the day we've all been waiting for - the day when we all reveal our creations following the biggest ever Bead Soup Blog Party. Take a bow Lori Anderson, this is YOUR party! Thanks so much for organising this mahoooosive event and I do hope you can sit back at some point and take in this wonderful achievement of yours. We are all so grateful to you. 

My bead soup partner is Swiss glass artist Sabrina Staub. You can read about her here. You can see all the posts about our own bead party here. She has been an awesome partner! Absolutely the best.  Here: 

are the wonderful beads she sent me. They remind me of sea urchins at the bottom of the ocean; you could get lost in the deep, deep watery depths of the sea....And here.... what I made. I am such a last-minute Lucy (thanks for that phrase, Erin!) that I sat down at 7pm on Thursday night with Sabrina's loose beads....yes, I really cut it down to the wire, as I had only a short photo window on Friday available, I knew that Thursday evening was the very last possible moment for creating....You may not know this if you are just hopping over to my blog for the bead soup reveal, but I love (and I mean *love*) turquoise....and I adore the stunning beads that Sabrina made for me. But they were a challenge - oh yes, they were a challenge! That's what this is all about, right? Pushing yourself in new creative directions. The lampwork beads are stunning and of course, my colour - the challenge was their size. I don't often work with beads this large and when I do, I tend to think they don't need much else doing to them. They are the star of their own show and don't need many co-stars. Especially the mother of all focals that Sabrina made so beautifully for me. So I kept it fairly simple, but not too simple. I added a Gardanne lampwork bead in a co-ordinating shade of pink, some Sowzere silk ribbon, and Vintaj brass components. A little bit of asymmetry thrown in to make it a little more interesting but not detracting from Sabrina's artwork.

I made two pairs of earrings, one using silk cord paired with the cool lava cubes Sabrina sent me. I adore freshwater pearls so they were no challenge to include :-)

A bag charm - again, sweet and simple, show-casing another amazing lampwork bead from Sabrina. Really, they could all be the focals. I still have three left which will be closely hoarded until I can bear to touch them! 

Lastly, a pretty (I think!) bracelet using a whole bunch of spacers which Sabrina made me. I love the colour combination of deep teal and hot pink that Sabrina chose for me and I wanted to continue it here which some more of the ribbon I had used for the necklace. The spacers have a lovely, jangling movement when worn and I think they go perfectly with Sowzere's soft, rich ribbon. 

And now here's the confession. I haven't used Sabrina's clasp. Not yet. I just haven't quite figured out what it wants to be yet...something beautiful, I know. 

It's a fabulous clasp - very strong, a lovely iridescent finish to it and is such a clever design. I tried so many things and none of them worked. None of them did it justice. Rather that churn out something for the sake of it, I have admitted (temporary) defeat and will leave the clasp til another date. I didn't want to waste the clasp, because I love it! 

I do hope you're all enjoying hopping around and seeing all the wonderful creations. Please do check out all the other Bead Soup Party pairs 


I hope you've been as lucky with your partners as I have and have been stretched and challenged and inspired along the way. I have been. One of my favourite things is to move in new directions but I find it oh-so hard without a little push. That's what Sabrina's beads gave me :-)Although I haven't really deviated from my usual style, I have used different beads from ones I would usually have gone for, and am pleased with the results. Thanks Sabrina!

And now for the giveaway....I'm giving away my lava, pearl and silk earrings to one lucky commenter. 

Just leave a comment and make sure I can get back to you by leaving your email address or even better, having it switched on in blogger, so I can reply to your comment :-) I will leave this giveaway open for 2 weeks as I know it takes a while to hop around. 

Now go hop. 

BSBP Partner list

The Hostess, Lori Anderson and her partner, Manuela Wutschke

19. Anna Sabina­­­­ and Erin Siegel

115. Lesley Weir and Liz DeLuca

121. Lois Moon and Melissa Muir

x x x


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