Monday, 31 October 2011

Elukka house necklaces

Some new necklaces I'm making in preparation for The Handmade
Show in Perth on Sunday. Love these raku houses so much!

I'm trying out a few ideas for the show. It's the biggest show I've done so far, so I'm feeling quite nervous....loads of amazing jewellery (and non-jewellery!) artists attending so I hope I don't just sink without a trace...there you go, that's my Scottish positivity shining through ;-)

Art beads aren't so well known here in the UK, so I thought I might put a little blurb on my table. Any thoughts? Too cheesy? Helpful? Do you think anyone will be interested?! Any comments, gratefully received :-)

What is an Art Bead?

wear your art on your sleeve...

Art beads are individually hand crafted beads, made by highly skilled artisans. When I select an Art Bead, I know that I am using either a one-of-a-kind piece, or one that is part of a very small batch of pieces. I know that the jewellery I create will, in turn, be an individual piece of art, which tells its own story with the pieces it is built from - be that a raku ceramic house from Finland, a handcast pewter bird from New York, or a hand torched glass focal from Edinburgh. I find these miniature pieces of art inspirational - I hope you will too!

Don't forget to check out my interview with Bo Hulley and giveaway here :-)

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Art for your bag

And don't forget to visit the previous post to this for a cool giveaway! X

Friday, 28 October 2011

Introducing...Bo Hulley...and a giveaway!

It's been a while since I've done one of these, but I have a couple of exciting interviews coming up! Firt up, let me introduce a fellow Brit, Bo Hulley!(And make sure you read all the way down to the bottom, for a very special giveaway!) Bo makes beautiful ceramic beads on the Isle of Wight, a small island just off the south coast of England. I have never been, but I'd love to visit one day! I'm all about flying south in the hope of finding sunshine :-) And if you happen to be a regular Beads and Beyond reader, you'll have seen Bo's beautiful beads and buttons gracing their pages in my project for the current issue. So without further ado, I'll hand over to Bo.

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


Well, like most people who make anything – I’ve been making and creating all sorts ever since I can remember. My parents were both in the theatre at various points of their lives and were also creative, although in different ways to each other, so I guess they both influenced me. I just loved drawing, painting, sewing, gardening, making peg dolls and clothes for my little plastic Troll, ( that really ages me! ) but I come from a generation of 3 TV channels! We had nothing like the amount of goodies today’s children have – if we wanted something new we had to make it, simple as that.
I didn’t make jewellery until about 5 years ago, it was a real light bulb moment and as soon as I had made my first stretchy bracelet I was hooked.

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


A good question, I wish I knew the answer!
I think creating anything is almost going back to nature, to a simpler time (although not necessarily a better time) where everything was created out of necessity. Now we can do it for pleasure it is a luxury to produce something from scratch. Maybe it just fulfills a primal instinct in all of us, I don’t know.
When something turns out as I’d hoped I get a real kick, it doesn’t have to be particularly good as I know it can hopefully be improved.
I don’t make as much jewellery as I used to, I’ve moved onto ceramic beads which I adore making. The most satisfying thing of all is opening up that kiln as you never know what you may find. That boring bead rack of chalky blobs is transformed into a veritable sweet shop of gorgeous colours, if all has worked well I’m happy for the rest of the day, sorting them into sets, taking pics etc..

Q3.What do you find inspiring?

Old painted furniture
Farrow and Ball paint colours
The sky and the seasons
Bright and light early mornings
Clarice Cliff
Patchwork Quilts
Antique textiles

Old silk saris
Vintage Laura Ashley
Cath Kidston colours
An old green Morris with cream hub caps at the traffic lights this week – the beads this inspired are on the bead rack in the photo!

Selling – then I am inspired to carry on!

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


I work in different places, I have a small bead and jewellery shop in Ryde on the Isle of Wight. It is inside a pottery cafĂ© called Fired Arts, which is why I began making beads. Having access to clay and kilns was too good an opportunity to pass by. So I do a lot of work there, but I also work at home, at my kitchen table. It is a real luxury to be able to keep most of my jewellery goodies out of the way at work. I had a kiln delivered today though, so I think I will be spreading out at home………
In my last house I used to spend many afternoons at my dining table by the window, looking out on the world with a big glass of wine dreaming away while I made new designs. Bliss.

A full rack waiting to go into the kiln, the beads remind me of Edinburgh Rock, just dull and chalky.

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

A5.I have always adored semi precious stones, particularly turquoise and amber. I have a couple of very old turquoise brooches, given to me by my Italian uncle when my aunt died in Italy back in the 70’s. Maybe that started me off, I don’t imagine I would have seen turquoise before. I love how stones come out of a hole in the ground and are transformed into something so beautiful. I love glass and admire the skill and tremendous patience of lampwork artists. And of course I love clay, which can become anything you like!

The same rack just fresh out of the kiln - this is the part that makes the last week of bead making worthwhile - it reminds me of a sweet shop!

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

My first batch of beads and tools came from The Bead Shop Manchester, they were very helpful and I have bought a lot from them over the years.
Smitten Beads in Bath have some lovely things not found elsewhere,
E2S Supplies on Etsy for lovely findings.
Any number of fantastic bead shops on Etsy where I see things I’ve never seen before.

Q7.If you were to draw attention to a favourite designer or artist, who would it be and why?
I love your style, it’s how I think my jewellery should be, but isn’t, so I think it is just as well I have transferred my allegiance to ceramics.
The first ceramic artists who caught my attention were Jennifer Heynen for her sense of fun and colour, and Chinook Jewellery who use the most amazing textures and lovely colours.

Thanks so much Bo, for taking the time to share a bit about yourself and your work with me. I love your fun and cheerful beads! For me, it is always particularly exciting to find out that a bead artist that I admire is from the UK - shopping handmade AND local!
Please check out Bo's

Folksy shop

Now for the fun bit...Bo has very generously offered a $15 certificate for her shop, to whosoever can guess how many beads are on that UNFIRED bead rack! Leave a comment here, and whoever gets closest wins. Giveaway closes next Friday, 4th November. Oh, and if two or more folk pick the same number, whoever put it down first will have claim to the number, so make sure you read through any other comments first! Have fun.....

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Another sleepy bobbin

Inspired by last night's ABS challenge bracelet, I decided to have another go with one of Rebekah Payne's sleepy creatures! This time, a gorgeous wee blue owl, which was what first caught my attention on-line. I decided to repeat my design of yesterday, just using different beads - some lovely faceted large doughnuts I picked up in Glasgow, last time I was up. Not totally sure what the stone is, not lapis I'm sure, but I don't think it was expensive enough to be kyanite. Perhaps I got a bargain! Anyway, they're lovely, whatever they are. Add in some freshwater pearls (of course) and you have a new bracelet.

And as for 'sleepy bobbin'? I'm watching Willow this evening, and he calls his kiddies 'bobbins'. Love it! So I've decided these sweet beads should also be bobbins, as they are so terribly sweet :-)

October abs

Finally, an entry to the challenge. Polymer hedgehog, treewingstudio, lampwork, pinocean. See abs blog for full details.
It's soooo late here....I'll edit this in the morning.

***Update 27.10.11 (8.30am rather than 12.50am!)***

So, I'm feeling rather more awake now than I was last night! I cannot take the late nights anymore....First thing I did this morning was edit those photos, give them a nice vintage patina, turn them into a collage, and......


Much prettier than last night when I was literally falling asleep on the laptop. Which might also have had something to do with the fact that we had had friends round that earlier, cooking us an amazing from scratch curry, with lots of prosecco. Sure that was only a small part of it though....

I've used a sweet hedgehog bead, bought especially for the challenge (I then realised at 11.00pm last night that the deadline was the 26th! And I hadn't started...) from Rebekah Payne of TreeWingsSttudio. Firstly, I have ALWAYS wished that my name was spelled like that. And secondly, her beads are absolutely gorgeous! I'm not sure how I stumbled across her; it was only a month or so ago, but I've already placed two orders with her (the second for this very hedgehog) and her beads are simply tiny pieces of art; unique and very, very sweet. 

You don't really have to do much with a bead that pretty, so I kept it simple, wiring up some wooden rounds from Magpie Beads and a wooden ring (also from Magpie), to which I added some tiny lampwork beads from Pinocean, in lovely Autumnal colours. To stop them falling off their headpins, I added some wee copper spacers, and this had the fortuitous effect of making them look like tiny acorns! Well, to me at least ;-) Because the hedgehog is pretty petite, I thought he looked a bit swamped by the acorn ring, I gave him some little beads of his own to balance it out. And there you have it, a sweet and simple bracelet, ready in the nick of time for the ABS October challenge!Can't wait to see what everyone else has come up with :-)

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

A new design

I posted a Beads and Beyond project off to the mag today, and it's one I am oh-so-proud of....I'm giving you just a sneak peek of it here on my blog. My last two submitted projects have contained (shock horror!) no art beads but have seen me return to wire work, a Jewellery technique which I love. The latest set is particularly exciting for me as I feel it's the tip of an iceberg; an iceberg that I've been wanting to get to grips with for a long time, and I am now ready to start.

With some advice from the lovely Jo Tinley of Daisychain Designs (also a regular Beads and Beyond contributor), this summer I purchased a tumbler. It's still in pieces but this project has shown me that to take things any further, I must set it up and USE IT. (Jo, if you're reading this, I'm sorry! I have even lost the set up instructions....bad beader.)

So, watch this space....I feel I may have some new tricks up my sleeve....

Sunday, 23 October 2011

New items and a plea for advice!

Some new items listed in le shop...interspersed with a little post-craft show chat. 

So, today I was at a local-ish to me craft fair. I'm just starting to post the odd thing on facebook, so some of you may know this already. (Not a facebook fan. Not entirely sure why, apart from that it feels very Big Brother-y to me...but I'm doing my best to be brave though!)I did this same fair last month and it wasn't one of my most successful, and last month was especially quiet. I'm told this was the curse of September...not sure if it strikes everywhere though ;-)

It's a great venue in terms of space - an old, historic covered market, right in a town centre. I just have a feeling it may be the wrong venue for my jewellery. A lot of other jewellery sellers (although mine is generally pretty different from other jewellery - art beads/antique copper and brass etc just aren't anywhere near as big over here in the UK as they are in the US, by all accounts) and quite a few selling little, quite sweet pieces but much simpler than mine and much cheaper. And not just the jewellery - a lot of the stalls had generally much lower price points than me. 

Now, I must say, I don't think my jewellery is that expensive. I have tried to put my prices up in the last year, and especially since starting the craft fairs, but I still think that if I ever sold wholesale I'd be a bit buggered trying to make any money and, in fact, not losing money(!), with my prices as they are! Which is fine for the moment (because I'm not) but my point is that in the context of today's fair, I was expensive. Does anyone have any advice for this type of situation? Just give up with this market? Lower my prices (I'm loathe to do this)? Have different stock for these types of markets and purposefully create items that can be sold for less money? I generally have items available for between £4 (some hair grips) and £30. And actually, when I come to think of it, the few things that I did sell today were not at the cheaper end of the scale. I just didn't sell very many!

I've only just jumped into this craft market malarky, and (I'm sure this must be the same in the states) the more established ones are notoriously hard to get a slot at, especially for jewellery sellers. So I don't want to jump ship unless that's really the best option.....any seasoned craft fair-ers out there; if you have any advice, it will be most gratefully received! I took a few shots of my table today; once I've uploaded them onto the computer tomorrow, I'll maybe share them here too. 

If you're still reading, thanks for making it this far in my post! Hopefully it's not too whiney. Today wasn't a bad day and I met some lovely people, it's just whether it's worth it, for only a handful of sales, when I could still be in bed (as one really should be!) at 10am on a Sunday morning....!

Hope you have all had a fab weekend :-) x x x

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Sakura Lei Collar and Earring Set, or the allure of Turquoise and Red.

Oh turquoise, how I love thee; let me count the ways.....or should I say shades. This shade block is one of the pictures that popped up when I googled 'green to blue'. Caribbean shades of azure and aqua....I also love teal, moss, sage, mint, cobalt...essentially, anything from blue to green. And one of my favourite colours to pair it with.....


The opposite of the turquoise shades I love. Red, Add white; it becomes pink. Darker, and it quickly becomes brown. In this post, I talked about working with red in isolation. How I love to wear it, but not to work with it....(although after Andrew's challenge, that has changed a little!). One exception to this has always been pairing it with a shade of turquoise. I have a LOT of jewellery (including at least one Beads and Beyond spread that I can think of off the top of my head) in this colour combination. All shades seem to work....there's so much to play with in beaded jewellery - light, texture, size, as well as tone, tint and shade. (If I sound like I know anything about colour theory, I don't. I just wing it, and bow down to the likes of Beverly Ash Gilbert, colour goddess :-) These are just words I've picked up from my regular bead blog trawling...)

So, when The British Bead Awards came around again, it't no surprise (to me at any rate!) that I reached for my favourite colour combo; this time in shades of mint and deep coral. I had had the idea for a bead woven and wirework collar for some time now and once I had the new flower design sorted - took a little trial and error but as I've been making beaded flowers for years, it was really just an adaptation of my original shape - I was away. I worked right up to the wire with it, but I have to say, I was chuffed to bits with the end result when I was finished. The flowers are attached with large seed beads stitched behind; thin brass wire is then wrapped around the handmade wire and ribbon base and the flowers are picked up individually. Needless to say, they came on and off several times before I was happy with it! 

So without further ado, here is my Sakura Lei Jewellery Set - 3rd place in the British Bead Awards, Seed Bead Jewellery. 

After pondering the draw of this particular colour scheme, I decided to take a visual trip down my own jewellery memory lane, and see what other versions of this combination I have used in the past. I thought I'd share some of them here....

I was amazed as I looked through my work, just how much there was with this colour scheme. And if you stretched your idea of red to encompass pink, and maroon; even more.

It's also interesting to see how my photos have changed...well, interesting for me, possibly not so much for you! I'm a big fan of the natural, grey-ish matt backdrop now. This time last year, I favoured white but it's somehow too stark for me now. How about you - what do you like to shoot on? I am constantly tying to work on my photography skills (I'm currently a student of Kerry Bogart's Snaptastic class) and I am pleased to see a general progression over the months. 

Do you have a favourite colour scheme? Do you take your cues from the beads that lie in front of you or reach for the beads to recreate an idea within your head? Do you like red and turquoise as much as I do?! I'd love to hear your thoughts :-) 

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Mary Harding

I have a seeeeerious crush on this toggle....thanks, Mr Postie! And thanks too, to Mary.

A quick instagram

2 knotted bracelets from last night, with a humblebead toadstool charm, and a Jenni Connolly lampwork bead. Autumnal shades of my favourite colours.

Friday, 14 October 2011


So, I'm here in Surrey (just outside London), sitting in my pyjamas in a wee single bed at a lovely, sweet b and b called Lilac Cottage. Why am I here? Well, tomorrow is The Big Bead Show at Sandown, and part of the show is the British Bead Awards. And....I'm a finalist! I've known for about a month now but have had to keep it all under wraps whilst the final judging was taking place. But, it's all done now - all that's left is the award ceremony tomorrow morning.

The best thing about these awards is that all of the finalist pieces form an exhibition which lasts for the day of the show. I was lucky enough to be a finalist last year as well and it was such a privilege to be part of the exhibition; to have my jewellery alongside so many other beautiful items. Whatever the outcome, tomorrow will be an exciting day for all the finalists, I'm sure.

Here are two pieces I have made tonight - warm, autumnal tones, ready for a craft show I'm doing back in Manchester on Sunday. Pretty raku houses from

***update 15.10.11 - 3rd place in seed bead category!! So chuffed :-) ***

Thursday, 13 October 2011

New Jewellery...

New items listed in les shops....

Use coupon code LOVELY in my Etsy store for 20% off until the 17th October. Email me for the discount via Paypal refund or relisting of Folksy items

x x x

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Andrew Thornton's September Challenge

A very quick post's late and I have a very early start in the morning so I'm scheduling this post and then turning off the light!

Here are the list of participants:

(also posting today due to postal hang ups!)

First up, a knotted pearl bracelet using Andrew's Mystery Component - a beautiful hand crafted copper clay coin. I loved this so much, I wanted it to really stand out on a simple piece of jewellery - and what better way to showcase it than with pearls? I included a few beads from the Luxury Bead Mix too.

Next, I used the very cool enamel flowers from Sara of C-Koop Beads. I have a current obsession with enamelled components and so these were perfect for me! I used some of the beads from the luxury bead mix to create the knotted backdrop for the flowers, some of the lovely Swarovski crystal elements, and a very cool pewter clasp from The Little Bead Shop. The photo isn't the best, but trust me - these pewter findings are gorgeous!

My final bracelet used the Soft Flex, which I was determined to have a go with, and more of the luxury bead mix. I rarely use beading wire (unless I'm teaching Beginners' Jewellery) and I have to say, it kind of stumped me a little. This bracelet, I'm a bit 'meh' about....kind of a waste of a pretty clasp if you ask me (again from The Little Bead Shop). Any thoughts? I find it hard to think out of the box with beading wire. So I might bust this one apart. Put the beads and clasp to better use.

And now to my favourite (using the beading wire no less!). I picked these gorgeous Vintaj floral bead caps up at The Manchester Bead Shop where I teach, at the weekend. They are absolutely stunning. And I had an image of them with little stamen poking out of them, using the beading wire and (yes, you guessed it ;-)) the luxury bead mix. I am very pleased with how these came out! They are really just a combination of very cool components, but I'm still happy at how they came together.

So there you go, another challenge completed, another blog scheduled! This one turned out to be slightly more stressful than necessary because I had accidentally written down the 19th as the reveal....not the 12th....and it was only when reading Deb's blog Monday evening that I realised I had to post on Wednesday.....hence the dark, flash lit pictures. Hopefully everyone else has been more organised than me! It's not hard....
I've still got quite a lot left over - some chain, the very awesome Grow focal from SwoonDimples, Swarovski crystal, dichroic glass, a Humblebead charm, Soft Flex - even some more luxury bead mix, believe it or not! So hopefully I'll get some more purple pieces up and posted soon.

THanks so much to Andrew for organising this wonderful challenge! I've really enjoyed it. Happy Wednesday!


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