Friday, 22 June 2012

Bohemian-Inspired Jewel{le}ry Hop

Welcome to the Bohemian-Inspired Jewel(le)ry blog hop. I am totally thrilled to be a part of this hop - and what's more, the only representative not in North America. {you can probably tell that I'm from the UK by my little spelling alteration to the title....I find it hard not to change these things!}How cool is that? I was chuffed to bits when Jaime of Interweave contacted me and asked if I would take part. 

Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry is written by Erin Seigel and Lorelei Eurto, with contributors Maire Dodd, Tracy Statler and Denise Yezbak Moore. This is a book that I, along with many others, maybe even you reading this now, was incredibly excited to get my hands on. I have followed Lorelei's blog for a few years now, and Erin and I are both part of the Art Bead Scene team, and I have really enjoyed getting to know her and her beautiful jewellery through the team. These ladies have some serious talent wracked up between them. If you haven't already, then I THOROUGHLY recommend getting your hands on a copy - either electronically or paper copy. It is chock full of beautiful designs, drawn together by two main elements - fibres, cords and ribbons, and artisan-made beads. Two elements of which I myself am extremely passionate about. 

I started my beading life back in the early 80s by stitching beads onto book covers made of old curtains with my Grandma, dabbled in cross stitch and then moved onto bead weaving and bead embroidery, before 'discovering' wire in my 20s. I think this background with a needle and thread is part of what makes me love working with fibres so very much. There is something so soothing about knotting, about the direct physical connection you have with what you are making, holding the cords and fibres in your hands and directly manipulating them - twisting and turning them - without tools getting in the way. I also love using handmade beads in my designs - I have long been enamoured with handmade lampwork, but I really have to credit Lorelei herself for introducing me to the world of handmade beads beyond lampwork - ceramic, metal,'s an amazing world to be a part of; incredibly inspiring and there is always something new popping up - a new artist, a new style of bead; even a new material. So put these two things together, and you have a very happy and inspired me
Firstly, I must just talk a little about the first section of the book - you know, the introduction; the section where there are lots of pretty pictures about materials and tools. I don't know why, but I always love these bits of beading books. Let's face it - I don't really need to read that beads are 'typically small pierced objects' but somehow, I always devour these sections, pouring over them eagerly, as if I expect to discover something new in the description of a headpin! However, Erin and Lorelei don't just take you through the obvious - there's so much on a variety of different ribbons and cords but also, an interview with Marsha Neal on how to care for and store your silk ribbons - very useful. They also don't just introduce you to 'ribbon', as you might expect, but to a whole variety:
Look at all these delicious styles of ribbon! I am particularly enamoured with that thick velvet ribbon - I must try and get my hands on some of that. Oh, and the printed cotton ribbon is pretty awesome too....There are actually 4 whole pages of different ribbons and cords. I love how this makes you realise how very versatile incorporating such things into your work can be. It's easy to feel limited by what we are used to working with but think what a different vibe using the crepe cord would bring to a project, compared with the velvet ribbon.

Enough about the 'tools of the trade' section; beautifully photographed and laid out as it is, it's the jewellery itself we're really interested in, isn't it? Never fear. It is every bit as beautiful and inspiring as you would (and I did!) expect. Another thing I like about the way this book is laid out is that the projects themselves are not grouped in any kind of progressive order. You start with this totally cool bracelet.
It's one of my favourite pieces in the whole book - it's a great design, original and innovative but eminently wearable. I think you could describe all the jewellery in the book in this way. {This green bracelet also makes me think that I must try and get my hands on some Golem beads! They are absolutely gorgeous...} The closing bracelet (also by Lorelei) is just as lovely - gentles blues and  aquas, birds and a mixture of chain, cord and beads. There's no sense throughout the book of building up to that really tricky to make necklace in the back...the jewellery isn't about how easy or hard it is to create, it's simply a book filled with beautiful, boutique-style jewellery. Less of a crafting book (although the instructions are clearly written and laid out), more an art book. A book you could have on your coffee table; one that anyone with an interest in the decorative arts would love to look through. 

Another aspect that leapt out at me was the gorgeous use of colour - something all five designers featured in the book are fantastic at! Take a look at this lovely necklace from Erin:

This necklace is up for grabs! Head over to Beading Daily and check out their polyvore challenge. I think I will be too...

Blue and orange - complementary colours and typically a bold colour scheme. Erin has transformed this into something gentle and delicately feminine - opalesque beads and the rich terracota-coloured focal with it's rustic shape and whimsical pattern all add to it's softness. I am completely in love with colour, and always looking to stretch my colour boundaries and flicking through the whole book I can't help but feel inspired by the colours alone.

For this special blog hop, I wanted to have a go at one of the designs myself. There were so many different designs I want to put my my own spin on but I decided to keep it simple and try out Erin's beautiful earrings:

Very often when I buy jewellery books, (and I have a lot of them...), I buy them for inspiration, rather than to recreate the exact projects. To learn techniques, or simply to be inspired by the beautiful jewellery created by designers who I admire. Although I have been knotting for years now, macrame is relatively new to me, and so I was very keen to have a go at seeing if I could learn a new knotting technique from a book.

On the occasions when I do recreate a project by another designer, I am never encumbered by trying to use the exact materials that they do. It's unlikely that I will have exactly the same beads in my stash, and often with artist-made beads, they are one-offs and impossible to get exactly the same anyway. That's all part of the beauty of handmade jewellery! So I grabbed wooden rings, Czech glass and waxed linen cord and here's my take on Erin's Copper Antiquity:

Pretty pleased with these little babies. Alongside the giveaways at Beading Daily, I'm going to give these sweet earrings away to one lucky commenter. Just leave me a comment - if you are lucky enough to have a copy of the book, what's your favourite project? If not, why would you like to get a copy - what do you find inspiring in a jewellery making book? Let me know, I will be making a drawing next Sunday - 1st July.

If this blog hop has piqued your interest and you fancy getting your hands on a copy, Interweave have a great offer on at the moment for both the hard (paper) copy and the ebook. Check it out here. Or if you are in the UK, here it is for us too :-)

Now hop on over to Beading Daily to continue the Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry blog hop! There are loads more fantastic artists taking part and I can't wait to see what they have all come up with for this weekend's celebration.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

postal charges and an offer

postage has gone up *so* much in britain recently - seriously, to send a parcel under 100g to the US or Canada has increased from £2.07 to £3.70 !! local parcels have gone from £1.58 to £'s not good. i think it's sad that local and international postage now costs me about the same; it's surely not good for the economy. but there you go - i'm not the one setting the prices here. 
i've uploaded a whole bunch of stuff into my two jewellery shops and as a little thank you to all my customers and readers, i'm offer free shipping in both of my shops for the next week! in etsy, use coupon code FREEPOSTJUNE, and in folksy (which doesn't yet have a coupon code system enabled - soon please folksy!) i will refund you the postal charge via paypal. 

blue rainbow
bollywood flowers

Monday, 18 June 2012

new pieces in les shops.

i've been photographing and editing all day - yawn, quite frankly! i do enjoy taking photographs but then i reach a point were i'm just going through the motions; not quite concentrating on the simple enjoyment of looking at what i'm taking, just making my way through a pile of jewellery and not necessarily getting the best photos that i can do. so hopefully i haven't done that today....i had a surprise day off due to my primary school doing a recording with the whole school today and thus my wee singers being needed for does mean that thursday - my usual day off - will be spent at work instead but never mind! so i thought i should really make use of it. 

lots of earrings. some of these i've made really recently (days ago) and some, over the past few months. what do you think? i can see lots of complementary and contrasting colours when i look at these as a whole, and i'm quite enjoying that. colour is such a huge inspiration to me, i do enjoy playing around with it - either in making it flow along from one hue to another:
or in juxtaposing complementaries with one another - usually secondaries or tertiaries rather than primaries, but i do love the odd primary combination here and there - see these lemon and royal blue earrings! 
quite a soothing combination i find.
i've also added a couple of rings, which is a new item i've been selling at my monthly craft fair - these are so fun to make, just playing around with shots of colour.
peachy mint
sweet tooth
 available in my shops now or over the next few hours....
one little blue bird

bollywood flowers
happy colours
shabby pearls
pearl aviary
poppy tears
it's been good to repopulate my little folksy shop as well - it's been neglected for too long. i'm never quite sure about whether i should have the two shops going - it's that mental toss up between knowing that whilst there are not as many buyers on folksy, there aren't as many sellers either - etsy is swamped with both. it's a little easier to list on etsy too so i usually end up just going straight there....however, i am making a point of trying to fill up little folksy. 14 items so far, where as there were 5 this morning. not bad for one evening! 

what have you created this week?

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Art Bead Scene

Hop over to Art Bead Scene today for my Studio Saturday post featuring the new arrivals in the Songbead Studio...


Thursday, 14 June 2012

some new earrings

last craft show i did, i noticed i was particularly low on earrings somehow. not quite sure how as i love them and often go through phases of making pair after pair, but i think a lot made their way up to perth and precious sparkle beads!
here's a couple of pairs from this afternoon:\

purple polymer rounds from beadsbyearthtones , patinated round links missficklemedia, teardrop links by metamorphsupplies . i got those cool recycled glass rounds in a destash from lorelei

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Cornwall - mainly St Ives

A few weeks ago, Helen and I visited Cornwall - first time for both of us. Wow. It is such a very beautiful place... especially St Ives; not where we were staying but where I would like to stay if - when - we return. I love the sea - one day, I hope we will live on the coast, it makes me feel so peaceful and at home. Here are some pictures to give you (and especially Malin :-)) a taste of this beautiful county.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Finally Friday - more colour inspiration

So, this week I was perusing my blog list when I stumbled upon Shannon's Finally Friday post. Each week, Shannon takes a palette from Design Seeds and challenges readers to turn it into jewellery, posting on Friday. I've enjoyed reading about these challenges on several occasions but have never joined in - but the palette which Shannon chose leapt out of my laptop, grabbed me by the shoulders and demanded to be used! 

And used it I have. I couldn't wait to get started and posted my first bracelet the very afternoon that I came across the palette, listed it on etsy, and it sold that very evening! That NEVER happens to me, so it was hugely exciting. It should now be over in Cheshire with (hopefully) a happy customer :-)

The original bracelet
I couldn't help but make some earrings to go with the bracelet...

Peachy Keen
Hula Skirts 
Stacked Flowers

But because I had already posted all of these pieces, I felt it only fair that I make one, not a necklace (I will definitely make one using this gorgeous palette but not yet) but another bracelet. Shouldn't be surprised really, I can't stay away from them!

All bronze components by TheaToo, lampwork by Moogin

Something very exciting about these three pictures is that they are the first to be taken using my new and improved (TM) lighting system! Yes, the umbrellas for my fancy pants lights arrive today and these photos were taken at 10.30 at night. What do you think? I shot these really quickly just to see what they were like (and I realise I forgot to turn the living room light out so that may well make a difference) but I am pretty pleased with what I see so far! No glare, no real shadows....I think I need to play around with colour as these are slightly (only slightly mind) washed out; the middle shot at any rate. But I am happy so far and I think I may finally have cracked this issue. Many more issues still to go but lighting may well be sorted!

Looking forward to seeing who else has joined in with this beautiful colour scheme. Here it is if you are feeling inspired!

Thanks Shannon :-)

Monday, 4 June 2012

Colour Inspiration

Yesterday I was doing a little blog hopping (something I haven't done as much of recently as I would like, time constraints....) and landed on Shannon's blog, For My Sweet Daughter. Shannon makes beautiful beaded and etched copper jewellery and is also a fellow member of the Allegory Gallery Design Team. She hosts a weekly challenge - Finally Friday - one I have seen before but never really had time to join in with (although it is an EXCELLENT challenge - colour based using design seeds palettes - well worth a peek if you are so inclined). This time however, her chosen palette for this coming Friday didn't just speak to me, it practically leapt out of the computer and shouted in my face! Very beautiful shouting, you understand. 
from Design Seeds
I immediately felt compelled to create something in this beautifully vibrant palette and pulled out one of my boxes of beads and began colour selecting (I'm not quite as good at this as Heidi but I still enjoy it!). 

And here it is....

I got a lovely fat order from TheaToo on Friday, and thought that the lighter bronze shades (compared with rich copper or even antique brass) worker really well with this sparkling palette. 

Can't you just see the colourful lei garlands, or imagine a traditional Hindi wedding with all of these saturated warm tones? I just adore colour and the emotional pull it has....

Friday, 1 June 2012

Newly listed

Newly listed in les shops:
(and if you're after my Challenge of Literature post, it's here)

Both of my shops are woefully empty at the moment, so the over the next few days I'm going to try and fill them up a little. It takes so bloody long though! And my photography set up still isn't great. HOWEVER, I today ordered some umbrellas to go with my fancy pants lights that came last month. They are definitely fancier than your average pants, but too direct - I am hoping the umbrellas will fix that issue. If it could be bright but cloudy every day, they wouldn't be necessary but sadly, the weather is Manchester's least strong point. Fingers crossed! 

Anyone got any top photography tips? How do you photograph? Do you depend on the weather or have you a more reliable set up (or do you just get good weather?!)


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