Tuesday 31 January 2012

The Dream Divers!

Normal beady service has now been resumed after my metal clay adventures of last week and I have just finished the latest piece for the Midnight Garden exhibition.  As usual, I am juggling all sorts of balls and one of those is creating some finished pieces for The Beadsmith using their Elegant Elements range of clasps.  I originally chose two clasps but I also received a third bonus clasp and when I first saw it I was reminded of a turtle.  Now turtles wouldn't have been an obvious choice for me to feature in a midnight garden, but I only have so much time and so I had to be a little bit creative and try and make the idea fit.  Maybe our garden is near the coast and there is an overgrown pathway leading down to a secret cove?

I knew straight away that I wanted to try and make a beaded turtle, but once I had done that I was left wondering how to create a finished piece.  I tried making a bracelet with a row of turtles and I tried attaching them to a cuff bracelet but there was no spark in their little pearly eyes and so I knew that I hadn't given them the home of their dreams.  It was then that I heard the story and saw the image flash before me.  The Dream Divers represents two turtles diving through the deep glistening moonlit sea of our dreams, past long fronds of gently waving kelp, singing a song that few can hear.

Do you see their little mouths?  Do you hear their song?  Do you feel the call of The Dream Divers?

Don't forget that you can see the inspirational work from all the artists in the Elegant Elements group in this Facebook album.


Monday 23 January 2012

Art Clay Silver Masterclass with Beads Direct!

If you are a regular follower of my blog you will know that one of my favourite UK suppliers is Beads Direct and that I have been lucky enough to work with them on a couple of occasions.  So when they told me that they were going to be running an Art Clay Silver Masterclass with two of the UK's top instructors and asked if I'd like to join them, I jumped at the chance!  I have never worked with any kind of metal clay before (you know me, I am normally a strictly seedy girl!) but I have often admired the finished work created using this medium and when I saw that one of the classes was to make a silver leaf, I thought that this would work well alongside my current work.  The classes were held at the easily accessible Yew Lodge Hotel just off Junction 24 of the M1 and as we arrived we were all welcomed by the Beads Direct staff who pointed us in the direction of tea, coffee and biscuits.  Nearly everyone arrived early and so it was lovely to sit in the plush hotel foyer and get to know the other students and learn how far they had travelled, what kind of beadwork they enjoy and what they hoped to achieve from the course.  After a round of introductions and a quick health and safety chat, it was straight down to work and our instructor Natalia let us all choose a leaf that she had picked from the hotel grounds that morning - I think the hotel guests who were having their breakfast in the warm dry glass-fronted restaurant must have wondered what on earth the woman foraging in the wet foliage was up to!  I chose a small leaf and carefully began to coat it with my Art Clay under the watchful gaze of Natalia:

Natalia explained to us how to mix each coat to the right consistency, gradually building up the coats of clay on our leaves as we carefully dried each layer before moving onto the next one.

We then learnt how to set a decorative stone into our leaves and eventually our leaves were ready to go into the kiln to dry while we wandered around the room chatting to the other students and staff.

Although they aren't perfect, our leaves were not bad for a first attempt and we were all happy with the results of our work, keen to try out other ideas and hoping to eventually achieve something more like our tutor's inspirational work!

I had a thoroughly enjoyable day and I can't wait to incorporate my little silver leaf with its peridot crystal into some of my seed bead work.  If you would like to have a go at using Art Clay Silver, Beads Direct offer a comprehensive starter kit complete with instructions and they also sell a great range of tools for when you are ready to branch out. Don't forget to keep an eye on the Beads Direct website, blog and Facebook page to see what other exciting events they have planned for the future!

Friday 13 January 2012

The Family Tree

As promised in my last blog entry I finally managed to finish my first piece which uses one of The Beadsmith's clasps from their 'Elegant Elements' range.  As soon as I saw this beautiful nest clasp, I knew that I wanted to create some kind of leafy necklace with two little birds waiting for their brood to hatch.  I've lost count of the number of hours and the metres of Fireline that have gone into this piece, but I know that it has taken me the best part of three weeks to complete.  Several times I found myself merrily attaching leaves in what I thought was the right place and then later feeling dissatisfied and chopping them off again, but I am finally content with the outcome and I think the birds look at home too.

Of course I stuck to the palette I have challenged myself to work in until September 2012 but I think that 'The Family Tree' will fit in quite nicely with the Midnight Garden exhibition.  Now I have another clasp to work with and I will show you the results of that as soon as it's ready.  In the meantime, you can see the inspirational work from the other artists in the 'Elegant Elements' group in this Facebook album.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

An elegant element!

Well here we are on the other side of the holiday season with 2012 already well under way.  I hope you all had an enjoyable time and that you haven't broken all your New Year's Resolutions just yet!  I had a lovely quiet family holiday and I managed to squeeze in some beading time, which is just as well as the projects are mounting up.  A few weeks ago I was invited by The Beadsmith to join a group of international bead artists who were all asked to choose two clasps from the new 'Elegant Elements' range and then to make a couple of pieces to show possible ways to use the clasps.  The first clasp I chose was the CLSP40SP Nest with 6 pearls:

I fell in love with this little nest clasp as soon as I saw it and all sorts of ideas popped into my head, some of which turned out to be completely unworkable!  However, now I've spent around 50 hours on this piece, it is starting to take shape and I am hoping to have pictures of the finished necklace to show you in just a few days time.  In the meantime, here's a little peek at what's been on my bead tray for the last couple of weeks:

And as another teaser, here is a rather ungainly shot of one of the finished components.  Can you tell what I'm trying to create yet?  Leave your guesses in the comments box and I will be back to reveal the completed piece very soon!