Saturday 31 March 2012

The Rivoli Daisy by moonlight!

Although I have been enjoying working on the Midnight Garden for the last 6 months, most of that time has been taken up with some quite intense designing with a lot of head scratching and unpicking involved.  So I thought it might be nice to give myself a break and incorporate a few of my existing designs into the garden - worked in the right colour of course!     I decided to follow one of my own patterns and started off with the Rivoli Daisy bracelet using some gorgeous Swarovski Rivolis in Vitrail Light.

It just goes to show how swapping the colours around can make a real difference to the finished piece.  The next picture shows the original design and both bracelets are made by following the same Rivoli Daisy bracelet pattern!

I am pleased with the end result of the new bracelet and I can certainly picture a delicate fairy wearing this creation as she dances round our enchanted garden.   Imagine the moonbeams glancing off the Rivolis as she twists and turns her wrists, making the whole bracelet flash like fairy lights across the night sky ...


Tuesday 20 March 2012

The Fairy Doorway!

We finally have a new piece in the Midnight Garden and this one took me around 3 weeks to get right!  The prototype took nearly 10 days of careful beading and right at the end I discovered that there was a little thing that I had overlooked which spoilt the look of it and for me that means only one thing - start all over again!  So here is the Fairy Doorway.  As you can see I have used another wonderful piece of labradorite and this time I have created a brooch that has a little hinged door that opens and closes to reveal the magic inside.

The Fairy Doorway is surrounded by twisting vines, intricate leaves and delicate flowers arching around the simple door with the flowery handle.  The door serves as a shield to the magic inside to protect it from prying eyes and yet at the same time it beckons the brave.  Would you care to take my hand, approach the door, turn the handle and step over the beaded threshold betwixt two worlds ...

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Show time!

If you have been following my blog recently you will know that towards the end of 2011 I was invited by The Beadsmith to join an on-line group of international bead artists who were all asked to choose a couple of clasps from the new 'Elegant Elements' range and then to incorporate them into our designs to show possible ways to use them.  So first I created The Family Tree using a lovely little nest clasp and then I made The Dream Divers using a beautiful domed clasp that reminded me of a turtle.  Shortly after that, Steven from The Beadsmith contacted me to say that his company was going to be attending a trade show in the UK which was quite close to where I live and he asked if I would be interested in showing some of my work at their stand ... what do you think I said?

Yes of course I jumped at the chance!  I also suggested that Steven send me a couple more clasps so that I could make a bigger display showing even more ways to use these high quality clasps.  This gave me just 10 days to come up with some new designs and get all the beadwork finished and ready to display.  Although I did change the clasps on a couple of recently completed pieces so that they could be included, I can tell you that evenings and weekends were cancelled as I pulled out all the stops to get everything finished and ready for the show.  My fingers were quite literally bleeding by the time I stitched the last bead into place but I think it was worth the extra work.

I spent two days at the show meeting and chatting to old friends and making new ones, helping out at the stand (a little!) and talking to people about my work.  Of course people weren't only interested in my work, there was a very eye-catching glass case at the edge of the walkway filled with stunning work created by some of our talented US friends (such as Nancy Dale, Linda Roberts and Cynthia Newcomer Daniel) and as they twinkled and sparkled in the lights they caught nearly everyone's attention.  Don't forget that you can drool over the work from all the artists in the 'Elegant Elements' group in this Facebook album.

And now it is time to recover from all the glitz and the glamour and return to my beady greenhouse to see what will be making an appearance in the Midnight Garden next ...

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Showcase 500 Beaded Jewelry

It's been such a busy couple of weeks here in the beady greenhouse that I completely forgot to share some exciting news with you!  Some time ago I responded to a call for entries from Lark Crafts for images of beadwork for their new book Showcase 500 Beaded Jewelry: Photographs of Beautiful Contemporary Beadwork and I am thrilled to say that I have received notification that two of my pieces have been accepted.  One of my favourite beading books of all time is another book from Lark - Masters: Beadweaving and I remember the exact day in 2008 when I received this as a present, I spent hours and hours poring over every photograph, daunted and inspired at the same time but never imagining that one day I would have pictures of my work in a similar publication.

I won't show you pictures of my pieces that will be in the new book as I don't want to spoil the surprise for you, but if you are in a position to, I would heartily recommend that you pre-order this book at its new lower price so that you can dive into it as soon as possible.  If you are an experienced beader I am confident that it will provide you with lots of 'oooohs' and 'aaaahs' and 'why didn't I think of that?' moments.  If you are new to beading then I just know that you will feel the same way that I felt about Masters: Beadweaving and I hope that after you've got over the initial overwhelmed stage, that it will ignite your imagination and set you off on a journey of your own.

And now I must hurry back to my beady greenhouse ... something leafy is just about to sprout!

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.