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Friday, 23 May 2014

The Gray Collection is growing.

Hi Everyone
I have to admit, the 'weather' is a huge influence on me everyday. I must have been living outside in another life ! It was lunchtime yesterday before the sun started to shine. I seemed to be (subconsciously) waiting for the sun and then tackled the last pair of Gray Collection earrings and made the silver hooks. I couldn't decide on the actual design, having been quite sure of it at the design stage. In the end, I tried a few shapes in art wire (see below) to check what worked best. I blame the weather on my procrastinations.
As soon as the rain stopped I'd decided what to do. Here are a few photos.

I created some little roundish nuggets on the end of the wires to hold the beads onto the hooks. The nuggets have been cleaned and hammered flat. I like this approach rather than making a loop or adding a pin.

I couldn't decide on the size of the hook 'bend'. My original idea was to have a very short hook with the bead almost on the ear. It didn't look right. I have tried to give a slightly different look and this large curve makes a sort of hoop but a dangle at the same time.

I will wear the earrings for the day to check how they feel and standup to practical living. Amazingly, the Gray Collection has grown again. The collection started as 4 or 5 pieces, now I'm heading for ?
The broaches and the rings are underway with an added 2 pieces which will be 'hair jewellery'. Ive long been keen on developing hair jewellery. This will be my first try. Here are a few more elements of the collection :

1- extra pair of earrings (more decisions for hooks)
2- crimp covers for necklace 1
3 - extra tiny earrings (even more hook decisions)
4 - top part of a ring 1 (may add a sterling silver band ?)
5 - no idea at the moment
6 - broach 1 (base layer only)
7 - clay band for ring
8 - top part of ring 2

All these elements need to be given a paint treatment and further development but I'm learning much more by taking this experimental design approach. I'm carefully recording each stage and will have a good tutorial as a result.

Have a great weekend. It's also a holiday time for us (kids are off school next week). Hope the weather picks up ! We are spending time doing big house jobs rather than going away but all will be relaxed and I'm planning lots of 'me' time (biggest challenge of all !)

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

A 'positive' disaster !

Hi Everyone
It's another and the weather is awful ! - heavy showers and very disappointing. What happened to Summer ? Despite the weather, I'm hopeful I can get creative !

My plans for the Make Art Monday piece (the roses idea) failed completely, yesterday. I eventually chucked the whole thing in the bin. I tried quite a few approaches and was hopeful - right until the end. Each little idea filled me with new enthusiasm. However, towards the end of the afternoon, drastic measures had to be taken ... in the bin 'it' went. That left me with a problem - what could I do now ? I decided to use a section of a recent piece of artwork ie the Genevieve painting. I digitally flattened all the colour, cropped the full size version and then printed it. I re painted the face and added some additional details and eventually produced this :

It's quite a simple rework of a painting but Ive had some ideas about using this technique for other prints and will try out some more ideas. I like the idea of doing a series of versions of the same painting linked as one piece. Perhaps my 'disaster' will start something interesting ? I did like the roses image from yesterday and am a bit disappointed that it came to nothing. I will definitely work on doing something with that too. Not sure what ? I need to 'ponder' for a while.

Update on the current jewel work - the second set of earrings from the Gray Collection is still waiting. I know what I want to do - it's very close ! The broaches will also begin in about 5 mins.

My mind is working on producing a papermache large flower (I blogged this idea last week and it's been swirling around my head ever since) as a house vase display item (in pink).Ive got a couple of bright pink cushions to make too. I think possibly this weekend may produce something. The flowers are the ones I mentioned a while back, inspired by Hilary Bravo. Here's a quick reminder :

This is a broach created by Hilary Bravo but the idea is there. I want my version to be larger and attached to a stem of some sort. I have some florist vases and would like to fill them with my flowers. Ive worked through the idea in my head and have all the materials (I think). I will do a small version first - maybe a broach - to test out my plan.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Something old and something new !

Hi Everyone
I had avery busy day yesterday doing family things and volunteer work. I didn't manage too much creative stuff. My Make Art Monday has been sorted in principal but not much further. I'm going to use the roses photo from yesterday and add paint to change the detail. I'm determined to get some spoons in somewhere too. I decided to redo the roses image and add some little extra bits. Here it is now :

I managed to make some ear wires for the tiny Gray Collection earrings. I'm quite pleased with the outcome. Here they are :

Today, I'd like to get some larger wires ready for the 'pod' style beads and start with the broaches. Let's see where I get to !

On another completely different subject. I saw an amazing print idea while browsing. The material used is called Inkodye.

Ive watched a brilliant Youtube video Watch showing how it's used or rather one way in which it can be used. The idea is basically printing onto fabric - to photo image standard using the sun to develop the image. It sound too good to be true but I'm convinced already. I love printing and messing about with images especially on fabric. I will definitely be giving this a go. It costs about £18 for a bottle of a single colour - as you can see from the photo there are quite a few colours. You need an image - the lumi people produce transparency sheets for the job £14 ish and a wash/seal product, another £7 ish. I'm wondering if I can use the transparency sheets I already have ? Anyway, the idea appeals enormously. I'm not sure how far each ink bottle goes ? I guess it depends on the size of the project. My initial idea would be something like a cushion or a summer skirt ?

Thanks for reading

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Talking Roses

Hi Everyone
Reassuringly - I'm back to my usual earlier blogging routine today. I feel secure with 'routine'. There's a whole new subject to consider ! I wonder what that says about me ! Let's move on ......
I found some inspiration (as I hoped from watching The Chelsea Flower Show last night) for the Make Art Monday activity. The rose section shown in the programme gave me some lovely ideas for a background. I saw some labels (reminded me of spoons) sticking out of wooden blocks, displayed amongst the roses which attracted me to 'spoons'. I love spoons and thought I could do something creative with roses and spoons.
Big pots of spoons and scattered roses ? - just a thought. Ive since been looking for images to inspire the look. I love this one :

Take a look at my Pinterest board with lots of other beautiful roses which have given me ideas. The weather is not as good as yesterday, bit disappointing ! However, working at the roses painting will lift my spirits.

Other news - I'm still stalling with the Gray Collection. The button earring has been polished but I failed to make the ear hooks for the other two earring styles. Indecision crept in ! I think Ive resolved the issues and I should be onto it today. Here is a quick view of the Gray Button Earring :

I'm also working on a range of photos for presenting the Gray Collection today. Maybe the roses may come in again ?

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Inspiration from Chelsea ?

Hi Everyone
I'm incredibly late with my blog today. Ive almost missed projecting on my day ! Ive been busy with entertaining friends with a little writing. I have a long list of jewellery jobs and a new Make Art Monday word to work on. The new word is SHINE. I'm not quite sure what will come of that ? I'm drawn to flowers at the moment. I'm watching the Chelsea Flower Show and I'm hoping something will happen to spark something ?
Last weeks painting was this :

I quite enjoyed doing this. It's much more like the stuff I usually do. Although the point is to do it on a Monday. I like to spread it out over the week. I tend to do an outline each Monday and then add something everyday until Friday. Then it's finished.
The next bits of the Gray collection will be the earrings. In total I will have three. I have added an extra button earring in Gray to add to the collection.

I will concentrate on simple, contemporary wire shapes for the two bead types ie the small bead plus and a larger seed head shape.

I hope to bend the wires this evening. I should have something to share tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 16 May 2014

When is a hole too small ?

Hi Everyone
The sun is shining and it's very warm today - wonderful, my world feels positive !

An update on the Gray Collection - I worked hard yesterday and learned lots. My hands are so sore with filing holes in beads. The major lesson of the day has to be CONSIDER how big the threading hole in the bead needs to be before firing. Ive generally used a single tool for this job. Here it is.

I always use this tool after shaping the clay and so far it's been great for all my needs - using elastic or 1mm thread. However, the Gray collection designs have a number of clasps and my idea is to use the thread as a link to the clasp with a number of the pieces. Hence the thread is either thicker or Im 'doubling up'.

I spent hours yesterday, filing and testing for hole size. I did watch tennis on TV at the same time - great thing ! I would never have watched lots of games at the Rome event - so a positive result there. I really enjoyed it. Anyway back to the jewellery. My filing tools are these :

The orange item is a wire brush for cleaning the files - a constant job. I do have a drill and have tried that but the hand approach gives me the control I need for the balance between a snug fit and sliding too much. The drill was too drastic and risky ie ruined beads within seconds ! Most of the filing was needed on the second bracelet. The first elastic bracelet has been great, ive worn it all week. i love it. I needed the four beads either side of the clasp bracelet to hold a doubled thread passing through it.

The clasp is small because I want the bracelet to be an everyday, wearable item. My usual bracelets are elastic because they don't dangle and interfere with my work. So, a small clasp without an extra link ring is a solution. I like the look and although the threading was a challenge, if the holes were bigger in the first place, things would have been better. I'm going to wear the bracelet all week to test it's durability. I glued the double, quite tight threading on the four beads either side of the suede 'links'. I usually 'over engineer' everything and I would like a knot in there too. We will see how things turn out.

I'm also going to wear the lariat necklace ( the third piece in the collection) to check how it stands up to a week of work and house tasks (minor cleaning major cooking etc.) I want the design to be simple but it's got to be secure.

The bottom beads are stuck in place with cement glue. Again, a knot would be better for me. The bead on the right is quite high on the design as I'm wearing it. The point of the bead is to stop the left top bead from sliding to high (I like this look) but at the moment the fit is quite tight and holding its position well. When it's moving around and being put on and off, things may change. I will report next week.

The fixing of beads and clasps is something I'm thinking about and am going to try out a different idea for covering knots. I know lots of jewellery, in this semi boho style, does have knotted stringing and it would work OK but I still want to explore some more possibilities. I'm thinking - use a knot and make a bead cover in clay, integral to the design and then stick it somehow ? I do have some silver crimp covers and may use this approach too.

My Gray collection comprises ten pieces and Ive done three. Lots of opportunities with the remaining seven to tweak designs. I like this way of working ie making up a prototype collection rather than making a single item and then a batch. It allows for design changes and gives a cohesion to working with a single or limited bead design. I think it will make a more creative approach to my work. I also feel great about my progress - I must be getting to grips with realistic 'task management' ! - perhaps it's too early to come to that conclusion ?

I'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend in the garden - have a great weekend.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Clasp Debate

Hi Everyone
Unfortunately it's raining (light drizzle) this morning - and very dull. I'm always less inspired to get going when the weathers poor. I hear things will improve later. Fingers crossed !

Getting to the main project of this week ie The Gray Collection ... I didn't make much progress yesterday - not sure why ? I think I came to a point where decisions about stringing and clasps came into play. I'm now in a state of indecision. I need to face my fears !

My initial production plan for one of the necklaces, needed larger holes in a few beads. I didn't have the right size drill bit which didn't help my cause. I think, Ive made the holes too big - still unsure at this point ? I wanted to pass two strands of the the Gray suede material through a single, very small bead. I have done this but the hole is slightly too big and has become a simple adornment rather than a functional thing. I had thought the bead would allow the loop to be secured (with the help of a bit of cement glue). It seems, I still need a crimp of some sort to keep the attachment loop secure. It may turn out that a crimp will fit inside the enlarged hole ? I'm not sure.

If the solution works, Ive made a brilliant design decision if it doesn't - I need to turn a mistake into an opportunity ! I know for certain, I want to become skilled in stringing/beading techniques - this is my latest mission. I feel, I should be designing finishing techniques into the initial idea. Its important to me that I am able to decide what I want to have as the end product and not be limited by my own lack of skills. Stringing and adding clasps always causes me a few problems. It's definitely a weakness in my skill set. I'm fine with the elastic bracelet and have conquered that one - a story for another day. I did initially have issues with knotting elastic for a secure closure. I have a few different approaches to the elastic closures on bracelets and I do sometimes use the elastic stringing thread on necklace where I want a 'no clasp' option.

With each design project there is a slightly different solution. My inclination has been to avoid clasps all together in the past. I think I'm missing out on a design feature by doing this, hence, the Gray Collection is embracing 'the clasp'. With reference to adding a clasp to one of the necklaces, Ive decided I do prefer a simple and professional looking clasp. I have a couple of clasps here and prefer the style of 2 for the particular necklace I'm making.

The (2) clasp needs a space within the design to directly link to the string. Ive decided not to have an additional jump ring - this may change if I can't make this one work. The small ring space on the clasp may work but I think it could make the necklace lie at a strange angle on the neck. I think I need to tweak the shape. When I get it right, I will make a second and try out as a clasp.

Wish me luck !

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The Gray Collection

Hi Everyone
It looks like it's going to be a lovely day today. There is a warm 'feel' in the air ! Ive been out watering my greenhouse - brimming with plants almost ready for planting out. I just need to prepare the final spots in the garden beds. However, all that will need to wait.

Big news, Ive also managed to prepare most of the Gray Collection - currently this comprises of two necklaces, two bracelets, two pairs of earrings and (yet to be developed) two broach designs and two ring designs. Plus a possible additional necklace. Here are a few 'under development' photos :

This one is a bracelet and needs a silver clasp.

This is the lariat necklace design.

The beads at the end of the lariat.

This is a necklace waiting for a silver clasp.

I like the idea of another necklace using this design :

The beads are highlighted in this simple , understated necklace and I like the simple tie. I will need a few more beads if I make a similar design - Ive used up the last set.

I hope to develop a few more beads to complete the collection and consider some new packaging. Lots to do.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

More new ideas.

Hi Everyone
The sun is shining again this morning - lovely.

My day yesterday was busy but I only managed to finish painting the new Gray beads. I wanted to polish and seal the new set but ran out of time. As usual my to do lists didn't quite get there ! I'm going to look at the current thinking about to do lists and come up with a more informed approach. I did finish the long awaited button collection display for a range of stud earrings.

I would have the detailed product photos etc. complete but Ive run out of butterfly backs. Ive ordered more but it's holding up matters - whatcha this space ...... I also added some extra paint to my MAM effort. It's a bit dark at the moment. Here it is :

Ive also been looking at beads that Ive made (and not quite finished) into wearable jewellery with a view to stocking up my shop. I'm concentrating on writing at the moment and Ive less time to devote to making completely new stuff. Here is my idea of the day - a new initiative to keep me making.

These beads are part of the 'glass range' - they have a summer feel and I would quite like them for myself !

This is a combination of a simple sterling silver wire and a metal earring (in two layered parts) Ive produced in the past. I like the idea and will go with it.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Connections !

Hi Everyone
It's a bit dull here this morning, almost raining (it did rain quite a bit over the weekend too ! Despite the weather, I did spend quite a few hours in the garden over the weekend and have cleared along with help from everyone (in our little family) a major part of the mess. Lots more to go but we have a garden plan and it's possible to see what it will be. I want the whole thing to be simple in design and have fewer miss/matched styles going on. The space is very small and I have a view that we can make the space seem bigger if the lines are simple and we keep to 3 or 4 elements in our garden features. We have planned an extra deck and Ive got rid of the wild, cottage/wood/neglected look from much of the growing areas. When I have a larger space cleared, photos will record what we are trying to do. The garden will feature in my book and the deck will be part of a project so it's central to life at the moment.

I also managed to produce a few more grey beads to develop the Gray Collection.

Here are the new unfinished beads and the remaining stock. I will finish the new beads later and hopefully start the necklace experiments.

I'm not sure exactly what to use as a stringing material. I have some Gray suede and some leather stringing as well as wax cotton. I will try all three and see what turns out. I hope make up another bracelet with a silver clasp too. Ive seen some earrings on the TOAST site, which have inspired an idea. I love their stuff and am always inspired by what they do. Here are the earrings - these shapes fit my new spot beads. I will try and experiment with something similar.

I also love this collection of beads and their colours. Another TOAST thing. I like the combination of the shapes. I can see something similar in my collections.

On other matters, the new MAKE ART MONDAY word today is CONNECT. I have a plan and will hope to complete my weekly effort today. My plan comes from a very quick (I'm talking a one or two mins.) with some left over paint. Here it is at the moment.

I'm not sure how things will turn out but I'm excited to find out myself.

Bye for now.
Thanks for reading.

Friday, 9 May 2014

The life of The Gray bracelet.

Hi Everyone
Another week gone by ! and Ive almost finished my much talked about Gray bracelet . Eventually, it turns out I haven't actually got enough beads for my second Gray bracelet ! (I talked about developing a second ,yesterday). Yet more beads required. This is not a problem as such but it's holding me up and must be the least efficient way of working ever ! Here is the almost finished item so far.

I like it and it's just what I wanted. Along with this bracelet Ive now decided I'd quite like a necklace and some earrings using similar bead designs. I'm going to try and estimate more accurately the number of beads I need. I'm not sure what's gone wrong on that front ? I particularly like the larger spot bead - here is a closer look.

I will make a few more of these larger beads to make the next few pieces. I haven't decided exactly on the design. I'd like something relaxed and informal - so I can wear it with lots of 'everyday' outfits. I need to do some research. These two ideas in the photo below appeal to me (at the moment). These ideas would allow the focus to be on the beads. I do like wearing necklaces but often reject wearing them because they get in the way of everyday life. I will need to bear this in mind when I design my own. I think it needs to be quite short. The fastening could be a lariat style or have a simple silver clasp which I can make to suit.

I found these ideas on Pinterest - my major source of research these days. I have lots more on my Pinterest Boards - go and take a look.

Have a great weekend. I'm not sure what plans we have ? I'd quite like to spend more time making our garden pretty. I guess it depends on good weather. It's certainly not looking good at the moment. I need a plan B.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Almost there !

Hi Everyone
Yesterday's planned creative element was the production of the grey beaded bracelet. I had to create surface texturing on some of the beads as well as apply a paint layer with polishing and sealing. I started with this collection of beads :

This bracelet will be formed on a simple elastic thread. I usually count 17 medium beads for this kind of design. I measure my beads as small, medium and large. These sizes come from the initial clay cut which I make with a range of little punch cutters. Here they are for reference.

I mostly use the medium cutter at the moment. Each little round cut is then formed into a bead shape. I will probably change the size when the next bead design comes to life. The beads for the grey bracelet fall into the medium range. I'm still classing the two larger beads as within the medium range. Having threaded the bracelet yesterday, I'm 2 or 3 short for my wrist. My solution was to make more and Ive made enough to produce another bracelet. The second bracelet will have a silver clasp but effectively will follow a similar design. Each bead has a slightly different surface pattern and Ive been experimenting as I go.

I will re thread the string when I have the remaining beads finished. The beads on the string show how they look when the layer of dark grey paint is added and each bead is polished/sealed. Although I didn't complete the project, I'm pleased with my progress and I will have a second bracelet today. Ive decided to repeat this approach for each jewellery design ie develop a design and make a second version following a similar design. Most of my jewellery pieces rely on a specific central bead design which is applied in a variety of ways to a specific piece of jewellery. I like the finished appearance of the grey bracelet beads - they have a bone or ivory look and feel. The subtle sheen and slightly worn surface is pleasing to me.

Other news - I also added a little to the Make Art Monday piece - called BEGIN this week. Just a few letters and mini flowers.

I want to overlay the painting with a range of transparent colours. I'm hoping this will create a sense of the scene 'under development' and hence the BEGIN theme on a few levels. Both the flora and growing thing as well as the actual art production.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Creative spaces in my day.

Hi Everyone
Yet again, my day is running away from me. Last night I met friends for a drink with a (partial) volunteer meet combined. Lovely chat and it's good to do something different. However, no stuff created !

This morning, I was up very early helping my husband get out to work very early. I feel Ive been up hours already - I'm shattered. While drinking my coffee, Ive come up with yet another new plan for working. I'm going to try and do one creative thing everyday. This could be a contribution to a project too. Ive been trying to be realistic about my workload for years and Ive finally come to the point where I am still overestimating how much I can do in a day. So, it's going to be ONE thing per day and we will see how that goes. I'm spending most of my time on my book so I have about an hour left - I think.

My Make Art Monday did happen, it's not finished but here it is so far :

I want to get some more pinks and greens into the painting as well as lots more detail but the framework is there. I'm counting this painting as yesterdays creative element.

Today, my creative element will be the grey bracelet Ive been talking about for ages. It's been on the lists for about 10 pages (of my work journal). While thinking about the design of the grey bracelet I came across an article on polymerclay daily about spacer beads. The general point was a dislike of conventional spacers beads. I also have a slight problem with lots of spacer beads and tend to shy away from using a regular small shaped bead often labelled a 'spacer bead'. Not sure why ? anyway, I was inspired by a solution suggested in the article. Here it is :

The idea could lend itself to lots of shapes and textures. Thank you Claire Maunsell for the inspiration. I'm working on some designs already.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

General Chat

Hi Everyone
My schedule is running late this morning .... and now the rest of the day !!!! I'm just getting down to write this at almost 5pm.
After a lovely long bank holiday weekend it's difficult to get back into the routine. Lots of little home/life tasks needing to be done today and lists to be sorted etc.

I'm hoping to get my Make Art Monday effort completed later - maybe ? Ive already started my painting - the word for this week is BEGIN. My inspiration comes from working in our garden over the weekend. It's not quite there yet but it's an idea.

The garden is featuring big in my life at the moment. We have a lovely, very small space but it needs TLC. I want it to be pretty and inviting so am investing some thinking time about how to develop the space. I like the idea of lounging on the decks with Iarge cushions and umbrella shade. I have thoughts of setting up my easel and painting. I wonder ? I can dream (weather permitting).

I failed to get my metalwork skills going last week so that's my goal for tomorrow. I'm also spending time on writing at the moment and it's great although I do miss fiddling with clay. I have a few little projects waiting for such moments. I also keep looking for inspiration everywhere - I have a number of summer outfits which need some jewellery. The thing I'm seeing all over the place is kumihimo style bracelets with sings big beads or rows of simple rings. Just my thing. These particular examples (below) are from a site called Favery which specialises on a wide range of jewellery sales and is great for ideas.

One idea Ive had is to create some large single beads like the mustard one pictured here :

I found these ideas on Polymerclaydaily - there are some free download patterns to create the pillow, hollow beads. I love the texture and the colour.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Genervieve is finished !

Hi Everyone
It's Friday - this week has flown by. As I look out of my window the sun is shining and it's dry. We have had several days of rain and the grass has gone mad. The whole garden is in need of a major 'haircut'.
As planned,I coloured and polished my kumihimo beads yesterday. My plan had been to take them of the braid and make more of a specific design (the best of the bunch) but I haven't finished a kumihimo braid with a clasp before so thought I would try and do a practice on this prototype. I coloured the beads with a brown shade which tones down the bright blue and blends better with the brown braid.

I also coloured and polished another a batch of grey beads. These beads have been waiting for attention for some time. Every time I wear something grey I'm looking for a grey bracelet to wear - so this bracelet will be great. Here are the beads waiting to be threaded.

I don't think I will use the blue beads, I have other grey ones in my collection.

Yesterday, I mentioned the idea of a fabric printing project and have been researching a range of options. One amazing idea is to use Sharpie pens with alcohol. The examples I have seen use silk fabric but I want to have a go on cotton. I will organise some experiments to try out a few different fabrics and share my findings. Another idea is to paint fabric with Annie Sloan chalk paint. She paints fabric chairs so the paint must 'wear' well ! My major concern is washing fabric which has been painted/coloured. More research needed here ! I want to use ideas from my last painting - Genervieve. She is now finished. There will be a range of items produced/inspired from the painting from fabric to cards/prints etc. She will also appear in my new book and her story is developing every day. Here she is again :

Have a great weekend. It's a Bank Holiday here in England on Monday so another holiday. I will be back on Tuesday.

Thanks for reading.