Bead Soup 7

January 23, 2013

I am on the horns of a dilemma... The sign ups for the 7th Bead Soup blog are fast approaching and I really, really want to take part again. I absolutely loved the last one, if you remember I was paired with Elaine Robitaille of Too Aquarius who sent me a package of her spectacular polymer clay beads. I loved working out how to use them and I only got slightly stressed about posting my final piece. I also loved visiting the blogs of the other particpants and seeing their bead soup ingredients, reading about their inspiration and process to their final pieces.

Selection of purple flower polymer clay beads
My delicious soup from last year

I am somewhat over subscribed at the moment...
I have several Facebook Groups which I signed up for in a flurry of new year enthusiasm but it's looking less and less likely that I have time for.
I am commited to my once a month blog circle, which doesn't sound much but I really try to take time over writing, reading and commenting on it.
I am already doing the Art Jewelry Earring challenge.
I have an exciting e-course starting in the next week or so
My mothers house is due to exchange and complete over the next 4-6 weeks, which means I have all sorts of packing and organising shenanagins to sort out.
not to mention various teams and forums that I am active in
and mostly not forgetting
I want to make some beads, I really want to make some beads and there just aren't enough hours in the day.

So I think that I need to scale it down a bit and work out what I can sensibly achieve. I am still undecided but it is looking unlikely that I will sign up for Bead Soup 7 however just because I can't doesn't mean you shouldn't. Lori is accepting all applicants this time with 3 different reveal dates so click on over to Bead Soup 7 and check it out. Sign ups are from 25-27th January that is just four days away so mark your diaries.

Oh and don't be surprised if I suddenly show up over there having had a last minute attack of the sod it, I just fancy a bowl of soup.

Purple floral polymer clay necklace
Soup is served

Earring Challenge Weeks 1 & 2

January 20, 2013

I recently signed up for the Art Jewelry Elements blog Earring Challenge to make one pair of earrings every week for a whole year, the earrings have to feature at least one artisan component. Every two weeks there will be a reveal with some of the earrings being featured on the AJE blog. There is also a Pinterest board which is looking fantastic already with challenge participants.

Both my first and second pair feature gorgeous polymer clay beads by Elaine Robitaille of Too Aquarius. Elaine and I were partners in the Bead Soup challenge last year and I have been waiting for an opportunity to use these wonderful beads since last autumn.

Week 2/52

My first pair are Flower Fairy Earrings with Elaine's flower beads, gemstone beads and Swarovski lilac opal crystal beads wire wrapped with Bali silver headpins.

Flower Fairy Earrings

Flower Fairy Earrings

Week 1/52

My second pair with some of Elaine's daisy beads are simply wire wrapped with copper and copper beads. I wanted to make something simple but with lots of movement. I have to tell you it was a real test of my wire working skills as I am not used to working with copper wire or light weight polymer clay beads. Also I didn't have any copper ear wires so I made these myself. I clearly need to practice working with copper as it is much softer than sterling silver. I really enjoyed making these earrings and I'm looking forward to experimenting and practising my skills on my next pair.

Copper Earrings

Copper Earrings
Check out some of the other blog hop participants below there are some wonderful earrings out there.

New Beginnings

January 17, 2013

I love the start of the year, a clean slate bursting with the of possibility of adventure.The start of this year finds me deep in family stuff. My 76 year old mother has sold her house and we are currently packing up the last 48 years of her life and all that goes with it. Layers of the lives of the people who lived there are being trawled through and sorted out. Tons of crap punctuated with bright sparkling jewels of memories, photographs, books, the occasional treasure which has lain forgotten about for decades, it's an emotional roller coaster, heart breaking at times.

I can't imagine how hard it must be to be leaving the scene of your entire life for nearly 50 years. The memories and ghosts of the people you loved most and other, bit part players you were rather less fond of. I do know mum, although sad, is really looking forward to finding somewhere smaller, easier to keep and cosy, her new beginning.

It's not just mum leaving, it's me too. When the removal van pulls away from the house where I lived from the age of 3 I will be leaving behind the house I left for school every morning waving to mum through a gap in the trees, the house where I experienced the highs and lows of being a teenager, the house I first I left for a bedsit in Dulwich at 19, the house where I set off for my wedding at 24, the house where my father and brother both passed away. It is a place packed with so many of my memories I know I will be overwhelmed with sadness.

On the other side of that though I can already see a gleaming new path, liberated from lifelong fears and expectations. It feels as if I really am throwing out the old to bring in the new by exposing things that have laid under dust for years and actually deciding I don't want or need them.

My new beginning is a big one it involves business plans, travel plans, new beads, new jewelry, lots of things I dreamt about for years. Finally, as Howard Jones once sang, I will be able to throw off my mental chains and I am beyond excited as to where it's going to take me!

This post is part of a "New Beginnings" blog circle, if you would like to step this way and follow the link the next blog is by Jean Wagner - New Beginnings


MADE in Brighton

November 23, 2012

I went to MADE today, it's my favourite craft and design fair and it comes to the Corn Exchange next to Brighton Pavillion every November.... there is always so much talent on display in handmade ceramics, jewellery, fiber, glass and wood, etc. I could have spent a fortune but I am pleased to report that I was restrained. I'm going back tomorrow but I may need to leave my purse at home, you know, just in case.

My beadmaking friend Amanda of the Earring Cafe & Cats Tiaras has a stall there and it was great to catch up. Her lampwork beads, jewellery and fascinators are wonderful, she has a fabulous eye for colour. I loved seeing her newest work, teeny tiny glass birds that are just gorgeous. If you can't make it to MADE check out her Facebook page Earring Cafe and Cats Tiaras.

If you are in Brighton and have a chance to visit MADE head on over to the Corn Exchange, maybe do some early Christmas shopping, maybe just enjoy the show but make sure you swing by and say hello to Amanda.

Earrings by Amanda Glanville
Lampwork Earrings by Amanda Glanville 

by Judith Johnston

Wordless Wednesday

November 21, 2012

Brightons West Pier and bandstand Fortunately this is Wordless Wednesday, this photo sums up today better than words ever could!      -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Would you like to join Wordless Wednesday, it's so easy even I can do it...    1. Post a photo on your blog - any subject you like. The photo should speak for itself but if you want to add words, go for it. 2. Add a link below to your actual blog post, as opposed to your blog.   3, I would love it if you would leave a comment to say you visited. by Judith Johnston

Spider Nation

November 19, 2012

So there I was, making beads and I was in the zone, tongue poking out of the right corner of my mouth and nearly cross eyed with concentration when I caught something out of the corner of my crossed eye.... Swinging down from the ceiling and perilously close to my left ear a monstrous spider....


It was a big bugger... screaming like a little girl I took an ineffectual swipe with my gob of molten glass and fortunately, as usual, missed the spider and myself, singed hair does not smell good... I think we all know how I know that. I retreated back and surveyed the scene from a safe distance as monsieur le spider scampered back up his thread. This was the point that I discovered to my utter horror that spider nation had taken up residence directly above my head, in between the struts supporting the ceiling which, btw is only about 18" above my head.... not happy! I guess for the spider population of my garden the space above the torch is the arachnid equivalent of spending winter in the bahamas.

I have no wish to harm them, hell I don't even want to disturb them but one thing is clear, it's them or me. I actually don't know how I'm going to clear them I only know that I'm not making another bead until I do.
suggestions on a postcard please... So far the use of conkers, the hoover and a pair of thick gloves have been suggested, all of which require me to get far too close!

So while the shed is out of bounds I have been making some jewellery. This was a commission for a 70th birthday present, I was very happy with it. I love working with sapphire blue and the vintage beads between my lampwork had a wonderful texture which made them super sparkly ...
Oh and Auntie Christine if you are reading this your brown one is finally finished, hopefully the aqua one will go faster!

Blue glass bead bracelet
Callisto lampwork glass bead bracelet


November 15, 2012

As we approach Thanksgiving in the US, this months blog circle post is brought to you with gratitude. I have now written this post many times over but this was a tricky one for me. When I started writing I found myself putting all the things I was grateful for into some sort of hierarchy and that isn't the way it works.  Also I have come to the conclusion that I am not a good enough writer to actually express myself clearly without sounding trite so I have decided to keep it simple.

I lead a charmed life and I am blessed to have clean running water, good food readily available, I live in a warm house in a safe city in one of the richest countries in the world. My family and friends are equally healthy, warm and safe and live in the same conditions, for these very fundamental requirements I am inordinately grateful and I give thanks every single day. I know that many millions of people are not so lucky and permanently live in abject poverty and terror and even though I have seen it on the television, radio, internet and newspapers I cannot begin to imagine how that would be.

Obviously other things that I am grateful for on a daily basis include: family, friends and health which are a given. So today I will focus on being thankful that I found my métier (I would use the word passion but again it just sounds trite). I love melting glass to make beads,  I love making jewellery with my beads and I love to see peoples faces light up when they pick up one of my beads, turn it over in their hands, look up and ask "you made this?" I love sitting in my studio deciding which colours I feel drawn to, which colours might make have interesting reactions and which colours would shine in a particular bead. I love the feel of a perfectly shaped bead in my hand, the way it's weight feels balanced and the satisfaction of standing it on either end and seeing that the edges are true. I love learning a new technique, even the inevitable repetition of trying to perfect that technique. I love trying new colour glass or inclusions and putting them through their paces but best of all I just love sitting on my uncomfortable stool, in my spidery shed, with my ipod blaring and being in the zone, just me and the glass..... Thank You

Bead making bench
Me, the glass and some spiders
Bead Station
Hanging out in the shed melting some glass

This post is part of a blog circle of wonderful artists writing about the theme of Gratitude. The next post in the circle is by the extremely talented mixed media artist Vickie Martin please follow this link to read her post Vickie Martin - Gratitude (Our blogs are from all around the world so there may be some delay in publishing them, please be patient) 

Wordless Wednesday - Shoreham Beach

November 14, 2012

Shoreham Beach

This is the scene on the side of the road where I cycle, it's lovely isn't it?

   -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Would you like to join Wordless Wednesday, it's so easy even I can do it...    1. Post a photo on your blog - any subject you like. The photo should speak for itself but if you want to add words, go for it. 2. Add a link below to your actual blog post, as opposed to your blog.   3, I would love it if you would leave a comment to say you visited.

Bead Groundhog Day

November 13, 2012

Today is a shed day and I have to tell you I seem to be featuring in my own personal version of bead groundhog day, I have been trying to make a particular bead for literally weeks now. It's not particularly complicated or fancy but I really want it to work. So here is the deal... basically I take a tiny footprint of glass, melt on another 3 layers of colour, some sparkle, encase in clear, add a couple of murrini, some stringer, dots oh and the kitchen sink whiles I'm at it, then press it. The problem is that I want the beads to be 20mm diameter, which is my perfect bracelet size, and lentil shaped i.e.  a nice slender convex profile with a defined edge and that combination of size and shape doesn't take much glass. If there is too much glass on the mandrel when I press it it will do one of two things, the glass will either squish out around the edges so I lose the nice crisp edge and the bead is more oval shape or it will squish out sideways and the bead will have sharp holes neither of which is what I'm looking for.

I keep getting sharp holes, not in the pointy way I did when I started making beads 10 years ago but in a really irritating, barely detectable, 99.9% smooth, that probably most people wouldn't notice, kind of way. Of course George thinks I'm nuts, he can't feel it at all but I can and that is what matters, if I'm not happy with it then it isn't right. I have marked the width on the mandrel, measured the footprint, measured in the press leaving 1mm then 2mm gap at each mandrel edge, measured, measured and measured again and it is still not working for me., it's driving me up the wall.

At this point I must have made more than 200 (yes really) of these beads and there are maybe 10% of them I would be happy to use. I was about to throw the towel in, after all if you keep doing what you have always done then you will keep getting what you have always got and really how much glass am I prepared to waste?... did I tell you I have been using murrini made from the extremely rare and very pretty tequilla sunrise? The beads are lovely, I really want them to work but I'm running out of ideas. I have two last thoughts... one is to try a plain bead and to check the press I'm using, it was one of the cheaper presses out there and it is possible, although not likely, that the press is at fault. The other is to just use a larger or differently shaped press but that seems like defeat, surely I haven't made all these beads to just give up on them?

Red Lampwork beads
Red  groundhog day beads



November 08, 2012

Last Tuesday I took a train to Liverpool to visit one of my favourite people, my mother in law Ann. I love staying with her but I don't get to do it anywhere near often enough although I'm not sure she would agree :DAnn is getting a new car and Natalie, George and I are inheriting her ageing but beautifully kept Nissan Almeira, we are very excited by this turn of events.

Natalies' boyfriend got rid of his car a month or so after she passed her test this summer and I haven't had access to a car for two maybe three years now. soooooo excited. I love driving. The car will live at Natalies' house and she will be the main driver but the very thought of having a car even if it is only occasionally makes me feel quite giddy.

It is my pleasure to introduce Alma the Almeira, isn't she a beauty?


Back to work

October 29, 2012

So here I am on a Monday, George has gone back to work after a week on holiday at home, the clocks have gone back leaving me slightly disorientated and it is Grey, wet and miserable. However it is quiet and I am happy to sit at my computer

October Jewellery

October 19, 2012

I have been working hard to get some new jewellery into my webshop and thought you might like to see a couple of pieces here.

Bead Bracelet
Green Lampwork Bead Bracelet
Blue bead bracelet
Blue Lampwork Glass Bead Bracelet
Lampwork Bead Earrings
Aqua Blue Floral Lampwork Bead Earrings

There is more to see in the shop and I will be adding more this weekend.

Have a great weekend Jxx

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