Meet the Mudlarks…

 

Mudlarks is the meeting of two minds that are equally obsessed with the infinite possibilities that working with clay (or mud) provides. One of those minds in mine and the other is my good friend Lesley Watt of Lesley Watt Artisan Elements.

 

Lesley and I recently attended a bead show together and during the run up to this we got to talking about bead shows in general and how difficult and expensive it can be to find good shows. We don’t really have the equivalent of Bead Fest in the UK but we do have a big one day event called ‘The Big Bead Show‘. This show is very much geared to commercial bead sellers and is not cheap to attend so very few artisans exhibit there. Somehow though, in the course of one conversation we managed to find out the cost of the show and convince ourselves that if we pooled our resources and exhibited together we could hopefully do well enough to make it cost effective.

 

Because we’re booked as one unit we can’t really use both of our business names (Lesley Watt Artisan Elements and Blueberri Beads doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue) so we thought it would be better to rebrand ourselves for these events. Historically Mudlarks were people who scavenged around the muddy banks of the River Thames looking for items of value that could be sold to scrape a subsistence living. Because we both love working with clay which is, to all intents and purposes  mud and because at times sustaining a living making art beads also feels pretty much like scavenging, Mudlarks seemed like the perfect choice.

 

We will still be selling our own original hand crafted beads at this event but by combining forces under one banner we can now offer customers a wider choice in one place. Hopefully some of our regular online customers will be able to come and support us at the show so if you’re going please do let us know.

Look out for more news in the next few days too…

 

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June Theme Challenge reveal – Insects

At the beginning of the month we announced a new challenge over on the Art Elements blog. This time it was the turn of Diana Ptaszynski to choose the theme and for June, she chose insects. Perfect for Spring! You can read the original post here. 

As well as getting creative with the theme, we’ve had some real live insects here at home with an amazing butterfly kit. After buying a habitat, we posted off a voucher and received 5 baby caterpillars back in the post. They were about 10mm long and contained in a little tub with food. Within a week, we were amazed to find they’d grown to five times the size and were attaching themselves to the roof of the pot and turning in to chrysalis. The threads are silk that they’ve spun to protect themselves and the black fuzzy bits are their skin… I didn’t know, but they shed it once they’re attached and the insides harden to make the shell. You can’t see from the pic, but they’re iridescent, and great inspiration for future designs!

They’ve now been moved in to the habitat (pop up tent) where the lid has been removed from the pot and secured to the base with all the chrysalis attached, where we’ll wait for them to hatch. In a couple of weeks, they’ll hopefully emerge as painted lady butterflies (as at the top of the page) and we can release them in to the garden… I can’t wait! I’ve only seen butterflies hatching on the TV, so I’m really looking forward to that!

So back to my own insects… for the challenge, I decided I’d like to make something in porcelain. I’ve been playing around with painting greenware porcelain with underglazes and single firing, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to make something using this technique as you can get really detailed designs. Great for butterflies!!

The first attempt was quite simple, a monarch butterfly.

 

And for my second I went for a swallowtail butterfly. I’ve loved these since I was little, I used to go to the Royal Exchange in Manchester and look at all the encased insects in the underground antique market, and this was always my favourite!

Next, I made an Atlas moth, these fascinating insects are huge! This one’s just a tiddler though!

And finally, a Deaths Head Hawk Moth, another favourite… I went for a monochrome tattoo style for this one. 

I’m pleased with how they all turned out, even if they did take an entire day to paint! I think it was worth it 🙂 

To see what wonderful insect themed creations the rest of the AE Team & guests made, join us in the blog hop using the links below!

Guests
 
Art Elements Team
Caroline Dewison << You are Here!
 
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Component of the Month Reveal May

This month’s host for the Component of the Month challenge is the lovely Lesley Watt. Lesley creates in clay (amongst other mediums) and offered these gorgeous shell pendants and cabs for us to design with. You can see more of Lesley’s clay work as well as her jewellery at http://www.lesleywatt.com

 

I received this gorgeous little cab to work with.

I started off as I usually do, having a root around for something to add to create a design. I knew I wanted to bezel the cab, but wasn’t sure what I’d create. I came across one of Lesley’s earlier designs, a half moon shaped bar in the perfect colours to match the cab. Upside down, it made a perfect frame.

I added a single row of seed beads around the cab (ignore the white backing I need to sort that!) And sewed some jump rings on, before backing it with suede. 

I wrapped the ceramic bar with bronze wire which was patinated and added drops with mookaite and bronze daggers.

The chain part was made with suede and bronzed beads, I’ve not got as far as adding a clasp.

I think it turned out with quite a tribal feel. I did wonder if it needed more daggers at the base of the cab, but I’ll have a think about that while I find a clasp!

Big thanks to Lesley for a brilliant challenge, I’ve had fun working with my cab!

If you’d like to see what the rest of the team, plus guests created with their components, follow the links 🙂 

 

Guests
 
Art Elements team
Caroline Dewison  << You are here 🙂 
 
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AJE Component of the month – July

It’s that time again, the AJE Component of the Month reveal day, and for July we were treated to a gorgeous coin clasp or bead by Niky Sayers

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I love everything Niky makes, but her coin designs are my favourite. I was thrilled to receive this clasp to join in the challenge…

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It arrived in this cute little tin (sorry for it being covered in clay I was excited to open it!!!) And for once I remembered to take a photo before I started! This one is from 1937, exactly 40 years before I was born, it’s fascinating to think of all the places it could have been up until now.

I decided from the beginning it was going to be something for myself, and I wanted to make it really special. I chose some of my most hoarded beads, two stunning Basha beads, some vintage and aged picasso seed beads, peanuts, crystal chunks and points, a greek urchin, and a couple more artisan components.

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The loop for the clasp was made from one of Jen Cameron’s gorgeous headpins, wrapped in a double loop, and a copper charm from Kristi Bowman was added with a chunk of rock crystal for some dangliness.

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I added a bronze point and a chunk of amethyst to the strands and fastened everything with stranded wire and crimps.

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I’m really pleased with how it turned out and I can see me wearing it often!

Thank you to Niky for such a gorgeous component to design with, I’ve had loads of fun creating and the coin finishes off my hoarded treasure design perfectly!

To see what Niky and the rest of the team plus special guests have made, follow the links…

 

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AJE June Theme Challenge – Fireflies

This month we’re taking a break again from our regular Component of the month reveals and running another theme challenge.

It’s our blog team leader, the lovely Jen Cameron’s turn to set the theme, and for June she chose fireflies.

I have to admit, I struggled at first to come up with an idea as they’re not something I’ve seen up in the North of England, I was lucky enough to see them once, at the Glastonbury festival, and they were magical. So not having much to go on, I turned to Pinterest for inspiration.

During the day, they’re not the most inspiring subject.

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Daytime Firefly

 

But once the light dims, they put on an amazing show.

Each time I searched the same picture kept popping up. I’ve been exploring ideas with trees in porcelain, so this was perfect for my inspiration.

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Fireflies by Yume Cyan

 

The photograph was taken by Yume Cyan in a forested area near Nagoya City, Japan. You can see more of these amazing long exposure shots here.

And here is my interpretation, hand carved in porcelain and fired multiple times with china paints, powders, and lustres.

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Blueberribeads Fireflies

 

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Blueberribeads Fireflies

 

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Blueberribeads Fireflies

 

A few days after making these, I was playing on my lampwork torch and by accident, a second idea emerged…

They are a total pain to photograph, it’s difficult to catch the depth and reflections in the same picture, but hopefully you can see the threads of silver glass and fine silver wire running through them.

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Blueberribeads Fireflies

 

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Blueberribeads Fireflies

 

The little dots of silver wire glow behind the trees (not that you can tell from my photographs!)

 

I’d like to say a big thank you to Jen, I’ve really enjoyed rising to the firefly challenge and it’s been great fun exploring a subject that I didn’t have any immediate inspiration for.

If you’d like to see what the rest of the AJE team, plus special guests have made, follow the links below…

 

Guest Designers:

 

AJE Team:

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AJE Component of the Month – May

This month’s challenge components were provided by the multi talented Sue Kennedy of SueBeads. As well as making gorgeous enamelled pieces and lamp work beads, she creates these cute little beaded beads.

I am full of admiration for anyone who can create anything with these fiddly little things, especially when they are as lovely as these colourful little gems!

I’ve been a bit short on time this week as I’ve been preparing for the Stourbridge Bead Fair, in fact I’m there as you’re reading this. But I did manage to squeeze in a bit of time to join in the challenge.

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I decided to keep it simple and make some earrings. Orange isn’t a colour I usually work with, but I love the earthy tones of this pair. Two little cut Czech glass beads echo the orange, and matt hematite spacers provide a neutral colour for the dangles. I also managed to use the cute little charms I received from Melissa (Melismatic) for the COM a couple of months ago. Unfortunately they were delivered the day after it was all over and I didn’t get chance to join in.

And having a second pair of beads in my stash, I thought I’d make another pair.

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These are made with glass headpins, (also made by Sue) my own lamp work spacers, and a couple of large seed beads.

You might have spotted that there are no ear wires on either pair. I just didn’t have time to make any, that’s a job for next week, and they just didn’t look right on the cheap ready made ones I had in my bead  box, they deserve something much fancier!

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A big thank you to Sue for her wonderful components, (and Melissa for hers!) the final designs with them are quite simple, but they really pushed me to try out some different colours and I had a nice break from show prep!

If you’d like to join in the hop and see what the rest of the team and guests have made, follow the links 🙂

 

Guests
AJE Team
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AJE Component of the Month – Tree Wings Studio

I’m back on track this month with my blog as it’s component of the month reveal day. This month we were treated to beautiful polymer clay hearts by Rebekah of Tree Wings Studio.

I asked for a surprise for mine and received this beautiful grey heart.

 

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I had hoped before I received it that it would match with one of my new favourite glazes as I had an idea for what to do with it almost immediately!

And it did!

 

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I made up some tiny puffy hearts in earthenware clay and glazed them all in the rusty glaze.

 

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They were knotted on some thick silk cord I dyed in teal blue with fuchsia Miyuki seed beads and the gorgeous little heart as the focal.

 

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And you can see from this angle there is a secret message on the side!

 

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The necklace was finished off with a grey ceramic button and a simple loop to close it.

Big thanks to Rebekah for her wonderfully inspiring component, I had great fun creating something around it! And if you’d like to see what the rest of the team and guests made with theirs, follow the links…

 

Guests

 

AJE Team

 

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My first web shop update

I’ve been thinking for a while to make the move away from Etsy and set up my own web shop and today is the day! Well not exactly today as I’ve not finished writing up listings, but you get the idea!

The shop is just about ready to take it’s first orders, I’ve been working hard behind the scenes to get it all ready to open the doors.

Here’s a peek at what will be coming…

 

I’ve been exploring new ideas for surface design and I’m really pleased with how this is going. These pendants change as the light hits them. From one angle you can see the design….

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And from another the lustre takes over giving them a beautiful flash of colour…

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This style of finish will be available as pendants as well as beads…

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I’ve been having great fun raku firing and there will be plenty of different styles to choose from…

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I’ve also been playing around with carving in to coloured designs and will have lots of sets of carved round beads.

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As well as some painted and carved lentil focal beads…

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There will be a few sets including these raku father pendant sets…

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And of course no blueberribeads update would be complete without some birds….

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I’m aiming to be open on Monday evening 16/2/15 at 7pm… keep an eye on my Facebook page for any changes!

https://www.facebook.com/Blueberribeads

 

Hope to see you there 🙂

 

Caroline x

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Beading back in Time Blog Hop

 

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I was really excited when I heard about the Beading back in time blog hop run by co-hostesses Lindsay Starr and Sherri Stokey.

It’s going to be split in to 4 parts run across the year with different themes through history. The first topic is Pre human. instantly I knew that I would be focusing my designs on fossils and rocks. I’m a bit of a secret rock nerd and have boxes full of stones, crystals and fossils I’ve gathered from places I’ve visited. I love anything to do with geology.

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My all time favourite are ammolites.

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I decided I wanted to try and recreate the beautiful effect of these opalised fossils in some beads. I have seen numerous tutorials around the web with instructions for creating polymer clay opal. I found out the materials used and set about trying to make my own version.

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They are earthenware clay fired without glaze and set with mica in resin. I think they could have done with a couple of layers of mica rather than just one to fill out the pools a bit more, but I’m thrilled that they worked reasonably well and turned out so sparkly!

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For my next make, I decided I wanted to make some fossils. I have quite a few shells and sea lilies that I have collected myself, but imagine finding something as amazing as this…

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I find it incredible that so much detail can be captured in rock, and it fascinates me to imagine the things that have been on the earth millions of years before us.

So I wanted to make something that had an ancient feel about it. I made some rough stone shapes in raku clay and glazed them with copper and crackle glazes and resist.

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My favourite is definitely this darker version, the background colour has been created by smoke from the fire with glaze used to draw out the design.

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I also attempted a trilobite, although I don’t think it was quite as effective as the fish skeleton.

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I’ve had great fun taking part in the first instalment of the Beading back in time hop, Thank you to Lindsay and Sherri for organising such a great event! If you’d like to see what they and the rest of the participants made, follow the links…

Co-hostess: Lindsay Starr of Phantasm Creations

Co-hostess: Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame

Kelly Rodgers of Beadin’ Black & Blue

Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio

Caroline Dewison of Blueberribeads

Melissa Trudinger of Boho Bird Jewellery

Sue Kennedy of SueBeads

Stephanie and Chris Haussler of Pixibug Designs

Jen Cameron of Glass Addictions

Jean Wells of Jean A. Wells Artisan Jewelry

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AJE Component of the month – January

Use your stash!

 

That was the rule for this months AJE component of the month challenge.  Rather than one of us supply the same component to every one, we each supplied a blog reader with one of our components, and team members used what we had hidden away.

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I dive in to my special stash quite often, but I never use any of it, so the challenge for me was to take my treasures and turn them in to something rather than just fondle them and put them away again.

The first piece I chose was by Diana Ptaszinski (Suburban Girl Studio)

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I have a few pieces of Diana’s, but this is my favourite, a gorgeous large ceramic donut. If you’re going to do it, you may as well go for it! I teamed it up with enamelled bead caps by Anne Gardanne, copper wire and teal seed beads.

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I added some Czech glass up near the clasp to echo the green of the enamel.

Next, I chose an owl focal by Jenny Davies-Reazor.

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I cheated a little bit and used more than one AJE member component, a seed beaded bead by Kristen Stevens. The tiny facetted beads are pyrite and the holes are so small, they wouldn’t take a needle, so they were strung with steel wire. To finish off, I used pewter seed beads for the chain.

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The leaf dangle is by Kristi Bowman-Gruel and the ceramic bead and oak leaf dangle are made by me.

Next up I chose a bead that I have hoarded for a long time to use more of Kristi’s copper. The focal is made by Pixie Willow Designs and is one of my favourites.

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I wanted to keep it simple, so I chose 2 glass spacers to compliment the focal and a different design of leaf by Kristi.

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I strung Amethyst and copper chain to make a long dangly necklace and added a couple of Czech beads for a little sparkle on one side.

And finally, I chose components from Jennifer Stout Cameron.

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I wrapped one of her headpins with a Marsha Neal ceramic flower to create a clasp.

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The bracelet was made with aqua blue crystal rondelles, Czech glass, and more of Jen’s lamp work, and the whole thing was finished off with one of Kristi’s charms.

I’ve really enjoyed using up my stash, they’re all quite simple designs and all started off being more complicated, but after playing around, I felt that too much going on around the components put them in to the background. Now I think they really stand out and are definitely the stars of the show! And now I have big gaps in my box, so I better go and do some more shopping! 😉

As well as AJE Team members, and winners, we’ve invited anyone else who wants to join in to take part in the hop. To see what we’ve all made, follow the links!

 

AJE team: 

Kristen Stephens

Susan Kennedy

Jenny Davies-Reazor

Lesley Watt  

Melissa  Meman

 Lindsay Starr

Jennifer Cameron

Caroline Dewison

Linda Landig

Guest Participants ( aka winners)

Lee – Strega Jewellry

Shai – Shai’s Ramblings

Samantha- Wescott Jewelry

Kathy – Bay Moon Designs

Nikki – Silver Nik nats

Melissa Trudinger

Becky Pancake

Yvette – Blue Kiln Beads

Karin – Ginko et Coquelicot

Bonus participants! 

Sarajo Wentling

Leah Curtis

Susan Delaney 

Karen Z

Christine walker

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I’m back!

Well I gave blogger a good go, but it’s not for me. So now I’m back here on wordpress. The main reason for swapping was I wanted to host my own shop, not an option on the blogger platform, so I’m going to be working hard over the next week or so to get everything in place and sell from here. While you’re waiting for that to happen, I thought I’d share some pics of what I’ve been up to recently!

Playing with Raku…

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Getting up early!!

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Sculpting more…

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Playing mine craft with the kids…

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Winning the battle with metal clay!

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Experimenting with finishes on raku beads..

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And playing on my torch!

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So this is a taster of what’s to come in my shop, and of course there will be all the usual favourites such as birds and urchins. I hope you’ll stop by again and see what’s new!

Caroline x

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March Component of the month reveal

I’m really excited for this month’s reveal as it’s my design that’s being used by everyone to create their pieces… can’t wait to go and see what everyone’s done!

 

The component was one of my moth pendants. Handmade and carved from porcelain and glazed with precious metal lustres.

I don’t often use my beads in my own work, so this was a double challenge for me!

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I decided I wanted to go for a bold statement piece and toyed around with a few ideas. My first was to make some components from copper clay, but I probably should have tested if I could do that before I committed, as I failed miserably and they were too thin (I’ll know for next time!)

Next I got everything out of my supplies and tried to add as much as I could in, but that didn’t work either. The moth was drowned out by the busyness around it, so I finally settled on a simple chain design with a couple of extra pierced and etched copper moths, Czech turbine & cathedral beads, copper leaves and magatama drops, all topped off with a beautiful chunky copper chain.

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I love the Art Nouveau feel to the design, I’m still undecided as to whether the copper moths should have been a bit smaller, but it certainly makes a statement!

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And I love the play of colour on the component. They are really difficult to photograph, but you can see in this picture, the deep velvet cerise colours that come through in parts of the glaze.

Thanks for reading! I hope you’ll visit our special guests and AJE Team members to see what they created with their component!

 

Guest Artists

Helen Simon – Helen’s had to drop out due to an injury, get well soon Helen!

The AJE Team

Caroline Dewison – http://www.blueberribeads.co.uk << you are here

Diana Ptaszynski – http://www.suburbangirlstudio.com

Susan Kennedy – http://www.suebeads.blogspot.co.uk

Kristen Stevens – http://kristen-beadjourney.blogspot.com/

Keirsten Giles – http://cerebraldilettante.blogspot.com

Jenny Davies-Reazor – http://www.jdaviesreazor.com/blog

Melissa Meman –  http://melissameman.blogspot.co.uk

Rebekah Payne – www.treewingsstudio.com

Lesley Watt – http://thegossipinggoddess.blogspot.co.uk

Linda Landig – http://www.LindasBeadBlog.com

Francesca Watson – http://francescawatson.com

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Spring Fever Design Challenge

 

What do we want? Spring! When do we want it? Now! Well all right then!

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I usually love Autumn and Winter, but I don’t feel that we’ve had proper seasons this year… what should have been crisp frosty mornings and beautiful snow filled landscapes has turned in to a wet mess. We’ve had damaging storms across the country, and the South has been hit by awful floods.

We’re ready for it to be over and are looking forward to everything Spring brings. There are small signs in the garden of warmer times coming, the bulbs are starting to break the surface and over the last few days, the birds have been singing. So in the hope of things to come, myself and Lesley Watt are hosting a glorious technicoloured ceramic Spring Fever design Challenge! 

 There are beads from myself…

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 There are beads from Lesley…

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Everything has been specially made for the challenge with the theme of Spring. But that’s not all… this year, the lovely Claire Braunbarth of Smitten Beads will be joining us adding some of her sari silks in to the design packs.

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Each pack consists of a surprise flower focal set from Lesley, a surprise bird bead set from me and a length of matching silk from Claire. Each bead is handmade and individual.

The challenge sets are offered at the discounted price of GBP£12 each + P&P (£2.50 uk/£3.75 overseas) and there are only 20 available. Winners of the sets will be randomly chosen from comments left on mine and Lesley’s blog.

If you’re a winner, we will let you know, get in touch for payment, and your pack will be posted out. You can create as many designs as you wish, using the beads and silk from us and anything in your stash. Designs need to be completed and ready for the big reveal and blog hop on Wednesday 16th April.

 

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All you have to do to enter is comment on this post or on Lesley’s blog post but please note – you must be willing to take part in the blog hop on Wednesday 16th April.

There are are lots of ways you can increase your chances of winning too… Do any of the following and leave an additional comment each time and you will get an extra entry for each one:

Share this giveaway on your own blog

Share this giveaway on your Facebook pages, Google+, Twitter etc.

Become a new follower of ‘The Gossiping Goddess’

Become a new follower of ‘Blueberri Beads’

Become a new follower of Smitten Beads

Become a follower of my Facebook page.

Become a follower of Lesley’s Facebook page.

Become a follower of Claire’s Facebook page

Follow me on Pinterest

Follow Lesley on Pinterest

Follow Claire on Pinterest

Like Lesley’s Etsy shops THEA jewellery and THEA too.

Like my Etsy shop Blueberri Beads

Anything else of you can think of to spread the word.

Don’t forget to leave a separate comment for each method to maximise your chances though! The draw will close at 8pm GMT on Wednesday 26th February and we will randomly select and announce the winners on Friday 28th February.

Winners will be sent an e-mail asking them to forward payment in Great British Pounds to my Paypal address – payments should be made as quickly as possible to ensure beads are shipped in good time.

We will aim to have all packed shipped by Monday 10th March which will allow five plus weeks for delivery and design. It’s as simple as that so good luck and I’ll see you back here on the 28th and hope you’ll be with us for the big reveal.

If you’d like to see what happened in the last challenge we hosted, check out the Pinterest board here to see the stunning Autumn design Challenge creations.

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AJE – December component of the month reveal

Happy New Year! I hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday and recovered from the festivities… now they’re all out of the way, it’s time to get back to work.

I’m really excited about this year, I have loads of plans and ideas for new beads, and I’m going to throw myself in to something I’ve recently discovered I love, sculpting! More on that in another post though…

First it’s component of the month time.

This month we were given a beautiful handmade polymer clay bead from Rebekah of Tree Wings Studio. Rebekah makes the most wonderful beads and critters and I was thrilled to receive one of her newest design beads. Mine’s the one at the front… yet again, I got too exited and forgot to take my own photo!

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They make me think of Autumn poppies, or little cakes… they almost look edible!

I decided on a rustic design for mine, my favourite kind of palette, and have created a necklace with Czech glass, copper, and a boulder opal bead that I’ve been stashing for far too long!

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I realised after starting that I’d used up all of my ready made copper chain in the lower part of the necklace, so I put together a chainmaille piece for the top.

They were joined with one of my etched leaf connectors and a clasp made from copper wire and another Czech glass bead.

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And here’s the finished necklace… I really need to get one of those fancy dummies for taking pics of necklaces!

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Thank you Rebekah for a wonderful component! I’ve really enjoyed working with it!

To see what designs the rest of the team and the lucky December winners have imagined with their component, use the links below to visit!

Guest Designers:
Ann – Bead Love
Melissa – Bead Recipes
AJE Team:
Kristen – My Bead Journey
Susan – Sue Beads
Rebekah – Tree Wings Studio
Caroline – BlueberriBeads
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Black Friday Sales

I’ll be holding my only sale of the year tomorrow Friday 29/11/13 for Black Friday.

There are lots of new designs as well as some old favourites.

Here’s a peek at what will be coming up!

 

 

Listings will be live at 10am and there is a 20% discount on your order if you checkout using code BLUE20   The sale will run until Monday 2/12/13

I hope to see you there!

 

Caroline x

 

 

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And the winner is..

Thank you to everyone who took part in my competition and for all the lovely comments!

I’m not going to waffle today, I’m just going to get straight to it and announce the winners 😀

The beads have been counted, and overseen by our independent adjudicator…

There were 226 beads in total.

So in 1st place winning this bead set…

Leah from Beady Eyed Bunny

 

In 2nd place winning the birdhouse set

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And in 3rd place winning the 2 Birdies…

Rejetta Sellers from Jettabug Jewelry.

 

Congratulations too everyone, I’ll be in touch today to get your addresses and post your beads to you.

Commiserations to everyone else, but a great big thank you for taking part 🙂 x

 

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