Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bead Fest: A Feast For The Eyes

Bead Fest was held over the weekend.  It's one of the highlights of my year and I've been attending since 2004.  I've even been a vendor at it 3 times (and might again in the future).  This year I went for fun; to see friends and do some (lots) of shopping.

Welcome to Bead Fest
You need to be careful at Bead Fest.  It's easy to go waaaaaaaaaay over budget in a short period of time (ask me how I know).  I told myself to lay off so many art beads this year...hahahahahahahaha!  Ok, yeah that didn't happen.

Gardanne Enamel Components
Explain to me how I'm supposed to do that with such fabulousness like Gardanne Beads enameled pieces?

Thornburg Bead Studio
Nikki/Thornburg Bead Studio brought some of her gorgeous lampwork urchins with her.  I ended up buying a bunch of lampwork headpins from her though to assist me with our AJE headpin challenge.

Penn Avenue Pottery
Tracey/Penn Avenue Pottery had oodles of fun ceramic beads to choose from.  I found myself trapped (totally against my will) at her booth for awhile, with my hands stuck (yes, I couldn't pull them out) in those trays.

Staci Louise Originals 
After my escape from Tracey's booth, I ended up at Staci's booth (that's a lie, I'd been there probably 500 times already by Saturday apologizes to Staci).  Her booth looked like a magic unicorn had visited with all the beautiful rainbow colors.  I added more beads to my gigantic Staci-collection.

Staci's bags
In addition to her beads, Staci also brought some of her hand-dyed and stamped bags with her.  I own a luna moth bag and it was perfect for shopping the show.

In fact, several bead-makers brought other art with them in addition to their beads...

Diane Hawkey
Diane Hawkey had some of her whimsical pot head planters and house sculptures for sale in her booth.

Beaded Chic Fused Glass
Donna/Beaded Chic has been playing with fused glass lately and brought some new pieces along with her table full of lampwork!

Marsha Neal
Marsha Neal had beads, tiny pottery and her needle-felted creations at her booth.  

Jenny Davies-Reazor
AJE's own Jenny Davies-Reazor had some of her gorgeous tiles and needle-felted/bead-embroidery pieces for sale at her table.

Firefly Design Studio
Michelle/Firefly Design Studio had her beach-inspired dishes with her!

And of course there was gorgeous jewelry at the show...

Marcia Balonis and Pam Garbig
Marcia Balonis and Pam Garbig had a table full of beautiful samples and kits for sale.  I brought home one kit and will be writing about it on here in the near future. 

There were also great tools for sale!

New AJE member, Cooky Schock had a booth and I came home with a lucet and some cord from her. You might recall the recent blog post that Cooky wrote for us about the lucet.  This great little tool helped make my 5+ hour car ride home go much quicker!

Treated myself to a new Xuron plier.  Soooooo comfortable!

Funky Chain, ParaWire, Gemstones
This was just the tip of the iceberg of what was available at Bead Fest!  You're probably wondering what I brought home with me, right?  Let's take a peek...

Pottery Purchases
A bunny pot head planter from Diane Hawkey, a ring holder from Marsha Neal and a dish from Michelle/Firefly Design.

Tools and Kits
The lucet, cord for the lucet, some dyed Stiff Stuff (Bead My Love), spiffy new XBow Series Xuron pliers and a fab kit from Marcia Balonis.

Art Bead Haul
And this is the art bead haul.  So many beads, pendants, headpins and cabochons!  

Bead Fest 2016 was fabulous as always and while I hate to see it end, my wallet requires a year to recover.  See you in 2017, Bead Fest!

Happy Beading!

Monday, August 22, 2016

New AJE Contributors: a Brief Intro

Hello friends! The AJE team is super excited to introduce our new contributors. They are all super talented, creative women, who will add new dimension and experiences to the blog. They will begin writing in September, including introducing themselves more in depth to you. In the meantime, you can get a preview of what to look forward to.

Laney Mead

First up is lampworker and writer for Cat World Magazine, Laney Mead. She makes incredible sculptural beads, especially animals. You can find her work in her Etsy shop and read her blog here.

Laney started out her artistic pursuits with paper and pencil, with no real formal training. She discovered lampworking one weekend and after a blissful two days of making wonkies, she was hooked and has been lampworking ever since.

Cathy Mendola

Next up is jewelry artist Cathy Mendola. She has tried several different mediums including metalsmithing, but a couple years ago she learned bead embroidery and has been hooked ever since. You can learn more about Cathy by reading her blog here, and peruse her Etsy shop here

Claire Fabian

Claire, who lives in Germany (the rest of the team are based in the US and the UK), likes to tell stories with her work. She uses the tagline "to add a little odd to your life" after getting the complement that her work is odd, so she will fit in perfectly! 

Claire works as a researcher by day, and creating with several different mediums in her off hours helps keep her sane (does this sound familiar?) You can read Claire's blog here and take a look at her Etsy shop

Cooky Schock

I don't have Cooky's profile photo yet so I swiped this one off Facebook, which was posted by Sam Leonard

Cooky had written a post for AJE about using a lucet before we begged her to join as a regular contributor. Cooky has a wide variety of artistic pursuits, has been a bead shop owner and is now a traveling teacher. Check out her website gallery for some eye candy  

We are really excited for you all to get to know these artists better and for the new experience and energy they bring with them. We know you will love them! 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Playing with Raku

I've hardly done anything this last couple of weeks, it's school holidays so my time has been dictated by children. So I was looking around for something to write about and I decided to have a go at a raku technique I read about ages ago.... resist erosion.

Raku Firing
I've tried this idea on porcelain once before using shellac to mask the design, but this technique uses wax. I had a bottle of wax resist and a piece of dry greenware that I made to try out slab building that I didn't know what to do with next so I started of giving it a coat of wax.

Greenware with wax resist coating
You can't see much from the photo, but it's fully covered with a coating of the resist.

After tracing around the edge of the shape, I sketched out a rough design and transferred it to paper which was wrapped around the piece.

Transferring the design
The design was traced over again with a ballpoint pen and a gentle pressure to transfer the pattern on to the clay.

Scratching the design through the wax
Using a sharp pointed tool, the design was scratched through the wax and in to the clay. I freehanded some leaves and grass to fit around the shape.

Sponging away the clay
Using a sponge and gently rubbing in a circular motion, I carefully went over the lines to wash away the clay. The wax starts to erode along the edges where the design has been scratched through to the clay leaving a shallow organic depression in the piece. 

Once the piece had dried again, I painted over the lines with a copper glaze. The wax resists the glaze and any pools were removed by gently dabbing with some kitchen roll. Once dried, it was put in to the kiln for a single firing. 

The reduction bin
I couldn't photograph the next bit as I needed both hands for taking the piece out of the hot kiln. It was transferred using tongs to a tray of sand with straw and newspaper on top. Once alight, a metal bucket was placed over the top and pushed in to the sand to create a seal and allow the oxygen inside the bucket to burn out creating a reducing atmosphere. The lack of oxygen affects the glaze and brings the metals in it to the surface.

The big reveal
After a few minutes, comes the exciting part... removing the bucket and seeing what the flames have created. 

The finished piece 
Not so pretty on the back
The muck and carbon were cleaned off and I gave the piece a coat of clear sealant for protection. The front and back look totally different, mostly due to the fact that I messed up the cleaning on the back bit during the glazing part and rubbed it rather than dabbing, so the glaze got stuck in the wax and transferred to the parts that should have stayed black. 

Overall though, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. It's much better than my first attempt at copper glaze where everything just came out nasty brown, and it's definitely something I will be exploring further. I think this would be a fantastic technique to try out on beads!


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Art Headpins Challenge Inspiration...Are You Up For It?

In case you missed it or it's slipped your mind our design challenge for this month is all about Art Headpins and we'd love you to join in. You can find full details here but all you need to do is design something using art headpins (or make the headpins themselves) and be able to join in out blog hop on August 30th.

Art headpins have been around for a good while now but they seem to be gaining in popularity which is not really surprising considering their versatility and the wide variety of mediums they are now made in. I started working on my challenge pieces this week but before I did I decided to do a little review of some of my past pieces to see if they provided inspiration.

For me earrings are usually the first things that come to mind, partly because they're often sold in pairs but I also think ear (or eye) level can be the best place to show off these pretty pieces.

The design can be very simple but still very striking like this pair which matches head pins by Suebeads with beaded beads by Kristen Stevens.

With this pair the headpins are by Humblebeads with beaded beads by Suebeads and here I use the wire of the headpins to create loops and then passed them back down through the bead and formed little tendrils as an added embellishment. If the wire of your pins is particularly long its worth considering working them into your design.

Here I used headpins by Jen Cameron purely as embellishment, wrapping them around a copper hoop and adding my own ceramic drops to finish the look.

But Art Headpins are not just for earrings and I've used them in a number of necklace designs. Here I've used one of my own fine silver headpins to create a pin bail for a gorgeous lampwork tube bead by Magdalena Ruiz...

And again, this time with one of my bronze clay headpins.

Another design with a bronze headpin using one of Caroline's cute little bird beads sitting on a lovely Mookite bead...again, simple but effective.

This last necklace was made for a design challenge several years ago and was probably the first time I'd worked with Art Headpins (unfortunately I can't remember who made these). I called this necklace Shiraz and the idea was to give the impression of vineyards with the deep purples, buds and curling tendrils of the headpins. A tiny bronze headpin also features in the capped bead dangle.

Looking back over these pieces had the desired effect and I've already managed to make a few pieces for the challenge...very organised for me I can tell you! I hope you're feeling inspired too but just in case you still need an extra nudge then how about doing a little window or hard cash shopping..? There is an abundance of headpins out there in all sorts of materials just waiting for someone to show them some love and here are just a few of my favourites...

Ceramic from Latirus

Mixed media from Pip n Molly  

Glass by Anneli Beads

Ceramic by Marsha Neal Studio (available at Bead Fest Philadelphia this week).

Polymer clay by Studio St James

Glass by Beadfairy

Glass by Sabrina Koebel

If you would like to be included in the challenge please refer to the original post which you can find via the link at the top of this page and then e mail Jennifer Stout Cameron.

Be creative and enjoy yourselves!