Thursday, June 18, 2015

Design Retrospective

Over the past few weeks I've been having a clear out of my photographic files. I love that the digital age makes it so easy to take and store photographs but that ease also means I tend to hang on to too much for too long so a cull was necessary. Needless to say this has taken longer than planned because the photographs are in themselves a distraction and much time was spent reminiscing.
Obviously I have many, many photographs of the jewellery I've designed and whilst going through these I realised that they charted a clear path in the development of my relationship with Art beads and hand made design elements.

I've not been making jewellery that long in the scheme of things - just seven years or so and I originally took it up as an antidote to s stressful job and something to do on winter evenings. My first bead purchases were commercial hobby store and online bead shop buys which and the resulting jewellery utilised very basic techniques.

Always one to search out something more with whatever I'm doing I spent hours trawling the Internet and before very long I had discovered the wonders of lampwork beads... I was completely Smitten and my art bead stash was born.  Sterling silver accents and finding also made their first appearance at this point as I felt the art beads deserved some better and silver had yet to go through the roof in price!

Lampwork implosion beads by Sally Carver
Lampwork beads by Kaz Baildon
Lampwork beads by Julie Fountain
Again these techniques involved with these pieces were fairly  basic stringing and wiring and I really wanted my designs to have more of me in them. I started playing with wire to add another dimension and a new love affair began that still continues...
Lampwork beads by Kaz Baildon and Sally Carver

Further down the line leather leather began to work it's way into my designs. I loved the casual, colourful, boho feel you could get with  this very versatile medium and it very much suited my own personal taste in jewellery.
Lampwork beads by Julie Cannon

Lampwork beads by Lori Lochner
Whilst developing these techniques for myself I also attended workshops in silversmithing and metal clay and that saw me combining my own metal pieces with my beloved beads.

Lampwork beads by Pinocean

Lampwork bead by Sally Carver
Later a further workshop added enameling into the mix....

One of the last elements I added to my design repertoire was ceramic beads and little did I know at the time that I would end up making these myself and love them above all others. I continued to mix and match with other mediums to develop what I hope is my own style.

Ceramic elements by Karen Totten and Diana Ptaszynski

When I started making jewellery I had no idea than I would ever make jewellery components to sell to other people or that that aspect would takeoff and become the bigger part of my business. This inevitably means that these days I make a lot less jewellery but when I do you can still see these earlier design elements and techniques making an appearance and forming the foundation of my design ethic. 

Ceramic cabachon by Lesley Watt - Polymer clay mixed media technique by Jenny Davies-Reazor
Polymer clay roses by Leah Curtis
Pendant by Lesley Watt
Lampwork bead by Julie Cannon
Etched copper focal by Lesley Watt - Polymer clay mixed media technique by Jenny Davies-Reazor
So what do you see when you see when you look back on your old designs is there an identifiable trend or have you taken yourself of in a completely new or surprising direction...That's the beauty of jewellery many things to try! Happy designing.

Note: Apologies for beads that have not been credited but I no longer have the details for some of them and my memory is not what it was..


  1. Thanks for sharing your evolutionary journey. That's exactly why I find your work so inspiring!

  2. I find my beginning designs are very basic and formal. My newer jewelry has clasps and connectors that I have made and much more casual. I love ceramics so I usually have a ceramic focal incorporated.

  3. I love seeing where the years have taken you! Thanks for sharing and inspiring those of us who are at the beginning of our own journey.

  4. That was really interesting Lesley! I wonder where my bead journey will take me?.....

  5. This was such a fun post! I loved seeing the evolution of your designs...and what was the same. I can see the germ of my current style in old designs. A few look exactly like things I would made today!


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