Monday, 4 June 2012

Memories of the sea ...

Way back when I returned from holiday (which seems like months ago!), I was filled with inspiration after spending time by my favourite element - the sea.  I made this Ocean Wave pendant in response to the latest Wire Goddess challenge on Etsy:

And, because I recently promised myself I wasn't going to assume I couldn't do something, I turned an idle sketch of Neptune into this slightly mad ocean-themed pendant:

I also decided to make an underwater pendant for myself, for a change:

The voting is now open for the Wire Goddess Challenge - Splendor of The Sea.  Please pop over and cast your vote - all votes are welcome!

I'll be working on my blog more in the coming weeks, and will try and share more about my techniques and inspiration - time has run away with me recently, as usual! :)

Sunday, 13 May 2012

And the Winner of the Giveaway is ...

Marianna Adams!  As is traditional, I put the slips of paper in my (straw) hat, and my independent judge (hubby) selected the winning slip.  I will be contacting Marianna shortly to let her know, and the Silver Birch pendant will be winging its way to her.  Thank you so much to everyone who commented, and please stay tuned - there's bound to be another giveaway sooner or later!

In the meantime, after the hectic week I had last week, I shall start catching up with the blogs and Facebook pages of those of you who have them - it's always nice to find new talent and inspiration! :)

Friday, 11 May 2012

I won!!!

I can't believe it - I won the Wirework category of Beads and Beyond magazine's Jewellery Competition of the Year with my Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon necklace!

I am so thrilled, I just can't put it into words!  So ... we'll leave it at that.

And just to remind you all, my giveaway ends on Sunday, so if you'd like to win this pendant:

all you need to do is follow this blog (you can still enter if you're already following it!) and post a comment.  Or you can go to my Facebook page and leave a comment on either my Timeline or on the giveaway post pinned to the top left of the page.  If Facebook won't let you do that, please let me know - it's been giving me the serious runaround this week - just what you don't need when you're in the middle of a giveaway! >:(

Thank you to all who have entered so far, and good luck - the draw will go ahead on Sunday! :)

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Giveaway Time!

I'm back from a lovely holiday in Norfolk, where we 'enjoyed' an even more eclectic selection of the British weather than usual.  Inspiration wasn't lacking, and I produced a couple of pieces to choose from for my entry into the latest Wire Goddess challenge, which I'll blog about next time.  I also played about with wrapping one of the beautiful pebbles that Norfolk's beaches are studded with:
And, for anyone who thinks that Norfolk is just flat, let me tell you it has some of the most stunning forests in the country.  I'd never actually seen an entire forest of silver birches before (right next to a pine forest) and as the silver birch is my favourite tree, I was inspired to make this tree of life pendant, with a cluster of violets at the base of the tree:

I recently reached 100,000 overall views on my Flickr album (which, while not a significant milestone to some, still makes me feel chuffed!), and to thank all those of you who have taken the time to look at my work, I've decided to give away the tree pendant.

All you have to do is leave a comment on my blog (and follow it if you aren't already) and/or leave a comment on my Facebook page LouiseGoodchildDesigns by next Sunday 13th May.  Feel free to like my Facebook page too - if you do like it! - but it's not obligatory.  I will put the names into my trusty straw hat next Sunday, and will contact the name drawn by an independent judge (my long-suffering hubby again) to obtain your address.  If you would like me to hang the pendant from a simple thong so that it's ready to wear, just let me know.

Again, thank you so much for taking an interest in my work, and please do keep coming back - I'm not done yet! :D

Sunday, 22 April 2012

In Response To The Rain ...

... I say, bring on the colour! 

As my UK followers know, much of the southern half of the country is now under a hosepipe ban, due to a reduction in rainfall over the last few years.  Naturally, the moment the ban was implemented, the heavens opened, closed for some intermittent sunshine that just served to make us look like idiots wrapped up in our wet weather gear, then opened again, dispensing rain and hail with vigour.  It's certainly made for some impressive skylines, with stormclouds boiling up out of sunlit skies.  Without the skill to represent these cloud formations in any way with wire, I just found myself reacting to the grey, and bringing out the colour.

This bracelet, made with the zingiest of Czech glass, shiny bronze wire and a stunning bronze clasp by Lesley Watt of THEAtoo is in one of my absolute favourite shades of green (my fave colour, anyway).

And prior to that, I went mad for bright purple.  The polymer clay butterfly beads are made by the talented Di Keeble.  The wire used is (of course) lilac craft wire.

I'm off on my hols soon, so hopefully I will be inspired while away (probably by yet more rain, it's certainly looking likely) and will have some goodies to show when I get back.  Fear not, the rain won't get me down - I love it!  There's nothing quite like walking along a deserted beach, getting absolutely pelted by torrential rain, then going back home to dry out and watch the weather with a hot drink (or alcoholic one, depending on the time!) in hand. :)

And I will definitely be organising my promised giveaway when I return.  My Flickr stats are currently showing 98,000 views exactly, so as soon as I reach 100,000, I'll be sorting out something to give away to readers of my blog/likers of my Facebook page to celebrate.  Yay - giveaways are fun! :)

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Please vote in our Spring Blossoms challenge

It's that time again - the bi-monthly challenge for the Wire Goddess Team on Etsy.  We didn't have that many entries this time, but that doesn't mean the standard of the work wasn't as high as ever.  Please take a moment to have a look at how our different wire designers approach the same theme - and please do vote.  Voting is open to anyone, and all votes are welcome!  I can't wait for the winner to be announced so we will have a new challenge to get our teeth into. :)

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

On trees, daffodils and being inspired by the seasons (or not)

Recently I have been inspired to produce Spring-themed pieces - both by the latest Wire Goddess challenge, and by the weather here in the UK, which was ridiculously warm at the end of March.  Daffodils abound - on roundabouts, in gardens and in supermarkets.  I love daffodils, and was agreeably surprised to see my first bunch of the year open into these beauties:
Buying bunches of daffodils, with their tightly closed buds, is a bit like being given a wrapped present - you don't know what you're going to get until the wrapping is off.  Naturally, I had to produce something daffodil-esque in the form of a pendant, and this was what I came up with, another tree (I know, it lacks originality, but I'm obsessed with trees!  See pic at the bottom for proof.) with spring green leaves and a carpet (well, a very small rug) of daffodils nodding beneath.
Then, out of the blue, I became Autumn-inspired when I was lucky enough to snag a fabulous toadstool lampwork bead by the multi-talented Claire-Louise Patrick of Ciel Creations, and that led to this whimsical creation:
Don't ever let anyone dismiss stringing as easy - it took me almost as long to achieve a design I was happy with when stringing this necklace as it does to make a wire pendant.  It's very important to me that a piece has the correct balance, and I really faff about with it!  If you want to see real expertise in the art of sublime stringing, check out the work of Nia Clement - it is beautiful, balanced and exquisitely executed, and I am in awe of her talent!

A swift reversal of the unnaturally balmy weather back to our usual cold and wet, kept me feeling autumnal, and the fact that I'd just got myself some ivory craft wire meant mushrooms were still the order of the day:
Who knows what will jump into my head next?  It's unlikely to be Summer, that being my least favourite season, but you never know - I'm as obsessed with water as I am with trees, so it may be tropical seas next.  And here is one of my (many, MANY - ask my incredulous hubby) pictures of trees from last weekend, when it was cold but sunny:

Monday, 12 March 2012

Can I ... ?

I often look at some of the more intricate lampwork beads, and wish I could have a go at making them.  There's no guarantee that I wouldn't just produce poo on a stick - and, in fact, I expect that's what would happen, as what's in your head doesn't necessarily translate successfully into what you're capable of making.  My beloved wire does have its limitations - I absolutely adore 'underwater' beads as I'm a great lover of water in all its aspects, but wire does not necessarily lend itself well to representing liquid, although I have tried more than once!  And yet ... I found myself making yet another doodle of an underwater pendant, and thinking ... can I?
I ignored the urge to attempt my underwater pendant, and spent last Friday evening trying to make something simpler, and saleable.  What an utter waste of time.  I achieved precisely nothing, unless you count sore thumbs and the usual squint you could park a bike in.  So I decided to cut my losses and just go for it, even though I knew I would spend a lot of time twisting and weaving wire for a project that may still come to nothing.  But I've come to the conclusion that it's good for me to challenge myself with something I find inspiring.  No, it doesn't always work - but the research I put into things like finding different seaweeds and corals and working out ways to represent them using wire, is probably good for me.

So after several hours work, this is what I produced.  And yes, it's a bit busy and it's certainly multi-coloured, but it actually turned out just how I hoped it would.  Obviously, the water is represented by the spaces that aren't filled with wire, but hopefully that works.  Once I'd sorted out what I was going to include, the hardest parts were making sure all the components were securely anchored (it's amazing how a piece of seemingly secure wrapped wire can work itself loose all by itself) and that all of the many wire ends were neatly tucked in.  After all, it's meant to be a wearable piece, so it needs to be fit for purpose.  And the conclusion to all this rambling is that, after all, it appears I can.  :)

Monday, 5 March 2012

Spoilt For Choice

Because that's how I feel at the moment, and it's a great feeling.  I've recently treated myself to a tumbler - and quite frankly, I can't believe I waited this long!  The pleasure of listening to it churning gently away and knowing it will open to reveal super-shiny treasures is worth all the pain and nail-destruction of hours of bending, cutting and filing.  It doesn't really matter that it's just washers, toggles and earwires that are coming out of it, the novelty hasn't worn off yet!

But the reason I'm spoilt for choice, of course, is that while the tumbler is a wonderful finishing tool for my copper, silver and bronze wire, it's not a friend to my favourite medium of all - coloured wire.  Since discovering jewellery-making a few years back, I've completely fallen in love with colour.  I'm as big a fan of shiny - or oxidised - metal as the next person, and I know all too well that coloured wire is far less forgiving when it comes to tool marks, and often regarded as the province of beginners before they progress to precious metals.  But without my rainbow of beads and wires, I think my world would be a lot more dull. ;)

So after a week of preparing metal for the tumbler, I had to go the other way and play with some colour this weekend.  (The pendant is actually much brighter than the picture - I'm struggling with the light as usual!)  And I had a rather incredulous laugh at myself when I realized I'd constructed a whole woven flower - and weaving is not my forté - just so I would have something to add one of my new ladybird beads to.  Well, it needed a flower.  And it's no bad thing to challenge myself with something outside my comfort zone, is it?  (Oh, and did I mention I'm also addicted to beads?)

Hubby's remark was 'it's a bit bright, isn't it?'.  Well, yes, but that's the point!  Give me a week of filing copper and I react by going into colour overload.  And the great thing is, I have a tray chock-full of wire in all colours of the rainbow.  AND plenty of copper, bronze and even brass for when the coloured wire gives me a migraine.  Lucky me! :D

Friday, 24 February 2012

Dreaming of Spring ...

Well, the latest Wire Goddess Challenge is up.  Ruth won the last one with this awe-inspiring wire sculpture based on the same theme as mine - Rapunzel.  But what a different take!  (I absolutely adore this piece.)

So Ruth got to choose the next theme, and she chose Spring Blossoms.  Which I think is a fabulous theme because it has plenty of scope, and it's not hard to enjoy looking at pictures of Spring flowers for inspiration.  I immediately thought of the carpet of nodding bluebells that bloom in English woodland in the Spring.  This picture, which is used as a stock photo on Wikipedia, was taken just a few miles from where I live:

You can see it's really not hard to take inspiration from views like this.  I did think 'daffodils' briefly - I love daffodils! - but it just had to be English bluebells.  So here is my piece.

And I'm happy to say it's a Picture Pendant, and hopefully there will be more on the way.  I can't wait to see what the other Wire Goddesses create, and I will as ever post the link here when it's time to vote.

In the meantime, roll on Spring.  As usual in this country, the weather doesn't know what it's going to do next, and is keeping us on our toes! :)

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Tentatively hopeful ...

Well, after whingeing about my creative dry spell last time, I'm tentatively hopeful that the creative juices may finally be starting to trickle, if not quite to flow (why does that sound slightly gross?).  Maybe partly because I've been trying to put myself under a bit less pressure (commissions aside).  This is an ornament I made to hang near my original wire goddess, when I was allowing myself to have a rare play with the copper wire the other day:

As I think I mentioned before, I've been working on a commission - and this one is a larger version of the Midwinter pendant that pretty much switched off my inspiration last time, so I was a little nervous about it.  However, it is well underway, and although it has left me very little time to play with things like the tree above - wonder of wonders, a few ideas have pinged into my head in the last week.  They're still just ideas until I have the time to explore them, but it's a start.  And I was so desperate not to forget them, my long-suffering hubby was called on to write a couple of them down in the form of speedy notes that I think perplexed him somewhat ...  But I was in the bath at the time, so someone had to do it, and as I usually do a rough sketch, it seemed a bit beyond the call of duty to expect him to do that!

Before I started the commission, I did squeeze in the time to make a Midnight Tree pendant using one of a string of rather pretty blue agate beads I bought last week.  They were part of a purchase from an Etsy shop I've got quite fond of recently, SilverSense - great service, and a free gift of pretty Czech glass beads with every purchase. 

   So I'm not going to tempt fate by stating categorically that the muse is back.  But I'm hopeful ... ;)

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Dry Spell ...

Well, not completely.  But I seem to have absolutely no inspiration for Picture Pendants at the moment.  I've gone from brimming with ideas for most of last year, to ... nothing.  Maybe I burned myself out with that Midwinter window scene, I don't know.  But if there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's that there's no point whatsoever in trying to force creativity.  So I sneak around the mental block, and do my best to keep making in spite of it.  I can always fall back on a different take on a Tree of  Life if all else fails - there are endless possibilities with those.

What I have been making mostly, though, is earrings.  I love earrings, although I don't often remember to wear them.  There are lots up in my Etsy shop at the moment, in all different colours and metals.  Having made a pair I was less than satisfied with, I even got to keep them for myself, although there is a cautionary tale involved.  When using different reels of wire, try and remember when one type has been treated to make it non-tarnish - I made these twisted earrings while having a play with square wire, and thought 'oh, they'd look great oxidised' - well, yes, perhaps they would, except that the square wire does not oxidise.  At all.  They looked most odd with shiny twisty flowers and antiqued earwires ...

Anyway, hopefully I'll have more to talk about next time.  I have just finished one commission, with another due to be started, and I'm still recovering from the cold from hell, so I'm not lazing around, by any means! ;)

Monday, 2 January 2012

Rapunzel Revisited

Followers of this blog may remember my disastrous dabblings with the Rapunzel fairy tale.  Well, when Anna from NoriaJewelry deservedly won our last Wire Goddess Team challenge with this beauty:

she got to choose the next theme.  And it was a piece produced using this image as a muse:

with the official title of 'Fairy Tale'.  That window set high in a wall naturally made me think of Rapunzel sealed up in her tower, with only a window from which to let down her hair as a means of ingress to the tower.  I re-read the story, and found that it was Rapunzel's father stealing the rampion plant (in some versions) from his enchantress neighbour for his pregnant wife, that caused the enchantress to demand that he hand over the child - his first-born.  Which he did, and Rapunzel was imprisoned in her tower.

Here is my piece inspired by the fairy tale, with plaited wire to represent Rapunzel's hair, and spiky rampion flowers with their bare stalks.  It's nothing like my earlier attempts (which, if you've been reading my blog, you'll realize is a good thing!), but I'm happy with how it turned out - not least, because there's not a face in sight! ;D