AJE Component of the Month – November edition!

I am late getting this post up today, mostly because I fussed and fussed over the components throughout the last week and only just got the design to where I wanted it last night. By then I had lost the light to take good photos and between church obligations this morning and getting run off the road on my way thereto (I’m fine and the car’s fine, thank God), this literally was the soonest possible opportunity.

So, with apologies to Kristen Stevens, this month’s component hostess, here is my offering:


One of the things I love about doing these monthly challenges is that it encourages us to work with components and materials that we wouldn’t otherwise work with on a regular basis. Kristen sent us these very beautiful beaded circles, which I have long admired but which I probably wouldn’t have ever picked for myself. Although I occasionally do some beading, I’m really all about metal and rocks, and the beading I do doesn’t play well with metal (yet).

Even so, these proved to be more of a challenge for me to work with than I was expecting. My initial design was a necklace, where I planned to use these as connectors, and while I liked the idea in theory, the whole thing wound up looking really forced so I scrapped it. (Because I like the theory, though, I’m probably going to go back and revisit the concept in some way….) Then I came up with the idea of nested silver rings as the starting point for earrings, so I fused some Argentium links together – it took me a couple of tries before I got them the size and shape I wanted.


And this is the point where I really stalled out – I just could not come up with a connector between the two components that looked right. I tried everything: fabric, leather, wire, cord. It all looked…. not right. Not bad, just not right. Kristen’s beaded circles are very lightweight, but both components have a significant visual weight and everything I tried looked too “poofty” with them or too overbearing. (“Poofty” is a technical term.)

I was closed to scrapping the whole design and starting over when I decided to take a break and clean off my bench to clear my head. Lo and behold, I uncovered a long piece of 12 gauge half-round sterling under the pile of crap works in progress mess, and one end was bent into a half circle. I made oval jump rings out of it, and then textured the curved surface by just pressing my round-nose pliers into at random intervals. They feel clean and simple, but have enough visual weight to hold their own against the other components without overwhelming them.


I rarely sell my Component of the Month pieces, because they seem like documents to me – documents of a new place in my creative journey, a mile-marker of sorts, that defines a point in time. I love these earrings, not just because they include something made by my friend Kristen, but also because they represent a creative struggle that was overcome. I’ll be wearing them a lot.

To see what everyone else came up with, head on over to the Art Jewelry Elements blog and check out all the links. And don’t forget to leave a little comment love as you hop through the designs!

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

I have just gotten back from a wonderful week in Salt Lake City with the amazing Melissa Muir.


In addition to some badly needed play time, I took photos of several projects for her new book. We had a blast and I got to have a road trip, which is one of my favorite things.






I’m safely home again and spent all day yesterday teaching a class with two of my favorite students – so much fun. I put together a tutorial about one of our projects over on the Art Jewelry Elements blog today – check it out.


And today is the birthday of my sweet husband, Nick. I can hardly talk about him these days without becoming emotional with gratitude for him. Funny, generous, wise, loving, selfless – there really aren’t words to capture the man that he is. His retirement is coming up fast, and honestly? We can’t wait. On this birthday, the greatest gift I can think of to give him (besides the studio we’re building him after the first of the year!) are my passionate prayers for years and years and years of rest, creativity, and renewed purpose. He’s been painting up a storm, and I am so excited to see what this next season brings him. Happy birthday, babe – I love you and I thank God for you every single day.


October AJE Component of the Month!

It’s time again for the always-fun Art Jewelry Elements Component of the Month challenge! This month’s hostess is Karen Totten of Starry Road Studio, and I am completely smitten with the Spiral Fossil Discs she gave us to work with.

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They are so rustic and fun! As usual, I asked to be surprised and when I opened the package, I knew right away what I wanted to do with mine.




I’m really happy with how the weaving turned out, but not so happy with how it hangs on the chain. I like the concept but the execution is lacking something – I need to play with it some more and maybe make up a custom chain or try it on some leather cording. When I get back from Salt Lake, I’ll lay out some options and see if I can come up with something I like better.

Want to see what everyone else did with their discs? Here are the links – enjoy!

Monthly Winners

AJE Blog Team
Francesca Watson <— YOU ARE HERE

Spring cleaning…

It’s been too long since I updated everyone on what I’m doing, but the truth is that we’ve been working our tails off on some expansions to the Roadhouse Arts workshop space – it’s nearly finished and it’s going to be amazing. (Photos will be going up on the Roadhouse site when we’re done!)

As part of all of that, I embarked on a two-day cleaning and reorganizing of my own studio space. We made some changes to the layout of our personal working areas, and it included moving my entire bead collection to another wall. Ugh. But, after much sweat, sore muscles, and some assistance from friends and family, the spring cleaning of the space is done. And I do mean cleaning – everything was wiped down, swept, sorted, organized, and put away. In some cases, I actually threw things out!





It’s silly, but one of the things I’m most pleased about is the installation of that bench apron, which holds the hammers, pliers and files I use most often. When I first tried to install it, I sheared off the wood screws I was using. Three times. Seriously. The lab tables that make up my work area have skirting made of old oak – and that stuff is like iron. Even with pilot holes drilled, the screws reached a point where they just said, “Hell no.” I finally got the right drill bit, drilled a deep enough pilot hole for each screw, and used special screws for hard woods.

Installed. Finally. Boo-yah.


I’ve decided I need more sparkle lights – I am completely enamored of them and they make me happy, so I’ll be installing several new strands soon. I’m also looking for small European-style globe strands for my patio at home. I’m addicted.

There are several large projects laid out on my bench, and tomorrow I get to spend the whole day working on them. I’ll also have most of Friday and Saturday for studio time before I leave Sunday for a week in Salt Lake with my dear friend Melissa Muir – accounting for drive time (I love road trips!), it’ll be a four-day play date and I cannot wait!

So that’s my update – there are still too many unopened boxes in my garage and there are three boxes of china and kitchen ephemera in my dining room that need my attention, but I’m in a place where I can really dig in and work. And I’m excited – I have some ideas rattling around in my head and I can’t wait to take them for a test drive. What about you? What are you up to?

AJE Component of the Month – September edition!

I made the (hard, painful) decision not to participate in this month’s component challenge over at Art Jewelry Elements – even before I got sick, I knew September was going to be exceedingly busy because of the move. So I didn’t get to play with one of these beauties:


These were offered by the amazing Kristi Bowman – I just love her components, so it wasn’t easy to pass up the opportunity to work with one of these great pieces!

Other members of the AJE team participated, though, along with three guest designers. Head over to the AJE blog for the links – you won’t be sorry!

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