Swirls: the Art Elements theme reveal


Its the time of month – reveal time for our theme challenge at Art Elements. Marsha picked a wonderful theme – so many ideas! This month does involve Bead Fest, travel, Lesley visiting from the UK – so I was glad it was a theme that resonated so strongly with my creative self.


Travelogue doodles at Bead Fest.

My main swirly piece is a beaded tapestry I am working on – although swirls were on my mind even in doodles ( see above.)



This piece is approximately 3 x 5″ and features a swirly ceramic goddess by Lesley! There is a bronze clay moon, antique miniature buttons and beads, so many beads. I wanted the swirls to be evident in color – and am keeping size and texture of the beads uniform throughout.


This one? Its on deck on the beading table. It was fired for Bead Fest but sadly had a flaw. Such a shame I have to keep it and bead… LOL. I also must say – once you start looking swirls are EVErYWHERE! (Chihuly installation at DE Art Museum; Art Deco door also at DMA. Hotel wall paper!) 

Hello – Lesley here...I’m currently vacationing with Jenny so I’m piggy-backing her blog post too. I didn’t get anything started for this challenge before I left the UK but it turns out that was a good thing because I got some great inspiration from a trip to Longwood Gardens with Marsha and Jenny. When I think swirls one of the first images that pops into my head is ferns and the wonderful patterns the newly forming leaves form as they unfurl. Fortunately for me there were examples aplenty at Longwood.

Back at Jenny’s I started to think about how I was going to use this inspiration and looked to a half face cab of Jenny’s that I’d started beading a few days earlier – unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of it then but it brought to mind the ‘Mud Maid’ sculpture from one of my favorite UK places – The Lost Gardens of Heligan.


I decided I could use these two elements to create by own beaded Fern goddess and this is what I’ve come up with so far…


Jenny’s cab has been bezeled with Peyote stitched and then I’ve just free-form beaded around it – the excess backing will be trimmed away to give a contoured edge. I’ve used dagger beads to create mature fern fronds and seed beads to represent the swirling new growth. Fire polished crystals give some organic structure and random flower beads add texture. It’s not finished yet because I’m not sure exactly how I want to continue. The plan is for the lower portion to graduate into slightly more earthy colors and finish up with some sort of fringing to suggest the ground and roots. I need to take some time to think it through so it will probably happen when I get home. so far though I’m pretty pleased with it.

I did also manage make a couple of other pieces – both using ceramic components from our lovely host Marsha. First up a pair of earrings using the yummy pod charms she made for the last Art Elements challenge. I added some swirling wire and some pale smokey quartz beads to come up with this design that I’m pretty happy with…kinda cute and very easy to wear.


Finally I beaded (because that’s what you do when you stay at Jenny’s) a pendant using a swirly cab of Marsha’s that I brought from home.


This one is in my trademark muted autumnal tones and uses a lovely Peyote mix I picked up at Bead Fest…pretty simple but again very wearable.

So that’s where Marsha’s challenge took me and to be honest, I could probably go on for ever with this theme as there is no end of inspiration. So a big thank you to Marsha for giving us this opportunity, to Jenny for letting me raid her bead stash and to both of them for taking me to the wonderful Longwood Gardens.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our offerings and will join us on our blog hop to see what all the other participants have come up with – just click on the links below. Enjoy!

Guest Artists:














Art Elements Team: 





Jenny & Lesley





16 thoughts on “Swirls: the Art Elements theme reveal

  1. eganj1 says:

    Jenny and Lesley, I’m in awe of your bead embroidery, I haven’t a clue how to do that but it looks amazing. I love your different interpretations of the theme . Hope you have a great time together.


  2. Cat says:

    I love it all, but the fern goddess blows me away even if it is finished yet. The genius of using daggers for the fern, wow!
    Great work, both of you!


  3. Laney says:

    So many beautiful pieces, like everyone else I think your bead work is amazing! I have been to the Lost Gardens of Heligan and it was a fabulous place to visit, that Mud Maid is lovely but my favourite sculpture there had to be the funny face man at the beginning of the gardens 😛


  4. alysen55 says:

    Jenny and Lesley, both of your pieces are amazing in their own rights!!! The bead embroidery is awesome and swirls ARE everywhere .. oh, I agree with the brillian idea of using daggers as fern leaves. It adds another dimension to your very textured and lovely piece Lesley.
    I would have liked this theme to be in another month, since I, too, am a ‘swirly girl’, I use them whenever possible in my wirework. But, alas, I couldn’t participate this month.


  5. Saraccino byCF says:

    I love the shared blog post of you two! The beaded textile art pieces are both wonderful and I also love to see what wonderful jewelry you can create even while travelling! I can’t wait to see what else you will create, especially at the retreat! 🙂


  6. blueberribeads says:

    Love your work ladies, Jenny, your embroidery is stunning.. I love the movement in your tapestry. Each time I come to your blog it makes me want to get the beads out again!

    Lesley, your fern goddess is looking beautiful. I find it really hard to work with one colour, but you nailed it! Love the jewellery designs too!

    Enjoy the rest of your hols 🙂


  7. kathy Lindemer says:

    I love the fern goddess. The cab just pulls you into the piece. The colors are among my favorites. I am also drooling over the pod earrings. Your wire work looks great with the pods and I love how the clear crystal looks. Well done!


  8. Cathy Mendola says:

    Like Sue, I was lucky enough to see the beautiful pieces you both created. Love, love, love everything- the cabs & beadwork are stunning! Sorry so late finishing the blog hop😉you know I have been working on it awhile.


  9. Sarajo Wentling says:

    I love both of your bead embroidery pieces! I so want to come visit Jenny and have her teach me more about bead embroidery. Lesley, your swirl earrings are awesome! I’m so impressed by your wirework.


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