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Bead of Clay Spotlight!
Designer of the week!

(Pendant by Marlasmud)

1. How often do you use artist beads in your work? Who was your first artist bead crush? (the artist that inspired you to start using or collecting art beads). What is your comfortable price point range for buying an artist bead or bead set? What is the most expensive bead you have ever bought?

99% of the jewellery I make will have at least one art bead elements to it and usually more as I like to mix different media. I'm actually quite new to the world of 'clay beads' and only started using them regularly at the beginning of this year. I'd come across a few clay artists on Etsy and through online challenges and blog hops but when I was invited to join a private bead group on Facebook I actually met those artists and many more making beautiful beads with clay. Probably the first artist I bought from was Marsha Neal - those beautiful flower pendants were just iresistible. I've fallen pretty hard for the earthy rustic work and delicious glazes of Karen Totten too and I also have a soft spot for the beads of my fellow Brit Caroline Dewison who seems to be to be getting better and better with each bead. However, if you take a look at my ceramic bead stash you'll see lots of other artists featured in there and hey, I've only been at this for six months so I'm still in the discovery phase. I have every intention of adding artists to that stash, once the bank lifts the restraining order from my account - this is not a cheap addiction you know. Generally speaking I think ceramic beads are well priced and don't usually reach the giddy heights that some lampwork beads do for instance. The most I've probably paid for clay beads is £25 for a set and £18 for a focal which was for myself. The price has to equate to what I can sell a finished item for so expensive sets would generally be split across a number of finished items where as a cheaper set may be used complete. As a general rule I would say £15 for a set and £10 for a focal are comfortable price points but then again I have champagne tastes on a beer budget and absolutely no willpower!

(Pendant by Golem Studio)

2. Where is your favorite place to buy art beads? (Do you shop online? In person at bead shows? Bead shops? Large Online Suppliers? etc). And do you use a lot of the beads you buy or just hoard them (and can we see a photo of your art bead stash - we love seeing bead stash pics!)?

I would love to buy art beads face to face but sadly, the UK doesn't have bead shows on the scale of the US and Bricks and Mortar bead shops are few and far between. I much prefer to buy beads direct from the artist and if possible get to know a little about them and their working practices - makes it so much more fun. This might sound a bit like I'm stalking them but I really only do that if there is a bead I really, really must have which is only, well, quite often really. I usually buy beads with the intention of using them but sometimes they do become 'my precious's' and I find it hard to let go of them. Make them into jewellery for yourself I hear you say...great idea - except I already have more of that than I can wear in a lifetime! That said I do make a lot of jewellery so yes I do use a lot of my beads. I can be a bit picky though and if I don't think what I'm designing is good enough for the bead it will go back in the box. I hope no Psychologists are reading this...

Below is some of Lesley's Art bead Stash
(Beads and pendants from ....well....everyone!)

3. What inspires you to create the style of work you make? Do you come up with a design first, then find beads to fit into that design idea? Or do you find a bead or artist object (pendant, button, cabochon, etc) and then create a design around it?

It's difficult to say what inspires my style as there are so many things and to be honest, I'm not sure what my style is. I can be very fickle when it comes to designing and can be doing completely different things from one week to the next. I'm very organic in my working methods and rarely work out a design in advance - I'm more inclined to dive (well belly flop) in and see what happens. I may well stop mid-way through and practice and idea I have, particularly if there's a risk of ruining something or I'm using expensive materials. Very often the beads will dictate the design and numerous pieces have come about when beads have fortuitously come together on a chaotic workbench - all the excuse I need not to be more organised. 

(Dangles by Marsha Neal Studio)

4. What are your favorite bead-related resources? Magazines, Books, Pinterest Boards, Blogs, Websites, FaceBook, Classes, etc. Do you look outside of the "bead industry" for inspiration? What are your favorite resources there?

The best bead resources for me are the people I come into contact with through the online beading community. There is such a vast pool of inspiration and information at my finger tips I doubt I will ever need to go elsewhere. Blogs, Facebook, Pinterest - these are all extensions of that and I have my favourites, but I'm always finding new ones through those same people. I also have a love of design and art in general so can be influenced by many things - textiles, architecture, nature - almost anything and all the better if I can pick it up and put it in my pocket for future reference.

5. What is your favorite color palette to design with? Do you prefer a particular style of bead, button, pendant, etc? What is your bead downfall? You know - the one you just have to have no matter what?

"Favorite' questions are always difficult for me as it depends on the mood I'm in. In terms of the colours I wear myself it would be saturated autumnal shades - greens, ochres, russets, plums, rich and earthy tones like that. If you look at my jewellery portfolio you will find plenty in that palette, but also plenty of others including some pretty bright hues which I particularly seem to gravitate towards for challenge pieces of late. You're unlikely to find me doing much in fluffy girly colours though...that I struggle with! My current (for it will change) passion is for for disc beads - I find them quite challenging but really satisfying to master and I can't get enough of them. And as for the bead I have to have no matter what - it's the one I haven't seen yet. I love having new designs and If someone comes up with something original that presses the right button then I have to have it there and then.

6. What part of the world do you live in? Do you find that you are inspired by things around you every day or do you daydream about living somewhere else? What is your creative space like? Where and when do you find you create your best work (do you watch TV, listen to music, audio books, etc when you create)? What are your favorites.
I live in Dorset,a small county on the south coast of England and I love it! We have beautiful beaches and country side including a world heritage Jurassic coastline; a literary heritage with Thomas Hardy a native and his novels based on the region; a 'temperate' climate (can't believe I'm saying that considering current conditions) and only a couple of hours from London and Paris! I am inspired by my surroundings particularly the beach, though more so in winter than summer and whilst I like to travel, I'm one of those people who always loves to come home.

My work space is the third of 3 bedrooms in a very small 3 bedroomed house and quite frankly it's just too small!
I made a little space by creating a hot work area in the garage for the kiln, enameling and metal working equipment but come winter believe me, you want to be in that kiln! I'm forever reorganizing to try and make it more ergonomic but I really have run out of space. I have considered transferring to the second and bigger bedroom but that would mean no more than 2 guests at once and they would have to sleep on bunk beds and that wouldn't be fair would it? Although come to think of it, guests only get in the way and eat up my creative time and they wouldn't stay long if they had to sleep in bunks...Excuse me while I just go and take some measurements.

7. Do you have any furry friends or family that you are around a lot and they inspire (or distract you) from your work? You are welcome to add photos of them or tell a brief funny story about them and your jewelry designer life and how they intermingle. 

I have a small furry design assistant who is supposed to earn her keep by purring appreciatively at all my designs and boosting my delicate artists ego. Lately however I get the feeling that she just doesn't share my passion for all thing beady...

Lesley Watt

THEA Jewellery & THEA too


  1. I enjoyed that. Thanks for sharing, ladies. That's a pretty big bead stash on a beer budget--I have to switch to beer, I think! And a pretty sunny workroom for Hardy territory! All adding up to beautiful work.....

  2. What a fantastic interview Lesley! I love your comment ( amoungst others!) about belly flopping not diving! hahaha. I just had to click on your stash and look at it on the big screen. So amazing!!
    You are obviously multi- talented and so good at what you do!
    Such an organized work space too. I love your cat. She is adorable.
    Thank you for sharing!-Cilla ( using my hubby's computer)

  3. I want to move in! She has lots of beads, a cat, and an organized room by the beach, how can one beat that? And she makes awesome jewelry. Nice to know more about the artist behind the designs.

  4. Such talent! Lesley knows how to show off the artist made beads. I'm green with envy over that stash--though I can certainly relate to hoarding these lovely treasures!

  5. Beautiful designs! Lovely interview! Looks like you have a wealth of inspiration!

  6. Enjoyed the interview and learning just a little more about my online friend Lesley.

  7. Your work is fabulous, Lesley.

  8. What a wonderful interview with the incredibly talented and witty Lesley Watt! I am a HUGE fan of her work! Thanks for sharing, Marla!

  9. I really enjoyed this interview! Lesley's sense of humor always cracks me up! I wish I had her oragnizational skills. Her studio looks like mine does only in my dreams! Such a talented designer. Thanks for sharing.

  10. What a fun interview. I think you should totally take over the 2nd bedroom for your studio...after i come for a visit ;-) Love seeing your art bead stash!


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