Thursday, January 22, 2015

Part One: Build A Line Challenge from B'Sue Boutiques; Leila West of Leila Nicole Designs

Well hello.   My name is Leila West, Owner of Leila Nicole Designs, and participant of B'sue Boutiques Build a Line Challenge.  This is the first installment of this amazing master class generously offered by Brenda free of charge and I am excited to get started.  We have quite a few participants and I can't wait to see what everyone creates.  I look forward to seeing everyone back here for part 2 on Feb 20  and part 3 on March 20 in these big reveal blog hops.  Everyone is working so hard to put together a cohesive line of jewelry as we reveal our thought processes in designing our chosen lines.  At the end of this journey we will reveal our complete line of jewelry which encompasses a minimum of 5 pieces in our chosen style.

So why is there some funny looking surreal art as my first picture?  

Because that is where my story begins.  I grew up doing all sorts of arts and crafts.  We were actually pretty poor, but my parents scrimped and saved to be able to afford to put us into sports as well as provide us with supplies to be creative.  That is where my foundation started and what kept my siblings and I out of trouble growing up.  I lost my creative drive once I reached college age (boys learning), but when I met my now husband, the spark was re-ignited.  I fell into digital collaging and participated in many challenges and met many amazing people online.  But I'm like a squirrel that sees its next nut and I watched a youtube video of a lady making a wire wrapped tree of life pendant and I wanted to learn how to do it.  I used to make beaded wire trees when I was younger and had even sold a few and I thought it was pretty darn awesome that I could turn what I did back then into an actual wearable piece of art    ....and that my dear friends, is where my passion for jewelry making begins.  Only natural really, my grandmother was a great traditional artist as well as a jewelry maker altho her career was a school teacher.  She took us on many outings and encouraged the artist in us.  I wish I had had a chance to study jewelry under her, I would've loved to have learned some of her techniques.  

So I taught myself from the ladies instructional videos and began making Tree of Life pendants.  This was the first one I sold of my perfected design.  Oddly enough, I kinda miss it.  It's really pretty, but this is from 2010 and my photography was very amateur.  I've gotten much better lighting since then and those are more of a ruby colored bead, if you couldn't tell.  ;-)

....but like I mentioned earlier, squirrel.....I got bored and searched for more.  Then I came across Brenda's youtube and I couldn't get enough.  So many free mini courses teaching me all sorts of techniques to satisfy my squirrley tendencies.  I became hooked.  I made a comment on a video one day thanking her for teaching me the most awesome technique and was quite surprised to see a response inviting me to their Flickr group. I had joined but was never able to post because of some weird Flickr glitch and then she moved everyone to FB.  And a wonderful community was born where all sorts of learning and sharing is happening every day.

And now I make pieces like this (sold to someone who got a very nice Christmas present):

 And that, everyone, is an incredibly fast explanation of how I have landed here.  In this fantastic master challenge.

My goal in this challenge is to absorb as much as I can but my focus is in developing a practice or method to creating a line that could be instantly recognizable...and affordable.  I want people to see my piece and instantly know it's mine.  And I want to make them fast enough that I can grow beyond my little Etsy shop.

So here is what I'm starting with, my basic pieces for the design I have in mind.  I'm not sure if I want to add more to make it a mini assemblage or if I want to leave simple.  Still tinkering there.

My goal with this piece is to keep the design the same and change up the colors.  It's actually an idea I had been toying around with in my head for months after a simple comment Brenda had made to another design I had posted. A simple comment that sparked an idea that I saved for later because, well, squirrel....  Well now it's time for me to bring it to life.  Around the bottom and the sides I'll be using the stamped solder technique.  I love playing with my torch and I think it will add a fun design element to the piece that I have not seen many use, so I feel it will be unique enough to catch a buyers eye and use their curiosity to reel them in. The center where you can still see brass I haven't quite decided on, but you won't see brass...because that would just be boring.  ;-)

For more of a visual, here's the beginnings of that solder bit. Don't mind the other stuff, I'm always multitasking. I would show me actually stamping the solder, but I don't have a 3rd hand and my partner in crime is on graveyard shift, so he's not available and my boys aren't allowed past the doorway of the garage.

Now giving my line a name, I'll be totally honest and that is something I've always struggled with.  It's an odd concept to me to name a piece since I never think about the name of the piece I wear.
However as I was looking at the rose and mulling over colors and layout I started humming "Kissed by a Rose" sung by Seal.
Then I started thinking of solder and how gilded is another word used to describe solder and decided I want to call this line I create The Gilded Rose Collection.

Now one of the only challenges I see to making my collection is time.  Many of you already know I work full-time.  But the majority of my time is dedicated to my boys and the only girl I will have.  Our new rescue Tina.  Between the 3 I stay pretty busy, but I'm so excited for the next reveal days and hope to see you return!  If you wouldn't mind, won't you leave me a comment and let me know you stopped by?  Until next time.  XoXo....squirrel!

Other places you can find me:
If you're so inclined, I have several options where you can follow my blog on the right hand side.  I love when people leave me comments and I do reply.  If you have the time, please take a moment reblog, share, tweet and help us get the word out about this blog hop.  The more the merrier!

The Blog Hop starts here.  Please check out all these talented designers and don't forget to leave a comment and let us know you visited.  Happy Reading!

Brenda Sue Lansdowne, B'sue Boutiques
Marcia Tuzzolino
Jann Tague
Judy King
Linzi Alford
Cynthia Wainscott
Carole Carlson
Lynn Stinten
Marica Zammit
Catherine Shattuck
Michaele Collie
Mary Craig
Lee Koopman
Erin Whitacre
Monica Casady
Leila West
Cindy Peterson
Leila Belcher
Gloria Allen
Pamela Anger
Tammy Adams
Lynda O'Mara
Elizabeth Hildreth
Dana Hickey
Janet Calardo
Maria Clark
Lori Beekman
Jennifer Kroeger
Amy Jorgensen
Robin Reed
Ingrid Anderson
Louise O'Shields
Susan Killam
Mary Katherine Deis
Nike Bottalico
Susan Bowerman
Kristy Le
Jan Peters
Mitzie Crider
Gina Hockett
Linda Anderson
Alexandra Sefton
Melida Boman
Teresa Shurter
Melissa Latimer
Renee Hong
Nadine Edris
Lori Meyer
Jennifer Merrill Williams
Denise Lussier Poirier
Renee Allen
Autumn Adams
Elizabeth Owens
Kat BarronMiller
Sandra Ballard
Coral Law


  1. Oh I love your stamped solder pendants, so I can't wait to see how your finished pieces will look. Love the name you chose for your line too.

    Sending subliminal messages to your boys so they behave for the next couple of months, until you finish the challenge heehee. They're so cute! :-) And Tina is adorable.

  2. I had a wonderful visit here at your blog. I always enjoy seeing your lovely pieces and admire your productivity. You have such an active life and yet you produce such beautiful things. Bravo! Can't wait to see your new line and read about your adventures!

  3. Squirrel! Yes, I feel that way sometimes, too. I'm intrigued by your stamped solder idea. I'm struggling with the bare necklace blank showing through, so I'm keen to see your treatment of it.

    The Gilded Rose Collection is perfect.


  4. I feel you! Ha! Squirrel! Glad to work along side of you in this adventure! Excited to see what you do!

  5. Fellow squirrels unite!! Oh, sorry, I got carried away. I'm a squirrel too. The stamped solder sounds cool. Can't wait to see some finished pieces. :-) ~Elizabeth

  6. Hi Leila! I love roses, and your work. What a great combination!

  7. I already love your designs and I am looking forward to seeing yur new creations .. Jann

  8. I love your work, and what you have been doing before this challenge. Definitely cannot wait to see more! I love stamped solder, so I am very intrigued. Gina H

  9. Beautifully done, Leila.....I loved your story. I grew up much the same, we did not have much but my mother always made sure I had crayons, tempera paints, papers, scrap fabric and bits of ribbon so that I could be creative. Great to see your boys!

  10. Love your "Squirrel" comment! yes that fits me too! A Squirrel who drank too much coffee! Much luck and can't wait to see your finished line. Sandie B.

  11. Love your story! Looking forward to seeing how you incorporate stamped solder with those vibrant flowers! ~ Ingrid

  12. Looking forward to seeing how you work the stamped solder here too!

  13. You amaze me Leila with all you're able to do! I can totally relate to...squirrel. Can't wait to see what you design!

  14. Hi Leila, what a sweet history! Mine was pretty similar so I understand, but never forget creativity like flowers bloom from the most unexpected places. I enjoyed your bling and looking forward to see your line

  15. Leila, your family is as beautiful as your fabulous creations! Thank you for sharing a little glimpse into your life. Can't wait to see your Gilded Rose collection. Cheers!

  16. Looking forward to seeing this develop. I will one day try soldering but not for now I will leave that in your talented hands

  17. Surreal is one of my favorites! I've worked a little with stamped solder; so far, perfecting the technique has eluded me lol! Looking forward to seeing your line :-)

  18. I have not heard of stamped soldering, so I'm looking forward to seeing more of your work.

  19. Wonderful name. Beautiful Boys! I love the art of gilding with solder. I've only recently acquired propane/oxygen jewelry torch but am not mobile enough yet to use it while I'm home alone. I'm so excited to see what you're going to design with yours!

  20. Great blog and pictures. Boy you are one busy lady. looking forward to seeing your line. love the name.

  21. Wow--your time is full! Looking forward to seeing the stamped solder and embellishments! :)

  22. Loved your blog, can't wait to see what beautiful pieces you design, thank you for sharing your journey :D

  23. I think your story is great. Love the torched look. And you know I love you cute boys. Cindy Peterson

  24. A torch, I would be dangerous with a torch!

  25. I love where you were and where you are now! Your boys are adorable and so is the pup! I love your theme and cast wait to see where you go with it! Have a Blessed Day!

  26. Hey sweetie well you know i already dig your gorgeous jewels. I love your blog and your them here's to happy creating.

  27. Love the name of your theme. Great idea. I'm looking forward to seeing how you incorporate the stamped solder with the B'Sue components!

  28. Great blog and idea for a line, Leila! Can't wait to see what happens next. :)

  29. Well if you didn't multitask I'm not sure how you'd get anything done! But really, great theme! I've never done stamped solder but I like the look. Can't wait to see what you come up with!

  30. Wonderful post, Leila! Your family is so cute, and I love that tree of life pendant! Your lines are always fantastic, so I know this one will be too! ;)

  31. Very fun read. I don't know many artists who don't suffer from some degree of craft ADHD. So many techniques, too little time. Looking forward to seeing your gilded roses line come together.

  32. Great post, I'm excited to see your line come to fruition! Congrats on figuring out the name of your line - I still haven't figured the name of mine out. I'm sure it will squirrel show up sometime soon :)

    1. ps - this post is from Amy Jorgensen/Ameme Designs - my browser seems to be in conflict with blogspot again.

  33. Leila, first such cute boys! Roses will be beautiful in the line. Can't wait to see what emerges.

  34. Leila, first such cute boys! Roses will be beautiful in the line. Can't wait to see what emerges.

  35. I always enjoy seeing your jewelry. Stamped solder with Bsue components sounds interesting. How can you work full-time, make jewelry and take care family in such a peace? I have one girl but I always feel not enough time.

  36. Enjoyed your post and meeting your little hearts, they are adorable. I love the names everyone is coming up with for their collections. You have some lovely pieces, excited to be in this challenge with you.

  37. Sometimes I think we are kindred spirits, Leila! I just know that however you finish will be fab!

  38. Hi Leila!
    Cannot wait to see your Kissed By A Rose Collection! ;) Growing up with 5 kids my sister and I were always getting creative much in the same way...making clothes pin dolls out of my mothers clothespins and scrap fabric-something I enjoyed passing down to my daughter for a school project I really believe that only having access to simple basics such as crayons, watercolors,etc... really forced our creativity and sparked our creativity that much more... we really had to see the vision...Anyhoo....I love your stamped soldering and am really looking forward to seeing your line!!
    Happy Creating!
    See you in class!

  39. Ooh stamped solder? looking forward to seeing what you do :) Linzi


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