Thursday, December 1, 2016

Inspired by Reading: Sabriel

This month's selection for the Inspired by Reading Book Club is a book that has long been a favorite of mine:  Sabriel by Garth Nix.  I was more than happy to re-read (re-listen, actually... the audio books for this series are read by the deliciously talented Tim Curry!) this book for the umpteenth time.  I actually want to work my way back through the whole series while Sabriel is still fresh in my mind... but I digress!  

Cover artwork by Leo and Diane Dillon
While this book is written for the young adult market, it is definitely geared more towards the upper end of that age spectrum than some of Garth Nix's more recent books.  Seeing as the main character and the beloved father she is trying to save are both necromancers, there's plenty of darkness and death in this book.  Per my usual tendencies, I don't want to give too much away... you'll just have to trust me and give this one a try if you are looking for an engrossing fantasy novel to read!

When picking out the cover artwork to share in my post, I had to go in search of my favorite (and I believe the original) cover by famed artists and illustrators Leo and Diane Dillon.  This amazing team have done many of my favorite book covers... you can see many of their works arranged by the author or organization the artwork was created for HERE.  I adore the richness of detail that they bring to their book covers... and this one is no exception.

Due to a time crunch with upcoming holiday shows and other obligations and social plans on the calendar, I kept things pretty quick and simple this month for my creation.  I wish I had more time to delve more deeply here... but that's how things go sometimes.  I took my inspiration from Sabriel's garment that she takes on when she gets geared up at her father's house.  The traditional symbol and garb of the Abhorsen features silver keys on a field of blue.  I whipped up a quick pair of earrings using one of my Vintaj embossing folders with a pattern of keys (and gears... although I was able to pretty much avoid those in my placement of the rectangular blanks).  A coat of blue paint, a little buffing to bring out the silver under layer of the Arte Metal blanks, followed by a coating of silvery tinted glaze on the top and I was ready to attach some silver plated key charms!  Voila... Sabriel's earrings!

Thanks for checking out my latest book club creation!

December 2016 Inspiration for the Honey Do List

This year, my husband Eric has decided to issue me a design challenge each month to get me out of my comfort zone and to help clear out my bead stash... we're calling it the Honey Do List.  I know that I'm not the only one who loves a good design challenge, so I'm inviting folks to play along!  

Here's this month's inspiration and what Eric had to say about it:

This month's challenge shot comes from a really cool special light exhibit by Bruce Munro at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.  I happily toted my tripod around and took hundreds of pictures while poor Sj tried to stay warm.  This particular photo was a long exposure where I slowly moved the camera to give the impression of motion.  I think the colors and sparkle in this shot will lead to some cool jewelry inspiration!

The reveal date will be Monday, December 19th.  To make it super easy for you to participate and share your creations, I'll set up an Inlinkz link up so folks can add their blogs as they are ready.  Just stop by my blog starting on December 19th and join the fun!  I'll leave the link up open for a while... so you have plenty of time to add your links.  (Last month's is still open... check it out HERE.)  No blog?  No worries!  Feel free to send me a picture of your creation and some brief comments and I'll happily share in my blog post.  You can reach me at  The more the merrier, so I hope you'll play along with me this month!

If you want to know more about the Bruce Munro exhibit, check it out HERE.  If you're local, I really recommend getting tickets to see it while it's here.  It was fun and magical to wander through the Arboretum at night being mesmerized by the lights!

Art Elements November Component of the Month

It's been a little while since I've been chosen to receive the Component of the Month from the Art Elements (formerly the Art Jewelry Elements) Blog.  I was excited to learn that I would be one of the lucky ones to get to play with one of these amazing ceramic donuts from Kristie Roeder of Artisan Clay!  Kristie uses recycled glass that gets fused to her pieces during kiln firing and the results are amazing!  I didn't have a clear idea of what I might want to make when I entered, but I knew that I would figure it out once I had mine in my hot little hands.    

I got the one on the bottom left!
Now, I cannot tell a lie... the piece that I received was a bit outside my color comfort zone.  If you've followed my jewelry journey, you probably already know that pinks and purples don't show up super often in my designs.  But getting outside our normal ruts is part of what makes it a challenge!  I was excited to get one with two loops instead of just one... that helped my ideas gel a bit.  Per my usual creating style, I began pulling out all manner of pink and purple beads that might play nice with the focal.  Slowly I narrowed things down and started to formulate a plan.

Possible beads for a couple of projects.
Before we get on to my finished piece, I have to apologize for the quality of my photos.  It's been grey and foggy here since I completed my necklace making good photos a big challenge!  I promise that it looks much better in person!  I started by wire-wrapping the wire loops on either end of my donut with small gauge pewter colored craft wire to visually bulk them up and add some texture.  (It's hard to see in my photos, but I like the effect it gives in person.)

I was torn between stringing and wire wrapped links, but went with stringing in the end.  I used a mix of vintage and modern glass beads, pewter, and lavender and cape amethyst beads for this long necklace.  I'm really happy with how the beaded dangles turned out too!  So much so that I think I'll whip up a pair of earrings to echo the flower bead unit in the middle.    

Thanks for stopping by to see what I've been up to.  Hop on over to the Art Elements blog to see what everyone else made this month with Kristie's other pieces HERE or use the links below!

Guest Designers:
Sarajo Wentling  (You are here)
Lola Surwillo
Beti Horvath
Kate Kemp
ArtE Team
Susan Kennedy
Lesley Watt
Claire Fabian
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Jen Cameron

Friday, November 25, 2016

Artisans Create Together Inspiration Challenge: November 2016

I'm really enjoying the Inspiration Photo Challenges that are hosted by the Facebook group Artisans Create Together!  This month brings two more lovely color palettes to spur us onto creativity... one warm and traditional for the holiday season, and one in cooler tones.  

I love the rich reds in the first Inspiration!  So yummy!  As soon as I saw it, I knew that I'd be digging into my collection of pendants from Tracee Dock of The Classic Bead.  I have a number of pieces from her in lovely shades of burgundy.  First up, a necklace that is similar to one I made back in February... why reinvent the wheel, right?  It turns out that "Bordeaux" Swarovski pearls are the perfect complement to this dark red glaze that Tracee uses!  I added in some Czech glass beads too to complete the look.

I also had fun with another of pendant from The Classic Bead... this one a large leaf in burgundy and cream.  This time I decided string some jasper coin beads that I bought at my first ever bead show back in 2008.

While lovely, this "Contemporary Harvest" palette was a little more outside my normal comfort zone.  I'm just not much of a purple/plum girl when it comes to jewelry making.  I did get a tiny bee in my bonnet (or maybe it was an owl!) when I was working on the Art Bead Scene challenge earlier in the month.  I decided that it was high time to use a little purple and grey lampwork bead by Jeff Barber along with an owl bead from Green Girl.  My husband was really pushing me to add beads along the long chain, but I just wanted to keep this one simple.  I did sneak some purple crystals into the leafy chain though!  

All of these designs will be available at my Holiday Open House on December 4th.  I hope to see some of you there!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


In an effort to get prepared for my upcoming holiday shows, I've been putting in a lot of time at my bead table.  While my favorite things to make are earrings and one of a kind necklaces with art beads, I want to make sure that I have a wide variety of styles and price points for everyone's gift giving needs!  I thought I'd share what I've been working on to fill the need for more simple styles today.

For this first series of necklaces I wanted to keep things super simple and let the gemstones shine.  Each necklace features one lovely gemstone pendant on either silver plated, copper plated, or brass chain and they are all about 20 inches long.  At under $30, I'm hoping that these will be popular with gift givers this holiday season!

I've also been playing with the idea of making chain tassels to go with colorful focal beads.  Here are two that I made this past week with almond shaped ceramic beads by Golem Design Studio.

I decided to revisit a best selling design too and whipped up a couple more large dragonfly necklaces with gemstones.  I've had these two painted for a while but finally got around to finishing the pieces.  I probably won't do more of these until spring unless I get a special order.

Lastly on the simplicity front, I'm working on making more embossed medallion necklaces.  Full disclosure, this picture is from the fall and all but one of this batch have sold but I'm making more this week!  I make these in 20 and 28 inch chain lengths.

Thanks for stopping by to check out my experiments with simplicity.  I hope that you all have a happy and safe Thanksgiving this year.  Let us embrace the simple things that mean so much!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Honey Do List: November 2016

This year, my husband Eric has decided to issue me a design challenge each month to get me out of my comfort zone and to help clear out my bead stash... we're calling it the Honey Do List.  I know that I'm not the only one who loves a good design challenge, so I'm inviting folks to play along!  

Here's this month's inspiration and what Eric had to say about it:

This month's challenge piece is an amazing sunrise just outside of our housing development.  I did some crazy photoshop action to turn it into a tiny world surrounded by Saturn-like rings.  I thought the effect was fun and the colors should lend themselves well to a jewelry making challenge.  Good luck!

I've always loved the colors and cloud patterns of sunrise and sunset... nature has the most amazing paintbox!  When Eric told me what he was up to with his Little Planets photo challenge, I was excited to see what he came up with and it did not disappoint.  While I'm more of a fan of natural, unadulterated photos, this effect was really cool.  I love the soft colors and the silhouettes of the tree limbs against the sky!

I was in an earring making mood for this challenge again this month!  I had some perfect beads in my stash in just the right colors.  First up, I grabbed a pair of Firelily lampwork glass beads from a strand of orphan beads I snagged a while back.  I felt like the magic colors of this borosilicate lampwork glass really reflected the colors of the photo... complete with black spots near the surface that remind me of the trees!  I really wanted the earrings to be a little bit longer so I added a jump ring between the beads and the ear wires... but that seemed too stark and boring so I added a few decorative jump rings with seed beads in two different colors and shapes on them.

To play off the the silhouettes of the trees, I picked out a pair of Green Girl pewter dragonfly wings (at least that what's what they look like to me!) and paired them with some sweet Humblebeads disks.   I guess the lacy outlines of the wings, remind me of the way the bare tree branches intertwine.  I added some black and magenta Czech glass beads nestled into a leafy little bead cap on the top.

get the InLinkz code

Friday, November 18, 2016

We're All Ears: November 2016

Miss Erin always finds the most delicious things to inspire our earring making... this month that is true both literally and figuratively!  She found a fascinating video of hand crank candy machines from the 1800s that a Tallahassee, Florida candy company has restored and put back into use.  So cool!  And I love the company's name: Public Displays of Confection!

A big ol' pile of the Victorian Nectar Drops

I was inspired by the color of the Victorian Nectar Drops, the cool vintage machinery, and the idea of the pressed shapes achieved through this candy making process.  I ended up with three pairs of earrings this month!

First up a pair that is all about the golden amber color of the Nectar drops!  I thought the Czech glass looked a little like the shapes that rolled out of that machine.

Next is another pair that features beads with a cool pattern that I could imagine being used with drop candies.  The color is darker and less true to the inspiration, but I used gold plated and filled findings to bring in the amber tones.

My last pair is also my favorite.  I'm finally making use of some enameled gears made by C-Koop Beads that I've been hoarding forever.  I wanted to tap into how cool that machinery is and the gears are my way of representing that.  I added some yellow vintage glass beads (thank you, Allegory Gallery!) that remind me of gum drops to the bottom of the gears.  And of course, I used brass findings because the brass rollers in the machine!

I hope you enjoyed the candy-inspired ear candy I made this month!  These will be at my Holiday Open House on December 4th.  You can check out what everyone else was inspired to make over at Earrings Everyday HERE.