Monday, January 8, 2018

Art Bead Scene: January 2018

A new year and it's time for new challenges!  The Art Bead Scene is ringing in the new year with a little dose of Pantone's color of the year: Ultra Violet!  The artwork is Spring by Scottish painter Frances MacDonald. You can read more about the artwork and the artist on the ABS blog HERE.

Probably the most perfect art bead in my collection for this challenge was a pendant by Nancy Adams that I picked up in the days of frenzied buying every time there was a Round Rabbit shop update.  The purple, cream, and grey plus the lovely detailed floral center were all a natural fit.  The shiny purple glaze has some blue undertones to it so I chose some Czech glass with similar coloring.  To get the darker Ultra Violet in there I chose some faceted amethyst rounds and popped some cream Czech glass flowers and melon shaped rounds to pull in the lighter tones of the pendant's center and the artwork as well.  Green just didn't seem to fit with my design for this one... I don't feel bad taking some liberties with choosing what part of the color palette on which to focus.

I also made a set that is definitely a bit brighter than the inspiration artwork, but I'm sharing it anyway.  I got these fun charms and pendant by Joan Miller from a destash event with Andrew Thornton of Allegory Gallery.  I started by making the earrings... in truth I've had the charms and the silk cocoons from Anna Pierson of Saga Hus sitting together for a while since I almost made something for a different challenge with them.  (Fun fact, these earrings were my first piece of jewelry made in 2018 and the first thing I made with the new kittens rampaging around!)  I pulled more pastel colored beads for this necklace to match the pendant's tones.  Green Aventurine and frosty looking blue recycled glass rounds contrast with the star cut amethysts.  I'm pretty happy with how this one came together. 

As is often the case, I'd initially pulled more beads than this to play with.  If time allows, I'll circle back for at least one more design before the end of the month.  And who knows... if I get around to it, maybe I'll even do something other than stringing!! 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Inspiration for the Honey Do List January 2018

This marks the beginning of the third year that my husband Eric has been giving me a design challenge each month to get me out of my comfort zone and to help clear out my bead stash... Welcome to the Honey Do List 2018!  I know that I'm not the only one who loves a good design challenge, so I'm hoping folks will continue to play along!  

Sorry for the slight delay in getting this out to you all... we've been crazy busy around here with a variety of things including three brand new nine week old kittens.  Bring on the furry chaos!

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

After last month's fairly monochromatic challenge I wanted to find something a little more colorful.  I took this shot of a lorakeet at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh a few years back when Sj and I took a trip to visit Andrew and William in Ligonier for some jewelry making classes.  For a few dollars more you could hold a cup of nectar and the lorakeets would land on you and drink their fill.  This bird was actually perched on Sj's arm!  While taking this shot, another adventurous lorakeet decided to take a poo on my shoulder...resulting in much amusement all around.

The reveal date will be Monday, January 29th.  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 January 29th 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!

P.S. Here's a pic of Eric sporting his "prize" for getting pooped on!  

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Honey Do List: December 2017

Last 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... and we've continued the Honey Do List all the way through 2017!  I've loved having folks play along with me the past two years and hope to keep it rolling through 2018.   

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

This month's challenge is kind of a strange one!  Tiring of flowers and such, I figured I'd get a little funky.  I took this picture in Virginia at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.  It was cold, windy and sparse.  These tall skeletal trees were rattling and groaning in the wind, conjuring up moody images in my mind.  I superimposed a photo of clouds on this to give an even moodier mist effect on this to fit the mood I had when taking the shot.  This one should push you to try something unusual!

I find this photo quite magical and ethereal with the clouds stretching across the bare trees.  The colors aren't quite my thing with the pink and pale blue together, but those two colors together make purple!  So that's the direction I went in for most of my designs this month.  Artistic license?

First up, two pairs of earrings made with some gold dipped amethyst slices that I got from Lima Beads on a whim a while back.  The irony is that Eric really didn't like these too much when I got them, but I think (hope!) that he likes what I came up with using them!  I wire wrapped beads above both set of charms... both with Czech glass and one with Swarovski pearls added to the mix.  The darker ones on the left are probably more appropriate for the color palette, but I'm sharing both anyways!

Next up, I pulled a few gorgeous enameled oak leaves from Gardanne and made a set that I'm a little bit in love with!  I love the mottled colors along the leaves' edges and chose some copper colored Swarovski pearls to pull them out a bit.  For the earrings, I used some tiny Czech glass flowers and plated hematite with a mix of brass bead caps.

For the necklace, I chose a cool porcelain textured bead made by Andrew Thornton of Allegory Gallery to add to the pendant focal leaf.  In addition to the Swarovski pearls I used in the earrings, I made links with a several different purple Czech glass beads and used brass rollo chain at the back of this long design.

I had forgotten about a lovely jasper pendant that I bought at Bead and Button last year but it totally evokes a similar feeling to Eric's photo for me.  The hole in the pendant wasn't the right size for any jump rings in my stash so I decided to use waxed Irish linen for the center part of the design.  I used two different colors and sizes of plated druzy rounds, banded amethyst, and some brass beads along two colors of purple waxed linen.  For the transition to the back portion of the necklace I made use of some larger sari silk cocoons from Anna Pierson of Saga Hus in a nice cream color.

Finally, I did make one pair of earrings that went more to the blueish tones and the dark of the trees.  I used a pair of ceramic earring components that I bought from my friend Marsha Neal at the Bead and Button show this year.  This two holed half moon shape fascinated me although I was a bit nervous about being able to do them justice in my jewelry creations.  I felt like the swirls in the dark glaze would belong in the misty winter forest.  I made links of faceted Amazonite and bronze metallic Czech glass spacer beads.  Perhaps I should have gone for more dainty beads, but I quite like the end effect. 

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Art Bead Scene: December 2017

I can't believe how fast this year has flown by me.  Indeed, the month of December in particular seems to kind of escaped my grasp.  With an open house, my first show in St. Paul, and all the usual holiday shenanigans, it's somehow the day after Christmas!  Yikes!

This last Art Bead Scene challenge of the year is Still Life with Tulips and Fruit Bowl by Susan Valadon.  You can read more about the artist and the artwork over on the ABS blog HERE.  I love the rich colors in the painting... especially the textile draped beside the table.  Lots to be inspired by in this one!

                           Title: Still Life with Tulips and Fruit Bowl
                                              By: Susan Valadon
                                                     Date: 1924
                                           Medium: Oil on Canvas

I've been in a bit of a creative lull the last couple of weeks, but I managed to sneak in some beady play time over the Christmas holiday.  I actually whipped up two necklaces Christmas day!! 

The first thing I made this month was a pair of earrings with some of Heather Powers' amazing polymer clay charms.  Humblebeads are often a go to for me on these challenges!  I loved the green and gold in the charms and the leafy pattern seemed to fit the painting too.  I added some Czech glass beads in a complementary metallic as well as tiny metallic orange flowers with brass findings.  I almost went with a green and gold Swarovski pear for the top of the bead stack, but I liked the pop of metallic orange and how it pulled from the warmer colors of the artwork.

I have long loved the poppy flower designs from Golem Design Studio (and own them in several shapes and colors, beads and pendants) and this seemed like a good time to break out a green and red pendant from them.  I chose a fun mix of red and green Czech glass beads and mixed in some pops of silver with pewter and silver plated pewter beads along the strand.

I was in a stringing mood today apparently, and also whipped up another necklace using a long-hoarded porcelain pendant from Round Rabbit.  (I'm slowly working through my collection of her pieces... sad that I may never have another chance to buy more.)  This time I went asymmetrical but more subdued in color with my design that uses a mix of jade rounds and rondelles, Czech glass, and brass.

Thanks for stopping by to check out this final ABS challenge of the year!  I hope you all had the happiest of holidays and are getting to enjoy some family time as the year comes to a close.  

As a P.S. to the ABS editors and contributors... I really enjoyed having the booklet with the entire year's artwork for 2017.  I hope you'll do that again for 2018.  It was great to be able to start thinking about things a little early and to have future challenges in mind when doing my bead shopping at shows and such.  

Friday, December 22, 2017

Art Elements Ornament Blog Hop!

This is my second ornament blog hop of the month... I participated in on hosted by the Art Bead Scene blog earlier in the month and you can see all the entries HERE.  Now with the Art Elements challenge, I'm continuing with variations on a theme from what I made for the ABS hop and sharing more of my adventures in needle felting and bead embroidering Christmas Ornaments!

This year I decided to try my hand at making some needle felted Christmas ornaments.  I got inspired last year when I saw a blog post by my friend Diana Ptaszynski over on the Art Elements blog.  (You can see her tutorial HERE.)  I was intrigued by the idea and already had some wool roving that I had bought to felt some beads and focals...  now I just needed to collect some cookie cutters and better needles.  I gathered my supplies this fall and got busy once everything had arrived!

Here are a couple of process pictures... 

Me getting all stabby on a Christmas tree.

Some shapes felted but not embellished.

I did a little more bead embroidery on this second batch of ornaments than on the first round.  (You can see my first three attempts HERE if you missed them.)  I think my favorite might be the star!  I lucked out when I went to buy sequins that Michael's had a great multi pack of different colors and sizes as well as a package of little gold stars.  Initially I had thought that I would just needle felt the white stripes onto the candy cane, but I was worried that I wouldn't be able to achieve consistent, straight lines that way.  I decided to do sequin and seed bead stripes instead which adds more sparkle to the mix for sure!  

The only one that I'm not totally thrilled with is my little gingerbread man.  The brown that I was able to find makes him look a bit burnt and I think his expression is sort of demented.  Part of the problem is that the way I did his smile makes it look like a really toothy grin... Maybe I should have tried needle felting a little bit of white to make his eyes and smile.  Thoughts?  Suggestions? 

Thanks for stopping by to check out my second round of needle felted ornaments.  I got a big ol' tub of fun cookie cutters and I hope to make more of these guys in the future... maybe in time for next Christmas!!    This is a blog hop... you can see what everyone else created by using the links below.  

Guest Designers

Art Elements Team

Wishing you all a very happy holiday season!  May it bring you peace and joy!  It will be quiet around here for a bit as I celebrate Christmas with family and friends over the long weekend.  I hope to sneak in some creative time to make new jewelry to share with you before the year is over.

Friday, December 15, 2017

We're All Ears: December 2017, Use Your Leftovers

It's time for the Third Annual Use Your Leftovers challenge over on the Earrings Everyday blog!  The idea behind this challenge is to use up some of the bits and bobs that get left behind after your crazy beading sessions... your "craftermath!"  As I explained a bit last year, I don't really have true "craftermath" per se.  While I usually have 3 (or 4 or 5 or 6!) projects mulling around on my bead board at any given time, I'm pretty good at putting away the excess beads from those projects as soon as they are finished.  My problem is all of the piles of half thought out or abandoned projects that got left behind when some other deadline loomed larger.  So once again, I'm taking a stab at getting some of those orphaned earring projects completed!

Here's my new to me old muffin tin that I acquired this summer filled with a variety of earring projects in various stages of thought-out-edness.  (Is that a word?  It's a word now!)  I think some of these were in my queue last year when I did this challenge and I ran out of time and/or energy.  Yikes!!

First up a couple of fairly simple pairs that were special orders that I haven't gotten around to making yet.  (Seriously, people... if you ever need something from me, give me a deadline!  I don't function without due dates.)  One pair is a replacement for a cherished pair of acorn earrings that got left behind by a friend at airport security and the other is a pair to go with a necklace bought at a recent show.

Next, I've got a couple of pairs of beer can earrings that I didn't finish before my last show at Bad Weather Brewing last weekend.  Better late than never!  These two will join the rest of my Upcycled beer can collection at Unearthed Arts in Waconia in the next couple of days..

This next few pairs are the closest to true "craftermath" that I got.  The painted petals were from a big batch of painting that I did earlier this fall.  This was one of the few pairs that didn't get finished and now I'm kind of glad.  Also in my muffin tin were some beads intended for earrings to match a necklace I made for the Art Bead Scene last month.  Well, the necklace sold before I got back to the earrings so I combined some of them with the painted flower petals for a fun look!  I also had some little Czech glass teardrop beads that I had been thinking about a while back... I paired them with some lucite beads that have a bit of a gold sheen to them and some brass findings.  Lastly, I found the cute little Dalmatian Jasper hearts when I was making a necklace with that stone a while back but set them aside to play with and then got distracted... story of my life!  The hearts and the Dalmatian Jasper rounds came from a bead mix from my friends at Allegory Gallery and the lampwork glass is from the Spacer Bead Shop on Etsy (now closed).

I sold out of all of my post style earrings at my Holiday Open House earlier this month, so I thought it was past time to take care of this two lingering project.  (I also really need to get out the polymer clay to make some new color combinations, but that's got to wait for another day!)  More posts soon though!  Hopefully before the holiday shopping season is over, but we'll see how things go.

Lastly, I finally got around to making a pair that I'd hoped to make last December for Eric's Honey Do List challenge.  (You can see it HERE if you want to see my inspiration.)  The cute little wire wrapped sari silk "cocoons" are by my friend Anna Pierson of Saga Hus that I picked up in one of her events over on her SagaHus Components Facebook group.  I added a short length of Arte Metal chain to the links and made dangles from some vintage glass and garnet beads.  

I really wanted to (finally!) finish some of the polymer clay charms that I started at Heather Powers' Inspired by Nature Retreat back in October.  But I just didn't give myself enough time.  Considering that I didn't start making anything until after dinner last night, I think I did pretty darn well!  Stop by the Earrings Everyday blog HERE to see what everyone else whipped up from their craftermath leftovers! 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Art Bead Scene Ornament Hop

Every year the Art Bead Scene blog hosts an Ornament Hop where participants are encouraged to make holiday ornaments using handmade components or beads.  While this is their 7th year, it's my first time playing along and I had a blast!

This year I decided to try my hand at making some needle felted Christmas ornaments.  I got inspired last year when I saw a blog post by my friend Diana Ptaszynski over on the Art Jewelry Elements blog.  (You can see her tutorial HERE.)  I was intrigued by the idea and already had some wool roving that I had bought to felt some beads and focals...  now I just needed to collect some cookie cutters and better needles.  I gathered my supplies this fall and got busy once everything had arrived!

Here are a couple of process pictures...  First, me getting all stabby on a Christmas Tree.  I love that, assuming the cat would let me have my lap, I could work on these while stretched out on the couch watching bad tv or movies!

After getting the tree shape all felted, I started playing with how I wanted to embellish the design.  Thanks to Heather Powers for teaching me some basic bead embroidery on the Bead Cruise a few years ago!  (She also taught me how to needle felt and lit that initial spark in me.)

Now, drumroll please, I introduce to you my very first three needle felted ornaments!  I'm pretty pleased with how I was able to felt the eyes and nose of the snowman as well as the top of the stocking.  The snowman's hat isn't quite how I'd like it, but I still think it works.  I've gotten a new set of metal cookie cutters since I did these three and I think the new snowman cutter is going to give a more distinct hat shape.  Time will tell!  I had a large gauge needle that I bought to work with deerskin leather lace that worked great for pulling the ribbon through.  My last step for the tree ornament was to felt some extra wool roving to the back to cover the threads from the embroidery.

Thanks for stopping by to see my ornaments!  I hope you'll stop by the ABS Blog HERE to see what everyone else made too.  Whatever holidays you celebrate, I hope that you have a happy and joyous holiday season!