Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Inspired by Reading: The Rules of Magic

I'm a little bit behind on posting my creation for the October installation of the Inspired by Reading Book Club... mostly because I've been crazy busy with shows and travel.  Better late than never, but this is a super short post!

The October selection was The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman which is a prequel to her super popular Practical Magic.  While I enjoyed reading the story of the Owens family and how each of the children dealt with the ramifications of the family curse, my creation was more inspired by the cover of the book.  The cover really plays on the time period of the book... the 1960s... and I took my cue from that. 

I was in a frenzy of painting with my Vintaj patina paints and added color to these sweet little daisy or sunflower charms.  I'm super happy with how my paint job turned out with just a tiny hint of bronze on the stem and leaves as well as the center of the happy yellow flowers. 




Sorry for the brevity of this post... but there's so much on my plate right now and I'm zipping off to tackle the next 20 things on my ever-growing to do list!  Enjoy the day!


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Inspiration for the November Honey Do List

This marks 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... it's 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 with us!  

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


I wanted to use a shot from our trip to the Czech Republic for this month's challenge.  I took a lot of cool architectural shots, but most are pretty lacking in color--something I feel like we need for this kind of challenge.  I thought this art nouveau mural would be fun and full of colors and interesting motifs.  

The reveal date will be Monday, November 26th so you've got the long Thanksgiving weekend to work on something if you need it.  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 November 26th 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 our 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 sjdesignsjewelry@gmail.com  The more the merrier, so I hope you'll play along with me this month!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Art Elements Theme of the Month: Petroglyphs


The theme for this month's Art Elements Theme of the Month challenge was another challenging one for me... Petroglyphs.  At first I really wasn't sure that I had anything that would work... but after some good digging through my art beads with an open mind, I found a few earring charms that felt right.

First up a simple little pair of earrings that I whipped up with some of Marsha Neal's fabulous ceramic charms and Vintaj Natural Brass findings.  Even though these are a simple design, they have a nice visual impact. 


Next, I finally played with one of the few pairs of painted pewter charms that I've managed to snag from Inviciti.  I felt like the raised pattern and the colors evoked the feeling of cave paintings or carvings.  For this pair I used some faceted Red Creek Jasper rounds, some Swarovski studded rondelle spacers and some little Czech glass beads in pale neutral tones. 


Last but not least, a colorful little pair of earrings featuring some super fun charms from Jana of Happy Fish Things.  I haven't made two many earrings with charms that have two top holes or loops (although there are two in this post!) so this design definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone!  I paired some little Amazonite rounds and fun shaped vintage German glass beads. 


And just for giggles, I'll leave you with this little photo taken at a lovely set of waterfalls near Mankato, MN.  I wonder if future civilizations will one day find things like this and wonder about the cultures that created them... Hmmm.



This is a blog hop.  Check out the links below to see what everyone else was inspired to make this month!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Inspired by Nature Retreat 2018


This is the third year that I've attended Heather Powers' amazing fall retreat in South Haven, Michigan... the Inspired by Nature Retreat!  As always, it was a fabulous weekend of friends, creativity, laughter, and fun at the lovely Riverbend Retreat Resort.

Me with my fabulous road trip buddy Anna!

Once again, my friend Anna Pierson and I drove to Chicagoland where the fabulous Monica Peña of Mariposa Originals Jewelry, otherwise known as the hostess with the most-est, invited some of us to stop over for a sleepover at her place the night before the retreat started (as well as on the way home for Anna and myself!)  This year, Erin Prias-Hintz joined the party and Lin Stanke was back too.  We had to get an obligatory selfie before starting our little Chicago to Michigan convoy!

Our little band of naughty monkeys before we hit the road!
Here are some pictures of our weekend home away from home and the lovely fall foliage along the river.  The first picture is the cabin that Anna I and I were bunking in... the smallest of the three buildings at the resort.



Day one was all about salt water etching.  A super fun and non toxic way to etch metals... especially copper and brass.  Heather taught us how to use an image transfer process to apply an image to the copper for etching... I also brought my collection of rubber stamps to play with and share.  I had mixed results with the image transfers... since I think we figured out why some of us had troubles I'll likely give it another shot at home sometime.  Our etched metal would eventually become part of our jewelry projects on Sunday.

Anna's etching set up before we got started; my finished etched pieces, and my "used" salt water solution in the jar that Eric oh-so-helpfully labeled for me!

A retreat tradition is going to Taste in downtown South Haven for a big group dinner.  It's always a fun time to reconnect with beady buddies and get to know new friends.  Here are few shots from around our end of the table!  Miranda and Beth win for most "vibrant" cocktails.


Day two started out with some polymer clay fun... cane making to be more precise.  The inspiration for the technique Heather taught us was fossilized coral or agate.  I feel bad that I didn't do a great job of documenting the process, but I was just too wrapped up in trying to do it right.  Heather is seriously the queen of making polymer clay canes... she makes the process look so amazingly easy, and it so is not!  I did manage to snap one photo of my in progress beads... just not my actual cane.  The bottom blobby thing is a bead that I had applied slices of my cane onto but had not yet smoothed out; the middle pieces are a couple of my beads ready to go into the oven; the top mess is a mix of cane end cast offs and a little pile of my core color for my beads.  While I'm not convinced that I'm going to run out and try this cane again super-soon, I'm extremely happy with how my beads turned out.  The translucent clay is pretty much magic in this application.


The afternoon focused on Heather's amazing faux tin process.  It's a proprietary technique that she's asked us not to share, so no process photos for this.  We used some great Audubon illustrations this year.  Swoon!  Seriously, if you ever get a chance to take this class with her, DO IT!!  You won't be sorry.

Day three was focused on making some finished jewelry and/or components to play with at a later time.  I usually crap out when it comes to cutting and filing my metal pieces... this year I did pretty darn good!  I wasn't feeling in the mood to work with steel wire (plus I didn't bring my heavy duty cutters) so I skipped making a bunch more links like the one on the far left below.  I have the supplies and the jig at home so I can always revisit that later.

The last two years, retreat participants have made charms to give to each other person there.  So, each person comes with 24 of their own charms and leaves with 24 charms... one from each person there.  The necklace on the left was made with three of my precious little charms including the most adorable tiny journal made by Sarah Raines.

My finished pieces as well as the components I have ready to become jewelry.

Here are a few more photos from the weekend... mostly grabbed from other folks because I forget to get pics!

Our very own double trouble twins Rosanne and Beverly "guarding" the goody bags; our table of bead making maniacs; best buds Erin and Heather; silly Monica doing her best vampire impression... good times!!

Another wonderful retreat in the books with this fabulous group!

After lunch and our group photo, it was time to say goodbye and start the journey home.  Monica, Anna, and I weren't in a crazy rush so we stopped by a couple of Monica's favorite antique stores before leaving South Haven... and boy, am I glad we did!  I found a fabulous addition to my basement studio space... an antique dental cabinet!!  I found a label on the bottom that dates this piece to 1913.  So cool!


Monica and Anna were fabulous enablers... as was my super supportive husband (who may just be interested because he wants to put his painted game miniatures in the glass fronted cabinets!).  With some creative re-packing and some help from the vendors "muscle" we got this guy into Monica's vehicle for the ride back to the Chicago suburbs.  Thank goodness we weren't in my car... there's no way we could have fit all three of in there!  I've now got the cabinet in place in its new home and am almost done cleaning out all the drawers.  I can't wait to rearrange my studio storage to better suit my needs! 

I know my little write up doesn't begin to do this retreat full justice.  I mostly post things like this as a reminder to myself... a sort of online diary I guess.  I hope that you've enjoyed this little peek into one of my favorite events of the year.  Much of what makes is special just can't be captured in words... it's the laughs, the one on one conversations, the feeling of the place.  May you go out there and be Inspired by Nature too!


Monday, October 22, 2018

The Honey Do List October 2018

This marks 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... it's 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 with us!  

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


With it being Halloween month I figured I'd go with something a little creepy!  This was from the Hops Astronomical Clock in the hop growing town of Zatec in the Czech republic.  This one is rife with symbolism for you to take inspiration from!

There is certainly no lack of inspiration this month!  What Eric didn't tell you was that this clock actually moves and does different things at each hour.  I so want to know what the skeleton does when it's his turn but I couldn't find video to show it!

For my first design, I focused on the clock aspect of the photo.  I snagged a large scale porcelain clock pendant from Round Rabbit in a de-stash a while back and, despite the completely different color scheme, this seemed like the perfect time to pull it out!  It's tough to tell in this photo, but the front side of the pendant does have a shine to the glaze... the back side is the same colors but matte.


The orange in the pendant was a tough color to work with... everything was either too orange or too yellow.  I ended up choosing some Czech glass in a darker, pumkin-y orange as well as some cream colored melon beads with a Mercury glass finish that read as a very pale yellow for the bulk of the necklace.  I added in some yellow jade coins and a teardrop to round things out.  I used a nice gold color leather cord that I just bought (along with a ton of other colors and sizes!) for the back of the necklace design.  It's a long necklace with no clasp... I made a lark's head knot on one side and wire wrapped the ends of the leather on the other side.


Next up, I continued the clock theme to some extent, but focused a bit more on the coloring of the hops clock.  I started with a brass circle blank and embossed it with some gear motifs that I then painted in shades of blue to echo the clock face in the photo.  I honestly don't remember why I originally bought some brass clock hand blanks, but they finally came in handy this month (now what to do with the others in the package, but I digress.)  I textured the clock hands with my ball been hammer and added some gold metallic paint before riveting the pieces together.  I wrapped a filigree piece around the pendant to give it some weight and then turned to the rest of the necklace.


I used a selection of Czech glass beads in shades of blue and gold as well as some plated druzy rondelles in a gold color to make the necklace links.  I picked a clasped that mirrored the gear shape on the pendant to finish things off.  I'm pretty happy with how my idea came together for this one!


I thought that I might be done after the two necklaces, but I surprised myself and whipped up a pair of earrings too!  I was digging through one of my messy storage cupboards (hopefully soon to be wrangled into my new, antique dental cabinet) and re-discovered the little set of Bob Burkett skull beads that I got from one of Andrew Thornton's destash events.  I paired them with some gold and blue fancy cocoons from Anna Pierson of Saga Hus.  This is a pair I'm planning to keep for myself!  I'll be wearing them later this week to the Twin Cities Horror Festival.






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Friday, October 19, 2018

We're All Ears: October 2018: Mad About Plaid

This month Erin has given us a great challenge over on Earrings Everyday for We're All Ears... plaid!  While I'm all about rocking some comfy tartan flannel pj bottoms or having my sweetie on my arm wearing one of his many plaid brewery shirts, as a jewelry concept, this one stumped me a bit.  Never one to shy away from a good challenge, I forged ahead to try and make me some earrings.


Luckily, I remembered that I had gotten a pair of black and white plaid cocoons from my friend Anna Pierson of Saga Hus.  That sort of seemed like a gimme... I added some little dangles with fun polka dotted onyx beads.  Not the most involved design that I've ever made, but a cute little pair of earrings nonetheless!


For my second pair, I wanted to try a more involved idea.  I have an embossing folder that has some great geometric patterns on it... one of them reminiscent of a plaid pattern.  My thought process was to try and use Vintaj patina paints to create a colorful, yet simple, plaid pattern.  Well...  my painting skills weren't quite up to the challenge.  This is where things stood after combining, or attempting to combine, the blue and yellow paints that I had chosen... not great.


Determined to salvage something from my mess, I mixed up some glaze and metallic bronze patina and brushed over the top of my little blanks.  It's not perfect by any means but I think that the glaze mixture worked some magic.  It's hard to see the metallic sparkle in the charms, but it's there.  I paired them with some blue and gold striped Czech glass rounds and some creamy-yellowish mercury glass finished rondelles with brass findings.  Overall, I'm not sure the picture totally does these justice...


This is a blog hop so snuggle up in your favorite plaid clothing... or maybe under a cozy plaid blanket and check out what everyone else was inspired to make this month over on the Earrings Everyday blog HERE!


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Inspired by Reading: We Are Water

I'm a little late to the reveal, but September's Inspired by Reading Book Club selection was We Are Water by Wally Lamb.  This might be the first book by Lamb I've read since I devoured She's Come Undone when that first came out.  I owned I Know This Much is True but I'm not convinced that I ever read it... clearly, if I did, it certainly didn't leave an impression!


Full disclosure:  I found this a really tough book to get through.  The jumping around from character to character and to different points in time was challenging enough, but it was the content that was really rough for me.  I think this book should have a trigger warning on it... it deals with and recounts in some detail child sexual abuse.  I found that excruciating to read.  I also really didn't like any of the characters all that much... so it was hard for me to get invested too much.  That all being said, I found it an odd choice, considering the format of the rest of the novel, that the entire last section of the book is only from one character's point of view...  you get some wrap up on the other folks, but all from one person's voice.

Anyway, as the title suggests, water is an integral part of the novel.  The central element for Annie's story is the flooding that took both her mother and baby sister's lives when she was only a small child... the event that sets so much in motion.  Much of the story also takes place at the beaches of Nantucket especially for Orion's part of the book.  Because of this water/wave/flooding theme for the book I chose a Vintaj Arte Metal pendant that I had painted a while back as a starting point for my necklace design.  Wanting more visual weight for the pendant, I embossed an Arte Metal circle blank and riveted the two pieces together.  The pendant is simply strung on a collection of Czech glass and shell pearls in shades of blue and silver.


Thanks for stopping by to see my latest creation!  If you'd like to know more about the Inspired by Reading Book Club, the new book list was just announced and you can see it HERE.