Thursday, February 16, 2017

We're All Ears: February 2017

This month's We're All Ears challenge on the Earrings Everyday blog is all about patchwork!

  1. needlework in which small pieces of cloth in different designs, colors, or textures are sewn together.
    "a quilt of patchwork"
In Erin's words:
"So the theme this month is PATCHWORK...melange....potpourri...mishmash...jumble...hodgepodge...and my favorite...bricolage" 

Pam Beal

As I've mentioned before, I was more than a little crunched for time this month.  The challenge didn't immediately spark anything for me, but I kept working on things in the back of my mind.  My thoughts eventually went to some millefiori glass coin beads that I've had in my stash for quite a while.

I was able to come up with a few well matched pairs from the strand of millefiori beads and kept it simple by just making variations of the same design.  I just added some small Czech glass (and in one case, crystal) beads and brass components.  I hope you enjoy my little trio of earrings!

Stop by the Earrings Everyday blog HERE to see what everyone else came up with this month!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Art Bead Scene: February 2017 Take Two

So did I mention how much I love the colors for this month's Art Bead Scene challenge?  No?  Well I totally do!  So much so that I had to revisit the painting and create a few more new jewelry designs.  You can see my first round of jewelry HERE if you missed that post.

The Two Crowns
Sir Frank Dicksee
Oil On Canvas
When I initially went through my art beads for this challenge, one of the pieces that jumped out at me was a really cool enameled pendant by Gardanne.  I wasn't entirely sure I'd have time to circle back for another go at this challenge, but I left the pendant and some coordinating charms out on my bead board just in case.

As luck would have it, I did manage to squeak in just enough extra creating time to get some more jewelry made.  Having a week less than usual in an already short month due to travel plans was a challenge for me, but I was determined!

I loved the mix of blues and red in the pendant and focused on those colors.  I had fun making Czech glass bead links in those colors using a variety of flower beads.  I started with the dangles from the bottom of the pendant and built out from there.  Because of the way the pendant was colored, I wanted to balance out the rest of the necklace with an asymmetrical design.

For the earrings I wire wrapped some small Czech glass flower beads, rhinestone rondelles, and small luster finished glass rounds to the enameled filigree charms.  While the charms go well with the pendant, the resulting earrings don't totally match... but they are fun anyway and fit the inspiration piece pretty well.

Now, I know that this last pair of earrings doesn't have any art beads, but I did make them to go with the necklace so I thought I'd share them anyway.  (I hinted at these in my earring post yesterday HERE.)  I used the same combination of Czech glass and crystal beads as I have on the bottom of the pendant to make some dangley earrings.

Thanks for checking out my second attempt at capturing the spirit of this gorgeous artwork through jewelry!

Monday, February 13, 2017

New Earrings... Muffin Tin Style!

Taking a page from Heather Powers' Muffin Tin Challenge, I decided to pack up a little container filled with everything I needed to make a collection of earrings to take with me when I worked at Unearthed Arts last week.  I haven't been as focused on making earrings lately and I knew that I could plot out a bunch of designs for portable projects.  (All the necklaces I had on my bead board weren't completely figured out yet... and I like having all my beads at my disposal when working out a design.)  Some of what I gathered was left over from the December use your "craftermath" challenge from Earrings Everyday, some were to complement necklaces I was working on for other challenges, and some made use of newer beads and findings that I hoped to avoid putting away!  Here's a look at what I brought along with me:

Now I didn't manage to finish everything that I carried with me that day, but over the weekend I got the majority finished.  All in all, I made ten pairs of earrings from my little project box.  (I'm sharing nine of them today but saving one for when I finish the coordinating necklace.)  This experiment made me realize how much more of my time is used deciding upon a design than actually executing it!  Without further ado, here's what I made!

First up, two "craftermath" pairs that have been in partial progress since December.  Both feature Vintaj components that I had painted a good while ago.  I selected faceted carnelian and orange Czech glass for the embossed pair on the left and faceted jade, rhinestone rondelles, and purple Czech glass to go with the butterfly charms.

I picked up some fun little enameled charm components from a craft store after Christmas that I thought would make fun earrings... here's what I did combining those with some little Czech glass flower dangles.  I think they are bright, happy, and fun... I just adore the combination of red and turquoise!

Lastly, I've got a little grouping of earrings that I made with some new charms that I ordered online in December and hadn't managed to get put away.   The two on the ends are variations on a theme using some pretty silver plated crystal drops.  The pair on the left is all crystal beads while the one on the right makes use of dyed agate and Czech glass.  Both are on sterling silver ear wires.  The middle pair features some fun charms by Zola Elements and a mix of Czech glass and dyed agate on gold filled ear wires.

Well, that's it for my little earring interlude.  I hope you enjoy seeing what I've been making!  Now I'd better get back to work on the other projects I need to finish before setting sail on this year's Bead Cruise later this week... including the necklace for my Midsummer Night's Dream themed party costume!  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Art Bead Scene: February 2017

A new month has begun and that means a new challenge from the Art Bead Scene!  I'm absolutely in love with the rich colors of this month's inspiration, The Two Crowns by Sir Frank Dicksee.  You can read more about the painting and the artist on the ABS blog HERE.  I was immediately struck by the opulence... the golden armor, the lush flowers, the gowns... and that handsome horse!  So much to be inspired by here!

The Two Crowns
Sir Frank Dicksee
Oil On Canvas
As I looked through my art beads, the first thing that jumped out at me was a pendant that the very talented Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati made for a previous Art Bead Scene challenge (September 2014 to be exact).  The pendant, filled with tons of tiny polymer clay roses, is set in a antiqued brass bezel with the type of bail that I think works best when strung.  I decided to start by looking at my collection of seed beads to see if I could pull off a multi-strand necklace (despite knowing how frustrating I find the process of getting all the strands to the right length... I guess I'm a glutton for punishment!).  I started with a nice seed bead mix from Glass Garden Beads (I love their mixes but wish they did them in larger sizes and not just the size 11s) in shades of cream and rose.  As perfect as the colors of this mix was for the challenge and the pendant, I knew the necklace needed more to give it visual interest and oomph.  My next selection was a tube of berry colored luster peanut beads.  I chose the third strand, a hex cut metallic bead, to even things out and keep the berry strand from being overwhelming.  There's some subtle but nice iridescence to that strand that I think pulls it all together.

Now, my plan clearly called for a LOT of stringing of seed beads.  In the past I've always accomplished this by stringing the beads by hand one at a time.  For this project I decided it was time to experiment with my new bead spinner.  (I had bought it to make the projects from Heather Powers' Festive Forest Workshop that I bought in December and never got around to trying... this year I'll make it happen!!)  Getting the hang of using the spinner with beading wire was a little tricky, but I do think it saved me a decent amount of time even with the steep learning curve.  If nothing else, it helped cure me of my obsessive desire to string things "just right" with the perfect mix of colors.  I just let it go and see what jumped onto my wire!  I finished off the strands with some ornate brass cones from Vintaj that echo the details in the painting.  I used a brass lobster claw clasp and a little bit of textured chain to give the wearer some adjustability in length.  

I also had a tiny little rose charm from Erin in my stash... this one in a silver colored bezel.  I thought that this would be the perfect time to try making some new memory wire bracelets since I already had my bead spinner out.  The last time I made a bracelet like this I did it by hand, bead by bead.  Oh my goodness... the bead spinner was so much better and faster!!  (Want to get a little video tutorial in doing this?  Heather Powers posted one to her Facebook page for Humblebeads and you can find it HERE.  It's called "Bead Table Wednesday" and is 30:06 minutes long.)

I ended up combining a bead mix from Funky Hannah's with the leftovers from a mixed tube of size 6 seed beads in turquoise and teal that I had sitting around.  (I wanted to pull in the colors of the lady's gown from the bottom center of the painting.)  I was pretty happy with the resulting mix of colors, shapes, and textures.  While I had everything out, I made two bracelets with the mix... one with Erin' rose charm and some other little pink glass and crystal dangles and one with a silver plated flower charm and two Czech glass flowers.  These could easily be worn together or separately.

Thanks for stopping by to see what I've been up to lately.  I'm so excited by my new bead spinner that I want to see what other things I can make with it!  I'll be sure to share whatever I end up making.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

February 2017 Inspiration for the Honey Do List

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're continuing the Honey Do List for 2017!  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!  

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

I went minimalist on this month's photo which I took this last summer in the Japanese Gardens in Portland.  Walking up the trail to the garden proper, I spotted this single leaf sitting in a ray of sun filtered through tall trees and magnolias.  I'm dreaming of summer after too much winter here in Minnesota, so here you go!

The reveal date will be Monday, February 27th.  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 February 27th 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!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Honey Do List: January 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're continuing the Honey Do List for 2017!  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!  

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

This was one of the first visitors to our newly placed bird feeder this fall, so I ran for my camera and got a few shots while I could.  While I liked the picture, I felt it could use an oil paint look so spent some time tweaking this in Photoshop until it looked how I wanted it.  I like the textures and the bold blue and white color palate (and green if you want to include the background)!  

I love the colors and textures in this handsome blue jay but I didn't immediately know what I might be able to make.  Per usual, I went to my art bead storage and starting digging around for something appropriate.  These aren't the blues I'm normally most drawn to.   Lucky me, I came up with a few options!  Yay!

First up, I made a necklace and coordinating earrings that started with a pretty ceramic focal from Tracee Dock of The Classic Bead that I bought when I visited her in Kansas City a few years ago.  I quickly realized that the colors in the pendant's glaze went really nicely with a strand of vintage German glass beads that I picked up at the last local bead show.  (I used most of the strand and now I'm seriously regretting not buying another strand!).  On their own, these beads seemed a little too light in color so I added in some darker tones with the seed bead spacers, Czech glass, and sunset dumortierite rounds.  I picked a brass plated clasp in a sunburst pattern to mirror the look of the pendant.

I made a pair of earrings to coordinate with this necklace using some lovely light blue dahlia shaped Czech glass from Allegory Gallery.  (They've had some really amazing new Czech glass lately... stuff I've never seen before!)  I had momentarily thought about including the dahlia beads in my necklace design, but changed my mind.  I liked the way the beads echoed the pendant's design a little bit.  I added some little dark blue teardrops with a fun sueded finish to them.

Next, I took a trip in the Way Back Bead Machine for some of the very first art beads I ever purchased... bought long before I had any idea what to do with them!  (This is actually fitting as they were purchased at Disney World from the same artist who made the beads I used in the very first Honey Do List challenge last January!  You can see that HERE if you missed it.)  I thought the cobalt blue and white stripes of the lampwork glass focal bead were perfect for the blue jay inspiration.  I kept things pretty simple and just wire wrapped the focal and added a selection of Czech glass flowers in blue and white and a tiny leaf charm that reminded me of a feather.  The earrings are also pretty no frills... just the lampwork spacers and little flower charms... although I did add a touch of bling by using ear wires that are embellished with Swarovski crystals!

Last but not least, I whipped up a trio of waxed linen and seed bead bracelets that I adapted from a tutorial by Lesley Watt in shades of blue.  These were fun and easy to make and it was a nice project to work on while doing some binge watching of This is Us.  These have been a good seller for me so I  may use that as an excuse to binge watch a few more episodes in the near future while I make more in different colors!

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Inspired by Reading: A Place of My Own

The first pick of the year for the Inspired by Reading Book Club is A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams by Michael Pollan.  The book chronicles the author's journey dreaming up and building (with his own admittedly unhandy hands) a small structure to be a "shelter for daydreams."  I love the idea of having a room (or building!) of one's own.  I'm not sure I'll ever have just that, but it's not like I'm crowded in the house I share with my husband and two cats, so I won't complain!

I'm still working my way through the book but I didn't want to be left out of the creating fun!  I got a late start reading since I was all enthralled by the VERY long science fiction book American Elsewhere.  (And let's be honest, if you've ever been in a book club you know this, lots of members often don't finish and even if they do book club meetings tend to get sidetracked talking about everything but the book!)  So really, I'm not cheating that much!

Since I hadn't read anything that sparked my imagination yet, I decided to focus on the tiny structure for my design.  It might not be the most inventive or original idea, but I'm pretty smitten with the design that came out of it!  A while back I had picked up several pieces from the very talented Lesley Watt including one of her sweet little bronze clay houses.  I thought it was just perfect to represent the fairly simple looking structure that the author built for himself.  I love the peachy-coral tones of the roof and door and the cute flower window.

To pull in the colors from the pendant, I started with a selection of multi-colored rhutilated quartz ovals and then added in a variety of Czech glass in orange, greens, and gold tones.  I needed a little more length at the back than I had originally planned for so I added a few small faceted carnelian rounds at the back to break up the green a bit and keep the colors feeling even.  The orange Czech glass flower coins help echo that little window in the pendant.

When I was digging through my beads for this month's book club, I came across some little house charms from Tari Sasser of Creative Expressions in Clay gave to the Bead Cruisers a couple of years ago.  A little lightbulb went off in my head and I remembered that I had a word bead from Diane Hawkey that says "Home."  Luckily for me, the colors of those two beads worked well together.  I wanted to do a totem style pendant, so I played around with lots of different options before settling on my finished design.  I added in some other miscellaneous beads including a couple of things from mixed destash lots from Andrew Thornton and lampwork by Beadygirl Beads along with some pewter findings.  For the chain of the necklace I made wire-wrapped bead units with a collection of Czech glass flowers and bali style beads to complement the colors in the pendant stack.

I had another pendant pulled out too, but that design will have to wait for another day.  Do you love the idea of a creative book club?  You can join the fun on the Inspired by Reading Book Club Facebook page HERE!  Thanks for stopping by... have a great rest of your week!