Friday, January 13, 2017

2017 Muffin Tin Challenge!

In the spirit of getting her followers pumped up and creating in the new year, Heather Powers of Humblebeads fame has once again thrown down the beady gauntlet and challenged us to participate in her Muffin Tin Challenge!  Heather set the reveal date for January 16th but I'm traveling that day, so I'm posting a little early.  The good news is, you may still have time to join in if you wish!!

The idea is pretty simple... grab a muffin tin (or similar container with multiple compartments) and fill each well up with all you need to make one jewelry design.  Then sit down and power through some jewelry making with a goal of finishing at least 6 pieces.  You can read all the details on Heather's blog HERE.  Full disclosure:  I'm not always the best about making sure I've gotten absolutely everything needed in my little muffin cups.  I tend to go with just grabbing the core items and adding to them as I go... that's just how my brain tends to work.  My muffin tin projects include some VERY late Christmas presents for my sister and niece, an even more belated project for my extremely patient friend Kathleen, earrings that have been waiting to be made for varying lengths of time, projects for this month's Honey Do List challenge, and more!

My "muffins" ready to bake!

I started with the lowest hanging fruit... necklaces for my sister and niece that should have been done ages ago!  I found a broken strand of fun orange sodalite pieces at the last Dakota Stones showroom sale and snatched them up immediately.  Most of my family (including these two ladies) went to Auburn University whose colors happen to be orange and blue, so this was a very lucky find!

Next up, a pair of earrings meant to go with the necklace I made for the December Art Bead Scene challenge.  You can see that necklace HERE.  The earrings are the same as the flower dangle off the bottom of the pendant.  Sweet and fairly simple!

Next up, a couple of pairs of earrings that have been UFOs (UnFinished Objects) for quite some time.  I have more earrings that are partially thought out, but at least I've knocked out a couple of them!

Next, in a fit of art bead madness, I made two more long necklaces with Heather's seriously amazing new "Gilded Bramble" bird beads as the main event!  (She has a few of these in her Etsy shop HERE if you are now drooling for one of your own!)  For the coppery one I used a ceramic branch by Diane Hawkey and a ceramic leaf by Tracee Dock of The Classic Bead.  The blue one features a pendant by Gaea and enameled bead cap by C-Koop Beads.  I really couldn't be happier with how these necklaces turned out!

And finally, my 7th "muffin" and 8th project from this challenge: I finally made a bracelet with the beads I picked out to work on during Heather's Inspired by Nature Retreat.  I learned a lesson... I did NOT need to bring extra projects.  I kept plenty busy working on the fun things that Heather had planned for us!

Stop by Heather's blog HERE (starting January 16th) to see what everyone else "baked up" for this year's Muffin Tin Challenge!  Even if you missed out on the official challenge, I recommend this as a great way to get some concentrated creating done!  I didn't finish making everything in my tin yet, but I'm going to keep on trucking with these projects... at least some of them!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Art Bead Scene: January 2017

This month's inspiration for the Art Bead Scene challenge is Field of Flowers by Egon Schiele.  I'm just loving the burst of much needed color... it has been bitterly cold in Minnesota and spring is still a distant, fuzzy dream here.  I love how the chalk gives the jumble of flowers a bit of a blurry and almost childlike look.  Oranges and rusty reds dominate the color palette but there's also plenty of cream, gold, and pops of greens... plenty to be inspired by!  Since art historian I am not, you can read more about the art and artist on the ABS blog HERE.

 Field of Flowers
Egon Schiele
Chalk on Paper

I had less in my bead stash than expected to work with the colors of the artwork but, luckily, I did have an amazing hollow lampwork glass bead by Mary Ila Duntemann that was just perfect!  Here is what I originally pulled together for this challenge:

When I first started, I thought I would make a long necklace with fun flower beads in shades of orange and dark red.  I began making wire wrapped links with the hibiscus style flowers but the more I thought about it, the more worried I became about that lampwork bead getting knocked around and possibly damaged.  If I had been making it for myself, I probably would have stuck to the original design since I'm super careful with my jewelry.  But, as I plan to sell this one, I erred on the side of caution and went back to the drawing board!

Plan B involved grabbing some pretty red leather cord and digging through my stash to find a variety of larger holed beads to coordinate with the gorgeous focal.  I'm still trying to decide if I add some copper wire wraps below the knots to further secure the ends and to add another pop of copper... otherwise I would just trim down the cord ends a little more.  I would love to hear your thoughts on that!

Now, since I had already made most of the wrapped bead links for the original design, I was determined not to let those go to waste... so a second design was born!  I picked up a pretty poppy bead by Heather Powers of Humblebeads in a bargain bundle a while back that worked nicely with my little Czech glass flowers.  It's a pretty simple design that showcases the dominant colors from the artwork.  It's tough to tell, but the tiny glass beads on either side of the orange flowers actually have a little bit of green in them.

Thanks for stopping by to see what I've been up to lately.  I took a bit of a beading break during the holidays so it felt really great to get these two necklaces finished and dive back into creation mode.  I've got lots to catch up on so I'd better get back to my bead table!!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Inspiration for the 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)!  

The reveal date will be Monday, January 30th.  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 30th 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!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Art Bead Scene: December 2016

The inspiration for this month's Art Bead Scene challenge is a stained glass window by Marc Chagall that was created as a gift to the Art Institute of Chicago.  American Windows was created to commemorate the American Bicentennial and features imagery that honors the arts and America's independent spirit.  You can read more about the artwork and the artist on the ABS blog HERE.

America Windows, 1977, By Marc Chagall, Art Institute of Chicago
Here's a close up of the third panel:  

Stained glass was one of my first creative loves so this challenge definitely struck a nerve for me.  My high school boyfriend's mom, the very talented Cindy Hallman, took me under her wing and taught me the basics of stained glass.  I never made anything more complicated than a couple of sun catchers, but I loved it.  My love of glass in all its forms may have started before this time, but learning about the art of stained glass truly gave me a new appreciation.  

You may not know this about me and my artistic journey, but I was actually actively searching for a stained glass class or workshop to renew my education in this art form long before I even thought about trying jewelry.  I was working full time at the library in the far Western suburbs of Minneapolis and the only classes I was finding were in Northeast Minneapolis.  The logistics just weren't in my favor for stained glass which left me open to the idea of trying a basic jewelry making class.  The rest is history!  

Enough of that detour!  Back to this month's artwork and what it inspired me to create!  I love the cobalt blues and the other pops of bright colors.  I decided that it was finally time to pull out one of the lovely two-holed pendants that I picked up from White Clover Kiln at BeadFest last year.  Even though it's floral, I felt that the design somewhat echoes some of the shapes in the window.  I created links with a variety of Czech glass beads and some matte denim lapis rounds.       

Thanks for stopping by to see what I've been up to post-Christmas!  You can stop by the Art Bead Scene blog HERE to see what everyone else was inspired to create this month.  

Monday, December 19, 2016

Honey Do List: December 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 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!

As much as I love this picture and was truly captivated by the light exhibit (especially this particular installation), I wasn't sure at first where I might go with this challenge.  Lucky for me, some fun components made by Anna Pierson of Saga Hus caught my eye while I was scrolling through my Facebook feed.  Anna has been selling her fun components over on her SagaHus Components Facebook group and does a lot of interesting things with fibers, wire, and beads.  I grabbed a few sets that caught my eye and eagerly awaited my package.

As predicted, some of the goodies that I bought from Anna truly were just the thing I needed for this month!  (And yes, I know some folks will think I cheated by buying something just for it...)  I had hoped to get two pairs done, but settled for one since I was in a time crunch.  I loved the way she added the beads along the wire wrapped silk "cocoons" and thought they captured the magic and movement of the light installation (if not the color).  I messily wire wrapped some little faceted black briolettes to hang from the bottom.  I'm a little bit in love with these!

Next up, a shoulder dusting pair!  I bought these fun links ages ago and thought they would be perfect to reflect the long "stalks" of the lights in the photo.  I added some fun ruby red Czech glass dangles to represent the bulb part of the installation.  They are sort of an upside down rendition of the photo.

My third pair was a complete last minute addition to this little collection.  I was digging for the beads in the last pair and found some fun shaped beads that reminded me of the shape of the bulb part of the lights and was certainly the right color.  So I whipped up one last pair for your enjoyment!

get the InLinkz code

Saturday, December 17, 2016

We're All Ears: December 2016

For the last We're All Ears challenge of the year over on the Earrings Everyday blog, Erin has once again challenged us to bring some order to the chaos of our craftermath!  What is "craftermath" you ask?  It's all the leftovers that get strewn around, buried, or otherwise abandoned after a creative making frenzy.  Thus, this year she's calling our challenge the Leftover Transformation Game!  

Because of the way I tend to work, and the fact that I am forced to clear off at least my beading work table once a month for a social gathering we host, I'm actually moderately good about putting extra or unwanted beads away at the end of each project.  That really cuts down on the true craftermath.  Where I get myself into much more trouble is not putting things away in the first place!  If something doesn't have an easy to locate/clearly defined home, it tends to linger either on one of my beading "landing zones" or, more often, gets shoved into one of my bead hiding places when I have to "clean up."  Don't believe me?  Let me show you the evidence... it's pretty damning...  Warning, the following images depict graphic disorganization and are not intended for an anal retentive audience.

A good deal of what's in my bead hidey holes are more recent purchases (including two brand new shipments that I haven't even opened to check, destash and bargain bundles) but there are things in here that I've had for more than a year... maybe more than two years... and I just haven't used or found a home for them yet.  I've also got a few partially finished class projects and bead kits hidden away.  Super embarrassing, but we all know that creating is WAY more fun than putting things away.

Now I had absolutely no delusions that I'm going to be able to clean up all these hoarded goodies before the We're All Ears reveal (or ever!), but I gave it a good try and at least dug through for some low hanging earring-making fruit.  With two shows in early December, a holiday party at my house, and company in town, I didn't get all that far and I didn't find some of the things I was expecting/hoping to uncover for the challenge.  But this is what I came up with:

I clearly didn't have everything I needed in my little bins, but I pulled extra beads and findings to round out my designs based on the goodies I did unearth from my mess.  Here's what I managed to make... the other items will have to wait for another day to become something.

The first pair that I made started with a pair of beads from an orphan strand that I bought from Firelily Glass and embarrassingly lives in the box they were shipped in inside the bowels of my cabinet.  (Don't judge me... I know exactly where they are!)  I also grabbed a pair of painted bead caps that had been sitting around for a while then added some Czech glass and plated druzy beads to the mix.  These have just the right amount of sparkle for me!

Moving onto another item from the category of "I bought it a million years ago and never put it away," I present you with two pairs featuring some little square pewter charms.  I think what happened is that these were smaller than I had expected (I often struggle with sizing when shopping online) and they just got pushed to the side.  Needing to get things organized, and still not having a great place to store these charms, I had no choice but to make something with them.  I added some glass beads, and voila!  Simple and sweet... yet I think the long ones look kind of fancy!

Other goodies I uncovered in my mess of "to be put away" items were some enameled bird charm pairs by Gardanne that I bought at Bead & Button this summer.  I've used all the other charms I got then, but these have languished for awhile.  These two pairs of earrings are another slight variation on a theme... using the same rhinestone rondelles and chain but different colored beads and charms.  Hopefully these will quickly fly away to new homes!

Thanks for stopping by to see my earring creations.  I certainly didn't get through everything that I pulled out (or make nearly as much as some folks... check that out over on the Earrings Everyday blog HERE) but at least I was able to get a few new things done.  I'm going to keep that little container handy and continue to work through its contents as time allows.  For now, I've got a couple of other challenges and a few Christmas presents to make so I've got to go get busy!

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!