Thursday, April 28, 2016

Inspired by Reading: A Girl of the Limberlost

It's time for another installment of the Inspired by Reading Book Club!  This month we read Gene Stratton-Porter's novel A Girl of the Limberlost.  This book was recommended by book club member Terri Greenawalt, who happens to be a descendant of the author... how cool is that?

This novel was written in 1909 but I think it really holds up.  In a strange way, it almost felt like something more modern written to feel old fashioned... if that makes sense.  Occasionally the dialect tripped me up a little bit, but overall I found the whole thing quite charming.  Sometimes it's nice to revisit a kinder, simpler time.

The story centers around Elnora Comstock, a teenaged girl living with her spiteful mother along the edges of the Limberlost swamp and her journey into young adulthood.  As usual, I'm kind of terrible at summing up the story without giving too much away.  Suffice it to say, Elnora overcomes the financial obstacles to furthering her education when she discovers that she can sell butterflies and moths and other items from the natural world around her.  The first part of the book follows Elnora's early days in high school and then the story fast forwards to just before her graduation when money troubles once again rear their ugly heads.  The second half of the book picks up there and introduces a slightly star crossed romance into the mix.  You'll just have to read it to see how that all turns out!

While at times I was pretty annoyed at how nasty Elnora's mother could be, she eventually sees the error of her ways toward her daughter and mends their troubled relationship.  I appreciated how determined and plucky Elnora was throughout the book and how pragmatic and even keeled she tended to be.  I would have pitched a purple fit if I found myself in some of the situations she faced!  I loved one Amazon reviewer's description of the book: "Think of it as Midwestern Cinderella story, but with no glass slipper and plenty of moths."  That made me giggle.  But enough about the book... onto jewelry creations!

The ideas started churning around in my brain pretty early in my reading.  I knew I wanted to focus on the moths that were so integral to the story arc... that provided a way for Elnora to follow her dreams.  A couple of beads jumped immediately to mind, but as I started digging through my beads, I soon realized I have amassed a decent sized collection of butterfly and moth beads.

So much to choose from!  Beads from Humblebeads, Vintaj (painted by me), Round Rabbit, Kylie Parry, Green Girl, and Summer Wind Art

The first thing I created was a variation on a design I've made before.  In my last round of painting metal I worked up a couple of the butterfly in profile pieces from Vintaj... one in purple with a bronze-tinted glaze over the top.  I paired the pendant with various Czech glass beads as well as some ametrine rondelles.  I picked beads in shades of purple, amber, and palest yellow to represent the illusive Yellow Emperor moth from the story.  Who knows, maybe this necklace would have complemented Edith's ball gown from that ill-fated soiree!

For this challenge it seemed fitting to finally make something with the contents of one of the destash bundles that I bought from Andrew Thornton a while back.  I snatched this lot up for the wonderful Green Girl pewter moth pendant and the really unusual glass beads that reminded me of ampules, but there was plenty of other good stuff and I decided to keep it all together.  I'm happy that I was able to use so much of Andrew's carefully curated collection of beads together for this necklace and still have plenty of the ampules and the grey glass nugget beads left for future jewelry making!

Last but not least, I managed to pull together a third necklace this month with a cool luna moth pendant from Summer Wind Art that Eric bought me for Christmas.  (I think I'm overcompensating for only making earrings for the last few challenges!)  I love all the rich shades of green and brown in the pendant and tried to capture some of them with my bead choices.  I used a mix of gemstones (including a couple of shapes of bronzite beads... I'm not sure what the green ones are) and Czech glass.  I'm not 100% sure about the jump rings with seed beads on them... I'd love to get your opinion on that part!  

Lack of sun makes for a not so great picture... 
P.S.  While I didn't make it for this challenge, I did make a necklace with a wonderful luna moth bead set from swoonworthy lampwork artist Kerri Fuhr for the Art Bead Scene a while back.  If you missed it you can see it HERE.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Honey Do List: April 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.  Eric's two biggest interests are beer and photography (you can see what he's up to over on his blog HERE).  He's given us photography challenges twice now... so this month he decided it was time to bring beer into the mix!

Here's what Eric has to say about this month's challenge and the examples he gave to get folks inspired:

This month we're doing the Beer Challenge!  I'm a huge fan of craft beer and the recent boom of great beers has led to a lot of fantastic label art.  Your challenge (should you choose to accept it) is to take label art as an inspiration for jewelry.  I've posted a couple of examples of cool bottle art as well as corresponding art beads.  You can use these particular examples or use your own beer, wine, or even soda labels as a starting point.  Good luck!

Art Beads from left to right:  Kylie Parry, Golem Design Studio, Gaea, Unknown, Unknown, Staci Louise Smith

Now I am a notorious procrastinator... I mean, I tell myself that I just work better under pressure (and I probably do) but that's not the whole story.  No matter what my time constraints, no matter what it is I'm doing, chances are good that I'm going to push things to the absolute limit and wait until the very last minute to get things done.  Why is this pertinent information?  Because I got so excited about this challenge that I got to work right way... like April 1st right away!  And I've been super busy creating a whole slew of beer (and mead!) label inspired designs. 

I was excited that Eric picked out the label for Wicked Weed Brewing's Medora both because the artwork is super funky and because they are one of my favorite breweries that I've visited in our travels.  The beer itself is a sour ale aged in red wine barrels with one pound of blackberries and raspberries per gallon.  The resulting beer is beautiful to look at with it's fuchsia color and super delicious!

One of the pendants that Eric picked out for this one was a purple glazed heart from Gaea that I picked up in a destash bundle from her a while back.  I love that the glaze goes from a lighter purple to a dark blue shade with a little drip at the bottom.  I decided to use waxed Irish linen in two different purples for the bulk of the necklace.  I used a technique that I learned from one of Erin Siegel's Ornamentea bracelet tutorials and adjusted it for use in a necklace.  (You can find that tutorial HERE... it's a fun and easy project!)

In addition to the beads that Eric picked out, I found another fun pendant from Gaea in my stash.  The pale purple color and bumpy, alien texture work well with the Wicked Weed label.  I had just been working on reorganizing my beads and rediscovered a strand of purple and cream colored Czech glass rondelles.  If I'm honest, I really wasn't wowed by the beads on their own, but when I found the pendant I knew it was a perfect match!  I added in some smaller amethyst beads in between the glass links to pull in some of the darker purples.

While I'm not a big hoppy beer fan, there's something about Ballast Point's Habanero Sculpin IPA that I really enjoy (maybe it's the slow burn) so I was glad that Eric chose this label as one of his inspiration examples.  I've also been itching to design with the orange polymer clay pendant from Staci Louise Originals so I had to get something made with it.  The color and concentric circles in the pendant remind me of the fins of the fish (the sculpin, I presume) on the beer label.  There's also something almost compass like about the pendant's pattern that makes it feel slightly nautical.  If you're familiar with Staci Louise Smith's jewelry designs, you know she makes some amazing, chunky, wire-wrapped necklaces and often uses sari silk ribbon.  While my Czech glass beads aren't chunky, I did finish the back with a rust colored silk ribbon instead of chain as a nod to Staci's design aesthetic.

I didn't start out as a beer (craft or otherwise) lover, so I wanted to at least make a nod to another alcoholic beverage that's near and dear to my heart... mead!  If you aren't familiar with mead, it's basically a honey wine.  We happen to have a friend, Susan Ruud, who has opened a meadery in Fargo, ND called Prairie Rose Meadery and I wanted to make something inspired by her pretty labels.  Here are the results:

I had the sweetest little polymer clay dogwood blossom from Humblebeads that was just perfect.  Since the polymer is so lightweight and a smaller size, I kept things pretty simple.  All I used were some small Czech glass rondelles and these fun little hexagonal plated hematite beads I just picked up at a local bead show with small bronze colored seed beads in between.  I'm drawn to all things bee so I was a little giddy to be able to add a little nod to honeycomb into this mead label inspired design!

Not content to stop there, I made a second Prairie Rose inspired piece with a vintage porcelain pendant that I picked up in Asheville last year.  I went with a mix of Czech glass beaded links paired with brass chain and findings.  I originally wanted to hang a bee charm off of the clasp, but it just didn't behave quite the way I wanted it to.  In the end, that's probably for the best as there is already a lot going on with this necklace.  Sometimes simpler is just better... something I'm forever having to remind myself!

get the InLinkz code

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Art Bead Scene: April 2016 Take Two

I wasn't sure that I would have time to make a second design for this month's Art Bead Scene challenge but I managed to pull it off!  For a piece of art that didn't really inspire me, I'm super happy with the designs I came up with.  You can read more about the artist and the artwork over on the ABS blog HERE and see my other design HERE if you missed it.

"Jacob’s Ladder", 1957
by Helen Frankenthaler

I started with a lovely pendant made by Lesley Watt that had the same pink and rusty orange colors as the painting.  (This was one of my Bead Fest acquisitions from last August and I have to say again how much fun it was to meet her in person!)  I kept the color palette primarily with the pinks and oranges from the pendant.  I did add a couple of small touches of turquoise with some Picasso finish melon beads.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Art Bead Scene: April 2016

If you've been paying attention to my comments on the Art Bead Scene challenges over the years, you may have figured out that I'm not a huge fan of abstract art.  So, it's not great surprise that this month's inspiration,   Jacob's Ladder by Helen Frankenthaler, didn't exactly thrill me upon first seeing it.  The more I looked at the painting though, the more it reminded me of the bottom part of a dress in my closet... and that finally got me inspired to start creating.  You can read more about the art and the artist over on the ABS blog HERE.

Here is the dress in question.  I bought it when we visited Ligonier, Pennsylvania a couple of years ago at a cute little shop downtown called the Black Bunny Boutique.  I have to admit that I still haven't worn the dress because a) until recently, it needed some minor alterations and b) I didn't have any jewelry to wear with it.  Now both problems have been solved!

I rediscovered a little teal bird and Wedgewood style bead set from Heather Powers of 
Humblebeads along with an extra little birdie in salmon pink.  Wanting to give the stacked pendant I was envisioning a little more weight, I added a leaf charm from The Classic Bead along with some pewter spacers and a Czech glass melon bead.  

I still haven't added a clasp or finalized the length because I haven't had time to try it on with the dress.  It's about warm enough to wear this outfit so I'm sure I'll make those final adjustments soon!

Friday, April 15, 2016

We're All Ears April 2016

Month after month, Erin Prais-Hintz continues coming up with such delightful new inspiration for the We're All Ears earring design challenge... and this time is no exception!  I eagerly await the first Friday of each month when she unveils what she has chosen for us.  This month is all about fiddlehead ferns.  There is so much to love and to be inspired by here... the spring green colors, the spirals of their curved fronds, the feathery leaves of the fully sprouted fern.  I love it all!  Here are some of the photos Erin shared to get us going:

Upon seeing these great images, I ran to my stash and started digging for the beads I would use.  I ended up approaching the challenge from several different directions focusing on the colors, the spirals, and the fern leaves themselves.  Here's what I came up with!   

First up are two pairs that are all about the various shades of green found in the wonderful world of ferns.  I had two pairs of green lampwork beads from a strand of Firelily Glass orphan beads... one in vibrant greens and one in more muted, earthy colors that reminded me of the second photo above.  I kept these pretty basic to focus on the colors and let the lampwork shine... although I did try my hand at wire-wrapping some seed bead embellishments on one pair.  I'm pretty pleased with the result of that experiment!  

This next pair is all about the spiral shape of the emerging fiddleheads and features a lovely pair of ammonite charms from Lesley Watt.  I snatched these little beauties up at BeadFest and am happy to finally be using them!  I love the rich depth of color that Lesley achieved with the glaze... it's just magic to me.  Playing off the range of colors in the charms, I used some yummy prehnite and Czech glass along with brass to complete the design.  I'm pretty smitten with these so they may be finding their way into my jewelry box!  

Last but not least, we see the full fern fronds appear with the polymer clay charms from Heather Powers of Humblebeads!  These were another Bead Fest purchase that I've been sitting on for a bit.  I chose silver and bright crystals to go with the vibrant green and white charms

I had hoped to break out my BigKick again and play with the fern frond DecoEmboss folder and my paints but I ran out of time for that.  This is a blog hop... check out what everyone else was inspired to create this month in celebration of ferns over on the Earrings Everyday blog HERE!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Takin' Care of (Unfinished) Business

I've probably mentioned this before, but I have a bad habit of pulling lots of beads and findings together for projects and then letting them languish (often for many months) while I move onto other projects.  While I accept that this will likely never change, I have been making a concerted effort to start tackling many of my neglected projects this month.  I thought I'd share a couple of them with you to wind up this week! 

I shouldn't give myself too big of a pat on the back for these since the driving factor towards getting going on these was possibly needing some of the squirreled away bead for a couple of my designs in for this month's Honey Do List!  Suddenly I found myself with a big mound of pink and purple beads all over the place and I was determined to power through a whole bunch of projects.  You'll have to wait to see most of what I've been making, but I thought I'd share the finished product for a couple of my long suffering unfinished projects to tide you over!

First up is a little number with one of Andrew Thornton's porcelain pendants in the starring role!  I bought the pendant in one of Andrew's destash events (one of the rare times I've been quick enough to nab something I really wanted!)  Near the same time that the pendant arrived, I also received the bronzed wisteria flower beads and light purple rondelles in the mail from Lima Beads.  Realizing how great the colors were together, I tucked those glass beads into the bag with the pendant... and then they got pushed aside.  In the end, I'm glad I didn't try to tackle this necklace any sooner because I wouldn't have had the dark purple sari silk or the bronzed purple English cut Czech glass yet.  I was originally thinking I'd use some luster purple peanut beads at the back of the necklace, but I ended up deciding that the ribbon gave a better balance.  You can sometimes find Andrew's pendants in his Allegory Gallery web store.

Next I move over to the pink end of the spectrum with a necklace featuring some Humblebeads!  The poppy pendant was Heather Powers' gift to the participants on last year's Bead Cruise.  (This one may have been my friend Kathleen's as we did some trading from our goody bags!  I'm excited to tell you that the other one that ended up in my hot little hands will be appearing in the summer issue of Jewelry Stringing!!!)  Anyway, after months of patient waiting, this little lovely finally made it into a finished piece of jewelry paired with some fun faceted pyrite nuggets, some rosy pink Czech glass, and a couple of Heather's polymer clay beads that complemented the focal.  With this one, I literally had everything except the chain, beading wire, and the seed beads I used as tiny spacers sitting the bag ready to go.  I have no idea what the road block was for me to just get it done.

So there you have it... two of my newest creations that should be going to Unearthed Arts next week.  Now I can finally put all my pink and purple beads properly away and figure out what hues I'll tackle next... maybe oranges! 

Friday, April 1, 2016

April 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!

Eric's two biggest interests are beer and photography (you can see what he's up to over on his blog HERE).  He's given us photography challenges twice now... so this month it's time to bring beer into the mix!  Sound crazy to you?  Read on and see what I mean!

Here's what Eric has to say about this month's challenge and some examples to get your creative juices going:

This month we're doing the Beer Challenge!  I'm a huge fan of craft beer and the recent boom of great beers has led to a lot of fantastic label art.  Your challenge (should you choose to accept it) is to take label art as an inspiration for jewelry.  I've posted a couple of examples of cool bottle art as well as corresponding art beads.  You can use these particular examples or use your own beer, wine, or even soda labels as a starting point.  Good luck!

Art Beads from left to right:  Kylie Parry, Golem Design Studio, Gaea, Unknown, Unknown, Staci Louise Smith

I hope that this unique challenge sparks your interest and you play along with me this month!  You may be taking a look at beverage containers in a whole new light!

The reveal date will be Monday, April 25th.  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 on April 25th 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!