Friday, November 25, 2016

Artisans Create Together Inspiration Challenge: November 2016

I'm really enjoying the Inspiration Photo Challenges that are hosted by the Facebook group Artisans Create Together!  This month brings two more lovely color palettes to spur us onto creativity... one warm and traditional for the holiday season, and one in cooler tones.  

I love the rich reds in the first Inspiration!  So yummy!  As soon as I saw it, I knew that I'd be digging into my collection of pendants from Tracee Dock of The Classic Bead.  I have a number of pieces from her in lovely shades of burgundy.  First up, a necklace that is similar to one I made back in February... why reinvent the wheel, right?  It turns out that "Bordeaux" Swarovski pearls are the perfect complement to this dark red glaze that Tracee uses!  I added in some Czech glass beads too to complete the look.

I also had fun with another of pendant from The Classic Bead... this one a large leaf in burgundy and cream.  This time I decided string some jasper coin beads that I bought at my first ever bead show back in 2008.

While lovely, this "Contemporary Harvest" palette was a little more outside my normal comfort zone.  I'm just not much of a purple/plum girl when it comes to jewelry making.  I did get a tiny bee in my bonnet (or maybe it was an owl!) when I was working on the Art Bead Scene challenge earlier in the month.  I decided that it was high time to use a little purple and grey lampwork bead by Jeff Barber along with an owl bead from Green Girl.  My husband was really pushing me to add beads along the long chain, but I just wanted to keep this one simple.  I did sneak some purple crystals into the leafy chain though!  

All of these designs will be available at my Holiday Open House on December 4th.  I hope to see some of you there!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


In an effort to get prepared for my upcoming holiday shows, I've been putting in a lot of time at my bead table.  While my favorite things to make are earrings and one of a kind necklaces with art beads, I want to make sure that I have a wide variety of styles and price points for everyone's gift giving needs!  I thought I'd share what I've been working on to fill the need for more simple styles today.

For this first series of necklaces I wanted to keep things super simple and let the gemstones shine.  Each necklace features one lovely gemstone pendant on either silver plated, copper plated, or brass chain and they are all about 20 inches long.  At under $30, I'm hoping that these will be popular with gift givers this holiday season!

I've also been playing with the idea of making chain tassels to go with colorful focal beads.  Here are two that I made this past week with almond shaped ceramic beads by Golem Design Studio.

I decided to revisit a best selling design too and whipped up a couple more large dragonfly necklaces with gemstones.  I've had these two painted for a while but finally got around to finishing the pieces.  I probably won't do more of these until spring unless I get a special order.

Lastly on the simplicity front, I'm working on making more embossed medallion necklaces.  Full disclosure, this picture is from the fall and all but one of this batch have sold but I'm making more this week!  I make these in 20 and 28 inch chain lengths.

Thanks for stopping by to check out my experiments with simplicity.  I hope that you all have a happy and safe Thanksgiving this year.  Let us embrace the simple things that mean so much!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Honey Do List: November 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 piece is an amazing sunrise just outside of our housing development.  I did some crazy photoshop action to turn it into a tiny world surrounded by Saturn-like rings.  I thought the effect was fun and the colors should lend themselves well to a jewelry making challenge.  Good luck!

I've always loved the colors and cloud patterns of sunrise and sunset... nature has the most amazing paintbox!  When Eric told me what he was up to with his Little Planets photo challenge, I was excited to see what he came up with and it did not disappoint.  While I'm more of a fan of natural, unadulterated photos, this effect was really cool.  I love the soft colors and the silhouettes of the tree limbs against the sky!

I was in an earring making mood for this challenge again this month!  I had some perfect beads in my stash in just the right colors.  First up, I grabbed a pair of Firelily lampwork glass beads from a strand of orphan beads I snagged a while back.  I felt like the magic colors of this borosilicate lampwork glass really reflected the colors of the photo... complete with black spots near the surface that remind me of the trees!  I really wanted the earrings to be a little bit longer so I added a jump ring between the beads and the ear wires... but that seemed too stark and boring so I added a few decorative jump rings with seed beads in two different colors and shapes on them.

To play off the the silhouettes of the trees, I picked out a pair of Green Girl pewter dragonfly wings (at least that what's what they look like to me!) and paired them with some sweet Humblebeads disks.   I guess the lacy outlines of the wings, remind me of the way the bare tree branches intertwine.  I added some black and magenta Czech glass beads nestled into a leafy little bead cap on the top.

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Friday, November 18, 2016

We're All Ears: November 2016

Miss Erin always finds the most delicious things to inspire our earring making... this month that is true both literally and figuratively!  She found a fascinating video of hand crank candy machines from the 1800s that a Tallahassee, Florida candy company has restored and put back into use.  So cool!  And I love the company's name: Public Displays of Confection!

A big ol' pile of the Victorian Nectar Drops

I was inspired by the color of the Victorian Nectar Drops, the cool vintage machinery, and the idea of the pressed shapes achieved through this candy making process.  I ended up with three pairs of earrings this month!

First up a pair that is all about the golden amber color of the Nectar drops!  I thought the Czech glass looked a little like the shapes that rolled out of that machine.

Next is another pair that features beads with a cool pattern that I could imagine being used with drop candies.  The color is darker and less true to the inspiration, but I used gold plated and filled findings to bring in the amber tones.

My last pair is also my favorite.  I'm finally making use of some enameled gears made by C-Koop Beads that I've been hoarding forever.  I wanted to tap into how cool that machinery is and the gears are my way of representing that.  I added some yellow vintage glass beads (thank you, Allegory Gallery!) that remind me of gum drops to the bottom of the gears.  And of course, I used brass findings because the brass rollers in the machine!

I hope you enjoyed the candy-inspired ear candy I made this month!  These will be at my Holiday Open House on December 4th.  You can check out what everyone else was inspired to make over at Earrings Everyday HERE.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

New Fall Jewelry

The creative bug has bitten me hard lately with the desire to make fall-inspired jewelry!  I've been busy playing with beads both new and old... and trying to take some breaks to actually put things away and organize so I don't have so many pretties getting lost in the chaos of my studio!

As I'm gearing up for two holiday shows the first full week of December, I thought this would be a good time to share a few of the goodies I've been working on.  I plan on having all of these at my Holiday Open House on Sunday, December 4th (check out the Facebook Event HERE) and, if they are still around, the Minnesota Women's Art Festival on Saturday, December 10th.

Let me start out with some little birdie necklaces that are just dripping with art bead goodness!  I just got a few of the amazing new bird beads from Heather Powers of Humblebeads and couldn't wait to make something with them.  I've always loved Heather's solid color birds, but these are truly swoon-worthy with the rich and colorful designs she's added in using her magical abilities.  Using some design tips that Heather shared, I sat down to play with my new goodies and make some stacked necklaces.  Both necklaces are on long chain with twigs by Diane Hawkey.  The one on the left features a leaf by Tracee Dock of The Classic Bead and the one on the right has an oak leaf made by Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio.

Next up, let's continue on with the Humblebeads theme.  I whipped up a little pair of owl charms (love these little hoots!!) made by Heather by adding some matte sunset dumortierite, Czech glass, and brass.  The pair on the right features some awesome rusty, crusty polymer clay daggers made by Heather's talented husband Jess Contreras (aka Mr. Humblebeads!)

In the process of trying to get my beads organized and (a little bit more) under control, I found some pairs of little oak leaves made from dyed coconut leaves that I picked up from Allegory Gallery a couple of years ago.  Now I'm wishing that I had grabbed more of them because these earrings turned out so cute!  They are colorful and super light.  I'm so tempted to keep the orange pair, but I'll let them out into the world to find a happy new home!

Thanks for stopping by to check out my newest jewelry designs.  Now I'm going back to my bead table to get back to work creating more designs for my upcoming shows!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Art Bead Scene: November 2016

I'm kind of smitten with this month's Art Bead Scene challenge inspiration.  Who doesn't love owls?!?  This Art Deco style owl by Lee Lawrie is located on the door to the reading room on the fifth floor of the John Adams Building of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.  You can read more about the artist and the artwork over on the ABS blog HERE.  As a librarian who has travelled to D.C. a number of times, I'm embarrassed to say that I've never visited the Library of Congress... I'm going to have to rectify that situation on my next trip!

Owl above door to center reading room on fifth floor of the 
Library of Congress’s John Adams Building, Washington, D.C., 1930's
by Lee Lawrie

I don't know if anyone else had this response, but this owl immediately made me think of Bubo the Owl from the 1981 classic movie Clash of the Titans.  (Tell me I'm not alone!)

But I digress... Onto what this owl art inspired me to make this month!  I knew I had a number of artisan made owl beads, pendants, and charms in my collection... but since I have things mostly arranged by color, I didn't realize just how many that I had accumulated until I started pulling things out to make some design decisions.  I counted 4 different Green Girl pewter owls alone!  

First up, I had to make use of one of those Green Girl pieces.  (I'm doing something with another one but that will be for a different challenge... stay tuned!)  In keeping with the color palette of the inspiration artwork, I paired it with a lovely lentil bead from Humblebeads that includes a mix of gold, copper, and dark grey-browns.  To give the long chain visual interest, I wire wrapped pyrite and gold colored druzy links.  I think the finished product is perfect for fall!

I wish these pics were sharper... They look great in my photo editor!

I decided to use a porcelain owl pendant by Andrew Thornton for a second necklace this month.  The colors don't really relate to the inspiration, but the owl was too cute not to use... and the copper and teal color combo just makes me happy.  I loved how this new chain looks with the pendant and wanted to give it a chance to shine so I went asymmetrical this time.  I made wrapped links using turquoise, bronzite, Czech glass, and Swarovski pearls on one side and simply added some Czech glass dangles to the chain on the other.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my newest hoot owls!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Artisans Create Together Inspiration Challenge: October 2016

There's a new group on Facebook called Artisans Create Together that I just learned about and I was thrilled to discover that they do a monthly inspiration challenge (actually they do two, as you'll see below!)  And you know how I adore a challenge!

Fall is without a doubt my favorite season and I enjoy all the luscious colors that come with it.  While I enjoyed both of the October Inspiration color palettes, I found this group too late to get much completed by their deadline.  The combination of turquoise (or teal) with orange has long been a favorite for fall... or anytime really... so I had to start there.  In fact, I had so little time for this challenge that despite pulling tons of turquoise and orange beads and focals onto my bead mat, I only managed to complete and photograph one set of earrings before the deadline.  Here is that first pair:

Enameled leaves by Gardanne, Carnelian, & Czech Glass

As you can see below, my table was still covered in an embarrassment of beady riches arranged into half thought out projects.  I couldn't just walk away and waste all that effort... and I certainly didn't want to have to put all those beads away!  What choice did I have but to keep on creating with one of my favorite color combinations??  I had to share with you the rest of the goodies that I made.

Yup, this is pretty much how I always work.  I'm incapable of working on just one thing at a time!

It made sense to start by continuing with the little earrings that I had started (but not finished) for the challenge.  Once I added my favorite Czech glass flowers above an orange pair of Gardanne enameled oak leaves, I knew that it was a design that had potential without the charms too!  Before I knew it I had whipped up these three pairs of earrings:

With some things cleared off my mat, it was time to move on to some necklaces!  First up, a necklace featuring one of the polymer clay pendants that I made from my very own mold at the Inspired by Nature Retreat.  (You can read more about my exploits at the retreat HERE.)  Lots of Czech glass and a little bit of copper make up this little number!  I'm looking forward to using the rest of my creations from this project at the retreat!

Next up, I moved onto a gorgeous birch leaf pendant by the talented Mary Harding that I've had squirreled away for a while.  This piece had a brighter, more yellow-toned orange that just made me happy.  For this necklace, my brain wanted to go asymmetrical and I went along with it!  Once again I used a variety of Czech glass beads in turquoise and orange tones but added in some carnelian and vintage plastic as well.  I had fun playing with the leaf motif from the pendant... adding in some Czech glass maple leaf beads and a brass beech leaf charm.  This one is hard to let go of... I adore the finished product!

Lastly, I wanted to make something with a Vintaj brass pendant that I had painted a little while ago.  When I started adding color I was planning to stick to shades of orange but on a whim I dabbed on a bit of turquoise making it perfect for this challenge!  Since I had been doing a lot of stringing, I decided to switch things up and make beaded links for this one in a collection of Czech beads.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my little collection of turquoise and orange jewelry!  I'll be taking most of these designs into Unearthed Arts this week so there will be some pops of orange in my display just in time for the annual D.E.A.R. Hunting event this Saturday!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

November 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!  

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

This month's challenge piece is an amazing sunrise just outside of our housing development.  I did some crazy photoshop action to turn it into a tiny world surrounded by Saturn-like rings.  I thought the effect was fun and the colors should lend themselves well to a jewelry making challenge.  Good luck!

The reveal date will be Monday, November 21st.  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 21st 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. If you want to read more about Eric's experiments with Little Planets, you can check out his blog post all about it HERE.