Monday, September 25, 2017

Honey Do List: September 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:

I haven't been out with the camera as much as I'd hoped recently.  Looking for something to prolong the summer, I decided on posting these sunflower pictures.  One of these was from the MN Landscape arboretum, while the other was a self-planted seed from our own bird feeder!  I have plenty of shots of bees all over these things but wanted to stick with just the flower this time.  Show me some last gasp of summer in jewelry form!

I had really hoped to make a few more things for this challenge but between going crazy for the sunflower themed We're All Ears challenge (see that HERE if you missed it) and my three day studio tour this past weekend, I kind of ran out of time.  That being said, I'm super happy with the two necklaces that I did manage to make.  

First up, a necklace with a lovely polymer clay sunflower pendant from Summer Wind Art that Eric gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago.  I love the rich yet weathered effect that Ashley Bonney achieved for this focal... so yummy.  I stumbled across a little container filled with a mix of Czech beads that I got when I bought a friend's bead stash a while back that were a perfect complement to the pendant.  I wanted a few more beads for the necklace so I went digging for some cream Czech glass melon beads to play up the light tones of the pendant and some carnelian rounds to add a pop of color to the design. 

Since I have an obsession with matching, and I still had some beads left over, I whipped up some cute little earrings.  They aren't actually sunflowery at all, but they do go with the necklace anyway.

For my second necklace creation I went with a lot more COLOR!  I had several Humblebeads by Heather Powers in my stash inspired by Van Gogh's Sunflowers.  I knew I had to use at least one of them this month.  The winning bead was this gorgeous Sunflowers bird that I won at the Adornments Retreat in July... so perfect!  I paired him with a rustic ceramic stick from Diane Hawkey, a ceramic drop by Petra Carpreau of Scorched Earth, and some bright Czech glass.  The copper wire that I used is some that I patinated myself.  I love how this necklace came together and am even happier that it flew home with a very special lady during my show this weekend!

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Everything's Coming Up Rose Gold!

If you know me at all you know that I am so NOT a pink girl.  I've always been a tomboy... no frills and no pink.  Ok, maybe some fuchsia here and there but no pale, sweet colors for this girl.  My favorite colors are turquoise, teal, and almost all greens.  So what bewitchment has come over me that I've been on a designing kick with rose gold??  Apparently Vintaj has cast a spell on me with their new Rose Gold patina paint!  I'm hooked on this gorgeous color and just couldn't stop making new jewelry for the Art Wander in shades of pink!

Here's what's been tickling me pink this week!  The pictures just don't do this color justice... stop by the Art Wander this weekend to see them in person!

Art Wander
September 22 - 24

Friday, 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Saturday, 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sunday, 11:00 am - 4:00 pm 

For full Art Wander details visit:

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this color.... yay?  nay?  meh?  If Rose Gold isn't your thing, never fear I have tons of jewelry in other colors!  :)

Friday, September 15, 2017

We're All Ears: September 2017

I have to laugh because Erin and Eric were on the same inspiration wavelength this month...  I was literally sitting down to read the We're All Ears inspiration post when Eric emailed me pictures of sunflowers that he took for the September Honey Do List!  (You can see the post with all the information on how to play along HERE if you're interested... I hope you'll play along with us!)  What a perfect flower to inspire us during the fading days of summer as we start to feel the first nip of autumn in the air. 

Photo credit :: via Unsplash :: Becca Romine :: Ciprian Lipenschi :: Nick Nice :: Thomas Smith :: 

Here's a little peek at some of the sunflower-y beads in my stash.  Since I was looking down the barrel of dueling sunflower challenges, I figured that it was only fair for me to use the earring-friendly beads for the We're All Ears challenge.  Eric will have to be happy with some sunflower inspired necklace creations.  :)

The first thing I made was a total no brainer for me.  I had picked up some flower charms from Golem Design Studio at Bead & Button this year and one of them was perfect sunflower colors!  I had already used one pair for last month's Honey Do List, so I already had a basic design/style in mind so there was no reason not to get to work!  Since I was on a roll, I went ahead and whipped up earrings with the other two remaining colorways.  I had lovely coordinating Humblebeads disks that were perfect for all three pairs (probably because I pretty much bought a set of every color that Heather Powers had at B&B!!).

Since I was still in painting mode trying to get some of my fan favorite designs finished for my next show that's approaching way too rapidly, I decided to add some paint to a few sunflower charms (or maybe some are really daisies) for a fun effect!  The unpainted pair was a last minute addition when I realized that the Czech glass I had in mind didn't match the painted sunflowers.  I had all the stuff out, so why not?

Lastly, I revisited my Golem collection... and this time fished out some fun polka dotted lentil beads.  These are certainly my least literal interpretation, but I thought the colors were spot on for sunflowers.

So that's it for me this time.  Check back with me on Monday, September 25th to see what other sunflower designs I come up with for the Honey Do List challenge.  I hope you'll consider playing along with us!

Check out the Earrings Everyday blog HERE to see what other sunflower earrings folks dreamed up!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Upcycled Beer Can Jewelry!

I'm so excited to finally be unveiling a little mini-collection of jewelry that I've been thinking about for quite a while... all made from recycled aluminum cans.  I've been saving cool looking beer and carbonated water cans for months.  Eric even bought beers just based on the beer can art.  (What a guy, right??)  I finally carved out the time to make a decent sized batch of earrings and necklaces over the past week.  Fair warning... this post is going to be heavy on the pictures and relatively (for me, anyway!) short on the words.

I have been slaving away over some really fun and (mostly) colorful earrings.  These guys are truly a labor of love because they are majorly time intensive.  Seriously, I counted up 11 distinct steps before I even got to adding the beads and ear wires!  For that reason, I'm pricing this little cuties at $26 a pair.  I've made these with copper, brass, and arte metal and used niobium ear wires for all of them.  (I love that niobuim is hypoallergenic, nickel and lead free, AND comes in tons of great finishes!)

While working on those bigger flowers, I ended up with a stray pair of small flowers with a daisy design (from Daisy Cutter Pale Ale from Half Acre in Chicago) so I decided to try a more diminutive style of earring.  I'm a little bit in love with this new, tiny design and hope to whip up a few more pairs before next weekend for those who like a smaller earring.  What do you think??

The earrings were my original idea for using my now sizable aluminum can collection, but I wanted to be able to do something with larger swaths of the beer-y artwork.  I decided to play around with some filigree wrapped pendants.  I had made some simple medallion necklaces last fall that sold really well for me, so I decided to use that design as a jumping off point for this new line.  I have these in either 20 or 28 inches for $28 each.  If you need a different chain length that is totally doable too.  I aim to please!

How many of these beer cans do you recognize?
Eric couldn't help but get in on the act too!  Where I'm more into colors and patterns overall, Eric all about the logos and other weird details you might find on beer cans.  He really wanted to be able to dap (curve) the aluminum pieces as well as the embossed brass circles behind them, but the aluminum tended to bend and look weird.  So, for his earring designs, we hung a smaller aluminum can circle in front of the curved brass.  I made him do the embossing and dapping himself... and he picked out the beads to go with each pair but I put them together for him.  Teamwork!

All of Eric's earrings feature art from Indeed Brewing cans.

This is hopefully just the very start of something... I've got more design ideas in mind but need time to play and experiment more.

All of these pieces will be available for purchase for the fist time at the Art Wander, September 22-24.  Got a favorite beverage can that you'd love to see turned into fun jewelry?  I'd love to talk to you about your special orders! 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Art Bead Scene: September 2017

This month the Art Bead Scene is all about bugs and bright colors!  It's an amazing print with tons of insect action by entomologist and pattern designer Eugene Seguy.  You can read more about the artwork and the artist on the ABS blog HERE.

Eugene Seguy
Published in 1920
Pochoir Print

I know that I can only post two official entries for the ABS competition, but I couldn't only make two things with this yummy inspiration!  I made a trio of dragonfly inspired earrings for now... I've got some other designs up my sleeve if I have time to circle back before the end of the month.

First up, a pair of pewter wings from Green Girl paired with some raku rounds from XAZ Bead Company.  The wings are already a decent size for earrings so I wanted to keep things fairly simple.  I just did some messy (for me anyway!) wire wraps around the beads and attached with a jump ring.  I liked the way the raku beads had some of the green tones but also the iridescence of real dragonfly wings.

Next, I just had to play with some copper plated dragonfly wings from Anna Bronze.  (True confession: I bought quite a bit from them at Bead & Button but this is the first thing I've made with my haul so far!)  These wings are so dainty so I wanted to keep any beads I added on a small scale to let the wings really shine.  There are loops at both ends of the wings so I had to add something to the bottom.  I chose some small metallic plated hematite and some crystal rondelles for the tiny dangles.

Lastly, I finally went for some serious COLOR!  I got these wonderful dragonfly charms in turquoise from Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio this summer and knew immediately that they would be perfect for this month's challenge.  (I adore the idea of having the whole year of ABS challenges ahead of time, by the way.)  I'm often guilty of being too monochromatic in my designs, so for this pair of earrings I really wanted to embrace a riot of color.  After looking at lots of different options, I settled on a pair of super bright disc beads from Heather Powers of Humblebeads.  I always like the combination of turquoise and red, so this was just the thing here.  (For some reason, these were really difficult to photograph... and my picture doesn't do them justice!)

Ok, back to work!  Lots more jewelry waiting for me on the bead table today.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Feeling the Blues

Don't worry, I don't have those kind of blues!  I'm too busy to feel down right now!  I've just really been feeling the new shades of blue patina paints that I recently picked up from Vintaj!  In particular the Deep Turquoise which is just a super yummy shade of teal.

Generally when I play in the paints, I prep way more metal than I'll actually use in one sitting.  That way if I accidentally squirt out or mix up too much of one color, I've got plenty of other things that I can add color to waiting in the wings.  So, when I tried out the new color (on something I still haven't finished) I just couldn't stop adding it to more things!  All of these new designs will be available at my studio later this month during the Art Wander studio tour September 22-24!

Eager to restock some of my most popular styles of bracelets, I made a batch that included some of the new color.  I even did a feather with the lighter Turquoise mixed in along the edges.  I quite like how that turned out!

Next up, a few new necklaces!  Some are new versions of older designs and there's also a brand new butterfly pendant that I want to play more with.  So dainty!

Of course I couldn't totally neglect the earrings during my little teal frenzy!  I added some white gold/silver mixture to the centers of the flower charms then a wash over the whole thing.  I love the shimmer that gives and it plays so nicely with the mercury glass and crystal rondelles!  I added pops of orange for my elephant earrings.  These are pretty petite for dangly earrings and super fun!

Thanks for stopping by to see what I've been up to lately.  I'm up to my eyeballs in show prep, so I hope to be sharing lots of new designs with you all soon!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Inspiration for the Honey Do List: September 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:

I haven't been out with the camera as much as I'd hoped recently.  Looking for something to prolong the summer, I decided on posting these sunflower pictures.  One of these was from the MN Landscape arboretum, while the other was a self-planted seed from our own bird feeder!  I have plenty of shots of bees all over these things but wanted to stick with just the flower this time.  Show me some last gasp of summer in jewelry form!

The reveal date will be Monday, September 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 starting on September 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!

P.S. Apparently great minds think alike... the inspiration for the We're All Ears challenge on the Earrings Everyday blog is sunflowers this month too!  Check that out HERE and get double mileage for any sunflower inspired earrings you come up with!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Art Bead Scene: August 2017 Take Two

I wasn't sure that I'd have time to make the second design that I had percolating in my brain for this month's Art Bead Scene challenge... but I had some time to kill yesterday and managed to pull it off!  As a reminder, this month's artwork is an illustration by Kay Nielsen from a book called Twelve Dancing Princesses and Other Fairy Tales. 

Twelve Princesses on the Way to the Dance
Kay Nielsen
Published in 1923
Watercolor and ink

When I was pulling beads for my first design for the ABS this month (you can see that one HERE if you missed it) I stumbled on a pair of Patricia Healey copper flower charms that I had picked up in one of Andrew Thornton's de-stash events.  Unlike the pair that I used earlier in the year, this pair had some darker areas on the flowers which lent themselves to the inspiration artwork's darker tones.  I wanted to play with the long lines of the trees and some of the delicate details of the illustration.  To achieve that, I used some fine copper plated chain and added a metal leaf charm and a Czech glass leaf that I wire wrapped with some small metallic copper/peach seed beads. 

Ok, that's it for me today!  Short and sweet for once.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Honey Do List: August 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 month I wanted to use something fresh and summery, but haven't been out to take pictures much.  I ended up at the Arboretum and discovered this beautiful dahlia being destroyed by these equally beautiful beetles.  We'll just call this one "flawed beauty".  And shortly after taking this shot, we were all ushered indoors to avoid the axe-wielding loony who was running around the grounds.  I bet you artists will come up with something cool for this one!

August is traditionally a crazy busy month for me and this year is no exception.  Between attending shows at the Minneapolis Fringe Festival, gearing up for my big show the Art Wander in September, and life in general I often haven't known which end was up! 

For my first design I decided that I would go for some low hanging fruit... earrings!  I had picked up several darling flower charms from Golem Design Studio at Bead & Button and one pair was just the perfect color for this flower.  I poured out my collection of Humblebeads discs and found a coordinating pair to go with the charms.  I added in some copper plated bead caps and pink and peachy Czech glass to round out the design.  (While I had all my disc beads covering my bead mat, I found some to match the other three pairs of Golem charms for later.)

In digging through my stash, I found a scarab beetle from Vintaj that I've had from my early days of beading.  This little guy may have been one of my first Vintaj purchases from my local bead store (which is sadly no more.)  So, he's not the right kind of beetle, but I figured some fun with the Vintaj patina paints, and he would look a lot like his cousins from Eric's photo and would be perfect for a necklace design that's pretty literal.  Despite some serious custom color mixing and multiple coats of paint, I couldn't quite get the look I'd hoped for but I came close.  A wash of black paint in the crevices with a mix of copper, green, and clear glaze over the top helped I think.  Here's a look at the before and after extra painting!

Top: Ready to paint!  Bottom Left: First try.  Bottom Right: Final version.

Once I finally had my pendant finished, it was time to start figuring out the rest of the necklace.  I wanted to use my favorite iridescent green Swarovski pearls to play off the beetles' coloring and added pulled in a mix of Czech glass and some faceted prehnite.  This one called out to be asymmetrical (maybe because I've been doing a lot of symmetrical designs lately!)

I wanted to show the whole necklace but also give you a peek at the entire painted flower that's hiding under the beetle!

Since I still had extra beads on my bead mat, I went ahead and whipped up a matching pair of earrings to make it a set.

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

New Designs with Polymer Clay!

I've been having tons of fun playing with the pieces and the techniques I learned in Heather Powers' Wings & Dreams class at the Adornments Retreat last month!  I thought I'd do a super quick post sharing some of what I've come up with so far.  I still have a few painted butterflies and a bunch of leaves to play with, but here's what I've completed over the past week.

These posies were supposed to be for earrings, but I decided to go with pendants instead!  If only I could find the cutter for this flower... I want more of these and can't find one.  :(

Only the top leaf in the pendant is my handiwork (and the patina on the brass leaf too!) The "Hope" bead is by Diane Hawkey.  I'm wishing I had picked up more of her word beads.

I had fun with patinas, rivets, and metal stamping for this one!  It's a little more vibrant than my normal work.

I'm so glad my vision worked for this one!  I had to slightly modify the butterfly filigree from Vintaj to attach my polymer clay creation on top, but I made it work!  I wanted to veer away from the monochromatic so I added some pops of turquoise.

This is actually a holdover project from Heather's Inspired by Nature Retreat last year.  I made the fern imprinted polymer clay circle at the retreat (also the beads) and then used her metal sketching technique on a copper blank.  My rivets are a tiny bit off center, but that's ok.

Friday, August 18, 2017

We're All Ears: August 2017 :: Moths

This month for the We're All Ears challenge over on the Earrings Everyday blog, Erin has challenged us to use the inspiration of moths for our earring creations.  I've always been amazed by the infinite and amazing variety of moths out there.  I still remember the first time I saw a Luna Moth in person... love at first sight!  Here's a lovely photo collage that Erin shared with just some of the moth species out there:

As much as I love moths, I quickly realized that most of my moth beads are more of the pendant or focal variety... not really earring appropriate in size.  (I do have a good number of lovely butterfly wing charms and beads... but those will have to be for another day/challenge!)

I did turn up a few sets of disk beads from Heather Powers of Humblebeads that I'm pretty certain are moth inspired.  I picked out a pair that sort of reminded me of the Luna Moth and then realized that they would play nicely with some colored bronze charms from Lesley Watt that I bought a while back and hadn't yet put away.  Added bonus:  one less thing needing to be put away!  ;)  I mixed in some Czech glass flowers, crystal rondelles, and tiny crystal beads.  Just for fun, I also added some tiny coordinating seed beads to jump rings in front of the flower charms.

This next pair I may be cheating a tiny bit as I think the Humblebeads are probably more butterfly than moth.  This time I was also thinking about cocoons and paired the discs with some wire wrapped silk "cocoon" beads from Anna Pierson of Saga Hus.

I really wanted to try my hand at making my own moth wings too.  I decided to try and adapt some techniques from Heather Powers' "Wings & Dreams" class that I took at the Adornments Retreat last month and even extrapolate a bit from there.  I also used some of the slices I created in Julie Picarello's class at Bead & Button as a veneer over a plain wing shape (the colorful pair on the left middle of the picture).  The pair in the bottom right is actually colored with some old eye shadow that I had in the back of my bathroom drawer!  After waiting (not so) patiently for my little wings to come out of the oven and cool I could finally get to work on more earrings.

Oh, and full disclosure, of course I waited until the morning of reveal to make the wings!  Oops.  I think procrastination ended up working out ok for me this time.  My favorite pair of earrings was made today and I'm super happy with my hand made moth wings.  They aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but not too shabby for a first try at making wings.

First up, a pair where I was trying for sort of luna moth coloring.  I chose the light green partially because I love it and partially because I was also painting a pair of leaves I made and I was too lazy to change colors!  I hammered the ever loving snot out of some little copper blanks from Vintaj to go behind the wings and then added some faceted prehnite rounds and copper bead caps.

Next, I went for a black and white scheme.  I used pearl polymer clay as the base for all the wings I made.  Originally, I was thinking I'd use a single bright colored alcohol ink for this pair of wings so you'd see the sparkle of the pearl a little bit.  For whatever reason, I had a change of heart and decided to use some of the Onyx patina paint from Vintaj instead.  I knew that I could paint it on and then wipe it from the high points of the textured design I created with a texture sheet.  (I textured a bigger section of the clay and then used a butterfly cookie cutter to cut out a full butterfly shape.  I played around a bit trimming down the wings until I got a shape that I liked and still felt wing-like.)  I lightly buffed the edges of the Arte Metal blanks from Vintaj so you could see the hint of silver and then just layered the wings on top of them.  The gemstones are a faceted tourmalinated quartz.

I saved my favorite pair for the very last today.  These may not look super "wing-y," but seeing as they (like my luna wings) started out with an oval cookie cutter, I'm pretty happy with how they turned out!  This time I used part of a texture pattern sheet by Christi Friesen.  It was actually part of a dragonfly wing.  After I cut out and shaped the wings, I got to work with the eye shadow that I mentioned earlier.  Between the shimmer of the make up and the underlying pearl clay, the wings have a lovely soft shimmer to them that my photo doesn't do justice to.  I had fun stacking and layering Czech glass and brass bead caps... and through in some crystal rondelles for a little extra bling.

My other pair of wings might not ever fly away as earrings... I'm still not sure how I'm feeling about them.  Nonetheless, I had a productive albeit late flurry of earring making activity inspired by fluttering moths.  You can check out what everyone else was inspired to make over on the Earrings Everyday blog HERE!  Have a great weekend!