Saturday, June 17, 2017

We're All Ears: June 2017

Summer is finally here... and with the warmer weather many buggy friends have arrived.  Some not so welcome (mosquitos, ticks, ants) and others that bring a smile to my face every time I see them.  This month's inspiration for the We're All Ears challenge from the Earrings Everyday blog is one of those friendly bugs... the firefly or lightning bug (which is what I always call them.)

By Bruce Marlin - Own work http://www.cirrusimage.com/beetle_firefly_Photuris_lucicrescens.htmCC BY-SA 2.5Link
Erin mentioned in her blog post that she's only seen fireflies a few times in her life.  At first I was a little shocked and taken aback by that... I mean they were all over the place when I was growing up in Alabama!  But then I stopped and thought about it and realized that I really have only seen them maybe twice in the 17 years I've lived in Minnesota.  I guess I just didn't think about it since the mosquitoes make it unpleasant to be out at dusk.  I just assumed that they must be out there... but I think we may be too far north for these magical little critters to thrive here!


I feel like the picture above is what summer nights of my childhood felt like... just a vast expanse of flickering fireflies.  I know there were really never quite this many, but things just feel different when we are children.  My friends and I spent countless hours chasing lightning bugs, holding them in our hands mesmerized by the flickering light of their tails, bringing an unlucky few home in jars to light our bedrooms.  

When this challenge was announced overachiever me wanted to try and make some little firefly charms out of copper sheet using Heather Powers' "metal sketches" technique and some patinas.  Realistic, time crunched for two trips in two weeks me said "Shut up, that's not happening!"  Sigh.  Maybe I'll give that idea a try down the road when I have time on my hands.  *Laughs hysterically.*

Rational me remembered that I had a strand of little green and gold Czech glass ladybugs in my stash.  (At least I think they're ladybugs since I have the same shape in red with black... but I'm not sure why the bead makers decided on this particular color combo.)  I dug the little guys out and made the executive decision that they would have to work as fireflies... maybe they're just short!  

The first design that came to mind involved having the little buggy beads dangling from some sort of flower.   The flowers are mostly white with faint touches of color so I added more of the green in the centers.


The second pair of earrings didn't end up the way I was initially imagining them, but I like the end result so much better!  I thought I could pull something off where I had little piece of waxed linen with seed beads tied to the ends hanging behind, and reaching below the bug bead.  I made one that way and it just didn't sit right and I wasn't loving it.  The earring design was fine without that but lacked something.  I rummaged through my tubes of seed beads and found some in a similar green that, thankfully, fit onto the topmost jump rings.  A small touch, but it gave the needed pop the design had been lacking.


I don't often work with gold, but it just seemed the right thing to do for both of this month's pairs because of the gold in the bug beads.  I also thought the tiny gold filled bead underneath the bug was reminiscent of the firefly's tail.

In other news, I also made a firefly necklace the same weekend that I made these earrings.  You'll have to wait to see that one though until the reveal for the Art Elements June Theme Challenge.  Find out more about that HERE.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Water & Fire Mystery Challenge Competition


The latest installment for the Allegory Gallery Design Challenges is another mystery competition, Water & Fire!  This time there was an added twist... instead of just one kit, there were two... and you didn't know which kit you would receive unless you decided to buy two.  I decided to roll the dice and see which kit I would get... and it was Water for me!

Wanting to make sure that I actually used the special "mystery component," a polymer clay pendant made by Andrew Thornton, I started with a necklace.  The focal is just lovely with waves in blue and gold (or is it more bronze??), but I didn't love the way it looked with most of the beads in the kit.  I did pull out some small glass rondelles from the kit, but what really caught my eye was a bag of leftover beads from a class project I never finished with Heather Powers on a past Bead Cruise.  I picked out a great mix of Czech glass, freshwater pearls, and crystal from that kit and added in some other Czech glass beads and seed beads from my stash to create a strung necklace that (I hope) lets Andrew's pendant shine.


Next up, a little collection of earrings I made!  There were lots of bead pairs that were just crying out to be earrings... so who am I to deny those beads their destiny?

The first pair I made used some fun faceted drops that are (I think) vintage plastic or lucite.  I added some brass bead caps to the bottom to make them a little bit fancy and paired them with some coordinating green crystal and Swarovski pearls for some fun dangles.  The second pair here is probably my favorites.  As soon as I saw these tube beads (again in plastic or lucite) I knew that I wanted to do some fun wire wrapping around them.  I used a pair of adorable glass shells to dangle from the bottom of the wire-wrapped tubes and finished things off with niobium ear wires with bright copper accents.


For my second two pairs of earrings, I moved away from warmer metals to use sterling silver.  The pair on the left is pretty simple... just a pair of lucite (or plastic?) drops and some glass rondelles from the kit.  I just added the silver plated bead caps.  Next up, something a little outside my normal design comfort zone... some three tiered dangles!  All the beads are from the kit here.  I'm so happy that I had some matching ear wires embellished with Swarovski crystals to finish these off.


Life has been crazy busy with our trip to Milwaukee for Bead & Button (expect to hear more from me on that super soon) and other general life llama drama, so I didn't get as much made from this kit as I had hoped.  I'll leave you with the wisp of an idea for a second necklace... hopefully I'll get this one made in the near future.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Inspired by Reading: Mistborn

This month's Inspired by Reading Book Club selection was Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.  This book is the first in Sanderson's Mistborn series and I've been meaning to read it for a while now.  (I read Sanderson's young adult book The Rithmatist and really loved it... his Alcatraz books, not so much.)  

As you may know, I hate trying to summarize books... I'm just a "I loved it" or "I hated it" sort of reader for the most part.  So this time I'm totally cheating in that I've edited down a bit of the book description from Wikipedia.  (Bad librarian, I know.)  Anyway, the Mistborn series is set in a roughly medieval dystopian future on the world Scadrial, where ash constantly falls from the sky, all plants are brown, and supernatural mists cloud every night.  The "Lord Ruler" has ruled over the Final Empire for a thousand years as an immortal tyrant and god.  Under his rule, society is stratified into the nobility, believed to be the descendants of the friends who helped him achieve godhood; and brutally oppressed peasantry, known as skaa.
Central to the Mistborn universe is the presence of magic. The most widely known discipline of magic is called Allomancy, which allows users to gain magical powers by swallowing and "burning" specific metals to gain supernatural abilities. Some of the metals used this way include pewter, tin, gold, copper, bronze, steel, iron, and brass.  Normal Allomancers (Mistings) have access to one Allomantic power, but an incredibly rare subset of Allomancers, called Mistborn, have access to every Allomantic power.  Two of the main characters of this book, Kelsier and Vin, are Mistborn.  This first book in the series chronicles an unlikely band of thieves, led by Kelsier, working together to raise a rebellion and overthrow the Lord Ruler and the Final Empire.


I knew that I wanted to do something to play off of the various metals that the Mistborn and Mistings use to activate their various powers.  I wasn't sure exactly sure what I was going to do, but I was assuming that I would do some sort of mixed metal creation.  That's not how things progressed though!

I found a focal in my stash by Green Girl Studios that made me think of the swirling mists in the book.  Bingo!  I decided to orient the cloud focal sideways and make a slightly shorter necklace.  At first I had the misguided idea that I would string a pattern of beads on one side (attached with a jump ring) and then tie strands of black waxed Irish linen on the other side.  Well, let's just say that didn't work out!  (Although, happily, I was able to use the pattern of beads that I had spent so much time figuring out on another necklace that will be shared for a different challenge later in the month... here's a sneak peek though.)



That idea scrapped, I went with plan B and used the waxed linen on both sides of the necklace.  I cut three long strands of the black linen and tied to the pendant with a lark's head knot, repeating the process for the other side.  I wanted the black strands to represent the ribbonlike strips of cloth that flow from the shoulders of a Mistcloak.  Along the lengths of the waxed linen I then tied little groupings of seed beads in various metallic colors and finishes to represent the various metals burned by the characters.  Now I didn't keep strictly to the actual metals used, but instead chose six different colors that worked well together and with the pewter pendant.  To break up the runs of knotted seed beads, I slid some silver toned corner-less cubes over all the strands.  To finish it off I simply tied on a fun toggle clasp at the back.  


Thanks for stopping by to check out my newest creation!  Now it's back to work for me... lots to do before I head to the Bead & Button show!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

June 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:



This spring I've really been taking a lot of bird pictures and wanted to use one of these shots for this month's challenge.  I thought this rose-breasted grosbeak would be an interesting subject due to the stark black and white colors with a pop of bright red.  Try using this color combo for a piece!

This was a fun bird to have spotted on a visit to some friends' cabin last weekend!  I've never seen one these little guys before but he was hanging around the feeders for a good part of the day on Monday.  I've got to put on my thinking cap to figure out what I'm going to make...     

The reveal date will be Monday, June 26th.  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 June 26th 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 sjdesignsjewelry@gmail.com  The more the merrier, so I hope you'll play along with me this month!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Art Elements May 2017 Component of the Month

Each month over on the Art Elements blog they host a Component of the Month giveaway and challenge.  This time I wasn't one of the lucky ones who was chosen to receive one of Lesley Watt's amazing shell cross section pedants.  Luckily, she had a few extra for sale and I managed to snag one... as well as some of her bronze charms!  If you love this as much as I do, she still has some for sale in her shop HERE.


As luck would have it, the same day I got my package from Lesley, I also received my latest destash goodies from Allegory Gallery that included some ceramic rounds by Keith O'Connor that were a perfect match for my pendant.

I love it when a design just comes right together, and I feel like that's what happened this time.  I started by pulling together some Czech glass beads in blues and greens to match the pendant along with some patinated brass beads with a design that reminds me of sea urchins for some reason.  To add some contrast in both color and texture, I also grabbed some Bronzite rounds, Tibetan agate, and faceted Green Aventurine.



Each of Lesley's pieces is unique and lovely... I hope you'll check out what the other participants made too!

Sarajo Wentling - You Are Here
Art Elements team
Laney Mead

Monday, May 22, 2017

Artisans Create Together Inspiration Challenge: May 2017

This month, the Facebook group Artisans Create Together has pulled together two gorgeous inspiration color challenges.  I couldn't pass up the opportunity to play along with both of them!  As luck would have it, I had some lovely earring components for each color palette.


First up, this amazing and vibrant color collage featuring bright blues, yellows, and greens!  I recently placed my first order with the talented Jana Bliznakova of Happy Fish Things and she sent some cute earring charms as a thank you gift that were just perfect for this challenge.  They are predominately turquoise and bright yellow, but the mixing of those two glazes gave some tiny bits of green along the leafy pattern in the charms.  I had two orphan glass beads that were a craft store purchases a million years ago that paired nicely and I added some yellow Czech glass beads and brass findings to complete the look.  




This second color palette was the one that initially drew my eye.  I love the mix of copper and turquoise... yummy!!  This time I went for a new pair of enameled charms by Gardanne as my starting point.  I did some fancy (for me at least!) wire wrapping with copper wire that I had patinated with liver of sulphur and coordinating Czech glass and added some orangey seed beads to jump rings for a fun touch.  I couldn't be happier with how these turned out!  


I didn't make this second pair specifically for this challenge (they were actually published in Stringing Magazine's Earring Gallery... created to go with a Southwest theme) but I thought that they were worth sharing since I never put them up on my blog.  These bold earrings feature lampwork glass by Firelily Glass and brass feathers that I painted with Vintaj paint patinas.  These still haven't found the right person go home with!


Thanks for checking out my latest earring creations!  I'm heading back to the bead board to see what else I can dream up!

Honey Do List: May 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:


For this month's piece I wanted to use a shot from our recent trip to Virginia and D.C.  With the recent big storm, most of the cherry blossoms were long gone, but we found this single tree with some pink flowers!  I liked the movement of the dried grasses, the metal scrollwork of the sculpture, and the pop of color from the flowers.  

The first thing I made focused on the lovely purple flowering tree.  I had some wonderful charms from Humblebeads that were just perfect.  The color worked really nicely for the flowers and I love the grass-like patterns on the charms.  I paired the charms with some purple Czech glass.




Next up, another pair of earrings called out to be made.  This time I played with the yellows and greens... especially the colors in the sculpture.  These may be a bit more of a stretch, but I ran with it anyway!  I used some small lentil beads from Golem Design Studio with dyed yellow agate and Czech glass dangles on brass.


And finally, I broke my recent earring making streak to design a necklace.  I have been hoarding a three holed pendant from Jenny Davies-Reazor for several years.  It was in my goody bag on one of the first two Bead Cruises I attended.  I chose a variety of beads in shades of green and yellow as well as copper accents.  I had a button clasp with a similar Celtic design to the pendant that seemed a natural fit.  To that end, I decided to string one side of the necklace and make wire wrapped links on the other.  The nuggets on the right side are yellow quartz and the bigger stones on the left are yellow opal.    








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Thursday, May 18, 2017

We're All Ears: May 2017

For this month's We're All Ears challenge over on the Earrings Everyday blog, Erin has challenged us to turn trash into treasure!  Basically take something we would normally toss out and turn it into fabulous earrings!

I immediately knew that I wanted to finally get back to playing with some aluminum beer and pop cans that I've been saving.  I even bought some new punches (really meant for paper) to use for the project and Eric and I have been buying some beers exclusively for the cans they are packaged in.  (So much for not judging a book, or a beer, by it's cover!!)

I specifically wanted to try out the two flower shaped punches that I picked up... hoping that they would work together size wise for earrings... spoiler alert... they did!  I wanted a good pop of color for the center flower so I chose a super funky can from Stillwater Artisanal.  I didn't have another colorful can that coordinated with the pink, purple, and yellow so I went for a neutral and used the grey color from one of our local breweries, Insight Brewing.  Here's a before picture!


Aluminum cans are much thinner than you'd expect... that meant that for jewelry use I wanted to have some sort of more substantial backing for them.  Luckily, my flower shapes were the perfect size to fit on top of a circle blank from Vintaj.  I used an embossing folder with my Big Kick on an Arte Metal blank and then sanded the front side to bring out some of the silver color on what was going to be my base layer.  The upside of the ultra thin aluminum is that I was able to stack my components and punch a hole in the center of all three at one time!  I then riveted the pieces together and used my dapping block to dome the whole thing.  Lastly, I wanted the earrings to have a little more dimension, so I gently curved up the petals of both aluminum flowers.  To finish off my design I used some coordinating Czech glass rondelles.



I hope to play more with this idea soon, but life has been crazy busy with not nearly enough time at my bead table.  I feel lucky that I finished one pair of earrings!  As a bonus, I'll also share a pair of earrings that Eric made using circles cut from an Indeed Brewing can.  (They have some super fun designs!)



Thanks for stopping by to see my newest earrings!  Pop over to the Earrings Everyday blog to see what trash transformations other folks came up with!


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Inspiration in Everyday: May 2017: Apple Blossoms

This month I'm playing along again with a design challenge from a new group on Facebook called Inspiration in Everyday.  The group has been created as a means to share the everyday things we take inspiration from to use in jewelry.  The idea is pretty simple... find something that inspires you to create beads, components, or jewelry, take a photo of it, create something based on that inspiration, and share in the group!  There is an art bead focus to the group and each creation shared should include at least one handmade art bead or component.

This past weekend, Eric and I went on some afternoon wanderings to try out a new local cider maker's tap room as well his new camera.  After a lovely and relaxing sojourn on the deck outside of Number 12 Ciderhouse in Buffalo, Minnesota, we took some time to explore the lovely grounds.  (Their taproom is located at the back of the building at Deer Lake Orchard... and if you like cider you should seriously check it out!)  While Eric was busy putting his brand spanking new camera through it's paces, I snapped a few pictures with my trusty iPhone.

Zestar Apple Blossoms at Deer Lake Orchard, Buffalo, MN

Not quite true to all the colors in my photo, I couldn't resist making something with these sweet copper flower charms by Patricia Healey.  I have to give Eric credit for picking out the Czech glass rondelles for the design.  They are in a color that Lima Beads appropriately called Pumpkin Sky, but I don't think they carry them any more.  I added in some little blue agate rounds nestled into copper plated bead caps to complete this design.


I have an idea for a necklace inspired by this photo too, but it has a vintage pendant that may not be considered an art bead.  I've got a few other things lined up that have more pressing deadlines, but I'll make sure to share if I circle back to the necklace idea!

Art Bead Scene: May 2017

This month's Art Bead Scene inspiration is Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle by Pablo Picasso.  You can read more about the artwork and the artist over on the ABS blog HERE.  Truth be told, I'm not a huge fan of this particular artwork or, really, anything in the Cubist style.  Moreover, I really don't get it...  I see the violin and (I think) the bottle but the bowl of fruit escapes me.  I'm guessing that it's the blob at the top of the artwork, but who knows!?!

Bowl of Fruit, Violin and Bottle
Pablo Picasso
1914
Oil On Canvas
Since the artwork doesn't really speak to me, I decided that focusing on the colors was the way to go this time.  I chose to work more with the pinks, tans, and creams in the painting, but as you'll see below, I did add some speckled blue ceramic beads into both designs to try and pull it all together... and to echo the speckled and textured parts of the artwork.  But I'm getting ahead of myself!

Even before I had made anything for last month's ABS challenge, I had picked out the main components for this first design.  (Have I mentioned how much I adore having the booklet with the whole year's artwork to peruse??)  I was digging through my beads looking for options for April and a set of silk wrapped cocoons from SagaHus Components caught my eye.  I fell in love with the rich mix of peachy-pink and cream when Anna Pierson listed them in her Facebook group and had to have them.  Sitting just one compartment over in my art bead drawer were some fun ceramic flowers that I picked up from my friend Tracee Dock of The Classic Bead a while back.  It was serendipity!  The only other thing I added to those original components were the speckled blue beads.  These are pretty big earrings (bigger than I would probably wear myself) but I know they'll find the right person!


I thought that this would be it for me, but then another light bulb went off and I grabbed another pair of components from SagaHus... this time a pair of Czech glass teardrops embellished with scarlet silk and seed beads.  Once again, I added in some blue speckled ceramic beads (in a slightly larger size than those in my first pair.)


Thanks for stopping by to see what I've been up to lately.  If you want to see what other folks have been inspired to make in response to this Picasso, check out the Art Bead Scene's Pinterest board HERE.  

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

May 2017 Inspiration for the Honey Do List

Sorry that I'm getting May's inspiration posted a day late!  We've been on the road and Eric didn't get around to making his selection before we left.  Better late than never!

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:


For this month's piece I wanted to use a shot from our recent trip to Virginia and D.C.  With the recent big storm, most of the cherry blossoms were long gone, but we found this single tree with some pink flowers!  I liked the movement of the dried grasses, the metal scrollwork of the sculpture, and the pop of color from the flowers.  

We've got a little more color to play with this month as spring oh so slowly has started to have sprung!  Eric didn't mention it, but this photo was taken at the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.

The reveal date will be Monday, May 22nd.  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 May 22nd 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 sjdesignsjewelry@gmail.com  The more the merrier, so I hope you'll play along with me this month!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Art Elements April 2017 Component of the Month

Each month over on the Art Elements blog they host a Component of the Month giveaway and challenge.  I was lucky enough to be selected as one of the guest participants to receive one of Jennifer Cameron's lovely lampwork glass beads!  It always feels like Christmas when new beads come in the mail and I was thrilled to find the bead on the bottom right in my little package from Jen.  (At least I think that one is mine... if not they are super similar color wise!)  There is so much rich color inside of swirls of clear glass!


There are some bronze-y and sand colors in my bead along side the various blues and the tiniest bit of teal.  I wanted to do something with all of that color action!  I was originally thinking that I would string the front part of the necklace, but nothing I did looked quite right to me.  I changed tactics and wire wrapped links using faceted bronzite rondelles, smooth blue aventurine rounds, and some English cut Czech glass beads in an amazing mix of colors that Lima Beads calls "Earth."

I wanted the back of the necklace to be soft... and to bring in more color.  Plus it's been a while since I used any ribbon in one of my designs and I like to mix things up.  I thought that I had some finished ribbon in the right blues but I only found sari silk and that just wasn't hitting the right chord for me.  Instead I opted for some hand dyed silk ribbon in a sea green color.  It's not what I originally had in mind but I do think it pulls out the teal in the focal bead and plays off some of the color in the Czech glass.  The focal bead makes me think "ocean" with it's colors and swirls, so the ribbon color just plays into completing the sea inspired color palette.



Stop by the other participants' blogs to see what everyone else created!

Guest Designers:
Sarajo Wentling - You Are Here!
Art Elements Team:

Friday, April 28, 2017

Art Bead Scene: April 2017 Take Two

When I started pulling beads for this month's Art Bead Scene challenge I had a couple of good ideas but I wasn't sure I'd have time to get to both with so many other things on my plate and schedule.  It's almost the end of the month, but I've managed to squeak in a second necklace inspired by Paul Gauguin's painting "Matamoe or Landscape with Peacocks."  I'm on the road this weekend so I'm keeping this post pretty short and sweet!

Matamoe or Landscape with Peacocks
Paul Gauguin
1892
Oil On Canvas
This time I used an enameled pendant by Gardanne Beads in wonderful, firey reds and oranges as my starting point.  While those tones dominate the artwork, I wanted to pull in some of the other colors into my design.  A fairly quick and easy way to accomplish that was by stringing three different strands of seed beads.  The pendant has a second hole at the bottom that I used to add some Czech glass dangles.  I'm pretty happy with the overall effect.  


Thanks for checking out my latest design.  If you'd like to see what other folks were inspired to create this month, check out the Art Bead Scene Pinterest board HERE.  

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Inspired by Reading: Tales of the City

This month's Inspired by Reading Book Club selection was Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin.  Originally published in 1976, this is the first of the author's books that chronicle the goings on at the apartment house at 29 Barbary Lane in San Francisco.  


For some reason that I cannot explain, I always thought that this book was a collection of short stories... it's so not.  The book follows a diverse cast of characters whose relationships are not all immediately clear.  Actually, some of the relationships and back stories aren't spelled out when this novel ends... I wonder if the other books in the series clear up some of the mysteries left behind.  I may have to keep reading to find out!

I also always thought that the stories must be scandalous... maybe not Cinemax After Dark scandalous, but naughty in some way.  And maybe they were viewed that way in 1976.  I mean there is plenty of adultery, plus drug use, and (GASP!) homosexuality!!  Oh my!  I can see why it was popular as a miniseries.  It has all the makings of a good soap opera and I guess that's part of what kept me reading.

While I enjoyed reading this book, I didn't initially have any light bulbs go off in the inspiration department.  (I find that this happens to me a lot, actually!  Maybe because I'm too involved in the story and forget to think about design inspiration as I read.)  Luckily, I remembered that I've been hoarding a pendant from The Classic Bead that features a cityscape.  I've been holding onto it waiting for just the right challenge and that time is now!


To echo the windows in all those buildings, I stuck to rectangular gemstone beads in Kyanite and Bronzite to match the pendant.  Overall, I kept things pretty simple this time to let the pendant stand out.  I love the variations in the blue glaze make it look a little like clouds and stars in the sky.

Want to see what the other members of the book club created?  Or join in on the fun yourself?  Check out our Facebook Group HERE.  Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Honey Do List: April 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 had hoped for some more color in my shot for this month, but "spring" in Minnesota is still much later than southern climes.  So I worked a little red into this action shot of a cute Chickadee!  The birds are back, and next month should be much more vibrant with the colors of spring.

I have a special place in my heart for chickadees... they were one of my Mema's favorite birds.  I spent a ton of time at her house as a child since she lived two houses up the street from us.  She had two window sills that she would always put birdseed out on (it was a brick house with a decent sized ledge) so she could watch all the birds from her bedroom.  I love that our backyard feeders are regularly frequented by chickadees.

For my first design, I finally used a pendant by Earthenwood Studio that I've had in my stash since very early on in my beading life.  While there's no bird to be found in this necklace, the cream and dark brown viney floral reminded me of the plants that Eric's little chickadee is perched amongst.  True story, I've had one of the black Czech glass flowers stored alongside this pendant for a couple of years now, waiting for the right time to explore a design.  Well, that time is now!  I added some other flower and leaf beads in earth tones as well as some smaller glass beads for an asymmetrical design.  The strung side came out a little bit longer than the other so I chose to even things out by having the clasp connect to the end of the side with the bead links.


Still in an asymmetrical mood, I started playing with beads for a second necklace featuring a wooden pendant by Skye Jewels.  I'd almost forgotten about this sweet little chickadee pendant... I guess that's why I always go through all my art bead drawers!  Since there's no hole in the pendant, I found a brass filigree piece to wrap around the pendant.  Luckily I had one that worked and didn't cover up the bird.  This necklace was one of those rare instances where the beads just cried out to be included.  I knew I had some coppery/bronze maple leaf beads that would echo the leaves on the pendant nicely.  When grabbing those out of my bead box I noticed the container of small turquoise flower beads that turned out to be the perfect compliment.  To complete the design I used a fun leaf shaped brass clasp.  (Memo to self: buy more of these... you like them.)


Lastly, I wanted to play with the idea of the vines a little bit more.  I revisited the idea of having vine-like tendrils coming out of enameled bead caps from C-Koop Beads for fun earrings.  I really need to just sit down and make more of these in a variety of colors... I keep forgetting about them!







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Friday, April 21, 2017

Earrings Everyday: April 2017: Eggs

I have to admit that I came really close to skipping this month's Earrings Everyday challenge.  It's not that I wasn't inspired by the subject that Erin chose for us... I just didn't think I had any beads that really worked for it.  I had written off the whole thing and then on my afternoon walk on Monday, I had an idea.  When I got home I went digging for the beads I was thinking of, and wonder of wonders, found them!  For some reason that got me thinking about some decal-ed wooden beads that I got in one of Andrew Thornton's destash events... and I found them too!

But I'm putting the cart in front of the horse here.  Let me step back for a moment and share this month's inspiration!  She challenged us to create earrings inspired by the egg in any form but shared some amazing photos of Ukrainian pysanky eggs.  Eggs really are a perfect inspiration in this time of year when many of us celebrate the holidays of Easter and Passover and Spring is bringing new life and color to the world that has been so grey and dreary through the winter.


Obviously, my childhood Easter Eggs never looked as fancy as these, but I've always been fascinated by these delicate blown eggs.  I've got a small collection of blown egg Christmas ornaments that I bought in Hungary a lifetime ago that I cherish.  Most of those are hand painted florals, but I've got one made with the wax resist technique that's truly amazing.  Anyway, here's what I ended up creating...

First, the pair with the Czech glass beads that I first came to my mind.  I've had these oval shaped cornflower blue beads forever and haven't used many (if any) of them until now.  Apparently this isn't a shape that really speaks to me or I would have used them and/or bought them in more colors.  I felt like the design in the center of the beads was reminiscent of the designs "written" on the pysanky eggs.


My second pair features some vaguely egg-shaped wooden beads decorated with pink and white floral decals.  I added some white Czech glass flowers with pink beads in the center to add to the springtime flower feel of these.  The added beads have nothing to do with eggs, but I wanted to add some whimsy and interest to the earrings... and I felt like it!  :)


Stop by the Earrings Everyday blog HERE to see what everyone else was inspired to make this month!  I just delivered both of these pairs to Unearthed Arts if you're interested in them.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Inspiration in Everyday: April 2017: Korean Bell Garden

There's a new group on Facebook that I found through the Art Bead Scene blog called Inspiration in Everyday.  The group has been created as a means to share the everyday things we take inspiration from to use in jewelry.  The idea is pretty simple... find something that inspires you to create beads, components, or jewelry, take a photo of it, create something based on that inspiration, and share in the group!  There is an art bead focus to the group and each creation shared should include at least one handmade art bead or component.  

I just returned from a vacation with my husband to visit friends in the Washington D.C. area and I certainly found some inspiration along the way!  On our first full day in town we ended up making a visit to the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.  Truth be told, we were anxiously awaiting word on our luggage that had taken an unplanned overnight in New York City due to Delta's major network and weather issues.  We didn't want to go too far afield so this was a great way to spend the morning before meeting our friend for lunch.  (Don't worry, we did get our bag that day, but had to return to the airport to do so!)  The day was a bit chilly and windy, but Eric and I still had a wonderful time traipsing around the gardens.

One of the areas of the gardens of particular interest, and my inspiration for this post, is the Korean Bell Garden.  This garden area was created via a joint effort between NOVA Parks and the Korean American Cultural Committee... starting with the original proposal in 2007.  The centerpiece of this garden is the bell itself.  It's called the Bell of Peace and Harmony and was cast by one of the best bell makers in Korea in a way that has been used for centuries.  The bell features traditional Korean images as well as images symbolic of Virginia.  The surrounding pagoda structure was built completely by hand using traditional methods.  The area around the bell pagoda features replicas of ancient Korean monuments and statues, walls and stone structures adorned with traditional Korean symbols, and a flowing water way.

Photo by Eric Wentling

As we circled through the gardens I took several detail photos of artwork from the walls as well as the bell itself and combined them into a collage to share on Instagram.  Seeing those images together is what clicked into place for me... a lightbulb went off in my head and I knew that there was jewelry to be made from this inspiration!


The muted colors and the butterflies in the bottom right panel made me think of a ceramic pendant by White Swan Illuminations that I picked up at Allegory Gallery last summer.  I wanted to capture the idea of the flowers but didn't want to add a lot of color... I had two sizes of white/ivory Czech glass flowers that perfectly fit the bill!  I added in links made with Bronzite, Dalmation Jasper, as well as some other Czech glass beads in an asymmetrical design.  The finishing touch is a tiny brass butterfly charm hanging off the back of the clasp.


Since my first design was so monochromatic, I wanted to do something with a touch more color.  I had the perfect Humblebeads forget me not pendant in my stash to do the job!  I had just bought a few strands of Czech glass spacer beads in a mix of muted pastels that I knew I wanted to use.  I gathered some other Czech and vintage German glass beads as well as some pearls for this strung design.  This necklace is more about the colors in the two floral panels from the wall in the garden as well as the floral motifs from the bell itself.


Thanks for stopping by to check out my designs inspired by what I found in my everyday!  I hope you'll take a moment to stop and see what inspiration is waiting around you!