Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Cookbook Collector - Inspired by Reading

So, it's time for another installment of the Inspired by Reading Book Club!  You can find out more about the group and see the reading list for the year over on Andrew Thornton's blog HERE.  We are always looking for more folks to play along.  You don't have to make jewelry either, any creative response is welcome!

This month's selection was The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman.  Once again, this book club has encouraged me to read something that I never would have chosen on my own... and, once again, I'm glad that I did!

Unfortunately, I've learned a valuable lesson about writing my posts for these design challenges... I need to sit down and write my impressions of the book right away and not wait until I have made my jewelry piece.  I guess I really should already know this because as a reader I tend to mostly remember if I loved or hated a book (or if I was indifferent) and forget the details.  So, since I finished the book almost a month ago, my thoughts on the book may be a bit more blurry and disjointed than I would like!

The main story centers around two sisters, Emily and Jess, who couldn't be more different.  Much of the focus is on their relationship with each other, their dead mother, and living father but it spirals out to include their significant others, friends, and coworkers.  The point of view is constantly shifting among the characters (and between Berkley and Boston) as the story moves towards its climax.  I have to admit that the split narrative made it a little tricky to zero in on a direction for my piece of jewelry, but I digress.  Threads of quickly rising dot coms (and the eventual bust of that bubble) combine with the pursuit of rare books and saving the trees.  The plot lines all mingle together as we get to know the various characters (some far more likeable than others) and start seeing the connections between them all.

At first I though I'd do something with trees but I didn't have quite what I wanted in my stash and I delayed a moment too long on buying a super cute tree from Jade Scott.  On to idea number two,  it might feel a little simplistic for the many threads in the story.  I'm going to try to cut myself a little slack though, because my memories of the book are already fading and I've been on the road more than home this month.

I decided to focus in on the idea of all of the handwritten notes and things that Jess and George find as they start going through the amazing cookbook collection that they acquire.  I had some scrapbook paper with very small handwriting all over it on a creamy, antique-looking background so I decided to put that in the bottom of a fancy copper plated bezed from Nunn Design.  (For those of you who have been following me, this is the same bezel style that gave me fits during my project for Paris to the Moon.)  The resin gave me a little bit of grief again this time, but I did fairly thin layers and was able to smooth it out pretty well.  I love that the back of the bezel is decorated too with a leafy design that made me think of the sketches and doodles that they found in the books.  

I kept things pretty simple and added some copper colored shell pearls and Czech glass rondelles in a cool metalic and sage color.  Copper plated chain and lobster claw round things out for a sweet little pendant necklace!

This is a blog hop... Check out what the other members of the group made too!

Sarajo Wentling  - (You are here!)


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Lessons From My First Outdoor Sale

This weekend I participated as a guest artist at the Waconia Farmers Market for the first time.  For those of you who live in the Twin Cities, you know that this last weekend in July felt much more like October than the season it is supposed to be.  I think that the chill in the air may have been a detriment to the early morning traffic at the market (it certainly didn't help the smoothie maker next to us!).  Eric and I were glad we brought sweatshirts but wished we had taken jackets as well (and maybe some cinder blocks...more about that later).

Eric and I got up early (too early considering we'd been out at a concert in downtown Minneapolis the night before) and headed over to the parking lot where the farmers market is held to get set up.  Some folks were already working on setting up their tents and booths when we arrived at 7:30 and the rest of the vendors trickled in as we started setting ourselves up.  As the guest artist at the market, I was able to use a tent that the market provided and Chef Craig helped us set up.  By opening time at 8:00 a.m. Eric and I had gotten things pretty well displayed and were ready to go!

Ready to start the day...we think.
A careful observer of the photo above might have some hints as to the peril my jewelry would soon face.  The wind was a problem for us all day long.  Soon after this photo was taken a strong gust of wind toppled over several of my display busts and one of my earring displays and threatened to take the tent!  Luckily, the earring display that went was the one with my lower priced pieces.  Nothing broke (thankfully!)  I did lose one earring from a pair but can easily make a new one to replace it.  It could have been much worse.  So, what started out as a multi-level display, had to be flattened and shored up as the day went on.

I'm stubborn, so the shift happened one display piece at a time as I slowly admitted that I couldn't beat the wind.  For the most part, we were able to sort of brace things whenever it got super windy and nothing too tragic happened.  Near the end of the day when we were starting to pack up, my reflexes weren't fast enough and the the open box and display bust next to it went flying!  I was amazed that nothing got damaged although the display piece did get a little scraped up.  I might eventually see if there's a way I can update that one to hide the damage to the "leatherette" surface.

My husband was such a trooper holding down the tent most of the day!
After that first big gust of wind tried to make off with our borrowed tent, Chef Craig came over and weighted down two of the stakes with some lovely City of Waconia traffic cones.  This helped, but Eric still had to spend most of the morning holding onto one of the other poles to keep the thing from flying off!  Have I told you all that I have the best husband ever?

Close up of one of my earring displays.  Photo Credit: Nicki B. from Terra Waconia.
Other than our wind excitement, we had a slow start to the morning.  But after the first hour it seemed like the market drew pretty good traffic that stayed steady until about 11:30.  I didn't make my first sale until 9:15, but gained momentum (and sales!) throughout the day.  In addition to actual sales, I gathered more emails for my mailing list and several folks seeded genuinely interested in either checking out my Etsy shop or coming back for something the next time I'm at the farmers market.

So, what did I learn from my first outdoor show?  Here's a short rundown:
  • Have extra supplies ready in the car (like weights for the tent legs, jackets, etc)
  • If you might be dealing with wind, a flatter display is better.  (I'll be buying more flat tray-type containers for my necklaces before my next outdoor show.)
  • I needed more more mid-ranged priced necklaces.  (People loved my more expensive pieces, but weren't prepared to make that sort of commitment at the market.)
It wasn't all work for us at the market.  Throughout the day, Eric and I also got to meet some of the other vendors and sample their wares.  We came home with a gallon jug of honey from Honey Hill Farms, some delicious Scandanavian bread from Green Olive Catering, and some yummy lamb polish sausage from Buffalo Creek Farm.  If you haven't checked out the market yet, I encourage you to do so...there's a lot of great stuff there!

A huge thanks to my sweet husband for sticking it out with me all day and to everyone who stopped by to look at my wares!  I'll be back at the Waconia Farmers Market again on Saturday, September 7th.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sj Designs at the Waconia Farmer's Market this Saturday!

Photo from Waconia Farmer's Market Facebook page.
After a little hiatus from doing any craft shows or sales, I'll be making my outdoor sales debut this Saturday, July 27th from 8:00 am until Noon at the Waconia Farmer's Market!  The market is held in downtown Waconia in the municipal parking lot by the old Deubers store for those of you that know the area.

For more information on the market itself, check out their Facebook page HERE.

If you can't make it this weekend, I'll be out there again September 7th.  Hope to see you there!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

AJE Earring Challenge Weeks 27 & 28

It's that time again... the reveal for my next two pairs of earrings for the Art Jewelry Elements Earring Challenge!

In honor of my recent trip to Oregon, I'm showing off two pairs of earrings made with some of the beads I bought in Bend.  They are from Larissa Spafford Designs, a talented lampwork artist based right there in Bend.  I bought several sets of her beads, but for this week I'm doing two different designs from the same set of little dark red beads with silver paired with jet colored crystals.  I think that red, black, and silver are just yummy together!

First up, I paired the little dark ruby beauties with Vintaj arte metal Flourish Petal pieces that I highlighted with a sanding block to bring out the silver color in the raised portions.

Week 27
For the second pair, I dangled the lampwork and crystal units from gunmetal twisted spacers from TierraCast and Vintaj arte metal jump rings.

Week 28
Both of these pairs are in my Etsy shop.  You can check them out and see more photos HERE.

I have one more set of the red lampwork beads... which pair should I make another set of?  Or should I do something else entirely?  I'd love to get your thoughts!

Friday, July 19, 2013

July Art Bead Scene Challenge

Each month the editors over at the Art Bead Scene Blog choose a piece of artwork and challenge jewelry designers to create something using an art bead that is inspired by it.  For June they have chosen "Portrait of Olga in the Armchair" by Pablo Picasso.  You can read more about the artwork over on the ABS blog HERE.

Portrait of Olga in the Armchair, 1917
Pablo Picasso
Oil on Canvas 130 x 88.8 cm
Color Palette by Brandi Hussey
I didn't think I was going to have time participate this month, but when I looked in my stash and saw this little porcelain lovely from Nancy Schindler of Round Rabbit, I couldn't resist!  (Yes, I may have a design challenge addiction...but I refuse to seek help for it!)  I thought the color, shape, and floral motif of the pendant fit very well with the feel of the painting.

When I started pulling possible beads for my design, it quickly became apparent that I was going to focus primarily on the bottom four colors in the palette.  In addition to the greens and aqua, I threw in a tiny bit of the khaki color with one of my glass beads.  I used several different shapes and colors of Czech glass beads along with bloodstone, moss agate, Swarovski pearl, and TierraCast gunmetal beads.

I love how the floral motif echos the chair's decoration in the painting.  I picked the tapered rectangle shaped dark blue and aqua glass bead for the same reason... it reminded me of the shape of the flower and Olga's fan.  The gunmetal bead and fancy clasp from TierraCast also seemed to fit the feel of the painting and added a fancy touch.  I rounded things out with Vintaj arte metal chain and findings.

I was on a roll (finally) and really liked the way that the Swarovski pearl looked with the little aqua glass bead in the necklace so I decided to use more of those to make matching earrings!

If these don't sell next weekend at the Waconia Farmers Market, I'll be putting them up in my Etsy shop!

Monday, July 15, 2013

On the Oregon Trail

So, I've had three trips right in a row with very little time in between.  Can anyone say poor planning on my part?  This summer has been incredibly busy, but since it's mostly filled with fun things, I really can't complain.

Anyway, I thought I'd take a little break from earrings and design challenges and share some highlights of the trip Eric and I took to Oregon in mid-June.  One of Eric's cousins was getting married in Bend and that was all the excuse we needed to take a little vacation!

This post is really just a brief set of photo highlights from our trip.  If you want a more detailed account of our exploits (and all the beers we tried), click HERE to check out my hubby's blog for a series of posts.

Our trip started with a little time in Portland followed by a quick stop in Hood River on our way to Bend where we spent the remainder of our trip.

First stop: Olympic Provisions for charcuterie and local beer.

I did not intentionally dress to match VooDoo Doughnut!

A touch of whimsy in the parking lot at VooDoo Doughnut.  I like to think he was guarding our rental car!

A little Hair of the Dog for us.  Aren't their tasting glasses cute?

It's a book...  
Worm!  Random art on the side of a building in Portland.

Our big splurge for the trip was a lovely dinner at Beast.

Plating our dinners at Beast.

Prettiest charcuterie plate I've ever had! (at Beast)
Ramona statue, Portland.

And Ribsy too!  Loved those books as a kid!
The view from Full Sail Brewing in Hood River.

Park in Bend.


Never fear, I did manage a couple of bead-related activities during our travels too... though only one of them successful.  We tried one little bead shop on the way out of Portland but it wasn't really my cup of tea.  Luckily, we did find an awesome shop called Azillion Beads in downtown Bend when we were walking between breweries and brew pubs. Even though we were running a little behind schedule, Eric and I knew a good thing when we saw it and had to do a brief shopping expedition here.  I managed to pick up some lovely lampwork beads from a local artist as well as some Czech glass and gemstone beads that were different from what I've seen locally.  Our third beady adventure was also a bust.  We kept seeing a sign for a bead and gem show when we were wandering around Bend.  Eric kept encouraging me to check it out and I finally agreed (although I knew I really didn't NEED anything else).  I was right on this one...saddest gem show ever.  It was one woman in a tiny hotel conference room with beads and stones around the room.  She was on her cell phone the whole time we were there and never even acknowledged our presence.  It didn't help that it was 80 degrees or so in there.  I couldn't escape fast enough! 

Overall, we had a great few days of good food, great beers, family, and friends.  Unexpectedly, we got to hang out with a friend from high school and her husband in Portland.  In Bend, we had the honor of witnessing Ladd and Jenny's wedding ceremony and joining with part of Eric's family for that and other festivities.  

While we managed to complete the Bend Ale Trail (and got little mini silicone pint glasses for our trouble), there were many, many breweries and restaurants that we had to miss in Portland.  I can definitely see us going back to Oregon when we get the chance.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Brandi Girl Blog Color Challenge

So, you've already figured out that I'm a sucker for a design challenge, right?  Well, here's another one that I couldn't pass up.  Brandi Hussey has issued a color challenge over on her blog, Brandi Girl Blog.  CLICK HERE to see the details and the other color palettes.  Basically, the idea is to pick one of the six palettes that she has created and design something using those colors.

There were several tempting choices with great colors (Brandi pulls together beautiful palettes!) but I needed to narrow it down and make a decision.  Even though I have been striving to get out of my monochromatic rut, I was really drawn to her first palette which is all shades of green and greenish yellow.  Plus, I had the perfect focal piece from Round Rabbit...decision made!

Even though Brandi announced this challenge with plenty of time to spare (five weeks I think!) with all the traveling I've been doing, I left things to the last minute.  Oh well, I've always done better under pressure!

This piece involved some experimentation for me since I've never really worked with fibers.  I had just bought some lime green fairy silk ribbon from Lima Beads and I thought it might add a nice organic touch woven through the brass chain.  Little did I know that trying to wire wrap the ends of said ribbon would give me fits!  All's well that ends well, and my sweet husband held onto the ribbon for me so that I could maneuver the wire around the ends.

I originally thought I might add some small dangles from the chain links, but decided that less was more.  I made some bead units with shell pearl, Czech glass, and an unknown gemstone (from a mixed strand I've had forever) to add in some of the different green tones from the palette.

Without further ado, here is my celebration of green!  And sweet bunnies!

If you want to see what other folks created for this challenge, head on over to Brandi's blog to check it out HERE!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

AJE Earring Challenge Weeks 25 & 26

Boy how the weeks fly by!  It's time once again for the bi-weekly AJE Earring Challenge reveal.

This time, one of my pairs is doing double duty.  If you follow my blog regularly you probably saw this first pair last Sunday when I shared it for the AJE Component of the Month blog hop.  Sorry for the repetition!  They feature Jenny Davies-Reazor's cute little ceramic charms along with china variscite, apple jasper and copper.

Week 25: Charms by Jenny Davies-Reazor

My second pair is beach inspired.  Once again, I'm using lampwork glass from Tanya McGuire.  These are actually a recent purchases as opposed to all the beads I've been pulling out of my hoard lately!  Anyway, I kept them fairly simple and just did some basic wire wraps and hung a little Vintaj brass sand dollar off the bottom of each earring.  I had hoped to do something for the July challenge over at the Vintaj blog, but I didn't get the time with all of my traveling (cry me a river, right?).  Anyway, I decided to do these in honor of that theme even though I didn't bother entering them.  The ivory based beads just made me think of sand.  This pair is for sale over in my Etsy shop, click HERE to see the listing and more pictures.

Week 26:  Lampwork glass by Tanya McGuire

I hope everyone is having a happy and safe Fourth of July weekend!  See you in two weeks for more earrings!