Friday, February 28, 2014

Jewelry Mojo Challenge Week 2: Bead Soup

To help many of us jump start our creativity and shake off the winter blahs, Heather Powers of Humblebeads is hosting a 12 week challenge over on her blog.  You can read all about the Jewelry Making Mojo Challenge HERE.  This is perfect for me since I really need to be getting some new designs completed to build my stock back up after my holiday open house and almost a month and a half of down time.

Week 1 challenged us to enter a jewelry challenge or contest.  The timing worked out that I had entered two challenges last week, so I'm off to a good start getting my mojo back!

This week's prompt is "Bead Soup."  For those of you not familiar with this term, bead soup is a random mix of beads that are leftover from other projects or that you have just thrown together.  The idea is to gather some possibly orphaned beads and make something with them.  Since this challenge is just to get us making, Heather cautioned us to keep it fairly simple.

I decided that the perfect starting place for my bead soup project would be some of the bead mixes that I've gotten from Andrew Thornton's destash events.  I've bought a couple of different color themed mixes and have also gotten some "soup" as little thank you gifts with my purchases.  I also found a little bag of my own soup made up of beads I pulled for a past project and never put away.  

As I sorted through my little bags of beads, I took Heather's advice about finding unifying elements for the beads I chose.  I stuck to mostly round shapes in two different sizes in deep reds and oranges.  I grabbed a bunch of goldstone rounds, some carnelian, and a selection other glass, shell pearl, and crystal beads out of the mixes and started making links.  I decided to add in some small glass rounds in bright and dark red to add in between the larger beads (a great use for beads that I've had forever and a day!).  When I realized that I wasn't going to have quite enough beads for the length of necklace I envisioned, I dug up some barrel shaped red beads from one of Andrew's mixes and my bead stash.  I had really hoped to use the stripy glass ovals in the bottom left of the picture above but, once again, they just didn't really fit.

I spent a good chunk of the afternoon making a ton of links (53 to be exact although I only used 48 of them..stupid stripy beads!)  It was a lot of work all at once but there was something soothing about just sitting there bending and cutting wires and then making all those loops.  I got them all arranged how I liked them and then it was time to put it all together.  Now to open 48 jump rings and string little gold colored seed beads onto them as I connected all the links to form a long, no clasp necklace!

I'm really amazed at how well this turned out.  I think it has a rich and luscious look.  There are a lot of things going on that bubbled up from my soup, but there are enough unifying elements to keep it all together and looking very intentional... at least that's what I think.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on the bead soup project I cooked up!

You can see more bead soup projects as folks finish their cooking over on the Humblebeads blog HERE.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

30 Words: Ramona

How unexpected 
to run into a childhood friend
 in the middle of a strange city.  
You don’t know me, 
but I spent many hours
 in your company
 reading your stories.

The premise of 30 Word Thursday is simple... take a photo, write 30 words (no more, no less) and post it each Thursday.  This is a blog hop hosted by Erin Prais-Hintz over on her blog Treasures Found.  Click HERE to see her post for this week as well as links to everyone else's 30 Words. 

This picture was taken last summer in Portland, Oregon.  It was actually a friend that I hadn't seen since childhood who told me that this park was just blocks from our hotel.  The fountain (which wasn't running that day) features several characters from the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary including Ramona, Henry, and Ribsy.  As a youth services librarian I had to stop and see it!

Monday, February 24, 2014

New Earring Monday - Weeks 7 & 8

It's new earring time again!  This week I've done two variations on a theme.  Both are big dangle earrings in brass built around the Vintaj Gypsy Drop piece.  Here we go!

First up is a pair that I kept really simple.  I made little dangles out of Lapis and brass rounds and left it alone.  I made these to go with the necklace I made for the AJE Component of the Month reveal in January.  If you missed it, you can see that post HERE.

I got a tiny bit fancier with my second pair.  Inspired by the "Frosted Forest" theme over on the Vintaj website (click HERE to see what I mean), I decided to frost the drops with a pale pink to match the little lampwork beads that I got as a thank you from The Spacer Bead Shop.  Instead of using the white patina, I frosted with a mix of the Quartz and Ruby. I tried just the lighter pink Quartz at first, but it is such a pale pink that when I wiped it away it just looked white.  I tried again mixing in the darker, pinker Ruby and got a much better effect.

These are both now available in my Etsy shop HERE.

Friday, February 21, 2014

We're All Ears - February 2014

As you well know, I've been missing the bi-weekly earring challenge that Art Jewelry Elements hosted last year.  I have been trying to keep it up with my New Earring Monday posts here on my blog, but the truth is, it's just not as much fun when no one else is playing along with you.

All that changes today!  The Earrings Everyday blog has started a new, monthly earring design challenge where they will provide an inspiration piece on which the participants base a pair of earrings.  It's super simple, they post the inspiration on the first Friday of each month and the reveal is the third Friday.  There are no constraints on what type of beads or findings that you use... just make something!

So, here's the February inspiration:

Damselflies in Love
Photo credit: National GeographicYeo Weng Sang
So much to love, right?  The bold colors, the heart shape the damselflies' bodies make, the shine off their wings and eyeballs...the list goes on.  The gorgeous greens really captivated me... and the way the light reflects off those wings and eyes.  I just got some new gorgeous Czech glass beads from Lima Beads that I knew would be perfect for this challenge.  I was so excited that I couldn't make just one pair... I made three!

The first idea that came to mind was using these bigger "groovy rondelles" in a color they call Emerald Seas.  I really love the texture on the top and bottom of these beauties and thought it paired nicely with the Vintaj brass.  I dangled Vintaj filigree leaf charms from the bottom thinking that they echoed the look of the bug wings.

My second pair plays with the same ideas as the first but is on a smaller scale.  I paired the Czech glass turbine beads in "Oz" with small filigree teardrops.  The Picasso finish has a tinge of orange to it which works with the colors in the bugs' bodies and legs.

This last pair wasn't in my original plan, but a happy extra!  I had wanted to mix in some of the bright turquoise into at least one pair and I found these little daggers in a bead mix along with some green teardrops.  I slipped them onto a textured jump ring and voila!

Thanks for stopping by my blog today!  You can check out what everyone else made over on Earrings Everyday HERE.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

30 Words: Hoarfrost

Winter blows frigid breath over you
 leaving jagged ice razors in her wake.  
Now you look dangerous and sharp... 
Beautiful razor wire protecting 
an ice princess in her castle.

The premise of 30 Word Thursday is simple... take a photo, write 30 words (no more, no less) and post it each Thursday.  This is a blog hop hosted by Erin Prais-Hintz over on her blog Treasures Found.  Click HERE to see her post for this week as well as links to everyone else's 30 Words. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Art Bead Scene Challenge February 2014

This month's challenge over at the Art Bead Scene blog is a riot of pinks, purples and reds... just perfect for the month when we celebrate Valentine's Day!  The painting is The Rose Garden by Paul Klee.  You can read more about the artwork and the artist over on the ABS blog HERE.  The Cubist leanings in this painting don't really do it for me, but I love the colors here and I have a hard time resisting a challenge!

The Rose Garden, 1920 
by Paul Klee

Oil on cardboard
I had already started to dig through my art beads looking for something to go with this piece when Heather Powers of Humblebeads upped the ante over on her blog.  In addition to the contest that the ABS blog does every month, Heather is running a contest for anyone who enters using her lovely polymer clay beads.  I have several of her beads in my stash, but none that were the right colors for this challenge.  What was I to do?  Go shopping, of course!

This is the first time that I actually purchased beads specifically for a challenge... but I just couldn't resist the lure of a $50 gift certificate to the Humblebeads shop!  Taking advantage of Lima Bead's free shipping in February, I picked up a great Dandelion Link and some tiny discs in magenta.  Some of the discs have a touch of green in them that I thought would work with the rose stems in the painting.  Now I just had to patiently await my package!

The pattern on Heather's Dandelion link has a starburst pattern that reminds me of some of the elements in the center of Klee's painting... and the colors are spot on!  I chose two of the discs that had a bit of green on the ends and a nice swirly floral pattern that echoes the swirls in the roses.  To round things out and bring in some of the other colors from the palette, I added some darker purple dyed quartzite rounds and dyed imperial jasper rondelles in pinky-reds.

The holes in the disc beads were smaller and couldn't accommodate the 20 gauge wire I used to make the other links so I tried my hand at making my first double loops.  Fancy, no?  I'm pretty happy with how they turned out and I'm sure I'll be trying this technique again in other designs.  

I wish the colors of this bracelet, Heather's lovely beads in particular, were a little more accurate.  I feel like my photos don't do it justice.  For some reason, I have the hardest time capturing pinks and purples accurately with my iPhone's camera.  I'm hoping that eventually Eric will be able to help me out in the photography department with his new "real" camera.  For now you'll just have to trust me that the colors are even better in person!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Butterflies and Valentines

I just wanted to do a quick post to share some special orders I made for one of our friends for Valentine's Day.  Tony contacted me before Christmas to feel things out and start planning (very wise since January is always a busy month for me in the library world).  He wanted coordinating special occasion necklaces for his wife and two little girls and I was thrilled to be entrusted with this task.

It took a little back and forth to figure out a solid direction and color palette (and me sharing a bunch of pictures to get a feel for what sort of things he liked) but I think (hope) that the end result will be a hit with the whole family!

Here is what I came up with for them.  I went with a similar color scheme and butterfly theme for all three necklaces.  All feature brass pendants that I embossed and then hand painted in rich bright purples.  For mom, or Amanda as I call her, I went with a butterfly pattern on a round brass piece that I filagree wrapped for a fancier look.  I added in some nice Swarovski crystals in a couple of shades of purple, rainbow fluorite, and purple crazy lace agate.  

Amanda's necklace 
For Tony and Amanda's littlest Valentines (aka their adorable little girls) I made matching necklaces with butterfly shaped pendants in the same colors as their mom's.  Wanting to keep the scale fairly small for these, I added in links of seed beads, ceramic beads, and Swarovski pearls in various shades of purple.

For the girls!
I hope that they love their new jewelry and enjoy wearing it for years to come!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

30 Words: Dunes

Snow blown into drifts.  
In the light of setting sun, 
I squint my eyes and can almost believe that 
I’m standing amidst dunes of sand.  
Dreaming of warmer days ahead.

The premise of 30 Word Thursday is simple... take a photo, write 30 words (no more, no less) and post it each Thursday.  This is a blog hop hosted by Erin Prais-Hintz over on her blog Treasures Found.  Click HERE to see her post for this week as well as links to everyone else's 30 Words. 

I took this picture with my iPhone last week.  I came out of meeting and this was just in front of where my car was parked and I loved the way the shadows hit the snow "dunes."

Monday, February 10, 2014

New Earring Monday - Weeks 5 & 6

Well, so far so good on keeping up with my new, self-imposed, earring challenge.  I know that six weeks isn't exactly amazing, but I'm pretty proud of myself for not falling behind already considering how busy my January was!

For this reveal I'm focusing on sets that feature earring charms from Marsha Neal Studio.  I really enjoy Marsha's aesthetic (and have quite a few of her ceramic pendants tucked away in my bead stash) but only recently acquired some of her smaller pieces that are just the right size for earrings.

One of my many beady Christmas presents from my husband was a set of matched pairs of Marsha's bead tablets in chocolate clay with great rustic glazes.  For this first pair I used one of those sets and added in some Red Creek Jasper rondelles and Czech glass beads.  I used Vintaj Natural Brass findings to keep with the earthy feel of the design.  I love the lichen-y grey-green going on in this pair!

This week's second pair is very different from the first and shows the diversity of Marsha's designs.  I kept things pretty simple but bright by pairing the coral charms with bright turquoise Swarovski crystal and sterling silver.  I had a hard time capturing the colors accurately and will probably give it another try when I have better lighting conditions.  

As a footnote, I have to share the story of how these little coral beauties ended up in my possesion.  I discovered one of them mixed in with a mix of beads that I bought in one of Andrew Thornton's destash events.  I liked it but wasn't sure what I'd do with just the one small charm.  Then came another Andrew destash and I saw another little charm mixed in with a whole bunch of lucite flowers.  I went to double check that it was a match, and in that short time someone else claimed them.  I made a comment that I was bummed because I had wanted the charm, and the person who won the lot was nice enough to let me have it.  Yay for generous people!

I just got both pairs listed in my Etsy shop.  You can visit my shop HERE.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

30 Words: Bent Not Broken

I’m encased in ice, frozen to the core.
Winter’s grip is strong.
Like this tree, I am bent but not broken.
Hunched and shivering now, 
but the thaw will come.

The premise of 30 Word Thursday is simple... take a photo, write 30 words (no more, no less) and post it each Thursday.  This is a blog hop hosted by Erin Prais-Hintz over on her blog Treasures Found.  Click HERE to see her post for this week as well as links to everyone else's 30 Words. 

This is an older pic from a February 2012 ice storm we had.  It's hard to tell but this tree is three stories tall... luckily it bounced back once the ice melted off.