Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Interpreter of Maladies: Inspired by Reading Book Club

This month's Inspired by Reading Book Club selection is Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri.  This slim volume is a collection of nine short stories that all center around India or Indian-Americans.  Each story plots an emotional journey that run the gamut from love, loss, despair, and belonging.  Many of the stories spoke to me strongly of the impact that our contact and connections with other people can have on our lives... even when that contact is brief.

I took this little book with a big emotional impact on our trip to the Netherlands and Belgium... not exactly fluffy vacation reading.  I just got back Sunday night so I didn't have a ton of time to get something made and photographed!

One thing that stood out for me in most (if not all) of the stories was that there was some connection to either making, missing, or needing a home.  The home in question could be the physical dwelling place or an emotional safe haven or relationship.  Once this thread became apparent to me I immediately had the kernel of an idea.

One of the items in my gift bag of beady goodness from the Bead Cruise I went on last month was an adorable little house from Humblebeads (thanks Heather!) that was paired with some gorgeous rich purple sari silk.  (You can see my post on the cruise HERE if you missed it!)  I'm still new to, and a little hesitant about, using fibers in my designs but this seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a go.  

I struggled with how and where I wanted to use the silk (and if I wanted to add in a pop of another color), but I finally pulled together something that I'm reasonably happy with for now.  The chain portion looks like a separate necklace when worn, and I'm still not sure if I like that part or not.  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Please check out what everyone else made.  Lots of great stuff as always!

Jenny Davies-Reazor
Sarajo Wentling 
(that's me!)
Jeanne Steck
Mary Harding
Karin Grange
Ann Schroeder
Mary K McGraw
Rachel Stewart
Christine Damm
Andrew Thornton, Laurel Ross, Alison Herrington, Terri Greenawalt, and Karen Hiatt

And in totally unrelated India news, I ended up watching The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on my flight home and loved it!  What a great cast.  If you missed this one (like I did), I suggest you watch it if you get the chance.

Monday, April 21, 2014

New Earring Monday: Weeks 15 & 16

I was a little bit worried that I was going to fall behind in my earring making for this time, but I managed to carve out just enough time from my insane schedule to whip up a couple more pairs.  Whew.  I really want to make it through the year with my personal challenge.  Nothing crazy fancy this week, but I did get the chance to play with some of the newer pieces I've bought from Vintaj lately and some fun Czech glass.

First up, a pair I made with some dark red table cut Czech glass flowers and Vintaj Arte Metal Daisy Teardrops.

For the second pair I punched an extra hole at the bottom of the brass Endless Passage pieces and added little aqua Czech glass drops that I got from Andrew Thornton.

Both of these will be available at my Spring Open house on May 4th.  Send me a message (email or on Facebook) or leave a comment here with your email and I'll get the details to you.

Friday, April 18, 2014

We're All Ears: April 2014

I'm just loving the inspiration pieces for the We're All Ears challenge that the Earrings Everyday blog is hosting!  Here is this month's challenge cue:

Skylark Plates from Pottery Barn Catalog

Now there's a table I'd love to sit down at!  So adorable and the colors are right in my comfort zone.  Even though I have a million other things that I should be working on, I had to take time out to make some quick earrings for this challenge.

I immediately thought of some little Czech glass coin beads that have a gold bird shape pressed into the center.  They were the perfect starting point for my two pairs of earrings this month.  Since I love working with Vintaj natural brass (and think it looks great with this chartreuse green) I picked two different decorative brass elements to pair with the glass.

In my first pair, I tried to play off the concentric circles of the stack of plates.  I dangled the coin bead from the center of a filigree ring and just attached the ear wires to the top of the ring for a bold but simple pair.

My second pair is a little smaller.  I added one of the newer brass charms to the bottom of the glass bead.  There aren't any actual flowers in the inspiration piece, but the petals are sort of stylized so I think they work with the leafy elements in the inspiration photo... plus you still have the roundish shape going.

I always look forward to seeing what everyone else made in response to these challenges.  You can check them all out over on the Earrings Everyday blog HERE.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Jewelry Mojo Challenge Week 6: Inspired by Words

Week 6 of Heather Powers' Jewelry Making Mojo Challenge is all about being inspired being words and translating that into a piece of jewelry.

This prompt was a good excuse to finally work on a project requested by one of my good friends from library school.  A few months ago, my friend Carrie asked if I could make her a necklace with a pendant using the quote "Embrace Your Narrative."  I got out my letter stamps and some silver plated blanks from Nunn Design and got to work hammering the quote onto a large circle (the only shape I had that the word narrative would fit onto).  Using some old business cards from when I had run for office within my professional organization (reuse, recycle anyone?) I made a little resin filled pendant to go along with the stamped tags.  Fingers crossed that she likes the finished result!

For those of you who do more metal stamping than I do... do you have any favorite sets of letter stamps?  I'd love some recommendations since right now I just have the really basic capital letters in 2 and 3 mm.  I want to branch out be keep getting overwhelmed when I look at things.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Art Bead Scene Challenge: April 2014

I really didn't think I had time to take part in the Art Bead Scene challenge this month, but despite a crazy busy schedule, I just couldn't resist.  This month's artwork is Swaying Dancer (Dancer in Green) by Edgar Degas.  You can read more about the artwork and Degas over on the ABS blog HERE.

Swaying Dancer (Dancer in Green), 1877-79
by Edgar Degas
I do not ever pretend to be any kind of expert on art... I've never taken an art history course (and probably never will!) or had any kind of formal art training.  When it comes to art, I just like what I like and probably can't even articulate why I like it most of the time.  With this painting I think it's largely the color palette that pulls me in along with the movement in the piece.

For some reason the round full tutus of the dancers in green in the foreground made me think of some of the porcelain flower beads that I bought from Tracee Dock of The Classic Bead when we visited her in Kansas City last year.  Sure enough, a couple of the pendants had similar colors going on and the roundness of a full ballet skirt.

I pulled together some light green gemstone beads from a couple of strands of mixed beads... some of them fluted.  I also found one orangey-peach fluted bead in the mix.  I wanted more of the orange color from the girls in the background so I added some orange and very pale green Czech glass rondelles into the mix.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

30 Words: Selfie

I’ve never been good at selfies 
but I had to take one... 
Proving that I really was here, 
in the middle of the ocean... 
watery horizon 
a semicircle around me.

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.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Jewelry Mojo Challenge Week 5: Jewelry Redos

Week five in the Jewelry Making Mojo Challenge that Heather Powers is hosting is all about taking apart a piece of jewelry and reworking it into something new.  (You can see all the details (and jump in) over on the Humblebeads blog HERE.)  Now, the true intent of this week's challenge is to rework something that I actually made, but I'm playing it a little fast and loose for my own purposes.

I have had a necklace that our friend Bob wanted me to remake for his wife Angie (also our friend) for an embarrassingly long time.  (I have learned a very valuable lesson that I should NEVER accept a project without a doesn't go very well!)  He actually put in a special order for this necklace based on the colors, but it didn't work out quite as he hoped.  I have honestly never seen a necklace as tangly as this one.  Here's a before picture.  I spent more than 15 minutes trying to get the chain straightened out and this is the best that I could manage.

When I first saw the necklace, I really liked the colors of the lucite flowers... that green is right in my wheelhouse.  The peach rounds were a nice contrast to the limey green too but I have to admit that I was relieved when Bob told me that he was fine with me abandoning the the original chain and metal choice for something different.

I gathered a few extra beads to maybe add into my take two design and then started cutting that sucker apart.  Since I wasn't 100% sure what I wanted to do (actually I'm still not!) I decided to start by remaking the flower dangles on Vintaj brass headpins.  I kept most of them as they originally were with three peach beads inside the flowers and one on the top, but I shook it up a little by adding some cute Czech glass flowers in bright coral inside the lucite.

I did talk to Angie about her thoughts and preferences before I started.  She really wanted more of a symmetrical design than the original had been.  She also said she would love an earring option if that worked out.  With that in mind I decided that I would divide the 12 flowers up into three groupings for the necklace... two groups of three and one group of four... leaving two for a pair of earrings.

Here's a bad picture of where I'm going with my idea... I just need to find more time to play around and see if it works.  With a crazy schedule in all areas of my life, I just haven't had the time to get everything done... but at least the project is started!

I did make the earrings though... Angie, if you are reading this, let me know what you think about them.  Don't pass judgement on the necklace design just yet since the ideas are still percolating.  Now that I have all the flower dangles wire wrapped I can play with attaching them in various ways until I'm happy with the finished product and Angie is too!

Monday, April 7, 2014

New Earring Monday: Weeks 13 & 14

Happy Monday!  This week's edition of New Earring Monday is all about making pairs of earrings to go with some of my recent necklace designs.  I have this (weird?) compulsion to make a pair of earrings to coordinate with almost ever necklace I make.  I think that I just assume that people will want a matched set because I would.  I actually get a little sad when someone buys the earrings but not the necklace or vice versa and breaks up the "set."

First up is a pair that I made to go with the necklace I made for the March Art Bead Scene challenge.  (You can see that necklace HERE if you missed it.)  Even though the necklace is on a larger scale, I used the smaller sized amazonite in my earrings.  The larger gemstones would just have been too heavy for a lot of folks and just didn't seem right to me.  I kept it relatively simple, just adding a Vintaj foliage bead cap and hanging the little bead dangle off of a textured jump ring.

My second pair goes with a necklace that I haven't shared on my blog yet.  It features a pendant from Tesori Trovati's Simple Truths Sampler Club, faceted pearls, shell pearls, and Swarovski crystal pearls paired with silver plated findings.  Here it is:

I had just a couple of the faceted pearls leftover from the necklace design (they came from a destash lot I had gotten a while back from Andrew Thornton) so I decided that earrings were in order.  I paired them with some of the copper shell pearls and a mix of sterling silver and silver plate (the bead caps) to make some fun, dangling earrings that are perfect with the necklace and fun on their own.

So, I've shared my earring matching obsession with you... now it's your turn.  Jewelry designers, do you too feel compelled to make earrings to go with your necklace or bracelet designs?  and if so, do you tend to see buying both pieces together?  Jewelry buyers, do you want to pick up a set?  or are you just as happy to pick up a great necklace or earrings on their own?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thirty Words: Sunset at Sea

Surrounded as far as the eye can see by open ocean,
sun sinking toward the horizon.  
A spectacle of color is the day’s last hurrah... 
a lingering moment to savor.

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 was the view from our stateroom balcony on the next to last night of the recent Bead Cruise.  I took a ton of shots as the sun set... you may see another from that sequence in the future.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

An Irish Country Doctor: Inspired by Reading Book Club

It's time once again for the Inspired by Reading Book Club reveal!  This month's book was An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor.  Lucky for me it was a super fast and enjoyable read since I left it until the last minute to read.  I pretty much read the whole thing on the Bead Cruise which didn't leave me much time to make something when I got back.

This is book is the first in a series (that I hope to eventually continue if I find the time!) that tells the story of young Dr. Barry Laverty coming to the small Northern Ireland village of Ballybucklebo to become the assistant to the current general practitioner there... Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly.  O'Reilly is quite the character and certainly has his own way of doing things!  So much so that Barry often wonders whether or not this is the life for him.  I loved all the humor in the book and the wily ways O'Reilly managed to get the upper hand with some of his more difficult patients.  O'Reilly has a soft heart under his cantankerous exterior which further endeared him to me.  I loved the way that many of the various patients (and their unique issues) got tied together and pretty much sorted out by the end of the novel.  Yet you are left wondering what is next for Laverty and his mentor O'Reilly and the residents of Ballybucklebo and want more of their stories.

If I had of given myself more time I may have made something more specific to the details of the story, but instead I made something that reminded me of the feeling and beauty of Ireland.  I had a great enameled copper pendant in my stash from a local artist, Becka Beads, that has a mix of shiny copper and swirly greens, white and black that sort of looks like a landscape.  I started by pulling a bunch of different green beads that would help accentuate the green notes in the pendant and speak to the lush Irish countryside as I remember it from my two trips there.  There is Czech glass, dyed agate, yellow "turquoise" (according to Fire Mountain Gems), shell pearl, and dragon's blood jasper.

This design is similar to, and inspired by a piece I did last year for the Vintaj Misty Morning challenge.  You can see that one HERE.  My husband was sad when I sold that one so I'd been meaning to do something similar for myself.  (I'm not sure if I'll keep this one or not yet though.)  ANYWAY, I thought that the idea of using the Vintaj copper ivy vine made sense... it made me think of ivy covered cottages nestled into the green, green countryside.  I wire wrapped a bail for it with a little dragon's blood jasper round like in my original design and then starting making my other wire links for the one side.

Inspired by my Bead Cruise class with Erin Siegel (and the purchase of the lovely book she did with Lorelei Eurto, Bohemian-Inspired Jewelry) I decided to do something new to me and do some knotting with Irish waxed linen.  I like the earthy, organic feel that it gives the piece.

This is a blog hop.  Please take some time to check out what everyone else created this month!

Sarajo Wentling  (that's me!)
Andrew Thornton, Laurel Ross, Terri Greenawalt, and Alison Herrington

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bead Cruise 2014

I'm just back from the Bead Cruise, and I have to say that I had an amazing time!  I knew that I would enjoy meeting the other Bead Cruisers, taking classes, and having girl time with my friend Kathleen... what I didn't know was if I would like cruising itself.  Turns out I did!  We had a nice mix of classes and free time on the ship and there was never a dull moment.  

It's going to be hard to capture the experience for you all, but I'm going to try... and apologies in advance if this gets a little long winded!  Apologies also for the quality of my pictures.  I didn't bring my real camera, relying instead on my iPhone, and the results were mixed.  Lesson learned for next time I guess!

Here Kathleen and I are about to board the ship!  It's kind of cool (and a little weird) that they use these entry pics for facial recognition to group all of your other photos together under your cabin number.  

There was so much beady goodness in our gift bags!  A huge thanks to everyone who donated items!

My projects in process during Heather Power's "Petals & Leaves" class.  I learned some new hammering techniques as well as how to make those cute little peanut bead and wire links.  I also started my list of new tools that I want!

Projects in process during Tracy Stanley's Earrings class.  Those top ones are now one of my favorite everyday pairs!  (and after this class I REALLY want new hammers)

We spent part of our day in Nassau with the dolphins... and this is the dolphin kiss to prove it!  Next time I'd want to do the full swim instead of the "cuddle" but it was so much fun to get to hug, pet, and dance with our dolphin friend Clifton.

We were all working hard on our half-hitch knots in Erin Siegel's "Triple Row Macrame Bracelet" class.  I really enjoyed working with the waxed Irish linen and learning to make some new knots.

And this is how I finished my bracelet since I had to leave the clip board behind in class!  (Don't worry, I'm keeping this one for myself.)

The Bead Cruisers took over the 14th floor game room to work in the good light.  Here, Diana Ptaszynski (of Suburban Girl Studio fame) is photo bombing my picture of Terri Greenawalt hard at work.

New friends and old:  Diana, Kashmira, Sj (me!), and Kathleen.  I swiped this group pic from Diana since I didn't get one on my camera.

Last day of the Bead Cruise with Erin Siegel.

Remember that gift bag?  Well there is a design contest during the cruise to make a piece with at least three items from your gift bag.  This is my creation featuring a pendant from Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovoti, seahorse charm from Rings & Things, and beads from Rosanne Garvison of 2nd Hand Rose.  There's also one of Heather's beads in there too that I bought during the cruise.  At the farewell party on the last night everyone could vote for their favorites in three categories:  Show Favorite, Most Intense, and Simply Sweet.  I couldn't believe it, but I won for Simply Sweet!  I know I will have fun spending the awesome gift certificates I got for winning.  

Last night on the ship, here I am with two of my teachers Tracy and Heather.  Thanks for the great classes!

I had such a great time on this trip and have to give a special shout out to Heather Powers of Humblebeads who makes it all happen!  Everyone was so friendly and so much fun... I couldn't have asked for a better group of ladies.  And to get to share it all with a friend that I usually only get to see at library conferences made it all the more special.  I will definitely do this again when I can!

Here is the whole gang together for our group picture.

If you love beading and hanging out with a super fun group of like-minded folks while visiting tropical locations, I highly suggest you take a look at the Bead Cruise.  2015 will be the 10th year of the cruise (crazy, right?) and I'm betting it will be bigger and better than ever!  Details should be out on the website in late April I think... so check back.

In addition to my beading exploits, my husband tasked me with doing a roving blogger piece for his blogs on fruity cruise cocktails.  You can check out my report over on the JABlog HERE!

Now it's back to the real world for a few days before our next adventure starts.  Thanks for stopping by!