Tuesday, September 30, 2014

AJE September Component of the Month Reveal

Every month the one of the contributors over on the Art Jewelry Elements blog gives away some sort of art bead or component for their fellows and a couple of lucky winners to design with.  I was lucky enough to be one of three guest chosen to receive one of Kristi Bowman's amazing Goddess Vessel pendants and I was over the moon when I found out the news.

These gorgeous pieces are made from copper and white copper.  I got the copper one in the middle and I love it!  And of course I forgot to take a picture of it before I started working on my project.

The first thing I thought of to pair with my vessel was a strand of cool triangular Petrified Green Opal (or possibly copper green opal) that I've been hoarding forever.  The pendant was hefty enough to stand up to the over sized stone (I knew I wanted to add just one.  Originally I thought I'd do an asymmetrical design with the large stone off to one side and balance with some other gemstones, but eventually scrapped that idea.  At my husbands suggestion, I decided to wire wrap the stone to the pendant for an even bigger focal!  Go big or go home, right?

I then wire wrapped a bunch of faceted petrified green opal stones along with a couple of copper pineapple beads to make the body of the necklace.  I'm still debating if I should have kept going and done another few sets of bead units, but I'm in a time crunch so the design will have to stand for now.  I love the colors in the stones and the rustic, earthy feel of the finished design.

This is a blog hop.  Check out what everyone else made this month!

Monthly Winners

AJE Team Members

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Stiff: Inspired by Reading Book Club

Today is the reveal and blog hop for the Inspired by Reading Book Club.  Each month we read a book and create something... and it can be anything!  We're combining both the August and September installments this time.  For August we read a nonfiction book that I've been wanting to check out for a while, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach.

I've been listed as an organ donor ever since I got my first driver's license at 16, but I never really considered donating my entire body to science.  I'm not sure that reading this book has done anything to change my mind.  Even though I know that I personally will have no more use for the shell of my body after I've shuffled off this mortal coil, there's just something a little unsettling about many of the things for which it might get used.  I mean, I can totally get on board with the idea of donating your body to be used as an anatomy cadaver at a med school.  But other uses for cadavers, no matter how noble (or not) sort of creeped me out.  Especially disturbing for some reason was the chapter with the body used for car crash impact studies and the way they were dressed in blue tights and leotard with hands and head covered.  Go figure, a book about dead bodies gave me the willies!

As I was reading, I wasn't entirely sure what this book might inspire me to create.  After all, this isn't a book about death, but about the dead themselves... about what happens to the bodies we leave behind.  That being said, I think it's pretty difficult to separate the ideas of death and the dead... it is for me anyway.

So, for my creations I sort of flipped the whole thing on its head.  Life is short and we should embrace every moment of it before we find ourselves just another stiff on the table.  I kept thinking about what our tour guide in Ireland was fond of saying... "Live each day like it's your last...because one day it will be!"  With that in mind (and maybe the recent death of Robin Williams crept into my consciousness too) "Carpe Diem" ended up being my theme for this challenge.

I knew I had a Vintaj altered blank in the shape of a luggage tag and I thought it would double nicely as a toe tag like the one on the book cover.  I grabbed the Impress Art letter set that I won from Andrew's blog a while ago and stamped the phrase "carpe diem" onto the tag.  I originally thought I'd use the tag as part of a charm pendant, but its small size made me rethink that.  I ended up etching and painted an Vintaj Arte Metal bracelet blank and riveting the tag on top of that.  I wire wrapped some African Jade flat nuggets and finished it with a hook clasp.

While digging around in my art bead stash for another project, I realized that I actually had a polymer clay bean bead from Swoondimples that said "carpe diem."  I figured I might as well make a second piece!  I paired the bean with some charms including an angel wing that I had painted silver and a couple of Czech glass beads in coordinating colors.

So, I'll leave it up to you to decide if you feel like reading a book about dead bodies, but I do hope each and every one of you will heed my advice and seize the day!!

With all my preparations for the Art Wander, I didn't get around to reading our September selection but I hope you'll also check out what the other book club members created for both months.  Andrew will have the full list of participants over on his blog HERE.

Monday, September 22, 2014

New Earring Monday: Weeks 37 & 38

First off, I have some important business to attend to... the winner of my earring giveaway is Mary Redman!  Congratulations!!  I've sent you an email to get your contact info so that I can get your new birdie earrings flying off to you soon!

This is my last New Earring Monday before Art Wander so I thought I'd do another preview of some of the designs you'll find at my studio during the show.  No over-arching theme this time, just some new combinations to share.

First up some little resin ear bobs with Czech glass dangles.  These go with one of my favorite necklace designs and all have matching necklaces (at least for now).

Next, I've got a new version of my little flower and vine earrings with a mix of brass and copper along with some cute butterfly earrings that I made to go with a new resin necklace.

Finally, a mash up of new variations of styles I've shared before.  I'm especially happy with the flower earrings with waxed Irish linen fringe.

Thanks for stopping by today!  If you're local, I hope you'll wander out to Carver County this weekend and come by my studio (Studio J) during the Art Wander.

Friday, September 19, 2014

We're All Ears: September 2014

I'm super excited by the inspiration photos that Erin Prais-Hintz chose (and took!) for this month's We're All Ears challenge on the Earrings Everyday blog.  She did a nice collage of some moss and lichen up close and personal and I love it!  I have always been fascinated by the super up close photos of the natural world that a macro lens makes possible and my husband has been making good use of the new lens that he just got, so this challenge feels right in my wheel house.

And not to get too far off topic, but speaking of my husband's recent macro photography craze, pop over to his blog to see a great butterfly shot HERE.

I really wanted to do something to capture some of the great textures from Erin's photos and the subtle greens.  I especially like the little dot like formations in the top right and the cool almost coral-like lichen in the middle right pictures.

I decided to break out my texturing hammer with all the interchangeable heads and play around with some copper blanks.  I added a little green paint into the depressions to give it a mossy look and then finished the design with some little green gemstone dangles.  I'm not entirely sure what the stones are since they've been in my bead stash for years, but I liked the mottled green and brown colors and thought they went well with the inspiration.

I'm pretty pleased with the effect I achieved with texture and a tiny bit of paint.  I'm definitely going to play around with variations on this technique in the near future!

Check out what everyone else created this month over on the Earrings Everyday blog HERE.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Newsletter Signup and a Giveaway!

Hey everyone, and happy Fall!  I'm finally taking a much needed step in getting my little business running more like a real live business... I've created an email newsletter sign up!

I promise that I won't be sending out tons of email and filling your inboxes (no one likes that!) but I do want to make sure that I have a reliable way to let interested folks know about my events, special offers, etc.  I aim to send out one (maybe two in rare cases) emails a month.

So, if you are interested in getting the occasional update from Sj Designs Jewelry, it's super easy to opt in... just go HERE and fill out the brief form.  You'll get a confirmation email (you might have to check your spam folder for it!) making sure you want to be added to the list and giving you a link to opt in... it's that simple!  I also have the form linked to my blog (over on the right hand sidebar) and on my Sj Designs Jewelry Facebook page.

As if monthly updates from me weren't enough of a draw, I'm going to further entice you by doing a little giveaway here on my blog.  I'm giving away one of my pairs of little birdie earrings that I featured a couple of weeks ago.

Just sign up for my newsletter and then leave a comment on this blog post by midnight Sunday, September 21.  Due to postage issues, I'm limiting this giveaway to U.S. residents. (Sorry international friends!)

To get bonus entries, share this post on Facebook and/or like my Facebook page.  Just leave a separate comment for each of these actions.

I'll announce the winner in my New Earring Monday post on Monday, September 22 so make sure to check back to see if you are the lucky winner!

Thanks in advance for your interest and for helping me spread the word!  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Acorn Inspiration

This week has certainly ushered in some fall weather rather quickly.  On Tuesday I was wearing a sundress and sandals, today I need a sweater and, shudder, socks!  (Seriously, it's 48 degrees now and we will only warm up to 58.)  I actually love fall... that delicious crispness in the air, the color changes, dreams of bonfires, pumpkins, apples, and acorns!  My problem is that living in Minnesota, fall is brief and means that our looong winter will soon be here.

But anyway, I digress.  The fall weather has lots of us thinking about fall themed jewelry.  There is a great post over on the Art Jewelry Elements blog today all about acorn and oak leaf jewelry and its symbolism.  Check out the whole thing (including some yummy acorn and oak art beads I'm drooling over) HERE.

The mighty oak tree, it's leaves, and acorns have had meaning and significance in many cultures and mythologies.  I think I'm most drawn to the idea of the oak tree and acorns as symbols of strength and endurance.  Also the idea that since acorns are only produced by fully mature oak trees that they stand for patience and perseverance.  

I've been doing my best in the acorn department making and squirreling away a whole bunch of acorn necklace and earring sets for Art Wander.

I just got some fun new iridescent green Swarovski Crystal pearls that I can't wait to use in an acorn and oak leaf set or two and I'm also playing around with a couple of other fall themed pieces.  We'll see how much I can get made and priced in the next two weeks!

Monday, September 8, 2014

New Earring Monday: Weeks 35 & 36

Ok, it's September and I'm officially in full blown panic mode as I try to get ready for the Art Wander which is just around the corner.  At some point I'll have to admit that there are only so many hours in the day and that I can only get done what I can get done, but until then I'll make jewelry until my fingers might bleed!  So, in the spirit of my sweet husbands ever helpful words of "make both"... this week you're getting another installment of variations on a theme!  (Disclaimer:  No actual blood was shed in making any of these ear bobs!  Promise!)

First up are a couple of variations on a design I did for the July We're All Ears Challenge from the Earrings Everyday blog.  You can see my original pair HERE if you missed them.  I did a few more versions with silver plated links:

And a couple with copper plated links:

I also played around with adding little dangles from a different hammered brass shape.  I think this teardrop is super fun and I'm looking forward to figuring out other design ideas using it.

Any favorites?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Art Bead Scene Challenge September 2014

This month's Art Bead Scene Challenge inspiration is "The White Rose and the Red Rose" by Margaret Macdonald.  For a change I'm actually participating early instead of waiting until the very last minute!  To read more about the artwork and the artist, click HERE.  I didn't notice at first, but the panel which is painted gesso actually has beads and shells adorning it.  It's really a fascinating technique and I find the piece a little haunting.

"The White Rose and the Red Rose" 1902 
by Margaret Macdonald

Other than the beige/tan background colors, the mauve stands out as the most dominant color.  As I looked through my art bead drawers, my eyes settled on a (porcelain?) flower pendant made by Andrew Thornton.  He had tucked it inside an order as a thank you and I'm thrilled to have found a great use for it!  It's hard to tell in my pictures, but it has a nice shimmer to it that I love.

I chose mostly beads with pink or rosy tones to them and also pulled in additional tiny touches of pink by adding seed beads to the jump rings that connect my beaded links.  I didn't want to go all monochromatic though so I also picked some Czech glass and a Swarovski crystal pearl in shades of blue and green.  In honor of the shell used in the original (on the original?), I added one little shell bead in white and tan to the mix.

My blue and green may pop out a little too much... I can see how one might want to go with the more muted tones.  That bright blue especially spoke to me and I had to include those pops.

I will have this piece for sale during the Art Wander later this month.  Hopefully the right person comes along for this one!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

30 Words: Selfies are Hard

Selfies are hard...  
For every semi-decent shot 
like this there are ten 
where we are laughing too hard, 
looking the wrong direction, 
or someone’s decapitated.  
I’m not sharing those.  

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, pop on over there to see her post for this week as well as links to the 30 Words from everyone else.