Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Ocean at the End of the Lane: Inspired by Reading

This month's Inspired by Reading Book Club is extra special because Eric and I have actually traveled to Pennsylvania to take part in the in person meet up that Andrew Thornton hosts at Allegory Gallery!  We've been so excited to finally get to meet everyone and hang out.  Since I'm writing this post before the trip, I'll have to give an update when I get back.  Andrew's blog post will likely have some more details of the gathering as well.

The book for October was The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.  Being fairly big Gaiman fans, I'm surprised that neither of us had read this book yet since it's been out a little while.  It's been sitting there on the shelf, but we just hadn't gotten around to it.

I'm having a hard time figuring out what to really say about the book.  In true Gaiman style it was dark and magical and strange.  The bulk of this slim volume is a flashback that the main character is having to a series of events in his childhood... to say more would be giving too much away.

I also wasn't too sure where to go with jewelry design after reading the story.  In the end what stuck with me was the pink and grey wardrobe of Ursula Monkton.  Unlike the character, I don't think my necklace is at all dangerous or scary... the similarity stops with the coloration.  

I had this pink and grey pendant from Nancy Adams of Round Rabbit in my stash for quite some time and even tried to make something with it a while back but it just never gelled.  I decided it was time to revisit it and see if I could make something work after giving it some time.

I had originally envisioned something asymmetrical with some gun metal chain, but that just wasn't feeling right to me.  Instead I returned to my roots and did some pretty straightforward stringing.  I used a mix of Czech glass, seed beads, grey freshwater pearls, and rhodonite and finished it off with a gun metal clasp.

This is a blog hop.  Check out the links to what everyone else was inspired to create over on Andrew's blog HERE.  I'll add links when I land back at home and have a chance to catch my breath!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Royal Feather Challenge Blog Hop

It's been a long, long time since I have participated in one of Andrew Thornton's challenges where he concocts a wondrous kit of materials including a mystery component designed by Andrew himself...but I'm back!  I've certainly played along with many others along the way but, for one reason or another, haven't gotten in on one of these fun challenges in forever.

It's really cool to be doing this one at this point in time... and I'll tell you why.  Way back in July of 2011, I participated in my first ever design challenge which just happened to be Andrew's first ever Readers Challenge.  You can see that one HERE.  My blog wasn't even a twinkle in my eye yet and I really hadn't ventured too very far into the realm of selling my creations.  While I had been making jewelry for a few years I was still a newbie in so many ways.  Here I am almost three and a half years later and I've just left my library job to design and make jewelry full time, I'm a resident artist at a fabulous new gallery in my hometown called Unearthed Arts, I've done a variety of arts and craft shows selling my designs, and I've even had two pieces published in a magazine.  I've come a long way in a relatively short time!

Ok, sorry about all that.  Enough introspection... on with the challenge at hand!  It's no secret to anyone paying attention to the jewelry I make (or the beads that I buy!) that I LOVE shades of blue and green.  So when Andrew decided to do a pre-sale of his Royal Feather kit without showing us any more than the picture up above, I jumped on it right away before they all sold out.  It was a little while before my envelope of goodies arrived but the wait was totally worth it!  Here's some of what each of us received:

I'll admit that there was more bright green and less turquoise than I expected... but I was really excited about some of the purples and that feathery looking wooden bead.  I knew that I could work with this!

My first thoughts turned to doing a variation on a peacock necklace that I was in process on for my big fall art show.  I figured that was an easy enough place to let my brain start so I etched a big brass blank to be the focal for my first necklace.

Here is my original design (currently for sale at Unearthed Arts):

To play off the predominant colors in the kit, I decided to use green paint instead of the turquoise from my original.  I wire-wrapped the wooden peacock feather bead to the etched brass pendant and then added a variety of beads on three colors of waxed Irish linen including the purple from the kit.  I mostly used the crystals and some of the smaller Czech glass beads from the kit but added in a few extras from my stash as well.  This is the first time I've worked with the waxed linen where I've left so much of the threads exposed...I like the effect!

I etched a pair of earrings to coordinate with the necklace and used some of the small green Czech glass beads as dangles.  

My second pair of earrings is actually the first thing that I created with the kit.  When I dumped out the luxury bead blend I found a few clear leaf shaped sequins that I thought would add some fun movement and texture to earrings in a feather effect.  I painted two Vintaj Arte Metal tiered leaf pieces that I painted green and purple and those became the backdrop for the sequin pieces.  My peacock "feathers" dangle from gold colored Czech glass beads that I added fancy bead caps to... again thinking that they mimicked the feeling of plumage.

Even after all of these creations, I still have a bit of the original kit left.  I love, love, love Andrew's mystery component this month (and it's unlikely I'll let that one go!), but I just didn't get something made using that piece in time.  I have some other ideas bumping around in my brain... just need to find more time to actually pursue them!

This is a blog hop... I hope you'll check out the rest of the participants! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

New Earring Monday: Weeks 41 & 42

I've been playing around more with UV resin and fun papers lately, so for this week's edition of New Earring Monday, I thought I'd share a couple of new pairs with more fall feeling colors... and a couple of necklaces as a bonus!  All of these are in the gallery at Unearthed Arts in Waconia.

Friday, October 17, 2014

We're All Ears: October 2014

It's time once again for the monthly earring challenge hosted by Earrings Everyday:  We're All Ears.  It's super simple to play along.  Each month, Erin Prais-Hintz chooses an image (or images) to inspire participants on the first Friday of each month and then we share what we made on the third Friday.  That's it, no other rules!

This month Erin shared two collages of marbleized paper art.  You can see that post with all the information on both artists' work HERE.  As soon as I saw Jemma Lewis's work, I knew what beads would be the focus of my design this month.  I had just ordered some yummy lampwork with raku frit from SueBeads that seemed just the thing... now I just had to wait for them to arrive.

Here are the beads I was eagerly waiting for.... photos from the Sue Beads Etsy shop.  Aren't they just yummy?!

Now, I have to admit that when I make earrings with lampwork beads I'm guilty of just adding some little metal spacer beads to either end of the lampwork and calling it good.  I guess I just want the glass to shine and keep things super simple.  For this month's challenge I wanted to break out of that rut and try something a little outside my comfort zone.  So here we go...

First up, I paired Sue's yummy turquoise set with some matching Picasso finish rice beads that I dug out of a fun bead mix and some little blue green rondelles.  I added in the little copper plated bead caps (to take me further outside my normal comfort zone) and wire-wrapped them all on a copper headpin.  This is a pair that I may not be able to part with... I think I've fallen in love!

For my second pair, I decided to use brass findings and keep my bead dangles a little more tame as far as shape goes.  But to spice things up a bit I punched an extra set of holes in some hammered brass rings and added the beads to those instead of just putting them straight on the ear wires.

This is a blog hop.  Please check out the great designs everyone else came up with over on Earrings Everyday HERE.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Art Bead Scene Challenge: October 2014

This month's Art Bead Scene Challenge inspiration is "Autumn" by Milton Avery.  You can read more about the artwork and the artist over on the ABS blog HERE.   For a fall theme, it's definitely got some unusual colors thrown into the mix.  I'll admit that the inspiration artwork didn't initially grab me... but it has grown on me a bit as I've mulled it over.

"Autumn" 1944 
by Milton Avery

Even though I wasn't too sure about the inspiration, I just couldn't help digging through my art beads just in case something jumped out at me... and it did!  I found a yummy little bundle of beads from Gaea that I had squirreled away.  With the orange leaf connector and beads in shades of cream, pink, and purple they felt like a really good fit.  I included the two teal beads from the set thinking that they worked pretty well for some of the darker smudges in the background trees.

When I first pulled extra beads to possibly go with the set, I found some gemstones and Czech glass that matched the vibrant blue and purple quite well, but when I decided to use four strands of waxed Irish linen as my stringing material those fell by the wayside since the linen wasn't going to fit through their smaller holes.  I did add in some extra ceramic discs in shades of orange to fill in and ensure my bracelet would have enough length.

I did manage to work in some of the darker blue and bright purple into my design with some decorative beads on the linen tails.  I especially like those luster purple seed beads against the orange linen.  I'm pretty happy with this fun fall inspired design!

30 Words: Me and My Shadow

Just me and my shadow...
I turn around and there I am again,
stretched out long and lean and tall.
We wander together through the orchard 
this gorgeous fall day.

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.

Monday, October 6, 2014

New Earring Monday: Weeks 39 & 40

Sorry for the relative radio silence here lately.  I took it a little easier than normal this past week after all the craziness leading up to and through the Art Wander.  I'm going to consider last week my "vacation" between leaving my library job and starting my new full time job as a jewelry designer and creator!

Speaking of the Art Wander, it was a HUGE success for me!  I just want to say a great big thank you to everyone who came out and visited my home/studio, all those who helped me get ready, and the folks who assisted me during the event itself.  You guys are all amazing and I absolutely couldn't do this without your support!

Ok, back to the business at hand today... New Earring Monday.  I've made it this far into the year, so there's no turning back or giving up now!  

This week I'm featuring two pairs of earrings that are variations on a theme.  My sweet husband got me this fantastic set of yummy citrus colored lampwork bead pairs from Susan Kennedy of SueBeads for Christmas.  I made myself a fun pair of simply dangle earrings with one set a while ago.  I figured since I get compliments on them every time I wear them, that it just made good sense to whip up two more pairs using the remaining beads from the set.  So, here they are!

Like I said, super simple.  I just used some little sterling saucer beads and balled sterling headpins to wire wrap Susan's yummy lampwork and popped them onto large arched ear wires from Nunn Design.  Voila!