Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 A Year in Review for Sj Designs

I never would have guessed when I started this year and laid out some goals for myself and my business that I would be standing where I am standing now.  So much can change so very quickly... it's enough to make your head spin if you think about it!

Before we go speeding off into another exciting year, I want to take a few moments to reflect back on the year that was 2014.  I think it's always a good idea to remember where we've been even as we are going someplace else.  I guess it gives me a little perspective on things.

Remember those goals I mentioned?  I thought I'd start by seeing how I did on those... 
  • Market my Etsy shop and business Facebook page in a more focused way.
    • Pretty much a fail on this one.  I did run an earring give-away associated with signing up for my email newsletter (and gave extra chances for folks who liked my Facebook page).  Right now I've got a sad three little items in my Etsy shop... so clearly I need to invest a little more time and energy in that direction in 2015.
  • Get my bead stash at least somewhat more organized.
    •  This one is plus minus... leaning towards minus at the moment.  I had moments of getting all my beady beauties wrangled, but then I did some shopping.  Lots and lots of shopping.  And then I got many lovely beads for Christmas.  And now my basement truly looks like a bead store exploded.  I'm trying to get things organized again so I can actually know what I have and where it is, but I suspect it's still going to be a long process ahead.

At least my art beads got a snazzy new home!

  • Learn (and regularly use) at least two new techniques...some more advanced wire work is at the top of my list. 
    • So this one is more 50/50.  I learned lots of fun things, mostly on the Bead Cruise, but can't say that I've regularly put those new skills to use as much as I'd like.  I have bought some of the items I need to pursue some of the techniques I learned, but still need to purchase some additional items before I can get started.  I can say that I've made pretty good use of the knotting skills I learned in Erin Siegel's class and have done a lot more with waxed Irish linen.  I still want to revisit the macrame bracelet project she taught though. 

Kashmira, Kathleen, and I hard at work on the Bead Cruise!

  • Pursue getting some of my designs published.
    • I did actually manage to get a couple of designs published this year!  A pair of earrings and a bracelet were featured in the Summer issue of Stringing Magazine.  I submitted photos for review for some other issues (and even had them ask me to send in a few things) but no luck getting anything else published yet.  I'm going to make a more concerted effort to submit more designs in 2015.  (I've actually been hard at work this week on some items for possible submission...fingers crossed!)  

  • Use more art beads in my designs.  i.e. stop hoarding!
    • I feel like I've done pretty well with using a variety of art beads both old and new.  The problem is I buy them faster than I use them!  I still fall prey to the idea that I'm saving things for something special... but that's part of why I do so many design challenges.  See the next item on my list...
  • Continue to participate in a variety of design know I'm an addict!
    • Success here!  I managed to participate in over 50 design challenges including those for Art Bead Scene, Earrings Everyday, the Inspired by Reading Book Club, Heather Powers' 12 week Mojo Challenge, and my own New Earring Monday challenge.
  • Have some of my jewelry for sale locally in a store or gallery.
    •  Here's my biggest success... one that really went beyond my wildest dreams or expectations.  Since Unearthed Arts opened in May, I have been a resident artist there... that means that I have my jewelry for sale in the gallery and work there a few days a month.  I am so grateful, honored, and humbled to be a part of the great group of artists at Unearthed Arts.  It's been wonderful to have a support network of other artisans and a platform for getting my creations out there.  My success at the gallery allowed me to step away from day job at the library and focus on my jewelry business full time...  Mind boggling!

The Unearthed Arts gang and Chamber folks for ribbon cutting ceremony.

The year wasn't all jewelry making... Eric and I took some amazing trips together highlights including Amsterdam and Belgium, Grand Rapids for the National Homebrewer's Convention, Disneyland, and Pennsylvania to meet up with the Inspired by Reading Book Club.  My friend Kathleen and I went on the Bead Cruise (can't wait for the 2015 cruise coming up soon!) and I also took a week long trip "home" to Alabama.  What a whirlwind it's been!

My nephew Daniel, me, my mom, and my niece Anna in Birmingham.

Eric and I at Gooseberry Falls this summer.

2014 has been such an amazing year and I'm so very thankful to everyone who was a part of it.  Here's to the end of a great year and the start of another!  Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve and I'll see you next year!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Art Bead Scene Challenge: December 2014

It's been another great year of inspiration from the Art Bead Scene!  Here we are at the final challenge of 2014.  I'm proud of myself that I managed to play along every month except one (and I still have the beads set aside to make something for that... I'll get there eventually!)

This month's inspiration is Pieter Saenredam's painting "Choir of Sint-Bavokerk, Haarlem."  You can read more about the artwork and the artist over on the ABS blog HERE.

"Choir of Sint-Bavokerk, Haarlem" by Pieter Saenredam
This one was really tough for me to get started on... thus the super late entry this month!  I love the shapes in the arches, but really didn't have any art beads that fit the bill in my stash.  I was also somewhat stymied by the lack of color in the artwork.  Luckily for me, when my sweet husband was out doing some last minute Christmas shopping for me, he found a C-Koop pendant and some fun faceted brechiated jasper beads and bought them for me with this challenge in mind!

I decided to mix in some bronzite rectangles and golden horse jasper coins to pull out different shades from the artwork.  I used copper wire to pull out the colors in the pendant and brighten up the design a bit and finished with copper plated chain and clasp.

Even though this month truly was a challenge for me, I'm pretty pleased with the end result... and with the fact that I didn't give up!  I'm looking forward to what the ABS editors have in store for next month and the rest of 2015!

New Earring Monday: Weeks 51 & 52

Here we are at the end of the year... my final New Earring Monday post for 2014.  Part of me is a little amazed that I managed to keep this series going all year long.  I love making earrings and this has been a great way to always keep moving forward at a steady pace.  I plan to keep going with New Earring Monday next year and am going to try to get other folks to play along too.

Since this was my first Minnesota Christmas without snow on the ground (and I've been here since 2000), I thought I'd focus on some snowflake designs for this final reveal of the year.

First up, a pair of subtle snowflake earrings in Vintaj Arte Metal.  The Arte Metal seems to be the hardest of the Vintaj altered blanks (although I haven't tried the pewter).  I attempted to emboss these blanks with a plastic scrap-booking embossing folder meant for paper without annealing the metal first.  The impression ended up being much less distinct than I'd hoped for, but still interesting.

And for my last week of earrings for 2014, I've got another variation on the sets that I shared last time.  These are little aqua colored snowflakes with Swarovski and Chinese crystal dangles.  I liked the mix of opaque and transparent crystals and the sparkle that they add to the design.  Sorry for the picture quality on this one... I accidentally deleted my original photo and had to snap another one last minute in less than great lighting.)

Thanks to all of you who have followed my adventures in earrings this year with my New Earring Monday posts.  I'm looking forward to sharing even more fun earrings with you all next year and hopefully getting some other jewelry makers involved!

If you are reading this and are interested in playing along with me in 2015, the next reveal will be Monday, January 12th.  I plan on doing an InLinkz link up where you can share your creations and link to your blog.  It's super simple to play along... just make one pair of earrings a week and share them on your blog every two weeks.  I try to do something a little different and dip into my art beads with some regularity, but make and share whatever type of earrings you want!

I hope you'll join me in two weeks... until then have a happy and safe New Year!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

30 Words: A Very Beady Christmas!

to you all!!!  
I must have been a 
VERY good girl this year 
because Santa left me lots of 
fabulous, beady gifts under the tree! 
Now to play!

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.

Wishing all my friends, family, and readers a Very Merry Christmas!  ... or a Happy Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Festivus... or whatever holiday you and yours choose to celebrate!  

Per usual, Eric spoiled me with jewelry making books and supplies as well as tons of lovely art beads.  Some of my new pretties are from artists that I know and love (Miss Erin herself, Suburban Girl, Jetta Bug Jewelry, and Andrew Thornton), and some artists new to me (Sheila Davis, Beads of Passion, and Summer Wind Art).  Now to get my beads organized and get creating!  

Friday, December 19, 2014

We're All Ears: December 2014

This month's inspiration for the We're All Ears challenge hosted on the Earrings Everyday blog is truly mesmerizing!  It took me awhile to wrap my head around what I wanted to make, but I knew I had to do something for this one.

Erin chose an amazing sculpture that really needs to be seen in action to be appreciated.  I would so love to see it in person...but it might put me in a trance!  Breaking Wave is an anamorphic kinetic sculpture created for Biogen-Idec's new headquarters in Cambridge, MA. The sculpture was created by Plebian Design and Hypersonic.  

When viewing this sculpture, it appears random and chaotic unless you happen to be standing in one of two hidden spots where the patterns are revealed...

Seriously, do yourself a favor and watch this short video of the piece in motion... you won't be sorry!

After viewing that clip, I'm sure you understand why I just had to make something for this challenge.  I wanted to try and capture some of the movement of the piece but also its structure.  I thought that using some tiny, neutral Czech glass rounds on headpins might just do the trick... but what to hang them from?  

I ended up deciding to 
play with the idea of the gears that make the whole mechanism work and come to life so I picked out some Vintaj natural brass blanks in gear shapes.  I chose to go for an asymmetrical design this time using two different gear shapes.  I added textures to each gear after punching some holes in the blanks and then domed them.    

To keep things from being too monochromatic and boring, I mixed sterling components in with the brass and brown glass.  I also added a thin layer of silver paint onto the gears and then sealed with Renaissance Wax.

It was honestly great fun to just sit down at my work table and play with these.  I think they are super cute and funky... hopefully my customers agree!  Worse case scenario, I guess I could always make another set and then match them up.

This is a blog hop.  You can check out what everyone else was inspired to make over on the Earrings Everyday blog HERE.     

Thursday, December 18, 2014

30 Words: The Christmas Present

What’s the best present under the tree?  
Well, I am of course!  
The handsomest too!    
But I promise to cuddle the other gifts, 
keeping them warm for you until Christmas.

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, December 15, 2014

New Earring Monday: Weeks 49 & 50

Since we are so close to Christmas and solidly into winter weather now, I thought I'd tie into that for New Earring Monday this week.

I've got two variations on a theme again... this time I'm playing with some post style earrings for the very first time.  We keep getting inquiries at the Unearthed Arts gallery about post-style or non-dangly earrings so I decided to give it a shot.  I bought a pack of Nunn Design ornate mini circle earrings in silver plate and started to play.

Hoping to get a few holiday items done this year before the holidays are over (memo to self, start working on holiday items MUCH earlier next year!), I pulled out my Christmas scrapbook papers and my UV resin and here's the result.

First up, I went a little more subtle with these little sleighs paired with some small fluted gemstone dangles.  (So, these don't fully fill the no dangle request, but they are much smaller than most of my other earrings.) The black and cream color scheme makes these appropriate throughout the winter.

My second pair is more obviously Christmasy since I filled the bezels with Christmas trees!  For the little dangles I used some small dyed green agate rondelles paired with silver plated spacers.

I took both of these pairs to Unearthed Arts last Friday (along with another pair I'll share in the next New Earring Monday reveal) and I hope they will get snatched up quickly.

I think I'll definitely order some of the other post style earrings in my next Nunn Design order... including some without the loops for dangles.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Proust's Overcoat: Inspired by Reading Book Club

This is the last installment of the Inspired by Reading Book Club for 2014.  I feel like a broken record lately but, seriously, where has this year gone??

I actually read this slim volume during my trip to Pennsylvania for the book club meet up in October.  I have to admit that while it was a quick read, it didn't really resonate too much with me... likely because I've never read anything by Proust (and probably never will.)

This is a nonfiction title that relates the story of one man's passion for (maybe even obsession with) all things Marcel Proust.  Being a librarian married to a book collector, I get the desire to collect to some extent, but I have a hard time going to some of the lengths that Jacques Guerin did.

The imagery that really stuck out to me was really just a tiny mention in Guerin's backstory describing his family's perfume company.  The author describes a large, bright room that housed women "sorting through white, yellow, orange, and crimson rose petals, which, once picked over, were piled high in huge wicker baskets."

I ended up wire wrapping some orange and yellow Czech glass flowers to a brass filigree hoop and hanging it from a simple brass chain.  I wanted to give a little more movement and visual interest to the pendant so I hung the hoop from the chain slightly off center and then added a dark red glass flower and an orange leaf dangling from the bottom of the hoop.

You can check out what everyone else made this month too:

Sarajo Wentling - That's me!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

30 Words: Time Keeps Ticking

Where does all the time go?  
The year disappears 
one tick, 
        one tock 
               at a time.
We try to capture it, 
but it’s slip slides 
through our fingers 
and away.

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.

This photo was taken on our trip to Pennsylvania in October when we went on a field trip to the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh with Andrew Thornton.

Monday, December 1, 2014

New Earring Monday: Weeks 47 & 48

Happy December everyone!  I hope you all had a happy and blessed Thanksgiving... I certainly did.  As the holidays approach, it seems like it's harder for me to feel motivated to create new jewelry when there are so many other things going on.  Despite a bit of a creative slump, I'm not going to fail in my earring challenge at this point in the year!

I decided to do a little more "project cleanup" for this week's installment of New Earring Monday.  During the Art Wander studio tour back in September, I had my Sizzix BIGkick machine out to show my guests how I make some of my embossed and etched metal pieces with it.  Folks were super excited to learn and to get to press out some designs themselves.  (Want to know what I'm talking about?  Check out my blog post on using the BIGkick and paints HERE.)  

I was actually planning ahead when I chose the designs that I had people experiment with and I had them use the brass circle blanks that I most often use for earrings.  But, as so often happens in my world, after the show I moved onto other projects and my stack of embossed brass circles got lost in the chaos of my bead table for a while.  After two months of languishing, buried under piles of beads and findings, some of these little guys have finally become finished jewelry!

I've got two variations on a theme this week both with embossed brass circles that I sanded to highlight the raised areas and then hammered into a domed shape.  I punched extra holes into the pieces so that I could dangle little Czech glass beads from the bottom.  Voila!