Saturday, January 31, 2015

Art Jewelery Elements Use Your Stash Challenge

Each month one of the contributors over at the Art Jewelery Elements blog offers up some handmade beads or other components for their fellow contributors and a few lucky winners to design with and then share in a blog hop.  I've been lucky to be chosen a couple of times to win some of that beady goodness.  For January, they decided to switch things up a little with each contributor donating something of theirs form their own stash.  Even if you weren't chosen to win one of the components (and I wasn't, sad face) readers were encouraged to bust into their own bead stash and create using something from one of the AJE contributors.  As usual, I just couldn't pass up a good challenge so I decided to play along.

I had just made a necklace with one of Diana Ptaszynski's pendants in hopes that a magazine might want a closer look.  This was completed for Heather Powers' Muffin Tin Challenge, but I never showed the necklace in true color.  I had lots of fun playing with waxed Irish linen and a mix of gemstone rounds and brass beads.  I'm also happy to report that, for once in my life, I actually cut the linen cord long enough!

I got a really nice mix of Diana's components for Christmas when my sweet husband bought a couple of her destash bundles.  That's where the pendant above came from too!  I have a number of items in this same lovely glaze (copper patina might be what it's called).  I liked the way the colors in the stones worked with the necklace I had already made, that I wanted to play more with that combination.

Not leaving myself a ton of time, I thought a pair of coordinating earrings was in order.  I dug out these little discs and started to play with ways to wrap them using the same waxed Irish linen as in the necklace.  This is my first time using linen in earrings as more than just an accent, and I'm really happy with how they turned out!

Please check out what all the other participants made with their AJE stash items!

Here is the list of the participants - the team, winners and special guests! 

AJE team: 

Guest Participants ( aka winners)
Samantha- Wescott Jewelry
Nikki - Silver Nik nats
Yvette - Blue Kiln Beads

Bonus participants! 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Into the Wild: Inspired by Reading Book Club

The January book selection for the Inspired by Reading Book Club was Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.  The book attempts to piece together the journey of Christopher McCandless, AKA Alexander Supertramp, as he traveled across the country eventually hiking into the Alaskan wilderness where he perished.

Both my husband and I went to Emory University, where Christopher McCandless had been a student before us.  Christopher died the year we started college there and the book was originally published the year we both graduated.  Although I never knew him, there were murmurs about him about campus for sure so I guess I just had some morbid curiosity about his story.  Book club was a good reason to finally find out more!

Unfortunately, I really had to push myself to keep going with this one.  I think the problem I really had with the whole thing is I just wanted to take Chris by the shoulders and shake some sense into him most of the time.  In some ways he reminded me of some other guys I knew in my younger days who were smart (at least in the book sense), charismatic, and passionate but had not a lick of common sense half the time.  My biggest problem was that I just didn't find Chris/Alex likable or relatable.  I don't know if that's the fault of the author or his subject.  I found Krakauer's writing to be more than a bit dry, pretentious, and rambling.  I wanted to just page past many sections where I felt like he had veered pretty far off topic.

This is a bit of an aside, but I did find it odd that there were no photos at all in this book.  It's obvious that Krakauer had access to McCandless's journals and photos as well as a great deal of communication with and cooperation from the family.  I can only guess that they just simply didn't give him permission to use the photos (or maybe the paperback didn't include them) even though he was allowed to quote from Chris's journals and notes he left in the margins of his books.

Ok, enough of my ramblings about the book and onto what I was inspired to make!  After my complaint about Krakauer going a bit off topic (at least in my opinion), it might be hypocritical that I chose something from one of those sections as the jumping off point for my design.  I think it's because I'm a pretty visual person as far as design inspiration goes, and much of the book just didn't spark my imagination in that way.  What did get my attention was Krakauer's description of his own Alaskan adventure when a storm left him stumbling blindly through a maze like filed of crevasses.  He wrote "Time after time I'd think I'd found a way out, only to wind up in a deep-blue cul-de-sac..."  That made me think of the wonderful way that thick ice takes on all sorts of blue and aqua colors.  Yum!

Eric bought me a beautiful strand of lampwork beads from Debbie Sanders on Etsy in gorgeous aquas and teals.  Aren't they just lovely?

I ended up making two different pairs of earrings with some of the beads from this strand of lampwork... one in sterling and one in brass.  For the silver pair I used lampwork beads in palest blue  with silvery flecks in the otherwise clear glass.  I added in some aquamarine rounds, silver plated crystal rondelles, some wavy pewter discs (that I've been using WAY too much of lately, and Swarovski crystals.  I love the sparkly cool ice of these... although in retrospect they probably feel more Frozen than Into the Wild.  Oh well, I'll just have to let that go.  :)

I was still feeling the sparkle with the second pair and the rhinestone rondelles had more of a brass or dark gold tone to them so I decided to pair the dark teal beads with some Czech glass, and some brass plated bead caps.  I love the bumpy effect of the lighter glass on top of the dark teal (clearly, I need some help with my lampwork terminology!).  So, I've gone a little more rustic... but not too very far.

So... even though it was not my original intention to do so, I kept going and made on more pair of earrings.  When digging around for beads to go with the lampwork, I stumbled on some rough cut apatite nuggets I recently acquired.  Now those looked rough, rustic, and wild to me!  I wire wrapped the nuggets along with some faceted squares and added little dangles from some carved gemstones I just got from a friend.

You can check out what everyone else was inspired to create with the links over on Andrew Thornton's blog HERE.  Andrew (our fearless leader!) just posted the book list for the next year of the Inspired by Reading Book Club, see what we'll be up to HERE. Anyone can play along... see a book that interests you?  Join in... the more the merrier!

30 Words: Read a Book!

Open an book’s pages and 
entire worlds await you.  
Be transported back in time, 
into the future, 
or just into someone else’s life.  
Looking for adventure?  
Simply read a book!

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.

I took this picture at the public library in Ligonier, PA when we visited for the Inspired by Reading Book Club last fall.  I was enchanted by this book castle and its felt residents and snapped a quick photo.  

Monday, January 26, 2015

New Earring Monday '15: Weeks 3 & 4

Welcome back to New Earring Monday!  I hope you all have been having an amazing start to 2015.  January has been busy with lots of fun things but I've still found plenty of time to create.  This week's New Earring Post is all about texture and turquoise for me!  

My first pair is a play on something that I first tried for the December We're All Ears Challenge.  You can see that pair HERE if you missed them.  I loved the way that first pair turned out... especially the side with the open gear.  I wanted to take that idea and give it a different twist.  I textured the open gears, added some of the Verdigris Vintaj patina paint to them, and then sanded them with some fine sandpaper until I got them to the right level of distress.   I punched a hole at the top of each gear for the ear wire and then domed the pieces.  I added little turquoise beads dangling from sterling balled head pins for some fun movement.  Because of the effect of the domed gears, I call these "New Sheriff in Town."

Next up is a pair featuring brass blanks that I etched, painted, and domed.  I love playing with my BigKick machine!  I need to get back to it soon.  Anyway, once again, I used the Verdigris patina (my favorite of the colors) and then sanded the excess paint off bringing parts of the blanks to a high shine.  I usually use shorter ear wires, but got a bee in my bonnet to try something different for me.  I love the look of wire wrapped ear wires and decided to give it a try myself with some craft wire and small turquoise seed beads.

I'm pretty happy with how these turned out, but I wonder if it would have worked better with slightly smaller gauge wire (I used 22 gauge craft wire).  I think next time I will try 24 or 26 gauge and also continue the wraps a little higher on the ear wire.

get the InLinkz code

Friday, January 23, 2015

Art Bead Scene Challenge: January 2015

Per my recent patterns, I'm once again fairly late to the party for the Art Bead Scene monthly challenge.  After last month's muted, almost monochromatic palette, this month is a welcome riot of bright colors!  This was one of three versions of a poster that Hundertwasser designed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the IUCN, The World Conservation Union in November of 1998.  You can read more about the artwork and the artist over on the ABS blog HERE.

Imagine Tomorrows World (orange version), 1998
By Friedensreich Hundertwasser

With all this glorious color to work with, the first artist that came to mind was Tera Belinsky-Yoder of Beadygirl Beads.  She is someone who is NOT afraid to use color!  Most of my little stash of her beads are actually on the more subdued side for her but still plenty bright.  I ended up choosing three similar beads in coordinating colors from the poster.  I added in smaller spacer beads in solid colors in between the larger beads.  To round out the length of the bracelet, I added in a couple of smaller spacer beads from the Spacer Bead Shop and then finished with some Arte Metal chain from Vintaj and a blackened metal clasp.

The finished product feels bright and modern to me.  Hopefully this little bit of arm candy will find a happy home once I bring it to Unearthed Arts.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

30 Words: Room With a View

A room with a view of 
this city I’ve come to embrace.  
Snapshot from a glorious weekend in the city, 
taking in a new perspective on things.  
Good morning, Minneapolis!

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.

I took this photo using the panorama feature on my iphone from the window of my hotel room last weekend.  It was a novel experience staying in a hotel room downtown in a city I often traverse on the street level.  My friend Kathleen and I were blessed with glorious, sunny weather for this weekend on the town!

Friday, January 16, 2015

We're All Ears: January 2015

The inspiration for the first We're All Ears Challenge of the new year is Pantone's Spring Color Report.  I've got to be honest that I'm seriously underwhelmed by the color palette they've put forward.  The muted shades speak more to the bleakness of winter than the glories of spring and new growth to this Minnesota-dwelling designer!  

I'm not really one to design to trends or color reports anyway, so it doesn't really matter to me in the grand scheme of things.  I'm always interested to see what Pantone will choose, but I'm certainly not a slave to their color reports or their Color of the Year.  While these colors aren't super exciting to me, and not my first choice to design with, they aren't all terrible.  I'm always open to a good challenge... so here's what I came up with this month!

When I saw this inspiration the first thing I thought of was a pair of earrings I had just made with a pair of lampwork glass earrings from Mermaid Glass.  Unfortunately, I can't share them with you yet because they are under review for a magazine.  So, I decided the next best thing would be to make another, different pair of earrings using some of the other beads from that set.  I cheated a tiny bit by pulling in some of the "lavender herb" that's in the men's palette but not the women's.

In honor of Marsala as Color of the Year, I decided to make a second pair that focused on that color.  Sort of cheating since I've done this design before, but what the heck.  It means another pair of earrings ready to go to the Unearthed Arts gallery.

Check out what everyone else was inspired to make over on the Earrings Everyday blog HERE.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

30 Words: Prickly Pear

Sometimes I’m a prickly pear... 
all pointy spikes and sharp barbs. 
I don’t mean to be.  
It’s simply a way to cope.  
Approach at your own risk 
when I bristle.

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, January 12, 2015

New Earring Monday '15: Weeks 1 & 2

Welcome to a brand new year of New Earring Monday posts!

Since I'm tickled pink to start doing these bi-weekly posts with a InLinkz link up, I thought I'd start out the year with some little pink and silver earrings that I whipped up.

A friend of mine had asked me to make a pair of pink earrings for her to give to her sister.  I pulled out all of my pink beads that might fit the bill and the two of us worked together through text messages to come up with the perfect design.  In typical me style, I didn't manage to actually get a picture of that particular pair.  Oh well!

Anyway, since I had already dragged out a bunch of other pink beads that didn't make the cut, I figured it was better to just go ahead an make more pink ear bobs instead of putting the beads away.  (Or maybe I'm just really lazy... you be the judge.)  Pink isn't a color I use a whole lot of, so making a trio of pink earrings did push me a bit out of my normal comfort zone.  You be the judge of how well I did with that!

My first pair is super simple, but classy.  I finally made good use of some the sparkly pink Czech glass saucers from my stash by pairing them with some small sterling saucers beads and long, arched ear wires.

I loved the way this pink pair came out that I made a pair in some fun black saucers with an AB finish too.  I thought that they would be great to dress up a little black dress or give almost any New Year's Eve outfit a little more dazzle.

My last pair is also pretty simple... hey, not every design has to be a major production!  These little pink blooms are fairly small and sweet.  Both pink pairs are currently in the gallery at Unearthed Arts.  I hope that they will soon make someone the perfect Valentine.

Now it's your turn!  Add your link to the earrings you made the past two weeks here.  I can't wait to see what everyone has made!  If you aren't quite ready, that's ok.  I'll leave the link up active until right before the next reveal in two weeks.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

30 Words: Out With the Old

The last vestiges of 
Christmas cheer 
have been dragged to the curb 
leaving only a trail of dried needles behind.  
Time for out with the old, 
in with the new!

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.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year Muffin Tin Challenge

Heather Powers has thrown down the gauntlet and is hosting another great creative challenge.  The idea is pretty straight forward... grab a muffin tin and put everything you need for one project in each of the 12 cups and then complete as many projects as possible as quickly as you can.  The theory is that you should be able to finish your projects speedily since you've already made all (or in my case, most) of your decisions.

Since I had to deal with some major bead reorganization before I could even think about starting to pull things for this challenge...and the holidays, I got off to a slower start than I would have liked.  I'm never one to shirk a good challenge, so I dug in as soon as I was able and got my muffin tin all filled!  Here's the before shot:

Ever the over achiever, I actually set up a baker's dozen projects.  (See that little pile on top of the tin?  That's the makings for a couple of pairs of earrings.)  Actually, since a couple of tins actually hold the makings for more than one piece of jewelry, I had 15 projects more or less ready to go.  Lots of art bead goodness in those little cups... focals by Diana P., Andrew Thornton, Jenny Davies-Reasoner, Tracee Dock, Gaea, Round Rabbit and even a couple of pendants that I made!    

For most of my muffin cups I took an idea that Erin Prais-Hintz put out there and ran with it.  She had mentioned that she planned on using this challenge to work on projects for magazine submission.  I totally copied her and focused on ideas for some upcoming magazines.

In the end, I managed to pull together seven necklaces and six pairs of earrings (one pair that never actually made it into a cup.)  Technically I still have 4 cups left unfinished after that, but I'm going to call it a win!

But enough talk, I should get back to sharing the projects that I completed!  But there's just one small catch... Remember how I said I was mostly working on projects for a magazine?  Well, they do this thing where you can email them pictures before their official deadline and they will let you know which, if any, of your designs they'd like to see in person for further consideration.  I emailed them nine designs, and they have asked me to send in eight of them!  I'm super excited for this opportunity even though there are no guarantees that they will choose to publish any of my pieces.  It's a step in the right direction at any rate!

The bad news is, since most of the projects I finished are under review for the magazine, I can't really share them with you yet.  (Which is really, really difficult since I'm pretty proud of my work and WANT to share.)  So, as a sort of a compromise, I made a PicMonkey collage of my finished project and focused in on some of the details for most of the projects and then did some funky effects to blur them out.  Hopefully you'll get to see at least one of them in focus and full color later this year.  Fingers are crossed!

A huge thanks to Heather for hosting this challenge and giving my creativity a much needed kick start!  I had a lovely holiday season, but it might not have been the most productive couple of weeks from a jewelry making perspective.  Thanks to the muffin tin challenge (and the looming magazine deadline) I had a great week of making some fabulous, if I do say so myself, jewelry.  It's a strong start to what I hope will be an amazing 2015!    

Now it's off to fill out all the paperwork for my submissions and get them safely in the mail!

Be sure to pop on over to Heather's blog to see everyone else's muffin tin creations HERE.