Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Children's Book Inspired by Reading Book Club

This month's selection for the Inspired by Reading Book Club was quite the substantial tome at 675 pages.  I've been dragging The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt since I got it from the library.  It's been to Illinois, North Carolina, Alabama, and back to Minnesota with me and I'm still only halfway through it!  

Here is the description from the library catalog:  When Olive Wellwood's oldest son discovers a runaway named Philip sketching in the basement of the new Victoria and Albert Museum -- a talented working-class boy who could be a character out of one of Olive's magical tales -- she takes him into the storybook world of her family and friends -- a world that conceals more treachery and darkness than Philip has ever imagined and that will soon be eclipsed by far greater forces. 

This isn't just the story of the Wellwoods though... it also chronicles the Fludd family (the father is a talented but very troubled potter) and a large secondary cast of characters as well.  I've had a hard time keeping the children all straight.  At the point I am in the book, Queen Victoria is in the last days of her reign but I understand that the events span through (or at least into) the first World War.  


It's not that I don't like the book... it's just been slow going for me.  Usually when that happens I'm more than willing to bail on a book and move onto the next one.  This is just one of the rare stories that I want to keep reading but I really can't tell you why.  It's not because of the riveting action... not much has actually really happened.  Maybe it has something to do with this part the book jacket description...  "But the joyful bacchanals Olive hosts at her rambling country house--and the separate, private books she writes for each of her seven children--conceal more treachery and darkness than Philip has ever imagined."  When is all that darkness happening?  In the book's defense, the jacket does also say "the damaging truth about the Wellwoods slowly emerges."  They weren't kidding about the slow part!  We'll see how much longer I give this one... at the rate I'm going the June book won't stand a chance.

Anyway, onto my designs!

At a loss for a better idea, I looked to the work of William Morris for inspiration.  His prints are just so lush and full of detail... a true feast for the eyes.  I ended up settling on a pattern called "Seaweed" because of the colors and also because Philip was so drawn to and inspired by the sea when he first comes to live and work with Fludd.  The colors and butterfly made me think of the fields and marshes around Purchase House as well.  I hand painted the butterfly focal and then added a mix of fluorite, bronzite, peanut beads, and brass elements.    

The day before the reveal I finally got to a scene in the book that actually inspired a clear, concrete design idea.  Just one problem, I was lacking some of the components that I needed to make it work.  Luckily, my good friend Marcia had just what I needed and was willing to share.  For those of you who have read the book, can you guess what inspired me?  

For whatever reason, the parts about Elsie really wanting (and then getting through unexpected means) the red belt that was shaped like an arrow struck a chord.  I knew I had this skinny red leather cord and I immediately thought of the Nunn Design arrow charms.  The arrows are what I was missing.  I thought that this leather would be a little easier to knot than it was, but I think I made it work in the end.

That's it for me... I hope to whip up some earrings to go with my necklace and get those to Unearthed Arts before the weekend.  Don't forget to check out what everyone else made for this month's book club.  Andrew Thornton will be posting the links on his blog HERE.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sweet Honey

Since Andrew Thornton started up his monthly challenge kits again through his wonderful store, Allegory Gallery,  I've only managed to play along once until now.  I've had bees on the brain lately so I couldn't pass up his Sweet Honey kit!  I'm fascinated by these amazing little insects and a sucker for the delicious honey they make.

Here's the bulk of what each participant got to play with...  What's missing is the AMAZING mystery component that Andrew made.

In addition to the challenge kit, I also recently bought some lovely polymer clay honey bee beads from Heather Powers of Humblebeads.  I knew I had to play with some of those for this challenge.  I'd also been playing with some riveted and letter stamped pieces with a bee theme, so I had lots of things to choose from when I sat down to start creating!

The very first thing that I made combined some of the amber colored glass cube beads with an earring charm pair from Heather.  I also added in some coated hematite from Dakota Stones.

Next up was a bracelet using ideas and techniques that I pulled together from a class and a tutorial from Erin Siegel.  You can see the free tutorial that inspired me HERE.  I used a lot more from the design kit this time... I added the brown waxed linen, some extra seed beads, and a new TierraCast button that's supposed to be a flower, but it has a honeycomb feel to it.

I decided to make a second bracelet and try my hand at memory wire for the first time.  I figured it would be a good use of a lot of items from the luxury bead mix and some of the seed beads that were in the kit.  I used some Vintaj/Ranger black paint to "antique" the little bee hive and tiny bee charms that were included.  I liked the effect which make them a little less shiny.

I couldn't end things without doing at lest one necklace!  I made the pendant with a copper blank and bee connector from Vintaj... and my newest letter stamping set.  The teardrop shaped glass bead was one of the first things that caught my eye when I started digging into my kit when it arrived.  I picked out a few more glass beads to wire wrap and put everything together with a mix of brass and copper.

For an added bonus, here's the other bee bracelet that I made... not from the design kit, but along the same themes.  I had such fun stamping the copper bracelet blank and riveting that little honey bee onto it!  I added in some faceted yellow jade coins and a little citrine dangle at the clasp.

I hope you've enjoyed my little tribute to the honey bee... I had such fun making these pieces, all of which are currently available at Unearthed Arts in Waconia.  I've got several other designs using this kit in various stages of planning but just ran out of creation time.

I hope you'll check out the links below to see what everyone else made with this delicious design kit!

Sarajo Wentling (you are here)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Art Bead Scene: May 2015

This month's Art Bead Scene challenge inspiration is an untitled piece by Augustin Lesage.  You can read more about the artist and the artwork over on the ABS blog HERE.  I have to admit that I felt a little overwhelmed by all the colors, patterns, and shapes in this piece.  There is a whole lot going on here!  In theory, the business should have made it easier to work with since there are so many different options... but, for me, that was actually the problem.  My mind just wasn't wanting to focus in on any one element but just kept going crazy.

Untitled, 1926-1954
By Augustin Lesage
This has been a crazy busy month with travel, library jewelry making classes, and more.  With my attention pulled in a thousand directions, I was beginning to worry that I might have to sit out another one of my favorite challenges (I'd already missed We're All Ears over on the Earrings Everyday blog.)  Luckily my May installment of Erin Prais-Hintz's Simple Truths Sampler arrived just in the nick of time and inspiration immediately struck!

Per usual, I forgot to take a picture of Erin's lovely pendant before I got started working with it... I was just too excited!  I love the way she combined multiple colors of polymer clay that she had first silk screened like miniature jigsaw puzzles.  The colors feel so lush under the high gloss of the resin.

As often is the case with Erin's little works of art, I really wanted to let the pendant do most of the talking here.  The style of the pendant, to me anyway, lends itself to being strung.  I chose to go with a multi-strand design with different seed beads on each strand that picked up on various colors from the pendant (and painting!).  I had a great size 8 mix from Glass Garden Beads that I knew would make up one strand and then I played around with different combinations of alternating sizes of beads for the other two strands until I was happy with the mix.

Monday, May 18, 2015

New Earring Monday '15: Weeks 19 & 20

Happy Monday, everyone!  For this week's New Earring Monday I'm combining the themes of the last couple of weeks with another design that a magazine passed on and more decorivet fun!

First up is a pair of earrings that I made with ceramic flowers made by my friend Tracee Dock of The Classic Bead.  One of the categories for the Fall 2015 issue of Jewelry Stringing Magazine was "Big and Bold Earrings."  I thought these fit that description (and their color palette!) pretty well.  I mixed in some waxed Irish linen and brass beads and components.  

Here's another pair of decorivet earrings... this time with an oak leaf and acorn pattern.  I paired the blackened metal with brass and some pretty red maple leaf beads.  These might be better for fall fashion, but I am not one to pass up an idea when it pops into my brain!

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

30 Words: Fancy Dress

Fancy lady in fancy dress,
All ready for the ball.
Head to toe posies and leaves, 
Preparing to twirl across the grand lawns 
And through the gardens, 
Blossoms trailing behind.

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 on our recent trip to Asheville, NC in the gardens at the Biltmore.

Monday, May 4, 2015

New Earring Monday '15: Weeks 17 & 18

The theme of this week's New Earring Monday post is designs created for magazine submissions that weren't accepted... hey, it happens!  While you always want everything you submit to be accepted by a publication, that's just not reality.  The way I look at it, the worst thing that can happen by making something specifically to submit for a magazine is that they don't want it and you have a fabulous piece of jewelry to sell (or to keep for yourself!).  Really, it's a win win situation and they only way you are going to get published is to put yourself out there and try.

Anyway, I made both of these pairs in the flurry of activity that was the Muffin Tin Challenge hosted by Heather Powers of Humblebeads.  (You can read my post about that and see my overflowing muffin tin HERE.)  The timing of her challenge was perfect since deadlines were looming for two different magazines.  Both of these earring pairs were for consideration for Create Jewelry Magazine, a yearly special issue that Interweave publishes that focuses around color palettes.

The highlight of the first pair is the fun, bright lampwork from Tanya McGuire.  I paired her luscious beads with some Czech glass pinch beads, dyed agate, and brass.  I love how cheerful these are!

My second pair is far more subdued in the color department.  These feature lampwork from Mermaid Glass paired with Czech glass, pewter, and silver plated components on sterling silver ear wires.  They look really great with one of the necklaces I made for the same magazine (and also rejected) but I can't reveal that one quite yet.  I'm hoping to shop it around to a different magazine... we'll see what comes of that!

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