Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Inspired by Reading: The Ladies of Grace Adieu

This month's Inspired by Reading Book Club selection is a book that I've owned for quite some time but just never got around to reading... The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke.  This is a slim volume of fairy stories by Clarke that is illustrated by the amazing Charles Vess.  The stories are presented as if they were written by various authors and are in a variety of 18th and 19th century styles.  I'm not sure that I loved the stories (although I still want to read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell) but this is a truly beautiful book that was a delight to hold in my hands.

I feel a tiny bit like I cheated this month since I had already hatched the idea for this necklace and earrings before I started reading the book selection this month.  Each year for the Bead Cruise, Heather Powers chooses a theme for a costume/cocktail party.  This year she chose "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

Even though I'm not great at coming up with fabulous costumes, I hate to pass up a chance to let loose and be a little wild so I started plotting early.  I had a mask that I got a good deal on at sci/fi convention a few years ago and have never worn.  I thought the great leaf design would be a perfect starting point for my fairy costume!  I did some searching online and found some fun, leafy fairy wings in orange and red and a simple orange tutu.  I still had to make some minor adjustments to the mask and find a suitable under layer for the tutu, but I was feeling pretty good about my costume by November and then sort of forgot about things for a while... and I hadn't even begun to think about jewelry!  Lucky for me, the January edition of Erin Prais-Hintz's Simple Truths Sampler Club got my creative juices going... it was the perfect complement for the rest of my outfit!

I picked out lots of Czech glass flower and leaf beads in the colors of the pendant (and my new leggings that I bought to go under the tutu) and arranged them (along with a couple of rondelles) in an asymmetrical design.  I used brass chain and findings to go with the brass pendant bezel.  

Needing earrings to go along with my new flower fairy necklace, I got to work playing with some enameled bead caps from C-Koop Beads.  I bought a lot of different colored pairs of flower bead caps a while back with the idea of making earrings featuring vine-like dangles, but hadn't gotten around to figuring out how to make my vision reality.  This was do or die time!  I ended up using a skinny mandrel intended for making wire loops to wrap my long head pin around to form my "vines."  They aren't perfect, but I'm pretty happy with how these turned out considering they were a first attempt.  I'm eager to play with some of the other colors and shapes of enameled bead caps that I've been hoarding!

And here's a look at me in my full costume for our party night on the cruise!  It was a great night dancing and cavorting with the other Bead Cruise fairies!

Me in my fairy costume with my roommate Lissa.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Honey Do List: February 2017

Last year, my husband Eric has decided to issue me a design challenge each month to get me out of my comfort zone and to help clear out my bead stash... and we're continuing the Honey Do List for 2017!  I know that I'm not the only one who loves a good design challenge, so I'm hoping folks will continue to play along!  

Here's this month's inspiration and what Eric had to say about it:

I went minimalist on this month's photo which I took this last summer in the Japanese Gardens in Portland.  Walking up the trail to the garden proper, I spotted this single leaf sitting in a ray of sun filtered through tall trees and magnolias.  I'm dreaming of summer after too much winter here in Minnesota, so here you go!

I love this color combination of fuchsia and bright green and actually had just made a pair in those colors for last month's We're All Ears challenge.  I couldn't just recycle those (although I'll slip them in at the end of this post for fun) so it was lucky that I had some other beads floating around in the right colors.

The color palette for this challenge immediately made me thing of a couple of goodies in my stash from Heather Powers of Humblebeads.  First up, a quick pair of earrings using a pair of her matchstick charms in a lovely magenta.  I was a tiny bit naughty and bought the green leaf beads just for this challenge... they were too perfect to pass up!

I also happened to have a cute little mum pendant in just the right colors that Heather gave us in our gift bags at last October's Inspired by Nature fall retreat.  (Read about that awesome event HERE if you missed it!)  This seemed like the perfect time to make a necklace with it... not everything languishes for years around here.  ;)

I had some tiny garnet beads that I wanted to use which meant stringing part of my design due to their equally tiny holes.  And speaking of tiny holes... I ended up wire wrapping a bail for my pendant because none of my jump rings fit nicely through it.  I used a mix of Czech glass and gemstones for the links and dangles.  In addition to the garnet, I used some faceted jade and dyed agate in two colors.  I'm pretty happy with the mix and balance of colors!

Lastly, as a bonus, here is that pair from last month's We're All Ears challenge featuring charms from Marsha Neal Studio:

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

We're All Ears: February 2017

This month's We're All Ears challenge on the Earrings Everyday blog is all about patchwork!

  1. needlework in which small pieces of cloth in different designs, colors, or textures are sewn together.
    "a quilt of patchwork"
In Erin's words:
"So the theme this month is PATCHWORK...melange....potpourri...mishmash...jumble...hodgepodge...and my favorite...bricolage" 

Pam Beal

As I've mentioned before, I was more than a little crunched for time this month.  The challenge didn't immediately spark anything for me, but I kept working on things in the back of my mind.  My thoughts eventually went to some millefiori glass coin beads that I've had in my stash for quite a while.

I was able to come up with a few well matched pairs from the strand of millefiori beads and kept it simple by just making variations of the same design.  I just added some small Czech glass (and in one case, crystal) beads and brass components.  I hope you enjoy my little trio of earrings!

Stop by the Earrings Everyday blog HERE to see what everyone else came up with this month!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Art Bead Scene: February 2017 Take Two

So did I mention how much I love the colors for this month's Art Bead Scene challenge?  No?  Well I totally do!  So much so that I had to revisit the painting and create a few more new jewelry designs.  You can see my first round of jewelry HERE if you missed that post.

The Two Crowns
Sir Frank Dicksee
Oil On Canvas
When I initially went through my art beads for this challenge, one of the pieces that jumped out at me was a really cool enameled pendant by Gardanne.  I wasn't entirely sure I'd have time to circle back for another go at this challenge, but I left the pendant and some coordinating charms out on my bead board just in case.

As luck would have it, I did manage to squeak in just enough extra creating time to get some more jewelry made.  Having a week less than usual in an already short month due to travel plans was a challenge for me, but I was determined!

I loved the mix of blues and red in the pendant and focused on those colors.  I had fun making Czech glass bead links in those colors using a variety of flower beads.  I started with the dangles from the bottom of the pendant and built out from there.  Because of the way the pendant was colored, I wanted to balance out the rest of the necklace with an asymmetrical design.

For the earrings I wire wrapped some small Czech glass flower beads, rhinestone rondelles, and small luster finished glass rounds to the enameled filigree charms.  While the charms go well with the pendant, the resulting earrings don't totally match... but they are fun anyway and fit the inspiration piece pretty well.

Now, I know that this last pair of earrings doesn't have any art beads, but I did make them to go with the necklace so I thought I'd share them anyway.  (I hinted at these in my earring post yesterday HERE.)  I used the same combination of Czech glass and crystal beads as I have on the bottom of the pendant to make some dangley earrings.

Thanks for checking out my second attempt at capturing the spirit of this gorgeous artwork through jewelry!

Monday, February 13, 2017

New Earrings... Muffin Tin Style!

Taking a page from Heather Powers' Muffin Tin Challenge, I decided to pack up a little container filled with everything I needed to make a collection of earrings to take with me when I worked at Unearthed Arts last week.  I haven't been as focused on making earrings lately and I knew that I could plot out a bunch of designs for portable projects.  (All the necklaces I had on my bead board weren't completely figured out yet... and I like having all my beads at my disposal when working out a design.)  Some of what I gathered was left over from the December use your "craftermath" challenge from Earrings Everyday, some were to complement necklaces I was working on for other challenges, and some made use of newer beads and findings that I hoped to avoid putting away!  Here's a look at what I brought along with me:

Now I didn't manage to finish everything that I carried with me that day, but over the weekend I got the majority finished.  All in all, I made ten pairs of earrings from my little project box.  (I'm sharing nine of them today but saving one for when I finish the coordinating necklace.)  This experiment made me realize how much more of my time is used deciding upon a design than actually executing it!  Without further ado, here's what I made!

First up, two "craftermath" pairs that have been in partial progress since December.  Both feature Vintaj components that I had painted a good while ago.  I selected faceted carnelian and orange Czech glass for the embossed pair on the left and faceted jade, rhinestone rondelles, and purple Czech glass to go with the butterfly charms.

I picked up some fun little enameled charm components from a craft store after Christmas that I thought would make fun earrings... here's what I did combining those with some little Czech glass flower dangles.  I think they are bright, happy, and fun... I just adore the combination of red and turquoise!

Lastly, I've got a little grouping of earrings that I made with some new charms that I ordered online in December and hadn't managed to get put away.   The two on the ends are variations on a theme using some pretty silver plated crystal drops.  The pair on the left is all crystal beads while the one on the right makes use of dyed agate and Czech glass.  Both are on sterling silver ear wires.  The middle pair features some fun charms by Zola Elements and a mix of Czech glass and dyed agate on gold filled ear wires.

Well, that's it for my little earring interlude.  I hope you enjoy seeing what I've been making!  Now I'd better get back to work on the other projects I need to finish before setting sail on this year's Bead Cruise later this week... including the necklace for my Midsummer Night's Dream themed party costume!  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Art Bead Scene: February 2017

A new month has begun and that means a new challenge from the Art Bead Scene!  I'm absolutely in love with the rich colors of this month's inspiration, The Two Crowns by Sir Frank Dicksee.  You can read more about the painting and the artist on the ABS blog HERE.  I was immediately struck by the opulence... the golden armor, the lush flowers, the gowns... and that handsome horse!  So much to be inspired by here!

The Two Crowns
Sir Frank Dicksee
Oil On Canvas
As I looked through my art beads, the first thing that jumped out at me was a pendant that the very talented Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati made for a previous Art Bead Scene challenge (September 2014 to be exact).  The pendant, filled with tons of tiny polymer clay roses, is set in a antiqued brass bezel with the type of bail that I think works best when strung.  I decided to start by looking at my collection of seed beads to see if I could pull off a multi-strand necklace (despite knowing how frustrating I find the process of getting all the strands to the right length... I guess I'm a glutton for punishment!).  I started with a nice seed bead mix from Glass Garden Beads (I love their mixes but wish they did them in larger sizes and not just the size 11s) in shades of cream and rose.  As perfect as the colors of this mix was for the challenge and the pendant, I knew the necklace needed more to give it visual interest and oomph.  My next selection was a tube of berry colored luster peanut beads.  I chose the third strand, a hex cut metallic bead, to even things out and keep the berry strand from being overwhelming.  There's some subtle but nice iridescence to that strand that I think pulls it all together.

Now, my plan clearly called for a LOT of stringing of seed beads.  In the past I've always accomplished this by stringing the beads by hand one at a time.  For this project I decided it was time to experiment with my new bead spinner.  (I had bought it to make the projects from Heather Powers' Festive Forest Workshop that I bought in December and never got around to trying... this year I'll make it happen!!)  Getting the hang of using the spinner with beading wire was a little tricky, but I do think it saved me a decent amount of time even with the steep learning curve.  If nothing else, it helped cure me of my obsessive desire to string things "just right" with the perfect mix of colors.  I just let it go and see what jumped onto my wire!  I finished off the strands with some ornate brass cones from Vintaj that echo the details in the painting.  I used a brass lobster claw clasp and a little bit of textured chain to give the wearer some adjustability in length.  

I also had a tiny little rose charm from Erin in my stash... this one in a silver colored bezel.  I thought that this would be the perfect time to try making some new memory wire bracelets since I already had my bead spinner out.  The last time I made a bracelet like this I did it by hand, bead by bead.  Oh my goodness... the bead spinner was so much better and faster!!  (Want to get a little video tutorial in doing this?  Heather Powers posted one to her Facebook page for Humblebeads and you can find it HERE.  It's called "Bead Table Wednesday" and is 30:06 minutes long.)

I ended up combining a bead mix from Funky Hannah's with the leftovers from a mixed tube of size 6 seed beads in turquoise and teal that I had sitting around.  (I wanted to pull in the colors of the lady's gown from the bottom center of the painting.)  I was pretty happy with the resulting mix of colors, shapes, and textures.  While I had everything out, I made two bracelets with the mix... one with Erin' rose charm and some other little pink glass and crystal dangles and one with a silver plated flower charm and two Czech glass flowers.  These could easily be worn together or separately.

Thanks for stopping by to see what I've been up to lately.  I'm so excited by my new bead spinner that I want to see what other things I can make with it!  I'll be sure to share whatever I end up making.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

February 2017 Inspiration for the Honey Do List

Last year, my husband Eric has decided to issue me a design challenge each month to get me out of my comfort zone and to help clear out my bead stash... and we're continuing the Honey Do List for 2017!  I know that I'm not the only one who loves a good design challenge, so I'm hoping folks will continue to play along!  

Here's this month's inspiration and what Eric had to say about it:

I went minimalist on this month's photo which I took this last summer in the Japanese Gardens in Portland.  Walking up the trail to the garden proper, I spotted this single leaf sitting in a ray of sun filtered through tall trees and magnolias.  I'm dreaming of summer after too much winter here in Minnesota, so here you go!

The reveal date will be Monday, February 27th.  To make it super easy for you to participate and share your creations, I'll set up an Inlinkz link up so folks can add their blogs as they are ready.  Just stop by my blog starting on February 27th and join the fun!  I'll leave the link up open for a while... so you have plenty of time to add your links.  (Last month's is still open... check it out HERE.)  No blog?  No worries!  Feel free to send me a picture of your creation and some brief comments and I'll happily share in my blog post.  You can reach me at sjdesignsjewelry@gmail.com  The more the merrier, so I hope you'll play along with me this month!