Friday, April 28, 2017

Art Bead Scene: April 2017 Take Two

When I started pulling beads for this month's Art Bead Scene challenge I had a couple of good ideas but I wasn't sure I'd have time to get to both with so many other things on my plate and schedule.  It's almost the end of the month, but I've managed to squeak in a second necklace inspired by Paul Gauguin's painting "Matamoe or Landscape with Peacocks."  I'm on the road this weekend so I'm keeping this post pretty short and sweet!

Matamoe or Landscape with Peacocks
Paul Gauguin
Oil On Canvas
This time I used an enameled pendant by Gardanne Beads in wonderful, firey reds and oranges as my starting point.  While those tones dominate the artwork, I wanted to pull in some of the other colors into my design.  A fairly quick and easy way to accomplish that was by stringing three different strands of seed beads.  The pendant has a second hole at the bottom that I used to add some Czech glass dangles.  I'm pretty happy with the overall effect.  

Thanks for checking out my latest design.  If you'd like to see what other folks were inspired to create this month, check out the Art Bead Scene Pinterest board HERE.  

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Inspired by Reading: Tales of the City

This month's Inspired by Reading Book Club selection was Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin.  Originally published in 1976, this is the first of the author's books that chronicle the goings on at the apartment house at 29 Barbary Lane in San Francisco.  

For some reason that I cannot explain, I always thought that this book was a collection of short stories... it's so not.  The book follows a diverse cast of characters whose relationships are not all immediately clear.  Actually, some of the relationships and back stories aren't spelled out when this novel ends... I wonder if the other books in the series clear up some of the mysteries left behind.  I may have to keep reading to find out!

I also always thought that the stories must be scandalous... maybe not Cinemax After Dark scandalous, but naughty in some way.  And maybe they were viewed that way in 1976.  I mean there is plenty of adultery, plus drug use, and (GASP!) homosexuality!!  Oh my!  I can see why it was popular as a miniseries.  It has all the makings of a good soap opera and I guess that's part of what kept me reading.

While I enjoyed reading this book, I didn't initially have any light bulbs go off in the inspiration department.  (I find that this happens to me a lot, actually!  Maybe because I'm too involved in the story and forget to think about design inspiration as I read.)  Luckily, I remembered that I've been hoarding a pendant from The Classic Bead that features a cityscape.  I've been holding onto it waiting for just the right challenge and that time is now!

To echo the windows in all those buildings, I stuck to rectangular gemstone beads in Kyanite and Bronzite to match the pendant.  Overall, I kept things pretty simple this time to let the pendant stand out.  I love the variations in the blue glaze make it look a little like clouds and stars in the sky.

Want to see what the other members of the book club created?  Or join in on the fun yourself?  Check out our Facebook Group HERE.  Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Honey Do List: April 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 had hoped for some more color in my shot for this month, but "spring" in Minnesota is still much later than southern climes.  So I worked a little red into this action shot of a cute Chickadee!  The birds are back, and next month should be much more vibrant with the colors of spring.

I have a special place in my heart for chickadees... they were one of my Mema's favorite birds.  I spent a ton of time at her house as a child since she lived two houses up the street from us.  She had two window sills that she would always put birdseed out on (it was a brick house with a decent sized ledge) so she could watch all the birds from her bedroom.  I love that our backyard feeders are regularly frequented by chickadees.

For my first design, I finally used a pendant by Earthenwood Studio that I've had in my stash since very early on in my beading life.  While there's no bird to be found in this necklace, the cream and dark brown viney floral reminded me of the plants that Eric's little chickadee is perched amongst.  True story, I've had one of the black Czech glass flowers stored alongside this pendant for a couple of years now, waiting for the right time to explore a design.  Well, that time is now!  I added some other flower and leaf beads in earth tones as well as some smaller glass beads for an asymmetrical design.  The strung side came out a little bit longer than the other so I chose to even things out by having the clasp connect to the end of the side with the bead links.

Still in an asymmetrical mood, I started playing with beads for a second necklace featuring a wooden pendant by Skye Jewels.  I'd almost forgotten about this sweet little chickadee pendant... I guess that's why I always go through all my art bead drawers!  Since there's no hole in the pendant, I found a brass filigree piece to wrap around the pendant.  Luckily I had one that worked and didn't cover up the bird.  This necklace was one of those rare instances where the beads just cried out to be included.  I knew I had some coppery/bronze maple leaf beads that would echo the leaves on the pendant nicely.  When grabbing those out of my bead box I noticed the container of small turquoise flower beads that turned out to be the perfect compliment.  To complete the design I used a fun leaf shaped brass clasp.  (Memo to self: buy more of these... you like them.)

Lastly, I wanted to play with the idea of the vines a little bit more.  I revisited the idea of having vine-like tendrils coming out of enameled bead caps from C-Koop Beads for fun earrings.  I really need to just sit down and make more of these in a variety of colors... I keep forgetting about them!

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Earrings Everyday: April 2017: Eggs

I have to admit that I came really close to skipping this month's Earrings Everyday challenge.  It's not that I wasn't inspired by the subject that Erin chose for us... I just didn't think I had any beads that really worked for it.  I had written off the whole thing and then on my afternoon walk on Monday, I had an idea.  When I got home I went digging for the beads I was thinking of, and wonder of wonders, found them!  For some reason that got me thinking about some decal-ed wooden beads that I got in one of Andrew Thornton's destash events... and I found them too!

But I'm putting the cart in front of the horse here.  Let me step back for a moment and share this month's inspiration!  She challenged us to create earrings inspired by the egg in any form but shared some amazing photos of Ukrainian pysanky eggs.  Eggs really are a perfect inspiration in this time of year when many of us celebrate the holidays of Easter and Passover and Spring is bringing new life and color to the world that has been so grey and dreary through the winter.

Obviously, my childhood Easter Eggs never looked as fancy as these, but I've always been fascinated by these delicate blown eggs.  I've got a small collection of blown egg Christmas ornaments that I bought in Hungary a lifetime ago that I cherish.  Most of those are hand painted florals, but I've got one made with the wax resist technique that's truly amazing.  Anyway, here's what I ended up creating...

First, the pair with the Czech glass beads that I first came to my mind.  I've had these oval shaped cornflower blue beads forever and haven't used many (if any) of them until now.  Apparently this isn't a shape that really speaks to me or I would have used them and/or bought them in more colors.  I felt like the design in the center of the beads was reminiscent of the designs "written" on the pysanky eggs.

My second pair features some vaguely egg-shaped wooden beads decorated with pink and white floral decals.  I added some white Czech glass flowers with pink beads in the center to add to the springtime flower feel of these.  The added beads have nothing to do with eggs, but I wanted to add some whimsy and interest to the earrings... and I felt like it!  :)

Stop by the Earrings Everyday blog HERE to see what everyone else was inspired to make this month!  I just delivered both of these pairs to Unearthed Arts if you're interested in them.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Inspiration in Everyday: April 2017: Korean Bell Garden

There's a new group on Facebook that I found through the Art Bead Scene blog called Inspiration in Everyday.  The group has been created as a means to share the everyday things we take inspiration from to use in jewelry.  The idea is pretty simple... find something that inspires you to create beads, components, or jewelry, take a photo of it, create something based on that inspiration, and share in the group!  There is an art bead focus to the group and each creation shared should include at least one handmade art bead or component.  

I just returned from a vacation with my husband to visit friends in the Washington D.C. area and I certainly found some inspiration along the way!  On our first full day in town we ended up making a visit to the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.  Truth be told, we were anxiously awaiting word on our luggage that had taken an unplanned overnight in New York City due to Delta's major network and weather issues.  We didn't want to go too far afield so this was a great way to spend the morning before meeting our friend for lunch.  (Don't worry, we did get our bag that day, but had to return to the airport to do so!)  The day was a bit chilly and windy, but Eric and I still had a wonderful time traipsing around the gardens.

One of the areas of the gardens of particular interest, and my inspiration for this post, is the Korean Bell Garden.  This garden area was created via a joint effort between NOVA Parks and the Korean American Cultural Committee... starting with the original proposal in 2007.  The centerpiece of this garden is the bell itself.  It's called the Bell of Peace and Harmony and was cast by one of the best bell makers in Korea in a way that has been used for centuries.  The bell features traditional Korean images as well as images symbolic of Virginia.  The surrounding pagoda structure was built completely by hand using traditional methods.  The area around the bell pagoda features replicas of ancient Korean monuments and statues, walls and stone structures adorned with traditional Korean symbols, and a flowing water way.

Photo by Eric Wentling

As we circled through the gardens I took several detail photos of artwork from the walls as well as the bell itself and combined them into a collage to share on Instagram.  Seeing those images together is what clicked into place for me... a lightbulb went off in my head and I knew that there was jewelry to be made from this inspiration!

The muted colors and the butterflies in the bottom right panel made me think of a ceramic pendant by White Swan Illuminations that I picked up at Allegory Gallery last summer.  I wanted to capture the idea of the flowers but didn't want to add a lot of color... I had two sizes of white/ivory Czech glass flowers that perfectly fit the bill!  I added in links made with Bronzite, Dalmation Jasper, as well as some other Czech glass beads in an asymmetrical design.  The finishing touch is a tiny brass butterfly charm hanging off the back of the clasp.

Since my first design was so monochromatic, I wanted to do something with a touch more color.  I had the perfect Humblebeads forget me not pendant in my stash to do the job!  I had just bought a few strands of Czech glass spacer beads in a mix of muted pastels that I knew I wanted to use.  I gathered some other Czech and vintage German glass beads as well as some pearls for this strung design.  This necklace is more about the colors in the two floral panels from the wall in the garden as well as the floral motifs from the bell itself.

Thanks for stopping by to check out my designs inspired by what I found in my everyday!  I hope you'll take a moment to stop and see what inspiration is waiting around you!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Forest Journey Mystery Challenge Competition

Today is the day for the reveal of the Forest Journey Mystery Competition from Allegory Gallery!  For each of their challenges, Andrew Thornton and William Jones pull together an amazing curated selection of beads.  Participants can use as much or as little of the kit as they like to make jewelry for the each month's challenge and then share their creations in the Allegory Gallery Design Challenges Facebook Group.  This time, to add to the excitement, it's not just a design challenge... it's a challenge and the winner will win a lovely selection of jewelry making prizes.

As usual, I forgot to take a "before" picture showing all the contents of this fun kit.  Sigh... it seems that I'll never learn!  Trust me when I say that my little gift box was filled with beady goodness and that I just couldn't wait to jump in and start making!  I pretty much immediately dumped everything out onto my bead mat and started sorting beads out to get an idea of exactly what I had and to start designing some new jewelry.

Another thing that I'm often guilty of with these challenges is hoarding the mystery component that Andrew makes especially for each kit.  At least I managed to overcome that issue this time!  The first design that I dreamed up was a simple strung necklace featuring Andrew's lovely polymer clay forest pendant.  I pulled out some of the beads from the bead mix including some fun wooden ones, and then supplemented the stringing with some Picasso finish rounds, copper plated hematite, and metallic seed beads.  I also tried a new (to me) technique for the clasp and made a seed bead loop for a copper plated button to go through.

The next piece of jewelry that took shape was this multi strand bracelet.  I used the brown waxed linen, and three large holed beads from the kit as my starting point. Additionally, for one of the four strands of the bracelet I mostly used beads from the luxury bead blend in the kit.  (I did add a few coconut rondelles and seed beads to round things out.)  I'm really loving the richness of the colors in this one and how the yellows in the large glass focal bead play off the gold plated branch toggle clasp I used.

One of the things that I often have a hard time designing with are bead chips.  I have quite a few strands in my hoard that I never seem to use because I'm just not sure how to best use them.  For this challenge I really wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and try something new.  I had picked out the two large glass leaf beads and one of the large dark brown wooden coins for part of a different design... when that idea didn't pan out, the light bulb went off and I wondered how they might fit in with the tiger eye chips.  Bingo!  I situated the leaves and wood bead off to one side and started playing with the chips.  I thought that using just the tiger eye would be a little monotonous for me, so I added in a couple of small sections of green colored stone chips that I had gotten as a prize from an Allegory Gallery give away.  In keeping with the forest theme, I finished things off with a copper plated leaf clasp.

Being an earring lover, of course I had to whip up some ear bobs from the kit too!  As I was first sorting through all the goodies in the box (I start by dumping everything out on my bead mat and sorting all the bigger beads out by type) I set aside some of the pairs that I thought had earring potential.  After finishing my bigger pieces, I was ready for an earring making marathon!

The first pair I made might be my favorite of the earrings.  I used the fun metal metal drops as my starting point.  I wanted to have something in front of them for interest and the fun green and copper daggers were just the thing!  The dark amber discs were also from the kit and I added some copper plated findings and small green Czech glass beads to wire wrap above the drops.

Next up I realized that the green vintage plastic rounds were just the perfect color to go with some fun ceramic diamond charms that I bought in one of Andrew's destash events.  The other great thing about using the plastic is that it keeps the earrings super light.  I did three different takes on that combination of ingredients... one each in brass, copper, and silver.  Which one is your favorite version?

I also dug up a fun pair of ceramic charms from Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio that I bought at Bead & Button last year.  I was thrilled to find that the green glaze coordinated perfectly with some of the other beads in the kit so I whipped up this little pair.  The wire loops on the charms were a silver tone originally, so I wire wrapped them with small gauge brass colored wire.  I like the texture that this technique adds!

But wait, there's more!  (I told you I went on an earring making bender!)  I paired the two vintage plastic teardrops with some Greek bronze links and copper findings in an elegant and simple design.  My last pair gave me the most grief in coming together.  I had a totally different idea initially that would have had glass leaves dangling from the bottom of the donut beads.  The more I played around with them, the more I knew that I wanted beads wire wrapped at the top of the donuts instead.  All the beads except the metal ones are from the kit.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the amount of designs that I managed to come up with from this fun mystery challenge.  I did much better than I usually do with using the mystery component and making multiple designs and now I have lots of new things ready to find new homes!

For the competition portion of this challenge we had to choose just one design to add to the voting album.  (Tough choice!!)  If you want to see what other participants made and vote (I think) you can see the designs HERE over in our Facebook Group.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Art Bead Scene: April 2017

The artwork for this month's Art Bead Scene challenge is Matamoe or Landscape with Peacocks by Paul Gauguin.  This oil on canvas is one of the artist's Tahitian works... he lived in Tahiti during his later life.  The painting certainly has a rich and exotic feel to it.  You can read more about the artist and his artwork on the ABS blog HERE.

Matamoe or Landscape with Peacocks
Paul Gauguin
Oil On Canvas

There are some seriously bright and saturated colors in this month's inspiration artwork... I think it's fair to call it a color riot!  While temperatures are starting to warm up, spring blooms are still a long way off in Minnesota so it's nice to see some color instead of the bare, grey landscape outside my window.

The art bead in my stash that yelled the loudest was a large lampwork focal from Outa Torch Glasswerks that I bought ages ago out at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.  The swirling colors were pretty spot on for the artwork and I liked that the colors were almost smeared... which is how I feel about the painting too.

Having just come down off a tassel making binge (see my post HERE if you missed that), I decided that a chain tassel would work well for this design.  To keep it colorful and vibrant like the artwork, I chose to make tiny bead dangles in a mix of gemstones to attach to the end of each piece of chain.  I feel like the resulting effect is reminiscent of a peacock's tail.

For the rest of the necklace I made links with a variety of Czech glass beads in different colors and shapes.  I picked colors to match the color palette of the painting and the colors in the focal bead.  I think the end result is fun and colorful without being too crazy.    

I'm still hoping to complete another necklace design for this month, but for now, I'll stop here.  Vacation is calling me so I need to get some things done so I'll be ready to go!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April 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 had hoped for some more color in my shot for this month, but "spring" in Minnesota is still much later than southern climes.  So I worked a little red into this action shot of a cute Chickadee!  The birds are back, and next month should be much more vibrant with the colors of spring.

The reveal date will be Monday, April 24th.  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 April 24th 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  The more the merrier, so I hope you'll play along with me this month!