Sunday, July 30, 2017

Art Bead Scene: July 2017 Take Two

I managed to create a second piece of jewelry inspired by this month's Art Bead Scene challenge, the lush jungle scene by artist Henri Rousseau entitled Tiger in a Tropical Storm.    You can read more about the artwork and the artist over on the ABS blog HERE.  If you missed it, you can see the necklace I made earlier in the month HERE.

Tiger in a Tropical Storm
Henri Rousseau
Oil Painting
I had a fun pair of fern patterned ceramic tiles by the talented Mary Harding that I liked for this challenge.  They reminded me of the leaves that are right in front of the tiger in the painting and even have a tinge of orange to them.  I did a little bit of wire wrapping with some green matte banded agate and Czech glass beads.  

I had another earring idea percolating in the back of my brain that I didn't quite get around to making.  As much as we've had on our calendar (I was out of town 12 days this month!) I'm shocked that I even got this pair finished.  I'm guessing I'll be keeping up the same frantic pace through the end of September when my big art show is done.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Honey Do List: July 2017

I'm so sorry that I'm a few of days late with this month's Honey Do List reveal.  I was gone last weekend for the fabulous Adornments Retreat (more on that soon, stay tuned to my blog if you're interested in hearing more about that) and then life threw me a couple of curve balls this week.  Better late than never though, right?  Right??  Anyway please forgive my tardiness!

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:

We spent a wonderful day with our friends Vicky and Ken in New Ulm last month.  As part of that day trip we visited the grounds of the historic August Schell Brewery (the second oldest family owned brewery in America) and found this beautiful peacock out courting.  I took about a hundred pictures and this side view though his feathers was my favorite.  Now is the time to break out those colorful blues and greens and show us YOUR stuff!

I love that Eric chose this proud peacock as our inspiration this month!  What he didn't tell you about the photo is that while this male was literally shaking his tail feathers to impress the pea hens, the ladies pretty much completely ignored his show boating!  It was pretty hilarious.  Anyway, that's not why I'm glad he picked this one... it's because I've got some lovely peacock beads in my stash that I've been itching to use!

My friend Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio has recently started making some fabulous peacock feather components... and I just had to use some of them here!  I picked up the pendant at Bead & Button but then was tempted by her earring charms at a Facebook trunk show she did after I got home.  Since I was still waiting for the earring charms to arrive, I started with a necklace.    

The darker glaze of the feather called out for brass... also I knew I had a toggle clasp with feathery details in brass.  I picked a selection of green and blue Czech glass to complement the glaze colors in the pendant and made beaded links.  To mix things up and add a little more brass to the design, I also used a few filigree beads in the design.

Below are the earrings I made... combining Michelle's lovely components and peacock worthy discs from Heather Powers of Humblebeads.  I added some Swarovski pearls and plated hematite along with brass accents for these.  I wire wrapped the loops on the charms with wire to hide them... I like the look of that versus the raw metal.

Actually the last thing I managed to finish (mostly because I needed to patina some copper wire before I could make my wire-wrapped links) may be the one I'm most proud of for this month.  I bought the amazing polymer clay peacock feather pendant from Staci Louise Smith at Bead Fest Philadelphia when I went (check out her stuff at Staci Louise Originals HERE).   This pendant is CHUNKY and has a great metallic iridescence that my photo just doesn't capture.  This time I used mostly gemstones including carnelian and plated druzy.  There's also some Swarovski pearls and Czech glass thrown in the mix.  I think the right person is going to go nuts for this one.

Another little gem that I found while looking for other peacock inspired beads was a large Vintaj Natural Brass blank that I had etched with their "Bird of Paradise" DecoEtch die and then added patina paint to a while back.  (When I play with the paints I tend to do way more than I plan to immediately design with and then save them for later.)  I had also picked up some peacock patterned shell beads ages ago and used one as part of the pendant.  With the large size of the pendant I wanted a longer necklace.  I had fun picking a wide variety of Czech glass beads to coordinate with the pendant blank and bead.

Not art beads, but I found a bag of items that needed to be put away that happened to include a cool patina green feather pendant and some faceted blue green quartz coins... it was a perfect combination!  I just added some small bronze seed beads in between the coins for a simply strung necklace.  I didn't have quite enough coins to make the necklace as long as I wanted (also, the holes were a little small to double the stringing wire back through them) so I finished it up with a few bloodstone rounded puff coins.  To pull it all together I added some Vintaj patina paints to the clasp to make it match the pendant.    

As an added bonus, I whipped up a little pair of earrings with some fun luster finish Czech glass teardrops and peacock spotted coins.  I don't know why I haven't used more of my teardrop beads... they really are great for earrings!

I'm proud as a peacock about all my new designs!  I can't believe after all this creativity that there are STILL more things that I didn't get to sitting on my bead board.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

We're All Ears July 2017: Visual Music

This month's challenge for We're All Ears over on the Earrings Everyday blog truly was a challenge for me!  Erin threw down her beady gauntlet and asked us to make earrings inspired by visual representations of music.  She gave us tons of amazing examples from two different artists and I spent a good amount of time mesmerized by the patterns trying to get earring ideas to bubble to the surface of my brain.

I finally decided on Stephen Malinowski's representation of Ghost Waltz by Situm.  There was something about the vertical strings of circles that made me think dangling earrings.  You can see more examples of visual music over on the Earrings Everyday blog HERE.

In my haul of new beads from Golem Design Studio that I just picked up at the Bead & Button show, I happened to have some small lentil beads that felt right for this challenge.  I wanted to play with several of the ideas that I found in the visual music... the chain of circles going from larger to smaller, the lines connecting them, the dots themselves, and to some extent the colors.  In the middle of the musical piece, the dots end up being connected at more of an angle... it's not quite the spiral effect of the lentil beads, but still angular and also busier.  I'm pretty happy with these fun and bright ear bobs and glad that I didn't give up when the challenge seemed too, well, challenging!  

Stop by and see what everyone else created for this unique earring challenge over on the Earrings Everyday blog HERE.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Artisans Create Together Color Palette Challenge: July 2017

I always enjoy a good color challenge and this month's Artisans Create Together Color Inspiration challenge is no exception!  These color inspirations are just one of the creative challenges that this Facebook group organized each month.  

Usually there are two different choices, but this time it's almost like having three since Challenge #1 is all about using either blue and white or red and white.  (Is it wrong that I was relieved that this was an either/or thing and not the full on red, white, and blue thing?)  Anyway, so many good choices just in this first challenge!  

My first two designs are variations on a theme... and that theme is super cute red and white enameled mushroom charms by Gardanne Beads.  I snatched up two pairs of these little mushrooms the first time she offered them up at an online trunk show and was thrilled to get them.  I kept one pair (fairly) simple with little links of Czech glass flowers and rondelles in red and red with brass.  I went a tiny bit "bigger' with the second set using adorable red and white polka dotted lampwork beads by Grace Lampwork that I got from Lima Beads with the mushrooms in mind.  I wish I had snagged more!

I had big plans of making a necklace with this amazing pendant that I also got from Gardanne, but I ran out of time and other things were screaming louder.  Eventually I'll get back around to this little beauty!  

For the Orange & Lime challenge, I went for more earrings.  I knew that I had some perfect charms in my stash for this one!  I started with some fun ceramic charms by Jana of Happy Fish Things.  I love the bright colors she uses... in this case green, orange, and turquoise!  I'm not always crazy about how the metal loops on ceramic components look and often hide them in some way.  This time I decided to leave them alone as I kind of liked the black and silver rustic look these have.  I picked some vibrant Czech glass beads to dangle from the bottom loops.  These are a little "louder" than what I often design but I think they're super fun!      

I also revisited a design I first made early in the year using enameled bead caps from C-Koop Beads.  This time I used some lime green flower bead caps and added some brass foliage bead caps that I painted bright orange.  The tendrils turned a bit looser than my previous attempts.  In Eric's words... "natural product, results may vary."

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my latest creations!  I'm off to pack for the Adornments Retreat in Galena, Illinois.  I can't wait to immerse myself in creativity for my birthday weekend!  I'll tell y'all all about it when I return!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Inspiration in Everyday: July 2017: Koi

It feels like it's been awhile since I've played along again with a design challenge from a newer group on Facebook 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.

While we were wandering around Milwaukee when we visited for the Bead & Button Show last month, we stumbled upon a cool piece of sidewalk art.  We were on a mission to get someplace (probably the next beer or cocktail!) but I still stopped to snap a quick iPhone photo of these delightful koi fish swimming on the cement.  Maybe I was subconsciously inspired by this unexpected artwork, but I ended up buying a cool koi pendant from Diane Hawkey at the show.  

In my usual way, I gathered a bunch of possible beads to play with Diane's pretty pendant and let them percolate on my bead mat (and in my brain!) for a bit while I worked on other things.  Here's a peak at my not-so-controlled-chaos!  Most of these beads made it into my final design!

I ended up using an eclectic mix of materials to play with the pendant... ceramic, Czech glass, copper, cracked quartz, and teal paisley jasper.  I didn't love the look of the black wire loops on the top and bottom of the pendant with the materials I had selected, so I played around with a couple of different options to camouflage them.  For the top loop, I wrapped coils of copper colored wire all the way around it.  On the bottom I was originally thinking that I would have some sort of dangles... charms and or beads... so I started by adding some small jump rings decorated with seed beads that I thought would fall on either side of the charms.  I never quite got the dangle idea to gel (partially because it felt like the focal was getting too big and partially because I wanted the koi have the attention) so I ended up just adding a few more decorated jump rings.  I like the effect... what do you think?

My photos really don't do justice to the gorgeous shimmer or the gold highlights in the pendant, but I promise it's even lovelier in person!  I may have to make Eric get the photo light box and real camera out for this one.

Thanks for stopping by to see the inspiration that I found in everyday!  P.S. If you're interested in my Bead & Button adventures this year, you can read my post on that HERE.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Art Bead Scene: July 2017

This month's Art Bead Scene challenge inspiration is a lush jungle scene by artist Henri Rousseau entitled Tiger in a Tropical Storm.  I have to laugh because I didn't actually notice the rain and storm action until I grabbed the image for my blog and noticed the title of the painting for the first time!  I guess I'm not as observant as I thought!  Anyway, you can read more about the artwork and the artist over on the ABS blog HERE.

Tiger in a Tropical Storm
Henri Rousseau
Oil Painting

This month I started with a lovely leaf pendant by Lesley Watt that I got at Bead Fest Philadelphia a couple of years ago.  The lush read orange with dark green veins seemed like the perfect jumping off point.  The leaf's texture reminded me of the fern like leaves by the tiger in the inspiration artwork.  As lovely as the focal is, I knew I needed to mix up the colors a little bit to better represent the painting's palette.

I pulled together a mix of Czech glass beads in reds, oranges, green, and amber.   I also grabbed some wood, ceramic, and vintage plastic beads that were left over from Allegory Gallery's Forest Journey design kit as well as some paper beads in coordinating colors.  As one final element, I added some African green brecciated jasper rounds with leafy brass bead caps.

I'm pretty pleased with the mix of textures and materials... and the fact that I got rid of some orphan beads!  I have a couple of earrings ideas for this month's challenge.  We'll see if I get back around to making those... stay tuned!!  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Bead & Button 2017 Recap

I feel like I've been running almost nonstop since we got back from the Bead & Button Show.  I've been meaning to write a little blog post about our Milwaukee adventures and I finally have a second to take a deep breath and recap things for my readers (and to capture my memories for my own record.)

On the road!  B&B here we come!
This year Eric and I both decided to take classes at Bead & Button which made for a longer trip to Milwaukee but was totally worth it... and we had plenty of time left over for exploring the beer and food scene!  Our first classes started bright and early on Wednesday morning.  While Eric was learning how to take better photos of my jewelry, I was down the hallway learning all about saltwater etching with Tracy Stanley!

I've long been intrigued by metal etching but have never tried it until now... largely because I wasn't interested in dealing with the harsh chemicals needed for chemical etching.  Saltwater etching uses electricity and a super saturated solution of kosher salt to etch patterns onto your metal.  We used sheets of copper and brass in class for our designs (silver can be used too but takes longer).  I'm not much of an artist, so I pretty much stuck to using some of the rubber stamps that Tracy brought to create my designs.  After getting our gear all set up and learning the basic idea, Tracy gave us the choice of how to use our class time.  We had the option to work on finishing jewelry pieces, but I stuck with etching more sheets of metal.  I focused mostly on repeating patterns thinking that would be the most versatile when I actually started working on jewelry.  I can't wait to pull out my disc cutter and my saw and create some new designs!

The etching set up; copper sheet with stamped images ready to etch; copper sheet after etching and antiquing; etched brass and copper designs.

For our second foray into B&B classes, Eric and I both signed up to take a fun polymer clay class with the talented Julie Picarello.  We picked her class because of the timing and the fact that it looked super fun... also Eric has been interested in doing more with polymer clay.  We learned tons of good tips and tricks from Julie including lots about color mixing.  Honestly, that part may have been the most valuable to me in some ways.  In my limited experience with this medium, I've mostly been going with colors straight out of the package... mixing my own colors, I came up with some really rich and lush shades.  I also picked up some good tips for building up beads and applying a veneer of color and/or pattern over the top.  I look forward to figuring out how to take what I learned and make it my own... I need more hours in the day!!    

Supplies all ready to go; designing my stack of clay and decorating the petals; picking our favorites for my petals; finished pendants (Eric's on the left and mine on the right)

Something I look forward to at any sort of beady event is reconnecting in person with my jewelry and bead making tribe.  Unfortunately, I'm not always the best about getting pictures... but I did snap a few!  From quick hugs on the show floor to drinks and dinner... we got some good friend time in on this trip.  A highlight for me was finally meeting the lovely and talented Erin Prais-Hintz in person!

Just a few beady friends:  Hanging with Loralee Kolton, meeting Erin Prais-Hintz in person for the first time, and giving Michelle McCarthy a hug and a hello!

So, if you know me at all, you know that I want all the beads... so the shopping is obviously a major draw for me.  One of the perks of taking classes is that you can attend a preview shopping night on Tuesday called Moonlight Madness that takes place in the Hyatt hotel (where we were staying) from 9 to 11 pm.  You also get into the full show floor on Thursday night while the general public has to wait until Friday morning to shop.  Over the course of the week I managed to do some pretty serious damage in the shopping department!  My main focus was on art beads... although I also picked up a ton of new Czech glass beads too.  Here's a look at some of my new artisan made goodies!

Beads from Golem Design Studio, Humblebeads, Allegory Gallery/Andrew Thornton, Xaz Raku

Beads from Joan Miller, Green Girl Studio, Firefly Design Studio, and Marsha Neal

Beads from Patricia Larsen, Diane Tarulla, Diane Hawkey, and Nikki Thornburg-Lanigan

My big splurge... Anne Choi beads!
In addition to all our beady shenanigans, Eric and I had plenty of time to explore the growing craft beer scene in Milwaukee, see family, and enjoy some delicious food and cocktails.  You can read more about that side of things over on the Beerploma blog soon.  (He's a bit behind.)    

For now I'll leave you with this extra snapshot from the Bead & Button show floor.... Me posing with the Swarovski crystal covered 1956 Porsche 356 Speedster.  This little sports car is covered with 247,148 crystals to the tune of something like $150,000 worth of Swarovski.  Yowza!  

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Inspiration for the Honey Do List: July 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:

We spent a wonderful day with our friends Vicky and Ken in New Ulm last month.  As part of that day trip we visited the grounds of the historic August Schell Brewery (the second oldest family owned brewery in America) and found this beautiful peacock out courting.  I took about a hundred pictures and this side view though his feathers was my favorite.  Now is the time to break out those colorful blues and greens and show us YOUR stuff!

The reveal date will be Monday, July 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 July 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!