Monday, April 30, 2018

Artisans Create Together April 2018 Inspiration Challenge ~ Showers & Flowers

I know that the saying is "April showers bring May flowers," but so far in Minnesota we've only had snow showers.  Actually, more than just showers... we got a good 6-8 inches at my house April 2nd and 3rd followed by super cold temps.  Brrrrr!  Things are looking much better this week but it's still going to be a while before things are in full bloom.  For now, I'll have to content myself with some blooming jewelry designs for this month's Artisans Create Together inspiration challenge.

First up, a pair that features some raindrop blue flowers!  I paired some adorable blue and white floral rounds from Golem Design Studio with coordinating Czech glass flowers.  I'm really digging these glass flowers that are a bit bigger than the "normal" size you tend to see... that or the super tiny ones that I used in the next pair.     

Next up, I played with some adorable leaf and flower charms from my friends at Green Girl Studios.  I had a hard time deciding between some bolder red and black Czech glass flowers and the pale blue and bronzed wisteria beads that ended up winning.  These are pretty long, but fairly lightweight. 

This next pair features a pair of earring charms that I started last October at Heather Powers' Inspired by Nature Fall Retreat and finally put the finishing touches on last month.  Once again, I chose some coordinating Czech glass beads to go with the little charms.

And last, but not least, I managed to pull together one last pair!  Finally a little bright color for you, right??  I snatched these fun flower charms up from Heather Powers of Humblebeads on the Bead Cruise a couple of weeks ago (along with a lot of other fun things!). 

I hope you're seeing more flowers than showers where ever you are!!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Art Elements Theme of the Month April 2018: Horses

For this month's Theme of the Month challenge on the Art Elements blog Jenny Davies-Reazor chose horses.  At first blush I was totally stumped.  My only real artistic outlet is jewelry making and I was fresh out of horse beads!  (I used to have two sets of horse charms from Round Rabbit but used them for a different challenge a few years ago.)  I have frogs, monkeys, fish, kitties, and birds galore but absolutely no horses.

Luckily, Jenny opened up her definition of what counts as equine to include some of the horses mythical cousins... unicorns and pegasus!  Whew!  While I still didn't have anything right on hand, I reached out to Andrew Thornton and William Jones of Allegory Gallery and they had just what I needed!  I ended up with two Pegasus pendants made by Andrew (one polymer clay and one wooden) to play with for this month.  Hooray!

Ancient Greek Pegasus figure, bronze; reproduction Ancient Greek coin; “Fame escorting Pegasus” marble, 1875 by Lequesne

First up, I grabbed the polymer clay piece that reminds me very much of the above reproduction of an ancient Greek coin.  The pendant is predominantly bronze in color, but has some hints of copper as well.  I decided on a simple stringing pattern for this one using some Picasso finish Czech glass melons and some bronze-y druzy beads.

I think that Andrew may have made the wooden Pegasus pendant just because I was asking after any equine creations... so I had to make something with it too!  This time I went for wire-wrapped links instead of stringing.  I used some really fun and unusual Czech glass coins that I picked up this spring at a local bead show and some matte Red Creek Jasper.

This is a blog hop!  Check out what everyone else was inspired to make this month.


Sarajo - you are here

AE Team Members: 


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Art Bead Scene: April 2018

This month's inspiration for the Art Bead Scene challenge is the oil painting Discs of Newton (Study for "Fugue in Two Colors") by Frantisek Kupka.  I have to admit that this artwork is a little more abstract than what I normally respond to, but the rings of color are intriguing.  You can read more about the artist and this painting over on the ABS blog HERE

Title: Disks of Newton (Study for “Fugue in Two Colors”)
By: FrantiĊĦek Kupka
Date: 1912
The first thing that came to my mind was an adorable little apple charm that I got from an Earthenwood Studio destash bundle a few months ago.  I thought it would be fun to make a little charm bundle with it, but before I started piecing that together I looked through my little collection of charms from Heather Powers' Inspired by Nature Fall Retreat to see if there was a charm set that the apple would work with.  I found just the thing made by Beth Steffl!  To give the necklace more physical and visual weight, I wire wrapped a lentil bead from Golem Design Studio with a fun pattern of concentric circles reminiscent of the inspiration artwork.  I made links with glass rounds in shades of red, orange, and yellow.

I'm rarely happy to just make one thing for these design challenges, and this is no exception!  I had snagged a cool enameled pendant from Gardanne that called out to me in response to the inspiration artwork.  While the turquoise isn't in the inspiration artwork, there are other shades of blue and green so I'm taking some artistic license!  I thought the way the red is dashed along the pendant in rows speaks to the segments of colors in concentric circles in the painting.  Since the pendant is mostly red, I chose to have more of the turquoise in the necklace with pops of red an silver to balance things out.

Thanks for stopping by to see my latest designs! 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Honey Do List: April 2018

This marks the third year that my husband Eric has been giving me a design challenge each month to get me out of my comfort zone and to help clear out my bead stash... it's the Honey Do List 2018!  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 with us!  

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

Spring?  Not so much.  We have more crappy snow coming down as I write this post.  So, how about a picture evoking brighter days to come?  I took this last spring at a local orchard in Buffalo, MN and loved the bright yellow bike.  Let us see some bright and vibrant work this month!  

As much as I enjoyed last month's inspiration, I'm super happy for a fun photo with lots of vibrant color.  Until the last few days Minnesota has been in the middle of 5th Winter, so this bright scene is very welcome in my world.  With that said, my first creation is more about the bike than the colors!  I've been sitting on a pair of adorable bicycle charms by White Clover Kiln that I bought at Bead Fest Philadelphia a few years ago.  In fact, I've had several of her charms sitting in the drawer with a set of Humblebeads discs for almost all that time.  One pair is finally seeing the light of day!  I added some brass, Czech glass and plated hematite to pull this little pair together pretty quick.

My next design has a much stronger punch of color but the bicycle part is a little more abstract.  This design is my take on one of the first jewelry projects that I ever clipped from a beading magazine when I first started beading.  I was fascinated by the wire wrapped "wheel" bead and bought a strand from Michael's that has sat in my beading stuff ever since.  They always looked like a spoked bike wheel to me, so this was the perfect time to dig them out!  I went back through my clipped article file looking for the project that had originally inspired me and low and behold, it was one of my friend Heather Powers' projects from an old issue of the now defunct Bead Style!  Anyways, back to the necklace at hand!

Like Heather's original design, I used one of her Humblebeads lentil beads (a happy Van Gogh Sunflowers one to go with the colors of Eric's photo) along with the bike spoke bead.  To give the pendant structure a little more heft, I used a fun charm from Nunn Design at the bottom of things.  I also like the mixed metal action that it led me to use.  I had some fancy embellished chain that was just screaming to be used that I combined with some Vintaj Natural Brass rollo chain to make up one strand of the necklace.  The second strand is a fun copper plated chain that reminds me of bicycle chain!  While the colors in this necklace aren't quite as vibrant as the photo's, I'm happy that I somewhat captured all the major colors from the inspiration and included several bike inspired components.

I've got one more necklace for you this month... another one that embraces color without getting too crazy.  I picked up this fun bicycle pendant from Earthenwood Studio in a destash bundle a few months ago and I've been itching to use it.  I didn't want my design to be too monochromatic, so I added in some pale yellow rounds as well as some darker teal/green Czech glass coins that remind me of bicycle tires/spokes.  In other news, the bike on the pendant reminds me of my first hand me down bike as a little girl with the banana seat and streamers on the handlebars!

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Friday, April 20, 2018

We're All Ears: April 2018: Paradise Calling

For this month's We're All Ears challenge over on the Earrings Everyday blog, Erin got inspired by the Bead Cruise!  (You can read about my adventures on this year's cruise HERE if you want to learn more.) 

Having just returned from tropical climes to about 16 inches of new snow in Minnesota, I was perfectly content to go back to my happy place (if only in my mind) this week to design some beach/Caribbean inspired earrings.  I even used some of the beads and charms that I made in Heather Powers polymer clay class!

I'll start off a little simple with two pairs of earrings featuring patinated brass charms that I picked up a while back from Lima Beads.  Each of them also features Czech glass, plated hematite, and Vintaj Natural brass.

Next up, a little trio of earrings using different versions of Heather Power's starfish charms.  I have another pair similar to these that I made for myself a few year's ago with the whitewashed version of these charms... I get tons of compliments on them so it made sense to just whip up variations on a theme.  Plus, I needed to make room for all the new pretties I bought from Heather on the Bead Cruise's Bead Bazaar night!  Each pair features lampwork glass and either Czech or cultured sea glass.  The lampwork glass in the right hand pair is by Mermaid Glass... sadly, I'm unsure of the artist for the other two but they were a gift from my sweet husband.

When I was fishing all those little starfish out of my Humblebeads drawer, another set of charms also caught my eye.  I snagged these little pineapples ages ago and decided it was high time (or maybe high tide??) to use them!  I used some orange and green Czech glass to pull out the colors of the pineapples.  These are super fun and make me think of fun fruity cocktails!

Last, but not least, I made two pairs of earrings with some of the fruits of my polymer clay class with Heather on the Bead Cruise.  I wasn't going to let those babies gather dust with this challenge on the horizon!  The first pair uses my attempt at disc beads with leaf canes and the second pair features two of the leaf charms that I made from the cane ends where it became a little more distorted.

Thanks for stopping by to see my tropical paradise inspired earrings!  Pop on over to the Earrings Everyday blog HERE to see what everyone else was inspired to make this month!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Bead Cruise 2018

I'm just back from a wonderful week of jewelry making classes, seeing old friends, meeting new people, fun in the sun, fabulous prizes, yummy food & drinks, and much more.  Where was I that all this happened?  On board Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas for the seven night Bead Cruise, of course!!  This is my fourth time setting sail with Heather Powers of Humblebeads and a group of other wonderful instructors and participants for the Bead Cruise and it's a blast each and every time!

Our ship, the Allure of the Seas, at our first port, Labadee.

This year we left out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and headed for Labadee, Haiti; Jamaica, and Cozumel, Mexico... more about that in a bit.  Most of us fly down at least a day before the departure date... some folks went on a bead store field trip on Saturday, but I got in that day and just headed to the group hotel.

Getting to and on the ship is always a bit of an adventure starting with our shuttle to the port with tons of bags and supplies in tow... but eventually we always manage to get everything on board and settled into our staterooms and classrooms.  After grabbing a light lunch, I found my roommate for the week, grabbed cocktails, and toasted to the wonderful times ahead!

Waiting for the port shuttle with my friend Erin Prais-Hintz... Can you feel the excitement of going on her first Bead Cruise?

Met up with my wonderful roommate (and fabulous instructor!) Tracy Stanley to kick off the trip right!

After dinner on the first night of the cruise, there is a little welcome event where everyone gets to meet up, get the week's schedule, receive our goody bags full of wonderful items donated by the cruise's sponsors, and participate in a pendant exchange.  I ran out of time to play along with the exchange last year so I made sure to get back into the swing of things this time!

Pendant Exchange:  L) The pendant I made with a design and components from Vintaj.  R) The lovely and delicate pendant I received from SandyWetzstein.

If you aren't familiar with the way the Bead Cruise works, there are classes scheduled during the day on the at sea days.  You get one full day class and one half day class included with your registration and have the option of adding up to two additional half day classes.  This year, I decided to break out of my rut and try something new... bead embroidery!  My all day class was "It's A Hippy Thing" with the sweet, patient, and fun Kinga Nichols.  I'm a long way from having this bracelet completed (as you can see from my in progress pics below) but I'm getting there for sure!  I'm super excited to learn how to make a peyote bezel around a cabochon.  Now I won't be sad when I see a lovely bead only to notice that it's actually a cab!  I loved the way Kinga set up our class supplies buffet style so that we could pick our favorite one of a kind cab, the silk color, the leather, and the button individually.  I picked the orange color way for the cab and beads but decided to use the teal silk. 

The next day we were back ashore on Royal Caribbean's private piece of Haiti... Labadee.  I wasn't off the ship for too long, but did enjoy taking the little boat ride to the far side of the island and checking out the artisan market.  (I didn't get there the last time we were there for the 10th Anniversary cruise.)  It was super hot and humid so Heather, Erin, and I headed back to enjoy the pool while most people were off the ship.

Myself, Heather, and Erin on Labadee.  Lovely water of the Caribbean!

The next day was spent exploring Jamaica with a group of my fellow Bead Cruisers and our local guide "Mama" Maxine and guide-in-training Bobby.  We spent the first part of the way driving across the island to Dunn's River Falls.  None of us were interested in trying to climb the falls (it actually looked like a nightmare to do that to me!) but we enjoyed their beauty and many of us did at least get our feet wet!  After a yummy lunch of jerk chicken, fried plantains, and Red Stripe beer (for me, anyways) we headed for a quick tour of the lovely Coyaba Gardens.

Vistas from the drive, and a peek at Dunn's River Falls.

Some cool plants from Coyaba Gardens.  The top right is called Cat's Whiskers!

Later that evening, we had our Neverland themed costume party.  I was too busy dancing and checking out everyone's costumes and jewelry to get many pictures but I did snap a shot of a cute Peter Pan and Tinker Bell!  My costume was a super lazy pirate outfit not worthy of pictures!

After two days in a row on the islands it was back to class!  My half day class was my roommate Tracy Stanley's "Let's Color It" class.  She taught us a fun method for adding color to metal with Prismacolor colored pencils.  I have to admit that I spent a lot of my class time picking out some of the fun shaped metal blanks that Tracy brought and getting them prepped so that I could easily play with the color at home.  I did get one pendant mostly done, though.  I still need to seal it and I'm also thinking that I will add some sort of riveted element to it... just have to decide what that will be first!  This was a super fun technique and I'm already thinking about ways to incorporate it into future designs.

My main piece in progress... I love how even though my rubber stamp work was a little sloppy, the process was pretty forgiving.

Our last port was Cozumel, Mexico.  We stopped there last year and I did a cooking at the beach class at Playa Mia.  I had so much fun last time that I signed up for an excursion that included the same fabulous cooking class but added on some tequila time and a chocolate tour and tasting as well.  I didn't take many pictures (too busy cooking!) but snapped the shots below at the Mayan Cacao Company tour.  A fun, if a bit rushed time was had.  I even grabbed a nice bottle of sipping tequila to bring home to my hubby!

I ended up signing up for two bonus classes this year... one with our lovely hostess Heather and another with Kinga.  I was more than a little nervous about trying Heather's "Welcome to the Jungle" polymer class because it involved making canes.  I was pleasantly surprised by the relative ease of the process and think my beads turned out pretty darn well for it being a first attempt and working with a bit of a time crunch.  I had some ends of the cane that I had lopped off (it gets more distorted on the ends) but they still looked ok.  I decided to try making some little leaf charms since I had some larger sized canes.  Check back on Friday to see a couple of pairs of earrings featuring some of these newly made beads and charms for the We're All Ears challenge. 

It's hard to believe the polymer clay magic that creates the leaf canes that then get applied to your beads!  

Kinga's bonus class "Zeno, the Tiniest Fishie Bracelet" was a great way to end my set of classes.  Much more straightforward and beginner friendly, since it didn't involve bezeling a cab.  I had fun sitting and working on the backstitch outlines in class.  I got more of it finished while waiting for my flight home at the airport, but still have a ways to go.  I'll have to share when I get hime all done.  I was pleased to discover through Kinga's two classes that I enjoy bead embroidery... and it's one more tool in my beading tool kit!

So, eventually my fishy will look like Kinga's samples... I hope!

The last night of the cruise is always bittersweet for me... I'm sad to say goodbye to all of my beady friends but ready to be back home to my husband and kitties.  After dinner, Heather always hosts a Farewell Party before we all have to go back to our rooms to finish packing.  This year, a fun addition to the party was a little photo booth action with lots of amusing props.  Here are a couple of pics of me with Tracy and then Erin and Heather.  Heather also gave out a few more prizes game show style... I won a lovely bunch of sari silk from Design Talented One and a butterfly pendant from Gardanne.

Before I say goodbye to all of you, here's a little collage of some of my favorite things around the ship.  A couple of shots of my favorite area... Central Park, an outside area with real plants and lots of seating tucked throughout; my first chocolate martini... dessert for me on several nights; part of a cool art installation showing the progression of creating a carousel horse; and my favorite towel animal by our stateroom attendant Bob!  Not pictured, but the Oceanaria show at the amazing AquaTheater was super cool.  It was mix of diving, acrobatics, aerial daring, dance, and more with a "stage" that was sometimes covered with only an inch of water and sometimes was deep enough to dive into from 60 feet!

Thanks for sticking with me through this long post... assuming that you're still reading!  LOL.  I write these posts as much for myself as a diary of sorts, so I want to do my best to capture the highlights of all my adventures.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Inspiration for the Honey Do List April 2018

This marks the third year that my husband Eric has been giving me a design challenge each month to get me out of my comfort zone and to help clear out my bead stash... it's the Honey Do List 2018!  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 with us!  

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

Spring?  Not so much.  We have more crappy snow coming down as I write this post.  So, how about a picture evoking brighter days to come?  I took this last spring at a local orchard in Buffalo, MN and loved the bright yellow bike.  Let us see some bright and vibrant work this month!  

The reveal date will be Monday, April 23rd.  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 23rd 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!