Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Art Elements Theme of the Month July 2018: Seed Pods

Another fun theme challenge from the team at the Art Elements blog this month!    Jen Cameron has chosen seed pods to inspire us for July.

I immediately thought of some fun components that I got from Anna Bronze at Bead & Button last year.  They have a couple of collections that are nature and spice inspired that were just perfect for this challenge.  Now I had just the excuse I needed to play with some of my little lovelies that have been languishing.  Thanks, Art Elements!!

I'm not entirely sure what the Anna Bronze component that I chose for my necklace is really supposed to be, but it felt pod like to me!  I decided to pair it with a lantern/melon bead from Gaea and some brass bead caps with a chain tassel hanging down for the pendant.  I added links with coordinating Czech glass.  The back is brass chain and the whole thing is long.  This necklace is currently at Unearthed Arts in Waconia.

Next up I played with some star anise seed pods from Anna Bronze.  These little cuties have multiple holes (at the 4 compass points) so it seems a shame that I'm only using one, but I wanted the pods to shine!  I just made some little bead links with some fun little melon beads for a small pop of color.  I feel like the texture of the melons also seems seed pod like.

In addition to the finished pieces that I made, I did make progress on a couple of other pod-related projects.  During Heather Powers' Fairy Garden Headpins class at the Adornments Retreat I ended up with a couple of headpins with a pod-like feel.  One of the items I used for mold making was some sort of flower bud, I'm not sure what the other little guy really was, but I liked the impression it made!  They don't look like much in this photo especially since I haven't painted them yet, but I think they're going to be cool once I get them finished!

When I got back from the retreat, I went looking in the garden and yard for other items to make molds of... one of the things that I found were milkweed pods.  I've really never seen milkweed up close enough to observe it's life cycle before.  When I left for the retreat the plants still had some flowers on them but by the time I returned it was all about the pods!  I haven't gotten out the polymer clay yet, but I did make what I think will be a great set of molds.  I can't wait to use them!

Thanks for stopping by!  This is a blog hop so check out what everyone else was inspired to create!

Guest Artists:
Sarajo - You are here!
Art Elements Team: 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Art Bead Scene: July 2018

I'm a little mesmerized by this month's inspiration for the Art Bead Scene challenge!  The artwork is one of the plates from the book of Ernest Haeckel's work Art Forms of Nature that portrays ascidians, commonly referred to as sea squirts.  Haeckel was a German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, professor, marine biologist, and artist who discovered, described, and named thousands of new species among other accomplishments.  You can read more about the artist and artwork HERE.

Art forms in Nature, Plate 85, Ascidiae 
By: Ernst Haeckel    Date: 1907
I adore the colors and organic shapes in this plate... so much to be inspired by!  The first thing that jumped out at me were the coral-like tendrils coming from the two center images.  I had already been exploring my small collection of Anna Bronze pieces for another July challenge and found just the perfect elements for earrings in a mismatched pair of bronze charms.  I kept my design simple and just attached the charms to a pair of silk cocoons from my friend Anna Pierson of Saga Hus in a soft green.

Despite some big plans, I only managed to make one other design this month... another pair of earrings with coral designs!  This time I used some cute charms from Heather Powers of Humblebeads.  I wire wrapped some fun mottled turquoise and gold flecked coins along with star cut peach moonstone beads and hung these cuties on sterling silver ear wires.

I'd love to say that August will be a more productive month, but we've got even more travel on the docket.  Hopefully I can still manage to get something made for my favorite challenges.  Fingers crossed!!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Adornments Retreat 2018

2018 marks the second year for the fabulous Adornments Mixed Media Jewelry Retreat in Galena, Illinois.  I was lucky enough to attend last year as a birthday gift to myself and I just had to go back for year two!  Because all of us bemoaned the fact that we could only take two classes, and thus only get to work with two of the four wonderful instructors, they expanded the retreat by a day and shook up the format a bit.  Even with getting to select four different classes, it was still a really hard choice!!
Our fabulous instructors... Erin Prais-Hintz, Brenda Schweder, Jess Lincoln, and Heather Powers

With the expansion to three half day classes and one full day class, the retreat was one day longer this year.  The drive is a little long for me to drive down to start by 2 pm, so my road trip friend Jenny and I headed out on Tuesday after lunch.  This gave us a great chance to have a nice dinner with a fellow retreat goer that I'd never met in person before and check out a little more of downtown Galena in a leisurely fashion before the real fun started Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday was really all about getting everyone registered, digging through our goody bags, doing a fun pendant exchange, and creating our bead soup for the retreat's design challenge (more on that later.)  I received a fun beaded creation that reminds me of a sea creature from Cynthia Winter. 

Now, what you've been waiting for... a bit about the classes!!!  My first class was Heather Powers' Fairy Garden Headpins.  Now, in the past I've had a little bit of trouble getting the wires to feel secure in polymer clay headpins.  Because of that I was a bit nervous about this class... I really shouldn't have been!  I had a great time finding flowers, leaves, buds, and more on the grounds for a whole new set of molds.  (I brought the ones that I made a couple of year's ago at the Inspired By Nature Retreat too so that I'd have extra choices.)  I ended up with a nice little collection of headpins (and one pendant!) at the end of the day.  Unfortunately, we ran out of class time for painting our new goodies, but Heather was able to show us each of the techniques.  She had all the painting supplies out during our open beading at night, but I was too busy chatting and working on my design challenge piece.  I've got most of the paints I'll need at home, so I'll get around to it later.  (You've heard that from me before!!)

Next up, I finally got to take a class with the fabulous Miss Brenda Schweder!  After purchasing her awesome Now That's a Jig last fall, taking her Blanks for Makers class was just what I needed to get me comfortable with this tool and kick off what I hope will be many future jiggy adventures!  I know that what I completed in class doesn't seem like much, but these will get embellished and worked into finished designs.  This class was all about learning the basics, getting some tips, and gaining some hands on experience so that I wouldn't be intimidated.  I'm super excited about the possibilities and can't wait to play more.  I'm especially liking the smaller earring shapes on the right and have some ideas brewing for those!  I loved getting jiggy with it!

Last but not least, I took Heather's Tropical Faux Tin class as my third half day class.  While I had taken this class the first time Heather offered it, I loved the images from botanist Marianne North she chose this time and decided a refresher course wouldn't hurt.  Now I feel better prepared to try some things using some of Eric's photos.  I did manage to finish one fun pair of earrings in class and came pretty close to having a necklace done.  I should get on that!  

A new addition to the line up this year was an afternoon filled with fun make and takes!  Each instructor came up with a quick project that incorporated a flower theme.  They broke the attendees into small groups and had us rotate through the four different stations for 15 minutes at each.  Here's what I made (clockwise from top) with Brenda, Heather, Jess, and Erin.  The little ribbon rose with Heather was the furtherest from my wheelhouse, but I think all four mini-projects turned out super cute.  I'm thinking I may add some colorful seed beads or something to Brenda's flower shape to make a little sun catcher type thing...  the others will likely become part of necklaces down the road.  I really enjoyed doing all these fast and fun projects and I hope they'll do something along these lines again next year! 

The last day of the retreat brought our full day classes... I chose Jess's Vintaj Free-Form & Hand Forging.  I haven't taken a class with the fabulous Miss Jess since I did the Vintaj Two Day Workshop back in 2012.  I had just gotten my tax id and the first thing I did with it was to register to shop wholesale with Vintaj and sign up for the workshop in Galena.  It was one of the best things I ever did for my creative self and really jump started my love affair with Vintaj!  I'm telling you this because I bought my first pair of bail making pliers right after that trip and finally learned how to make use of them six years later.  I had a ton of fun learning to shape various Vintaj metal pieces (many of them already in my hoard) to use them in new and creative ways.  It was also great for my slow self to actually walk out of the class with several completed pieces of jewelry!  Check out what I accomplished during class as well as some action shots from the day below. 

One of the fun aspects of last year's retreat that they carried over to year two was the Bead Soup Design Contest.  Basically, they gave us a photo and color palette to inspire and guide us.  We were  instructed to bring the equivalent of 16 inches of beads to add to our table's bead soup mix on the first day.  We then mixed it all up and divvied it up between our table mates.  They gave us until the end o the last day to make a creation made up of at least 60% bead soup items and we had a little design contest.  Here's a look at the inspiration and my table's mix:

I didn't win a prize in the design contest, but I'm oh so in love with the necklace that I made using my friend Erin's gorgeous pendant!  (You can find her and her goodies at Tesori Trovati.)  Lucky me... I have another similar pendant still in my stash to play with at a later date.  Now I just have to decide if I'm keeping this one for myself!

After the wrap-party where we got to see what everyone had been working on for the last few days, many of us headed into downtown Galena for dinner and a fun-and-treasure-filled trip to Trish Italia's (Jess's mom, if you didn't know) lovely bead store, Rustic River Finds!  Of course, since I need another bead like I need another hole in my head, I had to buy a ton of fun new beads... mostly Czech glass and peanut seed beads in colors I haven't seen before.  Trish also had a cute make and take bracelet for us all to do.  It's so special that she kept the store open late just for our group... we all appreciate her time and talent.  This was a fabulous way to officially end the retreat.  Trish has more than just beads... she's got some cute home decor too.  It's totally worth stopping in if you ever find yourself in Galena!

Not wanting the fun times to end, a few of us met up for breakfast in downtown Galena and then hit up a few antiques stores before hitting the road.  I found a couple of fun things including a cigar mold that I plan to use for some jewelry display and some old Mattel molds from their Thing Maker that my sisters had back in the day.  (If you want a giggle, check out a commercial for the Thing Maker creepy crawlers from the 60's HERE.)

A huge thanks to all the wonderful instructors who bring their passion, enthusiasm, and creativity to make the Adornments Retreat such a special and inspiring event!  This retreat is more than just a educational experience... it's a fellowship of creatives gathering to learn, laugh, and share.  Some of my favorite moments were actually outside of the retreat proper.  Each night after the official events were over, many of us gathered in our room (I shared again with my friend Monica) for drinks, snacks, and gabbing.  Most nights we laughed until we cried... seriously, I don't remember the last time I belly laughed like that!  I love that such a diverse group of women can come together for events like this... I made many new friends and got to reconnect with old ones.

I'll wrap this up and leave you with a shot of one of the gorgeous sunsets that we enjoyed from the Chestnut Mountain Resort.  As is so often the case, my photo doesn't do justice to the beauty my eyes took in... but it gives you an idea of the view nonetheless.  Until next year, Adornments! 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Honey Do List July 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:

I've wanted to get a decent crow picture for ages but they have eluded me. Over our recent trip to Portland (and their plethora of loud crows) I finally had a chance!  The closer of these crows was pretty mad about my presence and kept cawing at me while I took this series of shots.  It ended up dive-bombing a random pedestrian and my friend Ron shortly after this!

When Eric chose one of his crow pictures for this challenge I knew that I had a couple of pendants from my friend Andrew Thornton of Allegory Gallery that were just perfect.  Yay for immediate inspiration!!  This first necklace definitely makes me think of when Mama Crow was fussing at Eric for getting too close.  I love that this laser cut wood pendant catches the crow mid-caw!  With the feathers in the background I thought it would be fun to incorporate a Vintaj feather piece that I added some black patina paint to.  Originally I was thinking I would have a feather on each side of the necklace, but after trying several options, I abandoned that idea in favor of a much more asymmetrical design.  The links are made up of a variety of Czech glass and ceramic beads.

I had a much more colorful crow pendant from Andrew in my stash too.  It wasn't in the original pile of beads that I pulled out for this month's challenge, but it kept calling to me (cawing to me?) and I just had to pull it out and play with it!  This time I went for a strung design of glass, freshwater pearls, plated hematite, and vintage lucite with copper plated findings.  To finish things off, I picked a key toggle clasp to play off the key in the crow's beak on the pendant.

On a more subtle note, I decided to do a play on the sheen of the crows feathers.  You can't see it in this photo, but when you take a close look at most black birds, their feathers aren't pure black.  I had a piece from my friend Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati that just cried out to be used for this challenge... I love her little beaded mosaic pendants and was lucky to get a few different ones including this one that she did for her Simple Truths Sampler Club.  I decided to use up some of my seed bead mixes that I've had for a while as well as some iridescent pinch beads gifted to me by my mother in law for a two strand necklace. 

Believe it or not, I actually left a few crow beads behind on the bead table... with travel and having too much fun overall this July, I ran out of time.  Those potential designs will just have to wait for another day!

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Monday, July 16, 2018

Adventures in Portland!

I feel like I've been a little more erratic than usual in my jewelry making and blogging lately... part of that is due to a fun vacation my husband and I took out to Portland, Oregon at the end of last month.  I thought I'd do a little recap of some of the highlights for you (and for my own memory's sake!)  Since Eric is chronicling our trip over on Beerploma from a more detailed and beer-centric level, I'd suggest checking those posts out especially if you're looking for more details on the beers.  You can find his first post HERE

The reason (excuse?) for our trip to the West Coast was ostensibly for the National Homebrew Convention (I refuse to call it by it's new, stupid name.)  Thousands of thirsty beer geeks would make the pilgrimage to Beervana for the conference and surrounding activities.  In an effort to beat the rush, and give us way more time to explore the area, Eric and I flew out almost a week early.  Two of our good friends and fellow homebrewers Ron and Denise came out the same day so we kidnapped (beernapped?) them for most of our beer explorations and shenanigans starting with hitting a bunch of breweries on arrival day.  Life is always more fun with friends!

Our first full day dawned sunny and gorgeous... perfect for more exploring and a food tour!  Eric and I started our day with a jaunt over to the Blue Star Donuts located just a few blocks from our place to get some coffee and sugary sustenance to jumpstart thing.  Everyone raves about Voodoo Donut but seriously, do yourself a favor and go to Blue Star instead! 

I couldn't wait to take a picture before taking a couple of good bites from this lovely!

The day's main event was a food tour with Forktown Food Tours. After having done one of these on our last trip, Eric and I were more than excited for the Downtown and The Farmers Market tour that we signed up for with our friends.  We started with a little plate of items curated from the amazing Portland Farmers Market and then had some free time to explore a bit before heading off on the rest of the adventure.  I highly recommend checking these guys out if you find yourself in Portland... so much food, drink, scenery, and local history!  I promise you won't go hungry and, even if you've been to Portland before, you just might discover some new favorite places!

Just some of the yumminess from our tour!  Curated plate from the Farmers Market; dip and cocktail from Southpark Seafood; Handmade pasta from Grassa; Adorable & delicious cupcakes from Saint Cupcake.

One of the things that I love about Portland is all the interesting murals, interesting buildings, graffiti, and public art.  One of the things we learned from our tour guide this time is that the city commissions a number of new murals each year... so there's always going to be cool new art to look at around the city!  I know that Eric captured a lot of cool ones that I didn't... another reason to check out his series over on Beerploma!

Sunday we started with an amazing brunch in our Air B&B neighborhood at Interurban before heading out to Tillamook and the coast for the day.  This may be the best Bloody Mary I've had... or maybe it was the combination of good friends, tasty food, gorgeous weather. 

Our main reason for heading this direction was to get to the brewery that got away last time... the elusive de Garde Brewing.  This time we were successful!  We took a little detour to the coast for some beach combing and photo fun and then headed to fun (and cheese) filled visit to the newly remodeled and expanded Tillamook Creamery.

Monday was our other road tripping day, this time headed east to Hood River.  The goal was lunch and delicious beer at one of our very favorite Oregon breweries, pFriem Family Brewers.  We made a couple of stops along the way most notably the Bonneville Fish Hatchery, home of Herman the 70 year old, 10 foot long, 450 pound sturgeon.

Taking a little break from all the beers, we joined a group of friends we know through the Minnesota homebrew community for a day of winery tours in the Willamette Valley.  We made stops at four different wineries plus had a delicious lunch at Red Hills Market.  As seems to happen every few years, I once again learned that wine sneaks up on me WAY faster than beer or even liquor.  Glad our friends arranged for a Pinot Car for the day for us all!

Fun with our friends on our Willamette Valley winery tour!  

One of our favorite places to take friends and explore is the flagship McMenamins property Edgefield.  It's just on the outskirts of Portland and a wonderful compound that includes a hotel, numerous bars, gardens, pool hall, spa, winery, distillery, two par three golf courses, concert venue, movie theater, and more!  We enjoyed wandering around the grounds with Ron and Denise, trying some more of the beers, and even doing a wine flight!  Eric hopefully got a couple of good shots of a hummingbird who was really enjoying some of the flowers.  (As an aside, if you're not familiar with McMenamins, they own a variety of hotels, pubs, and more throughout Oregon and Seattle.  Many of their locations are historic properties that they have renovated and given new life.  Edgefield, for instance, was originally the county poor farm.  They are super quirky and fun to explore.)

Art and plant life from the amazing McMenamins Edgefield
When Eric and I travel, we tend to have one big splurge meal.  For this trip, that meal was at Mae.  I had read about this place when looking at an article on restaurants in Eater and was intrigued by the idea of Appalachian cooking with the bounty of the Pacific Northwest.  Mae is currently a pop-up restaurant that's in the back of another bar/restaurant and only has seatings on Monday and Wednesday for the time being.  (They are working on a brick and mortar location that will be all their own.)  The seating was family style and we had the pleasure of sitting with some folks that we met in the parking lot as we were all looking for the entrance.  Dinner was amazing... especially the vegetable courses.  I actually ate so much of the early veggies that I barely had room for the main event... fried chicken and fixins!  It truly was a lovely meal with an embarrassment of culinary riches!

I'm not going to lie... the rest of our trip was really a blur of breweries, the social parts of the homebrew conference, and food.  Instead of going into lots of detail, I'll just leave you with a couple of photo-collages that sum things up. 

Over the course of our 9 day trip, we hit up lots of breweries and brewpubs.  This doesn't capture the half of them and they aren't all my favorites even.  But this is a collection of the most photogenic beers that I captured!

Travel, food, and beer... things best enjoyed with good friend.  So, cheers to you!  And cheers to our friends who shared our Portland adventures with us this year! 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Artisans Create Together: July 2018

This month's inspiration challenge over on the Artisans Create Together Facebook group is a theme challenge... Sun, Moon, & Stars.  I love this heavenly challenge!  Summer days are full of sunshine that lasts long into the nighttime hours and summer nights are all about star gazing and watching the moon cross the sky making this the perfect mid-summer challenge for us.

First up, a pair of earrings featuring some absolutely adorable star-studded earring charms by Andrew Thornton of Allegory Gallery!  I paired them with some Czech glass rounds in navy with gold stripes and plated hematite.  Because the charms are wood, these are super lightweight despite their length.

Keeping with the theme of earrings, I made a second new pair with some fun ceramic rounds from Golem Design Studio.  For some reason these actually make me think of the kind of balls you'd see in illustrations of the circus... like something a sea lion might balance on his nose!  The cheerful red stars just make me happy!  I added some copper findings and some red Czech glass and hung the little dangles from arched ear wires that I decorated with copper wire and seed beads. 

Last but not least of the new creations for this month... one more star-studded pair of earrings!  I had some fun with a set of enameled charms from Blue Hare Art Wear that I picked up a while back.  I love the bold black and white design on these.  I paired some fun black and white striped Czech glass rounds with rhinestone rondelles and some silvery glass rondelles.  I'm a little bit in love with these cuties!

Apparently the only appropriate items in my stash were star-themed earring components!  While I didn't make the following designs for this particular challenge, I thought I'd go ahead and share a couple of older pieces that fit the sun and moon parts of month's theme!

Etched copper "new moon" charms by me; Moon & Star ceramic charms by Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio. 

Golem Design Studio ceramic sun lentils; Jade Scott resin and copper sun pendant.

Thanks for stopping by to see what I was inspired to make for this month's celestial challenge!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Inspiration for the Honey Do List July 2018

Getting a day late start again this month.  We're just back from an amazing trip to Portland, Oregon which has brought us this month's inspiration!

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:

I've wanted to get a decent crow picture for ages but they have eluded me. Over our recent trip to Portland (and their plethora of loud crows) I finally had a chance!  The closer of these crows was pretty mad about my presence and kept cawing at me while I took this series of shots.  It ended up dive-bombing a random pedestrian and my friend Ron shortly after this!

The reveal date will be Monday, July 23rd (my birthday!!!).  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 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 sjdesignsjewelry@gmail.com  The more the merrier, so I hope you'll play along with me this month!