Thursday, April 30, 2020

Art Elements Theme of the Month April 2020: Bees

When I first saw that the April Theme of the Month from the Art Elements blog was bees, I was equal parts excited and nervous.  I actually had a moment where I was worried that I wouldn't have much to choose from in my stash since I made a whole bunch of bee jewelry last year for a different challenge.  It was clearly a needless concern... (and full disclosure, I found a few more things after I took this picture!)

The first thing I whipped up for this month's challenge was a cute little pair of earrings with beehive charms from Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio.  Since yellow isn't always the best seller for me (sad face) I decided to pair the ceramics with some lightweight polymer clay discs with honey yellow, bronze, and turquoise from Heather Powers of Humblebeads.  I topped things off with an extra pop of blue from a little Czech glass bead.

Next, I decided to put together a little bracelet rich in art beady goodness.  I took a set of coin beads from Humblebeads and just added a few extra beads to the mix.  As much as I love the colors and textures in this set, I've been at a loss as how to best use them.  I ended up getting inspired by an old bracelet design that Heather shared ages ago... it was the perfect way to get these cuties out of my stash and into the world!

I knew that I wanted to make at least one buzzy bee necklace.  The obvious place to start was with one of the lovely hand painted wood pendants from Summer Wind Art.  I had picked out some Czech glass flower beads to go with one of them a while back, but hadn't circled back to the design until now.  Since I'm kind of guilty of going monochromatic sometimes, I really wanted to push beyond the blues for this one.  I chose some lovely faceted citrine rondelles to break things up and echo the golden yellow from the bee's body and the center of the flower.

Since I had my box of yellow beads out already for the citrines in the last design, it only made sense to whip up one more necklace that used mostly beads from that same box!  (I'm not the only one who logics my creative flow this way, am I??)  Anyway, I wanted to give the the cute little bee and honeycomb pendant from Humblebeads a little more physical and visual heft and a little Yellow Jade nugget was just the thing!  I made bead links with Czech glass in both an ivory Mercury glass finish and yellow/amber, faceted golden blood quartz, and some fun copper hexagons from Allegory Gallery.

Here's a closer look at the front and the back of the pendant.  It would be just as pretty worn backwards!

This is a blog hop.  Please check out what the other participants were inspired to make!

AE team:
Sarajo (you are here)

Monday, April 20, 2020

Honey Do List April 2020

2020 marks the fifth 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 2020!  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:

Since I haven't been out taking pictures this season yet, I went back in time to my pictures from last summer's trip to the UK.  This was an amazing metalwork gate we discovered in the gardens outside Alnwick Castle and I think gives lots of options for jewelry inspiration!

As soon as I saw Eric's inspiration photo this month, my mind started going a million miles a minute with tons of ideas burbling around in there!  The vines, the leaves, the keyhole, the color and sheen of the iron work, the vibrant greens in the background.

The first thing that I made was all about the iron frame and the swirling leaves and vines.  At last fall's Inspired by Nature Retreat I scored some cool Vintaj Arte Metal deco rivets that I wanted to finally play around with.  If you aren't familiar with deco rivets, they are decorative pieces with sharp prongs on the back that can be punched through paper or material and folded down.  In this case, I used my round nose pliers to roll those prongs into loops.  I thought the shape and pattern of the deco rivets was perfect to represent the functional part of the gate.  I also had some sweet little Arte Metal leaves that were a similar shape to the leaves around the lock.  To add some color to the design, I incorporated some little Czech glass leaves into the mix!

My next design focuses on the keyhole in the gate.  I had several cool escutcheon focals in my stash, but one by Nancy Adams of Round Rabbit (who sadly, no longer makes jewelry components) caught my attention.  With Minnesota being under a Safe at Home order (and having been super cautious about going out even before that order) I've been trying to spend at least some of my time organizing and putting away my ridiculous bead stash that's been all over the basement.  I had just put away some really cool matte finish melon beads that I got last summer and in looking at the pendant knew immediately that they were a great match.  Apparently I've been in a stringing mood lately (also a symmetrical one) so I started playing around with different combinations including some metal "pringle" beads.  

I really wanted to play with some Vintaj metal blanks and riveting and layering for this challenge.  I knew I had a lot of great leaves and vines in my stash so it was really more an issue of trying to narrow it down.  

For this next piece I went for one of my larger brass blanks in a shape that somewhat mimics the leaves on the gate.  I had a copper ivy vine that I thought looked nice draped across the piece.  (It's connected with a jump ring but I did use a bit of super glue underneath to keep it one place.) I embossed the blank and then painted it with a mix of green patinas for a nice contrast.  I kept the color focus on the greens from the photo's background... adding a lampwork bead by Tanya McGuire and some glass links.  This one is long and can be slipped right over your head.

I got a little fancier with this last pendant design.  I went for an Arte Metal circle blank this time that I embossed and highlighted with sandpaper.  (I'm glad that I hoarded a bunch of Arte Metal pieces since they don't make them any more!  Although you can get some of it at the Vintaj Salvage Esty shop.) The black background was to represent the iron work.  I had a fun brass piece perfect for layering and riveting that I'd gotten as a prize or in a goody bag years ago that I wanted to put over that background.  The holes in the brass decoration were a little big for just the rivets, and that would have been boring anyway, so I picked out some little flower spacers to further embellish.  I painted the flowers blue for the sky and the leaves and vines green for the greenery in the background of the photo.  I'm pretty pleased with the end effect.  It's a tiny bit off center, but considering that there were three rivet points, I think I did ok.  The body of the necklace is strung with a ton of Czech glass in shades of blue and green for a bright, happy look.

And, look, my good friend Monica Peña of Mariposa Originals Jewelry played along with an amazing necklace!  I'm smitten with how she used her vintage key and some fun Vintaj components!  Here's what Monica had to say bout her creation:

Great inspiration photo!  I took the opportunity to dip into my stash of vintage keys for this project, combining it with Vintaj medallion and ivy components for the focal, reminiscent of the gate's metalwork.  I softened the overall look with the addition of green Czech glass leaves and Sari silk for a comfortable, lightweight necklace.

Now it's your turn!  Please add links to/photos of your own creations below.  I love seeing what everyone else is making too!  Check back on May 1st to see what Eric has in store for us next month! 
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Friday, April 17, 2020

We're All Ears April 2020 :: Safer at Home

I'm so glad to see the We're All Ears Challenge back this month over on the Earrings Everyday Blog!  Earrings are my favorite thing to make so I truly look forward to this monthly challenge from my friend Erin Prais-Hintz.

As I type up this blog post it is April 8th and Governor Walz of Minnesota has just extended the stay at home order another two weeks until May 4th.... so the theme is super timely.  I'd really like to challenge each of you to do your best to reframe your view about being home right now.  We aren't "stuck at home," we are Safe at Home.  I wake up each day so thankful that I have plenty of food, a home that provides shelter and plenty of comfort, access to a variety of means for communication, lots of books to read, plenty of movies and shows I'd like to watch, and, of course, a stupid amount of beads to keep me busy.  So, to commemorate this strange time of social distancing and stay at home orders, I've created a mini collection of house jewelry for your viewing pleasure!

First up, a totally sweet pair of enameled houses from Gardanne Beads.  The white on the rooftops is appropriate for all the April snow we've been having in my neck of the woods, lol.  These houses are a little bit chubby so I decided to keep the rest of my design fairly compact.  I just added some cute teal Czech glass flowers with bronzed edges and tiny faceted hematite in a bronzey plating.  I do so look forward to a time when real flowers bloom around our house!

I also managed to snag some of Blue Hare Art Wear's house charms in one of her Facebook sales.  Score!  I love how she mixed so many colors in these charms without coming across as too bright or garish.  It's tough to tell in my picture, but the little striped roofs are actually corrugated... such a fun detail!  I picked a fun stripey pair of polymer clay discs from Humblebeads topped with some bright blue Czech glass to play off the stripes in the charms without getting too heavy.

Not satisfied to just make something with the house charms in my stash, I wanted to play with an idea for constructing some little mixed metal houses.  I brought out my box of Vintaj metal blanks and started to see what might work to bring my seed of an idea into bloom.  For the main body of my houses, I ran some Arte Metal rectangles through my BigKick with an embossing folder and then sanded them a bit to highlight the design..  I loved the lines that made if feel a little like siding or brick.  The roofs were cut from square brass blanks.  I felt a little guilty cutting up the nice finished blanks, but it meant I only had to do a tiny bit of cutting and filing... plus I love the finish on the Vintaj brass.  I still wanted some texture so I used a tiny ball peen hammer all over the "roofs" before I riveted the two pieces together.

Not earrings, but I couldn't help but translate the same house idea into a larger format for a necklace.  This time I used the geometric pattern on the Art Metal roof piece and then used fun flourish pattern for the body of the house made with a brass blank.  I also added a little decorative piece from Vintaj that I painted with their patina paints to give it some color.  At first I wasn't sure where to go from there... or even if I would get a finished piece of jewelry done.  I decided that I wanted it to be a longer necklace, but knew it needed a little more physical weight.  I found a little pewter nest bead from Green Girl Studios that I wire wrapped with some Czech glass and crystal beads that coordinated with the painted flower on the house.  As another perfect little detail, the nest says "home" on the back side.  In keeping with the mixed metal theme, I used some Arte Metal chain right by the pendant and then brass chain at the back.

I hope you'll stop by the Earrings Everyday Blog HERE to see what everyone else was inspired to make!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Inspiration for the April 2020 Honey Do List

2020 marks the fifth 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 2020!  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:

Since I haven't been out taking pictures this season yet, I went back in time to my pictures from last summer's trip to the UK.  This was an amazing metalwork gate we discovered in the gardens outside Alnwick Castle and I think gives lots of options for jewelry inspiration!

The reveal date will be Monday, April 20th.  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 2oth 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 our 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!