A chronicle of the meanderings, false starts (which in retrospect, while sort of embarrassing turned out to be highly instructive), epiphanies, selective apathy (still evolving), wild mood swings, opinions (subject to frequent change), and life lessons of an inveterate dabbler (and her latest dabblings).

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Late to the Party

I've been under the weather with minor health stuff the last several months, and super busy at the day job, so I'm just not keeping up with all my jewelry to-do's. Unfortunately, one of those to-do's was the June Component of the Month challenge at Art Jewelry Elements. The reveal was Thursday July 3, but I missed it! However I'm feeling a bit better and had a long weekend with the holiday so I got busy!

June was hosted by the multi-talented Linda Landig, a jewelry artist who also creates beads and components in polymer clay, and now ceramics. (To visit her Etsy shop, click HERE!) Linda made a fabulous assortment of her new ceramic charms and focals available for the challenge:
Linda has been designing jewelry on and off for over 30 years, and started with metal. From there she moved on to beadwork, indulging her love of color, and eventually began making her own jewelry components and beads, first with polymer clay, and now with ceramics.
Back in May (when I was feeling perky--unfortunately that turned out to be an intermittent thing), I snagged one of those sweet little sunflower elements (and actually remembered to photograph it before I started my piece). I love the rustic texture of the stoneware.
I noodled over it, and had a general idea what I wanted to do with it, I just didn't have the get-up-and-go to do it. So when some of my energy came back this weekend, I already had it half-designed in my head. I knew I wanted to introduce some sky blue, and would probably use copper for the metal parts. I thought and thought about the bail for it, started and stopped some other approaches, and finally came up with this:
For this, I used one of my folded end cones that I talked about at AJE this morning. I just modified it by folding over only the very ends so that it's a rectangular shape. I created a large loop with wire at the top (the wire goes through the hole in the pendant and then both ends go up through the hole in the metal cap, where you can shape them as you wish.) I attached an open metal tube to the loop for hanging.

Here's the whole piece:

The longest strand is three lengths of cocoa-brown Irish waxed linen (I bought whole spools--SQUEEE!!!!--from Element Beads on Etsy) dotted with recycled glass flowers in light blue from Happy Mango Beads; the second strand is tiny lime green glass seed beads, also from Happy Mango (with some brown seed beads in "dirt brown" from Fusion Beads thrown in); and the last strand is larger 8/0 seed beads in cocoa brown (also from Fusion Beads), a few Indonesian glass seed beads in a wonderful sand color from Happy Mango, and one little corn-yellow seed bead from a local shop.
I used my end cones from this morning's AJE post on the ends, with deertan lace in cocoa brown and some of my hand-forged large oval chain.

Linda's stoneware sunflower perfectly complements my style! And I adore the warm colors she chose for her glazes.

You can also visit Linda at her Facebook page, and stop by her blog!

And be sure to visit the other participants and see their creations!


AJE Members

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Awesome Art Jewelry Elements Week of Giveaways!

Hey art jewelry lovers, head on over to Art Jewelry Elements starting Monday June 16, for a whole week of giveaways, courtesy of the AJE contributors!
Enter every day to win!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Art Jewelry Elements May Component of the Month Reveal

Today is the day at Art Jewelry Elements when we reveal our designs created with lampwork glass components by the uber-talented Susan Kennedy of Sue Beads. Susan was always a lover of lampwork beads and started making them herself six years ago, and also now makes enameled components as well. I am so glad she decided to make beads, because I love them!!

Here is the delectable assortment that Susan offered for this month:
Flower Chiclets!!
And cabochons!!
I fell in love with the chiclets immediately (I haven't tried setting cabs yet and I was chicken to try under the gun so that might have had something to do with it--otherwise cab number 6 up there might have been mine!), and went for set number 4 up there (although number 1 was also extremely tempting):
I initially was going to do a bracelet, but I couldn't figure out how to weight it properly with the beads I wanted to use--I was afraid the lampwork beads would have ended up in a heavy section that would always be hanging under the wrist so that you'd never see them, and I can't stand that--pet peeve of mine. So I opted for a necklace.

I really wanted to keep the tone earthy and rustic, and I just happened to have recently acquired a collection of fabulous recycled and Indonesian glass beads from Happy Mango Beads that I thought would be perfect:
Of course this color scheme cried out for copper!

I looked through my stash of metal components and found a large textured washer I had made a while ago--I decided to do a front toggle closure (it's so easy to make a focal section out of the clasp). And it even had flowers on it! (I was starting to feel the need to stay with flowers).
I debated knotting it but the holes in the beads were too big to make it really work so I opted for copper links. Because these recycled glass flowers are kind of funky and odd shaped, I didn't think wrapped loops would really work, so I used simple loops hammered flat to make them seat better in the beads.
Here is the configuration I eventually chose:
I just love the subtle detail, and quietly whimsical quality these little chiclets add to a piece of jewelry!! And I'm a sucker for that tablet shape, I don't know what it is about coins and tablets...And the colors of the lampwork are so rich and saturated--I especially love that ocher one with the olive green flower, it really pops! These were really a pleasure to design with, just the right size--not so big that they overwhelm the other beads, but large enough to really stand out.

All the metal in this piece is solid copper--even the ball chain! I had some nice plated oval chain I could have used on the pendant portion to hang my green flowers from, but the purist in me rebelled and I used some of my own oval chain instead (I made a small amount once as an experiment). I made it kind of long, so you could layer it with copper chains if you wanted:
Pay no attention to the beer can behind the mannequin.

(I just love the bell shape of those tobacco-colored recycled glass beads.)

(You'll notice I used Melissa Meman's ultra-cool ball chain ends again! They are an interesting design element all by themselves.)

Sue has a lovely assortment of chiclet beads and cabochons in her shop right now (not to mention lots of other fabulous goodies!)--swing by and get 'em while they last!


This is a blog hop! Be sure to check out all the other participants' designs:

Kristen Stevens

Friday, May 16, 2014

We're All Ears May Reveal

Zigzag Nerite Shells
I got a little silly with this month's inspiration.

I made FIVE pair of earrings based on this theme! I'm not sure what got into me...I rarely use black or true red, but the nerite shell motif really inspired me, especially the stripy black patterns.

Turns out I had lots of beads to work with, and you don't mess with The Muse so I let her go.

This pair sports a duo of incised, glazed stoneware stick elements by Petra Carpreau of Scorched Earth, in a lovely caramel color with black stripes (they make me think of pretzel sticks and I want badly to nibble on them.) I think this might be the first time I've used her work--I've been hoarding an entire container of it! I introduced the red element with red jasper, and added ivory bone rounds to the earwires. I added my textured beadcaps in sterling to the jasper.

This pair incorporates some etched red agate tubes and my poppy caps in sterling silver. I added batik and plain ivory bone beads to the bottom to introduce the ivory color and add more of the black patterning, and then popped some butterscotch amber roundels onto the earwires (I got this wonderful opaque amber locally at Powderhorn Trading and I am in LOVE with it.)
For this pair I started with some black and white patterned beads from my stash--these are actually from a jewelry making party hosted by my friend Ada years and years ago. I'm not sure what they're made of, they feel like maybe wood. She has traveled the world so they could be from anywhere! I added red jasper sticks and my textured beadcaps, both traditional round ones and some small folded poppy ones, and more of that delish amber to the earwires.
This pair relies on more beads from Ada's jewelry party--a pair of striped cones! Again I've combined them with red jasper (I just LOVE this stone), ivory bone, and more amber. The cones make me think of a sporty fez. I think this pair is actually my favorite, this is the first time I've ever tried vertically wrapping a bead like this--I was inspired by Brenda McGowan--her shop is on vacation right now, but you can check out her sold items. Lisa at Angry Hair Jewelry also has some items with this vertical wrapping--LOVE her style too. I would buy her clean out if I had a spare $5,000 and my ear piercings hadn't healed up for lack of adornment.

Lastly, I dipped again into my Petra Carpreau stash for these lipstick red "bobblers." Boy, it felt like I spent hours trying to find the right beads to go with these. I finally settled on these black manol buri beads and of course ivory bone and more amber. I added a little vertical wire wrap again to keep the little seeds in line, they're kind of naughty.

This was fun! Head over to the Earrings Everyday blog to see what Erin cooked up with this month's inspiration, and to get links to other bloggers' reveal posts!

These will all be listed in my Etsy shop over the next few days.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Art Jewelry Elements April Component of the Month

Lesley Watt, the creative genius behind THEA Jewellery and THEA Elements, is our host this month at Art Jewelry Elements for the April Component of the Month. Lesley is a self-taught jewelry and bead/component artist living in the UK, who works in both precious and base metal clays and ceramic clay. She is especially gifted in creating nature-themed pieces, such as beads and pendants in flower, leaf, and sea motifs, and also more abstract designs with a gentle tribal feel. These are some of my favorites:
For our April challenge, Lesley offered a gorgeous assortment of seashell- and flower-themed glazed ceramic shank buttons:
It was so  hard to choose! I eventually picked the little ammonite at the far right, in terra cotta and cream; I loved the glazing detail and the earthy colors:
 I decided on a button-and-loop closure necklace. Before I began, I wrapped the steel shank in fine copper wire to provide a little buffer for the beading wire I was going to use:
I combined it with large, irregular pink opal nuggets, a spray of iridescent glass beads, and lots of copper. I love the whimsy and personality Lesley's little button adds to the plain beads!
In my opinion, an art bead really takes a piece of jewelry from being merely pretty to being truly memorable and unique.
Thank you Lesley, for the wonderful inspiration!

Be sure to visit all the other participants for more fabulous eye candy!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Stinky Dog Beads Part I

My fabulous friend Kitty has started a webstore with a truly awesome selection of beads (including art beads), findings and textiles--I've not seen this mix of items anywhere else. I give you: Stinky Dog Beads.

Evocative, yes? I guarantee you won't forget! Especially after you visit and peruse the inventory--you'll also be pleased by the great prices, regular discount offers, and quick shipping.

Here is a little taste of some of my favorites:

Among her unique offerings:
Art beads and findings by Lorelei Eurto, Golem StudioGenea Beads, Birgitta Lejonklou, and Gaea Cannaday among others
Mykonos beads and findings
Shibori ribbon and Japanese Chirimen cording (even the really fat 7mm stuff!)
Wooly Wire
Lots of fabulous Czech glass
Rhinestone rondelle spacers (in black and brass finishes--squeeee!!!)
Czech superduos and rullas
Super funky chain
. . .  and lots more!!

I've become especially fond of the Mykonos items--they just scream ANCIENT GREECE to my pasty W.A.S.P. ears (my mother got Anthony Quinn's autograph in a restaurant once, I think this makes me an honorary Greek. Second generation twice removed.). I made this pendant below with one of the large rings:
Zorba's Treasure
I LOVE this super-rustic undyed waxed Irish linen cording--it's thicker than the regular 4-ply. I got a giant spool of it from Element Beads. Round copper beads and teal glass seed beads from Afrobeadia.

I finally found a home for my "book chain" experiment with this one, and used another large Mykonos ring, a bumpy drop (love dem bumpy drops), and a pair of cones:
Zorba's Other More Expensive Treasure
Those big teal glass ovals in both pieces are from Happy Mango Beads. I LOVE these big glass ovals, I wish they had more. I should have bought five strands of this color instead of one, because what will happen when I run out???? I can't say exactly but it won't be good.

Another item from Stinky Dog (it's catchy, isn't it?) I have become obsessed with is the Unicorn lampwork drops, particularly the "Midnight Special" color:
Trippin' on this
They're strange little beads. I admit I was completely perplexed how to use them at first--you can really only see the glass design when you're looking head-on at the bottom, the way they're oriented up in the picture there. When they're just hanging there like a regular drop, they don't look like much. How to get them to face forward like that all the time....EUREKA!!!
Star Factory
I fashioned little brackets for them from heavy gauge copper ball headpins that I hammered flat--when they're hanging on a wide strip of metal (as opposed to just a round piece) they don't turn around. I WIN. Keirsten-1, Naughty Beads-0. SHAZAM.

Zorba likes it. A lot.

Stay tuned for more Stinky Dog projects!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Art Jewelry Elements March Component of the Month

Caroline Dewison of BlueberriBeads is March's Component of the Month host at Art Jewelry Elements. Caroline is an artist who makes her home in England, and she works in porcelain, stoneware, earthenware, raku clay, glass and copper. She makes beads and components as well as stunning jewelry--be sure to visit her website and browse through her gallery! I am particularly enamored with her sea urchin beads, particularly this set in "dirty green":
Aren't those the coolest? I need them.

I also adore her little "bird sets"--I love the serene colors in this one:
Well, when I saw the items Caroline was planning to offer for the Component of the Month challenge, I was even more bowled over! Look at these luminous beauties:
Luna moths! Aren't they stunning? Look at the depth of these glazes!!

I also saw sweet little bees and I fell head over heels for the little bees. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of them before I started working on them (I was little excited to get started), but here's a closeup of them in the finished pieces:

As you can see, these two are in copper and gold tones. The copper-toned one on the left (I am amazed by this metallic glaze!) also has matte under-colors of muted mauve and violet. The finish is so rich and I just love the size--perfect for a little assemblage-type pendant, which is what I was thinking of.

Well, the gold one told me to go with mixed metal, and the copper one told me to be a purist. These were so inspiring to work with! Here is the mixed metal one with the gold bee:
I used a copper washer I had textured with a hammer and brass texture sheet for the central portion of the pendant. I applied brass eyelet rivets to the holes, and dangled a big gold pearl, a Hill tribes sterling silver bead, and some other small beads in sterling, copper and brass. (The little bees actually have steel loops at the top, but I wrapped them in copper wire to harmonize with the rest of the pendant.)
I used solid copper ball chain from Rings n Things, which I antiqued in liver of sulfur and tumbled (it really took the patina nicely, and it's clearly raw copper-YAY! I got a whole spool of it), and attached it to a sterling-wrapped brass toggle bar via Melissa Meman's brilliant design for ball chain ends--(they really add so much more than just a commercial ball tip! I love the kind of horseshoe-shape they have.) I tossed in another leafy Hill Tribes silver bead to make the chain portion slightly asymmetrical. I went crazy with my metals--I am realizing I need to do this more often because I really love all three together.
I just discovered these "melon" beads (the elongated silver football shaped-bead the bee hangs from) and I'm obsessed--I got them in both silver and copper. I hammer them gently with my Fretz embossing hammer to give them more of a handmade look--they have a seam, and the hammering actually makes the seam more visible, which I like--they look like a hand-formed, rolled bead then. I love how this piece turned out.

On to my "purist" piece--all glorious copper:
Again I used a washer (a twin to the other one actually--I had both of these in my stash already, I was so excited--work already done!) with tube-riveted holes, and a toggle closure. I wanted to draw out the mauve tones in the bee so I added mauve/berry-colored pearls. I used Melissa's ball chain end loops again, and added a delicious copper globe bead from a strand I recently got from AfroBeadia (these beads are FANTASTIC) with a couple of my copper beadcaps (I don't know why but the idea of a copper beadcap on a copper bead just sends me into orbit.) The bee hangs from a short length of tubing I cut with my saw and textured with my embossing hammer.
I've been wanting to do a necklace like this for a while, with a washer and some dangling bits. I haven't been making much jewelry lately--this is the first weekend I've felt good, and energetic for several weeks. I've had some kind of Everlasting Sinus Bug, I thought it would never end! It's not over yet, but it's much better which I have to take as a good sign.

Here are my two little grown-up bees together:
I made them to be worn high up on the neck, where the little bees will draw the eye:
This is a blog hop! Be sure to visit the other participants below:
Niky Sayers – http://silverniknats.blogspot.co.uk
The AJE Team
Caroline Dewison – http://www.blueberribeads.co.uk
Diana Ptaszynski - http://www.suburbangirlstudio.com
Susan Kennedy - http://suebeads.blogspot.co.uk
Kristen Stevens - http://kristen-beadjourney.blogspot.com/
Jenny Davies-Reazor - http://www.jdaviesreazor.com/blog
Melissa Meman –  http://melissameman.blogspot.com
Rebekah Payne - www.treewingsstudio.com
Lesley Watt - http://thegossipinggoddess.blogspot.com/
Linda Landig - http://www.LindasBeadBlog.com