Friday, June 23, 2017

Art Bead Scene: June 2017

June's inspiration artwork for the Art Bead Scene challenge is a gorgeous riot of color!  This drawing done in pastels by Odelin Redon is called Profile on Red Meanders.  For some reason, it reminds me of the crayon resist artwork I got to do in elementary school... you know where you paint over your crayon drawing with black paint and the paint doesn't stick to the waxy crayon marks.  It goes without saying that my childhood drawings were not nearly this sophisticated, but the contrast of the black with the super vibrant just took my brain there.  But I digress!  You can read more about the artist and the artwork over on the ABS blog HERE.  

Profile on Red Meanders
formerly Jeanne d'Arc
Odelin Redon, 1900

I ordered the little booklet that the ABS did for this year's challenges so I'd been percolating several ideas for this one for some time.  I had several promising options, but narrowed it down to two projects in the end.  (I'm thinking some of the others will get made in the very near future before I forget what they were or lose the beads in messy workspace!)

A while back I won some adorable and super colorful polymer clay charms made by Susana Paredas of Earth Expressions by participating in a challenge in the Artisans Create Together Facebook group.  The bright colors were perfect for this challenge so it was time for them to become earrings!  I added a collection of Czech beads in greens, purples, and fuchsia to make a fun dangly design.


My second design is a far more subdued take on the inspiration artwork.  It started with a pendant that I made playing with a Mokume Gane technique with polymer clay that I learned on this year's Bead Cruise with Eva Sherman.  In all honesty, my mix of colors didn't turn out exactly as I'd hoped/envisioned... I'm still getting the hang of picking colors for maximum contrast!  Nevertheless, it ended up being a happy accident that the colors I chose went well with this month's artwork.  I picked a dark purple, a light purple, green, and a light coppery color to go in some copper plated bezels and bracelets from Nunn Design.

My colors all lined up and ready to go!
Lucky me, I picked up some medium sized English cut Czech glass in a lovely mix of metallics at Bead & Button that included purples, golds, copper, and green shades... a perfect compliment to the pendant and the artwork!  I added in some plated hematite cornerless cubes, metallic O-beads, tiny copper colored Czech glass, and some seed beads to string this necklace.  It was hard for me to capture the metallic shimmer of the pendant but, trust me, it's there!  



Here's a closer look at the pendant and beads!
I made two different pendants with these colors but haven't had time to finish the necklace for the second one yet.  The pattern is much tighter and chaotic feeling on the second one.  I've been kicking around some ideas for a multi-strand design for the other one.  Here's a tiny sneak peek at what I'm hoping to do... stay tuned!

A design waiting in the wings...


Saturday, June 17, 2017

We're All Ears: June 2017

Summer is finally here... and with the warmer weather many buggy friends have arrived.  Some not so welcome (mosquitos, ticks, ants) and others that bring a smile to my face every time I see them.  This month's inspiration for the We're All Ears challenge from the Earrings Everyday blog is one of those friendly bugs... the firefly or lightning bug (which is what I always call them.)

By Bruce Marlin - Own work http://www.cirrusimage.com/beetle_firefly_Photuris_lucicrescens.htmCC BY-SA 2.5Link
Erin mentioned in her blog post that she's only seen fireflies a few times in her life.  At first I was a little shocked and taken aback by that... I mean they were all over the place when I was growing up in Alabama!  But then I stopped and thought about it and realized that I really have only seen them maybe twice in the 17 years I've lived in Minnesota.  I guess I just didn't think about it since the mosquitoes make it unpleasant to be out at dusk.  I just assumed that they must be out there... but I think we may be too far north for these magical little critters to thrive here!


I feel like the picture above is what summer nights of my childhood felt like... just a vast expanse of flickering fireflies.  I know there were really never quite this many, but things just feel different when we are children.  My friends and I spent countless hours chasing lightning bugs, holding them in our hands mesmerized by the flickering light of their tails, bringing an unlucky few home in jars to light our bedrooms.  

When this challenge was announced overachiever me wanted to try and make some little firefly charms out of copper sheet using Heather Powers' "metal sketches" technique and some patinas.  Realistic, time crunched for two trips in two weeks me said "Shut up, that's not happening!"  Sigh.  Maybe I'll give that idea a try down the road when I have time on my hands.  *Laughs hysterically.*

Rational me remembered that I had a strand of little green and gold Czech glass ladybugs in my stash.  (At least I think they're ladybugs since I have the same shape in red with black... but I'm not sure why the bead makers decided on this particular color combo.)  I dug the little guys out and made the executive decision that they would have to work as fireflies... maybe they're just short!  

The first design that came to mind involved having the little buggy beads dangling from some sort of flower.   The flowers are mostly white with faint touches of color so I added more of the green in the centers.


The second pair of earrings didn't end up the way I was initially imagining them, but I like the end result so much better!  I thought I could pull something off where I had little piece of waxed linen with seed beads tied to the ends hanging behind, and reaching below the bug bead.  I made one that way and it just didn't sit right and I wasn't loving it.  The earring design was fine without that but lacked something.  I rummaged through my tubes of seed beads and found some in a similar green that, thankfully, fit onto the topmost jump rings.  A small touch, but it gave the needed pop the design had been lacking.


I don't often work with gold, but it just seemed the right thing to do for both of this month's pairs because of the gold in the bug beads.  I also thought the tiny gold filled bead underneath the bug was reminiscent of the firefly's tail.

In other news, I also made a firefly necklace the same weekend that I made these earrings.  You'll have to wait to see that one though until the reveal for the Art Elements June Theme Challenge.  Find out more about that HERE.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Water & Fire Mystery Challenge Competition


The latest installment for the Allegory Gallery Design Challenges is another mystery competition, Water & Fire!  This time there was an added twist... instead of just one kit, there were two... and you didn't know which kit you would receive unless you decided to buy two.  I decided to roll the dice and see which kit I would get... and it was Water for me!

Wanting to make sure that I actually used the special "mystery component," a polymer clay pendant made by Andrew Thornton, I started with a necklace.  The focal is just lovely with waves in blue and gold (or is it more bronze??), but I didn't love the way it looked with most of the beads in the kit.  I did pull out some small glass rondelles from the kit, but what really caught my eye was a bag of leftover beads from a class project I never finished with Heather Powers on a past Bead Cruise.  I picked out a great mix of Czech glass, freshwater pearls, and crystal from that kit and added in some other Czech glass beads and seed beads from my stash to create a strung necklace that (I hope) lets Andrew's pendant shine.


Next up, a little collection of earrings I made!  There were lots of bead pairs that were just crying out to be earrings... so who am I to deny those beads their destiny?

The first pair I made used some fun faceted drops that are (I think) vintage plastic or lucite.  I added some brass bead caps to the bottom to make them a little bit fancy and paired them with some coordinating green crystal and Swarovski pearls for some fun dangles.  The second pair here is probably my favorites.  As soon as I saw these tube beads (again in plastic or lucite) I knew that I wanted to do some fun wire wrapping around them.  I used a pair of adorable glass shells to dangle from the bottom of the wire-wrapped tubes and finished things off with niobium ear wires with bright copper accents.


For my second two pairs of earrings, I moved away from warmer metals to use sterling silver.  The pair on the left is pretty simple... just a pair of lucite (or plastic?) drops and some glass rondelles from the kit.  I just added the silver plated bead caps.  Next up, something a little outside my normal design comfort zone... some three tiered dangles!  All the beads are from the kit here.  I'm so happy that I had some matching ear wires embellished with Swarovski crystals to finish these off.


Life has been crazy busy with our trip to Milwaukee for Bead & Button (expect to hear more from me on that super soon) and other general life llama drama, so I didn't get as much made from this kit as I had hoped.  I'll leave you with the wisp of an idea for a second necklace... hopefully I'll get this one made in the near future.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Inspired by Reading: Mistborn

This month's Inspired by Reading Book Club selection was Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.  This book is the first in Sanderson's Mistborn series and I've been meaning to read it for a while now.  (I read Sanderson's young adult book The Rithmatist and really loved it... his Alcatraz books, not so much.)  

As you may know, I hate trying to summarize books... I'm just a "I loved it" or "I hated it" sort of reader for the most part.  So this time I'm totally cheating in that I've edited down a bit of the book description from Wikipedia.  (Bad librarian, I know.)  Anyway, the Mistborn series is set in a roughly medieval dystopian future on the world Scadrial, where ash constantly falls from the sky, all plants are brown, and supernatural mists cloud every night.  The "Lord Ruler" has ruled over the Final Empire for a thousand years as an immortal tyrant and god.  Under his rule, society is stratified into the nobility, believed to be the descendants of the friends who helped him achieve godhood; and brutally oppressed peasantry, known as skaa.
Central to the Mistborn universe is the presence of magic. The most widely known discipline of magic is called Allomancy, which allows users to gain magical powers by swallowing and "burning" specific metals to gain supernatural abilities. Some of the metals used this way include pewter, tin, gold, copper, bronze, steel, iron, and brass.  Normal Allomancers (Mistings) have access to one Allomantic power, but an incredibly rare subset of Allomancers, called Mistborn, have access to every Allomantic power.  Two of the main characters of this book, Kelsier and Vin, are Mistborn.  This first book in the series chronicles an unlikely band of thieves, led by Kelsier, working together to raise a rebellion and overthrow the Lord Ruler and the Final Empire.


I knew that I wanted to do something to play off of the various metals that the Mistborn and Mistings use to activate their various powers.  I wasn't sure exactly sure what I was going to do, but I was assuming that I would do some sort of mixed metal creation.  That's not how things progressed though!

I found a focal in my stash by Green Girl Studios that made me think of the swirling mists in the book.  Bingo!  I decided to orient the cloud focal sideways and make a slightly shorter necklace.  At first I had the misguided idea that I would string a pattern of beads on one side (attached with a jump ring) and then tie strands of black waxed Irish linen on the other side.  Well, let's just say that didn't work out!  (Although, happily, I was able to use the pattern of beads that I had spent so much time figuring out on another necklace that will be shared for a different challenge later in the month... here's a sneak peek though.)



That idea scrapped, I went with plan B and used the waxed linen on both sides of the necklace.  I cut three long strands of the black linen and tied to the pendant with a lark's head knot, repeating the process for the other side.  I wanted the black strands to represent the ribbonlike strips of cloth that flow from the shoulders of a Mistcloak.  Along the lengths of the waxed linen I then tied little groupings of seed beads in various metallic colors and finishes to represent the various metals burned by the characters.  Now I didn't keep strictly to the actual metals used, but instead chose six different colors that worked well together and with the pewter pendant.  To break up the runs of knotted seed beads, I slid some silver toned corner-less cubes over all the strands.  To finish it off I simply tied on a fun toggle clasp at the back.  


Thanks for stopping by to check out my newest creation!  Now it's back to work for me... lots to do before I head to the Bead & Button show!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

June 2017 Inspiration for the Honey Do List

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:



This spring I've really been taking a lot of bird pictures and wanted to use one of these shots for this month's challenge.  I thought this rose-breasted grosbeak would be an interesting subject due to the stark black and white colors with a pop of bright red.  Try using this color combo for a piece!

This was a fun bird to have spotted on a visit to some friends' cabin last weekend!  I've never seen one these little guys before but he was hanging around the feeders for a good part of the day on Monday.  I've got to put on my thinking cap to figure out what I'm going to make...     

The reveal date will be Monday, June 26th.  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 June 26th 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!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Art Elements May 2017 Component of the Month

Each month over on the Art Elements blog they host a Component of the Month giveaway and challenge.  This time I wasn't one of the lucky ones who was chosen to receive one of Lesley Watt's amazing shell cross section pedants.  Luckily, she had a few extra for sale and I managed to snag one... as well as some of her bronze charms!  If you love this as much as I do, she still has some for sale in her shop HERE.


As luck would have it, the same day I got my package from Lesley, I also received my latest destash goodies from Allegory Gallery that included some ceramic rounds by Keith O'Connor that were a perfect match for my pendant.

I love it when a design just comes right together, and I feel like that's what happened this time.  I started by pulling together some Czech glass beads in blues and greens to match the pendant along with some patinated brass beads with a design that reminds me of sea urchins for some reason.  To add some contrast in both color and texture, I also grabbed some Bronzite rounds, Tibetan agate, and faceted Green Aventurine.



Each of Lesley's pieces is unique and lovely... I hope you'll check out what the other participants made too!

Sarajo Wentling - You Are Here
Art Elements team
Laney Mead

Monday, May 22, 2017

Artisans Create Together Inspiration Challenge: May 2017

This month, the Facebook group Artisans Create Together has pulled together two gorgeous inspiration color challenges.  I couldn't pass up the opportunity to play along with both of them!  As luck would have it, I had some lovely earring components for each color palette.


First up, this amazing and vibrant color collage featuring bright blues, yellows, and greens!  I recently placed my first order with the talented Jana Bliznakova of Happy Fish Things and she sent some cute earring charms as a thank you gift that were just perfect for this challenge.  They are predominately turquoise and bright yellow, but the mixing of those two glazes gave some tiny bits of green along the leafy pattern in the charms.  I had two orphan glass beads that were a craft store purchases a million years ago that paired nicely and I added some yellow Czech glass beads and brass findings to complete the look.  




This second color palette was the one that initially drew my eye.  I love the mix of copper and turquoise... yummy!!  This time I went for a new pair of enameled charms by Gardanne as my starting point.  I did some fancy (for me at least!) wire wrapping with copper wire that I had patinated with liver of sulphur and coordinating Czech glass and added some orangey seed beads to jump rings for a fun touch.  I couldn't be happier with how these turned out!  


I didn't make this second pair specifically for this challenge (they were actually published in Stringing Magazine's Earring Gallery... created to go with a Southwest theme) but I thought that they were worth sharing since I never put them up on my blog.  These bold earrings feature lampwork glass by Firelily Glass and brass feathers that I painted with Vintaj paint patinas.  These still haven't found the right person go home with!


Thanks for checking out my latest earring creations!  I'm heading back to the bead board to see what else I can dream up!