Friday, August 18, 2017

We're All Ears: August 2017 :: Moths

This month for the We're All Ears challenge over on the Earrings Everyday blog, Erin has challenged us to use the inspiration of moths for our earring creations.  I've always been amazed by the infinite and amazing variety of moths out there.  I still remember the first time I saw a Luna Moth in person... love at first sight!  Here's a lovely photo collage that Erin shared with just some of the moth species out there:

As much as I love moths, I quickly realized that most of my moth beads are more of the pendant or focal variety... not really earring appropriate in size.  (I do have a good number of lovely butterfly wing charms and beads... but those will have to be for another day/challenge!)

I did turn up a few sets of disk beads from Heather Powers of Humblebeads that I'm pretty certain are moth inspired.  I picked out a pair that sort of reminded me of the Luna Moth and then realized that they would play nicely with some colored bronze charms from Lesley Watt that I bought a while back and hadn't yet put away.  Added bonus:  one less thing needing to be put away!  ;)  I mixed in some Czech glass flowers, crystal rondelles, and tiny crystal beads.  Just for fun, I also added some tiny coordinating seed beads to jump rings in front of the flower charms.

This next pair I may be cheating a tiny bit as I think the Humblebeads are probably more butterfly than moth.  This time I was also thinking about cocoons and paired the discs with some wire wrapped silk "cocoon" beads from Anna Pierson of Saga Hus.

I really wanted to try my hand at making my own moth wings too.  I decided to try and adapt some techniques from Heather Powers' "Wings & Dreams" class that I took at the Adornments Retreat last month and even extrapolate a bit from there.  I also used some of the slices I created in Julie Picarello's class at Bead & Button as a veneer over a plain wing shape (the colorful pair on the left middle of the picture).  The pair in the bottom right is actually colored with some old eye shadow that I had in the back of my bathroom drawer!  After waiting (not so) patiently for my little wings to come out of the oven and cool I could finally get to work on more earrings.

Oh, and full disclosure, of course I waited until the morning of reveal to make the wings!  Oops.  I think procrastination ended up working out ok for me this time.  My favorite pair of earrings was made today and I'm super happy with my hand made moth wings.  They aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but not too shabby for a first try at making wings.

First up, a pair where I was trying for sort of luna moth coloring.  I chose the light green partially because I love it and partially because I was also painting a pair of leaves I made and I was too lazy to change colors!  I hammered the ever loving snot out of some little copper blanks from Vintaj to go behind the wings and then added some faceted prehnite rounds and copper bead caps.

Next, I went for a black and white scheme.  I used pearl polymer clay as the base for all the wings I made.  Originally, I was thinking I'd use a single bright colored alcohol ink for this pair of wings so you'd see the sparkle of the pearl a little bit.  For whatever reason, I had a change of heart and decided to use some of the Onyx patina paint from Vintaj instead.  I knew that I could paint it on and then wipe it from the high points of the textured design I created with a texture sheet.  (I textured a bigger section of the clay and then used a butterfly cookie cutter to cut out a full butterfly shape.  I played around a bit trimming down the wings until I got a shape that I liked and still felt wing-like.)  I lightly buffed the edges of the Arte Metal blanks from Vintaj so you could see the hint of silver and then just layered the wings on top of them.  The gemstones are a faceted tourmalinated quartz.

I saved my favorite pair for the very last today.  These may not look super "wing-y," but seeing as they (like my luna wings) started out with an oval cookie cutter, I'm pretty happy with how they turned out!  This time I used part of a texture pattern sheet by Christi Friesen.  It was actually part of a dragonfly wing.  After I cut out and shaped the wings, I got to work with the eye shadow that I mentioned earlier.  Between the shimmer of the make up and the underlying pearl clay, the wings have a lovely soft shimmer to them that my photo doesn't do justice to.  I had fun stacking and layering Czech glass and brass bead caps... and through in some crystal rondelles for a little extra bling.

My other pair of wings might not ever fly away as earrings... I'm still not sure how I'm feeling about them.  Nonetheless, I had a productive albeit late flurry of earring making activity inspired by fluttering moths.  You can check out what everyone else was inspired to make over on the Earrings Everyday blog HERE!  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Art Bead Scene: August 2017

This month's Art Bead Scene challenge inspiration is an illustration from a book called Twelve Dancing Princesses and Other Fairy Tales.  As a children's librarian and long time fan of fairy tales, this choice made my little heart happy!  The artwork is from the collection's title story and was painted by Kay Nielsen.  You can read more about the artwork and the artist HERE

Twelve Princesses on the Way to the Dance
Kay Nielsen
Published in 1923
Watercolor and ink

I was inspired by the colors of this illustration as well as the leaves of the impossibly tall and skinny trees.  I chose an oversized ceramic pendant by my friend Tracee Dock of The Classic Bead as my focal.  The colors were just perfect and I thought the patterns in the clay echoed the leaves and, to some extent, the flowers on the princesses' gowns.

The large hole in the pendant cried out for some sort of fiber to run through it and I decided on some brown deerskin lace (does anyone know why it's called that??).  I sewed the leather to brass jump rings with maroon waxed Irish linen.  Since the pendant has a rustic, almost crusty feel to it, I added in some matte red creek jasper in two different shapes as well as some crazy horse jasper rounds that weren't too shiny.  Red creek jasper is one of my favorite stones because of all of it's rich colors... using it here was an easy way to pick up some of the other colors from the artwork. 

P.S.  This is the project that I should have been working on when I was "productive procrastinating" with my giraffe necklace last week!  :)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Giraffe Flashback

Remember this cute picture from my husband's October 2016 Honey Do List challenge?  I've kept thinking about her and have had another partially thought out design sitting on my bead board (or buried under my general beading mess) for quite some time.

In a fit of what I call "productive procrastination," I finally made the necklace I've had in mind today.  You may be wondering what I mean by "productive procrastination"... it's what I call it when I get something useful/creative/productive done because I'm avoiding working on something else!  I find that making something else helps clear my mind and allows me to (eventually) get focused on the problem I need to be tackling.  Right now that something else is a necklace for another challenge... I've got tons of stuff pulled out but just can't decide on a direction to go.

Anyway, I finally made a necklace with the Green Girl giraffe pendant and dalmatian jasper that have been sitting out together for almost a year.  Yay!   I added in some Czech glass and pewter beads to break things up a bit.  It's pretty simple and VERY neutral for me, but I hope the necklace and the message hidden on the back of the pendant speak to someone special.

What about you?  Anybody else practice "productive procrastination"?  (Please tell me it's not just me!)  I hope to tackle the project I've been avoiding this weekend and be able to share it with you all early next week at the latest.  Fingers crossed!


Monday, August 7, 2017

Adornments Retreat

Once again, I'm a little late to the party as far as sharing my recent creative adventures... but I'll stick with the better late than never theme!  For the Adornments Retreat, the creative forces behind Vintaj, the Art Bead Scene, and Now That's a Jig came together for an event not to be missed!  Three days of mixed media jewelry fun with Heather Powers, Jess Italia Lincoln, Erin Prias-Hintz, and Brenda Schweder at the Chestnut Mountain Resort in Galena, Illinois made for the perfect birthday weekend for me.  The only bad thing about the retreat is that I had to choose just two of the eight classes and I wish that I could have done them all!!  

Galena is about a five and a half to six hour drive for me (depending on the traffic and construction), so I decided to head out a day early so as not to be stressed out about my arrival time on Thursday.  Luckily, my wonderful roommate Monica decided to join me earlier than she had originally planned.  We had dinner that first night with one of Monica's coworkers, got to watch an amazing rain storm roll through from the floor to ceiling windows at the restaurant, and had our GPS route us down a series of increasingly creepily named dirt roads to get home (Devil's Ladder, Irish Hollow, Cemetery)... Adventure!!  The nighttime rain cleared out and gave us a super muggy morning to explore the shops and restaurants of Main Street Galena before the retreat got going that afternoon.  (Galena is a seriously cute town if you ever get a chance to visit!)

Thursday afternoon kicked off the fun of the retreat proper.  We all gathered in our main meeting space to get our registration materials, name tags, and goodie bags.  This is always an exciting time at any retreat when you get to see old friends and meet new people... everyone is buzzing with anticipation of the fun to come!  After some introductory remarks from Heather and the other instructors, the group had the fun task of making and dividing out some bead soup!  

Before the retreat, we were given the following inspiration and asked to bring 16 inches of beads to go with the color palette.  We were also supposed to bring some sort of focal/pendant and any other beads and findings we might want to add to our personal bead soup portions.  The idea behind all of this is that each person was encouraged to make something made up of at least 60% of the bead soup and enter into a fun design contest to be held at the end of the retreat.  Each table made their own soup and it was fascinating to see the different mixes of beads we had around the room.  

My portion of our table's "soup" with the pendant I chose to use.

We broke for dinner on our own at the resort and then regrouped for a fun evening session afterwards.  Heather and Erin did a presentation about the Art Bead Scene blog and their monthly challenges as well as using art beads in your jewelry designs.  Fun and inspiring stuff!  One of the highlights of the evening was Heather and Erin doing a Chopped style competition where they gave each other a bead soup mix and a focal based on the July ABS challenge and then they had 20 minutes on the clock to make a design.  Nail biting jewelry making excitement!  To add to the challenge, Brenda gave them each a mystery component that they had to work into their designs.... and it was a plastic monkey with a sparkly crystal collar!!  Here are our lovely contestants and their designs at the end of the competition.  

While all those hi-jinx were going on, the rest of us looked on, mingled, and worked on our own beading projects.  I managed to get my Bead Soup competition piece completed that first night (probably a sign of the impending apocalypse!!).  Here's what I made:
This sweet pendant from Erin's Simple Truths Sampler Club was the perfect fit with my mix of pastel beads.  It is beautiful and had a lovely message on the back side that the wearer will keep close to her heart.

For day one, I chose Erin's INKsplorations class where we got to play with different alcohol inks and surfaces to put them on.  I probably didn't experiment enough but I think my brain just isn't great when it comes to really being freeform and just messing around.  I also stuck mostly to the Ranger alcohol inks since those are the ones readily available to me locally.  Before lunch we had time to experiment with the inks and substrates and Erin worked through lunch (naughty monkey!) to get all of our little masterpieces sealed for us so we could move onto the next step when we got back.  We spent the rest of the day cutting down small portions of our inked artworks and gluing them into bezels and adding in UV resin.  Now, resin is a tricky thing (at least for me!) and this class was no different.  I had some bubbling and what I think is the resin pulling away from the material underneath but I believe with some creative problem solving that I may be able to salvage these two.  While I had fun playing with the inks (and got some fun results along the way) I think this may be a little too freeform for me to want to pursue it too much... although I'm thinking about trying two part resin with it instead of the UV and see if it's any less frustrating for me.  Time will tell!

Day two for me was a polymer clay and metal play day with Heather in her Wings & Dreams class.  I really can't overstate how much fun I had in this class!  I never would have dreamed that I would enjoy polymer clay until I took my first class in that medium with Heather last fall.  I'm never going to be the genius artist that she is, but I really enjoy playing with it and learning new polymer techniques.  I was so busy making cute butterflies and flowers that I really didn't do a great job of documenting the day, but here are some pictures I took during and afterwards of my completed projects as well as some that are still works in progress.  I didn't realize this when I signed up for the class, but alcohol inks were a part of the coloring process for these cuties so I had all the supplies I needed to continue painting and playing when I got home!

Right after our day two classes, the entire group came back together for our Wrap Party where we got to see and vote on everyone's Bead Soup creations and officially say goodbye to the wonderful Adornments Retreat and our fabulous instructors.  The fun didn't really end there as many of us were staying over Saturday night.  After dinner Jess's mom, Trish Italia, opened up her lovely bead store Rustic River Finds in downtown Galena for us to do some more shopping.  (I forgot to mention that Friday night we had a private shopping event with our instructors and Trish at the retreat!)  Not that I needed anything, I found some treasures to treat myself with as a little birthday gift.    

Top: Our lovely instructors Brenda, Jess, Heather, & Erin; Bottom: Me with my two teachers and fellow participant Lin.

My birthday goodies!

If you're looking for a fun and inspirational jewelry making retreat, I highly recommend checking out the Adornments Retreat.  They're already starting to plan next year's event.  A huge THANK YOU to Heather, Jess, Erin, and Brenda for a wonderful weekend of jewelry adventures with a great group of folks.  Any time I can come together to share, learn, and laugh with my beady tribe is a blessing and a treasure I'll cherish.  

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Inspiration for the Honey Do List: August 2017

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 month I wanted to use something fresh and summery, but haven't been out to take pictures much.  I ended up at the Arboretum and discovered this beautiful dahlia being destroyed by these equally beautiful beetles.  We'll just call this one "flawed beauty".  And shortly after taking this shot, we were all ushered indoors to avoid the axe-wielding loony who was running around the grounds.  I bet you artists will come up with something cool for this one!

The reveal date will be Monday, August 28th.  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 August 28th 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!