30 July 2013

Style That Sticks With You!

"Your mind is a magnet. You don't attract what you need or what you want; you attract who you are. And I love who I am!" ~ Carlos Santana 

I have been very, very, very busy this summer. In between dodging raindrops at youth baseball and softball tournaments every weekend through June and July, I have been working on a brand new venture for me.

I hinted at this on my Facebook page some weeks ago. Sorry to taunt you like that. But I wasn't ready to reveal it until I could work the kinks out.

Today, I am pleased to introduce you to Pop-a-Dot Jewelry. Style That Sticks With You.

No. I have not gone out of my mind. I have not abandoned the artisan jewelry that I love to create. This is not a substitute for my Simple Truths. This is a way for me to give back.

Pop-a-Dot Jewelry is exclusively for fundraising. I have already done one event with success and I am started on the next one with others in the works.

I have a new domain and blog at www.popadotjewelry.com. Please bookmark it so that you can see what cause I am supporting next in case you want to help as well.

I have a new email at dot@popadotjewelry.com. I would love to know what you think about this new venture and I welcome your suggestions!

Would you like to know more? Please visit this inaugural post on the Pop-a-Dot Jewelry site to read The History, see The Plan and get excited about The Future!

19 July 2013

Showcase 500 Art Necklaces

Last summer I spotted a call for submissions for Lark Publishing's 500 Series. I had seen these books before, and truthfully I almost didn't submit. I mean, they cull the cream of the crop and I wasn't sure that I had anything that would pass the test. I am a completely self-taught artist so I sometimes suffer from the affliction of comparison. These would be necklaces that were created by artists. Would I be invited to hang with that crowd?

Having just completed an exhibit at the Gallery Q for the Verse & Vision 2012 show in May, I knew exactly what to submit. The thing with the Lark publications, especially the 500 Series, is that you have to have professional photography to even be considered. Luckily, we have a fine photographer in our midst at Q who took glamour shots of all the art for the Verse & Vision show to be compiled in the exhibit book. My only decision was which of the three to submit.

{Winter Into Spring}
I ended up sending in the two that I felt best represented what an art necklace means to me. For a necklace to be considered an art necklace, I feel that it has to have a highly sculptural quality, something that might not be practical to wear, but also something that has a real story to tell. Unconventional materials, or standard materials used in a new and excited way, are what I would think would qualify. Given that these two necklaces were inspired by poems from Wisconsin poets, they certainly told a story, and they both used a wide array of materials, so I would consider them art worthy of any wall (or body). If you would like to read the original poems that inspired these, please check out my Challenge of Literature post from May 2012 for the full details from the Verse & Vision 2012 show. 

{Old Love}

I found out in February that both of my pieces were selected. What I didn't know was how many entries there were. Over 3,000! And from that pool of applicants, the curator - mixed media and metalsmithing jewelry professor from the University of Iowa, Chunghi Choo - culled it down to just 500. I found out that there are 475 artists from around the world in the book. So... that means that I am one of a select few that had more than one piece accepted! That fact makes me incredibly proud. I am truly honored to be counted among them.

I will say that I have poured over the pages in recent weeks and the book is really stunning. The small compact size packs quite a punch of art. This book is laid out very much like a gallery exhibit: each spread reminds me of a wall space were similar works of art are hung together, and sometimes the connections are surprising. The pieces range from high-end designer diamonds and gems incorporated into meticulously detailed settings to found object creations that look like experiments gone wild. And then there are the things in between. I am almost certain that a lot of these pieces were projects that students in University art programs likely created. I think that my mish-mosh sort of style worked to my advantage with a juror who is known for her mixed-media creations. Some of the pieces presented are completely wearable and some of it not so much. It is art, after all. And art is in the eye of the beholder. Or in this case the neck of the beholder. 

And although some of it is really out there and cutting edge - like a beheaded and armless baby doll as a pendant with a spout for peeing (I kid you not!), or a ring of cotton tampons puffed up and wound with gold thread (surprisingly intriguing shape!), or spoon fashioned into a cuff necklace with an acrylic sunny-side up egg dripping from it (truthfully, eggware is not for me) - other pieces are simply divine and make me do a double-take to see more. Their materials, colors, patterns and styles are fantastic and completely inspiring. The forms themselves make me want to see what I could do to interpret them to pay homage to the original.  I love the manipulation of the every day object to elevate it to a much more highly regarded work of art. I might not have the metalsmithing skills and studio necessary to make the pieces shown, but it certainly inspires me to see how I can incorporate some of the details in my own art jewelry for the future. A book like this helps me envision what is possible. And that sort of inspiration is a good thing. 

Here is a press release that I wrote about the honor that I am submitting to my local news outlets.  

500 Series
One of Lark Publishing's most distinctive and popular lines, this is the series lovers of fine craftmanship rave about. The 500 Series provides and overview of the best contemporary work in fields such as ceramics, woodworking, jewelry making, and more. 

Each book is juried by an expert, features informative introductory text, and showcases spectacular images of state-of-the art work. The first in the series, 500 Teapots, was published in 2002. Since then, over 35 books have followed, and new titles release each season. With an international roster of contributors that includes both established names and up-and-coming craftspeople, each volume spotlights the shared and divergent approaches taken by artists who are producing visionary work. 

Filled with lavish photographs, these gorgeous books inspire crafters and collectors, artists and afficionados - anyone who enjoys celebrating the creative spirit. They are like an art gallery for your coffee table, and provide a wealth of artful enjoyment.

 The newest entry in the stunningly crafted Showcase 500 series is called Showcase 500 Art Necklaces and features the most gorgeous art jewelry you have ever seen. Lovingly crafted by renowned jewelers and artists from around the world, these one-of-a-kind pieces display technical excellence, diverse forming techniques, and unceasing beauty. Made of materials that range from traditional metals and gemstones to nylon, fabric and found objects, these necklaces will leave crafters, jewelers, design fans and collectors awestruck. 

The juror is noted University of Iowa Professor of Jewelry & Metal Arts, Ms. Chunghi Choo. Ms. Choo narrowed the field of 3,000 submitted necklace designs down to the 500 in the book, represented by 475 different artists from around the world. 

Erin Prais-Hintz, artisan jewelry designer of Tesori Trovati Jewelry, submitted two of her designs that were featured in the May 2012 Verse & Vision exhibit at the Gallery Q in Stevens Point, Wisconsin: Winter Into Spring and Old Love. Both were selected by juror Chunghi Choo to be included in this presitgious publication. The necklaces were photographed by local photographer John Hartman, who received a byline credit for each entry. 

 The book Showcase 500 Art Necklaces can be purchased from Barnes & Noble or wherever books are sold. 

I don't know that I would have ever taken the chance to submit these if I didn't have the professional photos to share (thank you John Hartman!). But from now on, I am not going to let that stop me from trying! These pieces will remain in my private collection shown as sculpture in my studio (of course, I do wear Winter Into Spring as it is one of my favorites!) to remind me that sometimes it is great to create art just for the sake of art. Thank you for sharing in this bit of good news with me!

10 July 2013

Brandi's Color Challenge

"All colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites." ~Marc Chagall
You all know that I cannot resist a good challenge. And if it has to do with color, well, then count me in!

Thank you to my friend, Miss Brandi Hussey, for selecting the unique palettes for us to be challenged by in honor of her brand new book, Understanding Color: Color Theory Made Easy. Read my review of this outstanding new reference. I know you will want one.

Brandi created six different color palettes each with six colors each for us to be inspired by and we could make whatever we wanted in the medium of our choice. I had grandiose plans to do all six palettes and even selected beads in my stash to go with each. But I only was able to complete four of them by staying up to the wee hours after baseball all night. On the other hand, now I have a few new kickstarts for when my Muse goes MIA again. Win-win!

I am going to try something new for me... a Buy It Now button for each. I have never really done that, so if you are interested in any of these, I will wrap them up and mail them out to you as a lovely little present. And if not, well, they will find homes someplace else.

So, let's get started, shall we?


This first palette is very soft and cool feeling, like those first fresh ferns that unfurl in the spring under the dappled sunshine in a deep woods. This is a green that I can live with and it plays so well with the neutral greeny-beige colors. I had the perfect bead from Golem Studio.

I am a hoarder of Golem beads (oh, who am I kidding... I hoard all beads!). I have had the pleasure of meeting Vlad and his wife Kremona and they are just the most lovely of people. I have a whole set of them and was going to do a necklace, but then I spied these sweet lucite leaves nearby left over from a project I did last month for the Lovely Knots challenge. Now I had my bright green in the middle and the soft beige tones. Thinking lucite I remembered these carved melon lucite beads and threw in one in a slightly more blue tone just for contrast. This bracelet features an antiqued silver magnetic flower clasp that echoes the shape on the Golem bead and measures 7 1/2". I call this 'Unfurling' since those leaves and the color remind me of those sweet ferns opening their fingers to the warmth of the sun.

'Unfurling' bracelet
$50.00 + 3.00 shipping


Now THIS palette, #2, is my kind of palette. I was fond of living in these saturated jewel tones in the 80s and 90s. I am not a big pink fan, but that bright fuschia color is my shade, and I can tolerate the other pinks as they are more of the back up singers to this high note. This palette just looks rich to me, with the royal purpley-blue and the soothing teal.

I went back to the book Bohemian Inspired Jewelry and found one of my favorite projects there by Erin Siegel called Sakura. I did a book review for that back in June 2012 if you want to see what I created from this fabulous book's inspiration. I don't have a lot of waxed Irish linen, but I did have this spool of variegated hemp cord that worked perfectly with all the colors of the palette. I found this pretty leaf in the deep magenta color from Humblebeads and a rustic turquoise ceramic bead from Diane Hawkey. I thought the pink would be hard, but as luck would have it, I had tiny faceted rose quartz and some larger faceted crystal rondelles. To get that deep blue-purple color, I dug out some blue goldstone faceted rounds. I love that stone with the little flecks that pick up the light and bounce it back. Whenever I work with fiber like this, I always underestimate what I will need. I went with the amounts in the Sakura instructions but I should have added like 15 more inches. It is a true 16" length, perfect for you girls with those nice thin necks ;-). On me it is a little too snug, as I prefer an 18-20" length. It closes with a vintage pressed glass button.

I am calling this 'Sweet Simplicity' for the way this makes me feel a little bit bohemian and free. Wouldn't this look great with a flowy white sundress and strappy sandals on the beach?

'Sweet Simplicity' necklace
$50.00 + 3.00 shipping


I chose this palette because yellow scares me. No, really. I almost never use yellow so I wasn't even sure that I could find something that would match. But as luck would have it, I had the perfect bead that I bought some time ago from Honey Bijou. Unfortunately, Honey Bijou is no longer making beads for sale :-( which is too bad, because I really liked the way she worked with colors in her polymer clay beads and also these great 'doodle beads' she sold that she made using left over clay.

I bought a mix of caliente-colored Czech glass flowers from Fusion Beads and was able to pick out several of the shades to match. The yellow was harder to find, but I remembered I had a huge mixed bag of carved gemstone leaves from Fire Mountain Gems from awhile ago and there were some sort of gem that had that soft yellow color, not sure what it is. Adding to this is a fun fluted polymer clay and metal round in that deep fuschia from Jeannie Dukic, a polymer clay floral caned bead from Too Aquarius, and my own attempts at enamel in this soft lavender color bead.

Oh, and I used my new 1-Step Looper on these dangles. It works, but I did manage to crush a few of the glass beads I had to discard, and I still had to open them all up and secure them to the chain, so I am not sure about this tool yet. But if you have to make a lot of dangles it does make quick work. I just wish that the loop could be adjustable so that you could make it larger. Have you used one? What do you think about it?

I really love this one (and ultimately may decide to keep it for myself ;-) as it has such a sassy mix of hot colors and a sweet jangly sound. I am calling this "Hothouse Flowers" for the way this looks like a modern tropical corsage for your wrist. Measures 7 1/2" with brass findings and a floral toggle clasp.

'Hothouse Flowers' bracelet
$65.00 + 3.00 shipping

This is the palette that grabbed my attention first. Of course, I liked all the greens and turquoise, but that salsa red really threw me. It is such a pure and saturated shade next to all the other more soft and muted ones that I knew that this would be a challenge. I had something completely different in mind for this, with a hoarded Jade Scott heart pendant and tiny red rondelles, but my Muse was having none of it. So I will have to come back to that idea later.

Then I spotted this discarded steel wire frame that I had made for another project and next to that was a polymer clay bird from Humblebeads. I have an entire bin of the Jangles beads from Michaels (I keep buying more every time I go in there). The tones were perfect and added that touch of whimsy that I love so much. I wired the birdie onto the bottom of the frame, making a nest. But it needed something else so I plucked out a wee Humblebeads toadstool and another Jangles dangle.

This is a long necklace, 32" + 3" dangle. I have been making many, many in this style as they are so easy to just slip on over a t-shirt or a sundress and they layer well with other necklaces. But the real the beauty of this design is that if you want it shorter, you can just take the silky gunmetal chain (this is my favorite chain from Rings & Things - I practically have the item code memorized I buy it so often!), double it over and pass the chain over the bird frame to wear it short with the beaded links off to one side. I love designs that can be worn more than one way!

I am calling this 'Swinging Around' as it looks like this birdie is kicking up her heels on an avian swingset.

'Swinging Around' necklace
$65.00 + 3.00 shipping

Thank you, to Miss Brandi for throwing down such a great challenge that got me to raid my stash and come up with new ideas and new designs. Please hop on over to BrandiGirlBlog to see who else played along and what art they created using these six palettes.

UPDATE!Due to some computer glitches, Miss Brandi has extended the deadline for entering to MIDNIGHT TONIGHT! So... if you are at all interested... get creative and enter something! Prizes await!
ENTER your creative masterpiece on the form HERE!

05 July 2013

Understanding Color

Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.  ~Claude Monet

Today I have a review of the new book Understanding Color: Color Theory Made Easy by Brandi Hussey over on the Art Bead Scene blog. Please hop on over to read the full review!

Miss Brandi of BrandiGirlBlog has become a friend and a mentor to me the past few years. She is my color guru. You might remember that Miss Brandi was my partner last fall with the 3rd Annual Challenge of Color, creating 40 amazing palettes for us to use in creating our wearable works of art.Word on the street is that Miss Brandi will be back again in November to help me kick off the 4th Annual Challenge of Color. (And just a heads up... the 2nd Annual Challenge of Travel will be back on August 1st...get your creative passports ready!)

You can order a copy of this book by going to Miss Brandi's website. This is a reference that I know will see a lot of use in my own work because it is written in very approachable language and I think that it would work for any creative that has to use color in their work. Painters, interior designers, fashion stars, jewelry designers... everyone who works with color needs to know the reasons behind what choices work and why and this book is the best that I have ever found. Period.

Click the pictures below to order your copy today!

 I am also participating in Miss Brandi's Color Challenge.

I need some reason to pull out the art beads that I am hoarding and I find that doing a challenge like this is a perfect excuse. So I have a tray and I am pulling out beads and focals to go with all six of the palettes and from there I will see what inspires me most and what I have time to complete between baseball tournament games out of town this weekend.

The deadline to enter the color challenge is coming up on Wednesday, July 10th.Won't you join me? I will reveal what I made and I would love to see what you create!


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