28 February 2011

Color Palette Blog Walk 2::Inspired by...

"When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece." ~ John Ruskin

There is something really special about an art bead. It is like holding the hand of the maker in yours.

I can recall when I first started making jewelry. I would get my supplies from places like Michaels and Walmart, or take apart old jewelry for the parts. I never used a bead that cost me more than $5 and that felt like a lot.

And then someone told me that I should buy the best quality beads and components that I could afford, so I started to look a bit beyond my usual haunts for what might be out there. I was amazed at the variety! 

Eventually I found out that there were people out there who made beads for a living. Wonderful tiny masterpieces filled with light and color and whimsy. Artists whose chosen medium included glass and ceramic and polymer clay and metal. Artists who had studied art and those that had studied life and landed in art.

They all have a passion and a love to create that is evident in each tiny masterpiece.

Once I got over the sticker shock of paying $12, $25, $40, $59 or more for one single bead, I was hooked. There are some art beads that I purchased more than 4 years ago still waiting for good homes. And there are also some that are little sculptural friends who are lined up on my shelf keeping me company while I work.

And there may be some beads that I will never be able to part with because of their beauty, my reaction when I hold them, or my connection to the artist. They are just too special.

So in preparing for this blog walk with the theme "inspired by..." (which is my favorite theme, don't you know?!) I knew that I could find pictures of people that inspire me, or things in my world, or places I have been...but really I am inspired every day to tell the story of these precious art beads through my artisan jewelry.

Here are some of my favorite pieces of jewelry featuring art beads of all kinds. Enjoy!

{'twisted tattered torn' featuring a glass heart by Kerri Fuhr, dupioni silk ribbon, hand forged galvanized steel links and a sterling silver heart - featured in the Fall 2010 Jewelry Affaire}
{'Her Clockwork Heart' featuring Earthenwood Studios Toolbox Treasure ceramic heart, enameled cogs and gears from C-Koop, brass cogs from Rings and Things, three colors of Soft Flex wire loops - created for the Soft Flex Flex Your Creativity challenge, Fall 2010}

{'Besame Mucho' featuring a polymer clay long tube bead from Humblebeads, 24kt gold plated charlottes, a variety of colors, shapes and sizes of swarovski crystals - inspired by the painting "The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt for a gallery exhibit called Arts Walk, April 2009}
{'Good Advice' featuring ceramic beads from Jangles, glass and silver plated findings - won 2nd place in the 2009 Bead Star competition in the Hearts category}

{'Crimson Lace' featuring a double sided polymer clay flower focal from Humblebeads, Czech glass, Vintaj brass - for sale here}
{'Drops of Sunshine' featuring lampwork glass by Firelily on Etsy and brand spankin' new components from Kristi Bowman - she just started selling these in silver and bronze! Check them out!}

{'Promise of a Life Becoming' featuring a pure silver tulip charm from Beth Hemmila of Hint, hammered copper, pearls, glass, Bali silver origami cubes, leather - inspired by my sweet sister Kelly and featured in the Winter 2010 issue of Stringing}

{'Leatherbound Bloom' featuring a ceramic flower focal from Marsha Neal Studios, agate rounds, wood, chain and leather - created for the Color of Challenge blog hop (new one coming soon!) and donated to the My Mom Pattie shop on Etsy to raise money for a good cause - check it out!}

{'Out of this World' featuring a hollow focal bead by Kerry Bogert and an enamel round from Barbara Lewis with twisted wire and glass beads - created for my August 2010 solo exhibit at the Gallery Q inspired by a painting by Brenda Wenberg}

{'every thing happens for a reason' featuring one of my new 'simple truths' pendant (with that message on the back) and beautifully complemented by the three Humblebeads polymer clay disks - for my friend Kari who is embarking on a new journey in her life!}

Thank you to my friend, Brandi for coordinating this intriguing color walk. She made it very easy to participate by providing a great color palette template on her blog. I think I will use these in the future! 
Please visit the other blogs on the walk! 

Which color are you surrounding yourself in lately? 

Enjoy the day!

Monday, Feb. 28th
Erin at Treasures Found ------ You are here!

Tuesday, March 1st
Julia at UlvDesign

Wednesday, March 2nd
Jescalyn at Peach Honey Love
Katrina at Ma Joie Press
Jenni at Jenni's Beads

Thursday, March 3rd
Christie at Displaced Urbanite
Rachel at TatterBeans
Brittany at The Home Ground

Friday, March 4th
Rachel at Balanced Crafts
Wren at Each Day
Kelly at Mackin Art

26 February 2011

Bead Soup 3 Plus a Giveaway

Welcome to the 3rd Bead Soup Blog Party!
What is a Bead Soup Blog Party?

 Each beader was paired up with another jewelry designer and tasked with sending the following:

~ A focal
~ A special clasp (not just a lobster claw)
~ Some coordinating spacers or beads

Using the focal and the clasp was mandatory, but we could use anything from our own stash to round out the rest, and choose to use the coordinating beads or not.

{Look at that beaded bead Stefanie made me! And that cute little owl!}
I was excited to be paired with someone from another country because I knew that meant I would have the chance to receive something that was out of the ordinary for me. I received quite the hoard of pretty things from my partner Stefanie Teufel from Germany.

Stefanie was most generous with sweets and extra little gifts, but what struck me the most with these ingredients was the color. Saturated. Rich. Warm. The best thing in that bunch was the beaded bead that Stefanie made...because it is so special, I am saving it for another time.

I loved the copper and brass metals in the soup. Stefanie sent me a bunch of copper washers. I started by hammering them for texture, then sealing with Renaissance Wax. I connected them with jump rings and some with the fabulous striped silk ribbon. Repeating the circles, I added one full copper blank from my stash and tiny stamped copper dangles with the pink mother of pearl disks.

The large brass African trade beads were a challenge due to their size. I liked this one because of the circles in the design. I used brown leather cord to string the frosted fire-cracked agate on that side. 

Stefanie sent me some chain, but I felt that this design needed a heavier chain from my stash. Connecting to that I added a random mix of the beads that Stefanie sent along with a few from my own stash.
{Click the picture to see it larger!}

The style of this necklace I call "This or That," because you can wear them "this way" or "that way" and it is filled with a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Perfect for Bead Soup (and the way I cook, too!). It is pretty long, around 32". This allows for a really nice drape, but also the ability to double it up. Anyway you wear it, the necklace appears new, and I love to wear them and then turn them all day long to get a different view. I love it when my jewelry can multi-task!

I felt that this had a gypsy quality to it, a leisurely decadence with a sense of carefree style, so glamorous yet down-to-earth, so I call this 'la vie de la boheme' (French for 'life of the bohemian').

{Different views of the necklace depending on which side is showing!}

Thank you Stefanie for some delicious ingredients, and thank you to Lori Anderson for hosting this soiree!

Please check out what my partner, Stefanie created with the soup ingredients I sent to her, and take some time over the next few days to visit the other 209 bloggers who participated in this awesome blog hop.
Now for the giveaway...
To one lucky random commenter on this post, I am giving away one of my 'simple truths' pendants.

You can see a sampling of them below and also in my Etsy shop.

The random winner will have the choice of selecting one of the pendants in my shop (valued at $12 or less, with an optional chain) OR choose to have a custom pendant made by me with YOUR special message on it.
{What will your 'simple truths' pendant say?}
And since my partner Stefanie was so generous,  I am also throwing in one of the four yummy chocolate bars that she so graciously sent me. (Hands off the rest of them! They're mine! Late night creative jam sessions need chocolate for fuel!)

{mmm....chocolate covered marzipan!}
All you need to do is leave a comment - any comment - on this post. Giveaway is open to anyone in the world, whether you are a bead soup-er or not, but you MUST have your email turned on (or provide one in your message) so that I can contact you. Comments that are anonymous or that do not have the email will not be eligible. 

Want a second chance to win one of the 'simple truth' pendants? Head on over to Art Bead Scene because it is my turn for the Studio Saturday and I am hosting a giveaway there, too!

Winner will be drawn from all eligible comments on this post through Friday, March 4th.

Now.....On to the Hop! 

1.  Lori Anderson, Pretty Things ~ Party Mistress Extraordinaire!
2. Kitty Durmaj, Perles and Life 
3.  Michelle Heim, Life In the Bead Lane 
4.  Lisa Petrillo, Lucid Moon Studio
5.  Anitra Gordy, Leelu Creations
6.  Paige Maxim, Paige Maxim Designs
7.  Marianna Boylan, Pretty Shiny Things
8.  Cheryl Roe, BeadRoe
9.  Heidi Post, Ex Post Facto
10.  Cindy Wimmer, Sweet Bead Studio

11.  Terri Gauthier, Blooming Ideas
12.  Rachel Walsh, Balanced Crafts
13.  Marian Hertzog, M's Place
14.  Mary McGraw, MK's Musings
15.  Sarabeth Burke, Chronicles of Sarita
16.  Deci Worland, Gem Trails
17.  Erin Prais-Hintz,
Treasures Found
18.  Laura Zeiner, Stick Lizard Designs
19.  Kristin Latimer, MJM Jewelry Designs
20.  Cathryn Brooks-Williams, Chile Cats

21.  Holly Westfall, Silver Rose Designs
22.  Janna Harttgen, Palima-Lim 
23.  Libby Leuchtman, Libby Leu
24.  Rebecca Anderson, Songbeads
25.  Deb Hunter, Living On Air
26.  Diana Ptaszynski, Suburban Girl Studio
27.  Jennifer VanBenschoten, VanBeads 
28.  Margot Potter, The Impatient Crafter
29.  Cyndi Lavin, Beading Arts
30.  Courtney Breul, Beads by Breul

31.  Stefanie Teufel, Stefanie's Sammelsurium
32.  Patricia Gasparino, My Life Under the Bus
33.  Tari Khars, Pearl and Pebble
34.  Kristi Bowman-Gruel, Kristi Bowman Design
35.  Jayne Capps, Mama's Got to Doodle
36.  Becky Fairclough, Chameleons Designs
37.  Evie and Beth McCord, EB Bead & Metal Works
38. Lynne Bowland, Islandgirl's Insights
39.  Barbara Lewis, Painting With Fire
40.  Lorelei Eurto, Inside the Studio

41.  Stacy Hartis, Sissy & Jack's
42.  Jennifer Cameron, Glass Addictions
43.  Marcie Abney, La Bella Joya 
44.  Johanna Rhodes, Fire Phoenix Creations
45.  Nan Emmett, Spirit Rattles 
46.  Melissa Mesara, One Eared Pig  
47.  Amanda Davie, Articulations
48.  Cherin Poovey, Lanyard Lady
49.  Virginia Joste, ViviBijoux

50.  Andrew Thornton, The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
51.  Lori Dorrington, Lori's Glassworks
52.  Melanie Brooks, Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
53.  Kate Gardenghi, Tropical Blonde
54.  Serena Trent, PinkIce Jewel's Blog
55. Malin de Koning, Beading by Malin de Koning
56.  Shai Williams, Shaiha's Ramblings
57.  Francy Inman, 8 Second Studio 
58.  Amy Freeland, Copper Diem
59.  Lisa Liddy, Joolz By Lisa

60.  Sandi Lee James,  Do Be Do Bead Do
61.  Mary Harding, Mary Harding Bead Blog 
62.  Stacey Curry, Star Hitched Wagon
63.  Leslie Gidden, Mad Maggie Designs
64.  Elisabeth Auld, Beads For Busy Gals
65.  Niky Sayers, Silver Nik Nats
66.  Linda Djokic, Lutka and Co.
67.  Tracy Bell, Copper, Glass, and Recycled Trash
68.  Laurel Steven, Rue's Daftique
69.  Ingrid McCue, Wrapped In Silver

70.  Birgitta Lejonklou, Create With Spirit
71.  Diana Hawkey, Diana Hawkey
72.  Norma Turvey, Moonlit Fantaseas
73.  Jeanette Ryan, Jeanette Blix
74.  Jackie Ryan, Silver Lodge Gems
76.  Debbie Goering, Prairie Emporium 
77.  Valerie Norton, Hot Art 
78.  Jana Trupovniece, Stories of the Secret Garden  
79.  Amy Severino, Amy Beads 

80.  Emma Thomas, Fred Beans Nook
81.  Karen Zanco, Everyday Gypsy
82.  Suzann Sladcik Wilson, Beadphoria
83.  Janet McDonald, Singing Woods
84.  Dana James, Dana's Jewelry Designs
85.  Kristina Johansson, Wild Roses and Blackberries
86.  CJ Bauschka, CJ Bauschka
87.  Angela Barribea, Re: Angela Rae
88. Marcy Lamberson, Studio Marcy
89.  Tanya Floyd, Glass Migrations

90.  Lisa Kavanaugh, Beading Bliss
91.  Sue Hodgkinson, Hello Gorgeous 
92.  Jenni Connolly, Jenni's Bead 
93.  Nally Parfyonova, Nally's Creations 
94.  Karyn White, Releases By Rufydoof  
95. Emanda Johnson, Artemisia Studio 
96.  Sandy Richardson, Sandy's Coloring Box
97.  Cindy Dolezal,  Cindy Dolezal Designs 
98.  Stacie Stamper, Park Avenue
99. Mallory Hoffman, For the Love of Beads

101.  Nicole Valentine-Rimmer, N. Valentine Studio
102.  Jacinta Meyers, Jamberrysong's Creations 
103.  Charlene Gary, Gray Girl Studios
104.  Rubiee Hayes, Glitter and Keys Galore
105.  Marge Beebe, Rock Creek Creations
106.  Elizabeth Freeman, Turquoise Sky
107.  Shelby Foxwell, Sundown Bead Designs Rhetoric
108.  Lynda Moseley, Diva Designs
109.  Grace Danel,  Grace Beading
110.  Lois Moon, Que Onda Quitman

111.  Agnes Shapiro, Beader Bubbe 
112.  Terry Carter, Tapping Flamingo 
113.  Judy Glende, Judith B. Designs
114.  Mary Ellen Parker, Bee Tree By Me
115. Barbara Bechtel, Second Surf
116.  Charlene Sevier, The Bead Dreamer
117. Alice Craddick, Alice's Beads and Baubles 
118.  Cory Celaya, Art With Moxie 
119.  Ronda Adams, The Ravished Heart 
120.  Sandi Volpe, Sandi Volpe Designs 

121. Anna Lear, The Laughing Raven 
122. Susie Hibdon, Vintagesusie & Wings  
123.  Amanda Austin, Sea Shore Glass 
124.  Jennifer Velasquez, Jen Judd Rocks 
125.  Hazel Ward, All Those Things 
126.  Brenda Salzano, Salzanos 
127.  Dee Gordon, Runako Designs by Dee 
128.  Anna Denisova, Anita-M 
129.  Margaret Saari, Mags-Jewelry

130.  Genea Crivello-Knable, Genea Beads 
131.  Penny Neville, Copper Penny
132.  Angela Blasingame, Hopemore
133. Helena Fritz, Beadwork by H's Blog
134. Stephanie LaRose, Confessions of a Bead Hoarder
135. Stephanie Haussler, PixyBug Designs
136. Diane Cook, Rosa & Josies  
137.  Maryse Thillens, Glass Bead Art
138.  Jennifer Pride, Jewelry by J.P.
139.  Shannon Chomanczuk, For My Sweet Daughter

140.  Lisa Godfrey, Bead Happy
141.  Heather Pyle, Welcome to My  Muse
142.  Regina Santerre, Regina's Writings
143.  Liz DeLuca, Creative Arty Facts
144.  Sig Wynne-Evans, Beaded Bear's Nonsense
145.  Loretta Carstensen, Loretta's Boutique
146.  Raida Disbrow, Havana Beads 
147.  Amber Dawn, Inventive Soul 
148.  Shelly Graves, Stars Dance With Me  
149.  Jess Italia Lincoln, Vintaj Blog 

150. JJ Jacobs, Coming Abstractions
151.  Carrie Tahquechi, Carrie T
152.  Staci Smith, Staci Louise Originals
153.  Katarzyna Kwiatkowska, Quiet Area 
154.  Ema Kilroy, Ema K Designs
155. Magdalena Sikora, Poranna Gazeta
156.  Nicole Keller, Nicki's Reef
157.  Ann Rishell, My Critical Eye
158.  Noemi Baena, Fire, Metal, and Color 
159. Christa Murphy, Adventures of One Beady Woman 

160.  Barbara Blaszczyk, Labotorium Flory
161.  Collette Collins, Firefly Myst
162.  Carola Greiser, Polymer Clay Shed
163.  Joanna Kopijczuk, Bizuteria z Filcu
164. LeAnn Weih, Summers Studio 
165.  Cassandra Watsham, Design by Cassandra
166. Anna Motz, Stunning
167.  Shea Zukowski, Gr8findings
168.  Susan Kennedy, Sue Beads
169.  Lisa Boucher, Lisa's Clay Happenings

170.  Hope Smitherman, Crafty Hope
171.  Alison Crenshaw, Beads by Earth Tones
172.  Dorcas Midkiff, Wondrous Strange Designs 
173.  Melissa Rediger, Sea of Glass 
174.  Marina Dobrynina, Savon Feutre  
176.  Menka Gupta, Menka's Blog
177. Patsy Evins, Patsy Evins Studio
178.  Cherrie Fick, En La Lumie're
179.  Suzette Bentley, Ellie's Bijoux

180.  Molly Alexander, Beautifully Broken Me
181.  Lyn Foley, Lyn Foley Wearable Art
182. Tara Plote, The Newbie Beader's Blog
183. Natalie Schuetz, Natalie S Perlen 
184. Kim Hutchinson, Running on Ink
185. Haley Frank, Wide Eyed Smilin 
186. Grace Caputo, Suddenly Last Summer
187. Marie-Noel Voyer-Cramp, Skye Jewels 
188. Erin Siegel, Erin Siegel Jewelry 
189.  Janea McDonald, Organized Chaos

190.  Kristi Evenson, Colie Bug & Co.
191.  Linda Inhelder, Must Haves Jewelry
192.  Hilary Frye, FryeStyle
193. Whitney Lassini, Whitney Lassini
194. Nancy Schindler, The Rabbit Muse
195. Pam Brisse, The Blue Between
196. Beth Bricker, Vintage Sweets
197.  Ruthie Stickney, Rose Works Jewelry and Gifts
198.  Rose Noble, Lady Noble Designs
199. Karen Williams, Baublicious

200.  Claire Maunsell, The Next Bend
201.  Christine Damm, Stories They Tell
202.  Kerry Bogert, Kab's Creative Concepts
203.  Wendy Blum, Sand & Sea Designs
204.  Juli Cannon, Julsbeads
205.  Jenny Robledo, La Dona Boutique
206.  Krista French, French Elegant Jewelry
207.  Pam Krinski, Ewa Beads
208.  Melissa Meman, Melissa Meman, Art, Life, Love
209.  Dana Jones, Dana's Jewelry
210.  Shirley Moore, Beads and Bread

The next party's sign ups begin August 1-3, 2011.  Don't miss it!

Enjoy the day!

25 February 2011

RAW::Kindness Matters

{Isn't this Original Tree painting just lovely? I found this from AllisonBWonderland on Etsy. On the wishlist it goes!}

"Be kind whenever possible.

It's always possible."

~Dalai Lama

P.S. Check out my Bead Soup sneak peek!
I finished a heaping pot of Bead Soup last night (okay, very VERY early this morning ;-) with a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Loaded with color, spice and sass... I think that I am loving the flavor (in fact I am wearing it today!).
Check back in tomorrow for the big reveal...and a giveaway!

Enjoy the day!

24 February 2011

Mark Your Calendars! Color Palette Blog Walk

My friend Brandi from CatiesBlue makes the most stunning jewelry. It is infused with color and life and is so yummy I want to lick every piece (is that so wrong?). I am waffling now with just which piece will come and live with me. I love to support other artists and I have been coveting Brandi's work since the moment I laid eyes on it. And really, so affordable. I must make one mine.

Brandi is sponsoring a special blog walk from February 28th to March 4th and I have jumped on in with both feet and my eyes closed filled with blind faith and dumb luck! Blind because I had no idea how to make a palette and dumb luck that Brandi has so graciously designed a template for us to use!

Each of the 20 bloggers who signed up come from vastly different blogging worlds. Some are fellow jewelry artists, or color enthusiasts, or extraordinary photographers, or general lifestyle observers. I think that this hop will be fun and introduce me to new bloggers I may not have known before. That is the thrill of challenges and blog hops for me... to have the potential to meet new friends or see those that I am friends with in a new light and always it is about inspiration. I have met the most incredible souls through hops like this. Maybe you will, too!

Brandi has parsed out only 4 blogs per day (very manageable in hopping terms), and we're all going to be blogging and creating new color palettes around things that inspire us using our own photos. My turn to post will be right away on Monday, February 28th, and we'll be sharing our thoughts about each color palette we've made. If you love color, too, you can follow along with the fun below!

Check out the BrandiGirlBlog for tons of inspiration, tutorials, e-books, encouragement, and don't forget her juicy jewelry at her new gorgeous new website CatiesBlue.

Be sure to check back starting on Monday to see what inspires this incredibly talented crew!

Monday, Feb. 28th
Brandi at Brandi Girl Blog
Erin at Treasures Found ---> You are here!
Jen at Jen Judd Rocks
Shari at Exploring the Wonders of Life

Tuesday, March 1st
Karen at Creative Thoughts and Inspirations
Julia at UlvDesign
Jessa at The ReArtingDotNet Blog
Lyn at Lyn Foley Jewelry Blog

Wednesday, March 2nd
Jescalyn at Peach Honey Love
Paige at Paige Maxim Designs
Katrina at Ma Joie Press
Jenni at Jenni's Beads

Thursday, March 3rd
Christie at Displaced Urbanite
Rachel at TatterBeans
Brittany at The Home Ground
Cindy at Sweet Bead Studio

Friday, March 4th
Rachel at Balanced Crafts
Wren at Each Day
Kelly at Mackin Art
Kristy at Simply Shiny Blog

Answer me this...
What do you like about blog hops?
Is it the thrill of discovering a new-to-you blog?
The potential for making new friends?
Peeking through the curtains of their little world?
Do you participate in blog hops? If the answer is no... why not?
Do you travel around blog hops even if you are not participating?
Or do you only hop with the ones that you are involved with?
Do tell!

And do come back for a very rare Saturday blog post for me as I blog about the Bead Soup that I am concocting for the Mother of all Blog Hops, and also stop by Art Bead Scene on Saturday for my very first Studio Saturday post with a giveaway!
Enjoy the day!

23 February 2011

30 Words::Soup is Simmering on BTW

Ribbons and silk.
Copper chain and washers.
Color and pattern.
Beads galore.
Special treats from Germany...
Marzipan and Nougat.
Thimble, Nutcracker, cologne.
Gummy bears gobbled up by 10 year old.

Bead Soup is on!

Special thanks to Lori Anderson of Pretty Things for being the hostess with the mostest and to my delightful partner Stefanie Teufel from Germany and her beautiful blog Stefanies Sammelsurium
Come back on Saturday, February 26th when I unveil my Bead Soup creation and provide links to the 209 other jewelry designers who are participating from around the globe!

But since you stopped by... do you have any ideas for me on what to do with all this bounty!? Since it is 1:01 in the AM on Bead Table Wednesday and this is the first time I have taken all the pieces out of the package, I could really use the help! Gah! The Procrastinator is in the building! Whatever I make will be created with magic dust, that is for sure!

Enjoy the day!

20 February 2011

Coming to my Senses::10 Years Flash Before My Eyes

{This is what the last decade of my life looked like...click to enlarge and view the many faces of my Tiny Dancer!}
I see...smiles from ear to ear...orange frosting...ink on fingers...flashlight tag...thank you notes written...three candles left lit (three boyfriends, teehee!)...brand new CZ studs in her newly pierced ears...the last decade of my life flash before my eyes...

I hear....shrieks of laughter...'Rasputin' and 'Crazy in Love' on Just Dance 2...more giggles...paper ripping off packages...the wave of quiet that comes when they all leave in a whoosh...

I taste...smooth creamy ice cream with pebbles of cookie in a fudge ribbon...fruity bubbles in the punch...salty and slightly stale pretzels...

I smell...fruity lip gloss and sugar...the smoke from 10 birthday candles...cupcakes baking in the oven...

I touch...the chain of the charm bracelets we are making at the party...my hammer stamping their names on the metal...my lips to the top of my daughter's head as she gives me a hug...

I feel...amazed that this girl-child is wavering between so grown up and still a little girl...thrilled that I could share this fun with her besties...humbled that my baby is 10...that time is slipping by...

{The birthday superstar with the CZ studs licking the frosting off her cupcake!}
Happy 10th birthday, Tiny Dancer!

P.S. The winner of my Beaded Romanov earrings is....Pretty Things! But wait! Scott David has generously offered to send a Beaded Romanov kit to all of the commenters on the review post. Congrats to Something Unique, Barbara Lewis, Melissa Meman, Craftymoose Crafts, CJ Vierow, Janet, EmandaJ, Cindy and JeannieK! I will email you with the details on how to get your own Beaded Romanov Kit direct from Scott David Plumlee.

Enjoy the day!

18 February 2011

Read All About It:: Chain and Bead Jewelry: Geometric Connections

"Welcome to a new plateau of creativity, where shiny metal jump rings and yummy gemstone beads are combined in endless possibilities..."

So begins the Preface from author and chain jewelry expert Scott David Plumlee in his third book Chain and Bead Jewelry: Geometric Connections.

{Don't you just want that necklace on the cover?
I think that is totally red-carpet worthy!}

David contacted me at the end of last year and asked if he could send me a copy of his new book in exchange for a review. I met him briefly at the Bead & Button show in 2009 {I am sure he doesn't remember me unless he can picture me as the one whose purse went crashing into his display as I nearly spilled my coffee all over his pretty books. ;-}and purchased a copy of his previous book, so I jumped at the chance to see this new resource. Little did he know that I am not the speediest at getting to projects {Procrastination is my middle name}.

Then the holidays took over and it took me some time to come back around to giving this book the time that it deserves. You see, I can tell you from just the first impression that this book is beautifully laid out and the projects are shown with stunningly gorgeous photography. But when I agree to review something I want to be sure that I know more about it than just a surface impression. I think that you, dear Readers, and the author as well, deserve more than that.

So I asked David to be patient with me so that I could really devour the book and find some projects that I could try to be sure that I was giving this task the attention it deserved.

{Scott's Serrated Byzantine bracelet - sorry for the craptastic scans}

I have always been fascinated by chain-making. It looks so complex and yet uses such simple materials. I have taken one small course in Byzantine chain, and that course would be what I classify as a waste of money. It was at Bead & Button and the instructor {NOT David} gave us the kits, provided us with some pointers and then sat back and read a magazine while we worked. The room was dead silent except for the fun hammering sounds coming through the curtains in this cavernous room. I got done with a three hour Byzantine chain class in just over an hour and asked to be excused to go shop while my earrings tumbled {Can you blame me? I was just steps away from one of the largest bead expos anywhere!}. I always felt sort of gypped that I could have learned this all with the instructors kit. I would have learned much more had I just had a copy of  any of David's books or taken one of his classes. I can tell from the care that has gone into this book that he would be a very thorough and attentive teacher.

Since I already had that one Byzantine project under my belt, I was delighted to learn that pretty much all of the patterns in this book are variations and transformations of the Byzantine chain. This particular chain is one of the most enduring patterns in all of chain-making history. I found that the variations on this theme were intriguing and filled with possibilities for how to combine them with gemstone beads. Oh, and I want that one from the cover. {Or maybe I should just make myself one!}

The book is broken down into 8 sections. You definitely want to start at the beginning with "Chain & Bead Basics" and move into "Essential Techniques." These two chapters are like having Scott as your own personal chain-making instructor. I will warn you... there is a lot of math, which I loathe. But this sort of chain pattern requires precise measurements. I will admit that all the talk of calculating aspect ratios makes my eyes glaze over, but it is apparent that David really knows his stuff. And if you are going to take off with doing chain-making on your own, without the benefit of pre-made rings, then you need this knowledge.
{Clear pictures with precise details even for the simplest things like how to open a jump ring properly. I learned a lot here!}

I think that these are really great opening chapters because there is a wealth of knowledge on things like forging an s-clasp, making matching earring wires, and the proper way to work with jump rings. I have to say that I learned a lot in these tips with the great photography clearly showing each step. I will come back to these again even if I am not creating my own chains. {I have to tell you that my favorite thing to do is take jump rings and make them into a flower formation. It bulks them up, adds texture and strength and is a simple way to add your own spacers with an inexpensive material.}

I was going to attempt to make my own jump rings {you can stop laughing right now!}, but there was that whole pesky math thing. Not to mention my fundamental lack of time. Plus I didn't have the right wire to do that sort of thing, and I have never taken my jump ring maker {essentially different sized rods} out of the package. I really hate getting out my jeweler's saw, and then there is that whole kerfless thing {to kerf or not to kerf, that is the question!}. Lucky for me there is a great resource page in the back with suppliers of jump rings and so I proceeded to look them up. But trying to get the right number of rings in the right gauge for the pattern proved a bit daunting to me. Hey, wait a minute! It was then that I noticed that David offers complete kits for many of the projects in this book. Hooray! So I went right out and bought four kits all in brass just to give myself a kickstart: beaded Romanov bracelet and earrings; serrated Byzantine bracelet and earrings. I decided to start with the earrings figuring if I can get that pattern down I can finish the rest.

These earrings took me less than an hour to make each pair, and that was with me being sick on the couch that day. So if I can do this using David's clear instructions when I am sicker than a dog, without the proper light, on a co-opted lunch room tray and squinting because I obviously need glasses, then you can do it, too. I wasn't sure that I had all the same tools that David recommends so I punted a little bit, but I think that they turned out great. I can see the potential for this design with different beads and alternate metal options, especially mixing metals which I love to do. {My tip to you: open all your jump rings the same way before you start. Saves a lot of time and futzing.}
{My Serrated Byzantine earrings - LOVE!}

I love the way the serrated Byzantine looks. That simple bend in the pattern and connecting the larger rings gives it such movement. Again, I can see the potential to transform this pattern with different stones. maybe wire wrapped in each large ring or dangling from the bottom. I only got around to making the two pairs of earrings but now that I know how to do them, it should be easy to jump in and make the matching bracelets.
{Someday I will attempt this Trapezoid bracelet.}

Having tried a few projects in the book, I can honestly say that this is a book I am proud to own. I would love to work my way up into some more complicated designs like the Incan Triangle necklace, the Japanese Rose necklace or the Trapezoid bracelet. And David has laid it out in such a way that builds on the previous projects and  I do believe that I would be successful with any of these projects.

I would recommend the book Chain and Bead Jewelry: Geometric Connections by Scott David Plumlee to anyone that is curious about adding chain that they fabricate to their designs, and likes the possibility of combining that with gemstones.

Oh, and anyone who likes math. ;-)
{Win these Beaded Romanov earrings!}

Would you like to win these Beaded Romanov earrings? Their pretty red beads will liven up your ears in the dead of winter! 

How to enter? 

Hop on over to Scott's website www.DavidChain.com and take a look around. Then come back here and tell me which of the kits/designs from his website you like the most. I will pick a random winner from all entries on this post on through Sunday, February 20th. 

Enjoy the day!

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of the book from the author in order to provide a review. I purchased all the kits I used in testing out the designs.

17 February 2011

Fly High on Imagination

"Imagination is the highest kite one can fly."
~Lauren Bacall

When I decided to start making some components, I did it with my own needs in mind. I wanted to create something with a time-worn look, brimming with color and filled with words that are powerful. In short, I wanted to make things that I would want to use in my own creations. Then the idea came to me that maybe there were others out there that would like something to kick-start their creativity. Why not offer them to a larger audience?

Deciding to put them out there by themselves was a bit nerve-wracking, because although I loved them I didn't know if anyone else would. But your comments on my recent post most definitely told me that you appreciated what I was doing.

Little did I know when I put this little project out there that there would be some who would rush right out and buy them. To you, I say thank you. I try to put a hand written note in with each one asking the recipient to share with me what they create so that I can share it with all of you. I was just thrilled that Kristy Abner bought some of my first pendants. She makes some pretty lovely things that have a romantic flair and a contemporary edge. I was so glad that this little robin on a branch with the message to 'fly high' was coming to live with her and knew it was destined to soar.

Kristy says that when she got the package she was immediately inspired to create something. Look what she did with it! The pops of color in those red beads draw me in, and that chain - could it be MissFickle? Swoon! The use of the ribbon makes it adjustable and soft and pretty.

Thank you Kristy for doing me the honor of using my 'simple truths' pendant in your lovely necklace! It is so nice to know that you were inspired. You are my 'something good' today!

Has someone done something for you that touched your heart recently?
Have you ever been so inspired that you had to drop everything to let that inspiration out?
What is a 'something good' in your life today?
Do tell!

16 February 2011

BTW::Custom Upcycle

I did it! I finally remembered that it was BTW before it was actually Wednesday!

{reinventing the bling - Julsbeads choices}

{sentimental favorites - Humblebeads choices for the two daughters}
{pulling it apart to put it together}

Tonight I managed to finish three necklaces.
I was given the opportunity to take some sentimental pieces from a friend from church named Rosan - like her mother's three strand costume pearl necklace and a pair of over the top crystal cluster earrings - and turn them into something new.

 The three-strand pearl necklace was not in the best shape, but the piece is sentimental to my client. She asked me to make an updated necklace for two of her daughters. I featured Humblebeads in both of these necklaces, using coordinating seed beads as spacers to make the beads go further, since a fair number of them had their lustre worn away over time. I mimicked the lines in the Humblebeads with the wavy silver and gold disks that remind me of flower petals.

I still have to make a double strand bracelet for my client from the remaining faux pearls. And to make it special I am going to use the ornate filigree pearl clasp as a little dangle.

Rosan also presented the challenge to take a very bling-y black crystal cluster earrings (complete with silver plated bows!) and tone it down a bit to make it something she would actually wear. So I selected a Julsbead from my prodigious stash and pitched the idea of breaking up the crystals into a necklace and earring set. I took apart about 30 crystals off their head pins and still only managed to use one of the earrings.

I like the way this piece turned out and think that Rosan will be proud to wear them now!

Turning someone's treasures into something they will actually wear is a great rush for me. It is like breathing new life into something that was forgotten or neglected.


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