29 April 2011

30 Words::The Princess Bride

forcing the butterflies to fly in formation

you tremble, slightly

every move


by 2,000,000,000 someones 

it all melts away

when he smiles and utters

"You look stunning, babe."

Enjoy the day!

27 April 2011

BTW: X Marks the Spot!

Ms. Tori, the dance director, has come to expect me to make her a showstopper of a necklace for the yearly performances. And I am true to form and running it right down to the wire. I had hoped to have this complete by today, but I forgot that life gets in the way. Hopefully it will be done by tomorrow.

The name of the show is "X" for the Roman numeral ten. This is the 10th anniversary of the dance school. So my idea was to incorporate the number ten (or "X) into the piece in a subtle way. She picked out these amazing stones from norah62 on Etsy (and she is having another sale of 25%! Hurry!). These were described as "Vibrant blue fire hot pink moonstone faceted nuggets." Their color and flash is really quite remarkable! Ms. Tori has great taste as a whole strand of these was not cheap!

There are flashes of blue and green and purple in there, so I found a gold toned clasp with a beautiful mystic Swarovski crystal in it in the shape of a star. And I am using faceted amethysts in between the stones to bring in another shape and color.

The X comes in the way that I wire wrapped each stone using 14/20 gold filled half round wire that lays nice and flat.

Now I just need to bring it all together!

Enjoy the day!

25 April 2011

Art Bead Scene Challenge: Finches & Bamboo

"The taller the bamboo grows, the lower it bends."
~ Chinese proverb

Bamboo are the fastest growing plants on the planet. You are seeing all sorts of bamboo products now from floors to clothing and everything in between. Harvesting this natural grass is very sustainable.

Bamboo is prized for being flexible yet strong, traits that allow it to bend in the storm and ones that are smart for us to emulate.
Finches and Bamboo, Northern Song dynasty (960–1127)
Emperor Huizong (1082–1135, r. 1101–1125) Chinese
Handscroll; ink and color on silk; 11 x 18 in. (27.9 x 45.7 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
John M. Crawford, Jr. Collection, Purchase, Douglas Dillon Gift, 1981

Symbolism of the bamboo is that it stands for simplicity and humility. The bamboo plant does not flower but once every 60-130 years so it needs no further adornment. And the hollow trunk of this plant reminds the Chinese of the virtue of humility because it is empty at it's core, recalling that we should not fill ourselves up with material things or arrogance.

Bamboo is also associated with respect for elders.

From Living Arts Originals, "The young branches at the top of the bamboo trunk will not grow at the same angle as the older branches below, in order to allow sunlight for their elders. When the young shoots emerge from the roots, they are under the shade of the older bamboo branches. Such a spirit reflects the young respecting the old as well as the old protecting the young." 

I find this last fact particularly intriguing.

In going through my art bead stash this month, I found one complete set of things that I would still like to explore. I teased the Bead Table Wednesday folks with that set above, but it was that little bird tile in the top that kept calling to me.

This decoupaged wood tile is from Skye Jewels on Etsy. Marie does some really lovely pendants and charms that have this great vintage vibe. She will drill a hole in them if you like, or leave it untouched, as in this piece, to use for filigree wrapping. I ended up wrapping two different Vintaj filigrees around this round tile to make it secure. These two birds reminded me of the finches in the challenge painting.

{"Love Life" - necklace that didn't sell}
But it needed something more. I happened to have a necklace from my show last summer that didn't sell that I decided to pull apart and use some of the pieces. In particular, I love the round leafy bead from Melanie at Earthenwood Studio (on the right side of the design) because the shape of the leaves and the color reminded me of the painting. And the shape of the pewter leaf from Green Girl Studios is a spot on match to the bamboo leaves. But this necklace that I was pulling apart was done up in silver, and I had started with brass. I didn't want to re-do the whole thing, so the challenge then is to bring the silver into the design in a way that seems balanced and thoughtfully placed. (And for the record...someone had commented that I was very brave to pull something apart, but I do that all the time with defunct jewels. And there must be a reason that this piece didn't sell...if nothing else than for me to make more things from the raw materials!)

{detail of the Green Girl Studios pewter leaf}
I added two wire wrapped links of these little wood nugget beads to call to mind the trunk of the tree, an enameled wire ring from the Industrial Chic line and the most lovely pewter leaf that says 'love life' on the back from Green Girl Studios. Below the pendant I wired on a branch and attached a brass leaf with one little pewter leaf to bring back the silver tone.

The back is finished with peridot green matte seed beads for comfort interspersed with tiny rustic silver spacers. The Vintaj brass hook clasp is wired with silver wire and more of the green seed beads attached to a leaf toggle (my last! Note to self: buy more Vintaj!).

{Available here.}

The result is what I call "Grow Tall, Bend Deep & Love Life."

Come back and join me and my beady friends as we hop through the Art Bead Scene challenge blog hop on Friday, April 29th. There are some great prizes to be won for the month from Jess Contreras and Deryn Mentock that you won't want to miss. Share your post of your interpretation of this painting by Thursday, April 28th to be included in the blog hop and be sure to check out the entries on Flickr!

Enjoy the day!

23 April 2011

Art Bead Scene Studio Saturday

Want to read about how I made this?

Come on over to Art Bead Scene. It is my turn for Studio Saturday... and there is a giveaway of this little etched copper tag to three random winners!

Enjoy the day!

22 April 2011

RAW:: Harnessing the Wind

I feel like there is a lot of wind in my face lately. 

I am walking with my eyes down on my feet, the sleet is pelting my forehead and whipping my hair all about (wait...that is exactly what it was like when I left my office on Tuesday! Winter has returned... grrrr....). There are puddles to navigate so my feet don't get wet, and it is taking all my effort just to keep pushing on.

This wind is making it hard to concentrate on the big picture because I have my head bowed so low. I don't feel like I can chance looking up and seeing all that might be blowing by me. Part of me just wants to find a nice solid tree to hunker down behind with branches that I can twine my arms around and hold on tight until this all passes.

But that is the thing. The winds may die down, and I may feel just a gentle breeze lifting me up, but there will never be a lack of current. And by not looking up and out I don't see where I am headed, and it might very well be the wrong direction.

When all the wind is threatening to overwhelm, when I have been blinded by the force and entwined in my own swirling nest of hair, it is hard to keep your eyes on the prize. My tendency is to turn away. And maybe that is exactly what I need to do.

What if... instead of fighting against the gale forces that are pushing me back, I turned into them to face a new direction? 

What if... that new direction afforded me a better view, and a lighter step, and helped me to see new avenues?

What if... instead of cursing the winds that threaten to push me back, or worse - stop me in my tracks - I did a 180 and let that same wind lift me up and propel me forward? 

You might be flying with the wind in your face, but if you turn and let it be the wind in your sails, you might even go farther than you ever thought possible.

While the wind literally was in my face as I left work this week, and my heart goes out to all those affected by the real winds from tornadoes all across this land (including 12 in one day all around my central Wisconsin area, but missing us completely), I am, of course, talking about a metaphorical wind.

  • What 'wind' is in your face? What is holding you back, stopping you in your tracks? Is it giving you the motivation to push on through or are you lacking the strength to fight just to stay upright?
  • What would happen if you saw things differently, turned the other direction, followed a different path? If you have been going down the same path for some time, have you stopped to look in another direction?
  • What obstacles are in your way? How can you remove them? Or how can you use them?
  • Do you have reservations about letting the wind lift you up so that you can fly as only you were meant to do?

Do tell!

Enjoy the day!

21 April 2011

Button Hop

The button is one of the humblest of all things. It serves to fasten. It is utilitarian. It is one of the first skills that you master as a young child and feel a great sense of accomplishment about. It is a common thing, usually made of plastic, and yet one of those things that you hate to lose.

Buttons connect two things, keeping them together and  bringing closure. And while this tiny bit of usefulness is often overlooked and neglected until hanging by a thread, it is so much more than just a way to ensure that your clothes don't fall off and you show too many of your private bits.

And they have been doing that for over 5,000 years. 

I love to see what treasures a swap like this will bring me. If there are participants who are overseas, I always offer to be paired with someone new. Yes, it may cost a bit more to send something overseas, but I weigh that with the fact that I will now have a new friend in a faraway place. And it is like being a button... fastening yourself, connecting yourself to another person half a world away. It is amazing what the humble button can do.

{Look at the loot! I love the little diagram from Saskia. I am keeping that as a remembrance of the fun.;-) Shout out to Saskia...thank you for all the treasures!}
For this button swap I was paired with Saskia Kaffenberger of Germany. Check out her blog Perlendistel. Getting mail from overseas is fun, and I love to see the stamps from other countries. The inside of the package was wicked cool... it is an envelope that is recycled from maps. I am tucking that away for another project some day.

Saskia was so kind to write in English and provided me with a sweet little diagram of the beads that were in my package with notes on what they were and where they came from. She included a few vintage brass colored buttons still in their original packaging, a Murano-style glass button with a shank that looks very old, a plastic button that looks vaguely nautical, some little silver toned flower spacers and the most amazing beaded button that Saskia made herself! There were also puzzle pieces (great for mixed media)and a shell from her last trip to France. 

I have to say that you seed beaders make some truly awesome things. It would never occur to me to take a simple plastic button and embellish it with dozens of tiny seed beads. I love it. And I knew that I wanted to use this special beaded button that Saskia made just for me in my design.

I call this piece 'Spring is Sure to Come' because this week I have had a hard time believing it with the snow storm that just hit. But I need to have faith that it will!

I secured a yellow jonquil Swarovski crystal bicone and a silver daisy spacer using black waxed linen cord. I then knotted the chord at random intervals with blue goldstone faceted rondelles (note to self: buy more of these totally awesome beads! Look at that flash of blue!), more of the yellow jonquil Swarovski bicone crystals, and the three silver flower spacers from Saskia. At different points I added a jump ring with two different Czech glass flowers for some movement. 

{Spring is Sure to Come.. isn't it?}
The patterned link chain came from Hobby Lobby from a line I love called Metal Gallery. And I dug out a toggle bar and used the ring in the chain for a perfectly integrated clasp. 

{This treasure for your neck is available on Etsy}
"No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow."
~Proverb from Guinea

Be sure to stop by all the wonderful designers in the swap. And our hostess, Miss Michelle Mach, is going to count every comment that you make on the hop at all the stops along the way as an entry in a drawing she is holding to give away buttons. Lots of buttons! There are 25 participants, so that means you can have up to 25 chances to win (and it is open to anyone)! I wish the lottery were that easy ;-)
Have fun hopping!
1. Cat - Boo Beads

2. Cindy - Sweet Bead Studio

3. Cory - Art with Moxie

4. Cyndi - Beading Arts

5. Dita - Alankarshilpa

6. Donna, Marti, and Michelle - Beads & Books

7. Erin - Treasures Found - YOU ARE HERE!

8. Hope - Crafty Hope

9. Inca - Zerenity Design

10. Katrine - Army of Sock Monsters

11. Krista - French Elegant Jewelry

12. Kristie - Artisan Clay

13. Linda D. - Lutka and Co.

14. Linda L. - Linda's Bead Blog

15. Lody - Lody's Beadworks

16. Lori - Pretty Things

17. Loretta - Loretta's Boutique

18. Malin - Beading by Malin de Koning

19. Mary - MK's Creative Musings

20. Maryanne - Zingala's Workshop

21. Melinda - Melinda Orr Metal & Clay Jewelry Designs

22. Saskia - Perlendistel - My partner!

23. Shannon - For My Sweet Daughter

24. Shirley - Beads and Bread

25. Stephanie - Confessions of a Bead Hoader

20 April 2011

BTW::Finches & Bamboo

In honor of this week's Bead Table Wednesday, I have been pulling out all possible combinations from my stash that suit the challenge painting of Finches & Bamboo. Click here to see the current Art Bead Scene monthly challenge.
{Pulling all the art beads I have to go with Finches & Bamboo... Lynn Davis pewter bird, MissFickleMedia chain, MoreSkyeJewels wooden pendant, Rosebud101 ruffled glass head pins... Wow! I have a lot more in my stash than I thought!}

I encourage you to join us. I have a pledge (mostly to myself, although I have at least one friend who is on board with me... Christine, I'm talking to you!), to do every monthly challenge this year. That is a daunting task but stretches me creatively. Plus I am now the host of the monthly blog hop (get your blog posted by April 28th to the comments in this post here to be included!) and I am now doing a monthly round up of art beads and components to suit the theme.

Right now I can't decide between a pewter bird from Lynn Davis or a decoupaged charm from MoreSkyeJewels. Maybe I will do both!

What is on your bead table?

Enjoy the day!

16 April 2011

Hope & The Tale of 7,000 Bracelets

"Hope...is not a feeling; it is something that you do."
~Katherine Paterson, American Writer

My children are both sick this week. What started as a crushing headache, lethargy and a sore throat developed into strep throat for Tiny Dancer. And Rocket? Well, what looked like the telltale strep balloon parade in the back of his thoat is nothing more than a nasty cold. They are doing fine, thank you very much, and will recover soon.

It is times like these, trying my patience and make me lose a little sleep due to the hacking and sniffling, that make me thankful that the worst health problems for my children can be cured by the occasional bubble-gum pink amoxicillin or Sudafed decongestant liquid or chewable Tylenol along with some rest and plenty of fluids. 

It also makes me think about worse case scenarios and how I would deal with that.

  • What if my child were the recipient of a gene so rare that there was no known cure and few people even knew how to treat them?
  • What if my child suffered daily from a condition or almost worse, the social stigma attached with having something seem not quite right about them?
  • If my child had a rare disease, there is a very real statistic that 30% of all children diagnosed with these genetic disorders could die before they reach the age of five. How would I cope with that?
 I have been doubly blessed with two relatively healthy kids, and I have often wondered how that happens. The right combination of heredity with an environment that is safe, I suppose. Or maybe just dumb luck. But for those that deal with a rare disease daily, I can only imagine the struggles that they go through. And even though I may not be able to sympathize with this situation because I have not experienced it myself, I can empathize and offer my support.

Enter the Global Genes Project. This advocacy group aims to raise awareness and provide support to those families that are dealing with rare diseases. They are connected to the Children's Rare Disease Network that is working to educate the public and support the families caring for a child with a rare disease.

{After the Rain, oil painting by Ann Waisbrot}

I am delighted to lend my talents to the Global Genes Project and their 7,000 Bracelets for Hope campaign. I am donating a bracelet called 'Tamarack Mist' to the project with the hope that this will bring some peace to a mother who is caring for her child. This bracelet was inspired by a painting by local artist Ann Waisbrot titled 'After the Rain' that was part of my 'Inspired by..." Gallery Q exhibit from last summer. And I think it is fitting for this project to remember that rainbows follow rain, and there are sunnier skies ahead. That is the embodiment of hope to me.

'Tamarack Mist' features a pewter button from D'Arsie Manzella of Mamacita Beadworks fashioned into a hook clasp. Glass beads in bright blue skies and soft gray clouds fill one side, while the other highlights three polymer clay beads that were made just for me inspired by the painting. These clay beads have swirling colors of the soft sunset light after the rain are by Organic Odysseys.

I will write a note to this mother. I will tell her that when she wears this bracelet, I want her to know that I
am thinking of her. As this bracelet encircles her wrist, I want her to feel me enveloping her in love and light. I want her to know that as a mother I share her concerns and her fears and her hopes for her child, for all children. I want her to know that I will continue to send my positive thoughts to her across time and distance. It might not always be easy to watch this loved one go through a life that is less than she hoped, but there is comfort in the knowledge that others are walking your path and solace that there are those in the world who care, even if you have never met.

This post is part of a blog hop that Lori Anderson coordinated of jewelry designers who want to lend their talents to the 7,000 Bracelets for Hope. Please go to her post to find the rest of the participants and read more of their stories of hope. Or better yet, go to the Global Genes Project and find out how you can help.

Enjoy the day!

14 April 2011


I have been having some computer woes. Last night I had a whole post ready to go on my BTW showing some things that I am working on in etching, but I couldn't get my computer to play nice with my camera.

And this quote completely sums up where I am at right about now. But I have to tell you that I hate running. Even if I am chased. ;-)

I wanted to let you know that I am still here, I am still lurking in my corner of the blogdom but my posts may be few and far between for a bit while I sort some of life out.

But when I do get my equipment to talk to one another again, I have some great pictures of the Verse & Vision pieces that I have created for a special gallery exhibit in May that I will show, but I am waiting to see if I can have permission to publish the poetry that goes with them (becuase they make so much more sense if you can read that!). So stay tuned!

Enjoy the day!

08 April 2011

There is a limit

"Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them."
~Albert Einstein

There is a limit in Blogger to the amount of blogs they will let you follow. How do I know?

I just recently reached it.

{Image taken by Eva the Weaver found via Flickr taken for her ongoing numbers project - all of her collections are amazing, I might add!}
  300 Yes. That is right. I follow more than 300 blogs.

I love to follow blogs. They are like having penpals from across the globe. They are also like crack to me. Reading about what makes someone tick, seeing their best recipes, reveling in the successes and failures that make up all parents' lives, finding new artists to follow, and beads to buy. I have found stunning photography, great business tips, cool design and heartwrenching poetry from the blogs I follow. I don't stick to one genre. I like to have a good variety. I love you bead-freaks to pieces but I do need to look at other things sometimes.

And I love to rabbit hole.

So if you have a blog roll of your favorites and I have visited you more than once or twice, chances are that I have followed intriguing names from your blog roll just to see where I would end up. Usually, I can't even remember how I got to a blog. And that is pure magic to me.

Before I even put fingers-to-keyboard for my first post back in 2008 I developed a habit of visiting and leaving a comment on one new blog a day. And from those blog adventures I would scroll through their list to see who they were reading and find a blog title that intrigued me and would hop over there. I would keep doing that until some blog struck me as so pretty-smart-funny-deep-touching and then leave my mark. I became followers of many. Some just for a time, some still.

They make it so easy to click that little 'follow' link to add a blog to your list, but they make it danged hard to remove them. Why is that?

I recently spent the the better part of two hours removing blogs from my list. Ones that I no longer read, or ones that haven't posted in a very long time. I had to. I found a new blog crush that I just must have in my list.

So I thought that I would leave you with a list of some of my never miss blogs (please note, that this is in no way a complete list, but just ones that are off the beaten blog path that you might want to check out, too). Maybe you will rabbit hole from these blogs to find new ones that you can't live without and join me in my quest to fill my blog roll back up to 300.


A Fanciful Twist - when I first started out, I bought an issue of Artful Blogging (which I highly recommend). On one of the first pages I discovered Vanessa Valencia. I got hooked. Her artwork, her dogs, her fanciful life with Mister Lovee in the desert.. I swear she really does live with fairies!

Art Bead Scene - I can recall a time when I thought it extravagant to get a bead that cost $2.00. Now I no long see that an art bead is too expensive nor outside my grasp. I relish the community that this forum provides and I cannot get enough. I am now a contributing editor (although strangely silent this past month - that is due to my overload, not theirs) and I couldn't be more happy to be a part of such a vibrant group of contributing artists and art bead enthusiasts.

Color Collective - I love that there is just a picture and a palette. Someday when I resurrect the Challenge of Color blog hop, this might figure into it!

Kab's Creative Concepts - Kerry writes a blog about her life and art and family and even random thoughts and I cannot get enough. Her pictures are amazing, her beads are to die for, and I love it when she shows her new studio, especially whilst twirling in a big girl tutu.

Yellowtrace - I am very much into finding new art blogs and this is the one that started all the fuss over 300. I love the collections found here and they are a rabbit holers dream.

Blacksburg Belle - chock full of business tips for creative entrepreneurs, this is a must read blog!

BrandiGirl Blog - I honestly couldn't decide where to put Miss Brandi's blog. She is funny and her blog is so pretty, but ultimately I realized that I have learned so very much from soaking up her presence, and she is now offering her services as a consultant for you! I have benefited from some one-to-one time with her and I would highly recommend it!

Crafting an MBA - These girls are all so smart and accomplished. There is so much to learn on this site. I find the articles are thought-provoking too, so I like to comment here.

Margot Potter - I have a hard time classifying Miss Potter. She makes pretty things. She is blisteringly funny. She gets me to think of things in new ways. But ultimately, this is one smart cookie. I appreciate that she is so giving of herself and her knowledge and that she has worked to very hard to earn every stripe.

Marketing Creativity - This is a new-to-me blog but one that is filled to the brim with delightful information. Great interviews with craftspeople, and intriguing ideas. A winning combo.

Faces in Places - My kids and I are addicted to finding faces in the inanimate objects around us. This blog has some great ones.

Laundry Hurts My Feelings - Laugh out loud funny, that is what Miss Joann is! She has a way with words and a length that rivals my own. Everything is fair game, from the latest horrific attempt at George Clooney acting to potential drug smuggling terrorists in Mexico to watching her beautiful daughters growing up. Oh, and don't forget about her *mild* obsession with all things Bono. She is taking a bit of a break right now to write her first book (write like the wind, Joann!) but go back and read through her past posts. Snortingly funny.

The Cerebral Dilettante - Kiersten gets high marks in my book for being smart AND funny. And for making absolutely, knock-me-off-my-chair gorgeous jewelry that I will one day own for myself.

The Blog O' Cheese - What could be funnier than a first grade teacher writing about his exploits and concocting a world of inspired lunacy? CheeseBoy's blog is one of those laugh-out-loud funny places to visit. From the Christmas concert of rapping first graders to dressing up as Barney to order Chinese take-out to a regular list of his Facebook statuses, he makes me want to have one of whatever he is having.

Hint - There is something so piercing about everything that Beth Hemilla writes. She explores the meanings behind things, and always gets me thinking in ways that I never considered before. She also makes some of the finest silver charms I have ever had the privilege to work with, and she has become a treasured friend.

Luann Udell - I love it when someone makes me think. Luann is that sort of writer. The kind where I want to shout out, "Amen, sistah!" to everything she writes. Her articles are the ones that I find myself forwarding the links to most often. She is the sort or writer I wish that I could be.

mairedodd - she proves that you don't need to be wordy (like me) to get your point across. Plus there is some damn fine jewelry with a soul being created by this woman. And I am proud to call her my friend.

Positively Present - I like this blog so much. I can always count on the words inspiring me to be a better version of myself. I like that she distills things to manageable steps. And I love her "words to live by" segment with lyrics and quotes.

Ivy League Insecurities - Miss Aidan writes about a privileged but flawed life as a life and mommy in New York. While we come from vastly different worlds, she is someone who thinks deeply and I have enjoyed her insights. She is also a great writer and I am reading her first book, Life After Yes, now.

Three Beautiful Things - Can you distill your life each day down to noticing just three beautiful things? Clare in the UK can, and has sparked an international following of people doing the same. There is poetry in her well chosen words, and her posts were the inspiration behind my "30 Words" posts.

Do you have some blogs that you just can't miss reading? (Of course you do!)
Since I made room in my blog roll for some new blogs to love, do dish on your favorites (with links, of course!)!

Enjoy the day!

04 April 2011

Simple Wisdom, Finding Joy and a Tale of Two Custom Orders

"i thank you God for this most amazing day, 
 for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the
blue dream of sky and for everything
which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes."

e.e. cummings
Susan is one of my best customers. And yet I have never met her.

Last summer during the opening days of my exhibit, Susan was in my small town in Wisconsin all the way from Maine. She was visiting with a friend who was attending the Aber Suzuki music conferences that happen here each summer.

My show had just gone live, when Susan happened upon our little Gallery Q. And she was smitten with so many of the pieces that I made they left the gallery before the opening night of the show! But I am glad that Susan found her way to Stevens Point, WI and to our little Gallery Q on Main Street. I am mostly glad that the pieces I created found a wonderful home on the other side of the country, and that I have made a connection with a patron from afar.

I don't believe that you need to meet the person that you are designing for. I have had wonderful success making jewelry for scores of people that I have never met, who live far away from me. So I was delighted that Susan thought of me when seeking something special as a gift for her mother and her best friend. I asked if she would allow me to create my new 'simple truths' pendants for the pieces and she agreed. I am humbled that she has that level of trust with me. That is usually the last question I ask in a custom consultation: Do you trust me? Sometimes the client really wants to control every last detail, but more often than not, my clients believe that I will deliver something special for them and tell me that they trust me. I am pleased that Susan felt that way!

{This is where I started... translating Susan's descriptions into pendants}
When I work with a client, whether near or far away, I start by asking questions. I want to know about colors and lengths and style, of course. But I also want to know about what makes that person tick, what rocks their world, what consumes their passion. From there I can put together an image in my mind of the wearer and develop a piece attuned to her unique personality.

Susan told me that her mother was very much into ocean colors and is quite a character who appreciates one of a kind work (sounds like my kind of mother!). Susan told me that a word for her mother would be 'wisdom.' So 'simple wisdom' was born!

I created this piece with a starfish on the front as if it were floating in the bright blue sea. Complementing the ocean colors is a disk bead from Humblebeads hugged by two verdigris patinaed bead caps from MissFickle. I found some of my favorite picasso finish czech glass beads a while ago that meshed perfectly with the sea and sand color palette.

I wanted the other side to be lighter (in terms of the size of the beads), so I went with seed beads in a dark bronze color for one strand and the other strand a soft silver sheen to play up the silver plated bezel and the tiny twisted silver jump rings I added inside the etched brass jump rings. But it just wasn't enough to have those two seed bead strands as I designed it originally. There needed to be more visual weight to the piece. So I added a length of Vintaj etched brass chain that I wove the seeded strands through. It still wasn't enough. I realized that the lovely sea color was not represented on this side. So I went back and removed sets of two links along the chain and replaced them at various intervals with a wire wrapped Swarovski crystal in my very favorite color (I think it is called gray tabac and it is incredibly hard to find!) for a subtle flash of  color and sparkle. I like that the woven seed beads and chain remind me of seaweed washing up on the shores.

For the clasp I painstakingly wired tiny turquoise seed beads on a Vintaj hook clasp and ring. And I found a cute tiny starfish charm that ties it all together.
{'simple wisdom' - click to view larger}

For her friend, Susan told me that she loves nature in all its forms and is an outdoor person who walks every day and is an 'air' sign. She is also a mixed media artist and loves color, art and design. I hope that this friend appreciates my mixed media attempts and my color and design choices!

I call this piece 'find joy in nature' and it features a 'simple truths' pendant with those words on the back of a bird soaring high into a blue sky. In keeping with the bird theme, I found this special shibuichi bird toggle from Green Girl Studios. I have been saving that one for a very long time.

I started with two copper branches holding up a copper wire nest with a granite egg. That wire nest gave me all sorts of trouble. I think I ripped it apart three times before I figured out what I wanted to do. Specifically, I wanted to be sure that the necklace could be reversible on each so that the wearer can choose the image or the words to face front. That is a challenge in and of itself!

To represent the air that these two birds are soaring high in, I used gray opal Swarovski crystals and some amazing faceted labradorite heishi (which I have also been hoarding for about 6 years!). Labradorite is one of my very favorite stones. I love the subtle sheen of these beads and how substantial they look when they are all together. And the flash of blue is electric, like the hint of sky between the clouds.

Finishing off the back are two different copper chains and some sweet czech glass flowers dangling here and there.

Would you like to know a little bit about my process? I use a few tricks to make sure that the asymmetry works in a piece. I don't just launch into my stash and start throwing things together. There is a lot of trial and error in order to make it look cohesive and not random. Here are my favorite tricks:
  • Similar shapes: The toggle, the branches and the egg all mimic the same oval shape and these pieces give your eye a place to travel through the necklace. 
  • Repeated elements: Often I will repeat an element on opposite sides of the necklace, like the little czech glass flowers to tie it together. Sometimes I use color, like the silver seed beads and the silver twisted rings to tie both sides together. And both of these pieces are pretty monochromatic, but if I were to throw in an accent color,  I would balance it by repeating it elsewhere.
  • Mix pattern with random: While these designs are asymmetrical, there is a distinct pattern to the beaded part in both designs. That helps ground the standalone elements.
  • Pay attention to weight: Balancing the visual weight is key. When I started with the first necklace and only had two strands of seed beads, it felt a little lopsided. Now it has weight but also texture with the weaving.
  • Numbers matter: Whether working with patterns or asymmetry, I like the numbers 1-3-5-7. I will use items in odd numbers to create a pattern, or to balance design elements, either repeating or solo.
I love to make custom pieces for people. It is like opening a puzzle and seeing all the pieces laid out before you. You have to find the corners and the outer edges to start to see the puzzle take shape. Then you start to fill in the gaps, focusing on color and shadow, as well as shape to find the perfect fit. And when you are all done, when you have found that last perfect piece, you have a beautiful image that you have brought into focus.

I am grateful for the chance to work with clients, whether they are around the corner or across the country from me. I hope that Susan is happy that she chose to trust me with interpreting her love for these special women in her life. Thank you, Susan, for putting your trust in me!

Have you ever put your trust in a custom order with a person that you have never met? 
What was that experience like for you? 
Do you like to have custom things made for you? Have you always been pleased with the outcome? Do you put your whole trust in someone creating a custom order for you? Or are you one who likes to manage every detail?
If you make something, do you like to accept custom orders? 
What challenges have you faced with custom orders? 
What triumphs have you had? 
Do tell!

Enjoy the day!


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