24 April 2012

Where to Find Me

Here is where you can find me today:

I wrote about adding your signature to your jewelry over at Art Bead Scene. (And I am totally crushing on how good this macro shot came out. I only used a +10 filter for my lens! Incredible!)

Lorelei Eurto blogged about and gave away 5 of my new Motley Owls to some lucky ladies who will be creating with them for a mini blog hop on May 16th. You can get one of your own from my Etsy site if you want to play along as well!

And today is my day to post over at Earrings Everyday where I share a poem I wrote in ode to the "liquid courage" that starts my day!

Come on over and find me!

I will be silent a few days as we prepare for the annual Dance Education Center recital and special performance group this weekend. Plus I have 11 special necklaces that need to be etched in copper, stamped with messages, patinaed and finished for a special project for Miss Tori, as well as the fundraiser for the DEC National Honor Society for Dance Arts Scholarships (we are the only dance studio in the state of Wiscsonsin with a chapter of this prestigious National Honor Society) as well as cranking out the custom orders (thank you for your patience!) for Motley Owls and Story Beads and Message Sticks and all sorts of special 'simple truths' for my faithful Etsy followers. But I surely have room for more!

And just a heads up that I am working on the next quarterly challenge. I will reveal all about it next week with sign ups in case you would like to join me on the journey!

What is keeping you busy this week?

21 April 2012

Wrapped, Stacked & Layered: Fanciful Style with a Tesori Twist

As I mentioned on the Art Bead Scene yesterday, I am wrist-challenged. I think that is how I came up with the design to make a necklace out of a bracelet. It was probably one of those oops moments.

I needed another thing to do this month like I needed another hole in my head, but what the hey! I can't resist a good challenge. And since I am wrist-challenged what better way to stretch myself creatively than with a bracelet blog hop. Thanks Tracy Statler of the Make Bracelets Blog for hosting this fun hop!

In the interest of time, I decided that I would do something with what I had and keep it simple. But no matter what I did it just seemed unfinished. I wore these thin wire bangles with one focal around for a few days but I just didn't feel right about them. So I headed over to Pinterest and Etsy to see what I could find.

I stumbled across a tutorial by fancifuldevices on Etsy called Tribal Gypsy Bangle Stacks

I love fanciful device's free-spirited nature and her willingness to experiment with anything that crosses her path. Fanciful describes what tribal means to her: "'Tribal' culture is defined by a nomadic life, a life in which a group is in perpetual motion...When we think of this style aesthetically, we imagine objects made from available materials in a place where factory goods or electric tools are not available and each piece is made individually by hand. Another important point is that a nomadic people limit their possessions to what they can carry, so adornment is limited to what people wear on their bodies at all times. As a result, pieces take on not only a profound personal importance, but also a well-worn appearance from exposure to elements such as skin oils, sweat and moisture, dirt, dust and salt."

You had me at tribal, Miss Fanciful! That and the part about destashing what you have. Because I have tonnage. I truly do not need to buy one more thing. I have enough to create happily for many a year. But then my bead peep friends would be sad if I didn't buy from them so I have a duty to keep the economy moving ;-).

My first attempts were lame and weak and not at all like me. Just one component on wire. Might work for some but not for me. So I set about to jazz them up fanciful style with a Tesori twist. I gathered colorful ribbons and cords, vials of mixed seed beads, wire, metal bits from past experiments and projects and a generous helping of bead stew ingredients from the dozen bowls on my work surface and just let the materials be my guide. The result is a bevy of bracelet stacks that are totally me (with a little guidance from fanciful!). Each stack is unified by color, features at least one art bead or handmade component and reminds me of my high school days!

{purple paisley stack}

I had a pair of skorts in high school that were paisley. I loved them so much that I bought them in both colors that were offered. One was a mango tangerine and sunshine color and the other was purple and turquoise and lime green. I'll bet you think I was a fashion leader. Ummm, no. But I would still wear those paisley skorts if I found them and could fit into them!

 I stared with an embossed brass disk that was leftover from a faux enameling workshop I did in the fall. I added a random mix of beads in green, aqua, teal and purple. That reminded me of my favorite outfit from way back when. I only used to wear gold jewelry when I was a teen, so I added touches of gold to the stack.I took the top part of a gold leaf branch from another project and added that to a piece of wire.  Too flimsy. So I backed it with a dark piece of metal to give contrast and stability. And I wire wrapped some sari silk ribbon with random seed beads in blues and purples. And then I decided I needed one more, so I added a simple leather cord with some rustic spacers and purple pearls. I call this the 'purple paisley' stack.

{purple paisley closeups}

I had this boxy jacket that was some sort of drapery fabric. It was sort of floral jacquard and I would wear this with a cream shirt buttoned all the way up (sometimes with decorated button covers - anyone else remember those?) and a asymmetrical brooch of my grandmother's in shades of cream, gold and peach. Rocked the matching clip on earrings, too. Aren't you glad I couldn't find a picture of that stylish ensemble? 

{encircled by hope stack}

I started with that bird added to a piece of 16 gauge galvanized steel wire, but alas it was too plain. So I used the same technique as before by twisting wire around the bright blue sari silk with random seed beads. I bought some oval memory wire and thought that it would be cool to add some of the kimono tube trim that I picked up from Ornamentea that reminded me of that jacket I wore. I cut 2" lengths of it and then randomly strung beads. I used one of my 'simple truths' - a tiny little bezel with the word 'hope' in dusty rose, and used wire to randomly wrap the cord and secure all the beads and things from twisting. Finally, I took this vintage metal heart I picked up at Yone Beads in San Francisco (anyone ever been there? My absolute all time favorite bead store!) and put it on some wire. Then I took three silk cords from Marsha Neal in colors that coordinated with the kimono cord (mustard, sage and cranberry) and did a friendship bracelet knotting technique to give it texture and softness. I call this the 'encircled by hope' stack.

{encircled by hope closeups}
I had a thing for dragons when I was in high school. I had a pair of post earrings with dragons similar to this and wore them all the time. I wasn't goth or particularly into D&D, I was just a geek who liked wearing odd jewelry like dragons and old lady clip on rhinestones. It just made me happy. And the target of a lot of ridicule.

{chasing happiness stack}
{chasing happiness stack}
So when I saw this brass dragon I had to buy him and never knew what to do with him until now. I wanted the sari silk to look like fire that the dragon was breathing out. Pink, orange, yellow and red with a touch of bronze. I threw in a chain bracelet with a brass piece embossed with a vine pattern and some bronzey purple drops. (Sorry I can't show you all of that one at this time - shhhh! Pretend you don't see it!). And finally I had made up a 'simple truth' with the message 'happiness shared' and a faded red bloom. It is a nice sized piece in a lacy yet substantial bezel so I thought I should keep it simple with thick leather cord. I call this stack 'chasing happiness.'

A few weeks ago, our community lost a truly special soul in Miss Judy Glende. The news of her death just a few short months after a diagnosis and a hopeful round of treatments was indeed a blow to so many of us. I only knew of Judy through her blog, the publications she graced and our emails, but I truly thought of her as a kindred spirit and friend. She is our beading angel watching over us now! 

{embrace change - photo from Judy Glende}
Judy loved vintage finds and incorporated those with her unique etched pieces. I had the good fortune to get a couple of her etched pieces with the intention of creating something special to honor Judy's spirit. I created two bracelets that are for sale separately in my Etsy shop, but are in similar color schemes so that they could be worn together. In fact, they not only can be worn as two separate bracelets, but they can be attached and worn as a choker necklace as well! I think that Judy would have approved of that ingenuity! Since she was so dear to the beading community, I incorporated a lot of different art beads in each sticking to similar colors of pink, mauve, cranberry, emerald and forest green with touches of white and copper metal. 

{embrace what you love & change your life - bracelets created in memory of Judy Glende}
{embrace what you love - featuring Judy's etched copper, Chinese character 'heart' ceramic link from Erin Siegel, ceramic gear from Karen Totten, polymer clay from Jeannie Dukic, ceramic heart from Mary Harding, copper clasp created by me}
{change your life - ceramic butterfly from Melanie Brooks, beaded link from Kristen Stevens and three little Humblebeads from Heather Powers, copper clasp created by me}

{wearing them together as a reminder to embrace what you love and change your life!}

{connected together they make a great necklace!}

I plan to take the profits from these bracelets and double it for a donation to the memorials that have been established in Judy's honor.

Thanks for sticking with me on this long post. Now off to the rest of the hop!

16 April 2012

Fairy Tales Do Come True

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” ~ Albert Einstein

I am pleased to announce that my 'simple truths' line of components was selected by Vintaj to be their Art Bead partner of the month with the theme of Storybook.

A few months ago, Jess and Betsey at Vintaj invited me to participate. I just love the ladies at Vintaj! From the first moment that I set eyes on their components I knew that they were special. I don't know if Jess remembers this but years go when I first found Vintaj through the book Easy Beaded Jewelry, I recall sending them an email professing my undying love for their product and asking if they ever had a design team, or job opening, or unpaid long-distance internship that I wanted to apply. I recall that Jess is the one that replied to me (she likely doesn't remember this) and was very gracious about how they didn't have any positions but they appreciated my enthusiasm for their products. Basically a "don't-call-us-we'll-call-you" sort of email. But look! Here I am! They called on me!

Flash forward about five years and I have had the good fortune to meet Jess and the gang, to travel to Galena, IL to spend time with them and to take classes on all the techniques that can be done with their pieces. I have told Trish Italia, Jess' mom, that she is going to have to adopt me one of these days. Jess and I do actually look like we could be sisters.
(I spent all night working on this post and had a picture her from September but Blogger is messing with me and none of my pictures showed up here this morning - will post later to prove it!)

So when they contacted me I knew that this was an awesome opportunity I couldn't pass up. They told me they thought that what I did would be perfect for their theme of Storybook. They sent me a few pictures of tulip fields and a brightly colored tunic and a page from the Grimm fairy tale "The Goose Girl." Being the research geek that I am I immediately had to find the complete story, since that is one that I had never heard of. 

I used to teach English (Literature and Writing) to 7th graders and I always did a unit on storytelling. (Is this like coming full circle, or what?) I loved the part of the unit where we examined fairy tales from around the world (did you know that there are over 300 different versions of the Cinderella story from all cultures?)The Grimm Brothers, Hans Christian Anderson and Charles Perrault are attributed with most of the fairy tales that we know today. They were all actually compilers of tales that had been around for a long time in oral traditions. And they were not the sanitized Disney-fied cartoon versions. They are violent and to the point to teach lessons or to warn the listener. They are filled with opposites: greed and charity, love and hate, right and wrong. I recall as a child immersing myself in these twisted old stories.

Fairy tales and I go way back. My most favorite fairy tale character was Cinderella and as a child I used to pretend that I was her toiling away on cleaning the bathtub in my bubble bath and I was beyond giddy when I got to take a picture with her on the Disney cruise in 2000. And now there is set to be released two versions of Snow White and I couldn't be more thrilled!

I found the original Grimm story at the library. To say that "The Goose Girl" was odd is an understatement.The picture they sent was of the dead horse's head mounted on a stone archway where the goose girl is talking to it. Okaaaayyyy.... Now I had to now more!
"She was born with her eyes closed and a word on her tongue, a word she could not taste. Her name was Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, and she spent the first years of her life listening to her aunt’s stories and learning the language of the birds, especially the swans. And when she was older, she watched as a colt was born, and she heard the first word on his tongue, his name, Falada."
~ from 'The Goose Girl' by Shannon Hale

I discovered that there was a retelling and enhanced version of this story with the same name by author Shannon Hale. I devoured the book she wrote because it totally fleshed out the tale for me and made the character come to life. For me it is important to know all I can about a subject so that I can effectively create for them. Since this subject was a fictional character, this novelization proved to be very beneficial (otherwise you might be stuck with a dead horse's head for a pendant ;-). Hale's interpretation explained why this princess was sent to a rival kingdom (to marry a prince she was promised to at birth to restore peace to the kingdoms), that she possessed some special powers (namely the ability to speak to animals like birds and horses as well as to flowers and the wind), that her servant was her betrayer (she threatened to kill her and took her place instead) and how she persevered and regained the throne, leading a people that she could truly call her own - and ultimately won over the prince's heart.

I highly recommend Shannon Hale's magical retelling of this tale. It is a young adult novel but don't let that fool you. I was smitten with a heroine who is smart and beautiful and who gains a sense of her self while making connections with the commoners along the way. In the end it is a happy ever after for a girl with a strong sense of her identity and a prince who loves her for who she is. Isn't that what we all want?

In thinking about the theme of storybook, fairy tales in general, and the goose girl in particular, there were certain themes and images that I wanted to bring out in my designs. Themes of love and hope and imagination. Images of royalty and romance. I wanted to evoke the magic, mystery and fantasy of fairy tales. I ended up creating nine new designs (and bringing one back that fit the theme!). You can read more about them by clicking on the link to take you to the Etsy listing.


[Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo - brought this one back because it fit the theme!]

All of these are now available in my shop as limited edition. I have some of each created, and will make more upon request for a limited time. 

On the Vintaj blog they will be kicking off the theme of Storybook today with the chance to win over 75 pieces including some of these pendants, one of their largest monthly prize draws ever. They will be posting an interview with me as well as a studio tour (do you think they want to see the beautiful way my studio is intended to be? or the sweat shop that it really is?). Best of all they will be showing off what they have made with these pieces to inspire you. I have already seen a few and I am delighted. I will be making some to share as well. Maybe they will consider giving me that internship one day after all ;-)

I am very honored to have been chosen for this opportunity.
Thank you, Vintaj, for helping me realize that fairy tales do come true!

To thank you for sticking with me on this long post, and to celebrate this honor, I am offering all of my blog readers FREE SHIPPING in my Etsy site through May 15th. Domestic, international are all welcome! Must use the code at checkout to get the discount.


Your turn...
What do you think of when you think of the theme "storybook"?
Do you have a favorite pendant from this series?
What is your favorite fairy tale?
What do you think... should I frantically clean up my studio and show you how lovely it can be, or would you rather see the chaos that I am usually working in? ;-)

11 April 2012

Are you more Woodsy or Motley?

"Before God we are equally wise and equally foolish." ~Albert Einstein

{woodsy owls available on Etsy}

Woodsy Owls are the keepers of all knowledge. Their serious faces and signature yellow eyes are alert to all that is going on around them. Woodsy Owls are stately and no-nonsense and bear themselves with a regal stature. They sit in the tree, blending in with their earthy surroundings and keeping watch over all that is happening in the forest. They are serious about their duties and fly on the straight and narrow.

{NEW motley owls available on Etsy}

Motley Owls on the other hand are the practical jokers of the forest. Their party-colored dappled feathers ensure that they are the life of the party. They enjoy playing practical jokes on their more serious cousins, like leaving a fake dead mouse in the ditch or tiptoeing up behind them making a loud noise to scare them off the branch. The signature yellow eyes of the Motley Owls are usually crinkled in mirth with the surpressed laughter they can barely contain. They are the life of the party and quick with a laugh, preferring to be spontaneous and up for any adventure.

Which are you more like? The Woodsy Owl or the Motley Owl?

10 April 2012

Hope Within

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: 
it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.
We are like eggs at present. 
And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg.
We must be hatched or go bad.
~ C.S. Lewis

I have eggs on the brain lately.

I suppose that it could be that we just celebrated Easter and there were colored eggs to be created. 

My daughter and I dabbed paint on our eggs and smooshed them around in plastic baggies for this cool tie dyed, marbelized effect. They are almost too pretty to eat. (Has anyone else ever collected the shells of brightly colored Easter eggs in the hopes of doing miscellaneous craft projects with them? Things like decoupaging them to a picture frame like a funky mosaic? No? Okay, well, then that is just me.)

Did you know that if you hold an egg in your hand it will withstand the pressure and not crack? Their shape makes them perfectly able to withstand a great force of pressure, which is comforting to know when your mother is sitting on you all the time.

Eggs offer up all potential. They are full of promise and symbols of new life. In some traditions, eggs symbolize the balance of the Universe, containing all life, the yin and yang of male and female, yolk and white. Eggs are full of possibilities.

There is mystery hiding within an egg. It is born and yet it is not yet fully developed. It has everything within it to become all it can be but yet it is not ready to fully live until it breaks through its own shell. The bird cannot stay within that cozy world forever, sooner or later it gets cramped in that tiny framework and it is time to test the wings. But if you tap into it and try to coax it out before it is ready, it will die. That little bird must be left to the hard task of busting into the world on its own.

So, too, are we like that egg. There is a massive amount of hope within us but we will never truly live until we break out of our own shell, throw off our artificial protections so that we can truly experience all that there is.

Maybe it is time that I need to be reminded that I am like that egg. I need to let go of the coziness of the limited world that I have come to find myself in and gather courage to chip away at that shell. Sure, it would be easier if someone just handed me wings to fly all bound up with a satin ribbon, but they wouldn't be my wings. I need to earn them. By working my own way out of my protections that I have surrounded myself with, I will find that not only do I have wings to fly but the heart to soar.

Lately, I feel like I am standing on a precipice of dizzying heights, facing a new vista, trying not to look down, yet trying to keep a firm grip on the nest that I have known. Yet things have been set in motion and there is no way that I can cram myself back into the shell from which I have emerged.

{hope within available on Etsy}

It is time to spread my wings and fly.

Your turn...

What protective shell have you surrounded yourself with?
What can you do to earn your wings to fly?
What hopes lie within you?

P.S. It is my day to post over on Earrings Everyday. Come on over and check it out!

05 April 2012

Fusion Beads: Link Love

"A chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and life is after all a chain."  ~ William James

When I got my March FusionBeads.com package I immediately tore into it and started working with the goodies. But then life sort of got in the way and I pushed it back and back and back. Last weekend I stumbled on it again, and knew that I had to get busy and be creative!

This month is all about chain. From what I saw of the other participants, we were each given several different styles of plated chain in various finishes. Mine was a very cool matte black.

My favorite color combination has to be red and black. They are such a powerful pair. I also wanted to challenge myself to make a bracelet because I am participating in the Wrapped, Stitched and Riveted bracelet challenge blog hop with Tracy Statler later this month and I have to start making bracelets sometime!

I found this really cool square tube bead that I picked up several years ago on eBay I think. These were an afterthought to all that I purchased. I love these more than whatever it was that I was ordering at the time. I have been hoarding them ever since.

I dig the bright red color and the shimmery golden tones with the little murrini flowers on what looks like branches. I fished out some matte black drops, faceted glass teardrops in the same shape, vintage black glass nailhead beads as well as a few touches of gold to bring out the shine in the focal.

{bohemian wrapsody}
The chain that I used is a curb chain with the links in sort of a fat teardrop shape. I did attempt to scrub off some of the black to see if that would be a cool contrast. There wasn't much difference, so I left it matte.

One thing that I do like about this chain is that it has open links. I hate wasting links and with this type of chain, you can use exactly what you need. I like that about this chain.

I decided that a wrap bracelet was in order with an asymmetrical touch. I made this into a necklace that could be converted to a bracelet, wrapped comfortably three times around my wrist (note pasty white skin at this ghostly hour).

I think it has a bit of a gypsy flair. I call this Bohemian Wrapsody.

Next up is a larger elongated oval chain made from square wire. This has a bit of heft to it and again I appreciate that it is an open link chain. Getting the hang of opening up the square links is key to not marring the finish.

I had this spectacular bead from HoneyBijou on Etsy. Jenna and Kim make really fun polymer clay beads. They call this style "doodlebeads." I love that they gather up the scraps from creating and make these wonderful creations! 
{cosmic jellyfish}

The dark marks on the beads remind me of graffiti. I looked over and happened to have some leftover coils of wire from another project. They started to look like jellyfish tails. So I started bending and shaping them. I decided to make a lariat from these pieces with some additional faceted glass beads in purple, orange-yellow and red. 

Since the focal is so large, I kept the chain the way it is. I made this long, about 34" so that it could be worn long or doubled up. I call this the Cosmic Jellyfish.

Years ago, in another lifetime before I even thought of making my own jewelry, I was quite an accessories hog. Every outfit had a different set of jewelry to complement it. I recall buying this necklace maybe 15-20 years ago on a clearance rack. I loved the Y shape of it and the dainty black bar chain. The jewels are plastic and cheap, but I kept it all these years because of the design. In fact, it is sitting in my studio because I always wanted to recreate this. Now here is my chance.

{the inspiration}
When I saw the dainty bar chain in the FusionBeads.com pack, I knew that is exactly what I would do. I decided to use a lovely Green Girl Studios pendant. I have amassed quite a stash of Green Girl pewter. I love them each so much that I find it hard to part with them! That needs to change! 

I decided to double the chain on the outer part of the necklace. That is when I realized that this chain is NOT open links. I had to cut each link in order to work with it. That is not a deal breaker for me, as it is a very pretty shape, but I don't prefer closed link chains. Just a preference.

{come away with me}

This necklace looks as if it is a layered piece with multiple strands. I love this concept and think that I will explore it a bit more.

I added amethyst, pearls and cyclamen opal crystals to this necklace I call Come Away With Me as a nod to the message on the back that reads "Come away oh human child to the waters and the wild."

There was one more chain, but at this point (2:10am) I am too pooped to party anymore! I will save that blackened ball chain for another day! 

The materials mentioned above were provided as part of the FusionBeads blogging program. The author of this blog has not received any payment from the above-mentioned company. This post represents only the personal opinion of the blog author.

03 April 2012

My First Laptop

"If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger."
~ Frank Lloyd Wright

Isn't that a profound observation from so long ago?

We are surely moving swiftly toward becoming a race of chip-implanted, push-button fingered, agile thumb slaves to our technology.

I do not have a smartphone. I have a dumbphone. It takes me ten minutes at a time to text someone, not only because I have to have complete sentences and punctuation, but because my Captain Kirk flip phone only has numbers so for each letter it requires multiple key strokes. That and my fingers are just too beefy for those buttons.

I have not succumbed to i-anythings. I like the idea of the iPad but just see it as an extension of my already overloaded and overburdened mind. My kids do have iPods and I borrow one from time to time (I do have the Square app, and I love that) to take silly pictures with Instagram or try my luck at the first level of Angry Birds (I just don't get the appeal - but Bookworm I love!).

My seemingly centuries old HP desktop is really toasting my buns. It has crashed several times in the past year and I hate the XP operating system on it. It is just a beast. Plus I have about 3,456,221 pictures on it, and that seems to be taking up too much room. I will also be looking into some sort of off site back up storage personal fluffy cloud system before too long. I am lucky that I work with a gifted IT guy who knows my penchant for opening up 25 browser windows at one time and running multiple memory sucking programs at once.

Today, I have finally saved up enough money from the sale of my 'simple truths' to walk into Best Buy armed with multiple gift cerficates through the SCRIP fundraising program for our school and buy my very first laptop.

So in honor of this momentous occassion (calloo-callay!) I put together a little treasury of things that I now have my eye on to accessorize this special purchase. I have a feeling that accessorizing my new baby will become a full-on obsession.

'My First Laptop' by TesoriTrovati

In honor of buying my very first laptop today, I found some awesome accessories that I know I will not be able to live without!

Red Leather Tote Handba...

Steampunk 32GB USB Flas...

Macbook netbook or lapt...

USB Typewriter Computer...

CHEVRON MacBook Pro 15 ...

4GB USB Flash Drive Bri...

Laptop Cover

Laptop Bag Laptop Sleev...

Singing Bird Pink Lapto...

USB flash drive necklac...

Laptop Tote Bag padded ...

Organic Ergonomic Compu...

Cantilevered Laptop Des...

Button Badge or Magnet ...

Baby Elephant USB Flash...

13 inch Laptop Case, La...


Your turn...
What technology can you NOT live without?

Do tell!


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