A chronicle of the meanderings, false starts (which in retrospect, while sort of embarrassing turned out to be highly instructive), epiphanies, selective apathy (still evolving), wild mood swings, opinions (subject to frequent change), and life lessons of an inveterate dabbler (and her latest dabblings).

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Partially Wordless Wednesday

Only partially because I already said some stuff earlier. And I'm saying a few things below.

First poppies from the garden: (not retouched--they're naturally this color!)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Custom Creation--Featuring Tesori Trovati "Simple Truths" Pendant

A regular customer recently asked me to create a pendant (or bracelet) around a lovely focal she had just purchased from Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati, from her new "Simple Truths" line. It seemed to work best as a pendant:
I wanted to draw the eye toward the focal, and create more of a "V" shape for the entire necklace, so I strung a short length of copper chain across the back of the focal, and hung a copper butterfly pendant and carved leaf from it. There are some really lovely, soft colors in the clay I wanted to echo in the rest of the necklace--olive green, sea green, grass green, mauve, and of course, copper--so I chose some smooth serpentine ovals in cool leafy green, fancy jasper roundels in sea green and mauve, a big moss agate carved leaf, and pearls in antique copper and muted lime. The copper wire is lightly antiqued to match the bezel on the focal. I decided to make it asymmetrical, because I wanted some of the teal and mauve accents in front, where they would show more. This would be one to wear with your hair up, so people could see the back too!

The necklace fastens with a toggle in the front.
The focal has such a nice weight to it--heavy and smooth. Superior quality! The clay artwork is set seamlessly in the bezel.

(Here's how I attached the drop portions of the pendant to the back of the focal):
The chain is just a fine rollo chain; I attached the drop portion via a heavy but smallish jump ring (I didn't want anything too bulky on the back), and then attached two more jump rings (small ones) on either side of it, through the chain links, to keep it in the center. Sort of was thinking of how you hang a picture, with the wire across the back--I hoped it would work! Seems to work fine.

I'm looking forward to working with Erin's components again!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer Solstice, Miami-Style

Psychedelic Sunset Bangle

I keep all my lampwork beads in a box together, and sometimes they call just call to each other! I've featured beads from three different designers in this bracelet, and I'm amazed how nicely they work together! The big bold roundel in tangerine is by Bebesglassbeads and was part of a larger set that actually included lots of ocean blues; the two smaller roundels flanking that one are by BeingBeads (I've hit her up for a couple dozen of these multi-sherbet-colored beads!); and lastly the two little spacer lampwork on the ends in the saturated grape and pumpkin are by StudioRent, from a large multi-colored set. Brass beadcaps, toggle bar, base pieces and the decorative and connector rings are by me, lightly antiqued to a rich gold and tumble polished. Four gold-plated brass daisy spacers add a little elegance, and a short length of solid copper rollo chain makes the toggle bar easy to fasten.

I needed some new earrings in the shop too, so I decided to use some of the charm pairs I've been hoarding (these are from FusionBeads, in pewter). These little three-petaled flowers remind me of dogwood blossoms, although I think those have four petals.
Independence Day Mutant Dogwood Earrings
I've combined them with sponge coral discs in a tomato red, little striped glass beads from Indonesia in cornflower blue, red and mustard, matte glass "fiber optic" (they have a subtle cat's eye glass shimmer in them) discs also in cornflower blue, and 6mm pewter daisy spacers, all from Happy Mango Beads. They ended up with a subtle Independence Day feel to them, which seems timely! But also a little gipsy. And Gipsy Season is all year round.
And that's what I squeezed out last week of the exceedingly slim artistic pipeline that is my life. I need some kind of Creative Roto-Rooter. Or some Discipline and Focus. And Organizational Skills. And a vacation. And a nap. But not necessarily in that order. First the nap. Then the vacation. Then the other stuff. Which would probably require a brain transplant and I don't think those have been very successful. And then what if the new brain didn't know how to make jewelry? Or it came out of a man? That would really complicate my life. It's beginning to look like I should just let go of the organizational skills-discipline dream because let's face it, that's not going to happen. What I need is a winning damn LOTTERY ticket. Then it won't matter if I'm productive or not. I can just make jewelry whenever I get tired of playing with my money. Winning the lottery seems a lot more likely than finding any focus or organizational skills.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Dove Brought Me an Olive Branch Just Now

I have no idea where he got it, there's no olive trees within miles of here. Like about 5,581 miles. But as far as I know this means it's going to stop raining. And I'll be darned if there isn't some blue sky outside my window.

This puts me in the mood to talk about bracelets.  There's something about sunshine and bracelets.  Or maybe it's sunshine and short sleeves, and short sleeves lend themselves to bracelets.  Especially these bracelets:
This is a custom order, based on my other copper bracelet with the mauve-fuchsia-coral palette. The customer wanted some yellow, turquoise and aqua, and I was pretty excited to have just the thing in my stash of lampwork! The beautiful lampwork above is by Pat at BeingBeads, and the sea green glass discs are recycled glass from Africa via Happy Mango Beads. I think the copper beads are from Magpie Gemstones. The rest of the copper components I made myself (beadcaps, toggle bar, the bases, connector rings and jump rings, and the decorative wrapped rings between the beads), with the exception of a few links of rolo chain.

This bracelet below was made with some nifty German lampwork from the local bead shop--I just love those big polka dots! They feel sort of 60s to me. I've combined them with dark red lampwork spacers by Pinocean, and mostly nickel with some sterling silver.
Oh Behave!!
The upper and lower sections (both the underbar and the part with the beads on it) are made of nickel, as are the beadcaps and wrapped connector ring. The jump rings, the rings between the beads, and the toggle bar are sterling silver. There's a short section of silver plated steel rolo chain attaching the toggle bar. The nickel polishes up really nicely in either the tumbler (probably want to do at least a few hours in there) or the Dremel with some jeweler's rouge, and it really matches the color of the sterling silver nicely. It's harder to work with though. (The underbar here is 12 gauge wire, which gets pretty stiff when you hammer it. I won't probably ever try anything heavier.) I got this nickel sheet (for the beadcaps) and wire from Monsterslayer. I get all my wire and sheet there, in fact. Nickel is really affordable.

Well, it looks like the dove lied. It's raining again. Shifty bastard.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Three Bracelets

I am pursuing my "hinged" bangle bracelet design. Finished these over the weekend but I was too tired to photograph them until yesterday:
"Azure Islands" (or, "What I wear at my posh Grecian villa.")
Found some matte crow beads in my stash from Happy Mango Beads that matched perfectly. (That's always thrilling.) These luxurious lampwork beads are by Kelley Wenzel. I'm calling it "Azure Islands" which is coincidentally what Kelley called her beads. Hey, why reinvent the wheel, right?

This one is all about worn jeans and beat up leather boots. Like Thelma and Louise.
Dangerous in Denim
Ceramic focal bead by Mary Ann Carroll. Burnt horn rounds, with a mixture of nickel and sterling silver wire.

This one will look familiar to you. I got some more of these swirly sunset colored beads from my friend Pat (BeingBeads on Etsy)--these have a little more fuchsia and purple in them, and I added some wrapping to the rings I use between the beads:
A Wrist Pop! Lickable.
Well that's it. I have one more half done. Hopefully I can show it to you in the next few days!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

So Impressed I Have to Blog It

Whenever I discover a shop or site that goes above and beyond with customer service, I have to talk about it! Ambition, energy and excellence are so invigorating, and I think it should be rewarded with more business. It naturally creates word of mouth!

This Etsy seller from Singapore knocked my socks off! If you need buttons, head on over to Shop4craft!! I posted a while back about my haul of wooden buttons--I got them the other day and was so impressed with my experience with this shop I wanted to tell you about it.

First, I ordered my buttons on a Friday afternoon. Shortly after that (like a few hours), I got a cheerful and friendly convo from Shop4craft letting me know it was currently the weekend in Singapore, so my buttons would ship on Monday. (Wow!) I then got a shipping notification (cheerful and friendly!) on Monday. My buttons came earlier this week. I was utterly charmed!

First, each set was carefully packaged in darling little individual padded envelopes (9 of them!), each tied with jute string and carefully wrapped in bubble wrap:

Not only that, there was a little thank you note inside with my name on the envelope!
The ninth envelope contained a set of thank-you-gift buttons (the butterfly ones below), and the buttons were all absolutely lovely!
The shop itself is very professional--great photos, perfect English, careful descriptions. My items were just as pictured (better even!). They also have metal, acrylic/plastic and coconut shell buttons, along with some mixed sets, and a small assortment of printed ribbons. The coconut shell buttons are especially lovely--look at this!:
I think I'll have to order from them again soon....(It's also a great reminder of how that extra effort in customer service creates loyalty and word of mouth business.)

On top of all that, the prices are amazingly affordable--but it was the customer service that really knocked me out. Of course shipping takes a bit longer because of the distance and customs, but it was worth the short wait! If you need some unusual buttons for your jewelry or other projects, check them out!!!