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).

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Nightmare Insomnia!! AJE Design Team Blog Hop

Nightmare Insomnia
On July 1, I stopped by the Art Jewelry Elements blog, and saw a post by Jennifer Cameron featuring her "Nightmare Insomnia" bead series. I was utterly fascinated by these beads!! Jennifer was hosting a drawing to win five of her "Nightmare Insomnia" focal beads, the winners of which would then create pieces with them for a blog hop at the end of the month. Regular AJE partners would also be participating. I threw my hat in the ring and was thrilled to have my name drawn! I received the bead pictured above--and I think had I been able to choose from the beads featured in the post, I probably would have chosen this one! It was delightful to design around!

I was really wanting to do something dark and nightmarish with it--like really play up those spidery, gunmetal endcaps--but I just didn't have the right things. I contemplated using polished, annealed steel (which would echo those hematite-like endcaps and have this urban Underworld kind of vibe), but I like a heavier gauge wire, and my annealed steel wire was just too thin (plus if you could even find heavier gauge annealed steel wire, it would be too stiff to work with). I opted for sterling silver (I've never been able to do a sterling piece in a gunmetal patina. I Must. Shine. It. Up.)

I wanted to have a little more length descending from the bead itself, and it seemed like a faux toggle bail might be easiest to accomplish that with.

The sterling silver toggle bail, once in place, really drew my attention to the luxuriousness of the bead--as you can see, the endcaps really have an iridescence and shine to them, and the pattern in the center of the bead introduces a little bit of lighthearted whimsy into the whole design--they are seaside colors to me, and the pattern makes me think of confetti. So perhaps it was that advanced stage of insomnia, where you've gone without sleep for so long you're getting maniacally cheerful (right before you fall over).

I didn't want to add too much more color to it, as I didn't want to turn it into something sugary, so I stayed with the charcoal/black theme as much as I could. I had some awesome faceted Czech glass in a hematite color (they glitter, but, like, menacingly--haha!) that seemed perfect for the bulk of the design, and I liked the sea green accents best with the focal. A recycled glass bead in Coke bottle green from Happy Mango Beads seemed just right. For the extra length I wanted, I attached a short section of black silk string, with another glittery charcoal bead and a few faceted Czech glass rounds in Prairie Green (which I was thrilled to find matched my recycled glass beads--going to pair those up for earrings in the future!)

I finished it off with wide deertan lacing in black, nickel silver end treatments, and sterling silver chain and handmade clasp. My handmade sterling silver rivets on the leather ends turned out very rustic indeed. (I'm not very happy with the riveting block I bought, I think I'm going to go back to my vise for mushrooming rivet heads.)

Scroll down below to visit the other artists in the hop!

Beti Horvath: Stringing Fool
Gretchen Nation: Art Food Lodging
Karen Totten: Starry Road Studio
Kathleen Douglas: Washoe Kat's
Keirsten Giles: The Cerebral Dilettante
Kristen Stevens: My Bead Journey
Lori Anderson: Pretty Things
Rana Wilson: Rana Lea Designs
Shannon Chomanczuk: For My Sweet Daughter

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bead Trends August

My "Bohemian Lavender" pendant was featured in the August edition of Bead Trends!

I like the mauve background they chose for it!

The fabulous lavender beads are handmade lampwork by Kelley Wenzel. I love how they transmit the light!

It reminded me of a satchel when I finished it. A quilted one, for collecting lavender.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Jewelry Designs from Nature Challenge

Twilight Woodland
Dreamily over the roofs
The cold spring rain is falling;
Out in the lonely tree
A bird is calling, calling.

Slowly over the earth
The wings of night are falling;
My heart like the bird in the tree
Is calling, calling, calling.

"Twilight" -- Sara Teasdale

I was thrilled to find out I was one of the lucky winners in the ArtBeadScene Jewelry Designs from Nature Challenge drawing on May 30!  I received this charming pendant focal by Heather Powers, entitled "Woodland," along with a beautiful image of a solitary bird silhouetted by branches at nightfall, and this evocative poem by Sara Teasdale.

Because of the colors in the focal, I knew I wanted to use antiqued brass, and beads in olive green and violet. I wanted to create some kind of yoke or bail for the pendant that evoked branches. I fashioned this from three lengths of heavy brass wire, the ends balled in my torch, lashing it together with finer wire. In the end, it looked more Japanese to me than branch-like, which was fine by me, as I have always associated trees and blossoms with Japanese gardens.

I wanted to keep the palette fairly dark, in keeping with the picture, so I let my brass darken a long time in the ammonia fumes, and eventually settled on some dark violet leather for the necklace portion of the piece.

I kept it fairly long, so that the two beaded links attached to the yoke would hang straighter:

I like how the matte finish of the clay contrasts with the soft shine of the metal and the transparent glass.

Check out the other participants' fabulous designs, and view today's ABS post here!

Alicia Marinache
Shelby Foxwell
Lisa Cone
Marlene Brady
Cece Cormier
Amy of Amy Beads
Marlene Cupo

Like Peanut Butter and Chocolate

The other day I thought of these Ghanaian brass medallions I had gotten from Happy Mango Beads eons ago (and have been mostly hoarding ever since), and wondered if they would take a patina. Why not, I thought? They appear to be a rustic blending of brass and copper, perfect for patinas! As perfect together as peanut butter and chocolate. I gave it a shot, and the results are above. Clockwise from upper left: 1) Traditional verdigris patina from MissFickleMedia; 2) Saffron Yellow universal patina from MissFickleMedia, with a little bit of Blood Red and Tangerine Swellegant patinas, and just a touch of Violet dye oxide patina mixed with Old Lace (off-white) patina from MissFickleMedia; and 3) lastly more Violet + Old Lace patina, with little dabs of Saffron, Blood Red and Tangerine. (Adding just a bit of the Old Lace to the Violet makes it nicely opaque and really makes the color brilliant). I'd say it worked!

Happy Mango doesn't appear to have these precise beads in stock currently, but they have other African metal beads with a similar look that would probably work really well for this, as long as they were brass or copper. (And just this second I thought of some other brass beads from Happy Mango I have....hmm....)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Copper Cone Challenge!!

Lorelei Eurto is issuing a design challenge on her blog--using my copper cones! Let's get radical people, and use cones in revolutionary ways!!! 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Empire Lariat, and a Little Flash Gordon

Empire Lariat
I've wanted to make a lariat style necklace forever--Lorelei Eurto and Erin Siegel's new book, Bohemian Inspired Jewelry, finally tipped me over the edge on it! I had created these two double-sided mixed metal medallions from 26 and 24 gauge brass and copper sheet (textured with British coins from my own collection and from Joel's Coins--a halfpenny, a one shilling coin and a two shilling coin), and thought I might use them in a lariat one day. This piece is sort of a melding of Erin's "Afternoon  Tea" piece and Lorelei's "Flirtation Lariat" from their book. With the British theme on the medallions I felt like I should keep colors subdued and more classic looking--I'd love to do another medallion lariat with a more southwest look (I sort of have a half formed idea for one but I don't know if it will work).

I used a pair of my copper ribbon/leather ends riveted with copper tacks from Melinda Orr, some of my textured connector rings, brass bands that I textured with other coins, and some of my brass beadcaps and copper ball headpins. I hung little cascades of Czech glass beads (the multicolor Picasso ones are from CraftAnne--LOVE them!!) from short lengths of brass oval chain from LimaBeads. Because these are not real coins, and I used fairly lightweight sheet, they're not very heavy. You really can't have that much weight on a lariat or it will kind of strangle you--haha!

This will fit a 13"-15" neck (more choker length on a 15" neck).

(Here's the other side of the medallions)

I also did these last week, but it took me a while to photograph them. I like the old-timey futuristic look (like Flash Gordon! purely unintentional). I'm totally getting into mixed metals!!
Jet Set
These are with sterling silver earwires and wrapped cross-bar, copper, and silver-plated petal beadcaps from Ornamentea. Silver foil Czech glass beads in fuchsia from FusionBeads.

I had plans to make a few other things this weekend but as usual all this took way longer than I thought it would. But I did get a fabulous morning bike ride in with the BF so it's all good.