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).

Friday, October 31, 2014

African Recycled Glass Discs

My Newest Obsession
I've had a couple colors of these African recycled glass discs in my stash for quite a while but only recently became obsessed with them--it was when I saw them in a bunch more colors! And then I had to start working on having them all (my Mom is so lucky I missed the Pokemon craze). This is the color assortment I currently have, from Happy Mango Beads and Afrobeadia. They are also available in clear, dark green, pale brown, purple, cerulean, clear with gold speckles, orange, and black (and sometimes maroon). Ima need 'em all.

What I like about them is 1) they are the perfect size for anything, not too big, not too small, 2) They are lightweight, so, great for earrings, 3) The holes are plenty big so you can get lots of cording or wire through there to create sturdy links (and if you have to ream them bigger, the reamer goes through like buttah), 4) The holes are smooth so not likely to cut through your cording, and 5) They have a rustic texture, somewhat like a stone, but translucent. What's not to love?

The first thing I used them in was a bracelet (I've posted this one before):

And then I wanted to use them in earrings. Some of them had slightly smaller holes, so I had to ream them a bit to make room for the wire I wanted to use. I was pretty sure I could make it work. So I went to town and this is what I came up with:

This pair has azure discs, as well as Indonesian striped beads (this color is my absolute favorite) and blue glass rondelles, all from Happy Mango Beads. I used a little silver, and a little copper--plenty of room in the hole, after reaming a little, for a hammered 20-gauge headpin at the bottom, and two courses of 22-gauge wire at the top.
Carny Girl
This pair is all about autumn (also featured at Earrings Everyday today)--light green discs from Afrobeadia, amber glass lampwork rondelles from Happy Mango, and sterling silver torpedo beads from Monsterslayer.
Autumn Turning
This is a real southern belle pair of earrings! The colors make me think of sunny French Country decor, and the stacked tulip beads make me think of petticoats! Yellow discs from Afrobeadia, ice blue tulip beads from Happy Mango, and little turquoise glass seed beads also from Happy Mango (these little turquoise seed beads harmonize perfectly with turquoise stones, I love them). (My secondary obsession is these little African recycled glass tulip beads, also available at Happy Mango and Afrobeadia, in multiple colors--azure! purple! (oh wait, I have purple) olive green! brown! gold! orange! white! black! maroon! red! yellow! Ima need all those too.)
Alabama Petticoats
With this pair I went all earthy. I was determined to use the smoky glass discs (they remind me of smoky quartz, or even labradorate without the flash--Hey, heads up, glass disc people in Africa--AB finish on these, 'kay? They'll go like hotcakes!), and I wanted to contrast them with a warmer color, so I put them with peachy pink lampwork from The Spacer Bead Shop and copper torpedoes from Monsterslayer. These discs really make me think of sea glass, which I love.

This pair I got kind of crazy with--they're very long, like 4". I used "Mali Blue" discs (a teal blue) from Afrobeadia, carved black horn feathers, amber rondelles again from Happy Mango, and big Unicorn "Chocolate Luster" lampwork rondelles with an amber center from Stinky Dog Beads.
I'm sure I will be doing more! As well as some multicolor knotted bracelets, constructed like the one above, so stay tuned!

(Sorry, all the stuff above is sold, so I didn't include any Etsy links.)

Happy weekend to you!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mixed Metal Craziness

The last couple of months I seem seized by the compulsion to--GULP--mix my metals (I'm sure I would have been put to death for this in Biblical times--I'm such a rebel). I recently acquired some absolutely fabulous handcrafted African beads in brass and copper from Afrobeadia on Etsy, and they cried out to be together, so I obeyed. I was feeling all rustic and rudimentary so I dispensed with any color other than the metal, and the dark cocoa brown of my leather and linen cording:
I've been playing with making charms from wire--that's my heart charm at the bottom of the picture. I have also fallen in love with Mykonos cast charms--you can see a tiny little heart at the top hiding under the toggle bar--I've been getting Mykonos from Stinky Dog Beads. I love the heft of it and the lovely, antiqued finishes.

I've also been soldering toggle rings and connector rings lately, and embossing them on both sides with my metal texture sheet/hammer technique (bashing the crap out of them with a hammer hides my messy amateur soldering!)--you can see them above. The trick is to sandwich your metal element between two texture sheets, and hammer the texture into both sides at the same time. I've been making my own texture sheets, etching nickel sheet with my favorite patterns.

I adore these brass beads below (also from Afrobeadia)--they're sort of like a cut-tube, but slightly rounded, and lightly soldered on the side. They have a light texture on them, that I think just came from the fabrication process. I dropped them in a strong liver of sulfur solution to really bring up the gold tones, and then tumbled them for a couple hours and they came out simply glorious (the lighting yesterday just didn't do them justice).
I got a whole spool of this lovely deertan leather lacing at Blue Peacock Beads on Etsy...
And a whole spool of solid, raw copper ball chain from Rings & Things--because it's raw, it's super easy to antique as you wish. I do a little bit at a time in the liver of sulfur, and tumble it until it's a rich, shiny chestnut, and then I seal it with ClearGuard before I incorporate it in my jewelry.

I went kind of crazy for these "torpedo" beads a while back--I got a bunch of them in copper and sterling from Monsterslayer. I hammered them lightly to give them a bit of texture (they are a seamed bead, so you have to do this carefully to avoid deforming them). These are more of those Mykonos heart charms from Stinky Dog Beads, you can see them lots better here--one in "bronze" (which is actually a very nice copper color) and one in brass.
This bracelet also includes some brass "cocoon" beads I made using a tutorial by Kharisma Sommers of Popnicute jewelry. Sometimes they add just the right texture.

I went back to my favorite brass beads for this one below, and did some variations on my wire heart charm--I made this one with 12 gauge wire. Whew! I must have annealed it 6 times while I worked on it. I love the heavy chunkiness of it--12 gauge wire from now on for these! Unless they're necklace-sized, and then they'll have to be 10 gauge wire. I better start doing some upper body work at the gym!
I also did some different connectors for the clasp section of this bracelet, and the one above--with strips of textured sheet instead of just jump rings. (I get bored so fast...)

So then I got all excited and ordered a pile more of brass beads from Fire Mountain Gems because I didn't have enough different kinds--just in time for my obsession with color to reassert itself, so I made this yesterday:
The discs are recycled glass beads from Happy Mango Beads (and they're all out of my favorite coke bottle blue-green color--DAMN!); the oval bead at bottom left is some delicious aqua chalcedony; and the carved flower at the top is green aventurine. I did a hook and eye clasp on this one, made from a strip of 22 gauge copper sheet, textured on both sides. I used big-hole copper rondelle spacers from RioGrande in between the discs--perfect if you've got thick, or multiple strands of cording.

After I did this last bracelet, I ordered more of these glass discs in a bunch of different colors, and they will arrive just in time for me to get obsessed with something else. Why can't I ever get obsessed with stuff I already have?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Late to the Party

I've been under the weather with minor health stuff the last several months, and super busy at the day job, so I'm just not keeping up with all my jewelry to-do's. Unfortunately, one of those to-do's was the June Component of the Month challenge at Art Jewelry Elements. The reveal was Thursday July 3, but I missed it! However I'm feeling a bit better and had a long weekend with the holiday so I got busy!

June was hosted by the multi-talented Linda Landig, a jewelry artist who also creates beads and components in polymer clay, and now ceramics. (To visit her Etsy shop, click HERE!) Linda made a fabulous assortment of her new ceramic charms and focals available for the challenge:
Linda has been designing jewelry on and off for over 30 years, and started with metal. From there she moved on to beadwork, indulging her love of color, and eventually began making her own jewelry components and beads, first with polymer clay, and now with ceramics.
Back in May (when I was feeling perky--unfortunately that turned out to be an intermittent thing), I snagged one of those sweet little sunflower elements (and actually remembered to photograph it before I started my piece). I love the rustic texture of the stoneware.
I noodled over it, and had a general idea what I wanted to do with it, I just didn't have the get-up-and-go to do it. So when some of my energy came back this weekend, I already had it half-designed in my head. I knew I wanted to introduce some sky blue, and would probably use copper for the metal parts. I thought and thought about the bail for it, started and stopped some other approaches, and finally came up with this:
For this, I used one of my folded end cones that I talked about at AJE this morning. I just modified it by folding over only the very ends so that it's a rectangular shape. I created a large loop with wire at the top (the wire goes through the hole in the pendant and then both ends go up through the hole in the metal cap, where you can shape them as you wish.) I attached an open metal tube to the loop for hanging.

Here's the whole piece:

The longest strand is three lengths of cocoa-brown Irish waxed linen (I bought whole spools--SQUEEE!!!!--from Element Beads on Etsy) dotted with recycled glass flowers in light blue from Happy Mango Beads; the second strand is tiny lime green glass seed beads, also from Happy Mango (with some brown seed beads in "dirt brown" from Fusion Beads thrown in); and the last strand is larger 8/0 seed beads in cocoa brown (also from Fusion Beads), a few Indonesian glass seed beads in a wonderful sand color from Happy Mango, and one little corn-yellow seed bead from a local shop.
I used my end cones from this morning's AJE post on the ends, with deertan lace in cocoa brown and some of my hand-forged large oval chain.

Linda's stoneware sunflower perfectly complements my style! And I adore the warm colors she chose for her glazes.

You can also visit Linda at her Facebook page, and stop by her blog!

And be sure to visit the other participants and see their creations!


AJE Members

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Awesome Art Jewelry Elements Week of Giveaways!

Hey art jewelry lovers, head on over to Art Jewelry Elements starting Monday June 16, for a whole week of giveaways, courtesy of the AJE contributors!
Enter every day to win!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Art Jewelry Elements May Component of the Month Reveal

Today is the day at Art Jewelry Elements when we reveal our designs created with lampwork glass components by the uber-talented Susan Kennedy of Sue Beads. Susan was always a lover of lampwork beads and started making them herself six years ago, and also now makes enameled components as well. I am so glad she decided to make beads, because I love them!!

Here is the delectable assortment that Susan offered for this month:
Flower Chiclets!!
And cabochons!!
I fell in love with the chiclets immediately (I haven't tried setting cabs yet and I was chicken to try under the gun so that might have had something to do with it--otherwise cab number 6 up there might have been mine!), and went for set number 4 up there (although number 1 was also extremely tempting):
I initially was going to do a bracelet, but I couldn't figure out how to weight it properly with the beads I wanted to use--I was afraid the lampwork beads would have ended up in a heavy section that would always be hanging under the wrist so that you'd never see them, and I can't stand that--pet peeve of mine. So I opted for a necklace.

I really wanted to keep the tone earthy and rustic, and I just happened to have recently acquired a collection of fabulous recycled and Indonesian glass beads from Happy Mango Beads that I thought would be perfect:
Of course this color scheme cried out for copper!

I looked through my stash of metal components and found a large textured washer I had made a while ago--I decided to do a front toggle closure (it's so easy to make a focal section out of the clasp). And it even had flowers on it! (I was starting to feel the need to stay with flowers).
I debated knotting it but the holes in the beads were too big to make it really work so I opted for copper links. Because these recycled glass flowers are kind of funky and odd shaped, I didn't think wrapped loops would really work, so I used simple loops hammered flat to make them seat better in the beads.
Here is the configuration I eventually chose:
I just love the subtle detail, and quietly whimsical quality these little chiclets add to a piece of jewelry!! And I'm a sucker for that tablet shape, I don't know what it is about coins and tablets...And the colors of the lampwork are so rich and saturated--I especially love that ocher one with the olive green flower, it really pops! These were really a pleasure to design with, just the right size--not so big that they overwhelm the other beads, but large enough to really stand out.

All the metal in this piece is solid copper--even the ball chain! I had some nice plated oval chain I could have used on the pendant portion to hang my green flowers from, but the purist in me rebelled and I used some of my own oval chain instead (I made a small amount once as an experiment). I made it kind of long, so you could layer it with copper chains if you wanted:
Pay no attention to the beer can behind the mannequin.

(I just love the bell shape of those tobacco-colored recycled glass beads.)

(You'll notice I used Melissa Meman's ultra-cool ball chain ends again! They are an interesting design element all by themselves.)

Sue has a lovely assortment of chiclet beads and cabochons in her shop right now (not to mention lots of other fabulous goodies!)--swing by and get 'em while they last!


This is a blog hop! Be sure to check out all the other participants' designs:

Kristen Stevens

Friday, May 16, 2014

We're All Ears May Reveal

Zigzag Nerite Shells
I got a little silly with this month's inspiration.

I made FIVE pair of earrings based on this theme! I'm not sure what got into me...I rarely use black or true red, but the nerite shell motif really inspired me, especially the stripy black patterns.

Turns out I had lots of beads to work with, and you don't mess with The Muse so I let her go.

This pair sports a duo of incised, glazed stoneware stick elements by Petra Carpreau of Scorched Earth, in a lovely caramel color with black stripes (they make me think of pretzel sticks and I want badly to nibble on them.) I think this might be the first time I've used her work--I've been hoarding an entire container of it! I introduced the red element with red jasper, and added ivory bone rounds to the earwires. I added my textured beadcaps in sterling to the jasper.

This pair incorporates some etched red agate tubes and my poppy caps in sterling silver. I added batik and plain ivory bone beads to the bottom to introduce the ivory color and add more of the black patterning, and then popped some butterscotch amber roundels onto the earwires (I got this wonderful opaque amber locally at Powderhorn Trading and I am in LOVE with it.)
For this pair I started with some black and white patterned beads from my stash--these are actually from a jewelry making party hosted by my friend Ada years and years ago. I'm not sure what they're made of, they feel like maybe wood. She has traveled the world so they could be from anywhere! I added red jasper sticks and my textured beadcaps, both traditional round ones and some small folded poppy ones, and more of that delish amber to the earwires.
This pair relies on more beads from Ada's jewelry party--a pair of striped cones! Again I've combined them with red jasper (I just LOVE this stone), ivory bone, and more amber. The cones make me think of a sporty fez. I think this pair is actually my favorite, this is the first time I've ever tried vertically wrapping a bead like this--I was inspired by Brenda McGowan--her shop is on vacation right now, but you can check out her sold items. Lisa at Angry Hair Jewelry also has some items with this vertical wrapping--LOVE her style too. I would buy her clean out if I had a spare $5,000 and my ear piercings hadn't healed up for lack of adornment.

Lastly, I dipped again into my Petra Carpreau stash for these lipstick red "bobblers." Boy, it felt like I spent hours trying to find the right beads to go with these. I finally settled on these black manol buri beads and of course ivory bone and more amber. I added a little vertical wire wrap again to keep the little seeds in line, they're kind of naughty.

This was fun! Head over to the Earrings Everyday blog to see what Erin cooked up with this month's inspiration, and to get links to other bloggers' reveal posts!

These will all be listed in my Etsy shop over the next few days.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Art Jewelry Elements April Component of the Month

Lesley Watt, the creative genius behind THEA Jewellery and THEA Elements, is our host this month at Art Jewelry Elements for the April Component of the Month. Lesley is a self-taught jewelry and bead/component artist living in the UK, who works in both precious and base metal clays and ceramic clay. She is especially gifted in creating nature-themed pieces, such as beads and pendants in flower, leaf, and sea motifs, and also more abstract designs with a gentle tribal feel. These are some of my favorites:
For our April challenge, Lesley offered a gorgeous assortment of seashell- and flower-themed glazed ceramic shank buttons:
It was so  hard to choose! I eventually picked the little ammonite at the far right, in terra cotta and cream; I loved the glazing detail and the earthy colors:
 I decided on a button-and-loop closure necklace. Before I began, I wrapped the steel shank in fine copper wire to provide a little buffer for the beading wire I was going to use:
I combined it with large, irregular pink opal nuggets, a spray of iridescent glass beads, and lots of copper. I love the whimsy and personality Lesley's little button adds to the plain beads!
In my opinion, an art bead really takes a piece of jewelry from being merely pretty to being truly memorable and unique.
Thank you Lesley, for the wonderful inspiration!

Be sure to visit all the other participants for more fabulous eye candy!