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).

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Annie Oakley and the Na'vi

The Wild, Wild West
I created the Victorian-styled "shard" escutcheon focal above LAST January (as in 2014), with good intentions regarding doing an Art Jewelry Elements New Year-themed challenge (involving the Roman god of beginnings and transitions, Janus, after whom our month January is named; Janus was often symbolized by images of gates, doors, doorways, etc., hence my idea of a key and keyhole pendant.) I did not get very far. Well, this is how far I got:

Well, lately my "pendant" bin (where the escutcheon resided--what a wonderful word, "escutcheon") has been bulging at the seams, so rather than start pendant bin no. 2, I decided to systematically start using items from the pendant bin until I could easily snap the lid down again. And then after that I could return to my usual indolent and slothful ways.
I began this piece with the escutcheon element and a wonderful vintage skeleton key my Mom found for me (I have a little handful of some absolutely gorgeous little keys from Mom, all with a rich sable-colored patina on them--she is a brilliant treasure hunter), and a strand of small silver leaf jasper rondelles. It was feeling Victorian to me, and I initially assumed it would be "Posh-Victorian," but when I added the mother of pearl button (I really wanted some kind of shiny large translucent gray or cream tablet-type bead under it, but alas I had nothing like that), it struck me more as "Poverty-Stricken Victorian"; and then when (seized by some mysterious urge) I changed gears and went with dark cording and leather lace, it struck me as "Poverty-Stricken Victorian Wild West."
Well, once I strung the buttons on (that's a black agate nugget underneath them) the image of a woman sprang to my mind: a solitary, unconventional woman of the dusty Old West, who lives by her wits and her womanly wiles; but alas has no money with which to buy gems and jewels to adorn herself, so she makes her own from whatever she can find in her pockets, discarded by others, and offered by nature. Or maybe she doesn't live near a Tiffany's. Maybe someone like Annie Oakley, although I don't know whether she was poverty-stricken. Certainly not after Buffalo Bill hired her to shoot things for his Wild West show. But he probably paid her less than he paid the men, because that's just how it always is, so maybe she was poor...Did you know Annie Oakley was so lovely? Here she is:
She is one of the few famous Wild West ladies who did not look like a dude. (The outlaw Belle Starr was a dead ringer for James Mason, and Eleanor Dumont was appropriately referred to as "Madame Mustache.") I'm sure Buffalo Bill felt like he was sitting on a gold mine.

"Well, what does Annie Oakley have to do with the Na'vi?" you ask. Why, absolutely nothing.

Previous to the piece above, I made the pendant below with a glazed stoneware leaf element by Karen Totten, which was also residing in the overfilled pendant bin. The finished pendant immediately made me think of the movie Avatar ("Ah, there's the Annie Oakley-Na'vi link. It's in her MIND.")
I think the brown cording makes me think of twigs and tree bark, and then of course there's the leaf, and it must be the blue beads that took it from merely "tree" to "Avatar", because the Na'vi are a lovely shade of blue, not unlike these recycled glass disc and tulip beads from Happy Mango Beads and Afrobeadia.
The terra cotta-colored stoneware bead just above Karen's leaf is from jjpotterybeads on Etsy; the tiny multicolored sead beads are Czech Picasso seed beads from beadsandbabble on Etsy; the yummy butterscotch-colored beads are Indonesian glass from Happy Mango Beads; there is a green opal bead from I don't remember where; and the crusty-looking rosy bead is lava. Drilled beach stone from stonestudiostoo at the end of the chain.
I created some interesting-looking cuff-and-anchor elements to cover the knots that fasten the lower portion to the connector rings--I like to use a metal cuff, or cut tube to cover knots sometimes, but I find if there is not a bead under it to hold it in place, the tube won't stay put and it slides down off the knot. On the right side of this pendant, where it is knotted to the ring, there is a beadless section immediately underneath; I needed a way to anchor the cuff to the ring so it would stay put, so I used a double-headed headpin like a little trouser suspender, turning the ends up to hold up the tubes. I thought it actually looked kind of cool. I will probably do it again, but I just remembered this other thing I used to do for hiding knots that is way slicker so maybe not for a while.

Today I hope to get another pendant mostly finished, also using an item from the pendant bin. So I better get busy.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Some New Pendants

Well, I was having a hard time getting the lid to close on my "artisan ceramics" and "pendants" containers, so I decided I'd better get busy. I had been thinking of this pendant for a long time-- a graceful rectangular polymer clay pendant by Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati, from her "Forest Finery" series called "Simply Oak":
I wanted to match the gunmetal color on the pendant frame, so I fished out some pewter-colored buttons I've had in my stash forever, and knotted them together with dark brown waxed linen cording.
Miraculously I had glass seed beads from Fusion Beads in a matte, metallic denim color that EXACTLY matched the subtly varying blues in the pendant, and some sweet little carnelian nuggets.
I finished it off with some no-nonsense silver-plated steel chain.

Next, I dipped into my hoard of Karen Totten ceramic components, and plucked out this little gem:

I circled it for a day, trying it with this bead and that bead, this cording and that, arranging and rearranging. I came back to it the next day, and this was what I eventually arrived at as it grew dark outside:
Recycled glass beads from Ghana via Happy Mango Beads; two more little glazed lozenge beads by Karen; lovely matte glass seed beads in sand hues also from Happy Mango; ceramic discs in coffee glaze from somewhere like Michael's, I don't remember; sterling silver wire and tiny sterling silver beads; waxed linen cording and leather; and a little drilled beach stone at the end, just for fun.
I started out with way more beads than I ended up with--I kept paring down, paring down, and the sterling wire and beads were a last-minute addition related to covering up some knots. I rather like the extra interest the little silver "bubbles" added here and there. I used double-ended 18 gauge fine silver headpins to fasten the leather into loops, and tossed in some of my embossed beadcaps.
I am especially fond of the nekkid sections of cording--I guess that would be "negative space," jewelry-style!

I have more Karen Totten in my container and I'm not afraid to use it. Anymore. This exotic little "Forest Fossil Ring" was next:
I held it in my hand for an evening, scrutinizing it under a full spectrum bulb, trying to tease out the colors. I eventually decided to combine it with both lighter and darker greens, antiqued copper, and brownish-rose colors, and follow the same basic design scheme as for the previous necklace. Here is the final product, completed on New Year's Day:
Stones include prehnite nuggets and irregular heishi, red lava, and dragon's blood jasper (the little green barrels). I knotted them onto Irish waxed linen cording in forest green and antique rose, and finished the back with dark reddish-brown leather cording.
I used one of my petaled beadcaps to add interest to the base of the focal, and linked everything together with my embossed copper rings.
I actually think I might be liking this one even more than the other one. I am in love with these lava beads.
I like the visual rhythm the prehnite disc beads give to it. I found these at a bead show, and also got strands of bronzite and Botswana agate in the same cut at that show. I love them. I am hatching a plan for the Botswana agate that might involve Karen Totten again. I'm on a Starry Road bender!