Friday, August 28, 2009

A suprising (but happy) finish - EPatternsCentral

The UPS guy just delivered a box from the publisher with one of my necklace projects in it. This isn't completely unusual, given what I do with my spare time these days, but the contents today were a complete surprise. I thought it contained two pieces I have slated for an upcoming book, but in fact when I opened the box I discovered this necklace.

This piece, with the completely beautiful ceramic horse focal by Virginia Miska (which, incidentally, I won as part of my monthly challenge prize package back in 2007, through Art Bead Scene), was originally slated for the April 2009 edition of Simply Beads magazine. Alas, that worthy publication's last issue was February 2009. I subsequently completely lost track of this piece (I am embarrassed to say that I didn't even realize it was still at the publisher's office - note to self to get a little more organized about my projects...).

I received the happy news today that the project has been published on ePatternsCentral. If you are not already familiar with this service, ePatternsCentral is an electronic warehouse, of sorts, of downloadable crafting patterns. Looking for unusual, attractive beading, sewing, knitting, crocheting or quilting (among other mediums) patterns? Why not try ePatternsCentral?

"Horsefeathers" (which, with apologies to Virginia, is the title of this necklace) is now available for download here.

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bead & Jewelry Linky Love

The Short One actually has a school supply list this year. I made the mistake of taking the SO with me went I went shopping for paint - with the result that I ended up having to buy two sets of watercolors, so he could have one to use at home, too. Which he has been, very diligently, so I can't really complain. Above is one of his masterpieces.

I'm late with links again this week. I was feeling so wiped out last night that I passed out shortly after putting the SO to bed. Whenever I need a big block of time to make silver components, I really find that I have to do it at night during the weekend. I was up until 4am Saturday night putting together a large focal. I guess it must be age, but I just can't spring back from a late night and spend the next day chasing after the SO - even after arranging for H. to run after him for a couple hours in the morning so I could sleep in. Oh, well. There are certainly worse problems to have.

Anyway, the links!

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Take a peek into Lorelei's studio and see some cool bead storage solutions!

Art Bead Scene
Art Bead Scene gets green findings at the local re-use store.

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi has a short demo on how she came up with a contest entry.

A Bead A Day
Creating a "tiara" for your wrist is easy using Jill MacKay beading components and bicone crystals.

Katie's Beading Blog
Katie's project is a free, featured download on Beading Daily. Yay! Jewelry Making
Check out my beautifully organized list of mixed-media book reviews and find the perfect book to help you mix up your jewelry making.

Jewelry & Beading
Cyndi wants to know, what's the best thing you've made so far this summer?

Jean Campbell
Jean's whipped up a free vintage button brooch project for you to try.

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Come join the fun in Philadelphia this weekend at Beadfest! Stop by the Green Girl Studios booth to say hello to Andrew and check out all the great new things available!!!

Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva
What do bronze and rawhide have in common? Cindy explains how she uses both in her studio.

Earthenwood Studio Chronices
Melanie contemplates taking risks, making changes, and creative experimentation to prevent art burnout

Strands of Beads
Melissa reveals her Use the Muse II Entry, "Briar Rose."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Use the Muse II - The Big Reveal

Use the Muse II has officially ended, so I can now show you my entry, entitled "Briar Rose". The Muse this time was an ornate donut shell pendant from Lillypilly, courtesy of This was a beautiful, beautiful piece for inspiration, I must say. The winding, vine-like design and the color reminded me of a romantic fairy tale, particularly Sleeping Beauty - whose name, of course, was Briar Rose.

As you can see, I ended up making not so much a fine silver box as a sandwich for the Muse. You can't see the back of the pendant in these photos (and unfortunately the lamp for my light box has a burnt-out bulb, so I can't photograph it tonight), but it's actually one of my unicorne pendants. The front is cut out like one of the compass rose designs I've been working on this summer. I just happened to have a tiny carved coral rose in my stash, which fit nicely in the center of the donut. I ended up using the crystal and pearls from the kit to "encrust" the piece with "jewels":

I used a pale rose flatback crystal to both (practically speaking) cover the hole in the pendant and reinforce the idea of a compass rose - the crystal stands for North, of course, where the heart lies. Also, it's a little difficult to see through the wire-wrapping, but the stringing holes in the pendant are actually cut out heart shapes.

So there you have it - my interpretation of the Muse. For photos of all of the entries, including the fabulous winners (and they are fabulous - once again, the range of entries was both fascinating and stunning), please visit Scarlett Lanson's website.

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


We're baking today! I wish you could smell the scent of banana bread that's filling our house right now.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In Progress

Here's a shot of a few items, fresh from my kiln. The treasure box is double-sided - my sea change pendant is on the reverse side. I know what it will contain (after, you know, burnishing, patinating, etc.), but I haven't gone to pick the contents yet. Hopefully, by this weekend, I can finish it.

The chain gave me trouble for several weeks. No matter how much I sketched, my drafts just didn't look right. I decided to risk the clay and just sat down to work it out on the table over the weekend. This method makes me nervous, since mistakes can be so expensive when working with fine silver. In the end, though, designing this way helped me work through my block. I wanted chain that looked distinctive but wouldn't overwhelm the large focal I'm hoping to suspend from it. I think this will fit the bill. So I'm now, um, six inches closer to finishing my next big project.

Please everybody visit Kate McKinnon's sale pages and buy the goodies there, if only to save me from myself. I have bought way too much treasure there. It is ongoing (she has been listing new items throughout the day for the past couple days) and can be found here and here.

Thanks for visiting.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bead & Jewelry Linky Love

Yesterday, to keep the Short One occupied while I wrote a short email, I asked him to trace his hand on pieces of construction paper. After I finished my note, I cut out the hand prints for him. It took me a moment to realize that - One of These Things is Not Like the Others. It's definitely a sign of his artistic talent. Definitely.

Anyway, I goofed, and forgot to post these last night. Here are your intriguing links for the week:

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie shares her new Shino glaze tests, and ponders about new work.

A Bead A Day
A Crystallized "Square Ring"! If you have never seen a "square ring", stop by A Bead A Day to see how it has been incorporated into a bracelet.

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi explains how she made her glue gun leather brooch. Jewelry Making
Too Much Jewelry Business Success? Is it really possible? And if so, what do you do about it?

Cindy Gimbrone aka The Lampwork Diva
Looking to create a pendant from one of her antique button treasures, Cindy tries her hand at mold making.

Art Bead Scene
Art Bead Scene announces the August monthly challenge theme - a beautiful woodcut print.

Beading Arts
The simple spiral square stitch can add pizazz to your projects. Learn this easy stitch with an easy-to-follow tutorial!

Jean Campbell
Jean helped deliver two babies this week: a new nephew and a new bracelet design

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
There are a couple of new bead and blog books on the shelves at Barnes & Noble! Lorelei's got the scoop!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
The BIG REVEAL is here! Check out Andrew's submission to the Use the Muse II contest!

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Resistance is Futile

So, yeah, I did a little shopping this past week. Kate McKinnon is currently having a "Soul Clearing Sale". She is listing not only a truly marvelous selection of her metal clay works of art but also some truly beautiful lampworked beads from her personal collection that she has decided to release to the world. This amazing yin/yang bead is by Sage, and it's now mine. I just can't get over the level of beautiful and precise detail in this focal. This will be the first of Sage's work in my little collection of beads, and I'm quite happy to have it.

I also just bought this fabulous ring by Kate herself:

Amazing, no? (Not only did this piece blow me away when I first saw it, it's also just the right size for the middle finger of my right hand. I have somewhat skinny wrists and fingers, so I figure the fact that this will fit me must mean something.)

I love this sale, not only as a client, but also because the variety of work - both her own and those of other artists that have been in her private collection - provides an interesting glimpse into Kate's life as an artist and teacher.

Kate is adding new listings to her sale shops daily and will continue to do so until August 20th. I encourage you to take a look, as it's well worth it. She has two shops set up - one for components and one for finished objects.

What are you waiting for? Go! Go now!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Be Sure to Flex Your Creativity

Here's another piece I designed using Soft Flex's super-cool "Renewal" Trios wire and beads by Sarah Moran. (To see my original "Spotlight On" article for which I created this necklace, please go here.)

This is just a quick reminder that there's still time to enter Soft Flex Company's Flex Your Creativity Beading Contest - but hurry! The deadline is September 1st.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Bead & Jewelry Linky Love

After months of successfully ignoring my little Etsy store, I finally gave in and added a couple pieces. I have one more to finish up and list - then I expect the rest of the month will be spent on another big concept piece. I've been thinking a lot about...chain recently (and the Aretha song "Chain of Fools").

Here are you bead & jewelry links for the week:

A Bead A Day
Do you use buttons in your jewelry designs? Stop by A Bead A Day to share your experiences and ideas. Jewelry Making
Is the under 20 crowd crafting more or less these days? Take the quick poll & see the results of what other crafters are thinking about this issue.

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Andrew reveals ten new jewelry designs.

Barbe Saint John - New Treasures from Forgotten Artifacts
Join in the fun of the Objects & Elements Reader Challenge!

Beading Arts
Beautiful Swarovski components from inspired Cyndi...right over the moon!

Art Bead Scene
Looking for some new earring ideas? The Art Bead Scene reviews 101 Wire Earrings.

Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
Lorelei shares some links to another really cool blog beading challenge.

Carmi's Art/Life World
A little Friendly Plastic, a charm and resin makes for an amazing pendant.

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva
Summer heat getting to you? Cindy has a wrist full of Frost Links in Pear to keep her cool.

Jean Campbell
Jean whips up a pair of funky Steampunky earrings; you can make them, too!

Katie's Beading Blog
Check out Katie's upcoming workshops!

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie happens upon a new line of supplies that blend perfectly with her steampunk designs as well as her new resin collage pendants.

Strands of Beads
Melissa creates a simple but stunning necklace with goodies from Rings & Things

Beachcombing and taiko drums

We finally had a seasonably warm weekend where we live - probably the first one all summer. It was sweltering, so naturally we ran around and complained about the heat.

I found out by chance that the Midwest Buddhist Temple downton was holding a Ginza Festival, so we dragged the Short One with us to attend for a bit on Saturday. The classical dancing was a bit too slow and girly for the SO (although he coveted and eventually came home with a painted fan), but the taiko drums actually held his interest for a good five minutes, which isn't bad for him. I hadn't seen a live taiko performance in many years (and I'm not sure if H. has ever seen one), so it was quite fun. The group that performed, Kogen Taiko, has video clips on its website here, if you are interested.

Today we took the SO to the beach to collect a few rocks and dig in the sand (see blurry pic, above - the best I could do before the SO woke from his nap). I must say, I was impressed by how many nice, smooth, flat stones were on the beach. I'm thinking of collecting a few myself and trying to drill them for jewelry. Anyone have any experience with this? At this point, I have this vague understanding that the stones should be drilled in water, but that's about it (I know - scary, right?). Any advice would be appreciated.

For my part, a little beachcombing yielded a few miniscule pieces of sea (lake?) glass:

Cute, eh? I've put them aside for a future bezel.

Okay, I am being hauled away to play. I will be back later with this week's bead and jewelry links.

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Shameless Self-Promotion: Bead Dreams

The Bead Dreams publication, displaying the winners and finalists of the 2009 competition, is now available. For the first time this year (I believe) it is only available on-line through the Bead & Button website, here. Needless to say, I already have my copy, and it is completely beautiful (not that I'm impartial, of course). Also, if you click on the link above, you will see a preview video, which has, as it's screencap:

(this is not the actual video, it's just a JPEG of the screenshot) ta-da! - my "Natural History" belt buckle. Needless to say, I'm pleased as punch.

Seriously, though, the photography for the e-booklet is quite stunning. As I mentioned before, apart from metal clay, my favorite category this year was beaded objects (I particularly liked the sense of humor in many of these pieces) - but all of the works are really quite inspiring to view.

As always, thanks for visiting.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Tides

I picked up a strand of mosaic turquoise over Mother's Day weekend this year. The colors and pattern reminded me very strongly of the way sunlight filters through water, so I decided to combine the stones with some small drilled pieces of shell and finished the piece with one of my sea pendants and a rough cut ceramic bead by Diane Hawkey.

Can you believe it's already August? And we've only had a handful of days where I live that were really hot enough to spend at the pool.

Thanks for visiting.