Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring Awakening Challenge

When I saw the beautiful blue and green palette of the Spring Awakening  challenge, I just had to have the kit.

Every month or so Andrew Thornton puts together a collection of beads and components for the Allegory Gallery Challenge and blog hop. 

Participants purchase the kits and then work their magic. It is so much fun and inspiring to hop around and see the completely different approaches everyone has taken with the same raw materials.

I like to sort and organize the beads by shape, color, type or whatever catches my fancy.

The first beads to catch my fancy were the green and black glass – maybe vintage German?
My first thought was to use peridot, but that didn’t show off the beads.
Back to my stash for black onyx.  Perfect!
The additional assorted greens are from the kit. Of course, the bracelet is finished with one of my signature toggles.

You may have noticed that I’ve been obsessed by multi-strand designs lately. I decided to challenge myself to use some (a lot) of those smaller beads Andrew always includes. This bracelet went through a few reincarnations before completion. I’m quite happy with the finished product. 
It received great reviews at the Ollie’s (the gift shop that carries “my line”), although I haven’t put it up for sale yet.

Finally, I had set aside an eclectic mix of beads to go with Andrew’s mystery component, a polymer clay pendant in a lovely shade of spring green.  It was fun to create a mismatched, yet balanced “chain”.

There's plenty more to play with, including that luscious green waxed linen cord. Check back Monday to the earring designs floating around in my head.
I’m looking forward to hopping later to see what all the other creative folks have done. 

Hope you’ll join me!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Geek Love ~ an Inspired By Reading Book Club selection

 Geek Love, by Katherine Dunn, is one of those books that took me by surprise. I had a completely different idea as to what the book would be about. I suppose if I had actually taken a good look at the cover, I might have had a clue.

My predictions really don’t matter ~ what does matter is the fact that I was intrigued by the story and couldn’t put the book down. I actually stayed on the stationary bike at the gym for a full 45 minutes because I didn’t want to stop reading.

Geek Love follows the lives of a carnival family. The father has genetically engineered his own freak show by giving his wife drugs and other concoctions during pregnancy. Each child has a different abnormality that makes him/her “special”.

When I read that Arturo, also known as “Aqua Boy” was born with flippers instead of limbs.  I immediately thought of Cynthia Thornton’s Green Girl fine pewter pendants. I remembered she had a few sea turtles so I contacted Cynthia and she put a them aside for me to pick up in Tucson.
Have sea turtles – now what?

While taking an enameling class with Joni Kisro I had a brainstorm. 
Shapes cut with
Potter USA's pancake dies.

Use an enameled piece as a focal and hang the turtle from it. I went back to Joni’s the next day after picking up trade beads at the African Market and put my plan in motion.

When I returned home, I dug through my stash for coordinating components, decided on a design and got to work. I haven’t decided on a closure so for now the necklace is adjustable - just tie the extra long waxed linen wherever you want.

 The glass spacers are from Robbie Daly.

Back to Geek Love…
And “the Reds” The girls who worked the midway and ticket booths all had to have red hair, natural or otherwise. I wanted to play off of that somehow. Strolling through To Bead True Blue, I paused at the Woman Shops World  booth. Maybe they had sari silk or ribbons I could use.

Then, there they were ~ tassels!
And I found little red crystals to match from African Gems.
I had it in my head that I wanted to crochet a really long wrap around necklace. (Cynthia Thornton was crocheting necklaces with some sort of fiber while I chatted with her.) 

But, alas, at that point I was back in North Carolina snowed in and had to make do. 30 gauge brown Parawire worked perfectly. (yes, another Tucson purchase!)
I am seriously obsessed with this clasp I created!

Just for fun I put together a few pair of coordinating earrings.

These ceramic beads are from Golem Designs  with Vintaj caps.

If you haven’t read Geek Love, you should!

You should also visit the other members of the group and perhaps think about joining us next time! 

Andrew Thornton and Laurel Ross   Andrew's blog will give you more info about the group.

Friday, March 13, 2015

It's In The Mail! Bead Peeps Swap and Hop

I can't wait for my partner, Gloria Allen, to get her package!
I had such a hard time deciding what to send her.
I didn't want to give away anything...  
I love my beads!!!!
Hope she does too!

Here's a sneak peek...

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New Earrings 2015 ~ Weeks 9, 10

Isn't it great to take a class and get excited about what you learned?
That's what happened in Tucson this year. I fell in love with die cutting shapes and enameling. Last time you saw the enameled earrings I made at the workshop.  This time I took it a step further.

Since I don't yet have a hydraulic press, I dug out and oiled my disc cutter. I actually had to punch out 3 to get two that match.  No worries, no waste - the third will become a toggle clasp or pendant.
After doming with my dapping set, I torch enameled with Thompson's "opaque aquamarine green". (yes, it does look somewhat turquoise).  I was so happy to find a nice selection of Thomson's enamels at Ornamentea in Raleigh.

This pair started with the purple trillion shapes I enameled in Tucson, but they needed something more.
Remember - No Waste?  I enameled the small circle left from the first pair (Thomson opaque bitter green)

Of course, I had to revisit silversmithing. The next two pair were forged from 20 gauge sterling silver wire... soldered, hammered and textured. Both sets of rings were actually formed on the same size mandrel.

I'm excited to say that all of these earrings are now for sale at Ollie's in Downtown Wake Forest, NC. (as of yesterday!) 
And I'm even more excited to say one of my necklaces has already been sold!
Ollie's is a great little coffee shop/gallery/gift shop. Denise offers unique items from local artisans.

Thank you, again, to Sarajo Spurgeon Wentling for hosting this challenge. 
Please click here to visit her blog to see what the other talented designers have created.

And check back soon to see what else I've been up to!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Earring Monday ~ Weeks 5, 6, 7, 8

Yep - I missed a deadline while in Tucson - so - here I am catching up with 4 weeks of earrings...

First up ~ I also participate in Andrew Thornton's Allegory Gallery Design Challenges. About a month ago, we had the Desert Sands Challenge .Here's my post for that. I finally put together a pair of earrings with some great teardrops from that kit.

I love to take classes and learn new techniques when I visit Tucson for the gem shows. This year was no different. I took a torch enameling class from Joni Kisro at her studio.

We learned how to use Kevin Potter's hydraulic press and pancaked dies to shape earring components before enameling. I am in love with big tools!!!
I love the idea of transforming metal and adding color.
We were able to press out shapes for 12 pairs of earrings. Each pair could have an enameled shape and a back plate.

After "flame painting" these, I decided the colors were too pretty to hide behind anything!

I absolutely love these elongated hearts! One of the dangers of torching outside is that nature sometimes does unexpected things.  Can you find the the fried fly wing?

I know there's definitely more enameling in my future!

This last pair I designed for a friend who asked for something simple to go with her royal blue Mother of the Bride gown. Understated and elegant...

Thanks so much, Sarajo Wentling for encouraging me to take on this challenge.
Please visit her blog for the other participants!

See you in two weeks with more earrings!

Meet My New Friend...

Do you love a good challenge?
Do you like to meet new, creative people?

I do!  
My latest new friend is Gloria Allen. 
We were matched up as partners for the Bead Peeps Swap and Hop. We have to send each other beads, a clasp and a focal, with at least one piece artisan crafted.

If you really want to learn about Gloria you have to read this heartfelt blogpost
Because I can't give you any better insight than Gloria, herself, does!

Isn't this necklace stunning????
It's obvious that Gloria is inspired by Vintage and loves pinks, lilacs and pearls. 

So my challenge is to decide if I will force her to go completely outside the box or allow her to work within her comfort zone. 
Yeah ~ that's the teacher in me speaking.  
(It's called working within the "zone of proximal development" ~ provide just enough challenge to encourage growth.)

Don't worry, Gloria, I have some great ideas roaming around in my head.
You and everyone else will have to wait to see what I come up. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Desert Sands Challenge ~ at last

And here it is…
The long awaited Desert Sands Challenge post!
Thank you to Andrew Thornton for hosting and having patience with my tardiness.

I actually did finish my pieces while travelling to Tucson for the gem shows, but had difficulty photographing them without “busts”.

It’s always fun to get a box in the mail from Andrew. This time was no exception. I fell in love with the bronze, gold and ivory hues in this kit.

Not being a bead weaver, I tend to ignore those tiny little beads in the kit. This time I decided to meet them head on and string a multi-strand necklace. The silk strung bead strands and chain with wire-wrapped glass were gathered in Vintaj brass cones and connected with my handcrafted hook and eye clasp.

The irregular metallic glass bead told me it wanted to be a clasp. I used Parawire’s smokey quartz to crochet a choker. The cone-shaped etched glass bead adds a fun dangle to the clasp.

There are lots more great components left for earrings, bracelets, etc. And this great pendant crafted by Andrew.
Can’t wait to play with them!

Please check out the other challenge participants.
On Andrew Thornton's blog: