Thursday, April 3, 2014

I WAS Inspired by Reading!!!I

Another month has passed and I’m ready for another installment of the Inspired By Reading Book Club. For the month of March, Andrew (Thornton), our fearless leader, chose An Irish Country Doctor. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable novel by Patrick Taylor, who is himself an Irish doctor.

We follow young Dr. Barry Laverty as he becomes assistant to rough Dr. Fingal O’Reilly. Taylor’s anecdotes give us many insights into life in a small town, human nature, and how to “read” and best deal with different personalities.

I was struck by how Dr. O’Reilly dealt with one character early on. It was actually Barry’s first encounter with the seemingly gruff older man. O’Reilly literally threw the patient out of his office and told him not to come back until he had washed his feet.
Well – of course I had a podiatrist appointment the next day. And you can be sure I washed my feet before I went!

Here’s the necklace I was inspired to create. The flip flops stamp was as close as I could get to feet. I love the way the tiny wrap came out on the blue beach glass.

 I traced a river stone for the copper blank. Don't you love the organic shape?!

Everything was oxidized in liver of sulfur and tumbled. I'm not sure I'll ever put chain in the tumbler again. (Who am I kidding? It looks great ~ I'll deal with the tangles.)

I also need to figure out which copper wire I used for the wrap, because it did not oxidize like I wanted it too.
I'm hoping this will become a favorite at art and craft fairs in The Hampton's.

Another part of the book that I could not get out of my head was the title of the 6th chapter ~ “Forty Shades of Green”. I’ll just leave it to your imagination as to what it reminded me of.

Anyhow – I had to create something green. I actually thought for a brief moment to create 40 green things. Not in my lifetime!
Instead, I searched through my box ‘o green and settled on some lovely faceted chrysoprase beads in two shapes. I really love the many shades of green in these beads.

Once again, I must thank Andrew and the other book club members. I challenge myself each month to try different techniques and create my own components whenever possible.

Please check out the other participants. I'm excited to see some new names and more participants this month!
(I'll add links on Thursday. For now I'm off to NYC to have lunch with my daughter)

Jenny Davies-Reazor
Judy Campbell
Andrew Thornton, Laurel Ross, Terri Greenawalt, and Alison Herrington
Karen Grosset Grange   Be sure to scroll down - it's in French and English!!!
Sarajo Wentling
Ann Schroeder
Rachel Stewart

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Soup's On!

It’s that time again –
Time for the Bead Soup Blog Party, hosted by the amazing Lori Anderson.

I’m excited to have Jayne Capps as my partner this year. I don’t know how Lori does it, but two years in a row, there’s some sort of connection. Last year’s partner lives in the same town where I own a house and plan to “retire”. And this year, while I have never met Jayne, she has purchased from me during a destash event. Then again, maybe it’s not such a coincidence. It’s amazing all the folks I have “met” through different beading and jewelry making forums and how many groups overlap.

On to the fun stuff…
Jayne has received my soup and posted pictures on Facebook, so I can legally reveal it. Jayne and I "chatted" on-line and found out we have some similar tastes. I had lots of ideas running around my head, but waited to for the partner assignment before finalizing my soup. 

I was happy to see Jayne lives in a land-locked state so I could go with my original idea to send authentic Atlantic Coast beach glass. I dug out a gorgeous piece of cobalt blue and wrapped it in sterling.
(I knew Jayne liked silver because that's what she bought from me.)

I threw a plain piece of white beach glass in the pot for Jayne to play with, packaged it up and went to bed.
 Well, if you've ever simmered soup for a while, you know it always needs more seasoning.
Jayne mentioned that she likes other metals besides silver. When I woke up, I wrapped the white glass with copper and oxidized it. I was so happy to see that liver of sulfur did not affect the beach glass!  Woo Hoo - another new technique!
Then I found some great copper components in my stash. 

Finally, I was ready to head to the post office. 
Here's what Jayne found in her mailbox a few days later.
This is Jayne's photo!

You cannot imagine how hard it was for me to part with that lapis!
And the carnelian thrown in just because Jayne sais that was one color she really didn't like. This is a challenge isn't it???

I can't wait to see what Jayne creates. 
Check out her blog to find out - The reveal is May 3.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Inspired By Reading Book Club ~ January/February

Welcome to the latest installment of the Inspired by Reading Book Club hosted by Andrew Thornton.  Once again, we combined two months for our reveal. And even with the extra time, I'm late.

To be honest, I had some difficulty get,ting inspired. Maybe I was preoccupied with my first trip to Tucson, maybe moving my workspace sapped my energy. Whatever it was I wasn't feeling it.

I read as far as page 50 in The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie when my very insightful seatmate on the plane to Tucson told me it was ok not to finish a book. There was so much imagery that I found myself rereading many passages, but I just wasn't holding the meaning. Plus I already had a page of notes of possible design ideas -

*a stone gate with 2 elephants facing each other
*a tiger penis in a golden bowl
*bells on the ankles of dancers

While the tiger penis was tempting, I went with some cloisonne elephants from my stash of charms. I found matching pearls in Tucson (Ironically from a NY supplier - Pearl Conceps)
I used gold filled wire to connect the components and craft earwires. 

Next up on the reading list was Difficult Loves by Italo Calvino. This book is a collection of short stories translated from the original Italian. At times I felt the translation fell flat. I was intrigued by The story titled "The Enchanted Garden", in which two children sneak through bramble into a garden where they picked flowers, swam, played ping pong and had a snack. Unfortunately, they were unable to enjoy themselves because they felt they might get caught. Before leaving they spied a boy inside the villa who appeared to be equally uncomfortable. What caught my attention were the collections of framed butterflies on the wall. I wanted to create something with brambles and/or butterflies, but my muse was hiding.

I was resigned to the fact that I would just skip this book and head off to the Jewels By JAR exhibit at the Metropolitan  Museum of Art in NYC. And wouldn't you know it, Joel A Rosenthal had a designed wall of butterflies and dragonflies.

These are actually jewel encrusted brooches. Finally I was inspired.

I decided to try a new technique at the last minute.
I took and etching class in Tucson. The instructor Amber of String Bead was wonderful. 

So bright and early this morning, I shaped and prepped the copper. 

I drew a sketch, then drew on the copper with a Sharpie. And placed my earrings into the the etching solution.

I am sure I heard Amber say she often left her pieces in solution over night.

I learned a great lesson today - copper pieces cannot stay in ferric chloride for 5 hours. 

Never fear - I will try again!

For now enjoy these pieces I etched in class. They kind of remind me of brambles. What do you think?

Don't forget to check out the other participants.

PS - I've started the new book - An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor and am enjoying it.  
Why not join us next time?!
Check Andrew's blog for details.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Radiant Orchid Challenge Blog Hop

Andrew Thornton has done it again!
“What?” you ask.
He’s organized another fun blog hop...
This time, he put together a great kit using Pantone’s color of the year – radiant orchid. 

photo from Andrew's blog
The kit contained "a selection of handmade polymer clay beads, Czech glass, Swarovski crystal, gemstones, a lampwork glass bead and a Luxury Bead Blend."
The Luxury Bead Blend has Japanese Miyuki seed beads, Toho seed beads, freshwater pearls, amethyst, Czech glass, African recycled glass, Chinese Crytal, Swarovski crystal, vintage sequins, German glass, flourite and Javanese lampwork glass."

I dumped everything out on my worktable and stared at the glittering mess; my mind a total blank. And yes, I did stare blankly into space. Or so it seemed to my husband. In reality I was visualizing. 
But first I had to sort everything. 
I was excited to find some of my favorite gems in the mix- amethyst, garnet and tourmaline. 
I knew I wouldn't use the tiniest seed beads, so it didn't matter when I dropped them on the floor. 

I love Andrew's challenges because they always inspire me to stretch myself. 

His "mystery component", 2 fire enameled
filigree beads screamed EARRINGS at me. So that's what I made. 

There were just four rice shaped freshwater pearls and 6 Swarovski 6mm bicones.
Perfect for my dangles. My cheap silver chain broke as I was attaching pearl and crystal units so I used 5mm sterling silver jump rings and finished them off with my handcrafted earwires. 

Stephanie Dixon of ParaWire inspired me to crochet something.  (I had a lot of fun hanging out at their  booth at the To Bead True Blue show in Tucson) I’ve crocheted wire bracelets before, but never a necklace. Out came the 26 gauge “smokey quartz” copper wire I purchased in Tucson. 
It was my first time using ParaWire and I love it

I crocheted 3 chains of randomly spaced beads which I loosely braided.  I tried to make these really cool end caps from a Wig Jig "tut", but didn't love the way they turned out.
photo from Wig Jig

Instead, I finished off the ends with Vintaj Natural Brass Magnolia Leaf  Bead Caps from Lima Beads and a handcrafted hook. 

Of course I have tons of materials left over to play with. I definitely see a bracelet or two in my future and several pairs of earrings.

Thank you, Andrew, for inspiring me once again!

There were just 20 kits! 
I can't wait to see what the other designers did with the same raw materials!

Check them out...
Rebecca Anderson
Jeanne Steck - ME - you're here!
Carol Carlson
Leah Tees
Andrew Thornton, Alison Herrington, Laurel Ross, Joanne Goldberg, Julie Katz, Irene Leniham, Linda Starosciak

Monday, February 24, 2014

What was I thinking?

A few months ago, someone posed the question, "how do you get over a creative slump?"
Yes, I'm anal! I had to sort everything.
I responded that a challenge always helps.
With that in mind, I joined a few, including...
Andrew Thornton's Radiant Orchid Challenge -
I got a ton of "pink" and "purple" beads... 
And have till Thursday 2/27 to create something (or things) and blog about it. 
Yep - just 3 days away.

What was I thinking?

This is after going to Tucson. 
In addition to the Inspired By Reading Book Club, 3 custom orders and preparing my soup for the Bead Soup Blog Party.

Don't you worry!
I can do it - just you wait and see.  
Here's a sneak peak just to wet your appetite...

Check back Thursday to see where the creative juices have taken me.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tucson Discoveries

One of the best things about trade shows is discovering new suppliers.
It's even more fun at the Tucson Gem Shows because you get to discover ARTISTS!

I met many talented artists and purchased a few items for myself!

It was so much fun to discover Marianne Kasparian of MAKU Studio! In her own words, from her website, Mak creates...

Funky, eclectic raku fired ceramic artisan pendants, beads, cabochons, buttons, jewelry and decor.

I love, love, love the pieces I acquired! I'm keeping one of the birds for myself!
I had to go back for a second bird, which has already been gifted.


And I couldn't resist this heart!
I plan to make an oxidized silver bail. I found gorgeous silver green fresh water pearls at Pearl Concepts. It's going to be so much fun to play around with my glass , crystals and other beads to create an amazing necklace.

It was so much fun to meet Julie L Walls at my soldering class. She and her mom own Pagosa Peak Fiberworks. They design handpainted, one-of-a-kind beads, pendants and earrings. 

Aren't these earrings fun?!

Sorry these are mine! 

They go so well with the tunic and leggings I was wearing that day!

I'm thinking next year's strategy just might be to search out indie artists for unique focals and components!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


I have returned from Tucson!
I could discuss the horrible experience travelling ~ Let's just say do not fly from the northeast before or after a snowstorm.
sneak peek 

Once in Tucson, it was 10 days in Gem Heaven. I met so many wonderful people, learned new skills and bought tons of gems. I plan to blog about specifics in other posts.

I was lucky enough to stay with my sister, Nancy and her partner, Kate. I attended many family gatherings with them ~ Super Bowl party, Korean New Year, 2 birthday parties and a few of Kate's brother-in-law's "gigs". If you're looking for some great 70's rock in Tucson check out these two groups - Five Way Street (a five piece band - great for dancing) and C S & M (Coy, Serres and Murphy) (a folk/rock acoustic trio). Mike Serres is in both groups. Coincidentally, I taught 2nd grade with Mike's aunt over 20 years ago.

C S & M
Five Way Street

Kate lent me her car for the duration of the trip! Family is wonderful.
Tucson sunsets are amazing! And I enjoyed an afternoon of hiking in the Catalina Foothills.
Finger Rock Trail

I don't know why I waited so long to go.
But, I do know that I will be back next year!