Monday, December 7, 2015

Yep, These Colors Will Show Up In Some Jewelry Soon

While at a holiday concert yesterday, I couldn't help myself -- I had to take a picture of the spectacular stained glass window serving as a backdrop for the performance.

What gorgeous colors, and what a fantastic combination of shades and hues!  And this was taken fairly late in the afternoon.  Imagine what it looks like with full sun shining through!  I'm not sure if it'll work, but try clicking on the picture to see if you can see a larger version.

These colors will be an inspiration for a beaded piece (or six) in the near future.

Friday, November 20, 2015

ATTS8 - It's In The Bag!

The fabulous ladies from Therese's Treasures and One Kiss Creations challenged a group of us with the task of making a beaded purse. A big challenge, for sure. And they gave us several months to prepare our projects.

Many thoughts came to mind. A peyote amulet bag? A leather pouch with embroidery? Embroidering on an existing purse? So many, many options!

Here's a sneak peek I gave last week - did you guess what it was going to lead to?

At my job, I have to use a key card to get into most of the offices and secure spaces. And because it's a performing arts organizations, I often have to work at concerts. Toting around a very official looking key card on a lanyard when you're wearing a fancy dress isn't always the best look. So I decided to see if I could combine the need to camouflage the very functional realities of my workday with this creative beading challenge. Thus, the beaded key card purse!

I started with a basic plastic card holder, to which I affixed snaps on the back.

Pretty, ain't it?

Then I embroidered a couple of interchangeable decorative panels with snaps on their backs, to switch out as needed. The first one was an easy choice - I had done some bead embroidery around a violin bridge several years ago for another challenge, inspired by music.

At the time, I thought I'd make it into a necklace, but that never happened. So it became the first front panel of my beaded key card case.

Then, because I am apparently from the school of "why just "do" when you can overdo?", I decided to make another cover. Sadly, this one didn't get its edging completed, but here it is anyway.

And here it is, with its beaded fob (aha! the sneak peek!)

I can't wait to use these at work. If I don't have a waistband for the fob to attach to, I can carry these in my hand, almost like a small clutch purse.

Here they are, all together.

And in case you're interested in seeing the mechanics of it all, here's the backside.

I'm pretty sure I've taken an unorthodox approach to the beaded purse challenge.  Want to see what everyone else has created? Go check it out through the links below, and thanks to Therese and Christine for organizing this challenge to get me off my beady butt and doing something new!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Winter Expo Preparations

Over the weekend, I tagged, bagged, and delivered over 70 pieces of jewelry for a month-long show and sale at the Evanston Art Center. Yes, that's 70+ pieces - 39 pairs of earrings, 31 necklaces, and 4 bracelets. Whew!  There's a little bit of everything here - big fancy statement pieces to simple fun pendants.

This is a juried show, and I'm still relatively new to the area, so I'm especially excited to be part of this event. For more information, go here.

If you're in the area, please come see the show!  Below are some of the pieces included:

Earrings, earrings, earrings!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

ATTS8 - Sneak Peek!

Working, working, working....

I'm stitching furiously to finish up in time for the reveal of the eighth installment of A Time To Stitch next Saturday.  Until then, here's a little sneak peek of what's coming!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Serious Sparkle, Part 2 - The Earrings

So if you're wearing a fancy evening gown, you need some fancy earrings, right? Of course!

As I wrote about yesterday, we recently had a big formal fundraising event at my job, so may of my colleagues were looking for jewelry to complement their evening wear. You've already seen some of the necklaces and bracelets that I made especially for them to choose from, so as promised, here are a few of the earrings.

Freshwater pearls with some vintage rhinestone and pearl components

Who can resist blue crystal disco balls swinging from their earlobes?

Shoulder dusters

In case your formal tastes run more to the gemstone, these are lapis, forest jasper and freshwater pearl.

These big, bold beauties are vintage marcasite pieces from an old necklace that I found in an antique store.
I took the necklace apart, and used the various component parts in lots of different new creations.
Here, I added just a few crystals at the top and as dangles.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Serious Sparkle

Ah, crystals.

They're gorgeous, but I don't use them in my beading too often. That may have to change.

At my day job (you know, the one that lets me pay for the necessities of life - mortgage, food, beads...) we recently had a big fundraising event. Black tie, evening gowns, the whole nine yards. And everyone in my department was involved, so we all had to glam it up for the night.

Knowing that I make jewelry, some colleagues asked if I had any pieces that would work with their dresses. Of course, I took this as an invitation not only to pull out the fancier pieces in my inventory, but also to spend a few evenings making some flashy new things.

Here are some of the new pieces that came out of that flurry. Some got worn to the gala, others stayed home, but they're all a reminder to me to embrace the flashy side every now and then. Today, I'm sharing the necklaces and a bracelet - tomorrow, I'll share the earrings.

There were a lot of midnight blue and navy gowns at this event - a nice change from basic black.

Did someone say, "statement necklace"?

A different view of the same necklace, to show the flashes of color in the faceted ovals. Gorgeous!
This bracelet reminds me of tuxedo pants, with the dark stripe running down the side seam.
This was a lot of fun, and a good creative challenge, since I didn't know what everyone's dresses would look like. I had to make pieces that would be versatile enough to work with lots of different colors, working completely without specific direction other than "formal." Do you make jewelry for special occasions?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Cellini Explosion, or The Saga Of Too Much Tension

See this nice little Cellini spiral I was working on?

Apparently, I was channeling all the stress of whatever was going on at the time into my thread tension, because about two inches into the spiral, this happened.

Boom! Exploded in the middle.

Arghhhh!!! (Although my language at the time was, I admit, far more colorful).

I have put this one away for another, calmer day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Creative Spark Summer 2015

Once again, I'm thrilled to have been part of the latest issue of Creative Spark, which for the summer issues, highlights the myriad uses of the delicious cultured sea glass beads available from ZNet Shows.

The beads I selected are shown above -- beautiful colors that reminded me of sand, sunsets, and lovely soft shades of the ocean.  As always, I wanted to find ways to incorporate bead weaving into my creations, in addition to some more traditional stringing.  The main idea was to keep the designs light and summery enough to be comfortable if worn on the beach (or in the sweltering heat and humidity of the rest of the country).

First is a lariat using the orange and yellow nuggets, on a piece of leather long enough to wear looped low on the chest or doubled up to fit inside the collar of your shirt.  It makes a lovely tinkling sound as you walk while wearing it.

I set aside three of the orange nuggets and wove bead bezels, along with a St. Petersburg chain neck strap.  A woman tried to purchase this before I'd even gotten a picture. 

Next I played with the green rings, making a pendant and a matching ring.  The ring is a simple peyote band woven long enough to wrap around the sea glass ring on either side - easy peasy!

Finally, I used the red and blue rounds to make a pair of earrings and a matching ring.  Don't know why I seemed to gravitate toward creating rings, but these were so fun to make.

When making the ring above, there was a stage in its creation that was a viable alternative design -- more of a starburst than a puffy urchin shape that I finally decided on.  The starburst is shown below.

Thanks a million to Hope for her hard work on wrangling all the beaders together and editing the final product.  Thanks to Bill at ZNet Shows for providing the inspirational beads to work with.  And thanks to you for going to check out the magazine and seeing the creations of all the designers!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Well, THAT Was Unexpected!

You know how you can start out thinking you're going to accomplish one thing, and the end result is something COMPLETELY different?

Like when you tell yourself you're going to have the healthy kale salad for lunch, but end up getting swept away by the temptation of a juicy burger and fries, followed by a scoop of luscious ice cream? (Or is that just me?)

Or when you run into the store for one thing and walk out with six bags of stuff? (Remind me to tell you someday about the time I ran into Target for a bottle of glue for a child's school project and came out with $200 of stuff.  And forgot the glue.)

Above is part of a selection of beads I pulled out a couple of weeks ago, intending them to be the freeform portion of a bead bezeled cabochon necklace. But when I started on the freeform, it just wasn't working.  So the cabochon is sitting on the worktable, still awaiting its mate.

And here's what the beads ended up as:

It certainly isn't freeform peyote, and the cabochon is nowhere to be seen.  But it is slinky and colorful and great fun to wear.

So sometimes unexpected is good -- and the necklace is much better for my waistline than a scoop of ice cream!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Beading En Plein Air

Half of the beads for my next freeform piece.

In painting, "en plein air" means to paint in the open air, or outdoors.

Yesterday, the weather was so gorgeous, so warm and sunny, that I decided to pack up my beads and go sit in the park next to the lake.

Ahhhhh.......beading en plein air.  I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lovely Sea Glass

In the midst of getting ready for shows and everything else that's been happening, I got these fabulous cultured sea glass beads from ZNet Shows.  Aren't they delicious? I've designed some sea-inspired pieces that will be in the next issue of Creative Spark magazine -- can't wait to share them!

Monday, June 29, 2015

I Survived the Show!

This weekend's incarnation of the booth setup. It worked okay,
but there will be layout changes for the next show. Granted, I was half-asleep
when setting up, so it's a miracle anything is upright and organized!
This weekend was my first art show in many months, and I went into it with equal parts excitement and dread.  Not dreading the show itself, but worried that after several months away from doing shows, I would forget something crucial, like a vital part of my tent.  Or all of my jewelry.  Or my pants.

I'm happy to report that I did remember to wear pants.  Both days.  Win!

We were supposed to set up on Friday evening at 7:30 (they had to let cars clear out of the town's center before letting the artists invade).  At 6:00, it was raining, with predictions of continued rain and gusty winds until after midnight.  Been there, done that, could do without it again.  So sweet husband agreed to help me set up the next morning at 6 a.m. (putting him on the fast track to sainthood).

The next morning was dry and clear. And early.  Drag-your-butt-out-of-bed-at-4:30 a.m.-to-shower-and-dress early. After setting up, sweet husband went home with all good intentions of not going back to bed.  Intentions that went out the window about 30 minutes after he got home.

Most shows involve a story about a neighboring artist. This time is was the stogie-chomping neighbor.  Mercifully, he didn't light up the big ol' cigar he kept clenched between his teeth.  But he did talk. A lot. Bless his heart, he was so eager to share the stories of his work that he'd chat the ears off his customers.  I saw more than one couple flee, heads down, without a backward glance.  On the bright side, if he'd had to step away, I could have told any of his customers all about each piece from having heard the stories so many times!

There were no jingly men or killer cicadas at this show, but there were a couple of toddler meltdowns, including a hysterically funny moment when a boy who looked about 2 or 3 sat down in the middle of the street and said, very emphatically and in a voice that must have been an imitation of what he'd heard his mother say a thousand times to him, "No, no, no and NO!"  Every parent in the vicinity chuckled.

My learning takeaway of the weekend was just how rough I look at the end of the day when I've been up and working hard since 4:30.  It was not pretty.  On the bright side, I slept REALLY well!

The best line of the weekend had to come from a lady who, after looking at some of the beadwoven pieces said, "I appreciate that you price your work according to the Pain In The Butt factor that was involved."  So my new pricing formula may be

materials x 2 x PITB factor = wholesale price...

Thursday, June 25, 2015

New Town, New Show

My first show of the season is this weekend!

Keep in mind that I haven't done a show in a good nine months, and have moved in the intervening time.  My fingers are crossed that I haven't forgotten any major component of the setup, and that I still remember where everything goes in the tent.

Like any show prep, there are a thousand and one little details that still need attending to, but I'm getting excited about getting back in the show routine.  And I'm interested to see what kind of good stories the weekend brings (hopefully no giant bugs or surprise thunderstorms, but you never know!)

But if you're in the Chicago/Evanston area, come see me!  Whatever happens, I'll share my show tales with you here next week!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Wherein We Recuperate from Bead and Button Shopping

Holy cow.  Y'all, I have been to some big bead shows in my day, but nothing quite prepared me for the wonder, the spectacle, the complete eye candy overload that was the marketplace of the Bead and Button Show.

Now, I used to live in Milwaukee, a mere hop and skip from where the Bead and Button show is held. But the annual show wasn't started until a few years after I moved away.  (I've always taken that a little personally.)  And I've always had it on my bucket list to go. When I moved to Chicago this year, it became a much more likely possibility.

So Sunday, I headed up the road. Got to the Wisconsin Center right as the show opened.  I was ready. Or so I thought. After two hours, I had only made my way through two rows of about seven or eight. And I had only four hours left. That's when I kicked it into high gear and power shopped.

Knowing that it would be WAY too easy to spend too much, I had decided that I would only shop for things I couldn't find at home or at regular bead shows.  So I concentrated on art beads, special findings, and things that I knew I'd kick myself the next day for not buying.  No seed beads (gasp!!), no Czech glass, no gemstone beads.  Ready?  Here goes:

First, the gemstone cabs:
Isn't this delicious? It's copper mosaic turquoise (that I grabbed the instant the woman next to me put it down)

(l to r, top row: ruby in zoisite, rhyolite, lapis. Bottom: crazy lace agate)
Two jaspers, just begging to be bezeled
And the art beads:

I've been lusting after Golem Beads for a long time.  I finally got some!
BeadyGirl Beads - fun!
Diane Hawkey - sublime
Beautiful paisley beads from Dyed in the Fire
Not technically all beads, but two Czech buttons and some new Czech shapes from Lisa Kan
Sharon Peters - not some of her great, whimsical creatures, but these beads will always
remind me of the hysterically funny conversation I had with this joyful lady
Time for the true confession - there were also some less visually exciting purchases, like lots of chain, some gold filled wire (now that the price has come down to nearly human levels), and some ultrasuede for backing.

If you ever have the chance to go to Bead and Button, you should go.  One of these days my schedule will allow me to go for some classes as well, but for now, I've got this one crossed off the bucket list. And I'm already planning for next year's journey!