Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bead Cruise Inspired Design Challenge

To help all of us Bead Cruisers pass the time waiting (impatiently) for Bead Cruise 2015, Diana Ptaszynski of Suburban Girl Studio decided to organize a little design challenge.  The rules were simple, create a piece of jewelry that is ocean, tropical, or cruise inspired (any or all of these, actually) and share with the group.  I figured I should share with my blog readers too!

It seems like this should have been a narrow enough focus to get me going... but no.  I had too many things to choose from!  I guess that's a good problem to have.  I had truly grand plans of getting a ton of jewelry done for this challenge, but as is so often the case lately, my life has just gotten too busy.  I refused to give in to chaos and I didn't give up on participating... I just scaled my plans and expectations down a little bit.  

First up I made a little pair of seahorse and shell earrings.  I had a bunch of resin projects that had been on the back burner waiting for me to get new UV resin, so I figured I'd whip up some ocean themed earrings while I was at it.  Here's the result!

I used the little seahorse images from the "Bathing Beauties" Nunn Design collage sheet in one of their fancier bezels and kept it simple with some little TierraCast shell charms.  Simple and cute.  These are now for sale at Unearthed Arts in Waconia.

Finishing the earrings was enough to satisfy the challenge, but I wanted to do more.  At the last minute (i.e. last night) I whipped up this cute charm necklace.  (Well, at least I think it's cute... I hope you do too!)  The starting point was the adorable little starfish charm that I just got this week from Kylie Parry (along with some of her other treasures, naturally).  I wire wrapped a bail for it with a Czech glass rondelle and some copper wire and added a little shell charm and a little mixed metal dangle to complete the charm portion.  Wanting a little more umph for the design I also included a lampwork glass bead from Fire Lilly.  I love the way the bottom portion of the bead has some aqua ocean color and the top part is more sandy tones. 

I toyed with the idea of tying a little bit of aqua colored sari silk onto the lampwork bead unit but didn't do it last night in my time crunch.  Maybe I'll try it later and see if that adds something.  Thoughts?  

So, I didn't realize all my beach/cruise inspired designs, but I'm pretty happy with that pieces that I did manage to make.  Who knows, maybe I'll manage a couple more sea-inspired designs before summer is over... and if not, there's always next year.  The 2015 Bead Cruise is closer every day!

Friday, July 18, 2014

We're All Ears: July 2014

For July's We're All Ears challenged hosted by the Earrings Everyday blog, they went a little patriotic with the inspiration.  Take a look:
I have to admit that I wasn't immediately inspired by this one... perhaps the red, white, and blue really isn't my thing (although I do love bright turquoise and red together...hmm.)  Anyway, I had pretty much decided to give this one a pass and focus on some of the three billion other jewelry projects that need attending to when I got a possible idea.  Even as I started pulling bead possibilities, I still wasn't sure that this was going to come together... but it did!  Here's what I came up with!

I did a little mixed metal action with the hammered rings from Vintaj and some oval silver plated chain links from Nunn Design.  I chose a mix of blue beads in Czech glass and Sodalite and a tiny pop of red glass too.  I think it feels summery without being too 4th of July.  The texture on the chain lends a little bit of a nautical feel to things.  

Overall, I'm happy with this design idea and will probably revisit it with different colors and metals before too long (i.e. before I totally forget!).

Check out what everyone else made too!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

30 Words: The Gears are Turning

My main problem is that I have
So many ideas, so little time...
Circle upon circle, spoke within spoke,
The gears inside my head seem to 
Turn and grind nonstop.

The premise of 30 Word Thursday is simple... take a photo, write 30 words (no more, no less) and post it each Thursday.  This is a blog hop hosted by Erin Prais-Hintz over on her blog Treasures Found.  Click HERE to see her post for this week as well as links to the 30 Words from everyone else.

This photo was taken in June at the old Phelps Mill in Ottertail County, Minnesota.

Monday, July 14, 2014

New Earring Monday: Weeks 27 & 28

Ok, I'm back on track timing wise for my New Earrings Monday posts this week.  This week is once again a case of variations on a theme.  This time, the results stem from me trying to decide on earrings to go with my necklace from last month's Art Bead Scene.  Here's a picture of the focal, but you can read the whole post and see the inspiration artwork HERE.

I figured it made sense to use more of the spacer beads that Kerri Fuhr sent along with her gorgeous focal and accent beads as a starting point.  The first pair I made used some of the black lampwork spacers and little Czech glass rondelles in pale green.

I liked the first pair just fine, but I wasn't sure they had enough oomph to stand up to the necklace... thus pair number two.  This time I used pale green spacers and some faceted black Czech glass beads that were a bit larger.

I might actually prefer the first pair on its own, but to go with the necklace I think I have to vote for pair number two.  What do you think?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

30 Words: Dry

Cracked and dry, 
this is how I feel upon 
stepping out of the door 
into the oppressive heat.  
I feel myself become 
deprived of all moisture... 
turned to stone.

The premise of 30 Word Thursday is simple... take a photo, write 30 words (no more, no less) and post it each Thursday.  This is a blog hop hosted by Erin Prais-Hintz over on her blog Treasures Found.  Click HERE to see her post for this week as well as links to the 30 Words from everyone else.

I took this photo in the Las Vegas airport on my way home from a library conference there.  As you may be able to guess, I don't really recommend a trip to Vegas in June... it is HOT!  

Monday, July 7, 2014

New Earring Monday: Weeks 25 & 26

Boy is this year just flying past!  I can't believe that it's July and my 40th birthday is just around the corner.  Gulp.  Due to lack of reliable internet access while I was traveling this post is going live a week later than intended...but I did make the earrings on time so I'm considering myself still going strong with my personal earring challenge!

For this installment of New Earring Monday, I decided to revisit a design that I first tried out last year for the Art Jewelry Elements Earring Challenge (week 40 to be exact).  I embossed two sets of Vintaj altered blank circles (one set in brass and the other in Arte Metal) with the Celtic Weave DecoEmboss Die, sanded them to get the highlights, and dapped them into a convex shape.  I added extra holes along the bottoms of the circles to allow for fun crystal dangles on both pairs.  Unlike my first version, I decided to leave them unpainted and just play with the two tones of the metal for the design.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Drunken Botanist: Inspired by Reading Book Club

The June selection for the Inspired by Reading Book Club is a book that I remember seeing in advance reader copies at a library conference when it was about to be published.  I was intrigued but my success rate for actually reading adult ARCs is pretty sad so I walked away.  Needless to say, I was happy to see The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World's Great Drinks by Amy Stewart on our reading list for this year.  My husband is a homebrewer and has dabbled in wine, mead, and cider making as well.  Additionally I've also gotten a little more into cocktails and am still learning what I really like (and dislike!) when it comes to that. So what I'm saying is that the subject matter was of personal interest.

Generally speaking, I'm more of a fan of narrative nonfiction... nonfiction books that tell a story.  The Drunken Botanist is more of an encyclopedia of ingredients used to make, flavor, and garnish alcoholic beverages from around the world and that made it pretty challenging for me to read all the way through.  I liked the way she broke it down into three parts: plants that get fermented to make alcohol, plants used to flavor various alcoholic beverages, and then mixers and garnishes.

With my attention issues and time crunch problems (my goodness but June has been a crazy busy month!), I ended up skipping around quite a bit and focusing on ingredients that were particularly interesting to me or that just jumped out when I was flipping through the pages.  For instance, I was a little blown away to learn that the cashew is related to poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac and its outer shell has similar oils that will cause an uncomfortable rash.  Weirder still, the nut grows at the bottom of a "cashew apple" that looks sort of like a pear or apple but isn't actually a fruit at all (the nut is the fruit).

Weird cashew plants.
I had lots of potential ideas swirling (mixing?) around in my head like an exotic cocktail but ended up focusing on beer.  Delicious and diverse beer.  Shocking, right?  Ok, maybe not so shocking, especially since I just came back from a trip to Michigan for the National Homebrewers Convention.  While I was at the convention I picked up a lanyard with the color chart (SRM chart) that judges use when evaluating beer.  I won't bore you with all the details but you can find out more about it HERE if you are interested, but here is one version of the chart:

Beers can range from super pale yellow to almost black depending on the beer style and the types of grains used to make them... I decided to make a necklace that represented this beer rainbow!  I chose a variety of beads in Czech glass, crystal, and even some smoky quartz to represent the range of colors and made a fairly simple linked necklace.  I really could (should?) have used a black bead in the middle if I wanted to be totally true to the scale, but I wanted to keep to more transparent beads for a certain look.

Enjoy and go pour yourself your favorite color of beer as you check out what everyone else made for the blog hop!  As always, you can get the full list of links over on Andrew Thornton's blog HERE.