Monday, October 5, 2015

New Earring Monday: Weeks 39 and 40

Hey folks... it's already New Earring Monday again!  I have to admit that the last two weeks haven't been super productive in the earring department.  Leading up to the Art Wander I was in mostly bracelet and necklace mode.  The week after the show was mostly spent tagging jewelry and restocking my area at Unearthed Arts... and recuperating from a busy September!  I welcome October and a (hopefully) slightly less hectic schedule.

I haven't been a total slacker.  I did manage to complete two of the four special orders that came out of the Art Wander that were for earrings.  So I guess that's my theme this time!

First up, a pair of earrings made for a new customer.  She brought me a pair of earrings on long, arched ear wires with some bright lampwork beads.  She liked the style but wanted something more neutral.  I didn't have any art beads that fit the bill for her, but I was able to pull out a couple of other boxes of beads to show her some options.  She ended up liking some Czech glass saucer beads in s funky iridescent light blue and brown.  There's color there but it's subtle.

My other special order came from an ex-coworker who found a necklace that she loved but needed earrings to go with it.  Again, I was able to pull out some of my bead boxes to show her some options for custom earrings.  (This is one of the best things about being a studio on the tour instead of a guest artist... I've got all my supplies at my fingertips and can easily adapt a jewelry piece or make something new for a customer.)

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Inspired by Reading: Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore

September just flew by for me... I can hardly believe that it's already October 1st!  I had to skip several of my favorite challenges (even though I had some perfect beads) since I was so busy getting ready for the big show I had last weekend.  Thank goodness Andrew Thornton decided to push back the date for this reveal or I would have missed the Inspired by Reading Book Club too!  Hopefully October will be a bit more calm and I will get back into the swing of things.  Ok, let's be honest, that's probably wishful thinking!

Anyway, onto the business at hand... the September selection for the Inspired by Reading Book Club was Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.  I picked this one up in paperback at a library conference a while back on the recommendation of my friend Dena... and now I finally had an excuse to read it!

I'm going to apologize for not having super deep or coherent thoughts about the book... it's been more than a month since I finished reading it and all my brain power has been siphoned off in other directions.  This was a super fast and fun read for me and I plowed through it to find out what was going to happen.  This is totally goofy, but I also loved the fact that the paperback edition that I have glows in the dark... so fun!

Our main character, Clay, finds himself working the overnight shift in a very strange 24-hour bookstore where actual sales are few and far between.  The story ends up being part mystery and part adventure as Clay seeks to unravel the mysteries of the bookstore and it's odd owner and discovers that something much bigger is going on behind the scenes.  I don't want to give too much away, and also I have mush-brain, so I'll leave it at that.

Blame it on all my pre and post show craziness, but I went fairly literal again this month.  I had gotten the cutest little ceramic book bead from fellow book club member Mary Harding and I decided that this was the perfect time to finally use it.  I knew from the moment I saw that little book bead that it was for me and me alone, so this challenge was perfect timing for me to actually make something for myself.  We'll consider it a reward for a successful show!

There are some great colors in that little book (and if you know Mary's work you aren't surprised to hear that) so I had a good starting point for pulling together a design.  Feeling in a mostly gemstone mood, I grabbed some agate, petrified green opal in a great diamond shape, carnelian, and a yellow gemstone of some sort.  (Any guess on that one?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!)  For an extra pop of orange I also pulled in one Czech glass rondelle... I had two different ones pulled out and I'm not 100% sure if I'm happy with this one, but I was past out of time!

I added some little charms dangling off the bottom of the book including a little brass key that symbolizes the unlocking of the mysteries of the bookstore and ancient order behind it.  I would normally just use chain at the back of a necklace like this but, on a whim, I went digging through my ribbon stash and found the perfect piece.  I keep trying to get myself to do more with various fibers, so this was good for me.  I like the soft feel of the ribbon on my neck, so, who knows, maybe I'll try this more often.

Head on over to Andrew's blog HERE to see what everyone else created for this month's challenge.  My sweet husband is playing along again this month with his photography and you can find his post HERE.  

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Muffin Tin Challenge Reveal: Redux

Think way, way back to January and you may remember that Heather Powers hosted a Muffin Tin Challenge where participants were encouraged to fill a muffin tin with all the goodies needed for a project and get as many as possible completed during the given time frame.  It was a wonderful creative challenge that helped me get my creative mojo going.  I used the challenge as a way to make some pieces to submit to Create Jewelry, a special issue of Stringing magazine and, since they actually wanted to see a number of my submissions in person, I wasn't able to actually show off my finished projects for the Muffin Tin reveal.  Better late than never, I'm finally going to share the rest of my creations!

Here is how my muffin tin looked when I first started.  I finished 7 necklaces and 6 pairs of earrings during the challenge but still had projects left in 4 cups when the challenge ended.  (I'm happy to say that I eventually finished all but one of the intended projects... Jenny Davies-Reazor's pendant is still waiting for some love.)

Moth Collector: This necklace features a resin filled pendant that I made, a mix of silver plated chain, mookaite, rhodonite, and septaria.  I'm always pleased when I can successfully achieve asymmetry!

Seahorse Cove: Andrew Thornton's porcelain pendant was the starting point for this necklace.  I had grabbed this one and several others at his shop Allegory Gallery when we visited Ligonier last fall.  I used a mix of ceramic, glass, and apatite beads with sari silk at the back.  I'm thrilled with the way this one turned out!  I'm still pretty new to mixing fibers into my designs so I'm proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone.

Proud Peacock: This one started with a set of beads from Gaea.  I added some brass beads and some random gemstones in complementary colors and had fun playing with a mix of waxed Irish linen colors.  This one is BIG... a real statement piece for sure!

Lotus Blossom: My sweet husband bought me this ceramic lotus flower pendant from Diana Ptaszynski of Suburban Girl Studio for Christmas.  I added in a couple of types of jade and some brass beads along the waxed Irish linen.

Cracked Earth: This amazing sunflower pendant from Tracee Dock of The Classic Bead was in my wonderful grab bag on my first Bead Cruise.  Yes, it has been languishing in my stash for that long!  Well, the time was right for it to get out of cold storage and into a design mixed with red creek and crazy horse jaspers as well as some petrified green opal nuggets and some metallic peanut beads.

Last, but not least is Secret Sunflower:  This is the one necklace out of the bunch that actually got published!  I used a cheerful shadowbox bead from Round Rabbit and added Czech and recycled glass links in bright pinks and oranges.  This was my first time having a necklace appear in a national magazine so that was pretty exciting.  This is one design that I just can't bear to part with.

I'm very happy to say that all but Lotus Blossom and Cracked Earth found good homes at this past weekend's show, The Edge of the Big Woods Art Wander!  Another huge thank you to everyone who Wandered by over the three day studio tour.  It was wonderful to see old friends and make new ones.
This week finds me tired but happy.  I'm giving myself a couple of days where I'm not pushing too hard but still getting things done before I get back on what passes for a normal schedule around here.  Thanks for stopping by today... have a great week!  

Monday, September 21, 2015

New Earring Monday: Weeks 37 and 38

Happy Monday everyone.  I don't know about you, but I'm looking down the barrel of a super busy week.  If you haven't heard me mention it yet, this weekend is my big three day art show... The Edge of the Big Woods Art Wander!!!  I've got tons to do before the show starts Friday afternoon and, per my usual way, I'm sure I'll be scrambling until the last minute (and possibly beyond).  Luckily, I thrive under pressure.  It's a super fun show and totally worth all the frantic energy that goes into it.

Last month I shared all my art bead spoils from Bead Fest Philadelphia HERE... I've managed to make a pretty good dent in my new found stash.  I'm proud of myself for getting in there and using so many of my new pretties instead of just rolling around in them and hoarding them all!  (Of course, I probably shouldn't give myself too big a pat on the back since using them meant that I didn't need to put them away!)

Time is at a premium, so I'm going to let the earrings mostly speak for themselves.  Enjoy!  And if you're in the local area, come see me this weekend at Studio J on the Art Wander!

Left to right beads by: Firefly Design Studio, Humblebeads & Jenny Davies-Reazor, Humblebeads & Firefly Design Studio

Left to right beads by: Humblebeads, Humblebeads & Nichole Valentine, Humblebeads & Spacer Bead Shop

Left to right beads by: Humblebeads & Nichole Valentine, Humblebeads & Firefly Design Studio, Humblebeads

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Monday, September 14, 2015

New Earring Monday Special Edition: Art Wander Preview!

I'm not due for another New Earring Monday post until next week, but I've been so busy making new earrings for the Art Wander that I thought a special edition was in order!  (Also, I shared some of them in my email newsletter that went out yesterday, so the cat's out of the bag so to speak!)

The Edge of the Big Woods Art Wander is a three day studio tour that takes place throughout Carver County Minnesota.  My house is s studio on the tour again this year with guest artist Jules Rentz of Jules Loft.   Here are the basic details for my local followers and friends:

Studio J
1966 Fountain Lane
Waconia, MN 55387

Art Wander Hours:
September 25 - 27

Friday, 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Saturday, 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sunday, 11:00 am - 4:00 pm 

For full Art Wander details visit: 

Ok, onto this week's extra does of earring goodness!  I hope you'll stop by next weekend if you are in the area... Jules and I would love to see you!

Some fall inspired leaves and owls!
I'm not ready to give up on flowers just yet...
Art beads in action with polymer clay from Humblebeads mixed with lampwork from Tanya McGuire and ceramics from Firefly Design Studio

Monday, September 7, 2015

New Earring Monday: Weeks 35 and 36

Happy Monday, everyone and also, for my American friends, Happy Labor day!

As promised in my post on classes at Bead Fest, I'm sharing the last of my class projects here today for New Earring Monday.  Kathleen and I decided to try out one of their 45 Minute Beginner Workshops that were new this year.  The idea for these classes was that they would be quick, fairly easy, and you wouldn't need any supplies.  Unfortunately, that may not have been made super clear to all the instructors...more on that in a minute.

Anyway, we decided to sign up for the Faux Fire Opal Earrings class that used ICE Resin and what they call their Fire Opal inclusions.  I steered us toward this particular class for a couple of reasons:  1) Earrings are my favorite thing to wear and to make, 2) I'd already signed up for classes that would yield 2 bracelets and 2 pendants, 3) I've wanted to try ICE resin but have been chicken.

The classroom for these beginner classes was in a little area right off the show floor.  I think that the idea for these classes was giving folks another avenue to take a break from shopping and get a little dose of education squeezed into the weekend.  Our instructor for our little class was Jen Cushman from ICE Resin and it was fun to hear a little more about the background for their product and learn more about it's properties.  She also shared some of the challenges she and other instructors had faced with this particular classroom space (for instance no electrical and one of the classes required tools that had to be plugged in... oops!)  Jen had originally planned to have us make our own ear wires for this project, but when she realized that folks wouldn't be bringing ANYTHING to class at all, that part went out the window and she bought a mix of findings from a nearby vendor.  In the end, all most of us did was pour the pre-mixed resin with the fire opal inclusions (a shiny, colored plastic material) already added into the bezels.

After we poured the resin in, our bezels looked super cloudy... like almost white with all the bubbles.  Jen assured us that the bubbles would clear away as they cured but also showed us a trick to blow hot air from your mouth onto your bezels.  That helped a bit, but they were still pretty cloudy when we left them to cure overnight.  When we picked them up Sunday morning on our way out of town, they looked much better, but still have some bubbles in there (it's hard to tell from the picture I snapped).  When I got home, I tossed the findings and the original rhinestone rondelles that Jen had given us in favor of all brass findings and some different beads to make it more my look.  I think these will look great with the new Steampunk outfit I'm contemplating!

My verdict:  our class was a fun way to spend 45 minutes at Bead Fest, but they have some kinks to work out if they are going to offer this type of thing again.  While my finished earrings aren't perfect, I'm pretty happy with them and look forward to playing with ICE Resin in the future.  I'm going to get over my fear of mixing the two parts together... it will happen!

My second pair of earrings this week were designed to go with one of my new necklaces.  I made the necklace with a graduated strand of impression jasper but I pulled the biggest stones out because of the scale of the pendant.  I used those larger stones along with some of the smaller rondelles, some shell pearls, and brass accents.  Here are both the earrings and the necklace they go with.  The necklace features a ceramic pendant by Tracee Dock of the The Classic Bead.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

My First Bead Fest: Part Two, Shopping and More!

Welcome back for part two of my Bead Fest wrap up!  (If you missed it before, you can read about my adventures taking classes HERE.)  While the chance to take some great classes was a big part of the draw, I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't excited about the shopping opportunities that awaited me.

As I mentioned before, I've never been to a major bead show... just the smaller local shows in the Twin Cities.  While I certainly enjoy my local shows and appreciate having them within 45 minutes of my house, they are just so MUCH smaller.  The shows I've gone to before have either been in a school gymnasium or the ballrooms of a mid-sized hotel... big enough to have some interesting things but not so large or overwhelming that you can't see everything you want to in a few hours.  Bead Fest was a completely different animal!  Here, the Expo portion of the event covered two exhibit halls of the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center (the third hall contained most of the classrooms).

All those tiny square on the right half are booths! So many beads!!
It's been a busy summer and I decided to go to Bead Fest fairly late in the game so I didn't really do much (or any) pre-shopping planning.  I figured I could just wander the floor without a real plan and see what I could see.  With all the classes I was taking I wasn't sure how much shopping time I'd even have to shop... as it turns out, I had plenty of time to do some serious damage!

Even though I had a full day class on Friday, apparently Bead Fest has a mandatory 90 minute lunch break for the all day classes to ensure that students have an opportunity to shop.  As soon as I finished the morning's project to my satisfaction I made a quick stop at the concession stand for lunch and stared out into the mass of bead vendors and shoppers while I ate, already feeling a bit overwhelmed.  As soon as my belly was full, I made a bee line for Artisan's Alley where many of the art bead makers are clustered together.  While I didn't do any real planning or shopping lists ahead of time, I knew that the main thing I was looking for were gorgeous art beads.  I also figured that the earlier I shopped, the better my selection would be.  (Shop early, shop often... right?)

I headed straight for Heather Powers' booth with a little detour to say hi to Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio and snatch up some of her pretties.  I didn't have a ton of time (and of course there was lots of chatting with Heather, her aunt Rosanne, and my friend Terri) but I did manage to amass quite the collection of Humblebeads!  My apologies to the shoppers who came after me!
So... I might have gone a little overboard on the Humblebeads! 
Having spent most of my lunch break pawing through Heather's gorgeous beads, I didn't have too much more time for shopping but I did do a quick browse through more of Artisan's Alley to get a lay of the land.  As I was wandering down the aisle I heard a voice behind me say something to the effect of "hey, I know you."  I turned around to find Jenny Davies-Reazor and her lovely booth (which she shared with Lesley Watt of Thea Elements).  I was thrilled to finally meet Jenny in real life since I've enjoyed following her posts on her own blog and Art Jewelry Elements over the years (I've even won some of her components of the month!) and we are both in the Inspired by Reading Book club.  I didn't have too much time to chat, but I did manage so snatch up some of Jenny's lovely firefly pendants before I headed back to class.  After my class wrapped up, I was able to get back into the Expo and do some more shopping.  I swung back by and picked up some more things from Jenny and Lesley.  By that time, Lesley Watt had arrived so I got to meet another artist that I have been following online.  She came from all the way across the pond in England to be at Bead Fest!  I stocked up on more pretties from both Jenny and Lesley and even got to see some of my Bead Cruise friends before it was time for me to drive into Philadelphia for dinner with my librarian friends and bring Kathleen back to our hotel.
Ceramic, bronze clay, and polymer yumminess from Jenny Davies-Reazor and Lesley Watt.  (Jenny's are the pieces on the right hand column plus the other firefly pendant at the top.)
I have to admit that it was sort of amusing to see the same deer caught in headlights look on Kathleen's face as I had probably been wearing the day before when we wandered into the Expo after our morning class on Saturday.  We took a somewhat more systematic approach to tackling the exhibit hall, although we did make a serious tactical error right off the bat.  We were sitting right by Nirvana Beads when we were eating lunch so we decided to go ahead and start with them since I knew I needed to bite the bullet and do a wholesale order with them.  Seems logical, right?  WRONG!  I ended up with at least ten pounds of Czech glass that I then had to carry around the rest of the day.  Live and learn!

Despite how this looks, I did leave some Czech glass for other shoppers!
We wandered around the show mostly aisle by aisle, stopping whenever something caught our eye.  I'm pretty thrilled with my Bead Fest shopping finds... although a tiny bit embarrassed that I bought so much!  We kept running into friends from the Bead Cruise... thank goodness Diana Ptaszynski actually thought to take a picture or I wouldn't have a single people picture from the show... just pictures of my class projects.

Reunited and it feels so good...  Kathleen, Diana, and myself with Jenny photobombing us!
Here are most of the rest of my Bead Fest finds... Now I need to sit down and start creating with all this yumminess!  I stayed pretty true to my plan of mostly getting art beads (I love seeing everything in person and picking the "best" ones) and things that I can't easily find at home...  Well, and Czech glass... but I've been looking for a good wholesaler that would work for me for a while.  As you can tell from my pictures, I bought a lot of charms for earring pairs (you know earrings are my favorite to make!) as well as matched bead pairs.  

I found lots of great wood beads and some funky barkcloth beads.
Clockwise (mostly) from top left: ceramic from White Clover Kiln, polymer clay from Staci Louise Originals, lampwork by Alice St. Germain, pewter and bronze from Green Girl, and more ceramics by Firefly Designs
At the end of the weekend I left Philadelphia happy and tired and with a very heavy backpack filled with new beads.  I feel so re-energized to get back to my bead table and making fabulous new designs.  One last thing... Did you notice how I titled these posts "My First Bead Fest"?  Oh, yeah... I'm totally going to go back!

Kathleen took a quick selfie of us on the shuttle back to the airport after dropping off the rental car.  So glad I got to see this lady!