Thursday, July 2, 2015

Inspired by Reading: of Impossible Longing

After last month's failure to finish our book club book (I'm still working on getting it read!), I'm happy to report that I did manage to finish our June selection An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Anuradha Roy!  It helped that this was a much shorter book and that I had a plane ride to and from San Diego to put a dent in it.


This is another novel with an unusual narrative structure.  It's told in three sections from characters in three different generations with fairly large amounts of time separating the sections.  The first section focuses on Amulya and his wife Kanabala in their home at Dulganj Road, Songarh.  It also introduces their sons Kamal and Nirmal... ending when Nirmal's young wife dies in childbirth.  The second section shifts between Nirmal, his daughter Bakul, and the orphan boy Mukunda.  The final section is really Mukunda's story although it brings things full circle.

The title is really very apt... there are so many characters who are in impossible situations where what and/or who they long for are an impossibility.  One major relationship seems to get resolved at the end of the story, but so many others have no real resolution.  While this is probably much more true to life, I found it somewhat unsatisfying as a reader.  What can I say, I'm a sucker for a happy ending!  

I was struck by the idea of the gardens Amulya cultivates with only pure white flowers and used that as a jumping off spot for my designs.  The gardens provide a backdrop to the story throughout all three sections of the novel so it seemed a fitting inspiration.  I decided to make a few pieces related to this theme... sometimes I just get on a role.

I started with two pairs of earrings.  My original idea was to use some fun bead caps that I picked up on my trip to Asheville, NC back in May.  They remind me of Lilly of the Valley flowers (which are also white) and that was part of the appeal.  I wanted to play with white flowers dangling down from the bead caps on chain.  As I was trying different things, I decided that three of the white bell flowers was just a little too much so I substituted in a tiny faceted hematite round into that third spot.


For my second pair of earrings I pulled out the fancy leafy chain that I bought a while back with earrings in mind.  I loved the idea of the silvery leaf fringe hanging down from gemstone beads.  Since I wanted to keep with the all white idea, I chose some matte crackle rock crystal beads paired with silver plated bead caps to fancy it up a bit.


I was still feeling the creative spark, so I rounded things out with a fairly simple charm necklace.  The large poppy pod from Nunn Design is quite hefty in weight.  I used a large fancy silver plated ring to anchor the charms and added in some white Czech glass and a white howlite bead.


Pop on over to Andrew Thornton's blog to see what the rest of the group made this month HERE.  Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Monday, June 29, 2015

New Earring Monday '15: Weeks 25 and 26

Happy Monday!  Boy, the two weeks since my last New Earring Monday have just flown by!  With trying to get caught up from a trip to San Diego, several jewelry design challenges, and a quick weekend trip to San Francisco, I've been burning the candle at both ends.  Luckily I've still found time to keep up with my personal earring challenge.

I thought I share a couple of pairs of earrings that are sort a jumping off from the most recent We're All Ears challenge.  Full disclosure, I made this first little pair a few weeks ago (yup, sometimes I keep things back for when life throws me a curve-ball).   They totally fit with the tide pool inspiration, but I figured since I made so many other pairs for the WAE challenge that I would "save" these for today!  I embossed some small brass circles (loving this new to me size!) with mismatched sea life designs and added a little aqua paint before sealing with Renaissance Wax.  I paired them with some Czech glass rondelles in coordinating colors for a perfect beach-y pair of earrings.


Next up is a pair that is similar to one I made with starfish charms for the WAE challenge.  This time I used some pretty little polymer clay leaf charms from Humblebeads.  To keep them more affordable, I paired the charms with some Czech glass rounds wire wrapped with brass filigree bead caps, more glass, and tiny coated hematite beads with little facets.







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Monday, June 22, 2015

Art Bead Scene: June 2015

This month's inspiration artwork for the Art Bead Scene challenge is a rich floral fantasy by Séraphine Louis.  So much vibrant color and movement in this one!  The color palette makes me think fall more than summer, but that's ok.  You can read more about the artwork and the artist HERE.

Feuilles, 1928
By Seraphine Louis
I always have great intentions of getting started on the ABS challenge as soon as the inspiration for the new month is revealed... it rarely works out that way and June was no different!  When I finally had time to sit down and design something, the first thing that popped out of my bead stash was a gorgeous enameled leaf by C-Koop Beads.  It's beautiful red-orange color (and the leaf shape of course!) were a perfect response to the artwork.  Despite the riot of color and motion in the painting, I wanted to keep my design fairly simple.

I originally had picked out one of the many orphan beads from Firelily Glass, but my husband (and color consultant!) immediately told me no.  He went to my art bead storage and fished out a set from Firelily that he had given me for Christmas two years ago and insisted that I use one of those.  As is often the case in matters of color, he was totally right so I switched out the beads.  The one he chose has more of the pale greens and some nice movement that mimics the painting.

I just picked out some Czech glass with a Picasso finish and some smaller, brighter red Czech glass rondelles (playing up the bright colors of the enameled leaf) to place along the chain, added in a filigree ring between my two art beads, and called it good.




Friday, June 19, 2015

We're All Ears: June 2015

I missed out on last month's We're All Ears Challenge but I'm back in action for June!  To kick off summer, Erin Prais-Hintz picked tide and rock pools to get our creative juices going.  Here are some awesome retro illustrations pictures that she shared with us and you can check out her original post HERE if you'd like to know more.

ILLUSTRATION BY HASHIME MURAYAMA

ILLUSTRATION BY THEO CARRERAS

I would love to say that I immediately starting working on my projects, but those of you who know me realize that that would almost never happen.  Eleventh hour panic designing is my specialty when it comes to challenges!  Hey, whatever works, right?

Anyway, I knew that I had lots of yummy sea life beads and charms... tons to choose from... so I started dragging things out to see what went best together best.


The first design to gel was this one with more of a prehistoric tide pool feel.  I've had these little ammonite shaped Czech glass beads languishing in my stash for a while.  I pulled a couple out and paired them with some dyed coral and copper plated "limpet" bead caps.


The second pair I made used some "sea glass" nuggets that I picked up last month in Asheville, NC and some sand dollar charms from Vintaj.  (For the record, I really wish they would bring these back in the smaller size, but whatever.)


Next up, I grabbed these fun textured ceramic charms from Jenny Davis-Reazor that I got in my Bead Cruise goody bag this year.  I thought they had a sort of coral-y feel to them.  I used the same dyed coral beads and limpet bead caps as in my first pair but in silver this time.


When digging for the coral beads, I unearthed these multi-colored Czech glass coin beads.  The color and the shape spoke to me for this challenge.  I kept it really simple... I just wire wrapped the beads and added some shell charms to the bottom.


I'd already more than made up for missing last month's challenge, but I wasn't done yet!  I picked out some Firelily borosilicate glass that had an undersea feel to them and paired them with some new brass fern pieces that reminded me of kelp or the white tendril-y thing at the top of the second inspiration picture.


Last but certainly not least, I decided to finally do something with these sweet little starfish charms that I bought from Heather Powers on the Bead Cruise this year.  The polymer clay Humblebeads are so lightweight making them a perfect complement to the weightier lampwork beads from Mermaid Glass.  I love, love, love how these turned out and might not be able to part with them!


Whew, that's it for me this month!  All these little ear bobs (except the Humblebeads starfish ones!) will find their way to Unearthed Arts for sale next week.  Make sure to check out what everyone else made too...


Monday, June 15, 2015

New Earring Monday '15: Weeks 23 & 24

Good Monday Morning!  How has June been treating you so far?  It's been a busy one for me so this is going to be a short post.  We just got back from a week long trip to San Diego for the National Homebrewers Conference and now I'm busy playing catch up... so let's dive right in!

This week's theme, if you will, is using up some of those pesky random in my stash.  Lately I've been splitting my time between making new jewelry and trying to bring some much needed organization to my out of control bead stash.  Most recently I've been focused on getting my metal components and findings to a point where I can actually find what I'm looking for and along the way I've re-discovered a lot of things that I totally forgot I owned.  Instead of taking the time to find a home for some of these little components, I decided it would be easier to just make something with them... so I did!

First up, a pair I whipped up with some fun fan-shaped connectors and a mix of Amazonite beads.  It's hard to tell in this picture, but the small rounds are a matte finish that I just love.


Next is a super simple pair I made with some small copper connectors and faceted beads in coated hematite.  They are more of a vibrant purple and burgundy than my photo shows.  I think they have a regal feel to them.



And here's a bonus pair... I made them to go with the necklace I made for last month's Inspired by Reading Book Club.  You can see that piece HERE if you missed it.  These are fluorite and bronzite with brass.



Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Simple Truth About Why I Love the Simple Truths Sampler Club

The first time I saw any of Erin Prais-Hintz's work it was in a beading magazine (Stringing? Bead Style?) when I was still pretty new to jewelry making.  They had done a little piece on her Simple Truths Sampler Club and I was intrigued by both the club and her lovely creations.  Here's the idea in a nutshell: each month Erin makes an limited edition piece just for the Sampler Club.  It's usually a pendant but sometimes a set of beads (as you will see in my photos below.)  You can choose from a 3, 6, 9 or 12 month subscription... and the longer your subscription is for the more you save!  If she has open spots in the club she will often add any extras to her shop, but there are only 20 members at a time.   

When Erin first started her Simple Truths line her creations all had a similar style and feel to them... many of them including words or sayings... "simple truths."  I love that as time has gone on, Erin has used the sampler club as a way to stretch her own creativity and experiment with new techniques all while staying true to her artistic vision.  Currently each month's special creation is Erin's inspired response to the monthly challenge artwork over on the Art Bead Scene blog where she is an editor.  (If you aren't familiar with that challenge, you can check out all the details for this month HERE.)  

Each month is a delightful surprise... her creations are a joy to create with!  You'll see some of my designs featuring Simple Truths throughout the rest of this post.

January 2014

May 2014

Rewinding back to my personal experience with Simple Truths... I SO wanted to join up right then and there when I read that article, but I couldn't quite justify the cost at that time.  I was only making jewelry for myself and hadn't yet become the art bead addict that I am today.  The article did introduce me to Erin's blog Treasures Found and she became one of the bloggers that I regularly followed.  I continued to drool over each new piece that Erin shared and would look often at her shop, but never pulled the trigger to sign up.  

All that changed when my sweet husband had the winning bid for a 6 month subscription during a charity fundraising blog hop... What a wonderful surprise for me!  I enjoyed my monthly works of art so much that he extended my subscription for another 6 months as a Christmas present.  Best Husband Ever!  I just signed up for another year of Simple Truths and couldn't be happier... I know I will continue to me more in awe of Erin's talents with each month's design.  She hasn't disappointed yet!

April 2014?

March 2015

May 2015

I'll be honest, the only problem that I have with the Simple Truths Sampler Club is that I want to keep them all for myself.  Don't laugh, this is a real problem!  Erin's creations are so lovely and special that I don't want to give them up so they sometimes end up languishing in my hoard of art beads for far too long.  I don't know about other folks who sell some of the jewelry they make, but if I know something will be for me to keep then I have a tendency to push it to the bottom of my to-do list in favor of more profitable projects.  Here are just two of my pretties that are just waiting for me to give them some design attention.



If you love art beads and the thrill of getting a surprise in your mail box each month, Simple Truths might just be for you.  If you do decide to give your self the best gift ever and sign up, put my name down as referring you and we will BOTH get an extra month on our subscriptions.  How cool is that?  You can see the different club options and sign up HERE.

Thanks for stopping by today.  In Erin's words "Enjoy the day!"


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Asheville Road Trip Recap: The Beady Side of Things

My husband has done a great job chronicling our recent road trip to Asheville, North Carolina (aka Beer City USA) over on his blog.  You can check that out HERE if you are interested... (That link will bring up all his Asheville posts but probably in reverse order.)  I'd highly recommend it if you're considering a trip to this fun city and are looking for suggestions.  His focus is more on the beer and food side of things, so I thought I'd finally share a little bit of the beady/arty side of our trip... ok, mostly beady.

Asheville is well known not just for beer, but also as being a haven for artists.  There are tons of art galleries and artist's studios throughout the city... way more than we could get to in the six days we were there unless we cut out all the eating and drinking that we wanted to do!  (And if you know me you know THAT wasn't going to happen!)  Pretty early in our trip we found some artwork that was quite tempting at the Woolworth Walk... but we weren't quite ready to buy anything since we had just begun to explore.  I often need to walk away from something and think about it before I'm ready to make the leap.  On this trip I knew we still had the whole River Arts District to get to so we waited and continued to window shop around downtown.

While the food, breweries, and art would have been plenty to draw us to Asheville, we were also lucky to be able to meet up with some of our friends that we have met through my jewelry making (and also a friend from my childhood).

One of my friends from the Bead Cruise, Barb Wilcox, and her husband Bob live in the area and we had the pleasure of spending the better part of Monday with the two of them.  We had a lovely lunch followed by a trip to one of Barb's favorite bead stores, Cherry Tree Beads.  They are primarily an online store but they do have a wholesale showroom.  Luckily, I was able to print out a copy of my tax id information at the hotel to use on this field trip!  This place was off the beaten track and, other than a small sign outside, relatively unmarked.  I picked up lots of nice gemstones and some other odds and ends.

I never would have found this place on my own!

Barb and I in front of beads... I wanted to buy everything!
My haul from Cherry Tree Beads.
Tuesday was spent traipsing around Biltmore House.  We did the Rooftop Tour which offered us some pretty amazing views from the top of that monster of a house!  An added bonus for me was the special "Dressing Downton" exhibit they had at the time featuring costumes from Downton Abbey.  It was fun to see the outfits in person... especially the dresses featuring elaborate beading!

Wednesday we devoted to wandering around the River Arts District in search of any art that we had to take home with us.  This area is nestled along the French Broad River and is home to over 180 working studios housed within 22 former factories and historical buildings.  We had great fun wandering from studio to studio seeing what various artists were all about.  My only quibble is that this arts district is fairly small geographically and in theory should be walkable.  The lack of sidewalks or any sort of safe pathway for much of the journey around the studios made things a bit precarious.  As it stands now, you're better off driving from place to place which really does seem silly.

There were a number of artists whose work we were very impressed by and a few things made it onto our mental list of possible art souvenirs.  We finally made the leap and pulled out the pocket book when we reached Broken Road Studio and saw the work of Philip DeAngelo.  We ended up bringing a little bit of Asheville home with us in this painting on reclaimed tin from downtown.

   
One thing we noticed during our stay in Asheville is that a lot of the shops and galleries open a little later than we are used to at home... or at least that's what their posted hours say.  Most places didn't seem to begin their days until 11 am.  On our last day in Asheville, we had early lunch plans with our friends Andrew Thornton and William Jones who just happened to have an overlapping trip.  Even with our habit all during this trip of getting ready at a pretty leisurely pace, we still headed out into the the gorgeous day with some time to spare before our lunch date.  Luckily for me, one of the places downtown that opened earlier was a bead store!  Score!  We headed over to Chevron Trading Post & Bead Co. to do a little shopping.  I bought an awful lot of seed beads for someone who is more into wirework and such, but they had a really nice selection and some great mixes that I couldn't pass up.  A few more gemstones and some pendants found there way into my shopping cart too!

So many beads!  
After a delicious lunch of Indian street food at Chai Pani with Andrew and William, Eric and I ventured back to the River Arts District to see a few more galleries and to purchase some sweet enameled silver flowers that had captured my imagination from Monty Phillips of Fancy Dirt Forge.  Oh and we did end up going back to the Woolworth Walk for a new piece of art for our library.

Photographic evidence that we saw William and Andrew!
As a fun aside, I didn't get to actually see my friend Patty Bilbro, but we did have breakfast with some her pots at Early Girl!  Patty no longer lives in Asheville, so we were a few years too late on that front.  Her pottery is amazing... you should check her out HERE!