Thursday, April 17, 2014

We're All Ears - April Challenge

I am having so much fun with these monthly challenges from "Earrings Every Day!"  Kudos to those who started that blog and these challenges - they are perfect "bite-sized" morsels to participate in without being massively complicated or requiring copious amounts of time.  Perfect for li'l ol' time-challenged me!

So, here's the inspiration for this month:

Using a Pottery Barn catalog photo?  Genius!  I totally love this photo and am seriously depressed that my house does not look like this all the time.  I need magic Pottery Barn fairies to come and make everything look so good!
My second thought was that, although I really love the way everything looks in the photo, when it comes to jewelry, bright yellow & green is not a color combo that I have ever embraced.  I tend more toward blues/teals rather than outright green.  I wasn't even sure what my stash would have to offer in these colors.  Fortunately, I buy beads like Doomsday Preppers buy MREs so as I trolled through my stash, I actually came up with more than I thought I would.
And the next thing I knew, I was off on a yellow/green frenzy (because, really, who can make just ONE pair of earrings...they are like potato chips!):
I found these cute polymer clay beads that look like they were practically made just for this challenge!  These bright yellow Czech glass beads were leftover from another project and just begged to be included here.  I'm happy with the results, but the overall effect is more cute and less sophisticated than the inspiration photo.  It finally occurred to me that what this color scheme needs is more of the dark brown to ground it so I came up with this option:
Lime green jade rounds and carved citrine flowers against large rings of dark wood are much closer to the feel of the photo.  I'm picturing these worn with a long, 70's summer sun dress kind of outfit.  At this point, I was happier...but I still felt like something was missing...I just couldn't figure out what it was.  Then, I got an email from a color blog that I follow and whether this was planned or just a lucky coincidence, the weekly color scheme had similar shades of yellow and green...but also included some shades of royal and dark blue.  BAM!  That is what was missing...another color! 

I kept with the original theme by using sunny yellow Capiz shell disks, brass bird charms, and olive green Swarovski crystals and then I added in the new color with some polymer clay blue branch beads from Humblebeads and some bronze Mykonos ceramic spacers.  The use of the dark brown/bronze color helps tie everything together.  This worked so well that I decided to go for the ultimate in color addition:

I had these gold patinated rings from Miss Fickle Media and then I came across these gorgeous color-changing (remember Mood Rings?  These work sort of like that) bee beads that I bought at a Rings 'N Things trunk show several years ago.  When it's cold, they are sort of ivory colored with a dark brown patterned edge (similar to the china and placemat in the inspiration photo) and have hints of yellow and green in them...which I made show up for the photo by putting them in the frig for a few seconds (because they got warm from being handled and changed colors). 

Here they are starting to warm up just  a bit and you can see the colors starting to change.

And here they are after I held them tightly in my hand for a little while and brought out some lovely aqua and teal colors.  If you warm them even more, you start to get pinks and purples.  Amazingly, all of that works with these gold rings and the tiny olive Swaros I put at the top to keep the original color theme going.  If these beads had only had birds on them, it would have been a complete slam dunk!  But, I figure birds and bees go together so still pretty cool LOL!
Hope you enjoyed my April Earrings Every Day-inspired designs!  Here's a link to the rest of the blogs:  An InLinkz Link-up

On a Wing

I made these earrings more than a week ago, but I've been so busy with the set-up for the contest, the Bead Soup Blog hop and the Earrings Everyday monthly challenge that I only just now found time to photograph and post them:

You wouldn't think it would be that hard to get on pair of earrings onto the blog. 

I found these butterfly wing components on line about a month ago and swooned over them so much that I bought a bunch of them in different sizes and color combinations.  They are wood covered with paper and resin.

One of my struggles as a designer is the fact that I am attracted to anything that is bright or glittered or really embellished, which then doesn't leave much room for me putting an additional spin on it.  If I add too much to any of that...I get instant tacky.  But, if I don't add enough, then I didn't really create a design so much as slap a couple of beads together.

Hopefully, I walked that line successfully here by adding JUST enough.  I really wanted the wings to shine on their own and it seemed like black Mykonos ceramic disks and vintage German red glass rondelles would be just enough to echo the patterns and colors in the wings without taking them over the top.

Some of the other wings I bought have more subdued color schemes so I might be able to go a little wilder with them - we'll see.  In the meantime, I'm really lovin' these and am going to have to fight a battle with myself about putting them on Etsy or keeping them.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Second Winner Announcement

Hi everyone!  Welcome to the announcement of the second winner in my 1,000 blog post contest!  A bit of a warning that the history of posts 101-200 was not a great time period in my life so there will be some downer stuff here before I get to the actual announcement.  You were warned!

Checking the blog history, it looks like I hit post 200 in around December, 2005.  Considering that my entire life got turned completely upside down in October, 2005, I view that as a pretty decent accomplishment.  In the short span of time from October, 2005 to April, 2006, I lost my marriage, a baby, my job of more than 10 years, and very dearly beloved pet I'd had for many years. 

I found out I was 2+ months pregnant the day after my husband announced he was leaving.  24 hours after that, I was in the doctor's office being told that I was bleeding internally and had to have emergency surgery to end the pregnancy and save my life.  I lost a fallopian tube and pretty much any shot of ever having another child in the process, but considering that the doctors couldn't figure out how I hadn't already died from blood loss before I made it in, I have to count myself lucky that I'm still here.  My ex dropped off the divorce paper filings at my house the day I came home from the hospital.

At the time, I made a conscious decision not to blog about most of this...I think there are a few mentions here and there of "life not going so well" and probably some various versions of "men suck" because I couldn't totally keep a lid on things, but overall, I stuck to beads, book reviews and other positive stuff. 

A year later, in October, 2006, I think I did do one blog post sort of cataloging the whole series of events because I thought that I had enough perspective to look at things from a bit more distance and then I could put them behind me.  That was probably wishful thinking as I'm not sure you can ever totally put something like that behind you, but I am still here.  I survived (and believe me, there were days when I doubted I could keep going), and I am doing pretty well.  Being a single parent is tough and I know things would be easier if there was another person to share the load, but other than that, I'm pretty content.  And ultimately, as much as I hate to admit it, I grew a lot as a person during that time.  I'm more confident now and I'm much less inclined to take any crap from anyone than I used to be LOL.

Okay, that's enough of that.  Time for the fun stuff now.  Here's a look at what the second winner will receive:

The book is "One Big Beautiful Bead" by Sarah McConnell.  The main reason I bought this book originall (back in the dark ages when I first started beading) is that I was having trouble with tubular or oblong focal beads.  Don't panic if you are not a seed beader, there are some ideas that don't require seed bead stitching.  However, if you always wanted to try it, this book is a great jumping off point with some simple stitches that give great effects and can be adapted to bracelet length, too.

Two different kinds of vintage lace - I love that both of these have openings down the middle so you can weave ribbon, thread or beads through them.

Blackened/copper large link chain and woven metal "wheel" components.

A strand of blue and white lampwork glass beads, a lampwork glass heart, and a pair of polymer clay ovals.  The PC ovals have a lace texture design impressed into them - you just can't see it very well in the picture.

A small ceramic rose charm, a large turquoise ceramic button and two red ceramic angel wings.

A fun mix of Czech glass.

Three vintage German glass cabochons and some sunset fire crystal flatbacks (there's a larger quantity of these in the package - I just shook out a few for the photos).

A fun mix of frosted resin beads in different shapes and colors.

Large forest green ceramic beads (again, there's a whole bag of these - I just put a few out for the photos).
And the lucky winner is:  Amy!  Congratulations and please email me with your address!
Because this Friday is the April "Earrings Everyday" challenge reveal, I will do the next winner announcement post on Monday, 4/21.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Some Clarification

Okay, so, I don't know what happened, but all of a sudden there have been a ton of comments/entries posted about the contest after a fairly slow early response.  Technically, all of these new entries came in after the deadline which was midnight Pacific on 4/13/14.

However, I totally appreciate the matter how late they are and I think it is important to recognize people who took the time to stop by, leave a comment, re-post/FB/Twitter or whatever even if they were late.  I'd like to include them in the contest, but that seems a little unfair to those people who DID enter on time and upping the entry numbers lowers the odds of winning for that on-time group. the interest of fairness to everyone (or as close as I can figure it out anyway), here's what I've decided to do.  Those who entered on time will still be in the running for the original 10 prize packages that I offered.  Those who entered late will be put into a separate "pot" and I will pick one winner out of that group for an 11th prize.

I hope everyone is okay with that solution!


Soup is on Simmer

Thanks again to everyone who stopped by to comment and/or left a FB, Twitter or other message about my 1,000th blog post and big giveaway.  The second winner will be announced tomorrow.

In the meantime, I am way overdue posting about the soup ingredients I received from my partner as part of the 8th Bead Soup Blog Hop.  My partner is Jennifer and here's what she sent me:

There's a large ceramic focal, two small ceramic square beads that coordinate in color with the focal, wooden barrel beads, carved faux-cinnabar white disks, some small turquoise cube beads and a brass wire hook clasp.


Here's a closeup of the focal - it's got pretty shades of peach and slate blue although it does change color depending on what light it's under.  I brought it into the office to show a co-worker (who by sheer odd chance is ALSO participating in this blog hop) and the color was totally different!

And here's the funny part...those carved white disks?  I sent Jennifer the EXACT SAME BEADS!  And we exchanged almost no wants/likes/dislikes at all.  The only thing we both agreed on was that neither of us are seed beaders and so probably wouldn't use or need seed beads.  We were both totally open as far as color scheme and everything.  It's crazy.

Not only that, but those wooden barrell beads?  I already have a whole strand of them!  There must be some kind of great beader hive mind that we all tap into sometimes because I just find this so weird and such a strange coincidence!

Don't believe me?  Here's proof:

Here's a sampling of what I sent to Jennifer and you can see the white carved beads at the top and bottom of the photo!

I would say we weren't all that far off on color scheme either...both using cream and brown.  I sent her some brighter accents of orange and lime green and she sent me more subdued colors of peach and blue but bizarre is this?!

I think my biggest challenge is going to be working with the focal I received.  It's beautiful, but the placement and small size of the hole have me a bit puzzled.  Normally, I would use a bead like this as part of a button/loop closure on a bracelet, but this bead is too large and heavy for that.  I can use wire or cord to form a bail and turn it into a pendant, but I don't want to cover up the colors of the bead or (if I use wire) scratch the surface of the glaze, so I've definitely got my thinking cap on about what to do here.

I've already determined that the coordinating ceramic square discs are probably too small to fit into the same piece with the large bead, but I think they will be perfect for earrings and I have an almost finished picture in my head of what those earrings are going to look like.  I need one more component which I'm not sure I have in my stash (hard to believe!) so I may have to get it elsewhere.

I love the little turquoise cubes and will definitely be using those as accent beads either in the earrings or in a separate piece.

That's where I'm at today...we'll see what comes out of the soup pot by reveal day.  If you want to check out some of my past soups, you can go here, here and here.


Monday, April 14, 2014

And the Winner Is...

This will be the first of 10 prizes, each in honor of 100 posts on my way to reaching 1,000.  I took a look back at the early days of my blog and counted up to see that I reached my 100th post in about March, 2005.  Looking back at what was going on, I was exploring the potential of selling jewelry at craft shows and was about to do my very first one so a lot of the blog entries had to do with creating new designs to sell, getting all the accoutrements for the booth, figuring out the credit card process and all kinds of other details involved with having a booth for the first time.  Sadly, I can't say that I had much success at that show (although I did have fun!) and I probably would have tried at least one more time, but my life was about to change in serious and drastic ways not too long after that...had I only known!

Before I announce the winner, let's see what she will receive:

A copy of "Resin Alchemy" by Susan Lenart Kazmer.

Clockwise from top:  Venetian glass disk bead, polymer clay wing pendant, small wood tile with bird, 2 patinated red brass filigree pieces, pink ceramic dangle, brown ceramic pendant and green ceramic pendant.

Clockwise from top: tiger ebony wood oblong pendant, orange, pink and white lucite flowers, tiger ebony wood puffy wood ring, burgundy chiffon ribbon, tiger ebony wood flat ring, another puffy ring, white and gold star ribbon, and glass "fire and ice" nugget beads.

Clockwise from upper right:  blue/green/silver fused dichroic glass cab, Swarovski flatback crystals, frosted purple glass rounds, silver plated padlock charms, and a strand of pink, lavender and clear lampwork glass beads.

And the lucky winner of this first prize package is:  Shaiha.  Congratulations, Shaiha!  Please contact me via email with your mailing address so I can get your package out to you.

Next winner will be announced on Wednesday, 4/16.  See you then!


Friday, April 11, 2014

REMINDER - $350-500 Free Bead Contest!

Just a reminder that there are only 2 days left to enter the bead and boom giveaway in honor of my 1,000th blog post.  I'll be giving away 10 prize packages of books and beads each worth at least $35-50.  Click here for all the details and a few photos of just a PORTION of what I'm giving away.

I've spent hours going through my stash over the last few days to pull even more great beads and books to add to the prizes including more art beads in poly clay, lampwork glass and ceramic as well as some awesome metal pieces, and some of my handcrafted resin pieces.

See you on Monday for the announcement of the first winner!


Monday, April 07, 2014

1,000th Post and HUGE Giveaway Announcement!

EDITED TO ADD:  Please check here for the latest developments.  I have updated the contest parameters to accommodate the late entries.


This is going to be a long post in order to accomplish several things so bear with me!

First off, sorry for disappearing for so long.  I fell down the rabbit hole that is dental work and my severe phobia thereof.  Go ahead and judge as I freely admit that I am a big, ginormous baby with a completely irrational fear of having any work (no matter how minor) done on my teeth.

So, glad that's over and also Hi!  Hello!  Welcome to OHMYGODICAN'TBELIEVE it's my 1,000th blog post!  1,000!  That is a BIG number.  Did I really write all those words?  About beads and kids and books and vacations and life and stuff?  Who knew I had so much to say?!

My life has changed SO DRASTICALLY since I started this blogging thing back in July, 2004.  The husband is gone as is the job at Toshiba.  The kid is now ELEVEN years old!

As is typical for me, I didn't really have any grand plan other than "I'm launching my jewelry onto a website and ought to have a blog to go with it because blogging is the new black."  Although the original jewelry website (like most everything else I wrote about in that first entry) is now gone with the wind, I continued to value the blog as a place to express myself and connect with other artists.

I really do love the instant connection and I try to respond to every comment and visit the blogs of those who are kind enough to leave comments here.  I've never joined Twitter (am afraid of the time commitment and also that my life does not have the minute by minute excitement to keep it going because who cares that I spilled flour all over the floor while making pancakes or had to spend 10 minutes explaining to my son why leaving dirty underwear on the floor is like, SO GROSS!) and I am an indifferent (at best!) Facebooker, but other than the recent long hiatus, I've always stayed involved here on the blog.

So, to celebrate almost 10 years of wordiness and 1,000 posts, I thought I would do a special blog hop challenge based on an idea I've been percolating for the last few years.  Unfortunately, based on the recent survey I did, it doesn't seem like there would be enough participation to make it worthwhile right now so I think I'll keep that idea in my back pocket for future.  If things pick up around here, then maybe I'll do it later this year.

Instead, I just thought I'd do a huge, ginormous, freebie bead and book GIVEAWAY BONANZA!

(insert cheering, clapping, confetti and balloons falling from the ceiling here!)

As a thank you for participating in the recent survey and leaving a comment on the last post, a special, pre-contest prize goes to Cynthia.  Cynthia, please email me your address and I'll get your package out to you right away.

For the rest of the prizes, y'all are gonna haveta work a little bit LOL!


To enter, leave a comment on this post.  Each comment = 1 entry.  Be sure your comment gives me some way to CONTACT YOU if it doesn't link to your blog or email address.

Want extra ways to win?  Blog, Facebook, Tweet or use the time-absorbing social media vehicle of your choice to mention the giveaway and then leave the link here in a comment or email it to me and I'll count those as additional entries.  So, if you leave 1 comment and it includes a link to show that you blogged or tweeted (or whatever'd) about the giveaway, that counts as 2 entries.

Of course, you're saying to yourselves "sounds good, but show me the money beads so I know if it's worth going to all this extraordinary effort."

Okay, I hear ya.


I've put together a pile of wonderful beading books (most read only once or twice so they are in pristine condition) as well as 10 BAGS of beads and accoutrements including:  lampwork, ceramic, polymer clay, wood, crystal, stone, shell, resin, lucite, vintage plastic, Czech glass, metal, chain, ribbons and fibers.  Each prize will consist of a hand-selected assortment of some of each category plus a book (until the books run out).

All of the beads, etc. are either pulled from my own extensive collection (not due to any defects - usually because they are multiples of something I already have, they were extra "freebies" from an Etsy purchase, or because my style has moved in a different direction).

But, as the saying goes, a photo is worth a thousand words, so here are few to whet your appetite:


This is the first pile of books.  I'll be adding a few more, but had to get the photos done over the weekend.  Also, don't be discouraged if you are not a seed beader - it is not my main focus, either, but I can tell you that I learned something of value to incorporate into my own work from every single one of these books:  an interesting or unusual use of a finding, a new way of thinking about construction possibilities, a different use for a particular material, etc.  This is a great way to open up possibilities for your creativity.

When I couldn't even get all of the BAGS into one shot, I quickly realized there was no way I was going to get a shot of ALL of the individual beads...not if I wanted to get this contest up and running any time this year.  This is 5 bags of beads - front bags have ceramics and stone.

Two more bags - poly clay and ribbons/fibers in one and lampwork in the other.

Two more bags - lucite, resin and vintage plastic on the left and more lampwork on the right.
And now, here's a little taste from each bag:
Multiple strands of lampwork glass

A very small portion of the available ceramics - filler beads in the background and two gorgeous pieces by Round Rabbit and Tracee Dock in the foreground

A little bit of what's in the wood and stone bag

More wood pieces - these are from Marie at Skye Jewels

Probably one of the best selections that I'm giving away are cabochons in stone, fused glass, shell and vintage crystal.  I went sort of cab-crazy a few years back when I was really into bead embroidery, but sadly I no longer have as much time to put into complicated pieces and my eyesight is really becoming an issue so I think this is a good area to cut back in. These are just a few pieces as examples.  I know that not everyone is into cabs because you mostly need seed bead, embroidery, or wire-working skills to work with them so if you are not into cabs be sure to mention that in your comment and I will not include any in your prize if you win.  On the other hand, if you are SUPER INTO cabs, mention that also and if you are a winner, I'll make your prize package up to include more cabs and less other stuff.

More lampwork samples.  The set on the right in greens/bronzes is from Blue Seraphim.

This is some of the metal, pearl, crystal and chain bag.  The pearls are high quality glass pearls, the gold/pearl chain is vintage, and the metal filigree piece has been patinated and coated with resin.

Here's a small sample of some of the ribbons and fibers.  I had to keep these in the bag because the wind was blowing a bit while I was taking photos.  In the upper right corner, you can see one of the polymer clay beads peeking out, too.
I hope the photos of just a small bit of what I plan to give out were enough to whet your appetite.  Each prize package will contain some of everything (unless you specifically request otherwise in your comment).
I plan to do 10 prize packages - I figure one prize for each 100 blog posts is a nice round number.  I will leave this post up for a couple of days and then move it to a link at the upper right of the nav bar on the blog so people can keep entering/commenting right up until the first prize is announced which will be NEXT MONDAY, 4/14/14. 
After that, I'll announce a winner every other day until all the packages have been awarded.
A quick recap:
  1. 10 prize packages including a combination of beady goodness and a book (until the books run out)
  2. 1 comment = 1 entry
  3. Blog link, facebook, tweet, etc. = 1 additional entry
  4. Include email, blog address or some way of contacting you in your comment
  5. Winners selected randomly
  6. First winner announce Monday, 4/14/14
  7. Additional winners every other day after that until prizes are gone.
If I forgot anything or you don't understand something, feel free to email me or leave your question in the comments and I'll get back to you.
Have fun, good luck and thank you so much for 1,000 posts' worth of fun, beads, jewelry, and friendship.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

New designs and an Announcement!

Hi everyone,

Would you believe that I am coming up on my 1,000th blog post!!!  Yeah, I don't believe it either and I suddenly feel really, really old LOL!

Anyway, I'm planning something a bit special (hopefully) for that post and I could use some input.  If I could please impose on you to take a quick survey to give me some feedback, it will help me decide what shape the bit 1,000 mark celebration will take.  I have a permanent link over there on the top of the right-hand nav bar or you can click here to take survey.

I'll leave the survey open for the next week or so and as extra added incentive, if you take the survey AND leave a comment, I'll pick a random winner for a bead-related prize!  Of course, your comment has to give me some way to identify/contact you so keep that in mind.

And if you've seen any of my bead porn posts, you know I can definitely BRING IT when it comes to prize materials.

Okay, enough with the business.  On to the photos:

I'm starting to make use of some of the components I've created with my experiments.  These brass scarab charms were painted with nail polish.  I've wired them to capiz shell disks (which in real life match the purple on the scarab but are looking a little more blue in the photos than they actually are) and then I added some matte green lampwork beads and vermeil spacers.
These earrings started with abalone teardrops.  I chose bronze Mykonos ceramic tubes to pick up the brown matrix in the abalone and then added tiny faceted purple Czech glass rondelles, vermeil spacers and lavender rubber rings.

These brass sand dollar charms were painted with two shades of nail polish and then sanded to reveal some of the original brass.  I added turquoise capiz shell disks, matte lavender lampwork beads and vermeil spacers.
These brass fans were coated with gesso and then painted with various shades of alcohol inks.  Once they were dry, I adde a few streaks of metallic gold alcohol ink as a highlight.  They were then sprayed with a sealant and rubbed with preservation wax.  I added matte teal lampwork beads, gold Mykonos ceramic "gear" spacers and vermeil spacers. 

This necklace is something I've been struggling with for a while.  This is probably about the fifth iteration of the design and while it's not as spectacular as I would have liked, I think I've at least reached the point where I'm okay with the finished design.  I keep having to remind myself that not everything has to be earth-shatteringly innovative every single time and that I can't let the pursuit of elevating my skill and creativity become a negative force that stifles my process.
The center focal is a lovely ceramic pendant from Tracee Dock that I have been hoarding for a long time.  It is deceiving in that you have to look closely to pick up some of the more subtle colors in it, but it has everything from a leafy yellow-green to deep teal and blue to pale pink to lavender and even some tiny spots of a beigy-yellow.

The first version of the design had sections of turquoise spike dangles in the front to mimic the "ray" effect on the pendant, but it was too messy-looking and distracted from the beauty of the focal.  Then I replaced those sections with the green shell and rose quartz which was sleeker, but still not satisfying.  I finally realized that I was picking up too many of the paler colors so I replaced those that were at the front of the necklace with some deeper teal/blue/green azurite rondelles.

The chain is a darker, patinated copper and the clasp is a Patricia Healey copper toggle that has been heat-patinated.