Tuesday, April 24, 2012

More Earrings (and a dash of complaint)

First, the complaint. Is anyone else hating the new Blogger interface as much as I am? What a cruel and unusual form of punishment this is. There I was, cruising along perfectly happy with my old familiar comfortable interface (which, I might add, took me many years of painful learning to figure out all the kinks and peculiarities) and POOF! Along comes this new crap which, besides giving me a headache from too much white space on the screen, seems hellbent on turning all my pictures sideways AND wants to force me to use Google Chrome. No, I say. Just NO! Fight the power!

Stupid Google. (oh, and if you have any doubt about the power of Google, the first time I typed the above complaint, the entire thing disappeared from the screen and I had to re-type it from memory. The Google is diabolical)

Anyway, on to the earrings (before they disappear, too.)

The muse seems hellbent on earrings and earrings only for right now. Much like Google, she is diabolical. I tried making a bracelet over the weekend and wow...is it ever FUGLY. It's already occupying center stage in the re-do area, but it will have to wait. I can already tell that any attempt to re-do it at this point will only result in more wasted time, material and tears.

In the meantime, I got earrings. I'm still working my way through these banded, heat-treated agate teardrops. This pair has swirls of brown and cream and even some pale blue. I added faceted smoky quartz for some sparkle and to play off the brown tones and then found a strand of Czech glass melon beads that had the same color scheme (although they have a touch of green, too, in the right light) and added a couple of those. I'm running through the tail end of my stash of Bali vermeil quickly, but the gold just looks so rich with this color scheme, I couldn't resist using it. Most of my vermeil was bought years and years ago when I first started designing and it was much more affordable. I don't know if I'll be able to replace it when it's gone what with prices being so high now.

I went a little crazy on Etsy buying up so many of Kristi Bowman's awesome copper designs. Now, I'm thrilled to start pairing them up with some of my lampwork stash for some great finished pieces. These etched beads from Outwest have such great colors in them - purples, greens, etc. and they really pick up the play of color in the copper, too.

Purples and lavenders seem to pair especially well with the copper so I grabbed this pair of swirly beads from Bee Boo. I added some Chinese crystals for extra sparkle because the swirls on the lampwork have some sparkly goldstone in them.

These hoop components called for something extra special so I grabbed these beautiful glowing kyanite tubes and some Chinese crystals for extra sparkle.

Last, but not least, some more of the agate teardrops. I used blue/brown ceramic flower components from Karen Totten and, once again, smoky quartz and vermeil. Now, let's see if the new interface will actually let me post this without eating it or turning it sideways. KJ

Monday, April 16, 2012

Vacation Earrings

Vacation was awesome. Even though it's taken me most of a week to get caught up, I'm so glad we went. I needed the break so badly. Now, I'm tan and relaxed (well, okay, the relaxation has kinda worn off after being back at work for most of a week). We spent so much time at the pool and doing other fun things that I got no jewelry made at all (despite toting two big bags of projects/beads with me), but I did make some stuff over the weekend after we got back so I'm still counting that as "vacation beading."

And, yeah, okay, this is kind of cheating since these are a re-do of a previous pair. Remember when I said I wasn't happy with them? I think they are much better now.

Oh yeah, problem solved.

This was not a design I had planned, but at the time I was working, these beads just happened to be laying out on my work surface and I was kinda on a roll...so they got grabbed and "earring-ized" before they knew what hit them.

They have a sort of Oriental vibe to me now...although it wasn't necessarily intentional. I love when a design takes on a life of its own and you end up getting more than you bargained for when it's finished.

In prepping my giant bags o' beads to take on the trip, I randomly grabbed a lot of semi-recent purchases that were still sitting in their shopping bags (me not having had time to bead, much less put stuff away in the studio, for MONTHS). I had two strands of these delicious, heat-treated, banded agate teardrops that I came across while packing up and they were definitely one of the items I was most excited to try to do something with.

I went outside my comfort zone by being willing to make earrings where the two stones were close, but not an EXACT match to each other. It was oh-so-hard for me to do and I still have to keep reminding myself that it's OKAY that way. The tops are vintage German glass flower beads.

I made as many "almost-matched" pairs of teardrops out of the two strands that I could. Some of them are more lavender, some have bright, almost neon pink and some are in the blue and teal tones. I haven't gotten to those yet, but with this pair, I thought some lovely enamel brass filigree pieces from Sue Beads would make great tops.

I added some Chinese crystals for extra sparkle as I wanted a more dramatic, evening look for this pair.

Can't wait to make up more new designs with these teardrops - they're all so different and really fun to play with.

And that's what I did AFTER my vacation :-)


Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Li'l Taste of Bead Porn

It's time for our annual pilgrimmage to Palm Desert for Spring Break...and boy, do I need a vacation. It's looking like it's going to be in the 90's out there which is a LEETLE warmer than I really like it, but I'll be glad just for the change of scenery. And, the hotter it is, the more time I get to spend by the pool drinking foofy drinks.

I always like to leave a little bead porn in my wake when I head out on vacation so y'all have something to look at while I'm gone. So here goes:

I was really excited to discover these monogrammed sterling silver charms at Sweet Rocky Candy Beads.

You can get every letter of the alphabet.

And they come in multiple styles...like this more ornate version.

I picked up quite a few to cover the various initals of my family members. They are also available in vermeil if you prefer gold over silver.

A recent review of my bead stash showed that I had (big surprise, I know) let my love for art beads blind me to the fact that I was running out of staple items like clasps, ear wires, jump rings, wire, etc. So, for a few weeks, I tried to limit myself to only buying the "necessities" until I could get my supplies back in balance. I had mixed success with that LOL! However, I got some help when I found these beautiful metal-stamped clasps by Orrtec which allowed me to mix getting a basic (clasp) with fulfilling my NEED for artbeads (since it's hand-crafted and stamped instead of mass-produced).

One rule I did stick to..."one" is never enough.

I found these lovely enameled flower components at Sue Beads. Perfect for springtime earring designs!

Again, I couldn't just get one pair. Who could resist these yummy springtime colors?

One unique thing about Sue's shop - it's the "oldest" one in my vendor favorites on Etsy. That means that her shop was one of the first few that I favorited upon joining Etsy a few years ago and since I pretty ruthlessly clean out my favorites based on performance and upkeep/rotation of stock, it really says something about her as a vendor that she's managed to hold onto that position when lots of others have been deleted for various reasons. Go, Sue!

If you've been reading the blog, you already know that these cute, bright polymer clay daisies came from Floridity. I used them to make earrings a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't happy with the final result and still plan to re-make the earrings, but the beads are still darling and are in no way lessened by my crap design attempts LOL!

At the same time, I got these lovely carved poly clay beads from her as well. The colors are delicious!

I was lucky enough to have a bracelet design published in the Winter, 2011, issue of "Stringing" that had a central pewter bracelet link and I've been wanting to do more with that style. I found these bracelet bars at Captured Moments which will be just perfect for that idea.

My only problem was that she had so many wonderful styles and designs...not only could I not pick just one, I had a hard time narrowing down below 10! There are quite a few still in my "Favorites" marked for future purchases.

For now, these are the ones that have made their way into the chaos that is my (so-called) studio.

I was particularly fond of this version - it looks like old leather to me.

I wanted some fun, bright pairs of lampwork beads for earrings (since that seems to be all I have time to make any more) and I Make Beads never disappoints.

Continuing with the theme of Spring colors, I found this soft, pretty set of lampwork beads at Mermaid Glass.

I love the combination of the rough, lava-like etching treatment on these beads with the flower designs. Found these pretties at OutWest.

Lastly, I succumbed to this gorgeous deep-purple lampwork flower from Serena Smith. For years I have been putting her large flower beads in my favorites and then talking myself out of them because I'm not sure what to do with them. I finally decided to take the plunge because I just couldn't resist the purple color. Of course, I still have no idea what to do with it, but it will be fun trying to figure it out!

That's it for this round. Happy vacation!


Monday, April 02, 2012

Long Overdue

The past 12-18 months have been so consumed with dealing with Ryan's ADD and issues at school that I have had to let a lot of things slide...like blogging, keeping up with friendships the way I should and, oh, about 1,000 other things. However, I'm finally starting to see some daylight with Ryan (more on that in a future post) and I'm determined to get caught up on some outstanding business.

For instance, I have this wonderful, dear friend named Erin. We've never met in person (although it feels like we have!), but through the wonderful medium of the Internet, we not only stumbled across each other's beading blogs but also started exchanging e-mails and realized that we are sorority sisters. Erin has gone out of her way to listen to me bitch, moan and blog about everything under the sun all while maintaining such a wonderfully supportive attitude (and never telling me to shut up which I wouldn't blame her if she yearned to do because I have complained A LOT) and even sending me beads in the mail as little emotional "pick me ups." And she has an uncanny sense of the perfect time to send them, too.

But she doesn't just send any beads. No, Miss Erin is an arteest so she had to go out and develop her own line of personalized polymer clay pendants called "Simple Truths." She started sending me some over a year ago. And then she sent me another...and another...and another. Each time, she personalized the design and the quote to fit something I'd said in an e-mail or something that was going on in my life at the time.

And did I, as a good friend should, blog about them and help to publicize them? No. I had every intention of doing it, but things seemed to just keep interfering. But, I never forgot that I NEEDED to do it and finally, last month, I rounded up as many of them as I could find (the stash is a bit...ummm...overwhelming to search through right now) and at least got the pictures taken.

And now, I can finally blog about them:

Each pendant comes stamped with a unique design on the front.

Here's a closeup of the front of the heart design.

And the quote on the back.

Of course, Miss Erin hasn't exactly been sitting on her hands waiting for anyone else to help her publicize these. She's been seen and notice all over the place...witness how this particular design made the cover of "Stringing" last Fall.

At one point, Erin kept asking me what kind of design I'd like to really personalize a pendant for myself. I told her I love all things ocean-y and that I'd especially like a dolphin since that's one of the symbols of the sorority we share. I don't think she had a dolphin stamp at the time, but she kept a look out for one and came up with this design. Then she asked me for a quote and I...drew a total blank. For weeks (actually it might have been months...I'm so ashamed) I kept it in the back of my mind always thinking about it, but had so much on my plate mentally and emotionally at the time that I just couldn't get around finalizing an answer. Finally, she reminded me one day about it and I sort of popped off that I felt like that Adele song "Rolling in the Deep" because I was sinking fast in the sea of Life.

Well, she took my silly comment and came up with this beautiful quote and sent me this gorgeous dolphin pendant.

Then it was wintertime and I noticed on her blog that she was making these stunning pastel snowflakes and I left a comment or sent her an e-mail or something and next thing I knew, she was asking me for another quote.

I made yet another ridiculous comment about needing my troubles to melt like snowflakes or something...

...and this is what I got in return.

So, here's to you, my dear friend Erin. I am so very grateful for the bond we share, your generosity, friendship, support during my dark times and most especially for your patience while I got my act together to post this long overdue, but heartfelt "THANK YOU." I am determined that one day we will meet in person so I can give you a hug, but in the meantime, this post will have to do.

Delta love,