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.

Friday, March 21, 2014

We're All Ears - March Challenge

As I have worked on renewing my aquaintance with the bead and jewelry blog-o-sphere after an almost 2 year hiatus, I have discovered a delightful group blog featuring some wonderful artists and focused on my favorite piece of jewelry (both to wear and to make):  earrings!  The site is called "Earrings Everyday" and not only are there amazing designs and ideas for inspiration, but they hold a monthly challenge.

This will be my first time participating. I was a little over-committed on projects in February and was concerned that I wouldn't have enough time.  I'm glad I chose this month's challenge to get in on the fun because the inspiration is this delightful Beatrix Potter scene:

It kind of reminds me of the "House Mouse" series of rubber stamps that I was fond of back when I was doing rubber stamping (before I became bead-obsessed).  However, even though the mice are so cute, the part of the picture that immediately drew my eye is the floral pillow in the background.

I absolutely love this color scheme!  It's not something I would have put together on my own, but since I love all things teal, I will definitely be keeping this in my back pocket for future use.

Here's what it inspired me to create:

I had initially planned to have teal be the predominant color in this design, just like in the inspiration photo, but I also knew I wanted to use my stash of lucite flowers/leaves and I quickly discovered that I didn't have lucite that was the right color.  So, I decided to switch things up.  I have been hoarding these wonderful ruffled lucite leaves for a while now ever since the vendor I used to get them from closed her store.  

I felt like the design needed some sparkle, too, and I was able to get the teal element in via the use of some Swarovski crystal rondelles in "indicolite."  The flower centers are lime green AB Swaros and then I used some green Swaro crystal pearls  on the top half of the earrings as well.  Vintaj brass wire, headpins, jump rings and daisy spacers work well with the color scheme and are reminiscent of the wood in the background of the inspiration picture.

The next thing I noticed in the photo was the needle and thread being held by the mouse in the foreground:

I had something already out on my work space from a recent order that couldn't be more perfect for the silver needle if I'd planned it (don't you love when that happens?  I didn't even have to go on a hunt through my stash for "those beads I remember buying that time").  I'd also been wanting a pair of pink earrings to go with a top that I purchased about six months ago that every time I put it on I think "Why don't I have earrings to go with this top?  I MAKE JEWELRY for heaven's sake!  Where are the pink earrings?"  And it isn't like I don't have pink beads...I do!  Lots of 'em.  And I like the color (although I definitely tend toward the stronger, brighter, fuchsia end of the "pink" spectrum because pastels just look washed out on me) so I don't know what the mental block is, but this was a sign that pink's time had finally come LOL!

I used deep pink lampwork rondelles and Mykonos ceramic silver spike beads to create these "Needle & Thread" earrings.

The bead caps are Bali silver and the wire and earring hooks are sterling.

I hope you enjoyed my first entry into the "We're All Ears" monthly challenge.  I'm looking forward to seeing what the April version will be!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bead Porn Because Why Not?

I have been working away on trying to get something created for the March "Earrings Everyday" challenge for the reveal this Friday and I got my Bead Soup off in the mail to my partner (and hey, I was only 3 days past the deadline for mailing woo hoo!).  I'm waiting for her soup to arrive so I can start simmering my ideas (hopefully!)

In the meantime there's been more car searching and Boy Scout meetings and work going on soooo...I'm behind on taking pictures (although I will say the ONE upside to the time change means I now have daylight to take photos when I get home from work which means I don't have to do it in the mornings while trying to get the kid off to school).

All of this means I ain't got much to talk about or share right now...which means you get a bead porn post!

Don't everybody thank me at once :-)

I'm usually mostly a silver girl (hello?  Silver Parrot? kind of a clue, yes?), but there are times where my brain just looks at certain beads (usually based on color) and goes "nope, can't put silver with that...MUST have gold."  I can sometimes placate that voice with brass, but not always so I do try to keep my eye out for a few gold findings, wire and charms here and there .  I thought these textured vermeil rings would make great components in either a necklace or earrings.

These were to replace some dangles at the bottom of a pair of earrings that I was not totally happy with.  Upon receiving them, I promptly put them in a "special place so I would not lose them" and could make the swap out in the earrings.  You'll never guess what happened!  Yeah, I can't find them.  Do you ever do that?  It happens to me more often than it used to and really bugs me when it does.  I am sure they will turn up eventually!

Teeny vermeil swallow links.

Teeny vermeil hummingbird/flower links.  All of these vermeil pieces are from Sweet Rock Candy Beads.
Copper awesomeness from Kristy Bowman.  She's got some gorgeous white copper pieces in her shop right now - be sure to check those out, too.

I'm always drawn to marquis or long-oval shaped stones - they are so fantastic for the long, dangly earring style that I love so much.  These are turquoise dyed howlite.

This version is slightly longer and narrower and is green-dyed howlite.  Both are from Gemme Tresor

When I took the time over the holidays to think about kick-starting my blog/shop/creativity for 2014, I gave a lot of thought as to what direction I'd like to take my designs.  This included cataloguing my strengths/weaknesses/comfort zones, etc.  As a result, I made a conscious decision to focus a little more on ocean-themed designs as that seems to be where I do my best work.  Also, by recognizing where my comfort zone is, I can make it work harder for me by trotting it out in those times when I'm feeling stressed or less than creative and stop holding myself hostage to the need to "top" myself or "always do something NEW! and IMPROVED!"  Not that those aren't good things to shoot for or that I don't want to grow as a designer, but I also don't want to be stifled by making those imperatives.  Which is all a really long-winded intro about why I bought these lovely green sea glass rondelles.
And these capri blue ones, too.  Both are from Linden Avenue.

Someone in an email somewhere introduced me to the Etsy Crack flavor that is Pajego Art House where I found so much stuff I wanted that I nearly sprained a finger clicking the "buy" button.  I love the bright colors, floral decals and the unique combo of a toggle and pendant/focal all in one.  Plus, BIRD TOGGLE!  How cool is that!

Flowers!  Color!  Dragonfly!  Ow!  There goes my finger again!  I was just over on her store grabbing the link for this post and got distracted doing the whole "need it, need it, want it" dance.

Ceramic and bronze clasp from Thea Elements.

If you've been following the blog, then you read all about my turtle adventure on Maui this past summer.  That trip inspired me to start creating some turtle-themed designs of which scouring Etsy for turtle beads and then hoarding them for an unspecified period of time is the first step!  This ceramic pendant made me think of a bone carving or a fossil.

But I am always a sucker for anything in the teal/blue/green family so I had to get this one, too.  Both are from Slingin' Mud.
Of course, no matter how awesome all that other stuff is (and it is awesome), I will always be a lampwork girl at heart...especially when the colors and designs are this juicy and delicious.
Both of these sets are from Helen Chalmers.

I'd like to say I think things are going to quiet down so I can focus back on my various experiments and some completed jewelry, but I think we all know that is probably wishful thinking.  Still, I vow to keep things going here with at least 1-2 posts per week...even if I have to resort to bead porn to do it!

Check back on Friday to see my Earrings Everyday challenge pieces which I WILL get photographed and posted in time for the reveal, she said with conviction while still wondering how it will get done and which chores will have to be ignored to make it happen...


Monday, March 17, 2014

Bead Soup is Cookin'!

I'm a couple of days late with this (because life happens), but my soup partner's ingredients are going in the mail today.  The only guidelines I was given were "no seed beads" so I made up two soups assigned an "element" to each of them and told her to pick between "Air" and "Water."

She chose "Air" so here is a (hopefully well hidden enough) peek at what she'll be getting:

Can't wait to see what comes in my soup package!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


That is what the last few days have been...a whirlwind!  Certainly no time for being too creative!  I did manage to force out one pair of earrings on Sunday, but it was such an extreme effort that I stopped after that.

Why does the creativity flow like a tidal wave sometimes and other times it feels like I need a mental laxative to unblock things? (yeah, I know, sorry for that visual, but that IS how it feels!)

Here's what the last few days have been like:

Thursday - travel to L.A. for a deposition.  Finished and got on the freeway home at 4:15 PM...arrived home at 7:00 PM.  I only live 50 miles from L.A. so yeah, that was NOT FUN.

Friday - came in early, stayed late and worked through lunch since I was covering for 2 people who are on vacation.  Raced home to pick up the kid, spent an hour at Sport Chalet picking up the remaining items he needed for the campout this weekend, had dinner, went home and supervised his packing efforts (now that he is in Boy Scouts, he is supposed to do all the packing himself).  SOOOO hard to keep a kid with ADD on task for something like this and NOT jump in and do it yourself because you know you can get it done in 20 minutes instead of 3 hours.  Finally fell into bed exhausted at 11:00 PM because once he was packed up and had gone to bed, I still had dishes and laundry to do.

Saturday - alarm is set for 5 AM because drop off for the campout is at 6:30 AM.  I woke up at 3 AM and couldn't get back to sleep!  ARGH!  Arrived at 6:30 AM and stood around until 7:15 when they finally left.  Went home, crawled back into bed and slept until noon (there is something screwed up with my internal clock wherein my body has decided its preferred sleeping time is from 6 AM to 12 PM which does NOT work when you have a DAY JOB). 

Woke up and realized I told my mom I would call her BEFORE noon to figure out our plans for the day which potentially included buying a new car since ye olde Saturn VUE is giving every indication that it is soon to shuffle off this mortal coil (and various other expensive, replacement-parts-no-longer-exist pieces) and head for that big freeway in the sky.

Mom wasn't as keen on the whole buying thing (of course...because HER car is fine LOL) but was willing to help me get the VUE cleaned up in preparation for trade-in and also possibly go do some test driving of new cars with me but could I please not show up for a couple of more hours as her day wasn't going any more efficiently than mine.

I grabbed lunch and ran various errands that I can't do so easily when the kid is around (beauty supply store for new shampoo and nail salon for a looooooong overdue pedicure) and got to mom's house around 3 PM.  We spent an hour cleaning out the car and then headed out to the various dealerships.

At Honda, I test drove the 2014 CRV and the 2014 Pilot.  The Pilot is waaayyy too big (also way too expensive) for me, but wow is it awesome.  The CRV is also really nice inside, but I'm worried that it's too small.  I feel like Goldilocks!  We did go over to Toyota and tried to test drive the Rav 4 (for the second time), but something is wrong at that dealership and they do not have their act together as this turned out to be the second bad experience we've had there.

By then, it was getting dark so we gave up on Toyota and headed to dinner:  Zen Sushi and then the yogurt place next door for dessert.  They had a new flavor:  pecan praline!  Yummmm!  I finally made it home and to bed around 10 PM.

Sunday morning = my least favorite day of the year aka Spring Forward!  Bahhh!  I HATE this day!

Most of the morning was chore time until I had to leave to go pick Ryan up from the campout.  Sat in the parking lot for almost an extra hour as guess what?  The scouts didn't have clocks to set forward up at the campsite so they were still on Fall Backward time.

Kid finally showed up filthy and exhausted, but happy.  He managed to come home with everything he left with except (as I found out later) one sock.  He also happily informed me that he did not brush his teeth or shower (like I couldn't figure that out from seeing the Kool-Aid stains around his mouth, the spaghetti stains on his leg, and the dirt under his fingernails LOL).

Then we still had to do grocery shopping and after that, of course, he was hungry so we went to Subway and got lunch.  Then home, unpacking, laundry (there was some kind of spectacular failure of his camelback so all his stuff got wet) and finally, about 3 PM, I got a chance to sit down for a few minutes.

Got all my beading stuff out, looked at it and thought "I'm too tired for this."  I gave myself 30 minutes to rest...then 30 more...then made the ONE pair of earrings (after much mucking about with ideas I didn't like) and then...gave up and threw in the towel.

I know when I'm beaten (well, eventually).

Hence no photos for the blog and no new stuff to talk about.  The one pair of earrings is for a reveal on 3/21 having to do with Earrings Everyday so you'll have to wait until then to see those.  Hopefully this weekend my creativity will be back on-line and life will be less hectic.

Probably not, but one can always dream :-)

Ryan leaving for his first campout!  At least he was clean when he left!


Monday, March 10, 2014

5 Things Make a Post

Especially when you've got nothing interesting to write about LOL!

1.  Backyard lizard count for the weekend = 4.  They were loving the 85 degree weather.

2.  Ryan survived his first solo campout as a Boy Scout (i.e. neither his dad nor I went along).

3.  Shopping for a new car sucks (I'm looking at YOU Irvine Toyota).

4.  I love the kid, but getting to have a quiet, grown-up dinner one night while he was away was 
     pretty awesome.  Mmmm...Zen Sushi's shrimp crunchy roll with eel sauce...mmmmm

5.  Got my partner for the Bead Soup Blog Party...now gotta get that soup in the mail!

Wednesday, March 05, 2014


If you were kind enough to check out my blog over the weekend, you saw my post for the Challenge of Music blog hop and the designs I created as a result of being inspired by Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf."

In an attempt to capture the idea of wolf "fur", I came up with tassel earrings made of bead cones and fibers.  I posted the two that were the most "wolfy" for the challenge, but I did a lot of practice to get there and tried various color combos and methods of making the tassels on the way to the final versions.

Frankly, I got a bit obsessed with the idea and couldn't stop making these so here are the rest of the experiments:

This is the first pair I made using some deep wine fiber with gold running through it.  I'm not sure why it looks so red in the photos - it's really not that color at all. 

I added some small, olive green Swarovski bicones to the top for a little bit of extra sparkle.

These...were probably a mistake.  I was fully engulfed in the obsession and wanted to try every fiber in my collection to see how it would turn out LOL.  This is sort of an Easter Egg assortment of pastel colors that run throughout the same skein of fiber...pale blue, green, pink and yellow.  It's very soft and fluffy, but what I didn't realize is that it would curl up at the bottom so much after it was cut.

 And then in this photo the other colors almost disappear and it goes really pink.  Also, I'm not crazy about those cones...that aren't really "cone" shaped at all.  This technique works MUCH better with the long, skinny, traditional cone shape.  Oh well, this is all part of my quest to learn not to care when an experiment doesn't work out so well.

This fiber has amazing texture and colors all in the same skein.  I was happy with this one, but didn't think the color scheme went with the "wolf" idea...it's heading more towards the wine imagery in the song, but since I chose fuchsia Swaro crystals for the top it went a little more to pink than wine.


It's funny how just changing the background of the photo makes the colors in the fiber look different...in this picture, I see the browns and rusts more.

 This...was an idea that ALMOST worked.  I love the fiber colors, the cones are interesting and the green garnet stones work well.  Then, of course, I had to try to get all creative and put a thin section of chain in the center of the tassel to hang a small crystal oval dangle from...I was trying to go for the idea of wolf eyes gleaming in the darkness.

And you can't even see them when the earrings are hanging.  Well, okay, you can kind of see them a teeny bit at the bottom, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to remove them.

Yeah...they need to go.


Saturday, March 01, 2014

Challenge Of Music Blog Hop

Hi!  Welcome to my blog and the Challenge of Music blog hop! 

Based on the instructions for the hop, I came up with three years that seemed the most impactful in my life:  1965 (the year I was born), 1983 (the year I graduated high school), and 2003 (the year my son was born.  I pulled the Billboard 100 and the Top 40 lists for each year and reviewed them. 
After going through that process, 2003 eliminated itself almost immediately.  While songs like “Bump, Bump, Bump”, “Shake Ya Tailfeather”, “In Da Club”, and “Right Thurr” may be fun to dance and party along to, they don’t really tell my story or offer much in the way of inspiration.  The one rather surprising exception was the Dixie Chicks’ cover of “Landslide” (originally by Fleetwood Mac) and I came really close to choosing that as the lyrics tell the story of my life from about 2005 to now.  In the end, however, I had to acknowledge that those years have had some pretty dark and challenging stuff in them including divorce and death and I didn’t want a bummer of a blog post nor did I want to re-live those particular memories or incorporate them into a lasting piece of jewelry – I am doing my best to put those years behind me!  Also, if I was going to use that song, it seems like I should really use the original version which definitely was not a song of 2003! 
1965 seemed promising – what fantastic songs!  There was a time when not everything had a club beat or was auto-tuned to death.  People had to actually be able to sing (and harmonize!) and the songs had to have lyrics…that made sense…and that you could understand!  Both the Beatles and the Stones are represented along with classic Motown groups like the Supremes and the Temptations.  Still, I was looking for a song with a little more visual imagery in the lyrics to really spark not only my memories, but my imagination. 
That left me with 1983.  And wow, how the memories came flooding back when I read some of the song titles.  Michael Jackson was taking over the world with “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” – both songs that my dance team and I spent hours choreographing with.  MTV was in its heyday with videos and my friends and I must have gone to see “Flashdance” at the movies about a million times  - we were all dancers so of course we had to see it repeatedly.
And then I saw this title on the list:  “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran and I suddenly remembered how crazy all the girls were about this band (seriously, there were a couple of girls on the dance team who I was afraid might need counseling about their DD obsession) and how heavily this video played.  While the song itself doesn’t really describe “my story” it is so representative of the era that included my most formative years (high school and college) and it has such great imagery in it, that I knew this was the right song. 
So, rock your leg warmers and your perm and get ready to smell the hair gel as I present designs inspired by “Hungry Like the Wolf”!
Hungry Like The Wolf Video

I went to iTunes and downloaded the song.  I played it every chance I got (including in the car while driving which annoyed the kid to no end LOL!)  I also went to YouTube and checked out the video…which, I have to admit…has NOT aged well! 
But, after I got past all of that, I found myself really enjoying the trip down memory lane.  I am NOT (let me repeat that…NOT) a sketcher mostly owing to my inability to draw so much as a stick figure, but I did make an attempt this time.

I started by free associating words that came to me when thinking about the song, things associated with wolves, colors, etc.  There’s also some strong imagery of wine in the lyrics so I included that as well.  I started to add a few basic drawings with colored pencils and scribbled a few swatches of possible color combinations. 


The video provided some additional inspiration via the face paint on the lead singer and the woman.
The more I thought about things, the more ideas I had for jewelry, but the one thing that I strongly associate with wolves seemed like it would be the hardest to incorporate:  fur.  I really wanted that textural element and a few strands of cord or ribbon in a necklace just wasn’t going to give me the plushness that fur offers…actual FUR earrings seemed totally crazy, too, although I’m sure someone, somewhere has tried to make them and there’s probably a video on YouTube with directions.

In digging through my fiber and ribbon stash, I found the EXACT color combination that would be perfect to represent wolf’s fur and then I had a flash of inspiration. 

They give the touchable, textural element I wanted, the cones bring in all the pointy aspects of the wolf (teeth, claws, ears, snout and even tail tip) and since, for some reason, I seem to always picturewolves in the snow, I used silver cones and added an icy clear AB rondelle on top.

Since wolves run in packs, I made a bunch more of these and I’ll share the rest of them in a future blog post, but for now, here’s just one more as I couldn’t get the image of a white wolf out of my head.  It has a subtle blush tinge to a few of the strands but is predominantly a winter white.  I used pewter cones in a silver color and added wine-colored Swarovski crystal pearls to the tops.

Initially, I was going to stop there, but it didn’t seem like enough AND I still had some ideas whirling around in my head.

Like this design – inspired by the graphic black, white, and green face paint on Simon Le Bon in the video. 

I also realized these colors were very “wolf-like” in that they remind me of night, snow, and forest leaves or wolf eyes gleaming in the darkness.

This is a color combo I NEVER would have thought of or tried without the inspiration from this challenge. 

Beads used are faceted black onyx rounds, vintage white glass beaded chain, vermeil bead caps and faceted green glass briolettes.

I love the way this design came out, but it seemed a little too prim and proper to be truly “wolfish” (my son contributed the idea that it is meant for a werewolf princess who lives in a castle in the forest LOL) so in my hunt (get it? HUNT…see what I did there? BAM!) for something a little more ferocious, I came across some carved tagua nut pendants and my wolf was definitely ready to get its growl on:
I wanted something darker, more dangerous…a little tribal…a little primitive…and these patinated copper beads from Patricia Healey fit the bill. 

I added in some reddish carved wood beads for a little “blood”, some bright copper spacers and some black/turquoise faceted Czech glass rondelles. 

The clasp is a copper rope toggle and I added a black onyx coin dangle as a detail in the back.

A few leftover beads on the work surface just demanded to be made into earrings so I made a couple of coordinating pairs:

More metal beads from Patricia Healy and then I just added some of the same leftover spacer beads from the necklace.

I may not be able to let go of this pair LOL!  I really love the way they came out!  Once again, this entire set is a color combination that I never would have come up with or considered without going through this exercise.

I hope you enjoyed your trip back to the 80’s with me and thank you to Erin for organizing such a fun and inspiring challenge!


Here are the links to the other hop participants: