Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September Pretty Palettes Challenge :: riding a bike...that sparkles

Beading is best when shared! 

For months, a couple of my friends and I had been striving to schedule a beading "play date" for ourselves. Our busy schedules, our kids' busy schedules, and the fact that we don't live in the same town made it challenging, but soon after Erin posted September's Pretty Palettes post, my friends contacted me and let me know that this was THEIR palette and we couldn't let this month go by without giving this palette a go.

After bunches of messages, Jenn, Rachel and I managed to carve out a few hours to work together to make something beautiful based on this gorgeous palette from Jessica Colaluca of Fresh Hues. YUM!

To get ready for our beading play date, I made an amazing--but so easy--roasted tomato and pepper soup the night before, stocked the little fridge in my studio with some drinks and snacks, and set out the goodies for us to play with that worked with the palette. All of these beads are from Halcraft's Bead Gallery line available at Michaels Stores.
These are some of the goodies that we played with during our play date!
Jenn and Rachel and I went to college together, traveled together, and wrote poetry together. It was about time the three of us sat down and created something sparkly.

Speaking of sparkly, I have to share a photo of what happens in my studio on sunny mornings when I put the beads out on the table. Kinda dreamy, right?

Sometimes I just need to watch the beads sparkle!

After rifling through beads, Rachel and Jenn and I chose the ones we liked best and went from there. Jenn, who has a penchant for sparkles, chose a rose gold slider and coordinating beads. Jenn is known for her need to balance, in her life, in her work, and definitely in her beading! Jenn and I have been beading together for over a decade, and I most definitely noticed this trend in her work. Jenn described our morning like this: "I beaded today...for the first time in a long time. It was like riding a bike...that sparkles. Also, yes, I did, in fact, put a bird on my earrings."
Rachel chose some gorgeous glass points and made "grape cluster" earrings. I taught her to pinch her crimps shut to hold the marquis-shaped chain to the strand of glass points, which she carefully placed in an order so that the longest points were in the center of the necklace. Aren't they beautiful? I realized during our time together that I didn't have a mirror in my studio, so Rachel was clever enough to think of using the Photo Booth on my computer. Did I ever tell you that Rachel is, like CRAZY smart? (I think that the carving on this one is beautiful. Maybe when I win the lottery?)

I found myself drawn to  coppery chain as well, but I used a smaller version and hung little dangles from it to create a lariat-style necklace, and I couldn't help but make a few stretch bracelets to layer, too.

Thank you so much for taking the time to peruse our beading projects. I hope that they inspire you to participate in the Pretty Palettes challenge next month, and maybe even plan a girls' night to make a grouping of projects like we did! I know I'd love to be able to do this every month. 

Visit next Wednesday, October 1, to see Erin's October's Pretty Palette!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Unexpected Findings :: The Book Blog Tour!

Welcome! You've made it to day 5 of the Unexpected Findings blog tour! 
For information about Michelle's Giveaway, click here and scroll down to see the prizes.

When Michelle Mach asked me to be part of Unexpected Findings: 50+ Clever Jewelry Designs Featuring Everyday Components, I didn't hesitate. First of all, it sounded like a really fun challenge; second, I knew that I'd be among a bunch of wonderful designers, as Michelle is an editor extraordinaire who knows so many wonderful designers! 

Michelle has always had an eye for clever design and writes amazingly easy-to-follow instructions; I first met Michelle when I was the editor of Simply Beads magazine. Michelle always impressed me with her inventive designs and was adventurous when working within a theme.

The first thing I've gotta say about this book is that if you're a beader or an aspiring beader getting ready to set out on your beading journey, YOU MUST GET IT! Really, the beading ideas in here are some of the most original I've seen, and they all have such flexibility and are easy to apply to your own designs, no matter what your style. 

Not only that, these projects are accessible and with the guidance provided, easy to accomplish. Most beaders will already have many of the supplies in their bead kits to make these projects. The extensive guide at the beginning of the book works as a basics guide, and once you master the basics, you'll want to takes leaps in different directions as shown through the following pages.

Michelle even included another form of versatility in the book by adding a Variations feature, in which we designers were challenged to use another designer's technique to make a project. It's amazing how different the two can be and demonstrates exactly how easy it is to make the technique and a project your own.

I made four designs for the book--all of which I really love. In fact, when these projects were returned to me, I opened the package and popped one on, just like that, because I'd missed it so much! Here's the first one: Connect the Dots.
Connect the Dots, featured in Unexpected Findings

Connect the Dots uses eye pins to make a latticework of sorts as well as decorative spiral headpins. When is an eye pin more than an eye pin? When it's a headpin, too! I also include a tip on how to stretch your eye pin budget, so you use only about half as many as you'd think! I have a love affair with Golem Studio beads, and these sweet melon-shaped beads are from them. The rest of the beads are Halcraft's Bead Gallery beads, and the ovals that make the links have the prettiest finish. They're available at Michaels Stores.

One of my favorite projects from the book that isn't my own also features the modest eyepin, and the effect is beautiful. Check out Michelle's Two to Tango earrings on page 36. Who knew eye pins could be so eyelash-tastic!

I'm going to share one more project with you, and I'll let you search through the gorgeous pages of the book to find my others. This is called Tidal Treasures, and it's one of those understated pieces that packs a wallop when you slow down and look through it, but because of its muted color palette, it is understated as well. It's a longer necklace that I made with some pieces that I'd been hoarding. One is the fabulous clasp from HandFast by Kim Fox; the fish and coral branch are from Green Girl Studios; and the perfectly tiny faceted silver rounds are from Shiana, one of my favorite places to get fair trade silver.
Tidal Treasures, featured in Unexpected Findings
Now that you've seen a little sneak peek of my projects in the book, get yourself over to Michelle's blog to enter the contest! Today's the last day to enter, and the prizes are amazing! What I could do with a $50 Etsy gift card!

And while you're at it, check out this list of the other designers who joined the our book blogging tour this week. I wish I could share my favorites from each one, but I thought I'd better leave something for you to find for yourself in the book:

Monday, Sept. 15
Michelle Mach

Tuesday, Sept. 16
Lorelei Eurto
Erin Siegel

Wednesday, Sept. 17
Cindy Wimmer
Erin Prais-Hintz

Thursday, Sept. 18
Andrew Thornton

Friday, Sept. 19
Denise Yezbak Moore
Molly Schaller- You Are Here! :)

Today is the LAST DAY to enter Michelle's contest to win these wonderful prizes:
Etsy Gift Card Grand Prize
$50 (Fifty Dollars) Etsy Gift Card (1 prize)
You can spend this on anything offered at the many individual shops on Etsy.  This could be fabulous art beads, cool jewelry findings, a hand painted coffee mug, a knitted scarf ... whatever you want.  (Note:  Not all Etsy shops accept gift cards, so if you win, you may want to do a search for those that do.)
First Prize
Fun with Findings Kit (2 prizes)

You can win some of the exact findings used in the book, plus a bunch of other findings that Michelle thought were cool. Prize packs include everything pictured here: jump rings, head pins (handmade by Miss Fickle Media and C-Koop), filigree links, clasps (hook-and-eye, ball chain, lobster), bead caps, cord ends, and more!
Fun with Findings Prize Pack
Second Prize (3 prizes)
To play off the "unexpected" in Michelle's book title, three winners will receive a small mystery pack of findings (valued at $8).  No photo or preview ahead of time.  It will be a surprise!

Happy beading,

Thursday, September 18, 2014

30 Words :: Sea of Sunflowers

 As we walked in reverent wonder of it all
sun-drenched curls never looked so good
as they did on you
today amid sunflowers 
that nodded their silent heads
in assent

The premise of 30 Words Thursdays is simple...

Take an image (preferably one you shot, or have permission to use).

Write 30 Words about it. No more. No less.

Post it each Thursday.
Find more 30 Words Thursdays on Erin's Blog