As part of the class, we are to make collages of our "best" work. Then review it as an outsider.
It's an interesting exercise because we are then supposed to come up with five words that we consistently see in the work, to help us define our style. This particular collage is of some of my earliest work (with exception of center and top center). I feel the collage in my last post was actually my best work, also made from that time period, with only a few of them made recently.
What I've discovered is that over the years in taking classes in various techniques, I got away from what I really love to do: design with nature. Almost all of my favorite pieces have some element of nature, even if a whimsical creature like a faerie. This has been an enlightening exercise, and I think it will help me in this class as we work our way to developing a "line" of jewelry.
So excited to be starting a class on how to design a jewelry line! Very intriguing. We're just getting started. Our first assignments was to post a collage of our previous work. Here is what I submitted. All but two have sold! Haven't listed the others for sale yet and not sure if I will!
I'm excited to get expert advice and feedback. As we go through the class, I will be working on my style, consistency, and the type of pieces I make. I get the feeling some of what we do gets released on a schedule - and stays secret until a certain point in the class.... but I will post as I can, so please stay tuned!
Almost five years ago, my life went off the rails. Yep, it de-railed big-time. Someone in their fifties shouldn't be totally re-setting their life. Yet, that's exactly what I did.
The death of my parents, coupled with the death of my marriage, adding in death of a job I adored... well, there I was. Fumbling-bumbling at life.
I moved. I cried. I was numb for a while... and then the most amazing thing happened. I met the true love of my life. And as quickly as my life had de-railed, we hit the ground running.
It's been almost two years now. To think I went so long without knowing what an easy, comfortable love is!
We have been experiencing life in full bloom. Traveling. Celebrating family. Even bought a cabin we are turning into a home. Simply put: We are enjoying the simple things in life.
It has taken me a while to get back to what I love doing in the studio -- partly because I've been so busy enjoying our day today -- and I honestly would not be here doing it if it weren't for him. I couldn't be happier. And he says, neither could he. So there you have it, from death truly does come re-birth.
Now, I could have started a new blog in honor of this rebirth of myself, but honestly, I didn't want to lose the history of the things that lead up to the almost five-year gap. So I kept the history, and simply renamed it, "Every Little Thing." We'll see how it develops. I envision exactly what the tag line says, "snapshots from the studio and snippets from life." Stay tuned.
I've been reflecting on the post from early this morning, and realized from a design standpoint I've drifted away from a "signature style." When I first started making jewelry, before I got so into learning about all the various techniques, I had a definite look and feel to my designs. It was pretty eclectic, but there was more of myself in them, than a particular method of creation.
So, today, I bought a mini-journal and tried to articulate the things that were important to me when I first started. I came up with this list:
Use at least one hand-made artisan element (hand-made charm, embellished trinket, etc.)
Artistic style (not just "strung" beads)
Wearability: function over form
And for selling purposes, I identified justifiable price points... based on length of time to make the piece (and any of its components) and price of materials used. This is fairly easy to calculate by using Eni Oken's price calculator.
In my little journal, I defined what each of these points means to me, adding some description and examples. I'm planning on using it as a reference when beginning a project.... if it doesn't fit the signature, I'll pass on the project, at least until I get my mojo back.
For my own inspiration, I'm posting a few of the pieces I have been most fond of... ones I feel reflect the "designer" in me, not the technique geek I've become. Most have new homes now, except those I kept for myself! Please enjoy!
Quality components... lampwork, brass...
Artisan elements... my own lampwork beads...
Unique assembly....artistic style...
Artistic style... unique assembly...
Artisan elements...beaded flower, enameled butterflies of my own hand...
Unique assembly...hand-made bead clusters...
Unique assembly... quality components...
Artisan elements... my own metal clay pendant
Artisan components... my own lampwork beads...
Artisan components... bead units and hand-hammered pendant...
Unique assembly...artistic design...
Artisan elements... my own lampwork beads...
Artistic design...quality materials...
Unique connections....quality materials...
Unique assembly... quality components...
Artisan elements... hand-made charms....
Artisan techniques... metal stamping and riveting...
Quality materials... artistic design...
Quality materials.... Thai silver and gemstones....
All these designs have one thing in common... I was "feeling" them when they were created. I remember being in "the zone," the world shut out, and it was just me and the desire to create. In my journey to design again, this is my destination.
It has been about six months since my last post to this Blog. It was about that time that my mom began to lose her battle with cancer. I didn't feel I wanted to really share that with the world, and I just couldn't bring myself to feel that there was anything more important to write about. Sadly, she passed away in January, the day after my birthday.
It has taken a while to feel motivated to post anything, and I find it serendipitously ironic that after logging in to post some exciting news about winning the Vintaj "Story Book Give-away", I realized my last entry was about trying to win a Vintaj give-away!
I am very excited to share this bit of news... and I couldn't be happier with the cool prize I won! I love Vintaj components and I love the art bead partner, Tesori Trovati, they have chosen for this month's goodies! The collection is beautiful!
Thank you to everyone at Vintaj for choosing my story and giving me this great honor! (And giving me something worth writing about!)
Here's another beaded flower! I really like the way these take center stage in my designs. I think I might branch out and try a different kind of beaded bead. The tutorial I bought has a variety of beaded bead patterns.
Here's some more in my experiment with enameling. I love these little gals! Just before the glass was fully set, I removed some of the glass from the center of the butterflies. I think it creates a cool, Old World feel.
I've been experimenting again. I bought some new "how-to's!
The first was a tutorial on flower beads. Yes, the big flower bead was made by me! Thanks to a "plum blossom" pattern I purchased from Kathryn Bowman on Etsy, I have learned to make a variety of flower beads. This one features grey dagger beads and purple AB flowers. I think it turned out lovely!
After purchasing that tutorial, I began to wonder what other wonderful tutorials I could find on Etsy. So with a simple search of "tutorials" I stumbled across another one that caught my eye. A few months ago, one of the bead magazine covers featured enameled beads. I was really intrigued by the finish on them. So when my search turned up a tutorial on torch firing enamel by Barbara Lewis, I decided to give it a whirl because the description of her technique made it seem fairly easy. I already had most of the supplies in my studio (except the enamel), so I also ordered a sample set of enamels. They arrived earlier this week, but I didn't start experimenting until today. The butterflies above were made with robin egg blue enamel over Vintaj Arte Metal.
I've always liked the way purple and aqua play together, so this was the perfect opportunity to pair up the colors in this bracelet and show-off the new components I made myself. I used a sterling silver toggle clasp, purple melon beads, gun-metal spacers, and Czech glass leaves that are purple on one side and aqua AB on the other. To break-up the feminity of this one, I used a handmade steel coil as a bridge on the underside of the bracelet.
Talk about couch potato! It's a cold, rainy day, and I have spent the majority of it with my rear-end planted firmly on the couch. I did take a couple of breaks from my lounging to engage in something productive... I made some microwave caramel corn. I took a some photographs for my Etsy store and listed some items. (I just reopened my store after taking about six months off.) And I recycled a cute little Polar peaches jar into a cute little tea light holder, using leftover bead dangles I have been stockpiling for just such a project.
Isn't it cute? (I spilled the wax a little bit when I was moving it to the light box to take a picture.) I''m thinking they would make cute little gifts for incidental occasions.
Easy to make instructions:
Clean glass jar. (I used a Polar fruit jar because it has a cute shape and no words or advertising marks on it. So, technically, I guess step #1 is "eat fruit!")
With approximately 5' of wire in a coil, begin to unwind wire around the top of the jar, below the place where the cap screws on. Leaving about a 3" tail, twist the wire a couple of times.
Proceed around the jar with the wire one complete time around.
Continue to wrap wire aroundd jar, stopping about every 2-1/2 inches. At each interval, tuck the wire around the back of the wire that is already there, string on one bead unit (or bead), and twist with jewelry pliers to secure bead in place. Continue around about four times, or until you reach your starting point and you know you will not be able to make another trip around the jar.
You will want to be sure you can have at least 4" of wire left as a second tail. This may require that you cut the wire if your tail looks like it will be more than 5" long. Tightly twist the two tails together near the top a couple of times. (One tail should be longer than the other for asymmetry.)
Wind each tail around the barrel of the inside of a pen to create a small coil. Pull the coils apart to resemble ribbon.
Take your jewelry pliers and grab the individual wires in between the bead units and slightly turn them in random fashion to create interesting kinks, twists and turns in the wire.
Light a little tea light and enjoy your new creation!
I love to "window shop" on line. One of my favorite places to do it is Etsy. You just never know what you might find there! Recently, I was searching for handmade journals.
I am not much of a reader, so it is not surprising that some of my favorite books have blank pages! I probably have purchased thirty or forty journals over the years... each with blank pages... each never even written in. Why? Blank pages are akin to a blank canvas... until you begin the process of creating, anything is possible! I'm a collector, a writer, a stamper, a sketcher, a recorder... and I am a perfectionist at heart. Although I have bought my journals with a particular "purpose" in mind... I fear the moment I put something in them it might ruin the opportunity for them to become anything I want them to be. I know. Sounds nuts. But those books and their blank pages are still waiting to become. Commiting them to any one of my whims might suppress the hope and promise of a better idea that is yet to be. And so, the blank pages are of comfort to me. They represent freedom, so to speak. So hears a look at some of the cool journals on Etsy that are calling to me right now.
"Whipped Cream and Other Delights" was one of Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass' most popular albums. It featured some great songs that bring back childhood memories for me. Songs like "A Taste of Honey" and "Whipped Cream" (otherwise known at the Dating Game song) were frequently playing on our record player. (Yes, I know. I'm old. At least I didn't say phonograph.) If you don't know who Herb Alpert is, you've missed out on music history in the '60's... and early 70's. So sad for you!
I've discovered many artists are making nostalgic children's books into journals. I'm not a fan of the green interior pages here, but I have a soft spot for "Lady and the Tramp." I loved the movie as a kid, as a mother, and as a grandmother. It's just a great story... and makes a cute little journal. Incidentally, some of the artists who make these clever books actually include pages of the story in between blank pages of paper. I just think that's neat!
What can I say? Recycled. All-American. Delicious. And a journal to boot!
Now this little gem is a great journal. I loved this story when I was a kid. In fact, when we were on vacation in Williamsburg, Virginia, my parents bought me a Red Riding Hood hand-made doll. It had Red Riding Hood on one side, complete with red calico dress and cape with hood. Flip the dress over and Granny was on the other side in a brown calico dress with a white kerchief, just like you see drawn in the children's books. But when you pulled Granny's kerchief down, there was the wolf with teeth bared, "all the better to eat you with, my dear!" It was a very well-made doll and a great companion for a daydreamer and aspiring puppeteer! This journal is just fabulous and is of the type I described earlier where the storybook pages are scattered throughout the blank pages.
Check out Etsy for a wide variety of journals just "waiting to become" -- little blank canvases for dreaming to your heart's content!
It is hard to believe that just a few days ago I didn't know a thing about enameling. Here again is another experiment... this time on the black Vintaj "Arte Metal." Again, a coat of white paint, strategic placement of alcohol inks (green this time) and a good coating of UTEE.
I really like the way this turned out....
My love for green beads (why green? I really don't know...) came in handy for this one, as I found a tube of the the perfect complement for this pendant.
... that's probably because you have already seen part of this necklace in another post.
This piece was originally designed using an embossed piece of leather as the focal pendant, however, the more I have lived with the piece, the more I thought the leather pendant wasn't substantial enough to hold its own with the other components of the necklace.
I really like the feminity of this ring. It provides a nice contrast from the earthiness of the turquoise beads and patinaed fern leaf.
Yes, I definitely like the results of this re-design much better.
I'm really loving the new enameling technique I learned. This pendant was made with a combination of alcohol inks, gold embossing powder and amethyst embossing tinsel. I covered it all with clear UTEE. I have found it is easier to embed an object, such as the brass flower, if you melt all the powders, let the piece cool, set the object on top of the piece, then reheat to just melted. In this case, also lightly covered the flower in UTEE so it would be "in" the piece, not outside of it. Once it was cooled, I wrapped it in a beautiful Vintaj filigree. This close-up pretty well represents the true colors of the pendant, purple and green.
The pictures of the comlete necklace don't do it justice. I had trouble getting the colors in the pendant and beads to show up. All that's really visible here is the form it has taken, the design itself. I repeated the theme with flowers as connectors to the bead units. I used glass beads with a metallic finish in purple and gold to match the pendant.
I wish the photos would better to capture the essence of the piece. It is really quite lovely, especially with the amethyst tinsel embedded in the enamel!