Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fresh Starts

I love Fall.  Partly because my birthday is in October.  But mostly because of the cool, foggy mornings, the feel of warm fabrics, and the promise of new beginnings and fresh starts.

Energized and ready for action following a long summer hiatus from blogging and from my bead table, I spent September transitioning to a new season –refocusing, reorganizing and re-evaluating my approach to design.

Yesterday brought the first official day of Fall. I spied what to me is the very essence of the season - a trio of pie pumpkins on the shelf at my neighborhood Publix. And I received an acceptance letter into my first juried Art Show. So much to be excited about!

Here’s a look at one of the new designs I’ve been working on in September - long, sleek lariats to go with the changing necklines of Fall.
Sapphire rondelles and metal seed beads in platinum and pewter
 bring together Pantone's Royal Blue and Aluminum for Fall.
Contemporary sterling leaf shapes are from Nina Designs.

I also love the look of Sangria and Aluminum, another Pantone Fall color trend.
In this lariat I've used garnet and rose quartz rondelles with a natural ruby focal.

Like pumpkins and changing leaves,
labradorite and garnet set against brass seed beads just say Fall to me.

What are you excited about this Fall?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Time to Stitch Five - Reveal

Blues are slated to be big this Fall, and I love the shades Pantone includes in their Fall Color Report, especially when paired with the trendy neutral, Aluminum.

Classic blues and silver-grays were the colors I chose to work with for today's A Time to Stitch Challenge hosted by Christine Altmiller and Therese Frank. Our challenge was to take one stitch and make three designs with it, changing up the beads in each - either the size, color, shape or finish. The purpose of our exercise was to observe how bead choices affect the overall character of the design.

My stitch for this challenge is right angle weave and the design is the very chic O. Mosaic Cuff from Rachel Nelson Smith's Seed Bead Fusion. My first cuff is five rows wide in blue pewter and sterling silver size 11 Japanese charlottes. Bright Cobalt is the star of this cuff with accents of the not-quite-gray, not-quite silver Aluminum. Light and delicate, the cut surfaces of the charlottes shimmer metallic on the wrist and give this cuff a definite special-occasion quality. Rachel offers several design options for the cuff and I took this one directly from the pages of her book.

Still the O. Mosaic pattern, but for my second piece, I came up with my own design variation. Color blocking and round size 11 seed beads make this version instantly more casual. I went bi-tonal with the Aluminum, weaving in a matte and a metallic shade with the classic blue. At four rows wide, it's the same width as the charlotte version, but the slightly larger beads, smooth surfaces, and combination of finishes make this cuff appear much heavier.

I'm just starting my third design. At three rows of size 15's, it will be a skinny version. The blue is royal, the silver-gray is understated, and I think the minimal matte-metallic gold is really going to pop!

This has been a fun and very enlightening exploration of bead choices and how they impact the finished design. Many thanks to Christine and Therese for continuing to challenge all of us. (I, for one, am hoping there will be more!) I hope you'll have time to check out the work of all the participating designers:



Monday, June 2, 2014

A Better Answer to "How much would it cost..."

You're at a summer party, proudly wearing one of your latest designs. Let's face it, we all hope someone notices our creations. What if another partygoer does notice and wants one for herself? For her getaway vacation next week? Would you know how to guide the negotiations and quote a profitable price for your handmade jewelry? I've made a number of pricing mistakes when I found myself in this situation, from forgetting to include a key component when doing a quick mental tally of costs to seriously underestimating the time it would take to recreate a piece.

To prevent such pricing faux pas from happening again, I'm adding one more very important step to my design process. I'm documenting the production process from gathering up the beads to tying off the last knot!

I plan to generate production notes for every piece I design, beginning with the Bridesmaids Earrings I created for my son's wedding last month. I was making six pair of these brick-stitched designs, so I sat down at the computer after completing the second pair. My production notes have a space for a materials list (the digital document includes links to purchase), a breakdown of costs (including scrupulously accounting for my time), and a crisp photo of design options. The rest of the sheet details step-by-step instructions and design notes.

An added bonus: documenting the step-by-steps this way brings a different eye to the process and I quickly saw a better thread path to ensure optimal alignment of the center crystal.

And if someone admires these in daughter Dani's ears and wants to know if they can be made in turquoise and silver? I'll know the answer can be found at Fire Mountain Gems, since my production notes tell me it's the only place that my design's non-standard size of faceted crystal ovals can be found!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Spring Weddings

Most of April and all of May were devoted to designing wedding jewelry. A workout buddy asked me to design vintage-style deco pieces for her daughter's May wedding. Their wedding colors were grey and white, so that collection, which included necklaces and earrings for the bride, her mother and her grandmother, was designed entirely in platinum, white and crystal.

They were a terrific trio of women to design for, and once their pieces were delivered it was great fun, and a welcome return to color in the studio, as I began designing my own pieces for our son's wedding last weekend.

The top I chose for the Rehearsal Dinner had an Asian feel with its slightly raised collar and sash. 

Three large stones from a strand of aquamarine faceted rondelles echoed the fresh aqua in my shirt. To continue the Asian feel, I stitched up varying sizes of Smadar Grossman's Ribbeads (a free download available here.) To finish the choker and warm up the palette, I added Kazuri beads in warm chocolate and gold, and silk strands variegated in aquas and browns.

After months of dreaming and planning this special day, their wedding weekend was magical! I'll leave you with a photo of our son, Chase, and his beautiful bride, Kelly.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Chain, Chain, Chain!

Yesterday was the 100th day of 2014, and the end of the 100 Pairs in 100 Days Challenge hosted by Copper Diem. Did I make my goal of an earring a day? More like an earring every other day! My final designs all feature chains, either by using them traditionally as dangles, or by deconstructing ornamental chain and putting individual segments to work as components. From everyday hoops to date-night statement pieces, these were great fun to design!
Central component is stitched in RAW and embellished
with pewter and iolite. Iolite and pearl dangles.

Nothing says date night like sterling and crystals.

When I began this challenge, I had a real preference for bead and wirework earrings, and took up metalworking just to be able to design them for myself. Looking over my collection from the last 100 days, I was surprised to find that my favorites were the beadwoven designs! A new passion on the horizon? What earrings do you find yourself reaching for every day?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Tray Full of Spring

It was nothing but sunshine and a Spring palette of inspiration on my bead tray this week to create another group of earrings for the 100 pairs in 100 days challenge.

Here in Atlanta we can usually count on mild winters, a heartbeat of spring, and then full-on summer, which hit us this week, with gorgeous blue skies and morning temperatures reaching into the '80's. Those blue skies inspired my first two pair of earrings which incorporate focal components by Marsha Neal (top) and Kimberly Branch (bottom), along with waxed linen for a Spring-perfect look!

The rest of this week's designs give a shout out to the slowly emerging flowerbeds and foliage of Spring.

(I've given credit to the art bead creators over on the 100 Pairs in 100 Days Pinterest board.)

Monday, March 24, 2014

40 Shades of Green

Quarried only in Western Ireland, Connemara marble is considered the national gem of Ireland and boasts 40 shades of green running through the stone.  Cynthia Machata, of Antiquity Travelers, brought some beautiful Connemara marble pendants back with her from a recent trip to the Emerald Isle, and gifted one to me.

As soon as I saw the stone, I knew it would be perfect for a tutorial I had just purchased, and it would give me a chance to learn a new technique! I began by bezeling the marble in black and silver, and, since the stone was already very large, I finished it with a simple, clean edge in various shades of green.

This is the first time I’ve added a pin back. Since the stone is rather heavy, I  used Jamie Cloud Eakin’s technique and cut a piece of metal flashing (found in the roofing section of any hardware store) to insert between the under- and outer-backing. Epoxy-fortified, it gave the pin back some much-needed extra strength.

With its myriad greens, tiny shamrock and emerald drop, it was the perfect St. Patrick’s Day accessory. I wore it last week, pinned to the shoulder of my raincoat, and it really brightened up a drizzly, gloomy day running errands! (And garnered lots of second glances and compliments!)

But I wasn’t finished with my project yet! I created the pin to use as the focal for a Sherri Stokey micro-macramé necklace. I had wanted to try my hand at micro-macramé forever and Sherri’s Multi-Strand Necklace tutorial on seemed a great place to start.

I had made a flock of those big-eyed owls of the eighties (one of which my mother actually hung in the family room!) But it had been decades since I’d engaged in hand-knotting and I loved every minute working with Sherri’s modern, minimal design. Micro-macramé is a technique I will definitely return to again.

No two pieces of Connemara marble are identical, and mine shows tones of grey, brown-green, olive and a nearly black, forest green. After adding stones, crystals and seed beads from my stash, I’m pretty sure my finished piece celebrates at least 40 shades of green!

Much thanks go out to Cynthia, for gifting me with such a unique piece of Irish history!