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!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Playing Catch Up with Hoops

Yikes!! I am a couple of weeks behind in the 100 Pairs in 100 Days Challenge hosted by Copper Diem. Starting tomorrow, it will be two pairs a day until I'm fully caught up. Meanwhile, there are some fabulous designs being posted over on the Pinterest page, where I'll be adding the following seven pair, all in one of my favorite fashion statements: mixed metal hoops.

Shibuichi (copper/silver alloy) earring findings by Saki Silver, bronze seed beads,
brass earwires

Sterling hoops, copper and sterling accent beads, copper earwires

Sterling silver hoops are ringed by matte and honey gold seed beads;
faceted firepolish beads are captured in antique copper

Titanium, sterling and copper wires complement dazzling orbs.

Gold plated marquis links combined with sterling and antique copper.

Blue pewter charlottes ring sterling hoops. Brass and kyanite accents.
Super light and oh-so-fun to wear!

Sterling earwires and teardrop links. London Blue quartz and copper.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

February ABS Challenge - It Started with a Charm

My month was jam-packed, leaving me no time to participate in this month's Art Bead Scene Challenge. I was just going to take a peek at the art that was selected, and then simply couldn't resist the chance to design a piece around the geometric patterns and rhythms of Paul Klee's The Rose Garden.

Once, at an exhibit of Klee's work, our guide told us about his artistic approach, that Klee started with a point, expanded it to a line and then took it for a walk wherever it wanted to go. Haven't you heard jewelry artists explain their own process that way? "It started with a bead…"

Or in my case, a charm! The starting point for this design was an elegant bead embroidered charm I received from Nancy Dale of NEDbeads. Nancy originally created the charm for an artisan swap, and when she realized it fell outside the project dimensions, thought it would be a great component for a mixed media piece and offered it up in a giveaway to her readers. I was the lucky recipient, and when I saw this month's painting, I realized I was already testing many of Klee's colors on my bead tray with Nancy's charm. Now, I would just be taking them down a different path.

Nancy's component included a Swarovski chaton and bicone in the new Crystal Lilac Shadow, set against the rich purple and warm bronze found in the painting. I added slim pave beads in the same soft lilac, front-and-center in the focal, and at the back to accent the plum silk cord. Berry and wine tones combine with gold and bronze in the dangles.

Wanting to work Klee's spirals into my design, I used Cindy Wimmer's birthday bow links to connect luscious merlot nuggets by Studio Juls and speckled red-orange spacer beads by Jessica Herrell. (The links are from Cindy's, newest book, The Missing Link, and you definitely want a copy for your wirework library!) The links, jump rings and wavy discs were all made by me in vintage bronze.

Many thanks to Nancy Dale for generously gifting me with her charm. You can read about the edging techniques she was exploring while creating it here, and find more of her tutorials on her website (many are free!) and her Etsy shop. And after treating yourself to NEDbeads, click over to the ArtBead Scene Flickr page. There are some truly phenomenal designs on display this month.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Spicing it up with Cayenne

Pantone keeps a running survey on its website, tracking readers' favorite colors from its Spring 2014 Color Report. The number one trending color? Cayenne, this season's spicy blend of red and coral, and my theme for this week's 100 Pairs in 100 Days collection.

Warm and fresh, Cayenne stands alone beautifully.
Silver spacers by the Fire Goddess, handmade earwires
Glass rounds by Thornburg Bead Studios

It's equally assertive paired elegantly with white, or with dark, organic neutrals.

At right, clay spiral textured discs by Marsha Neal, spacer beads by Thornburg Bead Studio

I think Cayenne is at its best when paired with similar hues like orange or pink...

Starlight Knots, from a tutorial by Gwen Fisher

...and then really spices things up when you add in just a touch of pastel blue.

Lampwork discs pictured above, and glass headpins pictured below by The Fire Goddess

Vivid brights, soft pastels or classy neutrals? Click over to the Pantone website and vote for your favorite Spring hue!

Monday, February 3, 2014

YOJP Week 5 - Mid-Winter Memories

I have always loved long, solitary mid-winter walks, when the landscape is unadorned, still gently fading. While the colors are subtle and muted, there's an abundance of structure and texture on display - details that go unnoticed when everything is in bloom.

The inspiration for this week's Year of Jewelry Project came from a pre-snow walk in my Atlanta neighborhood last week. When I bent down to pick up a large piece of fallen bark, thinking it might come in handy for a photo shoot, I was surprised to discover some young green shoots - the first promise of spring.

Faceted, icicle-cut tourmaline gemstones nestle among keishi pearls, calling to mind those fresh green shoots in the winter soil. The focal combines a black drusy, tourmaline roundels, freshwater pearl and sterling pinecone charm (from Nina Designs), beneath a sterling connector by Saki Silver. After the last few icy-cold mornings, I'm hoping those glossy green blades are true harbingers of Spring!