Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Clio Earrings

My designs have been mainly one of a kind, but for my first time exhibiting in an Art Show later this month, I wanted to create a collection, a grouping that, although not identical, shared strong commonality. After creating a series of lariats, a theme developed – Modern Botanical – and 3mm rondelles quickly emerged as my signature design element. 

But how to use them in earrings?  Stacking them in mini-chunks, and dangling them in clusters made for great pairings with my lariats, but I also needed to find a way to use them in stand-alone statement earrings.
Calliope Earrings by Fusion Beads
I found this Calliope design among Fusion Bead’s Inspiration Projects, and stitched it up to see how it would translate in my more restrained color palette.

Although I liked the result very much in these autumn neutrals, I felt the flat circle and picot edging were out of synch with the rest of my collection.  Modifications were in order!

Switching out the flat circle component with a larger round wire component allowed me to keep the same diameter, but lose the fringe. My rondelles were a little smaller than the ones Fusion Beads used in their design, and I found that stacking mine gave me a more pronounced negative space. I was going for a flower, but ended up with a stellate (our botanical word of the day, meaning star-shaped). Still within my Modern Botanical theme! Since the original version was named after the Greek Goddess Calliope, I named mine in honor of her more practical sister, Clio.

As I created them in lots of colors, I documented the steps in my journal. Although I could stitch them in my sleep right now, this will head off that moment of design panic if someone asks for one six months from now!

My favorite colorway this season is still the awesome combination of Bright Cobalt, Royal Blue and Aluminum.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Best New Tool on My Bead Table

I’ve been keeping written journals since I got my first diary for my 9th birthday. I started keeping a visual design journal last year when I won this sketchbook from Kathleen Lange Klik of Modern Nature Studio.

In addition to my own rudimentary design sketches, that first journal holds design ideas I came across (or went searching for), simple collages of colors and shapes I found intriguing (and wanted to find a way to translate into beads), and page after page of visual to-do lists (which I became addicted to creating after reading Liza Kirwin’s book, Lists.)
Janice Lowry’s visual to-do list, from Lists, by Liza Kirwin.

I had a decision to make this summer when the pages of that first sketchbook were nearly full and it was time to move on to another one. Intrigued by a recent exhibit I visited on book arts, I decided to sign up for Deryn Mentock’s Artisan Daybook online class and create one myself from vintage book covers and drawing, printmaking and watercolor papers.

Deryn shared so many design techniques in this class – altering cabinet cards, creating wire forms and collaging were just a few we used on the cover.

I found my cabinet card tucked away in a shoebox in an antique store. I loved the fact that the girl was in profile, and just look at that hand muff! The photography studio imprint shows the photo was taken in Cincinnati, and the inscription on the back reads, in impeccable penmanship, “A Merry Christmas from Sister Clara, 1890.” Could Clara have ever envisioned another woman, 125 years later, giving her portrait a second life with watercolors and layers of stampings?

Sari silk and a piece of tatting given to me by my husband’s grandmother nearly 30 years ago are wire wrapped around sticks from my backyard. Isn’t that the cutest flower? I have a feeling these wire forms Deryn taught us will be finding their way into my jewelry pieces!

The pages of my first sketchbook were filled up chronologically. I can still flip to a particular design pretty easily - amazing how our designs are like offspring and we can remember them in birth order! But for my new journal, I created individual signatures for notes, earrings, bracelets, neckwear and color ideas.

The first section in my journal will be for gathering colors and patterns into palettes. Deryn’s class included several fun transfer techniques. For the cover of my first signature, I printed an avatar of my Dream Client onto a transparency and transferred her onto a watercolor and gelato background. The only art supplies I had at the beginning of this project were a beautiful set of colored pencils Kathleen gifted me with my original sketchbook. I became a frequenter of the $3 and $5 sales tables at my local Sam Flax art store!

The workshop gave us lots of techniques to make the inside pages as unique and interesting as our covers.  Adding a small envelope with tissue tape gave me a good place to capture artist cards from our recent trip to the Arts District in Asheville.

A collaged envelope is the final signature in my journal. Empty when this photo was taken, it’s now stitched into the spine and brimming with ideas I need to transfer onto the pages of my journal!

I highly recommend putting Deryn Mentock’s class schedule on your watch list. Deryn’s joy and enthusiasm for the creative process are infectious, and this workshop, besides being totally fun and inspiring, was the highlight of my summer sabbatical.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Time Out for a Creativity Boost

Twelve-hour days have become the norm in my studio, as I'm preparing for an art show next month. Tomorrow is October - impossible to believe!

Tonight is one of those rare occasions I have the house to myself. I plan to put my needle down, give my hands (and shoulders!) a break, and spend it right here, with a glass of red and my two favorite magazines: Where Women Create and Belle Armoire Jewelry.

A pot of last night's carrot-fennel soup is reheating on the stove, and my jalapeno cornbread smells just about ready to come out of the oven.

A quick dinner, and then I'm going to grab a blanket, settle back into the pillows, prop my feet up and be inspired by the creative processes of some pretty extraordinary artists. Here's a look at one of the studios featured in the Autumn issue of Where Women Create. I want to move right in!

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: