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.


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!


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!