Saturday, July 26, 2014

CC7A :: Celebrations

We began our journey in Canada with Monique and her challenge of the National Gallery of Canada. And now we end our series of the Creative Continuum of 7 Artists in Canada with the polymer extraordinaire Emma of A Polymer Penchant

This month Emma sent out a stash of beads including a beautiful pendant of polymer that she made which looks a bit like fireworks. She's sending us off in style.

Her challenge for July is just the perfect final celebration for our group of seven. I decided to string it with some simple silk thread and knot the stash of matching beads Emma sent.  I created a faint braiding with the thread which I think gives it a bit of a romantic look.

To finish up my set, I used some unusual beads that Emma sent that are hoops with balls along the outer edge. I stacked them to look a bit like a burst of fireworks. At least that is what I saw as I stacked and twisted the ensemble together.

I'm going to miss our monthly get togethers with this group. We've had a lot of fun trying out all sorts of beads and styles. Thank you all for a great ride!

Check out the rest of the crew's final projects: Alicia (our host), Emma (this month's featured artist), Therese, Christine, Monique and Sally

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Summertime Orange

I mentioned Fernhill Glass Studio in my last post as one of my new favorite places to buy unique cabochons. 

These glass pieces were not made for that purpose, in fact when I was digging through the large dish of discarded glass the owner curiously asked what in world I had in store. 

I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to tell him since I still had yet to get the price, and perhaps bargain a bit with him. But once I realized it really wasn't going to cost me much, I let him know they were going to be turned into beaded pendants. Still, with the quizzical stare, he just raise an eyebrow and said 'huh, interesting.'

This piece of orange glass I had a certain person in mind. A young friend of mine is very partial to orange, and I could tell as I began to bead it that it was going to end up going home with her. I know this will look absolutely wonderful on her. Her mom gifted me some orange silk thread, which I think looks perfect with it, along with brass beaded accents in multiple sizes for the threading and around the top of the bezel.

I still have a bag full of this beautiful glass in a rainbow of colors that you will be seeing more of in the coming months. Lots of pattern ideas floating around in my head that are becoming sketches. I have them prepped and ready to go, now if I could just stop scooting them around to match them this way and that, I might actually get a few more pieces finished. Soon, I promise.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

ZNetShows :: Summer Days & Nights Challenge

ZnetShows has come up with another fantastic challenge with more sea glass (a personal favorite of mine). I just could not resist when I saw the call for artists from Hope Smitherman. She asked us to create two sets with the beads sent; one set designed as for daytime, and a second set that is more dressy for nighttime. 

When my beads arrived I knew the second I saw the lavender colored sea glass that I was going to pair it with a recent bit of glass I picked up for a cabochon. I was traveling last April in Oregon and stopped into a local glass blowing studio called Fernhill. They had a big bowl of bits of glass that they snip off in the process of making vases, glasses, bowls, etc. I went straight for the bowl and spent a good hour sifting through all the variations. What a find! They sold the bits of glass to me by the pound, and I feel like I walked away the winner! 

The focal you see here is one of the glass cabochons that I used small pearls to bezel around. I paired it up with the lavender sea glass from ZnetShows and used more pearls as accents. It created the prettiest combination, and with the beaded bail you can shift the necklace around to show off different parts of the pattern.

For matching earrings I decided to use some of the pretty tear drop shaped white sea glass in my ZnetShows stash with some amethyst to match with my necklace. I felt like the pearls were more of an evening wear set even tho it is light in color. It would look fantastic with a summer dress for a night out!

The second set I made was with the deep green sea glass. I LOVE this color. When Hope asked what color I liked, I of course said green. I was sent these beauties in wonderful, large rounds. I loved the simplicity of the simple string of the sea glass, and so went with it and matched them up with some onyx rondelles. I thought the onyx really brought out the richness in the color. I wanted to add chain around the back, but need something that could carry the size of the design. When I first added simple silver chain it just seemed to be lost with all those larger beads. So I decided to make my own chain using jump rings and smaller hematite rounds. I love how this one turned out. 

I wanted to echo the colors in earrings, but didn't want to use the sea glass as they would be too heavy. So instead I use these wonderful flat black rounds from my ZnetShow's stash and pair them with some green tinted glass beads, which was perfect and not too 'matchy-matchy' ... as one of my friends says.

So for my daytime necklace and earrings I created this green set that I think would pair up beautifully with some shorts, black shirt and simple sandals. You'd be all set with this baby for a summer lunch with the girl friends!

I thought I'd show you the rest of my stash that I'm still working on. ZnetShows was really generous with us to design with! And I do love me some sea glass to play with. You'll see mine and all my fellow designers in this months edition of Creative Spark, which you'll find over on the ZnetShows blog.  And here are the rest of the designers so you can see what everyone else made.

Amy Serverino, Andrea Trank, Becky Pancake, Bobbie Rafferty, BR Kuhlman, Charlie Jacks, Christie Murrow, Christina Miles, Christine Stonefield, Cynthia Machata (that's me), Cynthia Riggs, Donetta Farrington, Hope Smitherman, Kashmira Patel, Kathy Lindemer, Kay Thomerson, Kelly Patterson, Klaudete Koon, Lee Koopman, Lisa Lodge, Renetha Stanziano, Sandra Washington, Shaiha Williams, Sheryl Stephens, Stephanie Haussler, Tammie Everly

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pearls, Pearls, Pearls Hop

I can say with certainty that I do not know anyone who loves pearls more than Shel! She has such a passion for the subject, and has written quite a few guides to help the rest of us with the difference in luster and origin of these beauties. 

Last year I participated in Shel's hop and had a funny thing happen to me. I discovered that I had an ethnic boho style. I truly love creating pieces with leather and pearls; there is just something about that look that I gravitate towards. 

But every now and then when I pick up pearls I just feel the elegance of them in my hand, and I need to create something with a bit more timelessness. This sweet little double strand bracelet screams Audrey to me. I could absolutely see her wearing this in Breakfast at Tiffany's. While this one is a bit formal, I feel like I could wear it for almost any occasion. 

As Shel says "most people still see pearls as stuffy, snobby or classic and all prim and proper. Not me. I believe they go with anything, on anyone, in any season and for any reason."  And besides, that little flower clasp just makes me smile. So I may just be wearing this one everyday.

So one of the things that happened in my life recently is that I changed 'day jobs.' Oh how I wish my beady hobby was enough for me to pay the bills, but alas it is not. And so I spend my days working in an office. This new job has a need for more formal 'meeting attire' and I was realizing that I really didn't have any jewelry that matches this (did I say how much I like boho?). This is just silly considering my stash of beads and findings, so I decided to make myself a simple black pearl necklace for work. I didn't want it too stuffy so I alternated with small off white freshwater pearls in a few sizes. I wear a lot of black and grey so this has been absolutely perfect.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

CC7A :: Something Old, New, Borrowed & Blue

This month it was my turn to host the challenge items for Alicia's Creative Continuum of 7 Artists

I sent out a mixture of blues and silvers along the theme of the old wedding adage from Victorian times: something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. I picked the theme since June is the month for weddings; although absolutely nothing about my own wedding was traditional. 

I'm also not known for following the rules, not even when I'm the one that makes them. The pieces I made for this month are not a wedding set. I also managed to send out the same mixture to all the other artists, but for some reason didn't leave enough for myself. So I'm expecting mine to look a bit different from what everyone else makes! Which will be part of the fun for me as I can't wait to see what everyone made.

I did have extra apatite, so I used that and I had one piece of the toggle (the leaf) but manage to lose the other part of it. I mean seriously ... a comedy of errors for me this month! And of course I only realized it after I had sent everyone else's out. Oh well, it will still be blue with silver!

I've been in the simple stringing mood lately, so I went with it for my piece. I wanted a striking blue bracelet with a focal closure. I pulled out an old button that fit through the leaf, which worked perfectly! I used some borrowed silk thread (from my friend Christine) to add the button and a little more apatite for fringe. I grabbed some cute bird and feather charms to make a matching pair of earrings.

So there you have it ... my something old (silver button), something new (bird and feather charms), something borrowed (silk thread from Christine) and something blue (apatite). 

So now on to the fun part of hopping around to see what everyone else made! Check out the other blogs: Alicia (our host), ChristineEmmaMoniqueSally and Therese

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Break From Tradition :: Blog Hop with Spikes

Last Fall I kept seeing spike beads everywhere, and was wondering how exactly I might design around some of those thingies. But I did notice that so many of the ones I saw were large, metal and rather sharp looking. Which just didn't really look all that 'safe' for the kind of beader I am.

Now ... most of you know that I consider beading to be a contact sport, and typically walk away stabbed and bleeding from an afternoon of bead weaving. Perhaps a broken needle or two, and maybe a large amount of swear words have been uttered. 

So when I saw these 'less sharp' looking howlite spikes, I figured it was probably a better option for me. I grabbed a white and a black set and headed off to the cashier. But once home I realized that it was a crazy amount of beads to work with, so I asked a couple of my beady friends if they wanted to give these things a try. Surprisingly, all four said yes. Well alrighty then, game on.

Months later ... we're getting around to posting our creations. Now some of us have already created a thing or two, some of us tried and ripped out (multiple times - with probably a few swear words), and a few more left those beads on the table to stare down for a few months just to see if that would help tame them. So let's get to it, shall we ...

I did try my hand at these spikes a while back, and posted it here. As a quick recap, I tried several times to work these beads into a bracelet, but my early attempts were complete and total #FAIL. I'm telling you, these spikes take some taming!. I did finally settle on a nice, freeform ladder stitch around the beads. The cuff has nice warm, earthy colors that are great for winter wear (I have it pictured in the lower left below). I was completely surprised by how comfortable it is to wear! I was careful to use only 5 of the spike beads so that there weren't any on the under side of the bracelet. That way it isn't uncomfortable to wear for everyday tasks .... for say typing out this blog post. 

For this more recent, and second attempt, I wanted to change it up a bit to make it lighter (in color at least). This looks more like summer on the wrist and would be a fun piece to wear with a flow-y blouse ... in a bohemian style (of course). Again, I used only 5 spikes so the under side of the bracelet is flat. It too is comfy to wear!

A little call out to the blog hop button. I found this adorable Etsy shop, Sofia's Couture Designs, that creates costumes, and this twist on the Batman (ehem, girl) Superhero outfit was perfect for our Break From Tradition Hop. So now it's time to check out the other brave beaders who tried out these ginormous howlite spikes: Therese, Janet, Christine and Bobbie.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Time To Stitch 5 :: Same But Different

Therese and Christine are hosting another one of their famous bead weaving challenges called A Time To Stitch (#5 in the series) and this time we're focusing on using one stitch but creating variations on it.

I played around with several different stitches before settling on a simple flat spiral weave. I was actually hanging out with Christine when she showed me a simple stitch in a Beadwork issue and I realized that's it! I'll play around with this one.

That is one of the things I've learned from Christine; taking a simple stitch and playing with variations, and colors, and bead sizes, and bead shapes. She is a master at this and the theme this time has her name written all over it! Oh one of these times Christine you know we're going to do CRAW because we know how much Therese loves that stitch - LOL.

Ok, let's get started. The first set of beads I picked up were size 8s, or larger beads to use as the center anchor stitch. And then I picked up some fun brick red colored lentil beads with an off center hole. They made such a fun design with a 'paddle' look to it. I happened to have my apprentice in the shop with me (my daughter Anne) who loves to help with creating patterns or shooting photos. She was running around the yard picking up bits of nature to add to the photos, and so I let that name each piece. This one is then called 'wild strawberries.'

Next up I increased the size of the center anchor and pulled out these translucent celery colored tear drops. I love this color, and I miss it in the dead of winter when nothing outside is green. But Anne found the perfect reflection of it in this fern. You can see how the larger beads accentuate the curve in the spiral stitch for a piece called .... of course 'fern.'

I wanted to try yet another bead type for the accent, so this time I pulled out some dragon scale beads which can be tricky as you need to keep track of which direction they are going. Not always easy when you're beading in a spiral! In the 'fern' bracelet I blended the center anchor color and the accent beads, but in this one I wanted the center to stand out with it's own wave through the piece. So I pulled out silver which I really love with purple. Anne showed up with a fist full of 'wild flowers' for my photo and aptly named this one.  

For the finale I pulled out a beautiful wood focal pendant that Christine gifted me. It seemed perfect for my nature series, and I really just love its simplicity and beautiful tree blossom pattern. I wanted the pattern for this to look more like chain, so I went with smaller beads. I pulled out some cylinder rootbeer beads with a cat's eye finish. They felt like bits of branches to me, and so perfect to let the pendant be the star. I added small green-ish tear drops for the accent. It looks like a 'woodland blossom' branch to me, and a perfect way to finish my series in variations on flat spiral.

Please check out all the other bloggers participating in today's hop. Our hosts Therese and Christine. And all the rest of us: Kim, Maryanne, Lola, Dagi, Shirley, Alenka, LiliKrist, Amy, Crystie, Sally, Cynthia (that's me), Bobbie, Karin, LizE, Becky Pancake, Karin G., Ana, Wendy, Mary H. and Jasvanti

Saturday, June 14, 2014

June's Creative Continuum of 7 Artists

This month it is my turn to host the theme for Alicia's Creative Continuum of 7 Artist Challenge. We post each month on the 26th, so it a little over a week away. But I wanted to give a shout out since we have a whole lot of blog hops coming up through the end of the month, so don't forget to check in!

I picked a theme that I thought we could have some fun with that is an old adage for brides. And then I sent out the mixture to match: something old (reclaimed sari silk), something new (imperial jasper), something borrowed (several remaining leaf toggles from a ZnetShows hop) and something blue (apatite rounds). 

Meaning: It is said that something old represents continuity, something new offers optimism for the future, something borrowed symbolizes borrowed happiness, something blue stands for purity, love and fidelity and a sixpence in your show is a wish for good fortune and prosperity

June tend to be a month for weddings, so I thought I'd challenge us with the theme, but I'm hoping I see some great non-traditional pieces with the loot!

For some reason I was so excited to get this out to all the other artists that I didn't remember to take a picture of the beads before dropping them into the mail. But Monique, Sally and Therese all sent me pictures ... and so I'm going to use them all. Thanks Ladies! Can't wait to see what all of you made! Be sure to check back in to see everyone's reveals: Alicia, (our host), Christine, Emma, Monique, Sally and Therese

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Beadweaving :: Little Quilts

Very few things make me happier than hanging out with a friend and being able to completely be myself. Couple that with a great bead session and you pretty much have nirvana for me. Ya, it's the simple things in life that make me happy. 

So a few months back I got together with my beady friend Christine and she showed me a pattern she was working on that looked like little quilts. She created this pattern during her 'beading in circles' phase, which I'm not entirely sure if she's made it through yet? Doesn't matter because she created some pretty amazing, inventive and beautiful bead weaving this last winter. And this is one of them. You can see all the variations she created with these little quilts over on her blog One Kiss Creations

I met up with Christine and her Mom's quilting friends (guess crafting in numbers runs in the family). The two of us were busy teaching the next generation as we both brought our daughters to the get away. It was fun to see them become fast friends and get to work on creating batch after batch of polymer beads! I still haven't had a chance to get a photo of them, but I'll be back with a post on those later.

Today I wanted to show you that I did learn this fun pattern from Christine to create my own 'Little Quilts' bracelet. Thank you Christine for being that friend that I can be myself and just enjoy hanging out crafting for a weekend. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Pacific Northwest :: Peter Iredale

Not exactly sure why, but I've been feeling like painting lately. My youngest just got a great new set of watercolors, and so she and I have been playing around with colors. 

This is a second in a series I've been working on called 'Water Life.' The first was an iconic bridge in the Portland area, and this is a landmark shipwreck on the coast of Oregon called the Peter Iredale. The ship ran aground in 1906 and its rusting hull is still standing out in the surf creating one of the more iconic views that I know.

This is near Astoria, which is where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. At what is called the 'mouth of the river' it is 4 miles wide, which makes for an enormous body of water crashing into the sea. It causes one of the worse bars (the Columbia Bar) to cross in the world. A bar creates large standing waves that make it incredibly rough to cross. I have crossed the Columbia Bar once in my life, and I can tell you it was a calm day, and I'll never do it again.

Monday, May 26, 2014

CC7A :: Seasons

I was trying to figure out just exactly how my theme for this month was going to come together for Alicia's challenge of 'seasons.'  Then it hit me. The beautiful rose quartz that Alicia gifted me would be absolutely perfect for that Downton Abbey look, which I also know that Alicia has a fondness for all things Lady Mary. Truth be told, I just might have a slight fondness for Mathew.

I decided to create a piece that I thought would fit into Lady Mary's wardrobe. What fun would it be to see her wear this! I love the designs of this era, and think it is fantastic to see how the show is influencing styles today... it is the return of elegance in my opinion.

The rose quartz cabochon is framed with black agate. The rest of the necklace uses rose quartz rounds, black agate, midnight sandstone and large onyx rondelles. It is a simple pattern, but I was looking for a statement piece that Mary might wear. Sometimes I love the drama of matching light and dark stones, and the pink in this feels so romantic to me. 

I had to also include a mood board to show you the many sides to Lady Mary through the seasons of Downton Abbey. This one is for you Alicia - enjoy! Now to see what the rest of the seven artist's created please visit: Alicia (our host), Christine, Emma, Monique, Sally and Therese

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Inspired by Dance

Belly dancing has a long history, but one that seems a bit fuzzy when trying to figure out exactly when it originated or by what culture. It can be found throughout the Middle East, but also ancient Roman and Greek cultures. It has both a folk, or social significance as well as a deep history in performance art.

What ever its origins, I love the color and movement of the jewelry and costume. I love the rhythmic sound to the dance and the musical beat the dancer makes with the sway of the costume. I've seen this type of dance performed live several times, and usually just stare in wonderment as to how they dance that way. It truly is such an art.

You'll find these pictures for my mood board, and several other inspirational pictures on my 'Dance' Pinterest board. Gotta love Pinterest for grouping, organizing and inspiring thought as I work through designs. 

Last week I showed you a bracelet that had the same colors and brick-beaded triangles. But in this one I switched up the design to give this piece a whole new feel. By adding chain and briolette drops (lemon quartz) I get a Middle Eastern vibe to this pattern. I also wanted to echo the triangle pattern in the bead work that runs along the choker in the overall design through a netting of chain. This was a fun piece to make, and fun to wear to add a little excitement to an outfit. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

CC7A :: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

This month's Creative Continuum of 7 Artists challenge is designing with one of Therese Frank's beautiful glass cabochons and a rather generous extra stash of crystals and stones. Thanks Therese! 

I just love Therese's focals, and this one is particularly beautiful with blue foil just under the glass surface which gives such a glow to it. I wanted to use colors in the beading that would bring out the blues and let the focal still stay center stage. I used muted blues and black, and a pattern that Christine recently shared with me (she featured it on her blog a few weeks back). I love this pattern! It uses three stitches; ladder, brick and then a whip to line the edges. I doubled the pattern and it turned out just fantastic in this choker. The back uses black velvet and a double loop belt closure so you can adjust it to fit just right. When Therese described her outfit for her wedding, I pictured this piece as something that might match up - she'll have to let me know how close I came (LOL).

I also created 2 other pieces using the crystals. First I made a bracelet using Kelly Wiese' Beaded Allure book. I've used this pattern before and really enjoy the rhythm of the stitch. But I have to say this time around it took me several tries (aka ripping out the entire pattern more than once), much swearing and a broken needle before I found that rhythm. The gold beads are just large enough to swallow up the seed beads throwing off the count in the pattern all over the place (insert another swear word). So I ended up improvising using a combination of stringing a loop of seed beads and coming back through the gold bead to pick up the thread on the last loop like you would for brick. A bit wacky - but it worked! It was a bit of a photo challenge to show just how much this one sparkles ... oh that Therese loves her bit of bling! This one is for you my friend.

Finally, I'm very proud of these earrings. Not because I made them, but because they are my daughter's first creation and design. She came to me after I heard an excessive amount of tapping in my studio and handed me the earwires and asked "is this right?" I did not show her how, she just figured it out on her own. I think she has it in her blood. She and I talked through the design and then she directed me on making the crystal and owl drops. I think they are just fantastic, and I can't wait to see what she designs next.

Now to see what the rest of the artists did with their stash from Therese: Alicia (our host), ChristineEmmaMoniqueSally and Therese.

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