Friday, November 30, 2012

3rd annual Challenge of Color

Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati hosts challenges throughout the year. November is traditionally the challenge of color. I always love this challenge, because it forces me to create out of my comfort zone, and I usually like what I've created for this challenge. I tend to design monochromatic jewelry, maybe because I feel it's more wearable, but also because I'm not good at pairing colors together. This challenge leaves me no choice.
The palettes are very special. Please see Erin's blog for a full explanation, so it's not repeated here.

My palettes this year (she gave each us two to choose from) were opposite each other. One is yellows and deep reds and browns, the other icy blues and greys. Erin asked us to pick one of the palettes, so she knew how to list us for the blog hop. I had told Erin I chose "Greenland Coast" for my palette, but when I sat down to make jewelry, "Erongo Massif" came out first. So, I have pieces for both palettes.

Erongo Massif:
It just so happened that I made this enameled focal and matching enameled beads BEFORE I got my palettes! The red beads are much darker in real life. They are those "Red Velvet" crystal beads that were all the rage a while back. (I have tried to retouch them, to simulate the deep rich red color)
 I created the focal using a vintage copper art deco stamping. It's quite heavy (gilding weight) and has little indentations to glue chatons in. I made a hole in the center indentation, and wired my "flower" to it. The larger red crystal was just barely bigger than the opening in the center of the flower, so I used 2 smaller crystals under it, for support (I don't want it to go inside the flower). The focal is heavier than it looks, but it lays ok when worn. Maybe I should glue some red chatons in all those little indentations.

This is a good look at the art deco base.

 I am in love with this enameled piece! Yummy!!

Greenland Coast:
This one took a bit longer, just because I had to make all the wire wrapped dangles. This is loosely  inspired by Barbara Lewis' Floral Cascade necklace. In fact, many of the enameled beads were made for my own floral cascade necklace, but did not get used. It just so happens, they matched my palette. I made all the dangles, and had them laid out to go onto a chain, but going around the neck (like a charm bracelet). Then I thought "What if I made it into a lariat type necklace?"
So, that's what I did.
Materials include my enameled beads, Vintaj chain, hematite crystal rounds, silvered crystal rounds,  crystals rondelles and smaller AB crystal rondelles.
 The necklace does not have a clasp and is one long length (maybe 28"?). One end is brought over the other in whatever position you want. This allows the wearer to "tie" it as long or short as they like. It can be "tied" in the center, or to one side. It's a lot of necklace, and is not for everyone, but I really like it.
 Once tied, it's a luxurious amount of beads in the middle - I love it!

Earrings to match. My enameled beads and the same silvered and AB crystals that were used in the necklace.
And another pair. They look like Art Deco hot air balloons to me. Up, up, and away!
A big thank you to Erin for organizing this challenge again, and Brandi for the fabulous color palettes. They both put a lot in to it, and we all get a lot out of it!
Thank you Miss Erin and Miss Brandi!
Please visit the other blogs (it is a blog hop, after all!)
Rather than copy and paste the long list of blog hop participants here (there are 80 of us!!), click here, to go to Erin's blog post.


Monday, November 26, 2012

The keys to a talisman?

I love making jewelry! I say this, because I truly love creating jewelry, for the beauty, and creativity of it. I love to wear it. I love it when someone loves something I've made. I love the beads and findings.
The other aspect of jewelry making that others possess the knowledge of, and I do not, is the hidden meaning of certain jewelry components or symbolism of objects. Like crystals empower you. Or butterflies symbolize flying. Or garnets make you smart. Or keys symbolize prison (or freedom!). Or agates give you x-ray vision. I'm making these up (I could go on), because I really don't know! I would like to know all these things, but it's just too much for me. I know many, many gemstone's names, but I can not remember their "powers". Along that same line, I am just not "deep" enough to create a true "Talisman". In fact, I bought a jewelry book about creating them, and I still don't really understand them. So, these keys remind me of a Talisman, from what I've seen elsewhere. For me, I just think they're pretty and cool.
Old skeleton keys wrapped with sari silk, wire and beads.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Moving is not for sissies

My parents are moving. They are going into a retirement community and are downsizing. It's a time filled with emotions, for all of us. My mom is 76 and my dad is 80, so this move was inevitable, and might be a little overdue. Their current house is an early 1960's split level, in a nice neighborhood and very good school district. We moved here in 1976, so to say we needed to get rid of stuff is an understatement! We cleared out a lot (filled a dumpster) just to get it on the market. The realtor advised us on asking price, and we ended up asking a little more than he thought we should. It was on the market for 2 weeks and 2 days, and we got 3 offers! The one we "accepted" was for $10k OVER our asking price, but with my parents paying $10K towards the closing costs. So, we were feeling good about everything!

Then came the home inspection! It is very demoralizing to read the 32 page report. My parents have a lot of house pride. My mom loves to garden and keeps the house clean and neat. My dad has not been actively keeping up with the house in the past several years due to his physical condition, but has been paying for upkeep. We think the house is in good condition, and the report is nit picking every tiny defect, or possible defect. Example: a tree is too close to the house, and that could possibly cause damage - Isn't that what home insurance is for?
Maybe we're naive, but the list of items the sellers want inspected, repaired or replaced is, in my opinion, ridiculous. If they want a new home, they should look at new construction. But this older home is a bargain compared to new construction in this area (not many new homes in the school district). They even asked for150 gallons of heating oil, to make sure they don't run out?!?

My opinion is that the home is 50 years old, and will have some things that will need to be addressed, but that is to be expected in a 50 year old home. When I bought my home (14 yrs ago), we had a home inspection, but the purpose for it, in my mind, was to know what the potential pitfalls were with the home. We did not go back to the sellers and demand repairs, or money off. We bought the house as is, but with our eyes opened!

Our realtor seems to think it's a "given" that we fix what they asked for. I'm confused as to which side he's on. It doesn't feel like he's on our side. My parents need the money from the sale of the home to pay their way into the retirement community. They'll have to make up the balance out of their savings. The buyers have the rest of their lives to fix the place up.
I say -  the house is "as is", we disclosed everything we knew about, and did not hide anything. But, the realtor ominously warns we could "lose" this buyer, and we'll never get a bid that's better.

Has anyone out there bought or sold a house in the past couple years? Is it normal for someone to offer the asking price, then to come in with ridiculous requests? Maybe we should have taken the lower bid? Are we just being naive?

Sorry for the break in jewelry posts :-) I could use some advise on this issue though.

I took a little break from enameling

I did stop enameling for a month or two. I've been busy helping my parents downsize and sell the house, so not much time for enameling and jewelry making. So, when I get a little spare time, I try to make the most of it!
Here's some enameled jewelry I've been working on.

These earrings started out as plain copper blanks. I embossed them with my Big Kick and vintaj dies. After enameling, the design is hard to see - it's a bird. The enamel is blue (I don't remember the name), but the purple color is the copper showing through. Actually, I think the copper combines with the glass to make the color. I don't know, I'll have to re-read Barbara Lewis' book to get the real reason. I liked the results, what ever the reason.

Next up is a necklace with a "flower" focal. This is Butter opaque with Raspberry transparent over top. I try to get varied amounts of color on different petals, to create a sort of water color effect.
 I used some copper rolo chain I had on hand. It's much bigger/thicker than I thought I was buying. That really can be a problem when buying online. Sometimes, the thing you bought turns out much larger or smaller than you thought! The 2 copper cones are from my giant Panda Hall purchase (I think I have thousands of these cones!)
 So yummy looking!!! I could eat this!!

Next up is a variation of a floral cascade style. I wanted to try to make one that was a bit more funky. I had all these beads in my stash. I really like the yellow spikey "flower" at the bottom. It's made from a starburst copper component, that I bent and then enameled. I stuck one of the copper cones from the above necklace in the middle. Then I just gathered beads in colors I thought would look good together. The last beads to be added to this mix were the yellow lampwork beads with the green dots. I don't even remember where I got them! (probably Beadfest years ago?)
 Lots of fun! I have yet to make a floral cascade "correctly". Barbara Lewis' floral cascade has the larger beads at the top, and the smaller beads at the bottom. For whatever reason, I can't seem to do that!
That's it for recent enameling, except please come back on Nov 30th for the Challenge of Color reveal nad blog hop. All the things I made for the challenge have enamel in them.
Yeah, I know, that's your "shocked face", right?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Miss Elainie

I just thought I'd post some miscellaneous stuff. No real connection to these things, other than they were all made recently, and I got around to photographing them.
I usually start with necklaces and end with earrings, so let's change it up!
These earrings are pretty simple, but I like them. They look sort of like Japanese lanterns. The Dyed Howlite barrels were from Michael's. The bead caps I got from Panda Hall. Did you ever buy from Panda Hall? I was too cheap to pay the faster shipping, so they took 2 months to arrive. (that was a buzz-kill to my impulsive purchase!) But besides that, it is a huge quantity of beads. These particular beads are in a baggie, and there are as many pieces of straw in the bag as there are beads! And some of them are a bit grungy. They really look like they came from a farm (in China) or something! But I really like them. I bought other beads at the same time. All I can say is that I have a life time supply of beads to enamel, and tiny antique copper spacer beads (20,000 of them!!!) Anyway, here's the earrings:

Next up is a necklace. The focal is from Earthenwood. I really like some of her things, like the wings, and this, and lots of other things too. I don't think I realized there were snowflakes on this when I bought it. I bought it because I liked the crackle glaze, and the open window design. I like the snowflakes too, but I've not seen green snowflakes before! (I have heard of yellow snow. lol) But, no matter, I love the ceramic piece. I decided to look through my stash for smaller filigrees that could pass for snowflakes. The necklace is a bit fussy, and I might make some alterations to it, but this is it's current state. Subject to change.
This simple necklace is just a Vintaj bird and a handful of vintage carved bone flower buds. It's NOT a fussy necklace, like the one above, but is good for those days you want something neutral, that goes with anything and everything.
I bent the ends of the wing and tail, rather than making a hole in the bird somewhere. And, coincidentally, I recently saw this bird, bent the same way, on the Vintaj blog.
Lastly, this is a variation on a previous design. Previously, I made a necklace with a Simple Truth pendant, called "Make a Wish", and it was published last April in Bead Trends. This necklace is similar, but the pendant is wood with a dandelion painted (or stamped? or printed?) on it. I twisted little pieces of wire going up the one side, to be the seeds blowing off the dandelion (like the previous necklace).
That's it for today. Thanks for stopping by!
Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


OK, I do not mean to offend. And, if it helps, you could say it stands for "Wed Thurs Fri" ;-)

I **WON** these charms from, none other than, Barbara Lewis, during the book blog tour of Lori Anderson's new book, Bead Soup.
To win, you just needed to leave a comment, saying which charm you would choose, if you won. Obviously, I chose these! And then I won!

I knew I wanted to make them into earrings, but what to dangle below the charm?? As I looked through my enameled beads, I found these. These were white enamel, that I tried to "over fire" to bring out other colors, like Barbara does in her book. What my experiments yielded were beads that barely had any enamel left on them at all!! I burned the enamel right off! So, it's kind of an inside enameling joke:
"WTF happened to the enamel on these poor burnt beads??"
(the truth: I kinda like 'em anyway)

Any enamelers out there??
Who else has had experiments turn out "surprising"?
BTW - Barbara (Painting with Fire) has some enamels on sale right now! I don't really need more, but I got some new colors to experiment with - look out!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

October Simple Truths

I promised Miss Erin (Prais-Hintz), from Tesori Trovati that I would post photos of the sweet earrings I made using her simple truths. These were the October sampler club goodies!  They are related to her "Forest Finery" themed pendants. I love them, and knew I would make these earrings the minute I laid eyes on them. My photo does not do the charms justice. The background is a metallic blue-green. Really sweet! Czech glass beads, foliage bead caps - enough said.

Thank you, Erin, for continuing to pour your heart into these little works of art!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Prima Beads Blog Partner beads

In previous posts, I mentioned I was contacted by Prima beads, asking if I'd like to be a blog partner. Of course, I said yes. My beads arrived, and I am finally able to show you what I did with some of the beads.
The kit had lots of stuff, but I used the red crystal bicones, the blue glass pearls, the little key charms, the small filigrees and the little enameled charms. I still have chain and other beads and findings to use, but here's what I made, for now.

I actually stopped into AC Moore, to look for something else, when I spotted the faceted millefiori beads in teal. I loved the color, and they had touches of red. Perfect for the Prima beads I had in my kit!! The blue glass pearls were very nice to work with. They have a nice weight and feel to them. The red bicones were just the right pop of color among the teal blue beads, and tied in the red crystal on the charm.
The little curved part in the focal was also in the kit. Meant to be used as an earring part, I used it to create a focal worthy of this necklace. The little charm is so cute, but was too small to stand alone, so I wired a bead to the curved part, and hung the charm from the bottom.
My photography does not really show it  - The dark background of the charm is transparent red.
And I made earrings, of course. One pair matches the necklace exactly. Same beads and the charm. Of course, now that I look at them, I did not use any bead caps in the earrings. Argh!
These earrings go with the necklace, but have the little keys and smaller bead. I have more of these little keys still to use. I think I'll make more earrings with them - too cute!
And last, but not least! I put a pair of my enameled flowers (red) on the Prima filigree, using the red bicones at the center. These are my new favorite earrings! I will definitely try to get more of these filigrees from Prima. They are the perfect size for earrings!
I was able to take lots of photos over the weekend - The sun finally came out!! So, be prepared to see lots more posts in the near future.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Here comes the sun, I hope.

I have quite a few posts in my head that I'd like to do, but I have not been able to take photos. Between the stormy weather (Sandy!) and the end of daylight savings time, I have not seen the sun in weeks! I truly hope to get photos taken this weekend, so I can put some pretty pictures up around here! (a post without pictures is much like a day with out sunshine - trust me, these days, I know it!!)

In the meantime, I was talking with a co-worker today, who dabbled in making jewelry (rosaries) for herself. She hasn't tried it for a while, life is too busy. But she was talking about how hard it was to make a good simple wire loop (for rosary chain). And we were talking about wire. I was explaining that some wire is harder than other wire, and that you can work harden wire, and general wire info.

And then I said something I never thought I'd ever say: "I prefer 20 gauge wire. 20 gauge is my favorite wire". Are you kidding me?! I have a favorite wire gauge! And I'm geek enough to say it out loud. I had to laugh at myself - I did not see this day coming.

Are there any other wire geeks out there??

Next post will have pictures, I promise :-)