Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring Awakenings Reveal

Andrew Thornton was "thinking Spring" when the snow was flying in Pennsylvania. Andrew's challenge packets are always jammed-packed full of beads of every size, shape and texture and you can see that was the case in the photos below. The mystery component is an amazing blue-green, just begging for the right bead frame. I started by wire wrapping one of the crystals from the packet to make a pendant.

Andrew's Mystery Component

The color palette for Spring Awakenings is a blue-green mix with the Southwest feel of the blue drawing me in. Instead of using the combined palette, I went with more monochromatic approaches for two necklaces.

The first necklace plays off the green tones and highlights Andrew's wonderful mystery component pendant which I nestled within an oglala netting motif. The netting allowed me to incorporate the many wonderful smaller beads as accent beads. The green 11/0 seed beads were from my stash.
Oh, Oglala!
I thought we needed earrings to complement the playful feel of the necklace and used one of my favorite earring patterns: the Swinging Fringe by Rebecca Cretti, featured in the October 2007 BeadAndButton. This pattern also allowed me to further incorporate some of the fun small accent beads.

But I couldn't neglect the wonderful blue which attracted me to the challenge in the first place. Andrew had provided an amazingly generous assortment of larger beads, which I decided to use in a loopy-fringe treatment. I thought the necklace needed a centerpiece and used the silver primitive cross from my stash.

This was a fairly time-consuming design as each of the increasing-sized loops used more beads which had to be mirrored on the opposite side, requiring lots of counting and good eyesight. It also required an abundance of blue size 11/0 beads. Fortunately, I had some in my stash that perfectly matched what Andrew had provided so no emergency orders were required.

Andrew, thanks for pulling together such an inspirational kit. Please visit the links below for more wonderful Spring Awakening creations:

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Time Out for Horse Sense

Living in Cave Creek, we are surrounded by horse ranches and authentic cowboys and cowladies. But what I know about horses could fit in a thimble and is the mass accumulation of about six rides at Spur Cross Stables when we had guests come to town. I always wanted to know more about them and a friend mentioned a class held at the Phoenix Zoo. Called Horse Hands, it is conducted by Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) instructors and covers all the beginning topics horse.

My first class was last Sunday and, I'm ashamed to say it was my first visit to the Phoenix Zoo. We arrived before the zoo opened and were advised not to stray from the path to the Thunderbirds Charities Equine Facility. (Yikes!)
Corral at Thunderbird Charities Equine Facility, Phoenix Zoo

The class is very small, limited to only six students, and we spent the first half getting to know each other and the horses in the stable. Our instructor, April, provided a brief lecture on horse ownership, obligations, etc. For the second part of the class, we were assigned to a horse and put on a bridle, walked the horse to the corral and groomed it. It doesn’t sound like much but grooming is very involved. I was covered with horse hair after the class.

Here is my horse, Parfait, who I just adore. She is a svelte 1120 pounds and a youthful 20 years old.

Sweet Parfait

I hope I have her every class. I tried to take a selfie of us but her head is so big I couldn’t get the right angle.

It's hard to take a selfie with a horse!

The class is just 6 of us - all women: three younger girls, less than 20 years old, and three about my age with the other two older ladies being sisters. One of the young girls is pretty timid but otherwise, we all seem to be enjoying it!

I think this week we will learn how to saddle the horse and actually go for a short ride. Stay tuned for more horse sense.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Make a Statement Reveal

After reading Sally's announcement of the Make a Statement challenge, my initial thought was that it probably wasn't for me. My pieces tend toward the utilitarian-not-too-glitzy-or-time-consuming. But then I thought that might be the perfect reason to challenge my comfort zone. The next hurdle was inspiration so I went through some photos of my older pieces thinking that there might be something statement-ish to work with. And aha - I found one from several years ago that I still love to this day - the Sunflower Power cuff by Merle Berelowitz from the April 2010 BeadAndButton. I learned so much about the engineering process from making this cuff and the beautiful sunflower centerpiece just shouted "statement" to me. Here is original design that provided my inspiration.
Sunflower Power Cuff Design by Merle Berelowitz

And here is my statement piece.

I used the sunflower motif as the centerpiece and built around it starting with a brass collar which I covered with ultrasuede and a ruffled herringbone strip attached to the ultrasuede. Then came the focal bar using right-angle weave, which was connected to the collar, not the herringbone since I thought the collar was better suited to hold the extra weight of the focal plus the sunflower. Last I made the sunflower.

The photo below shows a clasp I added more for security than anything else. The piece was fine with just the collar form but it is a bit heavier than most necklaces and I didn't want it slipping. So I made a toggle and bar out of embellished right-angle weave.

In the diagrams below, you will see the sequence and overall construction process.

I think this would look great with a black dress or even dressy black top and pants. Hubby and I are celebrating a special anniversary this year so who knows - maybe it will be my night-on-the-town statement!

Thanks for encouraging me out of my normal comfort zone, Sally! Let's take a look at some more amazing statements:

Monday, February 16, 2015

Fifteen Days of Photos: Days 7 Through 15

Sally's prompts for this session were definitely influenced by the proximity to Valentines Day.

Day 11: Macro
I went with the heart theme for this macro and featured a few of the items I bought in Tucson last week-end. More about that on Day 12! These cute little copper pieces are from The Lipstick Ranch. You can see more of their pieces in the lower left of the day 12 photo.

Day 12: Temptation
Temptation was not something I avoided when I drove to the mecca of all things beading in Tucson last week-end. Below is a collage of a few of my purchases.

Day 13: Sweetness
I made my sweet hubby a customized chocolate bar from Chocri, which is a very cool web site that allows you to select your type of chocolate, fillings, toppings and any decorations. They are located in Germany so if you are tempted to order something, be sure to leave enough time for shipping. (Not an endorsement - I just think they are clever as well as sweet!)

Day 14: Love
For love, I pulled out an old photo of our son that my husband had taken many years ago. I know these are to be limited to photos we take but I did have a hand in editing this to mellow out its colors and add the frame. I just love his enchantment with the seagulls.

Day 15: Togetherness
I found this cool tutorial by Easy Digitals about how to use Photoshop to look like you carved initials on a tree. I modified it for the saguaro in our backyard. Hubby and I have a big anniversary this year so I may turn this into a canvas as part of his gift.

Let's see how everyone else spent days 7-15:
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