Monday, December 28, 2015

Brrrrrr: Football fans beware

The Irish and Buckeye football fans headed to Phoenix for the Fiesta Bowl might think they are in a temperature warp. With most areas in the US well above seasonal temperatures, Phoenix has been well below for these past couple weeks. So bundle up because "it's a dry cold!"

And in keeping with these chilly temps, we have this blue snowflake wreath. This was a wonderful tutorial by Lesley Watt on Art Jewelry Elements. And even though it's been cold here in Cave Creek, it hasn't snowed yet so I used a snowflake overlay provided by Rita from The Coffeeshop Blog. Rita has a whole assortment of snow actions, brushes and overlays and the link above is to her Photoshop brush but if you browse through her site, you'll find lots of other snow options if your weather outside is not providing the lovely flakes just yet!

Hope you and your loved ones are enjoying your holiday season!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Custom Gift Envelopes for Procrastinating Elves

OK - two days before the big gift-giving event for many of us. Is anyone still in gift searching mode? Ours are pretty easy as we have given gifts of money to our nieces and nephews for many years. But I usually look for a cute way to package the bills and this year wanted some small envelopes that I could tuck inside a mini stocking. When I went in search of envelopes, I really didn't like much of the selection and bought this instead. It's an envelope punch board - the one on top in the photo below. I also bought a gift box punch board but more about that in another post.

Then I needed some pretty paper. I love the designs on some of our wrapping paper but it was too thin. Then I got the idea to affix a piece of normal printer paper to the back of the wrapping paper and voila - problem solved. I made up some great seasonal paper for pennies. Here's a look at the process. I just sprayed fixative to the back of the paper which I sat on a large garbage bag and allowed to dry.

Then I followed the instructions on the envelope punch board to get the size of envelope I wanted. This was the smallest one. Here's the output.

Then I folded and added the all-so-important contents and inserted it in these cute mini stockings. I bought the stockings but if you are feeling really creative, you could make them too! I even made some matching gift tags out of the left-over paper.

There you have it! A pretty way to package a gift that is always the right size!

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Time to Stitch #8 Reveal: What's Your Bag?

My bag is actually a polymer clay box that was part of a huge polymer clay purchase I made on eBay several years ago. The photo below shows the box as part of the purchase over to the right center where I added a little red arrow to point it out. In the close-up you see I added some hardware so I could hang it as part of our challenge and dress it up a bit.

One of the more curious parts of the box is that it has a little drawer that slides out. hmmmm Seemed like a good place for some resin work.

The below beading quote is one of my favorites and that is what landed in the little drawer:

And then I needed a neckstrap.... something fun and flirtatious. A few of you may have seen a peek of what I created in a blog post a couple weeks ago.

This is how it looks all put together:

Thanks to Therese and Christine for hosting another super-fun challenge. Let's visit the other Time to Stitch party-goers to take a look at their bags:

Monday, October 26, 2015

Art Jewelry Adventure

In my effort to learn more about using resin in jewelry creation, I have been following Jen Cushman and signed up for her blog this year. I was delighted to see that she is an instructor for a series of online classes that are part of the Adventure Art Jewelry Retreat 2016. Sign-ups opened yesterday and I eagerly enrolled.

Classes don't start until January but it will be fun to read more about the instructors and follow interesting discussion boards on the website.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Andrew Thornton Lunar Eclipse Challenge

I just love the names of Andrew's challenges. It can be tough to get a kit since he only makes a certain number each time and they have become quite popular. One reason for the popularity is the abundance of goodies of all shapes, sizes and textures. It's always such a treat to open the package and choose a design direction.

For this challenge, we received wax linen and a variety of shaped beads as well as plenty of seed beads. But the best part is always the mystery component where Andrew's bronze pendant really decided my color palette.

Lunar Eclipse Mystery Component

My main piece was a necklace featuring the mystery component, the large round beads from Andrew's kit as well as the Irish linen, embellished with seed bead trios and woven through the chain to provide some additional texture.

Unchained Melody Necklace
Here's a close-up of the Irish linen-seed bead technique.

The other larger beads on the necklace were from my stash and found the perfect home with this color scheme. After finishing the necklace, I had two left over so what else to do but make some earrings!

Since I was on an earring roll, I decided to use the rest of the Irish linen to make some tassel earrings and another design by Jill Wiseman shown in the upper right. This is Jill's Whirlygig earring design and this link will take you to the YouTube tutorial for this easy, fun pattern.

If you'd like to make Lunar Eclipse visits to the other bead artists participating in the challenge, start over at Andrew's blog for photos and links.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tribute to an Amazing Bead Artist

I just saw Bead&Button's tribute to Justyna Szlezak who sold her wonderful beading designs as Eridhan on Etsy. Her store is still open, renamed In Memory of Eridhan so her designs will live on and continue to provide beading inspiration. The Bead&Button tribute features photos of Justyna's designs submitted by other bead artists and it made me recall my first introduction to Justyna, through one of the Time to Stitch challenges hosted by Therese and Christine in January of this year. Therese had offered Justyna's design as an example of a peyote word chart and I was so taken by it, I purchased a four-pack and made them all.

The Desert Rose design was featured in the June 2015 Bead&Button issue but my favorite was the Twisted Triangle which I used in the below pendant.

When you read the tributes to Justyna from other beaders, most start by saying, "I didn't know Justyna except through her bead designs....." Well what an incredible legacy she has left to us.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Time Out for Books: Big Magic

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond FearBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Just started Big Magic this week and here is one of my favorite quotes so far:

Saturday, September 19, 2015

97 Days to Christmas!

I missed the 100 day count but better late than never. Yes, the holidays are right around the corner. And each year about this time, I start my annual ornament-fest. I try to find a particular pattern that lends itself to pretty fast work-up, buy my supplies and go to town. This year, I decided to take a slight departure from my normal beaded creations. I found this tutorial on Pinterest for making photo keepsakes using crystals and photos. Then I turned to eBay to track down the crystals and purchased 30 of this design that I liked even better than the style used in the tutorial. They are even on sale today! This link takes you directly to the seller's eBay shop if you are interested.

Then I had to figure out what photos I wanted to use and get them in the right shape to affix to the back of the crystal. To set up the photo shape, I scanned the crystal and then used Photoshop to fill in the shape to use as a mask. If you have not worked with Photoshop masks, you could just use your editing software to reduce your selected photos. Then make a template by tracing around your crystal and use the template to trace around your photos.

Here's what one of my photo sheets looked like.

And here's what a batch of my finished ornaments looks like!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Time Out for Books: Circling the Sun

Circling the SunCircling the Sun by Paula McLain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's amazing what you can accomplish when people around you aren't telling you what you should and shouldn't accomplish. Such is the life of Beryl Markham, raised alongside African tribe members as a child when her family moves to Kenya in the early 1900's. When her mother throws in the towel on the Kenyan experiment, Beryl is left with her father who is so distracted by the challenge of building a farm and finding a way to survive in their new home that young Beryl is left to her own devices about how she should spend her time. She is more or less adopted by the Kipsigis tribe and grows up alongside a young tribesman, Kibii, who becomes a life-long friend. Together they ride horses through the African savannas, throw spears and become acquainted with creatures that would frighten most adults. In short, Beryl becomes totally smitten with her new home. I was so completely enthralled with Beryl's story that I went in search of other facts about her and found a 1988 movie (A Shadow on the Sun) where Stephanie Powers played the renegade. What an amazing life and a fascinating woman!

View all my reviews

Saturday, September 12, 2015

JTV Rock Star Designer

Anyone watching this? I stumbled upon JTV Rock Star Designer in my YouTube surfing and am hooked. It's a reality series featuring jewelry artists competing for a contract with Jewelry Television to create and sell a jewelry line. Each week, the artists are given various materials and a limited amount of time to create pieces. They are then evaluated for design appeal, marketability and for each contestant's show-personship. The show started in July but all of the back episodes are on YouTube.

And in my own corner of the jewelry world, I have a new science experiment underway. Below is a photo of a prickly pear cactus berry. I thought it would  make a beautiful focal component preserved in resin. I inserted a cocktail straw through each berry as a channel for beading wire and to give it some support while the resin is drying. It's hardening as we speak and soon, I'll show a photo of the "resined" berry.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Rope Round-Up

Beading Daily has a great deal on a beaded rope collection and that made me think of the new rope designs I have tried this summer. Since you can never have too many beaded rope designs, I offer you my round-up at an even better price: $0. Well, you might have to buy one issue of BeadAndButton but otherwise, the designs shown here were offered by the generous beading artists identified below. Links to the designs are provided in the photo captions.

It's hard to pick a favorite since they are each a bit different. I'll start chronologically and work backwards. Here is the rope I just finished this week-end. The rope is based on Regina Atkins' Dreamcatcher necklace from the December 2014 BeadAndButton.

Here's my variation that I paired up with a bead embroidered cabochon.

Next up we have a great twist on the traditional spiral. Ruby of Ruby's Beadwork offers an ingenious way to reverse your spiral to elegantly add a pendant.

V-Shaped Spiral Design by Ruby's Beadwork

I am just showing a peek at this next design because it's part of something I am working on for an upcoming beading challenge. In this rope, you use the basic spiral made with 8/0 beads for the core and a combination of 11/0 and one 8/0 for the spiral. After the basic rope is done, you just go to town embellishing between every 8/0 core bead. I love the whimsical, lush appearance of this rope.

Now we get to some really fun options. Kristen Stevens offered this rope design in April last year and repeated it recently and I'm glad she did because I missed it last April. I love the textures in this rope but it does not overpower your focal object. Can't you tell football season is starting?

Rope design by Kristen Stevens

The last rope was also a blog feature by Jen VanBenschoten on Beading Daily. It makes a much more substantial rope - about 10-12 mm in circumference and is perfect for a strong focal. In the design below, I used the Rivoli Rendezvous pattern by Svetlana Chernitsky from the August 2014 BeadAndButton.

Twin Bead Rope Design by Jen VanBenschoten
Do you have some favorite rope designs?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Face your fears: Wirework!

I know, this is a pretty dramatic title for something that should be fairly simple. But I seem to have missed the wirework gene when the beading fairies got me started on my creative journey. Oh, I can get by alright but would never purposely seek out a primarily wirework design or even buy the latest issue of Wirework Magazine. But I got tired of waiting for orders of ear wires and never having just the right color on hand. So I faced my fears and bought a couple books, took a Craftsy class and practiced a lot. Here are a few of the results. I'm by no means in the running for the Wirework Hall of Fame but I am pretty darn happy making my own ear wires.

These two pieces use the same chain motif and actually helped me integrate a couple focal beads that hadn't inspired any earlier designs.

Then I really got crazy and wire-wrapped a tricky bead that was ill-suited for a traditional pendant due to a hole that was off-center.

And lastly some of my ear wires.

I've enjoyed the process so much that I ordered a couple books and some more wire this week-end.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

National Beading Week!

National Beading Week definitely calls for a blog post. At first, I was going to write about finding a design where I had all the required materials in my stash. This never seems to happen, no matter how big my beading stash is. The design in question was the cover bracelet on the August-September 2015 issue of Beadwork Magazine.

I was so excited, I quickly set up my super duos, brick beads, O beads and even 2mm rondelles. And then -- uh-oh -- the unthinkable happened! I ran out of brick beads. So much for having all the beads in my stash to finish my project. Here's where I left it.

My order from Artbeads arrived quite quickly and I was able to finish the bracelet in time for my sister's visit last week-end. She fell in love with the bracelet, which perfectly complemented the outfit she was wearing. You can just catch a glimpse of her dress on the left of the below photo. So now, the Paragon Bracelet is safely in her care. What better way to celebrate National Beading Week!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Pretty Peyote Bail

I love hand-crafted findings. They give pieces a more organic, custom feel and can also help save money. I learned what has become my go-to technique from Laura McCabe's book Embellished Beadweaving but I think it's a pretty standard technique.

Over the years, I've made a few bails but not nearly as many as toggle closures. Recently, I finished a beaded rope using a wonderful technique by Kristen Stevens on the Art Jewelry Elements blog. Isn't this a fun rope pattern? It works up really quickly once you get the hang of the thread path.

I wanted to use a Steeler pendant but needed a bail and had a triangle shape in mind. When I looked online for ideas none were quite what I had in mind. I wanted something fairly simple and on the smaller side. So I decided to come up with my own. This technique is probably documented out there somewhere but I couldn't find it. It is super-easy. Just make two triangles with one having one more row so you can zip them together on the "top" of the bail.

Here's what my hand-crafted findings looked like.

And here's the finished piece.

The bail is dual-purpose since it can be easily slipped over the toggle portion of the necklace so the rope can be worn with or without it. I was going to work up a quick tutorial for anyone who might be interested so leave me a quick reply and I'll be sure to notify you when it's done.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Bonkers for Bracelets!

I've been on a bracelet binge these days. Somehow, my beading path has crossed with some terrific new (to me) tutorials and techniques and today I will share those with you.

First up is this wonderful five-strand bracelet by Christina Larson whose YouTube tutorials are among the best I have tried. Here's the link to her Five-Row Wrap tutorial and here are my finished pieces. These bracelets take lots of thread and a bit of time to make but the end result is worth it.

On this version, I made a button using a Pitt logo sealed and glued into a Nunn design button form and then glazed over with Lisa Pavelka's Magic-Glos which is easier to use than resin since no mixing is involved. These customized buttons have endless uses and I especially like them personalized with photos of the jewelry recipients.

I so enjoyed Chrstina's tutorial, I thought I would give one of her macrame lessons a try. Next up was the beaded vertical larks head knot bracelet. These are super-easy and make up quickly. I made a couple of these as gifts for some of my young nieces.

And then I went a different route with a Cellini spiral bracelet.

My frenzy ended with one of my favorite techniques - flat Turkish bead crochet adorned by this clever cuff I found on Etsy.

© Cave Creek Beads