Saturday, February 27, 2016

Read challenge directions carefully!

I really enjoy participating in beading challenges. It's a chance to interact with other bead artists and I find it fascinating how different people respond to the same prompt. So far, my favorite challenge sponsors have been Andrew Thornton, Sally Russick and Therese Frank. I decided to branch out a bit when I read about the Firefly design challenge sponsored by Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio. Michelle offered a kit in two color ways and I selected the brown-blue combination shown below.

The paisley components are gorgeous but I really struggled with how to best use them... necklace... bracelet? I think earrings were out - they would require very sturdy earlobes. I looked at a few books I had laying around, one happened to be on wire work. So I decided to join them together using some hand-crafted wire work pieces.

I finished my piece in plenty of time only to later read that we were to make three pieces: necklace, bracelet and earrings. Darn! I actually liked the way the necklace turned out and didn't want to take it apart and start over so I just went with it.

There were sure some amazing creations but I learned my lesson. Read and re-read challenge directions before the tools come out!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Art Jewelry Adventure Class #1

Last year, I signed up for a year-long, on-line Art Jewelry Adventure that started last month.

Hosted by Kira and Ilysa, shown below, the adventure consists of a series of classes usually held every other week featuring different jewelry-making techniques.

Class #1 was held on January 28 and was a live class which pretty much oriented us to the web site and the upcoming events. Classes are a mix of live events (which always hold the surprise of unexpected technical and other glitches) and recorded events.

In my earlier blog post about the class, I grumbled a bit about all the new stuff I had to buy. But once I got to the first class, I was sure glad I did since the tools made all the difference to being able to finish the piece shown below.

Here is instructor Cat Kerr.

Cat sure put us through our paces and I learned six techniques that I never, ever used before:

  • First time using embossing powder (fun!)
  • First time riveting
  • First time drilling (yikes!)
  • First time letter stamping
  • First time soldering (smelly)
  • First time using patina (a little scary)
Cat's instruction made all of these firsts very achievable. We build a multi-panel piece with the first panel using a wood base and riveting, the second panel using a brass base on which we soldered an arrow and did letter stamping and the last panel was plexiglass to cover any photo we wanted and sewed to a fabric sandwich for added texture. Then all the panels were drilled with top holes and connected by some wire work. It was really, really fun. My theme was Joy*Family*Legacy and I incorporated the family portion by using a photograph of my Mother as a young girl with her father looking quite dashing in his straw hat. The below collage shows a quick progression of the panels.

In summary, I give Cat Kerr's class an A for amount of learning (at least for me) and quality of instruction. This week was class #2 with Erika Sandor and features bead weaving - right up my alley! As soon as my piece is finished, I'll return with a summary.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Pretty in pink

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, I was inspired by this Facebook cover from Rita at the Coffeeshop Blog. I dropped in three of my recent pink pieces: beautiful boho earrings on the left, peyote hearts in the middle and a spinning orbit focal on the right. Rita sends out new goody alerts almost every day (for free!) and has some great Valentines-theme items.

The beautiful boho earrings are just two necklace components stitched together with a coin bead on top that I glued to a 10mm disc earring post. I featured the peyote hearts in a post from last month, if you want to read more about how to make these.

The spinning orbit focal is part of the collection of samples I made for my niece, Mariah, who is getting married later this year. I wasn't sure how I felt about the design but thought it came out wonderfully with the seed beads from Mariah's wedding palette. I think it would even be great with a less-fussy focal.

This is a design by Cary Bruner from the October 2015 Bead&Button.

I hope you have some fun Valentine's plans!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Solving big and small problems

We are just finishing repairs on a kitchen disaster that occurred while we were away last fall. Our ice maker hose, which was run up high in our kitchen bulkhead, sprung a leak right over our cook top so that by the time it was discovered, the damage inside the wall had been done and our cooktop was ruined. In fact the force of the water was so great it caused the wood in the surrounding cabinets to swell and crack the granite. ugh. Here's just one of the many photos taken by our friend and contractor, Walt Householder (isn't that a great name for a handy person?).

It took quite a long while to get back to normal. We had to let everything dry out and then the drywall was repaired. Next came picking new granite (how overwhelming) and then waiting for that to be fabricated. Walt helped us select a new cooktop which sat in our garage for two months while all the repairs were taking place. How did we manage meals without the cooktop? Thankfully, our oven is a separate unit as well as our outside grill. But we still missed our cooktop, especially over Thanksgiving and Christmas. I found this snappy little appliance at Walmart and it has been a saving grace. We have made just about everything in this thing: boiled eggs and noodles, cooked ground beef and even made applesauce.

So in the spirit of necessity being the Mother of Invention, I present to you my George Constanza wallet! It doesn't quite qualify since George's wallet had a rubber band securing all of its contents in place. But fans of Seinfeld will know what I mean. I love my wallet and did not want to buy a new one when I lost the little pull-thingy on the change compartment. For a long time, I got by with a safety pin in place of the pully-thingy and then I felt embarrassed. So beading to the rescue! I made this cute little dangle out of some 18-gauge craft wire and beads. I like it better than the original.

© Cave Creek Beads