Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Beading for a Cure...

Have you been keeping up with the Layne's Legacy: Beading for a Cure auctions?  This annual beading challenge raises money for the NCCRA (National Colorectal Cancer Research Association) in honor of Layne Shilling, a beader who lost her life to colorectal cancer in 2002.  Please stop by their website by CLICKING HERE and then check out their auctions by CLICKING HERE.  Bid fiercely!

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Give Away from Jamie Hogsett...

My talented friend, Jamie Hogsett, is celebrating the release of the last installment of the Create Jewelry Book Series, Create Jewelry: Glass.  This book, as the others, was co-authored by Marlene Blessing and contains valuable techniques and step-by-step design projects.  To celebrate, she's giving away a copy of her new book and throwing in a new Trio from SoftFlex Company.  CLICK HERE to find out how you can win.

Four New Designs...

I took the advice of LeAnn of Summers Studio Pottery and said, "To heck with you household chores!  I am through with you!"  Instead I made stuff.  It has been a nice distraction from tech editing and project instruction writing and my other deadlines.  If I wasn't balancing out the analytical work with the creative work, I'm sure I'd go bonkers.  So here are four new designs:

The turquoise, white coral, pearls, and magnetic pewter clasp are from Talisman Associates Inc., the polymer bead is from Pam Wynn of Pam and Heather Wynn, the fine pewter bird bead is from my family at Green Girl Studios, and the ceramic leaf is from Every Heart Crafts.

The pearls, golden coral, and goldstone are from Talisman Associates Inc., the Swarovski crystals in satin padparadscha and crystal copper are from Fusion Beads,  the image transfer polymer pendant is from Heather Wynn, and the shibuichi bird toggle is from my family at Green Girl Studios.  All of the copper chain is from Ornamentea.  
This picture doesn't really show off the design of the bracelet.  However, it does spotlight the shibuichi toggle from Saki Silver well and the closure is my favorite part of this bracelet.  The goldstone and agate are from Talisman Associates Inc., the banana leaf covered wooden beads are from J & M Gems 'n' Things, the crystal pearls are from Fusion Beads, and the "sean bean" or polished "ojo de venado" beads are from The Colombian Craft Connection.  The brass cable chain is from Ornamentea.

The shibuichi flower clasp is from my family at Green Girl Studios, the goldstone, faceted pearls, and carnelian are from Talisman Associates Inc., the crystal pearls are from Fusion Beads, the chain is from Ornamentea, and the lampwork glass gingko leaves are from Lisa Kan.  This is a simpler version of a necklace that I did a year or so ago.  (That necklace had a silver Anne Choi bead as the focal.)  I liked the movement in that piece and wanted to capture just that. So I simplified the silhouette to put more focus is the movement of the lampwork leaves.

A Necklace for All Seasons...

I'm a big fan of versatile jewelry.  I like the idea that one piece of jewelry can be many.  That's why I designed, "A Necklace for All Seasons."  The interchangeable dangles with seasonal color palettes can easily be switched out or added on to another piece.

I love the bright, saturated candy colors that the resin comes in.  It really gives the dangles a POP!  The resin loops are from Natural Touch.  The other materials are from Talisman Associates Inc., Bead Trust, Fusion Beads, ArtBeads.com, and Raven's Journey.  (And if you don't like the look of a lobster clasp right up front, it can easily be disguised with bead caps LIKE THESE or another cluster of wire-wrapped dangles.)

The Warrior Woman...

Speaking of Joan Tucker of Off Center Productions and her new blog, I just finished this piece, "The Warrior Woman," which features a sweet face cabochon made out of porcelain.  I wanted the color palette to be bold and fiery, thusly I chose bright reds, amber yellows, and sunburnt oranges.  

The pearls, carnelian, and amber are from Talisman Associates Inc.  The cable chain is from Ornamentea, the Swarovski crystals are from Fusion Beads and the natural brass filigree and clasp set are from Vintaj via Jamie Hogsett.  The brass filigree worked great to simulate a warrior's helmut and to hold the cabochon, which of course is from Off Center Productions.

Joan Tucker's New Blog...

You might know Joan Tucker for her work in porcelain.  She and her partner, own and operate Off Center Productions, which specializes in one-of-a-kind ceramic wearable art components.  Joan has started a new blog, A Wild Patience, that features her poetry, art, and musings.  Make sure to check it out.  CLICK HERE to visit her new blog, CLICK HERE to view their selection of ceramic offerings, and CLICK HERE to visit their company blog.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Beaded Links...

Jean designs a colorful parrot necklace with a treasure of an exquisite, hand-painted Russian art bead!

Carmi experiments with UV resin!

What sparks your creativity?  Take the latest poll, just takes 1 minute or less!

Inspired by Spring, Andrew compiles a shopping guide for egg-themed beads and components.

Needing more inspiration for this month's challenge?  Here are a few ideas for you!

Jennifer invites you to attend her Creative Celebration.

The Bead&Button Show is featured in USA Today!

Melanie finds inspiration, right at her front door!

Thanks to some inspiration from beadmaker Melanie Brooks, Cyndi has an article in Belle Armoire Jewelry!

Check out Katie's Fabulous Beaded Fruit!

Melissa discusses the usefulness of the preliminary sketch in her design process.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Somehow Felt...

I've been working a lot lately, trying to meet all my deadlines and stave off being swallowed up by an avalanche of laundry, paperwork, and dirty dishes.  Little things like household chores get put to the side when I'm in work mode.  But work has been good and it has kept me focused on making things instead of being angry.  Having a purpose and keeping my hands busy is the best remedy for most troubles.

This is a new necklace that I made that I quite like.  On the onset, it appears to be more simple and dainty than many of my designs, but I somehow felt that it was just right. A lot is going on, even if the silhouette is basic.  Above is a close-up of the briolette cluster.  (Neither picture does the piece justice, as tit really lights up with a lot of flash and luminance when the light strikes it.)

In this piece, I've used a lot of different gemstones – labradorite, opal, garnet, spinel, angel hair rutillated quartz, and black tourmaline.  All of the stones are from Talisman Associates Inc., except for the tiny black spinels, which are from Beads and Rocks.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bird Songs...

There's a bramble behind the apartment building.  Grown up along the back fence, it seems like it was a long-forgotten houseplant that finally escaped its container.  Its roots have dug deep into the cracks in the cement and often times there are birds in the branches.  Sometimes there are hundreds of birds in the branches.  Even with the windows closed, their songs can still be heard.
The many birds and their songs were the inspiration for this new necklace.  I took the color palette from the misty whites and subtle grays from yesterday's excursion in Central Park.  

The porcelain focal bead is from Melanie Brooks Lukacs of Earthenwood Studio, the sterling silver toggle and fine pewter nest bead are from my family at Green Girl Studios, the pearls and moonstone are from Talisman Associates Inc., the Swarovski crystals from Fusion Beads, the "Vintage Bling" is from Natural Touch, and all of the silver chain is from Ornamentea.  

Wounded by Words...

I wrote a long, angry post entitled, "The Truth about Trash (Talk)."  But I decided not to post it.  My blog is a place where I try to be optimistic and hopeful.  The world already has so much negativity in it – it doesn't need more from me

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hurt by the slanderous words being spoken behind my back.   I won't go into too much detail about it, because it won't serve any purpose besides making me more upset.

Instead of being wounded by words and trying to wound someone back, I'm going to make a list of ten words that make me happy:

1.  HOPE.
2.  Simplicity.
3.  Kindred.
4.  Blessing.
5.  Abundance.
6.  Precious.
7.  Balance.
8.  Perfect.
9.  Grace.
10.  Mellifluous.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fresh Air...

I've been cooped up in the apartment since I got back from Hawaii.  I've not left the apartment more than to do a couple of quick errands.  So, today I decided to get a breath of fresh air and take a stroll in Central Park.

It was still pretty chilly out.  The sky was overcast and gray.  It made me wonder if Spring had indeed arrived, or if we were still griped in the icy clutches of winter.  That's when I spotted the tiny little buds on the trees, little points of bright green against a backdrop of dull gray and muddy browns.

It was nice to walk quietly by myself.  As it was in the middle of the work day, the Park was pretty much cleared out.  So, I was almost completely alone - just me and the silent statues.

I found a nice spot near the pond next to a bright red berry-laden tree.  I sat for awhile and listened to the bird songs.  While sitting there, I observed the many different kinds, hopping around and searching for food.  My favorite are the house sparrows.  I love their little fluffy round bodies.  The photo above is of a male.  His mate was just outside of the shot, both chirping and welcoming spring.

Anne Choi on The Jewelry Report...

Make sure to swing by The Jewelry Report to check out the interview with Anne Choi and see the gallery of a few of her beads.  The Jeweler Profile delves behind the scenes, describing her inspirations and motivations.  Anne Choi is easily one of my all-time favorite beadmakers.

Six Mouthwatering Blogs...

I love to eat and I love to cook.  Food in my mind is another vehicle for expression and another avenue of creativity.  When I'm in a slump for ideas or recipes, it's not uncommon for me to scroll through these blogs list below for edible inspiration.

I originally came across Mark and Jenna of Sweet Fine Day on my friend, Sarkilahti's jewelry blog, Odette New York, and had to see them at the Brooklyn Flea.  I fell in love with their thumbprint cookies and marshmallows.

Foodgawker is a very popular site amongst the Thornton children.  Sometimes I'll call Cynthia just to discuss the recent recipes and pictures uploaded to their gallery.  It's a great cross-section of culinary ideas since it's a community-submission based site.

Tastespotting is a self-proclaimed, "community driven visual potluck".  The format is very much like Foodgawker – as it's a gallery of foody images and captions that link back to participants' blogs and websites.  Bring on the food porn!

I'm fairly new to Delicious Days, but it seems like a great resource for food bloggers.  Along with cookbook suggestions, "editorial" recipes and foody news, they offer helpful tips on running one's own successful food blog.

Pinch My Salt is a recipe-based blog by a woman named Nicole out of San Diego.  She has a passion for eating and cooking that I admire.  What strikes me the most about this blog is how the recipes and food relate to her life.

Epicurious, the site "for people who love to eat," has been a long-time favorite of mine.  It's chock full o' recipes and dining menus from across the globe. This easy to use site is also equipped with handy how-to videos.

"E" is for Egg...

Whether you celebrate Ostara, Easter, or neither at all, here is a shopping guide to egg-themed beads and pendants.  

A)  Set of five polymer Bird's Egg Beads, (Etsy Seller, TwoElves).  B)  Lot of 200 Fimo Millefiori Egg Beads, (Etsy Seller, goodbusinesscn2003).  C)  Set of 5 Spotted Lampwork Glass Easter Eggs by Cara, (Etsy Seller, Shufflestudio).  D)  Set of three Handmade Flower and Bird Cloisonne Egg-shaped Beads, (Etsy Seller, JingjingDesign).  E) Six-pack Blue Polymer Egg Beads by Alison (Etsy Seller, SpoolDesign).

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Riches...

Is anyone else bummed that the television show, The Riches, was canceled and that they left off mid-way through season two?  I know I'm late to the game.  I only just now caught up with it via Hulu, but found the show thoroughly entertaining on different levels.  I already miss the characters (and not just the main characters, but the supporting cast as well!)  Oh well...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Another New Necklace...

Here's another new necklace I made.  The polymer focal bead is from Pam Wynn of Pam and Heather Wynn, the ceramic rounds from Gaea Beads, the faceted pearls from Talisman Associates Inc., the Swarovski pearls from Fusion Beads, and the gold stone from Bead Trust.  All of the chain is from Ornamentea and the natural brass toggle is from Vintaj via Jamie Hogsett.

Use the Muse Contest Winner...

This just in... I'm a winner!  I won Best Handmade Component in the Use the Muse Contest for my design, "Timeless Romance."

This is what the esteemed judges had to say:  
"This struck us as one of the most sophisticated designs.  We could tell from the photo that the piece would have incredible movement.  We loved all the metallic accents and were so impressed to find out that Andrew had created them himself.  We are awarding this prize for his bronze clay findings and gold-leaf embellished compass."

Here's the artist statement I wrote:
"When I make jewelry, I like to tell myself stories.  I ponder questions about the wearer and their life.  As soon as I opened the package containing the Use the Muse Contest components, I was struck by their timeless qualities.  A story started brewing; developing as the piece did.  In some cases, I couldn't find the quite what I was looking for, so ended up making some of the bronze components out of Bronze Clay.  I also wanted the compass to have two sides, so that it could be concealed while the Traveler was in different time periods.  The brass filigree was an awesome way to disguise and hold the watch crystals that using resin I embedded gold leaf and watch cogs in.  The story of this piece is:  Separated by oceans of time, a lonely wanderer searches out her beloved.  Her gift, the ability to step through time, is also her curse.  An accident parted her from her lover – now lost through the ages.  Only her love and a compass that navigates time can reunite them."

I feel so honored and lucky.  Looking through the other submissions, I saw tons of talent and creative ideas.  It must have been a very hard decision for the judges, as there was just so many wonderful and delightful things to see.  Please check out the rest of the submissions in the BIG Reveal to see just what kind of competition I had!

(OH!  And I won just what I wanted!  New Magma and Air Opal Swarovski Crystals!)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Earrings That Are a Hoot...

Here's a simple new earring design that's really fun!  Firstly, I love the earwires.  They've got a great almond shape and have a lustrous gunmetal finish.  They're from Saki Silver.  The focal beads are from Glass Garden Beads.  They are made out of domed out and soldered bottle caps of a tasty Japanese beer called, Hitachino.  Not only am I crazy about the owl motif, but I like the idea that they're "up-cycled" and effectively turn one man's trash into treasure.  To punch up the color a little and accentuate the reds from the owl design, I added the bright red coral roundels from Talisman Associates Inc.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Beaded Links...

About.com Jewelry Making
Jewelry and taxes, ick!  But maybe these tips will help you navigate through this beader's nightmare.

We all need a little bit more organization.  Here's a nifty organizer for your tools.

Barbe talks about her love of Egyptian jewelry.

Lesley shares tips on getting organized from her and her staff.

Carmi prints her favorite images onto cotton to create a new fiber necklace.

Melanie ponders the beauty and symbolism of butterflies and lets herself fly free with a new pendant.

Katie Hacker designed a fabulous necklace using some of Jennifer's pinwheel beads.

We've been concentrating on organic materials for jewelry making this month, and Cyndi has rounded up a few of her projects that fall into that category!

Come read Jean's review of this super new book by Kim Gover:  Designing Jewelry with semiprecious beads!

Finding inspiration in an unlikely place, Andrew creates a necklace based on a Jell-O dessert.

Melissa discusses shopping opportunities for unusual stone-wrapped chain.


Several years ago, when I lived in Orlando, I went to a symposium on the Ancient World at the local college.  I ran into someone who I loosely knew through the community and we made small talk before the panel discussions and lectures began.  It was awkward and we only sat next to each other out of civility (and the fact that I knew her sons).  

I can't remember exactly what the panel was discussing, but it was probably about how modern life is much like life in the ancient world.  They opened the floor for comments and someone addressed the issue of ritual sacrifice.  Almost instantly, the woman I was sitting next to shot up and said, "It's WRONG!  It's IMMORAL!  It's INHUMANE!  It's DEVIL-WORSHIP in disguise!"  Of course this opened a can of worms and a heated debate followed.  I sat back and quietly watched several members of the audience get into it with different members of the panel.

Yesterday, out of the blue, this woman emails me.  It's been years since I've seen her or her sons.  Apparently, she found me through Facebook.  It was nice to hear from her and catch up on the latest news of her sons.  Without getting too much into her personal business here on my blog, she mentioned that due to the ailing economy, she had to go back to work.  Goodness knows that she's not the only one who has suffered or been forced to give something up to make ends meet.

What struck me was that we have all had to give things up at one point another.  We have all had to make sacrifices.  The only difference is that instead of regarding them with awe and wonder, we just write it off as doing what we've got to do to survive.  People can give up whole entire parts of their life and pieces of who they are in the name of necessity without a single backwards glance.  Now, that's inhumane.

I think it's important to cherish who we are and realize that when we do indeed need to make sacrifices, it's so that another part of our lives can flourish.  When we do this, we enter into an ancient and primal dance – giving to receive.  A death for a life.  I like the idea of being reverent in mundane matters – of giving thanks and praise to the everyday rituals of our lives.  This gives me solace; knowing that all the little sacrifices will enable a bigger picture, one where we are free to follow our bliss.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

New Necklace...

I've had a lot of deadlines recently.  I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing.  The pressure sort of forces me to focus and really mow through my projects.  This is a new necklace  design that I made entitled, "Blue Skies."

Above are a couple of different shots of the piece – a full length, a close-up, and a "beauty" shot.  I got the Swarovski crystals from Fusion Beads, the pearls and vintage Czech glass from Talisman Associates Inc., the chalcedony from Bead Trust, the Egyptian crystal from Beads and Rocks, the floral ceramic cabochon from Nancy at Round Rabbit, and the natural brass filigree and clasp from Vintaj via Jamie Hogsett.  I also got the knurled peanut chain from Ornamentea.

Patti Cahill: Lampwork Eye Candy...

I had originally met Patti Cahill of Dyed in the Fire at a show in the Maitland Civic Center long before I was involved with the bead world.  She was set up next to my sister and my mom kept trying to get her to eat some egg rolls.  I marveled at Patti's colorful handiwork, thinking that they looked like pieces of candy.  (I'm a BIG fan of candy!)

Now, years later, after trying my own hand at lampwork and knowing several glass artisans, my appreciation for her work has grown tenfold.  Not only is she dedicated to quality and craftsmanship, but she continues to be innovative and consistent in making saccharine-sweet eye candy.  She just opened an Etsy site and now it's super easy to get ahold of one of my long-time favorite's seemingly confectionary creations.  CLICK HERE to visit her shop.

10 New Earring Designs...

I got such a lovely response from the last earring post (no pun intended), I thought I'd do another.  To up the ante of the previous post, I decided to increase the number of earring designs from six to ten!

A) Earwires:  Saki Silver.  Pearls and Czech Glass teardrop: Talisman Associates Inc.  B)  Niobium Earwires:  The Odyssey and Bead Expressions.  Swarovski Crystal:  Fusion Beads.  Garnets:  Talisman Associates Inc.  Copper chain:  Ornamentea.  C)  Earwires:  Saki Silver.  Swarovski Pearls:  Fusion beads.  Vintage bicones:  Pudgy Beads.  Headpins:  E2SSupplies.  D)  Niobium Earwires:  The Odyssey and Bead Expressions.  Swarovski crystals:  Fusion Beads.  Vintage "Bling":  Natural Touch.  Headpins:  E2SSupplies.  E)  Niobium Earwires:  The Odyssey and Bead Expressions.  Bronze flower charms:  Candice Wakumoto.  Swarovski Crystals:  Fusion Beads.

A)  Niobium Earwires:  The Odyssey and Bead Expression.  Faceted Pearls:  Talisman Associates Inc.  Bronze Charms:  Candice Wakumoto.  Copper chain:  Ornamentea.  Swarovski Crystals:  Fusion Beads.  Headpins:  E2SSupplies.  B)  Niobium Earwires:  The Odyssey and Bead Expression.  Swarovski Crystals:  Fusion Beads.  Lampwork beads:  Patti Cahill.  Pearls:  Talisman Associates Inc.  C)  Niobium Earwires:  The Odyssey and Bead Expression.  Pearls and Garnets:  Talisman Associates Inc.  Lampwork Beads:  Harold Cooney.  D)  Niobium Earwires: The Odyssey and Bead Expression.  Pearls:  Talisman Associates Inc.  LeaAnne Hartman Shibuichi charms:  Pumpkin Hill Beads.   Swarovski crystals:  Fusion Beads.  Copper chain:  Ornamentea.  E)  Earwires:  Saki Silver.  Swarovski crystals:  Fusion Beads.  Vintage German glass and teardrops:  Talisman Associates Inc.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Five Blogs Not to Miss...

I try to limit my time for reading blogs to an hour or so a day.  It's hard because there's an overwhelming amount of content on the Net and I love keeping track of folks.  I find though that if I don't set limitations and try to reign myself in a bit, I could be plugged in for days.  (I would deny it, but you could aptly call me a "blog junkie.")  In the sidebar is a list of blogs that I frequent often.  Below is a sampling of five of those blogs I find myself compulsively going back to over and over.

Nancy Schindler is the proprietor of Round Rabbit and maintains The Rabbit Muse.  I love the unique way she incorporates her ceramic pieces into her jewelry design and her witty commentary on life.  Not to mention, she's into art history!  I'm a smitten-kitten.

My sister Cynthia Thornton started Green Girl Studios something like twelve years ago.  Her blog is an in depth look at the creative life of an artist and her family.  Not to mention there's cute pictures of my niece, Azalea!

I love Ulla's blog, Ullabenulla!  (And not just cause it's fun to say either!)  Ulla goes to great lengths to compile and share a treasury of inspirational imagery.  I've spent days flipping through her archives.  She also gives an intimate look of her classes at "the Castle".

There's always something to see at Art Bead Scene.  It's a great resource for everything Art Bead, from interesting interviews – to informative product and book reviews.  Make sure to check out their Free Projects and participate in their monthly challenge.

For a dose of heartfelt poetry and narrative jewelry design, Nina Bagley's blog, Ornamental, is the place to be.  Nina is a beautiful soul and alchemist jeweler, who cleverly crafts the portrait of a protean artist and her creative journey.  (I also adore her photography!)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sunshine Jell-O Necklace...

I was looking at the picture from my recent post about a very sunny Jell-o dessert and became smitten with the color palette.  I just love how the saturated cast shadow and refracted sunlight are as juicy and sweet looking as the actual dessert.  Seeing it again made me want to translate it into a jewelry piece.  It just goes to show how inspiration can come from unlikely places.

I started off by embellishing a length of chain with densely clustered wire-wrapped dangles.  For the dangles, I used pearls, vintage German glass, irradiated chip gemstones, vintage lucite, and coral beads from Talisman Associates.  I also used carnelian, sunstone, and citrine  from Bead Trust, Czech glass from Raven's Journey, (topaz and fire opal) Swarovski crystals from Fusion Beads, vintage sequins from Gail Crosman Moore, Egyptian crystal from Beads and Rocks, and headpins from Earth2Sea Jewelry Supply (Etsy seller E2SSupplies) and Ornamentea.  (There are also one or two lampwork beads that I made long ago when I experimented with glass.)

Since the focal dangle is so busy and has a lot going on, I decided to keep the rest of the necklace pretty simple.  It's just copper cable chain (from Ornamentea) with occasional gold-filled wire-wrapped links strung with fire opal Swarovski bicones.  I also wanted the clasp to be simple and used a natural brass one from Vintaj.