Monday, February 08, 2016

Creative heART Challenge: Day 1...

Today was the first day of my self-imposed Creative heART Challenge.  If you want to read more about why I started this challenge, CLICK HERE to find out more.

In approaching this challenge, I think one of the most important things that I need to be mindful of is time management.  I thought I had a good start to the project, creating eight new necklaces!  However, creating the pieces isn't enough.  I've got to photograph, edit, and list all the pieces I make.  We are also using this as an opportunity to shift our online store over to the Square Marketplace.  We dearly love our BigCartel shop and think they're a great company, however, we use our Square stand as our POS system and use it to track inventory.  So in an effort to streamline our process and integrate all the moving pieces, we're working – little by little – on moving things over to our Square Market.  This slowed things down as I am getting used to where everything is.  To check out our new online store, CLICK HERE.

But enough about the technical stuff... here's what I made:

This is the last necklace that I made during the session and it's probably one of my favorites.  I have a tendency to hunch over while I'm working, sometimes moving my projects to the floor and spreading out.  It kills my back!  (It didn't used to, but I guess that's another conversation for another day.)  Anyway, my back was killing me and my eyes were bleary and starting to cross from focusing on tiny beads for hours, but I couldn't stop.  I just love the eclectic vibe and how all the different pieces and parts came together.  I was also pleased as punch that I could work with some pretty saturated color, but still keep it on the earthy side.

This is another favorite of the evening!  Labradorite was probably one of my first "stone crushes".  Over the years, I've compiled quite the collection of it.  I'm loathe to use it, because I usually want to keep it, but I decided to cherrypick some of the most lovely stones for this necklace.  I tried to use ones that had lots of flash and glowing inner fire!  This is another piece, that because of the asymmetry and the decorative clasp, can be worn in any number of combinations.

When I started to design jewelry, I came at it from an arts background.  In the early times, I didn't necessarily have the firmest of technical training, but I knew color and texture.  Even in relatively simple designs, working with the elements of design can really elevate a piece.  This is a perfect example of how to work with color for maximum punch.  I used some lovely hessonite garnets and paired them with some lovely kyanite.  If you look at a color wheel, orange and blue are on opposite sides.  Since they are complementary colors, they can be used for a striking juxtaposition.  The blue of the kyanite helps move the eye around and makes the warmth of the garnets more juicy.

When I was growing up, my dad had a statue of Athena.  If you know my dad, you know he's more trucks and tools and less ancient Greek goddesses.  Our relationship is best described as a little strained.  We both march to different beats and while we don't always have a lot in common, we both share the rather unfortunate trait of being overly headstrong.  I think it was particularly hard for him when I was little, because he was raised to be a good ole country boy, and there I was, this rambunctious child always asking questions, showing him pretty rocks, and trying to tell him about a fairy tale I read.  I also think it was hard for him to be around me, because I looked so much like my brother and after my brother went missing, I was a constant reminder of what he considered to be one of his failures in life.  One of my happy memories of my dad was sitting on his lap and pointing to things on the bookshelf.  I'd say, "What's that?"  And he'd tell me stories.  On the shelf was this statue.  He had picked it up as a tourist gift when he was in the military.  It came from a time before me and I was fascinated with it.  Later, I had a ratty copy of Heroes & Monsters of Greek Myth and would pour over the pages, searching for references to Athena.  I discovered that one of the animals that was sacred to the goddess was the owl.  From an early age, I had a connection to owls and they would often times appear to me.  The necklace I made features a bronze pendant inspired by an ancient Greek owl coin.  I thought the rich gold of the bronze would look good with the red of garnets and rubies.  When I'm working, I also like to mix textures.  The owl necklace has natural matrix garnets accented with faceted rondelles and smooth rounds.
 I love the bright, impactful green of this necklace.  It reminds me of new leaves emerging from the bleak snow.  This necklace also features a sterling silver hamsa pendant.  If you're not familiar with the hamsa, it's a symbol used for protection and good luck and to ward off the evil eye.  Sometimes there's something deeply satisfying about creating these symmetrical designs.  They say, "Look at the beads."  I think this is a good example of that.  I think the hardest part of these types of necklaces is laying everything out and then stringing all the tiny beads.  Not all the beads fit on the beading wire, so it's sort of like a game of seek and find.  After a long string of beads with too small holes, I sometimes want to cheer when I find one that actually fits!

Do you ever have a piece in your collection that you love, but you just don't know how you'll use it?  I acquired this sterling silver ram's skull pendant and I didn't know quite how I'd use it.  I just finished listening to The Magicians for book club and was inspired to dig it out and use it in this design.  It represents the rams that act as guardian spirits in the world of Fillory.  The base of the necklace is composed of a mix of rubies and sapphires.  If the colors look like a natural match, there's a reason.  Did you know that they're related?  They're both corundum stones and I think the reds of the ruby and the blues of the sapphire compliment each other beautifully.

This necklace features a lot of lovely kyanite.  Kyanite is another of my stone crushes.  I love the chatoyance, or cat's eye effect of the stone.  It reminds me of the ocean, filled with glittering waves.  I created a pattern with the kyanite and tiny labradorite and vintage seed beads.  I like this technique of stringing.  It has a rosary quality to it and I like running my fingers over the mix of larger and smaller beads.  The focal is another hamsa.

The last piece that I'm sharing from the first night of creating for the Creative heART Challenge is this necklace.  It has a blend of kyanite, freshwater pearls and stabilized ruby in kyanite.  Ruby in kyanite is a rather new stone.  Because ruby is a corundum stone, it's much harder than the kyanite.  Working with this formation is tricky.  When the stones are drilled, they can crack and break apart.  When it is cut, sometimes the kyanite material gets removed at a quicker rate than the ruby.  The stabilization keeps it strong and the colors brilliant.

I'm pretty happy with my yield from the first day.  Of course, I'm knockdown tired, but it's a good, satisfying feeling.  Please stay tuned for 29 more days of creations made by me!  You can keep up with what I make here or you can go directly to our online shop and see the things as they are posted there.  CLICK HERE to go to the new online store.  I hope that folks will find pieces they love.  All the money we raise will go directly towards a great deal to acquire more merchandise for the store.  Thanks for joining me on this creative journey!


Alison Adorns said...

Beautiful pieces!

Anonymous said...

Great first day, Andrew! These pieces are absolutely beautiful. I am enjoying reading your thought process behind them and how you created them. I hope you are enjoying your journey. It must be exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. Looking forward to more! ~Linda Calderon

Eileen Bergen said...

Absolutely beautiful. I've been scanning the slide show back and forth, but can't pick a favorite. I loved reading your back stories and descriptions as well.