Sunday, June 30, 2013

AJE Component of the Month Reveal

Each month one of the contributors to the Art Jewelry Elements Blog gives away a component to the rest of the AJE team as well as to a few lucky winners.  This month I was lucky to be chosen to participate!  Jenny Davies-Reazor supplied us with cute little ceramic charm pairs... just perfect for earrings.  Imagine my surprise when I opened my package from Jenny and found not two, but three charms!  I'm so excited that I got two charms in turquoise and also a dark red charm.  These are some of my favorite colors and I actually love mixing turquoise and red.

Aren't they cute?  Love that Jenny sent a bonus bead!

Inspired by the color combination, I got a wild hair and decided to do a mismatched set of earrings... a first for me and my super symmetrical mind.  I also decided to practice my wire-wrapping skills some more.  I added an apple jasper bead above the turquoise charm and a china variscite bead and wrapped the whole thing with Vintaj Artisan Copper wire.  Voila!

Not wanting to leave out my second turquoise charm, I whipped up a simple charm necklace to go with the earrings.  I grabbed some ball chain and strung the charm, another piece of the apple jasper, turquoise colored Czech glass, and a blank that I stamped the word "dream" onto.

Thanks again to Jenny and the AJE team for giving folks the chance to play along each month!  To check out what everyone else created with their charms check out the AJE Blog HERE.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Bucolic Plague - Inspired by Reading

After needing to sit out May's installment, I'm back in action for the June edition of the Inspired by Reading Book Club that the very talented Andrew Thornton started up. You can find out more about the group and the reading list for the year over on Andrew's blog HERE.  This month's selection was The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir by Josh Kilmer Purcell.

For me this was a thoroughly enjoyable read.  Josh's writing style was so accessible and funny (no random, undefined French phrases this month!) and I just wanted to keep turning the pages.  I started the book on the Thursday of Memorial Day weekend and finished it on Tuesday night... considering I was traveling for most of that time, I think I set a speed reading record for myself!  I have no particular interest in farming (eating, absolutely...gardening, not so much), no desire to own "land" or a mansion, and am not particullary fond of goats.  But this book is really more about Josh and Brent's relationship and how they came to stumble on and then buy a mansion that ended up chaging thier lives.

Something that really resonated with me was the dangerous ground you tread when you decide to shift a hobby into a business...especially if it will be your livlihood.  I think with my recent reduction of hours at the library, this really struck a chord with me.  Yes, I wouldn't mind making some money off of my jewelry creations, but I don't want pressure to do so diminishing my enjoyment in the making.  It broke my heart a little to see Josh and Brent's relationship unraveling under the pressure of trying to make Beekman 1802 successful.

The other thing that has stuck with me from this book is the idea that perfection is not always the most noble pursuit.  It's ok for things to be imperfect and natural... so often you lose site of what's important and real because you are too concerned with appearances.  I think that this is a good thing for us all to remember.

Ok, enough introspection from me... onto my design!  Before I had even started the book I managed to snatch up this adorable "A Carrot a Day" pendant by Jade Scott.  I took a gamble that it would work for this project... it called to me and I just had to have it!  There was actually quite a bit about establishing and expanding the heirloom vegetable garden at the Beekman, so I went with it.  Just thinking about the scene where Josh makes his big birthday salad is making me hungry for vegetables!

I decided to stick with mostly orange and green to play off the cute little carrot.  On one side I wire wrapped some links with Olivine and Indian Red Swarovski crystals, a shell pearl and a carved orange gemstone bead.  On the opposite side, I did some stringing with a combination of seed beads and other small beads including some rough cut carnelians that I've had in my hoard for way too long.

I ran some Vintaj brass chain around the back of the necklace and finished things off with a hook clasp.  To balance the two sides out a little bit, I added a brass filagree drop and a small Swarovski crystal off of the clasp.  Originally I tried a small brass bird charm instead (thinking of the netting and the fruit tree) but it just didn't sit quite right.

I enjoyed Josh's writing so much that I decided to seek out his first memoir, I'm Not Myself These Days for future reading.  I had to laugh when I looked it up and saw the cover... I actually have a copy on my bookshelf at home that I grabbed at a library conference a million years ago and never read.  Too funny...that alone might move it to the top of the reading pile!

This is a blog hop so please take some time to see what all the other creative participants have cooked up this month!  Enjoy! 

Sarajo Wentling -- You are here!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

AJE Earring Challenge - Weeks 23 & 24

It's that time already once again... today is the reveal for weeks 22 and 23 of the Art Jewelry Elements earring challenge.  The challenge is to create and share one pair of earrings a week made with artisan components.  It's been great fun to challenge myself to  use some of the art beads in my stash as well as some things that I made myself. Another side effect of participating in this challenge is that I keep finding great new artisans that I want to purchase things from!

Without further ado, here are my contributions for this time...  both pairs feature lampwork from the talented Tanya McGuire.  I just ordered some new beads from her, but these babies have been languishing in one of my boxes of beads for way too long!  You can check out her Etsy shop HERE.

First up, a fairly simple pair with gorgeous purple and teal lampwork beads.  So that the glass could shine, I just added some teal colored Swarovski crystals and made wire wrapped loops on sterling silver balled headpins.  This purple was really hard to capture accurately, but I think I finally got it.  

Week 23 - Purple Haze Earrings
For my second pair this reveal, I'm getting a little bit fancier.  I got adventurous and decided to try out the multi-faced texturing hammer that I bought last year and haven't used (does any body sense a theme with me??).  I took some Vintaj natural brass altered blank rectangles that had a little loop on one end, cut off the loop, filed the rough edges down, and punched new holes in each end.  After that, I pulled out the bench block and hammered some texture onto the pieces.  I doubled the brass pieces over to make a cool three dimensional shape to hang beneath the lovely blue and creamy yellow lampwork beads.

Week 24

The purple pair is for sale in my Etsy shop, HERE.   Hope everyone is having a marvelous weekend!

Please take a look at all the other great designs if you get the chance!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Everyone Needs a Little Time Away

So, my blogging has definitely slowed down a little bit in the last month and a half.  Do not fear, it's not because I've tired of jewelry making, or blogging for that matter!  This is simply the busiest time of the year for me at my day job as a youth services librarian.... Summer Reading!  Between the prepping for summer programs at the library, actually doing the programs, and a busy family schedule I just haven't had quite the time I would like to devote to jewelry making and this blog.

The next couple of weeks I'll be posting a few challenge pieces here, but I'll likely be a little more quiet than I would like to be.  If I'm honest, it's kind of killing me to not be able to reveal a few of my newest creations with you all yet.  I'm really excited about and proud of some of the things you'll be seeing from me in the next few weeks.

For some crazy reason I thought that this summer might not be as busy as it was last year.  No dice...we are even more over scheduled than ever!  Since most of the calendar is filled with fun stuff, I can't complain, but there are consequences to being on the go so much.  Next up we've got a trip to Oregon for a little vacation and a family wedding and then I'll be off to the American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago right after that.  I'm hoping that I might be able to find a bead store or two in Oregon while we're there...we'll see how that goes!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

June Art Bead Scene Challenge

Each month the editors over at the Art Bead Scene Blog choose a piece of artwork and challenge jewelry designers to create something using an art bead that is inspired by it.  For June they have chosen "Jackknife Village" by Canadian artist Franklin Carmichael.  To find out more about the painting and the artist from the ABS Blog, CLICK HERE

Jackknife Village, 1926
Franklin Carmichael
Watercolor on Paper
This is another time where I feel super naughty (and unorganized) for not knowing the name of the artist who made my focal bead.  In my defense, I bought it from a lampwork artist who was doing demonstrations in the Germany pavilion at Epcot when Eric and I were at Disney World for Christmas just after I started beading.  I never imagined that I would get as into jewelry design as I have... and the idea of selling anything I made (or even giving it away!) just seemed ridiculous!

Anyway, while the bead is a little brighter than the painting, it shares many of the same colors and the swirls in the bead feel reminiscent of the rolling hills as well as the implied movement in the clouds and water from the painting.  While the bead is mostly shades of blue, there is also a bit of pale yellow and even the tiniest bit of orange peaking out like in the buildings in the painting.  The bead also has a little bit of light green, which isn't in the painting, but I think the feel of it and the rest of the colors make it work for the challenge anyway.

This month I left things pretty simple and symmetrical to really let the focal bead speak for itself.  I finally broke out the sterling silver wire that I bought years ago and never had the nerve to use.  Gulp!  I had to fight my fear of messing up the pricier silver for all those wire wraps...but I did great.  I didn't have to tear a single link out.  Anyway, I used that silver wire to make links with a variety of Swarovski crystals in different shapes and colors.  Sterling chain (which I have also hoarded for a ridiculous amount of time) and a lobster claw clasp with a little crystal dangle complete the design.

If you want to see what other folks create in response to the painting, CLICK HERE to check out the Art Bead Scene Flickr Group page.  Enjoy!      

Sunday, June 9, 2013

AJE Earring Challenge Weeks 21 & 22

Just as I hinted in a previous post, this installment of the Art Jewelry Elements Earring Challenge will feature some of the lovelies that I bought from Tracee Dock of The Classic Bead when I was in Kansas City over Memorial Day weekend.  (Thanks again for having us over, Tracee!)

First up is a pair made with some of Tracee's ceramic flowers in a lovely olive green.  I had just bought a great strand of fairly pricey Czech glass from The Bead Monkey (my favorite local bead shop) when they were having a special event with great sale prices.  I was drawn to the unusual look of them with their Picasso finish that had been cut away along the circumference to reveal the chartreuse color inside.  I knew that these two things would compliment each other perfectly!  I did a little practicing of my wire working skills and voila!  I think that they are super fun and playful.

Week 21:  Ceramic flowers from The Creative Bead

Next, I used another delicious little pair from Tracee that have been dipped in chocolate brown glaze.  Don't they just look like little chocolate covered cookies?  I want to eat them up!  This time I added some China variscite rounds and used copper wire to wrap everything together.  I used some TierraCast niobium earrwires with bright copper accent beads to pull everything together.

Week 22:  Ceramic drops from The Creative Bead

I'm in love with both of these pairs... I'm happy to highlight the creations of a talented and sweet craftsperson and I'm proud of myself for stretching my wire working skills.

Both pairs of earrings are available for sale on Etsy, CLICK HERE to visit my shop.  There are more photos of each pair in the listings there.

The editors at AJE chose my second pair to feature on their website.  To check it out, CLICK HERE.  Thanks for stopping by, please check out all the other great designs for this week's reveal!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Inspired by Reading May Blog Hop

This is the second month of the new Inspired by Reading Book Club and design blog hop created and organized by the multi-talented Andrew Thornton.  Each month the group reads a book and then creates something (it doesn't have to be jewelry!) in response.  To find out more about the group and the book list for the rest of the year CLICK HERE.  If you enjoy reading and are creative, consider joining the fun.

The May reveal for the group was pushed back until this week due the holiday and general schedule craziness.  The book for May was A Rumor of Gems by Ellen Steiber.  Sadly, I didn't have time to participate this month (largely because of the size of the book!) but I wanted to share what the rest of the group came up with.

Check out what others created with A Rumor of Gems in mind:

After reading all the other posts, I'm wishing that I could have made time for this one.  I think I would have enjoyed the book.  Several folks mentioned that it included a bridge made of labradorite, one of my favorite gemstones... that would surely be a sight to behold if such a thing really existed!  

While I didn't make this necklace for the challenge (it's actually one of my earlier designs), I wanted to share this little labradorite number with you.  I added in some sterling silver beads and some dark blue Swarovski pearls, but it's almost entirely made out of these really cool faceted labradorite beads.  

It was hard to do it any justice in a photo... I think it's hard to catch the flash and fire of this stone under the best of circumstances and I'm working with the perpetual gloom we've been having here in Minnesota.  I gave it my best shot!  Enjoy!