Thursday, June 26, 2014

Art Bead Scene Challenge: June 2014

Well, once again I'm down to the wire trying to get a design challenge finished.  Perhaps the fact that I knew that this one was going to be for me to keep for myself caused me to push it to the back burner and focus on other projects first.  Either way, I have managed to pull it off at the last minute... I leave for my library conference in the morning and won't be back until July 1st.

This month's inspiration artwork is "Trees Laden with Parasites and Epiphytes in a Brazilian Garden" by Marianne North.  Quite the catch title don't you think?  North was a Victorian biologist and botanical artist known for foreign travels, writing, and plant discoveries in addition to her botanical paintings.  You can read more about the painting and the artist over on the Art Bead Scene blog HERE.

Trees Laden with Parasites and Epiphytes in a Brazilian Garden, 1873

by Marianne North

Oil on Paper

As soon as I saw the inspiration artwork, I knew I had the perfect art beads... a gorgeous luna moth focal and accent beads from the talented Kerri Fuhr.  I really wanted to work in all the pretty accent beads in addition to the focal.  Kerri actually sent me quite a few other black and clear green spacer beads in addition to the ones in the picture below so I chose keep the focus on all the lampwork glory.

Because of the tan tones in the moth and the green swirly accent beads, I chose to work with brass for my design.  (Also, I have a ridiculous stash of Vintaj!)  I really only added a few extra czech glass beads and a few brass beads to the mix and made wire wrapped links.  A few little dangles from the pendant and I was done.  To avoid and Christmasy leanings, I stuck with the black and pale greens from the painting.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Jewelry Redo Finally Complete!

Remember way on back in April when week 5 of Heather Powers' Jewelry Making Mojo Challenge was to remake a piece of jewelry?  Well, I've finally finished what I started!

With the delivery deadline of the American Library Association Annual Conference looming, I have finally gone back and finished putting together the new and improved necklace for my friend Angie.  Here's a reminder of where things started... the tangly mess of a necklace that Bob brought me to rework:

And the new and improved version:

Thanks for you patience Angie and Bob!  I hope the results live up to your expectations and trust in me!

Friday, June 20, 2014

We're All Ears: June 2014

The June inspiration photo for the We're All Ears challenge over on the Earrings Everyday blog initially threw me for a bit of a loop.  It's an interesting photo looking up from the bottom of the giant spiral staircase in the Guggenheim Museum.

Guggenheim Museum: Source
As I thought about it a little more, the Vintaj Stained Glass Window pieces that I recently purchased came to mind so I had to see if I could make their size and shape work for what I had in mind.  Luckily for me it did!

I simply added ear wires and some little Czech glass and crystal dangles from the bottom.  The dangles remind me a little bit of the lights you see in the darker circles of the photo and the brass piece does a good job representing the central circle.

I can't wait to have time to hop over to Earrings Everyday to see what everyone else made this month!

Monday, June 16, 2014

New Earring Monday: Weeks 23 & 24

Once again it's time for more new earrings.  I was traveling in Michigan so please excuse my photography... I was working with less than ideal conditions in our hotel room.

Anyway, I'm starting out this post with a pair I'm actually keeping for myself.  After making my project for Jewelry Mojo Challenge for week 11, a necklace out of an old and ginormous earring, I really needed some new ear bobs to go with it.  I used the same red coral flowers and TierraCast silver plated beads from the necklace to make some dangly earrings to match.

Next up are two variations on the pair of earrings recently published in the Earring Gallery pages of the summer 2014 issue of Stringing Magazine.  I used some new Czech glass flowers from Lima Beads in one of my favorite shapes... one pair in a fun orange and one in a mustard yellow.  Both colors have copper highlights to them.

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a great Monday!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Michigan Meanderings

This week my husband and I are in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the National Homebrewers Conference, you can read all about the beer part of our trip over on Eric's blog, JABlog once he has a chance to sit down and write about it.  I took a little field trip away from the conference on Thursday before things really got underway to have my own little adventures.

While Grand Rapids is a fairly serious drive from Waconia (it took us 12.5 hours to get here thanks to construction slow downs and hitting Chicago at the wrong time), it's just a quick jaunt down the road to South Haven where the lovely and talented Heather Powers hails from.

I had the pleasure of meeting up with Heather and her aunt Rosanne Garvison for a nice lunch in downtown South Haven in a restaurant called Phoenix Street Cafe. Afterwards they gave me the grand tour as we wandered around the cute little downtown area.  The sun came out and it was just a wonderful way to spend part of my afternoon.

It was just great to get to spend time with new friends from the Bead Cruise and get to know Heather and Rosanne better.  Heather was so very sweet and kind to bring me a little gift of her sweet Humblebeads.  I just love them!  Aren't they wonderful?

On my way back to Grand Rapids I took the advice of Tom and Nancy from the Fargo homebrew club and stopped off at Virtue Cider in Fennville, Michigan.  It was only a few miles out of the way and well worth the stop.

I really like their logo... simple and cute.  

Virtue Cider was founded by Gregory Hall who served as the Brewmaster at Goose Island Beer Company from 1991 to 2011.  After he left Goose Island he turned his focus to ciders... touring and tasting at top cider makers in England and France.  Virtue is very much inspired by the farmhouse ciders of Europe...tending overall to the dryer side.  They source their apples from Michigan and are doing a lot with barrel aging.

I'm guessing the production side happens in this structure as the tasting room and distribution fill a matching building to the right of this one... inside pictured below.

I got to taste six of their ciders (tasting is free) while I was there.  I started with their draft only Red Streak, a dry English style cider and followed that with the Ledbury, which is an English style medium cider.  Both were a little too dry for my personal taste but nicely crafted.  The Ledbury is actually fermented with native yeast adding a little funkiness to the mix.

Doing some tasting and shopping!
My two favorites (and the ones I came home with) were The Mitten and Cidre Nouveau.  The Mitten is a mixture of last season's best cider aged in bourbon barrels and the new season's fresh pressed apple juice. This was probably the sweetest one I tasted and a really nice and drinkable cider.  On the other end of the spectrum was the Cidre Nouveau, their first cider of the season that is done in the French Sparkling style.  It's also fairly dry but I think the bubbles do something to balance that out a bit.  I'm looking forward to trying this one with food.

The other standout for me was the Sidra de Nava which may be the strangest cider I've ever tasted.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it was really different.  It's a Spanish tart cider that has a very strong lemon flavor and a dry finish.  I enjoyed it but never would have identified it a cider on a blind taste test.  In all honesty, I don't remember the sixth cider they gave me... it wasn't on the tasting list and the bartender went and poured it from another room so I never saw a bottle or anything.  

After much of the day out on my own adventures, I ended my Thursday with the opening toast and welcome reception followed by a tasty tapas dinner with fellow brew club mate Mike and Eric.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Jewelry Mojo Challenge Week 12: Art Inspired

I can't believe it, the final week of Heather Powers' Jewelry Making Mojo challenge is here!  For our final task, Heather has challenged us to make a piece of jewelry inspired by our all-time favorite piece of artwork from any medium.  I have to admit that this kind of stumped me.  As I've mentioned before, I have no real background in art or art history.  Sure, there are plenty of of pieces of art that inspire me and I respond to... but a favorite?  Not so much.  (Sorry if this sounds like heresy!)

So as I thought about it my mind turned to the some of the first artists whose work I admired and owned (well, in print form anyway).  Salvador Dali, M.C. Escher, and Gustav Klimt.  In retrospect, I think a lot of the appeal of Dali and Escher to my teen aged self was that they are both a little, well, weird.  And I was weird.  Not really weird enough or normal enough to really fit in with any one group.  Luckily I had a nice group of friends that fell in the same range so we made our own group that was a band of misfit toys in many ways... but I digress.

So, from there I moved onto thinking more about Klimt and how I have long been enamored with and fascinated by his work from what is known as his "Golden Phase," and especially The Kiss.  Unlike my fancy for Dali and Escher, my feelings for Klimt have endured.  The rug in our basement alcove is even Klimt inspired!

Much of Klimt's work features gold leaf and a very cool almost mosaic effect.  (See, told you I'm no art historian!)  Apparently he was influenced by both the Art Nouveau style and the Arts and Crafts movement... two things I'm also enamored with so I guess it shouldn't surprise me that I like this painting!

Gustav Klimt, The Kiss (Lovers), oil and gold leaf on canvas, 1908–1909.
I remembered that I had a pillow shaped bead in my stash from my very early days of beading that I bought because it reminded me of Klimt's work.  I had intended it to be used as a pendant for a necklace but had never gotten around to it.  I initially thought that I would finally make that necklaces but then I decided to play around with waxed linen and made another bracelet instead.

I chose some walnut colored waxed Irish linen, a bunch of random glass and crystal beads, and even a couple of matte finished little spacer beads from The Spacer Bead Shop.  I also worked in a couple of gold plated beads to pull in the gold colors from the focal bead.  I kept my color palette to shades of cream, grey, and amber and finished things off with some Vintaj brass chain and lobster claw clasp.

A HUGE thank you to Heather Powers for hosting this wonderful challenge.  It's been a really great experience for me and has helped me see new ways of thinking about things. Next time my mojo needs a boost, I'll have some great tricks to fall back on!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Pretty Palettes Partner

Each month Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati shares a palette for inspiration on the Halcraft blog, picks out a variety of beads from Michael's, and encourages others to play along with her and design something.  Starting this month she's changing things up a little and is inviting a guest blogger to join the fun.  I am the lucky person to be chosen as her first Pretty Palettes Partner and I'm just thrilled and honored!   

You can read all about Erin's palette inspiration and bead choices over on the Halcraft USA blog HERE.  For May, Erin picked out this gorgeous palette from Design Seeds.

Those April showers are sure to bring pretty May flowers in this pretty palette from Design Seeds.

Here are the yummy beads that Erin picked out (and sent me!) to create with for this challenge.  They are all from Michael's from the Bead Gallery line and I just want to say these beads look even nicer in person!

As soon as I saw the color palette and the photo that inspired it, I thought of some of the ceramic flower pendants that I've gotten from my friend Tracee Dock of The Classic Bead.  Heck, they may have been modeled on the very flowers in the photo they look so perfect for this!  When I went looking for those pendant I found another art bead in my messy stash... this one from Marie Voyer-Cramp of Skye Jewels.  I had already wrapped her lovely wooden tile in brass filigree so it wasn't going to work with the silver beads that Erin had picked.  No problem, I realized that I was going to make two necklaces for this blog hop!

Since I already had all my Vintaj goodies spread out on my work table, I started with the wooden tile.  The florals were just the perfect colors for this challenge but more toward the darker, deeper colors in the palette.  I decided to go for an asymmetrical look with the iridescent crackle rounds and little faceted glass beads on one side of the pendant knotted in light rust colored waxed Irish linen.  On the other side I used some beads from both strands of the table cut Czech glass mixed in with some pale yellow frosted glass rounds from my own stash.  I overestimated the number of bead units I needed for the table cut side, I decided to whip up some subtly mismatched earrings to round out this look.

After my first set was completed I still had plenty of beads left to play with and it was time to switch to silver tones!  This time I wanted to have a heavier emphasis on the beads that Erin sent me and also to work in some of the pale pink rounds that I totally ignored for my first set.

So I started working on the second necklace... well, what I thought was going to be the second necklace.  I wanted to go back to my roots and do something that was more of a simple stringing project.  When I started playing around with it, something just didn't feel quite balanced... it just wasn't what I had been thinking in my head.  I finally found a stringing pattern that I liked, but my pendant seemed too big for the scale of the beads.  Luckily, I'm an art bead hoarder and had a second, smaller pendant from Tracee in the same colors.  So much better!  For this design I used the small pink rounds, faceted glass beads, and silver plated flowers from Michael's and added in a few frosted yellow round glass beads and some peachy seed beads as spacers.

I was still determined to use that original Classic Bead pendant I had found, so back to the drawing board for necklace number three!  Now, I could have just popped a jump ring through the top of the pendant and gone from there, but with my newfound love for waxed linen I decided to something a little different for me.  I used two strands of the light rust linen mixed with a strand of two-ply butterscotch to tie the pendant to a jump ring.  I added some little seed beads from the ends of the threads and I'm really happy with the effect.  But I still needed a necklace to go with my pretty pendant.

This time I pulled out my sterling silver wire and made a series of bead units with the table cut glass, crackle rounds, and silver plated flowers.  I used Nunn Design antique silver plated findings and kept this one pretty simple.

Not the best picture but I've been having uncooperative lighting lately.

Once again, I had to make earrings to go with the necklace (y'all know I have that matching disorder!)  I used the crackle and faceted glass with the rhinestone rondelles and a silver plated bead cap from Nunn Design for some sweet little ear bobs.

So there you have it... one set of beads to go with this month's Pretty Palette and three different looks.  I hope you've enjoyed what I've come up with for the challenge.  Please pop over to the Halcraft blog to see what Erin and some of her colleagues made by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

An Object of Beauty: Inspired by Reading Book Club

The Inspired by Reading Book Club continues to be one of my favorite monthly challenges.  It's so nice to actually read some adult books and to go out of my comfort zone of genre fiction.  The May selection for the club was An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin.  To me, and I'm guessing many others, Steve Martin lives in my mind as a brilliant comedian... not a novelist.  Reading this book changed my perception... he's an accomplished novelist in his own right.  

I'll be the first to admit that I know almost nothing about the art world or the business of art galleries and collecting.  After reading this novel which chronicles the rise and fall of one ambitious young woman, Lacey Yeager, in the New York art world, I feel like I know a little more...and possibly more than I wanted to!

One of the things that I really appreciated about this novel was that he included full color prints of many pieces of artwork mentioned.  As someone without any real art history background, it was nice to actually get to see what was being talked about.

Naturally, it was one of the images that ended up giving me my inspiration for my creation this month.  Specifically it was Flowers by Andy Warhol.  I tried to find an image of the same one that was in the book (which had bright blue, red, yellow, and yellow orange flowers) but I was unsuccessful in finding a decent image of that one... so I just "borrowed" the version that Andrew pinned to our Pinterest board instead.  In looking for the "right" one, I did discover that Warhol had a whole rainbow of flower colors which opened up the doors for me to design with pretty much whatever colors I wanted!
Flowers, Andy Warhol
I chose this piece as a jumping off point not just because it was colorful and approachable (although that certainly was part of it!) but the picture played a pivotal role in Lacey's story.  It was one of the first major art purchases she made and a belonging she sold to finance her rise in the art world.  I felt badly for her that she sold it... but I suspect that I was more sentimental about it than Lacey ever could be!

Once again being pressed for time (May was supposed to be my "down" month and a chance to catch my breath... but not so much) I decided to go for something pretty simple and straightforward.  I know that many of my book club members will come up with much more amazing, complex, and thoughtful creations, but I'm just happy to have made something to be able to participate!

I decided on a simple long charm style necklace that featured some of my brightly colored Czech glass flowers.  I went with Vintaj Arte Metal to play of the dark background of Warhol's work and to give a nice contrast to the vibrant colors of the flowers.  I ended up just making a cluster of flowers and hanging them from a filigree piece on a long chain.  

I may yet play with how the cluster of flowers is put together or possibly add one more at the top.  I'll have to see how it moves when worn to decide.

This is a blog hop.  You'll find the full list of participants over on Andrew Thornton's blog HERE.

Monday, June 2, 2014

New Earring Monday: Weeks 21 & 22

So... how on earth did it get to be June already??  Seriously, this year is speeding by waaay too fast for my comfort!  That being said, it's time for New Earring Monday again and a couple of new designs from me.

First up is a pair that I technically started on before Christmas when I embossed and painted the little Vintaj brass leaves.  And then they sat, and sat until now.  They finally made their way off my beading board and into a pair of summery green earrings.  I just added some Czech glass rondelles and foliage bead caps from Vintaj to keep them fun and simple.

Next is a pair that was inspired in part by a pair of earrings that Heather Powers made for her fabulous mom Beverly Herman for Mother's Day.  I've used several of my stash of Heather's disc beads, but I never thought of using the Vintaj Arte Metal Savannah Butterfly charms on earrings.  I think I thought they might be too big... but no more!  So, apologies for being derivative, but the pairing of the bronzy green disc beads from Humblebeads with the butterflies that I had used some African Bronze Gilders Paste on was just too perfect to pass up!

Enjoy the week!  Summer is here!