Friday, December 15, 2017

We're All Ears: December 2017, Use Your Leftovers


It's time for the Third Annual Use Your Leftovers challenge over on the Earrings Everyday blog!  The idea behind this challenge is to use up some of the bits and bobs that get left behind after your crazy beading sessions... your "craftermath!"  As I explained a bit last year, I don't really have true "craftermath" per se.  While I usually have 3 (or 4 or 5 or 6!) projects mulling around on my bead board at any given time, I'm pretty good at putting away the excess beads from those projects as soon as they are finished.  My problem is all of the piles of half thought out or abandoned projects that got left behind when some other deadline loomed larger.  So once again, I'm taking a stab at getting some of those orphaned earring projects completed!

Here's my new to me old muffin tin that I acquired this summer filled with a variety of earring projects in various stages of thought-out-edness.  (Is that a word?  It's a word now!)  I think some of these were in my queue last year when I did this challenge and I ran out of time and/or energy.  Yikes!!


First up a couple of fairly simple pairs that were special orders that I haven't gotten around to making yet.  (Seriously, people... if you ever need something from me, give me a deadline!  I don't function without due dates.)  One pair is a replacement for a cherished pair of acorn earrings that got left behind by a friend at airport security and the other is a pair to go with a necklace bought at a recent show.


Next, I've got a couple of pairs of beer can earrings that I didn't finish before my last show at Bad Weather Brewing last weekend.  Better late than never!  These two will join the rest of my Upcycled beer can collection at Unearthed Arts in Waconia in the next couple of days..


This next few pairs are the closest to true "craftermath" that I got.  The painted petals were from a big batch of painting that I did earlier this fall.  This was one of the few pairs that didn't get finished and now I'm kind of glad.  Also in my muffin tin were some beads intended for earrings to match a necklace I made for the Art Bead Scene last month.  Well, the necklace sold before I got back to the earrings so I combined some of them with the painted flower petals for a fun look!  I also had some little Czech glass teardrop beads that I had been thinking about a while back... I paired them with some lucite beads that have a bit of a gold sheen to them and some brass findings.  Lastly, I found the cute little Dalmatian Jasper hearts when I was making a necklace with that stone a while back but set them aside to play with and then got distracted... story of my life!  The hearts and the Dalmatian Jasper rounds came from a bead mix from my friends at Allegory Gallery and the lampwork glass is from the Spacer Bead Shop on Etsy (now closed).


I sold out of all of my post style earrings at my Holiday Open House earlier this month, so I thought it was past time to take care of this two lingering project.  (I also really need to get out the polymer clay to make some new color combinations, but that's got to wait for another day!)  More posts soon though!  Hopefully before the holiday shopping season is over, but we'll see how things go.


Lastly, I finally got around to making a pair that I'd hoped to make last December for Eric's Honey Do List challenge.  (You can see it HERE if you want to see my inspiration.)  The cute little wire wrapped sari silk "cocoons" are by my friend Anna Pierson of Saga Hus that I picked up in one of her events over on her SagaHus Components Facebook group.  I added a short length of Arte Metal chain to the links and made dangles from some vintage glass and garnet beads.  


I really wanted to (finally!) finish some of the polymer clay charms that I started at Heather Powers' Inspired by Nature Retreat back in October.  But I just didn't give myself enough time.  Considering that I didn't start making anything until after dinner last night, I think I did pretty darn well!  Stop by the Earrings Everyday blog HERE to see what everyone else whipped up from their craftermath leftovers! 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Art Bead Scene Ornament Hop

Every year the Art Bead Scene blog hosts an Ornament Hop where participants are encouraged to make holiday ornaments using handmade components or beads.  While this is their 7th year, it's my first time playing along and I had a blast! 

This year I decided to try my hand at making some needle felted Christmas ornaments.  I got inspired last year when I saw a blog post by my friend Diane Ptaszynski over on the Art Jewelry Elements blog.  (You can see her tutorial HERE.)  I was intrigued by the idea and already had some wool roving that I had bought to felt some beads and focals...  now I just needed to collect some cookie cutters and better needles.  I gathered my supplies this fall and got busy once everything had arrived!

Here are a couple of process pictures...  First, me getting all stabby on a Christmas Tree.  I love that, assuming the cat would let me have my lap, I could work on these while stretched out on the couch watching bad tv or movies! 


After getting the tree shape all felted, I started playing with how I wanted to embellish the design.  Thanks to Heather Powers for teaching me some basic bead embroidery on the Bead Cruise a few years ago!  (She also taught me how to needle felt and lit that initial spark in me.) 


Now, drumroll please, I introduce to you my very first three needle felted ornaments!  I'm pretty pleased with how I was able to felt the eyes and nose of the snowman as well as the top of the stocking.  The snowman's hat isn't quite how I'd like it, but I still think it works.  I've gotten a new set of metal cookie cutters since I did these three and I think the new snowman cutter is going to give a more distinct hat shape.  Time will tell!  I had a large gauge needle that I bought to work with deerskin leather lace that worked great for pulling the ribbon through.  My last step for the tree ornament was to felt some extra wool roving to the back to cover the threads from the embroidery. 


Thanks for stopping by to see my ornaments!  I hope you'll stop by the ABS Blog HERE to see what everyone else made too.  Whatever holidays you celebrate, I hope that you have a happy and joyous holiday season!


Friday, December 1, 2017

Inspiration for the Honey Do List December 2017

Last year, my husband Eric has decided to issue me a design challenge each month to get me out of my comfort zone and to help clear out my bead stash... and we're continuing the Honey Do List for 2017!  I know that I'm not the only one who loves a good design challenge, so I'm hoping folks will continue to play along!  

Here's this month's inspiration and what Eric had to say about it:


This month's challenge is kind of a strange one!  Tiring of flowers and such, I figured I'd get a little funky.  I took this picture in Virginia at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.  It was cold, windy and sparse.  These tall skeletal trees were rattling and groaning in the wind, conjuring up moody images in my mind.  I superimposed a photo of clouds on this to give an even moodier mist effect on this to fit the mood I had when taking the shot.  This one should push you to try something unusual!

So, put on your thinking caps and play along with us!  The reveal date will be Sunday, December 31st... a little later than usual due to the holidays.  To make it super easy for you to participate and share your creations, I'll set up an Inlinkz link up so folks can add their blogs as they are ready.  Just stop by my blog starting on December 31st and join the fun!  I'll leave the link up open for a while... so you have plenty of time to add your links.  (Last month's is still open... check it out HERE.)  No blog?  No worries!  Feel free to send me a picture of your creation and some brief comments and I'll happily share in my blog post.  You can reach me at sjdesignsjewelry@gmail.com  The more the merrier, so I hope you'll play along with me this month!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Inspired by Reading: The Bean Trees

This month's Inspired by Reading Book Club selection was The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver.  Somehow I've gone my whole reading life without reading anything by Kingsolver... but now book club has changed that! 


Originally published in 1988, you really have to read this as a period piece... so many things would play out a little differently in the modern world.  I love that the main character is super plucky and independent and that she manages to make things work out for herself.  One of the big things that I took away from the book is that you make your own family and have the power to write your own story.   

The title actually comes from another name for Wisteria vine.  People tend to think of the wonderful purple flowers that seem to just drip from the woody vines, but their seeds actually hang from the plant in pods that look very much like green beans.  At first I thought I was going to use one of my Vintaj embossing folders that has wisteria on it and do some painting with the patina paints but time just wasn't on my side for that project.  But then I remembered that I had picked up a set of little pod charms from Anna Bronze at Bead & Button this year.  I paired them with some purple floral disk beads from Heather Powers of Humblebeads and Czech glass.


I made a second pair of earrings that are more about the general look and feel of the Southwest.  I had snagged some small lentil beads from Golem Design Studio that have a terra cotta color as their base.  I kept these pretty simple to dangle off the long arched ear wires.


Thanks for stopping by to see my new creations!  I'm always hoping that I'll manage something more ambitious, but with my holiday shows bearing down upon me, I'm lucky that I got this much done!  Next month is a holiday break from book club, so I'm hoping that I can get a jump start on the January selection.  Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Art Bead Scene: November 2017 Take Two

This month's Art Bead Scene challenge inspiration is a painting by French impressionist Armand Guillaumin.  You can read more about the artist and the challenge over on the ABS blog HERE.  I've been pretty smitten with this color palette and am glad that I managed to get back around to making one more design inspired by it before November disappears.

Title: Crozant, The Bouchardon Mill
By: Armand Guillaumin
Date: 1906
Medium: Oil on Canvas

One of the art beads that had originally caught my eye for this challenge is one of Erin Prais-Hintz's gorgeous pendants from her Papilio collection.  (If you haven't already figured this out, I'm really addicted to Erin's creations that she shares through her business, Tesori Trovati.)  This one is Papilio: Euselasia and is just an wonderful combination of soft colors.  And, speaking of soft, Erin finished the polymer clay to a satiny soft finish that you will not believe!


For this strung necklace I added a collection of beads in different materials including Czech glass, plated hematite, vintage plastic, and Swarovski pearls.  I had fun playing with a variety of shapes and finishes. 


I'm planning on whipping up some dangle earrings to go along with this one before my Holiday Open House on Sunday.  And with that said, I'd better get back to work!!


Monday, November 27, 2017

Honey Do List: November 2017

Last year, my husband Eric has decided to issue me a design challenge each month to get me out of my comfort zone and to help clear out my bead stash... and we're continuing the Honey Do List for 2017!  I know that I'm not the only one who loves a good design challenge, so I'm hoping folks will continue to play along!  

Here's this month's inspiration and what Eric had to say about it:


I haven't really taken many pictures in the past month, so I took this chance to delve deep into older photos for something lost in the archives.  This is a really cool old stained glass window in the Schlitz Brewery building in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that really struck my fancy.  The colors and shapes should be a fun change from my usual naturalistic photos. 

Even though these colors aren't necessarily in my normal wheelhouse, I got pretty excited about this month's challenge.  It probably doesn't hurt that I love stained glass!  Anyway, I pretty much immediately started pulling together some possible beads to play with.  Here's a sample of what I gathered up:


The first art beads that jumped out at me were a set of lampwork beads that I bought last month at the Twin Cities Bead Bazaar from Donna Millard.  (If I'm honest, I probably would have skipped the show this time but I wanted to see Donna's work in person.)  Anyway, I immediately pictured a set in my mind's eye using the really cool, almost tribal beads in black and cream... so that's what I did... sort of.

I love all the circles in Eric's inspiration photo and I wanted to keep playing with that shape beyond the lampwork focal bead.  Luckily, I had a nice selection of coin beads to choose from in yellows and grey.  (I ended up choosing some vintage glass, Labradorite, and faceted Yellow Jade.)  To continue with the circle theme, I also picked a cone with some swirly circles to round out the pendant focal I built up.  I mixed up Vintaj Arte Metal and silver plated findings and chain to complete the design.



A closer (and better!) look at the focal and tassel.

Next, I intended to make a bracelet... this is where my plan went a little off the rails.  I wire wrapped one of Donna's lampwork beads with some Czech glass and little "pringle" spacers.  (Ok, I don't know what they're actually called, but that's my name for them!)  Unfortunately, the resulting bead unit was a little too long for my bracelet focal but I'd already gone through the work of cleaning, hammering, and sealing the steel wire for the link so I didn't want to tear it apart.  Never fear, the set had three beads so this one quickly became a second necklace!  I dangled some little beads and a small black key charm from the bottom and put it on a long length of chain.  Voila!


Back at the drawing board for my bracelet design, I tried again for a steel wire wrapped focal bead unit.  This time I kept it really simple with just Donna's bead and the little pringle spacers.  Much better!  I then made a chain of wire wrapped beads including faceted pyrite, Czech glass, and the black lampwork beads that came with the set.  This bracelet is a little on the petite side size wise, but I could always add more links if a customer needed more length.  


Last, but not least, I also whipped up a little pair of coordinating earrings to complete my new Honey Do List set.  I picked out a little pair of grey cocoon beads from my friend Anna Pierson of Saga Hus.  I had the same pearlescent yellowy-ivory Czech glass rondelles in a slightly larger size than what I used in the necklaces that made great dangles for these little ear bobs.







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Saturday, November 18, 2017

We're All Ears: November 2017

This month's We're All Ears challenge hosted by Erin Prais-Hintz over on the Earrings Everyday blog is all about inspirational quotes.  As our friend Loralee pointed out, words are Erin's magic (or at least part of her magic!).  She gave us four options to choose from:


I found this challenge a little more, well, challenging than some.  The first quote that sparked something for me was A... "stars can't shine without darkness."  I'm guessing this one worked for me because stars were something that I could grab onto. 

I had just bought a set of Starry Night faux tin charms from Heather Powers of Humblebeads fame, so this seemed like an obvious starting place for me.  I pared them with star cut aquamarines (get it, star cut?!?) and some tiny dark blue Czech glass rondelles.  I think that these are for me so I kept them pretty simple and just added some grey with sterling niobium ear wires on the top.



Next up I made something for D... "never stop growing."  Now, at first I thought those objects on the leaf were acorns.  After slipping off my glasses and taking a closer look I'm not so sure that I was right.  Regardless, I interpreted them that way and the photo does have a very autumnal feel to it, so I made some acorn earrings!  I bought some silver plated acorn bead caps from Nunn Design a while back and I'm finally getting around to using them.  I've got a fall show coming up in a few weeks, so this seemed like a good time to get going!


I managed to pull something together for one last prompt, B... "Chart Your Own Course."  I grabbed some compass decorivets from Vintaj that I've had for a bit and never done anything with for my first pair.  I just bent the rivet pieces on the back side into nice loops and added the ear wires and some labradorite teardrops by way of jump rings connected to the loops.  They are a little bit on the big side, but pretty light weight.


A little more abstract, I had some earring charms from Erin herself that I got as a prize for the Art Bead Scene challenge a few months ago.  They were part of her Minutia line... you can see some other options in her store on her Tesori Trovati website.  I'm guessing that her intention for the design was more floral, but they read a little bit compass-like to me for some reason.  I decided to just go with it... I could use a few more designs with some sparkle as we head into the holidays anyway!  I kept it simple and just made little dangles with some Swarovski crystals, copper plated spacers, and some plated hematite.  I think these would be a perfect accessory for a holiday party!


With everything that's been going on in my life this month (both good and bad) I'm pretty proud of myself for getting this many designs completed.  There's no rest for the weary (or the wicked!) since I've got two shows coming up in early December.  Thanks for stopping by... I hope you'll head over to the Earrings Everyday blog HERE to see what everyone else was inspired to make this month!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Art Bead Scene: November 2017

This month's Art Bead Scene challenge inspiration is a painting by French impressionist Armand Guillaumin.  You can read more about the artist and the challenge over on the ABS blog HERE.  I'm pretty smitten with this color palette and have been looking forward to focusing on this challenge.

Title: Crozant, The Bouchardon Mill
By: Armand Guillaumin
Date: 1906
Medium: Oil on Canvas

This one really got my creative juices going!  Before I knew it I had a bunch of art beads hanging out on my bead mat.  The first project that I decided to work on was a great excuse to break out my brand new Now That's a Jig that I bought last month.  I had the right gauge copper wire to make the charm holder pendant that Heather Powers taught us at her Inspired by Nature retreat, so that was my starting point for my necklace.  Two of the charms that I got from the retreat's charm swap (one from Heather and one from my friend Anna of Saga Hus) were perfect for the artworks color palette.  I added in a ceramic feather headpin from Artisticaos to complete the charm grouping.  Instead of using leather for the necklace (even though I had some light purple leather that would have worked well), I decided to finish it with chain and some beaded links made with Czech glass and plated hematite. 



Keeping with a Heather Powers/Humblebeads theme... I had to make a pair of earrings with some earring charms that I bought from Heather at last year's Inspired by Nature retreat!  She had just debuted this style and I had to pick up a couple of pairs including a vibrant set that I think works well with the ABS inspiration painting.  I added some Czech glass dangles but otherwise kept my design minimal.


I have a couple more ideas rattling around my head for this month's challenge.  We'll see if I end up getting back around to them with all my show prep that I have to do.  Fingers crossed that I get into my creative groove and really pound some things out!


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Artisans Create Together: November 2017 Color Inspiration Challenge

While I don't always get around to playing along with this monthly challenge, I love the Color Inspiration challenges over on the Artisans Create Together Facebook group.  This month is no exception with this muted fall palette and we've been given so many luscious inspiration photos to get us motivated!
As you know by now, I'm not always the greatest at making seasonal jewelry ahead of time... but this challenge got me going!  Not long ago I got some lovely, rustic fall leaf ceramic pieces from Artisticaos and I've been itching to design with them... this is the perfect excuse!

I ended up making a necklace and earrings set that make me so very happy!  I had just gotten several strands of new beads that felt perfect for this set including some plated hematite saucers in "mocha" and a strand of medium sized English cut Czech glass beads in really soft and lovely muted shades . (Lima Beads calls them "Glowing Amber Picasso" for what that's worth!)

I decided to stretch my brain and go asymmetrical for the necklace.  I strung a pattern of Czech glass beads with the mocha hematite as spacers on one side.  Some Czech glass rondelles in pale orange bring in some of the warmer tones from the pendant and keep it from being too neutral.  (This girl loves color after all!).  For the opposite side I went with links on blackened metal connected with textured brass jump rings.  I used a combination of Wild Horse Jasper puff coins and some funky grey-green Czech glass rounds flanked by the hematite saucers.  It's hard to see it in my photos, but the jasper has a glorious mix of earthy colors!  I finished it off with a brass plated leaf clasp to keep with the leafy, autumnal theme.


The closeup of the pendant lets you see some of the beads a little better as well as the wire-wrapped details that I added to the pendant's connector wires.  I grabbed a couple of beads from the body of the necklace as well as some Czech glass leaves for the dangles.


I'm so lucky to have snagged a pendant and earring charms that matched in color so well from the Facebook sales event.  For the earrings, I used more of the English cut Czech glass and mocha plated hematite and continued the mix of blackened and brass components.  I topped off the earrings with some orangey glass beads to bring more color into the mix.


Now pardon me while I turn on the fire place and snuggle up in a sweater with a kitty in my lap.  If I can't keep winter from coming, I can enjoy the finer aspects of cooler temperatures.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Inspiration for the Honey Do List: November 2017

Last year, my husband Eric has decided to issue me a design challenge each month to get me out of my comfort zone and to help clear out my bead stash... and we're continuing the Honey Do List for 2017!  I know that I'm not the only one who loves a good design challenge, so I'm hoping folks will continue to play along!  

Here's this month's inspiration and what Eric had to say about it:


I haven't really taken many pictures in the past month, so I took this chance to delve deep into older photos for something lost in the archives.  This is a really cool old stained glass window in the Schlitz Brewery building in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that really struck my fancy.  The colors and shapes should be a fun change from my usual naturalistic photos. 

The reveal date will be Monday, November 27th.  To make it super easy for you to participate and share your creations, I'll set up an Inlinkz link up so folks can add their blogs as they are ready.  Just stop by my blog starting on November 27th and join the fun!  I'll leave the link up open for a while... so you have plenty of time to add your links.  (Last month's is still open... check it out HERE.)  No blog?  No worries!  Feel free to send me a picture of your creation and some brief comments and I'll happily share in my blog post.  You can reach me at sjdesignsjewelry@gmail.com  The more the merrier, so I hope you'll play along with me this month!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Inspired by Reading: The Handmaid's Tale

I'm a little late to the book club party once again, but the October selection for the Inspired by Reading book club was the chilling (and not so terribly far-fetched) The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.  This was a second read for me of this book.  Originally published in 1986, it's amazingly relevant today... perhaps even more so than when it was written.  I still haven't watched the Hulu series but will have to wait until it's out on DVD. 


One of the things that I appreciate about Atwood's writing/storytelling in this book is that she made a very conscious effort not to include anything (technology, etc) that didn't exist in the real world.  (A good counterpoint is When She Woke by Hillary Jordan that has similar themes but non-existant technology like the ability to "brand" lawbreakers according to their crimes with skin pigmentation.  For instance, the main character has been found guilty of having an abortion and all of her skin has been turned bright red as part of her punishment.  It's a great book that you would probably enjoy if you liked this one.) 

Anyway, Atwood has written a book that should have every person really questioning how tenuous our freedoms can be... how easily they could all be taken away, possibly without a fight or objection as a "temporary" measure for public safety.  For women, people of color, those who identify as GLBTQ this novel should be especially troubling.  For me the take away really is a reinforcement to question everything... and to speak up loudly to protect those liberties we hold dear.  If you watch the news at all you should be aware at how certain factions are attempting to roll back rights and liberties to certain groups and to sow seeds of discord to further divide us as a country.  If you aren't alarmed and outraged, you aren't paying attention.

Stepping down off my soapbox now and getting back to the creative task at hand.... As much as I was engrossed in the book, I struggled to figure out how to translate something from the story into jewelry.  At first all I could really wrap my head around was the red of the handmaids' uniforms but that was't really feeling all that fresh or inspired. 

I kept coming back to a bracelet bar by my friend Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati that I've had for a while.  Yes, I do realize that I went with something red, but it wasn't just the color that got my gears going.  I appreciated the message on the focal too... "Follow Your Path."  Offred had to follow her own path... figure out how to survive, how to navigate the strange and perilous circumstances that she found herself in under the new world order in what once was the United States.  She had to be brave and resilient... but she also had to be vulnerable and put her trust in others without truly knowing the wisdom of such trust. 


I chose the pewter colored leather for the braiding that I did using my new lucet from Mr. Humblebeads.  It went nicely with the bracelet bar but also made me think of the wall on the book's cover.  A small detail that the picture doesn't really capture is the little beaded dangle.  I used a Picasso finished Czech glass bead that coordinates with the focal, but also a triangular piece of plated hematite.  I liked the triangle for the seriously weird trinity between Offred, the Commander, and the Commander's wife.  I originally had planned to work a polymer clay bead that I made and/or some English Cut Czech glass into the design, but my braid was long enough that I decided to just keep it very simple.

Thanks for stopping by my blog to read my ramblings and to see what I've been making!


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Inspired by Nature Retreat 2017



I meant to write this up sooner, but I feel like I've been running nonstop since I got back from this amazing three day retreat with Heather Powers in South Haven, Michigan earlier this month.  I still wanted to do a little mini wrap up of my weekend reconnecting with my beady friends, learning new things, and just generally getting inspired!

If you haven't heard of the Inspired by Nature Retreat, it's the brain child (love child??) of Heather Powers of Humblebeads.  This was the 7th year of this event that is held in Heather's home town each October and my second year attending.  The last couple of years the whole event has been held at the Riverbend Retreat Resort set on a large piece of property along the Black River.  It's the perfect place to get back in touch with nature and your creativity!

After having some travel glitches last year, I decided to drive to South Haven this year.  Luckily for me, a fellow jewelry maker who lives on the East side of the Twin Cities was interested in road tripping with me!  A long drive is always more fun when you aren't alone!  Anyways, I picked up Anna Pierson of SagaHus and we set out on our adventure.  The first leg of our journey took us as far as the Chicago suburbs where we met up with two other retreat goers for a beady slumber party at Monica Pena's house before making the rest of the journey on Friday morning.  Having our priorities in order, Anna and I did stop for a wine tasting along the way to South Haven!


Day one of the retreat started out with getting settled in, getting our goody bags, and doing our charm exchange (so great to see what everyone came up with!).  Our first project started with making some fun polymer clay molds that we would then use to make polymer clay beads later in the day.  While I found the process fun and interesting, my results were mixed.  I learned some things that I think will make any future attempts go smoother, but mostly it's about practice.  Heather's beads are always so perfectly shaped and even.  Mine turned out a bit more on the lumpy gravy side!  

The top picture shows some of my molds.  The bottom are beads before painting.
We didn't completely finish with this project before it was time for our early dinner reservation in town at Taste... painting would just have to wait!  After dinner it was still a little light out and the weather was mild so we took a little stroll down to the pier and lighthouse.  It was lovely and a little magical to see the sunset over Lake Michigan!  After dinner and our stroll, we kept working on our polymer clay beads.  Some of us actually got painting done, but not this girl.  I work a bit too slowly!

Most of the group after dinner!

What a view!  I'm so glad that we took that walk.

After a good night's sleep and a filling breakfast, we were all ready to begin our next big project on Saturday.  Today was the day for the star of the show... Heather's amazing faux tin process!!  For obvious reasons, I can't share the magic of the process, but I did want to show you a few pics from the day.  One thing that I can attest to, is that having a good file made all the difference working on these components.  I have always hated filing... like, hated with a purple passion!  I can't honestly say that it's my favorite thing, but at least I'm now able to file metal edges smooth without wanting to bang my head agains the way!  No more spending stupid amounts of time filing metal only to to find that I've somehow managed to make it sharper!  (Seriously, don't ask me how, but this was apparently my super power in the past.)  Anyway... pictures!!

Are you good with puzzles?  Making the most of the space I had on my copper sheet!

My bracelet bars:  These are the only pieces that I got completely done... filed and sealed.  

We had a decent amount of down time during the faux tin process, so I finally got back to painting my beads from day one.  I didn't finish the process, going back to sand and add more paint is still on my post-retreat to do list.  You may sense a theme here...

These still need sanding and maybe some metallic accents!

Dinner was pizza and salad at the cabin.  We all hung out chatting and continuing to work fairly late into the night.  Several of my cabin mates toddled back to our little cabin for night caps of wine and cappuccino (not at the same time!).  

Sunday funday and we still had more to learn and make before heading home!  First up, Heather taught us how to do some cool braiding with leather and a lucet (i.e. an amazing fork that Jesse, aka Mr. Humblebeads, made for each of us to keep).  Getting this braid started was tricky for this girl who has never known how/been able to braid anything ever!  I'm so glad that I stuck with it through the awkward first stages because the end result is amazing.  I had some issues finishing the braided ends and Heather had to help me.  If I can't figure out how to do it all pretty on my own, I do have a back up plan that involves bead caps.  Stay tuned... I'm going to try it again very soon!   

The beginning stages of my braid on my trusty new lucet fork!

Forks up!  All hail Mr. Humblebeads!!
I'm really very proud of the finished bracelet... and not just because it's the only thing I actually finished at the retreat!  In all seriousness, for me it's not about how many finished pieces I leave with, but about what I learned.  By that standard, this year's Inspired by Nature Retreat was a huge success!  Anyway, back to the bracelet... other than Heather's disk bead and the jump rings, this piece is totally hand made by this girl right here.  This is the first time I've managed to make a toggle bar that I'm completely happy with... and I think I've learned the secret to making more in the future.  

The finished product!
Running behind a little bit, we ended up having lunch and then doing one last quick project before hitting the road.  Heather taught us how to use the Now That's a Jig system to make a really cool focal for a charm necklace.  We all had 20 brand new charms to choose from to decorate the pendant so the hard part was deciding which ones to use since they were all so fun and fabulous!  I'm excited to say that I went home with one of the scratch n' dent jigs that we were using for class so I'm eager to play some more with my new toy.

Full disclosure: I finished this at home after the retreat.
One last item before we all finished loading our cars and headed out... the group photo.  It was cold, windy, and a little rainy so we all huddled (for warmth and to fit!) on the porch while Jesse snapped the picture.  What a fun group of ladies (and one lad) to spend the weekend creating and laughing with!  Thanks to all (especially Heather and Jesse!!) for another wonderful event!

End of retreat group photo:  Can you tell it was a tiny bit windy??
Not wanting to lose momentum after I got back home, I sat down to finish filing and sealing the faux tin earring charms that I had started at the retreat and get the earrings all finished up.  I love how these little cuties all look.  The last pair is a keeper for me since I discovered that they were a great match for a newer top in my closet.  Now I have to get brave and decide what I'm doing with some of the larger "tin" pieces that came home with me.  Hopefully you'll see some necklaces and other goodies from me before too long.  



My keepers.
It's not done yet, but I had a third piece from one of the patterns and I know what I'm going to do with it.  My plan is to rivet the smaller faux tin piece to some of the etched metal that I did at Bead & Button.  Here's a sneak peek:


Thanks for stopping by and following along with my Inspired by Nature Retreat exploits!!  If you have the chance to take a class with or attend a retreat with Heather, you should totally make it happen... you won't regret it.