Monday, January 30, 2017

Honey Do List: January 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 was one of the first visitors to our newly placed bird feeder this fall, so I ran for my camera and got a few shots while I could.  While I liked the picture, I felt it could use an oil paint look so spent some time tweaking this in Photoshop until it looked how I wanted it.  I like the textures and the bold blue and white color palate (and green if you want to include the background)!  

I love the colors and textures in this handsome blue jay but I didn't immediately know what I might be able to make.  Per usual, I went to my art bead storage and starting digging around for something appropriate.  These aren't the blues I'm normally most drawn to.   Lucky me, I came up with a few options!  Yay!

First up, I made a necklace and coordinating earrings that started with a pretty ceramic focal from Tracee Dock of The Classic Bead that I bought when I visited her in Kansas City a few years ago.  I quickly realized that the colors in the pendant's glaze went really nicely with a strand of vintage German glass beads that I picked up at the last local bead show.  (I used most of the strand and now I'm seriously regretting not buying another strand!).  On their own, these beads seemed a little too light in color so I added in some darker tones with the seed bead spacers, Czech glass, and sunset dumortierite rounds.  I picked a brass plated clasp in a sunburst pattern to mirror the look of the pendant.

I made a pair of earrings to coordinate with this necklace using some lovely light blue dahlia shaped Czech glass from Allegory Gallery.  (They've had some really amazing new Czech glass lately... stuff I've never seen before!)  I had momentarily thought about including the dahlia beads in my necklace design, but changed my mind.  I liked the way the beads echoed the pendant's design a little bit.  I added some little dark blue teardrops with a fun sueded finish to them.

Next, I took a trip in the Way Back Bead Machine for some of the very first art beads I ever purchased... bought long before I had any idea what to do with them!  (This is actually fitting as they were purchased at Disney World from the same artist who made the beads I used in the very first Honey Do List challenge last January!  You can see that HERE if you missed it.)  I thought the cobalt blue and white stripes of the lampwork glass focal bead were perfect for the blue jay inspiration.  I kept things pretty simple and just wire wrapped the focal and added a selection of Czech glass flowers in blue and white and a tiny leaf charm that reminded me of a feather.  The earrings are also pretty no frills... just the lampwork spacers and little flower charms... although I did add a touch of bling by using ear wires that are embellished with Swarovski crystals!

Last but not least, I whipped up a trio of waxed linen and seed bead bracelets that I adapted from a tutorial by Lesley Watt in shades of blue.  These were fun and easy to make and it was a nice project to work on while doing some binge watching of This is Us.  These have been a good seller for me so I  may use that as an excuse to binge watch a few more episodes in the near future while I make more in different colors!

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Inspired by Reading: A Place of My Own

The first pick of the year for the Inspired by Reading Book Club is A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams by Michael Pollan.  The book chronicles the author's journey dreaming up and building (with his own admittedly unhandy hands) a small structure to be a "shelter for daydreams."  I love the idea of having a room (or building!) of one's own.  I'm not sure I'll ever have just that, but it's not like I'm crowded in the house I share with my husband and two cats, so I won't complain!

I'm still working my way through the book but I didn't want to be left out of the creating fun!  I got a late start reading since I was all enthralled by the VERY long science fiction book American Elsewhere.  (And let's be honest, if you've ever been in a book club you know this, lots of members often don't finish and even if they do book club meetings tend to get sidetracked talking about everything but the book!)  So really, I'm not cheating that much!

Since I hadn't read anything that sparked my imagination yet, I decided to focus on the tiny structure for my design.  It might not be the most inventive or original idea, but I'm pretty smitten with the design that came out of it!  A while back I had picked up several pieces from the very talented Lesley Watt including one of her sweet little bronze clay houses.  I thought it was just perfect to represent the fairly simple looking structure that the author built for himself.  I love the peachy-coral tones of the roof and door and the cute flower window.

To pull in the colors from the pendant, I started with a selection of multi-colored rhutilated quartz ovals and then added in a variety of Czech glass in orange, greens, and gold tones.  I needed a little more length at the back than I had originally planned for so I added a few small faceted carnelian rounds at the back to break up the green a bit and keep the colors feeling even.  The orange Czech glass flower coins help echo that little window in the pendant.

When I was digging through my beads for this month's book club, I came across some little house charms from Tari Sasser of Creative Expressions in Clay gave to the Bead Cruisers a couple of years ago.  A little lightbulb went off in my head and I remembered that I had a word bead from Diane Hawkey that says "Home."  Luckily for me, the colors of those two beads worked well together.  I wanted to do a totem style pendant, so I played around with lots of different options before settling on my finished design.  I added in some other miscellaneous beads including a couple of things from mixed destash lots from Andrew Thornton and lampwork by Beadygirl Beads along with some pewter findings.  For the chain of the necklace I made wire-wrapped bead units with a collection of Czech glass flowers and bali style beads to complement the colors in the pendant stack.

I had another pendant pulled out too, but that design will have to wait for another day.  Do you love the idea of a creative book club?  You can join the fun on the Inspired by Reading Book Club Facebook page HERE!  Thanks for stopping by... have a great rest of your week!

Friday, January 20, 2017

We're All Ears: January 2017

Per annual tradition, the January inspiration for the We're All Ears challenge is based on Pantone's Color of the Year... this year they have chosen "Greenery."  This is the first time I've actually like the color of the year since they picked "Tangerine Tango" in 2012!  I'm actually pretty pleased with the whole Fashion Color Report for Spring 2017.  Bright greens and turquoise tones are among my favorites to design with, so this month's challenge is right in my wheel house!

This is just a small sample of my "greenery" colored beads and charms... I had a ton to choose from!  I really like my bright greens.  I didn't end up using everything in this picture, but I did pretty well!

First up, two pairs that stick to shades of green.  The one on the left may be the least true to Pantone's pick, but I was happy for the excuse to work with some recycled glass teardrops that I bought a while back.  It's hard to tell from my photo, but the matte finished glass round has a nice iridescent shine that works well with the rhinestone rondelles.  The pair on the right was actually the last pair I created for this challenge.  I thought I was done with four pairs, but then I took a closer look at what was still on my bead board and whipped these right up!  I love the leaf charms by Humblebeads... they have a translucent iridescence that is truly yummy in person.

As much as my brain often craves symmetry and monochromatic color palettes, I wanted to bring in some other pops of color into the challenge!  I pulled in some accent colors from the Spring Fashion Color Report for the rest of my creations.  There's a little Primrose Yellow in the ceramic rounds by Golem Design Studio but I otherwise stuck to shades of green including the tiny seed beads along the arched ear wires.  Next up, I chose some (almost) Pink Yarrow hues in dyed howlite to accent the lovely green charms from Marsha Neal Studio.  There's also some Czech glass and dyed, faceted agate rounds.  Last, but not least, a pair of Humblebeads disks already had touches of Island Paradise that cried out for me to add more!  I added in some rondelles on top and some tiny seed beads into my bottom set of wire wraps above the glass leaves.

Stop by the Earrings Everyday blog HERE to see what everyone else was inspired to make with "Greenery!"

Friday, January 13, 2017

2017 Muffin Tin Challenge!

In the spirit of getting her followers pumped up and creating in the new year, Heather Powers of Humblebeads fame has once again thrown down the beady gauntlet and challenged us to participate in her Muffin Tin Challenge!  Heather set the reveal date for January 16th but I'm traveling that day, so I'm posting a little early.  The good news is, you may still have time to join in if you wish!!

The idea is pretty simple... grab a muffin tin (or similar container with multiple compartments) and fill each well up with all you need to make one jewelry design.  Then sit down and power through some jewelry making with a goal of finishing at least 6 pieces.  You can read all the details on Heather's blog HERE.  Full disclosure:  I'm not always the best about making sure I've gotten absolutely everything needed in my little muffin cups.  I tend to go with just grabbing the core items and adding to them as I go... that's just how my brain tends to work.  My muffin tin projects include some VERY late Christmas presents for my sister and niece, an even more belated project for my extremely patient friend Kathleen, earrings that have been waiting to be made for varying lengths of time, projects for this month's Honey Do List challenge, and more!

My "muffins" ready to bake!

I started with the lowest hanging fruit... necklaces for my sister and niece that should have been done ages ago!  I found a broken strand of fun orange sodalite pieces at the last Dakota Stones showroom sale and snatched them up immediately.  Most of my family (including these two ladies) went to Auburn University whose colors happen to be orange and blue, so this was a very lucky find!

Next up, a pair of earrings meant to go with the necklace I made for the December Art Bead Scene challenge.  You can see that necklace HERE.  The earrings are the same as the flower dangle off the bottom of the pendant.  Sweet and fairly simple!

Next up, a couple of pairs of earrings that have been UFOs (UnFinished Objects) for quite some time.  I have more earrings that are partially thought out, but at least I've knocked out a couple of them!

Next, in a fit of art bead madness, I made two more long necklaces with Heather's seriously amazing new "Gilded Bramble" bird beads as the main event!  (She has a few of these in her Etsy shop HERE if you are now drooling for one of your own!)  For the coppery one I used a ceramic branch by Diane Hawkey and a ceramic leaf by Tracee Dock of The Classic Bead.  The blue one features a pendant by Gaea and enameled bead cap by C-Koop Beads.  I really couldn't be happier with how these necklaces turned out!

And finally, my 7th "muffin" and 8th project from this challenge: I finally made a bracelet with the beads I picked out to work on during Heather's Inspired by Nature Retreat.  I learned a lesson... I did NOT need to bring extra projects.  I kept plenty busy working on the fun things that Heather had planned for us!

Stop by Heather's blog HERE (starting January 16th) to see what everyone else "baked up" for this year's Muffin Tin Challenge!  Even if you missed out on the official challenge, I recommend this as a great way to get some concentrated creating done!  I didn't finish making everything in my tin yet, but I'm going to keep on trucking with these projects... at least some of them!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Art Bead Scene: January 2017

This month's inspiration for the Art Bead Scene challenge is Field of Flowers by Egon Schiele.  I'm just loving the burst of much needed color... it has been bitterly cold in Minnesota and spring is still a distant, fuzzy dream here.  I love how the chalk gives the jumble of flowers a bit of a blurry and almost childlike look.  Oranges and rusty reds dominate the color palette but there's also plenty of cream, gold, and pops of greens... plenty to be inspired by!  Since art historian I am not, you can read more about the art and artist on the ABS blog HERE.

 Field of Flowers
Egon Schiele
Chalk on Paper

I had less in my bead stash than expected to work with the colors of the artwork but, luckily, I did have an amazing hollow lampwork glass bead by Mary Ila Duntemann that was just perfect!  Here is what I originally pulled together for this challenge:

When I first started, I thought I would make a long necklace with fun flower beads in shades of orange and dark red.  I began making wire wrapped links with the hibiscus style flowers but the more I thought about it, the more worried I became about that lampwork bead getting knocked around and possibly damaged.  If I had been making it for myself, I probably would have stuck to the original design since I'm super careful with my jewelry.  But, as I plan to sell this one, I erred on the side of caution and went back to the drawing board!

Plan B involved grabbing some pretty red leather cord and digging through my stash to find a variety of larger holed beads to coordinate with the gorgeous focal.  I'm still trying to decide if I add some copper wire wraps below the knots to further secure the ends and to add another pop of copper... otherwise I would just trim down the cord ends a little more.  I would love to hear your thoughts on that!

Now, since I had already made most of the wrapped bead links for the original design, I was determined not to let those go to waste... so a second design was born!  I picked up a pretty poppy bead by Heather Powers of Humblebeads in a bargain bundle a while back that worked nicely with my little Czech glass flowers.  It's a pretty simple design that showcases the dominant colors from the artwork.  It's tough to tell, but the tiny glass beads on either side of the orange flowers actually have a little bit of green in them.

Thanks for stopping by to see what I've been up to lately.  I took a bit of a beading break during the holidays so it felt really great to get these two necklaces finished and dive back into creation mode.  I've got lots to catch up on so I'd better get back to my bead table!!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Inspiration for the Honey Do List January 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 was one of the first visitors to our newly placed bird feeder this fall, so I ran for my camera and got a few shots while I could.  While I liked the picture, I felt it could use an oil paint look so spent some time tweaking this in Photoshop until it looked how I wanted it.  I like the textures and the bold blue and white color palate (and green if you want to include the background)!  

The reveal date will be Monday, January 30th.  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 January 30th 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  The more the merrier, so I hope you'll play along with me this month!