December 30, 2012

Renewal - in MicroMacrame

I've joined a group dedicated to making one new piece of jewelry each and every week for the next year - appropriately named, The Year of Jewelry Project.  There are suggested themes for each week, although there is no requirement to stick to them.  The first theme is "Renewal".  I spent some time stressing about what to make.  What represents renewal?  I even resorted to Googling it, which brought up lots of seedlings and eggs and was less than helpful since I don't know how to make a seedling bracelet or an egg necklace.  I finally decided to go back to my roots; the thing that really got me interested in making jewelry in the first place:  macrame.  

I started this journey years ago with micro macrame and even though I've made little forays into bead weaving or wire work or whatever shiny thing catches my eye, my roots will always be firmly planted in macrame.  And what's more, this will always be "my" palette.  The one I go to when I need to do something just for me.  Something I will enjoy making without having to work too hard to make the colors speak to me.

These colors sooth me.  They are always just right.  Take some teal or aqua or turquoise and throw in a bit of navajo white and a little khaki and I'm all set.  I've decided THIS is my renewal.  Like the way the waves wash up on the shore and wipe it clear every day.  Reset.

December 20, 2012

Micro Macrame and an Experiment in Color

I've been conducting my own little experiment this week.  Same bracelet pattern, same beads and bead placement.  Different colors of cord.  I'm amazed at how different each one looks and how the colors of the beads themselves even seem to change.

December 17, 2012

Free Shipping Monday

Happy Monday!  Use code "FREESHIP" for free shipping on any order from my Etsy shop.

December 13, 2012

A Friend's Fire Agate

A friend had this beautiful fire agate he wanted me to make into a pendant for his wife.  Just look at the color in that stone!

My palette is made up of Czech and Japanese seed beads in different shapes and sizes and colors ranging from amber to deep chocolate brown and lots of interesting copper bits .  

This is how it turned out.  I love the way the beads bring out the color in the stone.  I didn't want to detract from the stone, so I kept my design pretty simple.  I thought about doing a viking knit chain to hang this piece on, but my friend wanted simple, so I used a simple copper chain.

He really likes it - now we just have to hope his wife does!!

December 7, 2012

Cross Stitch Christmas Treasures

If you aren't familiar with cross stitch, it's a type of embroidery where little X-shaped stitches are used to form a picture.  It is very time consuming, especially for very detailed work.  I have several special pieces that I bring out every Christmas, including a Santa picture my mom made for me.  That holly border?  It's not part of the matting - it's stitched into the picture.  It took thousands of tiny stitches and untold hours to stitch that border, the toys in Santa's sack and all of the shading in Santa's clothing.

She even stitched all of our names into the list Santa is holding - see mine?

Mom made stockings for each of my children.  My son's depicts Santa's workshop complete with tools and a Noah's Ark play set:

My daughter's stocking is every bit as detailed with lacy Victorian wallpaper and curtains in a room fit for a princess.  There are dolls and a dollhouse and stuffed animals having a tea party:

My stocking and my husband's stocking were stitched by my grandmother.  Mine is a nativity scene:

And my husband's is a snowy scene with holly and a horse-drawn sleigh:

Do you see why I can't wait to get our our Christmas stockings every year?  And just wait until I show you our Christmas quilts!!

December 3, 2012

Jade Dog Designs Fall Challenge

Darcy from The Jade Dog had a Fall Challenge and of course I'm always up for a challenge!  I purchased the kit shown above, with one of Darcy's handmade polymer clay cabochons and an assortment of beads.  The rules were simple - make something beaded using at least one of each of the bead types and the focal.  My first thought was to do a bead embroidery piece; if you aren't familiar with Darcy's work, she does some amazing bead embroidery.  Now I may always be up for a challenge, but I'm not silly enough to put myself up for that sort of comparison, so my mission was to find another way to set the cab.   Uh huh.

The first thing I attempted was a brass prong setting.  I cut the brass shape, textured it, drilled the holes for the prongs, attached them by soldering and then added a patina to the piece using liver of sulfur.  That's when I remembered to snap a photo.  And this step is as smelly as it is nasty looking.

All that and I didn't like it. I tried cutting it down so that it wasn't so large in comparison to the cab, but I still wasn't thrilled with it.  So I put it aside and tried a macrame bezel instead.  I spent nearly two hours knotting this:

Only to discover that I hated it even worse than the brass one.  So I spent another 30 minutes looking for inspiration and over an hour trying to make a wire bezel that I hated even worse than the macrame bezel that I hate worse than the brass one. 

At this point I figured I'd go with the one I hated the least and try to make it work.  It was either that or still be working on this project into next year.  So I took the first brass piece that I'd cut down and I beat on it some more and added some gilder's paste and then drilled some holes and attached a couple of the Czech flowers and a leaf with some wire.  Hmm...  either that was a big improvement, or I'd lowered my standards.  Either way, that's what I went with.  

I hung my pendant on a chain dotted with random beads and added a couple more dangles for movement. 

I even added a pretty floral clasp.

Darcy is going to put photos of all the entries on The Jade Dog facebook page, if you'd like to take a peek at what other folks did. 

November 30, 2012

Challenge of Color Reveal

Today is the day, folks!  Erin and Brandi are hosting the 3rd Annual Challenge of Blog Hop and I've had such fun working on this challenge.  They chose to use NASA's Earth As Art photographs as the inspiration for the color palettes.  Each participant received two palettes from which to choose, and I got these:

I had a hard time deciding which one to use.  Such a hard time, in fact, that I did both.  I did choose the first one, the Brandberg Massif palette with it's limey green tones as the one I wanted to work with. But I couldn't resist the oranges and turquoise in the Desert Patterns:

You can read more about that piece here if you'd like.  But on to today's reveal...

I rummaged through my stash and came up with several options for cord and seed beads, as well as some Czech glass diamonds, lava beads, African recycled glass, painted Lucite and a circular slider.  I decided to do some research on the Brandberg Massif to get some inspiration and what I found fascinated me.  

 The Brandberg Massif is all that remains of an ancient volcano in the Namib Desert.    It was once an active volcano until granite magma hardened and plugged the vent millions of years ago.  Eventually everything around the granite eroded away and all that is left now is this circular protrusion rising over a mile high, towering over the desert below.  Encompassing an area over 250 square miles, it is so tall that it actually affects the weather.  It takes what moisture is in the clouds before the rains can reach the desert.  It is a wild an inhospitable place, but it was not always so.
 Archaeological evidence suggests that people lived in this area, sheltered by the mountain.  They drank from streams that are now dry, filling only on those rare occasions when rain swells the forgotten riverbeds and collects in small pools.  They hunted in the valleys and they left behind pot fragments and spearheads that are now covered in earth, buried in time.  They also left behind a huge collection of rock paintings that give us glimpses of their lives.  The most famous of the Brandberg's paintings is The White Lady. 

The exact age of these prehistoric paintings is unknown, as is much about the figures represented.  The White Lady was so named because of the central and most detailed figure - that of a human with white arms and white legs.  Now thought to represent a hunting scene, the central figure is probably a medicine man with arms and legs painted or covered in some sort of decorative attachments.  It's a tantalizing glimpse of a culture long since gone.

I am fascinated with the people who came before us.  They seem so different, so far away both in time and in distance, but in the end, we are all the same.  We live, we breathe, we love.  We raise our children and get by the best we can.

But back on to the beads.  I decided to use some glass seed beads with a Picasso finish - the grays and blacks all mottled together remind me of the rocky mountain.  I chose chartreuse cord to represent the pockets of lush grasses that spring up when it rains.  I used a pattern I've been developing, with circular portions that seem to mimic the round shape in NASA's photo.  And I added a sterling silver charm that reminds me of the simple lines of the rock paintings and the relentless sun of the surrounding desert.

I hope you've enjoyed this post and I hope that you'll take the time to visit the other participants!

Erin Prais-Hintz
Rebecca Anderson
Kris Auderer
Chrizette Bayman
Lori Bowring Michaud
Courtney Breul
Lynsey Brooks
Stephanie Buss
Iveth Caruso
Shannon Chomanczuk
Lisa Cone
Cece Cormier
Lori Dorrington
Dawn Doucette
Jeannie Dukic
Kim Dworak
Beth Emery
Janice Everett
Pam Farren
Donetta Farrington
Gloria Ferrer
Cherrie Fick
Therese Frank
Patty Gasparino
Tanya Goodwin
Ambra Gostoli
Jess Green
Denielle Hagerman
Mary Harding
Karla Hartzog
Kim Hora
Brandi Hussey
Emanda Johnson
Jennifer Justman
Sue Kennedy
Ema Kilroy
Lee Koopman
Linda Landig
Kirsi Luostarinen
Cynthia Machata
Alicia Marinache
Beth McCord
Mary K McGraw
Karen Mitchell
Cheri Mitchell-Reed
Aimee Moisa
Karla Morgan
Penny Neville
Becky Pancake
Kashmira Patel
Alice Peterson
Kayla Potega
Debbie Price
Bobbie Rafferty
Caron Reid
Nicole Rennell
Cynthia Riggs
Andrea Ross
Sally Russick
Annie Scherz
Pam Sears
Renetha Stanziano
Sandra Stein
Kristen Stevens
Tracy Stillman
Sherri Stokey   <--- You are here
Lola Survillo
Kay Thomerson
Jo Tinley
Emma Todd
Cory Tompkins
Pam Traub
Melissa Trudinger
Michelle Tucker
Shelley Graham Turner
Monique Urquhart
Rachel Van-Walsk
Patti Vanderbloemen
Lesley Watt
Lynn White
Joan Williams

November 28, 2012

I Couldn't Make This Stuff Up If I Tried

My husband says it's an adventure just living with me.  I do provide pretty much endless entertainment - usually at my own expense.  I did something a couple days ago, though, that even had me shaking my head.

I was taking some photos and had my light box sitting in front of the front door (the light is best there in the afternoons) when the Schwan's man came to the door.  He had to step over my box (which is probably 1.5" tall) to get into the house.  He talked me into buying a couple of things, and when he went back out to his truck to fetch them, I went in the other room and wrote him a check.  I'm always thinking (no comments on that!) and trying to be efficient, so I wrote out a check to pay for my daughter's personal trainer while I had the checkbook out.  I couldn't remember the name of her gym, so I didn't fill out the "payee" portion.  And yes, I know that was a bad move.

My ever-efficient self saw the salesman walking back up to the door with my purchases and to save him having to step over my light box with an armload of groceries, I grabbed the check and handed it to him.  Yes, yes, I'm sure you've all figured out where this story is going.  I handed him the wrong check.  The one with no payee listed.  The one for $184 more than the cost of the food.  By the time I realized what I'd done, he was long gone.  I tired finding a phone listing for him or his company and couldn't find anything local.  This same guy has been our Schwan's guy for going on 20 years, though, so I really wasn't overly worried.  I finished my photographs, put away my light box and went back out in the garage to finish a project I'd started out there.

While I was waiting for my liver of sulfur to work it's smelly magic, I heard a truck outside.  Our guy makes two swings through the neighborhood - once in the afternoon and then again later when people are home from work.  I thought I'd catch him and switch checks, so I ran in the house, got the right check and ran out the front door.  Only to see the truck's taillights disappearing around end of the block.  Thinking a $184 tip is way more than I can afford, I hopped in my car and lit out after him.  And caught up with the truck a couple of blocks down the street... only to discover it was the UPS truck.  Oops.  So I had to act all nonchalant and do a little wave when I drove by him like I meant to be touring the neighborhood.  Nothing to see here, folks, nothing to see here.

I went home and told my husband that I'd just chased down the UPS guy and he's still laughing at me.  Yep, this is my life. 
 Later, he's out in the kitchen talking on the phone and he heard a truck.  He looked out the window and spotted the Schwan's truck across the street at the neighbor's house and came to tell me. 
grabbed my check and went running out the front door....  Only to see taillights rounding the corner at the end of the *&#*(! block.  Yep.  Once again, I hopped in my car and took off chasing him.  *sigh*  You just can't make this stuff up.

I did catch up with him in the next housing development.  I'm sure both he AND the UPS guy think I'm off my rocker.  And my husband is sure of it.  The moral of my tale, though?  ALWAYS fill in the payee on your checks.

November 25, 2012

Challenge of Color Preview

On November 30th, I will be participating in the 3rd Annual Challenge of Color Blog Hop hosted by Erin Prais-Hintz Tesori Trovati Jewelry - Treasures Found and Brandi Hussey  of Brandi GirlTheir inspiration came from NASA Earth As Art photographs.  Brandi chose 40 of those images and developed color palettes for each.  Then each of the 80 participants was given two palettes from which to choose.  The challenge is simply to create an accessory item using one of the palettes.  I had a terrible time choosing between my two palettes - the one above is the one I didn't choose to do for the hop!  I just couldn't resist working with it, though, so you're getting a pre-blog hop self challenge.

The image above is called Desert Patterns.  It is described as ribbons of Saharan sand dunes seen through the "eyes" of a satellite sensor. The sunset colors seem to glow.  The patterned stripes are part of Erg Chech, a desolate desert in Algeria where the winds create an endlessly shifting collage of large, linear sand dunes.   It's an incredible image.  You can find it, and many others here.

I went through my bead stash and came up with quite a few possibilities.  I had seed beads and cord in most of the colors, along with some African recycled glass, some painted lucite, Czech glass and a few varied focal pieces.   I wanted a pattern that would mimic the undulations of the sand.

This was my first try.  I just wasn't feeling it.  It was pretty and colorful, but just didn't capture the feeling of the photograph, so I started over.  This time I used the dark gray cord and just arcs of color.

I'm much happier with this second attempt.  I think it more closely mimics the texture in the picture and the color is punctuated by the gray.  This palette was much more of a challenge for me than I thought it should be, especially since I should have been concentrating on the palette I did choose.  I'll give you a sneak peek, but you'll have to stop back on the 30th to see what I come up with for it!

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