June 29, 2012

Flower Bangle Challenge Reveal

 I'm so excited to finally be able to share this with you!!!  I've had it finished for a few days and it's been killing me to keep it a secret.  Here's the scoop:  Jo at Daisychain Designs sent out five of her pretty flower bangles with a challenge to see what we would do to decorate them.  This is what the bangle looked like before I started:
When it showed up in my mailbox, I almost panicked!  It was so dainty and pretty just as it was, I couldn't figure out what I could do to it without detracting.  So, I sat it on the table next to me and stared at it for several days and ran different ideas through my head.  I thought about doing some macrame around the bangle - a half knot sinnet twisting around the bangle with some tiny seed beads entwined in the cord, but that just didn't seem special enough.  Then I considered making it part of a stack of bracelets - I'm big into the layered stacks right now.  But again, it seemed like making this bangle just one of many just wouldn't be doing it justice.  And then...
My Vintaj Patinas arrived in the mail and added another dimension to the possibilities.  I was very nervous about painting the bangle, so I painted some little copper beads instead and auditioned them on my facebook page to decide which color to use.  
The teal color won - and no, I didn't tamper with the voting (even though it's the color I wanted!).  I finally got up the nerve to paint the flower part of the bangle, and since the orange color came in second in the voting, I added a pop of that to the center of the flower.  After that dried, I mixed some colors together and added some glaze to get a thinner consistency to "antique" my flower and highlight the texture a bit.  The rest was easy - I wrapped the bangle in a length of chartreuse sari silk and then wrapped some copper wire around that, adding in just a sprinkling of beads for interest.  I made a companion bracelet in macrame with matching cord and mottled glass beads. 
I'm really happy with the finished piece - of course, it helps when you start out with something so beautiful.  Many thanks to Jo for making such a lovely bangle and for hosting this challenge.  Hop on over and see what Jo and the other participants did with their bangles:
Jo Tinley - Daisychain Designs
Shannon Chomanczuk - For My Sweet Daughter
Jenny - Shyme Design
Keri Lee Sereika - Pink Lemonade
Heidi Post - Ex Post Facto Jewelry

June 27, 2012

Seeing Dragons in My Sleep

Ever have one of those pieces that just "works"?  Where the colors and the patterns and the textures and everything just seem to click and make the piece greater than the sum of its parts?  I had a dried flower arrangement once that sat next to a ceramic lamp and together they were just perfect.  Then my dog got hold of the flower basket and tore it into a billion little pieces (and drug dried flower remnants all through the whole house, thank you very much).  I had a replacement made, but it just wasn't the same.  Somehow, the perfect connection had been broken.

These dragon bracelets seem to be that perfect combination.  The button I use as a centerpiece is just lovely with flowing, swirly lines and a raised dragon spewing flame.  I surrounded it with khaki cord and matte metallic khaki iris seed beads in a scallop design.  I love this piece.  The colors in the beads compliment the copper and the khaki and there's enough color to keep it from being bland but they're muted enough to make the piece fairly neutral.

I have the button in silver and brass, too, and I've also made other combinations.
I even used one of the copper buttons as a focal in a bead embroidery cuff piece:
But I always come back to my first combination.  I had orders for so many of them I had to make five in one weekend:
I was seeing dragons in my dreams!  If I had a "signature" piece, it would be this bracelet, but I hope I never have to mass produce them again;)

June 24, 2012


This is me:  Sherri Stokey, Knotter Extraordinaire:)  Nice to meet you. 

June 22, 2012

Experimenting with Vintaj Patinas

OK, tell the truth - these are fabulous, aren't they!?!  I've been waiting on pins and needles for my Vintaj patinas to get here and they finally came in the mail yesterday.  In typical "me" fashion, I had to order all of the colors, so I had a veritable rainbow to play with (although there doesn't seem to be a nice dark brown for "antiquing" - I'll have to do some checking on that).  The patinas are advertised as "specially formulated to adhere to metal" so I figured I'd have good luck with metal pieces, and I did.  I messed with a few, but my favorite was the art metal compass piece.  The color of the patinas really pops against the dark metal.  I also hit the high spots with a sanding block and got a bit of light metal as a highlight.  Very cool, if I do say so myself.
Then I got brave and decided to see what happens if you use them on lucite.  The top leaf in the photo above is how the rest looked before I hit them with the patinas.  I used a single color (green on one and a rusty color on the other) on the next two down and I like the look.  Then I used both colors on the bottom one (look at me, getting all artsy).  And I figured I hadn't done any great damage yet, so I pulled out some lucite flowers.
The flowers all started out the same as the top one - sort of an orchid color.  I used a couple colors each on the others and am totally amazed at how different they all turned out.  The patinas cover very well (almost too well in some cases) so not a lot of the original lucite color shows through.

All in all, I am very impressed with these patinas.  They cover really well and they dry really quickly and I now have limitless possibilities for colors on metal and lucite.  And who knows what else:)

June 21, 2012

More of My Favorites

 I'd have to admit that teal/turquoise/aqua is probably my favorite color ever.  And I'll also admit to using it frequently.  I've paired it with some unexpected colors like coral, mustard or purple for some really fun pieces.  But I always go back to this - a soft sandy, khaki cord and beads in turquoise, Navajo white and bronze or brass.  The look is timeless. 
It's beachy and peaceful.
And never too fussy.

June 20, 2012

Flower Bangle Challenge Preview

Oh, my gosh!  Jo at Daisychain Designs makes some of the sweetest flower bangles I've ever seen - well, that and clasps and all kinds of metal thingies I'd love to have.  She is hosting a challenge to see what to see what unique ideas we can come up with to decorate her bangles.  I'm not sure what I can do with this bangle that won't detract from it - I think it's fantastic as it is!  A challenge for sure.  Stay tuned.....

June 15, 2012

Toolbox Challenge and Hop - The Reveal

In honor of Father's Day,  Sandra McGriff of Creative Chaos issued a challenge:  take something from "his world" and make a piece of jewelry out of it.  I rounded up some things from the garage (see previous post) and spent some time with paints and chemicals to alter some of the pieces:
 I decided I needed some fiber to offset all the metal, so I tore some strips from an old pair of jeans (OK, they were bib overalls - don't even ask about that!) and this is what I came up with:
For the first two bracelet, I used the denim - one with an oval connector I found and one with a colored washer wired on as a focal.  Then I made some "chain" bracelets - one with bullets and washers, one with washers and fishing lures and one with dangling washers. When you put these all together and layer them on in a big, messy stack, you get this:
And by then I was having such a good time and I already had the mess anyway, so I made up some key rings:

Be sure to stop by and visit the other participants:

June 14, 2012

Toolbox Challenge & Blog Hop - Preview

You might be wondering about this little pile of detritus.  I gathered it up from my husband's garage in preparation for Skye's Toolbox Challenge and Blog Hop!  A little rummaging around produced several random key rings, some washers, a few screws and some nuts, a handful of change, and some random copper bits.  Oh, and some linky thingies and a fishing lures!

The challenge is to take something from "his" world and use it to make a piece of jewelry.  Wish me luck:)

June 13, 2012

Creating a Piece Based on a Palette

The process of creating a new micro macrame piece is, for me at least, messy.  And it involves dragging out a lot of potential bits and parts before narrowing it down to the finalists.  Last week's color challenge involved black and white - actually more gray and shades of gray with bits of bluish gray, but for the sake of simplicity, we'll call it black and white.  So I went to my handy dandy supply closet stash and came up with this bead and cord palette:
Then I study the applicants for a while and wait for inspiration...  Aha!  There's usually a moment where something from the pile strikes me or reminds me of something I've been meaning to try.  And then I'm off.  This week it was the large rectangular pendant - I think it's Magensite.  I liked the weight of it and my plan was to surround it with a macrame bezel and suspend it from an intricate necklace to make a real statement piece.  
When I reached this point, I was seriously doubting the wisdom of my plan.  I'd spent one entire evening doing the bezel, and I'm still not crazy about it.  I think my technique would work better on a stone without corners, so maybe I'll attempt it again on something round.  Maybe.  Then I spent another afternoon/evening getting started on the straps.  Again, I seriously underestimated the time involved in this undertaking:)  I considered putting it into the UFO (unfinished objects for those of you who don't know craft-speak) pile, but I just couldn't, so I pressed on.
Ta Da!!!  I feel like there should be a chorus singing in the background as I present this.  It's not perfect, but then again, none of my work is.  I'm always finding something - a knot just a bit out of line, I bead that I should have culled, a place where the tension isn't as even as I'd like.  But I've come to the conclusion that imperfection is unavoidable and perfection is unattainable and that's part of the charm of handmade.

June 11, 2012

Book Release & Review

Joanne Tinley has just released her new e-book,  Macrame, Art Beads & Wire, and for those of you looking for a fun and easy way to learn to incorporate macrame into your jewelry making, this book is a must-read.  I've had a chance to look through the book and I really like it.  Joanne covers knotting mediums, tools and terms.  She demonstrates some different knots and then (and this is the best part) gives you six projects to make using macrame in combination with art beads and wire.  The projects look easy enough for someone with little jewelry making experience (you do have to know how to make a wrapped loop) and the resulting pieces are trendy enough for seasoned pros looking to incorporate fiber and texture into their designs.  If that's not enough, she has included a gallery with photos of pieces from six different designers - and I'm included (no, I'm not getting any monetary compensation).  You can find the book for sale on Joanne's website or her Etsy shop.  Hint:  while you're there, take a look at her metal components.  I'm in LOVE with her clasps.

If you're in the mood for even more creative pieces, visit the sites of the designers she's included:
Sherri Stokey (you are here)

Here's a sneak peek - this is one of my pieces pictured in the book:

June 10, 2012

My Workspace

Yep, it looks suspiciously like a family room, but this is my workspace.  That big recliner at the end (the one my husband picked out and I didn't want it because it was so BIG - turned out to be so COMFY!) used to be my spot (note the OttLite complete with magnifier that my son says only old people have).  Now I tend to sit on the end of the couch because it's got the best view of the television:)  
My "desk".  It has a shelf at the bottom which is perfect for holding my laptop when I'm not using it.  But the best part of my workspace...
is the closet.  Yes, it's just a crummy little closet and it's not very wide AND it has the furnace in it... but it IS deep and dear husband built me these spiffy shelves to hold all of my beads and cord.
 My filing system is pretty sophisticated - my beads are sorted by color in ice cream buckets (can you tell dear husband has a thing for Blue Bunny ice cream?).  It works pretty well for me.
And the final piece to my space:  my muse, my partner-in-crime, my constant companion.  She's the Robin to my Batman.

June 5, 2012

Stretching the Limits - Just a Little

I tend to stick with tried and true when it comes to colors and color combinations - or at least I used to.  Then I joined the Color Combo Challenge Group and I've been stretching a bit in my creativity.  Each week we vote on a palette that comes from photos - majority wins.  There are usually around five colors in the mix and the rules say you have to use at least three of them in your design - and your design can be anything.  It can be a piece of jewelry (funny how my mind went right to that, isn't it?) or a photograph or a painting or a piece of clothing, etc.  No limits.  We have one week to create, then we post the pieces we've made for all to see.  I have to tell you, it's amazing how different the things we make are, even using the same palette!  Everyone puts his or her own spin on it.  Very cool.  

The kicker for me is that it presents combinations I wouldn't have otherwise considered.  Some of them are fun for me and others are just downright uncomfortable.  Either way, though, it's a learning experience and stretches my creativity.  Stop by the Color Combo Group and join us if you're up for it.  The more the merrier - just do me a favor and DON'T vote for palettes with orange and/or pink!

June 2, 2012

Designing vs. Selling

When I started making jewelry, I did it because I love jewelry and I wanted one of everything.  (I still do, if we're being honest here.)  And since I'm not independently wealthy I had to figure out how to make things for myself.  I made pieces that I loved, in  the colors that I love.  And then...

I had too much jewelry and friends encouraged me to sell some pieces.  Hmmm...  I could sell a few pieces to pay for more beads.  Good idea.  So I set up my online shop and started selling.  Sorta.  Items weren't flying off my virtual shelves or anything.  So I did some research.  I improved my photos and spruced up my shop a bit.  And I tried making what I thought people wanted to buy.  The "experts" said I should have a variety of colors and patterns in my shop to appeal to more buyers.  Made sense.  So I made pieces that weren't what I loved necessarily.  

And guess what - those didn't fly out of my shop, either.  By this point I was pretty much sure I was never going to make a success of the selling thing, so I went back to making things that I love.  And I discovered the secret (for me, at least):  make things that you love and be happy with what comes.  I  I'm happy sharing my things with people who appreciate them.  Life is good.

So when you look around my shop, what you'll see there is me.  Me in an elegant mood:

Or me in a playful mood:

Or me experimenting with color:

Or me playing with my favorite color:

But what you'll always see, is me.
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