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!

November 20, 2012

New Micro Macrame Designs in Khaki Iris

I have so many things I should be doing, and what am I doing instead?  Playing with macrame.  What can I say - it makes me happy.  I've had a long standing love affair with beads in matte metallic khaki iris, particularly in combination with khaki cord.  I've made earrings:

And watches:

And necklaces:

But my favorite pieces to make have always been bracelets.  No reason, really, they're just my favorite.  They have just the right amount of challenge for me.  They're a medium size project - not so easy that it takes longer to drag out all the beads and not so large and complicated that I get bored before finishing.  Bracelets are JUST the right size project for me.  

I was goofing around a bit trying to come up with a new bracelet design and did this:

I have done the "flower" type pattern before, but I was experimenting with the part in between - the "eye" shape.  Then I decided to beef it up a little in that section and ended up with this:

And now I can't decide which I like best:)

The designs might change with my mood, but I still love these beads.  I've used them so much that now it's become a challenge for me to see how many different ways I can use the same beads and cord and come up with different results.  And I'm not out of ideas yet:)

November 15, 2012

My Million Dollar Bracelet - Metal Prong Challenge Reveal

Ta and Da!  This may not look like a million dollar bracelet, but let me assure you, it is.  It is because I made it - every little bit of it.  It all started when the Metal Team at Artisan Whimsy issued a challenge.  Try a new technique, they said.  We'll show you how to do it, they said.  Easy, peasy, they said.  Uh huh.  Well, I fell for it.  I read the Easy Prong Setting Tutorial by Staci Louise Smith.  I studied all the pictures.  Cut a piece of metal a little bigger than the piece you want to mount, drill some holes to put your rivets through and solder them in place.  Ta da.  I think I can do that.  I didn't have any metal sheets on hand and couldn't find any locally (not even at the farm store!) but I did have an oval shaped brass connector I thought would work.  I found a pretty cab (in my favorite color, of course) and I had some rivets I'd purchased one other time I thought I might attempt metal work.

Here's the part where I'm going to fast forward a bit.  I'm going to skip the whole morning I spent in the garage trying to drill three little holes and solder three itty bitty, blankety-blank rivets into place.  It sounds so easy but my Dremel kept trying to skitter right off the plate and the solder wouldn't stick.  I finally got them soldered, but had to sand down the three and a half pound mounds of solder gobbed all over the place.  I'll admit it.  I cussed.  I did, however, end up with this:

It might not look like much to you, but I'm mighty attached to it.  After all we've been through together, this little plate and I are bonded.  We're tight.  So I slapped in my cab & bent the prongs to hold it in.  I probably could have used prongs with a bit more length, but I tested the piece pretty strenuously and the cab won't slip out, so I guess I'm good.

Now, I'll also admit that at this point my inclination was to revert to something known and comfortable and put a macrame band on this.  But, having come this far, I figured "in for a penny, in for a pound."  I had some beautiful teal beads on hand (thank you Shelley!) and I decided to mess with some wire working.  I did a few wire wrapped loops and even did some where the wire wraps up and around the bead (I'm not sure what you call that, but I tried it!).  I made a wire spiral just to say I did.  I even made little rosette thingies by linking three jump rings together.  

And then?  I attempted to make my own clasp.  I found a Wrapped S Clasp Tutorial  by Francesca Watson and gave it a whirl:

I thought I was all finished, but decided it needed a little movement, so I hung a Czech glass flower and a brass leaf near the focal.

It's not perfect, but I'm pretty proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone.  And if I were going to sell this piece, the price would be a cool mil:)

Be sure to stop by and check out the other participants:

The Beading Yogini,
Carolyn Dewison, Blue Berri Beads,
Mary Harding, Mary Harding Jewelry,
Dawn Horner, Northern Adornments,
Gina Hockett, Freestyle Elements,
Heidi Kingman, My Bead Therapy,
Alicia Marinache, All the Pretty Things,
Melissa Muir, Melissa Muir Jewelry,
Melinda Orr, Melinda Orr Designs,
Staci Louise Smith, Staci Louise Originals,
Sherri Stokey, Knot Just Macrame,  <-----You are here
Jo Tinley, Daisy Chain Designs Jewellery,
Francesca Watson, Francesca Watson Designs,

November 12, 2012

UK Inspiration Challenge Reveal

Today is the big reveal for the UK Inspiration Challenge at Artisan Whimsy.  I made this bracelet based on Jo Tinley's hometown of Southampton - the launching place of the Titanic.  You can read all about this bracelet and what inspired its design in my earlier post and find lots of other original, handmade designs submitted by other participants at these sites:

The Hosts
 Lesley Watt Gossiping Goddess
Rebecca Anderson Songbeads
Pippa Chandler Pip's Jewellery
Teresa Hulley Bo Hulley Beads
Natalie McKenna Grubbi
Jo Tinley Daisychain Designs
Ginger Bishop Lilmummylikes
Cece Cormier The Beading Yogini
Therese Frank Therese’s Treasures
Cilla Watkins Tell Your Girlfriends
Sherry Baun
Therese Frank Therese’s Treasures
Kashmira Patel Sadafulee
Caroline Dewison Blueberribeads
Sherry Baun
Leigh Thow Jewellrleigh
Lucy Haslam
Cynthia Machata  Antiquity Travelers
Sherry Baun
Isle of Wight
Duane Clark Bizzy Bead
Sharyl McMillian-Nelson Sharyl's Jewelry
Leigh Thow Jewellrleigh
Jean Wright Just Beadey
D Lynne Bowland Islandgirl’s Insights
Sherry Baun
Jean A. Wells  Jean A. Wells
Shalini Austin   Jewellery by Shalini
Doris Stumpf Glaszwerg
Sherry Baun
Lennis C Windbent
Sherri Stokey Knot Just Macramé
Sherry Baun
Leigh Thow Jewellrleigh
Kathy Lindemer Bay Moon Design

November 11, 2012

Window Shop Holiday Hop

My friend Rita of Jewel School Friends came up with the idea for a Window Shop Holiday Hop.  Doesn't that sound like fun?  Hop from one great "shop" to another and see what they have to offer for the upcoming holiday season.  Who knows, you might just find something to add to your wish list!

Without further ado, I'd like to welcome you to my shop.  You can find it on Etsy at Knot Just Macrame.  I've been filling it with some great pieces.  Over here are my earrings.

These are a few  of the ones I have on hand at the moment.  I particularly like the green pair - they're almost a wasabi green.  Or maybe chartreuse.  Definitely not your run of the mill green, either way.  And the blue pair?  They match a bracelet you can find over in the  bracelet section.

I also have this bracelet on hand in the khaki color with a copper dragon.  And while you're looking around, be sure to check out the sparkly new bracelets I made:

Wouldn't one of those be fun for your upcoming holiday parties?  Or how about one these handpainted lucite flower bracelets:

Or maybe you're looking for a necklace?  Have you seen these made with Kazuri beads?  

If you're not familiar with Kazuri beads, they are handmade, hand-painted ceramic from Nairobi, Kenya. Each bead is shaped by hand, by one of the 350 local women employed by Kazuri. The beads are then polished and kiln fired, painted and fired again. Kazuri is a member of the Fair Trade Act.  I love the freehand, organic look of them.  If one of those doesn't catch your fancy, you can find lots more necklaces here.

I'll leave you to look around on your own.  Take a few minutes to check out all the little nooks in my shop.  I have a bead embroidered snowman cuff sure to make you smile, a couple fun Day of the Dead style pieces and even some Husker designs for Nebraska fans.  Don't see just what you had in mind?  Love the design, but need a different size or color?  Shoot me a message and I'll see if I can make it happen for you.  I'm handy like that.

Now, pour yourself a cup of coffee, kick your feet up and follow this list to a bunch of great shops, all decked out for your window shopping pleasure:

November 7, 2012

Learning Viking Knit

A friend sent me a lovely package the other day containing a Viking knit bracelet she made for me and a draw plate and dowel so that I could try Viking knit for myself (thank you, Star!).  I slapped the bracelet on my wrist, tore open the kit and took to knittin' LOL.  I managed to produce a tolerable first attempt within a couple of hours, but it definitely needed refinement.  My second attempt was a little better - more even.  Here's a peek at both of them - the one on the left is the first one.

I have to admit I'm hooked.  There is something absolutely fascinating in a technique where you can take this:

And make this:

Pull it through a hole in a paddle a few times and get this:

Want to see that again?  

I'm addicted.  If you want to give this a try, Star said she got the kit for under $10 at a craft store chain (or you can find them online).  You will also need some 24 or 26 gauge wire, a little 20 gauge wire, tape and a pair of snips to cut the wire.  The kit comes with some written instructions, but there are lots of tutorials online.  I watched a video on You Tube and used that to supplement the instructions in the packet (well, that and a little trial-and-error).  It's addicting, though.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

November 4, 2012

A Very British Challenge

The UK Blog Team at Artisan Whimsy issued a challenge - the UK Inspiration Challenge - and I couldn't resist.  The challenge was to create a piece of jewelry inspired by the hometown of one of  the team members.  I chose Southampton, the home of Jo Tinley of Daisy Chain Designs.  You might remember her from the bangle challenge I participated in a few months ago (read about that here if you missed it).  
Jo had this to say about Southampton:  Southampton is a maritime town, and the port from which the Titanic sailed on 10th April 1912. Most of the crew came from Southampton and when the ship sank 5 days over 500 households in the city lost at least one family member. We are also home of the Spitfire - one of the heroes of WWII!
I did some research and found some other inspiration.  I found a Knot Garden!  I'd never heard of a Knot Garden, but it seemed somehow right up my alley.
  I'd recently done several pieces using a Celtic knot focal piece, so I decided against making another, but here's a peek at the ones I did:

Southampton also has lots of waterfront, which always inspires me, but I decided I'd done that too recently, too.  So I went back to what Jo told us and decided to focus on the Titanic.  The grand scale of it and the rich and famous people aboard fascinate me.  I can imagine the band playing in the background as men in tuxedos dine with ladies dressed in their finest.  Silk and satin gowns, jewels and glitter.  With those thoughts, I made this bracelet:
 I used a sparkly crystal as a centerpiece and surrounded it with glass beads in all different shades of blue.  I knotted the piece in deep navy blue cord and sprinkled sparkly crystals throughout.  Can't you picture this on the wrist of one of those elegant ladies?

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