April 29, 2014

Artists' Charm Swap 2014

Wire words by Dana James.

Bead Swap USA usually does a swap once a year or so where the beads or charms have to be handmade by the participants.  It is my very favorite swap!  It took me awhile to get brave enough to participate because I'm not a bead maker by any stretch of the imagination, but I am so glad I got up the courage!  It's not only encouraged me to try a some different techniques to make my own charms, but it's also netted me some awesome handmade charms from others!!

This year there were 27 of us and we (bravely) decided we would keep it all as one group rather than splitting it up.  That meant each of us had to make 27 charms, which isn't too bad for some techniques, but for others like bead weaving...  Boy, those ladies are incredibly brave to even try to take on a project like this one.  My hat's off to them!

Artists' charms made of bead weaving and other mediums.

See?  I told you there were some really cool charms!  And there were also several lamp work and ceramic ones:

Artists' charms made of lamp work and ceramic.

We have some folks in the group who work with polymer clay or resin:

Artists' charms made of polymer clay and resin.

And there are still more!!!  Here are the offerings in the metal, wire and soldering category:

Artists' charms made of metal, wire and soldering work.

A few of those pieces were "extras" added as hostess gifts and a couple others were from another swap in that group, but mostly they are charms from this swap.  Pretty cool, huh?  

The charms I made this year were epoxy clay and that was a first for me.  It was lots of fun and I did a post about it here.

I made a charm bracelet using some of the charms from previous swaps and a few other treasured pieces.  It's really jangly and noisy and fun to wear and each one of the charms on it has special meaning to me.  It doesn't get much better than that!  If you'd like to see who gave me the charms on the bracelet, I've tagged them here.

Charm bracelet made from swapped charms and artists pieces.

Think I can find room on there for my new treasures?

April 23, 2014

Beads of Clay Artisan Beads

Micro macrame bracelet by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame

The members of the Beads of Clay group did a giveaway a few weeks ago and gave away an incredible array of handmade artisan clay beads.  Take a look:

Beads by Vladislav Ivanov, Beada Hendrix, Diana Ptaszynski and Tracee Dock

You might recognize the work of some of these talented folks:  Vladislav Ivanov from Golem Studio, Beada Hendrix of Sasijuhls Things, Diana Ptaszynski of Suburban Girl Studio, and Tracee Dock of Classic Elements.  

Beads by Golem Studio, Beada Hendrix, Classic Bead and Suburban Girl

The "catch" that went along with winning these beads was that I had to agree to make a piece of jewelry using one of the beads within a month of receipt.  Don't tell anybody, but with this kind of inspiration, that wasn't really much of a catch!  What was harder was trying to decide which piece to work with first.  

I ended up choosing the largest focal piece by Tracee and I set it in the center of a micro macrame bracelet with cord and beads in shades of blue and mauve.

Micro macrame knotting by with beads

It's a real pleasure for me to work with artisan beads, handmade by people who take pride in their work and produce unique and beautiful beads.  I may or may not have a shopping problem, but that aside, I can tell you that I recognize the work of these folks by their own individual signature styles.  And to me, that's a mark of a true artist.  It's obvious they are each doing what they feel passionate about and creating pieces that mean something to them.  I admire that greatly.  I hope you will take a couple of minutes to visit the pages and shops of these folks and support them.

Macrame bracelet by Sherri Stokey with ceramic focal by Tracee Dock

April 20, 2014


Micro macrame cuff by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame with leather snap clasp by Melinda Orr.

Melinda Orr of Melinda Orr Designs makes the most awesome components for jewelry makers in addition to her jewelry designs.  She does some amazing things with metal (I've had my eye on these textured components with patina forever), and now she's branching out into leather.  I was looking for a clasp that would work for micro macrame and just look what she came up with:

Textured and colored leather snap clasp by Melinda Orr.

Is that great, or what!?!  She was even kind enough to send me a couple and I won't lie... I was as excited as a kid on Christmas morning when they arrived.  I took my color cues from the green foliage pattern in the leather and paired that with the spring vibes I've been feeling and came up with a lilac color scheme.

Sinuous curves in micro macrame with snap clasp

This pattern takes a long time to knot and adding a bead in the center of each of the shapes drug that out into eternity.  I do think it was worth it, though. 

Knotted micro macrame bracelet in olive and purple.

Even the back side of the bracelet is cool:

Reverse side of micro macrame cuff with beads.

If you would like to try your hand at this pattern, you can find a version of it in my Marquise Micro Macrame Cuff class on CraftArtEdu.com.  If you are interested in some of Melinda's components, you will want to check out her shop.   I'll show you the other things she sent to me, but you have to promise not to be jealous.  Promise?

Leather components by Melinda Orr of Melinda Orr Designs.

Those little circles?  Those are OWL EYES!!! How cool is that!  I can't wait to try them out in an owl design.  And I definitely will be ordering more clasps!

Micro macrame cuff by Sherri Stokey with leather snap clasp by Melinda Orr.

April 11, 2014

TWO New Micro Macrame Tutorials!

Marquise Micro Macrame Cuff by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame

Yes, I know it's been over a week since I last posted, but in my defense, I have been busy.  I finished not one, but two new micro macrame tutorials!  I finally finished one for the bracelet in the photo above - the one I've been promising for a couple of months now.  I couldn't decide what to call it, because "Funny Little Pointed Elliptical Shapes Micro Macrame Bracelet Cuff"  just seemed to be missing something.  I finally figured out that those shapes look like a marquise cut stone and logically, if somewhat predictably, named the class "Marquise Micro Macrame Cuff".  It's a little more manageable.  I have included something like 110 still photos and 5 videos along with step by step instructions and narration.  No matter what method of instruction works best for you, it's in there!

Micro macrame bracelet collage by Knot Just macrame

To give you a little taste of my teaching style, here's an example of one of the videos showing how to mount the cords to get started on this design:

The Marquise bracelet is a bit of a challenge.  It only uses a couple of knots, but it takes some concentration to keep track of the cords and make sure you are working with the correct ones.  If you don't think you're ready for that, I also did an easier class:

Micro Macrame Stack Bracelet by Sherri Stokey of Knot Just Macrame

The Micro Macrame Stack Bracelet Class is easy enough for beginners.  It looks like a stack of several bracelets, but it's really one easy-to-wear piece.  I love how the simplicity of the square knots really lets the colors take center stage.  The bracelet I made while taking photographs for the class was done in five graduating shades for an ombre effect, but you can vary the color scheme to fit your style.  Try springy pastels or a bright colorful rainbow or experiment with adding beads into the mix.  You can even substitute a different knot and make a bracelet like this:

Purple ombre shaded micro macrame

The nice folks over at CraftArtEdu.com are celebrating the release of my two new classes with a super duper sale through the weekend.  You can find the details here.  Happy knotting!

Micro macrame stack bracelet variations

April 1, 2014

Experimenting With Epoxy Clay

messy craft table

I have supplies stashed around my house for projects I really want to try.  Someday.  That darned loom is taunting me from the corner of the closet and the torch fired enamel supplies have clearly demonstrated their superiority over me.  The kumihimo disk, on the other hand, is just hanging out waiting patiently.  I like that in a craft supply - patience.  

At one point I decided I'd have to give polymer clay a whirl.  I mean, some of those talented folks make it look so darned easy, surely even I could make something passable.  Right?  So I rushed out and bought some clay paraphernalia (okay, mostly I rushed to my laptop and ordered it, but I will admit to taking some liberties in the name of good storytelling). While searching for all the things I had to have, I came across epoxy clay and thought I had to have some of that, too.  

Months passed and more months and more months and..  well, you get the picture.  I actually did get a package of polymer clay out at Christmas time intending to make an ornament to preserve my grandson's adorable little hand print for posterity, only to discover that it was hard.  Well, I guess it took the pressure off me to use it, huh?

Anyway, I got a wild hair the other day and decided to mess with the epoxy clay.  Apparently since it's packaged in two parts that have to be combined before it will harden and set properly, it has a longer shelf life than polymer?  I don't know that for a fact, but my epoxy stuff was fine.  I worked the two parts together, then rolled little pea-sized balls and pressed it into bezels.  To get a smoother surface and get rid of any fingerprints, I dipped my finger in a little water and rubbed it over the surface of the clay.  It seemed to work pretty well.

Bezels filled with epoxy clay

You might have noticed the rather impressive array of mineral powders in that first photo at the top of this post?  That was another little collection/obsession of mine - mineral makeup.  I don't know why I thought I needed to have every color under the sun, nor why I hung onto it for all these years.  Apparently it was just for this project.  I smeared it on the surface of the clay and did some rather impressive blending, too.

Bezels filled with epoxy clay with mineral powder added

I used some stamps I had laying around here to stamp a design into each of the little charms.  I didn't have too much trouble with the stamps sticking in the clay, and that might have been because of the mineral powder.  I even dug out my letter stamping set and stamped words into the clay on some of the pieces.

Stamping the clay

Stamped charm

Stamped charm

I really like the sheen and the subtle colors, but I was hell-bent on experimenting and using more of my craft supplies, so I busted out the Vintaj patinas.

Vintaj patinas

These I have used before.  I even used them to paint lucite flowers and wrote a little step by step you can find here.  I don't profess to be any kind of artist when it comes to painting, so I didn't attempt anything too complicated.  Mostly I just covered the charms in patina then wiped it off.  After that I hit the high points with a little sanding to reveal some of the clay color underneath.  I did get some nice results with that.

Epoxy clay charms stamped and antiqued with Vintaj patinas

All in all, I think the experimentation was pretty successful.  I probably should have taken pictures of some of the not-so-successful pieces, but hey, it's my blog.

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