Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Prepare to be blown away

Rutilated drops by Niki Grandics

No, not because there are two blogs this close together, but by the jewelry made by Niki Grandics, winner of the 2016 Halstead Grant.

I received the announcement (below) and checked out Niki’s work (as well as that of the finalists). I’m not a goldsmith or silversmith, obviously, but the genius of these designs is inspiring me nonetheless.

Check out the links in the release.

ENJI Studio Jewelry owner Niki Grandics of San Diego, California, is the recipient of the 11th annual Halstead Grant recognizing jewelry design excellence and business strategy acumen amongst enterprising new jewelers.

Niki Grandics wins $7500 cash; $1000 supplies; trip to Prescott, Arizona; signature Grant Finalist trophy made by 2013 Winner Rebecca Rose; cover and feature spread in the new annual grant publication Reveal; feature profile and jewelry showcase in the next printed catalog; blog and video profile; press release assistance; feedback report from the judging committee.

Niki trained at San Diego State University and GIA and was a finalist in last year’s Halstead Grant competition. 

Halstead President Hilary Halstead Scott says, “Niki took the dream route to prepare for life as a studio artist. She has a marketing education, a metals degree and a GIA Graduate Jeweler certification. She has all the right tools plus a distinct gift for design.”

Niki says, “It was so helpful just to set aside the time to think about the direction of my business and all of the steps it will take to actually make that happen. That’s definitely something I’ll do going forward.”

ENJI Studio Jewelry is 100% handmade using high quality, nickel-free, materials. As a member of Ethical Metalsmiths, Niki hopes to raise awareness of the need for sustainably produced, ethically made jewelry. To learn more about Ethical Metalsmiths and Fairmined gold and gems, visit

Halstead Grant Finalists
2016 Halstead Grant Top 10 Finalists: Alexandra Scarlett; Bohemi; Letters to Sarah Metalsmithing; Stacy Rodgers; Tara Hutch

Finalists receive $500 cash for Top 5 placement or $250 for Top 10 placement. Awards include: Coverage in the new annual grant publication Reveal; signature Grant Finalist trophy made by 2013 Winner Rebecca Rose; blog profile; media exposure; press release assistance; feedback report from the judging committee.

2016 Halstead Grant Top 5 Finalists: Kristen Baird; Nikki Nation; Olivia Shih; Studio SophiaSophia

About the Halstead Grant
The Halstead Grant began in 2006 as a way to bring the business plan concept to the jewelry community and encourage makers to establish clear goals and measurable steps towards self-sufficiency.
Halstead President Hilary Halstead Scott says, “It’s amazing to see how much entries have changed in the decade (plus) that we have been sponsoring the grant. New jewelers are using their social media savvy to learn about their customers and engage with them in exciting ways to grow their businesses.”

Friday, September 23, 2016

Have you started making your holiday jewelry gifts yet?

Have you started making your holiday jewelry gifts yet?  Me neither.  

I’ve been completely swamped lately (and a very neglectful blogger), but I had to slow the pace long enough to recommend a new book before the holiday jewelry-making season gets rolling.

I recently bought Lindsay Burke’s new book “Make it Sparkle.” Love this book!  

Obviously I’ve been making jewelry for awhile, but I still found TONS of design inspiration. If I was going to give advice to a new header, this is the book I’d send them to. 

Ok, I’ll suggest my Beading Insider book too, but seriously, the instructions and accompanying photos in "sparkle" are so clear and easy to follow and the projects cover a broad range of styles - from subtle sparkle to full out dazzle.  

Lindsay (and the other contributors) have such a wonderful eye for color - there are some combos I’ve never thought to put together that I am completely in love with.

 If you make (or want to start making) jewelry for holiday gifts, there are so many gorgeously wearable ideas. I’ve already Post-it flagged half a dozen. I generally use my own designs for gifts, of course, but I’m not going to be able to pass up the stackable bangles and party bracelets.

Well done, Lindsay, Katie, Allison Cody and Samantha!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Creating personalized gifts

Many of my favorite jewelry projects are gifts for friends and family. I love the challenge of crafting a piece of jewelry that celebrates an accomplishment or reflects the passion or personality of the wearer.
My nieces, for instance, often get jewelry to celebrate their sporting victories or a play they’re appearing in.  In the past, the efforts have ranged from a bangle with lacrosse charms for my middle niece, Erin, to a necklace with a baguette charm to celebrate my youngest niece’s one line in “Beauty & the Beast” (“This bread – it’s stale!”).

Luckily, there seems to be jewelry components to represent nearly every possible circumstance. The ones that give me the most pleasure are the ones that are less literal and more stylish.

I harbor no illusions that Caty wore her bread necklace anywhere.

My most recent effort fell on the stylish side. It celebrates another niece’s role as Jane in “Tarzan theMusical” and I’m very pleased with the result.

I started with three Vintaj wandering vine components, curved to fit a TierraCast bangle and painted with Vintaj patina paints (moss and a touch of verdigris).  A lightly brushed moss patina on the bangle also.

I “lashed” the vines to the bangle with green craft wire and distressed the whole bracelet to bring back some brass highlights. I think it’s fashionable enough to be worn long after Meghan is swinging across the stage.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Allegory Gallery Challenge reveal

I took part in another one of the Allegory Gallery’s design challenges. This one was a “tribe” challenge - I joined the Mountain tribe.  I’m not so much of a mountain-climbing person, but I am a purple person, so these were my people.  

I had been doing bead embroidery for my last couple of Allegory challenges, but lately I have been loving embellishing  filigrees with seed (and other tiny) beads, so I used a trio of Vintaj full filigree droplets to create an embellishment for the pendant and two connectors to the necklace strand. 

I created some mountain greenery with the moss patina paint and embellished all three with purple seed beads. I kept the strand simple, using the waxed cord and a sliding clasp. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Taking the show on the road!

I’ll be taking a version of one of the demos I did at the Bead&Button Show on the road - Bluemound Road to be exact.  I’ll be turning the Twin Spin pendant demo into a make-and-take at Eclectica on July 23.

These components are super simple to make - the fun comes with creating the color combinations and finding new ways to use them. Flipping some of the twin (SuperDuo) beads turns them from pendants (or earrings)  to all kinds of useful links.
So, in addition to making up samples to demo all the different linking options I’ll be coming up with a bunch of great color combos inspired by local schools, zodiac signs, sports teams, pop culture characters and anything else I can think of!

If you’re free on the 23rd anytime between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., come by Eclectica in Brookfield.(18900 W Bluemound Rd, Brookfield, WI · (262) 641-0910)  and say hi, hang out with me a bit and make a quick pendant. And hey, if you want to buy a copy of the book - who am I to stop you?  

Also, the flavors of the day at the Kopp’s next door will be Palermo Lemon  and Chocolate Salted Caramel. Just sayin’.

Friday, June 17, 2016

A string of ideas from the Bead&Button Show

Last week was the Bead&Button Show — so there’s been a lot to write about, but no time to write it. In addition to the usual shopping, I took a class and did a demo on each day of the marketplace weekend.  
Vintaj goodies - check out the stacked components in the center.

While I (of course) did a bit of shopping, my main takeaways from the show are great ideas. Not sure where I'll get the time to do them, but eventually the hours will present themselves.

My two demos at the Vintaj both centered on embellishing their beautiful components with seed beads, but after talking to some showgoers about the possibilities, I’m dying to see what these embellished components look like stacked or combined with resin accents (Stay tuned!).

House of Wax
At the Kalmbach area demo, I met a woman named Sally Field!! She’s a member of the Atlanta Bead Society. During our conversation, she asked if the bead society could teach classes from my book (Quick and Easy Stitched Jewelry) at the group's meetings. I was happy to tell her that the designs and instructions in the book are copyright free. I was really impressed she asked, because many authors/designers have their work “borrowed” without their permission. Also, It gave me an idea to reach out to other bead societies. Yay!

'Leaf, me alone' by Kinga Nichols
I also had fun showing Candie Cooper how to make the book’s beaded-bead project. We were working and filming in the upstairs lounge at the Hilton.  A fellow beader named Margaret suggested my next book should be called “Beading in Bars."

In addition to teaching a great class, 
Kinga Nichols gave each of her students a “House of Wax” —  a small house-shaped tin filled with bee’s wax for conditioning thread. Generous and genius!

I can’t even begin to list the other random design ideas that popped up along the way.  So another bead show has come and gone and I have more ideas (and kits) than I know what to do with. Not a bad problem to have.

Next up: prep for summer classes and tackle the Allegory Gallery design challenge project. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Pre-bead show holiday plans

I’m probably one of very few people who are happy about the rainy Memorial Day forecast. I have a lot of prep to do for the Bead&Button Show that starts next weekend.

While I certainly have nothing like the to-do list I had when I was the editor of Bead Style. I still have a lot of prep to do for the three demos I’ll be doing during the marketplace in service of Quick & Easy Jewelry Projects.

The good thing about marketing a book is that it makes me appreciate the actual writing process. Yes, it’s much more work, but it’s work that resides deep in the center of my comfort zone. Marketing, not so much. 

Why is it easier to tell someone else’s story than to tell my own? 

The good news is that all these “not my thing” activities tend to stretch the borders of the comfort zone. So in the end - it’s all good.

Although the weather is cooperating with the need for demo prep — I do have a couple of weatherproof temptations that will be fighting for my attention this weekend.

I spent last weekend in Chicago and stopped in the Brown Elephant resale shop. Not only did I snag a raincoat that makes me look like I stepped out of the Matrix, I bought a giant ziplock bag of random junk jewelry. There so many pieces begging for an upcycling that it’ll be hard not to jump in.

And if that wasn’t enough, my “Queen Margot cuff” kit cam from Kinga Nichols. It’s gorgeous and has a labradorite focal piece.  Ignoring that for the weekend will be tough.

What are your Memorial Day plans?  Any planned craftiness? Well-deserved laziness?  Whatever your plans — Enjoy the Weekend!!