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!!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Coming to a TV near you

Tomorrow morning my segment of "Beads, Baubles & Jewels" on PBS hits the local station (11:30 a.m).  I'm both excited and a bit terrified. The space in front of the camera is not my comfort zone. In fact, I can't even see my comfort zone from there.

Despite that, with the miraculous support of host Katie Hacker and everybody at KS Productions, I survived the experienced. And - I have to say, the segment is not half bad.

I'm guessing if I did that kind of thing more than one a decade, I'd probably develop some skills in this area. This appearance is SO much better than my first time (you'll have to take my word for that one!)

Lately, I've been watching video segments that are truly something to aspire to. I've been spending part of my lunch hour watching Candie Cooper's Facebook live-streams. They're such fun and Candie's so relaxed and appealing — she's definitely who I want to be when I grow up.

But until then, I'll keep plugging along. If you're not going to be near your TV tomorrow, you can see a video of the segment on my Facebook page.

PS: I'll be demonstrating the components from the "BB&J" segment in person at the Bead and Button Show at 5 p.m. on June 10. If you're at the show, I'd love to see your friendly face.  And Stay tunes for news of more book-related appearances.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Random Acts of Inspiration from Tammy Powley!

It’s not unusual for me to be inspired by the work of the many talented jewelry makers I’ve met — and many that I haven’t — but recently I was inspired by what an artist has decided to DO with her jewelry.

Artist and author Tammy Powley has been committing “random acts of jewelry,” giving pairs of earrings to strangers and aquaintences — say the cashier at the grocery store and/or the woman behind her online. Tammy says that these are inexpensive earrings, but I imagine the joy that she gets from making people’s day is priceless.

And imagine how wonderful the recipients feel!  

Check out this video of Tammy describing the how and the why of her “Random Acts.”  I’m going to make it a goal this summer to build up my own earring stash so I can jump on this bandwagon.

Well done Tammy!