I’m Blushing

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Today I went with family to a local bead store, Meant to Bead. One of the things I got is a beautiful lampwork bead by Unicorne Beads. I had a collection of blush pink vintage German glass from Ava Motherwell that I had tried to use a couple times, but the projects did not turn out. I thought this bead might be great with them.

I first made a bracelet that was nice enough, but it was slightly small and difficult to clasp. I decided to try a necklace, and my second design worked for me. I think the pink Unicorne bead is perfect with the German glass. Pink was my favorite color as a child. I still love it, but usually don’t call it my favorite color. It’s harder to work with in terms of design, I think, because it doesn’t show as well as some other colors. I added in some vintage plastic barbell beads from B’Sue Boutiques with an AB type coating and a couple types of seed beads. I wanted it to be long enough to slip over my head, and I also didn’t want the plastic beads to sit on my neck because they are kind of pokey. I put slightly larger glass beads toward the back and added some vintage pink chain from Suzanne Branca’s Famous Vintage Bead Hoard to make it comfortable.

The result is soft and beautiful. With many necklaces I make, I think, I wish I had a white linen dress for that. This one would look especially good on that. I’ll keep looking!

Resin Lessons Learned

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My mom and I had another resin day. We were very excited to try several new techniques. The first lesson we learned is not to focus on too many things at once, especially new techniques or things with timing involved.

We were going to do a little bit of regular resin, try coloring resin, use backless bezels, transfers, and texturizing open back bezels. It sounds ridiculous now even as I’m typing it. The real problem was the backless bezels we were using for transfers and texturizing: we needed to let the resin get thick so it didn’t leak out of the backless bezel and also could be peeled off the texturizing sheets. We didn’t know exactly how long to leave it. We checked the resin at one point and thought it needed to be a little thicker. It probably was just right or at least we should have been checking it every few minutes, but we got distracted by too many other things. I am always trying to get better at seeing the lessons as valuable as the successes; this time I am able to.

We used this Becky Nunn tutorial for the transfers. I’ll admit we did not follow everything she said, and that was part of the problem as well. She was doing the transfers with colored resin. I didn’t like how that sort of obscured the transfer image, so I decided to use clear resin. I also didn’t cut the transfer image close like she suggested. I didn’t think I needed to since it was shaped for the bezel. 

I now suspect she used the transfers with colored resin because the background does show in clear resin. It also would have been easier to position the image if it had been cut smaller. The over thickness of the resin was also a problem regarding trying to reposition the image once I dropped it in crooked. Bubbles are also very difficult to get rid of (and are more prevalent) in thickened resin. This experiment is not usable. I didn’t get a good picture of my mother’s transfer. It isn’t perfect, but it is usable. Her positioning is better and fits in the bezel so the background doesn’t show. The bubbles are on the side and less obvious. We decided this technique wasn’t fun, so we won’t be trying it again.

Another lesson is if I plan to deviate from a tutorial, make sure there isn’t a reason for that instruction. Also, if something isn’t fun, let it go.

I also finished saving a piece from a previous resin pour. This was my third time working on it, and already that is a success because I had that much patience. The first time, I had put floral paper in a bezel, then layered in an old lace flower with a vintage crystal finding in the middle. Immediately upon pouring resin over this, the lace flower became a nasty blob. It didn’t occur to me to wash the flower or seal it. Maybe those things wouldn’t have helped. I don’t know how resin reacts with fabric. If I decide to use fabric again, I will do some research.

After it cured, I sprinkled in some glass glitter shards. They weren’t as random as I would have liked because I was trying to cover something, but I thought it looked decent enough, and I covered it with resin. I didn’t dome it because sometimes I like the look of a flat glass finish. But after it cured, I didn’t like that the very tip top of the crystal finding was sticking out a bit. So I did one more pour to dome it a bit. This time the resin didn’t seem to flow across the area as easily, but maybe that is because it wasn’t going into negative space, just sort of open space. I dripped it strategically until it seemed to have good coverage. I feel good about this save. I couldn’t photograph it as pretty as it looks with the shiny glass glitter in a few colors.

We also tried coloring resin. I was going for opaque colors I’d seen on the Nunn Design website. However, I bought a white that appeared to be pearlized instead of flat white. And then I ordered two Ice Resin tints. In addition to the tints possibly being more translucent, we put them in such a tiny amount of resin just to try that we felt we couldn’t add more color to make it darker/more opaque without having a problematic ratio of color to resin that would affect the ability to cure. 

However, we were pretty satisfied with the charms. My mom didn’t like how two of hers looked right away; a green color we bought looked really neon yellow. So she cleaned out that resin she just poured and changed them to red. That was the first time we did that, so that was a good lesson. I think the pearlized white over fire opals really does look like an opal. I like how the moon charm turned out with the fire opals.

We were also going to follow this Nunn Designs tutorial about texturizing resin, another technique that calls for letting the resin get somewhat thick. After the transfer sheet experience, we decided to  save that one for the next day.

One thing we should always do is have extra bezels ready to be filled, either with decorative paper in back or by mixing resin with glitter or ice opals.

This turned out very pretty, and we didn’t waste the leftover resin like we did some other times.

The next day we did this Becky Nunn texturizing tutorial that she actually came up with to use up some resin that was getting too thick. 

These pendants took a bit of clean up after peeling them off the texturizing sheets. We feel like they are wearable, but they were too imprecise for us. We won’t be doing this technique again, but we are glad we tried it.

I was pleased that we were not demoralized by our less than perfect outcomes. We had so many ideas, we took a rest break and dug right back into our bezel stash. We actually have two bezels each that we started, but need to do another pour and didn’t save any resin left. I’ll show those when they are finished. We’ve been using the Ice Resin plunger, but have decided we’re not scared to mix our own out of bottles any more. That will take care of the running out of resin issue. I also believe we will waste less. We look forward to continuing our resin experiments.

 

Making Chain

I find myself buying things I can envision making into chain like various links. I love the idea of unique chain. I bought some vintage red acrylic oblong connectors. Then I saw some mixed glass square connectors and thought they would be perfect together.

I think they make a really fun chain connected with these large Vintaj jump rings. Sometimes I judge jewelry I make by, if I hadn’t made it, whether or not it would catch my eye in a shop. This would, so it’s a success!

I would love to make my own speciality chain from wire. Do you make your own chain? I’d love to see pictures in the comments!

Destashes and Tips Make the Best Jewelry

I love a good destash. I’ve probably said it before. What’s not to like? Giving something a new home and allowing someone else to clean out. Good prices and someone else makes a little money. Just win-win all the way around. I visited a new-to-me page on Facebook, The Aurora Floris League of Jewelry Enthusiasts, that happened to be having a destash. I bought some really great things. I just got the package this week, and have already used a lampwork butterfly by Esther Silver. The beautiful blues and greens are just so calming. 

I had recently gotten some vintage green glass beads from a favorite source, Famous Vintage Bead Hoard Liquidation Desatsh. I also always think of pearls whenever I think of butterflies, so I looked in my pearl box and saw some dark green pearls that brought out the darker shades in the butterfly. 

The blue pops so much more, so I decided not to use much of it in the rest of the necklace, but I used a few glass discs to bring the eye up. I also used a vintage lucite box clasp in the same blue; it makes the necklace feel really complete to me.

Now here is where the tip part of this post’s title comes in. The butterfly had a large tube hole along the back. In the past, this would have frustrated me because most any stringing material is so thin that the butterfly would be flopping around. In a recent post, I lamented this reality of large hole beads, and the wonderful Yvonne Irvin-Faus of My Elements gave me a tip. She sells tubing that is perfect to put in the large holes and then put stringing material through. Ta-da! No flopping! I already had some different thicknesses, and trimmed one up to be the perfect size. Oh my goodness – years of trying seed beads and other things to varying degrees of success, and here is the perfect solution. Thanks, Yvonne! (That link is her jewelry shop. Super fun and colorful things to buy as well as inspiration for how to use the fun items from her My Elements shop, including the tubing as a design material.)

 

Art Journey #5 – Joseph Cornell

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I am very excited by the art inspiration for Art Journey #5 with Art Bead Scene and artist Joseph Cornell. Cornell was an assemblage artist, and the works are so intriguing. There is so much interest in each piece, but they don’t seem busy. Some could even be described as spare, though they are absolutely overflowing with inspiration.

When I saw Hotel de la Duchesse-Anne, the canceled stamps in the corner made me think of an assemblage pendant I have by Andrew Thornton that has a canceled stamp in the center.

I was looking for something in my Miss Fickle Media stash when I came across a vintage seed bead and tiny seed pearl strand she made with her handmade brass clasp. I loved the idea of it with the pendant. I wanted more heft, so I made a similar 30″ seed bead strand with a couple of larger vintage lucite beads in the same army green as in the pendant. Further up the strand, I put some large seed beads to draw the eye up. I wanted the strands to hang together, so I used two large hole lampwork beads to string them through above the pendant, the bottom by Nikki Thornburg and the top by Helen Chalmers. That bead has red in it, a nod to the bright spheres in two of the inspiration pieces.

I added a third, shorter strand of pearls. In the inspiration piece Untitled (Medici Princess), the princess is wearing a longer necklace with a medallion pendant with a picture of her father and a shorter strand of pearls. I wanted to get that multi-necklace look in my single piece.

When I was taking pictures, I realized I wouldn’t be able to show the dual necklace look because the part with the pendant is 30″ and the pearls are about 18″, but I hope this photo gives you a sense of it. I added a little keyhole charm from Vintaj that looks like an old found object to add to the assemblage feel.

Chunky, Not Heavy

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I struggle to use the chunkier beads I love because when they are all together in a necklace, they can be quite heavy. I make a necklace like that, think it is beautiful, but then never wear it because it’s not very comfortable. Enter: faux nut beads. They could even be faux bone. They are large, but weigh almost nothing because they are some sort of plastic. Whoever made them did a great job of making them look and even feel authentic, and kind of rustic, old and natural. I love them because they go so well with my heavier beads, like African glass. 

Here I’ve mixed them with various African glass beads. Some of them are new, so not only do the faux beads make the piece comfortable to wear, but it gives it the old, worn look I love despite the newer beads.

I got the faux beads from Famous Bead Hoard Liquidation Destash. Suzanne Branca, the owner of A Grain of Sand, is selling off her vintage stock at amazing prices. The things she has are just so fun to see, especially if you are a long time beader and like seeing unusual items. It’s even more fun when I can buy some! They go fast when she has one of a kind lots. Her Grain of Sand website is worth visiting too. She has beautiful, high quality gemstones and clasps.

Jewelry Summer Camp and Preparing for Fall

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Whenever I feel inspired to work on things for the Artists for Animals Auction, I go for it. I don’t like doing things at the last minute, so it feels good to have some items ready. The next auction is in the fall sometime, and I’ve already made three – possibly four – sets of earrings.

First up, pink cornflake pearl earrings. 

I fell in love with these pink cornflake pearl earring dangles when I saw them in the Miss Fickle Media shop. I’ve been trying to use them ever since, and have never made anything work quite right. I think I’ve finally found their design.

Next are olive citrine earrings.

I love long kidney wires. I think they are so elegant. One beautiful bead hanging there, and your earrings are made. Here are two views: one that shows the citrine better and one that shows the beautiful handmade balled headpins. I’ve been hoarding those for a long time. Love these!

My third pair is made with beautiful, large coin pearls.

The second photo is so you get a better look at the finding they are on. I really love these large coin pearls and therefore these earrings.

I recently read an article by Ginger Davis Allman of The Blue Bottle Tree. She was saying that it is a myth that people with sensitive pierced ears can use surgical steel, sterling silver and other metals. She recommended niobium as what works. I used to feel naked without earrings. Then my ears became sensitive and no metal worked – including sterling silver and 14 KT gold. I thought that meant there was no hope, and I haven’t worn earrings in years. I don’t remember trying niobium at that time, even though I know about them now. So I’m going to order a few pair and see if I can wear them. How great that would be!

I got that tip from Ginger’s The Muse newsletter. It’s a thrice weekly email newsletter that has great short bits and tricks, so it’s easy to read but always really valuable. I recommend it!

The reason I said possibly four pair of earrings is that I’m not sure how much I like these. I love the reverse painted scruffy cat on these beads. However, they are large hole and so swing around on the wire a bit. I put some seed beads inside, but it’s always hard to get the exact right size to keep beads steady. Maybe it’s not a problem. Scruffy cat has a cute backside too! I show them both here.

The other part of this post is an exciting creative and educational opportunity I’ve gifted myself. Heather Powers of Humblebeads is offering a wonderful online course called Fluttering Wings Summer Camp. The learning includes techniques in polymer clay, copper etching and metal work, silk ribbon beads, ear wires, and finished jewelry tutorials. I’ve taken three days off work to use it as a little creative staycation for myself and make sure I get things done. However, it’s an online class you’ll get lifetime access to, so you can do it any time. If you are able, check it out. I think it is going to be a lot of fun and teach me some great techniques.

 

 

A Tisket, A Tasket

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I got a beautiful ceramic, multi colored basket by Gaea in one of Andrew Thornton’s destashes about three years ago.

Photo by Andrew Thornton

I’ve always loved Andrew’s mixed lots. They are a design idea and supplies all in one. I knew I would use some of the beads with the pendant. I wanted to put something in the basket, and after the first time I used Crystal Clay, I decided to use vintage parts to create flowers to cement in there. The other day I wanted to make something, so I got out the clay and thought I’d finally get this done. 

I think it’s just the cutest thing. I made a few flowers out of vintage flower parts, crystal and headpins. I rolled the clay into short ropes and packed it down with the end of a headpin. Then I pushed the end of each flower to the appropriate height and  laid it aside to dry. 

I used the vintage Czech glass from the mixed lot and added some other Czech glass from my stash. The brass clasp is by Miss Fickle Media. I think this is so fun! Perfect for the warm weather that is finally here.

Creative Weekend

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I did more creating this weekend. Some I’ll show here; others are still in process and/or in preparation for my next resin pour. I’m really loving resin.

First is also an in progress piece. I got this large vintage cuff from Beads to Blooms Destash. The owner also has an etsy store, but I’m always looking for the one off pieces. I used some Vintaj marble patina on the design part. I need to clean it up and relief it back some more. I might also paint some colors on the design and then relief those back. I love the ’70s look it has so far with the size and the bright metal. 

I also made a couple more simple bead-on-chain necklaces. The first uses one of my precious Sarah Moran beads from z-beads. I own exactly one strand of her beads, and this was a little mini-me bead that was included, so I felt ok using it. There is a little ring of tiny green dots, and I used that color chartreuse enamel chain that I got from Yvonne Irvin-Faus for a simple necklace. I love how the pink and blue look with the green. I’m such a fan of unusual color combinations. 

A second simple chain necklace uses a Diane Hawkey word bead. 

It is a somewhat rustic bead, and what could be considered a harsh word, so I liked the idea of putting it on this elegant chain. The textured chain is black without color on the higher parts. That makes the metal sparkle. I finished it with a Miss Fickle Media clasp. I feel like this word is ripe for reclamation. It’s used against women any time someone wants to let us know we aren’t “acceptable” in some way. I sometimes hear women use it to empower themselves, giving themselves permission to be assertive, to have an opinion, to speak up, to not back down. I often say I can be perceived as rude to someone else or I can be rude to myself. I have no desire to be rude to myself. If that makes someone think I am or call me a bitch, I’ll take that as a compliment. So I have this necklace to reclaim that word for myself.

Last, I finally finished something that has been languishing on my bead table since my first resin experiments at the end of last year. I made a wonderful pendant I really loved. However, it was already kind of heavy, and no matter what beads I put with it, it seemed even heavier, both in visual and physical weight. A necklace the fabulous Loralee Kolton showed today on Facebook had a kind of fancy way to knot it on leather cord from a Bead Table Wednesday tutorial by Heather Powers. I realized that would be the perfect way to finish my resin pendant. 

The connection is called the cat’s paw knot, and it’s just a little nicer and fancier than my regular lark’s head knot, so I will be using this again. I really love how this pendant looks on simple leather cord, nothing to distract from the pendant, which has enough going on.

I’ll be showing the other things I was working on in the weeks to come as they are finished. I am happy to be doing more things that are multiple steps. It feels like the next step in creativity to make or alter some of the components I’m using in my jewelry.

 

New Makes

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I feel like I haven’t been that productive lately, so I wanted to get into the studio today and make a couple of things. I decided to pick a bead artist, look at my stash for that artist, and pick something out. I chose Tracee Dock of The Classic Bead. I had so many good pendants! But today the polka dots spoke to me.

I decided to try some colorful chain. I had some rosary chain with several of the dot colors, but it was missing purple, and that felt really glaring to me. I recently got a variety of beautiful chain from Yvonne Irvin-Faus of My Elements. It included a mottled purple color, so I got that out. Perfect! 

I still had the rosary chain on my table. I decided to use one of the beads to bring out the other dominant color in the pendant by using it as a dangle. This is a fun one.

Also on my bead table was a resin piece I made last weekend. I had a connector bezel and asked my brother-in-law to draw something in his style to put in it. I love how it looks (I’ve asked him to do more for other bezels.)

I planned to use it in a bracelet, so I got out some other components. I used two Earthenwood square connectors in the same colorway and a round Lillypilly Designs wooden bead with a similar swirly design.

I also included some Vintaj pieces and a clear vintage plastic bead. On the square Vintaj component, I added a little Vintaj dragonfly charm I had pantinaed and a Scorched Earth on Etsy ceramic charm. While I often like bright colors, I love the subtle coloring in this.