Feeling More Creative

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I hadn’t been feeling as creative lately, but my muse seems to be coming back. I hope so. I always miss creative time when I’m not feeling it. I made two necklaces today.

The first one started with amazing pearl chain from Candie Cooper. I got the chain from her etsy store, but she has just opened her Nostalgica shop, so you might want to visit that. I believe she will fully transition over to that site eventually. I knew the only thing that chain would need was a pendant. I’ve been thinking about how I should use some of the work from artists I buy from a lot instead of just hoarding it. I ended up choosing this botanical pendant by Jeni Houser Alasad. I think it is a great pairing with the chain. Perfect for autumn!

Necklace with chain made of pearls and dark ,eta; bead caps. The pendant is  a large semi-rectangle with leaves in fall colors.

Then I made a necklace I’d been thinking about a little while using part of the Wildflower Lake kit I got from Green Girl Studios. I am so in love with this kit.

Necklace with small bronze eye pendant with a variety of glass/foil lampwork beads and small gemstone beads.

All the beads in the necklace are from the kit except the six vintage mustard/foil beads near the front. I thought those went nicely with the vintage lampwork bead that also has a foil look that is from the kit. I just love, love, love that bead. The eye charm is also from Green Girl Studios, but not from the kit. I added the clasp from my stash. I knotted this on waxed linen, my favorite way to string. It’s not always possible with smaller beads, but these had generous enough holes. I’m super happy with how it turned out. It just looks like opening a treasure chest.

It’s turned cold enough here for blankets and socks and maybe even turning the heat on soon. Maybe the change of seasons is inspiring. Whatever it is, I’ll take it.

A Few Creations

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I haven’t been making as much lately. I think it’s a variety of factors. I’m very busy at work, and so I do a different kind of relaxing when I am home. I’m still working on cleaning my messy studio. And the largest factor I think is that I’m working on some other things during the times I would normally be creating. Yesterday I put together a bed. FYI – don’t put together a bed alone. But it’s done now, and I’m glad. But here are a few things I’ve made in the bits of time I’ve found.

Bracelet made of metal, glass and gemstone beads.

Here is a bracelet I made with a kit (and a few beads from my stash) from Green Girl Studios. It will stack nicely with other bracelets. I’ve also been trying some photo props and tricks. This isn’t the most successful, but you can’t learn if you don’t try.

After watching a video of what people made with their Soft Flex #loveislove kit, I was hankering for a rainbow necklace. I had missed the kit, but I ordered a rainbow array of crystals from Candie Cooper. I think the necklace turned out great.

Necklace with crystals in a rainbow of colors and silver chain.

I have ordered several inspiration kits from Allegory Gallery recently. I used some of the beads from one to make a necklace.

Necklace with enameled cat pendant and glass beads in brown and bronze.

The pinch beads and sparkly rondelles are from the inspiration kit. They are perfect for this fun cat charm from Spurwink River Arts. I will be putting this in the Artists for Animals Auction coming up November 7 – 13, 2022. My sales will support Madison Cat Project (MCP).

I got my own cat, Daniel Tiger, from the Dane County Humane Society (DCHS). Madison Cat Project partners with organizations like DCHS for cats deemed unadoptable. MCP uses an extensive network of fosters to get these cats ready for adoption or find other situations (such as an appropriate barn cat location for cats who don’t want to live indoors around people.) I’ve always really loved the mission of MCP. When I looked through the adoption paperwork for Daniel Tiger, there was a notation near the beginning that said “possible candidate for MCP.” They thought he was feral and was not responsive to people early on. I want to support an organization that would have had the time to help my baby become the wonderful kitty he is today. He just needed time and attention that DCHS doesn’t have. (I also support them. They do a great job!)

It has been raining all day here, and will continue on Monday. We’re under a flood watch. I look forward to sunny days again after that. I hope you have a wonderful week.

Back To It

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I haven’t been feeling as creative as usual lately. I suspected it was due to my uber messy studio. I really have to get in the habit of leaving time at the end of creating to put things away and clean up. Otherwise it just layers up on other layers and becomes unworkable. Like this.

Messy studio desk with variety of tools on a holder and a tall multi-drawer cabinet.

This is my bead table which I have not used in quite a while. I just moved on to another surface.

Messy desk covered with a variety of item. Necklaces hanging in background. Paintbrushes and spray bottles can be seen.

My desk, and this wasn’t even how messy it was at the beginning of this session. I had already started to clean it, but it certainly wasn’t lending itself to open creativity or even space to work.

Messy table in front of a mid-century pattern window shade. A holder with necklaces can be seen as well as a light box and a variety of boxes and other items.

Then there is the photo area. How do I even function?!? The point is, I’m starting not to. So, something had to be done.

Another picture of the desk with a cleaner surface on the front.

This is by no means clean, but at least it’s better. It took less than an hour. During that time I also cleaned a couple areas of the floors that were frankly becoming tripping hazards. I’m currently working on framing the artwork I’ve amassed, and a lot of it will go in my studio on what I plan as an art wall. I need to get it clean enough so more than one person can move around in there. I plan to have my mom help me, so I have extra motivation to make it safe so there is no tripping! Speaking of framing, here is one piece that turned out extra good. I’m not doing any professional framing this time, and just really easy stuff. I actually bought this frame just because it was one of the few square frames that fit a square pieces I had (if I removed the mat). Then I happened to notice it would look cute with this Nikki Thornburg-Lanigan print. It hadn’t occurred to me to put it in a smaller frame that just showed the print and not more of the paper, but I love how this highlights it.

Print of raven and moon in black on cream in a gold frame with a white mat.

I temporarily have it in the protector corners until I can get it on the wall.

Anyway, today with the newly cleaned space, I was able to make a necklace I had planned.

Necklace with patina brass bead, and a variety of glass beads with stone spacers.

The pendant is a vintage hollow brass bead that I used Swellegant patina on. I added vintage bead caps and hung it from a double ring that I grunged up with some Swellegant as well. I believe all the beads on the strand are from Allegory Gallery. The stripey ones are vintage and were part of a kit. The brown ones are mermaid glass; you can see how they glow. I used little faceted pyrite (I think?) spacers. I added a little chain at back to make it adjustable. I think my ridged patina pendant and the stripey glass beads go well together. I’m glad they found each other.

Exploring the Creative Process

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Recently, Andrew Thornton made a video about his use of idea books over the years. I haven’t been making a lot lately, so I thought I would talk about my own use of idea books. I often make sketches on loose pieces of paper, but I also have multiple books (Andrew’s use of the term “idea books” was new to me when he used it leading up to one of The Great Bead Extravaganza events.)

I have two main idea books: one for upstairs and one for downstairs. However, I couldn’t find the downstairs one a few weeks ago, so I brought the upstairs one down. I’m sure I’ll find the other one eventually. I like to buy books made by folks who take old kids books and fill them with blank pages. The spiral binding makes them easy to lay open when I’m trying to write/draw in them, especially when I have a lot going on.

One thing I like to do, especially if I am watching a video or tutorial, is write down supplies or tools and where to get them. It’s handy to be able to refer to this later when placing an order or trying to remember what that great thing was that someone mentioned.

Pendant by Cynthia Thornton. Vintage turquoise nuggets from Allegory Gallery.

Of course I sketch design ideas. It’s helpful to capture those and also fun to go back and see how much of the idea goes into the final design (if it even gets made). The earrings at the top of the page have not been made (and these sketches are from 2019). I can’t specifically say the sketch at the bottom of the page got made. The pendant got used, but nothing else from the sketch was incorporated.

Faux tin mitten and sari silk from Humblebeads. Large clear glass and manik-manik beads from Allegory Gallery.

Here’s a case where I ended up adjusting the design as I went along and made a much better piece in the end.

Here I took down the names of some interesting books Candie Cooper referred to in a video, noted where in the video there was a design idea I wanted to go back to and did a quick sketch of some tips she gave about using memory wire.

When I was participating in the Art Journeys for Art Bead Scene, I would often look at the inspiration and sketch out ideas based on art beads I thought of. I love this one. I used both the Sally Sutherland tab beads and the Czech glass flowers from the original sketch.

Inviciti charm inside Vintaj frame.
Pendant by Andrew Thornton

Idea books are also great to use when thinking of designs for kits. This one is from one of Allegory Gallery‘s 2015 design kits, Amethyst Aether. I loved that kit! The necklace used a lot of ideas from the top sketch. The bottom sketch also turned into a necklace similar to described.

The book always comes in handy for writing things down. It’s so much better than all of my scraps of paper which then I can never find. This is from when Andrew Thornton was doing a tutorial (I think with Apoxie Clay) and he mentioned some mosaic artists. I went to check them out and made a list of the ones I wanted to follow for inspiration. The other day in another video he mentioned one of his teachers from college, Stephen Westfall, and I love what I’ve seen. Those pieces from Persephone!

There is so much more you can do with these books. Andrew had a lot more things in there if you watch his video. I often use them for lists when I’m deciding what to buy just because I’ve got a cat on my lap and I can reach the idea book and my scrap paper is further away. I don’t want to disrupt the cat! It’s nice to have a place to (sort of) organize the creative mind.

Swellegant Follow Up

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I’m continuing my Swellegant experiments. The two things in this post are the full bloom on the ridged brass bead and my large brass cuff.

It is a brass bead that I used the Tiffany patina on. Here is an original and soon after I used the patina.

Brass ridged bead on left. Same bead on right with soft green patina.

Upon checking it about a week later, the patina had bloomed much more.

Brass ridged bead on left. Same bead on right with rustic patina in blue, green and metal colors.

I like both the soft, even green patina and the more rustic blue, green and metal patina. It’s possible to somewhat “set” the patina once you like it by rinsing the bead and patting it dry. For this, I was just interested to see where the patina went on its own. I’m glad I did.

The second item is the brass cuff. Here it is pre-Swellegant.

Large brass metal cuff with floral design and some white, green and orange paints.

Here it is after I painted it with Iron metal coating and Rust patina.

Floral cuff with muddy looking color.

I liked the rust, and it got rustier looking over time, but I wanted a little softer look. Keeping in mind that Christi Friesen said sometimes you need to get kind of arty to get the look you want, I added Dye Oxides too – Blood Red, Sun Yellow and Chartreuse.

Floral cuff with rustic patina in rust, chartreuse and yellow.

This is the kind of look that if I found this bracelet in a box of junk at an auction, I would consider it found treasure and wear it just the way it is. It’s really fun to see the effects possible with Swellegants.

Swellegant Experiments

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I have long wondered about Swellegant. I thought I would like it because I love old, dark, rusty, grungy metal. I have a lot of metal I look at and wish it were darker or had more patina. However, there are some other ways to get different patinas that are more expedient, so I generally went with those since I am impatient. However, I have been working to become more patient, and Christi Friesen did a demo of Swellegants at the most recent Great Bead Extravaganza. So I took the plunge and ordered a Swellegant kit.

My experiments so far are very basic, but the hardest part for me is always getting started. I had to clean off a section of my desk (i.e. shove a bunch of stuff in a box) to make even a small space to work. But now that I’ve done a few things, it will make doing more experiments so much easier.

Large brass cuff with floral motif painted with white, green, and orange.

This is a cuff I had been trying to paint with some other patinas and it was just not working out. I thought perhaps I could make it look old and crusty. I painted it with the Iron metal coating and then used Tiffany/Rust so that it would get a rusty look.

I also tried the Iron and Tiffany/Rust combo on a couple of other things.

Cuff now looking rusted or leathery. Round bead and brass heart also looking weathered and a bit gloppy brown.

The cuff already looks better than I thought it would because I forgot I was supposed to put on the Tiffany/Rust while the last coating of Iron was still semi-wet. I also could have used more coatings of Iron for a more uniform look. It looks good on; I would wear it like this. It almost looks like leather. But I think I will work on it some more. Christi talks about how sometimes you need to get all artsy and tweak it before it is exactly what you want. The heart and round bead need a lot of tweaking. I’m looking forward to seeing what more I can do with these.

Four beads of two types. One of each bead is in original condition (patina silver and ridged brass) and the other is aged. The silver is green and rust and the ridged is very dark, almost black.

These show the original bead (I have multiples) on the right and after using Swellegant on the left. When I sanded the bead on top, silver came off to reveal brass. I used Tiffany/Rust and the brass bits turned green and the silver parts rusted. I like this look. On the gold bead I used Darkening patina. It turns very dark. I’ll have to see if I remove it sooner and perhaps rinse it off to stop the bloom a bit if I can make it slightly less dark. I still like it better than the bright bead, but I’d like a middle ground. I did sand it a bit and add some Violet dye oxide (after I took this photo) but you can’t see it well.

Two large ridged brass beads. The left one is plain brass. The right one has a soft green patina.

This is my favorite result. Tiffany on brass. Just classic verdigris looking patina. It looks so lovely and organic.

I look forward to many more Swellegant experiments over time.

More Earrings and Online Projects

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I’ve been watching presentations from The Great Bead Extravaganza this weekend. Andrew Thornton of Allegory Gallery showed how to decoupage on metal to make customized pendants. I think that will be fun to try so I can use some of my own paper crafts. I bought a great kit from Candie Cooper, and she showed how she used it for earrings and a bracelet. Kay from Star’s Beads showed how to make a variety of tassels. I love tassels!

So I was busy and did not make much, but I did make two pair of earrings. I’m going to have a lot made by the time the Artists for Animals Auction gets here! I feel so relaxed knowing I won’t be rushing to get ready at the end.

Pair one features some wonderful filigree dangles from Vintaj.

Earrings with brass findings, including a semi-rectangluar shaped filigree dangle. Beads are a round red, gold, blue red, green and white millifiore cubes, and faceted translucent honey beads.

The second pair has Czech glass beads showing a cat playing with a ball of yarn. I’m in love with everything about these beads – the motif, the shape, the colors. I got those from Allegory Gallery.

Earrings with silver findings, with a red bead, silver bead cap, silver melon bead, yellow and red spacers, a rectangular blue Czech glass bead with a cat playing with a ball of string meant to look old and crackles with bronze accents, and small dangle beads at bottom in blue striped, pink and green.

If you are in the current US heatwave, stay cool! If you aren’t, I hope you are having good weather where you are.

Quiet Weekend

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I’m having a quiet weekend, so I haven’t made much. But I did a little. First, I wanted to put the blingy pendant I made on chain. I tried one, but it wasn’t quite right. My sister mentioned a garnet color of rosary chain being a good choice. I actually think it would, but I don’t have that. I liked the idea of turquoise rosary chain. I had tried some larger, but the turquoise color overwhelmed the pendant. I think this smaller turquoise works. It’s a bold enough color not to get washed out by the bling of all the crystals, but the smaller bead size doesn’t make it overwhelming.

Picture of necklace on left and bracelets on right. Necklace is turquoise glass beads on black wire in rosary chain style with round pendant filled with all different colors, shapes and sizes of crystal with a cut-out circle offset in middle.  

Bracelets are a pile of different seed bead bangles with one at front with mixed white, pink and purple seeds beads, pink tubing and a small silver heart charm.

If I get some garnet colored chain that I think works, I can always change it later.

I also wanted to make more seed bead bangles. I found my memory wire. I wanted to try some colored tubing I got from My Elements. There is a “try out” pack in the shop so you can get lots of colors. It’s a really fun mix. So I tried the pink on memory wire along with some complementary seed beads and a little heart charm. I should have cut the wire slightly longer to account for curving the ends. Lesson learned.

That’s all I made, but now I’ve got this necklace ready to go!

Glowing and Sparkling

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I didn’t make nearly as many things this weekend as last weekend, but it’s just a regular weekend and not a long one. I switched from earrings and made a necklace and a pendant.

Necklace with black vertical rectangle connector pendant with variety size and color dots painted on it. An open work place flower with a tiny gold and peach tassel hang from the bottom of it. the necklace strand is a variety of purple beads with peach and turquoise accents. There is a copper toggle clasp.

This dot pendant is from Yvonne Irvin-Faus. I love dots, so this dots within dots is really my kind of thing. I also got the black flower connector and tiny turquoise O rings from her shop My Elements. I wanted to play up the colors in the pendant, so I added the tiny peach tassel and used a similar color waxed linen so the peach peeks out in addition to the turquoise rings. I used a few different purple beads, primarily mermaid beads from Allegory Gallery. Their glow includes other pendant colors like blue and pinkish. This will be in the Artists for Animals Auction.

I got some mixed new old stock Swarovski crystals from Famous Bead Hoard Liquidation Destash and thought it would be cool to fill a bezel with them randomly using Apoxie Sculpt. This was inspired by Christi Friesen’s Bling Ghoulie (I have one).

I used a Nunn Design bezel (that coincidentally I got from Christi’s shop) and had fun stuffing it as full as possible with the crystals. I kept taking pictures and video and finding more space! Here is a little video of it when I called it done. Now it’s just curing.

Here is a photo, but I think the video captures it better – the sparkle!

This is a round bezel pendant with another offset hole near the middle top. The closed parts of the bezel are filled with all different size, shape and colors of crystals.

I cleaned the inside edge up a little more after I saw this photo as well.

More Earrings

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I made a few more earring pairs. I wanted to stay on the creative streak as long as it lasted. I’ve been off work for five days in a row! Very exciting. I go back tomorrow. So, on to the pictures.

Earrings with aged silver ridged heart charms, fancy textured antique brass beads, faceted antique silver rondelles and turquoise seed beads.

These feature heart charms from Inviciti, cool metal beads of unknown origin and gem cut rondelles from Allegory Gallery‘s pewter line. Plus a pop of color with a turquoise seed bead.

Earrings with clear crystals in aged bead caps, aged metal beads and silver/brass textured cat charms.

I had used Vintaj patina in a couple of colors on these cute cat charms to get an aged look. I added some patina metal beads from Supply Your Soul (the artist always gets the perfect aged look I love) and added crystals with aged bead caps from Shipwreck Dandy Supply. I really like the aged and elegant combination.

Earrings with graduated sized glass beads in an oval - red, orange yellow, lavender and blue with a copper drop charm at bottom.

These colorful earrings are just my style. They feature African glass (they’ve been washed but still retain a hint of grunge), and Allegory Gallery pewter line faceted drops in copper finish. They are heavier than average, but worth every ounce.

Earrings with turquoise rosary chain and teal skulls at bottom.

I was looking through some Czech glass beads and saw these little skulls. They just needed to be earrings, swinging through the air on some chain.

Earrings with rectangular silver charms with words and purple glass drops with aged tin cap. Charms say, "1. Free your heart from hatred." and "2. Free your mind from worries."

I picked up a set of these phrase charms in a flower shop years ago. I added the headpin dangles from Sasha Crow. Definitely check out her jewelry; it is amazing.

Earrings with light and dark blue glass crystals with gold spacer in the middle and circular gold ear wires.

I’m thrilled with this little pair. Two colors of vintage crystals from Ava Motherwell with a hobnail vermeil spacer and some fun ear wires.

I’m pleased with my makes so far for the Artists for Animals Auction. It’s still months away, so I’m sure I will make more. I like making along the way so it doesn’t sneak up on me. I’ll have to stock up on padded envelopes and decorate some boxes for mailing.