The last couple of years, I have followed along with Allegory Gallery‘s fun prompts for Bead in the New Year. I have found it so creatively satisfying. It has helped me produce some of my very favorite pieces. Note to self: perhaps you overthink! I guess needing to make things quickly is actually good for my process. Although, there is no need to make things quickly or even follow along in order or in a specific time frame. You could use these prompts all year long. While in the past I have followed pretty closely, this year I have so much going on that I’ve just been doing a few things as I get to them, but I still find it really fun. So, I’ll share what I make here – this month or later in the year.
I had a metal bangle form, wrapped it in sari silk and then used dark wire to over wrap it. Then I used yarn with a metallic thread wrapped on part of that. At the loops, I added a crystal, a glass bead with a floral motif and a Swarovski mesh bead. The last two beads I’ve had for eons, so using those made me happy. I love the rustic, romantic look of this a lot.
Day 16 – Use the 2021 Pantone colors of the year
The Pantone colors of the year for 2021 are Illuminating (yellow) and Ultimate Gray. I went subtle on color with some vintage metal, low-flash labradorite and vintage lemon luster glass beads.
I worked on the Day 17 prompt – focus on metal as the main element in a new creation – but wasn’t satisfied with how the piece turned out, so I put that aside. I’ll show you what else I make as time goes on. Stay well!
I recently got a Foldio2 light box. I’m so happy with it as well as with the customer service of the company, Orangemonkie. Now that I have good light, I want good backgrounds! I’ve had the best luck over the years with nice papers. I’ve had some good art papers, but during the pandemic, I didn’t want to go to the store to rifle through them (and haven’t found any good ones the last few times) so I turned to online choices.
I got two sheets of white – one because it was 11 x 17 and one because it had some flower petals in it, and I love that. White tends to be problematic, though, so we’ll see how it worked out. The next two are grey which tends to be the best background in my experience (and from what others say). I think of the left one as dark grey and the one on its right as light grey, which I thought would be the better one. I got a brown just to try something else. I figured it would be too dark (it is recycled cardboard) but the shop didn’t have a ton of single sheets.) The last is aged, and I just love it. I wasn’t sure if it would be too busy. On to the experiments!
As imagined, this necklace looks better on the grey. The colors are richer, the clarity is better, and the shadows are fewer. There are other factors at play (my editing, how I placed the necklace in the light box.) But I’m never one to spend a lot of time, so anything that makes a photo better without extra fussing is a plus.
I went back to my original blog post about this necklace because I couldn’t immediately recall the raku artist’s name. Oh, these pictures are so much better! Both due to the light box and the background. I chose this necklace for experiments to have something with darker/brown colors. The aged paper is wonderful here! I like the deckled edge, so I left that showing in the upper right on the aged paper. I’ll have to be cognizant of placement in future to make that easier. This necklace pops on the grey too. Both wins.
Both of these pictures are decent. Probably better than many already on my blog. However, I wouldn’t use either of these backgrounds. My experiments were so random. I didn’t get one on grey of this necklace, but I suspect that would have been the winner.
Again, neither of these photos is bad, but I think the crystals and unicorn pop best on the grey. The light grey is good all purpose. I’d like the other white beads to look better. I think they are Czech glass? But adjusting the light could probably improve that. I cared most about getting the AB coating on the crystals. So lovely.
I do think the brown is a bit dark for many things. I thought that might work for some lighter pieces (like the unicorn) but it doesn’t seem to work for many of them. But I like having it on hand, and it was worth a try. Here the grey is a the clear winner.
Here we have the battles of the greys, and I think the light grey has it. The bead details just stand out better. That could be due, again, to my editing and how I did the lighting, but the darker grey seems to drag the photo down.
I think the brown makes the colors look off. I think the aged has it. I’m loving that aged sheet!
I think I’m out of comparisons, but here are some singles.
Here you can see that it’s not just the background that makes a difference – it’s the editing. I’ve clearly done a better job editing the bottom photo. Taking that extra time makes a difference. I do take a little time when editing multiple photos to get one good one for a post. Editing so many at once made me sloppier!
I wanted to try another necklace with browns on the aged. I’m loving the aged! I didn’t do a great job lighting or editing this; the clarity is not there. But it’s a lovely background for this necklace.
I grabbed these earrings that were sitting on the table just to try something else. The light grey is a nice neutral background. I like the drama of the aged paper. The others, especially the white with floral, will come in handy once in a while. But I’m pleased with what I got. I’ll be looking for some more with interest, like the aged. Feel free to share your tricks and tips in the comments.
Sarajo of SJ Designs Jewelry has a monthly challenge – the Honey Do List. Her husband, Eric, who takes great photos, chooses one to inspire her jewelry making. She invites us to play along. The photos can be interpreted so many ways; it’s fun to see what everyone comes up with, including myself!
The softer color and ornate floral-like designs contrasts so wonderfully with the harder metal and rivets. I just love it.
I had the materials below grouped for a while, but the project just wasn’t coming together for one reason or another.
I didn’t use the gears or some gunmetal square beads by Joan Miller that I thought I would, but I used everything else.
The heart pendant, matching rivet beads and black and red connectors are by Joan Miller. The red and grey/silver bumpy beads are by Nikki Thornburg.
I originally thought of doing something with tin or other metal for this challenge, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to use beads that reminded me so much of the inspiration photo. The challenge helped me finish up an only partly there idea!
Thanks Eric and Sarajo! Visit Sarajo’s blog to see what others made.
Last January, Allegory Gallery shared a full month of design prompts. I followed along day by day, and it was one of the most satisfyingly creative months I’ve ever experienced. They continued to share creative prompts throughout the year – weekly prompts, nibbler kits, and more. I am happy to say they have issued a month of daily prompts again this year! Here we go with my makes for the first few prompts.
Day #1 – Make a pair of earrings
I have been lucky enough to get some fabulous Swarovski crystals in the past year or so. I envisioned some of these dripping down together in a longer earring than I usually make. I’ve been experimenting working with sterling wire to make findings, so I decided to wrap these in sterling. The 20 gauge size I have was a bit difficult. I think 22 might be better. I ended up not making my own ear wires because I was afraid they’d add too much length.
Each crystal has an amazing color and flash difficult to fully capture in a photo.
Day #2 – Create a new bracelet
I’ve become a chain enthusiast and have gotten some really wonderful chain. I am particularly intrigued by chunky chain. I got some vintage metalized plastic chain that really reminds me of Chanel. I had been looking at it thinking it would make a fantastic bracelet, so I cut some and looked at my clasps. I had so many that would work well! In the end, I chose a lovely elephant that seemed well suited for this fun bracelet.
Day #3 – Put together a necklace
I am trying to be more intentional in my jewelry making. I often don’t lay things out; I just put them together from a design in my head, so I just gloss over things that don’t work since I don’t like to re-do things. That can mean I’m not always totally satisfied with a piece. This necklace is the second try at using some petrified walrus ivory in a week’s time. I also restrung the focal area multiple times until it was very pleasing. Then, I left it for several hours. That is especially unusual, but I know it made a better necklace. Giving it a rest allowed me to stop focusing on the finish line and take time to make multiple tweaks that improved it. I love the final design.
I got almost all of the components for this necklace from Andrew Thornton: Project Destash. The focal includes petrified walrus ivory (legal because the fact that it is petrified means it pre-dates 1972, when buying and selling it became illegal), and Bali silver beads and spacers from a small stash I got from Andrew that I am still giddy about. I swear this strand of seeds, nuts or whatever they are came from the destash, but I didn’t label them, and I couldn’t find them in my files. I put a large silver seed bead between each one to introduce more silver into the necklace. Those are from Sondra’s Estate Beads Destash Depot. This lovely textured fine pewter leaf clasp by Fire Goddess is one of a few by that maker I got from the destash, and I can’t find that they are still selling, so I feel lucky to have these. This necklace was inspired by one Andrew Thornton made with some of the ivory he kept. Read his blog post about it and see a picture of his beautiful necklace. It is so fun to have some history about components in my designs.
Day #4 – Make a matching set of jewelry
I’m not much for matching sets in the traditional sense, so I thought about what else this could mean. I am intrigued by the idea of a line of jewelry. How would I make a cohesive line if I were to be that sort of designer? For day two, I made a bracelet from chunky chain. I made a second one of these that would be appropriate if I were making a full line of chunky, Chanel-inspired bracelets. I believe this chain is metalized plastic like the first one, and this time I chose a faux pearl box clasp.
I love having a couple of really chunky bracelets that are lightweight. Sometimes I dream up fashion scenarios for my jewelry. This makes me think of someone who found a great vintage Chanel bracelet in a junk shop as a fun surprise, and now wears it everyday with their jeans.
Day #5 – Use at least three artist made materials
This is a fun design I’ve had in mind since I’ve collected the pieces because, coffee! The electroformed coffee beans are by Never Winter Designs. The three cups are by, from left, Inviciti (pewter), Joan Miller Porcelain and c-koop (enamel). The c-koop cup, which reminds me of a camp mug, is the first one I got just because it was so cute.
If you’d like to join in (for one project or a month’s worth) or see what others are making, visit the Allegory Gallery Design Challenges Facebook page or look for that hastag or #beadinthenewyear on your favorite social media site.
I’m very pleased with how occupational therapy is going for my thumb, but I’m still not to the point of being able to bead. I got a new exercise yesterday, and in doing it this morning I could only hack one set instead of two. But I can feel that I’m getting better all the time.
So, in the absence of new makes, I will show some old works in progress (WIPs). These are materials I’ve had gathered for a project for quite a while but have never actually put the piece together. These things may or may not work out in the end. It will be interesting to see whether they come together or I end up releasing the beads back into the wilds of my stash.
This heart, and steampunk elements are by Joan Miller. I’m pretty sure I got the chain with these beads in mind. I know I bought the red and gray/silver pair by Nikki Thornburg with this project in mind.
Next up is an idea for a necklace with a hand painted pendant by Dot Winchell of Winchell Clayworks.
I think these pink melon Czech glass beads will be wonderful with it. I have a Swarovski shank button I got at Mood that could be a good closure. I love this little floral/filigree button. I took a picture of the wrong side; the other side looks like mother-of-pearl. I’m not sure how I’d use it, but it’s worth trying in the design.
This pendant is by Nancy Adams of Round Rabbit. She doesn’t make beads any more (that’s how long I’ve been hoarding this) but she does still make beautiful handmade items, so still check out her shop. Czech glass and amethyst are perfect for the pendant; the actual design of how the beads will fit together remains to be seen.
One last project is actually going to be a remake of a vintage necklace my mom bought and then gave to me.
Look at those gorgeous beads and clasp! I really like it just the way it is, but it needs to be restrung and is just a little short for me. I’ll try separating the beads with some seed beads my mom also gave me to match or add a chain extender in back.
Thanks for reading, and I hope to show you some of these in finished form in the future.
Hello. It’s been a little while since I posted. First I was on vacation (I’ll have a post about that later) and then I was diagnosed with De Quervain’s tenosynovitis – a problem with the tendons running along the thumb. I’m doing therapeutic things right now, but I’m not making jewelry. However, there is still plenty to blog about!
I recently participated in the Artists for Animals auction. (FYI – Michelle Ann McCarthy and Joan Miller are leaving the page active so we can have more auctions in the future.) Another participant in the auction, Mary Redman, not only made many beautiful things to raise money for animals, she also bought one of my necklaces in the auction. Then, she sent me a package. I opened it and was amazed as wonderful surprises just kept coming out of it. So I thought I should show you what I got.
Mary and her husband, Walter Gross, are both wonderful makers and currently sell at local craft shows. Now on with the show!
Wally makes a beautiful variety of lampwork beads. I love all the different shapes and colors. Aren’t they fabulous?
Mary called these her polymer clay “experiments”. I hope when I get brave enough to experiment, mine go as well. Here are earring pairs/charms.
And pendants. The shell is so realistic that when I unwrapped it, I was convinced it was a real shell until I turned it over and it wasn’t hollow on back!
Mary also included some polymer headpins! These are so impressive. I love them!
But wait, there’s more! One of the things Mary put in the auction were super cute earrings made with tin charms – many animal themed. And I got some holiday themed earrings. They are so sweet. The swirly tin that is so perfect and looks like candy is from a vintage cookie tin!
And then she shared her vintage tin with me! She sent earring pairs/charms:
And more. The last ones are hard to see – blue and gold.
And dapped pairs. So many pretty tins! This encourages me to experiment with my own tin collection.
Mary also made this wonderful ornament. Sparkle – I love it!
And last but not least, some charms (resin covered something?) of a tuxedo kitten that reminds me of my own sweet MooKitty!
Thank you so much Mary and Wally! This was very generous of you. I will have a lot of fun using these beauties.
Welcome to part 2 of my Bead & Button show and tell. I had intended to focus somewhat on gemstone strands, and one of the booths I had seen people post nice stuff from was Holy & Pure Gemstone. But as I’ve noticed at other shows, I find all those strands too overwhelming, especially when I have to calculate the discounted price in my head. But, I did get some wonderful, colorful beaded chain there.
They had a ton of chain, very good value, priced a marked. Next year I would spend more time getting chain and maybe try to be patient and get at least one strand of beads. Knowing what to expect is half the battle.
Joan Miller was sharing a booth with Patti Cahill, and I fell in love with this bead. I believe this is my first Patti Cahill bead, so that’s good I bought something new. I’ve noticed that I stick to what I already like. Next year I would like to branch out more.
I am very happy with my Humblebeads purchases. I have wanted the monarch items for a while. I knew I would get some disc beads because they are my favorite. I love the black, blue and white ones. I saw those posted by someone on preview night and set my sights. I am going to try this project by Heather Powers with the lentil bead.
I did get some metal spacers like I planned from Hand of the Hills. I liked how they displayed their strands. They were on colored velcro strips. Each color of velcro indicated a specific price. I loved just opening the velcro to get the strand, so easy!
Last but not least, I got some Diane Hawkey beads. I am a huge fan. I got some beads and a cabochon (that I’m going to ask my mom to bead around).
And I got some pendants. I especially love that little bar that says “I exist as I am, that is enough.”
I would like to go back next year. I feel like I would be able to focus on other things. At shows, I do tend to stick to what I already know and like. I did get a couple new things, and I didn’t get any African strands, which is something I usually focus on. I feel so satisfied with my purchases this year that I think I could branch out a little next year to maybe see who has other things like vintage beads or maybe some fun or fancy clasps or artists who are new to me. After all, the artists I love now were new to me at one time.
Andrew also includes a handmade Mystery Component, although lately we’ve been having a lot of fun with mystery kits where everything is a mystery until we receive it! The handmade component this time is such gorgeous colors and design.
Around the same time I received the Queen of Hearts kit, I also received my first Darn Good Beads of the Month kit that was a tassel necklace. I didn’t make it into a necklace thinking that the tassel colors would be great to go with the Queen of Heart kits, and I was right!
I love the romantic, bohemian look of this. I used a gorgeous multicolored faceted bead, some of the bright seed beads and the strand of pink nuggets and a couple of beads at the back. From my own stash, in addition to the tassel, I used a few amethyst nuggets, a couple of silver spacers and a gunmetal clasp that goes with the gunmetal chain that is part of the tassel.
Next I used the Mystery Component because it’s so pretty! I put two Beady Girl Beads above the pendant and strung it with some pretty faceted garnet (one of my favorite stones) and green tourmaline. There was a tiny star in the kit, and I used it as a dangle from the chain extender. I used two bright red kit beads at the back as a nod to the tiny red heart on the pendant’s crown.
I had these fantastic heart cubes from Joan Miller Porcelain. I used the purple waxed linen and beads from the kit to make a choker attached to a jump ring. I attached some pink chain from My Elements to the bottom of the jump ring and added the Joan Miller beads. I used some red, pink and purple jump rings for a little interest under the cubes. This necklace is very fun!
I haven’t had a new beads post recently, so I thought I’d show some new and newish beads. I just went to take pictures, and anything that hadn’t been put away yet was fair game. My studio is a mess again. It’s going to get some attention during my upcoming time off. So, here we go.
These gorgeous beads from Andrew Thornton actually are pretty new. He saw some ancient beads he liked and decided to make some similar. He is such an amazing artist. His beads are even better than the original. I am in love with them!
You can see more of Andrew’s work (as well as that of other artists) at Allegory Gallery and their etsy store. Andrew and his partner William are having a fundraiser for a special project for the gallery with some really fun rewards still available until December 15th. Check that out here: Project: Next Step.
Next up are these from Beady Girl Beads. I love the bright style, and fell for this matte heart. The other beads were a gift – nice!
I’m a complete Joan Miller junkie. I could not resist this cat pendant from Joan Miller Porcelain. I also got these great floral bead caps, and this bicone bead. The bicone is truly one of the most beautiful beads I’ve ever seen. This picture doesn’t really capture the metallic glowy goodness of it.
Here is a bonbon bead and leafy pendant by Heather Powers of Humblebeads. She has so many gorgeous things. I recently saw some blue toned bonbons on her Facebook page. Swoon! Her husband also makes some beautiful things like these connectors.
Last but not least is this crackle heart by Jennifer Tough. I really like her work, and I had made a necklace with another of her hearts that turned out so great I wanted more!
I love Joan Miller Porcelain and have a particular affinity for her fruit and vegetable beads. Well, I guess perhaps I have an affinity for fruit and vegetable beads in general because when I saw Joan Miller’s banana charms listed on the Ceramic Art Bead Market page I knew immediately that I wanted to put them with a banana bead I had (from a whole group of fruit beads!) from Artybecca. I also knew this gave me an excuse to buy some Zola Elements chain I’d been wanting from Lima Beads in order to round out my design.
Once I saw the Joan Miller banana charms, I couldn’t get the Banana Boat Song (Day O) by Harry Belafonte out of my head. His greatest hits played on 8-track (ha!) in my house often growing up, so I’ll probably be on iTunes later downloading some songs. I was talking to my sisters, and we all still enjoy some of the music our parents listened to growing up – and remember all the lyrics.