Monday, September 30, 2013

September Component of the Month Reveal

Just when did there get to be only two weeks in a month... here we are seeing another one out and running headlong to the end of the year. Someone put the brakes on please!

On the up-side it does mean it's time for another AJE Component of the month reveal and we all get to see what the team and our guest designers have created with my bursting seed pods...

You can use the links below to hop around the blogs and see everyone's creations - I can't wait!

Guest designers:
Erin Prais-Hintz - Tesori Trovati
Cate - Fulgorine
Claire Lockwood - Something To Do With Your Hands
AJE team
Jennifer Cameron
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Francesca Watson
Melissa Meman
Linda Landig
Susan Kennedy
Rebekah Payne
Caroline Dewison
Lesley Watt         

Kristi has also asked me to announce the winners of the October COM so the lucky readers who will get to work with Kristi's components are:

Michelle Buettner of MiShel Designs
Kym Hunter of Kym Hunter Designs


The Gossiping Goddess

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Art Jewelry Elements: Earring Challenge Reveal 18, Weeks 37 & 38

Good morning and welcome to the 18th Earring Challenge reveal.

Before we get on with the reveal, I'd like to introduce myself as a new member of the AJE Team. I'm Caroline of Blueberribeads, a ceramic bead maker and compulsive crafter. I'm thrilled to be involved with such a lovely group and can't wait to get stuck in!

So as my first task as official contributor, I'm going to share some of my favourite pics from the 18th Earring Challenge reveal...

Looking through the beautiful designs shared on the Pinterest board, I can see a definite shift in the colours chosen for your designs as we move from the brights of summer to the warm earthy tones of Fall.

Here are some favourites from the last fortnight's pins....

I love the rich colour on these 'Moroccan Sunset' earrings - SJ Designs

And I could sit and stroke the beautiful stones on this pair for hours! I love the way the colour in them is picked out by the silk - By ContentsJewelry

And finally these industrial style copper pair with electroformed beads. I love how the different textures work together on these! - by KristiBowmanDesign

Thanks for sharing all your beautiful designs... keep them coming for the next reveal in 2 weeks time!

Link to your blog for this reveal is below...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Where did all the time go?

Time. And the lack of it. But mostly how to manage it better… that's what's been on my mind for the past several weeks. It seems everyday goes by with things left unfinished on my to-do list and it feels like each day is ending so soon after it's begun. I've tried toying with the theory that I, somehow, have much shorter days than everyone else on this planet. I know, you have that same theory about yourself, right?

You're going to laugh when I tell you that I planned to write a post on how my efforts for time management were starting to work for me and I was creating like never before… and then this week (and the week before) went absolutely out of my control and I was hardly in my studio at all. Yep, they did.

You're going to laugh again when I tell you that at the time of starting this post it was 2:19 a.m. EST. Yes, that's a.m. I ran out of time during the daytime, so now I'll use up the night hours too.

And so now, I'm going to sit down on the floor and cry…

No. (Okay, maybe just a little.)

(My new kitty friend would actually like if I did that — I'm his mobile bed.)

Did I mention that he's super cute?

So, the question is, why do I, and so many of you run out of studio/creative time? Or on some days we don't make anytime for it at all? When we do sneak away to our studios or creative corner, the house falls apart, family goes crazy, we forget to eat, and most of all, we cut back on sleep… right? I know I'm not the only one.

Okay, we know there is a problem. We know what we want to do (create!) and we know what we need to do (life stuff). There's a happy medium in there somewhere and I'm sure it's there even for the most busy of us.

I'm making it my goal for the next two weeks (since my blog posts here are two weeks apart… and I might need some extra time ;-) to get back on track, working harder at taking time every day to be creative. I'm going to start by reworking the details of my studio plan:

• What I need to do: maintain my shop and current inventory
• What I can do: keeping my production goals at what are actually humanly possible
• What I want to do: work on new designs and experiment with new techniques

Care to join me?

Lets talk about it and let's try to work it out… how are you managing your time? What hinders you the most? Do you have creative time every day? Only a couple times a week? Are you one of the lucky few that has reached (or are you getting closer to reaching) that happy medium? Do share!

Whew! I finished writing my post and it's now 5:31a.m. Talk about managing time well! Good night!

Friday, September 27, 2013

October Component of the Month Giveaway

A week or so ago I saw this amazing picture on Pinterest and then found the original on Flickr.
This inspired my October Component of the month.

Pashley Manor_12-05-05_0008

I could just picture how cool it would look with different sizes and shapes of Ammonite on a piece of copper, all over lapping each other.

This is the result!

As you can see each one is different. Different textures in different places on each piece and the copper colored differently as well. I really worked hard to get some nice color on each one of them which isn't always easy with copper but I'm pleased with the results on these.

I made 2 extra to give away and the rest go to my AJE team mates.
I plan to make more to have available in my Etsy shop as well in the future.

Here's how it goes!!
Please read carefully

  • I will give away 1 component to each of 2 winners selected randomly from those who leave comments below this post by midnight,  Sunday September 29th, eastern time
  • Please include your EMAIL address in your comment so that I can contact you ASAP should you win.
  • Please only leave a comment if you can commit to creating a finished piece and blogging about it on the reveal date!
  • The names of the 2 winners will be announced on Monday September 30th.
  • The blog reveal will be on Wednesday October 30th.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tiny Bead Obsession!

In my last post, I showed off the very first bead embroidered piece I've made in several years.  After I finished that pendant, I found a matching pair of tiny stoneware cabochons.  Earrings happened!

I encountered several problems while making them.  I had to rip the thread out more times then I can count.  At first that really annoyed me but then I realized how much I learned from having to do some of the sections over and over again.
Since I made these earrings, I've completed another pendant and started on a third one.  I really want to make a big cuff bracelet though.  For the bracelet, I plan to use some of the techniques featured in Dimensional Bead Embroidery.
This is Jamie Cloud Eakin's second book.  It contains lots of wonderful techniques that I'm just drooling over! I can't wait to take the plunge and try more complicated work!

Happy Beading!

Diana P.
Suburban Girl Studio

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sharing the fun

You already know how much I love my little seed beads and how much fun they are to play with for me.  I have had so many ask me "How can you work with those tiny beads?" or tell me there is no way they could do it.  

In the last month a few of my friends and fellow AJE buds have been playing with seeds!!!  I am so excited to share them with you.  They have been playing with bezeling components. 

Here is what Jenny has been up to.

It only takes a start with a great component and.... is created.
I think she is addicted now!

Sue has been playing with both bezeling and beaded beads.
Doesn't she have an amazing eye for color

The texture of this has so much depth
I love the colors and that she explored another element of seed beading.

Diana has been inspired,

This is the first of Diana's embroidery in a while and I have to say I am really jealous that this one turned out as amazing as it did.  I would never show my first one!
I just want to play with this one!!!!
And she was so inspired by this month Art Bead Scene palette she created this one!
I love sharing my love of seeds and seeing what my friends create!!!  I hope you enjoyed the eyecandy!!!


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Keum BOO!

Well, I'm just back from our very first Metal Retreat, which I co-hosted with my friend and fellow metal artist Melissa Muir. We had sooooooo much fun - we played with new techniques and equipment from one another's studios and laughed our fool heads off. (You can read more about the trip on my blog if you'd like.)

One of the techniques I played with was Keum Boo. It can be pronounced either "kim boo" or "kum boo", and it refers to the process of applying precious metal foils to other metals.

E. Christopher & Sons Keum Boo Pendant
Silver Keum Boo Bangle by Jewelscurnow on Etsy
Fire Pendant #2 - Keum Boo by Robin Cruz McGee
The idea is that by adding thin foil layers to a piece, it's possible to get the effect of precious metal for a lower cost and without casting or laminating different metals together. (Charles Lewton-Brain has a good summary article of the particulars over on Ganoskin if you're interested in the science of it.)

One of the attendees at our retreat does a lot of Keum Boo - and we were all fascinated.

Metal Retreat 2013
Judy Rose demonstrating Keum Boo

Metal Retreat 2013
A pair of Judy's Keum Boo earrings. Photo by Morgan Corder Bass.
So I took a stab at it. And I'm in love.

Start by depletion gilding your sterling silver piece so that it is covered in a thin layer of fine silver. Depletion gilding is accomplished by repeatedly heating and pickling the piece until it stays white or pale grey when it's heated.

Metal Retreat 2013
Depletion gilded pieces (made from my scrap pile)
Then the pieces are put on a hot surface - we were using a table top beehive kiln, but in my research a hot plate with a piece of brass on the top supposedly also works. I'll be testing that theory - the hot plate is much (MUCH) less expensive than the beehive kiln.

Metal Retreat 2013

When the piece gets up to temperature (between 500 and 700 degrees) the 24k gold foil "relaxes" down onto the silver. That's when you can start burnishing the foil down.

Metal Retreat 2013

You can use either a steel burnisher or an agate burnisher, but be aware that if the steel burnisher gets too hot, the gold will fuse itself to the burnisher instead of the piece. Use a small container of water to keep the burnisher cool - but don't quench the agate burnisher, or it will crack! I used one of each - one to hold the piece steady while I burnished with the other.

The result was pretty cool.

Metal Retreat 2013

And a little patina made it even more interesting.

Metal Retreat 2013

The gold foil seems a little pricey at first - $80 to $90 at current prices for a 3-1/2 inch by 3-1/2 inch square. But trust me, a little goes a long way. I am completely in love with the potential of this technique and I plan to be doing a whole lot more of it. And since it seems you can also foil other metals, I'll be experimenting with those too - silver foil on copper or brass? Gold on aluminum or steel? Lots and lots of possibilities! Stayed tuned!

How about you? Have you ever tried Keum Boo? Ever tried a technique that just grabbed you and wouldn't let you go?

Until next time!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Day Of The Dead In Oaxaca, Mexico

Last year, my husband and I were in Oaxaca, Mexico during the Day of the Dead celebrations.  It was a most interesting cultural experience and it challenged us to re-examine our own attitudes toward death and dying.

Here I am, beading, in my temporary "studio" in Oaxaca.

We were impressed that the Day of the Dead was not a mournful occasion at all.  Death was seen as a natural part of the circle of life and included the assurance that loved ones lived on as spiritual beings.  The Day of the Dead offered an occasion to feel reunited with the deceased and to celebrate the good times and memories that you had shared.

In our culture the picture above would be considered macabre. But the candle is just there to light the way for the returning souls to find their way home.  Long pathways are lined with marigolds which also help guide the returning spirits to their proper destination.

Preparation for the Day of the Dead began at least a week ahead.  The markets started filling up with sugar skulls and "pan de muerte", which are loaves of bread with a cross of bones made of bread, decorating the top.  We also saw large loaves of bread with candy faces placed in them.  We inquired about these and were told that the faces represented the returning dead ones and the bread was to give them sustenance on their long journey.

Elaborate altars for the dead started appearing in alcoves around the city and many people built private altars in their homes. One of the larger churches in town filled their huge courtyard with sand "paintings" depicting skeletons dancing, talking and carrying on life as usual. The large sand paintings were rimmed with bright orange marigolds and lit with hundreds of candles on the night of November the 2nd.  Bands were playing and there were singers and dancers.  Vendors hawking snacks and drinks were working the crowd.  Lovers found dark corners where the could make out.  Little kids got balloons and were allowed to stay up late.  It was definitely a gala event.

The Day of the Dead is actually 2 days.  November 1st is to remember children who have departed from this earth and November 2nd is for adults.  People go to cemeteries to be with the souls of their loved ones.  They bring lawn chairs and instruments so they can sing together through the evening. Graves are cleaned up and decorated with flowers.  Children's graves are festooned with toys and balloons. People bring offerings of the things the deceased enjoyed in life.  Often adults' graves will have offerings of tequila or cigarettes and items from the deceased one's work or favorite hobby such as knitting needles or a gardener's trowel. Yah, I know, my grave would have to be covered with beads, so I could be happy in the next life!!!

Hundreds of beaded necklaces for sale in the market surrounding the downtown 
plaza or "zocolo".  I'd want to bring these along on my journey to the afterlife.  
I might take along a bottle or 2 of tequila, too!

We spent a magical evening in the city's largest cemetery. Many of the graves were elaborately decorated.  Sand paintings, hand built altars and marigolds rimmed the edges of the outer walkways.   Women passed out cups of thick, spiced hot chocolate and all the pathways through the cemetery were illuminated by candles.  There was a very large mausoleum on the grounds and every niche was lighted with a candle - literally thousands of candles.  It was an amazing sight to behold.  This picture is just a tiny portion of the mausoleum.

I think the most important thing we took away from this experience is that rather than death being a fearful, hush-hush topic, it is openly embraced.  Americans don't do death very well.  We use euphemisms (he passed on) and we stumble with difficulty, trying to find words of comfort for those who are dying and for those who mourn.  In contrast, the Day of the Dead is forthright and pragmatic (leaving cigarettes for the deceased) as well as spiritual, (belief in an afterlife).  The celebration demonstrates the love and respect that people feel for their departed elders and although it is about death, it is a celebration that is infused with joy and life.

AJE member, Diana Ptaszynski, is hosting a Day of the Dead/Halloween blog hop.  Sign-ups are open from now until September 26th.  To read about the details, visit Diana's blog. I received an awesome, handmade brass sugar skull pendant from Staci Smith, when I was at Bead Fest.  I will be designing a necklace with it for the blog hop.

Need some inspiration?  This should get you started!

Unique paper sugar skull beads by Gillian McMurray.

Ceramic Day of the Dead skull by Erratics.

Jenny DaviesReazor has a large selection of Day of the Dead focals.  Here is one of my favorites.

Bright green lampwork glass skull by Bastille Bleu.  This shop also has a wide selection of Halloween themed beads.

This ceramic sugar skull, by Firefly Design Studio, comes with matching accent beads.

So now that you have a sample of a few of the resources out there, I encourage you to visit Diana's blog and sign up for the Day of the Dead/Halloween blog hop.  It will be a real celebration!