Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Custom Made Challenges

I don't know if it's the upcoming holiday season or what, but one of the reasons I've been so busy these days is the rash of custom designs I've been commissioned to do over the past month or so. And I've been having so much fun with them! I know a lot of my artistic friends don't like to do them, but I'm one of those weird artists who actually loves the challenge of doing something different by request. Some of my best ideas and new designs have been born as a result of these fun collaborations with my customers! Here are just some of the cool projects I've finished up over the past month or so…

There was the set requested by a customer who wanted me to create beads that looked like the pattern and colors of her beloved Calico cat. After a few test runs, this is what she chose as her final design and was over the moon in love with them:

And this is the result of one of the other "Calico" test beads that I thought turned out looking more like exotic Ocelot Spots, and I ended up putting in my Etsy shop:

Then there was a set of cabinet knobs inspired by a customer who wanted some extra "glam" for her newly remodeled Mermaid-themed bathroom. We met while I was vending at a local craft show and after a bit of confab back and forth, and experimenting in my studio, I came up with this design featuring transparent pale aqua over sparkling silver foil, with "ripples" across the tops that mimic the look of movement in the water…

Making unique European Charm beads (aka "big hole beads") for those add-on charm bracelets like Pandora and Troll has also been a popular request, including the fun challenge of creating this Bat design, which consisted of two logos on a tiny 15mm diameter bead. It took me several tries to get it right, but "third time was the charm!"…(literally! LOL)

And remember my post about the Paw Print beads I made for a customer who wanted them to be as tiny as possible to work with her pendant design? Here's an order I just wrapped up for another customer who wanted colorful swirled backgrounds, similar to what she had seen in some of my other bead designs:

I loved playing around with the mix of colors so much, I'm planning on creating more sets with this type of background pattern too!

One of the best rewards after completing a custom design is hearing back from a customer who is obviously delirious with joy over their special beads, especially after they've arrived and they can see and touch them in person. Who knew that such a small item could bring so much happiness?! So if you're looking for a unique set of beads or a finished jewelry design, feel free to contact me any time about creating something special just for you. As you should be able to tell by now, my attitude is: Bring It On! *Ü*

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Portland Art & Soul Retreat

Geez, I think this is the longest time I've been AWOL from blogging in quite a while?! LOL Not because I haven't had anything to say, but because I've been so doggone crazy busy since my last post! ;-P

Right after posting about the fun Bead Soup Party event, I spent the rest of the week visiting many of the cool blogs on the Party list and also getting ready to attend the Art & Soul event down in Portland, Oregon with my little sister, Kimberly. This was my second time there, but my sister's first time at ANY type of artistic event and we were both so excited to get away for some creative inspiration and just plain ol' fun with each other. She is a very talented "late bloomer" in the artistic department (she creates amazing 3-D painted terracotta wall art), so I think I was almost as excited as she was to attend her first ever classes! She flew in, while I rode the Amtrak train down and during the trip, I worked on making some cute little lampwork flower charms to trade with other Art & Soul attendees…

We got there a day before our classes were to start, so we spent that first afternoon walking around the popular Hawthorne district, which is chock full of cool vintage shops and other great places to explore. We ended up walking around for over four hours straight!

One of the first places we stopped at was the Powell's Home and Garden shop and boy, was it a wonderland of eye candy—crammed full with charming vignettes around every corner. This was easily one of our favorite places we discovered during our walk…I drooled over and bought some gorgeous mercury glass candle holders and took home one of these neat little birds that reminded me of a vintage French decoration from one of my trips to Europe…

Kimberly, shopping for her dinner at the organic food store next door!

A few of the vintage thrift stores brought back quite a bit of nostalgic memories for both of us as we strolled through them—including this pair of lamps that we swear we once had a similar pair in our house while growing up! LOL

Footsore and happy with our purchases, we rode the MAX train back to our hotel, and the next day went to our first of two all-day classes. We both signed up for different ones, but met during the lunch break to catch up or do a little shopping at the on-site store at the hotel for more goodies.

My first class was with an artist names Lisa Kaus, whose wonderful and whimsical work I have admired for many years. I love how she combines found objects and ephemera with paint and beeswax, and mixes them all up together in tidy little separate compartments… something that has great appeal for my graphic designer's heart!

I didn't have time to complete my project during class, but I worked on it a bit more in the hotel room, and plan to finish it up soon here in my home studio. I think I have a pretty good start though and love the pretty, "old world" vibe I'm hoping to achieve by the time I'm done…

The next day, I took a class with Sally Jean Alexander, who is a fabulous designer who specializes in soldering just about anything she can get her hands on. We worked on a really cool pendant/necklace project, where the focal pendant was a vintage perfume bottle she had cut in half for us, then we learned how to solder it back together and create our own hinges and fastening. I wasn't able to finish this project either, but promise to post about it when I'm finished! In the meantime, you can drool with me over this gorgeous class example, done by Sally Jean…

That night, we got together with two new friends named Tiffin and Jenni that we had met at breakfast that morning, and went down to explore the famous Pearl District, which is known for its cool artsy boutiques and restaurants. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, almost all the boutiques were closing, so we didn't get to shop much—just spent quite a bit of time with our noses pressed to storefront windows and sighing in regret. LOL We did manage to stumble onto a great little restaurant called Papa Haydn during our walk that was obviously a local favorite, judging from the long and constant line leading up to their dessert display inside!

I wanted this coat in the worst way!!
My German Chocolate Cake dessert…as scrumptious as it looks!!!

The next morning, we sadly said our goodbyes and made our way back to our respective homes. But we both had such a wonderful time, we're already planning on making this into an annual "sister tradition" from now on—which definitely includes visiting the Pearl District again for a full day—when all the shops are open! *Ü*

P.S.—The day I first got to Portland, my sweet little "hairy baby" Indy had to go in for emergency surgery to remove a tumor we didn't know he had. I received frequent updates during my trip, including these two photos my daughter Ashley sent me from her cell phone:

Ashley thought Indy felt better after she "Beadazzled" his neck cone! LOL

He took nearly a week to recuperate, which is the other reason I didn't get around to blogging all last week, as I was up until at least 3 or 4 am each morning with him. He is now doing a lot better and got his stitches removed today—and we're all finally getting a full night's sleep too! *Ü*
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