Sunday, June 30, 2013

Design Challenge No. 2 Reveal

Time for another Design Challenge reveal! YAY!! These past two weeks, we were inspired by this photo of a Hyacinth from my garden…

This is not only one of my favorite flowers, but also one of my favorite color combinations, so there was no lacking of inspiration for me here! LOL One of the first things I picked up on was how the purple and blue colors layered together along the curves of the flower petals. It made me think of a tutorial for "Roly Poly Beads" that I had purchased a while ago from talented lampwork artist Laura Sparling, but hadn't tried out yet.

The three beads on the far left were my first attempts at this new technique and I used blue violets and purples to mimic the colors of the flower. I had so much fun once I got the hang of it, I was inspired to try some other color combinations too! These will all be joining a bunch of other beads I am making for the Beads of Courage kids, so I hope they love them as much as I do!

I thought the petals would also make a great roof for one of my little Birdhouses, giving it a slight variation from the way I've normally been making them by pulling each "petal" into a point, just like the real flowers. Wouldn't this also make a great little Fairy House, just by making the door with a knob instead of a perch?

The little Birdie next to it was made with another type of purple glass I've been trying to master called EDP (aka "Evil Devitrifying Purple"), but in this case I had the happy accident of it turning out more magenta and pink than purples like I was expecting. I love the way all the raised parts are a different shade than the body.

Jewelry designer Dini Bruinsma was inspired to create this beautiful bracelet, featuring her own lampwork beads, combined with blue kyanite and freshwater pearls. Isn't it stunning?! I love the way she mixed the glossy and rough finishes and she even shared a great story about Hyacinths on her blog post.

Thanks so much for sharing with us, Dini! My next post will introduce the photo inspiration for Challenge No. 3, so I hope many of you will jump in and join me! *Ü*

Monday, June 24, 2013

Breaking out the Classics: Red, White and Blue

Independence Day is right around the corner, so I figured it was about time I broke out the red, white and blue glass to create some Patriotic inspired beads!

I played around with several different red glass colors, with some being more successful than others, depending on the designs I was using them with. Red glass is notorious for turning "livery" or dark brown in spots and also for showing a lot of random streaks as it is layered on if you can't apply it in one fell swoop. The darker red shown here is Effetre's Light Red Special and the brighter red is Reichenbach's Strawberry. Both are very nice to work with and some of my favorite "go to" reds (I also love CiM's Maracchino and Sangre).

Here is another shot of most of the beads shown above, after they've been cleaned and sorted—ready to turn into some fabulous jewelry designs…

The blue I used is Lapis Blue and some of the beads were sprinkled with Silver Lake frit, which was discontinued several years ago and hard to find these days. I was very lucky and managed to find some a few weeks ago and am so glad I did! It starts out as pure white, but gets a soft blueish halo as it reacts in the flame. I love how it looks combined with the reds and gives me all three colors in just two steps.

My favorite out of this batch is the large heart focal with trails of fine silver—elegant and fun at the same time! I am also loving the dimensional effect from my new Baroque Bead roller tool and am planning on making some cool earrings with them. Next on my list is to try another version of the flower discs so that they look more like stars. So I better get cranking on the new designs so I have something fun to wear on July 4th!? *Ü*

What is your favorite thing to wear and/or do during this great holiday?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Inspired Design Challenge No. 2

Are you ready for the next creative push?! I'd like to invite you join me in a fun new venture I'm calling the Inspired Design Challenge! On the 1st and 15th of each month, I will post a photo and during the time period in between, I would like to challenge you and myself to create one finished design or set of something based on how it inspired you. Of course, you're always welcome to create more than one thing to share, but depending on space and time, I will help promote at least one.

Here is the inspiration photo for Challenge No. 2:

This is a photo I took when my Hyacinths were blooming earlier this Spring. They are one of my favorite flowers and their perfume is so heavenly, I wish they would bloom all year round! Flowers rank very high as my "go to" design AND color inspiration, so I just had to sneak this one in before the Spring season is over!

Guidelines to Play:
  • Your creative inspiration can come from the colors, textures, subject matter, or even the feeling or memory that you received when you first saw the Challenge photo.
  • Anything goes as far as materials used—it doesn't matter if you like to work in glass like me, or prefer a different medium like clay or paint. I would love to see a variety of items, whether it be a bead, knitted scarf, jewelry, painted canvas, pen doodle—whatever your Muse is itching to make!
  • If you have a set of coordinating projects like a necklace and earrings, please submit a group photo of them with just one link to share.
  • Please keep your designs to a decent subject matter (i.e. no provocative artwork) and nothing politically motivated. 

Submission Deadline:
  • Post a comment with a link to your finished project as soon as you can between now and Saturday, June 29th.
 Throughout the week I will share my on-going projects, as well as yours, on my Facebook page HERE, my Pinterest board HERE, or on the next Challenge blog post. So if you can add your finished project as soon as you can, that way I hope to be able to spread out my posts over the duration of the Challenge instead of one giant update. And don't forget to give details on what you used to make it and how the photo inspired you!

Looking forward to seeing your new creations and please feel free to spread the word to all your artsy friends too! *Ü*

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Green Seahorse Earrings

I'm honored to be once again published in the June 2013 issue of Bead Design Studio, one of my favorite jewelry making magazines! This time, it was one of my newer earring designs, featuring a pair of my handmade transparent green hollow beads and the tiniest seahorse charms I've ever seen…

All wired up with Vintaj brass findings and copper colored freshwater pearls. They look like they might be heavy on the ears—but because of the hollow beads, they weigh next to nothing at all!

Creating hollow beads that match as perfectly as possible is tricky for me since I don't make a ton of this style, but I'm hoping to improve my consistency so that I can make a lot more jewelry designs with them. Right now, I'm also imagining a cool statement necklace made up with a bunch of these in wonderful "beachy" colors! *Ü*

What colors would you like to see these made in for the upcoming summer season?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Find: Shipping Organizer

Time for another Friday Find! This is another fun discovery after a spontaneous hunting trip in my local Goodwill store…

As with many of my "finds," I didn't know what this 16" x 17" plastic black tray's original purpose was (snack tray, maybe?) but I immediately thought it had potential as some kind of organizer in my studio. When I got it home and mulled over the best use for it, I quickly decided that it would be great for helping to organize my bead orders since I was constantly moving things around my cluttered desk and it was frustrating to lose track of something when I was ready to ship it out.

But it needed a little "finishing touch" so I cut up some black velvet paper from my scrapbooking days to line the bottom of six of the largest squares. I thought it would also help cushion loose beads from scratches and this is what it looks like now:

Amazing how such a small detail can improve the look of something, isn't it? I love how it turned out and was even happier to discover that it fits perfectly on my paper trimmer, which is a part of my shipping station—a sign that this was meant to be! Here is what it looks like in use, with each section containing a receipt and packaging for orders waiting to be filled. No more hunting around for loose beads or having to triple check everything before shipping it out—YAY!

Not bad for a $2.50 investment, huh? More details about the rest of my mailing station and my studio organization progress coming soon too! *Ü*

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Design Challenge No. 1 Results

I had a lot of fun being inspired by last week's Design Challenge photo and can't wait to do it again! I'm excited to continue this event and love hearing how others are interested in joining in on the fun with me. I've also recently discovered that it seems many people would like to play along, but can't make the one-week turnaround I originally proposed, so I've decided to make a few changes so that we can be sure to see as many inspired projects as possible. *Ü*

I took a poll on my Facebook page and the majority wished for once-a-month challenges, with those wanting one every two weeks coming very close behind. So, I've decided to go to a bi-weekly schedule, posting a new theme on the 1st and 15th of each month. That way, those who can only handle a project once a month can have two themes to choose from, and everyone who wants more frequent challenges can do both. I hope this will help you all get a better chance to participate and show us those great designs!

With that in mind, I'm extending the deadline for Challenge No. 1 through June 13th, so that those of you who said they were inspired can have more time to complete their projects to share. Please go to my original blog post HERE for details on how to enter and leave your links in the comments section, making sure to explain what materials you used and how you were inspired. Then I will continue to share them on my various social media sites and in a post on the 14th, before the next Challenge theme is announced.

To recap, here is the Inspiration photo for the current Challenge:

I was suffering from a nasty combination of Spring cold and allergies for most of last week, so I didn't get a chance to work on the big "TA-DAH!" design that I wanted to tackle, but I did manage to play with some other new ideas, like these…

I know, I know…cupcake beads inspired by a photo of cupcakes isn't really that much of a creative stretch, right? But I needed to get some made to sell at my local Farmer's Market anyway, and thought I'd try out some new color combinations from the photo. I also liked the floral pattern on the paper wrappers, so I played around with a few swirled frit bases to simulate the feeling without having to spend a lot of time on tiny details. Some of these may not be big winners just yet, but I think I'm on the right track!

The sweet icing roses in the photo reminded me that I've been wanting to make some coordinating rosebuds to go with my larger Watercolor Rose focal beads. I'm a little rusty since it's been a few years since I've made this design, but this Challenge was just the kick I needed to finally get around to adding them to my floral collection again.

These new leaf headpins feature two different color combinations, inspired by the lovely blue-green colors in the photo:

It was harder to see the two-tone details on the ones with a transparent base and I didn't really like how much the wire showed through, so I decided to etch them to give the glass a little more opacity. I loved them so much, I combined them with some of my faux Beach Glass Nuggets and turned them into a pair of earrings, curving the long 20g copper wire into a seamless ear wire so each drop is one continuous piece. These were so quick and easy to make, I will definitely make more inspired by this style!

Kathy Trudeau also made a pair of earrings inspired by the Challenge that I think turned out beautifully! She made the striped beads out of polymer clay and the little accent beads from glass. I love the soft stripes and how she blended all the colors from the original cupcake photo together. You can visit her Flickr album by clicking on the photo to see more…

I know there were a few other people who were going to play along, but didn't get a chance to share their links yet. I sure hope they weren't suffering from colds and/or allergies too? Nothing inhibits creative energy like a running nose, sneezes that scatter your supplies across the table, or eyes so full of tears that you can't tell one color from the next. *ugh!*

But we artistic types will persevere like we always do and find ways to get around those pesky obstacles, right? Looking forward to seeing more of your designs over the next eight days, wishing you a sneeze-free week, and a Muse bursting with exciting new ideas! *Ü*

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