Wednesday, September 25, 2013

40 Bead Challenge - The Beginning



Last month, I heard about an informal event being hosted by one of my favorite glass people, Haley Tsang Sather on the Lampwork Etc. online forum. She was encouraging other bead makers to join her in playing along with the "40 Bead Challenge," originally introduced by another amazing artist, Heather Trimlett.

The premise of this exercise is to work on developing one of the most basic (but also sometimes the most challenging!) of lampworking skills: Dots. It takes steady hands, a careful eye, and thoughtful planning to achieve excellent results. Made even more challenging by these key rules:

  1. Use ONLY dots as the decorative element
  2. No tools of any kind are allowed (ack, a knife to my heart!)
  3. Use only the same two colors
  4. Limit yourself to making 5-6 beads at a time, over a series of days
  5. Make a total of 40 beads, all with unique patterns

As a former graphic designer, I have to admit I take a bit of pride in my ability to almost perfectly measure out things by eye (sometimes I'm off by 1/32", but who's counting?) So I mastered dot placement fairly quickly on my beads, but I have never challenged myself to tackle anything more complex than a few "go to" dotted designs. Something about this challenge spoke to me, and since I'm always up for learning new skills, I just couldn't resist signing up to join in!

I've been swamped with work and family stuff since the beginning of summer, so I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself and thankfully, this challenge is all about doing it in your own time and having fun with it. So I've been squeezing in work sessions as I can, and avoiding any time-wasting indecision by focusing on one type of design style per session, i.e. basic dots, triangles, or rings.

I chose to work with Reichenbach Deep Black and Effetre Light Pink as my two core colors. Here's what I have done so far, over the course of four different days:

Day 1 - Simple Dots

Day 2 - Flowers

Day 3 - Soft Triangles

Day 4 - Rings

The first photo at the top of this post is what they look like all strung together and I am so happy with what I've been able to come up with so far! I started off with the favorite basic designs I often use, but almost everything else shown is a completely new design effort. This exercise is definitely making me look at dots in a completely different light and each work session generates even more ideas I want to try, with 20 beads done and 20 more to go!

If you would like to join us on the LE forum and explore your own dot and design skills (as well as get some wonderful inspiration by the others playing along), just click HERE to sign up.

P.S.—You might want to skip the morning coffee before you start on this one, unless you're going for a "Wild and Crazy Dots" theme?! *Ü*

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Inspired Design Challenge No. 5

Ready to be inspired to play again?! Now that I'm back from my summer break and the kids are back in school, it's time to light a fire under our creativity juices again! For this new Challenge, I picked a new photo palette from Design Seeds that really appeals to me, since I've been on a recent berry bead making roll lately (and who doesn't love raspberry red?!). The last days of Summer are upon us and soon we'll be breaking out the sweaters and thick socks—but for now, let's get inspired by the sunshine and fresh produce from the Farmers Market and see what we can create!




* BONUS!! * For this Challenge, I'm also going to give away one of my new Raspberry beads to one lucky particpant! YAY!! I'll pull names from a hat for everyone who comments (one entry per person), and give a second entry for those who submit one of their inspired creations at the end of the challenge, so please be sure to include your email or some way for me to contact you if you're the winner.



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 Monday, September 30th

Throughout the next few weeks 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 please don't forget to give details on what you used to make it and how the photo inspired you. *Ü*

Friday, September 13, 2013

Bonkers for Berries


I try participate in local craft shows whenever I can because I love meeting my customers in person and seeing their faces light up when they discover new at my booth. This has been my third summer with the Issaquah Farmers Market and I can't believe it took me so long to think of making Berry beads to sell there?! (Fresh Farm Produce + Glass Beads = Berries…Duh, right?!) I first started out making Strawberries, which are one of my favorite summer fruits…


Then, a little while later I added Blackberries and Raspberries to the menu. These are much time consuming than they look and I can only make about three or four in row before I start to feel a little dizzy from adding all those dots…


People really love them and comment on how realistic they all look. And what can you do with all of these juicy looking beads? Turn them into delicious jewelry and other goodies, of course!

Sterling Berry Earrings and a Big Hole Charm Dangle

By far, the most popular response has been to these sweet stainless steel Jelly Spoons, which is also a new item I started offering this year. The little silver ball at the top unscrews so you can also switch out the beads for something like a Pumpkin for Thanksgiving gravy or a Mistletoe Ball for cranberry sauce at Christmas! If you make your own jellies and jams (or buy from your local market), these are great for putting together as a unique gift to a favorite teacher, housewarming, or "just because" for a special friend.


I haven't listed very many of my Berry items in my Etsy shop since I started making most of them a little late in the season. But if you would like to order my Berry beads or finished designs for yourself, please feel free to email me any time of the year and I would be happy to make something yummy just for you! *Ü*


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