Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Adventures with Precious Metal Clay

Last weekend, I learned a new skill.  I was thrilled to get to take a class with Deb Brooks, who's company is From the Heart Creations.  Deb is certified PMC teacher, and Julie hosted classes for beginners at the store!  We had a great time and learned a wonderful new technique.  Here are the designs from the first class:

My piece is the Steampunk design in the upper right corner.  I can't believe I was able to create that the first time out!  Shows how talented our teacher is!  The other pieces are beautiful too, and I really love the piece beside mine, which was made on a printing stamp of a map of Nebraska counties.  The one just below that moving clockwise was made with a rubber stamp, but then Julie carved the clay to match the edge cut on the design.
This was another class group, and Chris was in this class!  His is the flaming piece on the right hand side.  He even worked with Deb ahead of time to design the stamp image and carved it from polymer clay to make the impression for his pendant.  All of the pieces are beautiful and while waiting for the kiln to fire, Julie and I taught the group about Crystal Clay (well Julie taught and I assisted).  Have you had a chance to use Crystal Clay (it is a 2 part Epoxy clay which air dries in 24 hours)?  Too fun and the possibilities are limitless!

Final pieces made.  The top tree piece is for a multi strand bracelet and the matching bead is a double sided lentil bead wit a different tree on the other side.  Very cool! 
Chris and I are looking forward to playing with the PMC more in the future! 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Memories and Thanks Blog Hop

 Today is the Memories and Thanks Blog Hop!

The full list of participants are at the end of my post.  Thanks to Lori Anderson for hosting the blog hop.

 In November, I signed up for Lori Anderson's latest Blog Hop and had every intention of making a piece to honor a friend.  However, I have been sick pretty much since the signups and that has completely zapped my creativity and strength.  So instead, my wonderful husband Chris, suggested I blog about the Memorial Pendant fundraiser we designed this fall.  This was the original post from September.

After the devastating accident on September 5, Chris and I were asked if we could design a memorial pendant for a fundraiser for the families of the victims.  To help the kids get through the week during the funerals, the school came up with this design and it was used on football helmets, volleyball & softball jerseys, and cross country uniforms.
We used this as the premise for our design.

We used 4 crosses from Tierracast and with them being graduated in size, they hang together like the memorial design.  We also wanted to represent the individuals lost, so we designated each a special cross.

The individual cross photo shows which cross is for each person.
Here is why we chose what we did:

Caroline, small and delicate since she was the youngest and smallest.

Dustin, Celtic because he was more artistic and a free spirit.

Travis, simple and rugged for a farming guy, a bit larger since he was older than Dustin.

Marla, floral since she loved gardening, about the same size as Travis's maybe a tiny bit bigger.

All the charms together represent the tragedy as a whole and all those that were involved.

The fundraiser was hugely successful, raising more than $1700 for the Family Memorial fund.  I could not have done the project at all if my good friend Viv, (her shop is Dragyn's Fyre on Etsy), had not helped me get a great price and the quantity of supplies I needed to put the pendants together.  She was a huge help and I hope you will stop by and check out her shop.  She has a huge selection of Tierracast and great prices too.

I also want to thank Pam Schwab, for asking us to design the jewelry for the project.  She did most of the leg and phone work and that was a HUGE help.   

Chris and I were overwhelmed with the response to the pendant demand. We were honored to create a tribute to the victims of the accident.  We sincerely hope the opportunity never presents itself again.

Hostess, Lori Anderson       Pretty Things

 Adlinah Kamsir                   Dream Struck Designs
 Aimee Biondolillo               Aimee's Jewelry Treasures
 Alicia Marinache                 All the Pretty Things 
 Andra Marasteanu               Handmade by Indra Marasteanu 
 Andrea Trank                      Heaven Lane Creations
 April Grinaway                   Brooklyn Bead Goddess
Barb Solem                         Vivi Magoo Presents
Becky Pancake                    Becky Pancake Bead Designs
Beth Emery                         Stories by Indigo Heart
Bonnie Coursolle                Jasper's Gems
Cassi Paslick                       Beads: Rolling Downhill
Catherine King                    Catherine's Musings
Cece Cormier                      The Beading Yogini
Chandra Leitz                     Juniper Goods
Charissa Nesler                   FireStorm Designs
Charlie Jacka                       Clay Space
Christina Hickman              Vintage Treasures Jewelry
Christine Murrow               Charis Designs Jewelry
Christine Stonefield            Sweet Girl Design
Chrizette Bayman               Bead Soup Mix
Cindy Wilson                      It's My Sea of Dreams
CJ Bauschka                       4 His Glory Creations by CJ
Crystal Thain                      Here Bead Dragons
Cyndi Lavin                        Beading Arts
Debbie Rasmussen             A little of this, a little of that
Denielle Hagerman             Some Beads... and other things I like
Diana Gonzalez                  Arte y Poemas
Diane Hawkey                    diane hawkey
Dita Basu                            ankarshilpa
Donetta Farrington             Simply Gorgeous
Dyanne Everett-Cantrell     Deeliteful Jewelry Creations
Emma Todd                        A Polymer Penchant
Erin Kenny                         beadiful therapy
Erin Prais-Hintz                  Treasures Found
Gina Hockett                      Freestyle Elements
Gloria Allen                        Innovative Dreams Jewelry
Heather Marston                 CSW Designs
Inge von Roos                    Inge's Blog
Iveth Caruso                       Creative Atelier
Jacqueline Marchant          Fiddledeedee Jewelry
Jami Shipp                         Celebrating Life!
Jean Yates                          Snap Out of it Jean, There's Beading to Do!
Jennifer Reno                     Musings of a Crafty Jenny
Jenny Robledo                   Peppa's Dream
Jennifer VanBenschoten    Jewelry, Art and Life
Jessica Klaaren                  Cellar Door Jewelry
Jessica Murray                   Whimsical Monkey
Joan Williams                     lilruby jewelry
Jo-Ann Woolverton            It's a Beadiful Creation
Joanne Browne                   josjewels1
Jodie Marshall                    Jodie Marshall Lampwork Beads Wearable Art
Johanna Rhodes                 Fire Phoenix Creations
John Rasmussen                 Rasumussen Gems and Jewelry LLC
JuLee Wolfe                       The Polymer Penguin
Julie Bean                           Blue Pig Blog
Karen Mitchell                   Over the Moon Designs
Karin King                         The Sparklie Things Blog
Karin Slaton                       Backstory Beads
Kat Douglas                       Washoe Kat's
Kay Bolton                        Toodles and Binks
Kelly Hosford Patterson     The Traveling SideShow
Kim Ballor                          Vitamin C ... A Daily Does of Creativity
Kim Dworak                       CianciBlue
Kim Houston                       The Pink Martini
Kym Hunter                         Kym Hunter Designs
Laren Dee Barton                Laren Dee Designs
Lea Avroch                          LA Jewelry Designs
Leanne Loftus                      First Impression Design
Liddy McLaughlin               Liddy McLaughlin Art
Linda Florian                       Lily's of the Valley Jewelry & Creative Creations
Linda Inhelder                     Must-Haves Jewelry
Lisa Hamilton                      Simply Irresistable Jewelry
Lisa Suver                            Fancee That
Lori Bowring Michaud        Artfully Ornamental
Lori Poppe                           Adventures in Creativity with Lorillijean
LouAnn Elwell                    Southpass Beads
Mandi Effron                       Craft-o-licious
Marcia DeCoster                 MadDesigns
Marcia Dunne                     The Alternative Foundry
Marie Covert                      Creating Interest
Marjorie Savill Linthwaite     bennubirdrising
Marlene Cupo                        Amazing Designs by Marlene
Martha Aleo                           Ornamento
Marti Conrad                          Marti's Buttons -n- Beads
Mary Ellen Parker                  BeeTree by m.e.
Mary Govaars                        MLH Jewelry Designs
Mary Lindell                          Mary Lindell Artisan Jewelry
Maureen Connolly                 Mrs Beadsley's Workshop
Maybeline Tay                       The Jewelry Larder
Melissa Elgin                         The Addicted Beader
Melissa Mesara                      one-eared pig beads
Menka Gupta                         Menka's Jewelry
Michaela Pabeschitz              la mar de bonita
Mischelle Fanucchi               Micheladas Musings
Mona Rae Baroody               Who Does She Bead She Is?
Nan Emmett                          Spirit Rattles -- Spirited Earth
Nancy Pedersen                    Something Heartfelt by Nancy
Natalie Davidson                  NorthShore Days
Nikki Douglas                      Bead It and Weep
Pam Farren                           re-maker
Pam, the Crazier Sister        The Crazy Creative Corner
Pam Traub                            Klassy Joolz
Priya Krish                           Hellopalz 
Rebecca Anderson               Song Beads
Rebecca Sirevaag                 Becca's Place
Robin Kae Reed                   Artistry HCBD
Rochelle Brisson                  a creative chelle
Rosa Maria Cuevas              Helena de Troya
Sabine Dittrich                     perlendschungel
Sandi Volpe                          Sandi Volpe
Sandra McGriff                    Creative Chaos
Sarah Goode                         Pookledo
Sarah Singer                         String a Song of Sixpence
Serena Trent                         All Things Made Jewelry
Shai Williams                       Shaiha's Ramblings
Sharon Palac                        Sharon's Jewelry Garden
Sharyl McMillian-Nelson    Sharyl's Jewelry & Reflections
Sheila Davis                         Stone Designs
Shelley Graham Turner        Fabric of My Life
Sherri Stokey                       Knot Just Macrame
Sherry Baun                         Unicorns Jewels
Skylar Bre'z                         Brising Beads
Stephanie Haussler              Pixybug Designs
Tania Spivey                        Moobie Grace Designs
Terri G.                                Blooming Ideas
Terry Carter                         Tapping Flamingo
Terry Matuszyk                    Pink Chapeau Vintage Jewelry
Toltec Jewels                       Jewel School Friends
Tracy Kruse                         Goldkisses Art
Tracy Martin                        Nutkitten's Jewelry
Zia Parks                              Anzi~Panzi's Work Shoppe
Zoe Marcin                          Beads, Tea and Sweets

If you would like to participate in the next Memories and Thanks Blog Hop it will happen next year on January 12. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Newbie Beading Boot Camp, Part One...

Yesterday, I was a guest blogger on Artisan Whimsy for the Jewelry Designers Blog Team.  Here is the post in it's entirety.  Not familiar with Artisan Whimsy, stop over through the link above and create your own page.  There are lots of artistic groups for whatever your interest, and it is a wonderful way to connect to other artists!

In the beginning there was The One Bead...

The One Bead is what started my life as a beader.  My husband and daughter gave me the bead for my birthday about ten years ago, and as I tell people, "it is a slippery slope from the first bead to drowning in a house full of beads"!

I chose this topic because as a "Bead Girl" working part time at Julie's Xpression's (a local bead store in Hastings, NE), I often teach beginning beaders the basics to beading.
Newbie Basic Beading Boot Camp:
  1. If at all possible go to a bead store or find an experienced beader to help you get started.  This will help you avoid being overwhelmed by all of the choices available and walk you through the basics.  You can certainly learn what you need to know on-line, but having someone teach you one on one is a wonderful experience.  I am a visual learner and it is far easier for me to pick up a technique if someone is there to guide and correct me than if I am trying to read about or watch a video on the technique.
  2. Buy the best tools you can afford. The tools are going to be with you for some time to come, so spend a bit more to get the better products.  The basics I advise starting with are:  a crimping tool, a round nose pliers, a flat or chain nose pliers (I prefer the ones with no grooves on the nose so they don't mar your metals), and a good pair of flush cutters for snipping.  These are my mainstays.  I also use bail making pliers for nice rounded bends, but those can wait until you are a more advanced beader.
(photos courtesy of Fusion Beads)
  1. Start with the best foundation materials you can afford.  I use only SoftFlex brand wire because I trust it to hold up to wear and tear.  I use the basic silver color because it really won't matter what color it is when it is covered with beads and the .014 Diameter, 21 Strands, size.  Yes, it comes in other colors and sizes, but this is the one that will fit a wide variety of beads and it is more widely available that some of the other widths and colors.  For 99% of my bead stringing projects I use 2x2 crimp tubes made of Sterling Silver.  Yes, they come in other colors (gold, antique brass, gunmetal, copper) and yes I do use them.  However, as a starting beader, go basic.  Sterling crimps are extremely durable and forgiving.  They can be bent more than once or twice (which helps when you are getting started) without falling apart.  If you are doing a beading project in a different color of metal, just add a coordinating crimp cover to hide the sterling silver crimp. 
(photos courtesy of SoftFlex Company)
  1. When you are starting in beading, choose beads you like and that are of good quality.  Another of my favorite sayings is "Cheap beads make cheap jewelry".  Anyone can string beads together and call it jewelry.  When you "design" jewelry, you put thought and time into your project.  You think about the colors and sizes of your beads.  I also consider the "comfort" of a design.  I am less likely to wear a piece of jewelry that is poking me.  Tidy the ends of your wire near the crimp so they are not sticking out or have rough edges on them.  I try to run my beading wire back through two or three beads at the end of the length.  Not only does this prevent them from poking out, but it gives you an additional length of wire to work with "if something goes wrong" and you have to tear things apart.  You can remove a crimp from a design if you do it carefully without totally destroying the wire, and then you have a bit extra length to correct the problem.  I also make an effort to look back over my design before I finish off that last crimp.  I really get aggravated when I have a project finished and I have one bead out of symmetry.  Fine if it is supposed to be asymmetrical, but if it is a "matchy, matchy" design (sides mirroring each other), that one missing or additional bead can be a "blight" to the effect you are working toward. 
  2. Finally, make jewelry that makes you happy.  Start a project with beads you like.  I am EXTREMELY fond of crystals, and love designs that have sparkle in them.  However, if you like or love the beads you are working with, a design will come together far easier than it will if you are uncomfortable with your medium.  I have made designs with beads I hated, but it was an unpleasant experience and I don't like to repeat those.  If you are spending time doing a hobby that you love, you don't want cursing and black clouds to mar the time you spend with your craft.  I find too, that if I love a design, others will too.  Granted not everyone shares my tastes, but that doesn't matter if the jewelry makes me happy.  I love to use beads that have a story to tell.  When my customers are in my booth, I can sell a piece of jewelry with the story those beads tell.  Not always, but it happens more often than not.  Regardless of my ramblings, stick with the beads you love and others will love what you create. 
And if not, it still makes you happy.  That is the most important part of any design process.
I have tried to cover the basics and yes, I could go on and on and on about beads and my philosophy behind designing.  But this is not about MY beading, this is about getting YOU started on your addiction beading.

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