Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Firefly Design Studio Designer Challenge - Round 2

I host a designers challenge on Facebook and round 2 voting started today!  30 designers purchased a kit with the same pendant and had 2 color choices, blue or brown.  Since it's summer time, our theme is a starfish on the beach.  Here are the 2 kit choices:

There is also a polymer clay connector in the kit made by Cory Tompkins, but it was a secret component when I took these pictures Lol.  Everything in the kit has to be used with any beading technique and any additional supplies from their personal stash.  I have opened up the group for voting through Friday, June 3rd at midnight EDT.  All likes and comments on the designers 4 pictures counts as a vote.  A necklace, bracelet and earring pair plus a group shot has been uploaded to the Facebook group for voting.  There are 3 prizes.  One for the most votes from the public, one for best use of the ceramic components and one for best use of the polymer clay connector.

Our next round will be in the fall and I am thinking a bird on a branch would be a fun theme! You are all invited to join the group and play along!


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Swaps and Exchanges

I (Michelle from Firefly Design Studio) have been participating in bead and jewelry swaps and exchanges for many year now.  Sometimes you are paired up with one partner, and other times you send in a certain amount of items and get a random selection in return.  No matter the details, it is lots of fun and a great way to get your creations in the hands of art bead loving friends!

Sunday was the reveal for the "Swap and Hop" hostessed by Linda Anderson.  She has the big job of pairing up partners and keeping all the behind the scene action flowing.  Pretty much the only requirements are you have a blog and love handmade jewelry!  I was partnered up with Jenny Kyrlach from Cincinnati, Ohio.  She is a paper bead artist and made me at least 100 of them in white, black, red, blue and brown shades.  I wanted her beads to be the star of my designs.  These are the 2 necklaces I made and I also used the pendants, clasps and spacer beads she included.  I added the waxed linen and chain from my own stash.

Brown necklace:
Red, White and Black Necklace:
And this is what Jenny made with my ceramic beads I sent her:
And Jenny's version of the Red, White and Black Necklace:

We hopped around to all the participant's blogs, made comments and admired the many varieties of beads and jewelry that was sent and created.  I usually find out about swaps on Facebook through the many bead groups I belong to.  So I encourage you to participate in the future if you come across an opportunity.  Really the best thing is now I have a great new beading friend, Jenny!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Meeting Songbead

I have just recently returned from a holiday in Scotland. We had been planning the trip for over a year in anticipation of an epic wedding! My husband's family is Scottish and his uncle was getting married at St. Giles cathedral. Oh, what a glorious event it was, the weather was gorgeous and the reception was exceptionally top notch. 

Our youngest, Graham, was given the honor of paige boy and he would be wearing a kilt! I literally counted down the days until my heart would explode from the cuteness!! He suited it well and performed his duties like a wee gentleman. He somehow managed to score a date during the reception and wooed many young beauties on the dance floor.

I was given the honor of reading during the ceremony and recited a beautiful portion of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë ~

I have for the first time found what I can truly love-
I have found you. 

You are my sympathy- my better self- my good angel; I am bound to you with a strong attachment. 

I think you good, gifted, lovely; a fervent, solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my center and spring of life, 

wraps my existence about you- and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one. 

It was because I felt and knew this, that I resolved to marry you.

I was reciting these lovely words for over a year and became emotional a handful of times but nothing prepared me for the day I would stand before the most breathtaking of brides in St, Giles Cathedral. 

Another event that I was looking forward to while visiting Edinburgh, was meeting my friend Rebecca Anderson. No need to tell you how awesome she is because anyone reading this blog is keenly well aware.  Rebecca is a brilliant artist and it was such a joy to finally hug her neck and have a face to face chat. We planned to meet at her flat (which is in a super cool artsy part of Edinburgh) Her space was just as I imagined, brimming with creativity and life.

The wonderful wall of art

Rebecca Anderson, me, Jen Cunningham, Graham (he wanted to be in the photograph as well-ha)

Thank you for your gracious hospitality and generous gifts, Rebecca. It was such a treat to spend some time with you and your fish n chips recommendation was stellar!! As you know, we dined there twice :) (I tried the brown sauce- YUM!)

We explored Stockbrige a few days after our visit and perused a fab market filled with handmade crafts and goodies. Graham gifted this sweet little piece of art by painter & printmaker Sally Fisher

My sweet husband purchase these darling handmade earrings by Alexis Southam. There were SO many options and I spent a good 10 minutes agonizing over a decision. All of her wares were so pretty!!

Alexis Southam

stag necklace (swoon)

We also picked up some handmade dog treats for our Oliver, a few antique books, and some eppoisse (so stinky good)

Scotland is truly amazing! The landscapes are glorious and everyone we encountered was genuine & kind. We wish to move there one day. For now, I will relish the memories :)

Sean Connery slept here ;)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

My First Bead Cruise

I (Michelle from Firefly Design Studio) returned a few days ago from my first Bead Cruise.  Our own Heather Powers says she plans her dream vacation and invites 65 friends to join her!  Heather keeps us busy, but there is plenty of time to enjoy the ship and ports.  For me, it was the top notch classes that got me excited.  This is what I took and learned:

Kerry Bogert is a wire worker expert.  She has written 3 books and has so many tips and tricks that she is willing to share.  My first class with Kerry was an earring class.  We received sheets of copper and brass, 24 g and 18g wire.  We punched circles and cut rectangles as well as punched small circles around the edges of our shapes.  It was fun texturing the metal with fancy hammers.  Here they are!
Next I learned chain making from Kerry.  She also showed us how to make a few kinds of clasps, which I was excited to learn.  We made 1 chain each hour.  We used dowels, pliers, punches, and made jump rings.  Which is your favorite?  Mine is the circle one, third from left.  I plan on dangling a ceramic bead at the end of the extender chains I made to make these bracelets and 1 necklace "me."
This necklace that Kerry taught us is so cool!  We used a coil machine, or hand coiling, as well as wrapping 16g wire around different sized dowels.  We connected our links together for this statement piece design!
Beverly Herman is a very talented, patient and fun seed bead instructor.  This is only my third time doing bead embroidery.  Time Traveler used multiple sizes of seed bead, pearls and a ceramic disc that I had the honor of making for the student kits!  I am about half finished at this point.  Isn't it going to be gorgeous?
Bead Cruise 2017 is already more than half booked.  I know the ship departs from Texas and is going to the Western Caribbean next year in February.  I am already going on a cruise in February with my friends, so I didn't think 2 cruises in 1 month would work with my schedule.  If you'd like to learn more, go to www.beadcruise.com and check it out.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Perfect Pairings :: Bay Moon Design + Mary Harding

These intense cobalt blues mixed with the more earthy browns, bronze and tan are what drew me to this bracelet for the challenge. It wasn't until I hopped over and saw more angles of this bracelet that I could see the knotting and the textures. It reminds me of branches against a clear blue sky and I love all the different textures going on. And that button! I love buttons as clasps!

Featured Designer :: BayMoonDesign
Featured Bead Artists :: Mary Harding Jewelry

And see the other post for today for
a second helping of Perfect Pairings!

We are now using Pinterest! 
You can find more details in this post about the exciting new changes
including a board devoted to art beads inspired by the monthly challenge!
(Ooh! Look! More pretty beads to lust after!)

Pretty please make sure that you post a link in your Pinterest description
so that I have someplace to attribute the picture! 
And don't forget to tell us about those art beads - providing links to bead makers is appreciated!

Deadline May 28th to get your pictures posted to the Pinterest boards for the creation of the Monthly Challenge Recap post for May 31st.

TIP: If you upload your photo rather than pin it from your blog or shop, edit the pin (the little pencil button) and add your link as the source. Save your edits. This will allow us to click directly on your photo and go to your blog or shop to read more about your entry. If you don't, I might not be able to access the photo to share it.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Inside the Studio with Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati

Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you'll leave comments! As an incentive, we offer a prize each week to encourage you to use that keyboard and tell us what you think. The following week a winner is chosen at random from all eligible entries. And here are the results from last week!

Congratulations to Gloria Allen! You have won a set of four Lady Liberty coin buttons. Please contact Tari with your contact information so she can mail your prize.


Hello Bead Peeps! What have you been up to lately?

As supported by Miss Tari's last post, the world is continuing to spin far faster than I can often handle! There have been many twists and turns in my path over the past month, some of it all in the same week! Much of what I had scheduled out for myself to complete each week on my endless notes and lists has been tossed aside like so much trash. I am actually wondering how all of this happened in the blink of an eye, and how I can find my way back to my original plan.

It seems that since the last time I posted an Inside the Studio about my upcoming show, Beauty in the Broken Places, you would think that I might have something to show for it, especially since I mentioned in that post that I was going to be making something each month toward that end. Alas, I don't! But that doesn't mean that I haven't been busy. In fact, I think that this month in particular will find me working around the clock on many nights just to keep afloat!

Here's a recap of just some of what has kept me from pursuing the art that I want to pursue....while pursuing creative endeavors of all different sorts.....

Special Pop-a-Dot jewelry (in process) based on my favorite Dr Seuss book, My Many Colored Days.
Every year for my daughter's dance studio, I host a fundraiser for the National Honor Society of Dance Arts during every night of the show week rehearsals and before each show. I sell a line of magnetic jewelry I devised called Pop-a-Dots and always come up with something extra special themed to the show.

This year the show was based on the Dr Seuss book, Oh! The Places You'll Go! So I made some digital prints that fit in a 5x7" frame as well as notecards with some of the iconic Seuss lines. The dancers and their families loved them, as well as those that are celebrating graduations in May. Their messages are perfect for encouraging enthusiastic exploration of the whole wide world!

This was taken a few months ago, but I love the smile on her face!
My mother's 70th birthday was in the middle of show week as well. So I took off half a day to spend it with her.

That same exact weekend, my son and his lovely girlfriend attended Prom. So, of course I had to add one more thing to my plate and decided to make the corsage and boutonniere for them. Gah! I think they turned out quite nicely! Of course, it helps that I happen to have an entire studio filled with sparkly things to make them extra special and unique! I really had fun making them. I have made wedding flowers before, but perhaps I may have missed my calling! ;-)

So much is coming up in this month! My son Calvin is going to graduate from Pacelli High School. This is bittersweet as it is also where my husband and I graduated from (and where we started dating!), as well as my father and his siblings. Proud to have a 3rd generation graduate in the family! Even more proud to announce that he is planning to attend our college alma mater as well... University of Wisconsin-Madison. We bleed Badger red and are thrilled that he will be carrying on the Big 10 tradition. He has been accepted directly into the College of Engineering and I think that my summer will be quite busy getting him (and me!) ready. There are so many big things this month, including the Project Grad party held the night of graduation. I am in charge of the Senior DVD slide show that will be given as a gift to them all. It has taken me all spring to gather the pictures. Now I will be starting on the actual slideshow on Sunday and hope to be done in one week (of very late nights!). Adding to that, there are baseball games a-plenty every other night of the week, and almost every weekend (so far we have lost just one game all season! Woot!). I simply cannot miss a single moment, especially since this boy who started as a catcher at age 9, is now an impressive young man of 18 and coming to the end of his career. The Cardinals were ranked 3rd in the state by the sports writers/coaches and he made the list of catchers to watch. Such a wonderful career! I know that I am the one having the hardest time with the coming loss of this passion. Never thought I would say this 18 years ago...but baseball is my favorite season! And to top it all off,  we are planning a HUGE backyard party complete with a large tent and caterers and a movie night under the stars for the entire class! Next up on my list is to update the backyard and put together the brand new propane fire pit for all to enjoy!

As you are reading this, I will be on my way to the Gallery Q for the changeover this weekend (on Mother's Day? What?!@?!?) for the next show: ArtSpace. The idea for this show is that the gallery will be transformed into "rooms" or vignettes inside the space, for a unique way to display our art. I don't have a lot of jewelry to bring (see below for a peek), but what I do have to contribute is the window displays. I enjoy doing it and like the look of windows to invite you to come in and find out more about what is inside. A little mysterious, if you will. One window will be a picnic scene, complete with a small table and chairs, handmade table linens from one of our artists, a handmade vase with flowers, oil paintings of the rolling countryside and other things that will hopefully evoke a sense of playfulness and summer fun. The other side was a brainstorm that came to me in the middle of the night this past Sunday: a front door inviting you to step inside. I have an artist friend and handyman who is contributing one of these doors (above), complete with an old doorknob, with a brace or bracket support to be freestanding (see my rudimentary sketch). I am bringing in a welcome mat and a planter urn complete with fresh flowers and an arrow sign I made pointing to the gallery for the ArtSpace show (with magnets! So I can reuse it!). And hanging on the faux door will be a wreath that I am finishing up right now, made from a Q monogram, washi tape and a jumble of paint brushes (that I will hopefully be able to grunge up a bit to make look like they were well used). I am excited to make this all take shape and hope I can make it happen quick!

About the only thing that I have really made in the last month are what I call Mageia Drops. These little charms are something that I am experimenting with for use in my upcoming September show (see Beauty in the Broken Places...note to self....must.get.busy!). These involve a painting technique with a special morphing paint that reacts over the course of a few hours to transform into a mystifying beauty. Then it needs to rest and cure for three days. The word "mageia" is Greek for "magic" and seem to suit the outcome of these little gems, which are completely unpredictable. What you see above is the results of my experiments...and each one of those little drops was eventually covered in resin for a glossy, magnified look, tied to a scratch off code card and sent off to be added to the goodie bags for those on the Bead Cruise this week with our lovely Miss Heather Powers! I hope they find them fun! I guess it wasn't all a detour... these drops were an experiment and I learned a lot from making about 100 of them, in how to control the paint, what colors work best together and ways to make sure that no one touches them (especially me!) while they are drying! I am using these Mageia Drops in all sorts of things....they make great earrings, or charms on a bracelet. I have even clustered like-colored ones and added them to some necklaces that will be for sale at the Q on Friday for the changeover.

Whew! That was a LOT for one month, with no signs of it letting up! My head has been spinning because I have had some big plans of making art and jewelry for my show and getting something together for some charities as well as developing some new ideas and paying someone to come and help me organize my studio so I can have fun working in here again...and...and...and...but, we all know...

"Life is what happens to us while we are busy making other plans." ~ Allen Saunders

That seems to be very true for me! And I am guessing that it is also likely true for you. So my question to you is this....

When you are sidetracked from what you originally had planned,
do you power through and try to get back on the track you were on...
or do you follow that path wherever it may lead, discovering new paths along the way?

The random winner will receive a set of 4 Mageia Drops and a 5x7" print of your favorite Dr Seuss quote, suitable for framing (and perfect gift for the graduates in your life!).

Thursday, May 5, 2016

May Challenge Color Palette

This month's amazing inspiration is "On a Shaker Theme" by Charles Sheeler.
A cool color palette but I can see bringing in warm colors to make a nice balance. 
We are very linear this month but I can see all the fun house charms and pendants available that would be perfect for this month's challenge.

I could see you mixing in colors and texture with leather, waxed linen, sari silk, chunky square beads or hammered chain. I can't wait to see your creativity with this inspirational piece.

I checked out the Art Bead Scene editor's websites and shops for a few picks that would work perfect for this month's challenge. 

(Don't forget Tari can make any of her buttons into pendants for you!)

Middle: 3. Swoondimples.  4. Gardanne Beads

Very Bottom: 7. Mary Harding.

So what is your favorite part of this month's painting?