Sunday, April 29, 2012

Link Library with Melanie

In this post from the Art Bead Scene archives, Heather shared this project that used beading wire to construct this simple tassel style pendent. It's a great project to use up leftover beads as the accent!
 Check out the free project here!

Check out what some of our beady friends are up to this week:

  Bead A Day
Are you making jewelry for your summer vacation this year? Stop by A Bead A Day to share your plans! Jewelry Making
Tammy gives a nod to onyx, one of her favorite gemstones to make jewelry with.

Art Bead Scene
Erin provides a variety of ideas about custom jewelry tags, a fine personal detail for professional jewelry makers.

Beading Arts
"Spring Fever" month on Beading Arts is still in full swing as some readers share stories of pieces inspired by their own travels!

Carmi's Art/Life World
Do you wear a lot of brooches? Carmi has devised a way to make wearing them easier!

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie is having a special springtime sale! Check out the Earthenwood blog for more details!

Resin Crafts!
This week we have anew caps featuring Japanese paper and french owl stickers...quite the combo!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
While continuing to follow her A-Z Alphabet Blogging Challenge, Jean reviews an Unutterably beautiful jewelry design book, Showcase 500 Rings !

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Inspired by the spring flower, Andrew compiles a list of trillium themed jewelry components.  

Melanie Brooks is the ceramic beadmaker behind Earthenwood Studio, who blogs from her Metro Detroit, Michigan home.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Studio Saturday: Where have you been, Cindy?

Welcome to Studio Saturday! 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 free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we choose a random winner.

This weeks winner is Lynda from Fresh Baked Designs. Congratulations! You won one of Jennifer's owl buttons! Send Jennifer your e-mail address and she will send you the owl button.

This week we are at the studio of Cindy Gimbrone

Photo of Cindy created with Mac OS app Text to type

Good morning Readers! I'm sure your first question today is, Cindy, where have you been? Like many of you because the economy is bad and due to lay offs, I went to full time work. After years of part time, it's been quite an adjustment. I had to cut back on many things including blogging regularly.

But I didn't stop creating. Here are a few things I've been up to: Making briolette flowers for a project I have in mind:

Etching copper disks with eco-friendly vinegar:

Collecting natural elements for textures and molds:

Testing out a new media for beadmaking:

Working full time doesn't interfere with my creativity but it does interfere with my telling you about it! Are you able to find time to write about your creative projects? Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win one of the white bird beads shown above.

I look forward to reading your comments!

Friday, April 27, 2012

April Monthly Blog Tour

“Blow, Boreas, foe to human kind! Blow, blustering, freezing, piercing wind! Blow, that thy force I may rehearse, While all my thoughts congeal to verse!” ~ John Bancks

We are certainly a windswept bunch this month with our Waterhouse painting of the north wind blowing to get us inspired. Grays and blues with a hint of yellow and pink and green was on most of our palettes this month. It certainly looked like that to me outside where I am! Enjoy this blog tour as we honor Boreas, the North Wind (and wish that Zephyros, the Greek god of the calm spring breezes, would come quickly in its place!).

Calling on the palette of deep blue, slate gray and green, Tracy Stillman whipped up this lovely bracelet filled with movement of the blowing wind in the tinies little seed beads adorning the spaces. I love the asymmetrical balance that she devised with this design.

Lynda of Fresh Baked Designs really got into interpreting the painting. She tells us that not only are the colors inspiring but ther mood is as well. Lynda gave us a windswept design featuring steely gray wire and a butterfly on the wing.

Creating something special to honor the loss of someone dear, Kimi of Kimis Jewelry From the Heart sculpted the face of this wind swept beauty from polymer clay and added so many charming details. What a beautiful and meaningful work of art!

Cece Cormier (above), the Beading Yogini, brought this young pre-Raphaelite beauty to life with her mix of materials and textures. I love the triangular shape of the focal in the perfect shade of daffodil yellow that really draws my eye to her sweet face.

A lush garden of glass beads is what Pam of KlassyJoolz has created this month. Her bracelet brings out the textures in the dress and the swirling shawl as well as the rustling grasses. I can feel the movement of the wind in this beautiful bracelet.

The swirling North Wind is the muse of Cindy (above) of Devine Designs Jewelry. The hand forged elements add a classic touch to this organic necklace. Just beautiful craftsmanship!

Beth and Evie McCord of EB Bead And Metal Works elected to focus on the face of Waterhouse's beautiful model for their hand sawn and enameled focal. The colors of their lampwork beads are soft and pretty and I can feel the wind whipping her scarf around her through the gray silk ribbon winding around this piece.

Kym Hunter (above) went the abstract route for her submission. These intriguing glass spikes, the trapeze made of steel wire and the pop of buffeting gray silk all bring the pretty palette to life. Thank you for sharing these beauties!

Sometimes we make things for sale and sometimes we just can't part with them. That is the case with the pretty bracelet made by Three Trees Art. Combining a variety of textures and shapes with the soft earthy blues, grays and taupes makes this something special. I don't blame you for not wanting to part with this!

Clay is such a freeing material to work with because it can be transformed into so much. Emma Todd of A Polymer Penchant is kicking off her new blog showing us the beautiful mysterious blue beads that she made to go with this month's challenge. Please hop over and welcome her with an encouraging comment!

Miss Jenna of Honey Bijou (above) has no limits to where her creativity will take her next. She decided to reproduce the young lady in the painting on shrink plastic. Amazing! The detail and the mastery of illustration with this design, not to mention the beautiful wire wrapping skills. What a stunning piece of wearable art!

Sometimes the inspiration comes easy. Sometimes the execution of that inspiration is hard. That is what Sharyl of Sharyl's Jewelry & Reflections writes about in her post. I am glad that she persevered and come up with such a romantic design to share with us all!

There is something so hopeful about a daffodil. They spring forth dancing in the wind with a cheery dose of the brightest white and yellow. Donna Cruz of Crazy Notions focused on the flowers for a wrist bouquet that will forever bloom.

Picking up on the pattern in the girl's dress, Niky of SilverNikNats (above) found the perfect focal element for her bracelet that projects a lot of strength to stand your ground in the windswept fields.

I am not sure how she does it, but Mary Ellen of Bee Tree by m.e. is almost always the quickest to respond to our call. Her creativity is always at the ready and this month she literally invoked the North Wind to come and play with her design. She has a book filled with sketches of ideas and this time she even challenged herself to come up with a new concept. Bravo!

We are so happy that all of you keep sharing your creativity with us! Please remember that if you have a blog post for your challenge piece, to either put it in the challenge post at the beginning of the month or better yet, in the description of your picture on Flickr. There are so many more great designs that didn't have blog posts so I hope you will go and view them in the Flickr site!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bead Cruise 2013

I'm so excited to announce the details for my next Bead Cruise!  Mark your calendars for March 2nd for a seven night cruise on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas.  We'll set sail from New Orleans and head to tropical destinations such as Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Jamaica. 

Our instructors this year include Tracy Stanley, Ronna Sarvas Weltman, Beverly Herman, Kerry Bogert, guest instructor Erin Siegel and myself!  We have classes that include beading, wirework, metalsmithing, bead embroidery, photography, polymer clay and more.  Most of the projects are ones you'll walk out of the class wearing!  And you'll return home home with all sorts of new skills to add to your box of jewelry-making tricks.

It's not just classes and islands - we are having a bead shopping field trip the day before the cruise to Turquoise Coyote.  It's a wholesale to the public store and induces bead shock!  You'll walk around the store saying, "Is that really the price? Really?" Stones, crystals and pearls line every wall and every wall is lined with display classes filled with beads.  Did I mention it's awesome! 

On the cruise we'll enjoy open beading sessions with demos and presentations from each of our instructors.  Join us for a jazzy 1920's inspired costume party.  And you'll get to shop with our instructors during the Bead Bazaar. 

Check out all the details on our website,  Registration opens April 30th.

In the meantime, I hope you'll take a look at this year's Bead Cruise program
I have four free projects in this book featuring items from our awesome sponsors!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tag, you're it! Custom Jewelry Tags

"Every job is a self portrait of the person who did it ...
Autograph your work with excellence.” 
~Vince Lombardi 
Before I designed jewelry I was a collector of costume jewelry. That is all that I could afford, and I didn't realize that there were other options. I recall having a piece of Monet jewelry that seemed to cost a lot to me at the time, and it had this little tag near the clasp. It was identified by that brand tag forever and made it more special in my eyes.

When I started designing jewelry of my own, I knew that I wanted to somehow sign my work. After all, artists sign their paintings and we have all seen the Antiques Roadshow where a patron has a signed copy of an artwork that is worth thousands that they didn't even realize that they had. Early on, the pieces that I made were definitely not worthy of the moniker of 'art,' and they certainly didn't include art beads, but that didn't stop me from dreaming that one day my signature might be worth something!

I am glad that I had the foresight to think of this back in 2006. It was actually one of the first branding moves that I made, long before I decided on copper boxes and chocolate satin ribbon with my company name and skeleton key logo hot foil stamped on it. As I am prone to do, I did a lot of research before deciding on what was right for me. In fact, one of my very first posts on Art Bead Scene back in 2009 was about this very thing. There are many options out there for signing your work.

{the Tesori Trovati skeleton key logo stamp}
At the time I paid around $150 for a custom stamp to be cast of my exact skeleton key logo from Microstamp. This was way before there was an explosion of metal design stamps out there, and now I see that there are plenty of skeleton key design stamps that I could use, but I am pretty happy with the one that I had created just for me. Because I am the only one that has it.

Along with that, I purchased bulk packages of little oval tags, also from Microstamp, in sterling silver, gold filled, brass and copper. This size above is 6x9mm. I find that I gravitated to the copper and silver ones the most, as that matches the metal tones that I used more frequently and I have recently made the decision to stick to copper since that became a signature metal tone for me early on. I can also use this to stamp the back of a metal piece instead of a tag, an added bonus.

Beaducation offers such a huge variety of metal design stamps that you might be able to find something that could brand your work from their stable of popular designs rather than having something custom made. Then you just need to find the little tags to stamp them on and you are set!
{TagMate System from Infinity Stamps}

I did a lot of research on Infinity Stamps. They have a really nice tool called the TagMate System that you use to steady the stamp so that you get a true impression each time. I can tell you that I have baggies of little tags that I ruined because I stamped too light, too heavy, or got a ghost image from an overeager double blow with the hammer. Eventually, I picked up a dead blow hammer and got the hang of it so I don't make those mistakes any more. The price was considerably higher, but the main reason I didn't go with this is because at the time they only had a limited supply of sizes of the tags that fit their tool and they didn't offer them in copper, which was my favorite, or brass. However, I see that they now carry a much larger variety of metals, like brass and copper and shapes, like hearts and ovals and rectangles. They also offer stamps perfect for clay, like polymer and precious metal so that if you use those materials you can sign your work as well. If I didn't already have a stamp, I would surely look closer at this product now.

{cast pewter tags from Charm Factory}

You could also have a custom engraved sig tag created for you all ready to go from Charm Factory. Since they offer engraving rather than stamping it is supposed to be quicker and more precise. They also offer a cast pewter option that is less expensive (see above). I also liked that option and might consider it in the future.

{the cutest little sig tags ever created by Mamacita Beadworks for Lorelei Eurto Jewelry}

Lorelei Eurto came up with a clever idea to sign her artisan pieces. She commissioned an artist named D'Arsie Manzella of Mamcita Beadworks to create a custom tag with a cute little owl on it and the initials "L E" for her name. That is so very beautiful!

{see how that cute little tag adds to the charm of this Lorelei Eurto bracelet?}

Since this is a bit more special and more pricey route to go, they might not show up in every piece that Lorelei makes, just the most artistically inspired, but I love how this is also an art bead with Lorelei's favorite owl motif that can play into the whole design.

{Andrew Thornton's unique signature - I would love to own a piece of his jewelry with this special tag!}
And I just stumbled across a blog post by my friend Andrew Thornton with little bronze tags that he made with his own signature for a jewelry line he was working on. I love the way these turned out and the color of the metal. If you work in PMC this would be an obvious option.

What other things could you do to make signature tags? These options above might not work for everyone, and can be an added cost that some are just not willing nor able to take on. There must be some other ideas from you clever people out there.

I work a lot in polymer clay now, and it is wonderful stuff. I think that it would be possible to make some tiny wafer-thin tags in a variety of colors that could easily be added to your work. You can even use products to patina the clay and make it look like precious metal, like the new Swellegant line created for Christi Friesen that works on all sorts of surfaces from metal to paper to clay. You can get these from Christi direct or from B'Sue's Boutiques. Can't wait to try them! But it all comes back to branding, and maybe if you can't brand each piece of jewelry, start with your packaging with paper tags and stamps and stickers to make your work stand our from the rest.

Okay, so just by signing your work in some way doesn't make it art, but it is a step in the right direction. Why? Because artists who care about their work, who see the value in it, and who believe that the piece is done will add their signature. Imagine finding a Miriam Haskell signed piece of costume jewelry, or Louis Comfort Tiffany. The value of a signature is not to be overlooked and who knows? Yours might be worth something someday!

Your turn...
Do you sign your work? How do you do it? 
If you don't sign your work, would you consider it? What method appeals to you?
What else can you do to raise the level of your creativity from just making pretty to creating art? 

Erin Prais-Hintz invites you to go on a journey of inspiration at her blog Treasures Found :: Inspiration is Everywhere. You can view a gallery of her work at or purchase her new line of 'Simple Truths' in her Etsy shop.

Monday, April 23, 2012