Friday, June 30, 2017

June Monthly Challenge Tour

Hello bead peeps!

I am running a bit behind and of course that is when everything runs amuck, right? So I finally managed to pull together the slideshow of the beautifully colorful entries for the June challenge. Without further ado, here are your gorgeous creations!

And if you posted your creations someplace this month, please enter your links below for a chance to win some great prizes! See you for the July inspiration! Gotta dash!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Designing with Beaded Chain

I have found a new favorite beading supply and I wanted to share it with you.  It's beaded chain and it comes in endless varieties.  I have seen it made with crystals and gemstones as well as wire tones in silver, gold, bronze and gunmetal.  You purchase it off of spools by the foot.  I have been purchasing it in 2 feet increments for 12" on each side, along with the closure and pendant - it's a fast and pretty necklace design option.

For my project, I have 2 feet of matte striped agate gemstones wire wrapped in 24 g gunmetal wire.  I also have a spool of matching wire, coordinating size 6 brown seed beads, a gunmetal lobster claw clasp and two 1 1/2" pieces of silk ribbon.  For tools, I need wire cutters, flat and round nose pliers.

Start by finding the middle point of the chain and cut 2 gemstone links off being careful not to cut the wire loop on the end of the chain piece.  Remove the wire from the 2 beads and set aside.  Cut two 3"pieces of wire.  Take the clasp and a bead - now make a matching size to the chain wire wrapped loop and attach the clasp before closing the loop.  String the bead and make another wire wrapped loop and attach it to the 12" piece chain before closing the loop.  Do the same thing again but make the loop a bit larger for the clasp to attach to.  Now to attach the pendant.

Cut two 4" pieces of wire.  Make a wire wrapped loop and attach the pendant before closing the loop. Make the top wire wrapped loop and attach it to the chain link before closing the loop.  Do not cut the wire tail.  Wrap the silk around the pendant loop up to the wire loop.  Start to wrap the wire around the ribbon and add a seed bead 5 times around and position the bead in place so it looks balanced. Secure the end of the wire by pressing it with the flat nose pliers.  Repeat on the other side.  This hides the pendant loops and gives the necklace a nice finished look.

Now you have a lovely necklace to wear that takes less than 30 minutes to make.  What's not to love about that? :)

I hope you will enjoy this technique as much as I do.  Michelle from Firefly Design Studio

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

This and That with Art Beads

Some of my handmade beads that I raku fired last week at the community Raku Firing at the Thousand Islands Art Center.

On Saturday July 1, I will be participating in the 10th Annual Mare's Wares Art Festival.  I have known about this plan for several months, but now that it is beyond crunch time, I am feeling stressed and could not really settle on a topic for today's Blog Post. Instead, I am just touching on a scattering of topics, much like my brain is acting under pressure. It seems that pressure engenders some kind of resistance and procrastination in me and I go to my studio and instead of being task oriented, I begin to play and experiment. One of my best "discoveries" was this cool toggle clasp I made last week, when I thought I would be glazing pendants for the show.
Toggle Clasp made from brass and copper wire and lead free solder by Mary Harding

And the week before I was deep into making some funky earring bails inspired by the rustic jewelry bails I blogged about last month.

Funky Earring Bails by Mary Harding

One of the jewelry pieces I will have at the Mare's Wares festival on Saturday is a simple free form peyote stitch necklace. And the best part is that this morning as I was looking for beads to share in this post, I came across the perfect one to balance the necklace. I will show you the before and after in the pictures below.
Work in Progress Free Form Peyote Necklace by Mary Harding

As you can see the piece is unbalanced and I had tried a number of ways of  improving it but none worked until this morning when I wasn't even trying!!! See the next picture.

I will be adding that big blue ceramic flower which seems to fill it out nicely.  

Originally today I had planned to share a tutorial with you which I will now defer until next month. Here is a picture of some of the parts of the necklace. I hope you will stop by next month and see how it turns out.

Necklace project for my post in July
Thanks so much for stopping by today.  Sharing these stress related projects with you has been fun and I am already feeling more focused.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Don't Kill Your Inspiration!

Some of you may know I have face book group "inspiration in everyday" where folks share their inspirations in relation to art beads.  Most share jewelry, I share beads because that is what I make most. The concept is to share what you create, but just as important, share also what inspired you. 
Here is what I shared this month, both photo and text:

So..... I got inspired by garlic!! I'm so strange! I know! I cut the bottom end of a bulb of garlic and when I looked at it - I was curious what it would look like pressed into porcelain. On the right is the result after pressing the garlic and adding a brown stain and some hand painted designs with black. So technically it is a garlic pendant I suppose! But no - I don't live in fear of vampires lol!! I just love pressing various textures into clay😀! Inspiration is all around!!

I get a lot of enjoyment from pressing random things into clay and learning the result, but I don't always put the results out there for the world to see.  What stops me?  If I'm honest, fear of rejection!  It was not so hard to share the results in the small, humble face book group of encouraging people!  But was I planning on offering this pendant for sale, where it could be rejected? No! I would self talk myself into thinking no one would want to buy my artistic, but still garlic inspired pendant, its much to odd!

 But Something surprising happened and made me think about how often negative self talk must stop my artistic growth! What happened was someone private messaged me asking if they could buy the pendant.  The very pendant I never would have listed for sale thinking no one would want it! So it's helped me to reflect, and hopefully grow a little more courage next time my inspiration takes me down an unusual path. There are others out there that appreciate unusual things as much as I do, and I should not let fear stop me from putting my unusual work out there! This incident has lead me to my post for today about the things that kill inspiration.

At times inspiration can start out small and often be quite fleeting.  There are also times it can be very loud and in your face! Some artists have referenced having to wrestle with inspiration in order to get or keep grip of it, while some have painted a mental picture of gently catching inspiration like you would a butterfly, treating it ever so delicately.  Others can even claim inspirations can fall right into their lap, completely unexpectedly!! I'm sure many artists and designers relate to one or all of the above, and have even more ways they come into inspiration!

So whether you go out and desperately search for, chase after, forcefully wrestle, cling to, catch, or just be ready when inspiration hits you - what you don't want to do is KILL it!!
So let's talk about what kills inspiration so we can learn ways to avoid killing it!

I like the mental picture of inspiration being a tiny sprouted plant under the care of the inspired artist/designer. This is also why you might see me use the word cultivate - a lot!  The sew and reap concept is a very important one to me.  Investment of time and resources is crucial in any area we want to see growth!!

Here are 3 Things that I have come up with that will kill inspiration, along with some thoughts on overcoming them:

1. Lies that bring forth self doubt! Lies such as, but certainly not limited to;
-" If you cannot win, you should not play" -  Oh, how tragic! All the beauty and learning through the process you will miss if you believe this lie!!

-"I'm not good enough, smart enough, creative enough, skilled enough, and so on, and so on"  The never ending I'm not ________ enough!  This is negative self talk and it's best to just send it away as soon as it comes! It is never helpful!  Something I heard once that has stuck with me is -" If you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them!"
The truth is where you are at on your journey is a great place as long as you are moving in the right direction.  You will get better the more you practice, so don't waste time worrying about what you think are your shortcomings, or comparing yourself to others!  Here is a quote I like - "Don't compare your beginnings to someone else's middle " Alexander K Trenfor

2. Fear of failure.  Failure is painful, yes! The tragedy that happens with fear of failure, is not only does it halt growth, but  it stops you from taking risks.  Risk taking is a crucial to bringing forth creative ideas!
Cultivate a growth mindset, allow failure to be part of your process.  Choose to learn from it rather than be stunted by it.  I have failed so many, many, times, so you can take it from me - it gets easier the more you do it!
 I will share a personal example of failure, I have lots to choose from! I make ceramic art beads. Living in a rural Canadian area, there is little market for ceramic art beads.  Quite a while back I signed up to do a local craft fair.  I thought maybe I could sell my art bead pendants by stringing them onto necklaces of silk cording (mostly because I like silk cording). I sold some items but I did not sell a single necklace at the craft show.  Although the failure did not feel so nice, I chose to ask myself questions, rather than give up and decide to never do a show again.  As an artist, I could have taken it as personal rejection .  I could have thought my art beads were no good.  Growth could have ended right then and there for me! But I did not let that happen! Through a process of questions I asked myself, I ended up learning that although I love hand dyed silk cord, others in my area prefer chain.  I also learned better ways to display necklaces. When I fail there is a song that comes to mind about getting knocked down, and getting back up again!!  If you get knocked down, get back up, and learn what to do differently next time! Grow, and consider yourself wiser!  And find something else to do with all the silk cord you bought in bulk - oh wait - that last part might just be advice for me only!

3. Perfectionism, friend or foe?  If perfectionism keeps you from perusing your inspiration, it will stunt your growth the same way fear of failure will.  It will also keep you from taking important, necessary to risks.  Sometimes perfectionism can be helpful.  It can push you further and help you get to the next level. If that is the case, use it!  If it is stopping you, or holding you back, let it go!!
Here is something to try, that might help you if perfectionism is what holds you back.  Ask yourself, what will happen if I do go for it?  Then ask yourself what will happen if I don't?  Answering these two questions will help you come to the realization that perfectionism is only keeping you from moving forward! Even if things don't turn out perfect, the sun will continue to rise, and set. The birds will still chirp, and life will go on, and the best part is, you allowed for growth!!

So protect that tiny sprout of inspiration and give it the best possible chance to grow.  Don't allow the dangers that be, destroy it!  Nurture it as though your creative growth depends on it!

Next month I'm away all month so I won't be around to choose a random winner for the "Inspiration in everyday " monthly prize.  So, what I am doing instead is offering 4 of these "inspire" bead combos so that in August 4 of you that share your inspirations over the next 2 months will win one of these sets:

So if you have not joined the group yet, you can here and share what inspires you!  I would love to see the things that inspire you!  Hey, I never mentioned yet where I am going next month!  Well, I'm pretty excited that half of the time I'm away, will be spent in Italy!!  It's an insanely exciting opportunity and  I am looking forward to sharing some inspiring things from my time there!! I have been there once before and found it to be endlessly inspiring!

Take care and wishing you all - inspiration in everyday!!
Terri Del Signore


Friday, June 23, 2017

Perfect Pairings :: SJ Designs + Earth Expressions

This month's inspiration is all about COLOR!
The colors are deep and saturated, yet soft around the edges with intriguing textures.
That is what I think these earrings by Sarajo Wentling capture completely.
I love these bright polymer clay charms and the way that Sarajo pulled beads that draw your eye up from them. This fun and flirty design is perfect for these hot summer nights!

Featured Designer :: SJ Designs
Featured Bead Artists :: Earth Expressions

We are now using Pinterest! 
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 June 28th to get your pictures posted to the Pinterest boards for the creation of the Monthly Challenge Recap post for June 30th.
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.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Bead Table Wednesday - Wafer Bead Inspiration

Today on Bead Table Wednesday I shared three projects using my new Gilded Bramble Wafer beads. I love this fun shape, I could design with them all day long! You can watch the video here:

Resources from the video:
Beads to Live By Trunk Show - Jackson, MI
Wafer Beads, disks & Kits: Humblebeads
Dark annealed steel wire: Ace Hardware or
Renaissance Wax:
Ceramic round beads: Firefly Design Studio 
Brass leaves, bead caps, bronze colored wire and buffing block: Vintaj or
Czech glass:
Sari and Chiffon Silk:

Earrings use 5" of 20 gauge wire per earring. Shown above are copper wire that has been antiqued with liver of sulfur. Below the wire is bronze colored wire by Parawire. 

 Use 6" of 20 gauge bronze colored wire to wrap the pendants and beads on this necklace design.

Wire sizes: Wreath - 20" 19 gauge steel wire. Wafer: 5" 20 gauge bronze colored wire. Tassel: 8" 26 gauge bronze colored wire.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Flatlay Fever

One of my biggest challenges for selling online has always been photography, making my photos eye-catching and beautiful whilst maintaining accurate colours and size references so that I don’t mislead any potential customers. 
Recently whilst chatting with a photographer friend I was introduced to the concept of Flatlay, anyone familiar with instagram with recognise this style easily, it lends its self so well to product photography for anything from clothing to cupcakes and is surprisingly easy to create. 

You will need the following:
  •  1 large sheet of white paper or card, or very lightly textured paper or card.
  •  Access to a large window where you will have good natural light. 
  • A decent camera. 
  • Various props to create the story or theme you are going for. 
I find it easier to set up your shot on the floor, one of the key things to a good flatlay is getting some height to take your photo, you are shooting straight down onto your work. 

A flatlay should tell a story, take a look at these examples and consider the story, what might the photographer want to communicate?
Coffee break! this photographer took a quick phone snap during a break. 

Its a great idea to include some of the tools you use to create your work, it shows your process and that your hand tools are an important part of the creation of your work. 

This is one of my personal favourites, it includes rods of glass used to create the floral beads, the book about wild flowers used for inspiration. 

The props you use should only be there to help frame the focus of your photo, consider setting your work out in a grid pattern or triangle, experiment with colour themes, asymmetry, storytelling and styling with what your jewellery might go with, scarves, tops etc. 

Stand a chair or small set of steps to get height and shoot straight down over the set up, remember the photos can be cropped when you are editing. 

Sally Sutherland is the creator of Soul Silver - Lampwork Beads and Jewellery, you can see her work on Facebook @soulsilversally  , instagram @soulsilverbeads  and twitter @soulsilversally

Monday, June 19, 2017

Summer Firefly Artbeads

It has always interested me how you can hand people the same exact subject matter and they will all interpret it a different way. Our personal experiences shape how we interpret the world, and in turn gives us a unique style and vision. I live in Virginia, and in the summertime our woods are full of wonderful fireflies (or lightening bugs if you prefer).  They are such a big part of what makes Summer magical, that I wanted to create some beads to celebrate them. These are some of the designs I came up with:
I used gold leaf to make it seem as if they were shining. If you are looking for some, I have some available in my Etsy shop:

Here are some beautiful earrings that Loralee Kolton made with them. I love the wonderful attention to detail she has. The way she carries the gold from the fireflies throughout the entire design is really great.

I also follow the wonderfully talented Kylie Parry on facebook. She was also working on some really great firefly jars! They aren't available yet, but look out for them in her future shop updates!
Kylie Parry

I came across these awesome works of art by Diane Hawkey. Loralee Kolton was lucky enough to snag them at bead and button, and they are really wonderful!

Diane Hawkey

Thanks for checking out all of my finds. I would also LOVE to hear about more artists making fireflies, or firefly jewelry:) 

Ashley Bonney: Summer Wind

Friday, June 16, 2017

Perfect Pairings :: McEnroe Moments + Pebble Dreams + Scorched Earth

Michelle of McEnroe moments is back at it again with some multi-layered earrings in deep gemstone shades of amethyst, aqua and plum. I like the use of the dark black findings that bring in a depth just like in our painting inspiration by Odilon Redon. These look like earrings that the stately woman in the painting might wear! 

Still lots of time to create for this month's challenge, so let's see what inspires YOU!

Featured Designer :: McEnroe Moments
Featured Bead Artists :: PebbleDreams + ScorchedEarth

We are now using Pinterest! 
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 June 28th to get your pictures posted to the Pinterest boards for the creation of the Monthly Challenge Recap post for June 30th.
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.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Bead Table Wednesday - Wire Flower Wreath Pendant

Today on Bead Table Wednesday I share some of my Bead & Button loot and a fun new project featuring wire wreaths embellished with glass leaves and flowers. Watch the video below.

Resources featured in the video:

Polymer clay leaves and disk beads: (There are a few kits on my website too!)

Glass leaves, flowers, wire and butterflies:

Raw brass chain and jump rings: Yadana Beads

Supplies used in the pendant:
30" 20 gauge Antique Bronze Parawire
Vintaj brass butterfly
Humblebeads leaf pendant and disk
4 Czech glass leaves and 4 flowers
25" raw brass chain
1 6mm brass jump ring
2 8mm brass jump ring

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Earring Whisperer - Heavenly Bodies

Same with the dark blue/gold, polymer pair. I tried many different sizes and shapes of crystals and different rings.  The challenge with this pair was the different length and sizes of the focal components. Asymmetrical designs are a favorite of mine, but each piece brings new challenges to solve.  The delicate "neck" of the teardrop shape need a light bead and also I wanted to cover the connector loops for a more cohesive look.

My suggestion is to hang on to ALL of your little bits and pieces from other projects, you never know when they will come in handy!


earring pair 1.

I hope you enjoy looking into the process as much as I do!

It's been a crazy wonderful week for me Attending Bead & Button!  I could use some serious sleep but that will never happen!  LOL  Hopefully I will have some new exciting things to show you all soon!

Many thanks for stopping by!  Meow

Loralee  xo

Monday, June 12, 2017

Art Bead Evolutions :: Bead & Button Show Recap

So last week I buzzed down to Milwaukee to commune with my bead peeps, so instead of a post about what I am making for the challenge, I thought I would share with you some of my experiences at the Bead & Button show.

I missed the Bead & Button show last year so I think I was making up for it (in a BIG way!). Starting Tuesday, I took four day-long classes and then spent the rest of the week shopping and sharing and otherwise soaking up the presence of a lot of my favorite Loralee + Martha, Andrew + William, Sarajo + Eric, Michelle + Diane, Marsha + Vlad.....

Me and my Beady Bestie, Heather Powers of Humblebeads. I love this girl so much! Notice how sparse the trays were...she brought 130 birds and sold at least 90 by the end of the show! So glad I snatched some goodies up to add to my collection of Humblebeads bowls and platters. Woot!
Tuesday I took class with Gail Crosman Moore. Sometimes I take classes with instructors I just want to be around, and this was one of those cases. I adore the unique materials that she manipulates and the way that she adds detail. She is also a color addict, like me, so I knew that we would hit it off. We spent the day making molds of various items and then worked with paper clay. I had never worked with that before and it is a really interesting medium. I must have been so engrossed in the process because I don't have a single picture of anything I made. You will have to trust me that it was way cool. I anticipate that I will be playing around more with this, maybe even for this month's Simple Truths Sampler, so stay tuned!

Next up I took a class with Julie Picarello of Yellow House Designs. Her work is so very recognizable. I can spot it a mile away! Her chosen technique is mokume gane. I have my own variations of this technique, but it was so nice to learn how she does it. I loved the color mixing that she taught, as that has always flummoxed me. Julie really broke that down and now I get it! She shared all her imprint tools and that prompted me to take a quick road trip to the American Science & Surplus to look for oddball things. Found some interesting stuff! I will need to find a way to make this more of my own look, but since I have done this before, I think that should be no problem. What I most loved about the class was really at the very end of the day, when she shared her finishing techniques. Her work feels like the softest satin, which makes it even more beautiful. Now I know what I need to do for some of my pieces that will really take them to the next level. I treated myself to her book and a pair of her earrings. More to come on this technique!

On Thursday I had a half-day class with Irina Miech of Eclectica. She is a wizard with precious metal clay (PMC). I have taken two other classes over the years in PMC, mostly ending in failure. You would think that with my years of experience with other clays that this would come easy. Not so much. But Miss Irina was such a wonderful teacher. We worked with molds again, this time with some more natural materials like leaves and twigs, and even set tiny CZ stones in our work. I plan to trek back to her store in Brookfield (west of Milwaukee) to take another class with her in the fall, because I really want to see if I can master this medium, or at least make it consistently in my own style. I am excited about that! Now I dearly want to try the bronze and copper clay versions.

Nature's Elements in Silver PMC with Irina Miech

Finally, I took Kitchen Table Soldering with Francesca Watson of the Makery. I have always adored her work so learning from her was a definite highlight. She is larger than life. Her laugh is booming, and her taste in music is fabulous! Her first words were that she was going to work us hard. And boy, did she ever. I barely had time to catch my breath! In the end, I am pretty happy with how my pendant turned out, and it makes me appreciate even more those that do this all the time. Amazing what you can do when you start with just a piece of silver wire and a stone. I don't know if I will be setting stones in the future, and her set up is a LOT more robust than what I could have at my kitchen table, but I have always wanted to make my own bezels for my clay creations, and I can take a lot of what I learned here and apply it to my own vision.

Kitchen Table Soldering with Francesca Watson
At the end of the week, I finally got to spend a little more time with my best friend Heather Powers. We were even able to have a wonderfully relaxing celebratory dinner complete with cocktails, just the two of us, to catch up and recharge. That was one of the best times all week! I told her that I wasn't really going to shop at the show...HA! Famous last words! Old habits die hard! I found myself going to my very favorite booths.... for stones, pearls, beads, components and of course, art beads. Now I need to get to the making! Here's a little tour of the goodies I found....without really looking...some of which would work well for this month's inspiration, don't you think?

Clockwise from top left: Beads Direct faceted rondelle gemstones (diamond blue silverite, AB peach moonstone, AB labradorite, AB blue fluorite, AB ruby moonstone, AB dendrite opal); hematite strands; glass hexagons, faceted drop bezels, fossilized orthoceras, carved mother of pearl; metal spacers, pearls.
Clockwise from left: buttery soft leather tassels; Vintaj blanks and new pewter bezels; bone and wood carved feathers, copper etched pendants, copper patina charms, beetle wings
Clockwise from top left: Green Girl Studios + Allegory Gallery; Humblebeads; Diane Hawkey + Firefly Design Studio; Anna Bronze + Aja Vaz of Wandering Spirit Designs; Bob Burkett from Tiger Tiger; Golem Design Studio.
Since I didn't get a chance to create my own art bead interpretation for the challenge yet (but these classes are pointing me in a direction!), I will share with you the necklace I made for the Halcraft Pretty Palettes challenge for May. I started that challenge over there as part of my years on the Halcraft Dream Team, and now that my time there has ended, I have passed the baton to Molly Schaller. She is continuing this great monthly challenge. The colors for May were brilliant greens and to that I added some light blue, deep raspberry and golden hematite nuggets. I had a pendant from our own Ashley Bonney of Summer Wind Art that was perfect for this month's painting, with the watercolor splashes and the touch of gold leave. I call this Meanderings.

What have you been up to so far this month? Are you working on something for the challenge? Can't wait to see how you interpret this month's painting!