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Archive for November, 2009

Jewelry Inspired: Fun With Swarovski Filligree Flowers

The good people at Artbeads allowed me to pick out some Swarovski components to try out free of charge. I decided that one of the items I wanted to try were these Swarovski Filligree Flowers as I had not seen this type of component up close & personal before. When it arrived, it certainly lived up to the standards I have come to expect from Swarovski: solid design and the crystals sparkle beautifully.

At first I didn’t know what to do with it. The flower itself has a very vintage feel, so it is unlike my usual modern funky design. It has such an elegant yet bold factor on its own: paring it with stones and beads just made it feel very busy and over done. I realized that this component on it’s own would make a very nice piece: like a nice brooch or earrings…then it hit me. I immediately had to purchase more from Artbeads, because these would make the perfect hairpins!

I usually shy away from making this type of jewelry because there doesn’t seem to be any challenge design wise. Glue the component onto a hair pin. Okaaay…now what? Seems very uninspired for someone who wants to inspire & be inspired.

But when the order arrived from Artbeads with my extra Swarovski flowers I knew I made the right decision. I can totally see these as hair adornment: perfect for a bridal party, the prom or any formal event – or even just to jazz up your hair any day of the week.

And remember when I said this would be not very challenging? I was left scratching my head when trying to decide what glue to use. I have just about every kind of glue you could imagine for jewelry making or crafting. I decided the best glue for this would be Zap-A-Gap: it’s like Super Glue, but also waterproof & will adhere to any surface, even oily ones, and dries clear. Seemed pretty fool proof.

Only it was slightly tricky. I had to find just the right pressure to hold the component onto the hair pin and keep it really straight so that it would adhere evenly. I did not want to use a clamp or tool for this in case it damaged the Swarovski component. So it was a little tense & frustrating to start out trying to decide how much pressure and for how long to hold…and not glue my fingers to it! 😉

But once experimenting with one the other three worked up quite quickly.

I was excited with the results. The glue cured for 24 hours and this is one solid unit.

I decided an elegant pair of earrings to go with these were in order. I simply paired them with 8mm freshwater pearls, antique gold culinary grade lead free pewter bead caps and gold filled ear hooks….

Remember that original component Artbeads sent me that inspired this whole project? Well, I made a ring out of it, glued onto an adjustable filigree ring base:

I am really impressed with how this project turned out (and am now totally hooked on Swarovski flowers!!) and will definitely be offering this on a by request basis on my website. Stay tuned!

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The 6 Characteristics of Highly Creative People

I found this article several years ago, after looking up the exact wording to one of my all-time favourite quotes by Thomas Moore. The article spoke to me so much I cut & pasted it for future reference. I found it the other day while cleaning out folders on my hard drive. I thought I would share it here as I’m sure many of you can relate, esp. other “innerpreneur” types like myself. Unfortunately I am not sure what website this originally came from, however I was able to give credit to the author.

by Michelle L. Casto

Thomas Moore said, “We are all poets and artists as we live our daily lives, whether or not we recognize our role and whether or not we believe it.” Human beings have an innate need to create. Even you! There is a continuum of creativity, ranging from being slightly creative to highly creative. The good news is that you can learn to be more creative by observing creative people and modeling yourself after them. Artists, writers, and creative types seem to have similar characteristics. Some of the personality traits listed below may seem eccentric, odd, even “out there”—but that is where creativity lies— in the outreaches of our consciousness, in the depths of our souls. If you had the opportunity to speak to Picasso, Walt Disney, or Jane Austen, you would probably find out that they are ordinary people, much like you and I. The difference is that they have allowed more of their soul to come out and play and have freed themselves of convention and restriction. Creativity is essentially the art of discovery and an act of faith. When you create something— a work of art, book, software program, dance routine, or role for a play, you discover parts of yourself that you never knew existed. Creative people have a strong need to express more of who you really are and often have to fight for that right. The character Isabelle in the movie, Fire and Ice, has a great outlook on what it means to be creative, she says, “To create, sometimes you must rebel.”

1. Unconventional
Creative people do not feel the need to conform to society’s standards. They often swim against the current and flow with their own way of thinking and living. They have original ideas that literally turn the world upside down and right-side out. Take for example, the 16th century Italian astronomer, Galileo, who proved that the earth revolved around the sun (instead of the other way around), which was revolutionary in his time.

2. Individualistic
Creative people want to find out what the truth is, and they have a strong need to decide for themselves what works and what does not. Often they are ahead of their time, and much of their work is appreciated/acknowledged after they are dead and gone. Many writers are famous for marching to the tune of their own drum, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote the book, Self-Reliance, and Robert Frost who penned, “two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less-traveled.”

3. Inventive
Creative people live in the world of ideas, and don’t always have the best interpersonal skills. Because they are so highly intelligent, and live in the realm of possibility, they are constantly coming up with bright ideas. They also take notice of what is missing in the world and/or what could be improved. Take for instance, Thomas Edison, who invented hundreds of things in his time, his most famous invention being the light bulb. He saw that there was darkness and then created light.

4. Driven
Creative people cannot “not do something”-they are almost compulsive until they can bring their internal vision into fruition. They have that “fire in their belly”—a passion to contribute to the beauty and betterment of the world. Because of their high drive, they can produce a lot in a relative short amount of time. Talk about drive— the material girl herself, Madonna, has not let public praise or criticism stop her from being a super star. She is a modern day Diva, multi-talented as a singer, dancer, and actress who has released hundreds of songs, albums, videos, movies, books— all the while reinventing herself as someone new.

5. Visionary
Creative people have a guiding vision in their head, heart, and soul that they are often called to bring to life. Who else but Michelangelo could look at a large piece of marble and “chip away at everything that wasn’t David?” According to him, “I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” One of his best-known works is the immense ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which took him three years to complete, where he often had to work upside down for hours at a time. If you ever have seen any of his work, you can easily see that it is a vision to behold.

6. Intuitive
Creative people are very in touch with their inner selves. They pay attention to the signs, synchronicities, symbols around them, and make use of that information in their work. They often act as a channel, where ideas and inspiration come from a higher plane. They allow the work to guide them to where it needs to go. The work clearly originates in their soul, not from their ego. Talk about ideas coming from out of the blue, remember how the scientist, Isaac Newton “discovered” gravity? He was sitting under a tree and an apple fell on his head! Had he not made a connection with his intuitive nature, he would have missed a major theory about the world we live in!

As you read this, do you find yourself relating to some of these traits? If so, it is time to start creating. Getting started can often be the hardest part, because we often limit our creativity by listening too closely to our negative inner voice. But so did all of these examples of creators. Even the famous painter Vincent Van Gogh struggled with that, but he created a remedy for that, he said, “If you hear a voice within you saying, you are not a painter, then by all means, paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Robert Henri says, “When the artist is alive in any person, whatever his kind of work may be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressing creature.” Once you have created, you now have to put yourself out there for all to see. This is where your faith comes in to support you. Remember that if you are creating from your soul, it will not matter whether other people accept your work or not. You are simply doing what you are called to do as a human being, create.

Michelle L. Casto is a whole life coach, speaker, and author of Get Smart! About Modern Romantic Relationships, Get Smart! About Modern Career Development, and Get Smart! About Modern Stress Management. Her coaching practice is Brightlight Coaching, she helps people come up with bright ideas for their life and empowers them to freely shine their bright light to the world. Contact her for a free 30 minute coaching session: www.getsmartseries.com and www.brightlightcoach.com

Contributed by:

Michelle Casto
©2003, Michelle Casto
Website: Get Smart! LearningBooks, Seminars, and Life Coach

Jewelry Inspired: Funky Copper Disc Choker

I added a little somethin’-somethin’ to my Artfire Studio today. This copper choker has been sitting on the bench for some time begging to be finished. I bought these copper discs – no word of a lie – 10 years ago. I used to buy a fair bit of Estate sell-offs back when ebay wasn’t so saturated. I admit at the time, being new to the jewelry making game, I wasn’t aware of the size when I bought them. 15mm just didn’t compute in my brain as being on the large side. So when the lot arrived – almost 100 – I had no idea what to do with them. They seemed so big and flying saucer like…

So they sat in the supply pile for well, a decade. Then this summer I decided to pick up some copper headpins, and see if I could make one of my signature funky chunky bracelets.

(Oh and I decided to pair up the discs with a 3.3mm bicone copper bead to add some dimension…)

I wanted the piece to be really solid so I started putting the discs really close together on the links of dash dot sterling silver chain (I love this chain by the way – although it is expensive it is really heavy duty, perfect for projects like this). It definitely was solid…however by doing this it did not have much bend…kind of hard to make into a bracelet. Since I already started it, I didn’t want to dismantle and start again, and I knew I had a fair bit of beads, so I decided to turn it into a choker.

So I got the beads put on and then, there it sat for a very long time. About three months! I just couldn’t decide how to finish it. Although I had assembled the discs on a heavy gauge sterling silver chain, I did not like the way the sterling stood out against the copper for the extender chain portion of the necklace. I probably could have oxidized the chain, but I was lazy. Instead I found some really heavy duty vintage copper chain to finish off the piece.

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I put a fairly long extender chain on it so that it can be adjusted to wear in a variety of ways. I also like the dramatic effect it has: the large beads at the front, and the slender sleekness of the chain trailing down in the back…I really love how it feels like a puzzle in your hands.

This is a piece for someone who wants to make a bold statement, and own a truly one-of-a-kind. I know I could never get these beads again. They are assumed “vintage” although I cannot confirm this…

Jewelry Inspired: Sparkly Reconstituted Smoky Quartz…

Expanding on yesterday’s post, that lately I have been working with colour themes, I now introduce you to one day’s project: fun with reconstituted smoky quartz. Essentially, these are glass beads that contain particles of smoky quartz. So yes, they are “just” glass but are they ever so pretty! I don’t purchase a lot of glass anymore but when I saw how these faceted beads danced under the lights I had to have them. They are a nice size too – 12mm, so they really make a statement.

Initially, I set out to make one of my signature chunky bracelets. However, as the piece evolved it became clear that it laid better across the neckline than on the wrist. And so, voilà – this piece was born:

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Unfortunately, my photography skills do not do it justice. It looks and feels like a million bucks on. This is probably due to the heavy sterling silver dot dash chain, as well as the 22 gauge sterling silver wire each bead is affixed on the chain with. I also made sure to make it adjustable length wise so that it could be worn in different ways: choker style or longer. I love how it looks and feels on –

I was really, really tempted to keep it for my own personal collection!

If you can imagine, this was a fairly labour intensive project, so I finished up my adventures in sparkly amber coloured bead land with two elegant and tasteful pairs of earrings:

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That was fun! I am really hoping to find time to do more projects like this!

10% off from Artbeads.com

My friends at Artbeads.com have informed me that they are running a 10% off promotion until December 31st, 2009. Simply use this code at check out:

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I really enjoy Artbeads as they have savings on multiples of one item, and only $1 shipping to Canada – which is a huge deal for me! I was also pleased to see they offer other crafting supplies too such as rubber stamps – I love to collect rubber stamps!

You can go to their site to sign up for their newsletter to get more access to exclusive specials and coupons.

Happy crafting!

Jewelry Inspired: Aqua Blues…

So the other day I had the opportunity to have an adventure in sea blue – or aqua blue as these particular beads are properly called. I currently have dyed quartz and fiber optic cat’s eye beads in aqua blue. I have beads of all colours of the rainbow in the cabinet…so I love to get requests for specific colours to work with esp. if it is one I have not touched in awhile. I mean really, do I need an excuse to get creative? Twist my rubber arm…

Check out these dyed faceted quartz beads paired with sterling silver hoops. I tell you, the pictures do not do these babies justice: so pretty and sparkly!

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I also have many round 4mm dyed quartz beads. Kind of boring, you know? So I had this idea to wrap them around some memory wire  – the bracelet size – with 24ga sterling silver wire to make a fun & funky hoop earring. I have not worked in memory wire in a long time, & due to the success of this experiment I think I will be doing more projects using memory wire in this way. I can also see making some cool pendants & such as well, not just earrings!

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The hoops face back-to-front when you wear them – just like a normal pair of hoop earrings. I decided to put them on sterling silver French ear hooks (earwires) for comfort.

Finally, I really love the look of this hue of blue with white, so I wanted to make a dangly pair coupled with a freshwater pearl accent…and here you have it: 4mm dyed quartz, fiber optic cat’s eye beads and 5mm frewshwater pearls on sterling silver:

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It was really fun to work with this colour amongst all the Fall colours here in Québec…really makes me long for white sandy beaches and turquoise seas! 🙂