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Jewelry Inspired: What Summer Means to Me.

Artbeads offered us bloggers a chance to try out some supplies* & design a summer theme. My first instinct is to gravitate toward blues, yellows, pinks, white: bright colours & pastels. Then I stopped myself. That is my assumption of summertime jewelry. But what does summer mean to me?

I grew up in Nova Scotia, so the ocean was never far away. But I grew up in the Annapolis Valley – so the ocean was not the prominent landscape. Now that I live in QuΓ©bec, I live near a lake. So there is indeed water, but like the muddy banks of the Bay of Fundy, it is not the crystal clear blue/green water you will see in the Caribbean. It has more of an earthy quality.

Thinking of where I spend most of my time in the summer months, I like to be outside in my garden: either working with the dirt or relaxing in the shade when it’s too hot. I like to observe the plant life and insects as they exist in harmony with one another.

In the summer, you will see me in a lot of khakis, earth-toned capris & shorts: tank tops – very simple & casual. If I go out to an event, chances are you will see me in a simple black dress and black thong sandals. So it occurred to me – what summer means to me: spending time connecting with the earth & casual socializing.

After this contemplation, I decided to choose two pendants from Artbeads that I thought most represented me in the summer months.

This 18x25mm onyx pendant is hand painted with a butterfly by a Russian artist. Butterflies are very symbolic for me: they represent beauty in nature, as well as transformation – something I strive to do many times in my life. This pendant would be perfect in a casual outfit or little black dress.

As mentioned in my last post, I had a hard time choosing colours for this piece. I just have too many hues of yellow & orange in my vast stash of beads! I ended up going with just a splash of colour with these 4mm jade beads. Too much colour with the black onyx and it would look too halloween-ish or bumble bee-ish! Plus I wanted the beauty of the pendant to take center stage & not get lost in a sea of bright colour. So I used mostly onyx beads (6mm and 4mm), sterling silver chain & bead caps.

When I approached the design for the second pendant, I didn’t have to look far for the perfect matching component. Something about this stoneware pendant reminded me of a particular bead. Was it wood? No. It would have to be a stone, with many different colour layers. Then it hit me: Moukite!

Moukite (or mookaite, “mook jasper”) is a type of jasper found in Australia. I love this stone for it earthy colours & broad patterns – anywhere from reddish-brown, gold, white, or even mauve/pinks! It was the perfect compliment to this pendant, which is made of glazed stoneware clay.

The pendant easily accommodates the 10mm beads. I decided to break up the bulk of the beads & add interest with these 8mm sterling silver twisted rope jump rings, mainly because they reminded me of the pattern of the white flower in the pendant.

I thought I’d share a tip: I wanted the rings to lay flat on the neckline. In order to achieve this, I had to pay close attention to the pattern. I noticed that I had to twist the loop wraps around the single beads (the group of three beads have their loops facing the same direction). I had to make sure that the wrapped loops on the single beads were alternating: meaning, instead of them facing the same direction , I needed to have one facing outward. Here is a picture that hopefully will illustrate what I mean (sorry it’s a bad picture):

I held the loop to the left with my fingers, then gently twisted the loop on the right with my pliers 90 degrees. This variance in the loops means the rings laid flat against my neckline instead of sticking out uncomfortably.

*The Artbeads Blogging for Beaders program allows us bloggers the opportunity to try new products free of charge. My reviews are my honest opinion & I have not been paid for endorsing this product by artbeads.com.*

Bringing The Beads Back to The Bench…

I haven’t done any beadwork in quite awhile since I have been teaching myself some metal techniques. Today I brought the beads out again in order to work on my Artbeads Blogging for Beaders Project for Summer.

I doubt I will finish both pieces today…actually I know I won’t, esp. since this beautiful weather is calling me outdoors!

I have to admit something: I have WAY too many supplies. I am serious!! Not exactly a bad thing – but over the past two and a half years, I seem to have had more time to BUY beading supplies than MAKE jewelry! Plus I scope out suppliers, buy wholesale and volume discounts and close outs – well, you get the picture. When I sat down to look at colour options for these two necklaces, I had too. many. choices.!!Β  In a way it was overwhelming – too many possibilities! I spent a half an hour this morning just looking & considering colour schemes!! I came to the conclusion for example, I have way too many gemstone beads in the hue of ORANGE!! I went to get large guage headpins and paused to consider dozens and dozens of different metal components. And I am organized – believe you me – it’s just too many choices staring at me. At this point, I think I could open a small store…if I had the time! HA!

Anyway, I mean that somewhat in jest of course – but still…anyone else feel the same way – even some days?? The possibilities are endless when it comes to beads…I thought I was limiting myself by not buying glass anymore but nope… πŸ™‚

Happy Creating! I should be posting this project within a couple of days…

Cool Tools: What I Got for My Birthday…

I am incredibly lucky to have an extremely supportive spouse. Perhaps maybe too much so: he loves cool tools as much as I do so he rarely tells me “no” if I want something tool related. Thankfully, I have some restraint…. πŸ™‚

Here are a few items I received for my birthday on April 22 – Earth Day! Forget flowers & chocolate: get me some tools!!! πŸ™‚

New metal shears! I have a large pair of shears but I wanted a smaller pair. The ones on the right cut on a curve. Neat-o!

Metal hole punches. I have a screw-style metal punch, but I wanted to try this type as well. I will do a comparison review in an upcoming blog post.

This is the item I wanted the most: a dapping block and punch set! I can’t wait to get my hammer on these! πŸ™‚

This is a really neat tool and a total splurge. It’s a necklace mandrel: so you can form a necklace by lightly hammering so that it lays properly across the neck. Very cool…!

This was real nifty as well…what a great way to organize all the little burs and tools. I really like that I can hang my pliers on the back as well. You don’t know how much running around I do for these items! Now, all in one place. Ahhhhh…. πŸ™‚

I also got muslin buffs for my polishing lathe and metal files but that’s BOR-ING compare to these. Now if I can get caught up housework, I can go play. πŸ™‚

Etsy’s Treasury East: New Feature

I got a convo from a fellow Etsian that I am featured in her curated Treasury East. This is the first time I have been included in one, therefore my first time to give it a test drive. I’ve not had the time to curate one myself as of yet, unfortunately.

Treasury East has been rather controversial with the Etsy community. With Treasury Main and Treasury West, you would have to wait for the full treasury to “open up” – when the current treasuries expire – and hope to grab one before they fill up. The treasuries fill up in seconds, and if you are the lucky one to grab one and curate, it is a fun and important marketing tool for many Etsy Users.

The difference with Treasury East, is that they never expire, and comments and the number of treasuries curated will be infinite. This left a lot of Etsy users wondering how they will become relevant regarding promotion and marketing: how will potential buyers see the treasuries and wade through the hundreds – if not thousands of treasuries?

Treasury East is still in the testing stage so these questions will hopefully be answered in the coming weeks. I do see some pros to the new format: you don’t have to wait around for one, and the never expiring element means that you can share it on social network or you blog and it will always be visible. The new format is also larger and cleaner looking. “Hotness” is gained not just by clicking and commenting as before, but gained through promoting outside Etsy, using social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook.

I don’t know when or if I will curate a Treasury East. But I thank you, riorita for including my turquoise chip earrings! πŸ™‚

Creativity Inspired ~ Cool Tool: Microwave Flower Press

Earlier this year I obtained this neat little contraption called a Microwave Flower Press. They are available at many garden supply stores. I wondered if they really would dry flowers in minutes and still retain the same delicate quality of a flower traditionally pressed in heavy books.

The press is comprised of two terracotta slabs, wool pads and broad cloth. It boasts the ability to dry press flowers in as little as three minutes, and that it will retain the colour of the flower better than the slow-drying method.

After laying the wool pads and cloth onto the terracotta, take the flower(s) you want to dry and arrange them on the broadcloth. It was the middle of winter when I tried this experiment, so I obtained some plants with small flowers from the home improvement store.

After you have the flowers placed as you like, carefully place the other broadcloth, the other wool pad and then the other terracotta slab on top – sandwiching the flowers in between.

Into the microwave we go. It’s recommended that you microwave in 30 second intervals so not to over dry the flowers. Since these were small flowers, I complied with the suggestion. It took about 2 minutes to do most of these little flowers.

I did this experiment twice – and these are the successful flowers. One variety would not dry properly at all – either they were over done & flaky – therefore stuck to the broadcloth, or still retained moisture and stuck to the broadcloth – so just as unusable, either way.

These are the variety of flowers that did not work in the microwave press; I pressed them the traditional way – in heavy books – for 3 weeks. I agree with the claim that the colour is retained in the microwave press. The flowers I traditionally pressed did fade somewhat.

I look forward to trying out larger flowers this summer in the press. I’d also like to incorporate this into jewelry making somehow: maybe set the dried flowers in resin? Oh the ideas… πŸ™‚

Market Mommy Blog Party: Think Spring

I am happy to announce that heavenlyflower.com is participating in the Think Spring: Market Mommy Blog Party! I am giving away one $30 gift certificate and two $10 gift certificates. Come check out other mom entrepreneurs and register for some fab prizes! I appreciate that Dawn has built this resource for Mom owned businesses. It has been invaluable for networking and promoting business and I am more than happy to participate! πŸ™‚

Adventures in Brass: Part Two ~ The Initial Project

My first piece that I made via the brass oxidizing experiment was really, really crude – but it worked up fast. I know my fellow jewelry makers will appreciate the sentiment of just completing a project so that you gain the experience in working with the material – even of the end result is not up to your standards.

The piece turned into two pieces actually – a pair of earrings and a bracelet.

I cut out t he metal using a pair of shears. Then rounded and filed the corners smooth. With a sharpie, I marked where I wanted to punch holes with the screw punch. (You can see another project there on the left working up…for another day. :)). These pictures are straight from the bench, so you see the creative chaos first hand. Sometimes I need to drop what I am doing to develop another idea before I totally forget it. So there are normally many projects on the go at once!

After the holes are punched, I flattened/work hardened the brass using a brass mallet and leather sand bag. Then, the brass pieces were ready for earring assembly…

The completed earrings, with onyx and gold-filled components.

With the rest of the pieces of brass plate, I decided to punch holes – two on each side – and attach together with jump rings.

Sorry terrible pic – but I laid them out staggering the sizes and lightness/darkness from the two brass trophy plates this once was…(and a peek of yet another project in the top right…;)).

Added a magnetic clasp and…there you have it.

These two pieces will be displayed in my workspace as my first ever metal work pieces. I think that it will be neat to see the progression of skill in a few years time. I wish I had of kept the first piece of beaded jewelry I made over eleven years ago! But, I probably sold it! LOL!

Now that I got this get-a-feel-for-techniques project out of the way, my mind is going a mile a minute with ideas. The other projects I am working on involve incorporating the engraver so I am anxious to get them completed and shared. Let’s see how much life gets in the way of play! Stay tuned!