Friday, July 29, 2011

Pineapple, Lemon...Sweet, Tangy

It's the last Friday of July!  That means it's time to show off some Artisan Clay!
This month's piece was a challenge for me.  When Kristie gave the team options to pick from I immediately wanted the yellow donut...it made me think of summer:  sweet, tangy citrus lemonade yellow.  I can picture a frosty glass with that pale tart and sugary goodness right now and it just makes me feel happy and refreshed.  Well, I got my wish and had a lovely big donut with pretty, crackling yellow glass "floating" within its ridges.  I immediately went to my yellow bead drawers and pulled out the lemon quartz and pineapple chalcedony...it seemed like the natural flow.  I actually have a lot of different shapes and sizes and tones of yellow stones so it became harder and harder to choose as all the options came out.  I kept laying out more and more choices in the monochromatic yellow theme.  Then, suddenly, I saw a pink and yellow art bead on the table and started moving down that path with two-color ideas and ended up with pink leather, sari ribbon and all a whole new set of beads added to the mix.  I have to admit that I got a little bit overwhelmed and had trouble keeping the focus on the Artisan Clay piece that's supposed to be the star.  My editor had apparently gone to lunch so I just had to walk away from the table.
I eventually made it back to work (along with my editor) and decided to put away the pink and go with my initial instinct and keep it simply yellow.  I pulled out some thin brass chain and went to work making a longer necklace design so the donut would be a focal pendant hanging a little lower.  Why long this time?  I shop at Chico's and am a fan of their styling in the store so I'm loving the look of a long necklace combined with a scarf.  It seems like a kind of modern twist on the scarf & brooch combination so that's the direction I took.  It's hard to take a good picture of the length but you can see all that chain...
Of note, you'll see that the original chain bail idea that I had earlier in the week was replaced by a piece of sari ribbon.  I did a little wear test on the long chain and the swinging around of the chain on more chain on earthen clay was not a really pleasant sensation.  I had to remove some of the movement so there wasn't any grating between rough surfaces.  To go back to the lemonade analogy, it's like when you're drinking the fresh carnival kind of lemonade through a straw and you suck in a big mouthful of sugar from the bottom of the cup.  :)   I like the addition of the ribbon, though, both for softness and for the better wear-feel.  
I used some more of my lemon and pineapple stones to put together some dramatic earrings with big faceted pieces and then twisted up a quick bangle.  That's actually a plain brass Chico's bangle that I got on a super clearance sale that I wrapped with some wire, ribbon, and chain to add a simple accent that highlights the summer yellow stones perfectly.
And that's the end of my story!  I got up bright and early this morning to post this because, of course, I waited until the last minute.  I actually had to take the photos with my iPhone because my "real" camera is at the office.  I'm kind of impressed with how they came out!  
Thanks, Kristie!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Weekend Crafting: Creative Block & Inhalants

Since it's Sunday, I'm starting out with a macro shot of my paper beads.  I spent Friday and Saturday evenings spread out on the kitchen counter with some paper I painted up last week along with a yardstick and paper cutter.  I cut dozens and dozens of skinny triangles and then set out with fingers full of glue to come up with these.  I'm really tickled with how they came out but I want to actually use some and see how they work before I try selling them or giving them away.  Is it bad that I'm admitting that I spent most of my weekend by myself at home playing with glue and paper and sticks?
The paper I used has a white core so the winded edges of white show up fairly prominently and I have to decide how to exploit that look.  They have a sort of optical illusion to them when viewed from the side. I may try some sort of tea-dye ink to "age" them and take some of that fresh white look away.  
One of my goals this weekend was to get some of these babies sealed.  I decided to use some spray sealant because that's what I had handy.  I spread out some newspaper on the kitchen counter and took each mandrel (uh, bamboo skewer, actually, by "mandrel" sounds so much more official) and gave the beads a few sprays.  This is where the "inhalant" part of the weekend comes in...I live in a small apartment and after standing there spraying in the kitchen for about five minutes the cat started to meow really loudly--which is not normal.  I walked over to look at him and in that movement took a big breath and realized that I am standing in the middle of a closed up room spraying hugely flammable and dangerous spray that is so smelly that it has started to freak out my cat.  Nice.  I immediately turned on the stove vent and then opened up a window and lined up a fan to blow some of the noxious air out of the apartment. It never even crossed my mind to go outside.  Once I got everything opened up, I made sure that cats were still running around just fine and left the apartment for a while so it could clear up.  Even when I got home three hours later it was still like walking into a paint shop.  But, I think we're good to go now.  The cats are still fine and I haven't had any issues either.  I probably still won't light any candles tonight.
The paper bead frenzy--not the inadvertent inhalant abuse--started out of a need to break my creative block.  I have an Artisan Clay piece that I'm working with as part of Kristie's design team and the reveal is next Friday.  Last month almost all of us were caught by surprise because the last Friday in June came earlier than we thought it would.  I find it shocking that now the end of July is just around the corner.  How can it be that summer is halfway done and I feel like I have nothing to show for it?  Alas, in trying to have something to show off for next Friday, I am working with a gorgeous pineapple yellow donut.  My first instinct was to go monochromatic with tons of lemon and pineapple quartz because I have a ton of different shapes and textures.  But, when I sat down on Saturday morning to work, there were too many things jumping out as perfect...I starting thinking pink and yellow and it went downhill from there. I had everything going on--chain, ribbon, leather, stone, wire--and felt like I had too many ideas and not enough focus.
It was like a festival of too many ideas and I just started to get angry.  I'm used to sitting down and things just happening naturally and they come out right.  The process of editing down this collect of stuff was too overwhelming.  So, I left it.  I was totally blocked so I got dressed and went shopping.  A few new bits from Chico's had me all sorted out...oh, and some Ben & Jerry's helped, too.  I sat down and finished it up this morning.  I'm pleased with the results and you'll see them next Friday.  :)

studio waterstone

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Central Pennsylvania - Art & Business & Champagne

My little brother is an artist.  Well, he's not really that little, but he is really an artist.  He has an MFA from Penn State and now he creates lots of goodness.  His name is Will, or rather William Snyder III, and he does a variety of print, digital, and three-dimensional work.  He's worked with me on a few projects because he's great with graphics and logo design.  Among his various creative endeavors, he directs a space in State College, PA, called The Sozo Institute of the Arts.  As he's been melding his talent into business, he's networked with artists from around the area and recently he sent me an invite to an event I'd like to share:
If you're in the area and looking to meet new people and make new connections, I encourage you to get in touch with Will...
RSVPs by Wednesday 10 August to info@thebusinessofart.org.  
Sadly, I won't be able to make it up there, but I wanted to spread the good word!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fire and Friends

Last weekend I got to experience the best of both fire and friends!  I "painted with fire" and was thrilled to meet up with some of my wonderful beady-world friends while working with Barbara Lewis last weekend in Annapolis.  This was a more advanced class working with different types of enamels and glazes on beads and pendants.  I made quite a few uglies, but that's the whole point of experimenting.  We got to see a copy of her new book and it is gorgeous!!!  I can't wait to have my own copy so I can ooooh and aaaah over the pictures and dig into the projects.  
While the fire was hot and the crafting was good, the most fun part of the class was getting to meet and chat with lots of blogging friends!  Elisabeth of Beads for Busy Gals is an Air Force bud of mine and we were planning to meet there.  But, it was a total bonus day because I finally met Laura Twiford of Souvenirs From Life and Melissa Meman from Melissa Meman...Art, Life, & Love!  It was an absolutely great group of folks in the class...lots of laughing, sharing, and encouragement.  Laura posted a bunch of action shots in a recent post.  We were happy to finally meet because we determined a few weeks ago that we had been in a class together at Art & Soul but never put two and two together and realize that we kinda know each other!  Melissa, Elisabeth, and I went to lunch and had lots of non-stop conversation...balancing art, family, work, life...there's always something to laugh about!  It's amazing how much we all end up having in common.
Here are a couple of shots of my goodies...it's a late night shot tonight so forgive the shading.  I didn't get out of work tonight until around 2030 (that's 8:30 pm for you civilians) because I've been trying to catch up on work that's still hanging around since I went on leave a few weeks ago.  I planned for a late night, though, so I took comfy clothes and some supper along.  Got tons done but that doesn't allow for good photography on the homefront!  These purple pendants are mixes of various translucent and opaque purples and raspberries.  I was just looking for interesting combinations.  I tried to make two that matched and sort of succeeded.
This orange round with the white design is my favorite of the liquid enamel experiments.  That was one of the main portions of the class:  liquids.  I was a wee bit frustrated, though, trying to get them to work the way I wanted.  But, I ended up with some interesting effects even if they didn't go the way I thought they would.   
That's about all I have time for tonight.  It's already time for bed...I'm glad I was productive at the office but I miss having some normal time.  Maybe tomorrow!  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Jewelry Accord - In the Spotlight!

I'm thrilled to be sharing my work on A Jewelry Accord blog!  


Erin Siegel and Lorelei Eurto are co-authors of the upcoming Interweave Press book by the same name, so this blog is a little peek into the wide world of stringing materials...the cords, get it?!  Leather, ribbon, cotton, cording, lace...you name it and they're into it.  I've gotten to know these two ladies and their work over the last couple of years here in the world of jewelry blogging.  Lorelei's a prolific creator and it's always amazing to see the fresh ideas she comes up with week after week.  Erin's work is organic and gorgeous but, most importantly, she's a new mom and shares plenty of pictures of her baby girl, Nora. 


Erin wrote to me a couple of weeks ago asking if I would consider being a "featured artist" and it made me realize just how much non-traditional stringing material I've been using.  All that luscious suede cord that I picked up a while back at Hobby Lobby is so motivating!  This collage of some of my most recent work featuring those yummy summer colors is part of the post today.

I pointed out in the Jewelry Accord interview that my life is sort of a strange balance of a military career and a creative lifestyle.  I've been running into problems with that balance lately because I've been at the gym so much trying to pass my PT test that I haven't been at the bead table in ages...at least that's what it feels like.  But, I'm thrilled to pass along (as I've told every person I know today) that I got my highest score on the test ever!  At least in recent memory, that is.  I had to go to some drastic measures trying to lose water weight and haven't eaten much in the last couple of days to get through the waist measurement, but it worked!  Plus, I almost collapsed after my run because I wasn't paying enough attention to the lap counter and ended up sprinting an extra lap...it was painful at the time, but hilarious to hear my running partner tell the story.  It has been a very stressful week since my career basically rests on my girth and that's hard to face...I'm more motivated than ever after my success to keep up the work and actually not have to make weight like a wrestler next time.
Anyway, off the waist measuring topic and back to jewelry...many thanks to Lorelei and Erin for inviting me to be a part of their blogging adventure and featuring my work today!!!  In addition to their collaborative work, each has a wonderful blog you can check out...  Erin Siegel Jewelry and Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio.

Monday, July 11, 2011

eMag: Summer Bracelets

There's a cool new format for finding great projects!  It's called an "eMag" which I've heard of before, but haven't experienced.  I'm taking the plunge and trying this new digital delivery of Everyday Bracelets because I know there are super-cool designs in here...I created one of them!!    
I was honored when Stringing editor Danielle Fox contacted me months and months ago and asked if I could work a bracelet design for a section in a new publication.  She specified the "Beachy Keen" section and a palette and let me go with that!  Oh, the other requirement is that they be relatively easy projects with supplies that are fairly widely available.  It was February, so on a cold and windy night I was happy to think blue skies and even brighter blue oceans to come up with something fun.  Look for the Beach Shanty Bangle!

It's only coming out in this special format--not printed--but that makes it cool because it has interactive features and videos and slide shows and direct links to other websites.  Once I get it downloaded, we'll have to experiment some more, but I wanted to share this link so you can get your own copy...click here.  It's just under $10 but compared to a normal printed book with projects like this, it seems like a deal to me.  I'm too tired from my workout this evening to write much more, so I'll get it downloaded and check it out later this week.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Macro Sunday: Orange Flowers at the Smithsonian

Mom and I spent Thursday afternoon walking around a few Smithsonian museums, including the garden near the castle.  These orangeish-pink flowers caught my eye.
I guess I take a lot of pictures of orangish-pink flowers.   
I just made some paper beads that pull in these colors and I didn't even mean to do that!  I'm going to make something with them this week...at least that's the plan.
And, finally, here's a really cool orange flower that's apparently a special exhibit there in the garden...it's from India and I just googled for about five minutes and can't find the name of it.
Click here to see more great macro photos:
studio waterstone

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Words in Pics

My sweetie totally hooked me up with a birthday treat...I loooooove my new iPhone.  I have to figure out an easier way to blog directly from the phone, but in the meantime, I got it linked up to Flickr so I can do something with all the pics.  I downloaded Hipstamatic immediately--Heather over at Humblebeads uses it all the time and I love the effects and filters.  But, there's this other app that I can't stop fooling with...it's called Wordfoto.  You can create a typographic effect on a photo with whatever words you want!  I know "Jen" isn't all that original, but I was playing.  This is a photo of a flower that I worked on a "custom style" using all the different color filters and text options.  I could honestly spend days on just this one picture and love every minute of it.  Picking fonts is my favorite part.  :)

Here's another version of a flower in one of the "ready-made" options (which I might have tweaked a little bit, I don't remember).  I fell asleep last night thinking about options for a new blog header.  I am a nerd.

It's my last "official" day of vacation.  Time to head back to the real world in Hampton and leave my honey behind here in the city.  It has been a wonderful week but we both lamented last night how much we want to get back to our regular schedules and work and working out and crafting and such.  I can't believe that it's almost the middle of the month!  I'm driving up to Annapolis next weekend to hang out with Barbara Lewis and get some more torch action on.  Is anyone going to be there?  We need to link up!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Last of My 30's

I've been out of blog world for a little bit 'cause I was on vacation!  We went to Kansas City and spent some time in Abilene, Kansas, with the Velasquez and Marquez clans.  It has been a wonderful week but we head back to DC today.  Not only is it my last day in this awesome city, but it's also my last day in my 30's.  I got a note from my oldest and dearest friend, who has already made the transition, and she advised me to savor this day...so I'm working on it!  I'm enjoying an amazing view from my hotel while snuggled in a soft bed drinking coffee and digging in to my photos from the week.  Here's a shot of the city and the gorgeous blue skies of the midwest from atop the Liberty Memorial, built in 1921 in honor of WWI veterans.
We spent Monday, July 4th, at the WWI museum which really did a great job of articulating the confusing web of relationships that led to the war--plus, they tied the timeline to popular culture references of 1914-1916 that put it in perspective from the United States that was far away from "over there."  I've read a bit about the Lafayette Escadrille (thanks to my Air Force schools) so it was neat to see the displays related to the earliest contributions of air power.  This is the Liberty Memorial tower.
Our hotel in KC is at the Plaza and the gardening around the shops and restaurants is really well done.  I love the mix of colors and textures in this bed in particular.
While the flowers look almost good enough to eat, it was the BBQ that got the best of us.  My mom came along with Curt and I and we were excited to treat her to burnt ends.  I've lived at lots of places around the country and KC is the only place I've ever experienced these little chunks of meaty goodness.  We stopped at a little place called Roscoe's just after arriving in KC and it was the perfect way to start the trip.
Mom was a happy BBQ camper...
 I have plenty more to write about but I need to get back to savoring the day with a walk outside to get some fresh coffee.  On that note, though, I'll say that this is my 400th post on the day before I'm 40.  I'm working on a list of my 40 fave beady-crafty-artsty things to share in the coming week...along with a giveaway...we'll see!!

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About Me

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Charleston, SC, United States
I'm a retiree/artist/student who makes things. It's a nice kind of lifestyle!

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