AJE April 2015 CoM Challenge Reveal ~ Forest Song

It's time for another reveal!! I had the wonderful pleasure of hosting this month's challenge with my little heart beads! Hearts really aren't a typical bead design for me and are really quite a challenge when it comes to incorporating them into my jewelry making, but I loved creating these little beads and was so excited when my AJE teammates suggested we use them for our April challenge!

For my design, I chose to go very simplistic—partially because I was very short on time, but mostly because I decided to make another polymer focal just for this design and many times after all the effort put into creating a brand new component, I feel like there's really nothing else to add.

Come take a look…

I've titled my new necklace "Forest Song". When creating it, my first thought was "what exactly does this little wood heart represent to me?" You know me… I love trees, long walks in the woods… and this little heart is most definitely a tree-heart… but what is it that makes the woods so special for me?

Almost right away I thought of the little Wood Thrush!

All spring and summer long I enjoy his beautifully melodious tune, as he sings away hidden away in the leafy treetops deep in the woods surrounding my home. Today in fact, while I was photographing my necklace, I heard him singing for the first time this year! Yes, this little bird is one of the things I love most about the woods here!

So… my necklace is a tribute to my favorite bird. I crafted the arching forest scene focal in polymer clay, carefully shaping it so it would fit right over the top of the heart.

I started by drawing a simple sketch and then I carved a stamp in a cured piece of polymer… I mixed up a white ivory polymer and cast the focal. A little more shaping so it fit perfectly and then it was cured. I added layers of acrylic paint to highlight the details and finally, I sanded and polished. I love the way it turned out… and since I made a stamp, you can be sure I'll make more for my shop later! :-)

After all that, it really seemed right to keep the rest of the necklace simple—I wanted to showcase the focals. I tied them together with hemp, knotting it at the back of the heart (hemp has been my go-to fiber for jewelry these days!), and topped it off with a soft green ceramic bead from Karen Totten of Starry Road Studio.

More hemp to finish… knotted with little round copper coin spacers, one polymer bead that I made with the leftovers, and a lone leaf bead, also from Karen—like a new spring leaf fluttering in the wind.

Yes, it's a keeper—I've grown too attached to my little Wood Thrush! I plan to wear it layered with several strands of knotted copper beads… but of course, for a last-minute project you sometimes don't have all the beads you want on hand! That will be a project for later…

And that's it! I hope you enjoyed reading a bit more about my process. A big thank you to each of you for stopping by today and to all of you who joined me in this challenge—thank you!!

Now it's time to hop to all the other blogs and see what lovely new creations everyone dreamed up! Come join us by clicking the links below…


AJE Team

In Progress…

A table covered in beads makes a very happy bead maker!

New colors for old designs and several new designs all nearly finished! I've been locked away in my studio busily painting! There's just a bit more to do and they'll all be available in my shop.

My first batch of lunar hares and jackalopes turned out even better than I had imagined and I can't wait to make more.

I'm trying very hard not to keep them all for myself. ;-)

Zzzzzzzzzz. Cuteness. What else can you say?!

And I've said it before, I'll say it again—there's no way you can keep this horse-loving girl away from horses for too long—if I'm not riding, I'm making horse beads! My two noble steeds are enjoying their spring vacation munching on the green grass and racing through the fields of spring flowers while I'm locked away in my studio making things—but they're never far from my mind.

I first made this style horse bead 3 years ago and I'm SO excited to finally be making more for you and your creations!

So there it is—my table overrun by beads! Time to finish up and sort for listing… and then they're off to the photo shoot… I hope you'll be back for my shop update coming up.

Happy Thursday bead lovers!

AJE March 2015 Themed Challenge Reveal ~ March Hares

I think you all probably know me best for my little sleepy critters beads… I do love them and making them with all their snoozing cuteness, but there's also another side of my creative style that I've been slowly working to develop. A bit more stylized and somewhat primitive or tribal would be a good way to put it, I think. Last year, I finally started to do more with the ideas that I'd had for so long… and I made my first leather feathers and got back into making my rustic tribal birds. I've really been having fun with these first steps in this new and exciting direction!

 So… when Jenny suggested March Hares as our first themed challenge at AJE Blog I quickly signed up to play along. New hare designs were hopping around in my mind immediately and I was going to take them in this new direction.

As so often happens for me, life finds ways to make things busier than I'd planned and I didn't get quite enough time to finish everything I had wanted to, but I do have a little peek behind the scenes for you…

A stamp of approval from a certain furry cat means a whole lot in my studio. Actually, my adorable little guy was asking if telling me it was dinner time… which it was.

Here's what I've been working on: new handmade stamps, sculpting brand new hare shapes, and even a bit of colored polymer is going to make its way into my new designs, if all goes as planned. Of course there will still be some painting, but it's fun to do more with colored polymer once in a while!

Most of yesterday I was busily making my new stamps. I started with a simple drawing of each pose…

Transfered to my stamp bases…

And then very carefully carved away the edges… I can't wait to use them in new beads!

I still have a bit more sculpting and refining to do with these new hare shapes, but I'm liking the direction so far and I'm looking forward to the finished beads coming next!

I hope you enjoyed the little tour of my latest studio happenings! Be sure to check out what everyone else has created for the March Hares Challenge below. Thanks so much for stopping by today and thank you to Jenny for an inspiring theme!

AJE Team:

Aural - Woodland Bay Native
Karin Grosset Grange - Ginko et Coquelicot
Pamela Traub - Klassy Joolz
Karen - Ditsy Blue
Michelle McEnroe (4 pieces pinned on the AJE Pinterest page)