AJE March 2014 CoM Challenge Reveal ~ Wings of Gold

Can you believe how fast March has flown by? I sure can't! Here we are on the last day and I feel like it just began yesterday. How fitting for this month's AJE challenge component to be a gorgeous fluttering luna moth!

These glistening lovelies are each hand crafted by Caroline Dewison of Blueberribeads. Caroline shaped them in porcelain clay, hand carved all the details of their wings, and then glazed each one a stunning lustrous glaze.

Moths are a big favorite of mine, so I was very excited to play along in this month's challenge. I asked for one with two holes—one on either wing—and then Caroline surprised me with the color choice.

My moth is a bright and shiny gold. Although I love to work in warm tones, the gold was an immediate challenge for me—there are so many colors that can be combined beautifully with gold and yet, at the same time none of my choices looked quite right. And then there was the size—this moth is just shy of 3 inches long wing tip to wing tip. And so, in my usual fashion I thought about it, and thought about it… decided on a design weeks ago… finally started working on it late Saturday night… changed my mind completely Sunday afternoon…

And the sun set long before I finished… but it fell together so perfectly!

And here's what I created…

I titled it "Wings of Gold". I had originally intended to go with a spring hued palette with earthy browns, soft green, and white, but the gold of this moth kept whispering autumn to me… so instead of making it one of the first moths sighted in the new year, my moth became the last moth of autumn fluttering in the deepening sun-setting sky just before harvest-time turns to winter.

A beauty isn't it?

I'm good at making things much more complicated than need be—I spent quite a while searching for the right component to use to attach the moth to the beaded portion of my necklace. And when I couldn't find a chain that was perfect, I decided the only thing to do was make my own! I shaped each of these rings in 24 gauge bronze wire, stringing 2 oxblood magatama beads on each and then wire-wrapping around. They're connected together with tiny knotted strips of fabric. Tedious for sure, but I love wire-wrapping so I really enjoyed making this part.

For the beaded strand I used my own polymer rounds, czech glass, wood discs, and seed beads. I kept a pattern going with the seed beads—3 grey iris, 1 oxblood, 1 gold, 2 grey iris—it's the same all the way around. And then I randomly placed the polymer, glass, and wood beads. I wanted just enough pattern to create an interesting look, but not so that it would scream it. I wanted a rustic and boho feel that looked a little aged.

The fabric strips are actually from a tee shirt that I disliked… surprised, aren't you?! Pretty colors, but it had a fake paint spattered look to it and I never wore it… but I'm all for repurposing and making old unused things into something new. :-) In thin strips it looks like artfully dyed fabric and is the perfect touch! I added in the little wire-wrapped stations, scattering a few beads here and there, and then wrapped all the cords together with the beaded strand… and ta-da! a new necklace!

It was well after midnight at that point… which explains my late post today… I hope you enjoyed seeing my new creation! Thank you Caroline, for such a beautiful challenge piece!

Be sure to take a look at what everyone else created with their own lovely moth focals!

Guest Artist:

The AJE Team:

A tutorial for you! And new feather colors!

Feathers, feathers, and more feathers! They really are taking over. Now I'm thinking of ways to incorporate them in to my jewerly… I've done earrings, a bracelet, and today I just finished a new fringe style focal…

What do you think? It's fun and rustic, and a little tribal. And VERY me. You already know that I love tassels, so of course, fringes are a big favorite too.

I'm sharing how to make this new focal on AJE blog today—be sure to check it out and make your own.

I found this little lone polymer bird during my latest studio cleanup last week. (I really should make more of them.) Incidentally, it's an absolute wreck here again today—I tore all kinds of stuff out to finish up this pendant. It's always amazing how much of a disaster I can create even when crafting such small things! Oh well… I do try…

New feather painting is coming along so well and I have to thank you all again for all the fabulous color suggestions. I'm very happy with the way these latest feathers turned out…

Greens, finally! Purple and orange (love that combo always). And my new favorite—ivory and navy blue.

See them all in my shop here.

I hope you have fun with my new tutorial! And now I'm back to work after a quick cleanup, and then I'm on to bead sorting and feather burning…

Wishing you a happy and creative weekend!

Bead Soup Blog Party… again!

As you all probably already know, I'm really trying to bring jewelry making back into my regular routine this year—over the past few years it's become almost entirely overrun by bead making and while I so enjoy making beads, I've been wanting to do a bit more with my little creations. I'd love to continue exploring and expanding my jewelry style and also start using more of the lovely art beads made by all the various talented bead creators out there.

So… I signed up for the Bead Soup Blog Party! This is my second time joining up and I'm sure it will be just as fun, if not more.

Our fabulous hostess, Lori Anderson, paired me up with the talented seed beader, Shirley Moore of Beads and Bread. Remember when I mentioned that I'd love to try out bead crochet this year? I do love to use seed beads to accent my work and I know it would be so much fun to go a little further with that, and so when I found out I was paired up with a seed beader, of course I was excited!

Here's a small sampling of what Shirley creates…

All so gorgeous and beautifully made, aren't they?

We chatted back and forth a bit sharing what we each like and how we're working to develop our unique styles.

Shirley said at first that she wasn't sure how to challenge me…

and then this is what arrived in the mail…

I was totally surprised! Wow! What a different color palette and style than I'm used to—bright pinks, white, silver, and a huge load of sparkle. I couldn't have picked a more challenging soup myself.

Shirley admitted that she thought the focal was a little crazy—different, yes, but I'm not so sure on crazy. I love the form and detail.

Shirley made my clasp too—I love handmade clasps!

Czech glass, beaded beads (made by Shirley, of course), and some cute metal rectangle charms from Sharyl's Jewelry on ArtFire.

  Sparkle, sparkle, and more sparkle. 

I adore ceramics, so this pretty ring from MarlasMud is a happy addition to my collection.

Bright white funky flowers—I think I know what I want to do with these already. It will probably involve wire-working and maybe some fiber… and, that's all I can tell you for now. ;-)

Shirley, as I said before, I am totally blown away by my soup—this is all so completely new to me! You hit the nail so square on its head that I might just panic. But why panic when there are new beads to play with, right?

So now I'm doing a lot of thinking—how do all these new elements fit into my current style? Do I somehow incorporate them together? Do I leave behind what's really familiar to me and branch off in a new direction? Choices, choices!

And lastly, for an extra surprise Shirley included these lovely earrings…

Pretty golden-yellow and all mine.

Thank you for everything Shirley! This is going to be a fun party, for sure!

Playing with Paint and Tea Dyeing

Some days my brain feels sapped of all creativity. I'm sure it happens to every artist from time to time, right? It's those times that I need to give my thoughts a chance to wonder freely without the bonds of what I must do. And so, I take some time to play and have fun unhindered.

What do I do for fun?

I take a handful of beads and I paint… and I paint them whatever colors I feel like. I paint a few colors on, rub some off, and paint some more… and so on. It's always a surprise when I finish, as I never go with a clear plan of what color I want.

Here are my latest "for fun" beads…

Some of these new colors, I'll be able to repeat again, and others… well let's just say I got carried away and am not sure what colors I used or in what order I applied them. But that's part of the fun in it, I think.

Some of these roses will end up in my shop and few of them are for a new project I'm working on. (More on that soon. :-)

And here's another new thing I'm dabbling in these days…

Tea dyeing! Ever since I finished my last AJE challenge necklace, tea dying has been on my mind. I love how the tea makes those bright colors just a bit more earthy and gives the fabrics a nice aged look—I look at fabrics totally different now, knowing that I can alter them to coordinate with my favorite palettes and to complement my jewelry designs. To some of the fabrics I think I'll add some paint staining and maybe some seed bead embellishments… fun!

Ah yes, I feel much more refreshed and ready to tackle that list of "must dos" now. Off I go…

What new things have you been exploring lately? What do you do when you're experiencing that creative funk?

Buried Treasure

Or, in my case—buried fabric. Lovely colors aren't they?

I know what you're thinking—I found this old worn upholstery fabric buried in some thrift shop along with a bunch of other fabrics.

Forgotten in a closet?

In an attic?

Those really are roots woven into it!

I found it buried in the walkway at the side of my house!

Actually to be completely honest, I've known it was there for at least a few years. A small portion of it was exposed in the dirt of the walkway and I passed by it nearly every day. I thought it was probably only an old rag that had been thrown out.

Then several weeks back after a very big rainstorm, I noticed that the "old rag" had a leaf printed on it. An orange-ish leaf. I was intrigued and dug it out. Totally covered in red Virginia mud, I expected it not to be that exciting—maybe a few leaves scattered here and there, and probably ruined by at least 17 years of being buried.

Today I washed it out in my horses' water bucket—because it was dirty already and I needed something to soak it in—yes, of course they got new water afterward! ;-) I was thrilled to find it had more than a few leaves scattered on it! The fabric is still strong and although stained, it has some nice color to it, and lends itself very well to that boho style I love.

I have no idea what it was before being buried. Perhaps part of some outdoor furniture—I found a total of 5 pieces—the large square (it was lined with a thin sheet of foam), 2 strips, each about 3ft long, and 2 rectangles, one of them a few inches bigger than the other. Any ideas?

I'm thinking I may make a handbag with it. But I've got plenty of time to think about it—all the roots have to come out first and it still needs a few really good washings.

I wasn't the only one who thought it was a good find…

Have a great new week! Maybe you too, will discover some buried treasure!

Painted Feather Winners!

Lady's back to share in the excitement of the new painted feather owners…

And her buddy, Strider, has joined too. (This is his "What's with the black box you're pointing at me? Where's the food?" look. He's way too adorable!)

And now, for the painted feather winners…

Christine and KayzKreationz!

Congrats ladies!

And I want to say thank you to each of you who shared my giveaway and sale, and to all of you who gave ideas and suggestions. I'm cutting out a big batch of new feathers today and new colors are on the way!

Green in all different shades, was the overall favorite, so that's at the top of the list. Also, you suggested turquoise, teal, lavender, royal purple, chartreuse, pink, black and white… to name a few—all fabulous ideas!

Thank you! Stay tuned for more feathers in new colors!