Wednesday, November 6, 2013

ZnetShows 7000 Bracelets For Hope Lightning Round

Wow, it has been way too long since I have updated my blog. Once the school year starts, my time is precious, and this poor blog is one of the casualties of this fall!

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted as part of the ZnetShows Design Team to participate in a charitable creative endeavor. It was decided that we would create a bracelet for 7000 Bracelets For  Hope, part of the Global Genes Project, an organization I worked with last year when my students needed some community service hours. This organization works to raise awareness and offer support to the thousands of rare diseases that do not receive as much attention as other, more noted diseases. They ask jewelry artists to donate blue bracelets to be given to someone who has been affected by a rare disease or disorder.

Using some beautiful blue crystals and teeny 3mm glass pearls, I created a bracelet that also featured some of my torch enameled beads in a soothing shade of blue.

The crystals are Turquoise colored 6 x 4mm chinese crystals, while the glass pearls are a color called "Montana" (Color K0735). While ZnetShows offered to send me *more* blue beads for this challenge, they were so generous during the sea glass challenge last spring, that I had plenty left in these colors to create a bracelet. I couldn't ask for better colors to complement my enameled beads!

I will be sending the bracelet out in the next day or so. If you are interested in donating a blue bracelet to the cause, please see their website for the information and requirements. Also, be sure to visit ZnetShows when you are looking for Chinese crystals and glass pearls! Please let them know that you found them through their 7000 Bracelets For Hope Challenge!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

BeadFest Bead Bounty!

I am so sad that BeadFest is over this year. I've really made some good beady friends over the past year that I only get to see in person at shows such as this, and I don't want to have to wait another year!

The other great thing about BeadFest is all of the beads!!! Last year I bought tons of crystals...a lot of which I still have. My style has changed to using almost exclusively artisan beads as the main components, and I'm also looking at making some more gemstone pieces. So that's what my bead stash consisted of this year!

First off, the gemstone hoard! I hit Dakota Stones--hard! They have great quality and good prices, plus they were super nice! I got a bunch of labradorite (my favorite), some cool hematite that looks like silver, pyrite, pink opal...and other good stuff!

My other bead purchases where made in Artisan Alley. I really wish I had bought more...thank goodness for the internet! ;)

XAZ Bead Co. Handmade Raku Feast!

Adorable earring components from Starry Road Studio!

 I made bought lots and lots of pretties from Firefly Design Studio, and Michelle is a sweetheart! I love her work and the colors she gets from her glazes!

Firefly Design Studios, take 1!

Sweet flowers from Firefly!

And yet more fun from Firefly Design Studios!
Then, I also was lucky enough to be included in the Art Bead Swap organized by the ever-lovely Diana of Suburban Girl Studio! I was paired up with the uber-talented Melinda Orr, who is a magician with metals!

This first pairing are patinaed and enameled, and are gorgeous! I know I will be hoarding these for a while as I let ideas swirl in my brain for creating something equally gorgeous with them!

Next, Melinda gave me an assortment of fun trinkets to play with, all of them awesome, along with some lengths of leather she had worked with!

Finally, I am in love with this last piece Melinda gifted me with. It is simply stunning and magical, and a photo can not do it justice. I'm still deciding if it wants to be a bracelet component, or a pendant...but whatever it turns into, it will be one of my personal pieces to treasure!

Now do you understand why I miss BeadFest already?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

BeadFest Silver Glass Class with Sara LaGrand!

I have wanted to take a lampworking class since...well, forever! Ok, not quite forever, but considering my first class where I learned to make beads was about 10 years ago, I was overdue. I needed something to help hone my skills, get the creative juices flowing and just give me a boost creatively. I've tried to get in to classes in my area and Rochester, and have always been turned down because they fill up immediately.

Cool pink and dark caramel bead! Super cool reactions around the edge of the lines!

So I was thrilled to see that BeadFest brought back lampwork classes, and that there was a class of high interest to me--Silver Glass. For those of you who don't know the behind-the-scences of the glass world, silver glass refers to specialized 104 COE glasses that have a high silver content. These glasses, when worked properly, give incredible iridescence, sheen, and pops of color you can't get with regular soda lime glass. The "worked properly" part is crucial--some are easy to master, while others are downright persnickity, and all of them cost around $80-$100 PER POUND. So this isn't a material you feel great just experimenting wildly with!

Top 2: Views of a Triton Bead; Bottom Left: Gold Fumed rose bead (the base started as off-white and turned pink!); Bottom Right: Cool reaction when silver glass is placed over a pale moss green transparent

The instructor was Sara Sally LaGrand. The name rung a very quiet bell--turns out she was President of the ISGB (International Society of Glass Beadmakers) a few years back, and has been working with glass for 17 years. I'd say she knows her stuff!

Sara was an incredibly patient and generous teacher. She showed us some very specific techniques to try, but also allowed us to experiment and play a bit. I learned so much just by watching her work in the flame that I was able to address some bad habits then and there.

My play bead: 2 different silver glass for the flower petals...Amazing range of colors with little effort!

My favorite bead is one only a mother could love, because, frankly, it's totally ridiculous! I'm not one into drawing...and we were attempting a bead with a fish "drawn" on the surface with glass. The thing on my bead? Not. A. Fish.

Not a fish. More like a newt in a bad toupee...

I started laughing when I picked up my beads, because the delightful little guy looks like some cartoonish representation of the fish that walked out of the primordial soup, trying to be a reptile! But I do love him, because he reminds me that there is delight in failure (and if you saw what we *had* been going for, you'd agree).

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Getting Ready for BeadFest!!

A lot of my beady peers are in overdrive mode getting ready for BeadFest Philiadelphia by cranking out loads of gorgeous beads to sell. Not this girl--I am relaxing (finally) and enjoying the rest of my summer--because I will be attending BeadFest as a happy shopper!

My overdrive time will come in late September and October as I realize I don't feel I have nearly enough inventory for the single show I am doing this year in November. But, I am sure you will see a panicked post about that in the fall.

For now, I *made* myself actually use the stash of artisan beads I picked up at last year's BeadFest. You, know, so I could buy *more* in good conscience! Here are some of the pieces I have created:


The above pair of earrings features truly unique and beautiful ceramic discs by Marsha Neal Studio. Am I in love with these, and had to force myself to list them in my Etsy!

These baby blues feature ceramic charms by Suburban Girl Studios. I love her clay! I paired them with some of my own hand enameled beads--perfect for jeans or a stunning blue dress!

Finally, I have been hoarding this stunning pendant by Michelle McCarthy of Firefly Design Studio (and, true confessions, I have another in a light blue, too)! Matched with some opal crystals and my hand enameled beads in the cobalt blue--so stunning, if I do say so myself!

Another confession: I still have some beads I am hoarding from some other artists. However, I don't think my conscience will interfere too much with my shopping experience this coming weekend...and remember, buying from artisans means you are helping the economy, so I expect my commendation from the President for aiding the economic recovery some time in September! ;)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

People really win these things!

If you've followed my blog, you'll know that I have had some unfortunate luck lately between my broken hand and my mom's medical issues.

So imagine my absolute joy when I opened my email and found a message from Halstead Inc., saying that I had won a very generous wirework giveaway on their blog! Yep, I am a lucky lady! Here is a picture of the loot:

Check out Halstead, Inc. for cool supplies!
 My wirework experience is limited to the basics, mainly because I am always hesitant to "ruin" supplies with my inevitably clumsy first tries. So I am thrilled to be gifted this package, which I have promised myself will allow me to experiment and develop my skills.

I'm sure I will share the results of my experiments, as long as I feel the world is ready for the horror! ;) If you're interested in following Halstead's Bead Blog, click on the link and maybe you can be a lucky winner of some cool supplies!

Friday, July 5, 2013

ZnetShows Partner Picks Summer Challenge Reveal!

Well, it's been a heck of a few weeks since I signed up for this challenge! I selected some beads to be sent to my partner, Kay of Kayzcreationz, and she sent me a very pretty grouping of beads!

I knew I would be busy with the end of school, but figured once it was out, I could design my heart away...then, I broke my right hand. Yep, I'm right-handed.

This is what can happen when you take on a sidewalk and gravity at the same time, kids.

Before I even really had time to adjust to my new left-handedness, my mother had to be rushed to the hospital and was very ill for a few days with a nasty infection. She's still there, but is supposed to thankfully come home Monday--4 weeks later! So to say that I have been busy with non-jewelry matters is an understatement.

But I'm also stubborn. ;)

While I can't do any great wire work right now, or too much knotting, I can make basic loops and strung pieces with my left hand, using my right as little as possible. Who knew?

So without further delay, here are the pieces that I was able to create for the ZnetShows Challenge. I apologize for the pictures, which I had to take on the fly (like most everything these days!).

I loved the orange sea glass diamonds, and they reminded me of a blazing sunset. Since the theme is built around summer and the beach, I added the blue large hole crystals, and one of my own iridescent clear drops for sparkle. I love how these turned out!

Next, I wanted to use more of the green crackle agate, which I love, love, love! These earrings can be worn any time of year, not just for summer.

My final piece, which took a bit longer than normal, is the necklace built around the focal chosen for me by my partner. When I saw it, I immediately had a vision for it, and I came pretty close! I used the pewter fish and sea-foam green pebbles to accent the focal. For the necklace, I paired some glass rice pearls in a sandy brown with more of the pebbles. I finished it off with some copper chain, because I wanted to keep the brown theme...but now I am wondering how it would look with silver?

Complete necklace
Close up of the focal
 I'd like to invite you to see the rest of the designers' reveals on the ZnetShows blog. A special shout out goes to Hope Smithermen, of Crafty Hope, who helped to organize this swap and blog hop!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

ZnetShows Partner Picks Preview!

Once again the generous people at ZnetShows have created another design challenge. This time we were paired up with another artist, who got to select an assortment of beads from ZnetShows stock to send to us. And since it's summertime, the theme has to do with summer and the beach.

All of the designers will be holding a blog hop this Saturday, July 6th. For now here is a preview of what my partner sent to me. I was paired up with Kay from KayzKreationz. Here is what Kay chose to send to me!

Crystal, sea glass & fishies!

Shell focal

Coordinating beads!
Make sure to stop back on July 6 to see what I create!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Ain't No Junk in *this* Trunk Show!

This weekend I am holding an online trunk show via Artisans Open Market on Facebook. Click HERE to visit the show & see what I have for sale! The show runs until Sunday, June 30th at 11pm EST.

Not a Facebook member? Don't worry, I'll be re-stocking my Etsy shop next week! :)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Earring Swap & Blog Hop!

Who doesn't love earrings? Well, maybe people who hate fun, but for the rest of us, earrings are both fun to make and fun to wear!

Jessica Murray, of Whimsical Monkey, organized a wonderful artisan earring swap and corresponding blog hop. We were paired up, received a list of "likes" from our partner and were charged with creating a pair of earrings for that person.

I was paired up with Shellie Grady of Creative Ecletica, who was faced with a move during all of this, so she has been one busy woman!

Here are the earrings that I sent to Shellie, who said she loved both purple and turqouise:

In the pic above, you get both the front and side view of how they look. The pic is a smidge blurred, because they wouldn't stop swinging! Here they are, nice and still.

Sadly, I haven't yet received my earrings from Shellie...fingers crossed they are in today's mail and I can update the blog pronto!

In the meantime, please check out the rest of the participants:

Inge von Roos:
 Nancy Smith:
Marianne Baxter:
Leah Tees:
Andrea Trank:
Miranda Ackerley:
Cheri Mitchell-Reed:
Susan Kennedy:
Michele Dotson:
Deanna Cox:
Shelley Graham Turner:
Ingrid McCue:
Lennis Carrier:
Ginger Davis Allman:
Mary Anne Flesch:
Nicole Valentine Rimmer:
Stephanie Weiss:
Silvia Sernicola:
Karla Morgan:
Kay Thomerson:
Paula Hisel:
Carol Dillman:
Spun Sugar Beadworks:
Tara Plote:
Rachel Baron:   <----You are here! :)
Laurie Keefe:
Kashmira Patel:
Gina Hockett:
Shellie Grindy:  <---My partner
Shai Williams:
Dyanne Cantrell:
Mimi Gardner:
Jessica McMullen:
Jennifer LaVite:
Laura Medeiros:
Alenka Obid:
Elsie Fonseca:
Cheryl Dunham:
Sandra McGriff:
Tania Spivey:
Mowse Doyle:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I have been unbelievably busy at work. So what do I do? I develop a myriad of interests in new techniques I want to try. Call it creative ADD, call it passion, call it crazy--I has it.

So over the past month or so, I haven't really made much to sell. I've made some pieces for Znet Shows, but that's about it for jewelry. I've made a few lampwork beads, but haven't managed to even eke out a full set!

Here's what I have been up to. I bought a huge spool of copper wire so I could make my own headpins. And I tried to enamel them:

Yummy firescale!

And, a bunch of enamel flaked off...that wasn't supposed to happen!

Then I find out that headpins are a pain to enamel, because they tend to flake. So I feel better, and have done my research to fix that problem.

Next, a wonderful friend of mine took time out of his busy schedule to teach me how to use a jewelry saw. I had already heard from others that I could expect to break blades, curse a lot, and basically, swear off cutting my own metal forever.

Well, he is a great teacher, because he was able to advise me of the pitfalls and correct my technique so that I was able to practice without breaking my blade once. Yes, I am impressed with myself. I still need to practice my straight lines, because I want them perfect, but I think I've got the curves down nicely.

Aluminum triangle and copper shapes
Finally, I have been itching to do more bead enameling ever since I took my class last August at Bead Fest. I am finding that a lot of the raw copper beads out there really aren't pure copper, because I have had a lot of issues. But I finally ordered some iron beads from Barbara Lewis, and had some great results.

Big, beautiful beads!
You can see that the small blue one has some parts around the hole where the enamel didn't adhere. There must be some zinc in that part of the bead, because this has been a consistent issue with that style. Thankfully, I bought the small copper beads at a bead store and only bought a few, so I'm going to just use them as regular copper beads in my jewelry instead.

Next on the agenda? Etching! My plan is to etch some copper, and then use my new sawing skills to make some funky earrings. Someday, maybe I'll settle on one thing...but not today!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

ZNet Shows Diamonds in the Rough Reveal!

If you follow this little blog o' mine, you may remember that I was part of the design team that was selected to  play with the new sea glass components from Znet Shows. Well, they are an extremely generous group of people, because I was also allowed to partake in their newest design endeavor; taking some overlooked wholesale beads, and giving them some fresh life.

I was allowed to chose from a long list of beads that were being passed over, and Znet sent me a huge collection of beads to play with for free! Every beader's dream, right? You can also enter to win a gift certificate from Znet Shows, so you can play with some of their cool beads--check out the end of this post for how!

One of the first stones I wanted were the carnelian flats. They were perfectly organic in their irregular shapes and the color was beautiful and deep. The warmth of the stones begged to be coupled with some lighter, more feminine components, including a lovely mauve shell pendant.

Here is a close-up of the pendant. I added an opalescent quartz nugget to make it more 3-dimensional.

Below are a pair of matching earrings, which are surprisingly light, for having the big chunky carnelian beads. I made some copper ear wires to finish them off.

For the next piece, I knotted the rhyolite nuggets on some irish waxed linen, and used one of my own lampwork beads as a focal.

Next I grabbed some of the round tiger's eye beads, and made some funky, freeform earrings. A photo can't quite catch how fun these are, since they have a ton of movement to them!

I also grabbed some tiger's eye, this time in a cube shape, to make this funky, tribal, bib collar necklace. It's strung on a piece of black rat tail, so the bib can be the star of the show!

Finally, I was able to craft one more necklace. I wanted to use another of the gorgeous shell flower pendants that I was sent. What came to mind was a perfect necklace for summer. Shimmering whites, with a hint of mauve from the pearls, perfect to with that little sundress you've been waiting to wear!

I did not get to all of the beautiful beads that were sent my way--there were so many of them! I also received some tiny bamboo coral rounds, some poppy jasper rounds, cool grey fire agate beads, and a pair of smaller flower pendants.

If you want to see the actual beads, click on the links above...and if you fall in love and buy some pretties, tell them Rachel sent you!

Now, if you would like to get some chances to win a $20 gift certificate from Znet Shows, check out the Diamonds in the Rough Top 20 vote on Facebook! Click on an individual picture, then click "like" to vote for it--and you can vote for more than one! Good luck!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Art Jewelry Elements Earring Challenge Reveal #7!

I am finally caught up with this challenge! Woohoo! Life was incredibly crazy in March, but I was finally able to find some time to work on some new earrings using my own lampwork and some ceramic beads from Diana Ptaszynski of Suburban Girl Beads. So let's see what I came up with!

Here are simple silver hoops with Diana's ceramic drops. Love these for their simplicity and their movement!

 Next, a pair of my lampwork beads, with some wire-wrapped glass briolettes.

Fun spiraled lampwork, pair with opalite, one of my favorite beads!

Click the picture to go to the Etsy listing!

Love this pair a LOT! My lampwork, gorgeous peachy-amber crystals, and handformed copper ear wires.

Click the picture to go to the Etsy listing!

Finally, a simple pair of mosaic-look beads in all sorts of neutral shades, paired with goldstone and more copper.

Please be sure to check the rest of the entries for the challenge by clicking on the thumbnails below!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Self-doubt and the single gal...

I've always wanted to do *something* creative--whether it be writing, drawing, painting when I was younger, or melting glass and putting together jewelry as I grew older. And for most of my life, I have been doing one or more of these things at any given time.

What I haven't done, and still struggle with, it my ability to believe.

When I was young, my grandmother told me that an artist has a natural talent--a gift that is just given to them.

She didn't tell me anything about the hard work that goes into bring a vision to life. She didn't tell me that one must study a craft and know the rules in order to really break free of them and innovate. She didn't tell me that failure is to be expected on a daily basis; nor that this "failure" was the fun of experimentation as much as it was the frustration of defeat.

So, as a young girl, because I couldn't draw as well as she could, I declared the artist in me dead.

I gave up my ability to believe that I could be creative and talented. I allowed fear and self-doubt to undermine my creativity.

 When I was in school, I was encouraged by some teachers that I was a good writer. So I latched onto that piece, and it came easily for me. So I thought my grandmother's words to be true: writing was my talent, it came easy, that's what I could do, and all I could do, in terms of creativity.

Sadly, the art teachers I had did little to recognize my enthusiasm and saved their effusive praise for those students who had the natural flair for reproducing what the eyes see. It never occurred to me, at any time, that if I worked harder, I would be able to produce something beautiful. I just assumed I couldn't.

I still struggle with this false reality that was constructed when I was small. As an adult, I constantly find myself drawn to people who are artistic and creative. I feel like an outsider to their "world" but I can't stay away. I envy what appears to be their ability to live and breathe creativity, while I wonder if they will know that I don't belong in their mix.

Then last week, something happened. I was working on a simple necklace for a bead challenge. Nothing earth shattering in terms of artistic achievement, I know. But I had a vision for how I wanted the pendant to look...and it didn't work the first time I wrapped the wires.

But this time, I didn't give up.

I had an idea of what *might* work, and decided to give it a try.

And it worked.

So unbelievably modest of a design, so unbelievably powerful of a moment.
And I have rarely been so proud of myself as I was for not giving up on that silly little pendant. It finally clicked in my brain, really clicked, that if I push the fear and self-doubt that always creeps in when something doesn't work the first time, I get to try again. And that's OK. The fact that I have to try 5 different approaches to make an idea work doesn't mean that I am a talentless hack with no creativity. Instead, I'm a pretty damn creative chick who can come up with way more than one way to approach a problem.

I'm hoping my brain remains in this mode. It's so easy to doubt ourselves, especially when those seeds have had the ability to take root for years. But an attentive gardener can clean out the weeds that are choking out the now, I will add "gardener" to the list of of my creative abilities.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Bead Soup #7 Reveal!

The time for some bead soup has arrived once again!

As a refresher, I received my soup from Bev Breisinger of Country Frog Creations. This is the 7th serving of Bead Soup organized by Lori Andersen, hostess with the mostess!

Here is a picture to remind you what Bev sent to me:

The rules of the soup are that we must use the focal and the clasp...the rest of the beads are an extra bonus. This time around, I used the focal and the clasp in the same is what I was able to make with her soup!

As you can see, I didn't use the heart focal in the traditional way. I also moved the clasp around to the front, since it seemed to lend itself well to continuing the square motif of the blue ceramic beads.

Here's a close up of the heart pendant:

And another shot of the whole necklace:

Due to craziness at work, I didn't have time to make anything else out of the soup. :(  I have plans for some earrings using the cool shell drops Bev sent, as well as some ideas for using the old key.

Want to see the rest of the soups? Of course you do! Follow the links below to see what other concoctions were created with soups from all over the world!

First and Last Name
Blog URL
Alicia Marinache
Amber Dawn Goldish
Barb Solem
Bev Breisinger
Birgitta Lejonklou
Breana Fry
Brenda Sue Lansdowne
Bridget Torres
Carol Dee Myers
Carolyn Chenault
Cassi Paslick
Cece Cormier
Cheryl McCloud
Cindy Wilson
Crystal Thain
Cynthia Riggs
Dana Hickey
Dana James
Darlene Fortier
Deana Hager
Deanna Cox
Deb Brooks
Debra Behrends
Denielle Hagerman
Denise McCabe
Diana Frey
Diana Welte
Dini Bruinsma
DiYana Alcalde
Dolores Raml
Donna Millard
Dot Lewallwn
Duane Clark
Dyanne Cantrell
Eleanor Burian-Mohr
Elisabeth Auld
Elizabeth Owens Dwy
Emily Greer
Enikö Fabian
Erin Grant
Eva Kovacs
Eva Sherman
Gina Hockett
Grace Rotenberg
Gretchen Nation
Hannah Rosner
Heather Davis
Heather Marston
Heather Powers
Ingrid McCue
Jacqueline Marchant
Jan Petek
Janeen Sorensen
Jane-Michael Stallings
Jasvanti Patel
Jayashree Paramesh
Jayne Capps
Jean Yates
Jennifer Cameron
Jennifer LaVite
Joan Williams
Jodie Marshall
Judy Riggs
Julie Anne Leggett
Kat Barron Miller
Kathy Lindemer
Kim Hora
Kim Houston
Kim Sparks
Krafty Max
Kris Lanae Binsfeld
Krista French
Kristen Stevens
Kristi Harrison
Kumi Fisher
Laren Dee Barton
Laura Bracken
Laura Demoya
Laurie Hanna
Laurie Keefe-Cecere
Lea Avroch
Leanne Loftus
Lee Anne Messerschmidt
Leslie Schenkel
Linda Anderson
Linda Djokic
Linda Murphy
Linda Sadler
Lisa Liddy
Lisa Suver
Liz DeLuca
Liz Engriser
Lola Surwillo
Loretta Carstensen
Lori Anderson
Lori Bergmann
Lori Bowring Michaud
Lori Poppe
Lori Schneider
Lyn Foley
Maddison Langford
Magdalena Sikora
Mallory Hoffman
Marcella Austenfeld
Marcy Lamberson
Maria Clark
Maria Rosa Sharrow
Marianna Boylan
Marie Covert
Marti Conrad
Mary Ellen Merrigan
Mary Harding
Molly Alexander
  Nan Emmett
Niky Sayers
Pam Chesbro
Pam Farren
Pam Sandy
Pam Traub
Pamela Gangler
Patricia Buchanan
Patricia Johnson
Patty Miller
Paula Hisel
Peggy Gabrielson
Perri Jackson
Rachel Baron
Rachel Stanley
Rain Hannah
Rana Wilson
Renetha Stanziano
Robin Reed
Rochelle Brisson
Rose Rushbrooke

Ruth Szapa
Sally Russick
Sandi Volpe
Sandra Pendragon
Sandy Richardson
Sarah Small
Shannon Hicks
Shari Replogle
Sheila Daniels
Sheila Davis
Shiraz Biggie
Shirley Moore
Skylar Bre'z
Staci Smith
Stacie Florer
Stacy Pomerleau
Stephanie Weiss
Sumi Rani
Susan Sheehan
Suzette Bentley
Tamera Norris
Tracy Choy
Tracy Stillman
Valerie Norton
Vicki Holliday