October 31, 2009

Treats, we want treats!!!

Happy Halloween!

Here are a few answers to some questions about the challenge:

1. You can enter more than one submission for each challenge - for fun, but only one entry per day is put into the drawing.

2. You don't have to make a piece of jewelry for each assignement to enter. You can do one or as many as you'd like.  Each day you can enter and that gives you more chances to win.

3. If you have an older piece of jewelry that you made and it fits in the challenge, you can enter it.

Have fun, you now have until Nov. 6th to complete your assignments.  I love what I'm seeing so far.

And if you haven't entered to win a free subscription to Stringing magazine, click the magazine photo on the right to enter!

October 30, 2009

Fun with Focals - Day 5

The inspiration: Cynthia Thornton's Seek Wisdom Lariat from the Winter 2007 issue of Stringing.

My Version: This one really had my muse jumping up and down.  I choose to work with findings in an unusual way to create a focal element.  I filled 3 Vintaj bead pod toggle clasps with pearls and wire-wrapped them together to create a modern, sculptural element.  I also used a square toggle clasp as part of the pendant along with a leaf and bird from Vintaj.  I completed the focal with a 3-hole spacer bead in my branch design and finished the necklace with keishi pearls in cream and coffee bean brown. 

The assignment: Use a finding in an usual way to create a focal element.  (Designs with clasps in the front would count!)

You have until Nov. 6th to add a link to this post with your version of today's challenge.

The grand prize is a $50 gift certificate to Humblebeads.com!

Read the full details for the contest here and a chance to win a year's subscription to Stringing magazine.

I'm looking forward to seeing your creations and hope you have been inspired to play along!

October 29, 2009

Fun with Focals - Day 4

The Inspiration: Silvija and Taya Koschnick's Chained Labradorite pendant from the Fall 2008 issue of Stringing.

My Version: I love this technique and have wanted to give it a try for a while now.  I pulled out the gunmetal chain for my design.  I chained up a faux beach glass bead, added in a chain tassel, a Humblebead branch lentil and strung this long elegant pendant on 3 different strands of chain for texture and interest.  What you can't see it that I used chain to create a bail for this pendant.  (The chain on the focal bead is only on one side.)

The Assignment: Chain up your focal bead!  This works great for stones, ceramic or glass that have flat sides and large plain surfaces.

You have until Nov. 6th to add a link to this post with your version of today's challenge.

The grand prize is a $50 gift certificate to Humblebeads.com!

Read the full details for the contest here and a chance to win a year's subscription to Stringing magazine.

October 28, 2009

Fun with Focals Flickr Group

Your wish is granted!  I created a flickr group for our Fun with Focals Challenge pieces.  You'll still need to add your link to the comments for the assignement day that inspired your creation.  For example: if you did a horizontal pendant, you'll need to add the link to the Day 1 comments, etc.

Can't wait to see what you create!

Fun with Focals - Day 3

The Inspiration: Kathy Thompson's Refreshingly Green necklace in the Spring 2009 issue.

My Version: My necklace is long leap from the inspiration piece in the magazine. The focal used jump rings as embellishment and here I paired clusters of jump rings to create a "nest" for my owl bead.  I also used another cluster of Vintaj etched jumprings as a bail.  The leaf is from my favorite leaf-maker, Every Heart Crafts and the necklace is finished off with a simple silk ribbon in a soft earthy green.

The Assignment: Use jumprings as embellishment for your focal piece, the more the merrier!

You have until Nov. 6th to add a link to this post with your version of today's challenge.

The grand prize is a $50 gift certificate to Humblebeads.com!

Read the full details for the contest here and a chance to win a year's subscription to Stringing magazine.

October 27, 2009

Fun with Focals - Day 2

The Inspiration: Cynthia Thornton's Burning Bush necklace from the Fall 2006 issue of Stringing.

My Version: The focal element of this project used ribbon as a bail.  I made a little ribbon from some silk dupioni that I had on hand as the bail for my bird pendant.  I paired up the focal bead with striking red Czech faceted glass, copper spacers, humblebeads branch disk beads, brass jump rings and chain.

The Assignment: Use ribbon, string or leather to create a bail for your focal bead/pendant.

You have until Nov. 6th to add a link to this post with your version of today's challenge.

The grand prize is a $50 gift certificate to Humblebeads.com!

Read the full details for the contest here and a chance to win a year's subscription to Stringing magazine.

October 26, 2009

Fun with Focals - Day 1

The inspiration: Teri Bienvenue's Cowgirl necklace that appeared in the Summer 2007 issue of Stringing. 

For my version  I used Czech faceted glass, copper spacers, clusters of etched Vintaj jumprings, a humblebeads branch disk bead, Vintaj brass wire and chain.

The assignment: Create a horizontal focal using chunky beads lined up on wire. 

You have until Nov. 6th to add a link to this post with your version of today's challenge. 

The grand prize is a $50 gift certificate to Humblebeads.com

Read the full details for the contest here and a chance to win a year's subscription to Stringing magazine.

Fun with Focals Challenge

Have you seen the Best of Stringing? Humblebeads abound - I have a necklace and an earring project in this issue. Molly Schaller created a necklace using a few of my disk beads and Cristi Clothier has an amazing necklace using a limited edition set of orchid beads.

One of the most interesting features in the magazine is the Fun with Focals section. It includes 30 tips and innovations for creating interesting and clever focal elements.

I was so inspired by this feature I picked my favorite 5, came up with my own versions and have partnered with Interweave Press for a new contest and a challenge.

There are two parts to this contest, one is a random drawing and the other is a creative challenge with assignments!

The Best of Stringing Drawing:
Grand Prize - a year subscription to Stringing Magazine
Runner Up - a free copy of the Best of Stringing
How to enter:
Leave a comment here answering this question - For focal beads are you more likely to grab an art bead, a metal pendant or a large bead such as stone, wood, shell, etc.?

One entry per person.

The Fun with Focals Challenge:
Prize: $50 gift certificate from Humblebeads.com and a signed copy of the Best of Stringing.

How to enter:
1. Each day this week I'll post my version of the Fun with Focals project along with the assignment to follow along.
2. You'll have a week to create a piece of jewelry inspired by the assignment and put it online. It can be on your blog, facebook page, flickr or other online photo album or in your Etsy shop, etc..
3. Put the link to the creation in the comments of the matching post.

You may submit one link per assignment.
The winner of this prize will be randomly drawn from all the assignment links.

For both parts of the contest please leave your email if you don't have a blog account, so that I can notify the winners. Winners will be drawn at 3pm on Friday, November 6th.

Your first assignment will be posted soon!

October 24, 2009

Fly Home Little One

Fly Home
Another necklace that I created from our inspiration painting.  Of course for this one, it was about the color of orange and black & white.  (Which is really brown and cream here, eh that's close enough.)

That's a ceramic bead from Jangles as the focal.

Yep, more Elaine Ray - those tiny teal ceramic cubes.  A few copper Humblebeads.  Lots of Vintaj.  And a few things thrown in from the local craft store, like the red ceramic bead, nest, the chain and bone bead.  And one lone crystallized cube that came in our Rings & Things blog partner packet a few months ago.  It takes a village to make a necklace!

October 23, 2009

Piano Playing Birds Lay Better Eggs

I thought I'd jump in and play along with this month's Art Bead Scene challenge.  The inspiration painting this month is a funky outsider art/folk painting by Ruby Williams. 

Along with the bird from my shop, I have an Elaine Ray almond bead, the leaf is from our dear Erin at Every Heart Crafts and the glass, unknown.  It was a gifty from Rosanne, maybe she'll remember for me.

The prizes for the monthly challenge are beads from Diane Hawkey and Jangles, so pull out your beads and play along. 

And speaking of beads and playing - you HAVE to stop back on Monday. 

I'm going to host a fun challenge/contest to celebrate my work in the Best of Stringing.  Play along to win a free subscription to Stringing along with other prizes!

October 22, 2009

Rings & Things Blog Partner Project

Rings & Things sent their blog partners some sterling silver and gold-filled wire connectors to play with a while ago.  I finally got around to taking photos, so today I'm presenting a free project featuring the gold-filled wire connector and a hardware store retaining ring. 

Rags to Riches Pendant

1 1/18" retaining ring
gold-filled connector
Branch lentil bead
copper seed bead
Vintaj flower beadcap
2 brass 7mm jump rings
2 gunmetal 6mm jump rings
2 gunmetal 4mm jump rings
18" gunmetal chain

bench block
ball peen hammer
round nose and chain pliers
wire cutters

1. Slightly flatten and texture the gold-filled connector with the ball peen hammer.
*AVOID the loops, they will break off!*

2. String the seed bead, lentil and flower bead cap onto a headpin and create a wire-wrapped looped.

3. Attach the lentil to the connector with a 7mm jump ring.  Attach the bottom of the connector to the bottom of the retaining ring with the other 7mm jump ring.

3. Attach the top of the retaining ring to the connector with the 6mm jump rings.

4. Cut the chain in half and attach each side to the pendant with 4mm jump rings.

You can work magic with a bench block and ball peen hammer, I consider these as essential as my set of pliers. 

October 20, 2009

Book Fair

Head on over to the Art Bead Scene today to enter to win one of the two books we are giving away!

Speaking of books, here are a few my beads or projects are appearing in at the moment.  I've been quietly working away on updates to my website and one the new features is a press page that shows which beads are in current publications.  I still need to do an official press page, but I feel like I've sort of lost track of which magazines I've been in now.  That's a good thing, right? 

I've been working on new submissions for the magazines for next year, oh how I love to steal away time to create new jewelry!  And I'm waiting patiently to hear back about my book proposal.  But that's all I can share about that for now.

October 19, 2009

With needle, thread, beads and wool

It's not quite fall here in San Antonio yet, but the mornings are chilly and tease us just enough to think it may be around the corner.  It never fails, every fall I pull out the wool roving and seed beads to see what I can create.  I have this whole series of nature designs sketched that would look awesome in wool and beads, but for now they patiently wait.

Some sea inspired beads

I first created this piece as a promotional image for the Bead Cruise and now for 2010 I will be teaching this design.  If you read the Art Bead Scene you already got the scoop, if not head on over to the Bead Cruise website to see the 5 new classes that we are offering.

Maybe I'll go pull out the wool, you know just to look...

October 12, 2009

Bead Trends Winner!

The lucky winner for the Bead Trends giveaway is Debbie from Pairie Emporium!

Debbie won a 6 month subscription to Bead Trends, provided by the magazine, and a $30 gift certificate to Humblebeads.com.

I want to thank everyone who played along and offer a 10% discount for your next  humblebeads.com order.  Use discount code BeadTrends09 when you check out.  This discount will expire on 10/21.

Picture above is my Harvest Dandelion that is featured in the Letting Go necklace.  That was the most picked project.  Letting go seems to be a common theme for many of us!

October 10, 2009

Jazz Trio - Rings & Things Product Review

I'm a little behind on my Rings & Things product reviews. The good folks at R & T send their blog partners things to review or experiment with each month. Products provided by Rings & Things include the 8mm Swarovski crystal cubes in topaz and montana blue, the 22 gauge copper wire, the round copper blanks and one lonesome brown lava bead left over from a previous review

I also wanted to work on a piece that used the color scheme of the Art Bead Scene challenge. If you've seen this month's painting, it's a crazy folk art piece featuring a piano playing cow. So to say I stretched the connection between the inspiration and my piece may be an understatement. I loosely used the color scheme of blue, orange and green. .

So here is what I did:
I took the copper blanks and textured them with a screwdriver for the dot pattern and the other blank I used my ball peen hammer. I used my handy metal hole punch and added two holes to make those disks into connectors and then I pulled out my wooden dapping block and domed them into a concave shape. I used an eye pin to hold the beads in the center of those connectors. Next I wire-wrapped the cubes and black wooden beads to the copper chain. The rest of the components are connected with copper eyepins and jumprings. So there we have a nice little necklace that reminds me of improvisational jazz with elements speaking and playing off one another.

Tools provided by Rings & Things: wooden dapping block, ball peen hammer and metal hole-punch.

And really with those 3 tools and a bench block you can make so many different things with wire and metal, I would consider them as essential as your set of pliers.

October 9, 2009

October Skies

For the Vintaj trunk show I created lots of limited edition pieces. The beads had a successful run in Galena and have returned home. This was my favorites from the batch. I did a whole collection of beads called "October Sky" that featured leaf and branches canes. There is a yellow/orange - blue/muted purple theme going on that I'm lovin. I really miss the leaves changing colors, we just don't have that here in SA.

Along with this style I did a few other bezels with a mix of canes and painting, but I'm going to do a layer of resin on top of those. They should be ready next week, if all goes according to plan.
Here is the back of the pendant, it's a Vintaj piece that I've dapt (or dapped, I'm not sure which way it's said and it's too late at night for googlin'.)
Thanks for the words of wisdom on pricing. I hope that by sharing my struggle I can help someone else who is in the same boat. It's always hard to talk about that kind of stuff and I was feeling a little exposed yesterday. But I'm glad I had the chance to hear your encouraging words.

October 8, 2009

Pricing Jewelry

A few weeks ago I decided that I'd like to offer a line of jewelry along with my beads. While making jewelry is fun and it's where I started with my business 17 years ago, I have to say that it's been a struggle to give myself permission to ask a fair price.

Everyone has different reasons and systems for the way they price their jewelry, so I'm not saying one way is good or bad. I'm just offering my thoughts here. If you have overcome this struggle in your journey as an artist, please share your story with me!

So these are the thoughts that have been rolling around in my head:

1. I have to charge for more than materials. I need to support my family. This isn't a hobby for me, this is my livelihood. If I'm going to spend my time making jewelry it has to be worth the investment that it will take out of my day. Along with the physical making of the beads and jewelry, there is photography and design work, marketing, advertising, selling costs, packaging, shipping and paperwork that goes along with each piece of jewelry.

2. I don't have to afford my jewelry. So my price needs to reflect what my work is worth, not what I think is affordable. I'm a bargain hunter by nature. It's just a hold-over from my survival skills as a young 20's something mother with a husband who worked manual labor. Thankfully now I can afford all sorts of luxuries but it's hard for me to pay certain price points for things and I just need to let that go.

3. My time is valuable and there are intangible qualities to my work. There are my design skills, my craftsmanship and my ideas. These are harder to quantify into a dollar amount and make it harder to pinpoint a formula.

So I do have a basic formula for the price as a guideline and I have a general idea of the fair market value for work that is comparable to mine. But I still struggle to ask that higher dollar amount. I know a gallery or boutique could ask for more for my work than I'm charging, so why can't I give myself the okay to charge more? It may just take time. I might find that the demand for my work is growing too much and then I'll have to charge more. (Okay that was weird to write, like I might as well of asked for a pocket full of pixie dust.)

I feel like I need to look in a mirror and say, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and doggone it people will buy my jewelry." (Nod to Mr. Stewart Smiley.)

Share with me - if you know of a good link or have a jewelry designer that you admire I'd love to see it!

October 6, 2009

Bead Trends Giveaway!

When the editor of Bead Trends asked me to be the Featured Designer for the October issue I knew right away that I wanted to create a series of jewelry that reflected the seasons, my love of nature and incorporated art beads from some of my favorite artists. The 11 designs featured in the issue are some of my favorite pieces that I've ever created. Tomorrow I will share more about the art beads used in the projects.

Projects In the issue:
1. Water & Seed Necklace and Bracelet
(Pictured above, photo courtesy of Bead Trends Magazine)
A woodsy combination of seeds, wood and water inspired beads.
2. Blue Skies Calling Bracelet, Necklace and Earrings
Nests and birds take center stage amid blue lace agate, yellow opal nuggets and copper.
3. Seek Wisdom Necklace and Earrings
A wintery blue set with branches, kyanite and ceramic beads in frosty hues.
4. Tiger Lily Necklace and Earrings
One of my favorite flowers of summer, this tiger lily set features a mix of copper disks, keishe pearls, rutilated quartz and gunmetal chain.
5. Letting Go Necklace and Bracelet
A seed of knowledge: letting go of our worries will help us get closer to our dreams. This is the theme of this set with harvest inspired beads, trees, leaves, acorns and wood.

Did you know you can purchase a digital copy of the magazine? I did this the other day and it's awesome! You subscribe to one issue for $4.99. You pick which issue you want, uh go for Oct. 2009 to see my goodies, and it's instantly available online. You can download the issue to your computer. You can make notes, there are direct links to the suppliers, it pretty much rocks. Although I still like to hold a magazine in my hand, this is a budget-friendly alternative! Click here for more details.
To celebrate being the featured designer in the October issue of Bead Trends I am hosting a giveaway on my blog this week.

The prizes: Bead Trends has donated one 6 month subscription to their magazine (a $49.95 value) and I am giving away a $30 gift certificate to Humblebeads.com!

To Enter: Make a comment to this post. If you don't have a blog, please make sure to include your email so that I can contact you if you are the winner!

To Win: One random winner will be drawn from all of the comments on Monday, October 12th.
One entry per person.   This drawing is now closed, thank you!

Let's give you something to comment on other than kudos, although I do appreciate those:
From the 5 themes/projects mentioned above which one appeals to you the most?

October 5, 2009

Inspirations for my latest beads

My inspirations:
In an old library hidden within a great manor, a woman in a dark blue silk dress tucks a feather into a dusty volume of her favorite book of poems. She dreams of freedom.

A cameo sits on a vanity next to a wooden box that holds pearls and a locket with the photo of her beloved. She touches a ribbon that once tied together a bouquet from their younger days.

A walk along a crumbling stone wall at the beginning of a cold October evening. The sun sets with a rush of midnight blue over the countryside. She heads away from the call and comfort of the glowing lights, from the safety of home and heads toward the forest...

I'm thinking filigree lockets, luscious ribbon, wood beads, stones in earthy colors, dark jewel tones, Victorian influences, autumn colors...
What is inspiring you today?