Thursday, October 11, 2018

Wonder and Whimsy Monthly Challenge - October Edition

...and Giveaway!!

Yep, there's a Giveaway this month! Details are at the bottom of this entry... Keep reading to find them--or just scroll until you see it. :)

First things first, though: this month's challenge. I came up with this challenge when I was visiting my parents last month. While there, I spent a fair amount of time going through boxes of my stuff in their basement. I got rid of quite a bit of it, but I also found some treasures--like my binder of letters from my late mother-in-law, my trowel from archaeological field school, and my rock collection from when I was in 2nd grade.

And I also found some beads.

...Not only did I find some beads, I found some necklaces that I made back when I was in middle school:

Both are made with glass and metal--and, honestly, the construction has held up pretty well considering these were made in the 1990s by a self-taught jewelry novice.

Oh! And I even found the jewelry that I wore to prom... Hah!

I remember that I wasn't happy with the offerings I found in stores, so I bought two pairs of earrings and a plain beaded choker. Some simple manipulation later, and I had a matching set:

...Not revolutionary, I realize, but it still makes me happy that I was thinking outside the box even then. I guess I come by this jewelry thing honestly.

And now, to the beads.

Nestled amongst other middle school memorabilia, I found these two boxes:

Each box is full of a collection of large seed beads, some large glass, and some findings. (The one on the left has bobby pins and wire, and the one on the right has necklace and earring findings.)

Here's a close-up of the contents of the multi-themed box:

...And now, for my Monthly Challenge. 

As you might guess, my challenge is to make something with the contents of this box. My goal is to mainly use what is in here--although I'm sure other findings and such will make their way in. And! If I have time, I may even remake some of the necklaces I showed earlier to reflect my more recent skill set.

Now, you may have noticed that I only revealed the contents of one of those bead boxes. So, what about the other one? Well, that answer to that brings us to:

The Giveaway!

That's right! I want to give someone this box: 

By my best estimation, this collection of beads was put together sometime in the 1990s. (Egads, I guess that means they're vintage? Heh, I feel a little old.) While they are not gemstones or handmade lampwork, this is still a happy mix of colors--and they're a special little bit of my past. I want to share that little part of me; hopefully these beads will bring someone some joy.

So, how to win? Simply comment on this post! Oh, and please be sure to leave an email address, so that I'll know how to contact you. I'm willing to ship internationally, so everyone can feel free to enter. 
On Friday, October 26th, I'll draw the winner's name out of a hat. I'll post the winner here in my challenge reveal, as well as contact them via their provided email addresses. 

So! Come by on Friday, October 26th to see what I end up making... and see who the winner of the Giveaway is!

Until then, have a wonderful October everyone! And best of luck winning these beads! :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Wednesday's Worktable

My beading table has been pretty bare these last few months. I've been making things, but not nearly as many as I usually do.

...Which is okay. 

Instead of beading, I have been getting back into the rhythm of life. The last few months have been busy with travel--I have visited Baltimore and New York and Western Maryland. They have been full of organizing and paring down--I recently donated five bags to a local charity. 

And these months have been full of grieving. 

My mother-in-law passing has been very very hard, on my husband and on me. I find a lot of my creating is trying to tackle that loss. She and I both love Autumn... I keep finding myself drawn to Autumn designs, thinking of her. The above beads, for example. Eventually, I made two necklaces with them... One to give to my best friend, and one to sell. 

I don't think I can keep one for me. Not right now.

...And, I realize that I never showed these. These are the memorial keychains that I made for my husband and his brothers using the funeral flower beads that I made:

And here is the necklace that I made for their sister:

Patty was an amazing musician, so it seemed so fitting to use guitar-pick shapes for these pieces. They just feel like her.

I don't know what it says about me--when I am grieving, I make things for other people. I give gifts and delight in using my talents to bring them beauty. I guess it's just part of who I am. Helping others in turn helps me. Their delight is a balm to my heart.

So, that is what I have been working on recently--taking steps to grieve and process feelings through creating. Hopefully my work will soon start taking a turn for the more cheerful... in the meantime, thank you for being there while I heal.

Have a lovely day, everyone. And for you in places with the four seasons--may you all have a beautiful Autumn.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Hello, October!

...I think I'm ready to be back.

I'm going to take it slowly, I think, but I really have missed this creative space. Thank you everyone for being so patient with me as I've been slowly healing. I'm still grieving--I think it will be an ongoing process--but life is continuing apace... 

And I'm beginning to see beauty more and more as the days go on.

Today's sunrise

So... here is to a beautiful Autumn. Here is to a hopeful resurgence of creativity. Here is to sharing pictures of pretty things, and seeing the beauty in the everyday.

Thank you for hanging in there with me. May you all have a beautiful October. 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Just a litte update...

These last few weeks have been very, very hard. 

I'm slowly picking up the pieces, stitching my heart back together and trying to continue on with mundane everyday life things. Like groceries. And laundry. And yardwork. 

I have also been pouring myself into make beads from the funeral flowers. My goal is to use those beads to make memorial jewelry pieces for the family... It won't take away the hurt, but it has helped me to have my hands busy with something I know to do. Besides, Patty loved flowers and jewelry both--and I think this is a fitting tribute, and would have made her smile.

...and now I know that white roses turn into tan/brown beads. Huh. Who knew?

I'm also getting read to go on vacation coming up soon, so I will continue to be scarce here. Thank you all for being patient with me as I tackle this loss. I'm doing my best not to push the grief away, but to embrace it and feel it and hopefully have it turn to healing. I'm so grateful that I loved her so much that I am hurting this much... She was definitely a gift, and a dear dear friend.

My love to you all. May your upcoming week treat you kindly.

Friday, August 3, 2018

My mother-in-law passed away Tuesday evening. 

She was an incredibly dear friend. I started writing letters to her back when I was in middle school, and have known her for more than 20 years (I think the actual count is 26?). She was a fellow writer with a wonderfully quirky sense of humor, she was incredibly supportive of my jewelry making, and she just so happened to be the mother of the man I fell in love with. I couldn't have been more lucky.

And now, faced with her loss--realizing that there are stories that she will never finish writing, and my own stories that I will never get to share with her--I am grieving. 

My husband is grieving. 

His family is grieving.

...I may not be back on my blog for a little while. The world is still bright and full of wonder, but my heart is shattered. I am blessed that I knew her so well--and I am blessed that I can be part of this family as we lean on each other and mourn. 

I wish you all peace and a beautiful August... hold your loved ones close, and please keep looking for beauty. 

I will be back when I am able.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Wonder and Whimsy Monthly Challenge - July Reveal


That was the theme for this month's Wonder and Whimsy challenge. I have so many of them, after all... I figured it was about time that I actually started using them! :)

Now, I need to be honest with you: this month, I went into over-achieving mode. I have six necklaces to share for this reveal. 

However--and again, just being honest--I should also note that I'm not completely happy with some of them. They all look lovely, but the buttons are so much lighter than I am accustomed to, and I didn't quite get the weight quite right on a few of them. Lesson learned! I'm still proud of what I accomplished and learned... and am still tweaking the ones that don't quite work. And who knows? There might be a Part 2 to this challenge at some later time!

Okay! Now that that's out of the way, it's time to share the pretties. Without further ado, here is what I made!

Necklace 1

For this first necklace, I thought it would be fun to use the buttons like disc beads. I used a handful of vintage beads from the button jar pictured above, which I cleaned off and strung on waxed linen. I added spacer beads and chain for extra interest. 

Now, I was hoping that the black linen would make some of the darker buttons pop. Looking at it now, I think I should have gone for a lighter brown instead. The overall effect isn't bad--just something to keep in mind for next time. After all, I have quite a few more of those buttons, so I have lots of room to keep playing around... and I certainly haven't exhausted the possibilities of using buttons as discs! 

Necklace 2

For this next necklace, I decided to embrace the complete button-ness of the buttons. Instead of using them like flat disc beads, I laid them button-side-up and wire-wrapped them as links. I then combined them with a random assortment of wood, Czech glass, vintage acrylic, agate coins, and ceramic. (Woo, I was able to be asymmetric!)

This necklace can be worn with the toggle clasp in the back, or on the side. I'm still playing around with the weight on this one (the ceramic bead is being particularly problematic), but I love the combination of browns and tans... and I really like the way that the buttons look, wire-wrapped the way that they are.

Necklace 3

After having success with the wire-wrapped links in the previous necklace, I decided to take it one step further: wire-wrapping the button as a pendant. I picked a nice-size button and some coordinating beads, and this what I came up with:

Now, this is one of the necklaces where the weight works out nicely. The button is light, but so are the other components. The coordinating beads are mostly wood, with small bits of Czech glass and shell added in, which means that the necklace itself is well-balanced. I love the combination of browns and golds--and, due to its light weight, it's perfect for summer.

Necklace 4

...You may now start to notice a theme. Heh. I started to get addicted to wire-wrapping button pendants, so I moved on to this one. 

I'm honestly not sure about the material or age of the button, but it has a beautiful mother-of-pearl sheen to it. And so, I paired it with mother-of-pearl barrel beads, goldtone metal, and glass. Because of the dangle, the weight of this necklace is perfect--it is definitely one of my favorites. And, what can I say--I'm a sucker for an elegant white-and-gold necklace. :)

Necklace 5

And here we have another wire-wrapped button pendant! (I told you that you might start to notice a theme.) This particular button is a steampunk-themed button that I picked up on clearance at a fabric store. I wire-wrapped it, added a tassel, and then hung it on a silver-beaded chain that I salvaged from an older project I never finished.

...This is actually one of my least favorites of the necklaces I made for this challenge. While I really like the way that it looks, it just doesn't hang right. Gah! The pendant isn't heavy enough to match the rest of the beads, the beaded chain is slightly wonky, the tassel isn't the right weight or length. This is actually the 5th draft of this necklace. Ah well--I'm sure I'll get it perfect one of these days. Until then--at least it looks nice! :)

Necklace 6

All right... while the previous necklace was one of my least favorites of this reveal, this next one is my definite favorite. Hands down. 

Granted, it had a bit of an advantage going in... You see, it all started with the above button--a beautiful artisan-made dichroic glass button I picked up about 10 years ago. At the time, my beading skills weren't where they are today, and the design I made with it was not the best. (You'll notice the glue residue--I cringe now, but at the time I didn't know any better.) So, I freed the button from its previous home, and got to work:

That's right. I brought out the wire-weaving... and made this:

...Which I then turned in to this:

I'm so excited that the wire-weaving hides the glue residue that I couldn't get off the front! And I'm also excited that I found beads to match the button so perfectly. For the rest of the necklace, I used glass: iridescent glass, regular glass, matte glass. 

And, since it is all glass, the weight and balance problems that have plagued my other button creations are completely non-issues. It hangs exactly where it's supposed to, and is not so light that it keeps shifting, or so heavy that it feels like a brick around your neck.

In short, I'm over the moon with how this one turned out! 

...Here, have another picture:

So, there you go! Those are the necklaces that I made for this reveal. Thanks so much for stopping by today to see what I made--and for journeying with me through my trials and tribulations of button-use. Hah! I definitely see myself adding more buttons into my designs in the future... especially if they're beautiful dichroic glass! :)

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! Stay creative!