Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Jenny Monthly Challenge - September Reveal

In place of this week's Wednesday Worktable, I bring you something else... the reveal for my September Challenge!

As a refresher: this month, I decided to tap into my Art History roots and make jewelry inspired by the works of a painter. The painter in question? James McNeill Whistler.

Now, in my my introductory entry, I showed two of Whistler's works that I really appreciate. My challenge was to make jewelry based off of at least one of them. And, once again, I am an overachiever... I made jewelry for both! (Now there's a surprise...) 

So! Without further ado, here are the jewelry pieces I've made, inspired by Whistler's art.

The Peacock Room

The Peacock Room
Not my picture! 
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Another view of the Peacock Room.
Not my picture! Photo courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons.

And here is what I made!

Ta-da! So many things!

...Yep, I made all of that. It's five pieces overall: two necklaces, two pairs of matching earrings, and a bracelet. 

Now, as a disclaimer: I realize that the shades of green that I used don't exactly match the Peacock Room. The diamond shaped pearls were the closest that I could find to that deep deep hue, and I had to make due with what I could find. Regardless, however, I think my pieces still do justice to the rich emerald-and-gold juxtaposition of Whistler's work. Hopefully you'll agree. :)

The bracelet--glass and leather,
coupled with an ornate button, crystal teardrops, and a green iris pearl.

Now, early on in this challenge, I resolved to make a necklace without a tassel. I also resolved to highlight some of the more subtle portions of the peacock room--namely, the golden flowers that are found in the borders. (I think they're chrysanthemums, but don't quote me on that.)

That's why, when I found the stylized enameled flower pendant, I knew it was meant to be. I combined it with beads I salvaged from a broken vintage necklace (you'll notice the vintage clasp), and the flower necklace was born.

I wasn't done, however. That's when I found a strand of those deep green, diamond-shaped pearls, and I knew I had to make something with them. And I had to use feathers. I mean, it's the peacock room, for crying out loud.

...And, dangnabit, I wanted to make something with a tassel.

So I did.

Of the two necklace-and-earring sets that I made, I'm pretty sure that this is my favorite. I love the colors, I love the way that feathers hang when it's worn... Although, to be fair, I'm pretty pleased with everything I came up with!

Another shot of everything all together.
My honey locust tree decided to add to the arrangement.

So, ta-da! That is what I made, inspired by Whistler's Peacock Room. But, wait, there's more... It's now time to see what I made for my other favorite piece...

Nocturne in Black and Gold - 
The Falling Rocket

Nocturne in Black and Gold -- The Falling Rocket
Not my picture! Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Here is what I made!

Once again, I made five pieces: a bracelet, two necklaces, and two pairs of matching earrings. And, unlike the jewelry I made for the Peacock Room, I feel like the colors are pretty spot-on. Yay!

The bracelet!
A combination of black leather, antique gold beads, crystal, glass, and a vintage button.

Once again, I challenged myself to make something without a tassel. So, I gathered a bunch of materials in hues similar to the painting: gold-sheen obsidian, lapis lazuli, pearls (large ones dyed twilight-blue, small ones dyed dusk-green), Czech glass, and crystals. Then I mixed them with different shades of metal (gold, antique gold, and brass)... This set was the result:

...I couldn't help myself, though. I really wanted to make something that echoed the movement of the cascading embers--the eponymous Falling Rocket. So, with my leftover beads, I gave in to my tassel obsession and made this:

I just love the gold flecks visible in the lapis.

I'll be honest: I really, really, really like the way that these pieces turned out. The colorway is just gorgeous, and right up my alley.

Once again, here is everything together.

So, there you go! I truly enjoyed this challenge... I loved creating jewelry based on Whistler's work. You can probably tell, based on the sheer volume of items I created, that I was inspired!

...And I certainly hope you like this Art History kick I'm on, because I now have an entire list of artists that I want to tackle! Painters and sculptors and book illustrators--woo! (And if you have  favorite that you'd like me to look into, let me know in the comments! I already have someone picked out for next month, but I would love suggestions!)

Thanks so much for joining me today for this reveal! I hope everyone has a wonderful Wednesday, and a wonderful last day of September. 

See you in October!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wednesday's Worktable

Happy First Day of Autumn!

In honor of today, my craft table has been overrun with autumn-themed pieces. (Surprise, surprise, I know. *grin*)

I've actually already finished some of these autumnal pieces--playing around with brown and brass, leather and all manner of textures.

Leather and ceramic and wood, with a hint of brass.

This whole thing is me stepping out of my comfort zone and tackling asymmetry.
Kitchen-sink type set is full of leftover bits--ceramic and jasper, wood and Swarovski,
brass and copper, pearl and tiger eye, garnet and glass, Chinese crystal and magnesite.
And probably more that I'm missing.

...And I'm not done!

There are a few Fall-ish things that I'm still working on, in honor of my favorite season.

Jasper and brass.
...I have once more run out of 24 gauge antique brass wire.
Once I get some more, I'll finish this one up.

Brass and antique gold components waiting to be made into wonderful things...
Feather pendant with matching earring charms,
Key pendant with matching earring charms,
Bird and nest charms for asymmetrical earrings,
and acorns just because!

On a personal note... This was the day that I was planning on revealing a big change in my life. But, as it turns out, it's not going to happen. 

Long story short: my husband and I have been talking very seriously about moving to Santa Monica, California--he applied for and was offered an amazing job at a video game company (an industry that he's always dreamed of working in), and we were going to accept the position and move all the way across the country. That is the main reason that my Etsy store has been on hiatus... I closed it in anticipation of another move.

But, after a huge amount of discussion and debate, we decided that--for now--staying where we are is best. 

And there is a huge amount of peace with that decision.

Since we're staying in the land of seasons, that means that I get to enjoy this Autumn more than ever before. I get to plan a grand reopening of my store, now that we know the path we're taking... And I get to watch the leaves turn gold, and feel the return of cozy sweater weather, and enjoy the smell of wood burning stoves.

May you all have a wonderful Autumn--and a wonderful Wednesday, too!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Wednesday's Worktable

So far this month, I've been working with a fairly rich palette--Autumn colors mixed with brass and gold, not to mention the rich hues used by Whistler (for my September Challenge).

Today's worktable, however, reflects none of that.

I know that I've previously mentioned that I've been having fun learning the art of Zentangle...

Close-up of my most recently finished Zentangle page.

...So, today I decided to go monochromatic, and play around with some Zentangle-esque beads.

The white-on-black beads are glass, and are going to be made into a necklace. Since there aren't enough of them to go all the way around, I'll probably add some leather or chain to lengthen it. The black-on-white beads are acrylic (and much lighter!), so they will probably be made into earrings. Or a chunky bracelet. We'll see!

...And, for those interested in my Zentangle progress, here is the page that the above close-up was taken from:

...And I'm so proud--I even created my own pattern!

Granted, it was completely by accident. I messed up another pattern that I was trying to learn, but I didn't want to scrap the entire thing. So, I just sort of made it up as I went. The resulting pattern looks like a stylized tribal depiction of a mountain; for that reason, I have named it Kilimajaro. It can be seen in the top center of the work.

If you're interested in using it, here are some hastily drafted instructions (please pardon the messy handwriting--that pen is good for drawing, but not necessarily for writing):

I have no idea if there is another pattern out there that looks like this...
But, this is what I came up with, and it makes me happy. Yay!

So, that's what I have on my table today: fun with the stark contrast of black and white. A nice little break before I go back into the land of color!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Jenny Monthly Challenge - September Edition

For this month's challenge, I'm tapping into my Art History roots. 

I'm going to make jewelry inspired by a painter.

Now, my first thought was to use Rembrandt as my inspiration... He is one of my favorite artists--definitely my most studied--and his painting of the Prodigal Son is quite possibly my favorite work of art ever. I even had a giant poster of it in my dorm room while I was in college. (I never made a pretense about knowing much about current popular culture--but art from the Dutch Golden Age? Sign me up! Heh.)

The Prodigal Son
Not my picture! Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

However! That is for another month. 

This month's artist is not as famous as Rembrandt--or Van Gogh, or Monet, or Michelangelo. However, he is one of my original favorites. My mum and I went to see an exhibit of his work while I was in high school (middle school?), and I was quite taken with what I saw. I even bought the exhibition catalogue! (That was quite expensive for my age bracket.)  

So, without further ado... This month's artist is James McNeill Whistler.

Whistler was quite an interesting character.... An advocate of "art for art's sake," his paintings are filled with subtle delicacy; he built subtle layer upon layer, until the final picture took form. Yet his personality was quite combative and bitingly witty; he even turned a friendship with Oscar Wilde into a sour rivalry. This duality between his personality and his painting is best exemplified in the shape that he used as his signature in his paintings--the emblem of a butterfly with a long stinger as a tail.

Now, if you're not sure who this guy is, perhaps you'll recognize this... It's the painting that he's probably most well known for:

Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1
Not my picture! Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Often called "Whistler's Mother," the proper title of that painting is "Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1." Whistler was fascinated by music and found many similarities between it and painting... he named most of his paintings using musical terminology.

However, that's not my favorite piece by him. 

In fact, two pieces share that honor--and, interestingly, they both were the brunt of controversy at the time. First up:

The Peacock Room
Not my picture! 
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Ah, the Peacock Room. Whistler was originally commissioned to make subtle revisions to the room's decor--painting some leather, adding a wave pattern... And ending up redoing the entire thing. 

This led to a huge quarrel between the artist and the patron; Whistler was not paid for his work, and his important work relation was terminated. The two fighting peacocks there are actually a later addition--Whistler snuck into the room later, and painted them to represent the artist's fight with his patron. For more juicy details, read about this here

My other favorite piece is this:

Nocturne in Black and Gold -- The Falling Rocket
Not my picture! Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

This one also led to some controversy... Its subject matter is simple enough: it shows fireworks over a city park. Instead of painting an exact representation, however, Whistler was attempting to capture a scene or moment, and using his restricted color palette to create a physical sensation in the viewer.

The art critic John Ruskin was not impressed. Indeed, he called this painting "flinging a pot of paint in the public's face." His career on the line, Whistler sued Ruskin for libel. While Whistler won the trial, he was only awarded a farthing and had to declare bankruptcy as a result. You can read more about it here.

Another view of the Peacock Room.
Not my picture! Photo courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons.

Why do I like these particular two pieces?

While the painting style of each is different--more stylized and oriental for the peacocks (Whistler was greatly influenced by Japanese artists), more impressionistic and painterly for the Nocturne--I love how Whistler uses color. I love the rich, gilded juxtaposition of green and gold in the Peacock room, I love the contrast between the dark hues and the cascading embers in the Nocturne. 

So... why give you this long (but hopefully not boring) art history lesson? 

My challenge this month is to make a piece inspired by one of the above Whistler paintings. (Well, at least one of them... Knowing me, I may get carried away and do more!) Particularly I'm going to be focusing on those colors, and see if I can somehow duplicate the feel in the jewelry I make. 

...No small task, but we'll see how it goes!

Come back on Wednesday, the 30th, to see what I end up making!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Wednesday's Worktable

I am exhausted, so please pardon if my commentary is a bit lacking today.

On the plus side, though... Have some Autumn colors!

Yep, that's what I'm working with this week. 

I'm making a necklace...

...and a pair of earrings:

I'm actually almost done with that set... I'm just waiting on the toggle clasp I ordered to arrive before I can finish the necklace. That should be in the next few days.

So, what am I doing while I wait? 


That is a box of beads that the movers all schlucked together when we moved out of the apartment last year. I'm just now getting around to weeding through it... Leftover bits from old projects, single earrings waiting to be turned into pendants, incomplete prototypes--you name it, it's in there!

It's being fun going through and seeing what treasures I can find.

So, there you go... A worktable full of Autumn beads and rediscovered treasures.

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

MintMonarch Leather Feather Blog Hop - Reveal!

Guess what time it is!

That's right--it's time for another reveal! I get to show off what I made for the Leather Feather Blog Hop, hosted by Rachel of MintMonarch! (As you might have guessed from the title of this post, heh.)

As a refresher, here are the feathers that I received from Rachel:

Here I am, hard at work:

Re-using this picture from an earlier post because I love it...
Staring at my feathers while on vacation, deciding what to do with them!

And, after much debate and deliberation (and multiple dead-ends), here is what I made!

Phoenix Feathers of Dusk and Dawn -
Twin Necklace Sets

My original plan was to make earrings. After all, they're a pair! They're meant to go together!

However, that was not meant to be. I tried three or four earring designs, and none of them really worked for me. 

While I was playing around, however, I pulled out these components. It was when I couldn't decide between pewter/antique silver or brass/antique gold, that a lightbulb went off. Why not make matching-but-not-quite-identical necklaces? 

...And so the twin dusk (silver) and dawn (brass) necklaces were born.

And why Phoenix feathers? Because why not!

The dark red accents are garnet--drops for the necklaces, and rounds for the earrings.

I still can't decide which color combination I like more. I usually go for red and brass, but there is something about the red and silver that really appeals to me. I'm also tossing around a story idea to go with these--the thought of twin feather necklaces is just too juicy for my fairy tale sensibilities to pass up!

So, there you go! That's what I created for this challenge. Since this is a blog hop, here is the list of all of the participants... Be sure to stop by and check out what they have made!

Rachel--thank you so, so much for making this possible! I loved working with these feathers, and it was a delight to be a part of this blog hop.

And thank you for stopping by to see what I made! Have a wonderful weekend!