Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Jenny Monthly Challenge - December Reveal

It's the last day of December--and the last day of the year--so I can now show off what I made for this month's challenge! Hurray!

I made so many presents.

...And keep in mind that this isn't even all of them. There are a few more pieces that I have made, but have yet to be gifted--and, since some of the recipients read my blog, I figured I'll post an addendum at some point. Wouldn't want to give away the surprise, after all! :)

But enough chit-chat*... I'm sure you're dying to know what I made. So, here you go! First up: wire-wrapped pearls, made for two of my sisters-in-law!

Peachy pearls for one of my sisters-in-law!
(Husband's brother's wife, for those of you keeping track.)

Buttercup yellow pearls for another sister-in-law!
(Husband's sister, whose favorite color is yellow.)

I then made my mother-in-law her very own tassel necklace, in some of her favorite colors:

She loves big-and-bold necklaces... and looks so good in them!
I couldn't
not give her something with a tassel!

Do those earrings look familiar?
I made a similar pair for November's challenge,
and she loved them so much I wanted to give her a pair, too!

The last three family members on my list were my mother, sister, and my last sister-in-law (sister's wife)... And for them, I made matching jewelry sets in different colorways:

Based on their favorite colors, of course!

My sister-in-law received an amethyst set:

My sister received one in rose quartz:

And my mum received one in blue-green magnesite (I attempted one in apatite, but it was an exercise in frustration... And it's just as well, because I absolutely love the way this looks!):

And, because I was on a roll, I made a few more things for mum. She had specifically asked for some cranberry pearl earrings, like the pair I made in November, but I couldn't just leave it at that. So, I made her this set: 

A cranberry pearl necklace!

I also made her a set using white pearls. And since she likes chains that are 17 inches long (which can be ridiculously hard to find--they usually come in either 16" or 18"), I made her two of those as well--one with a button-turned-pendant and one with a purchased pendant. 

Overall, here is everything I made for my mother:


And here is the second 17 inch chain I made her. Please note that I didn't make the pendant... Instead, I purchased it from BooksByHerSide, because it has one of her favorite Narnia quotes on it:

...And my mum loved it so much, she started to cry when she opened it.

The last thing that I'm going to share isn't technically a present that I made to give someone personally... However, it was a custom order for someone in the family (the order was from my husband's brother's wife, as a present for her mother), and since it was a present for someone that I know and love, I wanted to share it, too:

Peas in a pod, made with freshwater pearls!
5 pearls, one for each of her grandchildren (4 of whom are my nieces and nephews).

And that concludes this installment of my present reveal! 

...And that doesn't even include the presents that we bought for people. Or the ones that I had made previously to give. What can I say... I love Christmas! :)

In other news, this is probably going to be my last post for 2015, and I just wanted to say thank you so much for joining me this year for my adventures in jewelry-making. I'm definitely looking forward to 2016, and I can't wait to see what else I learn and create!

Happy New Year's Eve, everyone!


* - Once more piece of chit-chat... Please pardon the varying quality of these photos... Some of these were taken in suboptimal light, because I finished the present and immediately had to wrap it. So it goes when there are so many things to make in so little time!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wednesday's Worktable: Birthday Edition!

Yes, indeed, today is my birthday!


While I was visiting my parents last week, I received my birthday gifts in addition to my Christmas gifts (even wrapped in different paper to differentiate between them!)... And, wow, I am utterly surrounded by amazing things! It's going to take me quite some time to sort through them and use them all.

...So, what's on my birthday worktable, you might ask?

Well, I am poking around with just one of the birthday presents I received: a beautiful something from my sister.
What's in the tin?

It looks like there might be a pendant in the tin!

A jellyfish!!

She chose this pendant for me because of all of the jellyfish pictures I take at the Aquarium--and I love it! How sweet of her to notice that the jellyfish room at the Newport Aquarium is certainly one of my favorite places ever; I can sit there and just watch the jellyfish float by, and it is a wonderfully quiet haven. 

And now I have a pendant to remind me of that happy place!

...Although I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with it yet, besides stare at it. ;)

I am so incredibly, incredibly grateful for all of the amazing people and things that I have in my life... People who notice that I love jellyfish and quiet places, people who buy me beautiful things and take the time to show me that I'm loved. My heart is definitely overflowing!

I hope everyone is having a lovely Wednesday... Now, if you'll pardon me, I have a jellyfish pendant to stare at!

Oh, and if you're wondering, the seller is Squidglass... The shop is here, and they're having a clearance sale to make room for new stock. You know, if you're looking for a jellyfish pendant of your own. ;)

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Every year, the days before Christmas feel more and more rushed. More stressed.

Responsibilities and real life don't seem to want to slow down, even as the end of December approaches. There are still bills, and dishes, and laundry. (Always laundry!)

...And that's why it's always very, very special when my husband and I are actually able to take a break from it all, pack up bags of presents, and come visit my parents for the holidays.

My parents' Christmas tree!
...With some of my Dad's paintings on the mantel,
and some of the (many!) presents visible.

Now, I don't see my parents nearly as much as I would like. That's what happens, I suppose, when you live many states away.

And that's why I treasure this time so much.

An elegant teacup paired with Sesame Street characters--
the latter of which I remember from when I was growing up.

I love my family. 

I love their laughter, their creativity, their quirky senses of humor.

Shell wreath ornament that my parents got on one of their trips to Florida.

I love their intelligence... such intense intelligence, where my Dad and my husband can talk for hours about post-graduate level Category Theory, my sister and I share what we've learned about kakapos (flightless ground parrots in New Zealand), and we all discuss Latin and Moby Dick and Finnegan's Wake around the breakfast table.

My mother is amazing, amazing at writing letters.

I love their playfulness... And the fact that stuffed animals are still considered viable Christmas presents for all of us (even though we're all adults).

...Because he makes me smile.

And I love just how much we all love each other.

Families are so precious, but so often relationships can be strained. I am unspeakably grateful that even though we are all different, with our different personalities and quirks, we all love each other and get along. We laugh and we sing and we enjoy each other's company.

...And after stressful weeks of being sick and feeling overwhelmed, I realize that being able to actually be with my family this year is the greatest Christmas gift of all.

I hope that, whatever your situation is this Christmas, that your day be filled with light and warmth, contentment and laughter, and all things that make your heart sing--whatever those things might be. Thank you so much for joining me on my sentimental journey today... My heart is overflowing, and I am abundantly grateful. 

Merry Christmas to you all!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Over the River, and Through the Woods... visit my parents, I go!

The moon peaking over Sidling Hill,
seen last night on the journey to my parents' house.

As you might imagine, my worktable is on hiatus today... Because it's the eve of Christmas Eve, and it's a time to be with family and friends. Just like my grandfather used to say... Go to bed and get up, go to bed and get up, and it's Christmas!

The Happiest of Holidays to everyone!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wednesday's Worktable

This week, my worktable is literally overflowing with projects. 

So many beads everywhere.

To begin with, I am in full-swing making Christmas presents--and it doesn't look like I'm going to stop anytime soon! But, I'm not going to show you any of those today. To see those, you'll have to wait until the end of the month. :)

Instead, I'll show you two of my other projects. 

First up: remember those Christmas light charms that I posted about on Monday? This is what they turned into: 

Deck the halls with Christmas light bulbs!
...or something.

I actually made three of these necklaces--one to keep, and two to give away... Because, apparently, even when I think I'm not making presents, I'm making presents. 


(For those wondering: I don't count those as Official Christmas Presents(tm), because they're more seasonal and fun and I want people to be able to wear them before December 25th. Hence, I am showing them off now. *grin*)

Also on my worktable today: playing around with December's shipment from Bargain Bead Box!

Crystals and rose quartz and silver findings, oh my!

Above you can see the main shipment, but that's not quite everything. They also included this gift, which is currently on its way to becoming a necklace:

Aquamarine rondelles and a sesame jasper flower pendant.
What a lovely combination.

I'm still mostly in the planning/designing stages, but oh what fun! So many shinies! :)

...And now, I really should get back to work. All of those presents aren't going to make themselves!

Have a wonderful day, everyone!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Taking a Break...

So. Many. Presents.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that I spent most of this past weekend making Christmas presents... So much so, that I have actually given myself a blister on my right thumb.

...I apparently present hard.

So, I am taking it easy today. Instead of making presents, I'm taking break and playing with acrylic Christmas light charms instead. Like you do.

...Oh, wait. I might actually make these into presents. Dang.

Even as things get more and more busy, I am trying my best not to get so caught up in doing things that I forget to have some fun, too.

Hope everyone is doing well--and staying sane! 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

History Hop: Paleolithic Style

Woo-hoo! It's time for one of my favorite things: a blog hop reveal!

Lions, on the wall of Chauvet Cave.
Source: Wikipedia.
This particular blog hop is the History Hop: Paleolithic Style, organized by Leah Curtis over at Beady Eyed Bunny. I'm super excited about it, too, because it combines two of my favorite things: archaeology and art.

More specifically--as one might guess from the name--it challenged its participants to make art inspired by the Paleolithic era.

For some (very) brief background: the Paleolithic era was a time in early history, before written records, when humanity was just starting to come into its own. It was a time of hand-formed tools, cave paintings, even rudimentary beads--when people made beautiful things with limited materials and tools.

Not my picture!
This was put together by the hostess as an inspirational springboard. Pretty cool, right? :)

The Paleolithic era itself is broken up into three periods, and the artifacts of each reflect a growing development in human tools, art, and ritual. This blog hop did not focus on these individual periods, but rather at the Paleolithic as a whole. For the most part, I used the cave paintings as my inspiration.

In her blog post introducing this challenge, our lovely hostess wrote: "I'm sure the organic and simplistic style of the era will translate beautifully into your own jewelry."

And that was exactly what I tried to do.

...And Now, Here's What I Made!

If you've been following my blog for any amount of time, you will not be surprised when I say that I made many, many things for this hop. I was just so excited, I kept going!

For this first set, my main goal was to make something using all natural materials, with a limited amount of metal or more "advanced" techniques. I wanted it to look like something that could have conceivably been made using the technology available at the time. That means no wire-wrapped links for this one! (Which was rather hard for me, as you might imagine.)

And so, here's what I came up with:

Okay, so I cheated a bit with the earrings.
Still, I came pretty close!

The materials: leather, hemp, clay (for the focal), and two types of jasper (crazy horse jasper rounds and sesame jasper oval coins)--all in shades of brown. I chose the jaspers because I thought their natural variation, color combinations, and shifting patterns were reminiscent of Paleolithic cave paintings.

The focal I picked because of its designs: pictograph-esque carvings on the one side, and a sunburst pattern on the other.

The other side of the focal.

Lots of knots later, and I think I managed to do pretty well staying true to my original goal.

Now, this set was actually the only thing I had planned when I signed up for the blog hop. However, I still had materials left over--and I kept having ideas. So, naturally, I kept going.

For the second set, I allowed myself to use more metal (and my trademark wire links, because that is apparently what I do). Instead of making something that could have conceivably been made at the time, I made something that was more inspired by that time period.

I hoped to echo the feeling of movement in the cave paintings
with the movements and fluidity of the dangles.

Again, the main materials are crazy horse jasper, sesame jasper, and leather--this time, coupling the earth-and-pigment browns with the natural tones of brass and copper. I was also particularly happy with the wire-wrapping on the leather ends--messy, yes, and reminiscent of the lashings used to connect Paleolithic spearheads with their wooden shafts.

Also! You might notice, when looking closely at that necklace, that there are two sets of toggle clasps. That's because the necklace isn't just a necklace... It can also be worn as two bracelets!

Double-wrapped leather and chain,
and sesame jasper links with crazy horse jasper dangle.

Two different style options, for the discerning Paleolithic fashionista. ;)

...And, speaking of style options, here are what the different sets looks like next to each other. First up, here are the earrings together:

And here are the necklaces:

And here are both sets--which can actually be mixed and matched as desired.

But wait! There's more! 

...Yeah, I I didn't stop there. What can I say--when I'm excited, I'm prolific. 

So, while I didn't make another set, I did end up making two more bracelets. In addition to making these two...

I also made these two:

The bracelet on the left is more in the colorway put forth by the hostess; it is more tan, and was made using brown waxed cotton cord, copper, and grain stone. The bracelet on the right was made with the rest of my crazy horse jasper, black leather, and a giant coconut shell button with lines reminiscent of the cave paintings.

And that's that. 

All told, I made 6 pieces--or 7, if you count the second necklace as two bracelets instead.

Ta-da! Everything together!

I really did enjoy making pieces for this blog hop... As I said, archaeology and art together makes this Anthropology and Humanities joint degree nerd a very happy camper!

Thank you so much to our wonderful hostess for putting this together--I had a blast!

And thank you for stopping by to see what I made... I love getting to share my creations with you!


Want to see what everyone else made? Here is the list of blog hop participants... feel free to hop around and enjoy some more lovely Paleolithic pieces!

Leah Curtis (hostess) - Beady Eyed Bunny
Shaiha's Ramblings
Jenny Kyrlach - Anafiassa (you are here!)
Julia Hay - Pandanimal 
Rachel Mallis - Mint Monarch
Robin Reed - Artistry HCBD 
Joanne Tinks
YeeLen Spirit Designs
Karin G. - Gingko et Coquelicot
Dini Bruinsma
Deborah Apodaca
Tapping Flamingo

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Coming Tomorrow... A Blog Hop Reveal!

And not just any blog hop--the History Hop: Paleolithic Style!

...In other words, an excuse for me to combine my love for archaeology and art and jewelry all into one thing. Woo!

Please come by tomorrow to see what I made!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Jenny Monthly Challenge - December Edition

For December, my Monthly Challenge is pretty straight-forward:

I need to make Christmas presents.

Lots and lots of Christmas presents.

My parents' Christmas Tree!
Isn't it lovely?!
...Mine hasn't been put up yet. Soon, though!

Now, I realize that using Christmas-present-making for my challenge might seem like a bit of a cop-out... When I look at all I need to get done this month, though, I think it's the best way for me to stay sane.

Besides, I really really like making Christmas presents... and this way I get to share the joy! :D

You see, it is so so easy for me to get caught up in the hustle-and-bustle of the holiday season... Bake this, do that, spend all the money! And so, my real goal of this challenge is not just to make gifts, but to think about the people I'm making them for--and truly delight in what they mean to me. It's a chance to take my passion and my gifts and make their lives just a bit shinier--and they'll have a tangible way to hold my love in their hands.

So, here's to Christmas presents! Let the festivities begin!

(I'll be sure to show off what I make at the end of the month--after all the presents have been distributed!)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wednesday's Worktable

I had every intention not to do anything for this week's worktable. I was going to rest and take a break from creating.

...And then, while I was straightening my craft room, the beads called to me.

To give you some background: I often come up with jewelry ideas faster than I can make them, so I group all of the needed materials together and put them in little ziplock bags. That way, when I get time, I can pick out a project and everything I need will be right there. If designs are extra-specially-complicated, I'll even draw out a sketch and put it in the bag, too. 

Project baggies are not exactly photogenic, are they?
It's a fairly messy system, but it seems to work for me.

The only problem is that my worktable is completely covered with these project baggies. Sometimes I think they multiply without my knowledge... and last month, when I was focused on earrings, I'm pretty sure they doubled.

So! In order to straighten up my workspace, I just had to tackle some... Three, in particular. That way, they'll be cleaned up and no longer on my table, right? ;)

First up: shades of silver!

Silver glass meets high end smoky quartz.

My husband bought me that focal last Christmas, and I just recently (i.e. in November) found the perfect things to go with it. Those smoky quartz heishi beads are just gorgeous!

The other two project baggies I picked are related to last month's challenge... I tried to stand firm, but the call of matching sets is strong! So, yeah, I'm working on two necklaces to match earrings I made.

Specifically, I'm working on a peaches-and-cream necklace... 

Vintage swirled beads (possibly lucite) paired with
peach pearls and rhinestone rondelles.

to match these:

And I'm playing around with shades of blue and silver and brass...

Ceramic tube beads meet Czech glass rounds and wooden spacers.

to match the pair on the right:

So much for taking a break!

Still, I really can't complain. I'm enjoying playing around, just for the sake of playing around... Without an agenda or a to-do list. It's always nice just to create for the sheer joy of creating... That, in and of itself, is relaxing to me. And if I make something pretty as a result--well, that's the icing on the cake.

Take care, everyone!